Answers to Correspondents.: Medical Aid; 1 John 3:15; Paradise; Careless Individuals; John 3:5; Acts 15:29; 2 Cor. 5:7; Gal. 2:20 & Eph. 3:12

Luke 23:43; 1 John 3:15  •  8 min. read  •  grade level: 11
A. J. P.—We believe it to be both right and proper to call in medical aid in times of sickness, just as one would seek surgical aid in case of a broken limb or battered skull. Not to do so is, in our judgment, a grave fault, particularly if another is the sufferer and not ourselves. At the same time, we should fully recognize God's hand as above that of the physician. It was to king Asa's dishonor—saint though he was—that in sickness he sought not the Lord, but, leaving Him out of his confidence, leaned wholly on medical men. This is recorded for our admonition in 2 Chron. 16:1212And Asa in the thirty and ninth year of his reign was diseased in his feet, until his disease was exceeding great: yet in his disease he sought not to the Lord, but to the physicians. (2 Chronicles 16:12).
Referring to your question as to the giving of the Holy Spirit, Scripture is clear that the laying on even of apostolic hands was not necessary to the reception of that great gift. It was sometimes accompanied by the laying on of hands—of a simple, private Christian, such an Ananias in Acts 9:1717And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. (Acts 9:17), or of apostles, as in Acts 8:1717Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. (Acts 8:17), but not without special reason. In the instance that interests us most there was nothing of the kind. We allude to Cornelius, his kinsmen and near friends (Acts 10:4444While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. (Acts 10:44)). These received the Holy Spirit apart from any imposition of hands at all. And that was the common way, as Gal. 3:22This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? (Galatians 3:2) clearly shows. For any Christian to profess to give the Holy Spirit to another by the laying on of his hands now would be in our eyes an empty act, and under certain circumstances an impious one.
W. T.—1 John 3:1515Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. (1 John 3:15).-It cannot be said that this passage forbids prayer for a murderer or excludes him from all hope of forgiveness. The Lord Jesus prayed for His murderers, and Stephen, animated by the spirit of his Master, did the same. The blood of Jesus Christ is able to wash away even the stain of so terrible a crime, if the one who committed it turns to God in real repentance and fixes his faith on the Savior of the very chiefest of sinners.
T. T. J.—Luke 23:4343And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise. (Luke 23:43).—The word "paradise" simply means a garden of delights, and is used to denote the character of the place to which the penitent thief went in company with the Lord—a place of unspeakable blessedness. But the words "with Me" indicate the point, of chief interest, and where Christ is will be surely heaven to the one who knows and loves Him. In speaking of "the intermediate state" we must be careful of our words and lend no countenance to the degrading idea of a purgatory which shall do for men what it is pretended that the blood of Jesus fails to do. Washed in that cleansing fount, the believer is whiter than snow, and made meet to be a partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light (Col. 1:1212Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: (Colossians 1:12)). To speak of a purgatory which shall do more for us than that is to degrade the atoning work of Christ to a very low level. But if in speaking of "the intermediate state" it is simply meant that the believer who is now with Christ has not yet reached the condition that will be ultimately his, then it is quite right. For assuredly it is in the resurrection state that we shall reach the goal of all our hopes. When we are like Christ, in soul and body perfect, our happiness will be complete. Meanwhile, if a believer dies, he is with Christ, and if Christ be in heaven, so is he—waiting there, as we here, for the fulfillment of that great event described in 1 Thess. 4:16-1816For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18Wherefore comfort one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:16‑18).
HALFWAY TREE.—We have submitted your question to a beloved brother who has given more thought to such subjects than ourselves, and here is his reply: “The Bible is absolutely silent as to what will take place outside of the prophetic earth—at least in respect of the Western Hemisphere. On the east Russia and her mingled peoples, come into view in Ezek. 38, 39, and possibly China (Sinim) in Isa. 49:1212Behold, these shall come from far: and, lo, these from the north and from the west; and these from the land of Sinim. (Isaiah 49:12). But, as far as I know, there is no mention whatever of America or the adjacent islands. Many conjectures have been made, bin, they are conjectures, and as such the fruit of man's mind. It is therefore, I judge, the part of divine wisdom to say, in answer to any question of this kind, that we know nothing.”
H. M.—It is impossible to lay down a definite rule as to how individuals should be dealt with in seeking to arouse them from a careless state. May we not learn much in observing the way our Lord Himself dealt with different persons? To Nicodemus He said, "You must be born again"—confronting him at once with that great fact. In speaking to the woman of Samaria He adopted other tactics, winning her confidence, answering her questions as to worship before He reached her conscience and revealed Himself to her. With the sinner taken "in the very act" His way again differed, for lie spake to her accusers rather than to her, though no doubt the light pierced the moral gloom that enshrouded her heart, afterward made glad with those gracious heavenly words, "Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more" (John 8:1111She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more. (John 8:11)). Other instances will occur to you, and which show that wisdom is needed if we would deal with individual cases in a way that God can bless. No rigid rule, then, can be fixed. But coming more closely to your question, we do not find in Scripture that men are called upon to give up their sin—in other words, to start on the path of holiness—before receiving Christ. The gospel comes to men where they are, and if that gospel be received it not only saves the soul, but leads into paths of holiness and devotedness to Christ. If you set before a hungry man a substantial meal, he will readily throw away the moldy crust he was about to eat on your doorstep. And yet there, may be those who so cling to some besetting sin that no spiritual blessing will reach them till they give it up. Cases differ, and this should make us feel the need of heavenly guidance in dealing with individual cases.
F. S. L.—John 3:5.—There is no allusion whatever to baptism here. The reference undoubtedly is to Ezek. 36:25-2725Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. 26A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 27And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. (Ezekiel 36:25‑27)-a passage which "a master of Israel" should have known, seeing that it glowingly describes what will take place in the day of Israel's blessing. "Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean... and I will put My spirit within you"; in other words, they will be born of water and of the Spirit. It is difficult to imagine anyone supposing in Ezekiel or John 3 that literal water is intended. It is a symbol signifying "the Word of God," which, by the power of the Spirit, instrumentally effects the new birth (see 1 Peter 1:2323Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. (1 Peter 1:23)). It is thus that we are born again. Moreover, baptism is never the sign of the communication of life, but always of death. Nor is it a fact that in baptism we are made children of God. How we do become His children is distinctly stated in John 1:12, 1312But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:12‑13), to which you will do well to turn. Baptism has its place, and is not to be ignored, but to insist on it as essential to salvation is serious error. Certainly the penitent malefactor was never baptized, nor have we any grounds for believing that even the apostles themselves, excepting Paul, were ever the subjects of Christian baptism.
INQUIRER.—Acts 15:2929That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well. (Acts 15:29).-It is a great thing not to sin against your conscience, and if this verse affects you as to "blood and things strangled," by all means listen to your conscience and eat nothing that comes under that category. As to your second question, we believe Mark 16:1515And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. (Mark 16:15) is still in full force. Happy would it be if those parting words of our Savior and Lord were ever ringing in our ears, ever spurring us on to increased activity in making known the blessed gospel to every creature who has not yet heard and received it.
W. M.—2 Cor. 5:77(For we walk by faith, not by sight:) (2 Corinthians 5:7).—We hardly think this passage has any bearing on the subject about which you write. "We walk by faith, not by sight"—that is, the unseen and eternal things on which the apostle fixed his earnest gaze were not yet disclosed to sight, but he walked in the faith of them. So with us. Presently faith shall give place to sight and hope to glad fruition. But this has nothing to say to life and furniture- insurance. As to the latter, everyone must act according to his own light and measure of faith. No one can be a rule to another, and if any attempt to walk in the path of some whose light and faith differ from their own, they are sure to come to grief.
A. M.—Gal. 2:2020I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20); Eph. 3:1212In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him. (Ephesians 3:12).—It is a mistake to suppose that the faith referred to in these verses is the personal faith of Christ Himself. Is it not rather that faith which has Him as its object according to the connections in which He is presented in each passage I Faith in Heb. 11 is much the same—the subject of that instructive and inspiring chapter being the life of faith which saints in all ages have had to live. As to Eph. 5:3030For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. (Ephesians 5:30), it is doubtful if the closing words are really part of the inspired text. If omitted, the verse ends with the word "body"; if retained, it is an evident allusion to Gen. 2:2323And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. (Genesis 2:23). Finally, "members" is restricted to the term "body," and has no relation to the remainder of the verse. "We are members of His body [we are of His flesh and of His bones].”