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Dr. J. Rodman Williams

Theology Q&A

By Dr. J. Rodman Williams

Dr. J. Rodman Williams answers theological questions, exclusively on

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12. Christian Living

Category Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 QA Index




In John 21:15-19, why does Jesus ask Simon (Peter) if he loves Him three times? He knows Peter's heart, so why ask him three times? What point, if any, is Jesus trying to make here?

This vivid scene of the risen Lord questioning Simon Peter three times calls to mind the earlier dreadful occasion when three times, out of fear and cowardice, Peter denied all relationship with Jesus (see Matthew 26:69-75; Mark 14:66-72; Luke 22:55-62; John 18:25-27). So Jesus' threefold questioning of Peter was not for information, but most likely to give Peter threefold opportunity, against the background of his former denials, to affirm deep love for Jesus.

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I'd like your opinion of the book, The Purpose Driven Life.

An excellent book -- both deeply spiritual and practical.

Order your copy of The Purpose Driven Life on Shop CBN.

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Why do sometimes when I pray and sing to the Lord I laugh or smile? I feel there is a joy inside me. Am I overreacting or is it something normal? I have such a peace inside me. It feels so good.

A fine testimony indeed! You speak of a prevailing joy and peace that should be the situation of every follower of Christ. His words: "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you" (John 14:27); "these things I have spoken to you that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full" (John 15:11). May Christ's joy and peace be multiplied to you!

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How do we abide in Jesus?

We abide in Him by allowing His words to abide in us and letting His Spirit control our daily walk. Of special importance is the matter of ongoing obedience and forsaking all sin.

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What is required for a person to go to heaven? (For example, what must their life be like and what must they believe?)

John 3:16 is an answer to your question: "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life." To believe in Christ means to trust in Him as your Savior from sin and the only hope for eternal life in heaven. Living a life that is pleasing to Him must surely follow.

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In John 13:1-20, Jesus washes the feet of His disciples and commands them to do so to one another. I see the Catholic Church observes this command. Why is it not done in the Pentecostal denominations and other churches?

It is to be noted that just following Jesus' washing the disciples' feet He said, "For I give you an example that you also should do as I did to you." Menial service was the example that Jesus set, even washing dirty feet. It was an example, not literally to be followed, that we should always be humble servants of one another.

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What are the Christian holy days of God that we should observe

There are no particular "holy days." In various ways, certain ones--especially Christmas and Easter--have been established by tradition, but they are not so designated by Scripture. Paul even warns in Galatians 4:10 against people who "observe days and months and seasons and years," saying, "I fear for you." It is not that such observances are wrong, but they may substitute for the real thing.

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Jesus said about the Spirit, look at the wind...from where it comes to where it goes you know not, so it is with those who are born of the Spirit (John 3:8). Does this mean that a sign of walking in the Spirit of God is creativity and spontaneity? Would the reverse be equally true, Christians who are tend to lack creativity and spontaneity are not walking in the Spirit?

The answer to your interesting question is yes. To be born of the Spirit is to be born of the Spirit of new life. This surely includes creativity and spontaneity. We sometimes fail to recognize this and allow legalism to come back in. Of course, there are limits, but we should not quench the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is a creative Spirit. So should be all who are born of Him.

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Do we preach an unbalanced gospel by focusing on what God did through the Lord (i.e., righteousness) and forgetting the work of His Spirit in our lives to fulfill all of these commandments the Lord spoke here on earth?

I answer your question with a strong affirmative! God's work in redemption needs always to be supplemented by His work in sanctification whereby the Holy Spirit enables us to fulfill the Lord's commandments. Otherwise there is an unhealthy imbalance between faith and works in our Christian walk.

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In Matthew 6:7, Jesus says when we pray we should not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. What exactly does He mean? I often pray about the same thing over and over until it is answered. Does that mean I can't pray about the same thing persistently?

"Vain repetitions" refers to the empty use of the same words or expressions in prayer. Such repetitions will not bring about genuine results. Such speaking is worthless and meaningless. On the other hand, we are enjoined by Scripture to "pray without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:17). God delights to hear the many prayers that spring from a devout heart, for even the same words repeated may emphasize true earnestness. There cannot be too many prayers of that kind!

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Why does God love me?

Basically, God loves you-and me-because His own nature is love ("God is love" 1 John 4:8). His love is also very particular. You have probably heard it said, "God loves each individual as if He had only one to love." So, no matter where you are or your position in life, rest assured God loves you. How can you measure the love of God? God's love is so vast that in Christ He died on the cross, bearing the full weight of our sin and pain.

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I am learning to live a Christian life, but I heard that celebrating birthdays is wrong as a Christian. Is this true?

Celebrating birthdays as a Christian is certainly in order. By so doing, it represents thanksgiving for God's act of creation in bringing forth new life and sustaining it. How precious in the sight of God are all His human creatures!

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How do you forgive others when they have hurt you so badly?

I suggest that you contemplate the words of the crucified Jesus who cried out to His torturers, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34). Now compare the hurts you have received to what happened to Christ and try to respond the same way He did. It will be both a blessing to those who hurt you and to yourself.

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I am from Congo-Zare, but I live in Toulouse in south of France. I do not speak English very well and am a girl 24 years old. My question is this: Why does God allow the early death of a Christian? Is it the will of God or Satan's plan?

In the New Testament, we find numerous examples of Christian believers dying. Most of them were young at the time. Take Stephen, a young man known as the first martyr. As he died, the Bible says that his face shone "like the face of an angel" (Acts 6:15). Thus his death was according to God's will and for His glory. Jesus Himself died young as part of God's plan. Satan was involved, but it was not his plan. The early death of a Christian can surely glorify God.

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What is the will of God? How does an individual know the will of God?

I have outlined in my Renewal Theology several steps to knowing God's will. In summary: First, we must be ardent seekers. After the manner of Jesus, we must say, "I seek not my own will but the will of Him who sent me." "Seek" is the key word. Second, we need to pray much. Again, we need to follow the example of Jesus who often spent the whole night in prayer seeking the Father's will. Third, we must constantly hear God's word in Scripture. As the psalmist declared, "Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path" (Psalm 119:105). Fourth, to know God's will we often need the help of other believers. Through the fellowship of others and their words, we may gain further insight into the will of God. Fifth, we need to have a personal ongoing renewal of the mind. Paul instructs, "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove [by testing] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect" (Romans 12:2). One whose mind is being constantly transformed is better qualified to know the perfect will of God (see Renewal Theology, 2 :pages 414-17 for fuller details).

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If I have wronged someone, what is my responsibility as a Christian to the person I have wronged? Can I simply ask them to forgive me and leave it at that? Do I give my responsibility for these wrongdoings only to God?

Even though your first responsibility is to God, it is not enough to pray for His forgiveness alone. A sincere asking the person wronged for forgiveness is basic. Also there must be genuine repentance for the wrong done else the asking for forgiveness will be superficial.

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  I have menengitis of unknown origin and suffer severe headache pain continuously for about 2 years now. I believe we can be healed but I was taught that one should not ask for personal gifts, rather we should ask for help for others. Is it wrong to ask for healing for myself? Is this considered selfish in the eyes of God?

It is surely not wrong to pray for healing for one's self. In the New Testament, Jesus healed many persons who came to Him. Physical healing for those who believed was part of His mission. There are also instances of healing being done for others upon the request of individuals. So to pray for healing for one's self and for others is proper in the sight of God.

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  If you pray for something and you feel like you get a clear sign from God, but it has been a long time and no answer, should you still hang on?

If a clear sign has been given, you should surely persist in prayer. There is frequent reference in the New Testament to praying for something "night and day" (see, for example, Luke 18:7; 1 Thessalonians 3:10; 1 Timothy 5:5). This may cover a long time. It is not that God is reluctant to answer, but His time may be different from ours, and we may need to be better prepared for the answer when it does come. So hold on!

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  When I received Christ into my life, my whole life changed. There is a time when I rarely pray to him and eventually it's like I don't feel His presence. Is there something wrong with me?

If you "rarely pray," you are not likely to feel God's presence. Paul says, "Pray without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians. 5:17). If you continue to pray like this, God's presence will be increasingly known.

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  If we don't keep the 10 Commandments, are we in danger of losing our salvation?

You have implied that we should keep God's commandments (i.e., the Ten Commandments). Therefore must we keep the Sabbath as within the context of the Ten Commandments, and if we don't, are we in danger of losing our salvation even after accepting Christ?

Keeping the Ten Commandments, including the Sabbath, is vital to the true ordering of human existence. They were given by God through Israel for the benefit of all mankind. This stands out vividly in the Sabbath command to rest after labor: "Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work" (Exodus 20:9-10). What a boon to mankind when the commandment is truly kept. Moreover, it is grounded in the very nature and activity of God who commanded it: "For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day" (verse 11). Surely the human creature made "in God's image" (Genesis 1:26) all the more needs labor and rest!

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Do you believe in "storehouse tithing"?

Please give me your opinion as to where the tithes should be given. Do you feel it goes ONLY to the church to which you belong, or do you think part of it can be given to other ministries that "feed you"? Do you believe in "storehouse tithing"?

The tithe belongs to the Lord! Primarily, it should go to the local church (the "storehouse") of which one is a part, but by no means be limited thereto. One may surely give as a part of the tithe to any true ministry of the Lord.

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