29 April 2011

Question of the Week:
Who are the 'Dead in Christ'?

by Anne Lang Bundy

"Don't be afraid that your life will end;
be afraid that it will never begin."

~ Unknown

Artist of unnamed work: David Morin

Who is 'the dead in Christ'? How can we have eternal life and die, period? (I know some believe that when they die they go into the ground until Christ's return.)
~ Anonymous

These questions refer to the following Scripture concerning the rapture of Christians, from the post "Left Behind":

And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.
~ 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 (NKJV)

Although Christians whose bodies have died are called "dead in Christ," Jesus said that when we are spiritually "born again" by faith—before the death of our physical bodies—we receive eternal life:

"He who believes in the Son has everlasting life ..."
~ John 3:36 (NKJV)

Before spiritual rebirth, the body houses the soul as a "tent." With spiritual birth, the Holy Spirit enters the physical body, which then becomes a "tabernacle" for the Holy Spirit as well.

Although our bodies are still in bondage to physical death (as is all creation), our souls have been set free from death. The death of our bodies is referred to as both death and sleep. Just before the above 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 passage, death is called sleep three times (1 Thessalonians 4:13-15), as in other Scriptures (especially 1 Corinthians 15:35-55).

To be "in Christ" is to receive a new life. Though our souls continue to be housed in a body that is dying, Jesus promises that our souls will not experience death when our body does (John 11:23-27). Peter calmly referred to his death as "putting off his tent."

Even if our attention is on a dying body, the kingdom of God is not something we wait until Heaven to see, but something vibrantly alive within us:

Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, "The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, 'See here!' or 'See there!' For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you."
~ Luke 17:20-21 (NKJV)

Next week: What happens to the soul after the body dies?

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What questions do you have about Christianity or the Bible? You're invited to leave them in the comments below (anonymous questions welcome), or email buildingHisbody [plus] @ gmail.com.

© 2011 Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.

23 April 2011

Blueberries & Scrambled Eggs

Scripture teaches us that the prayer for wisdom is always answered. What is more often missing is the faith and courage to follow through with the instruction God gives us. My prayer for you today is that you gain wisdom and courage, and that you grow closer to our Father in heaven, who loves you, in Jesus name ...

15 April 2011

Question of the Week:
Why War from God?

by Anne Lang Bundy

Image source: Battles of the Bible
by Chaim Herzog & Mordechai Gichon
Fall River Press ©1978, 1997

"How can Christians say that God is loving if He ordered war ... and even the killing of children?"~ Anonymous

There's no single or simple answer, but at least one basic principle applies.

God sees the end from the beginning. Where evil has taken root, He does not need to allow it to grow to maturity before He knows what kind of fruit will come of it.

War is depicted as the sword of God throughout the Old Testament. The above question is asked most often about wars God directed between the time of Moses and David. At that time, the Lord established specific borders for Israel, and then gave instructions concerning both the nations which infiltrated those borders and the less proximate nations.

Nations which kept their distance and were willing to make peace were permitted to do so (Deuteronomy 20:10-15). But for the seven evil nations within Israel's borders—and for the Amalekites, whose immediate proximity and hostility threatened the Israel—God commanded complete annihilation, including children and animals. (Deuteronomy 20:16-18; Judges 21:10; 1 Samuel 15:3)

Many people find it difficult to reconcile such a God with the message of John 3:16—with a message of love and forgiveness, grace and salvation. But the God of the Old Testament is the same God of the New Testament. He doesn't change—nor does evil, sin and Hell.

The proof that sin and Hell are real is visible when we look upon the manner of death God required from His Son Jesus to save us from them—crucifixion.

The proof that evil is intolerable to God is visible when we look upon the manner of war He requires (present tense) to extinguish it—crucifixion.

Now the works of the flesh are evident ... And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
~ from Galatians 5:19-24 (NKJV)

It is noteworthy that God did not commission the Israelites to go out into all the world to destroy evil, but only when evil threatened infiltration. Though there are times when evil comes to our doorstep, when we are compelled to do battle, Christians are likewise not commissioned to root out the pervasive evil in the world. When we go into the world, it is to make disciples. We wage a war of annihilation against evil within our own borders—against its infiltration of our hearts.

Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.
~ Jude 1:7 (NKJV)

Jude preaches to Christians that the same evil immorality which existed in the ancient world and brought about their destruction would continue to threaten us. We are to be as ruthless with ourselves as we root out the sin within our own borders as ancient Israelites were commanded to root out the pagan nations within their borders.

"Most of God's people are content to be saved from the hell without; they are not so anxious to be saved from the hell within."
~Robert M. McCheyne

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What questions do you have about Christianity or the Bible? You're invited to leave them in the comments below (anonymous questions welcome), or email buildingHisbody [plus] @ gmail.com.

© 2011 Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.

08 April 2011

Question of the Week:
How Long Does Temptation Knock?

Photo credit: Preston Bezant

How long were Adam and Eve in the garden before she took that fatal bite? Was the serpent whispering in her ear a long time?
~ Lori

Adam and Eve were created on the sixth day of creation, and God rested on the seventh day, so the earliest day for the "fatal bite" is day eight. Adam was 130 years old when Seth was born, after the death of Abel, whom we can infer lived to adulthood. So the latest date is about 100 years after creation.

The key question here, which applies to all of us, is how long might temptation knock?

Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
~ James 4:7 (NKJV)

Scripture records the temptation of Jesus by the devil. (Luke 4:1-13) After 40 days of temptation (which isn't described), the devil presented three specific temptations. When Jesus responded with absolute rejection to a temptation (using Scripture), that temptation ceased.

Consider that an invitation to sin isn't a true temptation unless it appeals to something already desired (whether the desire is a good or bad one). Temptation offers to fulfill desire in a manner contrary to God's will. Here are three different scenarios of what might be expected.

• Temptation's invitation to fulfill desire in a sinful way is given no consideration and categorically rejected. The door is immediately slammed on this temptation. It has no reason to linger.

• Temptation receives some amount of consideration before it hears "no thanks" and has a door shut on it. Temptation has found its mark and is likely to knock again. One shouldn't expect temptation to stay away before it is rejected on sight without consideration.

• Temptation gets a "yes," either immediately or after repeat visits. Once the door is flung open to temptation's invitation, sin establishes its foothold. The door can't be shut on temptation before sin is driven out. If repeated sin establishes a stronghold in a person's life (sin moves in with all its baggage), it may take a long time to want to drive out sin. Even if sin is kicked out, temptation remembers where its sin was sampled and enjoyed. Expect temptation to come knocking as long as its invitations receive consideration before refusal. A person will need to slam the door hard and slam it immediately on temptation for a long time to come before temptation will believe it's not welcome.

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate.
~ Genesis 3:6 (NKJV)

The Bible doesn't say how many days the serpent came knocking and received consideration of its invitation. It's usually depicted as all one incident. Temptation may have come knocking over a long period of time, or been welcomed on the first visit.

But this much is certain: one can never open the door to sin and assume to understand all the consequences to follow.

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What questions do you have about Christianity or the Bible? You're invited to leave them in the comments below (anonymous questions welcome), or email buildingHisbody [plus] @ gmail.com.

© 2011 Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.

04 April 2011

Friends With Benefits

"If love is the treasure, laughter is the key." -Yakov Smirnoff

By Russell Holloway

This weekend I was sitting on the beach with my family, enjoying the Florida sunshine and waves, and it crossed my mind that if I ever write a book about marriage I'll title it: Friends With Benefits: Five Steps To A Happy Marriage.

As a counselor I come into contact with unhappy couples a lot and I've noticed that what marriage researcher John Gottman says is true. Couples who focus on and foster friendship tend to be happy.

Although important, sex does not hold faltering relationships together. I talk to couples all the time who report great sex (with each other no less) but otherwise cannot stand to be in the same room. Far more important than bedroom delectation is the ability to do life together.


Four hundred years ago, when marriage was more or less a property contract, people were too busy trying to stay alive to be burdened with emotions like romantic love. Romantic love existed for sure, Shakespeare assures us of that, but in a purer form. Love was first something one did. It was defined by behavior. Now, if couples don’t feel like giddy teenagers into the third year of marriage they often start a slow downward spiral and divorce somewhere down the road. Sad and unnecessary.

If we cannot rely on duty, the antidote for the modern couple is friendship. It works, it is fun, and best of all it usually includes sex. Cool. Thus the title of the book, Friends With Benefits.


At the end of our day on the beach we packed up our towels and sunscreen, and walked back to the truck, side by side. Friendship, and love, and commitment have gotten our marriage through some difficult times. I’m lucky. My wife truly is my best friend. And there is more than one benefit to that.

Father, thank You for life. Thank You for the gift of friendship, that we can be friends with the one we love intimately. Father we ask for Your blessing and that You bless the marriages of those who read this. In Jesus name we cry out to You.

01 April 2011

Question of the Week:
What Motivates God?

by Anne Lang Bundy

"The Kiss"
V-J Day, August 14, 1945, Times Square
photo credit: Alfred Eisenstaedt, Life Magazine

"We measure the worth of a treasure
by what we will gladly give up in order to have it."
~ John Piper

"Why did God create things the way He did, knowing what we'd turn into?"
~ Wendy Paine Miller

This could also be asked as, "Why did God put both Himself and us through all this grief?" Behind the above question, might we even infer The Question:

"Why does a good God allow suffering?"

An answer to that was offered in the post "Why Suffering?" So let's take another angle and answer, "Can we understand what motivates God?"

The Bible says over and over that God desires to be given glory (magnified, or made bigger, in worship, praise, thanksgiving, and testimony). He seeks to bring honor to His name, and therefore acts "for His name's sake." Even His expression of love for us goes toward the purpose of making known His holiness, goodness, grace, mercy, justice, majesty, and power.

Couldn't all that happen without sin and suffering and major mess-ups?

It could happen—nothing is impossible with God. But how good would it be?

But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more.
~ Romans 5:20 (NKJV)

Any story teller (or fiction writer) knows that the greater the conflict, the greater the satisfaction in resolved conflict. The greater the suffering and obstacles overcome through God, the greater the grace He shows, and the greater the glory He receives.

For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.
~ 2 Corinthians 4:15 (NKJV)

Does it seem selfish of God to let us suffer so that He gets the glory? That's only half the picture. He bears far greater suffering for our sin than we do, yet He shares the glory with us.

It's called love.

What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory ...?
~ Romans 9:22-23 (NKJV, emphasis mine)

God doesn't simply want us to know His love and enjoy Heaven after a quiet rest on Earth. The Author of our salvation wants us to experience abundant, exceeding, higher-than-our-highest-imagination love and joy and peace—and created a conflict to create the ultimate triumph.

The resulting celebration is like the difference between the everyday kiss exchanged between a long married couple as they slide into the breakfast nook with coffee after a quiet night's sleep, and the triumphant reunion kiss of V-J Day when a sailor returns home after he's spent years away from home cheating death.

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What questions do you have about Christianity or the Bible? You're invited to leave them in the comments below (anonymous questions welcome), or email buildingHisbody [plus] @ gmail.com.

© 2011 Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.