QUESTION: "In answering C.B. of Colony, Kansas (May 1976 GN), you explained the meaning behind Exodus 23:19. However, you never did explain If there were any other verses that related to whether or not It Is wrong to eat meat and milk together. What are the biblical dietary laws pertaining to eating dairy and meat products?"
ANSWER: Genesis 18:8 reads: "Then he took curds, and milk, and the calf which he had prepared, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree while they ate." This verse is part of the account of Abraham entertaining two angels and the One who later became Jesus Christ. (For more on the identity of the God of the Old Testament, read our free reprint article "Who - What - Was Jesus Before His Human Birth?") That Abraham and Christ ate calf meat, milk and cheese together at the same meal indicates there was no prohibition against such a combination — and such a dietary law is not mentioned elsewhere in the Bible.
Q: "I wish to call to your attention a mistake in the booklet 'The Pale Horse: Disease Epidemics.' On page 50, it says: 'For instance, the seventh commandment, Thou shalt not commit adultery....' This commandment is the sixth."
Mrs. R. B.,
A: This is indeed the sixth commandment according to the Roman Catholic and Lutheran enumeration. But according to the original enumeration in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5, it is the seventh. The Catholic and Lutheran enumeration results from dropping the second commandment, " Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image... Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them" (Ex. 20:4-6). By omitting the second commandment from the ten, the succeeding commandments become renumbered so that the third becomes the second and the fourth becomes the third, etc. The ninth commandment is then divided into two separate commandments — coveting your neighbor's wife and coveting your neighbor's goods — to fill in the gap (see Louis LaRavoire Morrow, My Catholic Faith, p. 194).
The Bible, however, gives no precedent for dividing the one commandment into two. Jesus referred to just one commandment against coveting in Luke 12:15, and the apostle Paul wrote: "I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet" (Rom. 7:7).
It is not logical to divide the first two points of the tenth commandment (coveting one's neighbor's house and wife) into two separate commandments while ignoring the four other items specifically mentioned (manservant, maidservant, ass and ox). And finally, the overall principle of not coveting anything of one's neighbor's would seem to adequately cover all necessary ground (Ex. 20:17).
It is apparent that this renumbering is an attempt to avoid the obvious implications of the second commandment. For more on this subject, read our free booklet The Ten Commandments.
Q: "You have a blooper in one of your answers ('Questions and Answers,' May 1976 GN). The third answer — that those raised up into the clouds are the exceptions to the rule that all must die — may cause some to wonder about Bible rules. To become spirit, we must first expire physically. I Corinthians 15:36 says: 'Thou' fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die. There are no exceptions to any law or principle of God."
Kansas City, Missouri
A: The original question asked if those who were changed into immortal spirit beings instantaneously at Christ's second coming were an exception to the statement in Hebrews 9:27 ("It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment").
Let's take time to review the main scriptures relating to this question. First of all, I Thessalonians 4:13-17 reads: "But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep [dead], that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope [the Christian hope is the resurrection]. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For... we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent [come before] them which are asleep... Notice the two states of being — life and death — are clearly contrasted in the context of this scripture.
Continuing in verses 16 and 17: "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven.... and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds." There is no statement in this entire passage about those who live and remain until Christ's second coming dying — even for a split second. In fact, those who are alive at the time of Christ's second coming are clearly contrasted with the "dead in Christ" in two separate verses.
The companion scripture to I Thessalonians 4 is found in I Corinthians 15:50-52: " Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep [die], but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we [who are alive and remain — compare with I Thessalonians 4] shall be changed. "This scripture also contrasts life and death. It specifically states that we shall not all die! No death is mentioned for those saints alive at the time of Christ's second coming, only a "change."
How, then, do we understand Hebrews 9:27 in this light? This verse must be read in its context — one of the most important rules of Bible study. (For more information on this, read our free booklet How To Study the Bible.) Beginning with verse 25, we read: "Nor yet that he [Christ] should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; for then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation."
Verse 27 is incidental to another subject in the context of these verses, the subject being Christ's sacrifice having to occur only once in history to effect the desired result for mankind. Human beings having to die once is used in support of Paul's point. "It is appointed unto men once to die" is analogous to that major point. Note that it does not say that it is appointed unto all men to die. The adjective "all" is not included in the text.
Of course, Hebrews 9:27 is a biblical truism. Up to this point, all men have had to die (excepting those now alive), including Jesus Christ. But the second coming of Christ affords an exception for all Christians alive at that time.
Incidentally, the expression "all" in the Bible does not always mean "all" in the sense of every single individual. Romans 11:26, for example, says "All Israel shall be saved." From other scriptures (i.e., Matt. 25:41-46; Luke 13:28; etc.), we can understand that Paul's obvious intent in this verse is that the great majority of Israel — not every individual Israelite — will be saved.
Notice one other point, concerning I Corinthians 15:22: "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." Paul is explaining here, and in Hebrews 9:27, that all men are mortal — subject to death. It is a generalized statement in both cases — not a "no exceptions," 1 DO-percent rule. Not every single human being will be made "alive in Christ," because, as previously explained, some will be cast into the lake of fire. Again, "all" simply means the vast majority.
This question is in one sense largely a matter of semantics. One could speculate that a sort of split-second "death" of the physical body occurs to those yet alive at Christ's coming. But that is not death in the conventional sense. There is no body, no funeral; no burial, no mourning, no cessation of life. Death, by definition, is the ending of life. In no case does this definition fit in with those who are changed from flesh to spirit at the time of Christ's second coming.
Q: "You have stated: 'The true church is [today] small, and its people are scattered. But remember, no organization is the body of Christ. Rather, the church is an organism often composed of scattered individuals (see I Cor. 12). "The Bible completely disagrees with you! The Church of God is most definitely the body of Christ!"
Prairie Village, Kansas
A: We must not confuse the Church of God, the body of Christ, with the configuration into which members of that body organize in order to achieve the goal of preaching the gospel in an orderly fashion. It is quite correct to say that the Church is the body of Christ. This body is a spiritual organism composed of those individuals who have been given the Holy Spirit by and from God. But these individuals may at different times in history organize into groups of people (the Greek word ekklesia. translated "church" in the New Testament, means "a group of people") dedicated to a common set of purposes. Organization, in this sense, is what the church has, not what it is. The Church of God today has an organized ministry, deacons, deaconesses and various other leaders or "governments" (see I Cor. 12:28).
In I Corinthians 12 the apostle Paul likens the Church to a human body which has many members or parts. But this is only an analogy. The structure of the Church, in the physical sense, is merely a tool for doing a job. God has used various structures in different ages. Today the Church may have a corporate structure for the purpose of dealing with the world on its own business terms. But that corporation is not Christ's body — it is something that the body of believers uses to get the job done. (Further information on the Church may be obtained by reading our free booklet Where Is God's True Church Today?)
Q: "In your booklet 'The Seven Laws Of Success,' you wrote that there are fifty-five places In the Bible where 'diligence' is mentioned in one form or another. Could you please send me a list of references showing where I should look to find this word?"
Los Angeles, California
A: You can find these passages yourself in a Bible help called a concordance. There should be several available at your local library: the most popular are Cruden's Complete Concordance, Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, and Young's Analytical Concordance. In these works you can look up a word such as "diligence" and find listed after it all the places it occurs in Scripture. Some concordances also give the Greek or Hebrew word from which the English word is derived. For more information on how to use a concordance, read our free booklet How To Study the Bible.