QUESTION: "I heard a well known evangelist say Christ never had an evil thought. Hebrews 4:15 immediately came to mind. Please explain this verse."
Mrs. Geraldine M.,
A: The Apostle Paul wrote in Hebrews 4:15, "For we have not an high priest [Jesus Christ] which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we [Christians] are, yet without sin. "
A person cannot be tempted to do evil without an evil thought running through his mind. But the temptation itself is not a sin.
Of course, a temptation can become a sin if you continue to think about it, let your mind dwell on it. Christ never did! He immediately, through the power of God's Holy Spirit, cast all such temptations out of His mind before they conceived into sins. But He was tempted just like all Christians are. Only He never gave in to the temptations as all others have done (Rom. 3:23).
If He were not tempted, then we simply don't have a Saviour. But He was tempted, because God sent "his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh" (Rom. 8:3).
Jesus proved that a real Christian — one who possesses God's Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:9) — does not have to sin. Of course, no other man has lived above sin, because none has ever remained continually and constantly close to God the Father as Jesus Christ did.
Q: "In the theology of the Worldwide Church of God a person can 'abort' in the growth process. Can this person possibly begin the process over again?"
A: No! And this is not the theology of the Worldwide Church of God — as opposed to the Bible.
The Apostle Paul, long after his conversion (receipt of God's Holy Spirit), wrote: "I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway" (I Cor. 9:27). The Apostle Paul said in effect that he could be aborted — and therefore lose the Holy Spirit and salvation. Of course, he was absolutely determined not to lose salvation, and he didn't (II Tim. 4:7-8). But it was possible.
This same apostle warns Christians in Hebrews 10:29: "Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant [Christ's sacrifice], wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the spirit of grace?"
The Christian life is analogous to the growth of a baby in a womb. As long as the baby is properly nourished, all other things being equal, it will be born. And as long as a Christian is properly nourished, through Bible study, prayer, meditation and spiritual exercise, he or she will be born into God's Kingdom. Only a protracted cutoff of spiritual food, willingly allowed by the Christian, can prevent birth.
And sin by force of habit or under heavy temptation, even if a Christian, does not constitute a spiritual "aborting." We emphasize: "Slipping," making mistakes, or occasionally falling down spiritually does not constitute an aborting.
Space does not allow us to explain fully in this section. Read our free booklets Just What Do You Mean... Born Again? and Just What Do You Mean...Conversion? and What Do You Mean - The Unpardonable Sin? for a full and complete scriptural explanation.
Q: "Do you believe that your Church is the only one that's right?"
A: Let's get one thing straight to begin with — it's not our Church! It's God's.
We believe God is right and that His Church is also. Anyone who disagrees with the teachings of God's Church is wrong to the degree that they disagree with God! We believe that this organization represents God's way of life on this earth today. We feel it is preaching the true gospel of the Bible to the world as a witness (Matt. 24:14). If we didn't believe that, we would not have committed our lives to it! Have you ever heard of anyone being in a Church because they felt that it was wrong? Of course not!
But does it mean that we have exclusive rights to all truth?
Not at all! Jesus said: "He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad" (Matt. 12:30). But He also said to His disciples when they wanted to rebuke a man who was casting out demons in Jesus' name: "... Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly [readily] speak evil of me. For he that is not against us is on our part" (Mark 9:39-40).
It is not our function to judge all who use His name — whether in truth or in vain!
We are here simply to preach the gospel of the Kingdom of God and to glorify God on this earth. We will leave the "judging and criticizing" to others — for ultimately it is God who will judge and criticize all (Heb. 12:23; II Cor. 5:10).
(Editor's note: Further understanding about God's Church is available in our free booklet Where Is God's True Church Today? Chapter titles include: "The Salvation Supermarket," "Why So Many Denominations?" "What Is the Church?" "How to Find the True Church.")