In this quick Q/A episode Phylicia discusses whether sin causes sickness, why Jesus’ physical body mattered to the early church, whether non-pastors should baptize, and how to choose a bible translation.
Welcome to Verity. I’m your host, Phylicia Masonheimer, an author, speaker, and bible teacher. This podcast will help you embrace the history and depth of the Christian faith. Ask questions, seek answers, and devote yourself to becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ. You don’t have to settle for watered down Christian teaching. And if you’re ready to go deeper, God is just as ready to take you there. This is Verity, where Every Woman is a Theologian.
Hi, friends, and welcome back to Verity podcast. This is a rapid fire Q & A episode. I’m planning to do these every 3 or 4 episodes in this theology Q & A season, and so I’ll just be doing really quick answers to some of the questions you submitted on Instagram last Ask Anything Monday. I hope you enjoy this episode. And as always, please leave us a review. It helps us get the word out about Verity. And if you want to submit a question, please join me on Instagram. I’m at Phylicia Masonheimer, and our shop is at Every Woman a Theologian. We would love to hear from you, and we always love to hear what resources we can create to better serve you and resource you and to grow in your faith and in your theology.
Okay. So without further ado, we’re going to get started answering a couple of these questions from last Monday. Number 1, should non pastors baptize? For instance, dads baptizing sons, etc. Okay. This is a good question, and I would recommend going back and listening to the 4 Views of Baptism episode because that’s going to change the game a little bit depending on what view of baptism you hold. If you hold to infant baptism, then most likely, you’re going to lean towards the ceremonial approach to baptism that’s going to involve having a priest, bishop, a pastor, completing that rite for you. But I’m assuming that this is most likely talking about believer’s baptism, and there are a couple different views on this. Sometimes, believers’ baptists will believe that it needs to be a position of authoritative guidance in the church, such as an elder or a pastor who would be performing the baptism ritual because that’s really what it is.
But others believe that when Jesus was speaking to his disciples and giving the great commission. He was speaking to everyone, and he was saying, “Go therefore, make disciples of all nations, right, baptizing them in the name of the father, son, and the Holy Spirit.” So when he’s giving this instruction, he’s not just saying, go and make disciples. He’s saying also baptize them, and he’s speaking to everyone. And that would be men and women who saw him alive after his death and saw him at his ascension. So if he’s speaking to all of the disciples, which we believe may be numbered anywhere from 70 to 500, and he’s telling them to go and make disciples, but also telling them to baptize, it follows that everyone who’s present is supposed to baptize. So the debate then is whether he was speaking directly to only the apostles and that those in eldership or an apostolic authority are the ones to baptize or whether he was speaking to all of his disciples to baptize.
Another question we have to ask here is if there is no pastor nearby and someone has trusted in the lord and given their allegiance to Christ and wants to be baptized, is it wrong for a fellow believer to baptize them? What could be wrong about that? So there’s a lot of nuances to that question, But those are kind of the different approaches to it, and I definitely would encourage doing a little bit more digging into a topic like that to find out what your respective church believes.
Next question is how to deal with family member that believes all illness and disease stems from unforgiven sin. Okay. So this view can be a little bit more common in charismatic circles. And it can also be taken from a passage in James, which says, “Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the lord, and the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well. Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.” James 5 14 through 15. And what can happen when we’re interpreting scripture is we can take single verses out of their context, so their context in the book and their context in the bible and expand their meaning beyond what was originally meant.
So in this passage, what James is encouraging as he’s instructing in life in the church, and he’s saying, if you are sick, if you have sinned, come forward. Be accountable. Repent. Be restored so that unity and growth can happen in the church. It’s not necessarily making a connection between the sin and the sickness. Now does sin have consequences in our life? Yes. Can sin lead to sickness? For sure. You can make sinful choices that make you physically sick. That is 100% true. You can look at the psychology of it. Absolutely.
But is it necessarily 1 plus 1 equals 2 that if you are sinning you will become sick, or if you are sick, that’s because you’re sinning? No. Because if we look back in the gospels at the story of the man who was born blind, Jesus confronts this theology head on. The Jews at the time, the Jewish leaders specifically, not all the Jews, believed that the man was born blind because his parents had done something wrong, and Jesus confronts that theology and breaks it down right in front of them. I’ll read you the passage from John 9. “As he went along, Jesus saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents that he was born blind? Neither this man nor his parents sinned, said Jesus, but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” And then he goes on to heal the man’s eyes, and this causes a huge uproar because of this theology that if a man is born blind, it’s because his parents sinned or he sinned in some way.
And so Jesus confronts that theology and says, no. This is not why this is happening. This is happening so that the works of God might be displayed in him, so the love of God might be displayed in him. And I think having walked through 5 years of a very painful autoimmune disease that affects my skin. And asking that question, why did this happen to me? And even asking the lord, “lord, is there something that, you know, I need to repent of or I need to change that is affecting my health?” I don’t think that’s a bad question to ask. I think that is a humble question to ask. But when the answer is no, you’re at peace with me, you are walking in righteousness with me, The thing we rest upon is this, that the works of God can be displayed through our suffering, can be displayed through sickness.
This doesn’t mean you stop praying. I was prayed over for 5 years, and, eventually, the Lord healed me through holistic medicine, modern medicine, and then miraculously, my disease just went into remission. But the answer throughout that process was not sin equals sickness or sickness equals sin. The answer is the suffering we experience in this world is because of a fallen world, because we are not yet home with the lord. And through that suffering, the works of God are displayed.
Okay. Question 3. How do I pick a Bible translation? Okay. This is a fun question, and, honestly, you have a ton of freedom here. I do recommend going back and listening to the episode on english translations from season 2, the canon series of the podcast. This season was my favorite to do, and it goes through how the Bible was compiled into the form we know it today, and I have a whole episode on how translations work. And so when you’re picking a Bible translation, you actually have a lot of freedom between what’s called a word for word translation or formal equivalence translation or a phrase for phrase dynamic equivalence type translation.
Some examples of a more formal translation would be the NASB, the ESV, the KJV, the NKJV. A more dynamic translation would be a CSV or a NIV, and then leaning more towards the phrase for phrase, borderline paraphrase translation would be the NLT. And then, of course, on the far end of that is The Message. I’m not even putting the passion on here because there’s so many problems with that, “translation.” And if you want to know more about that, I would really encourage you to listen to my interview with Mike Winger on the Passion Translation.
So when you’re picking your translation, my first recommendation is, if you can, read multiple translations because you’re going to get a broader range of meaning and a broader view of how the different Greek and Hebrew words can be translated when you read from multiple english translations. Now if you can’t afford to have more than 1 translation, you can use the bible app on your phone to read in other translations. But as far as what you want to read personally, I would say pick a translation that is Not a paraphrase because you want to be closer to what the original text said, so a dynamic translation or formal. And then from those, pick one that’s the most readable and understandable to you.
The Message is great for, you know, reading once in a while. It was paraphrased from the Greek and Hebrew, which Eugene Peterson did know, but I would not use that for regular study because it isn’t true to what the Hebrew and Greek are saying in a direct formal translation. So I read it for interest or to get a different perspective or tone, but it’s not something I would study out of. So readability, but yet still true to the Hebrew and Greek meaning.
Okay. Our next question is, what do you say to people who say they know the exact date Jesus is coming back? Well, it’s important to be respectful, but it’s also important to be honest with people who are saying this because this has been said throughout almost the entire history of the church.
I could give you easily ten examples of people who claim they knew when Jesus was coming. I mean, even as recent as the year 2000 people were claiming that was the year that Jesus was coming back. And then I remember hearing someone say that it was gonna be 2020, and we all know how that turned out. But rather than get into the weeds on that, I’m just going to read you Jesus’ words in Matthew 25. He says, “Therefore, keep watch for you do not know the day nor the hour on which your lord will come.” If Jesus said it, that’s what we go by. We don’t know the day nor the hour. We don’t know.
And trying to figure out misses the point of what Jesus is after when he talks about his return. He’s talking about finding us faithful, finding us focused, finding us discipling people in the truth of scripture and knowing what we believe and why we believe it and communicating that graciously to the world. If you’re distracted trying to figure out when he’s coming, there’s no way that you can fully focus your energies on what he’s called you to do. That’s how I would answer it.
Okay. Our next question is, are you able to talk a little bit more about loss of salvation and rejection of salvation? Yes. Okay. So we’ve talked in the past about Calvinism and Armenianism. These are 2 different approaches to Salvation Theology, I have a whole episode about them. And I would say it’s important to listen to that episode because this comes up frequently, both in my community at Every Woman a Theologian, but also just in general online in Christian circles. But within the Armenian viewpoint of salvation. There are some more extreme groups, and then there are some classical groups which are more true to Wesleyanism.
Okay. So Arminianism comes from a teacher named Arminius who believed that God was not choosing who could be saved, but that individuals could respond to god’s sovereign grace, that god’s reaching down to man and saying, I have offered you Christ, and he sovereignly gave man the ability to say, I accept Christ or I reject Christ. So that was what Arminius was arguing.
Wesley built on that and kinda flushed out that theology more in-depth. And so Wesley and Arminianism became the viewpoint in contrast to Calvinism that believed that humans can respond and accept God’s offer of salvation, that God is not choosing in advance who can and cannot be saved. He’s not reprobating people from being saved. So Wesleyan Armenians have a range within their community of beliefs, And on the more extreme range are those who believe that you can lose your salvation, that if you sin enough or sin frequently enough, you can actually lose your salvation.
And some of these groups came under the influence of a man named Charles Finney, who was an evangelist, I believe, in the early 1800’s. I could have that off by a couple decades, but Charles Finney taught a more stream version of Wesleyanism than what Wesley actually taught. And this resulted in this belief that you could actually lose your salvation and this fear that can be pervasive in some traditions such as Nazarene churches, where you’ll repeatedly repent and try to get saved again because you believe you sinned so much you lost your salvation.
This is not a scriptural teaching. Scripture can argue, specifically in Hebrews, that someone who has been in the faith can actively and openly reject the faith and walk away. That’s possible, but it is not possible to sin enough to lose your salvation. And here is why. What we see in Romans, what we see in the Gospels, what we see argued over and over again in 1st Corinthians is a salvation that is secured by Christ through his death and his resurrection on our behalf. And when we give our allegiance to Christ, that that victory is given to us, and that victory is a change of identity. You are now in Christ completely. The security of our salvation is in Jesus and what he did. It’s not in us and what we did. And this is what Wesley taught. This is what Arminius taught. They did not teach that salvation was somehow dependent upon your remaining sinless enough or you’re repenting enough.
Repentance is a response to the identity we have in Christ. Wesley said that sin does not belong to a Christ formed human nature. And no man sins because he has not grace, but because he does not use the grace he has. So we have the grace to reject sin. Our identity is not sinner anymore. However, we will still sin. And in those instances, 1 John 1:9 says that we can repent and we can be restored. So this should remove the fear that every time you sin, you’re losing your salvation, because that’s not how this works. There was a secured identity shift that happened when Christ saved you. And from now on, you walk in that identity. When you sin, that’s not your identity, so you repent of it. You come to the Lord. You accept his grace. You get up, and you keep walking.
That’s the lifestyle of a sanctified believer. The fearful, afraid of sinning, constantly repenting but not truly seeing fruit lifestyle is a life of fear, and that is not what we see in scripture. And it’s not what we see in Wesley and Armenian teaching. So anytime you see something that’s saying that you can lose your salvation versus openly reject. Like, for instance, Josh Harris, who used to be a very famous believer. He was a pastor, and he said, I have rejected Christianity. I’m not Christian anymore. Wesleyan Arminianism leaves room for that and says that’s we see that in Hebrews, Hebrews 6. That’s possible, but they would say there’s no way to lose your salvation by sinning enough. And that should be a beautiful, hopeful thing.
Okay. Our last question today is how to respond to someone believing that Jesus had a special celestial body, but no flesh from Mary? Okay. This idea is not a new idea. It actually goes all the way back to the 1st centuries of the church in the heresy, gnosticism. You guys, the enemy recycles the same ideas over and over and over again. Nothing is new under the sun. You will see the same old same old teachings coming out with a new name, and that’s exactly what this is.
In the early church, the gnostics, which existed before Jesus, but was kind of absorbed into Christian teaching in some circles. The gnostics taught that matter was evil or bad or lesser, and the spiritual was better and good. And so they denied that Jesus had a physical body because of that and that he had this spiritual essence, but not this physical body. He didn’t physically die or resurrect because matter is evil, and God would not be associated with matter. That is so contrary to the Judeo Christian ethic, which Jesus upheld.
In Leviticus, specifically, we see this beautiful bonding of the spiritual and the physical. The laws that have to do with the physical body are an expression of God’s grace towards the human body and his honor for the human body. And then when we see that Jesus died, first of all, he came incarnation in a human body, but then died and was raised in a human body. This is fundamental, both the Jewish teaching and the honor of the body, but then also to Christian teaching. And so the idea that Jesus didn’t have a body was such a big deal to the early church that the apostles’ creed, the Nicene Creed, and then Athanasius’ amazing Christian classic, On the unincarnation, were all written specifically to debunk this idea that Jesus did not have a physical body.
So if you see this kind of thing circulating, just know it’s not new. Go read the apostle’s creed. Read the Nicene Creed, and even pick up Athanasius’s amazing book on the incarnation. It’s really short. You’ll feel really smart reading it because it’s written in, like, 380 AD, and it’s fascinating. It’s a great defense for the incarnation of Jesus in a physical body and why that matters to us today.
Alright, you guys. Great questions. I’m so proud of you and your thoughtfulness and what you guys are wrestling with theologically. I hope this was a enjoyable episode. I will be back next week with our regular programming. And as usual, thank you for listening. I so appreciate each of you for engaging in this community, and we will always take your topic and podcast suggestions as we plan out content for the rest of the year.
Thank you for joining us for today’s episode of Verity. You can connect with fellow listeners by following me on Instagram at Phylicia Masonhiemer or on our Facebook page by the same name. Also visit phyliciamasonheimer.com for links to each episode and the show notes.