Good Questions

By John David Clark, Sr. - May, 1993

A good question is from the Lord. Without His help, we don't know what to ask. We don't even know that there is a question to be asked. I can remember my high school algebra teacher asking at the end of class, "Are there any questions?" And I can remember being so confused that I couldn't think of a question to ask. This is how man is concerning the things of God. Until God touches our lives with His mercy, we are so lost that we don't even know that we are.

There are examples of certain people in the Scriptures who were blessed by God to ask the right questions. The terrified Philippian jailor asked Paul and Silas, "What must I do to be saved?" Nicodemus asked Jesus to explain the new birth which the Master had mentioned. On the Mount of Olives, the disciples asked Jesus about his second coming and of the end of the world. And on the road to Damascus, trembling with terror at the vision of Christ, Saul of Tarsus cried out, "Who art thou, Lord?" Good questions, all. And they were good for three reasons.

First, they were asked at the right time. The jailor didn't wait until Paul left town to wonder what to do to be saved. He took advantage of the opportunity to ask someone about God while there was someone there who could answer his question.

This brings us to the second reason these questions were good ones. They were questions asked of the right people. Nicodemus didn't ask his fellow Pharisees to explain the new birth. It's a good thing he didn't. They would have considered his question to be an indication of mental stress. A friend of mine in college, having heard about the baptism of the Holy Ghost, went to her Methodist minister to find out about it. She would have been just as well served, maybe better, to have gone to a Rabbi. Why didn't she go to a minister who had experienced receiving the Holy Ghost? After all, if you want to know if a pair of shoes fit, you wouldn't go try on a coat. I think that sometimes we ask the right questions of the wrong people in order to avoid the right answer, but to appear to be sincere.

The third element which makes those questions good ones is that they were asked for the right purpose. There are examples of questions asked at the right time, to the right person, but for the wrong purpose altogether. such as Cain's inquiry to the Lord, "Am I my brother's keeper?" And Judas', "Is it I?" And when the evil-hearted Israelite demanded of Moses, "Who made you a prince and a judge over us?", it would have been a good question if his purpose had been good. But he was trying to avoid the question which God, through Moses, was asking him, which was, "Why are you mistreating your neighbor?"

Jesus was constantly being asked otherwise good questions by men who were frantically running from God's good answer. Often, they were merely attempting to trap Jesus in his words, we are told, but they always managed only to expose themselves as hypocrites.

Those who truly want God, seek Him while He may be found. Those who are sincerely hungry for the truth, ask for it while it is near.

Recently I received a wonderful letter from a brother in Haiti. In 1987, he wrote, the Lord touched him with His power. He received the baptism of the Holy Ghost and began to speak with other tongues. As a result, he said, he was obliged to leave the denomination in which he had ministered for some time. As I thought on that letter, I imagined the process, the decision he was forced by his denomination to make. Either reject and deny the wonderful experience he had received from God or be ousted from his post as minister in that denomination. He made the choice to confess what God had done and to go out on his own, trusting the same God that had filled him with the Spirit would also able to provide for his needs and the needs of his congregation.

I also thought about the many others whom I have known who were forced by their respective Christian denominations to make choices similar to that which this good man in Haiti had to make. Some made wrong choices, preferring the companionship of those whom they loved and with whom they had worshipped the Lord for so long, rather than to confess openly the good work of God in their lives. There is no denying that such a choice is a very difficult choice to make. That there ever has to be such choices made is a tragedy in itself. But such is the world in which we live. Sometimes, in order to have a clear conscience before the Lord, we must deny some of the strongest feelings and closest ties on earth in order to obey the call of God because, sometimes, those whom we love most dearly do not have the calling from God that we may have.

It is in this regard that a very good question came to my mind, a question especially for my Spirit-baptized brothers and sisters who are yet entangled in the web of Christianity. The question is this: Is there a blessing which God has for you which, if you received, would make you unwelcome where you are? Which one of the gifts or callings of God are you forbidden to receive by those you consider to be your elders in the Lord? Is there a limit on how well you can know God, or on how much joy you can express or how much power you can have from him? The point of such questions is this: If there is anything of God that you cannot have and still be a welcomed member of your place of worship, why are you still there? What blessing from God must you hope does not fall upon you so that you are not expelled as a heretic? What gift from God must you pray not to receive, so that you may continue as a member in good standing? If there is one such blessing forbidden you by your elders, why are you still following them? Can't you see how the dread of having God bless you in certain ways will dampen a man's fervent zeal for Christ? After all, if I must not be blessed by God in order to be accepted where I am presently worshiping, then I had better serve Him moderately, lest He respond to my fervent worship with a forbidden blessing!

This is not an imagined scenario. This is the every day experience of most of the children of God in this society. I have seen many of God's children attending "church" services in places which resist the power and truth of the Spirit of God, and in order to continue to be received there, in order to maintain their positions and titles of honor, they must be careful not to praise God with utter abandon, not to raise their hands too highly in worship, not to fall on their faces and trembling at His majesty, and not confess Him and His work in their lives. There are thousands of holy Ghost baptized saints in this country who every worship-day attend services in places which would throw them out on their ear if they stood up and gave God glory for filling them with the Spirit and for empowering them to speak in tongues. And I am utterly at a loss to understand even a little why they want to go to those places. What is it that attracts them to worship in places where the power of God is suppressed or denied outright? And why do they often stare in suspicious disbelief at those of us who have heard the call of Jesus and have forsaken those dry wells?

God is calling every one of His children to come out of Christianity and be pure. As the Scriptures say, "Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues" (Rev.18:4). The "her" in this verse is not the world. God's people have already come out of that. That is how they became God's people. What God's people must come out of are the divisive doctrines and commandments of men. "Christianity" is just a socially acceptable word for "cult". The fact that Christianity now claims a billion or more people as members makes it no less wrong. Such cults and those of Jim Jones (of the Ghana tragedy) and the wackos in Waco, Texas, a few years back play right into the hand of Satan. In the minds of men, such weirdos make Christianity seem safe, and Satan's ministers can solemnly shake their heads and warn the congregations about "wandering off" into extremes, even as they themselves are extremely opposed to the gifts and love of God and demonstrations of His power.

"Come out of her, my people." Come outside with me, where you can worship God with all your strength, speak from your heart to the church, and freely think the next thought. Where you can dance without fear, laugh without condemnation, and weep for the poor, imprisoned children of God who still are vainly attempting to fit the round peg of life in the Spirit into the square hole of Christianity. No one can be a member of Christianity and be perfectly pleasing to God. God is calling His family to come out and be separate from them (2Cor.6:14-18).

So, the last good question to be asked now is this: How important is it to each of us to please our heavenly Father?


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