Ask Dr. E – Episode 5

In this episode, Dr. E answers questions about polygamy, church membership, the voice of church leaders in regards to pro-life issues, blaspheming the Holy Spirit, and funeral attendance.

Have a Biblical or theological question? Ask Dr. E! Call us at 615-281-9694 and leave a voicemail with your question. Michael will answer it on an upcoming Ask Dr. E episode!

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(2:56) Is there biblical evidence that refutes polygyny as a sin?

First, God designed marriage as a monogamous, heterosexual union until death.

Second, Man is always pulled by sin. It’s our nature, we are greatly tempted not to trust God at His word. We want to be our own gods and set our own standards.

Third, The few passages that addressed a man having more than one wife are not approvals or endorsements.

The first account of polygamy in the Bible is Genesis 4:19-23 where Lamech claims that he’ll marry more than one woman if he wants, and will kill anyone who opposes him.

The first polygamist is a murderer and braggart. Hardly a godly model.

Solomon was dismantled by his multiplication of wives, as warned in Deuteronomy 17:17.

There are a few passages in the old testament where a man has more than one wife. These passages aren’t endorsing polygamy, they’re concerned with the preservation of a man’s lineage.

Deuteronomy 25:5 also isn’t an endorsement for polygamy, it was a provision within the Levitical tribe for a man who doesn’t have a namesake to carry his lineage. Only men could be priests, so this provision ensures that there will continue to be a line of levites to carry the line of priests.

This is a law for a levite marriage specific to brothers who live together and widows who have not borne a son. This mandates that the widow is cared for and the deceased husband’s name carries on. There is a legal provision if the brother-in-law couldn’t take on the burden of caring for his sister-in-law and her family.

Consider the New Testament requirements of an elder: “husband of one wife”

The Bible is the complete text for a life of faith in practice, but it doesn’t directly address every part of life. As we go through these passages, we build a theology that guides us.

Christ is very clear in every passage where he addresses marriage: It’s one man and one woman for life. Matthew 19:3-9

Ask: what was God’s design for marriage from the beginning?

(16:55) Short of heresy, is it ever okay, and if so when, to leave my church and look to worship elsewhere?

There is no consensus about this within evangelical churches alone. There are some denominations where this is a non-issue and others where this is a major discussion.

Ultimately, church membership is a wisdom principle. I find no chapter and verse that talks about a formal church membership. So we read the text and cobble together a theology that guides us.

You stand on your own two feet when it comes to church membership.

If a man or woman has a problem with a local church and their leadership or teaching, you do all you can in love and grace to have those conversations, but you stand before God on your own. Your church leadership does not interface between you and God.

You may submit yourself to be shepherded by them and that’s good, but if they are wrong or in error, you have the freedom to have an adult conversation with your leadership and make a decision as a family on where you become and remain members.

One important distinction is the local v. universal church:

We are one body. When we trusted Christ we became members of that body, but local congregations were established from Acts and through the epistles we understand qualifications for leaders and teachers and how we function in the local church.

It is wise to be a member of a local church, but it’s not a salvation or sanctification issue. There is a time to join and a time to leave. Not every church can minister specifically to every need, and we should be careful not to become a member of a church just to be ministered to – serve as well. We ought to be involved in one area of our church in service.

The best church for your family is the one where you can both serve and be ministered to.

If you wish to leave your church, ask yourself why you feel that way and if there’s anything you can do to change the things about your church that are prompting you to want to leave?

(28:10) I’m afraid I committed the unpardonable sin and blasphemed the Holy Spirit. What can I do to get the Holy Spirit back? Have I messed up so badly that God wont forgive me?

What does it mean to blaspheme the Holy Spirit/what makes that the unpardonable sin?

Blaspheming the Holy Spirit aka the Unpardonable Sin is recorded in the synoptics (eg. the 3 similar gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke)
Context: Jesus has cast out a demon and the pharisees accuse Him of having done this by Beelzebub. Essentially, what you did, you did by the power of satan. Jesus explains that a kingdom or a house that is divided against itself, it will fall.

Luke 11:20, Exodus 8:19

To blaspheme the Spirit is to attribute the work of God to Satan.

It’s directly rejecting Christ’s work by rejecting the Spirit, which is to reject the gospel. So a person interested in the Spirit of Christ has probably not blasphemed the Spirit. A believer can’t commit that sin.

If a person feels that he or she has done that, the fact that they feel that way is strong evidence they haven’t. If you’ve blasphemed the Holy Spirit, you wouldn’t care.

As a reminder: if you read a verse that doesn’t make sense, read the verses around it.

Grieving the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:25-31):

The word “sealed” in greek is sphragis (gk. σφραγίς, “sfra-geed-zo” – a seal, or proof)

Don’t lie, speak in anger, sin, steal, say unwholesome words, have wrath, clamor, slander…what’s the context? this outlines how we are to live this life. Simply, when we do these things that Paul tells us not to do, we are not being governed by the Holy Spirit of God; ergo, we “grieve” the Holy Spirit.

Quenching the Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19):

To quench: (gk. σβέννυμι, to suppress, extinguish, thwart). Some of the Pentecostal history had to do with quenching a fire.

If grieving is to disobey (knowing what is right and choosing otherwise), quenching is more a suppressing of what I know I’m supposed to do: live faithfully, be at peace with one another, etc.

The Spirit indwells us, we are given the fruit of the Spirit that grow in us. So when we aren’t living out those things, we could be quenching the Spirit or grieving the Spirit because we aren’t allowing Him to guide us and produce that fruit in our lives.

When we’re controlled by the Spirit of Christ, we’re less likely to grieve or quench the Holy Spirit’s work in us.

After the Holy Spirit indwells you, can He be forced to leave?

Baptism of the Holy Spirit: there are a variety of viewpoints, but let’s start with the Bible. The phrase “baptize with the Holy Spirit” is found seven times in the New Testament (Mark 1:8, Matthew 3:11, Luke 3:16, John 1:33, Acts 1:5, Acts 11:15-16, 1 Corinthians 12:13).

Each person is baptized at the moment of salvation. The moment you trusted Christ, you were baptized into the body of Christ.

The word Baptism is somewhat associated with water, but the idea of having been baptized is best understood as being identified: the moment Christ was baptized, He was identified by God as His Son. When we are baptized, we are identified with Christ.

Example mentioned by the caller: Saul, 1 Samuel 16:14.
David also appealed to the Lord not to remove His spirit from him in Psalm 51:11
However, this is Old Testament, pre-New Covenant.

As the king of Israel, it is evidential that he disobeyed God and God removed His Spirit potentially to show all of His people that God would punish even His king for his sin.

The king mentioned in this episode who lived as an animal for seven years was Nebuchadnezzar. This story is in Daniel chapter 4, specifically Daniel 4:31-33

The Holy Spirit did not indwell believers permanently in the Old Testament, but we are in the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31) which was fulfilled at Pentacost.

Because the Holy Spirit indwells believers as a seal, permanently, we don’t believe He is going to leave.

We also don’t believe He is going to send an evil spirit to punish us. We do believe a believer can be harassed (“demonized” v. “demon possessed”). It’s difficult to believe that the Holy Spirit would allow a person that He indwells to be possessed by an evil spirit.

Satan can tempt, but he cannot force. Any combination of fooling around in the occult or mind-altering substances might make it easier for us to give into those temptations.

Don’t blame a demon when our sin nature is a willing participant.

Let’s not give satan that much credit, he doesn’t need it. Let’s own our sin and stay close to Christ by acknowledging our need for Him.

In summary:

  1. Christ loves you
  2.  Christ is the only solution to our sin condition
  3. We will always be tempted for all of our lives, but that does not grant us permission to continue in sin that grace my increase
  4. “Addictions” make it more difficult for us to live lives governed by the Holy Spirit. A bit of advice:
    HALT: Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired. If you are an addict, don’t leave the house if you feel any of the above. Meet those needs before facing the world.
  5. Focus on God’s word, God’s Spirit, and God’s people. When we focus on not sinning or what satan is doing or our addictions, we’re wasting emotional energy that we could better spend on God’s word, God’s spirit, and God’s people.

When we use that energy in pursuit of God’s word, God’s spirit, and God’s people, we’re going to find joy!

God’s not mad at you. He knows you completely and He cares about you, and He knows that you struggle.

(55:37) Thanks for speaking out about recent abortion laws. Why does it seem that church leaders are often so silent in regards to abortion laws and pro-life issues?

1. Showing outrage on social media does two things: It incites people who disagree, and it attracts those who agree. Outrage doesn’t change anyone’s mind, it just fuels the fire of those who are convinced one way or another.

2. Social media is unreliable.

3. Many good organizations are fighting this fight without any noise. There are people doing good work quietly and systematically behind the scenes.

4. If you look at my social media feed, there are issues I’m very clear about, but I’m not outraged in those posts because being outraged doesn’t help anyone.

5. John MacArthur recently posted a statement on social justice. It was a solid document, except that his tone and some of the opinions were poorly communicated. The statement took incredible heat – of course, those who align with John agree with the statement, but if you read it carefully it is conspicuous by those who you’d think would have signed on and didn’t.

There are loud voices who do things, and there are those who act behind the scenes. We’re in such a vitriolic culture right now that outrage doesn’t accomplish anything.

On a broad level, if we choose to engage in these topics, we should do so in our immediate sphere of influence. Ask questions of those who believe differently than you about these things in a kind and civil way. For example: “Interesting, how did you arrive at that opinion?”

Having a real conversation, person to person, is much more influential and productive than sharing an outraged tweet.

(1:05:25) Is it in poor taste not to attend a family member’s funeral?

Your presence communicates more than your words can. Presence means something, it is powerful.

Family dynamics can be very complicated, but can we be the big person who sets those things aside and shows up and chooses not to pick a fight, but is simply there to give a hug and look our loved ones in the eye and say that we’re sorry for their loss and we’re thinking about them?

My encouragement is to always go.

Deuteronomy 34:4-6 reveals that a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus buried Moses, which shows us “there is dignity in the burial of the body.” – Dr. Wendell Johnson

Michael Easley

About Michael Easley

Michael is husband to one, dad to four, and host of Michael Easley inContext.



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