Ask Dr. Saleska

1 12, 2013

A Misplaced Comma?

By |December 1st, 2013|Ask Dr. Saleska|0 Comments|

Question for Dr. Saleska:

Jesus told the dying thief: “Verily I say unto you, today you will be with me in paradise-” (Luke 23:43) or did he? Jesus descended into hell and rose the third day. Was the thief with Jesus? I don’t think so. The statement should read, “Verily I say unto you today, you will be with me in paradise (some day); comma after today, not before.

Dr. Saleska’s Response

The original Greek does not have punctuation, and the only translation I could find that places the comma after “today” is the New World Translation (Watchtower). There may be others, but I was unable to locate any. The reason that almost all translators place the comma before “today” is because of the expression by Christ: “Verily I say unto you…” That expression, used exclusively by Christ, occurs approximately 100 times in the Gospels and its intent is always to emphasize the statement that follows; in this case, “…today you shall be with me in paradise.” This is the strongest reason for placing the comma where almost all translators throughout the history of the church have placed […]

5 10, 2013

Denied Entry to the Promised Land & Heaven?

By |October 5th, 2013|Ask Dr. Saleska|0 Comments|

Question for Dr. Saleska

With the exception of Moses, should we assume that all of those people who did not enter the Promised Land also did not go to heaven? Is that what Hebrews 3 & 4 is saying? If we wouldn’t necessarily say this, should we assume that all those who perished in Korah’s rebellion, for example, are not in heaven?

Response from Dr. Saleska

The operative word in answer to your question(s) are “faith” and “unbelief” (hardening of the heart). As you read through the explanation of the Old Testament events referred to by the writer of Hebrews, those two words are clearly at the forefront. Hebrews 3:8 says, “Harden not your hearts (unbelief), as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness…v.11 so I swear in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest. v.12 Take heed, therefore, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. v. 14 For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence (belief or faith) steadfast unto the […]

1 10, 2013

Is the Earth only 6000 years old?

By |October 1st, 2013|Ask Dr. Saleska|0 Comments|

Question for Dr. Saleska:

Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” This implies at least two heavens – the vast empty heaven surrounding planet earth, and God’s heavenly realm. Planet earth was without form or void. Were these created only 6000 years ago? Most likely they were created at a time when there was no time. But 6000 years ago, God separated the sea from the dry land and formed the mountains, hills, deserts, lakes, rivers, etc. on earth. Is earth only 6000 years old?

Dr. Saleska’s Response:

The Hebrew word (shamayim – heaven, heavens) is a plural noun, but is sometimes translated in the singular. The King James Bible, for instance, uses the singular “heaven” in Genesis: 1:1, but most of the other translations use the plural “heavens.” The idea, however, is not that there are two or more heavens, but rather what we sometimes refer to as “space” or “sky;” the “material universe” aside from planet earth.  We often refer to the sky above as “the heavens.” Psalm 19:1 puts it this way: “The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament showeth his handiwork.”

God’s heavenly realm” is perhaps best understood as the “Place” where God is. Heaven and God are often associated. To be in the presence of God is to be in heaven. The Psalmist says: “Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations.” (Ps. 90:1) This is the “place” where Christ who has prepared a “place for us dwells.” He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. When we pray: “Our Father who art in heaven” we need to remember that this is our Father’s house. It is where He lives. “Look down from thy holy habitation, from heaven...” We are all prodigals returning home – to our Fathers house, where everything has been prepared for us by our Lord, and it’s free!

“Is earth only 6000 years old?” The Bible does not give the exact age of the earth. Archbishop James Ussher in the mid 1600’s did an extensive study of the genealogies in the Old Testament and arrived at the date 4004 B.C. for the creation of the world. You will find his dates placed in the margins of some Bibles. From his calculations some biblical scholars have indicated that they believe the world to be approximately 6000 years old. It is not a good idea to insist on the 4004 B.C. date; however, since the precise time when God spoke the world into existence is not given. The secular world scoffs at the “young earth” idea because of their evolutionistic pre-suppositions. They insist it would have taken millions of years to produce the effects we see in the universe. They are unwilling to even consider studying those “effects” from any other point of view; for instance, a creationistic point of view. As the Psalmist says: “God is not in all their thoughts.” It is clear that this is a “young earth,” but the exact date we don’t know.

2 09, 2013

Are Body and Soul Separate?

By |September 2nd, 2013|Ask Dr. Saleska|0 Comments|

Question for Dr. Saleska:

When the Bible uses the terms “body” and “soul,” it seems to use them interchangeably and usually to refer to the whole person or to one’s entire being – like bodies being a living sacrifice in Romans 12. Are these separate entities, like, for instance, the soul leaving the body at death?

Dr. Saleska Responds:

Jesus helps us understand this to some extent when he says in Matthew 10:28; “Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” According to that passage both soul and and body continue after death. Job 19:25-27 confirms the fact that we will have bodies after we die: “For I know that my redeemer lives, and that he shall stand at the latter  day upon the earth: V. 26 and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: V. 27 Whom I shall see for myself, and […]

2 08, 2013

Demon Possession: Is it a relevant topic for the LCMS?

By |August 2nd, 2013|Ask Dr. Saleska|0 Comments|

Question for Dr. Saleska:

Our family has been reading in Mark 1 about how Jesus cast out demons. Recently, in a discussion with close extended family, they described some funny incidents when they personally drove out demons. They didn’t shriek, they whined. This was a charismatic Bible Church. How does our church deal with demon possession, and is it relevant for this to be practiced by parishioners?

Dr. Saleska’s Response:

Devil possession and casting out of devils seems to have occurred principally during the life and ministry of Christ, and to a lesser degree in the early Christian church as recorded in the book of Acts. (Acts 15:16, 16:18, 19:12) Beyond that there is not a whole lot of reliable information on its occurrence in the history of the church. No one seems to know why the phenomenon occurred then and tended to diminish afterward. In more modern times there have been claims of casting out of devils like the one you describe, but the legitimacy is very questionable.

Our church has no official position on devil possession today or on casting out of demons. However, […]

4 06, 2013

God Appeared in the Flesh in the Old Testament?

By |June 4th, 2013|Ask Dr. Saleska|0 Comments|

Question for Dr. Saleska:

In one of our Bible classes at church someone said that in the Old Testament God sometimes appeared in a physical body. We also talked about the angel of the Lord who came to Abraham as being Christ. Could you explain this? Also, in Acts 23:11 it says that the Lord stood by Paul. It seems as if Paul could see him. Do you think he could?

Dr. Saleska’s Response:

First of all Acts 23:11 “…the Lord stood by him.” Luther says: “Whenever Scripture says something about God doing things associated with bodily or physical functions, (God walking in the garden, standing, talking, etc.) this must always be understood as referring literally to Christ in his blessed humanity.” So when Adam and Eve heard the “voice of the Lord God walking in the Garden” I do not believe that it was a disembodied voice, but rather that God took on human form, and this could also be understood as a foreshadowing of the incarnation.

Our Lutheran theologians have always said this about the “Angel of the Lord” (Heb. Malak Jahweh) in the Old Testament: “Whenever divine characteristics are ascribed to the Angel of the Lord, this should always be understood as referring to the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ.” “Malak” (angel) means “messenger” or “worker.” Christ is God’s “messenger” or God’s “worker”: “My father worketh hitherto, and I work.” (John 5:17)

So, when the Lord “stood by Paul” I believe he stood there bodily since after his resurrection and even until now Christ has a body. These passages might help: “Behold my hands and my feet that it is I myself, handle me and see, a spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye see me have” (Luke 24:39), “Then saith he to Thomas, reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless but believing” (John 20:27), and “For in him dwelleth (present tense) all the fullness of the godhead bodily.” (Col. 2:9) Obviously he can show himself in visible form whenever he chooses to do so.

4 05, 2013

What are the Greater & Lesser Lights in Genesis 1:16?

By |May 4th, 2013|Ask Dr. Saleska|0 Comments|

Question for Dr. Saleska:

And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.” (Genesis 1:16).  Does light refer to wisdom, knowledge, enlightenment, etc?

Dr. Saleska’s Response:

The question requires a two part answer.

1. Genesis 1:16 refers to the creation of the sun, moon, and stars which illuminate our physical world; vs. 17-18 give a little more detail: “And God set them (sun, moon, and stars) in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth.  And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness…”  This provides physical light for the world in which we live.

2. Wisdom, knowledge, enlightenment are also referred to in Scripture as light.  The expression “to shed light on the subject” means to inform or bring comprehension to a particular subject.  This “enlightenment” is what Paul had in mind when he said to the Ephesians: “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints” (Eph. 1:17-18).

The Gospel brings “light” (understanding) to the people in darkness.  “The people which sat in darkness saw great light…” (Mt. 4:16).  Paul has the two kinds of light mentioned in your question in mind in II Corinthians 4:6 where he writes: “For God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, (Gen. 1:3) has shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ Jesus.”  In Christ, who is the embodiment of God’s wisdom, we can now understand what God is doing; his plan is comprehensible unlike it was when we were in darkness before.  This is the wisdom, knowledge, enlightenment that your question is driving at.  See also Psalm 119:105 and 119:130.

4 04, 2013

Let there be Light: What was the Light?

By |April 4th, 2013|Ask Dr. Saleska|0 Comments|

Question for Dr. John Saleska:

Genesis 1:3, “And God said, ‘Let there be light': and there was light.”  What was the light?

Response from Dr. John Saleska:

This is a very good question for which there are very few “scientific” answers.  Scripture does not give us any additional information about this light.  We know that its absolute source is God, but its “physical source” (if one exists) is presently unknown.  This light was (is) obviously independent of the heavenly bodies (sun, moon, stars) which were created on the fourth day.  Some commentators have suggested that the sun, moon, and stars produced this light but were partially veiled until the fourth day when God “uncovered” them.  The language, however, is very clear – this light was a separate creation on the first day.  The same is true of the sun, moon, and stars which were created on the fourth day.  Following is a literal translation from the Hebrew: “Light be, and light was.”  When God spoke those words, evidently some sort of “invisible low intensity luminescent particles” produced light – perhaps a subdued light something like the early […]

2 03, 2013

What does Jesus mean by”I will be with you”?

By |March 2nd, 2013|Ask Dr. Saleska|0 Comments|

Question for Dr. Saleska

What does it really mean when Jesus says: I will be with you?  In regards to what?

Response from Dr. Saleska

When Jesus says in Matthew 28:19-20, “Go, make disciples of all nations… and lo I am with you always even unto the end of the age” and “I will never leave you or forsake you” (Heb. 13:5b), he means that throughout our entire earthly life, wherever we are and whatever we do, he will be present.  These and other similar passages are comforting promises because there are times in our lives that we may feel forsaken by everyone, including God.  This promise is to assure us that no matter the circumstances, even if “all things seem against us to drive us to despair, we know one gate is open, one ear will hear our prayer” (TLH 279 V.4). The psalmist assures us: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Ps. 46:1).  Of course, he will be forever with us in eternity.