Questions & Answers

Harold S. Paisley

Question: How can the expression "sin lieth at the door" be understood? These are the words of God to Cain. Was a sacrifice for Cain in the mind of the Lord? (Gen. 4:1-7)

Answer: Two distinct interpretations have been given of these words of God to Cain. We believe they form a warning from the Lord to Cain. It has been thought by some that their meaning is there is danger of great sin which is at the very threshold. Others state that they understand it as saying there is a sin offering at the door waiting to be accepted.

It is our judgment that the first is in context as the R.V. margin emphasizes the words "unto thee is its desire, but thou shalt rule over it. Is it not the idea that sin desires to have you, but you must overcome it? These ancient words seem the same in meaning as the Lord Jesus’ words to Peter "Satan bath desired to have you."


Question: Constantly in ministry, the expression "Canon of the Scriptures" is mentioned. As a new believer, I have often wondered what is the meaning of this. Could a simple explanation be given in Words in Season?

Answer: I trust that as simply as possible a suitable answer is given here. It would take many pages to cover this very interesting and important subject. The word "canon" means the rule of standard by which writings were judged to be divinely inspired and therefore part of the Scriptures of Truth.

God-fearing Jews, no doubt under the guidance and control of the Holy Spirit of God, made a collection of sacred writings which established the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms. The Lord Jesus placed His sanction upon this selection (Luke 24:44). Other Hebrew writings were not included, such as the Apocryphal Books.

As the Gospels and the Epistles were written, the rule of acceptance was followed until the twenty-seven books of the New Testament were completed. The "canon" was now entire, including sixty-six books. These are the final rule of faith for believers. Every christian has in his hand and in his mother tongue, the unerring, infallible Scriptures. In the great matter of their preservation, like the manna in the golden pot, we bow in thanksgiving and worship.


Question: Is it scriptural to state that there are degrees of punishment apportioned to those who are sentenced to eternal fire?

Answer: It is a dreadful prospect awaiting all who die in their sins to be finally cast into the lake of fire. In considering the solemnity of the doctrine of penalty according to privilege, one would thank God that we have been delivered from going down into the pit. The possibility of any we know perishing should increase our potential and compassion to win the lost.

The reading of Luke 12:47-48 and Matthew 11:20-24 support the truth that there are degrees of punishment. The Judge of all the earth will do right, for His judgments are righteous. He will take into account all the circumstances, privileges, opportunities and background of each one who appears before Him in his sins. In the final summing of each individual case, appropriate sentence will be passed. Some will have "few stripes" and some "many." For some, the judgment will be "more tolerable" than for others. For all however, it will be an awful day. All hope will be taken away forever. Some will go to the Lake of Fire who have never heard the story of the cross, yet conscience and creation witnessed, and if heeded, would have brought the light of the gospel. To hear the message of salvation and finally reject the offer of grace will incur the severest damnation. "What shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel?" Only eternity will reveal.


Question: It is being taught in relation to the phrase "Christ, who through the eternal spirit offered Himself without spot to God" (Heb. 9:14), that the Spirit here is His own Spirit and not the usual teaching that it is indeed the Holy Spirit.

Answer: It is our firm belief that this teaching that the Lord Jesus offered the sacrifice in the power of His divine personality is contrary to the beautiful teaching of Heb. 9:11-15. The teaching is the result of reading Westcott’s translation, which we do not accept on this passage.

The context reveals the purpose of the text to show that each person of the Divine Trinity has taken part in the work of redemption. Our Lord Jesus Christ had the suffering part, having come into manhood for the purpose of that great work. He offered His sacrifice in death by the same Holy Spirit through whom He served in His life. It was through the Holy Spirit that the sacrifice was offered to God. Thus, we believe all the persons of the Godhead were involved in the final offering by which sin has been put away. The One who made the offering has been raised again in power according to the Spirit of Holiness and is presently seated at the right hand of God. In the acceptance of His sacrifice, the persons of the Godhead are seen (Romans 1:3-4; Heb. 9:12).