Ask Your Preacher
I have a very interesting question, and I'm hoping you can help. I know the Bible says you shouldn't mess with spirits, and fortune telling is sinful. However, what if someone didn't ask for this gift? I know it says no one knows the future but God, but what if He gave a gift to someone, and they were using it for good? And what about Ouija boards? I've always been taught they are of the devil. One last thing, I'm from the south, and I've heard a lot about conjurers. In fact, as a child, my grandfather visited one to get a growth removed, and it worked. This woman was a christian and claimed it was a gift from God and not sinful. Is this sinful and of the devil? I am, by the way, very superstitious; however, I do believe the Bible is clear on the boundaries that should not be crossed. Sorry for being so lengthy, but I believe there's a lot of people asking the same things.
Dear Magically Minded,
The dictionary defines ‘superstition’ as ‘a widely held but unjustified belief in supernatural causation leading to certain consequences of an action or event, or a practice based on such a belief’. Superstition means that you are placing trust in the supernatural power of a rabbit’s foot, not walking under ladders, four-leaf clovers, Ouija boards, etc. This is always wrong. We are supposed to place our trust in God (Ps 56:11), and God has clearly said that He doesn’t give people the gifts of fortune telling; all these things are of the devil. Even if a conjurer removed your grandfather’s growth, being a conjurer is still sinful. There are lots of sinful things that have short-term benefits… but long-term consequences.
Superstition is a mild and socially acceptable form of witchcraft or divining. There is no difference between trusting in a lucky coin and trusting in the astrological tables. Astrology and horoscopes are wrong (Deut 4:19, 2 Kgs 23:5); witchcraft and magical arts are wrong (Acts 19:19). Superstition falls into the same category as those practices.
(This post is in reference to “A Parent’s Sorrow”)
Just reading the Q and A about the woman's daughter that has chosen a homosexual life… when do we as a church or member disfellowship ourselves from someone, and how do we do this with a family member or loved one? Out of love, we are not to even eat or associate with them, but how can we do this effectively with an adult child or straying parent?
Dear Cutting Ties,
The Bible doesn’t tell us to withdraw from all people who are living actively sinful lifestyles; we are only told to withdraw from christians who live actively sinful lives. Paul even said that the church isn’t in the business of judging all mankind (that’s God’s job); we are only responsible to exhort and, if needed, discipline our own (1 Cor 5:9-13). In the question you are referring to, it doesn’t sound like the daughter is a christian and the member of the church.
Secondly, even if the person is a christian, when the church withdraws from someone, family relationships aren’t as clear-cut as the rest of the brethren. The church is given strict orders to withdraw and not associate with a wayward brother or sister (1 Cor 5:13). However, the immediate family doesn’t have the same “black and white” guidelines. In fact, we see that they sometimes are commanded to do the opposite – as in the case of an unbelieving spouse (1 Cor 7:13). Close relatives and loved ones falling away can be torturous on the rest of the family, and immediate family oftentimes has to make the tougher decisions of when to draw back and when to keep the family door open. Family ties in the case of a wayward christian becomes a gray area that requires wisdom and should be handled on a case-by-case basis.
Is it correct to use the word ‘church’ in place of ‘ekklesia’?
A Little Wordy
Dear A Little Wordy,
‘Ekklesia’ is a Greek word, and ‘church’ is an English word. It isn’t wrong to translate the Bible from its original Greek into other languages. In fact, Jesus quoted from a Greek translation of the Old Testament called the Septuagint (the Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew). The word ‘ekklesia’ means ‘the called out’ and refers to a group that is called together for a specific purpose. In modern English, we use words like ‘church’ and ‘assembly’ to express the same definition. The church of Christ is a group of people who have heard and heeded the call of Jesus Christ.
I have been attending a United Methodist church for about two years now and really enjoyed the teaching of the Bible from my clergy; recently, he told me the Bishop was transferring him to another church, one that in distance would prevent me from attending. I feel I have lost a good teacher, one that had and could capture all my attention and others’ when we would hear his words on the teachings of the Bible. Why would a church replace a man that meant so much to the people he ministered to? I have tried to listen to the new appointed minister, but somehow, it’s just not giving the blessings of the Word of God that were there for me with my last clergy. I am a bit disappointed, and we are now looking for new church… again.
Dear Left Behind,
The reason the United Methodist church did this was because they haven’t been following the Bible – they’ve been following their own traditions. Your frustrating situation is a great example of what has gone wrong with the religious world. God never intended for congregations to take orders from some regional archbishop or governing council. The Bible pattern for local churches is much simpler – and it avoids the sort of congregational disruption you experienced.
Every congregation of the New Testament had independence. Only local elders were over them (1 Pet 5:1-2, Acts 14:23). They were bound to follow Christ as their only head (Eph 5:23)… no boards or committees, no headquarters in some other state, no popes or potentates. If a congregation was happy with their preacher, he stayed. If they were unhappy, they stopped supporting him. Simple as that.
What you are looking for is a local body of believers who are accountable to Christ and His Word, not some district office or United Methodist jurisdiction. Congregations like this exist all over America and the world. If you’d like, we’d be happy to get you in touch with a congregation that plays by God’s rules, not their own. E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org if we can be of service.
Hi, and thank you for listening. I always wondered what exactly heaven will be like. Will we have our memory from this life to the next? Also, when Jesus returns, will that be the end to this existence? No Earth, no solar system, and so on? Thank you and God bless.
Still On This Side
Dear Still On This Side,
Even those in torments remember their lives and families after death. The story of Lazarus and the rich man shows that the rich man awoke in torments and remembered his brothers (Lk 16:27-28). We have every reason to believe that after we die, we will still remember who we are, the relationships we have built, and the lives that we have touched on this planet.
When Jesus returns, this universe will be totally destroyed by intense heat (2 Pet 3:10-13), and this earthly age will pass away and be replaced by a spiritual one for all eternity (1 Cor 15:49-54). Read “Through The Fire” for more details on what happens to the Earth on the judgment day.