Ask Your Preacher
Is the phrase "go to church" a biblical concept? Also, does a local church exist outside of an opening and a closing prayer? Thanks.
Dear Church Goer,
The phrase “go to church” isn’t wrong, but it is often misused. 1 Cor 11:18, 1 Cor 14:19, and other verses use the word ‘church’ to refer to when the church is assembled together. Therefore saying “go to church” simply means ‘going to the church assembly’. Having said that, many people have forgotten that the church is the people, not a building. Many people who say, “I’m going to church” are referring to the church’s building. As long as you understand that the church is the people, then you are fine in using the phrase.
As for your second question, since the local church is the people, they do exist outside of the worship services. The very fact that 1 Cor 14:23 refers to the church in Corinth “coming together” means that they are still the church when they aren’t together.
It has always been my understanding that if we die in sin without asking for forgiveness beforehand, we go to hell. For example, if I've lived in obedience to God all my life, but on the day I die I sinned and didn’t ask God for forgiveness, I'd go to hell. Is that right? Now I look at it, and it seems like I'm counting on my righteousness to gain entry into heaven. If a believer sins (as we sometimes do) and dies without asking for forgiveness beforehand, does he/she go to hell?
The Last Word
Dear The Last Word,
Your confusion is a common one because the Bible never explicitly states what happens to the sins that we didn’t specifically ask for forgiveness for. There is no specific verse that deals with this issue; instead, we must look at some of the concepts that are scattered throughout the Scriptures.
- Jesus is our Advocate (1 Jhn 2:1-3). Jesus is our High Priest, and He mediates between us and God (1 Tim 2:5). Jesus wants to intercede for your sins, and He desires to help you get into heaven.
- God doesn’t desire anyone to be separated from Him (2 Pet 3:9). No one will ever accidentally go to hell, and no one will accidently miss out on heaven because they didn’t have an opportunity to pray for forgiveness right before they died. God is ready and willing to forgive (Ps. 86:5).
- God expects our obedience, and all forgiveness is dependent upon our willingness to draw near to Him with obedient hearts (1 Pet 1:14). The Bible says that our obedience to Him purifies our souls. God forgives the faithful and obedient servant (Heb 10:38).
- John paints a beautiful picture for us in 1 Jhn 1:7 by saying, “If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” The word ‘walk’ means ‘to live continually’, and whenever we have that relationship but we accidentally sin, the blood of Jesus continually cleanses us of our sins.
When you consider all of these concepts, the truth on the subject becomes evident; we are forgiven as we ask for forgiveness, and God gives grace in those times when we are unable or ignorant to ask for it. So continue to ask and pray for forgiveness, but you can also have peace that God’s grace will protect your soul as you do your best to live faithfully.
The Bible makes some references to drinking wine; is drinking wine a sin to a Christian? I love the Lord and tend to have a glass of wine every now and then, but a friend of mine says I can't minister or be a good example if I continue to drink. However, Paul tells Timothy, “No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for your stomach’s sake and your frequent infirmities.” (1 Timothy 5:23 NKJV)
I am not looking for an excuse but need an answer as far as the responsibilities when sharing the Word of God and being an example.
Dear Seeking Answers,
In 1Tim 5:23, Paul had to reassure Timothy that it was okay to use alcohol medicinally even though Timothy obviously had an aversion to ever touching alcohol. 1 Tim 5:23 actually serves as a warning against non-medicinal alcohol use instead of an encouragement to drink recreationally.
God never specifically condemns drinking wine, but He does condemn ‘strong drink’ (Pr 20:1), drinking parties (1 Pet 4:3), and drunkenness (Rom 13:13). Almost all alcohol that is consumed today would fall into the category of ‘strong drink’ because our alcoholic beverages are artificially fermented to increase their alcoholic content (unlike the wine of Jesus’ day – read “That’s Just Grape” for further details on the wine Jesus drank). We would all do well to heed the words of Pr 23:31-32 and avoid alcohol as much as is possible.
Does the Bible say anything that disproves the theory of aliens on Earth?
The Scriptures don’t say anything directly about aliens, but they do say several things that make sentient life on other planets highly unlikely.
- God made mankind in His image (Gen 1:26). That is where we get our free will, reason, emotion, conscience, etc. The whole point of alien life is that there is a species of life among the stars that is equal to mankind. God says that man has no equal.
- In the creation story found in Genesis chapter one, Earth seems to be the central focus of the story. The stars, heavenly bodies, etc. are given only a brisk overview. The implication is that Earth is the center of all organic life; it is the central purpose of the creation. It would be odd for God to leave out the part where He made other life sustaining planets with other sentient beings.
- Jesus came to die for mankind (1 Cor 15:3) and the people of this world (Jhn 3:16). If there were aliens that had intelligence, souls, and freewill like humanity, wouldn’t God care equally for their souls? If aliens do exist… it seems that they have been left out of the blessing of forgiveness in Christ.
None of these reasons explicitly deny the existence of alien life; it just makes the chances very, very improbable. Perhaps someday we will find some plants, fungus, or bacteria on another planet, but we doubt we will ever find E.T.
I’m trying to learn to communicate with God. I know we speak to Him through prayer... so does He speak back to us through the Bible? When I ask for God’s perfect will on a subject, and I ask Him for confirmation in the Bible, and I open it and read on what He says, is the word that I read a promise? Thank you for explaining, and God bless!
Looking For Direction
Dear Looking For Direction,
God speaks to us through His Word. If we want to know God’s desire for our life, we must use the Bible to get our instructions. Faith comes from the Word (Rom 10:17), and the Bible contains all the information we need for life and godliness (2 Pet 1:3). If we want to understand what God wants for us, we can find the truth in the sum of His Word (Ps 119:160). It isn’t as simple as just opening the Bible and putting your finger on a page and looking for a sign; the Bible takes study and effort.
God doesn’t answer our prayers by directly speaking to us, but His Word says that we should pray without doubting (1 Tim 2:8) and that we should ask in faith (Jas 1:6). God says there are very few things that will cause Him to ignore our prayers. Read “Whose Prayers Count?” for the list of things that will make God turn His back on your prayers. God never gets tired of hearing from His children. Christians are to constantly seek Him in prayer. The most direct example of this is Christ’s parable of the unjust judge in Lk 18:1-5. Christ taught that parable, so “men ought always to pray and not to grow weary”. God wants to hear from His people. So don’t stop asking for help; He is listening.