Ask Your Preacher
My wife and I are members of a church of Christ, the kind that has a fellowship hall, youth minister (and stuff like that), but no instrumental music (or anything like that). My point is, my wife and I have become a little uncomfortable with this zeal and not being able to find the authority for these things. We went to a very conservative type of church of Christ, like your congregation (from what I gather from y'all’s answers). There is more to it than that but, my question is: what can we expect with a change from a "liberal" type of church of Christ to a "conservative" church of Christ?
Motivated To Move
Dear Motivated To Move,
Oftentimes, the worship service at liberal congregations doesn’t seem all that different from the worship service at conservative ones, but the principles behind why they each do what they do is vastly different.
The fundamental difference between the more conservative congregations and the more liberal ones is how closely they adhere to the Bible pattern. In a conservative congregation, you will see the focus of the church being upon preaching the truth to the lost, teaching the saved, and carrying for needy saints – that’s it. A conservative congregation believes that the church is sufficient to do God’s work, and they shouldn’t delegate that work out to another organization like a missionary society. Conservative congregations support preachers directly, and they send funds directly to care for other needy christians… just like the Bible pattern. This is why conservative congregations are sometimes referred to as ‘non-institutional’. They don’t believe any other institution should take the place of the church – not a missionary society, not a federation of congregations pooling their funds, not a group of preachers controlling the direction of multiple churches.
The other thing that you will see is that a conservative congregation believes that there is a difference between individual responsibilities and congregational responsibilities. Individuals have the responsibility to spend time together and socialize with other christians. Individuals have the responsibility to do good to all mankind and be involved in their community as helpers of the poor and friends to strangers (Gal 6:10). The church has the responsibility to be the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Tim 3:15). You won’t see the church using its resources (including its building) for purely social activities such as potlucks – it is our responsibility as individuals to show hospitality (Heb 13:2). You also won’t see the church getting caught up in secular charity activities like food pantries for the poor or community activism – it is our responsibility as individuals to effect change in our communities and help our neighbors. When we blur the lines between what the church should be doing and what individual christians should be doing, we get into all sorts of trouble. Conservative congregations do their best to keep those lines as distinct as the Bible does.
In short, a conservative congregation will always show you Bible authority for what it does. We speak where the Bible speaks and are silent where the Bible is silent (Rev 22:18-19).
My pastor does not have the Holy Spirit to his admission, and he believes that it is not needed. He is a wonderful pastor, should I continue to go to this church? I do have the Holy Spirit?
Neither of you have the Holy Spirit if what you mean is that the Holy Spirit speaks to you directly or the Holy Spirit allows you to perform miracles – that doesn’t happen anymore.
The indwelling of the Holy Spirit that allowed people to perform miracles was received through the direct laying on of hands of the apostles (Acts 8:17-18). This dwelling of the Holy Spirit no longer exists because it died off with the last person that the last apostle laid his hands upon.
Christians do have the Holy Spirit dwell in them (Rom 8:9) – but not literally. The Holy Spirit dwells in christians in the same metaphorical way that Christ dwells in christians (Rom 8:10). The Holy Spirit and Jesus do not physically dwell inside christians miraculously. They dwell within christians in a figurative way because a christian’s life follows the path the Holy Spirit and Christ set for them.
The Holy Spirit dwells in those that follow the Bible and put to death their previous sinful lifestyles (Rom 8:12-14). The Holy Spirit gave us the Bible, and when we follow it, we are led by the Spirit (see this post for further details). Those who are led by the Spirit are sons of God, and the Spirit dwells in them (Rom 8:14-16).
What is sin?
Dear Definition Please,
Sin is disobeying what God says. The very word ‘sin’ is defined as ‘missing the mark’. God defines what a good life looks like in His Word. We wouldn’t know who we ought to be if He didn’t tell us. We are made in His image (Gen 1:26) and created for His glory (Col 1:16). We are the creation, and He is the Creator. Understanding His supreme authority is crucial. We must realize and accept that we are designed with a purpose and that the Creator understands how to properly guide our lives to fulfill that purpose.
Sin can be doing something that God has condemned (i.e. David sleeping with Bathsheba – 2 Sam 12:13). Sin can also be failing to do what you ought to (i.e. Jonah refusing to preach to the Ninevites – Jonah 1:3). We must model our lives after God’s commandments and teachings. Our lives must bear godly fruit (Jhn 15:12, Lk 3:8), and we must flee from wickedness (1 Tim 6:11). It is our adherence to both the positive and negative commandments of God that shows our friendship with Him (Jhn 15:14). The Bible is God’s roadmap for life; follow it to avoid the pitfalls of sin.
I have been told something strange by people I believe are sound brethren. They have given me the verses for their belief, but I don't quite go along with what they are saying. As far as I'm concerned, it is not a matter of salvation, but it's just that I have never heard this before, and I want to make sure I learn and understand ALL I can about God’s Word. They say that our souls were with God before we are born. We are sent here, so we can appreciate the love of God and make our "free will" decision to obey Him.
How Old Am I?
Dear How Old Am I,
God formed Adam from the dust of the Earth, and at that moment, He made Adam into a living soul (Gen 2:7). The Bible teaches us that a person comes into existence in the womb, not a moment before (Zech. 12:1). Several passages speak of God knowing people before they were born (Isa. 49:1; Jer. 1:5), but these verses do not refer to the person existing before having a body, just God’s plans for them.
These verses indicate that God know the plans that He has for a person even before that person exists, in comparison to how an architect would know the building he has designed before the foundation has ever been set. Only Jesus Christ spiritually existed before His physical incarnation (John 1:1-3, Jhn 1:14).
At what point in the plan of salvation does the sinner "die with Christ?" Romans 6 seems to indicate this takes place at baptism, but I've heard different explanations for the meaning of Romans 6. Is baptism the burial of a person who is already dead to sin? Or do we die to sin at the point of baptism? Thanks.
Dear Baptism Broodings,
You are right in saying that baptism is when we die with Christ. The most well-documented and clearest doctrine in the New Testament is baptism… yet, it is also the most commonly ignored topic in the religious world. It is impossible to be saved without being baptized. Peter said it best when he said, “Baptism saves you” (1 Pet 3:21). Every person that became a christian in the New Testament was baptized – immediately. You won’t find a single person in the book of Acts that wasn’t baptized. When the first sermon was preached after Christ ascended into heaven, the apostles told the people that they needed to “repent and be baptized… for the remission of their sins” (Acts 2:38). Paul tells us that baptism is a burial with Christ, and only after that burial do we receive a new life (Rom 6:3-4). Baptism was so important to Paul that he was baptized even before eating or drinking (Acts 9:18-19), which shows how important it is because Paul hadn’t had food or water in three days (Acts 9:9)! Belief is not enough; even the demons believe in God (Jas 2:19). It is only when our belief is combined with obedience that we have living faith (Jas 2:17-18), and the very first command to obey that God gives us is to be baptized in the name of His Son (Matt 28:19, Mk 16:16). We die to sin when we are baptized.