Ask Your Preacher
Hello, I have a question about sacrifice. I have read where the Israelites had to make sacrifices on certain days to atone for their sins. I am also aware that the sacrifice of Jesus has made this unnecessary. But I do not understand how taking the best portion of your livelihood and burning it would atone for your sins. I also do not understand how Jesus' sacrifice atoned for all the sins of the world.
How does destroying the most precious things equal forgiveness from God? How does Jesus’ perfect sacrifice save us? What do these acts actually DO?
Dear Sacrificially Stymied,
The Jewish sacrifices of bulls and goats never did atone for sins (Heb 10:4); all they did was teach that forgiveness from sin came with a cost. God teaches us that when we sin, the wages of that sin are death (Rom 6:23). The Jews learned that lesson by making sin offerings. When the sinner laid their hand upon the head of the innocent animal, they symbolically transferred their sin to that beast (Lev 4:27-29). However, animal blood never was enough to truly pay for sin. It took the God’s Son’s blood to pay the price for our sin; only Deity’s blood was enough to cover the tremendous cost of sin (Heb 10:10).
Jesus had to sacrifice Himself to pay for our sins because God is both a merciful and a just God. By personally paying the price for our sins, God showed Himself to be both just and the justifier of the faithful (Rom 3:25-26). Like a father paying the price for his son’s mistakes, Jesus paid the price for our mistakes.
I don't belong to a church. I grew up in church but stopped going, but I still seek God every day; I always look for Him. And sometimes I dream, and He's in my dreams, guiding me, telling me He's taking care of me from this day forward. And in my most recent dream, He let me into heaven, but I never really saw His face. Is He talking to me?
Dear Hearing Voices,
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). Prophecies and visions are no longer given to people directly (1 Cor 13:8). Instead, God speaks to us through the teachings of His Son (Heb 1:1). It is normal for our emotions and desires to send us conflicting messages; that is exactly why God tells us to not trust ourselves (Pr 3:5).
Now let’s address the issue of not belonging to a church. The Bible teaches that we shouldn’t forsake the assembly (Heb 10:24-25). God designed the church so that each individual would be strengthened by the power of the whole (Eph 4:16). God never wanted christians to try and serve Him without the support of a local church; that is why He commanded the church to assemble. It is impossible to do God’s work without being a part of a local church. If you would like help finding a faithful congregation in your area, e-mail us at email@example.com or read “Finding A Church” for biblical parameters for finding a congregation.
How does God talk to us? I have been a christian for several years now; I pray to Him everyday; I read my Bible and go to church, but I do not hear God. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong.
Dear Feeling Deaf,
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). Prophecies and visions are no longer given to people directly (1 Cor 13:8). Instead, God speaks to us through the teachings of His Son (Heb 1:1). It is normal for our emotions and desires to send us conflicting messages; that is exactly why God tells us to not trust ourselves or any "voice" that some churches tell us to listen for (Pr 3:5). Trust God’s Word, and it will be a lamp to your feet (Ps 119:105).
Would you please elaborate on 1 Corinthians 13:8–10? How do we know that the word ‘perfect’ is referring to the Bible?
Dear Definition Please,
The perfect that is described in 1 Cor 13:8-13 is typically thought to be one of two things. It is either perfect knowledge of God’s Will (also known as the completed Bible) or the Second Coming of Christ. So, let’s look at the details we are given about ‘the perfect’ and see which one fits better.
- ‘The perfect’ is something that would replace partial knowledge (1 Cor 13:9).
- ‘The perfect’ would remove the necessity for prophecy and new knowledge (1 Cor 13:8).
- When ‘the perfect’ comes, christians will still be expected to have faith, hope, and love (1 Cor 13:13).
The third item on that list is proof that ‘the perfect’ isn’t the Second Coming of Christ. When Christ returns, we will no longer need hope or faith. Faith is trusting in something you can’t see (Heb 11:1); when Jesus comes, we won’t need to have faith in Him – everyone will see Him, and every knee will bow (Rom 14:11). Hope is also something that ceases to exist when Jesus returns. Hope is always in something you haven’t attained yet (Rom 8:25). For example, if a child is told by his parents that they will take him to Disneyland, the child has faith in the parents’ promise and hopes to see Disneyland… until the day that he walks into the Magic Kingdom. Hope and faith only exist because Christ hasn’t returned yet.
‘The perfect’ has to be something that happened after prophecy and miracles ended, but before Jesus’ return. The most logical explanation is that Paul was discussing the perfect and complete knowledge that can be found in the completed Bible. Today, with a finished Bible, the church still needs faith, hope, and love, but we no longer have a need for prophecy, and we no longer have only partial knowledge of God’s Will (Jude 1:3).
(This is a follow-up to the post “Without Creedence”)
Your answer to the difference between creeds and publications that preachers write didn't fully explain a difference between the two. Can you please show me where different denominations hold their "creed" books to the same standard as the Bible? I have had many discussions with various Lutherans and Baptists alike, and none of them view their supplements to the same degree of Bible authority. They all view them as teaching tools to supplement the Word. Many preachers claim that their writings should be heard because they are "based" on the Word of God. Many religious groups with creed books would claim the same. I believe the difference between a creed book and the publications church of Christ preachers write is that we believe that one follows the Bible, and the others don't. Our friends outside the church make the same claim. Anytime we hold our opinions and explanations to demand the same level of attention as plain Scripture, we have written creeds by your definition. Maybe we should simply point people to Scripture and quit offering our opinions.
Dear Tracking Tracts,
If a preacher takes something he writes and gives it equal weight to the Bible, then he is sinning, but we’ve never personally experienced someone using a tract or commentary that way. Your statement that “many preachers claim…” is arbitrary, and we can’t speak to personal experiences and subjective viewpoints. In fact, the discussions you have had with various Lutherans and Baptists are also subjective because most Baptists and Lutherans don’t know what their own creed books even say. The key is to read the books for yourself and ask what the leaders of these churches say about their creeds. The Lutheran church uses four creeds: The Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Athanasian Creed, and the Augsburg Confessional. They teach that these creeds are authoritative guides for their worship and beliefs – they aren’t commentaries; they are distinct belief systems that don’t require Bible authority to back them. As we said, read them yourselves.
The Baptists are even more blatant about the value they place upon their creeds. The Standard Manual For Baptist Churches says that baptism used to be a necessary part of salvation, but now things are different (Standard Manual for Baptist Churches pg. 22). That type of a statement clearly places their manual as a religious authority above the Bible!
Not all people who are part of a religious group understand why they do what they do and where their beliefs come from, but that doesn’t make the creed any less of a guide for their respective denominations. These creeds add to God’s Word, and that is definitely wrong (Rev 22:18-19, 1 Cor 4:6).