Ask Your Preacher
My girlfriend’s mother’s best friend claims she has a gift from God and can see the future. She does not like me and tells me and my girl’s family that I am going to hurt her and that I will lose her because of that... does this sound at all possible? And if so, where in the Bible does it say anything about when you are saved that God will grant you unnatural abilities? Because this is what she claims.
Not A Bad Boyfriend
Dear Not A Bad Boyfriend,
Eccl. 8:7-8 says that mankind doesn’t have the ability to tell the future – it is a mystery to us. There have been times that God gave prophets the ability to speak of the future, but the times of prophecies and visions are over.
Miraculous gifts were given to the first century church because they did not have the complete Bible as we do. Miracles were a confirmation that those preaching were sent by God (Mk 16:20); they were how God bore witness that these men were His servants (Heb 2:2-4). These miracles were necessary at that time, but now that the perfect Word of God has been completed, they are no longer needed (1 Cor 13:8-10). We have all the prophecies of God written down, all the divine knowledge is in God’s Word, and the Bible is translated into every major language on the planet.
Your girlfriend’s mother’s best friend is either consciously or subconsciously deceiving herself and others – she can’t see the future, and she has no supernatural gifts.
I was in supervision. My job was high-pressured, and I was forced to step down. Now, I feel alone, embarrassed, and I truly feel others were undermining me and disrespecting me. How do I get my confidence back and feel better about working there? God had to break me in order to get my attention.
Dear Feeling Demoted,
A righteous man may fall seven times, but he gets back up again (Pr 24:16). We are defined more by how we accept failures than anything else. The greatest athletes are those that can regroup and rally after a bad game or difficult quarter. Humility is one of the most important traits in life (Jas 4:10). The humble improve. Think of this setback as a chance to focus on what really matters, and count your blessings. We count them blessed who endured hardship when we read about them in the Bible (Jas 5:11). Learn from your mistakes, forgive those who have harmed you, and be a shining light for Christ. As a Christian, your worth is so much more than your job. Christians have their hope of heaven as an anchor for their souls (Heb 6:19).
Is using deadly force ever justifiable in defense of self or family? If there were ever a situation where there was complete societal breakdown (no government or police), food and water became scarce, and armed looters and gangs searching for food became a real threat to your family, would you be morally responsible to defend your family by any means necessary? Would God expect you to turn the other cheek or fight for survival?
Dear Getting Prepared,
When the Bible commands us to not kill, the word used for ‘kill’ is the word that we would use for ‘murder. Some of the most faithful men in the Bible were soldiers and had to kill people in the defense of their country. David was a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam 13:14), and yet David killed many people as a soldier. Jesus marveled at the faith of a centurion soldier (Matt 8:8-10). The first Gentile convert was Cornelius, a well-known Roman soldier (Acts 10:22). When a group of soldiers asked John the Baptist what they needed to do to live a faithful life, he told them to be honest and faithful… but he never told them to stop serving in the military (Lk 3:14). These are all examples of the difference between murder and self-defense (or war-time killing).
In the Old Testament, God made specific rules that allowed an individual to kill if they were defending their home or family (Ex 22:2). In Lk 22:35-39, Jesus tells His disciples that persecution will begin after He leaves and that they ought to “buy a sword” – this is certainly an endorsement of self-defense. All of these point to the fact that God distinguishes between defensive force and vigilante murder.
How do you forgive someone if they have not asked for forgiveness and/or if they act as though they are not in error? I've heard some say you should simply be ready to forgive. I know I should not have ill will or resentful feelings, but how can I forgive if forgiveness has not been requested? We are only forgiven by God when we request it....
Dear Apology Acceptor,
Depending on the situation, you may or may not forgive the person (more on this further down), but no matter what: you can’t, absolutely CAN’T, treat the person poorly or allow bitterness to engulf you. Whether you forgive someone or not, we are all to love even our enemies (Lk 6:27) and treat them with kindness and love. Furthermore, bitterness of heart is a disease that is like drinking poison and expecting someone else to suffer (Heb 12:15).
With that said, here are some things to consider with forgiveness. You have to forgive all christians (Matt 18:35). If they are good enough for God to forgive, they are good enough for you to forgive. If the person is not a christian, you may find that they are purposefully continuing to harm you and abuse you. If this is the case, it is fair to say that you do not need to forgive them, but you do still need to love them. God is willing to forgive when we repent, but ready to forgive is different than actually forgiving (Ps 86:5). Another factor to consider is that Jesus asked God to forgive people who were crucifying Him. “Forgive them for they know not what they do”(Lk 23:34) is a very powerful statement. Jesus made it clear that oftentimes people do the wrong thing out of ignorance. If they had only known, they would have acted differently. It is always a good idea to give people the benefit of the doubt. If in doubt, forgiveness is always a better option.
How do you feel about letting the Pastor know that some people he has in leadership - worship leading and youth group - are drinking alcohol on the side while posting their publicly drunken pictures on the internet? Would it be wrong to bring this to his attention? I might add that this couple is in the "Pastor’s clique." This has been something breaking my soul, knowing that these people have been on stage lifting their hands, praising God on Sunday, and teaching impressionable teens who have access to these pictures -- then they are in bars and at parties on Saturday night. Am I sinning knowing it's happening and saying nothing? Pastors shouldn't even have "circles or cliques", right? Please pray and help. I am broken.
Sincerely, Caught In The Middle
Dear Caught In The Middle,
Yes, you must say something about it. For the sake of addressing the main purpose of your question and not getting distracted, we aren’t going to deal with the issue that your congregation is led by a single pastor, but we recommend you read “Elders” to better understand the problem of a congregation being led by one man. After that, ask your pastor where in the Bible he can find an example of a congregation being led by a single pastor.
Back to the topic, though. Your specific question dealt with whether or not to say something when you know someone else is sinning. If you know there is sin in your congregation, you must address it. Paul condemned the Corinthians because they allowed someone to flagrantly live a life of sin and remain amongst them (1 Cor 5:1-2). God tells us that if our brother sins, we must confront him privately (Matt 18:15). If that doesn’t work, bring one or two others with you and confront him again (Matt 18:16). If that still doesn’t work – bring it to the leadership of the congregation, and if he still won’t repent, then the congregation is to withdraw from him (Matt 18:17). You have a responsibility to make the sin known for the sake of the person’s soul and for the sake of the spiritual health of the others that they influence.
Some sins we commit when we act the wrong way, and sometimes we sin because we failed to act. If you know someone is openly sinning (and especially if you have evidence, like in your case), you must act. God requires it of you, and if the congregation won’t act as God intends… I recommend reading “Finding A Church”.