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God's Written Words

Thursday, January 03, 2019
     I understand that all spiritual gifts are no longer needed and have ceased; I understand why.  But a question came up with a Pentecostal friend that I need a little help with.  What is the scripture that explains to us that God chooses to no longer speak to people directly?  And what would be a good way to explain why He does not speak to people outside the Bible?

Sincerely,
Trying To Help

Dear Trying To Help,

There are several places that you can go to explain this concept to your Pentecostal friend.  Here are a few verses to show them:

  1. We are told that the Bible contains everything we need to know concerning life and godliness (2 Pet 1:3).  If the Bible tells us everything we need to know, we don’t need anything else.
  2. The Bible tells us that we shouldn’t add or subtract from God’s Word (Rev 22:18-19).  A vision or prophecy given to an individual would do exactly that.  If a “vision” says more than the Bible, we don’t need it, and if it says the same thing as the Bible, we don’t need it.
  3. Heb 1:1-2 says that God used to speak to mankind through many diverse methods, but today He has spoken to us through His Son.  Jesus’ Word is now our only guide.
  4. Jude 1:3 says that we have the Word of God handed down “once and for all”.  God has finished providing revelation to us.
  5. The silver bullet verses are 1 Cor 13:8-9, but it is a little lengthier discussion to handle all of the arguments in that verse.  We recommend you read “Incomplete Understanding” for a complete breakdown of the 1 Cor 13:8-9 argument.

The long and the short of it is that prophecy was needed until the Bible was complete, but now that we have everything God wanted us to know, prophecy has ceased.

Water Under The Bridge

Monday, October 29, 2018
Hi.  I have a huge longing to repent and change my life.  One of the things holding me back is that I am afraid that if I take this new road that I will have to admit to people (that I love dearly) all the injustices I committed towards them, and this will hurt them dearly and for sure cause our relationships to deteriorate.  Is this part of the forgiveness process?  Is it a question of forgiving myself and asking God for forgiveness, or will I have to admit my sin to those that it might hurt?

Thank you and I hope that you can help.

Sincerely,
Ashamed

Dear Ashamed,

We must confess all of our sins to God (1 Jn 1:9) and be prepared to get help with our faults from other christians (Jas 5:16). When James talks about confessing sins to each other, he is talking in the context of prayer. His point is that when someone prays for you as you struggle with sin, that prayer will make an immense difference. He is not stating that you have to announce every single sin you have ever committed to each and every christian you meet.

There are definitely times to tell another person about your sin.

  1. If you have sinned against them, you must admit it and ask for forgiveness (Lk 17:3-4).
  2. If you believe the knowledge of your previous sin will help them (1 Tim 1:15-16).
  3. If you are struggling with a sin and need help (Jas 5:16, Eccl 4:9).
  4. If it would be deceptive to not reveal the sin (1 Jhn 1:8).

All of those situations constitute an appropriate time to confess your sins to another person. God doesn’t call us to parade our past sins before all we meet, but there is a time to own up to our faults before both man and God.  Now, it is also important to remember that confessing your sins is only part of the process of becoming a christian – if you have not yet done the five steps God gives us to become a christian, we recommend you read "Five Steps To Salvation".

 

The Faithless' Faith

Monday, June 11, 2018
I work with a co-worker who claims to be an atheist.  There are a myriad of apologetic books that speak to these types of people and their claims.  However, I would like to seek your insights on how to best reason with this person.  In the process of talking with him, he has actually asked me to share Scriptures of encouragement that he could share with his girlfriend.  I have bought him his first Bible, Bible Dictionary, and a pamphlet on how to study the Bible, which he was moved by and gladly received.  I also offered to study with him, but he has not yet accepted my offer.  Still, he needs to be convinced that God is real and that we did not get here by accident.  Is there a simple format or practical approach I can use?

Sincerely,
Theist

Dear Theist,

Ironically, one of the best places to start with an atheist is to discuss their faith.  The relationship you mentioned sounds like it is a “talk when we can” sort of situation, and so it can be hard to cover anything in a systematic, step-by-step way.  Lord willing, you will eventually be able to have a sit-down class with this individual, but until then, you are really just trying to get him thinking about how important this issue is.

In the past, we have talked with our atheist friends about their faith, and it can really jar their eyes open.  Most atheists believe they don’t have faith, but this simply isn’t true.  An atheist cannot prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is no God any more than you or I can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is.  At some point, both the atheist and the theist have faith.  Faith is an inevitable element of life.  Anytime you trust something you can’t see, it is an act of faith (Heb 11:1).  When we take an aspirin, we have faith that it isn’t laced with arsenic.  When we drive, we have faith that the traffic light is telling the other lanes to stop when it tells us to go.  We visit restaurants because we have faith in the recommendation our friend gave us, and we buy houses based on our faith in the home inspector’s report.  Everyone lives by faith – this is an important aspect of life.  If your atheist friend had no faith, he couldn’t function in life.

This is a great place to start because when an atheist realizes that they already live by faith, you can begin to discuss the fact that faith is based off of evidence.  We believe in God because we have been given enough evidence that we can reasonably believe in His existence.  Read “Is God Real?” for a basic list of evidences.  When an atheist begins to view their life as a life of faith, it changes the discussion from “science vs. religion” to “which faith do I choose?”.  In our humble opinion, this is a good, practical place to start.

 

The Beginning Of The End

Thursday, December 28, 2017
I'm in a little bit of a dilemma.  I have a couple of friends who I love to death, but lately, I have been having second thoughts about them.  They're both seventeen years old and are already drinking quite a bit.  One of them is a pretty heavy smoker, and both of them smoke weed and get high when they aren't hanging out with me.  The heavy smoker also has sex a lot with a guy who doesn't even want a relationship with her.  Neither of them go to church, nor do they have the slightest interest in going, and whenever I try to talk about it, they start cussing about church.  When they're around me, they don't drink, don't smoke, try hard not to swear, and respect that I'm not into all of that stuff.  Like I said already, I love them to death.  They're two of my best friends and have been since middle school.  I was hanging out with them the other day and kind of started thinking they weren't the best people to be hanging out with.  I am a member of the church of Christ, and I was wondering if you could help me out with what I should do.  Thanks.

Sincerely,
Keeping Questionable Company

Dear Keeping Questionable Company,

When friendships begin to fall apart, it is a very painful thing, and that is why you are struggling right now.  Your life has taken a different course than theirs.  Your life is built on a different foundation, and those differences become more prominent the older you get.  You are at a crossroads and need to make a decision.  Here are some things to consider:

  1. You may have heard the verse – “Bad company corrupts good morals” (1 Cor 15:33).  Right now, your friends are showing a certain level of respect for your spiritual and moral values, but that is changing.  As you said, they mock church and God and try not to swear (which means they do swear some of the time).  The more they continue to live ungodly lifestyles, the more that behavior will seep in.  If you continue to spend time with them, that behavior will influence you no matter how strong you are.  Solomon was the wisest man on the planet, and bad company turned him into an idolater (1 Kgs 11:4).  If it can happen to Solomon, it can happen to any of us.
  2. You have tried to help them, but they aren’t interested.  It is a good thing for christians to befriend unbelievers and try to make a difference in their lives… Jesus did this (Matt 9:10).  However, when someone shows no interest in spiritual things, it is time to shake the dust off your feet – no matter how hard that may be.  Jesus said it best when He warned, “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast your pearls before the swine lest they trample them under their feet and turn and rend you.” (Matt 7:6).
  3. God tells us to obey our consciences… and your conscience is telling you something right now (Acts 24:16).  Your conscience is a gift from God.  Your conscience makes you feel bad when you are doing something you believe is wrong.  God tells us to always have a clear conscience (2 Tim 1:3).  Listen to your conscience; it is right on the money with this issue.

These verses don’t make it easy for you to make an exit from these friendships, but hopefully, that gives you some comfort that you will be doing the right thing.  What a blessing that the church has people like you that love the Lord even when it means making difficult decisions.

A Counselor's Tongue

Wednesday, December 27, 2017
I know a person dealing with depression and bisexuality.  I need help on what to tell them on their path to the right way.

Sincerely,
An Encouraging Friend

Dear An Encouraging Friend,

We won’t pretend to be able to give you an entire lesson in counseling in a single post.  AskYourPreacher is simply not a good forum for that.  However, we can give you a few Bible verses that might be of comfort to your friend.

  1. 1 Cor 6:9-11 points out that many christians have had the same struggles and problems… and they successfully conquered them.
  2. Mk 10:27 says that all things are possible with God.
  3. Some of the greatest people of the Bible have dealt with great sorrow and depression – read our post “I’ve Got The Joy, Joy, Joy” for examples.
  4. A faithful congregation can make a huge difference in someone’s life because each member helps to strengthen the other members (Eph 4:16).  Encourage your friend to start attending a faithful church – we can help you find one for them (e-mail us at askyourpreacher@mvchurchofchrist.org).

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