Ask Your Preacher

Ask Your Preacher

NEW TESTAMENT

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Faith Makes The Difference

Tuesday, January 09, 2018
What does it mean when the Bible says that if your faith is as little as a mustard seed, you can move the mountains?  Is it literally referring to the mountains?  If it is, why can't a pastor or missionary move a mountain; isn't their faith at least the size of a mustard seed?

Sincerely,
Interest Peaked

Dear Interest Peaked,

The verse you are referring to is Matt 17:20.  Jesus was talking to the apostles (Matt 17:19) about why they were unable to cast out a particularly stubborn demon (Matt 17:14-16).  Jesus told his apostles that the reason they were unable to cast out the demon was because they didn’t have enough faith.  If they had been more faithful, they could have performed the miracle.

The story is not directly applicable to us today because we can’t perform miracles like the apostles could – but there is an important principle being taught: faith makes a difference.  Faith is one of the greatest elements of Christianity (1 Cor 13:13).  If we trust God, great things can happen.

The Longest Three Days

Monday, January 08, 2018
Why did God choose the third day to raise Jesus up?  Is there a reason for the third day?

Sincerely,
Counting

Dear Counting,

There are several reasons that the Scriptures give us for why Jesus was raised on the third day, and there may be more reasons that God didn’t tell us.  The secret things belong to God (Deu 29:29)… some questions won’t get answered until we see Him in heaven.  Here is what we know:

  1. Jesus was raised on the third day because that is when He prophesied He would be raised (Lk 24:7).  Jesus fulfilled every prophecy He made, right down to the details of how long He would stay in the grave.
  2. Jesus’ burial is compared to Jonah’s time in the belly of the great fish (Matt 12:40).  The Old Testament was full of parallels to Christ because the Old Testament was a tutor to lead people to Christ (Gal 3:24-25).  Jonah’s three days and nights in the big fish were another example of an allusion to Christ.
  3. Jesus’ three days in the tomb left no doubt that He was truly dead.  Jesus was in the tomb so that all could witness that He did indeed fully die and was buried (Acts 10:37-40).

As we said, there are probably more reasons that the Father had in mind when He chose to leave Jesus’ body in the grave for three days, but those are the reasons He has deemed appropriate for us to know from the Scriptures.

Changing Of The Guard

Friday, December 29, 2017
I don't get it... if Jesus was a Jew, why isn't Judaism the correct religion?  Did I miss something?

Sincerely,
Confused Christian

Dear Confused Christian,

Jesus was born a Jew (Matt 1:17), lived under the Jewish law (Lk 2:41-42), and even taught His fellow Jews to obey the Old Testament law (Matt 23:1-3).  Judaism was the right religion, until Jesus died on the cross and replaced Judaism with Christianity.  The Old Testament, the law the Jews followed, was a tutor to lead people to Christ, but after Jesus came, mankind was supposed to follow Him instead (Gal 3:24-25).  The Jewish law said that someday there would come a Messiah who would save them from their sins – Jesus was that Messiah (Jhn 1:45).  The Jewish law taught mankind that they needed a Savior, and that they should prepare for His coming.  Jesus came providing the grace and truth that wasn’t possible under Jewish law (Jhn 1:17).  Jesus’ death made a permanent sacrifice for sins that none of the Old Testament animal sacrifices ever could (Heb 10:1-4).

Parental Paradox Pt. 2

Tuesday, December 26, 2017
To follow up on your response about calling men ‘father’ (the post entitled “Parental Paradox”), are you saying it is all right to refer to men as ‘father’ as long as you are not putting them above God?  Including, not only a biological parent but even a person of spiritual fatherhood?  Some folks in my Lutheran congregation refer to our pastor as ‘father’ or ‘reverend’ or even ‘brother’ but never revere him above God as you pointed out in your post.

Sincerely,
Taking Titles

Dear Taking Titles,

In order to understand why it is wrong for religious leaders to take the name of ‘father’, we need to put that statement in context.  Jesus said to not call anyone ‘father’ (Matt 23:9) at the same time as He condemned the scribes and Pharisees for loving the praise and honor of men (Matt 23:4-6).  When ‘father, ‘rabbi’, and ‘master’ are given as titles of prestige and honor, this is exactly what Jesus was condemning.  The titles you mentioned are often used in exactly the same manner – ‘reverend’ especially.  The word ‘reverend’ is never even found in the Bible.  The only one who deserves our reverence is God (Heb 12:28).  Anytime that religious leaders take on titles like these, it is a sign that they are seeking to distinguish themselves from other christians.  This is the exact opposite of what the apostles did (Acts 10:25-26).

A Dirty Word

Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Is there a difference in the meaning of ‘unclean’ in the Old Testament and the New Testament?  It is my understanding that many things in the Old Testament that were considered unclean weren't necessarily wrong or sinful, but in the New Testament, my understanding is that the word ‘unclean’ is for things that are wrong or should be avoided.  Thanks!

Sincerely,
Scrubbed Up

Dear Scrubbed Up,

The word ‘unclean’ refers to anything that is ‘contaminated or unholy’.  Many times that is in reference to something contaminated by sin – in which case, ‘unclean’ is referring to something sinful (some good examples of this are Rom 1:24, Eph 4:19, and Lam 1:8).  However, some things that were unclean were simply things that a Jew needed to purify themselves from if they came in contact with it (i.e. leprosy, dead bodies, pus, or other body ailments – Num 5:2-3).  It wasn’t a sin to be a leper, but it was a contaminated condition, and there was a need for quarantine.

In both the Old and New Testaments, we must always use context to decide whether the word ‘unclean’ is in reference to sin or merely referring to something that is contaminated in some way.  For example, 1 Cor 7:14 refers to the children of unbelievers as being ‘unclean’… but that isn’t referring to sin.  All children are born without sin, but the children that are born into a christian home are purified from many of the struggles that an unbeliever’s child must face.  We give this example simply to show that not all New Testament uses of the word ‘unclean’ refer to sin.  The deciding factor is always context.  The word means ‘contaminated or unholy’… context will tell you whether the contamination is sin.

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