Ask Your Preacher
Hello, I think this is my fifth question to you guys. I am a bit new to Christianity. I feel really out of place in church and appreciate all the answers so far. I have read the Bible but don't fully understand it; I'm workin’ on it. I had an experience with God where He showed me that He was real, and I started reading directly after that. This question revolves around will. After my first experiences with God, I felt a dramatic change in my life. I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit, and I wanted to follow the rules to a tee. I wanted to do God's will and have His will done through me. I would've done just about anything, and I could strongly sense God controlling and leading my life. He was presenting opportunities and challenges and speaking to me on a very normal basis. This feeling slowly dwindled, and I don't know how to get it back. Furthermore, to be quite honest, I don't really WANT to get it back. At the present, I don't want to get close to God by doing His will, studying, or even praying sometimes. I would rather do my own will. I know it's wrong. I know our relationship with God is the only thing on this world that really matters, but for some reason, I just don't really feel like doing it.
But I would like to feel like doing it because I know I should. That was the single greatest feeling I've ever experienced, but for some reason (I don't really know why), I just don't seem to want it anymore.
Not In The Mood
Dear Not In The Mood,
Our closeness to God isn’t defined by how close we feel to Him or by any personal revelation we think we receive… the Scriptures are our compass, not our emotions. When the Bible was perfectly completed, all prophecy and individual revelations were done away with (1 Cor 13:9-10). Paul told Timothy that he was approved by God when he rightly handled the Word of Truth (2 Tim 2:15). Col 1:5 says that we have hope through the Word of God, and Eph 1:13 says we are sealed with the promise of the Holy Spirit through the Gospel of salvation.
Many people wholeheartedly believe that they are pleasing to God but will be condemned on the Day of Judgment (Matt 7:22-23). Feelings can be deceptive, but God’s Word is unchanging, unbiased, and able to rightly divide our lives and character (Heb 4:12). If you want to know whether or not you are pleasing God, compare your life to the Scriptures. “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Rom 10:17).”
It is very common for people to have an initial burst of enthusiasm when they first learn about Christ. Matt 13:20-21 tells about the person that has an unrooted love of God – that is true for lots of folks. The key for you is that you need to be different. You need to put out the effort even when you don’t feel like it. We are defined by what we do when it is hard, not when it is easy.
Part of your problem may be that you aren’t amongst a group of people that are feeding you the Word of God. Many churches teach emotionalism but not Scripture, and that leaves you feeling defeated the first time things get difficult. If you would like help finding a congregation near you that faithfully stands by God’s Word, feel free to e-mail us at email@example.com, and we will help you locate one.
If my children were born out of wedlock, are they automatically damned to hell?
Absolutely not. Ezek 18:2-4 says that God holds each person accountable for their own individual sins. It is a sin to have children out of wedlock, but that is a sin the parents need forgiveness for, not the children. Your children are not damned because of your choices.
However, your choices do greatly influence your children’s future. Our kids look to us as role-models and guides. God says that how we train up a child will affect where they go (Pr 22:6).
It is a sign of a healthy parental instinct that you are already worried about your children’s spiritual future. The best thing you can do for them is to make your own life right with God. We would be happy to get you in touch with a faithful church (not all churches are faithful) that can help you get on the right track for you and your children. Just e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will happily assist you in whatever way we can.
I am nineteen and would call myself a faithful christian for a couple years now. I am fearful of judgment, though, because I still occasionally sin in ways that I repented of and asked God for forgiveness. As I first grew, I tried stomping out sin in my life. I have, by the power of God, overcome a lot of ensnaring sin. I know this is how it's supposed to be, and one doesn't become perfect overnight, but I still stumble in ways that will always be my weaknesses. I don’t feel that Christ's blood doesn't have the power of forgiveness or that God isn't faithful to forgive, but instead I feel that I've already asked for forgiveness too many times after baptism and repentance.
1 Jn 1:9 says that God is prepared to forgive us if we confess our sins, and Matt 18:22 says that God will accept our honest repentance an infinite amount of times. God is ready and willing to forgive (Ps 86:5). Like all things, God is better at forgiveness than we are. Many people (us here at AYP included!) hold on to the guilt and shame of sin far too keenly. God tells us that there are several things to remember:
- Even if your heart condemns you, God keeps His promises. On the Judgment Day, we will be judged by God’s standards, not whether or not we feel worthy (1 Jn 3:20), so even if you don’t feel forgiven, that doesn’t mean you aren’t.
- We can reassure our own hearts that we have been forgiven when we study and live by the truth of the Bible (1 Jn 3:18-20). The more we immerse ourselves in God’s teachings, the quicker we begin to realize that forgiveness isn’t about being worthy… but about having faith in the mercy of God.
All in all, self-forgiveness takes time… just like all areas of growth.
Why did certain rules change when Jesus was around? Before Jesus, the evidence of God being present was the destruction and conquering of other religions, lands, and cities (along with some pretty amazing miracles). Some of the miracles were acts of God to actually destroy these other religions. When Jesus came around, He preached that people should love their enemies and focused His message toward their communities. This doesn't make sense. If Jesus was preaching the essence of God, and we are supposed to love our enemies, then why did God eradicate pagan religions using the Israelites? And why would He choose to use some of the people from these religions in His divine plan and lineage of Christ?
Dear Mixed Messages,
God did a lot of things in the Old Testament, and destroying pagan nations was only part of that picture. It is important to understand why God destroyed those nations. God was protecting the Israelites because they were His people, and when they faithfully served Him, He destroyed their enemies to protect them. It is important to understand that the Old Testament was a tutor to lead people to Christ (Gal 3:24-25). The Old Testament taught people about the gravity of sin, the justice of God, the sinfulness of man, and our need to place our faith in God. All of the Old Testament stands as an example of how God treats sin and how seriously we must take it. As we read the Old Testament, we get a clear picture of how much trouble we would all be in without forgiveness... but we also see that God tried time and time again to save people. In fact, the entire book of Jonah is about God sending a prophet to try and get the pagan city of Nineveh to turn away from their sin before it was too late. He also accepted the harlot Rahab when she turned from idolatry and joined the Israelites (Heb 11:31).
Jesus did teach that we should love our enemies, but He also preached railing judgments against wicked men (read Matt 23 for Jesus' feelings about the Pharisees). Jesus showed kindness to a penitent adulteress (Jhn 8:3-11), but He also made a whip and cast out all the moneychangers from the temple (Jhn 2:15). Jesus certainly taught love, but He also taught justice – the exact same things you see in the Old Testament. In the Old Testament and in the New, we see a consistency in God's character. The only difference is that Jesus brought forgiveness in a way that never could happen before He died on the cross.
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.