Ask Your Preacher
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.
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.
- If you have sinned against them, you must admit it and ask for forgiveness (Lk 17:3-4).
- If you believe the knowledge of your previous sin will help them (1 Tim 1:15-16).
- If you are struggling with a sin and need help (Jas 5:16, Eccl 4:9).
- 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".
Is there a difference between baptism in the name of the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit and baptism in the name of Jesus?
Name That Difference
Dear Name That Difference,
There is no difference between being baptized in the name of Jesus Christ and being baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; both phrases are used in the New Testament (Acts 2:38, Matt 28:19).
I am a woman, and an opening has come up to teach the teenage class in my congregation. Upon mentioning my interest, one of the women said it probably wouldn't be a good idea since there are boys in the class, and some members might have a problem with that. When is a boy considered too old to be taught by a female in a church Bible class?
Ready To Educate
Dear Ready To Educate,
The Scriptures are clear about a woman teaching a man – she can’t do it (1 Tim. 2:12). Your question doesn’t deal with a woman teaching a man. Instead, it is addressing when a male becomes a man. That issue is a much more difficult one because there is no exact answer. There are two parts to your question:
- When do we recognize a boy as a man?
- What should a congregation do in order to have harmony when a boy is baptized or is nearing adulthood?
The first question is easily answered – we don’t know. The Scriptures never say. Society recognizes eighteen as adult enough to be considered completely responsible for oneself. Even that is just an arbitrary number. In reality, every child matures at a different rate, and there is no magic moment of transition from childhood to adulthood. Everyone agrees a ten-year-old is a child and a twenty-year-old is an adult, but it is the ages in between that leave us scratching our heads.
The second question is an issue of dealing with opinions. Realistically, when a young person is baptized, some will consider him or her an instant adult; others will recognize it as a decision that shows maturity but not adulthood. Consequently, in the case of a boy, a congregation will have some that feel he can no longer have a woman Bible class teacher, and others will think it is still appropriate. Both views are an opinion, and we can’t stand hard and fast on either view. Rom 14:13 says that in such cases, we should do whatever will not cause division or hurt anyone’s conscience. If the congregation is being torn apart by a woman teaching a newly baptized boy, put him in a different class with a male teacher. If a woman has been teaching him and no longer feels she can do it in clear conscience, she should be allowed to recuse herself as his teacher. No matter what, in issues of opinion, peace and edification should be sought above all else (Rom 14:19). Wisdom will have to be used to decide what is the best course in each circumstance.
Why am I so numb to Jesus' love?
It is impossible to say why you (or anyone else) feel a certain way. Emotions are fickle and can be deceiving. Some people feel that they are saved when, in fact, they are lost (Matt 7:21-23), but whether our heart condemns us or not isn’t what saves us (1 Jn 3:19-21). It is our adherence to God’s Word that saves us (Rom 1:16). If you are doing what God says you must do to be saved, then you can have confidence regardless of how you feel (see “What Must I Do To Be Saved?” for further details). Serving God is often an issue of doing what is right without regard to our emotions… showing bravery when we are afraid, working when we are tired, praying when we feel we aren’t heard, and persevering when we are discouraged. One of Satan’s greatest tools to destroy us is that we often don’t feel as we ought, and sin has a way of numbing us to the truth of God’s Word (Heb 3:13). The only way to combat the callusing effect of sin is to choose that which is right and reject that which is wrong. Do that, and we guarantee you will see your heart begin to soften.
If being gay is a sin, why did God make gay people?
Not Happy About It
Dear Not Happy About It,
Homosexuality is such a controversial issue because modern society teaches that people are born homosexual, but this simply isn’t true. You are not forced to have a sinful homosexual relationship. The argument of the homosexual community is that they are born desiring people of the same sex and that they have no choice. That simply cannot be true. God makes it clear that He will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able (1 Cor 10:13). Even if you are born with a predisposition toward homosexuality – you aren’t forced to act upon it. We always have a choice. There is always a way of escape from sin. We often use 1 Cor 10:13 as a proof text that no one is born “gay”. Homosexuality is like all other sins; we sin when we act upon the lust. God does not tempt us to sin (Jas 1:13). It is our own lusts that entice us to do the wrong thing (Jas 1:14-16). One person has a tendency toward anger, another has a tendency toward alcoholism, and some may, in fact, have a tendency toward homosexuality – but that tendency does not force them to sin. We need to put away all filthiness of the flesh and be doers of God’s Word (Jas 1:21-22).