Ask Your Preacher
I am having an issue with the last piece of my Wiccan past – my tarot cards. I know that I need to get rid of them, but it is becoming painful physically and mentally to even think about getting rid of them. I got past the part of where they are a crutch because of loneliness (having "someone" to talk to and respond back), but I still am hanging on. Any suggestions?
Burn them. Do exactly what the christians in Ephesus did. In Acts 19:19, there were people just like you that had once practiced magical arts. When they converted to Christ, they stopped their practices and burned their books. That is exactly what you should do. You’ll have a fresh start and the relief that only a clean break from evil can give.
I was told that there are two salvations: one in heaven and one on earth. Some chosen christians will go to heaven, and the others will stay on a paradise Earth after the millennium and when all evil has ended. Is this true?
Dear Making Reservations,
No, that isn’t true. What you are talking about is a popular teaching of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, but it isn’t a biblical teaching. There was an earthly paradise; it was called the Garden of Eden (Gen 2:8). Mankind was cast out of that paradise because of sin (Gen 3:22-24). We are told that the next paradise faithful people see will be a heavenly paradise. Jesus referred to Paradise as a place that God’s people will see once they die (Lk 23:43). Paul refers to Paradise as existing in heaven, not on Earth (2 Cor 12:2-4). Eventually, this world will be totally destroyed by intense heat (2 Pet 3:10-13), and this earthly age will pass away and be replaced by a spiritual one for all eternity (1 Cor 15:49-54). Jhn 14:2-4 says that we will dwell where God dwells (heaven) and that even now, Jesus is preparing a place for us. Matt 24:35 says that heaven and earth will pass away – unlike God’s Word. When the Judgment Day comes, the faithful will go to heaven. There will be no earthly paradise.
You guys say you are not "denominational", but isn't church of Christ just the main branch of the "Restoration Movement" which started in the early 1800s in the United States? From what I understand, the Restoration Movement has since split. The three main branches are the "church of Christ," the "United Church of Christ," and the Disciples of Christ.
Just Another Church
Dear Just Another Church,
Historically speaking, the Restoration Movement is a bunch of different churches that adhere to similar doctrines… biblically speaking, the movement to restore New Testament Christianity is a principle, not a denomination. The Monroe Valley church of Christ isn’t affiliated with any other congregation; we aren’t associated with a grouping of churches or national religious body. Our congregation is completely independent of all others – our responsibility is to the Lord and none other, just like the first-century churches (Acts 14:23).
In the darkest days of the nation of Israel, a young king named Josiah rose to power. The nation had reached such a state of wickedness that the temple was near ruins and in complete disrepair. Josiah made a decision to have the temple repaired (2 Kgs 22:3-5). In the process of repairing the temple, the workers found a copy of the Bible (2 Kgs 22:8). The Old Testament Law was brought to Josiah, and he read it for the very first time (2 Kgs 22:10). Josiah was mortified when he heard the words of the law; never before had he realized how wicked the nation was and how deeply entrenched in sin Israel had become (2 Kgs 22:11-13). Josiah decided then and there to simply return to doing what the Bible said. Josiah let the Bible be his guide in restoring the nation of Israel to what God intended it to be (2 Chr 34:30-31). That is the ideal of the Restoration Movement. Regardless of what man says, the church in Monroe is not a part of a denomination or some earthly hierarchy. We appeal to the New Testament as our guide and daily attempt to restore biblical Christianity in our little corner of the world. If other congregations around the globe take this same attitude, that doesn’t make us a denomination; that makes us brethren all serving the one true head, Jesus Christ (Eph 5:23).
Why are there different religions?
Having Trouble Counting
Dear Having Trouble Counting,
There are several reasons why there are so many different religions out there:
- Paul condemned the Jews because they worshipped God without knowledge (Rom 10:2). Many people follow whatever seems best to them and when our feelings design our religious beliefs, confusion ensues.
- Rom 1:18-23 says that when people suppress the truth about God, they exchange the truth for a myriad of other false beliefs.
- God warned that there would come a day when false teachers infiltrated Christ’s church and started teaching things contrary to Scriptures (2 Tim 4:2-4). Paul told the first-century christians to watch out for the “falling away” (2 Thess 2:3). Division and false teaching in the name of Christ is a very common thing. Wherever there is an opportunity for selfish gain, false teachers crop up and attempt to lead people astray.
There are tens of thousands of different religions in America that refer to themselves as “Christian”, and even more than that when you add things like Islam, Buddhism, etc.… yet God says there is only one true faith (Eph 4:4-6). So how can you know whether a church is Christ’s church?
Jesus says that we can know them by their fruits (Matt 7:15-20). A church is faithful if the way they worship, preach, and live is in accordance with Christ’s teachings. A faithful church keeps Christ’s commandments (Jhn 15:14). Most churches today have added all sorts of things to their worship (from rock bands to belly dancing) and leadership structure (popes, community boards, franchised churches, etc.) that were never intended by Christ. We should never add to God’s Word, and we should never take away from it (Rev 22:18-19). A faithful church should be able to give you book, chapter, and verse for everything they do. We recommend the posts “Down With Denominationalism”, “Finding A Church”, and “Preacher Interrogation” for further information on what questions to ask. If you would like us to help point you in the right direction of a congregation in your area, please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will do our best to put you in contact with a Bible-founded congregation.
Where does Israel currently stand with the Lord? I ask this because many christians support Israel. Some of that support is for political reasons; Israel is an allied nation and a democracy, but most of the support comes from their belief that God still holds Israel as His chosen people. Some of this belief, I know, stems from Premillennialism and the belief that the Lord will raise up Israel in the end times. The popular Left Behind series pushed this concept. I do not subscribe to that view, so you don't need to respond to that belief. I can't help but to believe that God has had a role in the history of Israel. No other culture has withstood the destruction of their cultural center and identity (AD 70 siege of Jerusalem and destruction of the temple), been scattered, persecuted, almost wiped out, and managed to come back and re-establish their nation and culture.
So my question is: does God still hold Israel in His good graces? Or is He just protecting them out of His obligation to Abraham? Or is He protecting them at all?
Dear History Buff,
The nation of Israel lost God's protection when they rejected God's Son. Jesus says that christians are His royal priesthood and chosen race (1 Pet 2:9). Under the Old Testament, the Jewish people were God’s nation (Deut 7:6). The Jewish nation was warned that if they rejected God’s Son, they would be rejecting God, and God would make a new nation out of those who believed in Christ (Jesus explained this to the Jews in the parable of the vineyard – Lk 20:9-19). In that parable, Jesus also explained that the Jewish nation would be destroyed and abandoned by God (Lk. 20:15-16). The vast majority of Jews didn’t believe in Jesus, and therefore, they never became a part of Jesus’ kingdom. Jesus’ chosen people are those who love Him and keep His commandments (Jhn 14:15). The Jewish people rejected God because they would rather have their traditions than God’s Son (Mk 7:9).
Now, it is true that there is a nation called Israel today, but just because they occupy the same territory doesn’t mean that the Jewish nation that was destroyed in 70 AD has been re-established. The current nation of Israel has none of the things that made it special – it has no high priest, no priesthood, no Levites, no temple, and no record of genealogies to properly rebuild tribal lineages. It would be impossible for Israel to even follow the commands given by God in the Old Testament. Modern Israel is kind of like tearing down Buckingham Palace and then putting a double-wide trailer on the same property – just because you call it ‘Buckingham’, doesn’t mean it is. The name ‘Israel’ doesn’t make it the same nation.