Ask Your Preacher
How do you feel about letting the Pastor know that some people he has in leadership - worship leading and youth group - are drinking alcohol on the side while posting their publicly drunken pictures on the internet? Would it be wrong to bring this to his attention? I might add that this couple is in the "Pastor’s clique." This has been something breaking my soul, knowing that these people have been on stage lifting their hands, praising God on Sunday, and teaching impressionable teens who have access to these pictures -- then they are in bars and at parties on Saturday night. Am I sinning knowing it's happening and saying nothing? Pastors shouldn't even have "circles or cliques", right? Please pray and help. I am broken.
Sincerely, Caught In The Middle
Dear Caught In The Middle,
Yes, you must say something about it. For the sake of addressing the main purpose of your question and not getting distracted, we aren’t going to deal with the issue that your congregation is led by a single pastor, but we recommend you read “Elders” to better understand the problem of a congregation being led by one man. After that, ask your pastor where in the Bible he can find an example of a congregation being led by a single pastor.
Back to the topic, though. Your specific question dealt with whether or not to say something when you know someone else is sinning. If you know there is sin in your congregation, you must address it. Paul condemned the Corinthians because they allowed someone to flagrantly live a life of sin and remain amongst them (1 Cor 5:1-2). God tells us that if our brother sins, we must confront him privately (Matt 18:15). If that doesn’t work, bring one or two others with you and confront him again (Matt 18:16). If that still doesn’t work – bring it to the leadership of the congregation, and if he still won’t repent, then the congregation is to withdraw from him (Matt 18:17). You have a responsibility to make the sin known for the sake of the person’s soul and for the sake of the spiritual health of the others that they influence.
Some sins we commit when we act the wrong way, and sometimes we sin because we failed to act. If you know someone is openly sinning (and especially if you have evidence, like in your case), you must act. God requires it of you, and if the congregation won’t act as God intends… I recommend reading “Finding A Church”.
While visiting a congregation in Hawaii, they announced having a birthday lunch celebration in their building after services. They invited visitors. We chose not to take part in this. Is having lunch in the church building right or wrong?
Sincerely, It’s Not My Birthday
Dear It’s Not My Birthday,
It’s wrong unless having the lunch is specifically a part of something the church is meant to focus on… and celebrating birthdays isn’t something the church is meant to focus on. The work of a congregation is a very important subject because what a congregation does tells you what is important to them. Most of us have seen churches that are merely social organizations. These groups talk about Jesus, but they are really only interested in having fun and making people feel good. Christ’s church needs to do what Christ wants it to do. It isn’t about what makes us happy, but about what makes Him happy. We are here to do God’s work (Jhn 4:34). If we want to be God’s church, we need to be busy doing what His church did in the Bible. That means we only spend the church’s time, money (the building is part of the church’s money), and effort on things that we can read about the church doing in the Bible. There are only four things we see the church of Jesus Christ doing.
- Caring for needy christians. The church has the right and responsibility to spend its time and money to help take care of christians that are suffering financially (Acts 4:35, Acts 6:1, Acts 11:28-30).
- Teach christians. Any congregation that belongs to Jesus has to teach christians about God’s Word, so they will grow and mature in Christ (Eph 4:11-13, 1 Cor 4:17, Acts 15:35). They also have the right to support preachers and elders who are dedicating themselves to teaching (1 Tim 5:17-18).
- Preaching to the lost. Perhaps the greatest responsibility of a congregation is to bring the gospel to those who are dead in their sins (Acts 11:26). The church is supposed to preach to the lost because mankind will go to hell without the Bible’s saving words (Rom 1:16).
- Worship God. The church is supposed to assemble together (Heb 10:25) and worship God. They do this by singing (Col 3:16), praying (Acts 12:5), studying (Acts 2:42), taking the Lord’s Supper on Sunday (Acts 20:7), and taking up a collection on Sunday (1 Cor 16:1).
This is the stuff that Jesus wants His church to be doing. If we aren’t doing that (or if we are doing stuff other than that) – we are no longer His church. His church does what He wants, not what it wants. Everything a church does needs to somehow be specifically involved in furthering one of those four tasks. A church-sponsored birthday party doesn’t fit into those categories. Birthday parties are great, but they aren’t what Jesus’ church is here for.
I have a question about being saved. I have heard so many things about the requirements to be saved, and I am really confused. I think I have the basics, but I want to be 100% sure. I know that some websites say that if you believe in Jesus, you will be saved. I know that it does say that in the Bible, so it is true. Some people believe that this is all you have to do. Others say that if you believe and try your best to repent and change your ways, you will be saved. It seems like it depends on whom you ask. This is what I “think” from all the research that I have done. I could be wrong, of course, but I think that if you do the following steps, you will be saved. Believe everything that Jesus said, believe that Jesus was “God in human form”, believe that Jesus rose from the dead and went to heaven, know that we can’t save ourselves and that Jesus died for us, believe Jesus never sinned, believe Jesus became sin for us, believe that we don't deserve and cannot save ourselves, ask for forgiveness, and then try to live by the ten commandments as best as you can until the day you die, if you slip up ask for forgiveness, and you need to be baptized. Do you think that I am on the right path?
Sincerely, Baby Steps
Dear Baby Steps,
The Bible outlines five things you must do to become a christian. The question, “What must I do to be saved?” is the most important question any human can ever ask. Plenty of groups will pick and choose what they want to focus on. Many groups say that all you must do is “believe in your heart” and you will be saved – unfortunately, this is cherry-picking out one requirement and leaving the rest behind. We must always remember that the sum of God’s Word provides the truth (Ps 119:160). Belief is obviously an important element to salvation, but it is not the only condition. The Bible outlines five separate requirements for salvation, and all of them are necessary.
- Hear the Word. Faith comes through hearing, and hearing comes through the Word of God (Rom 10:17). Until someone hears God’s Word, they are incapable of obeying it.
- Believe the Word. It is impossible for someone to become a christian unless they believe that Jesus is the Savior and Son of God (Jhn 20:31, Acts 16:31, Jhn 3:16).
- Repent of your sins. ‘Repent’ means to ‘change your mind’. That change of mind always involves a change of action as well. Repentance is when we change our mind about what is important and submit ourselves to Jesus and His Word. Repentance is a necessity of salvation (Mk 6:12, Lk 13:5, Lk 15:7).
- Confess Jesus to others. If we have sworn our allegiance to Jesus, we must be prepared to publicly confess Him as our Lord. If we won’t confess Jesus before men, He won’t confess us before God (Matt 10:32-33, Lk 12:8-9).
- Be baptized in the name of Jesus for salvation. Many groups baptize people, but very few baptize people for the right reasons. Baptism isn’t merely an “outward showing of an inward faith” or “for membership”. Baptism is what saves us (1 Pet 3:21). Baptism is the point where someone goes from being lost to saved because they are buried and resurrected with Christ (Rom 6:4-5). Baptism is the final requirement to become a christian (Acts 2:37-38, Mk 16:16, Acts 2:41). There is not a single example of someone becoming a christian without baptism. Baptism is just as necessary as the other four requirements.
After that, there remains nothing else but to find a faithful congregation to assemble with (Heb 10:24) that teaches God’s Word and God’s Word only (see “Finding a Church” for more details) and to continue to grow in knowledge and practice of God’s Word (1 Pet 2:2).
I do not have the Holy Ghost; does that mean I won’t go at the Rapture?
Sincerely, Left Behind
Dear Left Behind,
Your question assumes that “the Rapture” is a Biblical event, and it isn’t. This is a common misconception because of the prevalence of the false teaching of premillenialism (see this post for further details). Having said that, let’s still take a look at how someone receives the Holy Spirit.
The indwelling of the Holy Spirit that allowed people to perform miracles was received through the direct laying on of hands of the apostles (Acts 8:17-18). This dwelling of the Holy Spirit no longer exists because it died off with the last person that the last apostle laid his hands upon.
Christians do have the Holy Spirit dwell in them (Rom 8:9) – but not literally. The Holy Spirit dwells in christians in the same metaphorical way that Christ dwells in christians (Rom 8:10). The Holy Spirit and Jesus do not physically dwell inside christians miraculously. They dwell within christians in a figurative way because a christian’s life follows the path the Holy Spirit and Christ set for them.
The Holy Spirit dwells in those that follow the Bible and put to death their previous sinful lifestyles (Rom 8:12-14). The Holy Spirit gave us the Bible, and when we follow it, we are led by the Spirit (see this post for further details). Those who are led by the Spirit are sons of God, and the Spirit dwells in them (Rom 8:14-16).
There is a 'new' idea floating around that after a non-christian dies, they simply cease to exist. For them, there will be no eternal hell; they will only be destroyed on the Day of Judgment because God is a compassionate God and wouldn't allow the lost to suffer eternally. I'm pretty sure I know the answer to this, but since it is floating around the churches, I just want to make sure I'm not missing something here.
Sincerely, Oblivion Oblivious
Dear Oblivion Oblivious,
Hell is a real place that you really don’t want to go to. The whole idea of the wicked simply ceasing to exist is conjured not from the Scriptures - but from the mind of man. Consider these verses:
- The story of Lazarus and the rich man makes no sense without hell (Lk 16:20-24). Jesus would effectively be telling a scary myth in order to terrify people into going to heaven even though what happened to the rich man wasn’t true.
- The wicked go to a place where the fire burns, but the worm never dies (Mk 9:47-49)
- At the judgment the wicked shall go to where there is ‘everlasting punishment’ (Matt 25:46).
- There are various degrees of judgment in hell (Lk 12:46-48). This makes no sense if hell is nothing more than oblivion.
- A false teacher incurs a stricter judgment (Jas 3:1). Once again, what is ‘stricter judgment’ if hell doesn’t exist?
The false doctrine of ‘oblivion’ has cropped up amongst God’s people from time to time for many, many years. It never survives very long because it has no basis in Scriptural fact.