Ask Your Preacher
(This post is in response to “Only The Best”.)
Does your local congregation use incense in your worship service? If the "pure offering" referred to in Mal 1:11 is the lives of the people of the New Testament Church (as you say), then when does your congregation "offer incense" in God's name? Remember, you have previously stated, "If you avoid or ignore verses, that is just as bad as adding to the Bible (Rev 22:18-19). We have to take every Bible teaching, no matter how unpopular, and accept it in order to truly call ourselves a ‘Bible-only’ congregation."
Burning To Know
Dear Burning To Know,
Just like the offerings mentioned in the previous post aren’t literal animal sacrifices, the “incense” that the church sends up to God isn’t literally on fire. Mal 1:11 is a verse dealing with general principles of the church’s behavior in the way that an Old Testament Jew acquainted with Old Testament worship could understand. The Bible says that the lives of the righteous are like the sweet smell of incense before those that are perishing (2 Cor 2:14-16). Rev 8:3-4 also compares our prayers to burning incense. In either case, nowhere is the church asked to burn incense as a part of worship. Mal 1:11 would have to be taken out of context to use it as a proof text for incense as an act of New Testament worship.
I have two children who are into meth. I have been praying for them along with other family members. I don't understand why these prayers are not being answered. Is there a certain way I need to pray or ask? I'm new to this, and think I'm not asking in the right way.
I also feel like Satan is starting to attack my family and me for praying. Does this happen? I have no peace, and I'm afraid to go to sleep because of nightmares... but those could be from all the stress I have in my life.
If you can suggest any books to help me become stronger in my faith and learn to pray, I would greatly appreciate it; I'm too embarrassed to ask. Thank you for your time.
Mom Who's Trying
Dear Mom Who’s Trying,
God desires to answer our prayers, and He says that a righteous christian’s prayers do make a difference (Pr 15:29, Jas 5:16). However, when we pray about things, it isn’t as simple as we just get what we are asking for because God has multiple principles that He must keep in balance at all times.
If God simply forced people to become better people because you prayed for them, that would remove our freedom of choice. After all, He tells us that we reap what we sow in this life (Gal 6:7). We make certain choices that get us addicted to sin… we must make choices (often painful – like disclosing the sin) to remove the addiction. The fact that you are praying for your children is wonderful, but they are responsible for their own decisions, and God won’t force them to change if that isn’t what they want.
As far as books we would recommend, the best thing you can do is read your Bible – especially the Psalms – to get you through this time of grief. The Psalms are songs and prayers written by faithful people who sometimes suffered greatly. That is our number one recommendation to someone in your situation – read the Psalms. Otherwise, if you need help finding a congregation, we would be happy to help you find one.
Is it wrong to pray for someone who is dead? I was told the Bible says it is wrong, and I don't remember reading that. Thank you.
Dear Morbid Curiosity,
1 Jn 5:16 is probably the verse you are thinking of, but that doesn’t really deal with dead people; it pertains to people who are purposefully turning their backs on the Lord. We are told not to request that God forgive people who aren’t seeking to live faithfully.
Having said that, your question deals with people that are already dead, and that is an entirely different issue. Heb 9:27 says that people die and then face the judgment. There is no room for someone’s fate to be changed once they die. If your goal through prayer is to make it so someone who already died can go to heaven instead of hell, that won’t work.
When you interpret Scripture, either by preaching to your congregation, answering questions on this site, or just studying Scripture in your spare time, are your biblical interpretations infallible? Yes or no?
Do You Think You're Perfect?
Dear Do You Think You're Perfect,
We aren’t infallible here at AYP; we are just men. That is exactly why we always give Bible verses for everything that we teach. That way, you as the reader, can compare what we say to the Bible… and we hope you do! The Bible is the perfect guide to life, and it is the power of God given to us for our salvation (Rom 1:16). Always believe the Bible and test everything anyone tells you against its words (1 Jn 4:1). That includes us.
Do you have to go to church to go to heaven? I know you have to be saved, which I am, but I don’t go to church. I read my Bible, so will I go to hell if I don’t go to 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.