Ask Your Preacher
What is faith?
Faith is belief, trust, and loyalty to something or someone. If you have faith in your friend, you trust them and are loyal to them through thick and thin. If you have faith in your car, you believe that it will run smoothly even though you aren’t a mechanic and aware of everything going on under the hood. Faith always involves trusting something you can’t see or control (Heb 11:1). You have faith in your friend’s judgment to give you directions; you place your faith in the author of a manual or instruction book to help you properly assemble a piece of furniture; you have faith in a traffic light to properly change colors and not direct you into cross-traffic.
In the case of God, our faith is built upon His Word (Rom 10:17). We trust God’s Bible to guide our lives and direct our steps (Ps 119:105). Our faith in God is shown in our actions – it is impossible to have faith without action (Jas 2:17). If someone says they believe in God, but they don’t obey His Bible, they are no better off than the demons (Jas 2:19). Faith in God is a lifestyle. We hear what His Word says, and then we act upon that command. After all, if we love God, we will keep His commandments (Jhn 14:15).
Is God okay with us watching movies like Saw or similar stuff?
There is some debate to be had over seeing a movie that is rated for gratuitous violence. At the very least, christians should be very, very cautious about viewing anything rated ‘R’ (a rating that most horror movies receive). According to the MPAA, an ‘R’ rating on a movie is received for one (or a combination) of five things:
- Adult themes and activities. This is a generic listing, but it is fair to say that this content almost always involves subject matter that is inappropriate for anyone with morals. ‘Adult themes’ are almost always synonymous with ‘sinful behavior’.
- Hard language
- Intense or persistent violence
- Sexually-oriented nudity
- Drug Abuse
When a christian looks at that list (and at least one of those things MUST be present to receive an ‘R’ rating), it should explain why ‘R’ rated movies can be such a bad thing. Christians are to dwell upon things that are pure, wholesome, good, and holy – not worldly filth (Php 4:8). When we dwell upon evil things, like what is found in ‘R’ rated movies, we set ourselves up for spiritual failure and death. Jesus Christ wasn’t “culturally relevant” in the sense of being like others. Jesus abhorred worldliness. The Bible tells us to flee immorality and, instead, to live soberly and righteously in this present world (Tit 2:12). Everyone must make their own decisions regarding what movies to watch and what movies to avoid, but before you go to that next horror movie, ask yourself, “What am I putting into my mind?”
Since the time I was baptized decades ago, I have attended worship as regularly as I could, and the assemblies of the saints are extremely important to me and my wife. I have preached the gospel full-time for about nine years and have preached and taught as much as opportunity has been afforded to me for the past twenty-plus years. Although I desire to do more for the Lord, obtaining support for preaching is very difficult, and, just like any other christian, my family and I need to make a living. Recently, after almost fifteen years with my current employer, my work schedule has been changed, and I am no longer able to get the Lord's day mornings off. Some assert that they would not continue in a job which requires them to work on the Lord's day, and others imply that, "If one has faith, God will take care of him." What does the Bible say about working on the Lord's day? Also, what does the Bible say about the idea that if one is really a faithful christian, he or she will be at every service?
Believe me when I say there is no place I would rather be than at worship with the church, lending encouragement and gaining strength through God's Word. I believe that an examination of this topic would be helpful.
Hard At Work
Dear Hard At Work,
We really appreciate your attitude and desire to do what is right. This is an issue that thousands of, if not all, saints struggle with. When is it appropriate to miss services? To answer your question, we need to look at two verses: Rev 1:10 and Heb 10:25.
As you probably know, two services on Sunday is merely an expediency. Nowhere in the Scripture are the saints required to meet twice on Sunday – however, there is a reason that most congregations have multiple services. The reason our group has a morning and an evening worship is because Sunday is called "the Lord's day". That term is found in Rev 1:10 and is almost universally agreed by commentators to refer to Sunday because that is the day that the Lord arose from the grave, and it is the day that God commanded His saints to commemorate Christ's death (Acts 20:7). What is Sunday to a christian? It is a day given to the Lord. It doesn't say "The Lord's half-hour" or "The Lord's morning" – it says "The Lord's day". There is a principle there. God intends for us to mentally set that day aside for spiritual things. Unlike the Jewish Sabbath, christians aren't prohibited from working on Sundays or doing other things, but we still have a principle of devoting that day as a day for spiritual things. After all, the Old Testament Sabbath existed for the spiritual needs of men (Mk 2:27), and it isn't like those spiritual needs have gone away just because we aren't Jewish. Once again, for clarification, Sunday isn't a new Sabbath, but we can take some principles from Old Testament examples (1 Cor 10:6). It isn't wrong for a christian to work on Sunday, but it also isn't right for a christian to disregard the Bible design of Sunday as the Lord's day.
The other primary verse to consider is Heb 10:25. We are commanded to "not forsake the assembly". The word 'forsake' means 'to desert, abandon, or leave behind'. This verse is sometimes misused to say that if you miss even a single class or service, you are sinning – that isn't the case. Forsaking something is more than just a single absence; it is an attitude of desertion. Heb 10:25 says that those who had forsaken the church assembly had made a custom out of it – it was their habit. When our priorities change and the church is no longer important to us and the Lord's day is no longer a priority, then we have forsaken the assembly. To forsake the assembly requires a devaluation of worship in our lives and in our hearts. This is what makes your question so tricky. Your work schedule has certainly altered your attendance, but you also honestly contend that it hasn't changed your desire to be there with the brethren. This is a legitimate point, and it is unfair for someone to judge your heart's intent based off of your current work schedule issues without factoring in your decades of devotion. On the other side of the coin, what we do consistently is a window into our hearts. We are known by the fruit we bear (Matt 7:16). If a brother begins to scale back his attendance, it will legitimately raise eyebrows on caring brethren because attendance decline is a consistent indication that someone is having spiritual problems. People have a zillion different reasons (sickness, travel, family emergencies, work, car trouble, etc.) for missing services... sometimes those excuses are sincere, and sometimes they are a cover up for dodging our responsibilities to the Lord. Not everyone that misses a service is spiritually weak, but spiritually weak people miss services. We believe your intentions and desires are wholesome, but you have to admit that you are the exception to the trend.
In short, every christian needs to examine themselves (2 Cor 13:5) in those two areas. Do we treat Sunday like the Lord's day? Does our attitude and behavior clearly reflect that the church assembly is central to our lives? Answer those questions with fear and trembling (Php 2:12), and you will have the answer to the question you sent us.
Are emotions in the heart or mind? God reads the heart, but man says emotions are in the mind. I am somewhat confused.
Dear The Thinker,
The Bible uses the terms 'heart' and 'mind' as synonyms. Mk 7:21 talks about thoughts proceeding from the heart, and 2 Pet 3:1 says that your mind is what thinks and remembers. The term 'heart' is most often used when referring to the emotional aspects of the human thought process, and the word 'mind' is typically used to refer to the analytical thinking process... but that isn't always the case. Truthfully, the two terms mean basically the same thing.
I'd like a few answers to questions that are rarely (if ever) brought up in Sunday services. What happens to people with brain diseases? Is this another way for the brain to protect itself from trauma it can't handle? Are people born with Down Syndrome guaranteed a place in heaven?
Of Sound Mind
Dear Of Sound Mind,
Those with mental handicaps would fall under the same rules as children. In order to obey the gospel, we must have the maturity to:
- Take responsibility for our sins (Acts 3:19).
- Hear and understand the Word of God (Rom 10:17).
- Be responsible for our own spiritual growth (1 Pet 2:1-2).
Children and those with mental disabilities do not have that ability, and God only holds us accountable for what we are able to do (2 Cor 8:11-12).
All disease and illness is a consequence of sin. When Adam and Eve sinned, their bodies began to die (Gen 2:17). When mankind was kicked out of the Garden of Eden (Gen 3:24), diseases of all sorts began to creep in. Mental diseases are just one consequence of that fateful decision that Adam and Eve made.