Ask Your Preacher
It seems like the Bible sends mixed messages. In His Word, He will not come back until certain things happen, and then Christ comes to rule the world. But then it says God could come any day now, and no one knows when. But if the Antichrist is not here and if all these events have not happened, then He will not come because He says He will come after tribulations. But we haven't even had the Rapture yet!
Putting Things In Order
Dear Putting Things In Order,
The Bible doesn't send mixed messages, but sadly, many people have confused passages in the Bible, and that confusion has sent mixed messages to people. The entire issue of the "rapture", tribulation events, the Antichrist, etc. stems from a teaching called Premillenialism, and it has really missed the boat. None of those events will actually occur. We have written several articles on those topics. Feel free to read "Caught Up", "Don't Mark Me Off", and "Premillenialism" for specifics about what is wrong with those doctrines.
The one teaching God has really given on the subject of the end of time is 1 Thess 5:2. God says the end will come like a thief in the night. We can't predict when it will happen, and there will be no rapture events to give us a heads up.
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.
What all does Satan do to us throughout our lives? What kind of stuff does he cause us to do?
Dear Feeling Forced,
Satan will do to us as much as he possibly can, but the devil’s power is only strong enough to devour us if we want him to. Satan is a roaring lion (1 Pet 5:8), and he has princely power on this planet (Eph 2:2), but God has chained this lion. In the book of Job, we see that Satan is restrained by God (Job 1:12). 1 Cor 10:13 says that we cannot be tempted beyond what we are able to overcome. Satan may be strong, but he cannot attack us unless we let him. Like a rabid dog on a chain, he can only harm us if we get within the chain’s radius. Satan doesn’t have total authority on this planet; in the end, Jesus is the king of all (Php 2:9-11). Satan can’t force you to commit any sin, but he is happy to tempt you to commit as many as possible.
Hi. I recently renewed my faith in God, but I have a question about something I am struggling with. I don't quite understand why Jesus was necessary… or rather, why God deemed it necessary to have Jesus die to save everyone. Couldn't God have saved lost souls without sacrificing Jesus? I understand that Jesus came to save souls and that as a christian, you have to believe in Him to be saved. I guess I just don't understand why it isn't enough to love God.
God sent Jesus to die on the cross, so He could be both a just God and a loving God. If God had simply forgiven us of our sins without paying for them, He would be a liar because God says that sin is deserving of eternal death (Rom 6:23). It wouldn’t be right for Him to simply remove our guilt without paying for it. It would be akin to a judge letting people go free simply because he liked them – a judge like that would be corrupt.
Instead, we see that God is both just and our justifier. Jesus’ blood pays the price of our sin (1 Jn 1:7). There are two ways to pay for sin. We can pay for the sin ourselves by spending eternity in hell, or God’s blood can cover the cost of sin. The Son of God came down and gave Himself to purchase us (Acts 20:28). Rom 3:25-26 says that God sent Jesus, so He could show that He was loving and still righteous.
In the Old Testament, it talks about unintentional sin. Is there also unintentional (accidental) sin in the New Testament, like Paul before his conversion? Thank you.
Sinful By Mistake
Dear Sinful By Mistake,
Unintentional sins are committed every single day. Paul said that all of his sins had been committed out of ignorance and in a clear conscience (1 Tim 1:13, Acts 23:1). Paul also pointed out that he still needed mercy for his unintentional sins. Ignorance is an explanation for our sins, but it doesn’t excuse our guilt. God is patient with us, but eventually, we are responsible for seeking to remove our ignorance by finding the truth of God’s Word (Acts 17:30). It is understandable when people sin because they don’t know any better, and that understanding engenders God’s compassion (as it should ours), and that is exactly why God’s love sent His Son, so we might have a way of escape from our unintentional rebellion (Jhn 3:16).