Ask Your Preacher
My fiancé just joined the army and is going to basic training. He is a member of the church of Christ, but there is only Catholic and Baptist services offered on Sundays, so he can't go to church during training. Is this a sin? He will miss about ten weeks of worship services.
Dear Concerned Fiancé,
His situation is difficult, but not unique. There have been many soldiers that have served Christ and country. Cornelius the centurion was the first Gentile convert (Acts 10:1), soldiers asked John the Baptist how to be faithful (Lk 3:14), and another centurion humbly sought Christ’s help (Matt 8:9). So take courage, you and your fiancé are not alone in your dilemma.
We consider his situation to be a 2 Cor 8:11 case. He is accountable for what he is able to do. If he is out in the middle of the deserts of Iraq, he is physically unable to make it to worship services. Therefore, he is not condemned for that which he cannot do. An analogous situation would be a mute Christian; he is commanded to confess Christ with his lips (Rom 10:9), but nobody expects a mute man to do this because he physically unable. If your fiancé is able to make it to services – DO IT. If he can’t attend, he should do what he can – pray (1 Thess 5:17) and study (2 Tim 2:15) on his own. We recommend that he ask some christians that are veterans of the military for tips and advice on what they did to make it through those times where they were unable to make it to services.
Is lying for your own safety still a sin?
On The Defense
Dear On The Defense,
God hates lying (Pr 6:16-17), but you don’t have to tell everyone everything about your life. Even Jesus ignored His brothers’ request to know His comings and goings on occasion (Jhn 7:8-10). Jesus never lied (Tit 1:2, Heb 4:15), but He did deflect their question because what He did (or didn’t do) wasn’t any of their business. In a life-or-death situation, you have every right to deflect someone from the truth in order to preserve life.
It is worth noting that good christians are of mixed opinions on this issue. Some believe it would be perfectly appropriate to deceive or deflect because you would be protecting human life – preserving human life is of great importance (the Egyptian midwives of Ex 1:15-22 are often cited as an example of this) Other christians believe that it would be better to die and go face God. Both sides have good arguments, and in such extreme circumstances, each person would need to choose what they believed was the most faithful and godly option.
Are Jews Jesus' chosen people? And why?
Yay For Yarmulke
Dear Yay For Yarmulke,
The Jews are not Jesus’ chosen people; the church is. 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 (Deu 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). 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 that 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).
The question I have: I believe six years ago, the Lord placed in my heart the desire to become a nurse, and ever since I received that, I've been pursuing this, taking classes and asking questions. This quarter, I'm taking a biology class, but for some reason, I'm starting to wonder if this is what God wants me to do. The reason why I'm asking myself and asking God this is because this quarter, I find myself struggling to sit down and study and do the homework. I want to do well in this class; I want to understand what I'm studying; I want to be that nurse for God that knows what she is doing.
What I want to know is why it is a struggle for me now. Is it because I'm out of God’s will? (I hope not.) Or is it something I'm not seeing?
Nursing A Career
Dear Nursing A Career,
God doesn't miraculously imbue us with what profession we should take and the power to sail through classes. The fact that you are having to work hard for your degree isn't a sign from God one way or the other. Hard work is a blessing, and hard workers are pleasing to God. Ecclesiastes says that we have the freedom to pursue whatever things we want in this life – as long as we remember that God will judge us in the end for the life we lived (Eccl 11:9). Being a nurse is a noble and kind profession, and there is nothing wrong with pursuing it, but don't think that God directly spoke to you that you need to be a nurse. God doesn't work that way. God speaks to us through His Son's Word, the Bible (Heb 1:1-2). We are faithful when we listen to that Word and obey it (Rom 10:17). Nursing school is a difficult challenge for even the most agile minds – you aren't struggling because you've done something wrong.
Sometimes, in the margins of my Bible (King James), there will be another Scripture listed next to some of the verses in the text. Are these cross-referenced verses supposed to be comparing verses from different books of the Bible? Even if they reference New Testament verses with Old Testament verses? Have there ever been cross-referenced verses to non-canon books?
Cross-references identify commonalities between different parts of the Bible—chains of similar themes, words, events, or people. Depending on the particular company that produces the Bible you are using, your copy may have a lot of cross-references; it may have very few. Cross-references can be helpful study tools, but they aren’t part of the original Bible; they are just helpful tools put in by the printing companies to further your studies. As far as referencing apocryphal books, some Catholic Bible printers do reference non-canon books because they are of use to those who practice Catholicism… but most Bible printing companies do not.