Ask Your Preacher
Many passages like Romans 10:13 say that whoever accepts Jesus as Savior will automatically be saved. But what about passages that say that not all christians will enter God’s kingdom? Matthew 7:21-23 states that Jesus said that not everyone who calls His name will enter God’s kingdom. Luke 13:23-27 states that people will do anything just to get qualified to enter God’s kingdom, but not all will succeed. Most interesting of all is Matthew 25:32-46 where some of those who thought they were sheep were actually goats. So what guarantee is there that we will be saved and be in the presence of God?
Needing A Guarantee
Dear Needing A Guarantee,
The guarantee is when we continually live faithful lives to God until the day we die. Accepting Jesus as our Savior is more than just a singular act; it is a lifestyle. The apostle Paul said it clearest when he wrote, "Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own because Christ Jesus has made me His own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." (Php 3:12-14).
Notice the language he uses. Paul says that he hasn't already obtained and that he must "press on" to the goal. Faith is a lifestyle of hearing God's Word and living by it (Rom 10:17). Rom 10:13 is often taken out of context and used to say that all we must do to be saved is call upon the Lord's name, but we must remember that it is the sum of God's Word that gives us the truth (Ps 119:160). There are many verses (like those you mentioned) which state that calling on the Lord's name is only part of what it takes to get to heaven.
Any recommended Bible verses about believing in yourself and your ability to make the best and right decision? And trusting your inner self and goodness?
Dear Inner Compass,
Ironically, the Bible is full of verses on that topic, but they all say the opposite. God tells us that we shouldn’t trust ourselves to direct our paths. Jer 10:23 says that man will fail if he tries to run his life without God’s direction – we can’t trust our own wisdom. Pr 21:2 says that we all think that we are doing the right thing, even the axe-murderer rationalizes his behavior… but obviously, just because we believe we are doing the right thing, that doesn’t mean we are. We should have no confidence in our flesh (Php 3:3); all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23).
So, if we shouldn’t believe in our own abilities, and we shouldn’t trust ourselves – what should we do? Pr 1:7 says that all wisdom begins with fearing God. When we humble ourselves before God and accept His Bible – we can confidently live by faith. When we throw away our confidence in the old man and latch onto the teachings of the Lord, we put on a new man that finds confidence in God (Col 3:5-10).
Would you please elaborate on 1 Corinthians 13:8–10? How do we know that the word ‘perfect’ is referring to the Bible?
Dear Definition Please,
The perfect that is described in 1 Cor 13:8-13 is typically thought to be one of two things. It is either perfect knowledge of God’s Will (also known as the completed Bible) or the Second Coming of Christ. So, let’s look at the details we are given about ‘the perfect’ and see which one fits better.
- ‘The perfect’ is something that would replace partial knowledge (1 Cor 13:9).
- ‘The perfect’ would remove the necessity for prophecy and new knowledge (1 Cor 13:8).
- When ‘the perfect’ comes, christians will still be expected to have faith, hope, and love (1 Cor 13:13).
The third item on that list is proof that ‘the perfect’ isn’t the Second Coming of Christ. When Christ returns, we will no longer need hope or faith. Faith is trusting in something you can’t see (Heb 11:1); when Jesus comes, we won’t need to have faith in Him – everyone will see Him, and every knee will bow (Rom 14:11). Hope is also something that ceases to exist when Jesus returns. Hope is always in something you haven’t attained yet (Rom 8:25). For example, if a child is told by his parents that they will take him to Disneyland, the child has faith in the parents’ promise and hopes to see Disneyland… until the day that he walks into the Magic Kingdom. Hope and faith only exist because Christ hasn’t returned yet.
‘The perfect’ has to be something that happened after prophecy and miracles ended, but before Jesus’ return. The most logical explanation is that Paul was discussing the perfect and complete knowledge that can be found in the completed Bible. Today, with a finished Bible, the church still needs faith, hope, and love, but we no longer have a need for prophecy, and we no longer have only partial knowledge of God’s Will (Jude 1:3).
We are a small congregation with no deacons or elders. Recently, several issues have been raised in the men’s meetings:
Issue #1: Different men are assigned to the Lord's table each Sunday, ages seventeen and up. One of the men who regularly serves on the table obtained approval to use his two young sons (ages seven and nine) to help pass the plates. They do not participate with the men at the table, only stand at the end of the rows and hand the plate from row to row. They take this duty very seriously and do a very good job. Yet, some members feel that no one should be helping serve on the Lord's table unless they have been baptized.
Issue #2: The offering has always been returned to the front table after collection (although the Lord's Supper plates are taken to the back room) and, after services, is counted by two of whoever served on the table that week, which changes weekly, and therein lies the problem. Several members are upset about the lack of confidentiality (at times, children and other family members have observed while their fathers count the offering), and, in fact, one family has withheld their offering as a result. The decision was made to take the offering plate to a side room to count which does not completely resolve the problem of confidentiality since any two of fifteen different people are counting the money each Sunday.
Issue #3 involves allowing men whose regular attendance is lacking, or were baptized less than a year ago, to deliver Sunday evening sermons. More than a few members are uncomfortable with this, mostly because of the lack of Bible knowledge and potentially false impressions left with visitors.
Issue #4: Allowing AA meetings to be held in the building (although made available to them at no cost).
I appreciate your Bible answers and words of wisdom.
Counting My Concerns
Dear Counting My Concerns,
Your first three concerns are all issues of wisdom – there is no hard and fast line of right and wrong; the congregation must decide what they think is best and wisest because God gives us freedom in these areas.
There is nothing wrong with those young boys helping pass the plates. This isn’t any different than when people sitting in the pews help pass the plate from one person to another. The same goes with counting the collection; the Bible never says we need to guarantee people’s anonymity in giving. In fact, there were times when Paul openly bragged about how much a congregation was prepared to give (2 Cor 8:1-2, 2 Cor 9:2). As for men preaching, the Bible never gives a specific maturity level needed for a man to preach a lesson. Wisdom would dictate that the younger in the faith someone is, the more cautious we should be, but once again, that isn’t a prohibition, just a concern. In the end, with all of these issues, God tells us to do that which makes for peace and edification (Rom 14:19). If an expediency stops being helpful, it is no longer expedient. Typically, an eldership would handle such matters because they are qualified to watch over the souls of the congregation and delicate matters like this (Heb 13:17), and the fact that your congregation doesn’t have elders yet is a big part of what is making these issues so painful. These are exactly the kinds of growing pains that congregations go through until they are able to appoint elders. The only thing you can do is try and strive for unity and submission to one another in these sorts of situations (Eph 5:21, Eph 4:3).
Your fourth concern is a different matter; a congregation has no authority to use its assets (and the church building is part of its assets) to support things other than the Lord’s work. As positive an influence as Alcoholics Anonymous can be, it isn’t the church, and it isn’t the church’s work, therefore, the church shouldn’t be using the Lord’s funds to support it. Read “Purpose Driven Church” for further details on the church’s purpose and responsibilities.
(This is a follow-up to the post “Without Creedence”)
Your answer to the difference between creeds and publications that preachers write didn't fully explain a difference between the two. Can you please show me where different denominations hold their "creed" books to the same standard as the Bible? I have had many discussions with various Lutherans and Baptists alike, and none of them view their supplements to the same degree of Bible authority. They all view them as teaching tools to supplement the Word. Many preachers claim that their writings should be heard because they are "based" on the Word of God. Many religious groups with creed books would claim the same. I believe the difference between a creed book and the publications church of Christ preachers write is that we believe that one follows the Bible, and the others don't. Our friends outside the church make the same claim. Anytime we hold our opinions and explanations to demand the same level of attention as plain Scripture, we have written creeds by your definition. Maybe we should simply point people to Scripture and quit offering our opinions.
Dear Tracking Tracts,
If a preacher takes something he writes and gives it equal weight to the Bible, then he is sinning, but we’ve never personally experienced someone using a tract or commentary that way. Your statement that “many preachers claim…” is arbitrary, and we can’t speak to personal experiences and subjective viewpoints. In fact, the discussions you have had with various Lutherans and Baptists are also subjective because most Baptists and Lutherans don’t know what their own creed books even say. The key is to read the books for yourself and ask what the leaders of these churches say about their creeds. The Lutheran church uses four creeds: The Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Athanasian Creed, and the Augsburg Confessional. They teach that these creeds are authoritative guides for their worship and beliefs – they aren’t commentaries; they are distinct belief systems that don’t require Bible authority to back them. As we said, read them yourselves.
The Baptists are even more blatant about the value they place upon their creeds. The Standard Manual For Baptist Churches says that baptism used to be a necessary part of salvation, but now things are different (Standard Manual for Baptist Churches pg. 22). That type of a statement clearly places their manual as a religious authority above the Bible!
Not all people who are part of a religious group understand why they do what they do and where their beliefs come from, but that doesn’t make the creed any less of a guide for their respective denominations. These creeds add to God’s Word, and that is definitely wrong (Rev 22:18-19, 1 Cor 4:6).