Ask Your Preacher

Ask Your Preacher

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Distance Learning

Friday, January 12, 2018
I don't want to sound blasphemous, but if God is a just god, why would people that haven't had a chance to be baptized or haven’t had a chance to hear the Word of God be condemned to hell?  I’m not talking about ignorant people; I’m talking about people in third-world countries who the missionaries don’t get to that just grew up in a different culture.  I refuse to believe that if those people are good people, they would be sent to hell.

Sincerely,
It Isn’t Fair

Dear It Isn’t Fair,

We would caution you about saying you “refuse to believe” something before studying the Bible’s teachings on the topic.  One of the main reasons that people are lost is because they are unwilling to accept the Bible’s teachings over their own preconceived notions.  With that in mind, let’s look at a few teachings on this topic.

  1. Just because someone is ignorant, doesn’t mean they aren’t at fault.  God tells us that anyone who seeks the truth will find it (Matt 7:7-8).  The Bible is the most widely available book on the planet – just because someone hasn’t read it, doesn’t mean they didn’t have opportunity.
  2. People go to hell because of their sins (Rom 6:23), not because of Jesus.  Jesus’ death on the cross is a cure for mankind’s self-inflicted spiritual death sentence.  It is the same as a disease outbreak – the disease kills people, not the lack of a cure.  If Jesus had never come, and none of us had ever heard of Jesus, we would all have been lost.
  3. God tells us that everyone has been given enough information to seek Him.  Rom 1:20 says that the very beauty of the created universe speaks of God’s existence and leaves mankind without excuse.  God has provided an “all call” message anyone can hear through the wonder of His creation.
  4. God doesn’t desire anyone to perish (2 Pet. 3:9).  God won’t make any mistakes on the Day of Judgment, and no one will accidentally end up in heaven or hell.  He is compassionate, loving, and ready to show mercy (Ps. 86:5).  If someone goes to hell, it is because the most faithful and loving Being in existence believed that is where they should be.

God is the final judge.  We will all face Him when we die (Heb 9:27).  The best thing we can do is make sure we are prepared for that day.

Puppy Love

Thursday, January 11, 2018
I would like to know where all of God’s beautiful, four-legged creatures go when they die.  My grandson asked me this question right after his dog died.  Of course, I told him his dog went to heaven to be with God and is waiting for him... but the truth of the matter is, I don't really know where his dog went to!  I was always told that dogs and cats don't have souls, so if that's true... where would they go?

Sincerely,
Grammy Grief Counselor

Dear Grammy Grief Counselor,

Animals are a blessing from God, and your grandson’s fondness for his dog is shared by animal lovers the world ‘round.  Animals have the “breath of life” just like humans do (Gen 2:7, Gen 6:17).  This “breath of life” is also sometimes referred to as the “spirit” of a man or animal (Gen 7:22).  Animals have spirits, and humans have spirits, but humans were also made in the image of God (Gen 1:26).  Our spirits are eternal and will go up to be with the Father, and animal spirits are temporary and will return to the dust of the earth (Eccl 3:21).  God made our spirit of a different caliber than He made those of the animal.  Dogs don’t go to heaven, but we can feel confident that God has decided wisely on this issue like all others.  We may not always understand His reasons, but He always makes good decisions.

Plural Pastors

Wednesday, January 10, 2018
I belong to a local, independent Baptist congregation, and we go by the Bible in all matters of faith and practice.  My pastor of twenty years is going to retire next month (God bless him), and our church is bringing prospective replacement pastors to preach on Sunday.  At some point, we will be asked to vote on a new pastor after careful prayer and consideration.  My question is: is this a biblical method of church structure?  I can't seem to find anything in the New Testament that resembles what we are doing.  Please help.

Sincerely,
Baptist Believer

Dear Baptist Believer,

We applaud your desire to follow the Bible pattern in all things – this is exactly what God expects us to do (2 Tim 1:13).  The way a congregation organizes itself should always be based upon the standard and pattern found in the Bible… after all, the church is the pillar and foundation of the truth on this planet (1 Tim 3:15).  So, let’s look at the Bible pattern for church leadership.

The Bible makes a distinction between preachers and pastors.  In Eph 4:11, notice that evangelists are listed separately from pastors.  An evangelist, also known as a preacher, is any man that is preaching God’s Word.  Philip was an evangelist (Acts 21:8), and so was Timothy (2 Tim 4:5).  Preachers are given the task of preaching and teaching God’s Word.  They have no authority beyond the ability to appeal to the hearts and minds of those in the congregation by explaining the Scriptures to them (2 Tim 4:1-5).  A congregation can support and hire a preacher as long as he is a faithful man that preaches the truth (1 Cor 9:14, Lk 10:7).

The job of a pastor is entirely different from that of a preacher.  ‘Pastor’ is a term only used once in the New Testament (Eph 4:11).  ‘Pastor’ is another name for ‘elder’ because elders shepherd the flock (1 Pet 5:1-2).  Elders/pastors are in charge of guiding and leading the church.  They have authority to make decisions for the congregation, and they have the responsibility of watching over the souls of those in the local congregation (Heb 13:17).  The Bible never gives us an example of a pastor leading a congregation on his own.  Every faithful congregation functioned with multiple elders (Tit 1:5), and those elders had to meet strict requirements and standards because of the authority they wielded.  The qualifications for pastors can be found in Titus 1:5-9 and 1 Timothy 3:1-7.  Pastors should be picked out from amongst the congregation (Acts 14:23) – they don’t need to be shipped in.

It seems like your congregation has the common misconception of using a single pastor to run and lead the church.  The Bible shows many examples of a congregation bringing in preachers to teach and share the good news, but pastors should always come from within a congregation; they must meet the Bible’s qualifications, and there should always be more than one of them.

Faith Makes The Difference

Tuesday, January 09, 2018
What does it mean when the Bible says that if your faith is as little as a mustard seed, you can move the mountains?  Is it literally referring to the mountains?  If it is, why can't a pastor or missionary move a mountain; isn't their faith at least the size of a mustard seed?

Sincerely,
Interest Peaked

Dear Interest Peaked,

The verse you are referring to is Matt 17:20.  Jesus was talking to the apostles (Matt 17:19) about why they were unable to cast out a particularly stubborn demon (Matt 17:14-16).  Jesus told his apostles that the reason they were unable to cast out the demon was because they didn’t have enough faith.  If they had been more faithful, they could have performed the miracle.

The story is not directly applicable to us today because we can’t perform miracles like the apostles could – but there is an important principle being taught: faith makes a difference.  Faith is one of the greatest elements of Christianity (1 Cor 13:13).  If we trust God, great things can happen.

The Longest Three Days

Monday, January 08, 2018
Why did God choose the third day to raise Jesus up?  Is there a reason for the third day?

Sincerely,
Counting

Dear Counting,

There are several reasons that the Scriptures give us for why Jesus was raised on the third day, and there may be more reasons that God didn’t tell us.  The secret things belong to God (Deu 29:29)… some questions won’t get answered until we see Him in heaven.  Here is what we know:

  1. Jesus was raised on the third day because that is when He prophesied He would be raised (Lk 24:7).  Jesus fulfilled every prophecy He made, right down to the details of how long He would stay in the grave.
  2. Jesus’ burial is compared to Jonah’s time in the belly of the great fish (Matt 12:40).  The Old Testament was full of parallels to Christ because the Old Testament was a tutor to lead people to Christ (Gal 3:24-25).  Jonah’s three days and nights in the big fish were another example of an allusion to Christ.
  3. Jesus’ three days in the tomb left no doubt that He was truly dead.  Jesus was in the tomb so that all could witness that He did indeed fully die and was buried (Acts 10:37-40).

As we said, there are probably more reasons that the Father had in mind when He chose to leave Jesus’ body in the grave for three days, but those are the reasons He has deemed appropriate for us to know from the Scriptures.

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