Ask Your Preacher
At our Wednesday evening services, one young lady, the daughter of a very prominent member, announced that she was going to attend a skiing party over the weekend and that they would be having services conducted by another woman in the cabin in the mountains. Her father approves of this type of situation and has himself gone off in like manner. They have a lot of influence with the other members, and so no one will stand up to them. Our preacher said that he will not interrupt his schedule to deal with this trifle because "it is not bad enough". But he agrees that it should not be done. What should I do?
At The Bottom Of The Slope
Dear At The Bottom Of The Slope,
You should do exactly what everyone else is doing – nothing. Some issues are clear-cut and deserve to be dealt with publicly and swiftly, but this is not one of them. If you asked a hundred faithful christians what the best way to worship is when you are away on vacation, you will get one hundred different opinions. Some will say you can’t go on vacation somewhere that doesn’t have a faithful congregation, others (like this family) cite Matt 18:20 as proof that it is appropriate to hold your own temporary services while away, and still others say that a vacation constitutes such a rare circumstance that it isn’t important to attend at all. Those are three opinions that cover the entire spectrum of thought on the subject of vacation church attendance. The truth is that the Bible is never specific on this issue. God tells us that whenever we run into an issue of opinion, we should decide for ourselves and leave others to do the same (Rom 14:10-13). Leave the final judgment to God and don’t allow an issue of opinion and personal judgment to cause strife among the Lord’s people (Rom 14:19).
When I am playing the piano in our worship, I hardly ever feel the presence of God. But when I have the Sunday off, and I am worshipping, I feel God's presence. Why is this?
Not Feeling It
Dear Not Feeling It,
There are two parts to your question that must be dealt with. Before we answer your concerns about how and when you feel close to God, we recommend you read the post “Music to HIS Ears”. After reading that, it may make the second part of this question obsolete because it explains how using instruments as a part of worship isn’t a biblical practice.
The second half of your question deals with emotion. The Bible never talks about us feeling the presence of God. In fact, mankind hasn’t been allowed in the presence of God since Adam and Eve got kicked out of the Garden (Gen 3:8). The angels are in God’s presence (Lk 1:19), but mankind won’t be until the Day of Judgment. God is certainly close to us and affects our lives (Acts 17:27-28), but we don’t have direct contact with Him. So when we talk about “feeling the presence of God”, what we are really discussing is when we feel emotionally close to God. Emotions are fickle. There will be times when you will feel like God is far from you… but you are wrong because He is still watching over you (Ps 9:10), and there are folks that believe that they are close to God, but they are separated from Him because they are living wickedly (Matt 7:21-23). Simply put, we can’t trust our emotions to be accurate. The only way to confidently know that God is near you is to live faithfully by hearing and acting upon His instructions (Rom 1:16).
How can I be a true christian? There are so many different ways that people say how to be a christian; I would like to know: how do I know that I am living the right way?
Looking For A Guarantee
Dear Looking For A Guarantee,
There is only one way to be confident in your salvation – follow what the Bible says. There is only one hope for our salvation (Eph 4:4-6), and it is found in God’s Word (Rom 1:16). The key to faithful living is to hear and do what the Bible says (Rom 10:17). There will always be lots of different opinions from people, but those opinions are only valid if they agree with what your Bible says. All preaching and teaching should sound like your Bible reads. If someone tells you something, ask them for the Bible verses to prove it. God tells us to test all teachers against His Word (1 Jn 4:1) because many religious teachers are false teachers. Just because someone is zealous and sincere, doesn’t mean they are right (Rom 10:1-2). Paul praised the idolatrous people of Athens for their religious fervor (Acts 17:22), but then explained that the idols they were so passionate about wouldn’t save them (Acts 17:23-25). Here is a link to a post on what it takes to become a christian (“What Must I Do To Be Saved”), and here is another link to a post on why there is so much religious confusion (“Down With Denominationalism”)… read those articles and compare what we say to the Scriptures we cite, and then let the Bible be the final judge.
I love God, and I stand strong for my religion, but I have recently gotten into pot. Does this mean I am going to hell?
Dabbling In Drugs
Dear Dabbling In Drugs,
God is the judge of the living and the dead (1 Pet 4:5)… we cannot make the judgment on whether you will go to heaven or hell, but we can say that you are doing things opposite of what the Bible teaches. Consuming marijuana for “recreational” purposes is wrong. God created every green herb on day three (Gen 1:11-13), but He didn’t create them to be used inappropriately. God condemns drunkenness and insobriety (Rom 13:13, 1 Cor 6:10). If any drug, including marijuana, is used to create a state of drunkenness – then, yes, it is a sin.
God created everything in this world for our good, and He created us for good works (Eph 2:10). Abusing the plants and herbs that God has blessed this world with harms us and is a sin. When we don’t treat our bodies with respect, we harm ourselves as well as displeasing God (1 Cor 6:19-20). Glorify God in your body and stay free of the damaging effects of drugs.
What is the biblical plan of salvation?
God’s plan for our salvation is a very straightforward process that can be logically seen and understood through the Bible.
- Hear the Gospel and recognize your need for salvation. The Bible tells us “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23). The vast majority of people live life without considering their eternal condition. Unless we are in Christ, we are lost. Jesus is the only way to get to heaven (Jhn 14:6), and only when we have faith in Him are we saved (Acts 4:12). The Bible is God’s good news about Jesus, and it is impossible to know how to be saved without knowing what the Bible says.
- You must believe what the Bible says. It is impossible to please God without placing your faith in Him (Heb 11:6). It is impossible to have faith without the Scriptures (Rom 10:17). Faith alone won’t save you (Jas 2:22-26), but faith in God needs to be what directs your choices.
- Repent of your sins. ‘Repent’ means to ‘change your mind’. That change of mind always involves a change of action as well. Repentance is when we change our mind about what is important and submit ourselves to Jesus and His Word. Repentance is a necessity of salvation (Mk 6:12, Lk 13:5, Lk 15:7).
- Confess Jesus to others. If we have sworn our allegiance to Jesus, we must be prepared to publicly confess Him as our Lord. If we won’t confess Jesus before men, He won’t confess us before God (Matt 10:32-33, Lk 12:8-9).
- Be baptized in the name of Jesus for salvation. Many groups baptize people, but very few baptize people for the right reasons. Baptism isn’t merely an “outward showing of an inward faith” or “for membership”. Baptism is what saves us (1 Pet 3:21). Baptism is the point where someone goes from being lost to saved because they are buried and resurrected with Christ (Rom 6:4-5). Baptism is the final requirement to become a christian (Acts 2:37-38, Mk 16:16, Acts 2:41). There is not a single example of someone becoming a christian without baptism. Baptism is just as necessary as the other four requirements.
After that, there remains nothing else but to find a faithful congregation to assemble with (Heb 10:24) that teaches God’s Word and God’s Word only (see “Finding a Church” for more details) and to continue to grow in knowledge and practice of God’s Word (1 Pet 2:2).