Ask Your Preacher
Even though one's a christian, can he still have objections about the things God, Jesus, the apostles, the angels, and all the good guys have done and said in the Bible (like God allowing slavery and Moses’ "shall be put to death" laws)?
Dear Conscientous Objector,
We can object to human behavior as much as we want – but part of being a christian is agreeing that God knows better than us. If we don’t submit our will to God’s, then we really don’t trust Him to be our Master (Matt 6:24). If God says that something is wrong, we must have faith in His judgment. And if God says something is right, we must listen and follow.
Having said that, we must differentiate between God’s ways and our ways (Isa 55:9). God is responsible for all of the capital punishment laws that Moses gave (Ex 31:18), and therefore, we must accept that God deems capital punishment a good thing in certain circumstances.
However, slavery is an entirely different issue. God does address slavery in the Bible. He makes it clear that it is better when people are free; freedom is what God desires for all men (1 Cor 7:21). However, God also deals with how people can live in a world where slavery does exist… hence, verses like Col 3:22. The fact that God gives us practical laws for how to live in a world with slavery doesn’t mean He condones it. Just because we don’t have slavery in America doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist elsewhere, and mankind must learn how to be faithful to God in whatever circumstances we are living.
Is it wrong to drink coffee or take a caffeine supplement for an extra boost of energy?
Dear Feeling Sluggish,
Much to the joy and relief of those of us in the Pacific Northwest, the Bible never says anything about caffeine, and it certainly never says it is a sin. The Church of Christ of Latter-Day Saints, also known as the Mormon church, strictly forbids the use of caffeine… but the Bible never does.
The Bible tells us to take care of our bodies (1 Cor 6:19). God also warns against gluttony (Pr 23:21). There is much debate over the effects of caffeine upon the body, but no studies are conclusive enough that one could condemn all use of caffeine. Caffeine, like all other consumables, should be used with moderation and balance… but it isn’t wrong.
I have a question about 1 Cor 5:1-13; when would you apply it to a member? And if leaders of a church ignore what Paul said about handing this brother over to Satan, could they then be responsible if that sinful member loses eternal life at the Day of Judgment?
Dear Tough Love,
1st Corinthians chapter five discusses the process of a church withdrawing from a christian who is living a sinful life. It is important to note that the man who Paul said needed to be disciplined was living a life that was actively and unrepentantly sinful (he had his father’s wife – 1 Cor 5:1). That is the type of person that a church should withdraw from. If someone is caught doing something sinful, and they continue to do that behavior without any remorse or attempt to change, the church must act. So how do you know someone has reached that point? Matt 18:15-17 tells us that if we know a christian is sinning, we should attempt to talk to them one-on-one. If that doesn’t work, we should bring one or two others to attempt to further persuade the person, and lastly, if that doesn’t work, the church should rebuke the individual and withdraw from them. The principle is that the person should be given ample opportunity to repent because you don’t want to discipline too early, but if it becomes clear that they aren’t interested in obeying God’s Word, the church must stand firm.
If the church doesn’t act, it will have to answer to God because it didn’t stand up for the truth. Paul told the Corinthians that they were arrogant for not addressing their errant member (1 Cor 5:2), and he warned them that if they didn’t act, the church would eventually be rotted away by sin (1 Cor 5:6-7). A church that won’t stand by the truth is bound to fall away from the Lord and cease to be a faithful church. When someone sins, they are responsible for their own behavior, but if the church doesn’t warn them, they have sinned as well (Ezek 3:18-19).
In the Bible, does it state that at least two witnesses had to agree to the charges before the trial could be declared valid? If so, where and what section?
Dear Legal Advice,
The verse that you are looking for is Deut 19:15. In the Old Testament, God made the laws for the courts. The nation of Israel, like all other societies, had people that broke the law. God designed the law, so someone couldn’t be accused of a crime unless there were multiple witnesses. Incidentally, America’s court system was originally modeled after Israel’s court system. Why? Because God’s ways work.
In our congregation, on Monday or Tuesday, we call members who were missing on Sunday. Some of these members have not attended worship for months. One of these members asked that we not call her anymore, and when we went ahead and called her anyway, it did not turn out well. How do we handle this? Do we stop calling, just send an occasional card, or do we take no action now and pray she will return when her heart is right? The statement: "You can't help someone until they are ready to help themselves" appears applicable.
Jesus made a very concise statement about how to treat the person that is clearly not interested in spiritual things. He said, “Don’t throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you” (Matt 7:6). This is exactly what you experienced when that woman was called again after showing her total disinterest in the gospel – she turned and attacked the messenger. As much as it can pain us, we must accept that not everyone wants to hear the good news, and sometimes, it is best to simply leave them to their spiritual bankruptcy. There is nothing wrong with moving on in such situations; the church has done its job. Like the prodigal son, until life outside of Christ gives them enough of a beating, there is nothing you can say that will help (Lk 15:11-19).