Ask Your Preacher

Ask Your Preacher

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Baby Steps

Saturday, April 19, 2014
I'm sure someone has asked this before, but I wanted to ask this so it was phrased the way I want it.  I was baptized not too long ago, but ever since, I have yet to truly understand how to live as a christian... I am in the process of reading the Bible, but I feel ignorant, and I want to know how to live as a christian properly.

Do I have to feel a certain way every day or go out and do charitable things?  Do I focus on learning only?

How do I live as a christian; what do I need to do?  Thank you.

Sincerely,
At The Beginning

Dear At The Beginning,

Your question is a good one, but a difficult one to give an easy answer to.  It is kind of like asking what a baby needs to do to become a grown up.  Do they need to learn to walk? Yes, but not just walk.  Do they need to learn to talk? Yes, but not just talk.  In fact, there are a million different things that must be learned and perfected by the time a child can be considered an adult.  However, it would overwhelm a child if you tried to explain to them everything they would have to learn in the first two decades of their life.  Children grow by simply doing the best they can every day, and somehow, almost magically, that turns them into adults.

The same thing is true in spiritual growth.  You need to study your Bible, but you also need to try and apply it by living according to its teachings.  You need to go to a faithful church and learn (we can help you find one if you need help... not all churches are faithful), but you also need to try and share the good news with others.  How you feel will change from day to day, but you also need to try and control your emotions.  Peter said it best:

“As newborn babes, long for the spiritual milk which is without guile, that you may grow thereby unto salvation.”
(I Pet 2:2)

The key is eating the Bible up and letting its teachings mold you.  There is no magical formula.  It is a daily process of hearing what God has said in the Bible and then trying to do what He says.  The more you try, the more you grow... and eventually, you will look back and see the major changes in your life.

 

Canon Fodder

Saturday, April 19, 2014
My question pertains to one omitted book of the Bible, in particular, the book of Enoch.  I have learned that certain religions have omitted certain books, mainly the Gnostic gospels.  I have found adequate reasons for these New Testament scriptures to be omitted in certain cultures, but what about the book of Enoch?  I have recently purchased a book containing the writings of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and it includes the book of Enoch!  I was SOOO excited because I had previously purchased a single copy of this book, but couldn't find any evidence of it containing any truth.  The Dead Sea Scrolls and my purchased book of Enoch are in correlation. Also, in the book of Jude 1:6, there are references made to the fallen angels which are made known in the book of Enoch!  What is this mystery all about?  Did they omit it because people were somehow calling upon fallen angels (or their offspring) by name (demonic worship)?  Is this book valid?

Sincerely,
Connecting Dots

Dear Connecting Dots,

There are many writings that were included with the Dead Sea Scrolls that have non-biblical origins.  There are non-biblical writings that include commentaries on the Old Testament, paraphrases that expand on the Law, rule books of the community, war conduct, thanksgiving psalms, hymnic compositions, benedictions, liturgical texts, and wisdom writings.  Just because the book of Enoch was included in the Dead Sea Scrolls doesn't mean that it ought to be included in the Bible.

The question of what books to include in the Bible and what books to exclude as false is a major issue – and it is an issue that the early christians had to face.  Twenty-seven books are included in the New Testament canon (the word ‘canon’, when applied to Scripture, means ‘the officially accepted list of books’), and each one of these books is documented by early christians as being a divinely-inspired piece of literature.  In other words, the early christians believed that God wrote it.

The key to understanding why some books are included in the Bible and other books (even books from the same time period) are excluded is to remember that the Bible claims to be God’s Book (2 Pet 1:19-21).  The early christians (or Jews in the case of the Old Testament) lived during the time when these books were being written, and they were fully aware of who was doing the writing.  Today, we can’t tell which religious documents were written by apostles and which documents were written by heretics… but the early christians certainly could!  If someone claimed that a letter was written by the apostle Paul, all they had to do to verify the authenticity of the letter was to ask Paul for themselves.  The early christians were in the best position to differentiate between authentic apostolic writings and manmade documents.  This is exactly why the early church quickly adopted the twenty-seven books of the New Testament, and they have been almost universally accepted as the only New Testament books ever since.  Numerous historical documents verify that the New Testament canon that we use today was accepted, read, collected, distributed, and used by the early christians from very early on.  People who seek to say that they have “found” some new Bible books that have been missing from the canon have to prove that their books were accepted by christians (or Jews if discussing Old Testament canon) from the beginning – no one has been able to do that.

Parental Pain

Friday, April 18, 2014
How does God heal a heart that is broken by your own child?

Sincerely,
Hurting Parent

Dear Hurting Parent,

There may not be any greater pain on this planet than the pain a parent feels on behalf of their children.  Whether your children have hurt you or you are watching your children hurt, it is a devastating heaviness upon your soul (Pr 10:1).  We are so sorry for your suffering.  Suffering is so difficult because each person’s sorrow is unique to them (Pr 14:10).

It might give you courage to know that some of the greatest people of the Bible have dealt with great sorrow, tragedy, and depression – read our post “I’ve Got The Joy, Joy, Joy” for examples.

Another verse that might give you comfort is Rom 8:28.  God is able to turn tragedy into victory when we trust Him and live our lives His way.  All things are possible through God (Php 4:13).  We don’t know how or when, but you can be stronger for having faced this… as much as that is hard to believe right now.

You might also consider reading through the Psalms.  Psalms can give great comfort to people when human words aren’t enough.  When your heart is torn by your children – God’s Words are a balm for the hurting.

 

The Malachi Test

Thursday, April 17, 2014
What is the purpose of tithing, and does the end of Malachi still pertain to us today?  I've come to view tithing as a way of trusting that God will always supply your needs and also to allow His Word to spread through funding preachers and churches.  In this respect, the meaning would be synonymous with the Israelites and their requirement to tithe.  Are we still required to tithe?  Does the end of Malachi (the one time God says to test Him) still pertain to our generation?  Or was that verse solely meant for the people of that era?  Are we still allowed to test God to open up the windows of heaven and pour out blessings?  I have been tithing for a while, and I have seen God supply me with what I need, but now... things aren't looking so great, and I'm starting to get really worried that He might be letting me go into a state of need.  Do I have the correct mindset for this Bible lesson?

Sincerely,
Feeling Slim

Dear Feeling Slim,

The verses you are referring to are Mal 3:8-10.  Tithing is a Jewish commandment, not a christian one (more on this in a bit), but the Old Testament is full of examples that give us principles to live by (1 Cor 10:11).  The principle behind Mal 3:8-10 is that when we give to God as He asks, He will bless us for our faithful trust in Him.  This is true in our finances and in every other area of life.  However, just because we give financially doesn’t mean that we won’t ever suffer or have needs.  The belief that giving to God will always get you more money is called the ‘Prosperity Gospel’ – read “Cash Cow” for specifics on that false doctrine.

Now let’s deal with the specifics of tithing.  Tithing is an Old Testament commandment (Num 18:24), not a New Testament one.  Jews tithe; christians “lay by in store as we have prospered” (1 Cor 16:1-3).  God doesn’t give a specific percentage that christians should give back.  We must prepare beforehand what we will give (that’s the “lay by in store” part – 1 Cor 16:2).  He also commands that we be “cheerful givers” and that we give as we have “purposed in our hearts” (2 Cor 9:7).  Though tithing (which means ‘one tenth’) is a good rule of thumb for giving… it isn’t a command.

 

The Flow Of Influence

Wednesday, April 16, 2014
I have gay friends; should I avoid them since it is a sin to be homosexual?  I feel God brings people into our lives for a reason; I don't hide my religion or beliefs from them, but God has taught me to be accepting of all people.

Sincerely,
Friend To All

Dear Friend To All,

Christians are constantly trying to strike the balance between being lights to the world (Matt 5:14) and keeping themselves pure and undefiled from the world’s influences (Jas 1:27).  As long as we live on this planet, we will have trials (Jhn 16:33).  It is a fine line between being an influence and being corrupted by the world.  Bad company corrupts good morals (1 Cor 15:33).  It isn’t wrong to befriend someone who is living a homosexual lifestyle, just like it isn’t wrong to befriend someone who lies or uses bad language… but we must always be guarded in our relationships with those outside of Christ (2 Cor 6:14).  The Lord loves people but hates sin.  You should show love for these people in your life but still abhor their sinful choices (after all, those sins are destroying their souls!).  If you can influence a person for good, then do so.  If they are corrupting you and keeping you from being the best christian you can be, begin to distance yourself (Gal 5:1).  You may even deem it appropriate to tell the person why you are distancing yourself (1 Pet 3:15).  Maybe, just maybe, they will change if they are made aware of what their choices are costing them.

 

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