Ask Your Preacher
After Jesus' time on Earth, there were people spread throughout the entire Earth. What happened to the Indians of America and South America? None of them had any idea whom Jesus was until the Spanish Catholic missionaries forced them to listen. There was a thousand plus year difference between Jesus' death and that Spanish conquering. If the only way into heaven is through Jesus Christ, how is it that someone who has never heard of Him is going to spend an eternity in damnation? I know this is quite a lot, but as a Christian, I need to search for these answers to further myself as a better minister.
Dear Spanish Inquisitor,
Let’s address your concerns about those who didn’t hear about Christ until many years after His death and resurrection. God has always given every human the chance to live a life of faith in Him. During the transitional period from Judaism to Christianity, and during the time it took for God’s Word to spread across the globe, God dealt with ignorant nations the same way He always has.
We have a single statement in the book of Romans that hints at what kind of law the nations were under before hearing of Christ. Rom 1:14-15 says that the Gentiles (Gentile means ‘non-Jew’) had a law of conscience written by God on their hearts. This doesn’t tell us much, but it does point out that God had a system for judging the Gentiles… it was just different than the system He used for judging the Jews or today uses for judging Christians. Rom 1:20 says that God’s invisible attributes are clearly seen in the world around us and that everyone is accountable for recognizing God’s sovereignty regardless of what other knowledge they have. These verses just give a glimpse at the pre-Christian Gentile world, but it is enough to paint a picture that God had a plan; we just don’t know exactly how it worked. We do, however, know that God judges righteously, and no one will ever accidently end up in hell (2 Tim 4:8).
Does the exact Hebrew translation say in the Ten Commandments, “Thou shalt not kill”? Or does it say something along the lines of “Thou shall not murder”? Obviously, Moses was a great military leader (along with Joshua, David, Gideon, etc.). I'm a soldier, and I get asked this question. I don't know how to answer it.
On The Defense
Dear On The Defense,
The Hebrew word used for ‘kill’ in the Ten Commandments literally means ‘murder’. There is a difference between killing someone in self-defense and pre-meditated, intentional murder of another human being. The Bible has plenty of examples of faithful people going to war (David killed Goliath in battle – 1 Sam 17:49-50). The Bible is also full of examples of capital punishment for certain crimes (Num 15:35). Num 35:15-16 makes a distinction between accidentally killing someone and premeditated murder. A police officer may have to kill someone while serving the community, but that isn’t murder. The same is true with a soldier.
After a Christian dies, can they contact their loved ones who are still living? I need Scripture to look into. I have a friend that thinks that she hears her husband say her name. He has been gone four years, and I do not believe he is contacting her.
Stop The Voices
Dear Stop The Voices,
God does not allow people to go back and contact others once they have passed away. Jesus told the story of a wicked, rich man and a faithful, poor man named Lazarus in Lk 16:19-31. When these two men died, the rich man immediately woke up in torment, and Lazarus was escorted to Paradise (Lk 16:22-23). This is what happens when the righteous and the wicked die. There is no wandering or ghostly haunting. In fact, the rich man was specifically told that the dead aren’t sent back to the earth to preach or affect the course of events here (Lk 16:27-31). We die, and then we wait to face the judgment (Heb 9:27).
Having said all of that, it is very common for those who have lost a spouse to imagine hearing them, seeing them in a crowd, and a thousand other things that make no logical sense but are consistent experiences with all that have lost loved ones. Your friend’s dead husband isn’t speaking to her, but she is experiencing a very normal part of the mourning process.
I give 10% of my income bi-weekly (tithes) as instructed from the church. I give offerings as afforded, as instructed by my church. I know the lights need to be paid, the mortgage paid, and the needy assisted when they go to the church for assistance. I can see why we should give to the church who serve the people. But, I need to know; is tithing a commandment that will truly bring on a curse to the withholder and blessings on the giver? (Malachi 3:8-9) I have struggled financially and wonder if it means I have no faith if I give less than 10%. I mean, tithes and offerings are necessary, but many churches need money to sustain itself, a place to worship, a place to fellowship with other saints. Does God need my money to show I believe He will provide for me? Is it a form of sacrifice to the temple or a means to take care of the church? I struggle with the Old Testament applicability today.
Dear Perplexed Giver,
Mal 3:8-10 teaches some principles about giving, but it doesn’t uphold the “10% or doom” preaching that many money-grubbing churches constantly harp on. 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 contribute. 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 church is instructed by God to take up a collection once a week – you must decide for yourself what a cheerful and faithful giver looks like.
Will a Christian man ever get back on the path of life after sleeping with an adulteress woman?
I Really Messed Up
Dear I Really Messed Up,
Yes, you can be forgiven, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t consequences for your actions. Paul said that he was chief amongst sinners, and yet, Christ forgave him (1 Tim 1:15-16). Forgiveness is available when we confess our sins to Christ (1 Jn 1:9) and repent of them (Acts 3:19). ‘Repentance’ means to ‘change your mind’… literally to make a change in how you think and act. If you haven’t already stopped the adulterous relationship, you need to – now. You also need to come clean about it; honesty and truth are a foundational concept in Christianity (Jhn 8:32). Deception destroys; open truth illuminates (Jhn 3:19-20). You have dug a big hole for yourself… it is time to get to work filling that hole back in.
Of course, all of this is moot if you aren’t a christian yet. To see what the Bible says it takes to become a christian, read “What Must I Do To Be Saved?”. It is obvious you want God’s forgiveness, and the Bible is the only book that can tell you how to get it.