Ask Your Preacher
Should a preacher be allowed to be both an elder and preacher in the church?
Dear Double Duty,
If a preacher also meets the qualifications to be an elder (those qualifications can be found in 1 Tim 3:1-7 and Tit 1:5-9), then he can serve as both an elder and a preacher. In fact, we have an example of this in the apostle Peter. Peter was an evangelist (we see him preaching boldly in Acts 2), he was an apostle (Matt 10:2), and Peter says that he was also an elder (1 Pet 5:1)! Peter held all three jobs at once because he was qualified for all three jobs. It doesn't matter whether someone is a preacher or not, if he is qualified to serve as an elder, the congregation should appoint him.
Who are the twenty-four elders?
Dear Taking Role,
The twenty-four elders seen in Rev 4:4 are before the throne of God. They are identified as wearing white garments and wearing crowns of gold. These details lend toward them being representative of the saved because God promises the faithful imperishable crowns (1 Pet 5:4) and robes of white (Rev 3:5). The book of Revelation is highly symbolic, and it is important to not get too bogged down in looking for specifics when the book is intended to give a bigger picture of the church’s persecution and eventual victory over Rome. Having said that, to us, the most plausible thing that the twenty-four elders represent is a combination of the redeemed from both the Old and New Covenants… twelve elders symbolic for the twelve tribes of Israel and twelve elders standing for the saved under the teachings of the twelve apostles. Both the faithful of the Old and the New Testaments are saved together in Christ (Heb 9:15, Heb 11:40), and all the faithful cast their crowns down before God (Rev 4:10). For an in-depth study of the book of Revelation, please feel free to download our class series on that subject at http://www.mvchurchofchrist.org/sermons.
If I play a video game that is all about walking around and killing zombies, is this considered a sin?
Video games are not inherently wrong, but it is also important that christians be careful what they put into their minds. Php 4:8 tells us that we should dwell and meditate on wholesome and pure things. 1 Cor 15:33 says that if we keep the wrong company, we will eventually be corrupted by their influence. These principles need to be considered when we choose television shows, movies, video games, and other forms of entertainment. Violence in video games isn’t necessarily wrong – even the Bible has some pretty violent scenes in it, but if we find ourselves consumed by grisly, violent, and morbid entertainment… there is a problem.
Does God listen to everyone's prayers or just really faithful people's prayers? How faithful do you have to be for your prayer to be heard? Do you get heard more often the more faithful you are?
Wondering How It Works
Dear Wondering How It Works,
In short, who is praying and how they pray matters. God says that a righteous man's prayers do a great deal of good (Jas 5:16). That would by default mean that an unrighteous man's prayers wouldn't do much, if any, good at all. God told Israel that their ungodly lifestyles meant that He wouldn't hear their prayers at all! (Isa 1:15) There are other things that will stop your prayers from being heard:
- Treating your spouse badly (1 Pet 3:7)
- Praying for "show" (Lk 20:47)
- Praying selfishly (Jas 4:3)
- Praying without gratitude (Col 4:2)
There is no doubt that the Bible teaches that we should examine ourselves before approaching God in prayer. A wrong attitude or lifestyle can seriously jeopardize our prayers effectiveness. The flip is also true though! Proper attitudes and behavior are rewarded:
- Asking for wisdom (Jas 1:5)
- Consistency (1 Thess 5:17)
- Godly living (Jas 5:16)
- Asking without doubt (Jas 1:6)
When we are constantly praying, trusting in God's strength to answer, humbly seeking his wisdom, and living lives that befit God's servants, we can expect powerful results! Prayer is perhaps one of the greatest tools in a Christian's arsenal (perhaps also one of the least utilized). The Bible is how God speaks to us; prayer is how we speak to Him. Just like a child asking their parent for a privilege - how we approach God makes all the difference.
I am a born-again christian man, and I know all the risks involved in sin and have no excuse. I know what not to do, and yet, I continuously crawl toward my fleshly lusts, namely pornography. Why can't I stop? I know and want the promises of God, and yet, I fall short time and time again. I fear my sin will put me in my grave. Please help me to put this evil behind me and move toward what's right and true. Peace and blessings to you for all you do.
We are told that a powerful tool in defeating sin is confessing our sins to one another (Jas 5:16). Sin likes to be kept secret (Jhn 3:20), and bringing it to light by making it public goes a long way in defeating habitual sin. A very popular way of getting this sort of accountability is by using accountability software that forwards your browsing history to a friend or trusted individual. Companies like x3watch and CovenantEyes make accountability software, and many struggling pornography addicts have found it to make a huge difference. If you want to defeat sin, you must expose it. Confess your sin to others, and you will begin to see change. It is time to get serious about removing this sin. You know you are serious about defeating sin when you are willing to expose it at all costs. That is the single most effective advice we could give you. Some other details to consider:
- Bad company corrupts good morals (1 Cor 15:33). Don’t spend time around others who are okay with this behavior and remove all illicit materials from your home. Throwing away the pornography or moving the computer to a more public space of the house is a good first step to saving yourself from it (Matt 5:29).
- Don’t give up. A righteous man falls, but he keeps getting back up (Pr 24:16). A failure doesn’t become permanent until you let it. Keep trying.
- Get help from others. Trying to do things alone, especially when we’ve failed before, is just too hard. We are stronger when we enlist the help of friends and family (Eccl 4:9-12).
- Replace the bad habit with a good habit. It isn’t enough to simply stop something; that void must be filled with something else that is positive (Lk 11:24-26).
- Pray. God blesses us when we turn to Him (Jas 5:16) and ask for forgiveness and help (Jas 1:5).
Now is your chance to start a new life free from this addictive slavery to pornography. We would be happy to help you find a congregation in your area that can help you through this struggle and prepare you for a better and complete life in Christ. E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org if we can be of service.