Ask Your Preacher

Ask Your Preacher

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Destructive Force Pt. 2

Thursday, December 16, 2010

(This is a follow-up to “Destructive Force”)

Thanks for the answer about Exodus 12:23.  On this same Scripture, suppose that for whatever reason an Israelite doesn't or forgets to smear the blood of the lamb on the top and sides of their doorways.  Because of this, even though he or she is an Israelite, will he or she still suffer the plague sent by Jehovah?

Sincerely,
Friend Or Foe?

Dear Friend Or Foe,

Yes, if an Israelite didn’t obey God’s command to put the blood of the lamb on the doorposts and lintel, they would have lost their firstborn son to the plague.  This is a great example of what faith really is.  As James says, faith without works is dead (Jas 2:17).  If an Israelite believed that the plague was coming, but didn’t work (i.e. place the blood around the door) to prepare for the plague, that belief wouldn’t save them.  Working faith is biblical faith.  It isn’t enough to just believe in God (even the demons believe – Jas 2:19).  We must act upon that belief in order to be saved.  God’s salvation is a gift that can’t be earned, but it is also a gift that we must respond to.  We are called to hear and do what the Word says (Jas 1:22).

An Inconvenient Truth

Tuesday, December 14, 2010
I am a christian.  I was saved when I was a teenager, but I was never baptized.  Does this mean that I am going to go to hell?  Also, I am engaged, but my fiancé is Jewish.  Is this wrong?  We both believe in God. Would it be wrong for me to go to synagogue?  Thank you for taking the time to read this, and I look forward to your answers.

Sincerely,
Preparing For The Future

Dear Preparing For The Future,

Let’s deal with the baptism question first.  Baptism is necessary for salvation.  The Bible teaches that when we believe and are baptized, we are saved (Mk 16:16).  Peter says that baptism saves us (1 Pet. 3:21), and Paul says that when we are immersed in baptism, we are buried with Christ and given a new life (Rom 6:1-3).  It is a wonderful thing that you believed in Christ as a teenager.  Without belief, baptism means nothing.  It is impossible to please God without faith (Heb 11:6).  However, biblical faith includes action (Jas 2:14-17, Jas 1:22).  Baptism is the first act of faith God requires of us, and it is baptism that removes our sins (Acts 2:38).  If you would like, we would be happy to get you in touch with someone in your area who could teach you further and, if you are ready, baptize you.  Simply e-mail us at askyourpreacher@mvchurchofchrist.org if we can help.
Now let’s look at your engagement.  The Jewish religion does not believe and teach that Jesus is the Savior.  This is a very big problem.  The New Testament says that it is impossible to be saved without Jesus (Jhn 14:6).  The apostle John probably put it the bluntest when he said that any teacher that denies Jesus is a deceiver and enemy of God (2 Jn 1:7).  Modern Judaism is not a faithful religion.  God tells us to avoid marriages that will “unequally yoke” us (2 Cor 6:14).  Marriage is the most important and intimate relationship you will have on this planet.  If you aren’t worshipping the same God, your marriage will not work.  Even the wisest man in history, Solomon, found that his heart was turned from God because he married women that weren’t faithful (1 Kgs 11:4).  The Bible firmly warns against marrying non-christians.
We are sure that this information doesn’t make things easier for you, and it probably isn’t what you were hoping to hear, but we would rather tell you a painful truth than an easy lie.  We wish you the very best as you have some difficult decisions to consider.

Find A New Habit Pt. 2

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Under the question marked "Find a New Habit", do you think there is any hope for this person? And what if he doesn't tell anybody?

Sincerely, Looking For Hope

Dear Looking For Hope,

There is always hope as long as someone is still alive (Eccl 9:4). Until you die, you can still repent and turn to God. It is only when someone dies without turning to God that any chance of redemption vanishes (Pr 11:7). People who love God enough can find a way to break addiction and keep His commandments (Jhn 14:15), even if that means exposing their sin and enduring the humiliation and shame.

Now, the second part of your question deals with what happens if the person won’t tell anybody about that sin. We can’t tell you what exactly will happen if someone doesn’t use the Bible’s cure for addictions and entrenched sin. Some people may succeed in beating an addiction without seeking help – but we don’t know of any cases. God didn’t intend for people to struggle through this life without help from others. The church was specifically designed by God to build people up and strengthen them during their weakest hours (Heb 10:23-25, Eph 4:12-16). If we want to grow, we need to use the tools God has given us to grow – that includes other faithful people (Pr 27:17).

The Sin Unto Death

Monday, December 13, 2010
The scripture 1 Jhn 5:16-17: what sins are we not forgiven for?  If you are a christian and use the Lord's name in vain, can you be forgiven?  The way I read it in the Bible, you can't be; please help me understand all this.

Sincerely,
Looking For The Line

Dear Looking For The Line,

John says that there is a sin that leads to death – that sin is the sin against the Holy Spirit (Mk 3:29).  Any sin can be repented of and forgiven (1 Jn 1:9)… except for the sin against the Holy Spirit.  Now, let’s explain what that sin is.

When Jesus says that any sin will be forgiven except for someone blaspheming the Holy Spirit (Mk 3:28-30), He said it to the crowd that accused Him of casting out demons by the power of Satan (Mk 3:23).  That crowd could have been forgiven of any sin, but instead they rejected the miracles that testified that Jesus was from God.  Contrast that crowd’s attitude with Nicodemus’ attitude.  Nicodemus understood that the only way that someone could perform a miracle was if God was with him (Jhn 3:2).  When that crowd rejected the evidence that the Holy Spirit provided (in this case, the miracles), they rejected any chance to receive the forgiveness found in Jesus’ teachings.  When we reject the truth of God (the Bible), we reject the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit’s primary job is to bring the truth of the gospel to mankind (see the post “What the Holy Spirit Does” for more details).  Someone blasphemes the Holy Spirit by rejecting the truth that the Holy Spirit sent us in the Bible.  Any sin can be forgiven if we will turn to God’s Word and obey it (Rom 10:17, Heb 5:9), but there is absolutely no hope for someone if he or she will not accept the Holy Spirit’s Bible.

Find A New Habit

Sunday, December 12, 2010
I’m so torn up inside!  Why can’t I stop sinning?  I really do try, and I succeed for a while, but then I fall right back into it.  I feel as if I’m slowly escaping this sin, but I still feel burdened by it, and I’m scared God will stop forgiving me.  I know it says in the Bible that God’s grace is endless, and that’s the only thing that leads me to succeed when I do.  I refuse to give up, and feel I am slowly winning the battle, but when I fall, I feel soooooo terrible.  Any advice?

Sincerely,
Repetitive Sinner

Dear Repetitive Sinner,

When a sin becomes so entrenched in your life that you are enslaved to it (Jhn 8:34), you are dealing with an addiction.  Addictions are formed by habits, and habits are formed by repeatedly making the same choices.  James describes this process in Jas 1:13-15.  All sins begin with a mental decision.  If you want to remove an addiction, isolate the choices that are putting you in the position to commit that sin.  If you change the environment and circumstances that lead you to a sin, you change the future playing field.  One of the easiest ways to do this is to let someone else know about your struggle (Jas 5:16).  There is strength in numbers (Eccl 4:12), and exposing a sin takes its power away (Jhn 3:20).

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