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Off The Narrow Path

Friday, December 10, 2010
What is apostasy?  Is this the same as falling back into sin, but you can't come back to Christ?  Is there no forgiveness?

Re-Admit One

Dear Re-Admit One,

Apostasy is when a church, group of people, or individual begins to teach something different than the Bible.  The word ‘apostasy’ comes from a Greek word that means ‘to fall away’ or ‘forsake’.  The Greek word for apostasy is used in 2 Thess 2:3 to describe false religion starting and tearing people away from true Christianity.  Apostatizing means that you have forsaken the truths of the Bible and have decided to follow a different path.  When people do this, they lose their salvation because the Word is no longer their guide (Jhn 14:6).

Hindered By Hinduism

Thursday, December 09, 2010
I've been dating a Hindu woman for about eight months.  I have fallen in love with her.  I would love to marry her, as she would be a great wife.  However, she is not a christian.  Over the months, we have talked about religion, and she has shown some (a little) interest in Christianity.  I know only God can lead her to Christ, so this is the question I pose.  Is it selfish for me to pray for her to be lead to Christ, so I can be with her?  I feel this is a self-centered prayer because I want her to be saved because I want to be with her and have a Christ-centered relationship… and not really because of her salvation.  I feel guilty and very confused.  I have prayed about this for quite a while, and I hope you will be able to shed some light on this issue.  Thank you.

Praying To Propose

Dear Praying To Propose,

Why can’t you have both?  It is possible to pray for her conversion because you love her and want to marry her and so that she can go to heaven.  The two goals aren’t mutually exclusive.  In fact, we can’t think of a better win-win scenario.  God tells us to pray for the things we want but to also pray that His will be done (Matt 6:10, Jas 4:15).  In this case, you know that what you want is definitely the same as what God wants.  God wants everyone to be saved (Ezek 18:23).  Pray for her, be a good example, prepare ahead of time in your heart to never marry a non-christian, and be ready to answer her questions with logical Bible answers (1 Pet 3:15).  Hopefully, she has as honest a heart as you hope.

Up In The Air Part 2

Thursday, December 09, 2010

(This is a follow-up to “Up In The Air”)

I've actually never heard this idea that THE great tribulation has already happened.  I've considered this idea with an open mind and have only gained a deep concern for those who support this theory… mostly because the temple was, of course, destroyed in 70 AD, and we know John recorded his vision around 90 AD.  What good would it have been for John to prophesy on things which already took place (Rev 10:11)?  Also, if you were to believe this idea, the answer to the question asked in Matt 24:3 would have been 70 AD, but since we humans are still in existence, either Jesus was lying (which He was not) or the tribulation was not fulfilled in 70 AD.  Furthermore, if you carefully study the context surrounding the statement in Matt 24:34, you see Jesus was still speaking on this age of false prophets and messiahs to come.  He said (in context), "This generation of false prophets and messiahs will not pass until the work of the tribulation is complete." He was not referring to the generation that was currently alive when He said these things.  Also, we all know when God says things are to happen soon (Rev 1:1), God's judgment of time is supremely different than ours.  I do not claim to be in full understanding of Revelation, but I would greatly suggest to those who support the idea you hold to prayerfully and logically reconsider their interpretation of the  book of Revelation.  Please reply; I am still open-minded to what you have to say.  Thank for all you do.

Looking Ahead

Dear Looking Ahead,

Thanks for your reply.  I think we got our wires crossed somewhere.  The book of Revelation doesn't discuss the fall of Jerusalem ­– it discusses the persecution of christians under the Roman Empire.  We agree that it is most likely that John wrote Revelation after 70 AD.  However, Matt. 24 does refer to 70 AD, and Jesus even clarifies that is what He is talking about in Matt. 24:2 when He mentions the stones of the temple would be torn down (something that happened in the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD).  You referenced Matt 24:3; it is important to note that the words "end of the world" found in some translations are not technically correct.  The word 'world' is literally 'age'.  It isn't the word 'kosmos' which is what is normally used for 'world' throughout the Bible.  Jesus was telling them that the end of the Jewish age was about to occur and that there would be certain signs they should watch for.  As for your reference to Matt 24:34, the words 'false prophets and messiahs' aren't in that verse.  All it says is "this generation shall not pass away until all these things are accomplished" – we don't know what translation you are using, but those words that prove your point simply aren't in the text of the major translations of the Bible.  Matthew 24 is dealing with 70 AD (and Jesus said those things before 70 AD); Revelation is a separate topic.

One other thing, you mentioned that you don't have a full understanding of Revelation.  Here is our challenge to you.  Listen to the series of classes we linked to you on that book (for our readers, that link is here).  After listening to the classes, feel free to write in with any objections you have to the logic used in the teaching.  We would happily welcome your criticism.  If we are wrong, we want to change.

Long Month, Short Cash

Wednesday, December 08, 2010
My question is about tithing.  I was faithful to tithe 10% of my income since I was a teenager with my first job.  Through utter foolishness and some things that happened out of our control, my family is in such debt that our payments and fees for all our bills and debts leave us overdrawn multiple times throughout the month (pitiful, we have a very good income and both work full-time).  We have over-extended ourselves, sometimes to take care of necessities, sometimes out of buying things that we don't really need, but we also aren't really in the lap of luxury either.  We've had no vacations, etc. but definitely have overspent, too.  I'm so sorry, and I repent, but now we are drowning in debt.  We have three wonderful girls, and they are going to be affected in many ways, and I feel terrible.  The worst is that we haven't been tithing because of the money issues and because there is not the 10% available, so I have been doing nothing as opposed to giving a pitiful offering when we make such a good income.  At the same time, we haven't been curbing our spending much except for when the money runs out.  I recently read something about how this kind of thing is "trading freedom for luxury", and we are guilty of that.  There is some kind of disconnect for me between my thinking and reality.  We have had a lot of monetary disasters, too, like engines going out in cars, etc.

I have two questions: are we still supposed to tithe 10% like the Old Testament mentions (believe me, I would give Him more if I wasn't in this position), or are we under "give as you are able, and give cheerfully"?  There are so many varying viewpoints out there on what the Bible says we should be doing now under the New Covenant.  I WANT to tithe; I'm not looking for an excuse not to, but the guilt of not giving 10% combined with the stress of running out of money throughout the month (plus interest, plus late fees, plus overdrawn fees) is killing me.  Unless God does a miracle, we have no way out of this mess because the minimum payment pays nothing down, and we have NO extra money to make extra payments on anything.

So, my second question is: will you please PRAY for my family that God will provide some kind of ability for us to repay this debt?  We have always paid our bills, and I don't even want to think of bankruptcy because to me, that is like stealing.  I know we got ourselves here, and there are consequences for our sin, but I also know that God has compassion on us and doesn't want us to be in bondage.

Thank you so very much!  This is a great forum; I appreciate you offering this!  We are local folks, so knowing that someone from here is willing to address these kinds of questions is a huge blessing.


Dear Drowning,

Let’s answer the second question first: yes, we most definitely will pray for you.  Financial burdens are a huge weight to bear, and having counseled many couples over the years through financial hardships, we know what a toll it takes on a marriage, self-esteem, spiritual growth, families, and thousands of other aspects of life.  We appreciate your attitude and desire to do what is right – an honest approach to one’s shortcomings is refreshing in today’s society.

Now back to the first question… 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.

Any church that tells you that you have to give 10% is warping the Scriptures to increase your contribution.  Giving should be a sacrifice – but a voluntary one based off of thoughtful contemplation.  Your family needs to begin to budget appropriately and make some difficult financial decisions.  In that process, you can take an introspective look at your finances and decide what you can cheerfully give without endangering your family (1 Tim. 5:8) while still feeling comfortable that you aren’t neglecting the Lord’s work.

Plain And Tall

Sunday, December 05, 2010
In Genesis 6:4 and Numbers 13:33, who or what exactly are these "Nephilim"?

Not Sure

Dear Not Sure,

The word ‘Nephilim’ used in Gen 6:4 is a Hebrew word.  The Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew because that is the Jewish language.  The word ‘Nephilim’ means ‘giant’, ‘fallen one’, or ‘wondrous one’.  The word was translated ‘giant’ by the Greeks when they wrote the Old Testament in Greek… the version of the Bible that Jesus quoted… we consider this to be the most accurate translation.  The Nephilim were giant people.  Men like Goliath were descendants of this giant group of people (Num 13:33).  Different races of people have distinct physical characteristics; this particular race’s distinction was their height.  They were very tall folk.

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