Ask Your Preacher

Ask Your Preacher

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Checking For Authenticity

Monday, March 28, 2011
I have been struggling with something lately.  I grew up in the Catholic church and left it because there were many things I couldn't find biblical (purgatory, papal infallibility, unmarried priests, and so on).  I became Baptist and have bounced between various churches, but all of them were churches that believed in grace and being saved versus earning heaven through works.  I did miss the history and tradition of Catholicism but still didn't agree with the doctrines.  I have been reading/listening to podcasts on Orthodox Christianity (Greek, Russian, etc.), and it seems like everything I like about Catholicism but none of the things I saw as made up.  According to their history, they are the original church, and Catholics broke off about one thousand years after Christ, basically as a power grab in Rome.  (Papal infallibility came in handy with that.)  I have been reading about Martin Luther and the reformation also.  Sooo, what I am trying to get at is... if the churches I am going to are the grace-based evangelical/protestant/whatever-you-call-them churches didn't really come around until over 1500 years after Christ, I am led to believe this is not the church of the New Testament that the apostles established.  My next logical assumption would be to seek out the true church that still performs church the way Jesus taught them… if that exists.  Any thoughts or guidance would be much appreciated.

Sincerely,
Searching For The Original

Dear Searching For The Original,

We absolutely love your attitude!  If only everyone wanted to be a part of God’s original church.  You are on the right track by seeking to find a church that performs what Jesus taught – the question is: how do we do that?  Almost every church professes to be the right church, and almost every church professes that God wrote the Bible… so the way to tell which church is really God’s church is to compare their behavior to what the Bible says.  The Bible is the pattern that every sound congregation should follow (2 Tim 1:13).  The Catholic church is one of the oldest churches, but as you mentioned, their behavior doesn’t match the Bible’s teachings.  Greek Orthodox churches also have a lot of history behind them, but it is a history of tradition, not a history of biblical purity.  What you want to do is find a group of people that are dead-set on doing only what the Bible says, no more, no less.

Everything a church does (worship, membership, the steps they teach for salvation, how they spend their money, even their name) needs to have Bible verses backing them up (1 Tim 3:15).  A church needs to be able to explain the reasons for why they do what they do (1 Pet 3:15).
As an example, our congregation here in Monroe goes by the name ‘Monroe Valley church of Christ’ because ‘church of Christ’ is a Biblical name for a congregation (Rom 16:16).  We worship by singing (Col 3:16), studying the Bible (1 Tim 4:13), praying (2 Thess 3:1), taking communion (only on Sundays – Acts 20:7), and taking up a collection (also only on Sundays – 1 Cor 16:1-2).  We teach that you must hear God’s Word (Rom 10:17), believe God’s Word (Jhn 3:16), repent of your sins (Mk 6:12), confess Jesus as your Savior (Lk 12:8), and be baptized to be saved (Acts 2:38, 1 Pet 3:21).  We do all these things because they are practices found in the Bible.  As you said, you don’t want to go to a church that offers their own thoughts – you want God’s thoughts.
There are other congregations like ours scattered across the country and the world.  Most of them use the name ‘church of Christ’, but then again, many churches that use that name aren’t faithful.  A Bible name for a church isn’t enough to make it faithful... but it is a beginning.  We have helped others, like yourself, looking for New Testament Christianity find faithful congregations in their area by contacting other preachers and christians that we know.  We’d be happy to do the same for you.  If you feel comfortable, just let us know what general area you live in, and we will try and get you in touch with a congregation that lives like your Bible reads (our e-mail is askyourpreacher@mvchurchofchrist.org).

 

Cross-Checking

Monday, March 28, 2011
Who crucified Jesus?  What exactly was the reason?  Where did it happen and how?

Sincerely,
History Hunter

Dear History Hunter,

Jesus was crucified by the Jewish people because the Jewish priesthood and leadership despised Him and were jealous of Him.  The Jews delivered Jesus to the ruling authorities (the Romans) and had Him put to death.  Jesus was crucified just outside of the city of Jerusalem on a hill called Golgotha (which means 'place of the skull').  The Bible recounts Jesus' life in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.  If you read the book of Mark (chapters 14 through 16), it will give you a very clear history of Jesus' crucifixion.

 

Possessed

Sunday, March 27, 2011
What does the Bible say about present-day demon possession?

Sincerely,
Afraid Of The Dark

Dear Afraid Of The Dark,

Evil spirits are real, but they were cast out and their powers greatly reduced by Christ and the apostles.  Demon possession ended not long after the days of Christ.  Jesus made it clear that one of His jobs was to bind the devil and take His strength away by casting out his demons (Matt 12:28-29).  When Jesus’ disciples had come back from their evangelism trips and related to Him that they had cast out many demons, Jesus told them that they were defeating Satan by getting rid of Satan’s demonic minions (Lk 10:17-18).  When Jesus and His disciples cast out demons, they did it permanently (Lk 8:30-33) and bound Satan by their acts.  We no longer have to deal with such overt attacks by the devil because he has been bound by Christ’s sacrifice (Rev. 20:2).  Demon possession no longer exists; the devil must use subtler methods to deceive us now.

 

Secular Holidays

Sunday, March 27, 2011
Is it wrong for christians to celebrate Christmas even though it was not Christ’s birthday?

Sincerely,
Feeling Festive

Dear Feeling Festive,

Many people believe Christmas to be a spiritual holiday, but the Bible never commands us to celebrate Jesus’ birth on December 25th (the truth is, no one knows when Jesus was born, but it was most likely in the spring or summer because the shepherds were out – Lk 2:15).  Christians are commanded to remember Jesus’ death every first day of the week (Acts 20:7, 1 Cor 11:24-25)… we are never commanded to remember His birth on an annual basis.  Christmas is not a biblical holiday.  There is nothing wrong with celebrating it as a family holiday, but it is wrong to teach that there is a biblical foundation to it.  There are many holidays that people celebrate that have no Bible meaning to them – Thanksgiving, Memorial Day, etc.  It isn’t wrong to celebrate holidays that aren’t found in the Bible.  It is just wrong to try and turn them into something they are not.

 

Sticks And Stones

Saturday, March 26, 2011
My boyfriend calls me ‘Satan’ sometimes when he is angry with me.  He also calls his mom ‘Lucifer’ because she has a mental condition and sometimes curses for no reason.  So he said she is Lucifer for acting that way.  I'm called Satan because I may say something that does not appeal to him, but I'm not cursing or name-calling.  We are both christians so… I'm confused that he feels it is acceptable in the eyes of God that it is okay to freely use the word Satan towards my character.  In the Bible, where can I find it that we should refrain from name-calling?

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,
Disgruntled Girlfriend

Dear Disgruntled Girlfriend,

We feel pretty comfortable in saying that your boyfriend needs an attitude check – that is not the way to talk to people.  God tells us to make sure our speech is “seasoned with grace” (Col 4:6).  We are told to avoid all corrupt speech and to only say things that will edify the hearers (Eph 4:29).  The apostle Peter commanded us to “refrain our tongues from evil” and “speak without guile” (1 Pet 3:10).  Name-calling (especially referring to someone as the most evil being in existence!) is totally inappropriate.  There is only one reference in the Bible to calling someone Satan, and that is Mk 8:33 when Jesus rebuked Peter by saying, “Get behind Me, Satan”.  This was because Peter was commanding Jesus to not sacrifice Himself on the cross – a direct contradiction to God’s will (Mk 8:31-32).  If the Son of God only used the term in the most extreme circumstance… we should be vary wary of ever using that sort of strong language.

 

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