Ask Your Preacher
My wife and I are members of a church of Christ, the kind that has a fellowship hall, youth minister (and stuff like that), but no instrumental music (or anything like that). My point is, my wife and I have become a little uncomfortable with this zeal and not being able to find the authority for these things. We went to a very conservative type of church of Christ, like your congregation (from what I gather from y'all’s answers). There is more to it than that but, my question is: what can we expect with a change from a "liberal" type of church of Christ to a "conservative" church of Christ?
Motivated To Move
Dear Motivated To Move,
Oftentimes, the worship service at liberal congregations doesn’t seem all that different from the worship service at conservative ones, but the principles behind why they each do what they do is vastly different.
The fundamental difference between the more conservative congregations and the more liberal ones is how closely they adhere to the Bible pattern. In a conservative congregation, you will see the focus of the church being upon preaching the truth to the lost, teaching the saved, and carrying for needy saints – that’s it. A conservative congregation believes that the church is sufficient to do God’s work, and they shouldn’t delegate that work out to another organization like a missionary society. Conservative congregations support preachers directly, and they send funds directly to care for other needy christians… just like the Bible pattern. This is why conservative congregations are sometimes referred to as ‘non-institutional’. They don’t believe any other institution should take the place of the church – not a missionary society, not a federation of congregations pooling their funds, not a group of preachers controlling the direction of multiple churches.
The other thing that you will see is that a conservative congregation believes that there is a difference between individual responsibilities and congregational responsibilities. Individuals have the responsibility to spend time together and socialize with other christians. Individuals have the responsibility to do good to all mankind and be involved in their community as helpers of the poor and friends to strangers (Gal 6:10). The church has the responsibility to be the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Tim 3:15). You won’t see the church using its resources (including its building) for purely social activities such as potlucks – it is our responsibility as individuals to show hospitality (Heb 13:2). You also won’t see the church getting caught up in secular charity activities like food pantries for the poor or community activism – it is our responsibility as individuals to effect change in our communities and help our neighbors. When we blur the lines between what the church should be doing and what individual christians should be doing, we get into all sorts of trouble. Conservative congregations do their best to keep those lines as distinct as the Bible does.
In short, a conservative congregation will always show you Bible authority for what it does. We speak where the Bible speaks and are silent where the Bible is silent (Rev 22:18-19).
I'm wondering if it would be okay to have fairy statues in my garden? I'm aware that we shouldn't have angels or Christ statues because we are asked not to make images of anything above or on Earth idols. I don't want to go against God's Word.
Dear Green Thumb,
There is nothing wrong with having fairy statues, flamingos, gnomes, etc. in your garden. As you said, God doesn’t want us to make idols (Rom 1:22-23), but you aren’t worshipping your fairy statues – they are simply art. It is the same as reading science fiction or children pretending to be mythical creatures. The error only comes in when we stop giving God reverence or when we make images for worship.
My pastor does not have the Holy Spirit to his admission, and he believes that it is not needed. He is a wonderful pastor, should I continue to go to this church? I do have the Holy Spirit?
Neither of you have the Holy Spirit if what you mean is that the Holy Spirit speaks to you directly or the Holy Spirit allows you to perform miracles – that doesn’t happen anymore.
The indwelling of the Holy Spirit that allowed people to perform miracles was received through the direct laying on of hands of the apostles (Acts 8:17-18). This dwelling of the Holy Spirit no longer exists because it died off with the last person that the last apostle laid his hands upon.
Christians do have the Holy Spirit dwell in them (Rom 8:9) – but not literally. The Holy Spirit dwells in christians in the same metaphorical way that Christ dwells in christians (Rom 8:10). The Holy Spirit and Jesus do not physically dwell inside christians miraculously. They dwell within christians in a figurative way because a christian’s life follows the path the Holy Spirit and Christ set for them.
The Holy Spirit dwells in those that follow the Bible and put to death their previous sinful lifestyles (Rom 8:12-14). The Holy Spirit gave us the Bible, and when we follow it, we are led by the Spirit (see this post for further details). Those who are led by the Spirit are sons of God, and the Spirit dwells in them (Rom 8:14-16).
Does Satan live somewhere? If God lives in heaven, does Satan have somewhere to dwell… like in hell?
Looking For An Address
Dear Looking For An Address,
Satan roams to and fro on the Earth (Job 1:7). Satan spends his entire existence seeking souls that he can devour and destroy (1 Pet 5:8). When Jesus died on the cross, Satan was cast down from the heavens (Rev 12:9-11). Satan is called the prince of this world (Jhn 12:31), and he secretly roams amongst men until God casts him into the lake of fire reserved for him (Matt 25:41).
What is your view on homosexuality?
Looking For Perspectives
Dear Looking For Perspectives,
People may give mixed reviews on homosexuality, but the Bible is very clear – a homosexual lifestyle is a sinful lifestyle. Rom 1:27 makes it clear that homosexuality is one of the deepest forms of depravity in this life. Jude 1:7 makes it clear that God destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah because the people “went after strange flesh”, i.e. homosexual behavior. From the beginning, God designed romantic and physical relationships to be between one man and one woman – for life (Matt 19:4-6). Any other type of relationship is wrong.