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Degrees Of Separation

Wednesday, July 01, 2020
     We recently had a man from the congregation preach for us, and as he talked, he told the unfortunate story of how his son's life was not in accordance with God's will and how he wished so much that he could even share a meal with him, but because of his sinful state, he could not be around him.  Is this the kind of separation the Bible teaches we are to have from those outside Christ?  How can we be a light to those not in Christ if we can't speak a word to them?

Sincerely,
Seems Harsh

Dear Seems Harsh,

It sounds like this man’s son became a Christian and then fell away.  When that happens, the church is told to show tough love and separate themselves from the wayward brother or sister.  We are commanded to “withdraw from” and “have no company with” an ungodly Christian (2 Thess 3:6, 1 Cor 5:1-13).  We are to do this for the sinner’s own good, hoping it will bring shame on them, and they will repent (2 Thess 3:14). This is really a loving thing to do even though it is a hurtful and sorrowful act for all people involved. The church is given strict orders to withdraw and not associate with a wayward brother or sister (1 Cor 5:13).

However, the immediate family doesn’t have the same “black and white” guidelines.  In fact, we see that in some scenarios, the family is commanded to do the opposite – as in the case of an unbelieving spouse (1 Cor 7:13).  Sometimes the family has a greater influence by still associating with the wayward Christian… in other cases, the family finds the best way to help the sinning loved one is to separate themselves.  When dealing with immediate family, there are wisdom and judgment calls involved.

It is important to note that when a Christian turns back to a life of sin, the church is supposed to separate themselves from them… but that command only applies to wayward Christians.  The apostle Paul specifically tells us that we should try to draw near and affect the lives of sinners that haven’t ever obeyed the gospel (1 Cor 5:9-10).  Christians should seek to be lights in the world and examples to those who have never known Christ.

Child At Heart

Tuesday, February 18, 2020
Hello; I'm wondering if a person is born with mental deformities and can't understand the concept of the Lord, will they still reach heaven?

Sincerely,
Heart For Others

Dear Heart For Others,

Those with mental handicaps would fall under the same rules as children.  In order to obey the gospel, we must have the maturity to:

  1. Take responsibility for our sins (Acts 3:19).
  2. Hear and understand the Word of God (Rom 10:17).
  3. Be responsible for our own spiritual growth (1 Pet 2:1-2).

Children and those with certain mental handicaps do not have that ability, and God only holds us accountable for what we are able to do (2 Cor 8:11-12).  Just like children, they will go to heaven.

H2O x 2

Friday, February 14, 2020
     Sixteen years ago, when I was nine years old, I made a profession of faith and was baptized, but I don't think I fully understood what it means to truly follow Christ until years later when I was in college.  As a child, I thought you just had to mentally believe and not follow Christ.  Is there any biblical reason why I could not be baptized a second time now that I fully understand what it means to be a Christian?

Sincerely,
Older And Wiser

Dear Older And Wiser,

The word ‘baptism’ simply means ‘immersion’ – it is the reason for your immersion that makes baptism a soul-saving act.  When we understand that baptism saves us from our sins (1 Pet. 3:21) and are baptized by the authority of Christ (Acts 2:38) and believe in His Name (Mk. 16:16), then that baptism saves us.  Many people are baptized without understanding these things… in which case, they just get wet.  You will have to evaluate for yourself whether or not you understood what you were doing when you were baptized.  If you did, there is no need for re-baptism.  If you believe you didn’t know what you were doing, then you should be rebaptized.

An Age Old Problem

Friday, September 06, 2019
As a child, what is the estimated age you have to be to not know Christ and not be saved and not go to Heaven? If a baby dies, will they go to Heaven? If a two-year-old dies, will they go to Heaven?

Sincerely,
Maturity Matters

Dear Maturity Matters,

The age of accountability is the age when a child becomes accountable to God for their sins and would be judged for them… exactly at what age that happens is the tricky part of your question.  We can tell you what the Bible says on the subject, but it doesn’t say much.

We know any baby that dies goes to heaven.  David’s son died, and David made it clear that his son was in heaven (2 Sam 12:23).  Also, Paul uses the immaturity of children as an example (1 Cor 13:11).  This tells us God doesn’t have the same expectation of a child’s behavior as He does of an adult’s.  Children are not bound by the same rules as adults.  A child doesn’t have the mental capacity or maturity to be held accountable for their mistakes like adults are.

In order to become a christian, there are several things God expects you to be capable of doing:

1. Take responsibility for your sins (Acts 3:19).

2. Hear and understand the Word of God (Rom 10:17).

3. Be responsible for your own spiritual growth (1 Pet 2:1-2).

If a child is not capable of doing those things, they cannot be held accountable for their eternal future.

This still doesn’t answer the question though because every child matures at a different rate.  Everyone agrees that a five-year-old can’t be held accountable, and that a twenty-year-old can.  It is the age spectrum in between where our judgment gets fuzzy.  Only God, who knows our hearts (Lk 16:15), can accurately judge the hour in which a child makes that transition into accountability.

Too Patient For Others

Wednesday, July 10, 2019
     I have struggled with this my entire life, including my entire Christian life.  NO one will even try and provide an answer – only quote Scripture that doesn't provide an answer.

I have been taught God is all-knowing, all-powerful, can do anything, etc.  That being said and believed... why do such evil things happen to little kids (molestation, rape, murder)?  It might make sense if they were adults... but little kids?

How can you be all-knowing, all-powerful, watch what is happening to little children, and not help?

Everyone says, “FREE WILL; God doesn't mess with free will.”  Then why pray?  IF He will not intervene to prevent an evil done to a child, why would He intervene and help you with patience or sickness or anything else?

I just don't get it.  I'm a parent.  I could not watch an evil done to my child and do nothing.  PERIOD.

Please explain… if you can.

Sincerely,
Angry Mother

Dear Angry Mother,

All suffering is caused by mankind and sin.  When God made the world, He made it to be good – it was sin that destroyed that perfect vision.  All wickedness and evil brings pain to God and grieves Him, and He will only endure it for so long.  In Noah’s day, God saw all the violence that was in the world, and it made Him deeply sad (Gen 6:5-6).  God gives mankind the freedom to make our own choices, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t pain Him to see the evil upon this earth.  God tells us that the only reason He endures it is because He is longsuffering and desires to give as many people as possible the chance to repent and turn to Him (2 Pet 3:9).  God's longsuffering is what is hard for us to comprehend because if we were in His shoes, we wouldn't be as patient with wickedness as God is.  But then again, we also wouldn't send our own son to die for wicked people – so it is a trade off.

God's patience is greater than ours, which feels like a blessing when we think of our own need for forgiveness... but it feels like a curse when we look at others’ behavior going unchecked.  It is a dark and ugly world, and God’s love is the shining light in that darkness (Jhn 3:19) – His love is deeper than ours, and His patience is profounder than ours.  Just remember this: all the blameless (including children) will be comforted in His arms in heaven (Rev 21:3-4).  This darkness will not last forever, and it will seem like a mere wisp of time when we get to eternity (Jas 4:14).

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