Ask Your Preacher
Hi; I was reading about what some of the earliest Christians believed, and apparently, in one of their earliest rule books called the Didache, it says that they had to publicly confess all their sins in church to everyone else. Is this something we still have to do today? I always thought we could just confess to God if it was something private, and I don't want to have to go in front of my church and tell them everything I've ever done.
Dear Privacy Please,
We must follow the Bible, and the Didache isn’t the Bible. The Didache is part of what is often referred to as ‘second-generation Christian writings’. Even though it is a historically significant document, it isn’t part of the Bible, it isn’t inspired by God, and we don’t use it to decide what is right and wrong. The Bible never says that we have to confess our sins in front of the congregation. It does tell us to confess our sins to God (1 Jn 1:9), but it doesn’t require that we do it publicly or that we do it in every circumstance. Here are a few circumstances when the Bible says confessing your sins to others should be done:
- If you have sinned against them, you must admit it and ask for forgiveness (Lk 17:3-4).
- If you believe the knowledge of your previous sin will help them (1 Tim 1:15-16).
- If you are struggling with a sin and need help (Jas 5:16, Eccl 4:9).
- If it would be deceptive to not reveal the sin (1 Jhn 1:8).
But don’t fret about baring all before everyone else; the Didache isn’t the guidebook – the Bible is.
Is it mandatory to attend church to be saved?
The Bible teaches that we shouldn’t forsake the assembly (Heb 10:24-25). God designed the church so that each individual would be strengthened by the power of the whole (Eph 4:16). God never wanted christians to try and serve Him without the support of a local church; that is why He commanded the church to assemble. It is impossible to do God’s work without being a part of a local church. If you would like help finding a faithful congregation in your area, e-mail us at email@example.com.
I am a member of a local church (thought to be very small and very unwelcoming by some). They’re all older people, and they always say that they are "old Christians" in comparison to what they think of my family and I, "new Christians". They act like they know more about the Bible and the way everything should be because they’re older Christians. And we don't know that much because we're new… which we’re not. My family and I have been Christians for a very long time, and I try to read and study the Bible everyday. My question is: is it biblical to call someone or say someone is a "new Christian"? I know it feels like they're cutting me down; I think, and correct me if I'm wrong, but aren’t we all the same in God’s eyes? Thank you so much. God bless.
Not That New
Dear Not That New,
The Bible does talk about novice Christians (1 Tim 3:6) and those who, through diligence and time, have become pillars in the church (Gal 2:9)… but they are supposed to be a blessing to each other, not a rivalry. Paul told Timothy to not let anyone look down on his youth but to show himself an example of faithful living (1 Tim 4:12). Paul admonished Timothy to treat the older saints with respect and the younger Christians as brothers and sisters (1 Tim 5:1-2). A congregation that forgets that age and youth are both needed in their own right is soon to fall upon hard times.
What are the dangers of church hopping?
Dear Bunny Steps,
Being a member of a congregation is about more than just hearing God’s Word; it is about being a committed, active participant in supporting and encouraging God’s people. There are no examples of christians in the Bible who weren’t members of a local church. Even the apostle Paul, with all of his traveling, was a member of the church in Antioch (Acts 11:25-26). God tells us that part of the purpose of the church assembly is to stimulate and encourage one another to love and good works (Heb 10:24-25). Is it enough to just stay at home and watch sermons on television or listen to ones you have downloaded from the internet? If the only purpose of church attendance is to hear the Word, then those would be acceptable alternatives to going to church. We are supposed to get together each Sunday and partake of the Lord’s Supper (Acts 20:7, 1 Cor 11:20), and God intended for christians to be a part of a local congregation with elders and deacons to help shepherd them (1 Pet 5:2). God knows what is best for us, and it is in our best interest to assemble with other christians in a local church. We are all different, and our differences help to strengthen us, protect us, and better serve Christ (Eph 4:14-16). If all you do is “church hop”, then you don’t have the blessings of the local eldership, interwoven lives with other local saints, and participating fully in the growth of the church’s work. Church membership isn’t just about what you get; it is about what you are able to give.
If a man has been christian for many years and starts to miss services for many months, should he be called on to say a pray when he comes to services for the first time and has not asked to be back in fellowship with the local church? How should the elders approach him on this matter?
Perplexed From The Pew
Dear Perplexed From The Pew,
The elders should approach him with wisdom – and not approaching him might be the wise thing to do as well. The Bible tells us to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves (Matt 10:16). When someone is struggling in their attendance, the elders, as watchers of the flock (Heb 13:17), have a responsibility to help them. (Having said that, all christians have a responsibility to pull alongside those who are struggling – it is just that the elders have an increased responsibility). How the elders deal with that person is completely a matter of wisdom, and it will vary from situation to situation. For all you know, the elders already approached this man and have dealt with him privately – that certainly would be a biblical approach (Matt 18:15-17). The best thing to do is to either talk to this man yourself if you are worried about him, or if you are simply worried about the image of the church… talk to the elders.