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Counting Sheep

Tuesday, June 23, 2020
     I had a dream of the Lord last night.  He called me to Him and held me in His arms for a while.  I could even smell His hair in my dream.  He said to me that the lion will soon lay down with the lamb.  Could you explain that?

Sincerely,
Sheepish

Dear Sheepish,

The days of dreams and visions have passed.  In the past, God spoke to various people through dreams, visions, and prophecy, but today He speaks to us through His Son, Jesus Christ (Heb 1:1-2).  Now that we have the complete and perfect Bible – there is no need for God to give people individual dreams or visions.  It is through the Word of God that we learn how to live faithfully (Rom 10:17).

We are sure that your dream means something, but it doesn’t mean anything supernatural or prophetic.  What you had was not a vision.  Prophets have visions, and there are no more prophets since we have the perfect and complete Word of God (1 Cor 13:8-10).  The human mind is a complex and wondrous thing (Ps 139:14).  It is perfectly normal for our minds to make mental connections as we pray, study, sleep, etc.  Those mental images aren’t visions; they are just your own thoughts as your mind meditates upon what you have said, read, or heard.

Love The Truth

Wednesday, June 17, 2020
John 13:34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one.”

How then can anyone justify the hate of gays, gay marriage, Muslims, Jews, etc.  Are we not all God's children?  Should we not treat all of these people as our equals, respect their beliefs, and engage them with love?  Similarly, how can Christians be against gay marriage "because the Bible condemns it"… yet the Bible does not condemn slavery (Exodus 21:2-6), however we know that it is wrong.

Sincerely,
Full Of Love

Dear Full Of Love,

The Bible does teach to love, and there is no justification for hating homosexuals, Muslims, Jews, etc.  However, the Bible also says that love rejoices in the truth (1 Cor 13:6).  Biblical love doesn’t find happiness when people are lost and living lives of sin.  The Bible teaches that those who don’t accept Jesus as the Son of God are lost (Jhn 14:6), and it teaches that homosexuality is sinful (Rom 1:26-27), and it teaches that the only moral definition of marriage is between one man and one woman (1 Cor 7:2).

People have always used the Bible to justify hate and wickedness, but that doesn’t make it right.  In like manner, people who simply say, “Love and forget about the rules” are wrong, too.

As far as slavery, the Bible doesn’t condemn slavery, but it does condemn abuse, and it does say that it is better to be free than enslaved (1 Cor 7:21).  God also deals with how people can live in a world where slavery does exist… hence, verses like Col 3:22.  Slavery was, and is, a reality in many parts of the world, a reality that doesn’t go away once people become Christians.  How a slave should behave toward their master is a down-to-earth, practical, moral question for many, many people.  The fact that we Americans don’t have to deal with such dilemmas anymore is a blessing, but the Bible wasn’t just written for Americans.

Research vs. Rehearse

Friday, June 12, 2020

Dear AYP Readers,

We received an anonymous question that included a link to another website that promotes the concept that many churches that call themselves ‘church of Christ’ have fallen into denominational thinking, and instead of teaching the Bible, they are simply rehearsing their own sectarian creeds.

As a general rule, we don’t post questions that link to other websites because we don’t wish to come across as promoting their views as our own… nor do we wish to get into a “cyber-war” to be battled out between web administrators.  That simply isn’t why we are here.  Our goal is to focus on the Word of God and its answers to life’s questions.

So, without reposting the question, how does a congregation avoid falling into denominational thinking?

The denominational world exists because churches started following their own traditions and failing to return to the Bible for their practices.  This isn’t a modern problem; even the early first-century churches in Asia were rebuked for “leaving their first love” (Rev 2:4).  Jesus railed against the Pharisees because they valued their traditions more than they valued the Bible (Matt 15:3).  They taught the same behavior as their ancestors… not the Scriptures (Matt 15:9).  The problem with that behavior is that even if the generation before you was right, if you don’t know why they were doing what they were doing, you can end up missing the point.  It’s like the old story about the granddaughter that cut the Thanksgiving turkey in half before cooking it because that was what Granny did – turns out the only reason Granny did that was because her oven was too small!

Denominations build the same way; if we only repeat what our forefathers did, we are merely rehearsing traditions, not placing our faith in the life-giving Word of God (Rom 1:16).  Faithful churches have always been built upon the noble-minded attitude of the Bereans who “examined the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so” (Acts 17:10-11).  If we give our hearts wholly to the Lord, we will work out our own salvation by asking questions, examining the Bible, and comparing our practices to God’s eternal Word (Php 2:12).

So, are some churches that were once faithful turning to sectarianism or denominational traditionalism?  Sure.  They’ve been doing that since before the book of Colossians was written (Col 2:8).  Thankfully, people have been turning away from denominationalism for just as long.

Sincerely,
AYP

A Good Choice

Friday, May 29, 2020
     My wife and I are having a debate.  I think it's a debate on the definition of sin.  My wife asserts that because Jesus was a sinless human, He was therefore an appropriate sacrifice for mankind, and the only thing that allowed Him to not sin was that He was God.  I, on the other hand, state that anything God does is, by default, not sin (or anti-sin).  Therefore, anything He does is not sin.  It sounds the same, but my wife says He had the option to sin but chose not to while I say whatever He did would be anti-sin no matter what He chose to do.  Any thoughts?

Sincerely,
Right By Default?

Dear Right By Default,

Your wife is right; Jesus had the option to sin, but He chose not to.  Heb 4:15 says that Jesus was tempted in all ways like we are, yet without sin.  If Jesus was incapable of sinning, He couldn’t be tempted to do it.  You can’t be tempted to turn into a fish because that would be impossible, but you can be tempted to eat too much, be lazy, lose your temper, etc.
Jesus was actually tempted to sin, but He simply chose not to.  A great example of this is when the devil tempted Jesus in the wilderness in Mat 4:1-11.  The devil tried to get Jesus to sin (which tells you that the devil believed it was possible), but Jesus answered each temptation with Scripture and firm conviction.

Love God's Way

Wednesday, April 01, 2020
Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ How is homosexuality against these laws?

Sincerely,
Love For All

Dear Love For All,

If you love God, you will do what He says, and God says that homosexuality is wrong (Jude 1:7).  Jesus told His disciples, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (Jhn 14:15).  We can measure our love for God by our willingness to keep His commandments.  Someone that says they love God, but disregards His Word – doesn’t truly love Him.

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