Ask Your Preacher
Help me explain how God teaches us, not just by commands and direct statements, but also by examples and "necessary inferences."
Trying To Teach
Dear Trying To Teach,
‘Necessary inference’ is another way of saying that something must logically be true. For example, if you saw a man walking out of a store, you could “necessarily infer” that he had entered the store at some point. A necessary inference is simply using the facts at hand and our reasoning powers to properly find an answer. This is something that God wants us to do.
- In Isa 1:18, the Lord says, “Come now and let us reason together.”
- In Acts 17:2, Paul reasoned with the Jews using Scriptures to prove that Jesus was the Christ.
- Hebrews 5:14 says that we should attempt to discern between good and evil.
All of these passages point out that we have a responsibility to take God’s Word and, using our minds, reach proper conclusions about what is right and wrong. It is important to remember that we aren’t supposed to “jump” to conclusions, but God wants us to take the sum of His Word on every topic and put the pieces properly together (Ps 119:160).
In fact, this is exactly what the apostles did in Acts 15 when they had to decide whether or not to circumcise the Gentile Christians. In Acts 15:7-12, Peter, Paul, and Barnabas gave examples of how God accepted the Gentiles without circumcision. In Acts 15:13-21, the apostles looked at an Old Testament passage that said the Gentiles would eventually be accepted by God. And finally, after looking at these commands and examples from God, they made a judgment that the Gentiles didn’t need to be circumcised (Acts 15:19). This is a perfect example of using sound judgment and necessary inference.
God wants us to use our minds and come up with necessary conclusions to resolve ethical issues and defend the faith (1 Pet 3:15).
I see things; I think God is contacting me; He wants me to do something, but I don't know what. Please, please answer this and tell me what to do!
What you need to do is go to church. 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 (1 Cor 13:9-10). It is through the Word of God that we learn how to live faithfully (Rom 10:17).
We are sure that the things you are seeing mean something, but they don’t mean anything supernatural or prophetic. Our guess is that you have a great deal of internal struggle in your life, and this is affecting your vision, your mind, and everything else. The fact that you are writing into this site tells us that you are trying to put the pieces together and get help. One of the things that we do here at AskYourPreacher is try to connect people with a desire for answers (such as yourself) with congregations near them that can help them find long-term relief. If you would like us to do that, just e-mail us back at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will happily help in whatever way we can.
Should the 151st psalm have been included in our Bible?
Dear Plus One,
Psalm “151” is a title given to a psalm that is accepted by the Eastern Orthodox Church as part of the Bible, but that is about it. Even the Jews consider it to be apocryphal. An apocryphal book (‘apocrypha’ means ‘hidden’) is a book that was rejected from the Bible because it was considered inauthentic. These books are not written by God and never were accepted by God’s people as divinely inspired. Some apocryphal books (such as the aforementioned Psalm) were included in the Septuagint, which confuses people at times, but even though some apocryphal books were included in the Septuagint, they were never considered God-breathed Scripture. Printed Bibles include maps, commentaries, and footnotes… and yet, we don’t consider those things to be Scripture; in the same way, the Septuagint included apocryphal books that were never viewed as the Word of God.
It is well documented that Jews didn’t consider the apocryphal books to be authored by God. Josephus, a venerated Jewish historian, specifically stated that the apocryphal books weren’t from God in his writing Against Apion. The Manual of Discipline in the Dead Sea Scrolls stated that the Apocrypha wasn’t inspired. To further prove the point, the Apocrypha itself says that it isn’t Scripture! The apocryphal book, 2 Maccabees, specifically says that it isn’t inspired by God in 15:38-39, and the author apologizes for any inaccurate information he might have provided. Though the apocryphal books are unique historical accounts, they are never quoted in the New Testament, and they were never accepted by the church or the Jewish community as divinely inspired text. That is exactly why it isn’t necessary that they be included in modern translations of the Bible – they aren’t Bible, just secular history.
How do we know when miraculous works/healings ceased?
The Scriptures talk about the miraculous ability to speak in different languages (Acts 2:4-6), prophetic wisdom (Jhn 14:26), and a host of other things. The gifts of the Holy Spirit were given to the apostles (Acts 2:1-4), and the apostles were able to pass on these gifts to others by laying their hands on them (Acts 8:18). The apostles were the only ones with the ability to pass on the gifts. Therefore, when the last person that the last living apostle laid hands on died… the gifts ceased to exist. God intended for this to happen.
Miracles were needed to prove that Jesus and His apostles were sent from God (Acts 14:3, Acts 2:22, Jhn 9:16). Miracles were used as a proof that what the disciples said was truly God’s Word (Acts 8:6). Now that we have the perfect and complete Bible, we no longer need those miracles – which was Paul’s point in 1 Corinthians. When the “perfect” of 1 Cor 13:8-10 happened, the church no longer needed miracles to further the message of Christ. After the Bible was completed, the church was able to fully see God’s message of salvation (1 Cor 13:12) without further need of prophecies and miracles.
If God and Jesus are the same, how did He really suffer? He already knew He would be okay, and the man on the cross beside Him didn't. How is that fair? And if They are one in the same, why do we have to go through Jesus to talk to God? If God is Jesus, then They are the same; why can't we just talk to God?
One And The Same
Dear One And The Same,
As far as the Father and Jesus being the same... they are both deity, but they are also unique beings. There are three parts to the Godhead: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This is most easily seen in Matt 3:16-17. When Jesus was baptized, the Father spoke from heaven, and the Holy Spirit descended as a dove. Each of them is eternal (they were all at the creation – Gen. 1:1, Gen. 1:2, Col 1:15-17). John 1:1 specifically says that Jesus is Deity. Jesus is different than the Father, but He is part of the Godhead. Jesus even said that He had always existed (Jhn 8:58). The apostles worshipped Jesus as God (Jhn 20:28).
When Jesus died on the cross, He really felt the pain, and He really had to trust that the Father would raise Him from the dead in the end. His faith was strong, but it was still something that took great strength of character and it still hurt – faith in the outcome didn't remove the pain. After all, Jesus was completely human just like everyone else; the only difference was that He had the strength of character to not sin (Heb 4:15).