Ask Your Preacher
Are God and Jesus the same person or two separate people?
Dear Double Take,
The Father and Jesus aren’t 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)
[This question is in response to “Necessary Inference”]
Your recent discussion on necessary inference talked about Acts 15. Did these apostles convene to figure out the answer, or were they inspired and knew the answer? Many have used this example to approve of conventions to reach conclusions. The argument against has been that the answer in Acts 15 was from God, not men, and thus, this type of meeting wouldn't be approved today. Please explain.
Bored Of Meetings
Dear Bored Of Meetings,
The Bible tells us that the meeting in Acts 15 was a discussion, not a supernatural revelation from the Holy Spirit. Acts 15:6 says that the apostles and the elders of the church in Jerusalem were gathered together to “consider” this matter. People asked questions (Acts 15:7) and gave testimony (Acts 15:12). The final judgment wasn’t even made by an apostle; it was made by James, one of the elders (Acts 15:13). This James wasn’t an apostle because the apostle James had died in Acts 12:2.
Overall, what we see described in Acts 15 is a normal circumstance where faithful people considered the situation and the Scriptures, so they could make a faithful decision.
(This question is in response to “Something To Do”)
Is prophecy not one of the spiritual gifts in 1 Cor 12? When we feel that Jesus is calling us to do something or leading us in a direction, is that not communicating with us? Why would Paul need to say in Gal 1:8 that if someone "should preach a gospel *other* than the one we preached to you", why not just say all preaching henceforth is false?
I am honestly asking these questions and not trying to be sarcastic; thank you for the time spent looking into this.
And by the way, thank you for posting the "Faith Over Feelings" post – not enough Christians seem to see this, and this was the best and simplest way I've seen it done. I am thinking of sharing it with our youth group. God bless.
Dear Pondering Prophecy,
We don't take your question as sarcastic – it is a very valid concern. So let's see if we can break the subject down verse by verse.
Prophecy is a spiritual gift, and all spiritual gifts are no longer around. In fact, one of the primary purposes of 1st Corinthians chapters 12-14 was to explain to the Corinthian church that they shouldn’t get too excited about spiritual gifts because the gifts wouldn’t be around forever, and what was truly important was a life of faith, hope, and love (1 Cor 13:13).
Prophecy, speaking in tongues, miraculous healings, etc. were all gifts from the Holy Spirit. The way that people received those gifts was through an apostle laying his hands on them (Acts 8:17-18). Since it took an apostle to convey the gift of the Holy Spirit, the gifts would cease with the death of the last person that the last living apostle laid his hands on. In fact, God promised that this would happen. Paul says that spiritual gifts would eventually perish once God had given us the complete and perfect Bible (1 Cor 13:8-9 – read more on this subject in “Gifts That Stop Giving”).
In Gal 1:8, Paul said not to preach another gospel because the Bible is meant to be our only guide. Whatever we preach must be exactly what God says, no more, no less. We are warned to never add or subtract from God’s Word (Rev 22:18-19) and that we should never go beyond what is written (1 Cor 4:6).
The problem with trusting in a feeling or that “voice in our heart” is that everyone has feelings, and feelings are very subjective. God even warns that every man does what is right in his own eyes (Pr 21:2). Even an atheist believes that what he is doing is correct. Though intuition and our own personal feelings can often be right, they must always be in subjection to the Bible, which is how God speaks to us.
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 email@example.com, and we will happily help in whatever way we can.