Ask Your Preacher
How do you know if God is telling you to do something or if it is just a thought? Thank you.
Trying Not To Overthink It
Dear Trying Not To Overthink It,
God speaks to us through His Word. If we want to know God’s desire for our life, we must use the Bible to get our instructions. Faith comes from the Word (Rom 10:17), and the Bible contains all the information we need for life and godliness (2 Pet 1:3). If we want to understand what God wants for us, we can find the truth in the sum of His Word (Ps 119:160). Prophecies and visions are no longer given to people directly (1 Cor 13:8). Instead, God speaks to us through the teachings of His Son (Heb 1:1). It is normal for our emotions and desires to send us conflicting messages; that is exactly why God tells us to not trust ourselves or any “voice” that some churches tell us to listen for (Pr 3:5). Trust God’s Word, and it will be a lamp to your feet (Ps 119:105).
The human mind is a complex and wondrous thing (Ps 139:14). It is perfectly normal for our mind 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.
If the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are considered to be one in the Bible, than why don't we worship the Trinity instead of just one God?
Dear Multiplying Worship,
There are three members of the Godhead: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Matt 28:19). Each of the three is fully God and have all the powers of Deity. Read “The Father, The Son, & The Holy Spirit” for details on their relationship one to the other. We worship all three members of the Godhead. Jesus received worship (Matt 28:9). We are told to worship through the Holy Spirit (Php 3:3), and we pray to the Father (Lk 11:2). All members of the Godhead are worthy of praise and glory.
My wife and I are members of a church of Christ, the kind that has a fellowship hall, youth minister (and stuff like that), but no instrumental music (or anything like that). My point is, my wife and I have become a little uncomfortable with this zeal and not being able to find the authority for these things. We went to a very conservative type of church of Christ, like your congregation (from what I gather from y'all’s answers). There is more to it than that but, my question is: what can we expect with a change from a "liberal" type of church of Christ to a "conservative" church of Christ?
Motivated To Move
Dear Motivated To Move,
Oftentimes, the worship service at liberal congregations doesn’t seem all that different from the worship service at conservative ones, but the principles behind why they each do what they do is vastly different.
The fundamental difference between the more conservative congregations and the more liberal ones is how closely they adhere to the Bible pattern. In a conservative congregation, you will see the focus of the church being upon preaching the truth to the lost, teaching the saved, and carrying for needy saints – that’s it. A conservative congregation believes that the church is sufficient to do God’s work, and they shouldn’t delegate that work out to another organization like a missionary society. Conservative congregations support preachers directly, and they send funds directly to care for other needy christians… just like the Bible pattern. This is why conservative congregations are sometimes referred to as ‘non-institutional’. They don’t believe any other institution should take the place of the church – not a missionary society, not a federation of congregations pooling their funds, not a group of preachers controlling the direction of multiple churches.
The other thing that you will see is that a conservative congregation believes that there is a difference between individual responsibilities and congregational responsibilities. Individuals have the responsibility to spend time together and socialize with other christians. Individuals have the responsibility to do good to all mankind and be involved in their community as helpers of the poor and friends to strangers (Gal 6:10). The church has the responsibility to be the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Tim 3:15). You won’t see the church using its resources (including its building) for purely social activities such as potlucks – it is our responsibility as individuals to show hospitality (Heb 13:2). You also won’t see the church getting caught up in secular charity activities like food pantries for the poor or community activism – it is our responsibility as individuals to effect change in our communities and help our neighbors. When we blur the lines between what the church should be doing and what individual christians should be doing, we get into all sorts of trouble. Conservative congregations do their best to keep those lines as distinct as the Bible does.
In short, a conservative congregation will always show you Bible authority for what it does. We speak where the Bible speaks and are silent where the Bible is silent (Rev 22:18-19).
My pastor does not have the Holy Spirit to his admission, and he believes that it is not needed. He is a wonderful pastor, should I continue to go to this church? I do have the Holy Spirit?
Neither of you have the Holy Spirit if what you mean is that the Holy Spirit speaks to you directly or the Holy Spirit allows you to perform miracles – that doesn’t happen anymore.
The indwelling of the Holy Spirit that allowed people to perform miracles was received through the direct laying on of hands of the apostles (Acts 8:17-18). This dwelling of the Holy Spirit no longer exists because it died off with the last person that the last apostle laid his hands upon.
Christians do have the Holy Spirit dwell in them (Rom 8:9) – but not literally. The Holy Spirit dwells in christians in the same metaphorical way that Christ dwells in christians (Rom 8:10). The Holy Spirit and Jesus do not physically dwell inside christians miraculously. They dwell within christians in a figurative way because a christian’s life follows the path the Holy Spirit and Christ set for them.
The Holy Spirit dwells in those that follow the Bible and put to death their previous sinful lifestyles (Rom 8:12-14). The Holy Spirit gave us the Bible, and when we follow it, we are led by the Spirit (see this post for further details). Those who are led by the Spirit are sons of God, and the Spirit dwells in them (Rom 8:14-16).
What is sin?
Dear Definition Please,
Sin is disobeying what God says. The very word ‘sin’ is defined as ‘missing the mark’. God defines what a good life looks like in His Word. We wouldn’t know who we ought to be if He didn’t tell us. We are made in His image (Gen 1:26) and created for His glory (Col 1:16). We are the creation, and He is the Creator. Understanding His supreme authority is crucial. We must realize and accept that we are designed with a purpose and that the Creator understands how to properly guide our lives to fulfill that purpose.
Sin can be doing something that God has condemned (i.e. David sleeping with Bathsheba – 2 Sam 12:13). Sin can also be failing to do what you ought to (i.e. Jonah refusing to preach to the Ninevites – Jonah 1:3). We must model our lives after God’s commandments and teachings. Our lives must bear godly fruit (Jhn 15:12, Lk 3:8), and we must flee from wickedness (1 Tim 6:11). It is our adherence to both the positive and negative commandments of God that shows our friendship with Him (Jhn 15:14). The Bible is God’s roadmap for life; follow it to avoid the pitfalls of sin.