Ask Your Preacher
I am a born-again believer, and I have a good friend who is also. My friend recently lost her dad due to a sudden heart attack. She is grieving. Her relationship with her dad was not all that she wanted it to be, and after she was saved (which has been well over ten years ago), she had shared with her dad what Christ had done in her life. What is more painful is that her dad did grow up in a Christian home, but he never accepted Christ. My friend is frustrated with the sentiment that christians can find comfort in knowing their loved ones went to heaven. She asked me where her comfort is when she knows her dad was not a christian, and he did not go to heaven. All anyone says to her is that you don't know what went on in the last moments of his life, but she is certain there was probably no last moment conversion for her father. While she has the comfort of her faith for herself, how is a believer to find peace or acceptance in the reality that a close loved one went to hell?
Friend Of The Mourning
Dear Friend Of The Mourning,
The sorrow we feel when we lose a loved one is, at times, almost unbearable. That pain can be amplified when we do not have hope of someday seeing that person in heaven.
God says that He finds no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezek 33:11). That tells you that God will not send anyone to hell by accident, from spite, or out of malicious intent. Anyone who ends up in hell really, truly belongs there. When your friend’s father faces God on the Day of Judgment, God will make the right decision concerning his fate. There is some comfort in knowing that God will not make any mistakes.
God has a deeper, more complete understanding of eternity than you or I do. He is completely loving (1 Jn 4:8). If your friend’s father goes to hell, it will be because the most loving and wise God of all creation knew that was where her father chose to be. Ultimately, there are some sorrows and tears that pain us so deeply that we will never get complete comfort this side of heaven… but your friend can know that when she gets there – all tears will be wiped away (Rev 21:4).
Is it possible to live a christian life when you cut off all ties to parents and keep their grandbaby from them? My parents have never seen their first grandbaby. This decision was mutual between my husband and I. My parents ignore my husband; they pretend he doesn't exist.
Dear Discouraged Daughter,
If you cut ties for moral reasons, yes... but not if you just got tired of dealing with family. God emphasizes the need and importance of honoring parents (Ex 20:12, Matt 19:19, Matt 15:4, Mk 10:19, Eph 6:2). Showing respect and kindness toward those who gave you the gift of life is deeply important. The only time that it would be appropriate to sever that relationship would be if your parents were stopping you from serving the Lord (Matt 10:37). Our relationship with our spiritual Father is more important than our relationship with our physical parents (Matt 19:29). God understands that sometimes, for the sake of living a pure life, lines must be drawn between family members (Matt 10:35-36). However, if at all possible, this should be avoided. As much as it depends on you, be at peace with all men (Rom 12:18).
My husband, three girls, and I are born-again christians, but in our Hispanic heritage, most of our family is still Catholic. Please let us know what the deal is with their belief system because to us, it seems that the ends don't meet… and that a lot of what their religion entails is clearly wrong and contradicts what we are learning in the Bible and what we feel and discern as we walk in the Lord. My husband and I were specifically discussing the topic of "The Virgin of Guadalupe". Did she really appear in the shroud in Mexico? Is that name made up? Is she the same as the Virgin Mary? And why do Catholics (our family included) worship the Mother of Jesus more so than Jesus Himself? I don't like that at all... doesn't Jesus prefer for us to love Him before all things and people? I grew up Catholic, but I never ever felt this serious and passionate about loving our Lord and God, neither did I feel such a hunger for knowing everything about Him! I'm so glad I am finally saved and know it!!! Praise be to Him always and forever! If you can help us with this curiosity, thanks...
Dear A Disciple,
Congratulations on making such a bold move to make the Bible as the guide for your life. That commitment to biblical integrity is what sets you apart from your Catholic extended family. Catholicism places the pope as the head of the church; Christianity places Christ as the head of the church (Eph 5:23). All Catholic practices exist because the papal hierarchy believes them to be right; sometimes those beliefs agree with the Bible, but many times they don’t. Catholicism tells priests to not marry, and it forbids certain foods – practices specifically condemned by Paul as false teaching (1 Tim 4:1-3). Catholics are taught to call their religious leaders ‘father’, but the Bible says that is wrong (Matt 23:9). Catholic practices like infant baptism (and the teaching that children are born sinful), Vatican councils, cardinal vs. venial sins, etc. have no foundation in the Bible.
Worshipping various Catholic “saints” is a practice that is (as you know) very common in Catholicism, but God tells us that we should worship only Him (Matt 4:10). In fact, Peter was rebuked when he offered to make a monument to honor Moses and Elijah on an equal level with Jesus (Matt 17:4-6). Various Catholic monuments, shrouds, relics, etc. are unsubstantiated items that have no Biblical bearing. Simply put, those items are only “holy” because the Catholic church says they are. We derive our authority from the Bible, and that is where faith starts (Rom 10:17).
As for worshipping Mary… Jesus is the only mediator between man and God (1 Tim 2:5). We pray to the Father through Jesus… not through Mary or any other Catholic figure. We are told to confidently approach God directly (Heb 4:16). We should ask of God and pray to Him through the name of Jesus (Jhn 14:13-14). Praying to (or through) Catholic saints is wrong. As you said, Jesus wants our love before all things and all people.
Catholicism is so deeply rooted in many Hispanic communities that you will find it a constant part of your job as a christian to give Bible answers in hopes of freeing them from this false religion (1 Pet 3:15). What an opportunity to shine your light for the glory of God (Matt 5:16)!
I have a sensitive question that has a lot of varying answers, but I came across this site and decided to ask yet another religious and spiritual person. Please try to answer as honestly as you can.
I had a cousin a little while back who committed suicide. She was young (only 16) and not outwardly depressed or upset. She left a long note for her mother, apologizing and trying to explain herself. She was scared of what her future would hold, and her decision came with a lot of conscious struggle. She left us all behind, confused and worried for her. What would happen to someone like her in the afterlife? I know that God has the final say, but is suicide a sin?
The girl in question wasn't an overly religious person (didn't attend church regularly), but she did believe in God, Jesus, and the afterlife. She prayed every morning and often claimed to have a "connection" with God when she needed Him. Thanks for your time.
Dear Sad Cousin,
Suicide is a painful topic, and we are so sorry for your loss. There are two things to consider when looking at what God says about a sixteen-year-old committing suicide.
- Is suicide a sin?
- How accountable does God hold someone of that age for their actions?
Question one is fairly straightforward – suicide is a sin. Suicide is a form of murder, and murder is wrong (1 Jn 3:15). What is so scary about suicide is that it is a form of murder that allows no opportunity for repentance (Heb 9:27). The final judgment belongs to God (Heb 12:23), but it would be a very perilous thing to face God with your own blood on your hands.
Question number two is a lot trickier. Children are not held accountable for their choices in the same way that adults are. King David’s son died at infancy, and David knew that his son was in heaven (2 Sam 12:23). Children are given as examples of godliness (Lk 18:17). Paul uses the immaturity of children as an example (1 Cor 13:11). At some point, children transition to being adults, and they become accountable for their own behavior… but that happens at different times for different kids. Everyone understands that a five-year-old is a child and that a twenty-five-year-old is an adult; it is the ages in between that get fuzzier. Sixteen is an age that sits squarely in the gray area. Only God, who knows our hearts (Lk 16:15), could properly judge where your cousin’s maturity level was. If she was still considered a child in the eyes of God, she will be in heaven – God doesn’t make mistakes; He will properly decide. May God give you comfort in your time of grief for the loss of your loved one.
Hi, I lied to my dad a few times about drinking twisted tea, having a facebook (I deleted my facebook), why I came home from school late (because I had a detention, and I told him I was checking my grades), etc. – but I don't want to admit to him that I lied because he's verbally abusive. Do I have to admit to my dad that I lied to him??? Am I lying to him by not admitting that I lied before?
Dear Troubled Kid,
You lied to your father, and you need to ask for his forgiveness. Part of repentance is asking forgiveness (Lk 17:4). It is unfortunate that your relationship with your father is so unhealthy, but regardless of how he acts, you have a responsibility to do what is right (Matt 16:24). Your conscience is obviously bothered by hiding these lies… it is time to clear that conscience (Acts 24:16). May God bless you in your courage to put truth first in your life.