Ask Your Preacher
If Jesus is God, then why did Jesus pray to Himself?
Talking To Myself
Dear Talking To Myself,
We often speak of the fact that there is only one God, but if we are going to be technical (and this is a technical issue), God is one in purpose, but there are actually three Deity. This is most noticeably seen at Jesus’ baptism. Jesus comes out of the water (Matt 3:16), the Holy Spirit descended like a dove (Matt 3:16), and the Father spoke from heaven (Matt 3:17). Jesus, the Father, and the Holy Spirit are of one mind and one purpose (Jhn 10:30), but they are distinctly unique beings. So when Jesus prayed to the Father (Matt 26:39), it was not the same as praying to Himself.
I have a friend who always wants to talk about religion but doesn't understand my beliefs. I am a Christian, and when I try to explain to her that the Bible is literally interpreted, she doesn't understand and replies with, "Well, that’s your and your church's interpretation of the Bible" and "The same literal verse can mean different things to different people." What verses or explanation can I use as examples of how the Bible should be interpreted and why? Thank you.
Dear Literally Puzzled,
What you are trying to do is prove to your friend that the Bible is God’s literal word and that God intends for it to be understood in a definite fashion. Here are a couple of different ways to try and get this concept across to your friend:
- Peter said that the Bible is not a matter of our own private interpretation (2 Pet 1:20-21). When God spoke, He didn’t mean for His Words to be interpreted how we wished. In fact, the apostle Paul condemns our own interpretation as “perverting” God’s Word (Gal 1:6-7). There is a right and a wrong way to read the Scriptures.
- If there is more than one correct way to interpret the Scriptures, it would be impossible to have unity. Unity can only happen if we agree on the same standards. If people each have their own personal interpretation of the Scriptures, there is no common standard to build unity upon. God is not the author of confusion (1 Cor 14:33). God commands us to have unity, and that there is only one faith (Eph 4:3-6). Show your friend Ephesians chapter four and explain that unity cannot happen without a single standard.
- God purposely made sure that every word of the Bible was exactly as He intended it to be (Matt 5:18). Everything that the prophets wrote was directly from the mind of God (1 Cor 2:12-13). If God put that much effort into preserving the accuracy and detail of the Bible, we cannot disregard that. We must be as accurate in our reading of the Bible as God was in writing it.
- Jesus believed there was a right and a wrong way to read the Bible. He accused the Pharisees of disregarding God’s teachings (Matt 21:42). He also told the Sadducees that they didn’t understand the Scriptures (Matt 22:29). If Jesus says there is a right and a wrong way to view the Scriptures, then we must make sure we are rightly discerning God’s Word.
There is no guarantee any of these things will work with your friend, but we wish you the very best as you try and share the Gospel. Hopefully, she will be willing to listen with an open and honest heart.
We read somewhere that we are not to pray for people with a reprobate mind or a sinner. Now we cannot find it.
Dear Verse Seeker,
The verse you are looking for is 1 Jn 5:16. That verse states that there is a certain time in which we shouldn’t pray that someone be forgiven. When someone is “sinning unto death”, we shouldn’t ask God that they be forgiven.
Any time someone does something contrary to God’s Word, they sin (Rom 7:7). However, many times christians sin inadvertently, accidently, or in a moment of weakness. These sins can and are forgiven by God (1 Jn 1:9). However, if someone chooses a lifestyle of sin, that is a different story.
When we reject God’s Word and flagrantly commit sins in full knowledge that it is rebellion against God, there is no longer a sacrifice for our sins (Heb 10:26). If you know someone who has actively turned away from God, you are not supposed to pray that God forgive them; they have committed the “sin unto death”. Their only hope is to turn again and repent of their sins (Acts 3:19).
I was reading the genealogies of Jesus in Matthew and in Luke, and I realized that they were different! I never realized this before; does that mean that there is an error in God’s Word?
Dear Counting Noses,
How very perceptive of you to compare those two genealogies. Yes, there is a difference between the Matt 1:1-16 and the Lk 3:23-38 accounts. Matthew starts the genealogy at Abraham, and Luke starts the genealogy all the way back at Adam. The genealogies really begin to differ once you hit the generation after David. Matthew traces the history from David’s son Solomon (Matt 1:6), while Luke follows David’s son Nathan (Lk 3:31).
The most likely explanation for this is that each book is tracing a different side of Jesus’ family tree. Matthew is tracing the legal family tree through Jesus’ foster father Joseph. Luke is tracing the maternal side through Jesus’ mother, Mary. We often forget, but Jesus (like all humans) has two family trees, both his mother’s and his father’s.
If it is wrong to kill, why do so many people eat meat? Hamburger isn't from cows who died of old age. How do people justify this?
Dear PETA Pal,
This is a great example of how context comes into play. When we are told not to kill (Rom 13:9, Jas 2:11), we have to understand what the word ‘kill’ is referring to. Context is the only way to do that. Both of those verses refer to other sins as well – adultery, stealing and coveting. Rom 13:9 also refers to a positive command to “love your neighbor as yourself”. The context tells us that we are talking about interacting with people, not animals. Adultery, coveting, stealing and loving your neighbor all reference human-to-human relationships, not human-to-animal relationships. The one time killing is referred to in the context of animals is Acts 10:13 when, God comes to Peter in a vision and tells him to, “Kill and eat”. Context is key. The type of killing that is wrong is the murdering of a fellow human created in the image of God (Gen 1:27).