Ask Your Preacher

Ask Your Preacher

NEW TESTAMENT

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No Hablo Español

Sunday, September 09, 2012
Our congregation is small, and we have a small Spanish group that meets in the rear of our building on Sundays and on Wednesday evenings.  On Sundays, the group from the back joins us for the invitation song, the taking of the Lord’s Supper, and the closing prayer.  We have an English prayer led and then a Spanish prayer for both the Lord’s Supper and the closing.  It sometimes gets confusing because we do not speak Spanish and vice-versa.  In doing so, many of our congregation are saying, “Amen” to the Spanish prayers; also, sometimes our preacher goes over with his lesson while the Spanish group is waiting patiently, listening to something they do not understand.  My question is: would this be a violation of 1 Corinthians 14:23-33?  It surely is very confusing.  Thank You.

Sincerely,
Bilingual Brouhaha

Dear Bilingual Brouhaha,

The whole point of 1 Corinthians 14 is that things should be done in an orderly fashion.  The Corinthians were shouting over each other instead of taking turns, and Paul said they should keep things to a maximum of two or three speakers who take turns (1 Cor 14:29).  Furthermore, the Corinthians were speaking in multiple languages (miraculously in their case) when no one could understand the language.  Paul condemned this behavior (1 Cor 14:28).  The answer to the problem was to:

  1. Speak understandably with meaning and purpose, so that the people listening were able to comprehend what was being taught (1 Cor 14:7-11).
  2. Speak one by one and take turns (1 Cor 14:29-32).
  3. Let only the men speak (1 Cor 14:34-35).

Now let’s use that criteria to analyze your situation:

  1. Everything that is said has meaning and purpose, so that a portion (either English-speaking or Spanish-speaking) of the congregation can comprehend the teaching.  There is a concern over the fact that not everyone can understand everything, but fundamentally, this criteria is being met.
  2. From what you have said, all of the speakers are being diligent to take turns and not shout over each other.  There may be ways to improve the organization, but we would be hard-pressed to say that there is no organization already.  Any improvement would be an issue of fine-tuning, not removal of error.
  3. You never address women speaking, so we will assume this is also being handled scripturally.

The criteria of the Scriptures is clear, and as long as your congregation remains diligent to stick to those ideals, it will be fine.  We will admit that having two languages in the same congregation can be a little unwieldy, but in truth, this wouldn’t be too uncommon of a circumstance in the first century church.  We would chalk this up to an opportunity to “bear with one another” and show patience as you try to overcome the struggles of the language barrier (Eph 4:2-3).

Fed-Ex, UPS, and Angels

Sunday, September 02, 2012
In the book of Revelation to John, when the seven churches are addressed, were these seven churches in Asia the ONLY churches in existence at this time, or was Jesus only addressing these seven specifically?

Secondly, I am curious to know, when John speaks that he sees seven stars held in God's right hand, which later were revealed to be the seven angels of these churches (Rev 1:20), can we conclude that God appoints an angel over each congregation in today's time?

Sincerely,
Seeing Stars

Dear Seeing Stars,

The seven churches addressed in the book of Revelation are seven congregations all in close proximity to each other, but they are not the only congregations that existed.  The gospel had turned the whole world upside down (Acts 17:6).  Paul had written letters to churches in Rome, Corinth, Colossae, throughout Galatia, Philippi, Thessalonica, and Ephesus… and all that was only from one apostle!

As for the angels mentioned in Rev 1:20, the word ‘angel’ simply means ‘messenger’ in the Greek.  The word is often used for heavenly servants of God (which is what we typically think of when we say ‘angel’) because the context of the verses show us that the messenger is supernatural.  However, the word really only means ‘messenger’; it is the context of a passage that tells us whether the messenger is a heavenly being or simply a normal messenger.  In the context of Rev 1:20, the angels are most likely human messengers carrying the letters from the apostle John to the individual churches.

Outside The Gate

Saturday, September 01, 2012
In Revelation, it says that murderers, idolaters, people who practice magic arts, and adulterous people will be left outside the gate.  Could you please explain to me that verse?  Because I may be taking it wrong… to me it sounds like that even though I ask for forgiveness, I will still be left outside of the gate. Thank you so much again and may God bless you!

Sincerely,
Seeking Grace

Dear Seeking Grace,

You will be left outside the gate unless you are washed in Christ’s blood.  The verse you refer to is Rev. 22:15.  The verse before it (Rev 22:14) references the contrast – those let in will be the ones who have washed their robes.  Everyone has sinned (Rom 3:23) and is dead in those sins, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus (Rom 6:23).  If you are in Christ, you will be allowed into heaven.  So the question is, how do we get into Christ and receive the gift of eternal life?

We are saved by God’s grace, and we receive that grace through faith (Eph 2:8).  Without faith, it is impossible to please God (Heb 11:6).  Faith is defined as ‘belief to the point of action’.  Imagine a child that climbed a tall tree and got stuck.  The child’s father comes out and says, “Jump down, and I will catch you!”  How do you know if the child has faith in their father?  You know they have faith when they hear what he says and trust the words enough to jump out of the tree into their father’s waiting arms.  Faith comes from hearing God’s Word (Rom 10:17).  The Bible is God’s message to mankind; it is His roadmap for our salvation (Rom 1:16).  When we hear what God says and then act upon those words, we have faith (Jas 2:18).  It is only in our actions that our faith is alive (Jas 2:17).  See our post “What Must I Do To Be Saved” to learn what God says we must do to become christians.  Take the Bible and except no substitute.

It's Greek To Me

Wednesday, August 29, 2012
How many languages does one find in the New Testament that were used regularly in Jerusalem in the days of Jesus earthly ministry?  What languages were they?

Sincerely,
Multi-Lingual

Dear Multi-Lingual,

The Bible was written in three different languages, but many, many more existed throughout the Roman Empire during the time of Christ.  The Old Testament is written in Hebrew, and the New Testament is written in Greek with small portions written in Aramaic.  The common language of the Roman Empire was Greek.  Greek was the language used in the marketplaces and during all transactions among people of different cultures.

There were, however, many other languages that were used by people of different races and cultures.  The book of Acts gives us a taste of the diversity of languages used by people in Jerusalem.  Acts 2:5-11 mentions a multitude of languages used throughout the Roman Empire.  There were realistically hundreds of different dialects during Jesus’ day, yet they were all able to communicate using common Greek.

Lightning Strikes Twice

Tuesday, August 28, 2012
I am curious about Mark 3:17.  It states that when Jesus was appointing the twelve to send them out to preach, He appointed James, the son of Zebedee, and John, the brother of James (to them He gave the name Boanerges which means, "Sons of Thunder").  What does the original translation of "Sons of Thunder" mean?  Were James and John lively characters, or was there something boisterous about Zebedee?

Sincerely,
Weatherman

Dear Weatherman,

“Sons of Thunder” is a nickname Jesus gave to James and John… and a rather cool one at that!  Mk 3:17 states that Jesus ‘gave’ (literally ‘laid upon them’) the name ‘Boanerges’.  ‘Boanerges’ is an Aramaic translation for a Hebrew word which means, you guessed it, ‘sons of thunder’.  The nickname was given to them because of their character.  James and John were indeed known as lively and strong men.  Both were fishermen (Matt 4:21), which was a profession that required stout and strong men – definitely not for sissies.  These are the same two brothers that got so mad at a city that refused to accept Jesus that they wanted to send fire from heaven to destroy the city… thankfully Jesus rebuked them (Lk 9:53-55).  The Sons of Thunder were definitely known for being full of fire and zeal.

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