Ask Your Preacher
James 5:14 talks about praying for someone who is sick and "anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord." I frequently hear of people praying for the sick today, but I've never seen the elders of a church anoint a sick person with oil. Why don't we continue this practice today?
Sincerely, Olives On My Mind
Dear Olives On My Mind,
Anointing with oil was a medicinal practice to remove pain and speed up the healing of a sick person. Olive oil was used in the first century for everything from food to alleviating sunburns. We have to understand the statement in the context of the culture in which it was written. A first century christian would have understood James 5:14 as a call to prayer and a call to make sure the medical needs were taken care of for the ill person.
It is very similar to an earlier statement by James concerning faith and works. In Jas 2:14-17, James addresses the problem of a person that offers kind words without doing what they can to help another. An elder that prayed for a sick christian but didn’t use his authority within the church to get the needy person the necessary medical attention would have been neglecting his duties to shepherd the flock (1 Pet 5:2). Today, we don’t use olive oil to meet people’s medical needs, but the principle of doing what we can to care for them still applies.
Why did God give the Ten Commandments to the Jewish people and didn't save them for the Christians?
Feeling Less Than A Ten
Dear Feeling Less Than A Ten,
God gave nine of those ten commandments to Christians, too. Christians do obey nine of the ‘Ten Commandments’ because Christ thought nine of them were worth keeping in the New Testament.
- Thou shalt not have any other god before me (Ex 20:3, 1 Cor 10:14)
- Thou shalt not make graven images or bow down to them (Ex 20:4-5, 1 Jhn 5:21)
- Thou shalt not take God’s name in vain (Ex 20:7, Heb 12:28)
- Honor thy father and mother (Ex 20:12, Eph 6:1-2)
- Thou shalt not kill (Ex 20:13, 1 Pet 4:15)
- Thou shalt not commit adultery (Ex 20:14, Heb 13:4)
- Thou shalt not steal (Ex 20:15, Eph 4:28)
- Thou shalt not bear false witness (Ex 20:16, Rev 21:8)
- Thou shalt not covet (Ex 20:17, Eph 5:3)
The only one of the ‘Ten Commandments’ left out is the keeping of the Sabbath (Ex 20:8). We are told that the Old Testament law, which includes the Ten Commandments, was meant to lead the Jews to Christ, but now that Jesus has come, the Old Law no longer binds us (Gal 3:24-25). Christians aren’t bound to keep the Sabbath holy; Jews were. You have to keep the other nine though.
What does it mean that Jesus was fully God and yet fully man? Wouldn't this mean that He knew He had to go to the cross? How could He bear that pain?
Sincerely, Fully Perplexed
Dear Fully Perplexed,
The phrase ‘fully God and fully man’ is not a Bible phrase, but it is accurate. It means that He was 100% man and 100% God at the same time. The Bible clearly states that Jesus was a human in every way that we are. He began life as a child (Lk 2:7), faced physical hunger (Matt 4:2), bled real blood (Jhn 19:34), and wept real tears (Jhn 11:35). Even in spiritual things, He was human – being tempted as we are (Heb 4:15), having to rely on the Father for His power (Matt 26:53), even admitting some things were outside of His knowledge (Matt 24:36). In every way, Jesus was completely human as He walked this earth.
Yet, the Scripture is just as clear in saying that Jesus was and is fully God. Jhn 1:1 says He created the heavens and earth. Jesus admits He existed before Abraham (Jhn 8:58). He is given the name Immanuel (Matt 1:23) which literally means ‘God is with us’. There can be no mistake… Jesus is wholly God and wholly man.
Of course that doesn’t mean we understand how that works. It just means that is what God says. Some concepts are so complex that we cannot fully appreciate their intricacies in this life. Some details and secrets belong to God alone (Deu 29:29).
So Jesus, fully man and fully God, went to the cross. He did so knowingly (Mk 8:31), voluntarily (Jhn 10:17-18), and with love for mankind in His heart (Jhn 15:13). Such generosity, selflessness, and mercy could only come from God Himself.
Why didn't God save His holy covenant for the Christians?
Dear Feeling Cheated,
Any covenant made with God is a “holy” covenant. The word ‘holy’ means ‘special or set apart’, and the word ‘covenant’ means ‘agreement or contract’. Any agreement that God makes with anyone is special because God is special! God has had numerous holy covenants. He made one with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (Gen 2:16-17). He made one with the earth when He set the rainbow in the sky (Gen 9:13-16). He made one with Abraham when He promised to make Abraham into a mighty nation (Gen 15:18). All of these are examples of holy covenants God has made over the centuries.
The last covenant God made was with Christians. God made a promise to save us through Jesus Christ, and then He ratified that covenant with Jesus’ blood (Heb 13:20). The Christian covenant is the greatest and most wonderful covenant God has ever made with mankind.
Why did Jesus go into the desert for 40 days where He had to be thirsty, hungry, and face the elements of heat, cold, and discomfort - maybe even come close to dying of dehydration and starvation - JUST so he could prepare to die a horrible death. Could He have prepared for death in a less uncomfortable way?
Sincerely, Seriously Sympathetic
Dear Seriously Sympathetic,
Those 40 days were Jesus’ first major test. Jesus had to do more than just go to the cross; He had to live a life free of sin as well (1 Pet 1:19). Christ had to live a perfect, sinless life while still enduring all the temptations that every other human experiences (Heb 2:17-18).
After Jesus was baptized and before He started preaching, He was led into the wilderness for forty days. The purpose of those forty days was for the devil to tempt Christ (Matt 4:2), plain and simple. In a weakened physical, emotional, and mental state (Lk 4:2), the devil threw his best and cleverest arguments at the Son of God. Jesus repelled them all (Matt 4:10). After that initial temptation, Jesus was left alone by the devil for a period of time (Lk 4:13). Jesus’ character is shown not only in how He died… but in how He lived like no other man.