Ask Your Preacher
We apply the four gospels to our life today, but, of course, Jesus had not died yet during the time of His preaching. So are the gospels still under the Mosaic Law?
Dear Timeline Troubles,
Jesus was a Jewish man who lived under the Jewish law, and His life records that fact. Jesus commanded His fellow countryman to obey the Mosaic laws for cleansing and sacrifices (Lk 17:12-14). He taught that Moses’ law was right and good, even when the Pharisees and scribes weren’t (Matt 23:1-3), and He answered questions regarding Moses’ laws – like the laws concerning divorce (Matt 19:3-9). So if Jesus’ entire life was a Jewish one, why are the gospels part of the New Testament? The answer: Jesus’ preaching.
Jesus lived as a Jew, spoke to Jews, answered Jewish questions, and preached Christianity. Jesus preached the good news of the kingdom which was to come. Matt 4:23, Matt 9:35, Matt 11:5, Mk 8:35, Lk 4:18-19, and Lk 7:22 all say that Jesus came preaching the gospel to His kinsmen. Jesus preached that there was a change coming and that all the world needed to be prepared for it. Jesus preached the message of a kingdom that was soon to be, the kingdom of Christ that He would buy with His own blood (Acts 20:28). Another reason that the four gospels are part of the New Testament is that we are commanded to be imitators of Christ (1 Cor 11:1). The way Jesus lived is the way christians should live. Jesus preached about a new law, He lived as an example for those under the new law, and He died that we might have a new law. The four gospels are all accounts of the life of the Man that gave us the New Testament.
I was reading in Rev 22:19, and I firmly believe that once saved, always saved, but I’m having a tough time figuring this verse out. What are your thoughts on it?
We wouldn’t be so quick to hold firm to the teaching “once saved, always saved”. The idea that you can’t ever lose your salvation is a warping of Christ’s message in Jhn 10:27-29. “Once saved, always saved” is a basic doctrine of Calvinism (read “Calvin And Sobs” for more details on the errors of Calvinism).
The Bible clearly says that you can lose your salvation. Heb 3:12 says that we must be wary and protect our hearts because an evil, unbelieving heart can fall away. 2 Pet 3:17 says that we can lose our salvation if we get caught up in false teaching (1 Tim 4:1 also states this). If we return to a life of ungodliness, then we crucify Christ again (Heb 6:4-6). Rev 22:19 is another great example of how our lives must be faithful unto death if we wish to receive the heavenly prize (Rev 2:10).
After Christ's sacrifice, the Old Testament law things were done away with (like circumcision and animal sacrifices), so then, why does James say to abstain from blood in Acts 15:20 and also in a letter saying the same thing in Acts 15:29 if this, too, was part of the Old Testament law? And is this after Jesus' death?
Dear Legal Trouble,
Not every Old Testament law was done away with in the New Testament. For example, murder is wrong in both the New and Old Testament (Rom 1:29, Ex 20:13). Christians are not bound to follow the Old Testament law because we are no longer under that law (Gal 3:24-25), but if an Old Testament law is repeated in the New Testament, that means the rule is applicable to christians.
The Old Testament laws concerning what could and could not be eaten can be found in Lev. 11, but there is only one type of food that christians still cannot eat – blood (Acts 15:29). When an animal is killed, some cultures will strangle the animal so as to keep the blood in the meat (as opposed to draining the blood out). Things like blood sausage, blood soup, blood stew, etc. are popular dishes in some countries, but eating them is wrong. All other food is clean for New Testament christians… Jesus said so Himself in Mk 7:19.
If baptism is required, then the criminals on the cross next to Jesus are not in heaven?
What About Those Guys?
Dear What About Those Guys,
There are four explanations for Christ’s pardon of the crucified thief in Lk 23:39-43 (He only pardoned one of them; the other one continued to hurl abuse at Jesus – Lk. 23:39). All of them fit in perfect harmony with the necessity of baptism and the New Testament teachings that salvation begins at baptism (1 Pet 3:21, Acts 2:37-38, Mk 16:16, Rom 6:3-4).
- 1. This thief may very well have been baptized by John the Baptist (Mk 1:4) or one of Jesus’ disciples (Jhn 4:1-2). We simply don’t know enough about this thief to say whether he was or wasn’t baptized. It is always faulty to build a doctrine off an assumption. To say that we don’t need to be baptized because that thief wasn’t baptized is an assumption.
- The thief was physically unable to be baptized. 2 Cor 8:12 tells us that God only holds us accountable for what we are physically able to do. That thief didn’t have the capability to get off that cross and be baptized. The argument could be made that he was excused from the law of baptism the same way that a mute man would be excused from the command to “confess Christ with your tongue” (Rom 14:11). This isn’t the best argument of the four, but it is a valid point worth considering.
- While Jesus was here on earth, He had the authority to forgive sins as He saw fit (Matt 9:6). This thief was no different than any of the other people whose sins were verbally forgiven by Christ as He walked this earth (Lk 7:48-49, Lk 5:20). Since Jesus is no longer on this earth… baptism is the only other way to have your sins removed.
- The command to be baptized for salvation is a New Testament command. Those who are baptized become a part of the church (Acts 2:41). If we are being technical (and there is a time for technicalities), the church and the New Testament law didn’t come into effect until after Jesus died and rose from the grave. Until Jesus’ death and resurrection, the laws of the Old Testament would have still been in effect. That thief wasn’t bound to the law of baptism (a New Testament law) because Jesus hadn’t yet died.
No matter which argument seems the sturdiest to you (they all have merit), the thief on the cross example doesn’t negate the necessity of baptism today.
Has God ever approved of polygamy?
Dear Double Vows,
Polygamy is never directly condemned in the Bible, but it is also never condoned . It is never treated as the standard… only the exception. There are scores of examples of monogamy being God’s preference for man:
- Adam & Eve were designed monogamously (Gen. 2:24).
- No polygamy existed until seven generations after Adam (Gen 4:19).
- Noah, the last righteous man of his day, had only one wife (Gen 7:13).
- It is a qualification for an elder (Tit 1:6).
- It is a qualification for a deacon (1 Tim 3:12).
- It is a qualification for a worthy widow (1 Tim 5:9).
- Every New Testament command for a husband or wife assumes monogamy in the commandments (Mk 10:12, 1 Cor 7:3, Eph 5:33, etc.).
- The comparison of Christ and the church to a husband and wife relies on a monogamous design for marriage (Eph 5:22-23).
- God clearly states it as His design for marriage in the New Testament (1 Cor 7:2).
On the same hand, there are multiple examples of the pitfalls of polygamy:
- Sarah and Hagar fought (Gen 16:4).
- Rachel and Leah fought over Jacob (Gen 29:30-31).
- Hannah and Penninah’s rivalry (1 Sam 1:2-6)
- Solomon’s idolatrous wives (1 Kings 11:4)
God allowed polygamy in the Old Testament because the Old Testament was a tutor designed to lead people toward a better and more permanent covenant (Gal 3:24-25). David lived in a time when God allowed polygamy even though it wasn’t His long-term preference for mankind. In the New Testament, we are told God desires for marriage to be between one man and one woman (1 Cor 7:2).