Ask Your Preacher
When God returns for the seven-year trial on Earth from Revelation, and they say that in order to eat, you have to get the devil’s signature… if you do that to feed your kids, do you go to hell for getting the signature, or do you still go to heaven?
For The Children
Dear For The Children,
The tribulation taught by many denominations is based off of a misinterpretation of Matthew chapter twenty-four. Matt 24 is dealing with the fall of Jerusalem and destruction of the Jewish temple that would happen in 70 AD. If we carefully pay attention to the context, Jesus is talking about the Jewish temple’s destruction, not a worldwide trial thousands of years in the future (Matt 24:1-2). Jesus specifically said that the tribulation would occur within that generation’s lifetime (Matt 24:34).
There will be a day when all the faithful are caught up to meet Christ in the heavens. The day He returns (Acts 1:11), all mankind will be judged at the same time (Jhn 5:28-29). In that great day (Jude 1:6), the whole world will be burned up with fire (2 Pet 3:10-12). There will be no post-tribulation, pre-tribulation, semi-tribulation, etc.; there will only be the great Day of Judgment (2 Pet 3:7, 1 Jn 4:17). If you would like a more in-depth look at the book of Revelation, we have a series of classes on the book that can be found at sermons.mvchurchofchrist.org.
How should Christians view the recent unrest in Iran? I know the Bible says we are supposed to honor those in authority, but does this apply even to rulers who are over another nation? Is it okay to root for the rebels?
Going further, is it okay to take action to aid the protesters in Iran? I've seen some people encouraging others to use the Internet to provide alternate ways for the Iranians to communicate despite the government's censorship efforts. Is this something a Christian can participate in?
Sincerely, Rebel Alliance
Dear Rebel Alliance,
The issue you bring up is one without a clear and easy answer, but in general, yes, it would be okay to root for the rebels and even to aid them. The Bible makes it clear that we must show respect for the government authorities that we are under (1 Pet 2:13-15). 1 Pet 2:17 says that we should “honor the king”, which would imply the king that you are under the authority of, not necessarily every king or ruler. You still need to speak well of rulers and treat them with respect because they are placed in authority by God (Rom 13:1).
The fact is, it would be impossible to be in subjection to every ruler and government because those governments often contradict each other. Soldiers are a perfect example of this. When a soldier fights in a war against another country, he is directly opposing the other government’s authority while upholding his own ruler’s wishes. Therefore, if you are an American on American soil, you aren’t subject to Iran’s ruling powers. The only exception would be if you were to visit Iran (or any country for that matter), you would be subject to its rules and regulations as a visitor of that nation. Until then, feel free to oppose the politics of another country as long as your own nation allows it.
My heart is really heavy. I live near Wichita, KS where Dr. George Tiller was murdered while attending his church. I did not agree with Dr. Tiller performing abortions, but I also don't agree with someone killing him over it. I think it is a very sad situation all the way around. I feel sorry for the congregation that was there; I feel sorry for his family; I feel sorry for the suspect’s family; I just hurt all the way around about it. Would God condone the murder of any individual, regardless of what they did? Would God want me to take matters like that in my own hands and kill someone because he needed to be stopped? Is it my place to sit and judge how he could consider himself a member of a church and provide abortions? I am just terribly confused and hurt over the whole situation. Can you please help me work through these questions and heartache?
Sincerely, Stop the Violence
Dear Stop the Violence,
Murdering babies is wrong; murdering adults is wrong (Gal 5:21). See this previous post on why Dr. Tiller was wrong. Two wrongs do not make a right. The only one who has the right to put someone to death for their crimes is the government (Rom 13:1-4). As an individual, no matter how much you despise what someone is doing, you do not have a right to punish them. Vengeance belongs to God (Rom 12:19), not man. Christ taught that individuals should endure evil in most cases (Matt 5:39-40). Abortion is murder, but no one has a right to personally inflict punishment upon any abortionist. If the government asks you to serve on a jury, you have every right to cast your vote, but until that day you must simply pray that the Lord will watch over those babies and take vengeance when He sees fit. Regardless of what someone gets away with in this life, God will not be mocked on the Day of Judgment (Gal 6:7). Both Dr. Tiller and the gunman will have to make account of their actions.