Ask Your Preacher
My daughter would like to start attending a congregation much closer to her home, but the congregation sends a small fund to another church to support a preacher in Cuba. It also has, on occasion, had ladies’ meetings at which a lunch is served. The church that she attends at present does much of the same things, except they have church sponsored pot-lucks held at the building once a month and game days on a chosen day at the building. Both of the congregations are in the liberal camp, but the first congregation has a good program for learning, strong elders, and would not pressure a person into doing anything against their own conscience. The question is, which of these two congregations would you recommend that she attend, and how would you counsel her to give of her means since she knows it is her responsibility? Thank you; she will be looking forward to hearing the answer.
Sincerely, Motherly Mother
Dear Motherly Mother,
It sounds like a no-brainer to me. You are trying to choose between two undesirable situations, so I will only respond to the question you asked. The first congregation you mentioned is:
- much closer
- less liberal
- has better elders
- has better teaching
In my opinion, that would be the best choice.
Now, concerning your question on giving: you certainly need to give as you have been prospered (1 Cor 16:2). I know nothing about the congregation you described, but I do know that there are a hundred different degrees of liberalism as well as conservatism. If you can give with a good conscience (1 Tim 1:19), then give at that congregation. If you believe your money will be used unscripturally and/or will be used to promote more unscriptural projects, then I would send my money to a congregation that would use it in harmony with the Lord's will. Perhaps that congregation would also be a better one to attend.
Is it wrong to wear gold? My grandma said it was in the Bible.
Sincerely, Girly Girl
Dear Girly Girl,
It isn’t a sin to wear gold; it is a sin to dress like a princess and act like an ogre. Make sure you clothe yourself with meekness and a quiet spirit (1 Pet 3:4-5) also. The verses that your grandmother referred to are 1 Pet 3:3 and 1 Tim 2:9. Both of these verses employ a grammatical term called an ‘ellipsis’. An ellipsis is when the writer leaves out a word in order to emphasize his point. In both of these verses, the apostles leave out the word ‘only’.
Both Paul and Peter are emphasizing how a woman shouldn’t wear fancy and expensive clothing, so she looks good on the outside while she is corrupt and ugly on the inside. What they meant is that women should not ‘only’ adorn themselves with braided hair, gold, pearls, and apparel. Otherwise, we would have to understand these verses to mean that women couldn’t braid their hair, wear gold and pearls, or even wear clothes! That certainly isn’t what God intended. What makes women beautiful isn’t the clothes that they wear - but the moral character inside of them.
I am on a quest for truth... as are so many others. Upon seeking the truth, a question hit me and has continued to taunt me in my mind.
How is it that man differentiates his will apart from God’s? There is my will, and there is God's will.
I hear VERY MANY people say, "God's will for my life is to do this and that... " Then I think, well, “If God were not part of your life, I think you would choose that same career path and life plan anyway.”
John 6:38 makes me wonder, did Jesus Himself have a will of His own apart from God’s?
Sincerely, Seeking His Will
Dear Seeking His Will,
The only way you can know God’s will is if He tells you. Many people claim to have visions from God or to ‘know in their heart that God’s will is ________’, but that is not how God communicates with us. God communicates with us through His Word (1 Cor 2:9-11). It is through hearing God’s Word that we gain an understanding of how our lives should be lived (Rom 10:17). The apostles wrote down the mystery of God’s will, so that we also can know what they knew (Eph 3:1-4). God wrote down once and for all His will for mankind in the Bible (Jude 3). The Bible contains everything that pertains to how our lives should be lived (2 Pet 1:3). The only way to know God’s will is through God’s Word – everything else is man’s opinion.
Even Jesus recognized the need to submit to God’s Word above His own. In the garden, Jesus made it clear that He did not want to die on the cross, but that He would subject His will to the Father’s (Lk 22:42). When the devil tempted Him, Jesus stated that a godly life is built upon God’s Word (Matt 4:4). Jesus Christ let God’s Word decide His future… not His own personal feelings. We must seek to imitate Christ (1 Cor 11:1). In all that we do, we must seek Bible authority. Let us go back to the Bible for our answers to all of life’s questions.
I would like your thoughts on taking a deeper look at the Holy Spirit. Sometimes I wonder to myself if enough emphasis is placed on Him. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit - all three are one, yet at the same time They are divine individuals.
1 Cor 2:9-10 says: "Things which eye has not seen and ear not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him. For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God."
Before Jesus left this earth, He said the Comforter would come, which I believe is the Word of God. By reading the Bible, the Holy Spirit guides us into all truth. What I am wondering is in our worship to God, it is easy to remember the Father and the Son, but do we at times take the Holy Spirit for granted, or is my perspective out of focus?
Sincerely, Emphatically Emphasizing
Dear Emphatically Emphasizing,
There is no doubt that we take the Holy Spirit for granted. We also take the Father and the Son for granted! Each of these individuals are distinct, and the easiest way to see this is at Jesus’ baptism. Jesus comes out of the water, the Father speaks from heaven, and the Holy Spirit descends as a dove (Matt 3:16-17). They are one in purpose but unique in roles.
Jesus came to pay the price for sins (Matt 26:28), the Father planned and has oversight of everything (Eph 1:3-4), and the Holy Spirit revealed the plan to mankind through the Bible (Jhn 14:26, Jhn 15:26).
The problem is that we pray to the Father (Lk 11:2); we remember Christ in the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor 11:24)… but what about the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit functions in a much subtler way then either the Father or Son. Look here to see our response to a question about how the Holy Spirit works.
The following is my opinion, and so please accept it as such. The Holy Spirit is emphasized less because He wishes to be emphasized less. We assume that all of the Godhead desires to be equally worshipped and praised, but that isn’t necessarily true. The Bible (written by the Holy Spirit) seems to emphasize obedience to the Father, gratitude to the Son, and trust in the providence of the Holy Spirit. Of course, They are all worthy of obedience, gratitude, and trust. However, the emphasis seems to be placed differently upon each of the Godhead. The Holy Spirit functions more behind the scenes than either the Father or the Son, therefore I believe He wants them to receive the majority of the attention. Of course, we will know for sure when we get to heaven.
I've been struggling with one particular sin, and I do my best to not indulge in it, but I keep slipping up. I'm asking for forgiveness almost every day for it (it might sound stupid, but I feel like if I don't ask for it and Jesus comes, I'm going to go to hell), and I ask God to help me be stronger, so I don't do it again, but I feel like I know I'm going to do it again, so I feel bad asking for forgiveness over and over. Should I not ask for forgiveness until I think I won’t do it anymore? Or should I keep asking for forgiveness?
Sincerely, Repeat Offender
Dear Repeat Offender,
There are two parts to your question:
- How many times can I ask for forgiveness for the same sin?
- How do I remove this sin from my life?
The answer to the first question is simple. You can ask for forgiveness an innumerable amount of times. Christ told Peter that we should forgive ‘seventy times seven’ (Matt 18:21-22). Paul was forgiven of his sins even after killing christians and actively persecuting the church (1 Tim 1:16). As often as we truly repent, God is ready to forgive (Lk 17:4). It is quite possible to truly repent of something and then find yourself doing that same thing not minutes later. It happens in arguments all the time! You say something mean, apologize, then find yourself upset again, and again use rash words. The repeating of the cycle is not necessarily an indication of false sorrow.
However, the second part of your question deals with stopping this cycle. God will forgive you for stumbling again into the same sin, but only if you are truly attempting to change your mind. Paul reminds us that we are to do everything we can to flee from the slavery to sin (Rom 6:1-2, Rom 6:12-13). Without knowing what sin you are caught up in, I can’t give specific advice, but I recommend getting help if it is as consuming as you say. Many sins can become addictions that are very hard to break. Here are some things to consider:
- Are you trying to change all on your own? God says two are stronger than one (Eccl 4:9-10). In the case of sin like pornography, many people try and struggle through it alone without seeking help because of the shame involved in it becoming known. This rarely, if ever, works. Telling someone, even just one trusted friend, and using things like Covenant Eyes accountability software can make all the difference in such circumstances.
- Are you putting yourself in compromising situations? People with drug and alcohol addictions are often tempted back into their old habits by drinking buddies or parties where drugs are made available. You may need to cut off certain people and habits from your life in order to escape that sort of sin. Remember, Christ said it would be better to remove even your own hand if it would free you from a sin (Matt 5:30).
Removing sin from our lives is a constant struggle. God is ready to forgive you ‘seventy times seven’ as you fight to defeat this sin, but you must look yourself in the mirror and make sure you are taking the steps necessary to change your life.