Ask Your Preacher
Hello again, and may God continue to bless you all. My question is concerning a trend in the Lord’s church and its consequences. I am having trouble concerning fellowshipping with the denominational world. I don't believe it is a good idea for the Lord’s church’s members to be thrown up together with speakers that are not Christians… i.e. at Christian youth rallies, inviting them in during Bible study, or holding breakfast with them to show our support for each other. We are to be in the world, NOT of the world. I think it shows an acceptance of their false doctrine, and waters us down… not to mention confusing our own on where we stand and why.
I don't hate the sinner, just the sin, but we need to draw the line and say, “That's it.” Thanks a lot.
There is nothing wrong with studying with people from the denominational world in hopes of converting them to the one true church of Jesus Christ (Eph 4:4-6), but it is dead wrong to support false teachers.
2 Jhn 1:10 says that we shouldn’t even give a greeting to those that are false teachers. We cannot in any way confuse people by supporting the denominational world. The denominations have left the basic teachings of Christ, and these religious leaders are destroying people’s souls. They nullify God’s laws in order to keep their traditions (Mk 7:9). Jude warned that false teachers are like hidden rocks that sink ships and shepherds that fail to protect the flock (Jude 1:12). God’s church should have no communion with the doctrines of demons (1 Tim 4:1).
I know that forgiving those who have hurt us is absolutely critical to be a follower of Jesus, but how can we know for sure if we have truly forgiven someone?
The only way to know for sure is to examine yourself – something God says we should regularly do (1 Cor 11:28). Forgiveness can often take time because we aren’t as good at it as God is, but there are a few signs that you are truly forgiving someone.
- You aren’t embittered against them (Heb 12:15). Bitterness is the product of holding grudges against someone and not letting go of your pain. If you find yourself becoming an angry and embittered person – you probably need to work on forgiveness.
- Are you trying to forget about the injury they caused? God says that forgiveness means that you no longer remember the transgression (Heb 8:12). This doesn’t mean that you have amnesia, but it means that you aren’t dwelling upon it and keeping records of injuries against you.
As we said, forgiveness can be very difficult, especially if the person has hurt you very deeply, but it is possible to grow and become a truly forgiving person.
Some passages that say God is peaceful (Rom 15:33, 1 Cor 14:33, 2 Cor 13:11, 2 Thess 3:16, Heb 13:20, and Isa 2:4). Some passages say that God is a warlord (Psa 18:34, Exo 15:3, Psa 24:8, 2 Sam 22:35, Psa 144:1, and Joel 3:9-10). So how am I to understand both set of Scriptures when one talks of peace and the other talks of war?
Dear Character Building,
God says that we should be at peace with all men as much as it depends on us (Rom 12:18). It takes two to have peace, and even the greatest peacemakers must be prepared for war when others seek to destroy and commit evil. God is that perfect peacemaker that desires good things for all but is unafraid to punish the wicked (Rom 12:19). If God were unwilling to protect the righteous from evil, there would be no peace (Pr 17:15). However, God knows how to both protect the righteous and vanquish the unrighteous (2 Pet 2:9).
It has always been my understanding that if we die in sin without asking for forgiveness beforehand, we go to hell. For example, if I've lived in obedience to God all my life, but on the day I die I sinned and didn’t ask God for forgiveness, I'd go to hell. Is that right? Now I look at it, and it seems like I'm counting on my righteousness to gain entry into heaven. If a believer sins (as we sometimes do) and dies without asking for forgiveness beforehand, does he/she go to hell?
The Last Word
Dear The Last Word,
Your confusion is a common one because the Bible never explicitly states what happens to the sins that we didn’t specifically ask for forgiveness for. There is no specific verse that deals with this issue; instead, we must look at some of the concepts that are scattered throughout the Scriptures.
- Jesus is our Advocate (1 Jhn 2:1-3). Jesus is our High Priest, and He mediates between us and God (1 Tim 2:5). Jesus wants to intercede for your sins, and He desires to help you get into heaven.
- God doesn’t desire anyone to be separated from Him (2 Pet 3:9). No one will ever accidentally go to hell, and no one will accidently miss out on heaven because they didn’t have an opportunity to pray for forgiveness right before they died. God is ready and willing to forgive (Ps. 86:5).
- God expects our obedience, and all forgiveness is dependent upon our willingness to draw near to Him with obedient hearts (1 Pet 1:14). The Bible says that our obedience to Him purifies our souls. God forgives the faithful and obedient servant (Heb 10:38).
- John paints a beautiful picture for us in 1 Jhn 1:7 by saying, “If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” The word ‘walk’ means ‘to live continually’, and whenever we have that relationship but we accidentally sin, the blood of Jesus continually cleanses us of our sins.
When you consider all of these concepts, the truth on the subject becomes evident; we are forgiven as we ask for forgiveness, and God gives grace in those times when we are unable or ignorant to ask for it. So continue to ask and pray for forgiveness, but you can also have peace that God’s grace will protect your soul as you do your best to live faithfully.
A lot of people I know believe some people should be killed for their crimes, even crimes such as stealing but especially killing. But I was wondering, would God punish us for killing someone else that did wrong? I believe so, but what does the Bible say on it?
Do No Harm
Dear Do No Harm,
God authorizes governments to punish its citizens as it deems fit. God has given governments the ‘sword of terror’ to bring wrath down upon evildoers (Rom 13:3-4). God allowed the government of Israel to stone criminals (Lev 20:27) for various acts of wickedness against man and God. Stoning definitely would count as capital punishment!
Government authority and individual authority are different things, though. God tells us that we aren’t to take vengeance upon ourselves (Rom 12:18-19), but instead, we are to do good to our enemies (Rom 12:20). We are to turn the other cheek (Matt 5:39) and go the extra mile with people (Matt 5:41). The government has the right to punish ‘an eye for an eye’, but we as individuals do not (Matt 5:38-39).