Ask Your Preacher

Ask Your Preacher

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Whose Servant?

Friday, February 07, 2020
     The New Testament gives qualifications for men to serve the local congregation as elders and as deacons.  If there are men qualified to serve as deacons but there is not a plurality of men qualified to serve as elders, should the congregation ask men to serve as deacons when there are no elders?

Sincerely,
Deacon Dilemma

Dear Deacon Dilemma,

No elders means no deacons.  A deacon without an eldership is a servant without someone to serve.  Deacons are servants of the church.  The word ‘deacon’ comes from the Greek word ‘diakonos’ which literally means ‘servant’.  The deacons who meet the qualifications of 1 Tim. 3:8-13 are a specific type of servant in the church – they serve the eldership (Php 1:1).  Deacons are given authority by the elders to oversee various responsibilities within the church.  These responsibilities might be building maintenance, the treasury, benevolence, etc. – whatever tasks the elders need help doing are the tasks deacons are to fulfill.

Laws From Above

Thursday, February 06, 2020
    Can you explain what's going on in John 20:22-23 where Jesus appears to give His disciples the power to forgive or not forgive sins?  Other Bible verses like Hebrews 4:16 and 1 John 1:9 seem to indicate that it is God who directly forgives sins.

Sincerely,
Got The Power?

Dear Got The Power,

The passage in Jhn 20:23 is more easily understood when we look at the original Greek.  It is very rare that going back to the Greek is a big deal, but in this case, it adds a lot of color.  When Jesus says, “Whatever sins you retain, they are retained”, the verb used for ‘are retained’ is a Greek perfect verb.  A perfect verb is a verb used when the action has already happened and the effects of that action are still with us.  The most accurate translation of that passage is “whatever sins you retain have already been retained, and the effects are still with us”.  Of course, that translation is a little bit cludgy, so most translators shorten it up a bit to what you read in the average translation.  It isn’t wrong to shorten it, but it does lose a little bit of the color that makes it easier to appreciate Jesus’ words.
Jesus was telling His apostles that they were going to be guided by the Holy Spirit, and the things that they were going to say wouldn’t be of their own opinion.  When they taught, they taught God’s pre-appointed laws.

To The Water

Wednesday, February 05, 2020
      Would you say that baptism is necessary for going to heaven?  If so, do you think that if you're unable to get baptized for whatever reason but you've had a change of heart that you will still go to hell?

Sincerely,
Double-Checking Destinations

Dear Double-Checking Destinations,

The most well-documented and clearest doctrine in the New Testament is baptism… yet, it is also the most commonly ignored topic in the religious world.  Peter said it best when he said, “Baptism saves you” (1 Pet 3:21).  Every person that became a christian in the New Testament was baptized – immediately.  You won’t find a single person in the book of Acts that wasn’t baptized.  When the first sermon was preached after Christ ascended into heaven, the apostles told the people that they needed to “repent and be baptized… for the remission of their sins” (Acts 2:38).  Paul tells us that baptism is a burial with Christ, and only after that burial do we receive a new life (Rom 6:3-4).  Baptism was so important to Paul that he was baptized even before eating or drinking (Acts 9:18-19), which shows how important it is because Paul hadn’t had food or water in three days (Acts 9:9)!  Belief is not enough; even the demons believe in God (Jas 2:19).  It is only when our belief is combined with obedience that we have living faith (Jas 2:17-18), and the very first command to obey that God gives us is to be baptized in the name of His Son (Matt 28:19, Mk 16:16).  We die to sin when we are baptized.
Now, let’s quickly deal with the second part to your question.  The only way you can know with confidence that you are saved is to do what the Bible says (Rom 1:16).  If God chooses to make exceptions to that rule on the Judgment Day, that is His right… He is the final Judge (Heb 12:23).  However, 99.99% of us have the ability to get baptized, so that is what we should do.

Church Politics

Tuesday, February 04, 2020
My family and I go to a small Baptist church.  One deacon didn't like the preacher even though the congregation loved him.  The deacon didn't like the way the preacher walked back and forth across the pulpit, and the preacher was too emotional when he gave testimony.  Our preacher resigned, and we lost over half the congregation because of it.  My two kids and one other are the only children there now.  My husband won't go back because he thinks it is corrupt now.  I asked him if we can go visit other churches, and he said, “Why?  If one is corrupt, they all are.”  How can I convince him they are not all corrupt?  I want to keep my family in church.  I don't know what to do.  My kids are getting where they don't want to go on Wednesday night now because they are the only kids there.

Sincerely,
Grasping At Straws

Dear Grasping At Straws,

There are congregations all around the country that aren't corrupted by denominationalism, personal opinions, or traditions.  Our recommendation is that you show our article "Down With Denominationalism" to your husband and read it together.  There are so many problems with modern religion, and it all comes down to opinions being placed above Scripture.  When we leave the Bible pattern, all sorts of chaos and trouble ensues (2 Tim 1:13).  The church is supposed to be the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Tim 3:15), but most churches have become places for petty arguments or the latest worship fad.

We know of congregations all over that reject this philosophy and really do put the Bible first.  It may be hard for your husband to believe because he has seen so much of the opposite, but it is true.  Just because there are lots of bad mechanics doesn't mean that you stop driving a car – just because there are lots of bad churches doesn't mean we can give up on the Lord.  Comb through past articles on our site, and you'll see that we do our very best to always give book, chapter, and verse for what we do.  Our congregation isn't alone, and if you want, we can help you find one near you that has the same attitude.  Feel free to e-mail us at askyourpreacher@mvchurchofchrist.org with any further questions or if we can help you locate a church.

Done For

Monday, February 03, 2020
     How do we know when miraculous works/healings ceased?

Sincerely,
Under-Powered

Dear Under-Powered,

The Scriptures talk about the miraculous ability to speak in different languages (Acts 2:4-6), prophetic wisdom (Jhn 14:26), and a host of other things.   The gifts of the Holy Spirit were given to the apostles (Acts 2:1-4), and the apostles were able to pass on these gifts to others by laying their hands on them (Acts 8:18).  The apostles were the only ones with the ability to pass on the gifts.  Therefore, when the last person that the last living apostle laid hands on died… the gifts ceased to exist.  God intended for this to happen.

Miracles were needed to prove that Jesus and His apostles were sent from God (Acts 14:3, Acts 2:22, Jhn 9:16).  Miracles were used as a proof that what the disciples said was truly God’s Word (Acts 8:6).  Now that we have the perfect and complete Bible, we no longer need those miracles – which was Paul’s point in 1 Corinthians.  When the “perfect” of 1 Cor 13:8-10 happened, the church no longer needed miracles to further the message of Christ.  After the Bible was completed, the church was able to fully see God’s message of salvation (1 Cor 13:12) without further need of prophecies and miracles.

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