Ask Your Preacher
Do animals go to heaven… like, when Elisha flew to heaven in a fiery chariot, wouldn’t a horse pull the chariot? And when Jesus comes back, won't He be riding on a horse that came from heaven?
Dear Horse Whisperer,
Any horse that could pull a chariot that is on fire and flying through the sky isn’t a “horse” in the traditional sense, and Rev 19:11’s reference to Jesus on a white horse is symbolic just like the rest of the book. The white horse represents purity, not necessarily a physical steed.
Animals don’t go to heaven. Animals are a blessing from God (Gen 1:26). Animals have the “breath of life” just like humans do (Gen 2:7, Gen 6:17). This “breath of life” is also sometimes referred to as the “spirit” of a man or animal (Gen 7:22). Animals have spirits, and humans have spirits, but humans were also made in the image of God (Gen 1:26). Our spirits are eternal and will go up to be with the Father, and animal spirits are temporary and will return to the dust of the earth (Eccl 3:21). God made our spirit of a different caliber than He made those of the animal.
If I sin does God still love me?
I Made A Mistake
Dear I Made A Mistake,
The Lord loves people but hates sin. God tells us it is appropriate to be happy when evil is destroyed because it means righteousness is prevailing (Pr 28:28), but God also says that it pains Him when the wicked perish (Ezek 18:23). God loves us so much that He sent His own Son to die for our sins (Jhn 3:16), but He hates sin so much that if we don’t take advantage of the forgiveness that is in Christ, God will separate Himself from us (Lk 13:27). When we sin, God wants us to repent of that sin and come to Christ that we might be saved. Read “Five Steps To Salvation” for what it takes to become a Christian and have your sins removed.
How do I know if I am attending the "right" church?
Dear Purposefully Picky,
Look for a church that is trying to follow the New Testament pattern as closely as possible. A congregation doesn’t need to be full of perfect people, but they need to be trying to faithfully follow God’s Word and not their own ideologies. The following are a few markers of what you should find in every church that is faithful to Christ’s Word:
- Their name should be Biblical. Church of Christ (Rom 16:16), the church (Acts 14:27), church of God (1 Cor 1:2), the Way (Acts 24:14) – all of these are Biblical names given to a local congregation. Having the right name on the front of the building doesn’t mean they are the right church, but if they can’t even get their name from the Bible, they probably aren’t worth wasting your time on.
- Their doctrine should be a copy of the New Testament (Acts 2:42). Any creeds, ‘statements of faith’, articles of belief, manuals, or handbooks are from man and not from God. You want a congregation that uses the Bible to decide their practices.
- They are autonomous. Every congregation of the New Testament had independence. Only local elders were over them (1 Pet 5:1-2, Acts 14:23). They were bound to follow Christ as their only head (Eph 5:23). No boards or committees, no headquarters in some other state, no popes or potentates – what you are looking for is a local body of believers which is accountable to Christ and His Word.
- The church’s work should be simple. The church of the first century wasn’t involved in every community and political arena. Their work was focused on three things – caring for needy christians (Acts 4:34), preaching to the lost, and teaching the saved (Acts 15:35). Find a congregation who is committed to being about Christ’s work.
- They should be open to examination. Any congregation that is serving Christ should be willing to explain why they do what they do. They should be willing to be examined because they are constantly examining themselves (2 Cor 13:5). There is nothing wrong with asking a congregation where their practices can be found in the New Testament. Ask questions and expect Bible answers for them.
These five things are by no means all of the characteristics of Christ’s church, but this should help narrow down your options significantly. Most people accept mediocrity from their church; don’t do that. It is unfair to expect the people of a congregation to be perfect… you will never find perfect humans. However, you should demand intellectual honesty and Biblical faithfulness from any congregation you want to be a member of. If you would like additional help as you look for a faithful congregation in your area, please email us at email@example.com and we would be happy to help you look.
Is it mandatory to attend church to be saved?
The Bible teaches that we shouldn’t forsake the assembly (Heb 10:24-25). God designed the church so that each individual would be strengthened by the power of the whole (Eph 4:16). God never wanted christians to try and serve Him without the support of a local church; that is why He commanded the church to assemble. It is impossible to do God’s work without being a part of a local church. If you would like help finding a faithful congregation in your area, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Should churches remain tax-exempt?
It certainly is a blessing from God that churches are tax-exempt in the United States, but the Lord’s people will accept whatever circumstances come our way if that ever changes. Christians have existed in lands that were favorable and ones that weren’t. In either case, Christ tells us to “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s” (Lk 20:22-25). Christians are commanded to pay their taxes, and therefore, a local church would accept the same responsibility if need be (Rom 13:7). After all, faithful churches in the U.S. already pay sales tax on consumables that they purchase for their use (from paper towels to copy paper). Whatever happens, the church will still be doing the Lord’s will and preaching His Bible.