Ask Your Preacher
My aunt is on a respirator. She isn't getting enough oxygen into her lungs and cannot breathe on her own. They have put her in a drug-induced coma while they try to figure out what is wrong with her. They are now worried that there was not enough oxygen to the brain, and she could be either brain damaged or brain dead. If they take her off the breathing machine now, she will die. We are all holding on to hope and praying that she will be healed and recover. But the doctors seem to have given up all hope. My question is: is her soul already gone? When does the soul leave the body? He heart is still beating, and all her organs are still working; to us she is still alive. But if the machine is doing the breathing for her, is she already in heaven?
Sincerely, Concerned Niece
Dear Concerned Niece,
Only God knows for sure when the soul leaves the body, but you can be confident that God is in control. We can’t perceive the moment the soul leaves someone’s body (Eccl 3:21). It is a scary thing to watch a loved one’s body deteriorate, but God makes sure that the angels escort the spirit of the faithful into Paradise when they die (Lk 16:22).
And that is the defining term, ‘die’ – when do we die? As technology increases, we are having to constantly redefine when a person is dead. It used to be that when someone stopped breathing, they were considered dead – but now we can resuscitate them. Then it was when the heart stopped; that became the new definition of ‘dead’ until the defibrillator came along. Currently, the most accepted definition of ‘dead’ is when there is no longer any brain or organ function. I say all this just to tell you that doctors themselves struggle with the problem of “when is someone dead?”.
Having said all that, if there is still any doubt in the doctors’ minds, then I would think of your aunt as still alive. She is breathing (with assistance), her organs are functioning, and they are assuming she still has brain activity. Her situation is very perilous, but she is still alive. Since she is alive, her soul is still in her. May God comfort and care for her and your family in this difficult time.
5 minutes a day 5 days a week All the New Testament in a year
My question is in regards to a vision… or what I think was a vision. July 2007, I began dating a guy who was once a believer, says he loves God, and will get right again someday. By December 2007, God began speaking to me, and I believe gave me a vision. I found out he had been diagnosed with AIDS in 2006 and almost died. However, God spared him, and he now has no trace of even HIV. So, shortly after finding this out, I was talking to his sister on the phone. It seems like it was all in the blink of an eye, but I remember so much color, feeling, etc. I remember more details of that split second than any dream I've ever had. I rarely dream, so it was odd to have gotten that much so fast. It was like I was a third person. I could see the back of what was me (even though I couldn't see my face, I knew it was me), and he was standing at a pulpit with a microphone. He was in front of a large church, and I remember the lights were so bright, the church reminded me of my own (only larger), and I can recall the color of the carpet, what he was wearing, what I was wearing, and that there were other people around us. All he said was, "My wife stuck beside me even though it could have cost her her life." Then he looked at me, and it was done. God also began to tell me “2-3 months”, and I knew that He meant we would be apart for a time. God told me that I needed to work on me and just be an example to him. I've known and heard this since December 2007. We are at that point now, and now I am questioning whether that was a vision from God and whether I really heard “2-3 months” all this time. I just can't help but question it and am having a hard time with my faith now because I don't know if it was a vision or my imagination. Any insight would be much appreciated. Thank you so much!
Sincerely, Minding My Mind
Dear Minding My Mind,
God doesn’t give us visions and prophecies today. What you had, though vivid, was purely from your own mind. The whole purpose of prophecies and visions was to bring God’s teachings to mankind (Heb 1:2). Today, we have all of God’s teachings (Jude 3, 2 Pet 1:3).
There was a time when prophecy and other miraculous abilities were necessary. As the New Testament was being completed, congregations needed prophets to tell them what had not yet been written down, but when the New Testament was completed, there was no longer a need for those miracles. Paul explained this concept to the Corinthians in 1 Cor 13:8-10. Prophecy (and visions, which are a form of prophecy) was a temporary thing until ‘the perfect’, the complete Word of God, came.
Think of it this way, if God has given us everything that we need to know in His Word – what would be the point of another vision? A vision would either alter what God had already said, which God says will never happen (Gal 1:8), or it will only repeat a teaching you can already find in the Bible! I have no doubt that your waking dream was exceptionally vivid and impressive to you, but it wasn’t from God.
5 minutes a day 5 days a week All the New Testament in a year
How do you feel about letting the Pastor know that some people he has in leadership - worship leading and youth group - are drinking alcohol on the side while posting their publicly drunken pictures on the internet? Would it be wrong to bring this to his attention? I might add that this couple is in the "Pastor’s clique." This has been something breaking my soul, knowing that these people have been on stage lifting their hands, praising God on Sunday, and teaching impressionable teens who have access to these pictures -- then they are in bars and at parties on Saturday night. Am I sinning knowing it's happening and saying nothing? Pastors shouldn't even have "circles or cliques", right? Please pray and help. I am broken.
Sincerely, Caught In The Middle
Dear Caught In The Middle,
Yes, you must say something about it. For the sake of addressing the main purpose of your question and not getting distracted, we aren’t going to deal with the issue that your congregation is led by a single pastor, but we recommend you read “Elders” to better understand the problem of a congregation being led by one man. After that, ask your pastor where in the Bible he can find an example of a congregation being led by a single pastor.
Back to the topic, though. Your specific question dealt with whether or not to say something when you know someone else is sinning. If you know there is sin in your congregation, you must address it. Paul condemned the Corinthians because they allowed someone to flagrantly live a life of sin and remain amongst them (1 Cor 5:1-2). God tells us that if our brother sins, we must confront him privately (Matt 18:15). If that doesn’t work, bring one or two others with you and confront him again (Matt 18:16). If that still doesn’t work – bring it to the leadership of the congregation, and if he still won’t repent, then the congregation is to withdraw from him (Matt 18:17). You have a responsibility to make the sin known for the sake of the person’s soul and for the sake of the spiritual health of the others that they influence.
Some sins we commit when we act the wrong way, and sometimes we sin because we failed to act. If you know someone is openly sinning (and especially if you have evidence, like in your case), you must act. God requires it of you, and if the congregation won’t act as God intends… I recommend reading “Finding A Church”.