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Showing posts from November, 2011

Forgiveness

Q: Do you have to forgive even if someone doesn't ask or say they're sorry?

A: The short answer to this question is: Yes.

A study on the command to Christians to forgive throughout the New Testament is both interesting and fruitful. To take a survey of the teaching on forgiveness, we see that the New Testament is explicit that forgiveness should be extended (at the very least) every time someone asks for it:

Then Peter came and said to Him, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. When he had begun to settle them, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment t…

Why Do We Need To Pray?

Q: If God knows what we need and when we need it, and he knows everything we think about, why do we need to pray?

A: This is a very interesting question!

There are a number of different elements to this: a theology of prayer; a discussion on the character of God as our provider; the theology of Divine Omniscience; and also the tension between Divine Sovereignty and Human freedom.

However, at the very heart of this question (at least as it is worded) is the relationship between God and Man. Quite simply: we don’t need to pray. We get to pray! This is an awesome reality that most of us fail to truly understand.

We need to take a moment to realize that our ideas and conceptions of God (who He really is) fall woefully short of the reality. This is an understatement. The box that we have God in is not sufficient or worthy of Him … but in some ways it is necessary because our finite minds can never fully contain nor comprehend the infinite God who lives and reigns.

Still, we must try to wr…

Front Vs. Back of the Church

Q: There seems to be a feeling that the front of the church has a greater value than the pew we set in for prayer and worship. Is there a difference? It disturbs me that some like to go to the front of the church to worship, which I think causes God to disregard their worship and may cause less of a presence of God in the service.

A: In the Old Testament, we see much significance invested in particular “places” of worship. These places were significant because of the manifest presence of God. A few noteworthy examples: Jacob and his dream (Genesis 28:16-22), Moses and the burning bush (Exodus 3:1-9), on Mount Sinai (Exodus 19:18-25), the Tent of Meeting (Exodus 33:7-11), the Tabernacle (Exodus 40:34-38), and the Temple (1 Kings 9:1-5).

One of the most significant realities of the New Testament is that God no longer “dwells” in tabernacles made by human hands but in the “temple” of His people (see Acts 17:24-25 and 1 Corinthians 6:19). Jesus explains this when talking with the woman at…

Should We Worship in Secret?

Q: Shouldn’t our prayer, giving, serving, and worship of God be primarily done in secret while recognizing that there are times we jointly do it? Does God in a sense turn his back to our prayer and worship if we do otherwise? When individually or jointly doing it we should not be zealous so that we let others see we are zealous. I heard a sermon once about not being a Pharisee as they liked to let men see that they prayed and worshiped God. For some references I use Mt 5:3 and 5, Mt 6:3 and 5, and Mt 23.

A: One of the biggest misunderstandings about Christianity is that it is a religion about “externals.” In reality, the Scriptures are much less concerned about what we do than who we are. It’s easy to flip through the pages of the Bible and point to passages that refer to our external conduct and say, “See! Christianity is all about what we do!”

It cannot be denied that the Bible talks about our conduct. However, we shouldn’t miss that who we are has a real and significant impact on w…

Why Didn't God Make Everybody Loving?

Q: I was wondering why God didn’t make all people loving, like there’s no hatred or meanness. Every one’s loving and caring so no one goes to hell. That just popped in my mind. Please answer back!

A: The simple answer to this question is that God did make all people good originally. Of course, this is not what we experience in our everyday lives. While the idea of an everlasting Hell where real people go to endure never-ending, conscious punishment and torment for their sins is controversial in some circles (being challenged in new ways by people both within and without the church), surely no one can argue about the reality that some people are just plain hateful and mean (again, both within and without the church!).

So, if God made everyone good and this is not what we experience when we look around God’s creation, then what happened?

A good place to start is at the Beginning. In Genesis 1 and 2 we see the record of the Creation event, and God declares everything that He has made to …

Broken Hearts

Q: In the New Testament, we see that Jesus regularly healed physical ailments (e.g., leprosy, blindness, paraplegia, etc.), he healed demon possession (i.e., by casting them out), and he even healed (restored) life to a corpse (e.g., Lazarus). Why did we never see Jesus heal 'heart issues’? We know from Scripture that God can harden hearts (e.g., Pharaoh) for his glory. Can He soften them? Can He change them? Can Jesus mend a 'broken' heart?

A: Any time we attempt to answer a question that Scripture does not explicitly answer itself, we need to be cautious. This is a question of that type. What follows is my best guess (!) – I can’t claim to know for certain why the biblical authors never recorded the healing of ‘heart issues,’ but I can speculate! :)

If we focus our attention on the miracles of Jesus, we don’t witness much “internal healing.” While emotional ailments are very real (e.g. depression, ‘broken’ hearts, etc.), the main thrust of Jesus’ healing ministry relates…

Judging Angels

Q: I told [my son] yesterday about Satan starting off as an angel and that he and the other angels are "fallen angels" and told him the story of what happened. Today I was telling him that scripture tells us that we will judge angels in heaven and he said "you mean the fallen angels?" My first thought was no but I thought I would ask which angels and for what will we be judging them?

A: The Scriptural reference to the saints judging angels in heaven is in 1 Corinthians 6:

Does any one of you, when he has a case against his neighbor, dare to go to law before the unrighteous and not before the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? If the world is judged by you, are you not competent to constitute the smallest law courts? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life? So if you have law courts dealing with matters of this life, do you appoint them as judges who are of no account in the church? I say this to you…