The Pastors Answer
Visitors to our website send questions to Ask the Pastor daily. Here are answers to some of our visitors' questions from the pastors of Historic Trinity.
Q. I have have had something very traumatic happen to me. A three year old child that I have been babysitting just died. He had cancer. I would like to know why this could happen? He did nothing wrong. He influenced so many peoples lives. I have been asked because I am a Christian why a loving God would do this and I have no reply. I personally am not sure. I hope you can help me.
Q. Is Jesus kin to King David through Mary or Joseph? And how could it be through Joseph?
Q. What is difference in being baptized in name of Jesus, or being baptized in the Name of the Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit?
There is no reason to conclude that all baptizing in the New Testament was by immersing. All that the Bible requires is the use of water. How it is applied is not stipulated (Acts 22:16). It is doubtful that the people in the jailer's family were immersed at home in the middle of the night; it is more probable that a bowl of water was provided and that the water was applied either by sprinkling or pouring. The fact that Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River does not imply that he was immersed; he might have just stooped over and had the water poured on his head. We simply cannot insist which method is commanded in the Bible. The idea of sprinkling may come from Hebrews 10:22.
Infants were undoubtedly baptized from the very beginning. Whole families were baptized in Acts 16:15 and Acts 16:33. We baptize them because Jesus said to make disciples of all nations by baptizing them (Matthew 28:19) and did not stipulate a certain age requirement.
I hope this helps. Blessings. Rev. Ron G.
Q. What is the relationship between Jesus Christ and a Christian today?
That is why God sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to overcome sin and the power of Satan, and is not preparing heaven for us. Jesus obeyed the Ten Commandments perfectly for us. He suffered and died on the cross instead of us. By believing that He did all this for you, His perfection becomes yours, your sins are forgiven, Satan can no longer control you and you and all believers will go to heaven.
When Jesus rose on Easter Day, this proves that God has accepted the suffering and death of His Son as full payment for the sins committed by everyone; that what Jesus taught is true; that Jesus is the Son of God; that all believers will be with Him in heaven.
What does this mean today? There is an ancient Christian prayer with the words, "To know Him (Jesus), is to love Him, to love Him is to serve Him." Learn of Him by reading of Him in the four Gospels- Matthew, Mark, Luke & John. Love Him with your heart, soul and mind. Worship Him in church and at home. Pray to Him without ceasing. Share the Good News of salvation with your friends and neighbors. Imitate His life by helping the sick, hungry, thirsty, imprisoned, lonely, and unclothed. And be thankful that by the grace of God, He has called you out of spiritual darkness into the bright light of His salvation. Blessings. Rev. John.
Q. What do you think about the separation of church and state ?
Q. What do you tell someone who believes in evolution because he says it's "factual" and can be proven?
Q. Please talk about "God" in the Old Testament.
In the giving of the commandments God reaveals Himself as "the Lord (Jahweh) your God (Elohim)," Similarly in Hosea 12:9 it is "the Lord (Jahweh) your God (Elohim)." Thus the Israelites accepted God's revelation that their God was Jahweh. You might read also Exodus chapters 3 and 34.
The form of "El" that regularly occurs in the Old Testament is plural, "Elohim." However, this is most often used in a singular sense. Note that the verbs with "Elohim" are usually singular. This is known, of course, as the "plural of majesty" and is plural in form only, not in meaning. So it is Jahweh, your "God." The name might be related to the "El" of the Canaanites, but in the Old Testament "Elohim" is the God revealed as Jahweh. This is what ministers should tell their "followers."
The New Testament reveals to us that this Jahweh is the Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, as we can see from Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:13; and the Gospel of John.
If you wish to read more about this, you might check in a church library or church college library and look up in The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible (or other Bible dictionary), under the category of "God, names of."
What is most thrilling is to know that through Jesus Christ, God cares for each of us, has forgiven us all our sins, and will love us now and forever. May God bless you as you continue to search the Scriptures and find Jesus as Savior and Lord. Peace. Rev. Kieth
Q. How do you receive God's Biblical Word with humility and confidence despite the inclusion in Sacred Scripture of some commands that are very difficult to understand and apply
The Law of God was unable to bring God's life to us, says St. Paul in Romans 8: 2-4. Only what Jesus Christ did brings God's life to us. The revelation of God which the Law is is fulfilled only through Christ. What the Law requires is even fulfilled in us by the power of the Spirit, in us who are in Christ (Note Romans 6:4 concerning our Baptism that unites us with Christ and enables us to live like Jesus.)
In Romans 10:4 St. Paul even says that Christ is the end (or goal) of the Law for us in Christ, as far as righteousness is concerned. Christ supplies for us who are baptized into Him the goal of the Law, righteousness and life. It is faith in Christ, not our perception of or obedience to the Law that saves us and is the center of our focus. Still, all of Scripture was written for our instruction (Romans 15:4); the Law is good (Romans 7:12) and is upheld through God's gift of Christ (Romans 3:31).
Now then, through faith in Jesus Christ we receive the "mind of Christ"(1 Corinthians 2:16). St. Paul tells us to use our (Christ-) minds to discern the will of God for us (Romans 12:2). This we can do by the power of the Spirit of Christ (please read carefully Romans 8: 5-11, 13-14). Through Christ we are enlightened and can understand what the perfect will of God for us is.
Thank God, our analytical faculties have been so brightened that we can search the Scriptures to see what God has done for us and asks us to do. There is no "respite" for us from the "burden" of using analytical thought to find out exactly what the Bible is saying to us. Luther says that we should study hard to learn the language and the historical situation of every part of the Bible, of every time in which God revealed His will to His people. Luther says that when we do this, we come to understand that some passages of Scripture, though indeed they are the Word of God, were meant only for God's people in a certain time or situation, like some of the ceremonial commands which are obviously not necessary since Jesus Christ came into the world to be the one and only sacrifice for all of the sins of the entire world (Read Hebrews 10: 10-14).
I have been priviileged to be able to spend much of my life in the analytical search of the Bible and to see, through faith in Christ, how God spoke through various language forms to His people in various situations.Taking up the burden of difficult reading and study of the Bible by the prompting of the Spirit has led me, not to doubt the Bible, but to receive it all with thanksgiving as the Divine truth for us and our salvation.
I hope that this will be true for you also. May you have a blessed celebration of Christ's Advent! Peace. Rev. Kieth
Q. What does the Bible say about being a pastor?
Read Ezekiel chapter 34 to find a description of God as the Shepherd of His people. Then read John chapter 10, and 1 Peter 2:25 to find Jesus described as the Good Shepherd. In the early church "shepherd" (or "pastor') was used to refer to leaders of congregations (see for instance, The Letter of Ignatius to the Romans, 9:1). This use of (under) "shepherd" (in English, "pastor") has become widespread to describe leaders of Christian congregations.
The authority to serve as pastor is given with the Word of God. Jesus told his disciples to go and make disciples, preaching the gospel and teaching His Word to all the world (Matthew 28: 19-20). In John 20: 21-23 Jesus gives His disciples the authority to forgive sins. In Romans 10:15 is the command to preach the gospel. St. Paul indicates that Christian leaders (including pastors) are given authority to minister with the gifts that the Spirit of God supplies (see Ephesians 4:11; Romans 12: 3-8; 1 Corinthians 12: 4-11). These gifts are given to be used for others, and confer no special status on the pastor other than that which fellow Christians (a congregation) ask God to give. The gift of being a pastor is the call from Christ to follow Him and serve God's people, the beautiful responsibility of putting God's gifts to work for the church of Jesus Christ.
The proper attitude for the pastor is to lovingly serve others. St. Paul uses ordinary words to describe his ministry, including to labor, toil, work and to serve (See for instance 1 Corinthians 3: 5-11; 1 Thessalonians 2:9; 3:5; 5:12; Philippians 2: 16; 2:25; 4:3; Colossians 1: 29; 1 Corinthians 16: 10 and Romans 16:3.)
May God bless you as you search the Scriptures, knowing that for the sake of the life, suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God has forgiven you all your sin and invites you to trust Him in sure faith forever. Blessings. Rev. Kieth.
Q. What happens when we die?
First, as you know, the Bible says that our souls return to God, our Father (Luke 23:46).
Second, all the dead will be raised on the last day for the final judgment (John 5:28).
Third, after this body dies, we will have a new and glorified body, so that we will never be without a body (2 Corinthians 5:1,2).
My best attempt to explain this is that when our bodies die, we leave time and enter eternity. In eternity, the resurrection and judgment are already occurring and we immediately participate. For those living in time, it is still in the future. Even if this doesn't help you, you can be assured that in Christ, the next thing that you will know after your body dies is that you will be with the Lord in heaven (Philippians 1:23).
I hope this helps. Blessings. Rev. Ron G.
Q. Could you please discuss sin, how Jesus died for our sins, and recommend books for me to study.
You said that sometimes you question the idea of sin. We all sin, in that we fall short of living according to the good plans that God our Father has in mind for us. St. Paul calls this falling short of the glory of God, God's glory is His powerful presence in our universe and in our lives. St. John says that we should not deceive ourselves into thinking that we don't sin (1 John 1:8). None of us do as well as we ought with the wonderful gifts that God has provided for us. I am responsible for not serving God or other people as well as God wants me to. I sin.
Yes, Jesus died for our sins. That was God's plan to solve the problem of my failure. Through Jesus death and resurrection my sins are all forgiven; moreover, I am also thus given the power to do better. This means that I can find meaning and purpose in the universe and in my personal life. In this connection read 2 Corinthians 5: 18-19. Of course, God could have arranged for the forgiveness of sins in any way that God chose. The picture of Jesus' dying on the cross makes clear that there is a penalty for sinning. Amazingly, God pays the penalty Himself. God, in the person of the Son of God, Himself died to reconcile us to God and to each other.
Jesus is not a son of God in the way that a human being can think of himself or herself to be a child of God. Please read Colossians 1: 15-20. Jesus is THE Son of God, in whom the fullness of God was present in the world.
Christianity feeds on the Bible. To be sure, it was written long ago. But it is the greatest Book ever written. In the words of human beings God reveals Himself. Please read 2 Timothy 3: 15-16: The Bible is inspired by God and gives us faith in Jesus Christ, so that our lives are salvaged. The Bible's message corrects our thinking and helps us grow up into God's rightness for us. Please read also the Gospel of John, chapter 20, verses 30-31. The message of Jesus' mighty words and works leads us to believe that Jesus is the Christ, God's Son who gives us LIFE! And in Romans 15:4 we read that the Bible gives us encouragement and hope. The way to be convinced of these blessings of the Bible is to read and study the Bible more and more. I have had many questions about the Bible. The more I have read the Bible the more my questions have been resolved, and the more I love the Bible as the great treasury of God's good Word for us.
You asked about other books to read. You may find in a church library one of these two old favorites of mine: C. S. Lewis, MERE CHRISTIANITY; or, J. B. Philips, PLAIN CHRISTIANITY. If you would like to have book titles on particular subjects, please get in touch with us again. God bless you in your searching, and reading of the Bible.. Peace. Rev. Kieth
Q. Describe the significance of Covenant in the Old Testament and its relevance for today.
The New Testament Covenant contain the following points. We are saved from sin, death, and damnation, by grace through faith in the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. Only the moral law applies to the New Testament believer who can obey it only imperfectly. The kingdom of believers is eternal beginning with faith and continuing in heaven throughout eternity. Baptism is the New Testament sign of the covenant. Peace. Rev. John
Q. What if someone has trouble believing in the divine authorship of the Bible, or just "can't believe in the Bible?
In the Bible I read about the amazing grace of God made clear for us in the life, words, suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus. For instance, "In Jesus Christ we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace that he lavished on us" (Ephesians 1: 7-8). Please read the rest of that chapter and Ephesians chapter 2 also tonight. I hear in the Gospels of the New Testament the words of Jesus calling me to accept his loving-kindness.
Because I have come to trust myself to Jesus Christ, I love to read the Bible more and more, and become convinced through what I read that the Bible is to be trusted.
In addition, there are many things that I have read in the Bible that are different from the writings of history books and the books of other religions. There is more evidence to trust the accuracy of the Biblical writings than the writings of any other philosophy or religion or mythological treatises. I can't detail all of this for you now, but will refer you to books about this subject, like that of F. F. Bruce: THE NEW TESTAMENT DOCUMENTS; ARE THEY RELIABLE. Let me know if you wish further references.
I too have wondered what to believe and trust. I have placed myself in the role of doubter or agnostic and asked the hard questions of myself. I do want to report to you that I have been amazed, surprised, and strengthened in my faith as I have asked the difficult questions and found such powerful answers.
I encourage you to keep reading, studying and searching the Scriptures for answers to your questions. The Scriptures testify to Jesus Christ as the one and only solution to the human dilemma. God bless you as you grow in faith in our Lord Jesus, and you will love and trust the Bible also. Rev. Kieth
Q. Can you give me some Bible references to provide me comfort upon the death of my friend.
Q. Is believing in Jesus Christ enough to be saved?
May Christmas move you to bow down before the Child of Bethlehem and find in Him all that you need. Now may God bless you with His sure joy and peace. Rev. Kieth
Q. I'm a born again Christian and I keep having these doubts about being saved. I always ponder the question "Am I a good enough Christian to be saved?"
Q. Is there anyone who understands everything in the Bible perfectly?
Q. Could you please discuss punishment from Revelations 21:8
Q. I just wanted to ask you a personal question, Is being depressed a sin? I have been feeling this way for a while now, because of all the stress at school, and family problems. I asked Jesus into my heart like two years ago, and I am trying to grow into a deeper relationship with our Lord and savior. I have been wondering about my question for a while now.
Q. Does the Bible say how many people will repent, few or many.
Q. I am currently doing a report on the separation of church and state. My question deals with your opinion on the issue. I feel that religion should be incorporated with our countries academic premises. I think that the lack of religion in schools is leading to the lack of family values in todays youth. I was just wondering how you may feel on this issue. And may I use your opinion in the research paper I am currently preparing. Thank you for you time and consideration. God Bless
Q. Are you guys pastors or what?
Q. While I know that the word "Amen" is defined in the dictionary as an affirmation, how did that practice come about in closing a prayer with "Amen." What does "Amen" mean in the Christian sense and does it have a more profound meaning than what is used in daily life. Obviously it has been around for a long time since even the Latin prayers close with "Amen."
Q. Please comment about the Encyclopedia Britannica referring to Paul as the second founder of Christianity.
For instance, Bible students have pointed out the theological agreement between Mark's Gospel and the messages of St. Paul. Mark's Gospel is the proclamation of the gospel (good news, Mark 1:1 and 14). This good news is that Jesus is the Son of God and acts with Divine authority and power to defeat the forces of the Devil and everything demonic. Jesus acts with power to rescue people from their sins (Mark 2:10), and through His suffering, death and resurrection rescues people from the power of evil and restores them to fellowship with God. St. Paul emphasizes this same theme, proclaiming that the gospel is the power of God for salvation (Romans 1:16). This gospel power rescues people from a life of futility and restores them to fellowship with God.
Mark's Gospel tells the account of Jesus heading for Jerusalem to suffer and die on the cross. Jesus repeatedly tells his disciples that He will die on the cross. St. Paul says that he was determined to proclaim only Christ and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 2: 1-5), and that in the cross of Christ is the power of God for Christian life. Paul does not claim anything for himself, but continuously points to Jesus Christ. Only faith in Christ receives the grace of God and counts one as just.
I assure you that it is not true that Paul's epistles "contradict many teachings in the synoptic gospels," and Paul's teachings do not deviate from those of Jesus." If there are particular passages which bother you or seem to provide an example of contradiction, please let me know and I would be happy to comment on the same. I pray that God the Holy Spirit will guide you as you search the Scriptures, which testify to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. May our Lord bless you daily. Blessings and Peace. Rev. Kieth
Q. What is the Gospel of Thomas?
Q. Could you please discuss revelation and dogma?
The book of Hebrews starts out by telling us: Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, . . . ." (Hebrews 1:1-2). Revelation is Jesus Christ, and also the Book with the messages of the prophets, historians, evangelists and apostles that either looked forward to the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, or tells us about the fact and the significance of His coming. This Book is the Bible, written, the church was told and believes, by the inspiration of God's Spirit.
Dogma is a word that refers to statements of belief proclaimed by the church of Jesus Christ. For most people "dogma" sounds too authoritarian, or even arbitrary. I prefer to use the word "doctrine" or "teaching." The church teaches what the Bible reveals, and this teaching is the doctrine of the church. Creeds (from the Latin word, "credo" - I believe) state in a logical form the teaching of the Bible.
The "proofs" of the validity of God's revelation are to be seen in the life, words, works, suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The proofs are also to be seen in the hearts and living of the followers of Christ. Some of the proofs are to be seen, by the eyes of faith, in the created world around us (Read Romans 1: 19-20; Acts 17: 22-31).
I hope that this helps a little. If you have another question, please contact us again. Peace. Rev. Kieth
Q. What sacraments is the oil that is blessed during holy week used in?
Q. What are the advantages of being a Christian in this life?
Right now we have and can enjoy the fact of the complete forgiveness of our sins. What a joy it is to know that God is not keeping a record of our failings, but has the intention of "forgetting" our every wrong. Please read 1 John 1:7 and 2:2; and also Hebrews 10:11-14. This passage reminds us that not only are my sins forgiven but that Christ died for the sins of other people. So not only am I set free from a cloud of guilt that might darken my days, I am able to look at the person who has done wrong to me and say that God has forgiven his sin also. So instead of wasting my time plotting to get revenge (read Romans 12:17-21), I can plan to forget about the wrong done me and plan to share God's love with that other person (as Jesus said "Father, forgive them" about the men who crucified him.
Right now, not only when I get to heaven, I know that God has called me by the gospel (the good news of God's love in Jesus Christ) to be God's own (see 1 John 4: 12-16). Right now I know that my life is not futile (Romans 1: 16-21), but salvaged so that I can live with good purpose, able to discern God's good will for my life (Romans 12: 1-2), able to love others (Romans 12: 17-21), able to live in harmony with others (Romans 15:5).
Now in this life we are able to exercise self-control, and do other good things with our lives and time (see Galatians 5: 22-23). Now we are able to rejoice (Romans 12:15; Philippians 4: 4-7). Now we receive comfort in times of difficulty. Right now we are able to overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21). That's the power that Christ's saving us brings us in this life-time.
In the words of St. Paul, we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us Philippians 4:13).
Now in this life we are able to praise and thank God for his goodness to us. "Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen!" Peace. Rev. Kieth
Q. Why is Acts 8:37 omitted in modern translations?
The problem is that the verse is found in only a relatively few copies of the older copies of Acts. It is in one from the sixth century A. D., but not in any older copies and not in most of the copies that were made in the early years of the Church.
It is verse 37 in the King James Version. But the King James Version was translated from an accepted Greek New Testament which was based on Greek copies from the tenth century and later. Since the King James Version was translated in 1611, many more older copies of the Greek New Testament books have been found. It is assumed that the older copies are more trustworthy in establishing what was most likely Luke's original writing.
Perhaps sometime after Luke wrote Acts, some pastor or Christian Bible student wrote a commentary, like a little sermon, trying to reconstruct the scene, and then his words of filling in the drama found their way into the copy of Acts that he was using for study or teaching or preaching.
The Bible science of trying to determine what the original text actually was in quite technical and also is very reliable. So modern translations are probably correct in omitting verse 37.
Please keep searching the Scriptures to find out more about God's great love for us through Jesus Christ. Blessings. Rev. Kieth
Q. What is the name of Pharaoh's daughter, the one who saved Moses from the river?
Q. Is baptism necessary?
Yes, Baptism is commanded in the Bible. Jesus told his disciples in an imperative wording, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you" (Matthew 28:19-20).
St. Peter also spoke in the imperative voice, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38). See also John 3: 5-6.
And what a delight it is to focus on the blessings of Holy Baptism! In addition to Acts 2:38, mentioned above, which promises the blessing of forgiveness of sins, note St. Paul saying that "in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ" (Galatians 3:26-27). Christ is protective armor clothing for the baptized. See what St. Paul says also in Colossians 2:11-14.
In Titus 3:5-7 we read that "He saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, THROUGH THE WATER OF REBIRTH AND RENEWAL by the Holy Spirit. This Spirit he POURED OUT on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life."
St. Peter wrote of Holy Baptism that "now saves you" (1 Peter 3:21).
If you have not yet received Christian baptism, I hope that you soon will, thanking God for this gift whereby He promises to make you His forever. May you have and keep sure faith in Jesus Christ as your Savior, Forgiver, Lord and Friend. Blessings. Rev. Kieth
Q. What does B.C. and A.D. mean?
Q. You asked about the use of various numbers in the Bible:
17: Genesis 7: 11 & 8:4: The Flood began and ended on the 17th of a month.
24: 1 Chronicles 23:4; 27:1-15; Revelation 4:4; 5:8; 11:16; 19:4. In Revelation, the 24 elders represent the church in its totality.
50: See especially Leviticus 25:10, the Year of Jubilee.
75: Genesis 12:4, the age of Abraham when God made the great promises to Abraham and called him.
120: Genesis 6:3, a human's life span; and Deuteronomy 31:2, the life-span of Moses.
144: Revelation 7:4; 14: 1,3: The number 12, for the people of God, times itself, and times 1,000 (the multiple of ten expanded). A very great number of God's people.
153: John 21: 11: The number of fish that Peter caught.
666: Revelation 13: 18: a reference to Nero or another Roman emperor.
By the way, you forgot 40: the days of the Flood, Genesis 7 - 8, when God saved Noah and his family through the water; the number of years when God led and fed his people in the wilderness, saving them for the Promised Land (Numbers 14:33-34; Amos 2:10); and the number of days of Jesus' temptation in the wilderness, at the beginning of his saving work for us (Mark 1:13).
You see that many of the numbers listed point to God's saving work for us, whereby God has rescued us from futile ways and has redeemed us, forgiving us all our sins through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross, and giving us hope for the future.
I'm sure that you understand that the Bible is not a collection of magical code numbers revealing secret and esoteric information. The Bible reveals to us God's great love in calling us to be his own, demonstrating his concern for us through His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. We should search the Scriptures to find out what they tell us about Christ, the One who gives us eternal life with God.
May God bless you today in every way. May the Holy Spirit lead you to great faith in Christ as our Savior and Lord. Blessings. Rev. Kieth
Q. I am enrolled in the Christian Ministries Program at a four year university. We are currently studying systematic theology. We are studying the doctrines. Anyway, one of the local pastors stated that after you become a Christian you do not sin anymore, because sin is when you do not know God and is not following his will for you. What do you think?
Q. I feel I am lacking caring and love from other spiritual brothers and sisters.
Love is God's great gift to the world in Jesus Christ. This love was not demanded for God to give, but unmotivated, free, grace, undeserved, and continuous. St. John wrote by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, "In this is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins" (1 John 4:10), and also, "We love because he first loved us" (1 John 4: 19). Note that just as God loved without first being loved, so also we can be the first to love, just like God loves, even if we are not loved in return.
Jesus loved before others loved Him, and even when that love was totally undeserved, and even when that love was not returned to Him. From the cross Jesus prayed for those who were crucifying Him, "Father, forgive them" (Luke 23:34). You see that God's love gives us an example, for we can be loving towards others even when they don't deserve it or are not loving toward us.
You remember, of course, that Jesus said that we should love even our enemies. Please read Matthew 5: 43-48. Now read also Romans 12: 9-21, where St. Paul tells us to "hold fast to what is good," "love one another with mutual affection," "Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord," "If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all," "if your enemies are hungry, feed them," and "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."
You can see that you and I have a lot of work to do. I think that when we feel that others are not doing enough loving toward us, we should rededicate ourselves to serving the Lord, holding fast to what is good, determine to love others with affection even when they are not treating us perfectly, and know that we can overcome evil with God's great goodness.
Nothing can ever separate you from the love of God. Focus on God's great love for you, given certainly forever through Jesus Christ. Then pray to the Holy Spirit to help you focus on passing that love of God on to others.
I pray now that a sense of God's mercy and care will flood into your spirit, wash away any tears, and renew you for your Christian journey. Blessings. Rev. Kieth
Q. What are "Tarot Cards"
Q. What happens when we die?
You mentioned the "second judgement" or the second death, as in the Book of Revelation. That usually means the final and ultimate judgement as opposed to various trials and assessments of an individual person before the end.
You may want to re-read 1 Corinthians 15, where important points concerning our eternal destiny are made:
Verse 15: Jesus Christ was raised from the dead and now lives forever.
Verse 20: Christ is the "first fruits" of Christians who have died, indicating that Christians will rise from death also.
Verse 42: We Christians will rise with imperishable bodies, which will no longer decay or deteriorate. We Christians will be like Jesus, who is raised and lives forever, and we will be with Him.
Verse 58: The thing for us to do now is to work for Jesus Christ, living as Jesus would have us live, and doing Christ's kind of work while we have time to do that.
As you study the Book of Revelation you will want to recall that the Book is highly symbolic. The imagery of the Book of Revelation was not intended to provide a blueprint for the future. The purpose of the Book, stated in 1:9, was to bring comfort to Christians suffering under the pagan rule of the Roman empire. The Book asserts in picture language that the real king of the world is not the Roman emperor but Jesus Christ, King of kings and Lord of lords. Therefore, suffering Christians should trust in Christ, give their testimony to Jesus as Lord, and patiently endure their tribulations. Some Christians like to use the Book of Revelation to predict the future in terms of specific people, times and places. This is a mistake, a failure to see the Old (and New) Testament influence on this writing, and a failure to understand the kind of language that is used.
God bless you as you continue to search the Scriptures. Peace. Rev. Kieth
Q. How can I escape temptations?
In the Bible, God gives us seven examples or instructions on how to escape temptations.
2. Change your activity.
3. Seek guidance from a Christian friend.
4. Run away from the situation.
5. Laugh at the devil (you and God are a majority).
6. Use the Word of God.
7. Just say "NO" (Joseph in Egypt).
Sometimes, two or more of the above are used at the same time. Remember, "God is faithful." However, when we do sin, we always can turn by faith to Jesus Christ for forgiveness, who on the cross paid the ultimate penalty for all of our sins. John 3:16. Peace. Rev. John
Q. I feel a lack of peace, pleasure and love in my Christian faith and life.
You mention though that you feel a lack of peace, pleasure and love in your Christian faith and life. You should remember that Christians have always experienced their Christian faith as a growing process. Our feelings are fickle, and they do change as we encounter difficulty. But God is not fickle, and God's feelings of love and unique kindness for us do not change. God is the same in his concern for us, yesterday, today and forever.
I would like to suggest that you start reading Paul's letter to the Ephesians, today and every day for a while. Read that great message "to the praise of his glory" (Ephesians 1:3-14), which spells out God's great plan of rescue for us which he effected through Jesus. Read about "the greatness of his power for us who believe" (Ephesians 1:19). Focus not on the weakness of your faith, but on Jesus Christ and God's power which is a gift to you. Read on about God's grace which is given to you, not a reward for having a strong faith life or for doing good works (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Then know that instead of worrying about your feelings, you should do the good works that you now can as a child of God (Ephesians 2:10). Do that good work as you use the gifts of the Holy Spirit to build up the church (your fellow Christians and church members) in love (Ephesians 411-16). Study that section well. Trust God to take care of your feelings, and put yourself to work helping others, in the church and everywhere.
There is so much more in this wonderful letter to the Ephesians. Read, study and believe this word of God. Believe this Bible as God's sure word for you. Peace. Rev. Kieth
Q. What does the reference to Jesus as the "begotten" Son of God mean?
Q. Please assure me that I can trust the words promising the gift of the life is eternal.
No doubt you will remember the words of the Gospel of John, chapter 6, verses 68-69: "Simon Peter answered him, 'Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life." Peter came to believe that when Jesus spoke it was for real. When Jesus promised God's presence and power in human existence, the promise was valid. The words of Jesus were no ordinary, empty, maybe true syllables, but God's sure words for our lives. That's the faith to which St. Peter came, and millions of others through the years, including myself.
Listen to Jesus' words addressed to his Father: "And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent" (John 17:3). When we come to faith in Jesus Christ, who lived, suffered, died and rose again to rescue us from our sins and from a futile existence, then God gives us that life which is eternal. Note please that "eternal life" is not only something that we have after death. Eternal life with God begins now through faith in Christ and continues forever.
Please now read in the Gospel of John, chapter 6, verses 53-58. Here Jesus tells us that when we receive him into our hearts and lives, we have eternal life and the promise of resurrection: "Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life!" We receive the body and blood of Jesus in the Lord's Supper, and receive the forgiveness of sins and the gift of life with God, the life which is eternal.
Millions of Christians have staked their lives on the faith that the words of the Jesus in the Bible are not "just words," but sure eternal truths on which we can depend. At one time in my life I thought that maybe the messages of the Bible were just wishful thinking,or perhaps just ordinary human thoughts in expressions. The more that I have lived, the more I have carefully studied the writings of the Bible (and the more, I believe, that God has led me and surprised me with Divine goodness), the more I am convinced that when Jesus speaks in the Bible, it is God speaking the absolute truth to me. I depend for sure on God's Word; I am actually strengthened by this truth to live a life that is worthwhile, pleasing even to God by God's grace alone. I invite you to trust in Jesus Christ and his words. I believe that the more you read and study the Bible, the more that you too will be convinced in the truth of Jesus' Word for you, and for your live, now and eternally.
May God bless you every day and always. Rev. Kieth
Q. How do the ten comments apply to CHRIEST followers?
Q. I have begun to question my faith.
Your questions make a lot of sense to me. I can assure you that the pastors of Historic Trinity Lutheran Church in Detroit (there are seven of us) have all asked these or similar questions. You are 26; I am over 62, and have been asking such questions all my life, and finding reasonable and reassuring answers for myself. It is right for you to use your mind to question things, and seek answers. Paul says, "do not be children in your thinking; rather be infants in evil, but in thinking be adults" (1 Corinthians 14:20). This word occurs in a chapter in which Paul encourages thoughtful expressions of what our faith is (1 Cor. 14:19). God gave you your faith, and your mind.
We don't know all the answers we would like to our questions. Philosophers seeking to know what human knowledge is don't have all the answers they would like to have. Scientists studying nature and the universe surely haven't found complete answers to their scientific inquiries. You and I as Christians have not been assured by God that we will find complete answers to all our questions; we have been assured that we can know enough, that which is necessary. I have found answers to the questions that you ask. I certainly won't have space or time tonight to give the kind of responses to each question that I would like to. But I will give some quick answers off the top of my head, and invite you to "Ask the Pastor" at Historic Trinity for a more detailed response to any one question in the future.
1. What happened to the souls of those that died before Jesus? I might like to know, but do not find that the Bible ever speaks directly to that question. But the Bible does clearly point to our God as most compassionate and merciful. I trust that God is not malicious or capricious. God wouldn't send anyone to eternal damnation on a technicality. I don't know how, but am sure that God made good plans for all. Of course, a human being can reject God's good plans, and suffer the consequences.
2. Did God provide miraculous signs only in the past.? A burning bush or parting seas today would be okay, but I think that in my experience I have seen greater miracles than these. I have seen hate-filled people repent and do good. I have been surprised by God's amazing grace, love, hope and peace for myself when I thought there was no future for me. I have seen even more.
3. Why did God protect believers in the past, and not today? God did not preserve all his people from physical harm in the past. Jesus suffered and died, Job, Jeremiah, prophets and disciples suffered physical harm and died. Remember also, that much of the Bible's discussion of people preserved from immediate harm is part of the message about a role in God's plan. Jonah was saved from the fish in order to preach in Nineveh. By the way, being swallowed by the fish isn't the biggest miracle in Jonah. The most amazing miracle is that Jonah preached and 120,000 people repented. I have been preaching all my adult life without that kind of success rate. Jonah was saved from the sea so that he and the people of Israel could get God's message: even terrible sinners (like those of Nineveh, worst city in the world) can repent and turn to the one true God.
4. Evolution is a working theory, not proven. To the extent that it is working, it does not disprove the Bible. Many scientists are Christians, true believers in our Lord Jesus Christ, and at the same time operate with various theories of origins and development in nature. Remember that the Bible tells us about God and us and our salvation. The Bible was not given to us to provide all answers to all questions; it is not a blueprint of heaven or earth, the past or the future. The Bible tells us all that we need to know about God's acts of rescue for humanity in the past, present and future.
5. The Bible does not tell us that there is or is not life on other planets. If life is found on Mars or Jupiter or in another galaxy, I would just think . . . there's one more surprise that our great God has in store for us. Finding life elsewhere would not disprove anything about the Bible.
6. There is only one name given to us whereby we can be saved, and that is the name of Jesus Christ. The Bible itself teaches that other religions know something about God, but there is no comparison anywhere to the unique (one of a kind) gospel of Christ. Christianity does not teach that everyone who does not have faith in Christ is going to hell. Sending people to hell is not our job. Doing that is up to God. What IS our job? Sharing the gospel with all people. By the way, if I find a great restaurant, the best ever, I don't go around saying that all the other restaurants in town will surely give one food poisoning. I just tell how great is the food at that one best restaurant I have found.
7. The Bible should be interpreted according to the literary form of the writing involved. Some parts of the Bible are poetry, with much imagery that cannot be interpreted "literally." Some parts of the Bible are written in literary form like parable and apocalyptic, the interpretation of which must be according to certain literary form rules. The gospels of the New Testament are preaching, a special form, but are also actual history. I have worked much on this matter, and would be happy to share more with you.
8. The Bible teaches that people are individually responsible for their choices and sins. See answer to # 1 above.
By the way, I forgot to mention in connection with # 4 above that I have read various books on religion and science. Many scientists have written about their Christian faith. I would be glad to send you some titles, or find many in the newspaper "Research News in Science and Theology" (PO Box 5065, Brentwood, TN 37024-5065; E-mail: email@example.com). God bless you! Remain steadfast in Christian faith, in trust in our Lord Jesus for all things. Keep asking questions! Blessings. Rev. Kieth
Q. What ways are the joys and hope of the world also the joys and hopes of the followers of Jesus? What does it mean to say Christians are to be "signs of contradiction" for the world?
Q. How did the Church choose the right 27 books for the New Testament?
It is fascinating to follow the process. In the first centuries, some writings gained the right to be read in public services of the church. Other writings were merely apocryphal, that is, they were not used in public worship, but only for "hidden" or private use. One major factor right from the beginning was whether or not a writing could be traced to an apostle of Christ. Along with the name of an apostle was the insistence that the writing was faithful to the preaching which came from the known apostles, the irreplaceable eyewitnesses to Jesus.
The early church also insisted that the writings contain the common (accepted by the Christian communities) sense of the faith. That means that the writings must bear the sure witness to Jesus, reflecting the "portrait" of Christ which was known to believers. They might quote I Corinthians 3:11: "For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid; that foundation is Jesus Christ." There was the apostolic proclamation of Jesus as reflected in the New Testament writings collectively. Early Christians referred to the gospel of Jesus as "recognized everywhere" and as what was "handed down to us" from earlier Christians, originally from the lips of Jesus and the apostles.
I believe that in this process early Christian congregations and the whole church was guided by the Holy Spirit, just as I am convinced that the Spirit of God inspired the Old Testament writers, and Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and the rest of the New Testament writers. In any event the result is wonderful. What riches we find in the pages of the New Testament as we have it now, what beautiful variety in the Word of God revealing God's amazing grace and love for us
If you have access to a church or church college library, you might look for one of the following books on this subject: C.F.D. Moule, THE BIRTH OF THE NEW TESTAMENT; Philip A. Quanbeck, WHEN GOD SPEAKS; or Alexander Souter, THE TEXT AND CANON OF THE NEW TESTAMENT.
May God bless you as you continue to practice your Christian faith and search the Scriptures which testify to our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. Peace. Rev. Kieth
Q. Where in Scripture does it talk about where the anti-Christ comes from? I am trying to tell people that there will be someone worse than bin laden to come. And all we can do is be ready for Christ, because we have no control of what's to come?
Q. I love the Lord and try to do the right thing, but I have trouble praying.
You mentioned some difficulty in praying. Many Christians have experienced that. The great thing is that God even helps us when we are not to good at praying. St. Paul wrote that "Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words" (Romans 8:26). So when you are too stressed or distracted or tired to make up words for prayer, just say, "Holy Spirit, please pray for me" and God will hear the perfect prayer from you. Then add the Lord's Prayer and rest well.
May I suggest that you write out these three Bible passages. Then, once a day, go to some place by yourself and speak these words from God to you:
Jesus says, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid" (John 14:27).
"Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me" (Psalms 50:15).
"Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28).
Remember, nothing can ever separate you from the love of Jesus Christ, who suffered, died, and rose again for the complete forgiveness of your sins and to give you the perfect peace from God, for now and forever. God bless you! Peace. Rev. Kieth
Q. Do you think we are the terminal generation?
Q. I want to become a Christian. How can I serve God?
You note that God is changing your life. That is the promise of the gospel of Jesus, which St. Paul says "is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith" (Romans 1:16). "Salvation" is God changing our lives from futility and darkness (Romans 1:21) to God's good purposes. "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit" (Romans 15:13).
Someone may question whether or not you have the will power to be a pastor. You may question it yourself. I long questioned whether or not I should be a pastor. I like what Paul confessed, "I can do all things through him who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13). Of course, it is not our own strength or power that enables us to believe and to serve God. God gives us growth in faith and the ability to minister (see 1 Corinthians 3: 5-8).
You want to give yourself to God completely, and so you should, whether you become a pastor or not. Paul wrote to all the Christians of Corinth, "Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labor is not in vain" (1 Corinthians 15:58).
So, as a pastor or as any other Christian, you can serve God with prayer, praise and work for our Lord Jesus day by day. Yes, you can leave it up to God. Make a decision and pursue it until you feel that God is calling you to a different role. If you feel weak in thinking about this, remember that St. Paul himself said, "I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me" (2 Corinthians 12:9). Paul also heard God telling him, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9).
You asked about the feelings that I had when I decided to become a pastor. I didn't have any strong feelings at first, no "fire" within me to receive a call to be a minister of a congregation. I had a lot of doubts about my ability or even desire to preach to, and lead God's people in the church. It took seven years until I really warmed up to the idea. The key for me was really studying the Bible thoroughly. Finally I began to realize and believe that through the Scriptures God speaks to people, and to me. Naturally, you won't be surprised to hear me recommend to you that you study the Bible slowly and carefully to learn how God has revealed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit to us.
Remember, however you decide to spend your days living and working as a Christian, nothing can ever take God's love away from you. "Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus" forever. (Ephesians 3:20-21). Peace. Rev. Kieth
Q. I know that there may not be an answer to this question, but what happens to people who may be on the other side of the earth and believe in God, but never ever hear of Jesus. if Jesus is the only way, what will happen to those who never learned about him. I've read Romans 2 and understand all that stuff about "men being without excuse," but isn't that just if they don't believe in God?
Q. Why is it that the doctrine of the Holy Trinity does not appear explicitly in the Bible?
The Bible is not for dissecting and explicating the nature of the Deity. It is not a collection of philosophical teachings to be considered or accepted. The Bible is the recital of what God has done, is doing, and will do, and the revelation of the meaning of those mighty acts of God (see, for instance, Psalms 103:7; Psalms 78; Acts 3: 13-26). St. Paul says that what we learn from God's Word is "Christ and his cross" and no earthly wisdom is worth acquiring beyond that (though Paul did use his God-given mind to proclaim the meaning of that cross for us).
We can find the teaching of the Trinity on the Bible's terms. The New Testament writings are filled with the announcement of the work of God the Father, of His Son, Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit (the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Jesus).
God calls to us Christians to be more concerned with trusting the revelation of God's work, and then in the power of that revelation doing what God enables us to do, than to be concerned with speculating on God's substance, or even to systematize our understandings. In the centuries after Christ, Christians soon reflected on the teaching of the apostles as contained in the New Testament writings, and then confessed faith in the Holy Trinity by proclaiming the work of the Triune God in the words of the Apostles' Creed, and the Nicene Creed. That systematization of the Bible's message was appropriate for the purpose of sharing the gospel and delineating Biblical truth from perversions of the same. But what they made specific in the doctrine of the church was already proclaimed in the revelation of God's acts of salvation through the work of the Trinity in the Bible. Peace. Rev. Kieth
Q. Who was the first bishop of Jerusalem?
In the New Testament, the terms Elder and Bishop are used interchangeably - both refer to elected or appointed leaders in the church. James could best be described as apostolical presbyter- bishop of Jerusalem. It seems that he did not believe in Jesus until after the resurrection, when the risen Christ made a special appearance to James (I Corinthians 15:7). He quickly became a leader in the Jerusalem Church, along with Peter, until he became the spokesman for the church (Galatians 1:18 & 19; 2: 9 & 12; Acts 15:13ff; 21:18).
He seems to have been a Nazarite who obeyed additional stricter laws and ceremonies in addition to the prescribed ceremonial Laws of the Old Testament. As such, he was highly respected by the ordinary Jew and the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem. He became the bridge so that many Jewish leaders and laity believed in Jesus as the one and only fulfillment of the Old Testament Covenant.
Because of his teaching that Jesus is the Messiah for both Jew and Gentile, sometime after 62 A. D., he was placed on the gable of the temple and forced to confess what he believed in Jesus. At his confession the Jewish leaders forced him off the gable to the pavement below, where he was stoned and then killed with a fullers club.
James the Just was the final apostolic witness of the Gospel to the city of Jerusalem before her destruction by the Roman armies. How thankful we should be to God for the faithful witness of James our brother in Christ. Blessings. Rev. John
Q. What happens to those who never heard the Gospel when they die?
Similarly, in Acts 17:22ff Paul notes that people who have not received the specific gospel revelation, nevertheless are religious and are made to seek after their Creator, know that people are offspring of God, and grope for him and find him. In these passages it seems that the sin of people in the first place is not acknowledging their dependence upon God and not seeking to know him or do his will.
In Romans chapters one - three Paul is showing that all people sin, Jews as well as Gentiles, and all need to repent and believe the good news that what we can not do because of our sinfulness, God has done by sending us His Son, our Savior. The Bible clearly teaches that those who do not repent and turn to Christ are rejecting God's gospel and suffer eternal condemnation.
We don't have a sure answer in the Bible to the "what about" of your basic question. We do know that God is merciful and may have things in mind that have not been revealed to us. But we do know what God HAS revealed to us, that there is no salvation in any other name than the name of Jesus. So our task is to do what Paul says in Acts 17:23: "this I proclaim to you." Jesus Christ has suffered, died and risen again for the complete forgiveness of sins of all people of all time (Hebrews 10:10,12,14). Our job is to share this good news with all people everywhere.
Just one note yet. Sometimes we like to be concerned with our questions too much, like, what is heaven or hell like, when is the end of time and how is it all going to take place. We have so much to be concerned about with doing what God talks about, namely spreading the good news, examining our own hearts, and praying for God's Spirit to guide us in all our daily challenges. There are things that God has in mind that we won't know until we are in heaven with our Lord forever.
May God bless you as you continue to search the Scriptures and live as a disciple of Jesus in firm faith and hope-filled days and years. Peace. Rev. Kieth
Q. Is masturbation sin? Is it evil? Is it normal for us to masturbate?
Q. Please discuss the number "seven" in the Book of Revelation, and provide general information about Revelation.
The number "seven" occurs 54 times in the Book, reflecting the importance of that number in the Old Testament: Genesis 1 reveals the 7 day creation; In Genesis 7 we read that Noah was instructed to take seven pairs of animals and birds on the ark; The number 7 is prominent in Joseph's dream (Genesis 41:2-54; seven is the common number in the worship and sacrifice prescriptions of Leviticus and other books; and seven is prominent in Ezekiel and Daniel.
Seven is chosen in part because of the seven churches of Asia Minor (Revelation 1:4 - 3:22). In general, seven symbolizes completeness, throughout the Old Testament, and certainly seven denotes completeness in the Book of Revelation, the completeness of Divine perfection (or that which is claimed by the Antichrist). The seven heads of the dragon and the wild beast may have been suggested by the seven hills of Rome, or the seven Augusti (emperors) who preceded the Emperor Domitian.
The Book of Revelation has a simple message. In Revelation 1:9 we read "I, John, share with you in Jesus the persecution and the kingdom and the patient endurance." Under the Emperor Domitian (81-96 A.D.) Christians were suffering persecution. But God tells them through St. John that Jesus is the real king, not Domitian; it is Jesus' kingdom that will last. So these Christians should practice patient endurance, knowing that they will ultimately share in Jesus' victory over every evil, and "every tear from their eyes" will be removed (Revelation 7:17).
This simple,or rather straightforward, message is conveyed in terms and literary form that we must learn. The most important factor is learning the history and messages in the Old Testament. Many allusions reflect happenings in the history of God's first covenant people. Many detailed commentaries can be found in church college and seminary libraries which help with this. (Or, of course, read part of the Old Testament every day).
The other significant ingredient is learning something about the apocalyptic language in which much of the Book of Revelation is written. This literary form, very popular in the years shortly before and after the birth of Jesus, contains a kaleidoscopic presentation of images. Reading apocalyptic is like watching colorful moving pictures. Many of the images of apocalyptic are stylized references to events and ideas of that era. So we have to go back in time to when these books were written to understand the thinking of that time. We should not look to events of our recent past, present or future times to understand the references of the Book of Revelation.
We can make application to our life and times from the Book of Revelation. We can trust God to take us past present evils and through difficult times because Jesus, the Lamb of God, suffered and died for us and rose again. With Jesus as our Lord, we too will obtain the victory. We can live in hope and joy and peace because Jesus reigns as our King of love, now and forever.
May God bless you as you keep your faith in Jesus. Happy studying! Peace. Rev. Kieth
Q. How does New Testament giving relate to the tithe?
Q. Where can I turn to for help in my life?
"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear . . . ." Psalms 46:1-2.
"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want . . . . He leads me in right paths . . . . Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff -- they comfort me." Psalms 23: 1,3,4
"I will never leave you or forsake you." "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid." Hebrews 13:5-6.
"Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me." Psalms 50:15
"Come to me,all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28.
"I am the good shepherd. I know my own, and my own know me." John 10:14
(Nothing . . .) "will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:39
"Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words." Romans 8:26
"But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience." Romans 8:25
Please also read Psalms 107, P slams 121, and Matthew 6: 25-34.
These sure words from God always help me, whatever problem or pain I have. We should remember that God tenderly invites us to bring all of our questions and problems to him. Of course, God may not give us answers as specific as we might sometimes wish, but God's answers our prayers with what we really need for full and beautiful living.
Note that Romans 8:25 urges us to wait with patience for what God has to say to us and do for us. We may think that we can't patiently wait anymore: we want an answer and a solution right now. I have at times been greatly surprised by the ways in which God has answered my prayers, and brought me a better solution and answer than I had expected.
May God bless you and surprise you again and again with his great and merciful love. And may you find in due time your heart's desires fulfilled, through the goodness of Jesus Christ our Lord. Peace. Rev. Kieth
Q. Is Jesus kin to King David through Mary or Joseph? And how could it be through Joseph?
Q. Is Suicide wrong? Will you go to hell?
Q. What is Christian attitude on suicide?
Suicide is not the Will of God, because it cuts short a life that God has given. However, it is possible that even a person who believes in God and in Christ can become mentally ill or so depressed that they no longer want to continue living. They may still love God, but they have come to hate their life on earth. If they commit suicide, it may well be that God will have mercy on them, understanding their desperate situation. In such a case, suicide is not the unforgivable sin.
The unforgivable sin is the sin against the Holy Spirit, rejecting the Good News of God's love and forgiveness in Jesus Christ or attributing the Work of the Spirit of God to Satan. (Matthew 12:23-32, Mark 3:22-29, Luke 12:8-10) Peace. Rev. Ron S.
Q. Could you please discuss the sins of the fathers "visiting" succeeding generations.
At the same time, notice the greater emphasis on God's merciful love, which passes on to the thousandth generation. In Numbers 14:18-20, it seems that God's forgiveness can interrupt the transmission of punishment. Moses asks God to forgive the people of a sinning generation, and God responds, "I do forgive."
The importance of the God-fearing family in the Old Testament is depicted in a passage like Deuteronomy 29:29, "the revealed things belong to us and to our children."
Now please read Ezekiel chapter 18. In response to the allegation that "the parents have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth" suffer, God says that "it is only the person who sins that shall die" (Ezekiel 18: 2-4). Affirming individual responsibility, God says that "A child shall not suffer for the iniquity of a parent . . . the wickedness of the wicked shall be his own" (Ezekiel 18: 19-20). This part of God's revelation helps us to understand that God does not punish unjustly. Each person has the opportunity to respond positively to God's love and God's laws.
That which is most comforting for us is the knowledge that our Lord Jesus suffered, died, and rose again for the complete forgiveness of our sins. His blood "cleanses us from all sin" (See Hebrews 10:10-17 and 1 John 1:7).
Easter blessings to you, in the name of Jesus, our risen and living Lord! Peace. Rev. Kieth
Q. What is the significance of the number "7" in the Bible?
Other symbolic meanings of numbers that might interest you.... One=unity or oneness. Two=antithesis or polarity. Six=incompleteness, one short of seven (666 total antichristian world power). Ten=harmony and completeness. 10 x 10=100 is total completeness. 10 x 100=1,000 is ultimate completeness. 12 is 3x4 or God transforming the world as Old Testament believers, symbolized by the 12 tribes of Israel and the New Testament believers symbolized by the 12 apostles. 12 x12 x1000= all the believers who ever have or will live.
Numbers are interesting to study, but it is most important to study Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord. Peace. Rev. John.
Q. Why is the KJV Matthew 17:21 omitted from the NIV?
There are thousands of copies of the books of the Bible that were made from the 2nd century of our Christian era through the 9th century. There are slight differences in wording in some of these old copies. In general, it is assumed that the older copies (closer in time to the writing of the originals) are more reliable. We don't have any of the original writings themselves. So today's Bible editors work very diligently to try to determine what were most likely the original words. Don't worry, the differences are so slight that we need not fear that we have the wrong words.
You noticed that what is Matthew 17:21 in the KJV is missing from a more modern translation. When the King James Version was translated in 1611, the translators did not have nearly as many copies of the books of the Bible as have been found since then. None of the copies which had been made before 500 A. D. had been found by 1611. That is why at Matthew 17:21 the New Revised Standard Version which I have notes, "Other ancient authorities (copies) add verse 21. It may be that some copyist when reproducing Matthew 17:20 remembered that in Mark 9:29 we read that Jesus said (also), "This kind can come out only through prayer (and fasting)," so the copyist added that line to form Matthew 17:21.
If you wish to pursue your question further, we would be happy to supply references to books or articles on this subject (called textual criticism or analysis).
Of course, this matter of the multiplicity of copies is no problem for understanding the Bible, as the differences are slight and usually easily explainable. The Bible as we have it is the completely reliable and true Word of God.
May you have a most meaningful celebration of Holy Week and Easter! Peace. Rev. Kieth
Q. Who or what are the Elohim in the Old Testament?
However, God reveals that God's true name is Jahweh (Yahweh or Jehovah). The plural form Elohim is used for this God. This usage is termed a "plural of majesty". In the Old Testament Bible Elohim is a term for our one true God. Note especially passages like Deuteronomy 4:39; "the Lord (Jahweh) he is God (Elohim); In the beginning of Genesis (2:4) we read that "the Lord (Jahweh) God (Elohim) made the earth and the heavens". This is the consistent meaning and usage of Elohim in the Old Testament, as in Exodus 20:2, "I am the Lord (Jahweh) thy God (Elohim)". See also Exodus 20:5,7,10, 11; Exodus 23:19 & 25; Exodus 34:24 & 26. Peace. Rev. Kieth
Q. What book, and what specific chapter and verse, is the phrase "The letter of the law killeth, but the spirit giveth life" from?
Q. How do You know that the Bible is the Word of God, and what proof do you have that is from God?
If you read the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John prayerfully and with an open mind, I believe that the Spirit of God will reveal to you that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God. Finally, you asked where in the Bible it says we should worship Jesus. (Read John 10:24-38; John 3:16-18; ; John 1:1-18; John 5:17-29; John 20:24-31). Jesus is the only begotten Son of God the Father and thus is God. The Father and Son share the same spirit, the Holy Spirit and thus they are one. Jesus is God, begotten of the Father before the world was and thus should be worshiped as God (John 17:1-5).
The story of Jesus Christ is good news because He is "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29-36). As an innocent Lamb, Jesus Christ, Son of God lay down His life for you, for me and for all who own Him as Lord, Savior and God. Blessings. Rev. Ron S.
Q. What is fasting all about?
Q. Who is Satan, and where did he come from?
Again in Ezekiel 28 the King of Tyre is addressed. Yet the words in verses 12-19 seem to describe Satan at the time of his fall.
In Luke 10:18 Jesus says, "I saw Satan fall like lightening from heaven." In Revelation 12:7-10 we read that there was war in heaven and Satan and his angels were thrown out and Satan, formerly Lucifer, came down to earth.
God created Satan and Satan was given a free will. God didn't create robots. He wants his creatures to love Him freely but he took the chance that some of his creatures would use their free will to turn against Him, which Satan did. He wanted to be just like God. Satan would tempt us to use our free wills to rebel against God rather than to serve Him with our heart, soul and mind.
At the end of time, Satan will be cast into the Lake of Fire there to be tormented day and night forever. (Revelation 20:10)
Hell is the place of the dead. It was created by God for those who choose to rebel against Him. Those who believe in the Lord Jesus and know that He died to purchase our pardon, to free us from our sins, and the power of the devil, will be in heaven with Christ. Blessings. Rev. Ron S.
Q. I would like to learn more about Jesus.
A wonderful resource for you are the computer LINKS at Historic Trinity's Web Site. Click - Links, go to Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. Click "Who is Jesus?" to learn more of Him. Then click "online Devotions". Under C.P.H. click "Today's Light" a free Bible Study to lead students to read and study the entire Bible in two years. You will need Adobe's Acrobat Reader to do this. It can be downloaded free by clicking the word "here" and following instructions. May God bless your studies. Blessings. Rev. John
Q. What is Christianity?
Our finite minds cannot grasp the Infinite. We will never comprehend the Trinity--One God yet three distinct Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Or, how God became true man in the person of Jesus Christ, who remained true God at all times. Or, the love of God who sent His Son Jesus to earth to be our Savior from sin, death, and the power of the devil. Yet, mankind is saved one person at a time. It is not "we believe" that saves, but "I believe". Romans 1:17: Habakkuk 2:4. Why some are saved and not others is not revealed to us in the Bible by the Infinite God.
The Bible is very clear that Jesus Christ is the one and only way of salvation. "Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven, given among men, by which we must be saved." Acts 4:12. See also John 3:16; 3:18; 5:24; 10:9; 20:31. If there is another means of Salvation, it has not been revealed to us in the Bible. Good deeds or being good does not save. "Without faith it is impossible to please Him (God). Hebrews 11:6. Christianity is faith in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior: "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen". Hebrews 11:1. Christianity is not a religion. It is not composed of rules and regulations. It is faith, centered in Jesus Christ who by His suffering on the cross, death and resurrection, is our substitute and personal Savior from sin, death and the power of the devil. This is the core message of the Bible.
Christianity is not feeling the presence of God. Satan can duplicate or imitate any feeling of the deity in you. Naturally, we want to feel something of the divine. We want to sense, to feel, to experience. We want more than the simple Word of God. But this is very dangerous. Why? Our sense perceptions are extremely deceptive. We see something, and still we do not see it correctly. We hear something distinctly, and still misunderstand. We feel something, and before long we feel it not. If our certainty of salvation would depend upon our imperfect sense and changing feelings, how uncertain our salvation. We could never be sure that we weren't deceiving ourselves of being deceived. But faith in Christ, based on God's unchanging Word, does not deceive itself. Yes, there are Christian feelings that are valuable and important. Joy, peace, love and hope are all precious feelings, but they are fruits of faith, not proof of faith.
We must, however, be careful not to judge someone else's Salvation or damnation. Jesus said, "Judge not.." Matthew 7:1; Romans 2:1. God has not revealed what is the minimum or the maximum that must be believed in order to be saved. We let that up to God alone. "Lord, I believe, help thou my unbelief". Mark 9:24. It is comfort to me, that in 1787, when Benjamin Franklin was aged, that he made the motion to the Constitutional Convention that every morning, Congress assembled, would by prayer implore God to guide and bless their deliberations. That motion was an act of faith. (Franklin's motion is still carried out today.)
Christianity is unique in the concept of an infinite personal God who has given revelation to man in verbalized, propositional form. God is personal on the high level of Trinity, and He has not remained silent but spoken to us in the Bible. The Eastern gods may be considered infinite but they are not personal. The Western gods tend to be thought of as personal but not infinite. Islam has no unity or diversity in God because they have no Trinity, and Islam has no answers as to how God can be holy yet accept sinful man, because there is no Savior.
Additional resources might include two books by Francis A. Schaeffer, Escape from Reason and The God Who Is There. (Downers Grove, Ill.:Inter-Varsity Press, 1968) Keep reading C.S. Lewis, especially More Christianity and Miracles, both by Macmillan. Blessings. Rev. John.
Q. What is the purpose of the passover feast?
At midnight the presence of the Lord went through Egypt and killed the first born in every Egyptian home including the first-born son of the Pharaoh. The Lord would pass over the homes of the people of Israel where the blood of the lamb was on the doorposts. This devastating action of the Lord God against the people of Egypt broke the will of the hard-hearted Pharaoh and he allowed the Israelis to go free. Thus they were freed from the physical slavery of Egypt by their faith in God and their obedience in the sign of the blood of the lamb on their doors. They were delivered from slavery and from a death in their homes that night.
This was forecast of a great deliverance yet to come. We are, all of us, under the bondage and slavery of sin. Jesus Christ is the Lord of God who takes away the sing of the world. His blood, which covers our lives by faith. When we receive His Sacrifice and acknowledge Him as Lord and Savior delivers us from our slavery to sin and eternal death. Christ paid the ransom for you and me.
Just as Israel was delivered from physical slavery and death in Egypt by the blood of the Passover Lamb, so we are delivered from spiritual slavery and death by the blood of Christ, the Lamb of God. On the night of the Passover the mind of God was looking forward more than a thousand years to the day when Jesus Christ would lay down His life and pay the price for the sins of the human race. Blessings. Rev. Ron S.
Q. Does the number 4 have any significance?
Q. King David of Israel had seven brothers. What were their names?
Q. My brother committed suicide 10 years ago. I have to know for sure if he when to hell. Need to move on with my life and can't.
My response may not satisfy you unless you understand that the purpose of Scripture is to testify that Jesus Christ is the Savior of mankind. John 5:39.
At the Baptism of Jesus, (Matthew 3:13ff) the Holy Ghost does not strengthen
Jesus, but is a witness to the Baptism. The Trinity is present at the
Baptism of Jesus:
Just as there are three Persons of the Trinity, there are two natures in Jesus. He is Divine: John 1:14; John 10:30; Matthew 22:41ff; John 8:58. He is human: Luke 2; Luke 24:39. According to His divine nature He is equal to the Father; according to His human nature He is subordinate to Him. Every vestige of a discrepancy disappears when we let the full light of the Bible fall on any seeming contradiction between Jesus as man and God.
In many places Jesus warns us of false prophets: Matthew 7:15; Matthew 24:24. They all come from Satan: Matthew 13:24-30 & Matthew 13:37-43. No Christian can think of Bahaism with denies Jesus Christ as God and the only Savior of fallen mankind.
Today, true prophets and teachers lead you to Jesus Christ who loves you, who suffered and died for all the sins you have or will commit. By believing in Him as your Savior, your sins are forgiven and you are saved forever.May God bless your continued studies of Scripture. Peace. Rev. John
Q. What is the Lutheran Church's position on Mormonism?
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