Posts filed under: Frequently Asked Questions

How should we as Christians deal with homosexuality and the issues taking over the media?

Apparently, there is a great concern and division among Christians today regarding our attitude while interacting with sinners in general, and homosexuals in particular. While in the past the issue was mostly a moral one, more recently, politicians are trying to exploit the division and merge the legal with moral issue for their political gain. In the OT the capital punishment is prescribed for a variety of offenses; from breaking the Sabbath (Exodus 31:14), disrespecting parents (Deuteronomy 21:18-21), blasphemy (Leviticus 24:16) or gathering firewood on Sabbath (Numbers 15:32-36). Although many Christians are happy to cite Leviticus 20:13 in condemnation of homosexuality, are less enthusiastic to point to other offenses worthy of OT stoning. The lack of consistency is puzzling for many, especially for non-Christians. Another text often cited in condemnation of homosexuality is 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. Here Paul lists a number of sins that would undoubtedly separate us from God and eternal life. Sins like fornication, idolatry, adultery, homosexuality, greed, alcoholism, etc. Interestingly enough, we rarely hear Christians being outraged about any of the above listed sins other than homosexuality. And in Luke 16:18, Jesus tells “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” In USA the divorced rate is about 50%, while among Christians is slightly lower, 42%. Many of these divorced Christians remarry. Taking Jesus’ words to its face value would mean that lots of adulterous people are sitting in our churches today. Apparently this is not as concerning to many of us as the sin of homosexuality. Recently a few businesspersons expressed concern about being placed in a hypothetical position of being forced to perform services for gay weddings. Baking a wedding cake, or making a flower arrangement for a gay wedding seem to be a big worry for some Christians. Knowing what Jesus said in Luke 16:18 and Paul in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, I wonder if there is any concern of providing services for a divorced couple that is remarrying? I never heard of any refusal of participating on a adulterous weeding and that makes some wonder why the double standard. Opening the door to discriminatory business practices is a dangerous path that some are willing to take. Knowing that worldwide Islam is the fasting growing religion and in the USA atheism is fast growing, I fear that one day Christians might find themselves at the receiving end of religious discrimination if we are so eager to create a legal precedent. In Luke 7:36-39 we read that Jesus was not bothered by an interaction with a prostitute, a woman that the religious leaders of that time despised and marginalized. Also in Matthew 9:10-11 Jesus is having dinner with sinners, practice that bothered greatly the Pharisees. Paul, right after he cites the sins that would lead to death, he makes the following statement rarely mentioned in our churches: “And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God (1 Corinthians 6:11). My humble suggestion is that rather than trying to divide, point fingers, castigate and marginalize anyone that might be the biggest sinner among us, how about trying to show them the love of Christ and tell them that they too can be washed and sanctified by the blood of Christ, just like some of the Christians in Corinth Church.

What does the Bible say about remarriage if divorce occurred before salvation?

What does the Bible say about remarriage if a divorce occurred before salvation?

This is a very difficult, interesting, and challenging question. Some would say that since believers in Christ are “new creations” with “all things made new” (2 Corinthians 5:17), the sin and consequences of divorce are washed away, allowing a person who was divorced before becoming a believer to be remarried. Others would say that while the sin of the divorce was atoned for by Christ, the consequences of the sin are not, and therefore a person who was divorced before becoming a believer cannot remarry.

When the Bible talks about marriage, it does not speak only to Christians/believers getting married. The biblical principles on marriage are universal. If an unsaved man and woman get married, they are just as married in God’s eyes as a Christian man and woman who get married. They are still one flesh (Genesis 2:24). God still hates divorce (Malachi 2:16). God has still joined them together, and He does not want them to be separated (Matthew 19). So salvation does not wipe away all the consequences of the sins we committed before we came to faith in Christ. If the divorce was for unbiblical reasons, there are no grounds for remarriage.

However, we believe in the exception clause. If a divorce occurred as a result of unrepentant, continual adultery, we believe the innocent party can remarry. This is equally true if the innocent party was a believer or unbeliever when the divorce occurred. So, the answer to this question would depend on the circumstances of the divorce. It is our contention that whether the divorce occurred before or after salvation is not the ultimate deciding factor. Whatever viewpoint a person takes on this particular issue, it is important to understand that salvation does not free us or excuse us from all the foolish and sinful decisions we made before coming to faith in Christ.

What does it mean to be Free from Sin?

Proverbs 20:9 asks the question “Who can say, ‘I have cleansed my heart; I am pure and free from sin’?” (NLT). We can all identify with that. If we are honest with ourselves, we know we still sin. So why does Romans 6:18 say, “You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness”? Is this a contradiction?

Sin can be defined as “any thought, action, or attitude that falls short of God’s holiness” (Romans 3:23). Sin has many layers. There are specific actions or thoughts which are sinful. Murder, adultery, and theft are sins (Exodus 20:1-17). Even the desire to commit murder, adultery, and theft are sins (Matthew 5:21, 28). But sin goes deeper than that. We commit sins because we are sinners. Since Adam first sinned in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:17; 3:17-19), every person born has inherited a sin nature from him (Psalm 51:5; Romans 3:23; 5:12). We cannot help but sin because it is our nature to do so. A bird does not have to be taught how to build a nest and keep her eggs warm. It is her nature to do so. A baby does not have to be taught to be selfish and demanding. That comes naturally.

However, we were not created to be sinful. We were designed by God in His own image (Genesis 1:27). Humanity is His masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10; Psalm 8:4-6). We were designed to live in fellowship with our Creator. But because of sin, we cannot enter His presence (Habakkuk 1:13). When Jesus died on the cross, He took upon Himself all the sin of the world (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 John 2:2). By taking the punishment for our sin, He cancelled the debt that each of us owes God (Colossians 2:14). He also reversed the curse of our old natures, which keeps us enslaved to sinful passions and desires (Galatians 3:10, 13). Before a person meets Christ, he or she is enslaved by that sin nature (Romans 7:25; 2 Peter 2:19). At the moment of conversion, we are given a new nature that has been freed from sin (Romans 6:18; 8:2). The entire chapter of Romans 6 explains this in detail. Verse 14 says, “For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.”

To be free from sin means that those who have made Jesus the Lord of their lives are no longer enslaved by sin. We have the power, through the Holy Spirit, to live victoriously over sin (1 Corinthians 15:56-67; Romans 8:37). Just like we once followed fleshly desires, those who are “in Christ Jesus” now follow the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:14; Galatians 5:24). Because we live in a fallen world and are still fleshly creatures, we will still occasionally sin (1 John 1:9; 2:1; Romans 7:21-22). But those who follow Christ do not make sin a lifestyle choice (1 John 2:1-6; 3:6-10; Romans 6:2).

Those who have been born again (John 3:3) have received a new nature. Whereas the old nature drew us toward self-pleasure, the new nature tugs us toward holiness (2 Corinthians 5:17). To be free from sin means it no longer wields the power it once did. The stranglehold of selfishness, greed, and lust has been broken. Freedom from sin allows us to offer ourselves as willing slaves of the Lord Jesus Christ, who continues to work in us to make us more like Him (Romans 6:18; 8:29; Philippians 2:13).


What is the importance of Christian Fellowship?

In order to understand the importance of Christian fellowship, we must first understand what Christian fellowship is and what it isn’t. The Greek words translated “fellowship” in the New Testament mean essentially a partnership to the mutual benefit of those involved. Christian fellowship, then, is the mutually beneficial relationship between Christians, who can’t have the identical relationship with those outside the faith.

The mystery and privilege that is Christian fellowship is that it exists because God has enabled it by His grace. Those who believe the gospel are united in the Spirit through Christ to the Father, and that unity is the basis of fellowship. This relationship is described by Jesus in His high-priestly prayer for His followers: “I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (John 17:23). The “complete unity” He refers to is the oneness that Christians experience in true fellowship, oneness with one another, with Christ and with the Father. Just as the Father is in Jesus, so is Jesus in us, and we have unity with one another because of the uniqueness of that relationship (1 John 1:3).

This relationship must be the basis of Christian fellowship. We can have friendships and relationships with unbelievers, but true Christian fellowship can only occur within the body of Christ. We are united to one another by common beliefs, purposes and goals. Our hearts and minds are “other-worldly” because we follow Jesus Christ, who said that His kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36). We know that we are strangers in this world, and we long for the time when we will be in our true home, heaven.

The importance of true Christian fellowship is that it reinforces these things in our mind and helps us to focus on Christ and His desires and goals for us. As iron sharpens iron, in true Christian fellowship Christians sharpen one another’s faith and stir one another to exercise that faith in love and good works, all to God’s glory.


What does it mean Love never fails?

The statement “love never fails” comes from best-known chapter in the Bible on love, 1 Corinthians 13. Among its many quoted phrases is a portion of verse 8, “Love never fails.”

Love never fails, and the English Standard Version adds to our understanding of these words, translating them as “Love never ends.” The next sentence contrasts love with other spiritual gifts: “But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.” Prophecies, tongues, and knowledge are all temporary. Not so love. Because love is a basic attribute of God (1 John 4:8) and because God is eternal, love will also be eternal. Love will never fail.

Scripture reveals God’s eternal love for us, a love that never fails. God chose us (John 17:24; Ephesians 1:4-5), died for us (Romans 5:8), and will never leave us (Hebrews 13:5). In fact, nothing at all can separate us from God’s eternal love: “I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).

The Greek word translated “fails” in the NIV is related to a verb meaning “to fall.” By saying, “Love never fails,” the Bible means that God’s type of love will not fall or falter. It is constant forever. As God says in Jeremiah 31:3, “I have loved you with an everlasting love.”

The truth that love never fails is emphasized in some classical literature, too. During the famous balcony scene of the play Romeo and Juliet, Romeo begins to pledge his love for Juliet with these words: “Lady, by yonder blessed moon I swear / That tips with silver all these fruit-tree tops.” However, Juliet cuts him off: “O, swear not by the moon, the inconstant moon, / That monthly changes in her circled orb, / Lest that thy love prove likewise variable” (II:ii). Juliet had it right. Love should not wax and wane; it should be steady and constant, a perpetual light in a dark world.

There is nothing mercurial about love. It is not based on whims, feelings, or passing fancies. Love is rock-solid, intent on benefitting the one loved, regardless of the cost. God’s love never fails, and it never ends.


What does the Bible say about Prosperity Gospel

In the prosperity gospel, also known as the “Word of Faith,” the believer is told to use God, whereas the truth of biblical Christianity is just the opposite”God uses the believer. Word of Faith or prosperity theology sees the Holy Spirit as a power to be put to use for whatever the believer wills. The Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit is a Person who enables the believer to do God’s will. The prosperity gospel movement closely resembles some of the destructive greed sects that infiltrated the early church. Paul and the other apostles were not accommodating to or conciliatory with the false teachers who propagated such heresy. They identified them as dangerous false teachers and urged Christians to avoid them.

Paul warned Timothy about such men in 1 Timothy 6:5, 9-11. These men of “corrupt mind” supposed godliness was a means of gain and their desire for riches was a trap that brought about them “into ruin and destruction” (v. 9). The pursuit of wealth is a dangerous path for Christians and one which God warns about: “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (v. 10). If riches were a reasonable goal for the godly, Jesus would have pursued it. But He did not, preferring instead to have no place to lay His head (Matthew 8:20) and teaching His disciples to do the same. It should also be remembered that the only disciple concerned with wealth was Judas.

Paul said covetousness is idolatry (Ephesians 5:5) and instructed the Ephesians to avoid anyone who brought a message of immorality or covetousness (Ephesians 5:6-7). Prosperity teaching prohibits God from working on His own, meaning that God is not Lord of all because He cannot work until we release Him to do so. Faith, according to the Word of Faith doctrine, is not submissive trust in God; faith is a formula by which we manipulate the spiritual laws that prosperity teachers believe govern the universe. As the name “Word of Faith” implies, this movement teaches that faith is a matter of what we say more than who we trust or what truths we embrace and affirm in our hearts.

A favorite term in the Word of Faith movement is “positive confession.” This refers to the teaching that words themselves have creative power. What you say, Word of Faith teachers claim, determines everything that happens to you. Your confessions, especially the favors you demand of God, must all be stated positively and without wavering. Then God is required to answer (as though man could require anything of God!). Thus, God’s ability to bless us supposedly hangs on our faith. James 4:13-16 clearly contradicts this teaching: “Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” Far from speaking things into existence in the future, we do not even know what tomorrow will bring or even whether we will be alive.

Instead of stressing the importance of wealth, the Bible warns against pursuing it. Believers, especially leaders in the church (1 Timothy 3:3), are to be free from the love of money (Hebrews 13:5). The love of money leads to all kinds of evil (1 Timothy 6:10). Jesus warned, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15). In sharp contrast to the Word of Faith emphasis on gaining money and possessions in this life, Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal” (Matthew 6:19). The irreconcilable contradictions between prosperity teaching and the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is best summed up in the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:24, “You cannot serve both God and money.”


What does the Bible say about Transsexualism/Transgenderism? Is gender identity disorder/gender dysphoria the result of sin

Transsexualism, also known as transgenderism, Gender Identity Disorder (GID), or gender dysphoria, is a desire to change one’s sex or to fulfill the role of the opposite gender. Transsexuals / transgenders usually describe themselves as “trapped” in a body that does not match their gender. They will probably practice transvestism / transvestitism and may also seek hormone therapy and/or surgery to bring their bodies into conformity with their perceived gender.

The Bible has plenty to say about human sexuality. Most basic to our understanding of sex is that God created two (and only two) genders: “male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27). All the modern-day speculation about numerous genders-or even a gender “continuum” with unlimited genders-is unbiblical.

In Psalm 139; we learn that God fashions each one of us. “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. . . . My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. . . . your eyes saw my unformed body” (verses 13-16). God’s creation of each individual must surely include His designation of gender/sex. His wonderful work leaves no room for mistakes; no one is born with the “wrong body.”

After the fall of man, it did not take long for gender issues to become confused. In Abraham’s day, homosexuality was widespread in some cities (Genesis 19:1-7; Jude 7). The Bible is unmistakably clear that homosexuality is a sinful perversion of God’s gift of sexuality (Romans 1:18-32; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10).

In the Law, transvestism / transvestitism was specifically forbidden: “A woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor a man wear women’s clothing, for the Lord your God detests anyone who does this” (Deuteronomy 22:5).

Another possible reference to transsexualism is 1 Corinthians 6:9, where “male prostitutes” is listed as a separate category from “homosexual offenders.” The King James Version uses the word “effeminate” here; that is to say, the “male prostitutes” might be transsexual men who act as women.

No matter if the gender distortion has a genetic, hormonal, physiological, or psychological cause, the Bible clearly and consistently labels any sexual activity outside of marriage or not between a man and a woman as sin, rebellion against God’s plan. But following this realization is good news: sin can be forgiven and lives can be changed through faith in Christ. The Corinthian believers are an example of such a change: “And [homosexuals] is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11). There is hope for any sinner, transsexuals, transgenders, those with gender identity disorder, and transvestites included, because of God’s forgiveness available in Jesus Christ.

What does the Bible say about Violence?

Violence is defined as “physical force exerted for the purpose of violating, damaging, or abusing,” and sadly, violence is a part of everyday life. It’s in our movies and television shows, and we live in a world where power is often established through violence. But for Christians, the way of the world is always trumped by the truth of the Word. So what does the Bible say about violence?

First of all, violence in the mind is just as hurtful as violence by the hands. Leviticus 19:17 says, “Do not hate your brother in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in his guilt.” When we know someone is in sin, is it more loving to keep it quiet and build up hate and resentment towards them? God says that we should speak frankly, and Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:21-22 that murderous anger can lead the angry man to judgment from God as quickly as a physical blow. The violence he exhibits toward someone else can be brought back upon himself by God.

What about violence in war? Exodus 20:13 had been incorrectly translated as “do not kill,” but it literally means “do not murder.” God has allowed for just wars throughout the history of His people. From Abraham to Deborah to David, God’s people have fought as instruments of judgment from a righteous and holy God. Romans 13:1-4 tells us to submit ourselves to government authorities and that nations have the right to bear the sword against evildoers, both foreign and domestic.

Violence occurs, but we must recognize the difference between holy judgment on sin and our own personal vendettas against those we dislike, which is the inevitable outcome of pride (Psalm 73:6). While men are more prone to accept violence (especially as cultures depict real men as those who never cry, always have a plan, and carry a gun), the wisest man of all time wrote, “Do not envy a violent man or choose any of his ways” (Proverbs 3:31). Prayer and patience beats violence and anger on any day.


Why are all Christians Hypocrites? Are all Christians Hypocrites?

Perhaps no accusation is more provocative than that of “hypocrite.” Unfortunately, some feel justified in their view that all Christians are hypocrites. The term “hypocrite” enjoys a rich heritage in the English language. The term comes to us via the Latin hypocrisies meaning “play-acting, pretense.” Further back, the word occurs in both classical and New Testament Greek and has the very same idea “to play a part, pretend.

This is the way the Lord Jesus employed the term. For example, when Christ taught the significance of prayer, fasting, and alms-giving for kingdom people, He discouraged us from following the examples of those who are hypocrites (Matthew 6:2, 5, 16). By making long public prayers, employing extreme measures to ensure others noticed their fasts, and parading their gifts to the Temple and the poor, they revealed only an outward attachment to the Lord. While the Pharisees performed well their dramatic role as public examples of religious virtue, they failed miserably in the inner world of the heart where true virtue resides (Matthew 23:13-33; Mark 7:20-23).

Jesus never called His disciples hypocrites. That name was given only to misguided religious zealots. Rather, He called His own “followers,” “babes,” “sheep,” and His “church.” In addition, there is a warning in the New Testament about the sin of hypocrisy (1 Peter 2:1), which Peter calls “insincerity.” Also, two blatant examples of hypocrisy are recorded in the church. In Acts 5:1-10, two disciples are exposed for pretending to be more generous than they were. The consequence was severe. And, of all people, Peter is charged with leading a group of hypocrites in their treatment of Gentile believers (Galatians 2:13).

From the New Testament teaching, then, we may draw at least two conclusions. First, hypocrites do exist among professing Christians. They were present in the beginning, and, according to Jesus’ parable of the tares and wheat, they will certainly exist until the end of the age (Matthew 13:18-30). In addition, if even an apostle may be guilty of hypocrisy, there is no reason to believe “ordinary” Christians will be free from it. We must always be on our guard that we do not fall into the very same temptations (1 Corinthians 10:12).

Of course, not everyone who claims to be a Christian is truly a Christian. Perhaps all or most of the famous hypocrites among Christians were in fact pretenders and deceivers. To this day, prominent Christian leaders have fallen into terrible sins. Financial and sexual scandals sometimes seem to plague the Christian community. However, instead of taking the actions of a few and using them to denigrate the whole community of Christians, we need to ask whether all those who claim to be Christians really are. Numerous biblical passages confirm that those who truly belong to Christ will exhibit the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Jesus’ parable of the seed and the soils in Matthew 13 makes it clear that not all professions of faith in Him are genuine. Sadly, many who profess to belong to Him will be stunned one day to hear Him say to them, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” (Matthew 7:23).

Second, while it should not surprise us that people who pretend to be more holy than they are claim to be Christians, we cannot conclude that the church is made up almost entirely of hypocrites. One surely may concede that all of us who name the name of Jesus Christ remain sinners even after our sin is forgiven. That is, even though we are saved from sins” eternal penalty (Romans 5:1; 6:23), we are yet to be saved and delivered from the presence of sin in our lives (1 John 1:8-9), including the sin of hypocrisy. Through our living faith in the Lord Jesus, we continually overcome sin’s power until we are finally delivered (1 John 5:4-5).

All Christians fail to perfectly live up to the standard the Bible teaches. No Christian has ever been perfectly Christ-like. However, there are many Christians who are genuinely seeking to live the Christian life and are relying more and more on the Holy Spirit to convict, change, and empower them. There have been multitudes of Christians who have lived their lives free from scandal. No Christian is perfect, but making a mistake and failing to reach perfection in this life is not the same thing as being a hypocrite.


Is God Dead?

The technical term for the teaching that “God is dead” is theothanatology, a three-fold compound from the Greek: theos (god) + thanatos (death) + logia (word).

German poet and philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche is most famous for making the statement “God is dead” in the Nineteenth Century. Nietzsche, influenced by both Greek philosophy and the theory of evolution, wrote, “God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we, murderers of all murderers, console ourselves? . . . Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we not ourselves become gods simply to be worthy of it?” (Nietzsche, The Gay Science, “125).

Nietzsche’s purpose was to abolish “traditional” morality-Christianity, in particular-because, in his mind, it represented an attempt of self-serving religious leaders to control the weak and unthinking masses. Nietzsche believed that the “idea” of God was no longer necessary; in fact, God was irrelevant because man was evolving to a place where he could create a deeper and more satisfying “master morality” of his own.

Nietzsche’s “God is dead” philosophy has been used to advance the theories of existentialism, nihilism, and socialism. Radical theologians such as Thomas J. J. Altizer and Paul van Buren advocated the “God is dead” idea in the 1960s and 1970s.

The belief that God is dead and religion is irrelevant naturally leads to the following ideas:

1) If God is dead, there are no moral absolutes and no universal standard to which all men should conform.

2) If God is dead, there is no purpose or rational order in life.

3) If God is dead, any design seen in the universe is projected by men who are desperate to find meaning in life.

4) If God is dead, man is independent and totally free to create his own values.

5) If God is dead, the “real” world (as opposed to a heaven and hell) is man’s only concern.

The idea that “God is dead” is primarily a challenge to God’s authority over our lives. The notion that we can safely create our own rules was the lie that the serpent told Eve: “ye shall be as gods” (Genesis 3:5). Peter warns us that “there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction” (2 Peter 2:1).

The “God is dead” argument is usually presented as a rational, empowering philosophy for artists and intellectuals. But scripture calls it foolish. “The fool hath said in his heart, ‘There is no God’” (Psalm 14:1). Ironically, those who hold to the “God is dead” philosophy will discover the fatal error in the philosophy when they themselves are dead.