Ask the Pastors
Do you have a question about Seeking the Lord, Building Relationships, or Committing to Serve? Is there something you've wondered about, but didn't really want to ask? You can use the form below to ask the question anonymously and we will post the question and answer here. There may be others with the same question!
Submitted Questions & Answers (click on question)
Question: Do you believe it is important for believers to concede the possibility that the rapture may indeed not come until after the tribulation? I have heard many Christians comment that they don't care at all about the endtimes because they feel sure they will be "long gone" when the antichrist is revealed and the tribulation comes. Seems as though this viewpoint, though comforting, does not do much to mentally and spiritually prepare a believer for what they may have to endure if the rapture is post-trib. Do you think Christians of today are being given a false sense of security which is detrimental to their spiritual preparedness for the horrible things we might soon face? Christ warned us that many would be martyred. Thank you so much for sharing your insight about this
Great question. Yes, I believe we need to concede we do not know when the rapture is going to happen. I lean more toward a pre-trib position. But if I am fair to the texts, all I can really do is be dogmatic a rapture is going to happen. There are many good arguments made for each position of pre, mid, and post-tribulation. We know the Bible clearly speaks of a rapture happening. Emotionally we are all pre-trib. I believe even someone who is a post-trib would not mind seeing the pre-trib people be right. Also I believe it is important to study end time events, because it strengthens our faith now. I can see if God has everything planned in detail for the future, then God has to have a plan for now. Knowing the plan for the end gives me peace and security in the present. Also, as believers we need to constantly be growing and strengthening our faith. Good question!
Question: Concerning the Jewish people from the time of Christ to today. If they have not heard the word--what is their fate in regards to heaven or hell. This could also apply to an unreached person say in the middle of the jungle.
The way to understand salvation before and after Jesus is simply this: Old Testament believers trusted in a Messiah who would come, while New Testament (and current day) believers trust in a Messiah who has come.
There are plenty of indications that the Jewish people had just as much responsibility to accept salvation during the time of the Old Testament. Job was an Old Testament believer. Job 19:25-26 says, “As for me I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will take His stand on the earth. Even after my skin is destroyed, yet from my flesh I will see God.” So in here Job tells us that there is a specific Redeemer, whom Job will see at the end of time. Job also indicates that he believes in a bodily resurrection, and that he will see the Redeemer, whom is God, with his own physical eyes. So Job understood there was a Redeemer, or Messiah, who needed to be trusted for salvation.
Another interesting note on this comes from Jesus himself in Luke 24. After He rose again, he appeared to two men who were travelling from Jerusalem. They did not know who he was, and they are upset that the Redeemer they thought had come to save Israel, had himself been killed. So Jesus explains that the Messiah had to go through these things in order to save the people. It then says in Luke 24:27, “Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.” So Jesus did not use the gospels or the Roman road to share about Himself. He used the Old Testament, which was sufficient for the Jewish people to understand who Jesus was.
For the person living in the jungle, they still have a need for the gospel, and we have a responsibility to follow the call of Jesus in Matthew 28:19 to go to all the nations. These nations all came from Noah’s family, so at some point they rejected the knowledge of God among their people. So we have a great need to get the gospel to these people, and to see more people commit to supporting missions not just financially, but by going out. Billy Graham once made the point that if ignorance of the gospel could take us to Heaven, then we should close all the churches and burn all the Bibles so that people wouldn’t be condemned by their knowledge of Jesus when they chose to reject Him.
Question: This is a confusing question for me to write. With all the horrible things that are happening in the middle east, that have happened all through as we read the bible, how are Christians supposed to react to these things? Won't these things continue until Christ returns? Everything that has happened in the world have all been predicted in the bible? Am I wrong in not getting extremely upset because aren't they going to continue to happen just like the bible says anyway? What can we as man really do about it, except pray that things will change? Is it unrealistic to pray for peace on earth? Or should we just keep praying for God's will to be done? Sorry for so many questions? Thanks for your time.
Thanks for the questions on the Middle East events right now. One thing we need to remember is that God is in control and God has a plan and His plan will never be overthrown no matter how out of control or bad we think things are in the present.
I would encourage you today to read some different passages that address what the conditions of the world will be like leading up to the end times. Passages like Matthew 24 and Matthew 25:31-46 are good ones to start with.
Now knowing that Jesus is coming back and that one day Jesus will rule and reign from the throne of David, how do we react now to war, to uprisings, to rumors of war, to conflict like we see going on in Egypt? Our first reaction should be prayer. We should pray ultimately that the good news of Jesus goes out so people will hear and believe in Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Second our reaction is not to panic. Again God is in control, we should show concern for these events but we should not be distracted by the mission that we have which is to make disciples of all people everywhere. Our third reaction should be that we are not surprised by these events. Will events like this continue in our world, yes they will until Jesus gets back.
To answer your final question is it unrealistic to pray for peace on earth? Well understand peace on earth is not possible until the return of Jesus. The reason is that man is sinful and we will always be at war with each other, as long as there is sin present there will be no peace on earth. Instead of praying for peace on earth, our focus should be that many people will pray to believe in Jesus as their Lord and Savior. We should be in prayer for countries like Egypt who have been closed to the gospel, to now being open to Christians, to the gospel spreading throughout the Middle East. That should be our focus and where our attention is given. Great questions thanks for asking!
Question: I've read & re-read Matt 12:31-32 & need help? Spirit, Holy Spirit and Son of Man are the same, why are men "forgiven" in the first part but not in the second part? Also Matt 13:58 & Mark 6:5-6, there was "lack of faith" also in the other towns Jesus did miracles in, so why do Matthew & Mark say this?
You are correct that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one. They are three in one, all being God. That can be tough to understand, so the easiest way to remember it is this way: the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are individual persons of God, who are never in conflict with one another.
So getting to your question, why can men be forgiven their sins against Jesus the Son, but not the Holy Spirit? First of all, what is blasphemy of the Holy Spirit? There is another passage that defines this for us, in addition to Matthew 12:31-32. In Mark 3:28-30, the Bible says, “ ‘Truly I say to you, all sins shall be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin’— because they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.” So this is Mark’s account of the same event that you read in Matthew 12, but here Mark adds what the offense was: Jesus was being accused of performing his miraculous works by the power of the devil.
So the sin wasn’t against Christ, but against the work of the Holy Spirit being done through Jesus. You can insult Christ, and He’ll still offer forgiveness to the repentant insulter. However, once someone blasphemes the Holy Spirit, it’s an offense you don’t come back from. And even if the sin was pardonable, we don’t see any of the Pharisees who ever came repentant to Jesus after such accusations. Attributing the work of God to the Devil indicates a heart that is unwilling to consider repentance.
Regarding your question on Matthew 13:58 and Mark 6:5-6 (another example of two accounts of the same situation), there was a very specific reason for the unbelief of the people: pride. In Matthew 13:55 and Mark 6:3, the people point out that Jesus is no one special and that most of them grew up with Him. He’s the son of a local carpenter and they know Jesus’ siblings as well. So they didn’t view Him as any better than themselves, which led Jesus to say that a prophet has no honor in His hometown. Certainly other people struggled with unbelief, but much of that was due to the oppression and uncaring religion they felt at the hands of the religious leaders.
Question: Is God the same person as Jesus?
Well for us the ultimate test comes down to what the Bible says on matters such as this. In John 10:25-30, Jesus was responding to those who asked whether He was the Messiah. Jesus goes onto say that those who follow Him will be given eternal life. He wraps up the thought in verses 29-30 by saying, “My Father who has given them (believers) to me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” So is this a strong claim by Jesus to be God? Apparently so, because in verses 31-34 the people prepare to kill him with stones for claiming to be God. So Jesus definitely made the claim to be God.
In addition, Scripture refers to all three persons of the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), as being involved in the process of creation. Genesis 1:1 says that “God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:2 says the “Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters” on the formless earth. And Colossians 1:15-16 indicates that Jesus is the image of the invisible God, and points to Jesus as creator in verse 16; “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth…”
Interestingly enough, God the Father calls Jesus God. Hebrews 1 is an opening statement about the unique relationship that Jesus the Son has to the Father that not even the angels can match or understand. In this chapter of statements being made by the Father, verse 8 is interesting; “But of the Son He says, ‘Your throne, O God, is forever and ever.”
So is Jesus God? Absolutely, and never hesitate when answering the question!
Question: As I was reading my daily devotions in Exodus, this question keeps coming to mind. Starting in chapter 25 Offerings for the Tabernacle. Why is God so specific to Moses about how the Tabernacle is built, how it is designed, what material, fabric, colors, wood, specific size, etc to use? I realize God is Holy & Worthy to be Praised as is the Testimony. Is it a test in faithfullness on the part of Moses & the Israelites? With all do respect, I picture God as down to earth and simple (to use modern day terms,) with regard to the way we worship Him. We don't need to do these things to worship Him today. Thanks for your time!
You raise an interesting question, that starts in Chapter 25 of Exodus, but really continues on into Chapter 28 regarding so many specifics on how the tabernacle was to be constructed. So why all the details? You seem to be correct in your assumption that this was more than just a set of instructions; it was a call for obedience. Perhaps there are easier ways to construct certain portions. For instance, Exodus 27:8 says of the construction of the altar to make it “hollow with planks, as it was shown to you in the mountain” (NASB). So God had even shown them exactly how to construct it, and was pointing out this fact. And why did God ask for things to be overlaid in gold? Because it was of great value. If wool had been more valuable, that’s probably what God would have asked them to use. He wants us to evaluate whether we are willing to give up the treasures of earth for the treasures of Heaven.
It is interesting that we really don’t see many commands in the New Testament regarding our worship in the same kind of detail. In fact, there is really one that sticks out more than all others and has nothing to do with the outward appearance of the church building. Jesus was in a conversation with a woman in John 4:23 when He said, “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers” (NASB). Jesus indicated that worship is about the heart, and so it stands to reason that an unchanging God (Malachi 3:6) will always desire that. The tabernacle was more about the heart of the people to be completely obedient than to make things look a certain way.
In the same way, our churches need to be made up of people who examine the furnishings of their own hearts than those of the church. We honor God’s house not through renovations of wood and mortar, but renovations of the heart as we follow His commandments.
Question: What does it mean to be saved? What do you have to do to be saved? How does being saved "work"?
What does it mean to be saved? Well we need to know what we are being saved from. Romans 3:23 says we all have sinned and sin is what we need to be saved from. Our sins separate us from God and keep us from heaven when we die. So to be saved really means that we are being forgiven of the guilt and penalty of our sins. Sin has a price and must be paid for. Someone who dies without being saved must pay for their sins in Hell. But Jesus died on the cross to pay the price of sin for us. Being saved means we accept his payment for our sins instead of paying for them ourselves.
Romans 10:9 says “if we confess with our mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in our heart that God raised him from the dead you will be saved”. So we must ask Jesus to save us. we ask Him to forgive our sins and trust Him for our future. So what do we do after this? We obey Him. Our sins are paid by His sacrifice, but it is our responsibility to live for Him in light of that gift. As a result Jesus says you are His friend if you do what He commands.
Question: I haven't heard anything about the rapture. Is that a decision not to emphasize it very much in your ministry? Not complaining--just curious.
Do not worry I am very much for the rapture of the church. Actually I get asked whether I am a pre-trib rapture (rapture before the tribulation period) or post trib rapture (rapture after the tribulation period). I usually tell people that I am a pro rapture believer. That means I am for the rapture, whenever it happens. Passages like 1 Thess. 4 are great passages dealing with the rapture. The reason that I have not covered it, is because it has not come up in any Bible books that I have preached through yet. It is very hard preaching only one time a week to cover many different subjects. That is why I like preaching through books because usually when you preach through books of the Bible you will cover most major topics. Thanks for the question!
Question: Question: In today's reading in 1 Cor, Paul speaks about women needing to wear head coverings to pray. How do we justify not doing this today as I do know some denominations that require this?
As you’ve probably seen in illustrations from biblical time, both men and women wore robes. These loose fitting garments occasionally made it hard to tell women from men. In addition, women wore head coverings (or shawls) in the Corinthian church as a sign of gender and marital status. These head coverings represented the respect she had for her husband as the head of the home.
If a woman prophesies in church without this sign of being under male authority, in this case a head covering- i.e., if she prophesies while dressed like a man- she is in effect negating the distinction between men and women that God has ordained from creation (paraphrased from Thomas Schriener in “Head Coverings, Prophecies and the Trinity: 1 Cor. 11:2-16”).
In our society (and in our church), head coverings are not widely used to show the differences in genders. Some denominations still use the head covering practice. There’s nothing wrong with their choice to do so. But for our church and denomination, the reason behind the head coverings (showing respect to male headship) is still practiced without the wearing of head coverings.
So the manifestation of the principle is different, although the principle (male headship) still exists. Women who pray and prophesy still do so in a manner that shows respect and submits to male authority in the church.
Master of Divinity, Women’s Studies
Question: In the Old Testament we repeatedly see a God who deals with sin. Whole people groups are condemned to destruction, prophets rise to inform the kings of their sin and consequences, and miracles of punishment are meted out (pestilence, famine, drought, etc). Jesus still deals with sin, and his disciples followed, but also focused clearly on reaching all people groups. Today, anyone who claims disaster is punishment for sin is ridiculed, even by mainstream Christianity. Does the Bible give us guidance on what is chance, and what is punishment, or has God simply changed his mind about how to work in the world?
Thank you for the question and certainly we need to pray for those recovering from this tragedy in Haiti. God does still work in this world. Understand that God does not like sin, He hates sin and sin He will judge always. We see sometimes these events happen, floods, earthquakes, and tsunamis. These are all events that remind us that creation moans as a result of sin in this world, a reminder that even creation needs to be reconciled and fixed. I believe that we must be careful not to presume what is God’s judgment. Was God judging churches when they were wiped out in hurricane Katrina? Where missionaries judged in Haiti when they were killed? The comments by Pat Robertson were ones in which I cannot agree with for two reasons. First, historically he is very inaccurate. He is building his comments on Haitian folklore not historical fact. Secondly it is dangerous to think that you speak for God on this issue. Yes, God did use prophets in the Old Testament to confront kings and nations with their sin. These were men in which God appointed, God called and God gave the words to speak. For us today to attempt that is dangerous if not called to speak for God.
Does God hate Haiti? No, if God hated the Haitian people then there would be no missionaries there, there would be no outpouring of relief efforts and people coming to their aid. Instead what this is an example that God desires the salvation of every person. That we all every one of us stands of the brink of eternity and that we are all called to repent and believe in the gospel. Thanks again for the question.