Monday, December 9, 2013

It bothers me to eat meat... is it ok to be a vegetarian?

Answer:
Yes, it is ok to be a vegetarian as long as you understand it is not required by God. There is nothing wrong with eating meat. The Bible makes it clear that God has given us animals for food. The Apostle Paul gave this instruction in (1 Timothy 4:1-5),
But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.
Although there is nothing wrong with eating meat, there are some people who make a choice to not. This is their right. We have the freedom in Christ to eat the food of our choice. You may choose to not eat meat and I may choose eat meat  as long as it does not become a matter of condemnation and as long as we do not force our views on each other. We are each entitled to our opinions about food. The teaching of (Romans 14:1-4) applies in this situation:
Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions. One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only. The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
Conclusion:
The answer to the question above is simply “eat however your conscience compels you”. The book of Romans words it in this way:

But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin. (Romans 14:23)
By Cliff Sabroe - Quotes from NASB95 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Should a church try to be "culturally relevant"? Is culture bad? Should a church "embrace culture"? How does a church balance "culture" and "Scripture"?

Preliminary Points
There is great deal of sin being embraced by our current culture (such as immorality, immodesty, vulgar speech, irresponsibility, abortion, and violence). In fact, in every culture throughout history there has been a great deal of sin being practiced, promoted and endorsed. No society is ever "sinless". However, just because a particular behavior, idea or practice is popular in current culture, does not necessarily mean it is always sinful. Some popular ideas are neither right nor wrong and some might even be good.

Caution!
We often have the tendency to shy away from anything that is popular in our current culture for the fear that by embracing one of the actions of our current culture, that we must by proxy, be endorsing all of it. At times we create our own specific “congregational/church culture” and assume that anything outside of our particular “culture” must not be right. We must be careful to not create walls and boundaries that God did not create. 

Remember
Culture is not the enemy... SIN IS! The church is designed to mold and shape itself with current cultural practices that are not sinful, in an attempt to better reach those in the culture where it exists. It is true that doctrine cannot be compromised in an attempt to be “culturally relevant”, however, many of our expediences and practices can be changed in a way to make them more culturally viable. 

Some Ideas
Modern American culture is very technology oriented. A church in an urban American city must embrace and use current technology if it wants to be relevant. On the other hand, a rural church in Kenya would not be culturally relevant if it had free wifi, plasma screens and an interactive online presence. 

Dress and the organization of worship activities is another way in which a congregation can be culturally relevant. Without rejecting Biblical standards of modesty a congregation should not dress in way that might put up a barrier in reaching the lost. The dress of a congregation in a wealthy Southern community is going to need to be different from the dress of a church in a college town on the West Coast. A suit and tie would be very out of place in a church in the Hawaiian Islands, as would a flowered shirt, shorts and flip-flops in a large congregation in a wealthy suburb of Nashville.

The type of singing in worship is one way in which the church has a history of being culturally relevant. God has only authorized vocal singing in worship, however, the style of the singing must be relevant to the particular culture of the congregation. In the early years of the church, chanting, repetition and responsive singing was culturally relevant. In the first half of the 20th century, 4 part harmony with multiple verses and a chorus was culturally relevant. Now, the norm is the more simple and repetitive “Praise Songs” which are often nothing more than just verses set to music. Each one of these styles of singing are pleasing to God, but are also different and relevant to the their current culture. 

Preaching styles and sermon length need to be culturally relevant. The Gospel is always culturally relevant, but the delivery and style of the message must mirror the current trends in a particular culture in order to be the most effective. The style of preaching in a congregation that is predominantly African American will often differ from an elderly White congregation. The style and length of a lesson delivered in a lecture hall before Graduate students may be longer and more in-depth than a lesson given in a congregation with a great number of parents with children who are struggling to be somewhat quiet for more than 15 minutes. In a culture of rapid facts and instant information, a series of shorter lessons with very specific conclusions and applications may be more relevant. The preacher must not only be a student of the word, but also a student of culture.

When a church meets on Sunday, how we structure our worship, how long we conduct Bible classes and in what format are all questions of “how can we best reach our community?". Just because a congregation has "always done it this way!", does not mean it is the only way, or the best way. Often times a traditional practice, due to repetition, subconsciously becomes a matter of doctrine in our minds. A church must always evaluate its practices and ask "is this action Scripturally binding our not?" If it is not a matter or Scripture, then it can be changed in order to be more effective. 

Some would try to soften the message or tolerate sin under the guise of being “culturally relevant”, but when that takes place, no one is reached with the Gospel! Culture is not the enemy. If we can change our methods in a way that makes us more effective without compromising the Message, we need to do it. The Apostle Paul wrote:
“...I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings” (1 Corinthians 9:22-23).
Conclusion
If a congregation is wise in their approach to outreach and practice they will find ways to be as culturally relevant as they can be without compromising the Truth. Tolerating sin under the guise of being "relevant" is wrong and will always be. Neglecting to teach the Truth in order to "reach more" is actually reaching less. Culture is not bad, the church needs to work to find ways to mold and shape its expedient actions and practices in ways to best reach the society in which it exists. 

By Cliff Sabroe

Thursday, November 7, 2013

What does it mean to be “baptized with fire”? Does it mean that the Holy Spirit is burning inside of you?

Answer:
This questions is concerning Matthew 3:11 which states,
"As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire”.
In this passage John the Baptist is emphasizing the greatness of the coming Messiah. Although John was a great godly man, he was insignificant compared to Jesus. John’s baptism was “with water for repentance”, but Jesus was going to baptize with two things, the Holy Spirit and fire. When examining this passage there are three terms that need to be defined and examined in this context. They are 1. Baptism, 2. Holy Spirit, and 3. Fire.

What does “baptism” mean?
The term “baptism” is usually used in the New Testament in reference to the act that takes place at one’s conversion when they are buried in water symbolizing Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. The word, however, is not always in reference to a religious action. “Baptism” in its most literal sense means to “dip or immerse” (Arndt 131). When examining Matthew 3, the definition “to immerse”, would make sense with water baptism as well as the Holy Spirit and fire. This article will explain the last two terms further.

What is the baptism of the “Holy Spirit”? 
Since the term baptism means “to immerse”, what does it mean when John said that Jesus would “immerse with the Holy Spirit”? Later in (Acts 2), the Apostles were gathered together and the Holy Spirit comes on them (like an immersion/baptism). The text reads,
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance. (Acts 2:1-4)
In Matthew 3, John the Baptist (a prophet) is explaining that when Jesus comes, He will be able to immerse people with the Spirit of God. This is what He did in (Acts 2) and later with Cornelius and his household in (Acts 10). In fact, by inspiration, the Apostle Peter defines for the reader what was meant by the phrase “baptized with the Holy Spirit”. In (Acts 11:15-16) he says, 
“And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as He did upon us at the beginning. “And I remembered the word of the Lord, how He used to say, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’”
Being “baptized with the Holy Spirit” means to be immersed with the Spirit. This happened to the Apostles in (Acts 2) and to Cornelius’ household in (Acts 10).

What does it mean to be “baptized with fire”?
There are many well-meaning people who ask to be “baptized with fire”. They make this statement out of confusion because they were taught that the fire in this passage is in reference to a “burning in ones heart” that the Spirit produces, or maybe in reference to the “tongues of fire” in (Acts 2). Both of these are assumptions that are far from the truth of this passage.

The term “fire” is used 3 times in (Matthew 3) and in no less than 12 verses in the entire book. Every single time this word is used, it is discussing hot, burning fire, as one would find in a furnace or in Hell. In (Matthew 3:10) John says, 
"The axe is already laid at the root of the trees; therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire”
The fire mentioned in (Matthew 3:10) is a destructive fire. It is a fire intended to burn up the pruned fruitless branches of a tree. A similar illustration is given in (Matthew 3:12) where John continues by stating, 
"His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire."
Again, in this verse fire is destructive, it is designed to burn up the worthless chaff after it is separated from the wheat. If the fire mentioned in vs. 10 is destructive, and if the fire in vs. 12 is destructive, one MUST conclude that the fire in vs. 11 is also destructive.

This passage is stating that Jesus will not only immerse people with the Spirit, He also has the power to punish by immersing them in destructive fire.

Conclusion:
Jesus will judge the world some day. The “fire” mentioned in (Matthew 3:11) is the same as the fire in (Revelation 20:15) which declares, 
And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
The lesson for the reader of this passage is that John the Baptist was a great prophet of God who prepared the way for the coming Messiah. The Messiah/Jesus was greater than John, for Jesus has the power to save and also to punish.

By Cliff Sabroe (Quotes from NASB95 Bible) and citation from
Arndt, William F. and F. Wilber Gingrich. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament.  Chicago: University Press, 1952. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Is the Story of Jonah a Myth?

Answer:
Some look at the story of Jonah (particularly the part about him being swallowed by a big fish) and think it is too fanciful to be true. It is often hard for us to wrap our minds around some of the amazing feats recorded in Scripture. We must remember that God is “all powerful” and is able to do things that we would regard as miraculous and supernatural.

The greatest evidence for Jonah being a true story is the fact that Jesus references the book on multiple occasions. When Jesus mentions the story of Jonah, He mentions it as being factual, not allegorical or fictional. Notice the following quote of Jesus:
“Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here”. (Matthew 12:38-41).
Jesus regarded the account of Jonah as true. Jesus even used it to prove the necessity of repentance as well as to show the duration of His burial. If He believes it to be true, we should too.

Conclusion:
Jesus presented the book of Jonah as factual. If Jonah was a myth, then Jesus was a liar. Jesus was perfect and sinless. Through His perfect teaching He gave His endorsement of the factual nature of the book of Jonah.

By Cliff Sabroe (Quotes from ESV Bible)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Is interracial marriage wrong? Does the Bible teach that it is wrong to marry outside of your race?

Answer: 
Interracial marriage is NOT wrong. Some suppose that the Bible condemns all interracial marriages because of a command given to the Israelites in (Deuteronomy 7:3-4) which states:
You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons, for they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods. Then the anger of the Lord would be kindled against you, and he would destroy you quickly.
The aforementioned command was given only to the Israelites and not to all people for all time. Also, there was a specific reason that this command was given (ie. idolatry). God wanted to keep his people (the Israelites) separate from the sinful nations around them. The Gentile nations were idol worshippers. If the Israelites were to marry people from those societies, they may be converted to idol worship. God forbade them from intermarrying to keep them from being corrupted by sinful practices. 

The only way this verse may be applied today, would be as an illustration to encourage a Christian to marry a fellow Christian. It is possible for a non-believer to pull a believer away from Christ and into a sinful lifestyle, thus it is wise to marry one who shares your same beliefs. The New Testament never states that it is wrong to marry outside of your faith, but it would make sense to marry someone who is going to help you achieve your spiritual goals. 

Conclusion:
God does not judge a person by their race, but instead by their faith. There are NO New Testament passages that forbid a person from marrying outside of their own race. 

By Cliff Sabroe (quotes from ESV Bible)

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Will my pet go to heaven?

Animals can be great companions, helpers and friends. Many people refer to their family dog as being “part of the family”. It is sad when a person looses a pet they have had for a long time. When a person looses a pet like a cat or a dog, often they ask “will I see my pet in the afterlife?”

Animals have “the breath of life”.
God gave both animals and mankind the “breath of life”.
  • “And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so” (Genesis 1:30)
  • “...then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature” (Genesis 2:7).

God cares about animals.
Numerous passages show that God cares about animals. 
  • “A righteous man has regard for the life of his animal, But even the compassion of the wicked is cruel” (Proverbs 12:10).
  • Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God” (Luke 12:6).
God cares for animals, and although animals are given for food and service to mankind, God does not want us to be cruel to them.

Mankind is different from animals.
God made many magnificent creatures, but the the most magnificent is man. When God made man He said:
  • Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” (Genesis 1:26).

What differentiates man from animals is the fact that man was made in the “image of God”. Man has a will, complex emotion, drive and spirituality. Part of man will exist through eternity either with God or away from God. There is nothing in Scripture to suggest that animals have this eternal spirit.

Jesus came to earth and suffered and died so that mankind could be forgiven. There are no passages of Scripture that discuss animals having a need for atonement and forgiveness. There are no passages of Scripture that mention animals being "saved" or "lost". It appears that when the die, they just "die".


Conclusion: It is not outside of the realm of possibility that in the afterlife God will have animals for our recreation and companionship. However, to think that your family pet “goes to heaven” when they die is most likely not true. It is ok to grieve over the loss of a pet and it is good to thank God for the blessing of the many different animals He has provided mankind.

By Cliff Sabroe Quotes from ESV and NASB95. Image from wikipedia.

Is the church important?

Answer: Yes it is. 

The Bible speaks of one church, the church of Christ.
  • “There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling” (Ephesians 4:4).
  • “He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything” (Colossians 1:18). 
The phrase “church of Christ” is not a proper name, but a description. The church that belongs to Christ. Romans 1:16 states “...the churches of Christ salute you”.

Christ has promised to save His church at the Last Day.
  • “For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body” (Ephesians 5:23). 
  • No salvation is promised to those out of Christ but instead they “shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power” (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9). 
Jesus died for the church.
  • “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25). 
Conclusion: Since the church was important to Jesus, it should be important to us too.

By Cliff Sabroe

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Where did Cain get his wife?

The Bible does not specifically say where Cain got his wife. The only possibilities are that she was one of his sisters or a niece. She had to have been a relative of his. Mankind lived very long back then, thus they were able to have multiple children and the earth was populated fairly quickly. 

We do not know how old Cain was when he got married or how many children Adam and Eve had. The Bible records: 
“Then the days of Adam after he became the father of Seth were eight hundred years, and he had other sons and daughters” (Genesis 5:4). 
Since Adam and Eve were the first humans, their children would have to intermarry. No doubt God accounted for this, and the genetic problems that come today from marrying a close relative would have been absent back then. In fact, God did not forbid intermarriage in the Bible until the book of Leviticus. The world was different in the years following the creation. Remember, Adam was related to his wife Eve as well, being that she was formed from his rib.

There are those who ask this question in an attempt to discredit the Bible. Some assume that Cain, Abel and Seth are the only children Adam and Eve had. Just because their other children are not listed by name, does not mean that they did not have any others. 

The earth was already populated enough by Adam and Eve’s children and grandchildren, that after Cain killed Abel, he was afraid for his life wherever he went.
"Behold, You have driven me this day from the face of the ground; and from Your face I will be hidden, and I will be a vagrant and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me." (Genesis 4:14).
Remember, mankind lived 800+ years during this time. One would imagine that the length of time they were fertile would have been longer as well. Long lives, good health and a long period of fertility would have resulted in a fast growing population. It would be easy for Cain to have had sisters or nieces that he had never even met before.

It may seem strange or taboo to think of marrying a sibling or close relative, but our world now is much different from when it was in its infancy following the creation.

By Cliff Sabroe (Quotes from NASB95 Bible)

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Is it a sin to be lazy?

Answer
Yes, it is a sin to be lazy. This is not to say it is wrong to relax, desire a break, or even take a nap, but a godly person is to be a hard worker and not “slothful”. Numerous Bible passages teach that laziness is wrong.

What the Old Testament teaches about laziness:
  • Do not love sleep, lest you come to poverty; Open your eyes, and you will be satisfied with bread” (Pro. 20:13).
  • Be diligent to know the state of your flocks, And attend to your herds” (Pro. 27:23).
  • The hand of the diligent will rule, But the lazy man will be put to forced labor” (Pro. 12:24).
  • The soul of a lazy man desires, and has nothing; But the soul of the diligent shall be made rich” (Pro. 13:4).
  • He who is slothful in his work Is a brother to him who is a great destroyer” (Pro. 18:9).
What the New Testament teaches about laziness:
  • “For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example, because we did not act in an undisciplined manner among you, nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with labor and hardship we kept working night and day so that we would not be a burden to any of you; not because we do not have the right to this, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you, so that you would follow our example. For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either. For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread” (2 Thessalonians 3:7-12).
Conclusion:
Laziness is not the same as being tired or worn-out. Laziness is an unwillingness to work. We should never have an heart that does not desire to work. Hard times happen, jobs some times end, but our willingness to work should not. Christians are to be diligent hard workers.

By Cliff Sabroe - Quotes from NKJV and NASB95 Bibles. Image from athleanx.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Is it always wrong to drink alcohol? What about a glass of wine for my heart? What does the Bible say about drinking in moderation?

Drunkenness is a Sin 
Being drunk is condemned in Scripture.
  • (Ephesians 5:18) “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery...”.
  • (1 Corinthians 6:10) “Nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God”.
In numerous passages in the Bible, being drunk is condemned. Why is this? Because when intoxicated, one no longer has “self-control”. (1 Peter 4:7) teaches; 
“The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers”.
When a person is under the influence of alcohol, their inhibitions are lowered and they are in less control of their actions. God wants us to be “sober minded” and in control of ourselves. This is why the Bible makes this powerful statement in (Proverbs 20:1),
“Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise”.
What if I don’t get drunk?
A Christian needs to make wise choices concerning the behaviors in which they participate (drinking included). No place in the Bible will you find a verse that condemns every form of alcohol consumption. There are no verses that say “drinking is always a sin”.  Alcohol is not inherently sinful, however, in our culture it is often used in a sinful way. Some people drink regularly and do not assume they are intoxicated. Use wisdom, if you need a couple of beers to “relax” or “loosen-up”, that “loosing-up” is likely intoxication, which would be wrong.

It is difficult to draw the line between intoxication and sobriety. Although a small amount of alcohol may not intoxicate, it is hard to know when you are no longer “sober-minded”. It is for this reason, and the others listed below that I have chosen to completely abstain from alcohol. I believe I have made a wise choice, although I do not believe that I could biblically bind this decision on others.

Abstaining from Alcohol is a High Standard of Living.
When one took a Nazarite vow in the Old Testament, they were to completely abstain from alcohol. In fact, just to be sure, they were also to abstain from anything that came from grapes (Judges 13). In the New Testament, Elders are told to “not be given to wine” and deacons are said to be “not given to much wine” (1 Timothy 3). Although there is a dispute about whether or not these terms represent “drunkenness”, or just “drinking”, it does seem that God wants spiritual leaders in the church to NOT be noted as frequent consumers of alcohol.

What about “a little wine for my stomachs sake”?
In (1 Timothy 5:23) Timothy is told, 
"Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses". 
I am of the impression that Timothy wanted to steer so far away from drinking that he was neglecting his health, and Paul had to tell him that it was ok to drink a little for this purpose. (Timothy was doing what he thought God wanted, and made a judgment call to not drink at all, and had to be told that it was ok). It may be that Timothy had an understanding of the dangers of alcohol, and wanted nothing to do with it (to the point that he was refusing to consume it even for medicinal reasons),

What about having a drink in a bar or nightclub?
Although the Bible does not condemn drinking alcohol in every amount, it does condemn the environment where drinking often takes place (bars, clubs, parties etc)
"For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry." (1 Peter 4:3).
This is not to say that anywhere alcohol is served is wrong (I often frequent restaurants that also have a bar or serve alcohol). This verse is condemning those types of parties and environments where the purpose is drunkenness, excess and immorality. College frat parties, certain club scenes and other gatherings where the focus is drinking and revelry are what is being referenced.

Consider your influence.
If you choose to drink alcohol, please consider your influence on others. The world often views Christians as people who don't "drink, steal or swear". If my drinking or buying alcohol would cause someone to think less of me, I should think before doing it. God does not want us to cause others to stumble. Obviously, this is a judgment call that an individual would have to make on their own, but the teaching of (Romans 14:21) is clear,
"It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles".
Wine today is not the same as wine back then.
Dr. Dave Miller writes, 
“Wine in antiquity was far less potent. One would have had to ingest large quantities in order to receive even minimal alcoholic content” (AP). 
Keep this thought in mind when reading Bible verses that mention “wine”. It took a lot more effort to become intoxicated back then in comparison to now. This may be why you often see the sin of “drunkenness” mentioned alongside the sin of “gluttony”.

What is the answer? Can I drink?
One cannot Scripturally condemn drinking a small amount in moderation, if one is not getting intoxicated, if it is not affecting their example, and if they are not addicted to it. (People who say, "well I need it every night to unwind", that is an addiction). 

Understand that there is something to be said for not drinking at all, it seems as though God views abstinence from alcohol as a higher form of living. If this is the case, why ever drink alcohol?

I personally do not drink alcohol ever (except in Nyquil or other medicines), and I believe that I am making a wise choice. However, if an individual chooses to drink small amounts in strict moderation, and it does not hurt their example to the world, I could not condemn it. Make smart choices, just because something is not “sinful” does not mean it is a good idea.

By Cliff Sabroe
Scripture Quotes from NASB and ESV

Work Cited - Miller, Dave Elders, Deacons, Timothy and Wine.  https://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=11&article=1208

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

What happened to Joseph (The Father of Jesus)? Why is he not mentioned at the crucifixion?

What does the Bible say about the earthly father of Jesus? There is a lot of speculation about Joseph. (How did he live? Why wasn’t he at the crucifixion?). The Bible Answer Show strives to only give Bible Answers. 

What the Bible Says About Joseph.
  • Hometown: Nazareth (Luke 2:4).
  • Father’s Name: Jacob (Matthew 1:16).
  • Betrothed to Mary and Later Becomes Her Husband: (Matthew 1:18, 1:24).
  • Keeps Mary a Virgin Until After the Birth of Jesus: (Matthew 1:24-25).
  • Obeys the Message of God Delivered By an Angel on Multiple Occasions: (Matthew 1:20-21, 2:13).
  • With Mary at the the Time of Christ’s Birth: (Luke 2:6).
  • Presents Jesus in the Temple in Accordance with the Law of Moses: (Luke 2:22-24).
  • Fleas to Egypt to Protect Jesus: (Matthew 2:14-15)
  • Ultimately Settles in Nazareth: (Luke 2:39)
  • Travels with his Family to Jerusalem for the Passover when Jesus is 12: (Luke 2:41-51).
  • A Carpenter by Trade: (Mark 6:3)
This is all the Bible says about Joseph. He is absent in the adult years of Jesus’ life. He is not mentioned at the Wedding at Cana or with Mary at the Crucifixion. This often leaves the reader perplexed. Why was he not there?

It is assumed that he most likely passed away during the teenage years of Jesus’ life. One’s life expectancy was not very long at this time, and we do not know how old he was when Jesus was born, thus, it is very likely that he died. Some would assert that he abandoned his family sometime during Jesus’ life, but this seems to be contrary to the faithful character he demonstrates throughout the Bible and is nothing more than wild speculation. Joseph was a godly man who obeyed God and helped raise the Messiah. Thanks be to God for this great example of faithfulness!

By Cliff Sabroe

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Should the church offer communion every week? Is the weekly observance of the Lord’s Supper Scriptural?

The Lord’s Supper is an integral part of Christian worship. Concerning the communion, the Apostle Paul wrote:
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes. (1 Corinthians 11:6).
Jesus Himself said that we are to take the communion in “remembrance” of Him (Luke 22:19). It is clear from Scripture that the Lord’s Supper is important. The question at hand is: How often should one take it? This post will present three important passages that help one conclude that the Lord’s Supper should be taken weekly.

#1 Acts 2:42 - “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer”.

By itself, this passage shows that the “breaking of bread” (ie. Communion) was a regular practice of these early Christians. Although this passage does not teach what day it should be taken, it does show that it was taken often and that it was associated with teaching, fellowship and prayer.

#2 (1 Corinthians 11:17-33)

This is the most lengthy discourse in the New Testament concerning the purpose, methods and attitudes that are to be associated with the Lord’s Supper. In this section of Scripture there are multiple verses that declare the Communion occurs “when you meet together”. The question then must be asked: “When did the church ‘meet together’”? The early church gathered for worship on the First Day of the Week (Sunday). This is why Paul tells the Corinthian church “On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper, so that no collections be made when I come”. The church gathered together on Sundays as a congregation, this was also the time in which they gave.

#3 (Acts 20:7) - “On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them, intending to leave the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight”.

This is strongest support in the Bible for the weekly observance of the Lord’s Supper. Note the explanation offered by Ray Van Neste:
Paul, on his way to Jerusalem has stopped at Troas. Here "on the first day of the week" he meets with the local church, and Luke directly states that the purpose of their gathering was "to break bread," i.e. to celebrate the Lord's Supper. This passage need not mean the Lord's Supper was the only purpose of their gathering, but it certainly is one prominent purpose and the one emphasized here. The centrality of communion to the weekly gathering is stated casually without explanation or defense, suggesting this practice was common among those Luke expected to read his account. These early Christians met weekly to celebrate the Lord's Supper (http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2012/04/18/three-arguments-for-weekly-communion)  
It is important to recognize that Paul stayed in Troas until he had the opportunity to partake of the Lord’s Supper. He did not take it on any other day while he was there except Sunday. He had important mission to continue, yet he remained in Troas until he had participated in the communion.

Conclusion:
The overwhelming evidence from Scripture is that the early church partook of the Lord’s Supper every Sunday. Not only do we have examples of Christians communing on the First Day of the week, even the Apostle Paul participated in this behavior. 

The Bible Answer Show strives to only give answers directly from the Bible, however, this is one instance where the evidence from history helps reinforce Bible teaching. History records that the early church took the Lord’s Supper every Sunday. 

A man called Justin Martyr (AD 100 - AD 165) wrote concerning Sunday Worship. Justin was not an inspired Bible writer, but he does record in his First Apology the practice of the early church. Justin lived during the time just after the Apostles and what he writes should be strongly considered as being historically accurate. He writes:

...and on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons. And they who are well to do, and willing, give what each thinks fit; and what is collected is deposited with the president, who succours the orphans and widows and those who, through sickness or any other cause, are in want, and those who are in bonds and the strangers sojourning among us, and in a word takes care of all who are in need. But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Saviour on the same day rose from the dead. (Justin Martyr, On Weekly Worship of the Christians (First Apology). (emp. added)

The Lord's Supper is an important weekly activity of the church. The Lord’s Supper is an awesome occasion in which God’s people come together and eat not to fill their stomachs but to focus on the atoning work of Jesus on the cross. It is a beautiful opportunity of praise, remembrance and reflection.Let us not make it into just an “act” to be observed, but a weekly event to experience. 

By Cliff Sabroe
Image from ChurchWares.com
Scripture Quotes - NASB95

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Is it ok to lift your hands while praying? Do you have to fold your hands and close your eyes? Is there are correct posture for prayer?

In the Bible you find many different postures for prayer recorded. What posture a person chooses to employ while praying seems to be often dependent upon the emotional state of the one offering the prayer. The Apostle Paul encouraged Christians to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). If our life is to be permeated with prayer one would assume that different postures of prayer would be acceptable. If I am praying while running on a treadmill or driving, my prayer posture will be very different from my bedside prayers or even a group prayer.

Examples of Prayer Postures in the New Testament
  • Lifting Hands (1 Timothy 2:8) - “Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing”
  • Kneeling (Acts 20:36) - “When he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all”.
  • Looking Upward (John 17:1) - “Jesus spoke these things; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, "Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You”
  • Looking Downward While Beating One’s Chest (Luke 18:13) - "But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, the sinner!'
Answer
Yes, it is ok to lift your hands while praying, as are many different postures. Ultimately God is not really concerned with the externals of prayer, rather the attitude of one’s heart. If a person is overly focused on their posture while praying, they may fall into the trap of only praying to be seen, which Jesus condemned in (Matthew 6:5).
"When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full”.
One’s attitude, location, occasion and ability dictate how they should pray. When my heart is full of sorrow I may choose to drop to my knees, on the other-hand if I am expressing joy to God I may lift my hands look up toward the sky and declare “Thank You God!”. In a small group I may hold the hands of those around me and if I am in a congregational setting, I usually make the judgement call to emulate the posture of the one leading the prayer or at least those around me so as not to be a distraction or a disruption

In conclusion, pray all the time! Certain situations often call for certain postures and other times it is completely up to the discretion of the one praying. 

By Cliff Sabroe
Quotations from NASB95
Image of a Veiled Women Praying 200AD from scrollpublishing.com 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

What does it mean to be “rightly dividing the Word of Truth” (2 Timothy 2:15 KJV)? Does this mean that a person needs to understand the divisions of the Bible?

2 Timothy 2:15 is powerful verse in an inspired letter by the Apostle Paul to the young preacher Timothy. Because of the phrase "rightly dividing the word of truth", people have mistakenly used this verse to teach about difference between the Old and New Testament. A proper understanding of the covenants is paramount to understanding the Bible. However, the question must be asked: Is this verse dealing the the divisions of the Bible?

Is “rightly dividing the Word of Truth” a good translation?
The King James Version is the only popular english version that translates this phrase in this way. Note how this phrase is translated in other versions:
  • correctly handles the word of truth. (NIV)
  • rightly handling the word of truth. (ESV)
  • accurately handling the word of truth. (NASB)
  • handling aright the word of truth. (ASV1901)
It should cause a Bible student to wonder about a particular translation of a passage if it is different than every other version. The word in the Greek New Testament for “rightly dividing” in (2 Timothy 2:15) is “orthotome√≥” and according to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon it means “to cut straight ways, i. e. to proceed by straight paths, hold a straight course, equivalent to to do right” (http://biblesuite.com/thayers/3718.htm).

In his Commentary on Timothy and Titus, Dr. Denny Petrillo well explains this phrase in context. He writes:
(Orthotomeo) - To cut straight and rightly; to cut a straight path through the word, giving it the proper interpretation. Because of that, some have said it is the cut between the Old and New Testaments...While this would include the correct treatment of God’s Word, this is not specifically what Paul is dealing with. Paul has the idea of treating the Word correctly. This is done by preaching it. (Petrillo. Emp. Added)
Conclusion:
From the text of 2 Timothy one can conclude that Timothy has become discouraged. His discouragement has caused him to become timid (1:7). This timidity may have caused him to neglect his preaching. Paul tells him in (2:15) that he needs to be “rightly handling the word of truth”. The way Timothy would do this would be through powerful Gospel preaching. 

There are differences between the Old and New Testament that one needs to understand. You can read about those differences (here). However, (2 Timothy 2:15) is a passage designed to encourage a preacher to not neglect his preaching of the Word of God!

By Cliff Sabroe - Works Cited: Thayer's Greek Lexicon/Biblesuite.com, NIV, ESV, NASB95, KJV and ASV1901 Bibles.Commentary on 1st and 2nd Timothy and Titus By Denny Petrillo. Image from bible.ca

What does (1 Corinthians 6:19) mean? My body is a temple of the Holy Spirit? Would this forbid me from doing anything that is bad for my body (ie. overeating, drinking caffeine etc.)?

Wisdom and common sense dictate that a person should take care of their bodies. God has blessed us with a body, and the principles of good stewardship would encourage one to make smart choices about what they eat and whether or not they exercise. 

There has been a lot of well-meaning Christians over the years who have wanted to keep people from harming themselves (like telling people not to smoke) who have used this verse as support for their advice. It is good to have Bible verses to support beliefs and teachings, however, when a person uses a verse out of context to support a belief or teaching they are misusing the text and hurting their argumentation.


What is the context of (1 Corinthians 6:19)?

Contextually 1 Corinthians 6:19 is a command for the Christian to not participate in sexual immorality.  Before using a single verse or verses to support a belief, it is wise to read the passages surrounding that verse to make sure you are using it the way the Bible author intended. Note the surrounding verses around (1 Corinthians 6:19):
Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says, “THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH.” But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him. Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body. (1 Corinthians 6:16-20)
The point of the section of Scripture is "don't commit sexual sin"! The motivation for not committing sexual sin is the reality of the Christian being a temple of the Spirit. When a person is baptized into Christ they “receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). At that point our bodies become a dwelling place for the Spirit. When one "joins himself with prostitute" it is as if he is defiling the very temple of God. 

Our bodies are designed to glorify God and not participate in sin. This passage does not apply to tattoos, piercings, eating fatty foods, not exercising or the many other points people try to make from it. It is, however, a great passage for proving the importance of not committing sexual sin.

Conclusion

You should take care of your body. You should encourage others to take care of their bodies. When you are healthy you will have more energy to spread the Gospel and help others. You do not have to have a verse to support this idea. Using a passage out of context does more harm than good.

By Cliff Sabroe
Quotes from - http://www.bibleanswershow.com/2012/11/can-christian-get-tattoo.html
Image from Wikipedia
Quotes from NASB95 Bible 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

What about dancing? Is it a sin? Are some dances sinful and some not? Can I dance? Does the Bible talk about dancing?

For an answer to this question we are going to share an excerpt from a post by Wesley
Walker at Study Your Bible Online.


Should Christians Dance?

For some churches the subject of whether or not Christians should dance is a discussion in their past.  It went the way of women not wearing pants and the forbidding of playing cards. For other churches it seems that every year the preacher dusts off the sermon on dancing at some point around Prom season.

The sermons I have heard on dancing at times come off too simplistic.  I still remember a teenage Bible class on the subject where the teacher point blankly said that all dancing is wrong, because all dancing causes us to lust. I didn’t say anything in the class, but in my mind I was thinking of all sorts of scenarios where people danced and no one was lusting. As I got older I also began to think to myself what if a husband and wife danced in their living room alone, would that be sinful?

Now I’m sure if pressed the teacher would have also had a few exceptions, but instead all was said was the face value claim: Dancing is Wrong!

On the opposite end of the spectrum are those who snidely comment about the people who preach such sermons.  They talk to themselves about how backwards and out of touch such people are.  Names are called and laughs are had at their expense.

As I have studied the Bible more I have come to what I believe is a better answer to the question of dancing. The answer actually comes from the study 2 Peter.... It is based off the study of the word lasciviousness.  It is not a word we use often, but part of its definition is to use your body in a way to promote sensual desires.

I think we can see how from a proper understanding of lasciviousness one could draw the conclusion that some forms of dancing are wrong.  There are forms of dancing that are geared directly to erousing lust in the hearts of those involved.  What is interesting is that many school districts have understood this as well, which have led some to ban certain forms of dancing or School Dances completely.

This is also prevalent in the atmosphere at most dance and night clubs.  The music played, dress worn, and type of dance engage in are all used to lift up sensual desire.  Peter tells us that Christian should not be involved in such activities.


Answer: 
So let me give you my view on whether Christians should dance.  I think we all would agree that there are certain scenarios where dancing would not be wrong and therefore to make a blanket statement that all dancing is sin is to go too far.  However,  I hope that we recognize that not all dancing is correct and in fact some, and maybe better stated most, modern dancing is promoting lust and therefore violates Peter’s admonition against lasciviousness. To put it simply:  Christian should not be involved in any dancing that causes one to inappropriately lust.

http://www.studyyourbibleonline.com/culture/should-christians-dance/
Image from: npr.org

Friday, July 26, 2013

Was Mary a perpetual virgin? Did she have other children besides Jesus?

There are certain religious groups that teach Mary was always a virgin even in the years following the birth of Jesus. On the Catholic Answers website, the authors make the following statement, “The faithful knew, through the witness of Scripture and Tradition, that Jesus was Mary’s only child and that she remained a lifelong virgin” (catholic.com).

This post is not concerned with religious tradition or opinion. Instead, we will be asking “what does the Bible teach”?

Mary was a virgin when pregnant with Jesus.
Although some would deny the reality of this miracle, the Scriptures attest to this fact. In Matthew chapter 1 an angel of the Lord appears to Joseph in a dream and tells him that Mary (his fianc√©) would give birth to a child “conceived by the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:20). 

Following this encounter, the inspired author Matthew informs the reader that this occasion was to fulfill the prophecy of (Isaiah 7:14) which states:
“Behold the virgin shall be with child and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means “God with Us.” (Matthew 1:23).
The text further enforces this immaculate conception in the following two verses.
“And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus”. (Matthew 1:24-25 emp mine)
It is clear from the gospel accounts that Mary was a virgin at the time of the conception and birth of Jesus. 

Mary had other children after Jesus
Although Catholicism teaches that Mary was a virgin her whole life, Scriptures teach that Mary had other children after Jesus was born. (Thus, proving she was not a perpetual virgin). Note the following passages:
“While He was still speaking to the crowds, behold, His mother and brothers were standing outside, seeking to speak to Him. Someone said to Him, “Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside seeking to speak to You.” (Matt. 12:46-47).
When Jesus had finished these parables, He departed from there. He came to His hometown and began teaching them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these [ac]miraculous powers? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary, and His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” (Matthew 13:53-56)
These two passages and others teach that Jesus had brothers and sisters. One would not be wrong in saying that they were His “half-siblings”, since Joseph was not His real father, but nevertheless, these passages prove that Mary was not a perpetual virgin.

Conclusion
Mary was a wonderful godly woman. The Father chose her to be the means by which the Messiah would enter the world. She was a virgin at the time of Christ's conception and birth, but later had other children through her marriage to Joseph. 

This article will conclude with Wayne Jackson’s thoughts from Christian Courier. He wrote concerning the doctrine of Mary’s perpetual virginity:

“The doctrine of Mary’s perpetual virginity is bereft of any reasonable evidence. It is an ancient superstition that has been thrust upon sincere souls who have been taught to never question the voice of the Church. Many of these good people, however, are now reviewing their faith with a more critical eye. May their tribe increase”. (Jackson).

By Cliff Sabroe -Quotes from NASB95.  
Image from - http://klarchdiocese.blogspot.com/