Faith Related Q and A|
|» ||I am wondering how to respond to the Jehovah's Witnesses who come to my door. Lately, they seem to want to bring people to their faith by bringing up the point that they believe that they will inherit a new restored earth with no violence. They stress that they will enjoy the blessings of earth (family, fishing, building, etc.) and that they wouldn't want to spend eternity in heaven (What would you do when you can enjoy the earthly blessings?). They reference Psalm 37:10-11 and how the meek will inherit the earth and enjoy peace on earth. They also cite the Lord's Prayer (Thy Kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven) and other passages in Isaiah referring to a new earth. My question is which passages can I refer them to to show that we will not be brought back to earth but will enjoy the blessings of heaven. What passages seem to hit the heart of Jehovah's Witnesses to show that we will not return to a restored earth after it is destroyed. The Jehovah's Witnesses I have talked to seem to be stuck on a few references and examples that they have been taught and refer back to those examples often in their talks with me, Thanks and May God bless our efforts to reach out to the Jehovah's Witnesses with the truths of Scripture.|
One of the errors of the Jehovah’s Witnesses is their belief that only 144,000 people will go to heaven, while the overflow crowd will have an eternal home on a new earth. Jehovah’s Witnesses understand the numbers of Revelation 7:4-8 literally but the tribes figuratively. In addition, they fail to grasp what the apostle John writes immediately after that: “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb” (Revelation 7:9). Heaven’s capacity is not comparable to the population of Mesquite, Texas.
(On a side note, the phrase in the Lord’s Prayer, “on earth as it is in heaven,” belongs with “your will be done” not “your kingdom come.”)
What the Bible does teach (Isaiah 65:17; 66:22; 2 Peter 3:13; and, Revelation 21:1) is that on the last day God will destroy this world as we know it and fashion a new world to be the eternal home for his people.
But more than being wrong on how many people will be in heaven, Jehovah’s Witnesses are wrong on how people get to heaven. They deny the Trinity and Jesus’ deity—being co-equal with the Father (John 10:30). Sadly, theirs is a religion based on work righteousness.
What you can do in your next conversation with Jehovah’s Witnesses is ask them what they are doing to enjoy God’s forgiveness. When they point to their deeds, show them the demands of God’s law. “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it” (James 2:10). “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Explain that there is no salvation through people’s efforts to keep God’s law (Romans 3:20).
Then, direct them to Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God (Matthew 26:63-64; John 8:58). Point them to Jesus’ perfect life (Romans 10:4) and sacrificial death (Ephesians 1:7) as the only means by which God has forgiven the sins of people.
Like me, you recognize that all we can do is speak the truths of God’s word to people. We cannot control what happens after that. But do pray that God will use your witnessing to change hearts and lives and lead people to trust in Jesus alone for their salvation.
If you find yourself hosting Jehovah’s Witnesses regularly at your home, you might benefit from these resources from Northwestern Publishing House. God bless your efforts!
|» ||Do you think that it may be wise for a Christians to read the Qur'an for educational purposes? Thank you.|
It certainly can be educational to read the “primary sources” of other religions. In this case, such educational reading of the Qur’an can help equip Christians in their witnessing to Muslims.
If you are interested in a book that provides a brief overview of the Qur’an, accompanied by a biblical response of law and gospel, I can recommend this one: “Speaking the Truth in Love to Muslims.”
Your question is a good reminder of a practical way in which we can prepare ourselves for future witnessing opportunities (1 Peter 3:15) to Muslims or anyone outside the Christian faith.
|» ||If God wants us to believe in Jesus, why did he not tell us in the Old Testament that Jesus was the Savior? Why did he not give us a name? Everything seems to be coded or of someone's interpretation. I have been told that Jesus is all over the Old Testament. Where? Why did the early Catholic church change and add verses? The Old Testament seems to have truly been preserved by God. Why don't we see this in the New Testament? I want to believe, but why does it seem Jesus is man's invention?|
Jesus is the personal name for the Son of God. God did not reveal that name until he dispatched the angel Gabriel to Mary (Luke 1:31) and Joseph (Matthew 1:21).
While God did not reveal the personal name of the Savior until shortly before his birth, the Savior went by many different names and titles in the Old Testament. Here is a sampling: “Angel of the LORD” (Exodus 3:2), “The Holy One of Israel” (Isaiah 41:14), “Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14), “King” (Zechariah 9:9), “The LORD Our Righteous Savior” (Jeremiah 23:6), “Offspring” (Genesis 3:15), “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6), “Prophet” (Deuteronomy 18:15), “Redeemer” (Job 19:25), “Righteous Branch” (Jeremiah 23:5) and “Shepherd” (Psalm 23:1). Those names and titles—and many others—spoke volumes about the person and work of the promised Messiah. When people were led to put their trust in God’s promised Savior, they enjoyed salvation (Genesis 15:6).
God certainly preserved the books of the Old Testament. He did the same with the books of the New Testament. To learn more about this, you may be interested in this book from Northwestern Publishing House. Your church library may also have a copy.
By no means is Jesus man’s invention. He is the eternal Son of God (John 1:1-3) and the promised Messiah (John 4:25-26). May God convince you all the more of these truths as you read and study the Bible.
|» ||I grew up going to a WELS school and church. I have always been told that we are not to join the Freemasons. I have a friend now that has joined. I don't know what to tell him because whatever I say to him he comes back that our church is against everything. Could I get some references and some information on why this is against the church? Thank you.|
Our synod’s position toward Freemasonry is long standing and consistent. You can read papers at the Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary Essay File that express our concern about the Masons. While those papers are decades-old, the content is still applicable because Freemasonry has not changed.
The Masonic Lodge and its affiliates are essentially deistic religious organizations. They strongly maintain that there is a Creator God who rewards good and punishes evil but do not formally acknowledge God as a gracious giver of salvation through the work of Jesus Christ. Nor do they acknowledge the Triune God as the only true God, but allow that most any “Supreme Being” embraced by any Mason may be seen as a legitimate deity. To them salvation is not by grace alone through faith in Christ alone, but based on good works. They also maintain that the supreme deity (“Architect of the Universe”) may be and is worshiped in many forms and under many names by many religions aside from Christianity. Additionally, the oaths and rituals of the lodge have many features that consistent and conservative Bible students have long found incompatible with Christianity…This negative appraisal of the Masonic Lodge is shared by a number of church bodies, and is not the conclusion of only a few like the WELS.
So although the Masons somewhat promote civic righteousness and undertake certain praiseworthy projects in society, we maintain that a Christian would compromise clear Bible teachings by becoming a member of that lodge. We are aware that people have joined such groups for the sake of business connections as well as a sense of social responsibility and say they really don’t care for or think of the religious aspects of the organization. But we maintain that to do so is still a compromise of truth, easily or inevitably causes others to stumble spiritually, and links the person to a false religious group. The Bible often testifies against such an attitude and action.
Bottom line: to be a WELS member with the public confession involved with that membership and to be a Mason with that public confession are incompatible. We owe members of masonry a loving and courteous reply that will not compromise truth. Refraining from membership in that network of organizations and providing patient but consistent testimony to the falsehood the Masons embrace or tolerate would be right and fitting.
As far as the perception that WELS is “against everything,” I would respond this way: we are “for” everything that is scriptural; we are “for” everything that is godly. Taking a stand for God and the Bible will naturally mean that we are “against” whatever is unscriptural and ungodly. It is unfortunate if some people associate WELS as only being “against” things in life. You can help dispel that inaccurate picture by explaining what we are “for.” God help you to do just that.
|» ||What is the difference between this synod and the Missouri Synod? Any theological variance, or just geographic? I was raised in the Missouri Synod and, due to relocation, am looking for a new church to call home.|
The main differences fall in the categories of church and ministry, the application of fellowship principles, and the roles of men and women.
There are many, many essays on the Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary Essay File that document the history, theology and practices of the two synods, and their relationship to one another throughout the years. This link will take you to those essays.
You will also find other questions about WELS and LCMS in the Church and Ministry category of the Q & A section of this website.
You might also be interested in A Tale of Two Synods, a book that is available from Northwestern Publishing House.
Finally, if there is a WELS church in your new community, do contact the pastor. He will be glad to provide further information and answer your questions. God’s blessings on your relocation!
|» ||Do you have any online sources or advice for someone trying to learn more about the WELS Church? I was raised in the ELCA, but did not go to church very often growing up or during college. My boyfriend is WELS, grew up in a very faith based household, and went to a WELS college. Definitely more “religious” than me. I’m working on my own faith and making that a bigger part of my life, but talking about marriage scares me because I feel like we have vast religious differences despite both being Lutheran. I’m a strong-willed, liberal woman and there are some fundamental beliefs that I hold that are inconsistent with certain WELS beliefs. I’m open minded and understand the rationale behind certain WELS beliefs, but I know I will never share certain beliefs. I’m looking for some resources perhaps to help me get a better grasp on how drastic the divide between ELCA and WELS is. Thank you in advance!|
There are some good resources from Northwestern Publishing House I can recommend to you: WELS and Other Lutherans and What’s Going on Among the Lutherans? The first book is available in print and digital versions; the second is available only in print.
The online Essay File of Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary has numerous papers that sort out the differences among Lutheran church bodies. Searching the subject of Evangelical Lutheran Church in America can get you started.
Finally, I encourage you to speak to your boyfriend’s pastor. He is in a position to respond to other questions you might have.
I wish you both well as you discuss some very important items in your relationship.
|» ||My question deals with the consumption of alcohol. I believe drinking is ok if done responsibly, but my friend believes any alcohol consumption is a sin. The friend believes that the word "wine" in the Bible has different meanings such as to be happy or joyful. The friend always uses the example that God would never say a little viewing of pornography is fine, just don't overdo it. He takes the case that the over- consumption of alcohol can lead to sinful acts. He also believes that Jesus wouldn't had wine at the Lord's Supper only juice. How do you address this train of thought?|
I would encourage your friend to focus on clear passages of Scripture. The Bible does not condemn the use of alcohol (Psalm 104:14-15; 1 Timothy 5:23). It condemns the abuse of alcohol (Romans 13:13; 1 Corinthians 6:10; Ephesians 5:18). If wine itself were sinful, Jesus would certainly not have miraculously changed water into wine at the wedding at Cana (John 2:1-11). Under the Old Testament ceremonial laws, God even commanded the use of wine with offerings (Exodus 29:40; Number 28:7). Think of the implications of that.
In biblical days in Palestine, people regularly mixed wine with water to purify the water. We know from history that wine was part of the celebration of the Passover meal. Since the institution of the Lord’s Supper took place during the celebration of the Passover meal, the “fruit of the vine” (Matthew 26:29) was a part of it. Any grapes that had been harvested in the previous fall and pressed into juice would most likely have been going through the fermentation process in the following spring (when Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper).
What your friend says about pornography is true: God does not approve of that in large or small amounts. Equating the moderate consumption of alcohol to pornography is where your friend’s argument collapses. Nowhere does the Bible say that any alcohol consumption is a sin. Christians are free not to consume alcohol or to consume it in moderation. They are not free to bind the consciences of others with their opinions.
Ref. Conquerors through Christ website serves those affected by porn use. You may subscribe to the CtC e-Newsletter and visit CtC on Facebook.
|» ||I often give in to the sin of watching porn and feel bad and pray to God apologizing and get Communion, then end up falling into temptation again and repeating. I know if you ask for forgiveness but repeat it then it's not being truly repentant. I want to stop and feel super bad if I don't take Communion, but know I will sooner or later fall back into my old ways. What should I do? I don't feel right talking to my pastor about it either.|
If you do not feel that you can talk to your pastor about this, I would encourage you to check out the resources, including counselors, available through Conquerors Through Christ, an agency within WELS. Conquerors through Christ website serves those affected by porn use. You may subscribe to the CtC e-Newsletter and visit CtC on Facebook.
As with any sin, we confess our sins to God, we receive in faith God’s forgiveness of our sins and we resolve to fight all the more against sin and temptation. Your words indicate you recognize this. Your words also reflect the ongoing battle that goes on within Christians (Romans 7:15-25).
The website can provide you with practical resources to assist you in your battle against temptation. What follows is one of their FAQs:
“OK – so maybe I am addicted. Now what do I do?
1.Pray. Tell God about what you have been doing. It shouldn’t be all that hard, after all, He already knows. He’s just waiting for you to come to him so he can tell you that he loves you and has forgiven you.
2.Watch our videos and explore the web site— they summarize the steps to follow to get porn out of your life.
3.Take the hardest step—tell someone—your pastor, a trusted friend, your spouse, or a Christian counselor. This is a sin we can almost guarantee you will not be able to ‘fix’ on your own. You will need help. But the good news is there IS help available. But you must seek it out. Satan will seek to keep you isolated and weak. Don’t let him.
4.Seek ongoing support in the form of counseling and accountability. This is a battle and Satan will not let his grip on you go without a tremendous struggle.
5.Thank God for the victories and cry for mercy for any failures along the way.”
God bless all your efforts in saying “No” to sin and “Yes” to godly living (Titus 2:12).
|» ||Hello. My question might be confusing but please bear with me. I have been a believer in Christ for some time now. I’m also a fan and avid watcher of Japanese anime. Yet I struggle with addiction to pornography, including lusting after the girls in anime, or I should say the sexually explicit form of the medium known as hentai. I strive to break free from the addiction and treat the girls in anime with love as I would girls in the real world. Further complicating matters, I suffer from OCD, which is a mental disorder that causes doubt and unwanted thoughts. The OCD has caused me bad ideas that anime girls will be cursed by God due to all of the time I lusted after them. So my question is: would God curse anime girls by changing them in any negative way for me as punishment for my sin? Thank you for taking the time to read and respond to this question.|
You do not need to be concerned about God cursing animated characters because of your actions. The characters are not real. The real concern is your addiction to pornography. I would encourage you to check out the helpful resources that are available from Conquerors Through Christ. Conquerors through Christ website serves those affected by porn use. You may subscribe to the CtC e-Newsletter and visit CtC on Facebook. If you are interested in speaking with a Christian counselor, Christian Family Solutions offers in-person and video counseling. Both organizations are WELS-affiliated ministries.
God’s blessings to you as you seek to do what Scripture says: “ Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).
|» ||Pastor, I have a question that has made me very confused and unworthy of being loved by God. I have long tried to get rid of the feelings towards the same gender, but they do not go away. I have prayed to God, but the feelings remain. I have not acted on these feelings and will never do so, but they never go away. They are a part of me, but that doesn’t mean I am not a follower of God. What should I do? I feel alone. I’m scared that I am not enough and will be left when he comes.|
Facing temptation has been the human experience since the Garden of Eden. Jesus himself “has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin” (Hebrews 4:15). The sources of Jesus’ temptations were Satan and the world. In addition to those sources, there is a third source of temptation for every person but Jesus; people possess a sinful nature, an ally of Satan. Being exposed to temptation does not make a person guilty of sin; giving in to temptation is sinful (James 1:14-15). By not acting on the feelings you have, I understand that you recognize these truths.
The sad reality is that these sources of temptation are lifelong; they do not go away. That means the person who struggles with the temptation to abuse alcohol or the person who fights against the temptation to use pornography or the person who combats the temptation to lust after another person of the opposite sex or the same sex may have to do so for a lifetime.
This is not a hopeless reality by any means. After the apostle Paul described his struggles in fighting temptation (Romans 7:15-24), he exclaimed, “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7:25) There is forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ. There is power through the gospel of Jesus Christ to live godly lives.
What I can suggest is that you speak with your pastor or other trusted Christian counselor to develop strategies in combating the temptations you face. If you are not able to speak with your pastor about this, you might consider the resources of Christian Family Solutions, a WELS-affiliated ministry. The organization offers in-person and video counseling.
Conquerors through Christ website serves those affected by porn use. You may subscribe to the CtC e-Newsletter and visit CtC on Facebook.
You understand your situation correctly: facing the temptations you do does not mean that you are not a follower of God. Christians enjoy the forgiveness of sins, yet they struggle against temptation. Thanks be to God that Jesus Christ lived perfectly in our place and that he took on himself the punishment our sins deserved. Thanks be to God for a Savior who “empathizes with our weaknesses” (Hebrews 4:15) and “gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak” (Isaiah 40:29). God’s blessings to you.