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    VBS 2017
Question & Answer
Faith Related Q and A

» Was the worship conference final concert recorded, and if it was, where is it?
You will find the closing concert by going to: https://livestream.com/welslive Simply scroll down a little and you will see the video of the closing concert.

» Hi, I am a WELS member and for months I have been thinking about serving others in other parts of the world. I understand WELS has mission work in all parts of Africa, and I have always wanted to go there to help serve. My question is, is there any way I could have information on looking into helping serve over in Africa? Thank you.
I commend you for your interest and willingness to serve the Lord and others in distant lands! What I can do is pass along to you a couple of web sites. You can then make contact and see if there are any possibilities for service. The first site is WELS Kingdom Workers. Africa does not show up in their current opportunities for service, but you might want to contact them about future opportunities. The second site is the Central Africa Medical Mission. Their opportunities for service include a non-medical position. Again, you can contact personnel there for further information. God bless your efforts in service to the Lord and others!

» How should we respond to Jehovah's Witnesses who come to our door? I know just a tiny bit about them, but of course I don't want to argue with them. What can I say?
You want to respond by speaking the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) to people who need to hear the truths of God’s law and God’s gospel. You have the right attitude in that you do not want to argue with them. You don’t want to be rude to them or slam the door shut on them either. Jehovah’s Witnesses are told that they can expect persecution for their beliefs. Any rude behavior they encounter only reinforces their conviction that they have right beliefs. You can simply confess your faith: that Jesus Christ is the God-Man who lived perfectly in your place, and suffered and died to endure the punishment your sins deserved. Jesus’ physical resurrection from the dead is proof positive that God the Father accepted Jesus’ life and death as the full payment for your sins (Romans 4:25). Through faith in Jesus, you can be confident that that you are at peace with God (Romans 5:1) and that you will be in God’s presence in heaven forever (Psalm 23:6). Don’t expect the visitors at your door to automatically agree with you, but you have planted the seed and shared the truth of God’s word with them. If you have time and want to engage Jehovah’s Witnesses in conversation, you will want to get them off their talking points. 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). Share what God says in his word, that there is no salvation through people’s efforts to keep his law (Romans 3:20). Then, direct your visitors 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. If you find yourself hosting Jehovah’s Witnesses regularly at your home, you might benefit from a resource like this from Northwestern Publishing House. God bless your efforts!

» Do we have any churches in the Atlanta, GA area?
Yes. When I used the WELS Locator tool, the results showed four congregations within 25 miles of Atlanta. You can find the locator tool at the top of the home page of www.wels.net. Look for the “Find a Church/School” tab.

» If we are clothed with Christ, does God see our sins?
The two main teachings of the Bible, law and gospel, have different and opposite messages. The message of the law reveals God’s hatred of sin and sinners (Psalm 5:5); the message of the gospel reveals God’s love of sinners. Law and gospel are opposite, but not contradictory, messages. As Christians, we are clothed with Christ (Galatians 3:26-27), as you noted. We are wrapped in the righteousness Jesus won and which is given to us in Spirit-worked faith. Through faith in Jesus, Christians are holy in the sight of God (Colossians 1:22; Hebrews 2:11; 10:10; 1 Peter 2:9). Yet, we still have a sinful nature, don’t we? And we still continue to sin. That’s why our Lord, in the prayer that is named after him, instructed us to petition God for forgiveness for our sins (Matthew 6:12). That same Lord intercedes on our behalf when we do sin (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25). God, who is omniscient, see all things—including our sins. The message of the law reminds us of that truth. The message of the gospel though is that, in the case of Christians, God sees people who are entirely and completely perfect in his sight through the righteousness Jesus won and which is theirs through faith. As Christians, we stand in God’s grace (Romans 5:2). Even while we are saints-sinners in this life, we have God’s own word that we are free from condemnation (Romans 8:1) and we are his dearly-loved children (1 John 3:1-3).

» I grew up in a WELS church and attended a WELS high school. Work has taken me to a place where there are only two WELS churches in the entire state, with the closest one about 1.5 hours away. What are my options?
I would encourage you to contact the pastor of that congregation to alert him to your situation and location. It is possible that he may be able to serve your spiritual needs in ways that you and I are not aware of at this point. It could also be that there are other WELS members in your vicinity, and that could lead to exploring options of how best to serve everyone. Your pastor could also contact the chairman of your district’s mission board. This is how new mission congregations can get started. In the meantime, you can find devotional materials on this web site to supplement your Bible and devotional reading. This link provides information on devotional media resources from congregations throughout our synod. Finally, when you searched for a WELS congregation for your new location, I’m wondering if you looked also for an ELS congregation. If you use the WELS Locator tool, that will display WELS and ELS congregations in the search results. God bless you!

» I was reading in your Q & A that a false God doesn't save. Is the God of Mormonism a false God?
Sadly, the god of Mormonism is a false god because it is not the Triune God of the Bible. While Mormonism (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) uses “Father,” “Son” and “Holy Spirit,” it attaches entirely different meanings to those words than what the Bible teaches. Mormonism does not teach that there is only one God who has revealed himself in the Bible as three distinct yet co-equal persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Mormonism teaches that Father, Son and Holy Spirit are three separate gods. In addition, they teach that human beings can become gods. You may be interested in the information and resources available from Truth in Love Ministry, an organization within WELS that seeks to share biblical truths with Mormons.

» Can you define for me what is meant by "sins of weakness," and what the difference is between them and other sins?
By “sins of weakness” we usually mean those sins of Christians that result from the sinful nature winning the battle against the new self even though we do not want to sin (Romans 7:15-25). As Christians, our new self delights in doing the will of God; our sinful nature wants nothing to do with godliness and what God says. Yet, sometimes in the hour of temptation, the sinful nature gets the upper hand. In those situations, there is no plan to sin, but weak people give in to temptation. That sin is followed by confession and repentance, trust in God’s forgiveness and the resolve not to sin again. Sins of weakness differ from what we can call “willful sins.” Those sins take place when people know what God’s will is, but don’t care. Instead, they act against better knowledge—and perhaps conscience—and do what they want. Regardless of how we might define and categorize sin, sin is deadly. It needs our continual attention. The price to pay for our sins was extremely high (1 Peter 1:18-19). Our desire as God’s children is now to avoid sin as best we can and live life to the glory of God (2 Corinthians 5:14-15). God help us to do just that.

» What is the stance on pastors wearing a robe during the service?
The “stance” we have is that this is a matter of Christian freedom. Christian Worship: Manual, the companion book to Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal, explains that Lutheran pastors, historically, have worn vestments for several reasons: “to identify him as the called spiritual leader of the congregation,” “to remind the congregation that its pastor serves as God’s representative,” and to connect to “the legacy of the church” (pages 98-104). The resource that I cited puts your question into perspective when it states: “In all aspects of the church’s life of worship, artistic propriety and legitimate tradition must take second place to the proclamation of the gospel and the gospel’s glorious freedom. In the final analysis the Lord Jesus will not be so concerned about either the type of vestments or the kind of liturgy Christians use. He is concerned only that we worship the Father ‘in spirit and truth’ (John 4:23).” Pastors and congregations will want to work together when thinking of changing customs and practices.

» Hello, sir. This is a question that's burning in my mind and actually causing problems in my family. An Anabaptist/evangelical/nondenominational relative of mine is saying that because of 1 Corinthians 10:31, we shouldn't listen to country music or drink pop. He says we should always be studying the Bible and doing godly things. I think he's missed all of the parts about grace and how we are justified by faith alone "not by works lest any man should boast." Am I wrong, or is he, or both of us? Thanks and God bless.
I would encourage you to remind your relative what the Bible teaches about Christian freedom. 1 Corinthians 10:31 (“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”) teaches us that we can eat and drink—even soda/pop—to the glory of God when actions proceed from faith in and gratitude to God for all his gracious gifts. That passage informs us that Christians can do innumerable things in life to the glory of God. God’s word tells us: “Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink…” (Colossians 2:16). While Old Testament ceremonial laws guided the dietary practices of God’s people before the coming of Christ, all those laws have been abolished; there are no New Testament ceremonial laws. The apostle Peter learned that lesson firsthand (Acts 10:15; 11:9). An individual’s personal opinion about soft drinks is just that: an opinion. It cannot bind the consciences of others (1 Timothy 4:1-5). Can a Christian listen to music to the glory of God? Certainly. Is some music inappropriate and ungodly? Yes. Country music with themes of illicit sex and the abuse of alcohol have no place in our lives, but what about country music that emphasizes patriotism and family values? Philippians 4:8 instructs us to be discerning about the content we put into our hearts and minds. That includes music. We want to avoid music of any genre that cannot flow through the filter of Philippians 4:8, but condemning an entire genre of music without regard to content is an attack on the freedom we enjoy as God’s people. The book of Galatians would be a good read for you and your relative. It’s an epistle that underscores our Christian freedom. I hope this response will be helpful to you. God bless you.