Question & Answer
Faith Related Q and A

» I've asked this question twice in the past with disappointing responses. Why doesn't WELS have an official statement regarding "Global Warming"? The same scientists who tells us that global warming is destroying the earth also tell us that the world is billions of years old, the universe was created by the "big bang,” and that all life on earth evolved from a single celled organism from a puddle of mud. That's not what we as WELS Christians believe or confess in the Apostles' or Nicene Creed. So why are you so afraid to take a stance regarding "global warming"? I was taught and believe that God controls everything, including all of the weather...good, bad and otherwise. Didn't God question Job and ask him if he knew where the storehouses were for the thunder and lightning, rain and snow? I don't think God said that he reserves the hail for times of trouble, unless "global warming" interrupts his plans. Does the WELS support the doctrine of man-made global warming?
I am sorry, but you may be disappointed with this response as well. A “doctrine of man-made global warming” is not a biblical doctrine. The subject matter is not one that Scripture addresses. The Bible does speak of disasters (for example, Matthew 24:7), and there are passages that speak in a general way about our stewardship of God’s creation (Genesis 1 and 2). Since the Bible does not address the subject matter of your question, you will not find a statement from WELS regarding it. When there are biblical doctrines involved, you will find official statements of our church body in the “Doctrinal Statements” section of this website.

» Sometimes when I hear people describing objective justification, they will say that "in Christ" the whole world is forgiven/justified. What does it mean to be 'in Christ' and how is the whole world "in Christ"?
The phrase “in Christ” explains the means by which God reconciled sinners to himself. He did that by means of his Son’s saving work in life and in death. 2 Corinthians 5:18-19 provides context for that phrase: “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.”

» You often refer readers to a WELS statement on the roles of men and women when asked questions about the role of women in the church. If I interpret that statement correctly, women in the working world should also not have men report to them. I was in a very responsible position during my working life and had numerous men report directly to me. I had direct authority over them. Is this statement suggesting that was wrong?
You will often find references to a WELS statement on the roles of men and women when questioners ask about “the WELS position” on men and women living in God’s world. The statement is not suggesting that your actions were wrong. The statement addresses the challenges Christians face as they live in God’s kingdom of power and God’s kingdom of grace. A valuable read for you would be a Bible study on “Male and Female He Created Them.” The section “Living as citizens of two kingdoms” beginning on page 28 would be especially helpful. It begins with these words: “Part of what may help us walk through many challenging situations in life is to grasp the biblical doctrine of the two kingdoms, or two realms, both of which are under the rule of our triune God. Sadly, this doctrine is rarely taught clearly (or at all) outside of Lutheran circles, and all too frequently it is not even taught or understood well by Lutherans. Failing to grasp what is meant by these two kingdoms can cause us confusion as we live our callings out in the world and can, in fact, unintentionally do harm to the cause of the gospel we long to further.” God’s blessings on your reading.

» I got into an argument with someone about the second commandment. I’m not sure if WELS has the commandments in a different arrangement as other denominations, but the commandment was “You shall not make any graven image.” He was using his interpretation of this commandment to showcase that he doesn’t believe in wearing crucifixes because people are trying to formulate an image of God above, and that’s wrong (as he claims the commandment says). There’s a lot to contest what he’s saying such as, the context in which the commandment is given, the translation, etc., but in the KJV and NIV translations there’s enough slack for him to continue to believe what he believes and have a decent argument. I don’t have enough concrete support to back up the idea that the verse is only in the context of idol worshiping, and it doesn’t mean you can’t make an image of God, religious art, or wear a crucifix as an indication of your belief. Can you please help? As much support as possible would help affirm me in this idea.
The “Ten Commandments” of Exodus 34:28 are literally “Ten Words.” God spoke ten “words” that constituted his commandments, but he did not indicate which was the “first word” or the “tenth word.” As a result, there have been three different numbering systems of the commandments throughout the years (the Jewish system, the Roman Catholic and Lutheran system, and the Reformed and Greek Orthodox system). Since God did not specifically state which is the “second commandment” or which is the “ninth commandment,” it makes little difference if people attach a different number to a commandment or “word.” The content is not changed. Your question addresses content that is associated with either the first commandment or the second commandment, depending on how people divide the “Ten Words.” Your question addresses Exodus 20:4-6: “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.” God emphasized that command later in the chapter: “Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Tell the Israelites this: ‘You have seen for yourselves that I have spoken to you from heaven: Do not make any gods to be alongside me; do not make for yourselves gods of silver or gods of gold’” (Exodus 20:22-23). With those words, God is forbidding the making of an image for the purpose of worshiping it. What God forbids is exactly what the people of Israel did when they built a golden calf and worshiped it (Exodus 32). When Christians beautify their worship spaces with crosses or wear them as jewelry, they are not worshiping those objects. The cross is a symbol of God’s justice and love. On the cross of Calvary, God spared sinners and punished his own Son in their place. The cross is a reminder of the depth of God’s love. The Bible itself points to the significance of the cross: “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18). “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Galatians 6:14). Colossians 1:20; 2:14-15 and 1 Peter 2:24 also underscore the importance of the cross. Christians use more than the cross as a reminder of God’s love and mercy. Think of some other items of Christian art you can find in churches: a scallop shell to call to mind the blessings of Baptism, a chalice and wafer to underscore the blessings of the Lord’s Supper, a dove to recall the work of the Holy Spirit, a manger to remember the lowly manner of Jesus’ birth, and an empty tomb to reinforce the truth of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. Christians are not worshiping these images. These images keep the truths of God’s word before our eyes; they are visual reminders of God’s love and mercy. As God has neither commanded nor forbidden the use of Christian art, using a cross lies in the area of Christian freedom. I hope this information will be helpful for you.

» Do I need to fast? I have been a Christian my whole life and my stepmother just got into it. She is going to a non-WELS church and they teach it very differently. They are making everybody in that church fast for a whole month. I have never done it and the only thing my kids and myself can't eat are treats, and adults can only have one meal when it is 5:00 in the afternoon. I just need an opinion on what do and think about this. Thank you!
I hope the following information from a column I wrote for Forward in Christ will be helpful for you. In Old Testament times mandatory fasting was uncommon. The Mosaic Law called for Israelites to fast on only one day of the year—on the great Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:29; 23:27). Of course, people were free to go beyond that requirement, and some did just that. Without being compelled by any divine directive, individuals like Hannah, David, Ezra, and Nehemiah—just to list a few—fasted. People often fasted in times of sorrow, repentance, and intense prayer. After Jonah’s reluctant missionary work in Nineveh, the Bible tells us that the king of Nineveh decreed a fast for all inhabitants— including animals (Jonah chapter 3). Eventually, Jews like the Pharisees fasted twice a week to make plain their claims of spiritual superiority (Luke 18:9-12). In the New Testament, Paul wrote, “Do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink. . . .” (Colossians 2:16). When Jesus completed his redeeming work and abolished the ceremonial laws, the number of required fasting days for God’s people decreased from one to zero. As was the case in Old Testament times though, Christians today are free to fast if they like. So, is fasting something for you to consider? It is entirely your call. That is the freedom of adiaphora—those activities that God has neither commanded nor forbidden. Of course, you will want to understand what is involved in fasting. Do the fasts deprive you of food and/or water for extended periods of time? Are there health risks associated with them? Are there spiritual concerns of any kind? A physician can help you with the first two questions; I can help you with the last. As is the case with any adiaphoron, motives for fasting can be important. Some of the literature I have seen speaks of fasting serving the purpose of “assisting and enhancing” our prayers. In view of that, you may want to ask yourself: “Am I thinking in any way that God is going to hear and answer my prayers because of something I am doing? Am I fasting like the Pharisees—thinking that fasting will put me in a better standing with God and make me superior to non-fasting Christians?” Any thoughts like these would rule out fasting. On the other hand, are there thoughts of controlling the body and its desires—not being mastered by anything, even food (1 Corinthians 6:12)? Are there thoughts of taking good care of your body in which God lives (1 Corinthians 6:19)? Are there thoughts of eating to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31)? Thoughts like these can exemplify good motives for fasting. Martin Luther wrote in his Small Catechism that “fasting and other outward preparations may serve a good purpose” in preparing ourselves to receive the Lord’s Supper. But the best preparation, he said, is believing Jesus’ words. Fasting—prior to the Lord’s Supper or any time—can be a beneficial practice, but there is no substitute for faith.

» 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. 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.

» 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.

» Define Epiphany.
“Epiphany” comes from a Greek word that means “revelation,” “manifestation,” or “appearance.” It is the season of the church year that clearly reveals Jesus Christ as the Son of God and the only Savior of the world. Here is a brief article that provides a little more information.

» What is the role of women in the Lutheran church? I belong to a small congregation and 15 and 16-year-old boys are given the right to vote and hold offices but women aren't. I can't justify the fact that God would bless some women with very high intellects and organizational skills if he did not want them to use them to his glory.
Your question requires a much longer response than can be provided here. I would encourage you to read a doctrinal statement you can find on this website: Man and Woman Roles. You would also benefit from reading Male and Female He Created Them: A Bible study on God’s loving gift of the interdependent and complementary partnership of male and female. The documents explain how men and women can use their God-given gifts in ways that are in keeping with God’s design for them. Your pastor would be a good resource for any follow-up questions.

» Hello. I am wanting to know about the Ray Comfort Bible. My family member calls himself a prophet. He says WELS does not practice evangelism. He changes the stories in the Bible to suppose this happened such as the birth of Christ. Upon looking into Ray Comfort he was described as not believing in God's Communion. I often feel trapped and talked down to as if he thinks he is a better Christian. I am concerned for him and another family member who shares similar views. Can you tell me how to handle this uncomfortable situation? What can I say and what should I not say? I know God sees all. But it bothers me he is leading people astray and actually thinks he's saving them. Ray Comfort's new Bible was recently given to a new family member, knowing I wouldn't like it. Can you help me in handling this in the proper manner?
As I am not familiar with that particular book, I am not able to pass along a reaction to it. You can assure your family member that WELS is very much concerned about evangelism. While it is finally up to each Christian and each congregation to engage in evangelism, WELS as a church body certainly encourages it and provides resources. You can find some of those resources here. WELS Commission on Evangelism also operates a stand-alone website – What About Jesus? When it comes to interacting with your family members, all I can suggest is that you listen to them to see how you can best point them to what Scripture teaches. Perhaps you could ask your new family member what he or she thinks of the Bible that was given. That person’s response could help guide what you say. You might even pass along the resources mentioned above. Finally, if it is clear that your family member is leading other people astray, you will want to speak to that person: both for his or her good and the spiritual welfare of others (1 Timothy 5:20; 1 John 4:1-2). God’s blessings on your conversations.

Jesus said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." ~ Matthew 11:28