Faith Related Q and A|
|» ||Why would God allow Eve to be tempted when he knew what the outcome would be? Would you allow your own child be in a situation where you knew the outcome would be terrible? I would never have my child come to harm if I could have prevented it. Why would God do that?|
Your questions are ones that people have asked frequently over the years.
Because sin entered God’s perfect world, some people have questioned God’s power, as if he had no ability to prevent sin from entering the world. God is all-powerful (Job 42:2; Psalm 115:3; Matthew 19:26). He could have prevented sin from entering this world.
Because sin entered God’s perfect world, other people have questioned God’s love: “Why would a loving God do that?” God is love (1 John 4:8). In his love and wisdom (Romans 16:27), God allowed sin to enter his perfect world.
In the Bible, God does not explain why he did not prevent sin from ruining his creation—nor is God obligated to provide an explanation.
Questions about God and why he did or did not do something about the origin of evil need to be addressed in light of passages like these: “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! “Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?” “Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them?” For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.” (Romans 11:33-36) “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9). God always acts wisely, and his wisdom far surpasses our understanding. God’s ways may be mysterious to us, but his ways are always right.
Your question and statement about earthly parents and children remind me what God, in love, did to solve the problems sin created: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:10). When sin threatened our eternities, God stepped into action, sending his one and only Son, to be our perfect Savior in life and in death. God did what no earthly parent could have done. For that, we are eternally grateful.
|» ||Is it O.K. to play "Dungeons & Dragons"?|
I can pass along a previous response to a similar question.
“We cannot say role playing games are wrong in and of themselves. They would fall into the area of what is called adiaphora, that is, things that Scripture does not command nor forbid.
“However, when it comes to Dungeons and Dragons, there are some issues that Christians would want to consider. In her book, The Truth About Dungeons and Dragons, Joan Hake Robie points out that besides promoting sex and violence, the game also dabbles with spirits and promotes the occult.
“Another book, Angels and Demons: Have Wings Will Travel, describes how the game works: ‘The key person is the Dungeon Master, who creates a dungeon. The goal of other players is to work their way through an elaborate maze filled with monsters and creatures in order to seize hidden treasure. To accomplish this, the players must resort to many different tactics, including murder, rape, and casting evil spells. Even though these actions are only imaginary, the players become acquainted with occult rituals and creatures’ (pp. 67, 68).
“Although some of these same elements may be found in other games, including some video games, the Christian will want to consider whether this is a best use of his or her leisure time. In Philippians 4:8 the apostle Paul tells us, ‘Finally, brothers, 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.’
“Another issue is that Dungeons and Dragons is sometimes the first step toward being involved in the occult. In the book, The Edge of Evil, Jerry Johnson warns, ‘Those who have come out of the occult tell us that Dungeons and Dragons is one of the most comprehensive and effective training manuals used to prepare young people for entrance into the occult (p. 106).
“As we use our Christian discretion in areas of entertainment, the wise thing is that we exercise good Christian judgment. This will serve us much better than compiling a list of acceptable or not acceptable games.”
|» ||Can a Christian desire to be rich?|
Wealth, in and of itself, is not evil. It is the value that people place on wealth that can make it evil. It is a first commandment issue when wealth becomes more important than God (Exodus 23:3; Matthew 6:24).
Considering what the Bible says about “love of money” (1 Timothy 6:10), a desire to be rich—however that is defined—is a risky desire.
A man by the name of Agur understood life well when he wrote, “Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread” (Proverbs 30:8). Contentment “in any and every situation” (Philippians 4:12) is our goal.
|» ||Growing up in WELS churches, I have been told many times that we are saved by Christ alone and not by our own works. I have also been taught that we should live lives of thanksgiving and love to God in everything that we do. I have heard about spiritual apathy, not truly being sorry for our sins, receiving Communion unworthily, and not truly desiring forgiveness. These teachings have caused me much stress and confusion because they seem to be opposite things. How can I balance serving God in all I do with not being self-righteous? Ephesians 2:8-9 comfortingly shows us that our salvation is not at all in our hands. However, Matthew 7:21 states that only the one who does the will of God the Father will go to heaven. How do I balance not being work righteous with not becoming sinful with spiritual apathy? Also, I have heard that we need to confess our sins and repent to be saved. Is this true? Isn’t confessing sins and repenting a work? Many times in my life I have tried to confess my sins, but I just don’t feel truly sorry. What happens then? Why don’t I feel sorry? Do we need to repent after every time we notice that we have sinned, or should we just have faith that the sin is forgiven? How often do we need to repent? Thank you so much for all your time spent on this. I have been struggling with this problem for a very long time, and it is driving me crazy. I will appreciate any help that you can give me.|
You have been taught well that God alone is responsible for your salvation and that your grateful response, moved by the Holy Spirit, is a life lived to the glory of God (2 Corinthians 5:15). I will try to respond to your questions as you listed them.
When you wonder about serving God and not being self-righteous, you are illustrating what Christians are like. Our new self desires to use life God’s way (Ephesians 4:24), while our old self—our sinful nature—seeks to use life selfishly and sinfully. As the apostle Paul demonstrated (Romans 7:15-25), there is reason for a constant struggle in a Christian’s life between humbly serving God and being self-righteous—in the context of your question.
When it comes to not being work-righteous or spiritually apathetic, the key is the motivation behind what we do in life. As Christians, we try to keep God’s law. Our motive is not to earn anything from God. Salvation is a gift. Our motive is to thank and praise God for his gift of salvation. We strive to carry out Galatians 6:10 (“Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”), but the motive is gratitude not work righteousness.
Confession and absolution are very important. 1 John 1:8-10 contrasts confession and impenitence. Galatians 5:19-21 and 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 teach that impenitence bars people from the kingdom of God.
Confessing sins is a work, yes, but it is God’s work in us. God uses his holy law to lead us to confess our sins (Psalm 19:2; Romans 3:19-20; James 2:10).
Confessing our sins is an ongoing activity for Christians. Think of what Martin Luther wrote in his Small Catechism: “Before God we should plead guilty of all sins, even those we are not aware of, as we do in the Lord’s Prayer.” Recall the very first of Luther’s 95 Theses: “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, ‘Repent’ [Matthew 4:17], he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.”
Your concern about motivation for godly living, sin and confession is good. I would encourage you to focus more on Jesus, your Savior. Take the focus off yourself, wondering if your actions are pleasing to God or your confession of sins is genuine and sufficient. Look to Jesus. He has the words of eternal life (John 6:68). He deals gently with us (Matthew 12:20) and seeks to deepen our faith and trust in him through the gospel.
I hope this has given you some help. Do follow up with your pastor as needed. God bless you.
|» ||What did Adam & Eve look like?|
We have no way of knowing what Adam and Eve looked like outwardly. We know that God created them in his image (Genesis 1:27), but that speaks of Adam and Eve’s holiness, their knowledge of God’s will and the fact that their wills were entirely aligned with God’s will.
One day we will see Adam and Eve, and then we will have the answer to this question!
|» ||Should you pray to the Holy Spirit?|
We do pray to the Holy Spirit when we pray to God. A prayer to the Triune God is a prayer to the Holy Spirit.
Can we address a prayer specifically to the Holy Spirit? Certainly. For example, we do that in our churches on Pentecost Sunday. This is the Prayer of the Day for that festival: “Holy Spirit, God and Lord, come to us this joyful day with your sevenfold gift of grace. Rekindle in our hearts the holy fire of your love that in a true and living faith we may tell abroad the glory of our Savior, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Father, one God, now and forever. Amen.”
Romans 8:26-27 teaches that the Holy Spirit is very much involved in our prayer life. Along with the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit hears and answers our prayers in wisdom and love.
|» ||I have a friend of mine who is interested in attending our church and wants to know more about being WELS. Just one snag, she teaches 7-8 grade at a Roman Catholic school, but only the subjects of English and Math, and does not teach religion. If she joined the WELS, would she have to quit her job at the school? Thank you in advance!|
This is something you and your friend will want to pursue with your pastor. He is in a position to receive more complete information and help you answer questions like these: Would that situation be wrong? Is it wise?
In the meantime, it would likely be helpful for you and your friend to study biblical fellowship principles. Church Fellowship—Working Together for the Truth is a book that can lead you through a study and application of those principles. The book is available from Northwestern Publishing House. Here is a pertinent section from that book: “Our members are sometimes employed by churches, religious schools, or institutions affiliated with a church. Many of these jobs, such as janitorial or secretarial work and food service jobs, usually involve no religious fellowship. Our churches and schools sometimes employ non-members in such positions. Civil rights laws requiring nondiscrimination in hiring may also come into play in some of these cases.
“Other jobs, such as teaching or musical leadership, may involve a worker in the religious ministry of the church or may require participation in worship. Accepting such a job would then involve a compromise of fellowship principles.
“Other cases may be unclear, such as some teaching or coaching positions. In such cases a person should examine each situation on its own merits or demerits. How does the employer define the job? What are the requirements of the job? We cannot necessarily assume that the requirements of the position are the same as they would be for a similar position in our churches.
“Ambiguous situations are sometimes a matter of judgment. Two Christians in very similar circumstances may come to different conclusions. As stated earlier, in such situations we should be cautious about judging the decisions made by others. Doubtful cases are not a wise place to exercise church discipline.”
The preceding thoughts can give you something to think about. Again, do contact your pastor.
|» ||The Bible speaks of women covering their heads in worship or prayer to show honor to their husbands and avoid offending the angels present in our worship services. Why doesn't WELS go by that instruction to the church by the Holy Spirit?|
The short answer is that we are not the Christian congregation in Corinth in the first century A.D.
1 Corinthians 11, the apostle Paul was speaking of a custom or practice that existed in the city of Corinth. The practice included women having long hair or wearing head coverings and men having short hair or not covering their heads. In the everyday, pagan culture of Corinth, men and women adorned themselves this way because they recognized the different roles of men and women. They came to that recognition not on the basis of Scripture, which they rejected, but from the natural differences that they observed between men and women.
The directive in 1 Corinthians 11 was that the Christian women in Corinth not be social renegades by disregarding what their heathen counterparts were doing, but be living examples of biblical principles regarding men and women (1 Corinthians 11:3). By mirroring cultural practices that were occasioned by the natural knowledge of God and conscience, the Christian women of Corinth could reinforce that knowledge and display their faith so others could be positively influenced (Matthew 5:16).
In 1 Corinthians 11:16, the apostle Paul identified the head coverings of the Christian women in Corinth as a “practice” or custom: “If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice—nor do the churches of God.” In the original Greek, “other” is really “such.” The apostle explains that the hair/head covering situation in Corinth was a local practice and not compulsory for all Christian women of all time. That explanation also includes men and what was said about their long hair.
A local practice or custom is far different from a universal principle from God, binding all women of all time to do the same. Because the Bible limits the instruction of head coverings to the women of Corinth in the first century by calling this a “practice,” women of other places and times are not bound to follow that instruction.
|» ||Why is the archangel Michael referred to as "Saint Michael" in our writings and hymns?|
Your question is very appropriate and understandable. The Christian Church has called the archangel Michael “Saint Michael” or “St. Michael” for centuries.
A saint is someone who is holy in the sight of God (Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:2). Since the Bible speaks of holy angels (Mark 8:38; Jude 14; Revelation 14:10), “saint” is a word that can be attributed to them. (Not all the angels remained holy – 2 Peter 2:4.)
The minor festival of St. Michael and All Angels provides Christians with an opportunity to praise God for using his holy angels to protect them (Hebrews 1:14).
|» ||Regarding your answer on whether or not animals have souls, I can't believe that it is biblical to say that animals don't have souls. Genesis 1, 2 and 9 refer to animals by the Hebrew word for soul, which is nephesh. The word nephesh is translated into Greek in the Septuagint as psyche, which is also used in the New Testament to refer to soul. The Bible also says that animals have ruach, which is Hebrew for spirit. Surely, animals have souls (and spirits), don't they?|
The answer to another question, similar to yours, will offer further explanation.
“The words in the Hebrew of the Old Testament and the Greek of the New Testament that are commonly translated into English as ‘soul’ are somewhat generic words, indicating the non-material part of human beings and other creatures. Their precise meaning at a given place must be drawn from their context in the Bible text and from related statements on the same subject also drawn from the Bible itself. The Bible clearly ascribes to animals a ‘soul’ in the sense of immaterial part of their being, the ‘animating’ quality that makes them a ‘living being’ in their bodies. This frequent use of the term (for mankind or animals) is almost identical with ‘life, breath of life, inner life.’
“Throughout Scripture, however, there is no evidence or hint that animals have an immortal ‘soul/spirit’ that relates or communicates distinctively with God. This quality, with parallel Bible vocabulary words used to indicate it, is limited to mankind. Animals were not created in the image of God, do not bear moral responsibility, do not sin, are never pointed to Christ’s work for forgiveness, are not invited or urged to seek restoration of spiritual and eternal life in Christ, and are never said to face divine judgment, etc.” (The question and answer that you referenced centered on the content of this paragraph.)