Archive for the ‘Church @ 6 Blog’ Category
From Pastor Luke – Two things that stuck out to me this week:
Do the next right thing. Regardless of circumstance, Joseph sought to live for God.
Joseph was not passive in his desire to follow God. The Christian life is never passive; God calls us to action.
Does it matter if you’re legally married or committed to each other for God’s sake to be considered married?
Our society teaches, sex first than commitment. Bible teaches, commitment first than sex. Jeremy mentioned that sex was ‘set apart’ for marriage. So as Beyoncé says, put a ring on it! Now marriage is the 2nd most influential life decision you’ll make (1st is decision to follow Jesus). So we’d recommend thinking it over and making sure you aren’t marrying just to have permission to have sex (see next question).
I will say that, commitment in marriage is very different than commitment before marriage. Vows and covenant before God and witnesses reveal one’s commitment much much more than a 2 person mutual agreement for commitment. Furthermore, consider Mary and Joseph, they were engaged and committed to each other, yet, withholding from sex. Why? They were already pretty much married and clearly committed… True enough, BUT sometimes (or all the time) obedience to God’s Word trumps our personal interpretation or justification.
What can the church community do to encourage a young couple from engaging in sex before marriage, but not pressure the couple to get married after a short term dating or very young?
This is a question I truly wrestle with myself. Here is how I (Luke) have thought this through personally.
Let’s capture the 3 main ideas behind it:
1. We know marriage is a big commitment. The Bible calls it a life-long covenant. Thus, marriage should be entered into advisedly, deliberately, and reverently. You do not want to enter into a marriage just because you want to have sex.
2. We know, the bible teaches that sex is for marriage.
3. We assume: hormones, emotions, and passions cloud judgement and may lead you to believe you are in love when really you are just young with a sex drive. When we make life long decisions off emotion and hormones we could be setting ourselves up for failure. Thus many recommend waiting till you are older, or giving your relationship a little more time to grow.
…BUT we have a sex drive and we want to have sex… Especially in our sex saturated culture.
So how can the church help…
1. Well, we have to be in relationship with each other so that we can have these conversations and challenge each other.
2. We should be careful not to judge people who marry young or who date quickly. I know many successful marriages that started young and/or dated quickly. Having said that, most of those people would be cautious recommending it! I’ve heard it said, a wise rule of thumb is to have 1 year between the first date to the wedding date. This may seem ‘too short’ or ‘too long’, it isn’t biblical but it gives you time to get to know the person in all four seasons.
3. We do need to challenge people with self-control. It isn’t impossible to wait till marriage! And it isn’t impossible to wait a year (or many more) to get married…. In fact, your marriage may even be richer given more time to grow as a couple before marriage. If you can’t control yourself now, you’ll have to learn how to sooner or later. Temptation doesn’t stop after marriage. Many argue that Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians 7: 9, ‘if you can’t control yourself get married.’ It is helpful to know that Paul is talking about singleness and the benefits of singleness. He actually says, ‘it is better to be single’… Thus, sex isn’t the be all and end all…
a. Paul does say, if you are single and can’t control yourself (referring to the people who are sleeping with multiple partners) he says, it is better to get married (sleep with 1 person not many). Last comment, make sure you read Paul’s words in verse 10, ‘a wife must not separate from her husband.’ Paul re-enforces that marriage is to be life-long.
b. So, would Paul say, marry for sex. No. Paul would teach the importance of self-control and how we honor God with our sex life (1 person and life-long).
4. Lastly, Proverbs 15: 22, Plans fail for lack of counsel, many advisors brings success.
a. You are responsible for yourself and your marriage. Seek wisdom and learn from others. It is hard for the people of God to support you when you don’t ask or seek counsel.
b. Are you too young? Is it too quick? Seek counsel. But ultimately this is your decision. It is your life.
c. We the church need to be in relationship with each other and have these discussions without judgement. But ultimately this question does come down to one’s own decision.
Is it possible that with the examples of sexual promiscuity being all female (Potiphar’s wife, the adulterous women, even Rita Mae’s song lyics) that you put off an unconscious message that only men have to strive to stay pure of promiscuous women and that all women are promiscuous?
I’m sorry if that’s what you got out of my message! That is definitely not what I was attempting to communicate, even at a sub-conscious level. My goal is to always be faithful to the Scripture. In this case, the ‘hero’ was male. The passage was about a woman attempting to use sex to assert her power over a male slave and his resistance of that attempt.
However, there are lots of stories of women who were faithful to God’s calling. Wisdom is personified as a woman in Scripture. Women are often portrayed as obedient to God’s direction (while the men often argue and debate with God).
I hope that we are willing to learn from the whole story of Scripture – whether the ‘hero’ is male or female – and I hope that my preaching as a whole reflects the whole picture of Scripture. However, I am aware that I can have unintentional blind spots so I appreciate the question.
On a side note: stay tuned for our Advent Series focusing on the women in Jesus’ lineage.
How do you talk to someone who is going through hard times and is off the grid so that they can understand that God is still in control? Can you do this without coming across as preachy or uncaring?
A question just occurred to me, ‘Is it necessary for someone to understand that God is in control?’
Now, if a person thinks, how can God possibly allow this to happen. Therefore, He must not be in control. OR, How can God be good if He allows this to happen. As Psalm 77 shows us, questions are part of the human experience. We ought to allow people to ask, wrestle, and get angry with God without feeling the need to provide answers.
Personally, as Ecclesiastes 3 states, there is a time for everything. The time to discuss God’s control and sovereignty is probably not during a difficult time in their life. We can reassure them that God is in control even though it doesn’t seem like it. But anything more may come across as preachy. Stay in relationship and be present for them.
The time for the ‘God in control talk’ will come, they’ll be more responsive when they’ve healed up a bit and are not right in the middle of crisis. You’ll know when, because you’ll be present with them journeying with them. These are hard questions because everyone responds so different and needs to be ministered to differently in times of trial and crisis.
Jeremy mentioned that sex in a relationship ruins the trust barriers… used the example of couples who live together before marriage are more likely to divorce. I know I am not the only one in the room who has unwanted sexual encounters… what do you say to those people? Since they have technically engaged in adulterous relationship?
I am curious as to what you mean by “unwanted.” If you mean that someone has forced themselves on you against your will, then you are not to blame. It is not your fault. You did not give yourself in any way to the other person; they stole from you. You are not guilty. You may feel shame – I get that. One thing I’ve really appreciated lately is that Jesus not only took our guilt for the things we did wrong, he took our shame. Over and over again, God comes to those who feel shame and restores them with dignity and love. God can do the same for you.
However, if you have been the victim of sexual violence, it can definitely affect your view and experience of sex in the future. One of the ways God may bring healing is through counselling. I would encourage anyone who is carrying deep shame to explore this.
If by “unwanted” you mean you engaged in consensual sex but have come to regret your decisions, I would remind you of what I said in my sermon: your past actions are not irredeemable. Your past decisions and experiences will not prevent God from fulfilling his mission for creation and his purpose for you. The cross and empty tomb testify to this! John’s promise is true: if you confess your sin, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Sometimes that purification and restoration happens in an instantaneous miracle. Other times we may have to seek help to work through the shame and guilt we feel. Again, I would encourage anyone who is carrying guilt and shame to explore counselling as an avenue to experience God’s healing and restoration.
Any opinions on those who later struggle in sex because of ‘shutting off’ sexual desires prior to marriage?
Good question. Here is some opinion…
I have heard from few people (meaning some but not many) who get married and who struggle with sex because they held such strict boundaries (for example, not kissing before the wedding). There are many reasons for sexual issue. But in some cases it does seem to come from a suppression of sexual desire. It is so bad and dirty that even in marriage they feel it is wrong.
Sex is good. It is not dirty, it is not the worst possible sin. Sex isn’t from the devil. Sex is a gift from God for those in marriage.
We need to talk more about sex in church. We need to give people space and relationship where it is appropriate to voice their concern, struggles, and views in a safe place.
Perhaps we also need to motivate people differently as well. Not with guilt and shame but with God’s design for sex which is good and worth pursuing. So many barriers for people in church to talk openly about sex and sexual struggle. We do need our brave disciples to rise up and lead the charge in the appropriate context. This question isn’t surprising because I do talk about it on a regular basis with others in church. So I think we just need to encourage people to talk about it. If the church is a barrier, tell someone why… talk about it!
Why did you choose to say God had a dream as opposed to he had a plan?
(“God had a dream” wondering if there is a reason “dream” was used as opposed to a word like “plan”. Not super important just curious)
Ian used dream as a figure of speech. He could have said God had a plan for Joseph. But because Joseph had a dream of God’s plan, Ian choose to say, God had a dream for Joseph.
Using the word ‘dream’ may make us believe that God’s intended plan for us can differ based upon our action and response. Dreams are ideals, plans are concrete. This may just be semantics. God gave Joseph a dream of who Joseph would become. God’s dream for Joseph was also God’s plan. The story of Joseph reveals the very complex coming together of God’s sovereignty and human free will.
Much like in the New Testament. Jesus changed Peter’s name from Simon to Peter. Peter means Rock. This indicates that Jesus’ dream and plan for Peter was that he’d become the Rock on which Jesus would build His church (John 1: 42)
The PAIN that we all have to go through, is this always the beginning of a new journey?!
Pain is definitely a journey. One that is experienced by all. It appears from Scripture that many of God’s leaders/servants were tried and tested before God unfolded His plan for them. Therefore, trial and God’s perceived silence can be an indication of a beginning of a new chapter or journey.
Joseph suffered in silence for 10+ years before he became prime minister in Egypt and was used to saved the people and his family (God’s people).
Moses: Exodus 2: 23 – “after that long period” God was silent in Israel’s life and Moses’ life before calling Moses to return to Egypt.
Interestingly Paul: Galatians 1: 18, Paul went away for three years before entering ministry. It appears though that this was not a time of silence from God about revelation. This is where Paul was trained. In the dessert, him and God. Unlike any other disciple, no one suffered more, endured more, or experienced more pain than Paul. From Paul’s life, pain doesn’t indicate a new chapter or beginning of a new journey. It was a reality he faced on every journey.
We live in a broken world. Pain is part of our reality. Does it indicate a start of a new journey. Perhaps sometimes, but not always.
Is God silent in your life because of unconfessed sin, or because of testing?
James 1:2, Consider pure joy, my brothers and sisters when you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.
– So there is evidence from scripture that God uses trials to test and develop us.
We have to be careful when we try to explain God’s silence. You can be obedient to God and still experience His perceived silence. Job 2: 10, shall we experience good from God and not evil (Job was a righteous man and experienced silence) was Job being tested. Maybe? Was it because of unconfessed sin, No (his friends were rebuked for saying that).
Legalism is not of God. Grace is of God. Grace is an undeserved gift. Therefore, I’ll never earn my salvation and therefore I’ll never have a speed dial phone call to God based on how ‘good I am’. ‘So silence as punishment’ vs. ‘do good, and get access to God and blessing’ God doesn’t seem to work that way.
However, Sin has consequences. So if you do decide to rebel against your creator, you will miss out. If you are obedient to God, and you learn his ways, you will perhaps become more attuned to God (because He is never absent). But silence and suffering is the human condition. Regardless of how good or bad you are, you will experience silence and suffering. This is the broken world.
Two part question.
Does God orchestrate or cause suffering in order to teach or show us grace? Or is it because of Gods grace, that he uses suffering (caused by God or not) to teach us and show us grace?
Based on Genesis 3 (the fall of man), one can assert that,
1. God is not responsible for evil or sin.
2. Bad things happen because of human free will.
3. Because bad things happened God created Israel and eventually sent Jesus into the world to make the world right again. The whole story of Bible is an act of grace as Ian stated.
Based on Genesis 50: 20, You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good, to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.
4. Therefore God orchestrated good out of suffering.
So based on Joseph God uses suffering to show us and teach us grace. I think your second question says it right, because of God’s character and grace that He can use suffering to teach and show us His grace.
Does God cause or allow suffering?
It seems to be that the better word choice based on the book of Job would be that God allows suffering. God didn’t stop the devil from making Job suffer. Some say, therefore God caused Job’s suffering because he could have stopped it. And clearly God could have stopped the devil but didn’t (perhaps because he knew that Job had strong character and would prove to the devil that He followed God regardless of material possession and health). Thus, Job is a great example of a man who did not let his challenges dictate his faith. This shows us that God clearly allowed and used suffering for His glory.
But what about Israel’s case. I am turning you over to your ways.
There are no accidents or coincidences in the life of a Christian so then no luck either?
I guess not. Though it certainly seems like we get lucky sometimes. But can there be luck or coincidence if God is all knowing? Through Joseph’s lens, he certainly seems to have gotten lucky that the Ishmaelites happened to walk by. If not, his brothers may have killed him. However, hindsight being 20/20, God’s hand was present. If the Ishmaelites didn’t come by at that moment, Joseph wouldn’t have been in Egypt.
God is not bound by time. Therefore he knows past, present and future. Which means, we have free will and possibly luck or coincidence and yet God still knows all and has control over all.
If sin is not outside of our control, and we have the power of the Holy spirit living inside of us, then in theory, could a person be sin free? Just a thought
James 2: 7 – Resist the devil and he will flee you. This verse affirms along with several other verses that we can resist and conquer sin.
Romans 7: 19 – 20: For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do – this I keep doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
This seems to indicate that we don’t have power over sin.
So there is tension in the scriptures. We can control sin but at the same time we can’t. Based on Scripture I’d be led to believe one will never achieve perfection on this side of eternity. I also believe, given intention and because of the power of the Holy Spirit we can conquer sin.
Perhaps, though we may conquer lust. That doesn’t mean we’ve conquered greed. There will always be sin in our lives, but through the power of the Spirit we can conquer it. We conquer one area, than another area becomes visible.
Whose was the sin? the brothers who threw him in the cistern or Joesph who was so arrogant?
One could say Joseph got what was coming to him. His arrogance and hot dogging of his coat and dream reveals this. Jacob favouritism of Joseph also contributed to the brokenness of the family. And of course, the brother’s sin of throwing Joseph into the cistern. They all sinned and were guilty of it and thus there is brokenness.
Does the broken world that we live affect our reactions as Christians? I mean has the world we live limited our duties as Christian? If yes, what can we do?
I’m not sure exactly what this question is asking. I’m assuming you mean, the broken world has limited our ability to help because it is outside of our control. I can certainly identify with that. It would definitely be nice to know the plan and the why? But if God has a plan, as difficult as it is to see or as frustrating as it is. Trust and prayer is our response and we are called to help others where we can. But because of brokenness we are sometimes limited. The story of the prodigal son comes to mind. The son left and there was no stopping him but that isn’t the end of the story. This should give us both a sense of remorse (blessed are those who mourn) and a sense of hope (Lost sons/Lost Sheep are not forgotten by God and there is always hope).
So the lesson is that Gods love is compatible with bad things. But what if those “bad things” are too much and push you too far from God. Then it’s just too bad you didn’t have enough faith? What if it pushes other people away who never come back to God? Are we just supposed to believe that in the grand scheme of things the good will outweigh the bad? Those lost people were just part of the plan? A little collateral damage?
We discussed this question in detail at church at 6. It is true, often suffering leads you closer or farther away from God. For those whose suffering has caused them to abandon God. We don’t know their eternal destination. We know that God is Just and God is Good. So God will do what is Right. From the story of Joseph, one could say Joseph was collateral damage because of the brokenness and unfortunate circumstances. In the end, God did what was right. In the end, God will do what is right. As Christians, we don’t believe the good will outweigh the bad. We believe life is a gift of grace through Jesus Christ. In Him we find the God’s plan and it always involved lost people.
If God is Just and God is Good, He will do what’s right.
How much time passed between the Testaments?
400 years. Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther are thought to be the last books written before the New Testament. During this period, no biblical prophet spoke or wrote. This period is called, ‘the period of silence’.
Is God silent in your life because of unconfessed sin, or because of testing? (Discussed at church @ 6.)
Ian mentioned that sin has been dealt with in Jesus Christ. Job 1: 21 says, the Lord gives and takes away. Therefore, God’s silence is not a result of your sin.
Of course, sin does hinder our growth. As Peter says (1 Peter 2:1 – 3), rid yourselves of all ‘sin” , crave pure spiritual milk so that by it you may grow up in your salvation.
Is there consequence for sin? Yes. Sin was the reason Jesus hung on a cross. Sin was the reason Israel was exiled. Does that mean God is absent or not involved? No
Does God use silence to test us? Yes. The book of Job is a great example of this. Joseph is another example. He was tested and tried through God’s silence. But God was not absent.
The main point is, we can’t always know why God is silent… But the human experience and the Bible show us that He is perceived to be silent often (almost every book wrestles with this reality). We must remember God is never absent. From scripture, His silence is used for testing, for character development, as a result of sin, and probably many more reasons that we don’t know.
How can we help friends who are going through dark times?
Sometimes, we like to explain their suffering. Sometimes, this isn’t helpful. We see from Job’s friends in the book of Job that they weren’t helpful telling Job why all these bad things were happening to him. They said it is because of sin or unrepentance. But God actually rebukes Job’s friends (Job 42: 7), “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken right”. So telling friends why they are suffering may not be wise at some points. Though, in other times, a word of Truth can be helpful but you must use discernment.
Practically, how can we help during dark times?
It does depend greatly on what the dark time is but often times, here are some tips:
Presence – being available to them (discerning how much presence is tough, some people like to be left alone, some like more time )
Listening – unlike Job’s friends, we ought to listen to our friends lament and wrestle with God.
Food – If a loved one dies, food is a practical need people have; a very practical gift to let people know you are thinking of them and eases the day to day demands on their schedule if they don’t have to cook for themselves.
What if the person is struggling with consequences of sin?
Reality is, some people like living in their own garbage. They can abuse and take advantage of your grace and kindness because they don’t want to deal with their issues.
For example, someone may be going through a dark time in their marriage… You then discover they are addicted to porn. This is a time for challenge not silence because their situation is directly related to their action and is in their control; unlike other situations that are outside of one’s control. Sin is dangerous and only leads to death and destruction. When people choose to follow the path of destruction, we often feel hopeless to help. As difficult as it is watch, one ought to continue to pray and be available (within reason) and remember, Romans 8 where Paul says, nothing can separate us from God’s love. Like the story of the Prodigal son (Luke 15) are posture becomes one of ‘open arms’ praying, waiting, hoping the son returns. However, it does appear one has to let them go. That is difficult to do.
Thanks for all your questions. Hopefully, this blog catches you still processing what it takes for you to be a disciple of Jesus.
Here’s the recap of questions from this past Sunday:
On today’s world, is radical a good term to use to describe our journey?
Ian mentioned that people are often drawn to something Bigger and more important than themselves, a cause or a purpose. In this instance, radical is a good term to describe discipleship.
However, in today’s culture, Ian also mentioned how people misunderstand terms like Radical or Evangelical to mean, ‘people who are forcing their beliefs on others’. This has been a reality in our culture and it is important for us to clarify and be sensitive to the terms and semantics we use. Radical discipleship does not mean ‘forcing others to believe what you believe’.
Perhaps, it would be wise of us to consider our audience and platform before labelling ourselves.
“Taking up your cross”, what does that mean?
Reference: Mark 8: 34 – 38
Jesus uses, take up your cross and follow me as a metaphor for discipleship. Put simply, Jesus is calling his disciples to surrender/give their life and follow him. Ultimately, Jesus went to the cross and sacrificed himself for us. Therefore, ‘take up your cross’ is a metaphor for self-sacrifice. Do as I do… sacrifice yourself for others. Follow my example of living with the cross in mind.
When making fishers of men I’m asked what are you? Most people ask, are you Catholic, Mormon? I say, I’m Christian – part of evangelical church…. But they want more as they believe we are all Christians – what can we tell them?
Ultimately, I’m Christian and I follow Jesus. Some people may assume you are Mormon, so perhaps it would be wise to say, I follow Jesus and His teaching in the Bible (to differentiate from Mormons who have book of Mormon). But for those outside of the church (whether we like it or not) Christianity includes Catholics. So, I personally (Luke writing) don’t think it is necessary to point out the differences between Catholics and Protestants. I would tell others, I’m not Catholic but some will assume I’m the same as Catholic… and that’s okay. We ought to keep it simple, “I’m a Christian and I follow Jesus (the teaching of the Bible)” than simply let your life speak to that person. For outsiders, getting into the differences between denominations or Catholic/Protestant can at times be distracting (but beneficial to if they really want to know). But we need to keep it simple, I follow Jesus.
So is this calling to serve more of an act of obedience? Rather than volunteer sign up?
Yes. All disciples of Christ are called into discipleship. 1 Peter 2: 9 calls the people of God a royal priesthood. Therefore, we affirm the priesthood of all believers. In Ephesians, Paul calls pastors/leaders of the church, to “equip the saints for ministry”. Therefore, the church, not just pastors are called to ministry, and the pastors are called to equip the people in the church for ministry. Therefore, we all should be pursuing and doing ministry/discipleship because that’s what we are called as disciples to do. So yes, out of obedience to our call to follow Jesus we should be serving the church, using our gifts, and taking opportunities to minister to others.
How do we not get caught up in “churchianity”? I think we start focusing on church programs and church culture that we have a tendency to try to control it ourselves, instead of have God lead us.
Practical way to avoid getting to caught up in ‘churchanity’ is to ensure that you have friends/colleagues that aren’t church people. If our whole community is Christian, it is easy to slip into ‘churchanity’ because we aren’t be challenged by the worldviews of others. As Ian said last night, we have to stay tight on our mission. Everything we do needs to focus on our mission, make disciples of Christ. If we have a program that has an end goal that is not in line with our mission, than we ought to reconsider the program. So keeping focus on the purpose and mission of the church is important so that we don’t lose sight of what we are called to be.
What is the significance of church if our main mission is to simply, follow Jesus?
Following Jesus is not a solo effort. Without relationship there is no discipleship. If you had no church and you were ‘making disciples of Jesus’… I wonder if those disciples would look more like you than Jesus?? In Genesis 2, we see that God created us for community. In the Gospels we see Jesus in community with his disciples. The disciples were never alone after Jesus was taken up. The church as a community of faith is necessary to accomplish discipleship. As you read in Paul’s letters, the church (as a community of believers) was created to encourage, hold accountable, sharpen, and is called to be the ‘light to the nations’. As Ian said, without the church, discipleship will be limited. You can only grow so much without being a part of an intentional, Bible proclaiming community of believers.
Are we saved if we don’t give everything up to Jesus?
Yes. Discipleship is a process. As we grow in faith and understanding of Jesus’ call on our lives we will surrender more and more to Him. It is clear from Scripture that Jesus is calling us to ‘leave everything’ and follow him. So though it is a process, if I refuse to give up things I should, one would be missing out on a deeper more fulfilled life. Jesus calls us to follow Him alone. What is Jesus asking you to give to Him? As sinners, we should constantly remind ourselves, this life is not mine but His. Therefore, if I’m only holding myself back from what could be if I continue to follow Jesus without being willing to ‘give up’ or ‘surrender’.
Does Jesus feel the nails in His wrists and feet each time I commit a sin or has He already felt them?
Jesus has paid the penalty for our sin. He suffered and died and is now in Glory with God the father. Therefore, we believe that Jesus does not feel the nails and pain of our sin. He already has taken that pain and conquered it. We are set free because of Jesus’ work on the cross. We should have a sense of remorse and sadness, recognizing that because of my sin Jesus suffered and died. However, guilt and shame should not be a mark of a Christ follower. We are forgiven and set free. Jesus is with the Father, He conquered death. This should not be reason to keep sinning, but reason to move forward to strive to follow Him.
Church at 6!
Thanks for constantly engaging in questions and answers during our services. It’ what make church at 6 great, because we’re seeking out answers TOGETHER! Here’s what came in that still needed to be addressed after the past couple Q&A sessions at church.
June 26, 2016
Can you explain the difference between control and sovereignty in the context of how God works on earth?
At best, the definition of sovereignty (according to Merriam-Webster dictionary is “supreme excellence or an example of it; supreme power over, controlling influence”. I think the last definition is a good description of what God wants for us. He wants to be a strong, controlling influence, but He doesn’t intend to simply control. God has the function of master designer-controller but not operator; that is left to us as individuals and societies to direct our thoughts, words and actions.
Is there bible study material to explain what exactly the role of the father is? Or, better yet, God’s role as a father? Or the role of an “inheritance leaver” with or without children, essentially how to properly serve (with practical application)
A great intro to the fatherhood of God can be found here at biblestudytools.com. Otherwise, the greatest emphasis of God the Father comes through by Jesus presentation of His Father. His Father is the one who sent Him, to usher in the kingdom of God (John 6:39). God the Father is understood as the all-knowing, leading presence of God. When Jesus prays in the garden before his crucifixion “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you.” (Mark 14:36) There is also mention that Jesus, the Son, doesn’t know everything that the Father knows (Mark 13:32) and this would lead us to believe that the role of the Father highlights the characteristics of God like his omnipresence (all-present), omnipotence (absolute power), omniscient (all-knowing).
Other verses referring to the Fatherhood of God include (please read the the full context of each verse):1 Corinthians 8:6, Ephesians 4:6, Matthew 23:9, Psalm 68:5, John 14:9-11
What are the ways that Satan tempts us and how do you overcome the temptation from Satan to believe in God?
Satan tempts in a variety of ways, depending on the personality and “wiring” of the person. I may face different temptations than you, but each of us are equally tempted. And what tempts you, may not tempt me. What I do see in today’s society, we are regularly tempted (or torn down) with opportunities of selfishness, arrogance, self-doubt, exclusivity and consumption.
Paul in his letter to the Ephesians makes mention of one of the best ways to combat temptation. It’s a little convoluted in today’s culture, but Paul’s direction to the “full armour of God” (Ephesians 6:13-17) is useful. This passage points us to God’s truth, peace, righteousness, faith, salvation and the Word of God. In my personal experience, the best ways to combat temptation are by 1) the Word of God, 2) claiming the Truths that God has claimed on your life (ie. you are a child of God, captured by the salvation of God through Jesus, etc.) 3) the community of God (ie. the Church). The Church is hard to come to when we’re in the midst of temptation, but in finding spiritual friendships, we allow ourselves to be “known” and our struggles are shared with others. The weight of temptation is lessened when we know we’re in it together.
July 10, 2016
For these July 10 questions, I consulted with several members of our teaching team to develop the answers more fully. I wish to give credit to their thought processes and have added their names in brackets after including their thoughts. Thanks everyone, Josh
Are transgendered / transsexual people committing a sin?
Evidently, there is a statistically significant percentage of births each year in North America where the biological sex indicators are indeterminate (e.g., internals different from the external, a mixture of the two). As a result, the parents, in consultation with the medical experts, are normally expected/forced to make a decision on behalf of their child: one or the other. What if the choice made by the parents does not match the immaterial characteristics (e.g., emotions, psychology and other gender-related aspects) that are as influential as the physical characteristics in determining the orientation of the individual?
What if the parents refuse to make the decision for the child at that early stage and allow the child to grow up a while with these indeterminate characteristics? How should we treat such a person? What if, as one reads the unfolding drama of Scripture, the binaries that we normally placed on things like gender do not actually hold (e.g., move from simplicity in Genesis to the diversity in Revelation)?
If we do retain our binary at least as it relates to gender based on a reading of Genesis does that hold for race too (i.e., what God created in Eden is the ideal)? So, what if, in answer to the question above, the parents of intersex/trandsgendered/transexual children make the wrong choice and the child chooses to reverse that choice? Is that a sin? (Scott Currie)
My argument was that we live in a world broken by sin and that affects us physically, mentally, socially, and spiritually. So, due to our broken state, we have to allow for at least a mis-match between our felt gender and our physical sex. Then the question becomes, how do we achieve wholeness? Change the physical to match the ‘mental?’ Or change our mind to come to peace with the physical? I think we’re assuming the physical is ‘right’ and we just have to come to peace with that. But what if the mental is ‘right?’
Even to make a separation between ‘physical’ and ‘mental’ is too simplistic: the ‘physical’ involves more than just the sex organs but also genes and hormones. So it’s not just about feeling mis-matched. (Jeremy Light)
The early church, in many ways, was on the outside looking in. Today, many Christians are within influential spheres such as government, business owners and leaders within the community. Are we still called to be “radically different” like the early church was?
Yes, we are still called to live “radically different” when the application is directly pulled from Jesus teachings & God’s Truth. No matter where our place in society is (on the margins or at the centre) when the teachings of Jesus oppose the societal norm, the difference we live out should be in stark contrast to it (or, what could be defined as radical –though the connotations of being “radical” is rapidly changing in a society where “radicals” now act out in violence — which is counter to the teachings of Jesus) (Josh)
There is a massive assumption made. The assumption is that if a person is a Christian and if that person holds a position of influence, that person will automatically use her influence for Christian ideals. We still must hear the call of Romans 12:1,2 to resist any and all pressures exerted by secular culture to fit its mould. Christians can use their roles in society for good at any level, it just can’t be assumed which means that YES, we are still called to live with the Gospel at the ROOT of our lives.(Scott Currie)
I would recommend The Lost History of Christianity as a historical example of what this could look like. (Jeremy Light)
Is there possibility for sexual immorality inside heterosexual marriage?
Yes! Just because we have entered into a marital covenant, this does not mean we are protected from sin inside that marriage. Whether it has to do with respect to your marital partner, your attitudes or behaviours towards them or your habits in addition to your marital covenant (the use of porn or lustful practices), immorality is something to consistently guard against. (Josh)
In addition to the active sin (e.g., sexual abuse) there is also the passive sin (e.g., withholding sex as a tool). (Scott Currie)
Many would argue that we are becoming more sexually impure now than ever before (gay rights, transsexual, asexual, agendered) Is our culture comparable to the pagan culture? Or are we truly going further and further away from some idea of sexual purity. And if so, how do we continue to stand firm?
The state of society’s sexual purity, or lack there of it, is highly subjective. From what I’ve been exposed to, with regards to historical sexual practices (across numerous societies and ages), the sexual practices can be equally as shocking or confounding. To say that our culture is comparable to pagan culture is to say that we understand the fallenness of humanity, no matter the time or space in history.
To stand firm, we must hold firmly to the teachings of Jesus. Jesus taught the hard things. So much so that his disciples, with regards to Jesus’ teaching on marriage, said “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry” (Matthew 19:10). To stand firm, with regards to purity, means to be clinging to practices that help Jesus followers to stay pure; guard your heart and how you share yourself with others, guard your mind and the things you place there or think about and guard your body and how you use it in physical and sexual ways.
If all religions teach the same thing about sex, why should one choose Christianity over any other?
Because if Jesus is who He says He is, then He is THE Way, THE Truth and THE Life. These are absolute statements that direct us beyond what other religions promise and reveal the inheritance of the kingdom of God through Jesus. Furthermore, what I found this week as I researched, is that many religions teach on the destructiveness of delinquent sexual behaviour in western culture but they do not teach the EXACT same approach to sexual ethic that Jesus and the scriptures teach. See examples here:
Hinduism: recommended self-research given the graphic nature of some Hindu pictures depicting gods and goddesses. Overview: Hinduism acknowledges bi-sexual attributes in creation and condemns the selfish use of sexual practices.
Any worldview must provide answers to the questions that humanity is asking and must accurately account for truth (or whatever position it takes on the reality of truth). The most important question is what a religion says about our origin, our destiny, and our situation. This is where we see crucial difference which is what you pointed out. In general, we must understand that our sexuality is just one aspect of our lives that plays a part in who we are. (Scott Currie)
What of the people who were taken advantage of sexually? Have they sinned? Is it possible to sin against your will?
In my understanding of Jesus teachings, they have not sinned. They have been sinned against by the actions of a perpetrator. Isaiah 1:23 and James 1:27 both refer to God’s disdain for the vulnerable being taken advantage of and His call on us to protect and provide for those being sinned against.
One of the questions that came up in discussions with peers was “what does it mean to be taken advantage of sexually?” This question arises because if someone feels pressure from their partner sexually and gives in rather than standing up for their values, I would push back and say that is not “being taken advantage of”. We need to make sure we are emphasizing standing up for Jesus in all our life regardless of how hard it is and just because it is hard doesn’t mean it is not possible. If, however, being taken advantage of means that there is no consent given, or sexual advantages are forcibly taken, then we understand that the victim cannot. (combined Josh Raine & Scott Currie)
If we teach on purity/holiness, does the E-Free church teach modesty in dress code?
Modest dressing is an aspect of Romans 14 (what is right to someone might not be right to someone else). This is one area that can lead to legalism if one is not careful. Romans 14 gives room for us in these sorts of matters but ultimately each of us must hold our convictions as before God. There is room, however, for those of us who would view ourselves as mature in the faith to make our choices not based on our freedom but based on what might cause the weaker ones to stumble. That is a spiritually mature orientation. To be clear, it is NOT telling others that they should dress with weaker believers in mind but rather choosing to dress ourselves with weaker believers in mind. (Scott Currie)
What is evidence of being filled with the Spirit?
The simplest answer to this question is Galatians 5: 22 – The fruits of the Spirit; Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Goodness, Kindness, and Self-control. If a person is filled with the Spirit these qualities should show in their life.
Paul also talks about spiritual gifts: gifts that are given from the Spirit. Read 1 Corinthians 12 and 1 Corinthians 14. Remember though, Paul talks about the most important gift: Love (1 Corinthians 13).
As Ian stated, the Spirit was poured out on all people and they spoke in human languages not spiritual tongues like 1 Corinthians. Spiritual tongues is a gift but isn’t given to all people.
Before Jesus was taken to heaven, he said that he was going to send the Holy Spirit to His followers. So if it hadn’t been sent yet, who was at the burning bush with Moses?
The Scriptures reveal that the Spirit has been present throughout history. Genesis 1:1 – the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And, of course, at the burning bush (as Ian referenced Sunday night). At Pentecost, the Spirit is given. Perhaps, this means it has become available to all. After the Fall (Genesis 3), it seems like the Spirit of God was in certain places with certain people (tabernacle and the priests). After Pentecost, the Spirit was made available to all people through the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Where is the evidence of the Spirit today?
Many will attest that miracles still happen. Speaking in tongues still happens. The challenge for us is to tune our eyes to see and ears to hear. If you are skeptical or believe that the Spirit isn’t working like He use to in the 1st century, I’d challenge you to ask people in our church community where and if they’ve witnessed the Spirit’s work in their lives? Brace yourself, because the Spirit of God has been very active. Perhaps, the most powerful miracle is not ‘physical healing’ or ‘speaking in tongues’ but witnessing the drastic life change in others. Some are immediate, some change over a period of years. I’d simply just challenge you to ask around
Part II of Questions from April 24, 2016
When I’m looking for direction from God, how do I prevent myself from doubting that God is speaking to me or “giving me a sign”? Sometimes I wish it was as easy as feeling the wounds on his hands or feeling the dew on the fleece. Something concrete. I know the problem is my ability to understand God, but, I’m ashamed to say… sometimes I doubt that He hears me or that He cares.
Do you see that many of us are ill-prepared to intelligently converse with those who have very real/common/normal doubts? Perhaps there isn’t enough teaching to engage other’s worldview in our “post-christian culture”?
I was once told to “doubt my doubts”. That has never saw well with me and I wanted to disagree with that phrase. Would you agree to doubt your doubts, or is that a valid phrase to consider?
How long do we wrestle with this doubt?
So it is ok to doubt and ask God why? How far is too far with doubt then?
What about doubting the authenticity of the Bible? You can’t use the bible to prove the Bible.
The questions were great tonight as we heard Pastor Ian share about the disciple Thomas and John 20:24-31.
Here is part 1 of our responses:
Do you think our doubts limit God?
– absolutely not. I believe that if God is limited by us, He’s not worth believing in. Matthew 14:31, Jesus asks Peter “Why did you doubt?” but that didn’t limit Jesus in his invitation to Peter out on the water. Jesus had to know that he was asking Peter to do something miraculous and there would be doubt. Doubt likely faced everyone who brought the sick and lame to Jesus, but Jesus worked to relieve them of their doubts. He call them to himself, moving beyond their doubts, delivered miracles to them and THEN called for life change.
Likewise, Numbers 20 tells the story of Moses striking the rock to bring water to the people, even though God only told Moses to speak to the rock. God was not limited by Moses’ lack of faith. Moses doubts and decided that talking to the rock was not enough. He felt he needed to hit it. However, God still provided the water for His people that they needed, despite Moses’ doubt. (Josh)
Should we be differentiating between the honest doubter and a headstrong skeptic?
Understanding the intention behind the doubts and skepticism definitely helps the situation. It also points towards the attitudes that you’re grappling with. Walking through the questions of an honest doubter can be calm, cool and collected, with an openness to a number of different possible outcomes.
The reality is, that with headstrong skeptics, they can close themselves off to possible resolutions or explanations and limit themselves. In my brain, I differentiate between the two because I believe that the honest doubter is willing to “get out of their own way” in finding the answer, while a headstrong approach can involve to much of your own biases and prejudices. (Josh)
If someone leaves the faith, are they still saved? Or is it only while you are a practicing Christian that you receive the gift of eternal life?
The Bible never really separates believing from practicing (James 2:22, Galatians 5: 16 – 25). If you profess faith in Christ, we believe the Holy Spirit will transform your being into His likeness (Ephesians 3: 14 – 20). So, with the Holy Spirit, belief and practice will begin to align as you continue your walk with Christ. We are all sinners. We are all hypocrites. No one is going to have perfect alignment between belief and practice, but from scripture, it is hard to separate belief from practice.
With that being said, Eternal Life is given to those who have faith in Jesus Christ. It is clear from John’s gospel, especially verse 14:6, that if you don’t have faith in Christ, you won’t receive eternal life. In saying that, It is not our call to decide who receives eternal life and who doesn’t. God is the judge and it is God’s decision.
However, if I left the faith – I wouldn’t expect to receive something I don’t believe in!! And from Scripture (see Hebrews 6: 4 – 8 in particular) it is quite clear; no faith, no eternal life. But it isn’t always so clear cut, perhaps this person is doubting or going through a tough season. That doesn’t mean they’ve left the faith. Perhaps they’ll come back! We must pray for them and trust that God will do what is right! God knows the heart. (Luke)
Does Satan make us feel guilty for doubting?
Ian said last night, let your doubt move you to believe. Perhaps, if your doubt overtakes you and you fall away, we can attribute some blame to Satan. Guilt often does not move us forward but handcuffs us in despair.Conviction of the Holy Spirit: We feel the guilt of sin but we don’t stay there… Conviction moves us forward to forgiveness and new life. Conviction causes us to act!! Therefore, conviction is from God and guilt is from our brokenness and perhaps the enemy.
So, you might hear us saying, guilt is a tool of Satan. Conviction is a tool of the Holy Spirit. And there is a huge difference.
As Christians, we are no longer guilty (Colossians 2: 6 – 15). (Luke)
That’s all for now. Keep checking back this week and feel free to post questions as comments below.
It’s a few days late, but we’d love for you to reflect on where we came from this past Sunday. Luke posed a few questions to us as we considered our expectations of God and how that relates to the disciples on the Road to Emmaus.
We’re going to try and spend more time following up Church @ 6, our time together and the Q&A that comes out of it. So take a read of Luke’s reflections that followed Sunday.
The road to Emmaus story revealed,
- the disciples had expectations about the Messiah, and resurrection (can’t happen) that prevented them from seeing what God did
- God kept their eyes from recognizing Jesus to teach them what was been already revealed and promised.
- The disciples recognized Jesus when their expectations were aligned with God’s revealed word and by doing what Jesus taught them to do.
- The resurrection changed their focus and lives – they returned to Jerusalem with hope, mission, and work to do!!
- Though Jesus rose, the disciples still faced death, hardship, and tremendous suffering… At times, they probably continued to question the ways of God, His plan, and yet continue to follow His teaching, committing themselves to His mission. Why? Because resurrection came and is promised to come again.
Can we relate to the disciples in the story? Check out this popular verse and how it can be used to develop expectations (good and bad).
Jeremiah 29: 11 – For I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you, but to give you a future and a hope.
Taken out of context this verse can mislead us to believe, God will make us all rich… A dangerous belief called the ‘prosperity gospel.’ It saddens me when you hear how pastors make their millions off the generosity of low income people who are manipulated to believe that God will multiply their money if they give to the pastor’s church…
Taken out of context. this verse can mislead us to believe that God has the perfect person in mind for us to marry. That God will someday orchestrate my meeting with the person of my dreams and I’ll be ‘complete’ and live happily ever after….
Or perhaps, this verse has led us to believe; God will ensure my future with a good paying job and/or success at work…
These are just a few examples of expectations we may have based on verses like these (and there is nothing wrong with that – expectations set us up for opportunity to learn and grow)
Jeremiah 29 is written to exiles. Babylon has taken over Israel and now God’s people are living under a foreign king. God’s promise in Jeremiah 29 is to one day fulfil his promise to the people. God will restore the land, save His people from oppression, and bring freedom.
Again, God is not making a promise to fulfill Israel’s self-centred desires. He is not their genie. He is promising to fulfill what He promises to them and the world.
If you want to know what to expect from God, we must start by getting to know His promises. As an example, Revelation 21: 4 & 5 says, ‘One day God will wipe away every tear from your eyes’. This is great hope for us who continue to experience exile here on earth (Peter calls Christ followers sojourners and exiles in 1 Peter 1: 1). The Revelation promise doesn’t mean it is going to happen in our lifetime – But that resurrection is coming… Presently, we live to see His Kingdom come. We will get glimpses and experiences of it. We work for it. But until His return, we will not fully experience it in this broken world…But resurrection has come and will come!
Like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, the resurrection changed how they lived, and what they lived for. Their expectations started to align with God’s promise and reality and they let that promise lead their life. In verse 33, they turned and went back to Jerusalem to carry on the work.
A few examples from the questions
What do I expect from God?
- job security, 2. a wife/husband, 3. new life.
What makes you think God will meet these expectations?
- God doesn’t promise job security or the job you’ve always wanted. In Corinthians, we read about Paul’s job as a tentmaker. His job supported his ministry. This seems to show us that there is more to live for than work… and that one’s work can be a great tool for ministry. Perhaps, God won’t give you a dream job… but he desires for your work to build His kingdom.
- The bible doesn’t say anything about finding a ‘soul mates’. The bible doesn’t talk about Mr. or Mrs. Right, but more about becoming Mr. or Mrs. Right. If you’ve decided to get married, focus on becoming the right person for your spouse (that’s biblical). The Bible also says marriage is for life, so one would be wise to find a spouse that seeks Christ before marriage. Biblically speaking, Christ is ultimate not marriage. God’s plan may or may not include a spouse.
- God desires to bring forgiveness, freedom, new life. Even if it seems like the world is far from any of those things, We can expect that God is not finished yet!! We cannot give up hope, the world isn’t lost yet, because God is not done. Scripture teaches that true life is found in Christ.
Has God ever not met your expectations of Him?
- My story on Sunday revealed that God was at work. God used my failure to prepare me for what was next. The Apostle Paul used his job as tentmaker to support his ministry. Based on this, I believe God can use any job to bring Him glory and further is work. If you want a different job, go after it!! But imagine if we lived with a sense of purpose and identity outside of our job. It isn’t easy, but perhaps Christ cares more about the mission and the person you are to your colleagues than He does about your job title.
- We sometimes think marriage is ultimate, but the Bible states that Christ is ultimate. Paul boldly claimed that, it is better to be single than married. Celibacy was Paul’s gift (I don’t think many men/women have it) but his gift allowed him to be fully devoted to the church. He was fulfilled.
- The disciples on the Emmaus road expected the Messiah to destroy enemies (not be killed by them), free Israel from oppression (Rome still ruled over Jerusalem), and reign over His new Kingdom (no kingdom came). I think we also will wrestle with this till we meet God in eternity. God, in and through Jesus fulfilled all that He promised, but not in a way that was expected. Through Him we believe that His death brought freedom and that He reigns over the earth seated beside God the Father. He is in control, there is a plan, and if we put our faith in Him He will fulfill His promise to bring resurrection and new life, if not in this life, in the life to come! We know this, but it isn’t always easy to see (Hence why Jesus wasn’t recognizable)… Darkness and brokenness will come, and even when we can’t see the light, God is with us, walking with us through trial, and pointing us to Christ and His resurrection… New life has, and will come… Trust in Him.