Ask the Pastor: Part 2

by May 21, 2012

This past weekend was a special Sunday called, Ask the Pastor. I answered 10 questions turned in the previous week along with several live text questions. You can watch Part 1 of these questions at the bottom of this post.

This blog will answer the remaining written questions. I wish I could go in length with each question, but time and space do not permit me to do so. However, I will do my best to answer each question as best as possible in a concise way.

How close do you think we are to the Rapture? Do you think it happens before the Tribulation? (Please say yes!) This is a question that has been asked for centuries. If you are new to Bible study, the word “rapture” is not found in the Bible. It is a Latin word which in turn was a translation from the Greek verb that means, “caught up” found in I Thessalonians 4:17. I believe this passage teaches, along with I Thessalonians 1:10, 5:9, and Revelation 3:10, that Jesus will rescue his bride (the church) from the wrath that God will pour out onto the world. The Bible refers to this wrath as the Tribulation. Another reason I believe the church will be raptured prior to the Tribulation is a special event that takes place in heaven found in Revelation 19. It is called the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. This is where Jesus and His bride, the church, are wed. I find it hard to believe that this marriage will take place while His bride is in torment under the wrath of God on earth. Following this wedding feast, Jesus returns to earth as a conquering victor on a white horse along with His saints.

How close are we? I don’t know. But I do see many prophecies found in Ezekiel 37 & 38 either fulfilled or lined up to be fulfilled soon. Regardless, followers of Christ need to redeem the time and advance His kingdom until He calls us home.

How does the U.S. fit in the Bible? Does the U.S. have a name/animal affiliate in the Bible? America is not mentioned by name in the Bible. Scholars have searched for a symbolic image of America in scripture for many years. Most do not see our nation in scripture. Some claim to see the U.S. in Jeremiah 51:7. I believe this is a stretch. What I do know is this, America has been blessed by God because we have stood by the nation of Israel (Genesis 12:3). But in the end, according to prophecy, Israel will be abandoned by every nation. Sadly, I see seeds of this direction in our government today.

When praying, what do you do to remember all the prayer requests. PS: Thank you for being a praying pastor. Thank you. I love our church and am in continual prayer for the many needs within our church body. Although I wish I had a photographic memory, I don’t. Our church office puts together a prayer list each and every week from the prayer requests that come in. Last week it was 3 pages long. The pastor’s divide the requests and we pray for each one. This prayer list goes out to several prayer groups in our church as well as to the Elder Board. Our Deacon Board receives an updated list of care & concern items (surgeries, illnesses, etc) that they try to follow up on throughout the month. We also have an email prayer group. They receive prayer requests that come in during the week. I am thankful for the many people who are praying each week on behalf of our church family.

How do you know what God’s will is for your life? How do you know if an obstacle is Satan trying to get in your way or God is telling you this isn’t His plan for you? God does not give us a chapter and verse for every decision in our life. Wouldn’t that be nice! He does, however, give us some specific instructions about His will. Such as: Give thanks (I Thessalonians 5:18), Do good (I Peter 2:15), Be sanctified and avoid sexual immorality (I Thessalonians 4:3), etc. But the best verse I know regarding knowing God’s will is found in Romans 12:2. It says, “Do not be conformed any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing, and perfect will.” If our heart truly desires to do what God wants, God will direct our paths in accordance to His will. If you are willing, I believe, it is God’s responsibility to show us what He wants. Satan cannot thwart the will of God. But, let me warn you, our emotions can talk us into anything! That is why I always ask God to confirm His will and make it crystal clear. Once I know God has given me direction, along with His peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7), I move forward with confidence. I also ask God to stop me in my tracks if I am on a path that is not from God. Our heart is the key. Again, if we truly want what God wants in our life, He will show us.

At what point in our lives does our “free-will” decision making alter God’s plan for our lives? Do our sinful decisions alter God’s original plan He had for us? Does God already know our decisions and His plan was orchestrated because of this knowledge? There is a paradox (not contradiction) between free will and God’s sovereignty. On one hand, God sovereignly ordains everything that comes to pass. We see this in Ephesians 1:11 and Job 42:2. Understanding this does not imply that God causes everything to happen. If He did, then all aspects of creation and life would be robotic. Rather, because He is sovereign, He must at least permit or allow whatever happens to happen. We see this in the garden of Eden and experienced this on 9/11. He must choose to permit them because He always has the right and power to intervene. As God allows things to happen, He has “willed” them in a sense. Regarding our choices, God also allows for what theologians call, “God’s permissive will.” Even though God’s plan allows for us to make wrong and harmful choices, we are still accountable to Him when we sin. I believe God’s permissive will allows for us to make foolish choices and then come back to God when we repent. In His great love for us, God can still turn our trash into a treasure that ends lining up with His will and original plan for our lives. (Romans 8:28)

How is it that flawed, finite-beings can make an infinite/eternal decision regarding heaven or hell? What do you make of “the elect”? First of all, I believe it is amazing that God would give us a choice to accept or reject Him at all. The thought of an all powerful, almighty, incredible God revealing Himself in nature and in His Word, blows my mind. How personal. How intimate. How incredible! (See Isaiah 55:6-9) Human beings are finite in this life on this earth but we are, however, eternal beings. We will live somewhere for eternity. The debate regarding “the elect” is a debate that has raged for centuries. I don’t fully understand the mind of God on this issue but I believe the Bible when it says God “desires all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:4) I also take God at His word when He says, “In Him we were chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will.” (Ephesians 1:11) My mentor, Curt DeGraaff, once said, “Which is true: Free will or predestination? The answer is, ‘Yes!’ Do I fully understand it, ‘No!'”

What does it mean: a woman’s hair is her glory? This question comes from the passage found in I Corinthians 11:15. The word “glory” is the Greek word, doxa which means: praise, honor, splendor, and brightness. It has a majestic tone in its meaning. I believe Paul is stating the obvious in this passage: a woman’s hair is special. In context, Paul is stating that men should look like men and women should look like women. God made both sexes distinct and special. To the women I know, their hair is very important to them. They take great detail for it to look just right. Our family budget has a line item for the women in my house. I am like most men – I wash and comb my hair and get on with my day. I spend only a few minutes on my hair. Most women (how do I say this kindly?) spend a lot longer with their hair. When men go bald it is one thing but if a woman loses her hair, it is another thing altogether. Why? Hair is very special to women.

Can you recommend any resources that show the difference between Christian denominations? Also, are there any resources that show or chart what other non-christian religions believe? There are many resources available today but I wanted to recommend to you an author who has written on both of these subjects. His name is Dr. Ron Rhodes. He has a Christian apologetics ministry called Reasoning from the Scriptures Ministry. Dr. Rhodes is a graduate from Dallas Seminary and a frequent guest on “The Bible Answer Man” show. The two books I would recommend are: The Complete Guide to Christian Denominations and Find it Quick: Handbook on Cults and New Religions. There are plenty of articles, books, and pamphlets on his website as well. Click here to go to his website. Enjoy!

I have answered all of the hand written questions. Later this week I will tackle the rest of the text questions. I hope this was helpful. Feel free to post a comment below. God bless!

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