Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Question and answer...

Here are a few questions that have been rolling around in my head over the past few years. Please understand before I go on that no human has pushed these questions into my head. Ironically, the more I read the Bible, the more I learn and the more questions I have. That being said, I don't think there is any fear that I will 'fall away' or join some corner-community church where the pastor and his wife both preach with jeans on and a wireless headset microphone... but still, I find the more I study the Bible, the less I have been taught...

I also want to say that as friends, I think we should be able to pose questions like this to each other. These are questions I have kept bottled up ever since I was in high school for fear of being laughed at, thought to be a fire-breathing lib, or just looking stupid... Chuck mentioned one smoke night that we, as friends, should be able to pose the "stupidest" questions to each other without fears... and here, I shall...

1) I don't claim to be able to heal people nor do I believe the Benny Hinns of the world, but which verse in the Bible was it that says "All this cool healing and stuff will stop on page 1, 156... After that revelation book."? I really and truly just don't see any hard evidence that claims it'll all stop at some specific point. Maybe I have been stuck in Psalms too long, been reading it for over a month now...

2) Speaking of Psalms and the old testament, the books are freaking full of music. Why are we so bent out of shape about music? God at least dug it at one time, maybe His tastes changed...? I mean, I can assume the 1st century church didnt use music simply to stay alive. They were probably pretty poor so they didnt have a sitar lying around or a horn handy, plus most were worshiping in secret so the loud noise wouldn't do much for a Sunday service unless it was about being a martyr... I am not saying people today who have the big band on Sunday are cool with God, He is probably a bit miffed that alot of people go to be entertained, but that is a problem with THEIR heart I would imagine... I know alot happened when Jesus died on the cross, but was there a huge instrument burning ceremony in the streets by all the new converts when he died that perhaps the writer of the Bible didn't catch?

3) God sure talked to alot of people, old and new testament... I hear this alot "We have the Bible now, so God speaks to us through it." Yeah, but it is like saying "God said it all already, He is too tired to say it again, check your concordance." or it is like saying "God can't do that anymore..." He CAN'T??? Again, point to the BCV that says he has taken a vacation from talking to people... I will admit, there are probably few if any people in this world worthy of such, but still... Hey, I think the Bible rocks, I do, but it is funny that if we want God to talk to us, we have to spend $19.95 plus tax at Books-A-Million first...

4) Alot of verses catch my eye when I see the word "god" or "gods"... and I am not refering to those talking about idols... Psalms 95:3... "For the Lord is a great God, the great king above all gods..." so... there are other gods? If so, are they cool? I mean, not to worship, but can we at least like them?

...Probably several more that have floated in my head over the decades, but I cant think of them now... I hear printers churning this blog out, ready to be sent to elders around the country, suggesting that I be banned from serving on the Lords table on Sunday mornings...


Jamison said...

from Ty... she emailed me this comment... Hope she doesnt mind me posting it...she is a dear friend and biblically speaking, i think she is one sound chick.

first of all, you certainly won't be asked by our elders to lead the Lord's Supper ever again. (KIDDING!) We're a bunch of libs out here in Cali.

1) Healing. 1 Cor. 13:8-10 says miraculous gifts such as prophecy and tongues will cease. Also, Christ gave the apostles the ability to perform miracles, and the apostles could also impart such gifts, but no one else could. Therefore, we can logically assume that when they died, the gifts died with them. (i know the verse of which she speaks... but it doesnt say WHEN they will end. so thats where i sort of get confused... Again, i am not claiming it happens now, but i have yet to be swayed via scripture that it cant happen today.)

2) Music. The more I have studied and listened to other points of view (and, in my opinion, matured), I have come to believe that the use of musical instruments is not a matter of salvation. If it were, I believe God would spend at least one verse on it. But there is nothing, nada, in the NT regarding the use of musical instruments in worship. Some would say, and I tend to agree, that the complete omission of musical instruments means they were not used and should not be used today. However, I am not ready to condemn anyone to hell for all eternity for using instruments in worship. I can sort of picture God being indifferent about it, because as you said, it's about the heart. He's probably up there wondering why we've made such a big deal about it. We have become so much like the Jews, following only the letter of the law rather than the spirit. (sounds like we are on teh same page)

3) God speaking to us. As a general rule, in the Patriarchal Age, God spoke to the people through the heads of families. In the Mosaic Age, he spoke through Moses. In the Christian Age, he spoke through Christ. And now, through the Holy Spirit via the written word. In all these ages, He could (and has) spoken directly to others as He has seen fit. He is certainly capable of doing it now; however, any time He spoke (or an angel of the Lord spoke) to someone, it was for the purpose of revealing something that hadn't yet been revealed. Since the Word is complete, I can't imagine God having anything else to say to us. And I do believe that He communicates with us through prayer. When we pray, God intervenes in our lives and answers prayer. That, in my opinion, is how He communicates His will to us today. That and the written word. (God speaking, yes, prayer has a powerful effect. And ive had God intervene sometimes before i do something... so okay, ill go along with you there...)

4) "gods." Psalm 95:3 can still be talking about idols, because they were "gods" to people. All "gods" are false gods. Television, money, these are all real "gods" but they are not the One True God. There are a huge number of "gods" out there - probably not like the ones on Mt. Olympus, though. Interestingly, the Jehovah's Witnesses say that Christ was a lesser "god" rather than God Himself. (Thats not th eonly verse speaking of gods... i cant quote them, but i always come acorss verses that refer to gods in a 'godly' sense... not an idol, and not a tv set... )

hope this helps! (A bit, thank you!)

Brewster said...

1. I think the apostle thing is the thing to look at. The NT shows the Apostles being given the gift of healing. They also seem to have the power to give it to others. No one else is shown to have that power. In fact I believe there is something about the non apostle healers not being able to pass the power on, but I’ll leave that to the scholars.

One thing I think that gets overlooked is the power of prayer. We tend to teach that prayer is powerful but use it weakly. I’ve talked about this before, but listen to how we so often pray. When someone is sick we don’t ask God to heal that person, but to “be with” them or “comfort” them. We also ask God to help the doctors who minister to them. I think if more of the faithful truly asked for what they needed, instead of giving God fifteen backdoors to escape from we’d see a lot more happen. We don’t need some apostle to come over and work miracles, we have direct communication with the Eternal.

2. Absolutely the OT speaks of using instruments. The last Psalm talks about worshipping God with all kinds of instruments. I learn two things from this:
a. It is possible to offer a form of praise via an instrument. This is contrary to arguments I’ve heard against instruments where people say we shouldn’t use them because we aren’t actually saying anything.
b. The OT has a lot of commands, and they used a lot of different things at that time that we should not use today. Use in the OT does not necessarily make use in the NT acceptable. Otherwise why not use incense, sacrifice cattle and execute people for being unclean.

The fact that no where in the NT are instruments talked about says a lot. I don’t have a degree in church history, but my understanding is that it is pretty clear that the church didn’t use instruments for hundreds of years. You would think that if God dug the flute now he’d at least mention it somewhere. Or that the church would make use of it at some point. It seems natural that they would have coming from the Jews.

Is this a matter of salvation? I cannot damn someone for using an instrument only.

3. Look at the history of man, how many people did God actually speak to? Millions of Jews have lived, but we only have record of God speaking to a few. Why would God talk to us now? The Bible is everything he needs to say. Think about this, if God came down and talked to you, how would I know? He tells you that everyone should only have communion once a year, that anything more is sacrilege. How are we to believe you? Especially because Mullins says God told him that you should have communion every day and instead of bread we should have cheese cake.

I don’t know that the Bible commands that there will be no more direct communication like that. I do believe that we don’t need anymore communication because God’s Word is enough. And frankly, I don’t see any sign that he’s talking.

4. Whatever the meaning of “gods” it is pretty clear that we are to put God first. Also God speaks of there being only 1 God. While I’m not sure that the Bible is speaking specifically about TV, it certainly is saying that we cannot put anything in front of God. It seems logical to me that what the bible is speaking of is the other gods that people worshipped. Baal, Budha, Zeus, etc. The people considered them to be gods, but God says there is only Him.

However, if there are some minor gods out there that we don’t know about, it is again very specific that we are to only worship God. To me it is kind of like angels or the HS. If God had wanted us to think about those thing more and to have better understanding, he would have written about it more.

bigsip said...

I agree with Ty. Brew made some good points, too.

I've said all this stuff before, so I won't cramp my hands doing it again.

Sorry, don't mean to be a stick-in-the-mud. I just feel like y'all covered it well.

mullinz8 said...

To begin with I agree with Chuck, I know its cliché but having friends does mean that you never have to say you’re sorry.

I’m glad that you brought up the questions for a number of reasons but namely because it means you’ve been thinking about your faith which should be something everyone does more often.

Healings, I’m content to believe that “those gifts” were to the apostles and the next generation of followers and have since “gone away” from a Biblical stand point. On a personal side I think it’s silly for us to say that God refuses to act on and work in side of someone’s life. I’ve heard dozens of stories about people being cured of diseases and such that medical professionals can’t explain. Are those miracles of some type? Are those healings because of the power of ones personal and mental control over their own body or has the power of prayer been at work, either way God knows and his will is at work. I’ll let you guys tell me that God doesn’t really do what he wants for us. To me it’s discounting God ability to say he absolutely doesn’t do this or do that, he can do what he wants and doesn’t need our permission otherwise.

Music: Jesus puts a lot of stock in the importance of the OT and its roll as a factual collection of stories. He is the completion of those stories and has set path of salvation straight. We’re still supposed to give our all to him no matter the circumstance. Perhaps we should consider a very intense study of the phrase “sing and make a joyful noise”. Perhaps the original text considered this two separate thoughts one being to simply “sing” and the other to “make” or create a literal “noise”. I’m not a scholar but like Brew I don’t think it’s a real issue of ones salvation just ones preference.

I’ve written this a dozen different ways and I’ve decided to try this route. How and why do you choose to not hear God in everything you do? The c.o.C has dismantled the idea that we’re not supposed to feel anything in our walk towards God. God is out there, he is real and he wants us to reciprocate a relationship with him. I can’t believe that 39 books tell us the story of God communicating with people, 27 books tell us he’s sent his son and now we’re left with a conglomerated text book of algorithms and do this and exactly that and you’ll get your salvation? If you’re not hearing God and feeling God move and influence you everyday then you’re off the track and spinning your wheels. I don’t want a relationship with you guys that doesn’t have any feeling and emotion, I want to really love you guys (and I do), I want to emotionally love my wife and children, Gods examples to us through the whole of the Bible is filled with impassioned pleas for his children to listen and be a part of his world.
Prayer is communication to God.
Baptism is our communication to him through our action.
Study is communication.
Answered prayers are communication through action.
THIS whole thing is his creation and ignoring that fact and what it means is silly.
I feel God communicating with me because I don’t limit the ways God could to “speak” to me. To me watching the constellations spin through the fall sky can be just as awe inspiring as understanding the sacrifice of his son for me.
Do you know your wives love you? Is it because they tell you or because you feel it? Feeling it is a much deeper form of communication than almost anything else. I know God loves me not only because I choose to believe the book telling me he does but because I can feel it.
There is more to this wonderful world than what is before our narrow and selective eyes.

God, as our creator, knows all too well how susceptible we are to following the prettiest, newest, neatest and most popular thing.

Jamison said...

Last night, a spectacular storm swept through montgomery.

When I got to church, i considered sitting outside and watching this storm pass by in place of class. I did go to class with Sip (If, for no other reason, than to be with Sip) and Samuel is a cool book, no doubt, but I feel like I could have connected with God more directly and more emotionally if I sat outside and watched that storm...

If I am wrong for wanting to be outisde and stand in awe of Gods power, rather than listen to a man read the Bible, then wrong I shall be...

Honestly, I am just afraid people will look at me as "Wrong", so I do those things they feel I am supposed to do...

bigsip said...

I don't think you're wrong for wanting to watch a storm and be in awe of God's power. But, there are times to be alone with God and time to be with God's people.

I'm not saying that Wed night is that time at all, but I feel we need Christian fellowship to get to Heaven and to have a full spiritual existence along the way.

Sometimes, I wish the 6 of us and our wives and kids could start our own congregation because I'm so strengthened by all of you. God knows we need our brothers and sisters. God knows we need Him on a personal level, too.

We just have to be careful to separate the two.

I've noticed lately that you seem to want more time to yourself, Jamison. We all have times where we need to be away from people and I know God understands that. So, take your time and know God. But, know God through His people, too. You can't know Him fully all alone. We need each other to truly know Him.

Brewster said...

What Josh said. There aint nothing wrong with wanting to commune with God via nature. The Bible speaks of seeing the Creator through the creation. I don't thnk it would be sinful for you to have spent that Wednesday watching the storm.

However, you do have to be careful. I won't say it is a slippery slope, but you might want some shoes with good traction.

Meditation, communing with God via nature are good things, but they are no replacement for the fellowship of christians and Bible study.

There's lots wrong with the church today. It's made of falliable humans so there always will be problems. But the way to fix it isn't to run away.

Assembling together isn't all about worshipping God. Yes that is huge, but it is also about the fellowship you gain. We gather together to support each other, to lift each other up. god knows it aint easy being a Christian and that's why he set up his church like he did.

You're asking some darn good questions. And absolutely you should spend time alone meditating on these thing to understand your own faith.

keep asking

Jamison said...

ok...then, if wearing my seatbelt is the law, and I chose not to wear my seatbelt (Disobeying the laws of the government), and die in a crash as a result of having not used my seatbelt... will I have died in sin?

you said keep asking...

bigsip said...

Dude, do you really think about this stuff?

I really don't know how to answer this because not wearing a seatbelt in the first place is irresponsible and stupid.

Whether or not it's a sin is a matter of conscience. But, hey, seatbelt are a blessing in my opinion as are car seats for my children. If you refuse good things from God, bad things are all that are left and consequences will be suffered.

A short story and the lesson is yours:

The night of my high school graduation, the son of the salvage yard owner in Luverne took his Chevy Blazer down a winding road and flipped it. He died. I went to the funeral and his parents were devestated, especially his father.

I found out later from my Dad that not only was the boy drunk, he wasn't wearing his seat belt. But, that's not the end of it. The REASON he wasn't wearing a seat belt was because he and his Dad had completely REMOVED all of the seat belts form his Blazer.

The man had told my Dad months earlier, "Seat belts are no good. Me and my boy took his outta his truck."

Sad and senseless.

Brewster said...

That's whack, Sip.

They have been cracking down on seatbelt laws here (click it or ticket) and a friend at work got one a few months back. I gave her a good lashing about it, but another coworker went off on how the law is stupid. His point is that not wearing a belt only harms you and what business is it of the law to say I can't endanger myself.

My point was that it is incredibly moronic not to wear a belt.

But to answer the question on whether or not you had just engaged in some sort of sinful activity and then died would you be hell bound, I'd say it depends.

First John says that if we walk in the light as He is in the light then we fellowship with each other and that the blood of Christ cleanses us from all sins (that's from memory, but I think it is pretty close)

The point being that if we live the life of a christian then we are forgiven. That doesn't mean we don't ever sin, but what our attitude is, where our heart is.

The broader question is do we have to ask forgiveness of every sin in order to be forgiven. I think the answer is no, that by doing our best to live a christian life, we receive a continual cleansing.

But you should wear your seatbelt anyway.

Jamison said...

i wear it all the time, but i do think it is pointless for the government to be so obsessed with protecting idiots... look, the law is there to make revenue for the govt... bottom line...

bigsip said...

BTW, to backtrack a little, there is mention of instrumental music in the New Testament.

Look at Rev 14:1 and 2

I saw, and behold, the Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with him a number, one hundred forty-four thousand, having his name, and the name of his Father, written on their foreheads.

I heard a sound from heaven, like the sound of many waters, and like the sound of a great thunder. The sound which I heard was like that of harpists playing on their harps.

This is in reference to Heaven, of course, and a great deal of Revelation must be looked at symbolically. But, the fact that instruments like trumpets and harps are mentioned in the NT is interesting.

Funny thing is, we're told more than once in the NT that the call off Jesus' return will be a trumpet. Interesting that some instruments are very high profile in that respect.

I don't know if any of these instances amount to worship, but the fact remains they're there.

bigsip said...

I agree with y'all to a point, but to say that not wearing the belt only hurts the person not wearing it is ludicrous.

Consider the example I gave before of the father and son.

If I were to strap Luke in and then never wear my seat belt, do you think he'd be more likely to grow up and not wear one becuase he saw my bad example?

People who don't wear the belt not only endanger their own lives, their poor example could influence a kid to disregard safety, too.

Remember, our laws are in place to promote "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness". If life is not promoted, the system of laws could break down, thus we are protected from ourselves as are succeeding generations.

Jamison said...

On the trumpet thing, those are some cool points... yet, like you say, dont really prove one way or another if it is cool or not to have em when we worship...

I am inclined to think that descriptions like that were used because the humans at the time could relate to the sound of a trumpet, or horn, or harp, or cymbol. I kind of doubt (though, i dont know) that Jesus will come down with a marching band. Im sure the sound will be mighty and strong, but perhaps the inspired word is just useinf trumpets so that we can say "Oh yeah, i know that noise, wow, thatll sound cool..." rather than it saying "When Jesus comes, it will sound like Angles screaming." We'd be like "Uh, whats that sound like...?"

mullinz8 said...

Connecting to the source of the post and the lightening comment I’ll add Psalm 148 to the mix. I think there is a balance between storms and fellowship. Both are needed just like time to be by ones self. I think what’s missing sometimes, at least in my case, is the intimate feeling of community.

At FU Brew started a small anti-Wednesday group that I was fortunate to see grow. We’d meet outside, somewhere, sing a few songs and have a short lesson and then just chill out with each other. It was really great because it was “just us” Eventually is started to grow a bit and lost some of the personal elements because it wasn’t us talking about our God but someone talking to us about God. Faith between like minded individuals is something that I think is best when it’s shared.

I wish we could all live near each other because I’d love the dynamic fellowship that would evolve between our personal journeys.

Diana said...

I love it when we get into these discussions. Jamison, I admire you for asking questions.

I feel "wrong" often. I don't go to church as much as I want to. Especially recently because I've just been dealing with one thing after another. That's why I haven't blogged much. I've just officailly gone crazy.

Do you remember when Rachel and I were asking about the head coverings thing? That verse still bothers me. On Sundays I feel like I'm willingly ignoring something in the Bible.

mullinz8 said...

It’s nice to hear from you Di. Please don’t be a stranger. You should never stop asking questions. As importantly, you should never stop looking for answers.

Jamison said...

sometimes, when I get to thinking like you are Di (Which I guess is right now) I cant help but think that we are all either doing it all wrong or we are all doing it all right... well, with the exception of the obviously evil people in this world.

bigsip said...

I think we have to always realize that we ain't perfect and ain't never gonna be perfect here on Earth.

We'll NEVER do everything right or wrong. We can only do things by the Book. We study the Word and try our best to find the right path.

Some things come down to conviction. If you're convinced that women should wear a head covering and your conscience will not get around it, then follow you're conscience.

But, you might change your mind in the future and that's okay because we'll always be learning and understanding and changing.

For instance, in my studies of head coverings, I've found that the verse refers to roles and cultural definitions of those roles. In the middle east back then and even today, a woman who didn't cover her head was considered a "loose" woman.

In America, we don't give a crap whether a woman covers her head or not. Why? Because it's not a cultural norm that defines the "place" or "role" of a virtuous woman.

However, not living with a man before marriage, prostituting ones self, or being a porn star mihgt count as signs that a woman is at least trying to be godly.

This is just an example and isn't meant to cover all instances where there may be questions about whether or not to do one thing or another. But, we all have to look at what the Bible says, understand whether its example is specific or conceptual, and apply it accordingly.

It's the "freedom in Christ" we have! Celebrate it. Don't let yourself get dragged down by questions. Ask, seek, and knock. God will show you the Way if you keep doing that.

mullinz8 said...

This lines up with the law question. In the Middle East you’d better have your head covered as per religious law. In the US you’re going to be talked about if you cover your head. Gods law vs. social conviction.

I agree with Sipper that this is a matter of conscience.

How ever, if we were trying to replicate the true first century church I would also suggest you cover your head no matter your location for the same reason that we follow the 1st century tradition of not having instruments within the act of worship.

Jamison said...

we should also form a commune, sell everything we own, and give it all to the poor...

bigsip said...

I think this is where we see a division between scripture and culture.

The idea about covering/not covering is a concept. While it might seem specific, God is essentially saying, "Men, act like men. Women, act like women."

Instrumental music or the absence thereof is based on the absence of it in NT scripture. "If there's no example of it, we shouldn't do it" is the idea behind it.

These are two very different hermeneutic principles.

The 3 most often used are 1. direct command 2. necessary inference 3. example.

So, we can approach scripture from that standpoint for the most part.

Rachel said...

Yeah this all brings up a question I've thought about. What is the difference in the NT between command and example? When is one not the other? What gives us the direction or the right to decide some examples are commands and some aren't?

Brewster said...

Good question, Rachel. We do seem to pick and choose our examples.

bigsip said...

With hermeneutics, the distinction between the three aren't made. In other word, if we see an example of something like taking the LS on the first day of the week every week, it's considered as good as a command.

If we only see sing and see no example of the use of instrumental music in worship, the necessary inference is that we are not to use instruments, hence this is translated into a command.

A direct command is just that. Jesus said, "Love your neighbor as yourself." It's not a suggestion, it's a command. In fact, it's singled out as one of the greatest commands.

So, essentially, command, necessary inference, and example are all "commands" hermeneutically speaking.