Faith Related Q and A
|» ||Is Jerusalem the eternal capital of Israel, either as a nation or for the Jewish people, according to the Bible?|
No. The Bible does not address the modern nation of Israel. The Bible makes it clear that those who have the faith of Abraham—trusting in the promised Messiah, Jesus Christ—are the Israel of God (Galatians 6:16; Romans 9:8). When the Bible speaks of a “new Jerusalem” (Revelation 21:2), it does so in symbolic terms as the eternal home of God’s people. Only followers of Jesus Christ will inhabit the “new Jerusalem” (John 3:36, 14:6; Acts 4:12).
|» ||What is prophecy according to I Corinthians 12-14?|
“Prophecy” can have a wider and narrower definition. The narrower definition describes the role of Old Testament prophets: men who received messages from God, sometimes concerning the revelation of future events, and then relayed them to people. The wider definition speaks of followers of God in general communicating the messages of God’s law and gospel to others. It is that wider definition of prophecy that we see in 1 Corinthians 12-14.
In 1 Corinthians 12-14 the apostle Paul contrasts prophecy with speaking in tongues/speaking in other languages. Because the Corinthian Christians placed such a high value on speaking in tongues/speaking in other languages, the apostle Paul demonstrated the greater benefit of communicating the messages of God’s word in a language that people can understand (1 Corinthians 14:3, 24-25).
|» ||Hi there! I am single and wondering what denominations are similar enough to WELS or have our most core beliefs?|
Through a common faith, we are in fellowship with the Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS). Beyond the borders of our country, we are in fellowship with 30 other churches that comprise the Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Conference (CELC). You can learn more about the CELC from their website: www.celc.info
Your pastor would be a good resource to sort out similarities and differences with other churches if you become acquainted with individuals who belong to those churches.
Or, perhaps you might find this resource from Northwestern Publishing House (NPH) helpful: “Denominations Comparison Pamphlet.” It provides a brief comparison of the doctrines of twelve Christian denominations. This link will provide more information.
This link will take you to another resource from NPH: “WELS and Other Lutherans.”
Of course, recognizing doctrinal differences among churches means that we grow in our understanding of what the Bible teaches (2 Peter 3:18). God bless that growth in your life.
|» ||Why do some Christian families tend to suffer so much more than others? My best friend has gone through so much in losing family to cancer and accidents and now tonight just lost her son who just married a year ago and just became a father. Her family has lost her brother and sister. Does God make us suffer from our ancestors evil?|
There is no question that God’s ways can be mysterious to us (Isaiah 55:9; Romans 11:33-34). For the child of God, God’s ways always have his or her good in mind (Romans 8:28).
The account of Job (especially chapters one and two) illustrates that the tragedies a child of God might encounter in life are not punishments for sin—neither ours nor our ancestors. Jesus was punished for our sins, and “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).
“Does God make us suffer for our ancestors’ evil?” In the case of Christians, the answer is “no.” Exodus 20:5 (“I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me…”) speaks of the actions God can take in the case of families who reject him generation after generation.
Continue to keep your friend in your prayers. Be a good listener, and encourage your friend to utilize the spiritual resources available to her. God bless you and her.
|» ||What are the criteria/requirements for youth confirmation in the WELS Synod? (i.e. age, grade, years of instructions) Does the pastor and/or principal determine when each individual child is ready to be confirmed? Would a public school 7th grader be considered ready for confirmation? Also, is it up the each pastor to decide if there is a public confirmation examination or reading of an essay they have written? This year there was only the Rite of Confirmation.|
The Bible of course does not speak of the rite of confirmation or the practice of public examination. It speaks of training children in God’s word (Psalm 78:1-8; Proverbs 22:6; 2 Timothy 3:14-16), confessing Jesus Christ as Savior (Matthew 10:32), examining ourselves before receiving the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:28) and partaking of the Lord’s Supper often (1 Corinthians 11:25). Established in Christian freedom, confirmation—the rite and the formal course of instruction that precedes it—addresses these important areas.
A common practice in our church body associates the time of youth confirmation with the completion of elementary education. There are no biblical mandates or synodical rules that demand this practice. As Christians who walk together in a synod, we recognize practices that can offer uniformity and orderliness, but we also acknowledge differing practices based on local circumstances. Confirmation and examination practices are ultimately the responsibility of local congregations and their pastors.
Much has been written about our confirmation practices. Following are excerpts from an article in Forward in Christ a number of years ago:
“Lutherans have never had a consistent confirmation practice. In fact, only in the last century or two has confirmation become a nearly universal practice among Lutherans. Martin Luther did not use a rite of confirmation because he wanted to avoid any suggestion that confirmation was a sacrament. He wanted to distance himself from the Roman Catholic practice. Luther placed his focus on the careful instruction of the youth in the basic teachings of the Bible…Nevertheless Lutherans began practicing a rite of confirmation even during Luther’s lifetime. The great Reformer did not object to it so long as people recognized that it was neither a sacrament commanded by God nor necessary to be observed.
“Confirmation is intended to give those who have received basic instruction in the truths of God’s Word the opportunity publicly to confess their faith before the church. The rite informs the congregation that these catechumens have sufficient scriptural understanding and spiritual maturity to partake of the Lord’s Supper.
“The importance of confirmation does not lie in the rite itself. The focus must always be on the means of grace..The ceremony stresses the importance of Christian instruction and continuing in God’s Word. It points to the glorious gift our Savior gives us in his Supper. It reminds us that he gives us his very body and blood to assure us of his forgiveness and to strengthen our faith. Confirmation is meaningless if viewed apart from the instruction in God’s truth given in preparation for the rite. This instruction imparts the basic teachings of Christianity and provides the knowledge necessary for growth toward Christian maturity. Catechism class lays a foundation upon which the Christian will build for a lifetime.
“God has commanded us to instruct children and adults in his truth. He has not commanded us to have a rite like confirmation. The rite is valuable only so long as people understand its purpose and recognize the importance of continued instruction and participation in worship and the Lord’s Supper. But when confirmation is understood and practiced properly, it can be very meaningful.”
|» ||I've heard many times that Christians want to be cautious when purchasing things that could directly support the advancement of a false religion (e.g. Girl Scout cookies), especially if they are aware of where the proceeds are going to. Are there any concerns about that when seeking employment? Is there anything wrong if a WELS Christian served a non-denominational or ELCA church as a custodian, secretary, or groundskeeper?|
Allow me to pass along a response provided to a similar question: A Christian may and often does seek or accept employment that in some indirect ways benefits heterodox groups as well as unbelieving communities. Seldom is this kind of activity an expression of doctrinal fellowship, nor is it perceived by people as that. A person’s conscience might factor into this, as we do not want to sin against conscience (Romans 14:23). Or if there are weak brothers and sisters who might be confused or misunderstand the arrangement, we want to be ready to explain and clarify and instruct — and possibly refrain from exercising our Christian freedom for a time for their sake. But we don’t want to unnecessarily limit our ability to love our neighbor and serve our neighbor as part of our vocation if we are able to do so without compromising the truth.
|» ||Why aren't women allowed to vote for board positions within their own church?|
Elsewhere on this website you will find This We Believe: A Statement of Belief of the WELS. The “Church and Ministry” section addresses your question on the basis of Scripture: “We believe that women may participate in offices and activities of the public ministry except where that work involves authority over men (1 Timothy 2:11,12). This means that women may not serve as pastors nor participate in assemblies of the church in ways that exercise authority over men (1 Corinthians 11:3; 14:33-35).” One of those assemblies is the voters’ assembly.
Another resource on this website that may be helpful for you is the document titled “Man and Woman Roles.” This link will take you to that document.
While women in WELS congregations do not cast votes in voters’ assemblies, that does not speak at all to their status in God’s sight. Scripture says to Christians: “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:26-29).
|» ||Why do called workers' children get such a break on tuition both in grade school, high schools, etc.? There are many instances where the spouse works and together make a very nice salary, more than members paying full tuition.|
That is really a question you would want to ask of administrative personnel at schools where such discounts exist. (As a called worker, I never was the beneficiary of discounted tuition for my children.)
I imagine that if churches and schools designed a tuition break for their called workers, it was in consideration of the called workers’ salary only. Employment and accompanying salary on the part of called workers’ spouses is an entirely separate matter.
Perhaps a tuition break like you mentioned represents the attitude of a congregation giving “double honor” to its called workers (1 Timothy 5:17). If that is the case, neither you nor I want to begrudge that.
|» ||If God had the total power of the world, why could not he stop all evil of the world?|
God does have “the total power of the world.” He is all-powerful (Genesis 1-2; 17:1; 1 Chronicles 29:12; Psalm 65:6). God could have created a world in which sin could never have existed. He chose not to do that, and he does not offer explanation in the Bible on his actions (nor does he need to). “Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him” (Psalm 115:3).
When I am confronted by mysteries like this, I think of Romans 11:33-36: “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! “Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?”
“Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them?” For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.”
You and I do not know what is in God’s mind unless he tells us. What he does tell us is that, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9). We really aren’t to be surprised if we can’t understand God and his ways completely.
What we do know with certainty is that God met evil head-on in the person of his Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus defeated Satan by overcoming all his temptations and by rising from the dead after offering his life as a sacrifice for sin. What we also know with certainty is that God will one day remove evil completely from the lives of his followers (Revelation 20-22).
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20)
|» ||I was born and raised WELS, but the question I have is regarding my nephew and godson who was baptized ELCA 20 years ago. He has been very involved in his campus ministry in college and has recently decided to be baptized again. As a WELS member, I understand that we believe in one baptism and faith in Jesus for salvation. What reasoning would this campus ministry be giving to this young adult to be baptized again, and is there spiritual damage they are causing by doing this?
My nephew felt that his infant baptism was his parents choosing a faith for him as a child, and this baptism is his choosing the faith he would have for the remainder of his years. I'm just concerned that he is making this more about him and not what it is truly about, the power of the Holy Spirit in his life.|
Since I do not know the campus ministry in question, I can only guess that it denies infant baptism.
Even though there is no specific command in the Bible to baptize infants, the Bible provides three compelling reasons for baptizing infants. 1) Children are part of “all nations” (Matthew 28:19), the object of the church’s “baptizing” and “teaching.” “Nations” are made up of people of all ages, including infants. If baptism were to be withheld from infants, this section of Scripture would have been the place for that instruction. 2) Because children are sinful by nature, they have a great need for the forgiveness of sins (Psalm 51:5; John 3:5-6). 3) We baptize children and infants because they can believe (Matthew 18:6; Luke 18:15-17; 2 Timothy 3:15). They can believe because God is the one who creates faith in people through the gospel (Hebrews 12:2; Romans 10:17). Faith is not a human decision. God is the one who creates faith, and he can do that in young and old alike. People of all ages are on the receiving end of the Holy Spirit’s converting power (Acts 2:39).
The spiritual harm of another baptism—as in the circumstances you described—is that the person’s action can amount to a rejection of what the Bible says about the power of God in infant baptism and a denial of who is responsible for the creation of Christian faith.
It would be good for you to explain to your nephew that he was not baptized into a Christian denomination. He was baptized into the Christian Church.
Your nephew can be thankful that, when he was an infant, his parents took the initiative and baptized him. Imagine the parents of a sick child saying to themselves, “Let’s wait until our child is older and see if he or she wants to go to the doctor and receive medical help.” What poor parenting that would be. Parents who love their children and know what they need do what is best for them. That is true whether we are talking about attending to the physical needs of their children or their spiritual needs.
Churches that deny baptism is a means of grace often turn baptism into a profession a faith on the part of the individual. If your nephew was confirmed in his Lutheran church, it was then that he made a public profession of faith.