Faith Related Q & A
Faith Related Q and A
» I am confused about Judgement Day. So, when we die, our souls go to heaven and we are reunited with all of our loved ones. But we don't have our bodies yet? And we are judged at that time? Then, when Christ returns, the graves open and our bodies are then reunited with our souls in heaven? So, meantime we are spirits with no bodies? Then will we have to go to the the judgment all over again, or are only those left on earth judged because we have been judged when we die to enter heaven? I have heard many sermons and I am still confused. I can understand why the Roman Catholic Church developed the purgatory teaching, which I know is not true. Did that come out of the same confusion I have?
Let me try to respond to your questions in the order in which you asked them. When death takes place, the body and soul separate, and judgment also takes place (Ecclesiastes 12:7; Hebrews 9:27). While their bodies remain on earth, the souls of Christians go to heaven (Luke 23:43; Acts 7:59; Revelation 6:9), while the souls of unbelievers go to hell (Luke 16:23; 1 Peter 3:19-20). When Jesus returns visibly to this world on the Last Day, he will raise the bodies of all who have died and reunite their souls with their bodies (Daniel 12:2; John 5:28-29). Jesus will then pronounce judgment on all people (Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Timothy 4:1). The judgments that took place at people’s deaths will be made known to all. Additionally, the Lord will render judgment on those who are alive on the earth at his coming. Unbelievers will experience eternal suffering—body and soul—in hell (Matthew 25:41-46), while believers—body and soul—will enjoy a perfect and glorious eternity in the new heaven and new earth (Isaiah 65:17; 66:22; 2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1). The Roman Catholic Church developed the concept of purgatory in the 15th and 16th centuries with the false idea that people who die with a debt of temporal punishment for their sins must atone for those sins in purgatory. That teaching denies the full and free forgiveness Christians enjoy through Spirit-worked faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 10:43; Romans 8:1; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14). When you and I have God’s sure promises about what will happen at death and on the Last Day, we have every reason to join in the prayer: “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20).
» My question is about the object of saving faith. I know it's Jesus, but a lot of Reformed say that it's accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior, and accepting as Lord means to submit to Jesus’ commandments, the called Lordship salvation. Maybe I am misinterpreting, but it seems to me that it's not so different to say that salvation is faith plus law keeping, or submit to the Law. I read in Clarke’s commentary on Romans (10:9): “That if thou shalt confess, etc. - Acknowledge the Lord Jesus Christ as the only Savior. Believe in thy heart that he who died for thy offenses has been raised for thy justification; and depend solely on him for that justification, and thou shalt be saved." Would the confessional Lutherans agree with that definition of the object of faith? If yes, could you give me some biblical proof? Because indeed in Romans 10 Paul says to confess Jesus as Lord.
The Bible teaches that people enjoy forgiveness of sins and eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ alone (Ephesians 2:8-9). Good works do not play any part in our salvation (Titus 3:4-5). While it is through faith in Jesus Christ alone that people enjoy salvation, the Bible (especially the book of James) teaches that faith does not exist in a vacuum. Faith is never alone; it displays itself in a life of love. Jesus himself said, “If you love me, keep my commands” (John 14:15). The Lordship salvation controversy that you referenced describes the approach of some who want to quantify saving faith or add to saving faith as the means to enjoying salvation. The book of Galatians addresses that error. Since you mentioned “confessional Lutherans,” allow me to pass along a couple of appropriate sections from the Augsburg Confession that address your question. “Also they [our churches] teach that men cannot be justified before God by their own strength, merits, or works, but are freely justified for Christ’s sake, through faith, when they believe that they are received into favor, and that their sins are forgiven for Christ’s sake, who, by His death, has made satisfaction for our sins. This faith God imputes for righteousness in His sight. Rom. 3 and 4.” [Article IV: Of Justification] “Also they [our churches] teach that this faith is bound to bring forth good fruits, and that it is necessary to do good works commanded by God, because of God’s will, but that we should not rely on those works to merit justification before God. For remission of sins and justification is apprehended by faith, as also the voice of Christ attests: When ye shall have done all these things, say: We are unprofitable servants. Luke 17, 10. The same is also taught by the Fathers. For Ambrose says: It is ordained of God that he who believes in Christ is saved, freely receiving remission of sins, without works, by faith alone.” [Article VI: Of New Obedience]
» Does God ask us all to be disciples?
I am not sure who you mean by “us.” By definition, a disciple is one who follows the Lord. All Christians, all people who look to Jesus Christ in faith as their Savior, are his disciples. Another way of looking at your question is that God wants all people to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4). In that sense, he wants all people to be his disciples.
» My wife and I are members of an ELCA church. She joined this church in 1998 and I joined in 2004. She was raised Lutheran while I was raised Baptist. Neither one of us understood that there were separate factions within Lutheranism and that certain beliefs were different. We have stayed with our congregation because the majority of them are like us- we believe homosexuality is a sin and that abortion is murder. Recently we have hired a pastor that is very liberal and is pushing his views on the congregation. The two of us have discussed in length that it is past time for us to find a church that is more in line with our views. The research I have done shows that a WELS congregation would most likely be a better fit for us. My question is how welcome would we be in a WELS congregation if we decide to become members? Will the congregation judge us for being members of an ELCA church? This is very important to me because I have not felt God's presence during worship for a long time and am about to stop going to church altogether.
In the last congregation I served as pastor, I can think of members who had been Roman Catholic, Methodist, Episcopalian, ELCA, Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, non-denominational—just to name a few. There was not any problem for those people to feel welcome in the congregation. There was a recognition on the congregation’s part that people come into a church family at different times of life and from different backgrounds. What was important was the present common faith. I would encourage you and your wife to speak to the pastor of the local WELS congregation. He will be glad to explain to you in more detail the teachings and practices of our church body and how you might join our fellowship. God bless you.
» Does the Bible tell us (and, if so, where?) that it is wrong to marry a sibling and/or cousin? Obviously, it was permissible (and necessary) for Seth and his siblings to marry each other. Was it still OK by Abraham's time for him to marry his half-sister? What about Jacob marrying his first cousin(s)?
In the early part of world history, marriage between people who were related in some close way was inevitable. As time progressed and world population grew, God regulated marriage for his Old Testament people of Israel. In the Sinaitic Covenant, God forbade marriages between close relatives (Leviticus 18-20). That took place some 300 years after Abraham. For people of God in New Testament times, people who are not bound by Old Testament civil laws, we recognize our obedience to the civil laws which are established by governments (Romans 13:1-7). That includes laws that regulate marriage between people who are related by birth. Ancient Roman laws forbade certain relatives from marrying one another (1 Corinthians 5:1, for example). Similarly, governmental laws today place restrictions on those who want to marry. In our country, these laws vary from state to state.
» How do I build faith and trust in God, rely on Him and not be afraid?
“Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ” (Romans 10:17). God creates saving faith through the gospel in word and sacrament. God strengthens and preserves saving faith through those same means. God increases faith and trust in him as you use his word and receive the Lord’s Supper. This is why God instructs us: “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly…” (Colossians 3:16) This is why Jesus invites us to partake of the Lord’s Supper often (1 Corinthians 11:25). I encourage you to be faithful in your use of God’s word at home and in church, and to be a frequent guest at the Lord’s Supper. Jesus is not interested in snuffing out weak faith; he wants to fan it into flame (Matthew 12:20). God bless your faithful use of his word and sacrament.
» Is there a WELS church in New York, NY - preferably a small church, with a Chinese influence? May God continue to bless your work. I remember you starting out in my church in Milwaukee. God Bless.
There is a tab at the top of the home page of the synod’s website: “Find a Church/School.” The search results for your question indicated that the church that could serve your family is Sure Foundation Lutheran Church. It is located at 6230 Roosevelt Avenue, Woodside, Queens, New York. The congregation’s website offers this description: “A Gospel-centered, multicultural church for the world’s most diverse community, Woodside, Queens, NY.” This link will take you to the congregation’s website. Thank you for your kind words and remembering the early years of my ministry.
» Matthew 18:20 states that God is with us where two or three gather in his name. I thought God was everywhere...especially when we are alone.
The Bible teaches that God has many different modes of presence. He is omnipresent (Jeremiah 23:24; Psalm 139:7-10). He is present in the Lord’s Supper, as we receive the Lord’s body and blood, together with the bread and wine (1 Corinthians 10:16; 1 Corinthians 11:27). He is present with his church—when two or three come together in his name, as you referenced. He is present with each believer, as our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). He is present with each believer because he lives in them (John 17:20-23). Jesus was visibly present among people when he came to this world as true man (1 John 1:1-2). Praise God for the comfort, peace and strength of his ongoing presence in our lives!
» Hello, recently I have been struggling with my Lutheran beliefs and I am now thinking about converting to the Roman Catholic Church. The main problem I have is Sola Scriptura. Can you please show me where in the Bible it teaches Sola Scriptura? The verses that trouble me are 2 Thessalonians 2:15, 1 Timothy 3:15, 1 Corinthians 11:2, and 2 Timothy 2:14. Please help with this.
In the Bible God makes it clear that we are not to add to or subtract from his word (Deuteronomy 4:2; Revelation 22:18-19). The apostle Paul states clearly that God’s word is the foundation of the Christian Church and Jesus Christ is the chief cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20). Jesus tells us to search the Scriptures (John 5:39) and not to look anywhere else for saving truth (Luke 16:29). Jesus rebuked people who added to the word of God (Matthew 15:7-9). 2 Thessalonians 2:15 – The apostle Paul taught the Christians in Thessalonica in person (Acts 17) and through his inspired letters to them. 1 Timothy 3:15 – God preserves the truth of his word among Christians and looks for his people to proclaim that truth. 1 Corinthians 11:2 – The apostle Paul taught the Christians in Corinth in person (Acts 18) and through his inspired letters to them. 2 Timothy 2:14 – The apostle Paul wanted Timothy to remind other Christians of what he had just written previously in this inspired letter. If you are seriously thinking of affiliating with the Roman Catholic Church, you want to ask yourself: “Do I want to leave a church that proclaims the biblical truth that we are saved by God’s grace through faith alone in Jesus Christ and join a church that officially—through the Council of Trent—condemns that proclamation?” I pray that answering that question eliminates your struggles.
» Is the Crossroads Consulting Ministry part of the WELS?
It is a ministry within WELS, directed by a WELS pastor.
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~ Romans 6:23