Does God love some Christians more than others? That's just one of the questions we'll be answering on today's edition of CORE Christianity. Well, hi, I'm Bill Meyer, along with Pastor Adriel Sanchez, and this is the radio program where we answer your questions about the Bible and the Christian life every day.
You can also post your question on one of our social media sites, and you can always email us your question at questionsatcorechristianity.com. First up today, let's go to Tyler, who's calling in from Iowa. Tyler, what's your question for Adriel? This is a great question. I mean, just off the top of my head, Tyler, I think that this is just sort of a circumstantial comment that's being made. You know, these animals have been killed.
They're cut in half. He's preparing this ceremony, and the Lord is going to pass through the parts, and so, right, it makes sense that you'd have these vultures, these birds of prey, going down, and Abram is driving them away. I've heard some pastors make, you know, sort of try to make pastoral takeaway points when they preach through this text and say something like, you know, God does all the work.
We just need to keep the doubts at bay, the vultures, so on and so forth, but I don't know that we want to read too much into that. What this is is a covenant ceremony, and in particular, it's what's sometimes referred to as a self-maledictory oath. The text says, this is God speaking to Abram, I am the Lord who brought you out from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to possess, but he said, oh Lord, how am I to know that I shall possess it? And he said, bring me a heifer, three years old, a female goat, three years old, a ram, three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon, and he brought him all of these, cut them in half, and laid each half over against the other, and he did not cut the birds in half, and when the sun went down on the carcass, Abram drove them away, and then, of course, the sun goes down, Abram falls into this deep, deep sleep.
Here's again the word of the Lord, and he sees when the sun went down, verse 17, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passing between these pieces. Now, what's the big takeaway here? The big takeaway is that God is taking on the responsibility in this covenant upon himself.
There's this self-maledictory oath. Abram has asked, how can I know that you're really gonna keep your promise, God, that you're gonna bless me as you've said? And God says, look, if I don't, may I be like these animals that have been cut in half? I mean, it really is this solemn promise that God is making to Abram, and in one sense, and I think that when I preach through Genesis, this is where I went, you know, it's a picture of anticipating the gospel, God's commitment to his promises and to his people, even taking the curses on himself. And that's precisely what he did for us in Jesus Christ, his son, and so there is so much here, but I don't know that we need to read into that specific verse there in verse 11, and that's my view now, but maybe I'll figure something else out later. Appreciate your question, Tyler, and pray the Lord blesses you. We need to cut the animals in half, and so...
Thank you, okay, and vultures, that part too, just kind of scares me. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. We'd love to hear from you if you have a question about the Bible or the Christian life. Here's the number. It's 833-THE-CORE.
That's 1-833-843-2673. Let's go to Jimmy, who's calling in from Nebraska. Jimmy, what's your question for Pastor Adriel? Hey, how's it going? Hey, Jimmy, it's going well. How are you doing?
Good. I've just kind of been recently looking into this. I found like a part series on YouTube about, and so I don't really know too much about it right now, but what are your thoughts on 501c3 churches? So 501c3, I think that's a tax-exempt status. Most churches are... Our church, the church that I pastor, is 501c3, and I imagine that that's just true of most churches. This YouTube thing that you were watching, were they saying like, we shouldn't do that because it sort of ties together the church with government, or what was the point? Yeah, that's what it was getting at.
It's like a 15-part, and they're all like hour-long, but I've only watched like one to two of them, so I'm not too enlightened on all of it yet, but I just thought I'd call in and see what your thoughts are. Yeah. I mean, most churches have that 501c3 tax-exempt status, which I'm grateful for. In my mind, practically speaking, it hasn't posed any issues for us. I'm able to, and do, and would no matter what, faithfully preach the Word of God. So I'm not sure what specifically this guy's getting into, but I don't see an issue with, and like I said, most churches that you go to, all the churches, I think, for that matter, are going to be 501c3 churches. And so, yeah, if you have something more specific down the line as you continue to go through this 15-part thing, feel free to give us a call again, and I'll try to answer a more specific question, but I would say, you know, we can have that tax-exempt status and be completely faithful to Scripture and what the Bible teaches hasn't posed an issue for me, and I know it doesn't for many churches.
Hmm. Jimmy, thanks so much for your call. Appreciate you listening to CORE Christianity. By the way, we have a YouTube channel here at the CORE, and you can watch Adriel live on YouTube every day at 1130 a.m. Pacific time. You can also send him a message through our YouTube channel if you have a question for him, so feel free to check out YouTube right now. And of course, you can always email us your question as well at questionsatcorechristianity.com.
Well, whether you are currently in the working world, retired, or maybe a teenager or young adult just about to enter the workplace, we have an excellent resource that we're offering you today. Yeah, it's a book written by pastor and author Tim Keller. He's retired now from pastoral ministry, but he pastored Redeemer Church in New York City for many, many years.
And you've probably heard of him. I mean, he's written many books. This book in particular that we're offering is called Every Good Endeavor, and he brings together a lot of insight into just work and what it means for us as Christians to value the work that God has given to us and to work as unto the Lord. And so this is just a really practical book, one that we think will bless you, will encourage you, and you can get it at corechristianity.com for a donation of any amount. Once again, it's Every Good Endeavor Connecting Your Work to God's Work by Dr. Tim Keller. You can find it by going to corechristianity.com forward slash offers. That's corechristianity.com forward slash offers.
And while you're there, check out some of our other great resources, many of them absolutely free, and they will really be helpful to you as you grow spiritually in your Christian walk. Well, we do receive voicemails here at the core, and you can call us 24 hours a day and leave your voicemail for us at 833-THE-CORE. Here's a voicemail that came in a couple days ago from one of our listeners named Richard. Hi, Bill. Hi, Pastor Adriel. I really enjoy your guys' show and am blessed by it often.
May God bless you guys. I have two questions today. One, Pastor Adriel, is can you speak Spanish? And the second question is a bit more theological.
I understand God has a special love for Christians that he doesn't have for people who are not in Christ, but my question is, does he love some Christians more than he loves others? Thank you so much. You're putting me on the spot a little bit here with the first question about whether or not I can speak Spanish. Yes, I can, but I really need to spend more time practicing. Spanish was actually my first language as a little kid, and then over time, just in our home, we stopped speaking in Spanish.
And so I can use some practice. But the answer to that question is yes. And then with regard to the theological question, does God have favorites in his family? Does he love some of his children more than others? I think in the Gospel of John, John often talks about the disciple whom Jesus loved, and you get this sense of, is this the one that he loved most of all?
Some people think John is referring to himself. I think that that's the case there in the Gospel of John as the disciple whom Jesus loved. I don't think he's saying, Jesus loved me and not the others. I think there is this sense in which we as followers of Jesus Christ have to have a real personal understanding of the love of God for us.
I mean, it's a part of faith, trusting in God and knowing his goodwill toward us, his love for us. And so while I think we do distinguish between the type of special or particular love that God has for his people, right, as many as I love, I discipline and chase and we read in the Scriptures. I don't think that we should say, well, you know, there are some Christians who are just super sanctified and God loves them more. God has exhibited his love to each and every one of us in the exact same way. 1 John 4, verse 7, Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.
Anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his Son, his only Son, into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. This is where we see the pinnacle of God's love for humanity, for us, for his people. It's at the cross where God has exhibited it so clearly. Let me just say, this is so important for each and every one of us to understand because if we look at our life circumstances, there are times where we might be tempted to think, God, do you really love me?
I mean, if you really love me, why didn't I get that job or why have I received this diagnosis and so on and so forth? It's easy for us to look at our life circumstances and to tie the love of God together to those circumstances when in reality, here's where God says you can see my love for you very clearly. It's that I sent my Son, my only Son, into the world for you, and I think that's something that each and every Christian clings to, that each one of us should say, I'm the one. Jesus loves me. He loves us, and we should cherish that. We should rest in that, and we shouldn't question that and think, well, maybe God loves this person down the street more than me. Look at how blessed they seem to be. They have the things that I wish I had.
No, don't think that way. God loves you, and he told you that very clearly by sending his Son into the world for you. Amen. Some good counsel. Thanks for that, Adriel. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. Our phone lines are open. If you've got a question about the Bible, the Christian life, doctrine, theology, you name it, we would love to hear from you.
In fact, maybe you have some doubts about the Christian faith. We're open to your questions as well. The number is 833-THE-CORE.
That's 1-833-843-2673. Let's go to Sarah calling in from Las Vegas, Nevada. Sarah, what's your question for Adriel?
Hello. My question today is a little similar to your previous question. If our devotion to Christ brings him glory, and glory is of utmost importance, then does the relationship with him really matter, and does he really love us? Recently, I've been feeling stunted in my relationship with the Lord and unmovable by him. But does that really matter when it's all for his glory, when devotion to him and the Gospels, all that matters?
Thank you. Hey, Sarah, thank you for that question. And I'm sorry to hear that you feel like you've been stunted in your walk with the Lord, and especially when you say, you know, sometimes I feel unlovable. I think that there are many of us who can relate to you there, and who have experienced that in the Christian life.
It doesn't mean that you're not a Christian because you have those feelings. And so I just want to take a moment right now to pray for you, sister, and then get to your answer. Lord, thank you for, Sarah, thank you for this question that she's asked. I pray for her, Lord, that you would give her a sense of your love, Lord, even as she wrestles with that, even as she feels at times not lovable. God, that you would help her to see your love so clearly in your son, Jesus. And that she wouldn't just see it, Lord, and grasp it intellectually, Lord, but that by the grace of your Holy Spirit, her heart would be illuminated to know, as Paul said of the Ephesians, the height, the depth, the breadth, the length, the love of Christ.
So would you be with our sister? Would you encourage her and strengthen her in her faith, Lord? And just again, thank you for that question in Jesus' name. Amen.
Amen. So, Sarah, it seems like there's the struggle here with wrestling through God's sovereignty and the fact that God is going to be glorified in our lives and wants to be glorified. And then also this sense that God loves us, and the Bible's very clear that he's entered into this relationship with us. He wasn't obligated to. And I think that gets to some of your question, because God is totally free. He didn't need to create humanity. He didn't create humanity just to be these sort of, you know, his slaves, worshiping him, that kind of thing.
When you read the early chapters of Genesis, that was the view of many of the ancient Near Eastern pagan religions that God had made man as this sort of slave to just work away. But mankind in scripture, humanity, is like the crowning jewel of creation. God has made us as these kings and queens, if you will, of his creation called to imitate him and to reflect him in his love and in his glory. And he invites us into that. He's made us partakers, we're told, through the great promises, Peter says, of the gospel, partakers of the divine nature. He sent his son into the world so that we who had been separated from God due to sin might be joined once again, adopted into the family. And so everything in the Bible says, man, God loves us, and he's demonstrated his love through sacrifice, through the length that he's willing to go to redeem people who don't deserve redemption.
He's not obligated to do this, but he's chosen to do this. He's reached down with his righteous right hand for people like me and for people like you. And oftentimes we can look at our lives, I think, and say, man, does God really love me?
Could he really love me? And I think part of the reason we ask that question is because we're aware of our sin, we're aware of where we fall short, and we tie God's love for us to our own performance, to our own purity, to our own holiness. And it makes sense why we do this because isn't this just how the world works? We love that which is good and beautiful and helpful to us and actually glorifies us in one sense, if you will. But that's not how God's love works. It's not that God loves us because we're great and sinless and beautiful. God's love is what makes us beautiful, if you will.
It beatifies. It's what transforms us through the grace of the Holy Spirit and the free gift of salvation by faith in Jesus Christ so that I can say to you, as a fellow sinner, Jesus does love you. And the way he's shown you, again, with the previous question, as you mentioned, God's love was manifested among us in that he sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. And so when you question God's love, because you look at your life and you feel like, man, I'm just not as good as I should be or whatnot, look up to Christ, to that objective promise that we have in the Gospel, to the shed blood there on the cross because it's there that God says, I love you.
And it wasn't when we were doing great. It wasn't when we were righteous. Paul says in Romans 5, God demonstrated his love for us and that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. And so if God showed you his love when you were shaking your fist at him, when we were yet sinners, enemies of God, rebels, if he showed us his love then, then there's no reason to doubt that he loves us now as his adopted children, even though we still struggle with sin. And so may the Lord bless you and be with you and he's glorified in that response of love that we give to him, that you give to him, that relationship that we have with him through Jesus Christ. And so may God be with you and bless you and continue to give you a sense of his love and to sanctify you every day in Christ and by the work of his Spirit. Adriel, thanks so much for pointing us once again to the objective finished work of Jesus on the cross. It's not about what we do, what we've done, how we feel.
It's about what's been done for us and that is just such an awesome promise, so thank you. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. Let's go to Anthony calling in from Texas. Anthony, what's your... It's me! It's me! Yeah, I guess. It's you, Anthony. Are you there? It's you, Anthony. Yes, sir.
Hey. I have a question about the red heifer. Recently I heard that they came to Texas and they found the red heifer and they're on their way back to Israel now. I wanted to know where does that mark where we're at in the Bible and what are your thoughts about this and how do you feel?
I feel great. To be honest with you, brother, I don't think that it speaks anything to... There are some people, you know, they're waiting for the temple to be rebuilt, for sacrifices to be reinstituted. And they'll go to passages like the book of Ezekiel and other places and say we think that there's going to be an end times temple that's rebuilt, that that's a part of the end times or eschatological timetable.
But there are a number of problems with that view. So when people start talking about, you know, the temple is going to be rebuilt or we need to rebuild the temple, I would just say, well, no, that's not biblical because the book of Hebrews, the entire book of Hebrews, talks about how all of those sacrifices under the old covenant were types and shadows of the reality that came in Christ. So, I mean, the point of the book of Hebrews is don't go back to that. Don't try to reinstitute that kind of worship. If you do, you're denying the sufficiency of Christ's work. And so there's an interpretive error and there's a theological error here as well, like this idea that we need to go and rebuild the temple for what? Christ is the true temple and he is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. And so when you hear people talk about we need to rebuild the temple or the temple is going to be rebuilt, it doesn't fit with what scripture says. And so I don't think it should cause us to panic and I don't think it should be something that we're trying to do.
I mean, there's warnings about this throughout the New Testament and again, especially in the book of Hebrews. And so we can rest confident that there are no more sacrifices that need to be made because the once for all sacrifice of Jesus Christ is sufficient to forever cleanse our hearts from sin. And so, hey, thanks, Anthony, for giving us a call. God bless.
This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. Let's go to Jack calling in from Nashville, Tennessee. Jack, what's your question? Hey, everybody. How are you? Doing well. How are you doing, Jack?
I'm doing all right. I was just remembering a question I had from the book of Leviticus where there's like different levels of, you know, punishment for specific sins. And I was wondering, like, how come, like, some people were stoned, some people were, you know, like they would pay off their sin in a certain way and I was just wondering, like, why there was a variation. And I'm sure that, you know, God would never, you know, want people, you know, because it says, and I think it's Ezekiel, that he takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. But I just wondered, like, how come, like, stoning became a thing or like, you know, just like different, such severe punishments, you know, for sin?
Jack, yeah, man, thank you for that question. I preached through the book of Leviticus some years ago and I had a blast preaching through the book of Leviticus. One of those books that you just think, why preach through that book? Well, there's a lot of good reasons to go through the book of Leviticus.
In particular, I already used that phrase, types and shadows pointing us to Christ. But you also have these laws related to worship, the cult there, you know, of Israel, you know, the sacrificial system, the sacrifices, especially in the early chapters of Leviticus, the offerings, the burnt offering, and so on and so forth. But then laws about being holy and distinct from the nations.
And there is sort of variation, right? Like, there are some things, high-handed sins, if you will, that have more severe punishments. And so typically, the severity of the punishment is determined by the kind of sin that is being committed. Is it a sin against God and the worship of God?
Is it bringing corruption to the holy community of faith? There were some sins, right, that, you know, as you say, there were offerings that you could make. And let me just say, it's interesting because there are certain things that are capital sins, if you will, that could result in capital punishment, but you don't always see that happening in the Bible. I mean, David, for example, sinned in ways that should have resulted in his death, and yet God showed him mercy. He has black and white, if you will, in terms of the application of some of these laws.
And so I think that there's a little bit of flexibility there. But again, especially when we're talking about those civil laws related to disobedience, whether stoning and whatnot, those were a part of Israel under the old covenant, specifically as this political body. We're not bound by those civil laws anymore today.
Not in the kingdom of God, not in the church, in the way that they were then. And so it's good to make that distinction, and hopefully that brings some clarity. God bless. God bless.
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