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How to Strive for Unity Amidst Division

Core Christianity / Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier
The Truth Network Radio
November 30, 2020 1:00 am

How to Strive for Unity Amidst Division

Core Christianity / Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier

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November 30, 2020 1:00 am

Episode 586 | Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier answer caller questions.

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CoreChristianity.com

1. I recently was reading to my children a new children’s book about the bible and the book described sin as loving things more than God. It warned the kids that if they love anything too much, like their parents and friends, then this is the definition of sin. Is that the entirety of what sin is? I understand that we need to love God supremely; however, I don’t necessarily want my children insecure or afraid if they love me or their father too much. Is there a better way to talk to the kids about sin or is this how we really should talk to them? 

2. I have always struggled with my faith. I have been through a lot of rough experiences, from being in prison, to drug addiction, to seeing family members die, and I have earnestly and sincerely asked God to speak to me during these situations, lots of other people believe God speaks to them, but I have never ever heard God speak to me. Not once. Does he speak to anybody today?

3. In Matthew 1:18 it says before Joseph and Mary came together she was found to be pregnant and verse 19 says that because Joseph “resolved to divorce her quietly.” And then right after that in verse 20 it says “don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife.” My question is, was Mary and Joseph married before she was pregnant or after she became pregnant?

4.  I’m having trouble knowing how to feel unified with the body when there is so much bad theology out there. I spent my childhood in a charismatic, prosperity gospel church and it has made me very sensitive to those things. I now feel that teaching should be exegetical and Christ focused, but it seems to be very hard to find people who agree with me. I see churches taking a topical approach to scripture that often avoids the subject of sin and feels more like a self help guide. I’ve been told I’m being too skeptical. I know that many of my friends believe the gospel so I consider them my brother or sister in Christ, but it’s hard for me to feel unified when our beliefs and focal points are so far apart. How can I keep from being too critical of immaturity or a difference of beliefs, while staying sensitive to false teaching?

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The Bible describes people in the church as having all things in common.

So how can I strive for this unity when I disagree with so many people in my church? That's just one of the questions we'll be answering on today's edition of CORE Christianity. Hi, this is Bill Meyer along with my good friend Pastor Adriel Sanchez.

Here it is the last day of November, Christmas just 26 days away. Hard to believe that. This is the radio program where we answer your questions about the Bible and the Christian life every day. And you can call us right now with your question at 833-The-CORE. That's 1-833-843-2673.

You can also email us at questionsatcorechristianity.com. Well, he's on assignment in China and he saved a life. I'm talking about a British diplomat who leaped into a river in southwest China to rescue a drowning student. Stephen Ellison is his name.

He's 61 years old. He's the British Consul General in the city of Chongqing, China. He jumped into the water after spotting the struggling female student who had fallen into the river by accident. There's a video of the incident posted by the British Embassy.

It shows a woman drifting face down in the water as onlookers scream in panic. Mr. Ellison takes off his shoes. He plunges in and swims to her aid. He goes to the bank to pull Mr. Ellison and the student to safety. Wow, you go, Mr. Ellison.

Yeah, he's a hero. And they got together for tea afterwards. Did they really?

Once she recovered, he sat down with her and her fellow students and had some tea. Well, let's get to our first question of the day. This is a Facebook post from Irene and she says, I recently was reading to my children a new children's book about the Bible. And the book describes sin as loving things more than God. It warned the kids that if they love anything too much, like their parents or friends, this is sin. This was the definition of sin used in the book. Is that the entirety of what sin is? I understand we need to love God supremely, but I don't necessarily want my kids insecure or afraid if they love me or their father too much. Is there a better way to talk to the kids about sin?

Or is this how we should talk to them? The definition that maybe you got from this book actually goes back to St. Augustine. And I think even prior to St. Augustine, I think that there's biblical rationale for this idea of sin being disordered loves or having a love for something that causes your love for God to diminish. You think, for example, of if you're a businessman and you work really hard and you're so focused on your job and it's a good thing to work hard and to be focused on your work. But if you put that before your family, well, that's a disordered love, isn't it?

And if it causes your family to suffer and you neglect your children, well, there's a real big problem. And it's the same thing with the Lord. Ultimately, God should be our greatest love. And Jesus, when he talked about what it meant to follow him, said that it looked like hating everything else. And in that list of everything else, he includes father and mother and siblings and spouses and those kinds of things. And I don't think that what he meant by that was we should literally hate those people, but that our love for God should cause all of our other loves to pale in comparison. And I think that this way of describing sin can be helpful and engaging to people today who they just have no idea what sin is or reject the idea of sin altogether. So that's one approach.

But I think that there's another approach, Irene, and that's this. I mean, an even more simple definition of sin is sin is any time we don't conform to God's law or we transgress God's law. Two things there. When we don't conform to God's law, it means we're failing to meet the positive requirement of what God has called us to. You see, God's law, when it says don't murder or don't commit adultery, isn't just focusing on what not to do.

But there's also, I think, a positive element there. There's something that we're called to. You know, the command not to murder isn't just about not killing someone physically. It also is a call to preserve life. I mean, ultimately, Jesus said that the law of God is fulfilled when we love God and when we love our neighbor.

It's this positive thing. Sometimes I think that we assume that a definition of sin is just when we break God's commandments, and that's true. That's when we transgress the law of God.

But it's also more than that. It's when we fail to meet the righteous requirement of the law. It's not enough that I just don't know any of my neighbors and we don't have any conflicts, you know, we don't get in fights with each other or have these neighbor disputes. We're actually called to positively love our neighbors. And one of the things that this highlights, Irene, is that none of us can perfectly keep the law. I mean, a person might feel pretty good at not breaking the Ten Commandments, at least in their own mind. And I've heard many people say that, you know, I read the Ten Commandments and I don't steal, I don't kill, I've never cheated on my spouse. But one, when we realize that sin is something that first begins in our heart, that we can't escape it, and secondly, that it's not just about not doing certain things, but it's about positively loving God and each other, well, we quickly realize we all fall short of that. And so it highlights our need for the gospel. And that's one of the reasons I think we have to have a really clear definition of what sin is, because if we have a low view of sin, if we have a definition of sin that keeps us from seeing our need of the gospel, well, then we won't run to Christ. But if we have a biblical view of sin, if we realize that it's pervasive, that it's in our hearts, that it's not just when I transgress God's law, it's also when I fail to love God like I should, well, each of us has to say every single day, Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner. And so, Irene, I love, one, the fact that you're wanting to teach your children these very important truths.

And I think whether you take the approach of sin as disordered loves, or just talking about sin as being a want of conformity to God's law, or a transgression of God's law, or even if you just break it down even further than that, you know, sin is when we don't love God and each other like we should, when we disobey God. I mean, there are so many different approaches you can take, but the fact that you're wanting to teach your children, I just commend you in that. And I pray that the Lord gives you wisdom as you seek to communicate the truth of Scripture to them in a way that they can understand in a way that's really going to benefit them for the years to come. God bless you. Irene, thanks so much for your email and for your desire to raise your kids in the Christian faith. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez, and let's get to a call that came in from Randy.

Yes, this is Randy. I'm a truck driver, so there might be some background noise, but my question is, I've struggled my whole life, always have believed in the Lord. I've been an outlaw, been in prison, been drug addicted, been on fire for the Lord, prayed my hard house, asked for forgiveness, talked, prayed my Bible, and have definitely seriously, sincerely asked the Lord to help me, and many, many, many times, and I hear people talk about what the Lord told them, spoke to them.

I don't understand what they're saying. I have never heard the Lord utter a single word to me. I never, ever have. My question is, do you think the Lord actually speaks to anybody? Thank you, goodbye. Randy, thanks for sharing some of your stories. Sounds like you've been through a lot, but I just thank the Lord for His kindness to us and His kindness to you in keeping you. Sounds like you're on the road right now, too, so be safe, and I pray that the Lord continues to bless you and draw you near to Himself. Now, it depends on what an individual means when they say, does the Lord speak to people today?

And I totally agree with you. I've heard people say, well, the Lord told me this, or the Lord told me that, and most of the time, what they mean is that they have this strong sense that God is leading them in a particular direction, but I think it's an unhelpful way for us to talk, because it can make other people feel like, well, you have the direct line to God, and I guess I might or must not be as faithful to the Lord as you are, or I don't have the sort of inside scoop like you do. I remember a few years back when my daughter was four, we were taking a walk around the neighborhood, and out of the blue, she said, Papa, how come God don't talk? And I remember just being shocked, one, by her question, but also, it's sort of breaking my heart a little bit, because it was this honest, I mean, she wanted to know, how come God isn't responding to our prayers?

How come I haven't heard His voice? She had heard us talk to God all the time. We'd pray in the morning, we'd pray before our meals, we'd pray before we went to bed at night. It seemed to her like we were talking to God all the time, pursuing the Lord sounds like what you do as well, Randi, but she was concerned because she had never heard the voice of God. So we have to really, I think, understand how it is that God speaks to us today, and there are two ways I would say that God speaks to us today. One, God speaks to us through general revelation.

That's just the world around us. I think about what the psalmist said in Psalm 19, the heavens declare the glory of God. The firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech. Night unto night reveals knowledge. I mean, the psalmist is saying very clearly, Randi, God is speaking to us through the created order. Now, what does God reveal to us through the created order? He reveals to us that He's all powerful, that He's infinite, that He's the creator God.

Paul talks about this in Romans chapter one. But that's really the substance of what He's saying to us through creation, and it's that sense that we have. You think of when you're out in the mountains and you look up at the sky and you see all the stars, the heavens, and you're just blown away.

You have this sense of, man, I'm so small. There's something so much greater out there. God, the creator, it's that sense of God that we have. But there's another way in which God has spoken to us, and that's through His special revelation. And that special revelation is recorded for us in scripture. There were times in the history of redemption where God did speak more audibly, we might say, to people.

I mean, you think about His interactions with Moses or even with some of the apostles. But the fact of the matter is all of that was recorded for us in the Bible so that by the grace of the Holy Spirit, we might hear God speaking to us now through His word. So I would never want to say that God isn't speaking today. No, God is speaking, but He's speaking through the scriptures and by the power of the Holy Spirit. He's speaking through the created world around us. That's not to say that God in some extraordinary way couldn't speak today to someone, but that's just not the expectation.

That's not what we look for or what we chase after, because ordinarily that doesn't happen. I don't know anyone who says, you know, I've actually heard the audible voice of God, but I know a lot of people who have been transformed by the scriptures. And so, brother, I think every day you should pray and say, Lord, speak to me. But as you pray that prayer, you should open up God's word and you should read it, expecting the Spirit of God to open your heart, your eyes, your mind to receive the truth of God, what God speaks through His word to you about His Son.

One, I'm sorry that you've been discouraged even. I mean, it sounds like you've been discouraged by this sense of God has never spoken to me, but I want to encourage you by saying that the Lord is speaking. He's given you His word to communicate His will to you.

Let's take it up and read. May the Lord bless you. You know, I was driving a truck once and God spoke through my CB to me.

Just kidding. Randy, we appreciate you so much. And man, we just love our truck drivers and the fact that you're out there every day on those long haul rides. Thank you for listening to Core Christianity. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez and Christmas coming up in just a couple of weeks. And we have a wonderful Christmas devotional we want to tell you about. Yeah, we are so excited about this because it's a way in which you can, we were just talking about the importance of the scriptures. Well, this devotional is going to help you dig into the scriptures on your own or even with your family.

I love the idea of doing this together with your family, with your spouse or with your children. It's a Christmas devotional called Jesus Christ, the Promised Messiah. And every day in December, it gives you prophecies from the Old Testament that pointed forward to the Messiah, to Jesus, and then their fulfillment in the New Testament. So you're digging into the prophetic testimony of scripture.

I think this is a real faith builder. Head over to corechristianity.com forward slash Christmas to download this resource. And it's yours for free when you sign up for our weekly newsletter. You can also call us for that resource at 833-843-2673.

That's 833, the core. And speaking of Christmas, here's a question that came in from one of our listeners via email. They say in Matthew 1 18, it says before Joseph and Mary came together, she was found to be pregnant. In verse 19, it says that Joseph resolved to divorce her quietly. Then in verse 20, right after that, the angel says, don't be afraid to take Mary as your wife. My question is, were Mary and Joseph married before she was pregnant or after she became pregnant?

It's a really good question. And I could I could see why it might feel like a contradiction. But the issue is, the culture then in terms of practices related to betrothal in marriage was very different than what we do today. And so at that time, you know, when when a couple was betrothed, it was this legally binding thing. I mean, they were basically married, they just had not gone through the ceremony yet. And so it seems to me that what had happened is they were betrothed. They hadn't technically been married yet, but they were legally bound together.

I mean, that was the plan. It's in that sort of in between stage that the angel comes and reveals this glorious truth to Mary and Joseph. And that's why he says, you know, don't be afraid to take Mary as your wife. That is, don't be afraid to follow through with what it is that has already been set in motion because she's pregnant. And so it really is, I think, understanding, you know, some of the cultural distinction there that clears up what might seem like a discrepancy or even a contradiction.

Appreciate the question. You know, that reminds me this time of year, what a great opportunity to read the Christmas story to your kids and then just talk about what the Christmas story means and how Jesus came to us as a child and grew up to become a man and die on the cross for our sins, especially our younger kids, help them understand that Christmas is a lot more than presents and Santa Claus. And, you know, our culture has moved so far away from the true meaning of Christmas. So great opportunity for parents this time of year to focus on that.

Yeah, you're absolutely right, Bill. And I think it's great to have, you know, family traditions. One of the things we've done is we'll read through the Christmas story on Christmas Day, you know, as we wake up in the morning before opening up any presents, just spending a little bit of time in the word. And maybe your family has its own traditions, but I think with whatever it is, like you said, really focusing on Jesus.

I mean, it's an opportunity for us to talk about Jesus, His goodness, the ultimate gift of God to humanity. And so I appreciate that you brought that up, Bill. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. Just a reminder that we are a listener supported ministry, so we count on people just like you to keep us on the air. If you would prayerfully consider making a gift, it would be a big help to us. You can find out more at CoreChristianity.com. Here's a Facebook question that came in from Lisa.

She says, Hi, Adriel. I'm having trouble knowing how to feel united with the body of Christ when there's so much bad theology out there. I spent my childhood in a charismatic prosperity gospel church, and it's made me very sensitive to those things. I now feel that teaching should be exegetical and Christ focused, but it seems to be very hard to find people who agree with me. I see churches taking a topical approach to Scripture that often avoids the subject of sin and feels more like a self-help guide. How can I keep from being too critical of immaturity or a difference of beliefs while staying sensitive to false teaching? Yeah, Lisa, thank you so much for your question, and I can sympathize with you because I think doctrine and the truth of God's Word is so important.

Now, you used a word there that might be unfamiliar to some of our listeners. Exegetical, I think preaching should be exegetical. It's just the idea that our teaching, our preaching, should arise out of the biblical text. That is, we're not reading something into the Bible, our own ideas, our own preferences, but we're letting the Scripture speak to us and speak for itself. And you're right, that's what we desperately need, and yet so often in churches that's not what we get. And especially for people who have been in churches, and it sounds like maybe you were in some of these churches that don't focus on the clear teaching of the Bible, and then you come into this season where, wow, all of a sudden it's opened up to you. Maybe it was a book you read or a certain pastor you started to listen to, and it was like, man, these things are really starting to connect. At that moment, it's really easy to look back on whatever it is that you've been experiencing or been in and just say, oh man, that's all nonsense.

I can't believe that they didn't teach me this stuff. And I think that's where we have to be careful or humble, because I think about even the growth in my own life as a Christian, and certainly my beliefs, I think, became more and more in line with the teaching of Scripture, with God's Word, as I continued to mature and as I continued to study the Scriptures. But I was also very grateful for the people that God brought into my life, even people with whom I have theological disagreements now or maybe just a different view on a particular interpretation of some doctrine in the Bible. And yet the Lord used those people and their teaching and even just their encouragement at a particular time in my life. And so I think that one way that we can remain humble is by giving thanks to God for the good that we experienced, even if there were a lot of things that we feel like, oh man, I can't believe that that was taught.

Are there things that you can look at? Maybe it was friendships, maybe it was the encouragement of a pastor, that kind of a thing. While at the same time taking doctrine very seriously, and instead of getting puffed up if we've come into a deeper understanding of God's Word, ultimately what should happen is we should have a greater heart to want to see people understand the truth of Scripture more. When you come into a fuller understanding of the Gospel and the liberty that you experience there, knowing that you don't have to work for your salvation, that it's not a matter of, you know, I have the Holy Spirit if I speak in tongues or something like that.

You mentioned being in a charismatic church for some time. There really is this liberty to the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ that when we understand it, it's just so beautiful. And what that should do for us is it should make us want to help others know the truth too. And that's not going to happen if we come across as arrogant and I'm better than you or I know more than you now.

No, it's one poor person telling another poor person where to find bread. And so I would say as you continue to grow in your understanding of God's Word, as the Lord blesses you and has blessed you, Lisa, with really feeling like, man, I'm learning more about the Bible. Instead of getting puffed up, God's Word should never lead to that. It should lead to humility and love. Take those truths and encourage the people around you with those truths. And when you interact with people who don't agree or don't fully understand that, don't have the air of arrogance, but instead encourage them.

Encourage them to see the very same things that you've seen. And I think that's what God calls us to. Now, there are certain teachings that really do just flat out need to be rejected. I mean, teachings that ultimately go against core Christianity, the fundamentals of the Christian faith. And when it comes to those things, yeah, we just reject it and we say, look, that needs to be confronted with the truth of God's Word. We don't take a soft stance on doctrines that will lead people to hell or that deny the truth of the gospel or the truth of who God is. But there are also secondary issues in the Church and in the realm of theology that I think we can be more sensitive toward and that we can be more gentle, I mean, in terms of correcting people and helping them to see the truth of what the Scriptures teach. And so I pray, Lisa, that as you continue to grow in your understanding of the Bible, you would also grow in humility, in a love for God and for others, even others who maybe you feel like didn't teach you like you were supposed to be taught, that ultimately that leads to opportunities for you to be able to share how Jesus has worked in your life through His Word.

May the Lord bless you. That brings up another question, Adriel. What if a person is in a church where false doctrine is being taught? I mean, you can go to the pastor, you can go to the church leaders, but if they're pretty much committed to that, could God be calling you to leave?

Yeah, I think so. And I think one of the problems is there are a lot of churches like that, but people don't know how to distinguish between the truth of God's Word and false doctrine. I mean, I think of the Bereans in the Book of Acts and how they were commended for searching the Scriptures to see if what the apostles were saying lined up with what the Bible taught. That's why we need to be saturated in the Word of God. Each of us needs to be reading the Scripture. I mean, as I was answering that question earlier for Randy, that's where God is speaking to us. Now, we don't read the Bible in isolation or in a vacuum.

We read it in the context of the Christian community, but what you might find as you're reading the Scriptures and you're asking God for His guidance to lead you and help you understand them, that there are things in God's Word that may contradict what you're hearing in your church. And I think when that happens, well, with humility and gentleness, we approach the leadership in our church, and we begin to ask questions, and I think that that's okay. And I think that's part of what sharpens us, and frankly, it's a part of what sharpens church leaders, too, and keeps them accountable. I mean, God has created this beautiful structure so that there is accountability, and the ultimate authority is His Word.

And I think we've said it on this program before. Look, we want to be faithful to the Scriptures. We want to answer questions according to what the Bible teaches, because at the end of the day, it's not about us. It's not about our personal preference.

It's not about what I think is best. The question is, what does the Lord have to say? And God is speaking today through His Word, and so we go to His Word, and when we go there, we meet Jesus, and we experience His grace, and that's how we grow in our faith. That's 833-THE-CORE. When you contact us, please let us know how you've been encouraged by this podcast, and be sure to join us next time as we explore the truth of God's Word together.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-20 21:47:48 / 2024-01-20 21:58:13 / 10

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