Are natural disasters like Hurricane Ian a judgment from God? That's just one of the questions we'll be answering on today's edition of Core Christianity. Well, hi there.
Happy Friday. 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 call us right now with your question.
Our phone lines will be open for the next 25 minutes. Here's the number. It's 833-THECORE.
Just spell that out. 833-THECORE or 1-833-843-2673. Now, you can also post your question on one of our social media sites, and you can always email us at questionsatcorechristianity.com.
First up today, here's a voicemail from one of our listeners named Machanda. Got baptized. We thought this church was a great church, but it just wasn't addressing, really, anything or helping us grow. And we prayed and felt God led us to a new church. In this church, we had been very faithful going. You know, we just wanted to be a part of this church.
We really felt like family. And one of the things that's concerning us is they're requiring that we get baptized a second time. So I just kind of wanted Pastor Adriel's, like, take on that. And that you biblically, maybe even in prayer, that we're in the right place and that we're going in the right direction.
So I'm not sure if I formed it as a question, but that is what I would like to get his advice on. Machanda, thanks for giving us a call for reaching out. And I am grateful to the Lord that you and your husband have come to faith, you're walking with Christ, you're wanting to get plugged into a solid church, and that you found a church that it seems like is teaching the truth, and they're engaging, and you guys are being discipled, and you're growing in your faith. But I am concerned about this added requirement of, you know, well, you were already baptized, but we want you to get baptized at our church before or so that you can become a member. Now, look, if you were baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, so first, just thinking about the church you already baptized in, did they believe in the doctrine of the Holy Trinity?
Did they believe the doctrine of salvation, who God is and what he's done for us? Were you baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit with the intention of being a part of the church? If that's the case, then for this other church to say, well, you need to do that again if you want to be a part of our church, I would say that's an issue, that's a problem. It calls into question a legitimate baptism, and here's the thing. I just think in so many of our churches today, we have a low view of what we call the means of grace, baptism, the Lord's Supper. It's almost like this is a ceremony that we get to do in front of all these people, and we want you to do that at our church, too.
It's not a show. I mean, we're talking about a holy sacrament of the church where God is speaking and acting, and he's done that for you and for your husband, and so I would say it's a minimizing of baptism, of its legitimacy, of its power, its efficacy. It's setting those things aside and just saying we want you to do that here at our church, and so I have an issue with that. I don't know if you can have more conversations with the pastors, the leadership at this church that you're currently at, but I would not advise you, having already been baptized, to just sort of go through the motions of baptism again for the sake of joining this church.
I mean, there's a theological error here. If this church thinks that regardless of how you're baptized at other churches, you need to be baptized at our church our own way, and if it's unique or different from being baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, then I would have issues with that, but just the fact that they're requiring this, I think, is problematic, and so I think there needs to be more conversations. If I could, I would love to sit down with the pastor of the church and just get some more understanding.
I would understand if, say, you were baptized in the Mormon church or as a Jehovah's Witness, why you would need to get legitimately baptized for the first time at this other church, but it doesn't sound like that was the case, and so you've been baptized. Now you should just be received as a member in this church without having to go through baptism again because God has already done that for you, and so really, again, just grateful that you guys are walking with the Lord. I want to pray for you. You asked maybe for prayer, and so let's pray for Meshanda and for her family that the Lord would guide them and that ultimately they would get settled in a solid church where they're going to continue to grow for many years to come. Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for this question. I thank you for my sister, Meshanda.
Thank you for her husband, for her family. Thank you that they have come to faith in your son, Jesus, and I pray that by the power of the Holy Spirit you would guide them, especially as they make this very important decision about where to settle down as a family to worship you and to continue to grow in their faith. Lord, would you guide them? Would you bless them, and would they find a church that is faithful to the pure preaching of your gospel, to the right worship, Lord, according to what you outline in your word, and would they continue to grow in the grace and the knowledge of Christ for many years to come? Lord, be with them and bless them and give them clarity as to this decision. I ask in Jesus' name, amen. Amen.
Just a follow-up for you, Adriel. If you are looking for a new church and you, let's say, visit or start attending, and then that church has a whole bunch of hoops they need you to jump through, like this one. In order to become a member, in order to attend, you've got to do this, this, this, this, this. I'm guessing that you would be concerned because it almost sounds like the Judaizers of the New Testament. Yeah, that's an interesting, I think, tie there, Bill, because, right, what's required for church membership? I would say it's, I mean, ultimately embracing the gospel. Now, sometimes churches can add a bunch of other things, and I wouldn't say, like, you know, a new members class or a catechism class. I mean, that's just, hey, we want to teach you these things as you enter into the church. But the agitators in the New Testament, like in the book of Galatians, what they were doing is they were saying, look, if you've come to faith in Christ, you really want to be a part of the church. You need to do all of these other added sort of ceremonial things, like if you're a man, you need to be circumcised according to the law of Moses.
You need to eat in a certain way that is in alignment with the Mosaic code and so on and so forth. And so they were adding these things to, quote, unquote, church membership. And the apostle Paul makes it very clear in the book of Galatians, like, hey, you guys are getting it all wrong.
You know, did you receive the Spirit of God by the works of the law or by hearing with faith? And so we have to be very careful in the church today that we're not adding our own sort of cultural practices and requiring those for membership in our church. It doesn't sound like that's in particular what was going on in this case. It sounds like there was maybe some confusion about baptism and the legitimacy of baptism. But that's another issue. That's a theological issue. And so really important for us as we're going to churches, as we're looking at churches, to get this stuff right and to understand these things so that we can find a good church.
Really good counsel. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. Our phone lines are open.
If you have a question about the Bible, the Christian life, doctrine, theology, you name it, we'd love to talk to you. Here's the number. It's 833-THE-CORE.
That's 1-833-843-2673. Let's go to Sally, who's calling in from Missouri. Sally, what's your question for Adriel? Hi, Adriel.
I really appreciate your show. I listen to it every day. My question today is concerning the New International Version of the Bible. Is it an okay version? I have a friend who has told me that that version leaves things out. Like, for instance, in the prophecy of Isaiah, she was saying that it doesn't specify that Jesus will be coming, born of a virgin, whatever. But I don't find that in there. I've read this version of the Bible since the 80s, and I just wondered what your view on that was.
Yeah, thanks. I've heard similar criticisms of the NIV personally. I do think it's an okay version of the Bible to use. It's a little bit more accessible. Some translations like the NASB, for example, are going to be more of a wooden translation.
Sometimes people have a hard time with that. So a lot of times, if I'm talking with somebody who is newer to the Christian faith, hasn't really ever read the Bible, I will recommend that they get an NIV. There are going to be some translation differences in different places. I don't recall specifically with regard to the Isaiah prophecy how the NIV translated there.
But that's something that we can look into and think about. It doesn't necessarily mean that we should just rule out that version altogether. It's clear in the New Testament that Jesus was born of a virgin, the Virgin Mary.
I think that the NIV retains that. It's not denying the virgin birth. So I would say go for it. Use it, and use it alongside of other translations of the Bible, too. Of course, a translation is different than a paraphrase or something like that. There are paraphrases, we might say, of the Bible that sometimes can be used devotionally, but we don't want to use them for serious study. So I would say as you study the Bible seriously, maybe read the NIV, and when you come across a verse you want some more information on or you want to think through a little bit deeper, maybe check out the ESV and the NASB and maybe a good Bible commentary as well to go deeper and get some of the historical background. But I would say you don't have to feel bad about using the NIV as a translation of the Bible, and I hope that that helps you out. Thank you, Sally, for your question. I've got this big Gutenberg Bible that I have to carry around with me, and it's really heavy.
Is it okay to get a smaller one? Yeah, Bill, you totally could. You know, it's funny, when I was in high school, I mean, I came to faith in high school, and I started taking the only Bible that we had in my house. It was a King James Bible, and I would just walk around school with that thing, and it was quite a sight.
I'm sure it was. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adrian Sanchez. We'd love to hear from you if you have a question about the Bible or the Christian life.
833THECORE is the number. We get a lot of calls here at the Core about worship. People say, well, what exactly is worship, and what should it look like, and I'm not sure my church is doing it right.
Today we want to offer you a free resource on that topic. Yeah, if you want to know more about worship, get ahold of this free download over at corechristianity.com called Nine Things Everyone Should Know About Worship, and worship is something that I'm passionate about as a pastor, as someone who leads worship, at least in church on Sunday, every week, and I want to help you understand it better. So go to corechristianity.com and download Nine Things Everyone Should Know About Worship.
Love to get that in your hands. We think it'll be really helpful to you, and perhaps to some people in your church, maybe even your worship leader. Again, it's called Nine Things Everyone Should Know About Worship.
You can find that by going to corechristianity.com forward slash offers, corechristianity.com forward slash offers. Well, we do receive voicemails here at the Core, and you can call us 24 hours a day. Leave your voicemail. In fact, you can call over the weekend if you like, and we'll review those voicemails on Monday.
It's 833-THE-CORE, 833-843-2673, and here's a voicemail from one of our callers that came in yesterday. I am wondering, with current news about Hurricane Ian really hitting Florida, you know, I remember growing up and hearing lots of, you know, friends or other people say things like, anytime there's an earthquake, tornado, hurricane, that it is God's judgment, you know, on that place or nation. And I don't think that's right, but I guess I'm just wondering, how do you answer folks who do say those kinds of things after these tragedies happen? Just curious to hear your response. Thank you.
Yeah. Well, let's maybe just take a moment right now to pray for, I mean, what's going on in Florida right now with Hurricane Ian, and Bill, I know it's something that we've spoken about, and just our hearts are grieved. I mean, you see some of those images online, flooded homes, houses, and death, you know, people who have died as a result of the flood. Lord, we ask for your mercy to be poured out on the state of Florida. We pray, Lord, especially those who have lost, for especially those who have lost so much, God, for healing, for restoration. We pray for the safety of those in Florida, Lord, who are and have been just sort of in the middle of everything. And Lord, we look to you, and as people wrestle through the questions of suffering and catastrophe, Lord, I ask that even through all of this, you would be drawing people to yourself. We pray in Jesus' name. Amen.
Yeah. So, I mean, here's the first thing that I would say is, look, everything that happens, happens under God's providential care. Jesus said, not even one sparrow falls to the ground, apart from the will of your heavenly Father. And so sometimes we see things like this and we think, oh, well, maybe just, you know, God was not at all a part of this or not involved.
And I think we try to remove God from disasters, if you will. But we have to realize that everything that happens in this world still, in some sense, is happening under God's providential care. He knows all things. He's in control.
He's sovereign. Now, does that mean that something like this is a judgment, a direct judgment from God? Well, in the Bible, sometimes there are judgments like this.
I mean, I don't think that we can just say, no, no way, never. But here's what I would do, and here's what I have done over the years as this question gets raised, is I go to Luke 13, where Jesus is having a conversation with a group of people who bring up terrible catastrophes that have happened to people as a way of asking, you know, like, were these people pretty bad? Is this the special judgment of God on those people?
And listen to how Jesus responds. This is Luke 13, verse 1. There were some present at that very time who told Jesus about the Galileans, whose blood pilot had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those 18 on whom the Tower of Siloam fell and killed them. Do you think that they were worse offenders than all others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.
So they're pointing at these people. They must have been pretty bad for God to allow that to happen to them. Man, they must have been some pretty miserable sinners, right, Jesus? And Jesus says, Look, you think they were worse than everybody else?
No, listen to this. All of us are called to repentance. He doesn't focus on the catastrophe as God's specific judgment. He just says, Look, each and every one of us, when things like this happen, we need to consider ourselves and say, Lord, how am I living? Am I walking with you?
Do I know you? Have I trusted in you? And so things like this, I think, remind us of the frailty of life, the reality of death and sin in the world, and their calls for each and every one of us to turn to the true and the living God and to cling to him. And insofar as people are suffering out there, to think about how we as a church can mobilize and help and care for people, those who are in need. And so I think just going there to Luke 13 is really helpful when we see these kinds of things in the world taking place and saying, Look, this is a reminder for all of us. We need the Lord. We need the Lord.
And I hope that that's what people take away from this. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. Let's go to Leona who's calling in from Oklahoma. Leona, what's your question for Adriel? Hi, I was just wondering if church membership was a requirement?
Super good question, Leona. And I know that this is one that many, many people have. We've had many people come to our church who, I mean, we have a membership process and they just say, Well, do we really need to do that? Why? Where in the Bible does it say, you know, thou shalt become a member of a church? Can't I just go and sort of be a part? Well, here's the thing. Throughout the New Testament, you have these calls to submit to the authorities that God has placed over your life, including the elders in the church.
Why? Because they keep watch over your soul. One day they're going to have to give an account. And so a question that I like to ask people, and I hope you all, as you listen right now, you can ask yourself this question or hear me asking you this question, Who are the elders who are keeping watch over your soul? And I think for many people, they wouldn't know.
They don't have an answer to that question. I mean, they have other Christian friends who are encouraging to them, but they're not really accountable to a church body, to a pastor. And I think that's a problem because the New Testament assumes that as believers in Jesus Christ, we have that. And I think that that's one of the things that membership gives to us.
A really clear distinction of, look, this is where I'm at. I'm accountable to the church here. They have an obligation to me and I have an obligation to them. Oftentimes, I think that we don't take that seriously enough, the importance of being in a solid church and not just sort of visiting or attending off and on, but being a member. And in fact, in a very different sense, like Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12, that we're all members of the body.
He's using the analogy of a body. Some of us are hands, feet, eyes, noses, but together we make up healthy local congregations. And so I want to encourage all of our listeners to be plugged into their local churches and to be members. And even though there isn't a Bible verse that says, again, you need to go through the six-week membership process or however long it is and then become a member of the church, I think it's just sort of assumed, especially when you think about baptism, the doctrine of holy baptism as well. We're baptized into the church. We're a part of these organic bodies and we're accountable. And again, that's one of the things that membership provides for us. And it's helpful for pastors, for elders to be able to see, okay, who are the members of our church?
Not just people who sort of are passing through and visiting, but who are the people that God has called us to shepherd that we're going to be accountable for? And so I would say, yes, it is necessary to be a member of a church. And I hope, Leona, that you're plugged into the church that you're a part of and that you're growing there. Thank you for your question.
Great counsel. Thank you for that, Adriel. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. By the way, we're going to be recording a second episode of Core Christianity today when our live program ends here in just a few minutes.
So if you weren't able to call in during the live show, feel free to call in and we will use your call on the air at some later date as we record a special extra broadcast. Here's the number to call. It's 833-THE-CORE. 833-THE-CORE. You can call us after the next 35 minutes or so.
833-843-2673. Well, here's a question from Lorna. She called in and she said, If I make anointing oil as gifts, will I be cut off since I'm not a priest? In James it says to anoint people with oil if you're sick.
Lorna, well, the answer to that is no. So you're referring to some of the regulations under the old covenant for the priests and the oil that they used in the temple worship. And it was very specific in terms of the ingredients that were used and who was allowed to use that oil. We're not under the old covenant, right? So those ceremonial laws that bound the people of God in the Old Testament while the temple was standing, they don't bind us today. And so if you're making anointing oil as gifts, maybe one, consider sending us some.
I think that would be cool. It would be great to get a vial of your anointing oil. But I wouldn't say it's an issue of you being cut off or sinning against the Lord or anything like that. And of course in the New Testament, places like James 5, it does talk about elders anointing those who are sick and come to them and are asking for prayer. And it says that the prayer of faith will raise up the one who is sick.
So I think that is totally fine. One thing I'll just say about the practice of anointing with oil is you do have that text in James 5, but I think sometimes in our churches we can sort of treat it superstitiously. I remember as a newer believer, I knew people who they would anoint just about everything with oil, the doorposts, the windows, their car, all sorts of things. And I think sometimes we can sort of treat it as this, I don't know, holy magic oil. That's not what it is.
It's a symbol more than anything else. And so I think keep that in mind, but other than that, you're fine, sister, and appreciate your question. You're listening to Core Christianity. Melinda called in from St. Louis, Missouri, and she says, I'm a Lutheran, and we practice closed communion. What are your thoughts on that?
Hey, Melinda. Okay. Well, I mean, so I think every church in one sense should practice a degree of closed communion. What we're talking about here is that not just anybody can take the Lord's Supper. And in fact, there are warnings in places like 1 Corinthians and elsewhere about taking the Lord's Supper unworthily. And so I have an issue with churches that are just like, hey, we're setting up the elements, the bread and the wine, and whoever wants to come, just come and take some if you want. And they don't fence the table.
Sometimes that's what we call it. They don't provide any warnings, the warnings that you see in scripture about not eating and drinking unworthily without faith. But among those who say, let me practice a kind of closed communion or just say, you know, it's not just open for anybody. There are some who say, well, you have to be a part of our particular church if you're going to take the Lord's Supper. And then there are others, and I would be in this camp who say, look, you might not be a member at my church. I pastor, you know, I pastor in a particular denomination. You might not be a member in that denomination, but if you have trusted in Christ, you've been baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, you've made profession of faith in Jesus Christ, then come to the table as one who has embraced the gospel. Because I would differ with those who say, you know, you have to affirm exactly what we affirm with regard to everything before you can come to the table.
And so hopefully that clarifies it for you. God bless. Thank you. Thanks for listening to CORE Christianity. To request your copy of today's special offer, visit us at corechristianity.com and click on offers in the menu bar or call us at 1-833-843-2673. That's 833-THE-CORE. When you contact us, please let us know how you've been encouraged by this program and be sure to join us next time as we explore the truth of God's word together.
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