Which doctrines do you have to believe to be a Christian? That's just one of the questions we'll be answering on today's edition of Core Christianity. Well, hi, this is 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. Here's our phone number. It's 833-The-Core. That's 1-833-843-2673. Our phone lines will be open for the next 25 minutes or so, so now is the time to get on the phone.
You can also post your question on one of our social media sites, and of course you can always email us at questions at corechristianity.com. I want to jump in actually really quickly here. Our audience probably doesn't know that yesterday was a special day because it was your birthday, and so I'm just curious about how you celebrated yesterday, what you did for that big special day. You know, I went cliff-diving. Did you really? No. Oh, okay.
I gotcha. Yeah, well, I know you're like an athletic guy, and you cycle around, and you know, so I- I did go on a really hard bike ride. Yeah, I went on an hour-long bike ride, and I- Isn't it snowing where you live? No, it's not snowing.
I thought I remember you saying snow, okay. No, no, but thank you for wishing me a happy belated birthday. I'll make sure to wish you one the day after your birthday as well. Appreciate that. Thanks, Bill. All right, well, let's get to our questions, and we do have a voicemail from one of our listeners. This is from Jim. I wanted to ask Pastor Adrian, if the cloud of witnesses in Hebrews 12 refers to Satan heaven who can see what's going on on the earth today, are they praying, or is there any indication in Scripture that they're praying on our behalf?
Love your program. Thanks for your answer. This is an excellent question, especially because yesterday we did receive a call about a question about, you know, whether it's okay to pray for our deceased relatives. So, sort of fitting, I mean, the question is, what are our loved ones who are in heaven? That quote-unquote cloud of witnesses, what are they doing right now? And so, that language comes from Hebrews 12, verse 1, therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin which clings so closely and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. Now, we oftentimes read that, this cloud of witnesses, as they're in heaven and they're witnessing the things that we do on earth.
They are watching us cheering us on, right? So, they're in the stands and we're still here on earth, the church militant, struggling to set our eyes on Jesus and those who have gone before us are watching us, cheering us on. That's not what we should picture when we think about the cloud of witnesses. Think of a witness as someone who testifies.
I mean, this is what a witness does. And really the cloud of witnesses that the author of the Hebrews is speaking about there in chapter 12, verse 1, is that great group that he had mentioned in chapter 11, throughout chapter 11. Think about 11, verse 4, by faith, Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts, and through faith, through his faith, though he died, he still speaks. In other words, these Old Testament heroes, these people who were in the, quote unquote, Hall of Faith, through their action, through what we read about them in Scripture, they're still speaking to us, testifying to us of the reality of faith and the righteousness that is by faith. And so, we're supposed to receive their testimony as that great cloud of witnesses, testifying to us of the reality of the gospel and Christ's redemptive work. We're supposed to take that testimony and run with it, believing in Jesus and setting our eyes upon Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. And so, that's really what Hebrews 11 and 12 is about. It's not about these people who have gone before us, who are watching us and, you know, their time in heaven is occupied with the things that we're doing here on earth. No, they're focused on the Lord and on His throne.
And that's actually what we see in chapter 12. Later, as the author of the Hebrews has this vision of the worship that's taking place in heaven, the saints and the angels are around the throne of God, worshiping Him. And so, really appreciate that question, an excellent question, and pray that the Lord blesses your day, Jim. 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 would love to hear from you. Here's the phone number. It's 833-THE-CORE.
That's 1-833-843-2673. So let's go to Betty's question. She called in from Kansas City, Missouri, and she says, what is Matthew 8.11 referring to, those that go into the kingdom of heaven, chosen people first?
Well, let me just, Betty, thank you for that question. Let me read Matthew chapter 8, beginning in verse 5, to give some of the context. When he had entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, appealing to him, Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly. And he said to him, I will come and heal him. But the centurion replied, Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word and my servant will be healed.
For I too am a man under authority with soldiers under me. And I say to one go, and he goes, and to another come, and he comes, and to my servant do this and he does it. When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, truly I tell you with no one in Israel have I found such faith. I tell you, many will come from East and West and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into outer darkness.
In that place, there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. And so what is Jesus referring to here, especially in verse 11? Well, he's commending the faith of the centurion, this non-Jew, this Gentile who realizes who Jesus is, the power that he has. And Jesus is saying, look, this guy gets it. He understands who I am. He understands that I have authority, power as the son of God to heal, to forgive sins.
But you know who's missing it? The sons of the kingdom. You think of what John says at the beginning of his gospel. He came to his own and his own received him not the scribes and the Pharisees, the people who should have understood. And this is why Jesus says, I tell you, look, a lot of people are going to come from the East and the West people. You didn't expect the Gentile nations and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into outer darkness.
And when he says the sons of the kingdom there, I think he is referring to those Jews who rejected him when he came at first, in particular the religious leaders who were hypocritical, who hated him, who wanted to put him to death. And so that's what Jesus is highlighting. And what does this teach us brothers and sisters that faith is the priority?
It doesn't matter what your cultural background is per se. I mean, it's not that that's insignificant that God doesn't care about that, but when it comes to being a part of the family of God in the church born again, it's that gift that God gives the gift of faith. That's what's so important, what's so crucial. And Jesus is commending the centurion because he has it and he's rebuking so many in his own generation there, his kinsmen according to the flesh because they didn't have it, they rejected him. And so Betty, thank you for your question. Hey, Betty, thanks so much. And thanks for being a listener to Core Christianity.
Hey, if you've got a question about the Bible or the Christian life, we'd love to hear from you. Here's the phone number. It's 833-The-Core. That's 833-843-2673. Give us a call right now.
Our phone lines will be open for the next 15 minutes or so. By the way, we do get a lot of calls here about spiritual warfare, about the devil, about his demons. And we got a resource we want to offer you on that topic today. Yeah, it's a resource that was written by a friend of ours, Pastor David Cassidy, and the resource is called Can the Devil Read My Mind? One of the things I love about this resource is it really is a crash course in spiritual warfare.
It's about 70 pages long. Think of it like a short book, if you will, something that you could read in an afternoon or over a couple of days, but it'll really encourage you and bless you and help you to have a deeper understanding of what spiritual warfare is and why we need to be engaged in it as Christians. And so this is yours, this booklet for a donation of any amount, and you can get it over at corechristianity.com.
The place to go? corechristianity.com forward slash offers, corechristianity.com forward slash offers and look for Can the Devil Read My Mind? Well, let's go to a voicemail we received from one of our listeners. This came in yesterday from Barbara. My question is, do I have to believe in election or predestination to get to heaven?
Thank you for that question, Barbara. And of course, I'm guessing you're asking because you've heard us talk about that particular doctrine on the broadcast before, and that word election or predestination is a Bible word. That's one of the reasons we talk about it on the broadcast, because we focus on Scripture and what the Bible teaches. And I do believe that the Bible talks about and teaches predestination. Now, the real question is, what does the Bible mean by that? And this is where there are differences of opinion. But if a person doesn't fully grasp the truth with regard to predestination or election, that particular doctrine, does that mean that they can't be a Christian?
I would say no, that's not the case. We aren't saved by our perfect understanding of how the mechanism of salvation works. It is important for us to understand these things, I think, for our own comfort, for our own growth and grace, for our own assurance. But again, it isn't our perfect understanding of justification or predestination or sanctification that saves us. We aren't saved by that, per se, we're saved by Jesus.
He is the one who calls. He is the one who justifies. He is the one who by the grace of the Holy Spirit sanctifies. And we don't fully or may not fully grasp how He does it, but we fall at His feet and say, God, be merciful to me, a sinner. I realize that I'm a sinner.
I know that. I see it every day, but I know that you're the Savior. I know that you're full of grace and compassion, and I am looking to you. And if you do that, if you fall at the feet of Jesus with faith, turning from your sins to Him, saying, God, be merciful to me, a sinner. He hears you. He forgives you.
You may not understand how it all works. The depths of the wonder of the doctrine of justification, for example, you should, and I hope you do grow in understanding that. I hope you grow in your understanding of other doctrines that the Bible speaks about like predestination. So throughout the Christian life, we should be learning more and more about these as we dig into the Scripture, but it isn't our perfect understanding of those doctrines that saves us. It's Jesus.
Well said. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. Let's go to Selah from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Selah, what's your question for Adriel? Hi, Pastor.
And guys, thanks for taking my call. I just want to know about the saints where it talks about in the Bible, about the saints. I'm just curious as to where, who they are. Are they human beings, martyrs? Are they other angelic beings, Moses, prophets? I'm just curious to what your opinion was on that.
Yeah, thank you for that question. I would say that in the New Testament, all those who believe in Jesus Christ are referred to as saints, holy ones. You see this throughout the New Testament specifically. We know in Paul's writing to these various churches, like the church in Corinth, for example, they're struggling.
And yet listen to how he addresses them. And when I think they're struggling, I mean, they were struggling with sin and some pretty serious sin in the congregation. But he says to the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, together with all those who in every place call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, both their God and ours, their Lord and ours.
In other words, who are the same? I mean, all those who call upon the name of the Lord are sanctified, made holy through the blood of Jesus Christ. You, through faith in Christ, are a saint in the broadest sense, in the most biblical sense. And so that word, it just means holy ones. And of course, we look at ourselves and we think, I don't feel like a saint.
I still wrestle and struggle with sin. But Paul can speak this way. The New Testament speaks this way because we are sanctified in Jesus Christ. We've been made His. We belong to the Lord through the blood of Christ.
We've been purchased. And in that sense, we're sanctified. We're made holy positionally through the work of Jesus Christ. Now in other places, you have, for example, Revelation chapter six, the souls of the martyrs beneath the altar of God, crying out with a loud voice, so sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth. There's another picture of the saints in heaven, those who have persevered in faith, trusting in the Lord.
But I don't think that's a different group from the rest of us. All those who call upon the name of the Lord, trusting in Him, are called saints and called to live as saints. And so God help us to live in light of our identity.
And that's so much of what the New Testament is about. It's helping us recognize who we are in Jesus Christ, justified, adopted children of God, and then calling us to live in light of that reality of who we are. Brothers and sisters, we are saints. Let's live as the holy ones of God.
So well said. 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 help us pursue our mission of sharing the gospel, equipping believers and answering the questions of nonbelievers. And if you'd like to make a gift, you can easily do that by going to corechristianity.com and clicking on the donate link. You can also learn more about becoming an ongoing supporter by joining what we call our inner course.
So check it out at corechristianity.com. Let's go to Lori calling in from Nebraska. Lori, what's your question for Adriel?
Hey, good afternoon. Thanks for taking my call. I am wondering, I have a co-worker who is always taking the Lord's name in vain. And I'm wondering the best way to ask her not to do that. Hey, Lori, thank you for that question.
Of course, yeah, I mean, what a shame. And most people, you know, they take God's name upon their lips and they don't treat it as holy. It's what we pray for in the Lord's prayer. Hollow it be your name. God, make your name holy in me, but in the world as well, cause others to know that your name is great, that your name is to be magnified, that you are holy.
And so the first thing I would say is pray for your co-worker. And that's precisely what you do every time you say, Hollow it be your name. You're praying for yourself, but you're also praying for the people around you that God would make his name great in them, that they would recognize the gravity, the weightiness, the holiness of who God is. And that's what so many people don't understand today. We treat God's name lightly, even within the church.
And so there's something that we need to recover, but it's something that we want to see recovered around us. And so pray that this particular co-worker would come to realize who the Lord is, what he's done in the gospel to forgive us of our sins so that this co-worker would treat God's name with reverence and awe as it is meant to be treated. And as you pray, pray that the Lord would give you opportunities to speak the truth in love to this particular co-worker and that God would open their heart to receive that truth.
And maybe that looks like you're having coffee one morning earlier, talking after work or something like that. And you just say, yeah, I don't know if you know this, but I'm a Christian and there's no name more precious to me than the name of Jesus Christ. And when you talk about God or when you talk about Jesus the way that you do, it pains me as if someone was talking about someone who I love with all of my heart because I love Jesus, because he has forgiven my sins and he's real and he's true and he's good.
And you begin to have that conversation to help this other person to see, hey, they're probably not even paying attention to how they're speaking or thinking about the words that they're saying. They don't realize how offensive those words are to others and to the Lord. And so pray and look for those opportunities to be able to share about who God is, the holiness of His name, the greatness of His name. And I just want to take an opportunity right now, Laurie, to pray for you that the Lord would guide you and give you wisdom and most of all open the heart of this individual. Father, I thank you for Laurie.
I thank you for her desire to honor you and to see your name hallowed in her own life and throughout the world. And God, we pray right now, God, know it be your name. God, help us, each of us, to recognize your holiness, to live in light of it, to give you the reverence, the awe that is due to you and help us to live in a way that reflects that so that the people around us can see that we take you seriously, your name seriously. So when we have these conversations, Lord, with those who reject the gospel, who reject your name, who do not reverence you, Lord, they would know that we care about these things. And I do pray for Laurie, that you would give her wisdom as she roaches this subject with her coworker, that you would open a door for them to be able to have a conversation, that you would give my sister boldness, to speak about the greatness of your name, the greatness of your gospel, what you've done for us. And I pray for this individual that you would open their heart. Lord, would you open their heart by the power of your Holy Spirit to be convicted, Lord, but also to have hope that there is forgiveness in the name of Jesus Christ.
They would embrace that forgiveness. I pray in Jesus' name. Amen. Amen.
Thanks for that. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. Gary called in from Arkansas. His phone line was kind of breaking up, but he says, where did the people from in Genesis that Cain was afraid of, where did they come from?
Gary, sorry that the line was breaking up. But that's a great question. It's a question we've received on the broadcast before. And so Cain commits this great act and he's afraid that people are going to kill him. Well, what people, where are these people coming from? Weren't there just a handful of people?
He just killed his brother. Well, these are the children of Adam and Eve. We read in Genesis chapter five, verse four, the days of Adam after he fathered Seth were 800 years and he had other sons and daughters. And back in Genesis chapter three, verse 20, Eve is called the mother of all living.
And so I take it to be that Eve is the mother of all living. They had multiple children, but we're getting a sort of zoom in here with Cain and Abel and their story, but that there were other siblings that they had. And as he grew, and especially in light of this judgment that came upon him because of his murderous act, he's afraid that they're going to get vengeance upon him. And so that's where the people that he was afraid of came from. They were, they were his relatives.
Thank you, Gary, for that question. You never want to be afraid of your relatives because it doesn't go well at Christmas time. That's yeah, that's, that's right. And I think that was one of Cain's primary concerns is he was thinking about, boy, you know, Thanksgiving, which is coming up here, Bill, and Christmas.
Yeah, no, you're definitely right. We all know what that's like being around the Christmas dinner table and, you know, shuttering with fear. Oh my Lord. Well, let's go to an email question that came in from one of our listeners and it's a very thoughtful one. It's from Martha.
She says, thank you for reaching so many people for the passionate way you love the gospel and serve God. Here's my question. Throughout the Bible, people are tested. One example is when God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son without hesitation. Abraham planned to follow through with this commandment.
I think about this in the present day. Would I be able to sacrifice my child or travel to another land? I think even if I heard God speaking directly to me, I could not. I think as they say in the Bible, I would fail, fall to my knees and weep. I love, and I believe God with everything in me. I want to serve and please him, but I know in the back of my mind, I have limits.
Help me understand these modern limits we have compared to what we read in the Bible. It feels at times as though my mind and heart are never devoted enough. Well, Martha, I think we can all join you as your brothers and sisters in Christ and raising that lamentation of saying, Lord, it feels so often like my mind and my heart are not devoted enough to you. It's like the words of that great hymn, prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love.
Here's my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above. That's the struggle with the flesh. Now, when we look at those stories, Abraham called to sacrifice Isaac. I mean, the first thing we need to note is that this is a description of something that God did in history.
It's not prescriptive for all of us in the sense that God is calling you to do that and you just need to let go of this, that or the other. No, God is speaking and was speaking audibly there specifically testing Abraham. And ultimately, I mean, God intervening, the angel intervening in that story and it being one of the most remarkable pictures of the gospel of the God who sent his son into the world to die as a sacrifice for our sins. So, we have to understand that God is doing bigger things and was doing bigger things even in that story.
Then Abram was fully aware of and oftentimes then we are fully aware of and so it's important for us to understand those particular stories in the flow of redemptive history. But we are each of us called to take up our cross and follow Jesus. Jesus said, whoever loves family or lands or anything more than me is not worthy of me. And so, I think each of us are also struggling with that and saying, Lord, help me to treat you as the Lord of all things, to live, Lord, in light of that great reality, not to put anything before you.
And that's the great challenge that you feel. But here's the good news, the God who we serve, the God who we're taking up our cross to follow is the God, Jesus, who took up the cross and went to the cross for our sins so that we who imperfectly follow him and aren't perfectly devoted as we should be, might be justified and forgiven. That's the comfort that you have that Jesus took up the cross for you. And so now we brothers and sisters follow him. God bless. 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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