Are we still sinners if our identity is in Christ?
That's just one of the questions we'll be answering on today's edition of CORE Christianity. Well, hi and happy Friday. I'm Bill Meyer along with... It's 1-833-843-2673.
If you want to spell it out on your phone, it's 833-THE-CORE. You can also post your question on one of our social media sites. And of course, you can always email us your question at questionsatcorechristianity.com.
First up today, let's go to Julia calling in from Missouri. Julia, what's your question for Pastor Adriel? I know multiple Christians have different views of the rapture, and I was just wondering if you believe in it or if you don't, does that have a bearing on your salvation?
What an excellent question. No, I don't believe that whether you believe in the rapture, and let's define what that is for a moment. So we all as Christians believe that Jesus is going to return, the second coming. There are some within the church who say, well, he's going to return on the last day, the second coming, the final judgment, but he's also going to come back prior to that for his church. And they'll point to passages like 1 Thessalonians 4, and that's actually personally a text that I think is about the second coming, not about a separate coming of Jesus prior to the second coming, but there are some, again, who differ on this. But more to your question, no, this isn't one of those differences that would cause us to call into question whether or not someone is a true follower of Jesus Christ.
We can interpret or have differences of opinion with regard to our interpretations of eschatology, the end times. And we can still have fellowship with each other as brothers and sisters in Christ. This isn't a doctrine like the deity of Jesus Christ or the doctrine of the Trinity or the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith alone, which would be very problematic. I mean, if somebody denies the gospel or misunderstands the doctrine of God and doesn't understand who Jesus is or who God is and is teaching that, well, that would be something that we would break fellowship over. That would be a rejection of what we call core Christianity. But differences of opinion on eschatology, and my views have shifted over the years on this. I have friends in all different camps, really, when it comes to this, and we still enjoy fellowship with each other. And so, Julia, that's your answer. Now, just to follow up with you, where do you find yourself leaning when you think about these questions?
I do believe in the rapture and that his church will be taken and that we will not be part of the tribulation, that seven-year tribulation. I do have friends and acquaintances, loved ones that hold a different view. And so I was just wondering kind of where that stood, you know what I mean?
Yeah, yeah. Well, I'm glad that you asked the question. Again, this wouldn't be something that should cause you to look at them and to say, oh, man, they're false teachers or something like that. We can look at these texts in scripture and wrestle through them as we're reading the Bible. And, you know, faithful Christians come to different opinions on this.
So I would say continue to search the scriptures, studying them, looking at texts like 1 Thessalonians 4 and 5, and praying and asking the Lord for guidance as you continue to seek the Lord. Thank you very much, and God bless you. Julia, thanks so much for your call, for your great question, and thanks for listening to CORE Christianity. Let's go to Sly calling in from Edmond, Oklahoma. Sly, what's your question for Pastor Adrian?
Hello. I don't like to hear Bible teachers or pastors go beyond the word and to assume things. And I don't want to be playing the devil's advocate today. I don't want to be misunderstood because I am a believer. But I hear a lot about the age of accountability and, you know, babies die of illness or accident and they immediately go to be with the Lord. And the only scripture that I have found is David speaking specifically about his son, saying that his son would not come to him, but he would go to his son. So I don't find any place in the Bible where it talks about an age of accountability that all babies—and this would include aborted babies—go directly to be with the Lord and are saved.
And how would that fit in? Predestination, election, where the Bible tells us that the gate is very narrow, very few will be saved. Sly, thank you for that question. Let me just affirm you in—I'm a hundred percent with you that it's not a good thing when pastors and Bible teachers speak on behalf of God where God has not spoken clearly. And there are a lot of questions that people have that the Lord has not just, you know, he just hasn't given us an answer to in his word specifically. So I think that there are some things that we can say, hey, here's my view, here's my perspective based on—you mentioned the situation with David and his child.
There are other things that we can look at, you know, considering God's goodness, his mercy, and so on and so forth. But you're right that there isn't a Bible verse, a proof text, if you will, for this idea of the age of accountability and what age exactly would that be. The kids come to understanding at different points, you know, there are some younger children that seem to really be able to grasp the things of the faith. I'm oftentimes amazed when you read the Gospels, and so often it was the little children who understood Jesus and his identity even better than the religious leaders. You think of his prayer, Jesus' prayer in Matthew 11 where he says, Father, I thank you that you've hidden these things from the wise and understanding, the prudent, and you've revealed them to the babes, the little children. In other words, the Gospel can be understood even by little children. They can grasp the grace of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God is at work in and through them. And so we don't want to give people these answers and speak authoritatively where God has not spoken authoritatively.
I think we just need to be humble. You've probably heard it on the broadcast, there are times where someone will ask a question and I'll say, look, the Bible doesn't speak to this very clearly. Here's my view based on these things, but we want to approach this question with humility.
And so I appreciate the way you've posed the question, Sly, and I agree with you. And my view is that those who die in infancy or miscarriage or so on and so forth, that they are in the presence of the Lord. Not because there's a Bible verse that clearly spells that out, but just thinking about the mercy of God, thinking about that text with King David, that's my view, but I approach that with humility. I know there are others who have made a qualification. They'll say those who are elected, predestined to eternal life, those infants are going to be in the presence of the Lord.
But of course we can't know who that is specifically. And so we approach this with humility and trusting in the mercy of God. Thank you.
Well said. Thanks for that, Adriel. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. We would love to hear from you on this Friday. If you've got a question about the Bible or the Christian life, maybe there is a Bible passage that has always kind of stumped you and you'd like some clarification on it. Feel free to give us a call.
Maybe you're having a struggle in your Christian life in some way. It's coming up against something in the culture or maybe at your workplace or at school and you'd like to talk to Adriel about that. Feel free to call us. 833-THE-CORE is the number.
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Yeah, we're still offering this resource. It really is a wonderful book. Whether you're a newer follower of Jesus Christ and you've just come to faith or you've been walking with the Lord for a really long time, I think that this book will still speak to you and encourage you in your walk with the Lord and give you a deeper understanding of the Gospel and how the Gospel isn't just for the quote-unquote wicked, the prodigal son, if you will, but the Gospel is even for the older brother, for religious people who externally seem like they're doing pretty well, but inside we can have bitterness and jealousy and all sorts of things that we need help with. And so get ahold of this resource by Tim Keller. Again, it's called The Prodigal God, and you can get that by going over to corechristianity.com. It's yours for a donation of any amount. Such a wonderful book.
We know it'll be helpful to you. And maybe you've got a friend or relative, somebody who's wandered from the faith. Maybe you have an adult child who you consider to be a prodigal. What a great book to get and to read and maybe even pass along to them as well so they can understand the depth of God's love for them. Again, it's called Prodigal God by Dr. Tim Keller. You can find that for a donation of any amount at corechristianity.com forward slash offers.
Again, corechristianity.com forward slash offers. Well, you can call our voicemail system 24 hours a day if you have a question for Adriel. In fact, you can call anytime this weekend. We do our best to review our voicemails each day. The number is 833-THE-CORE.
That's 1-833-843-2673. Here's a voicemail from one of our listeners named Crystal. It baffles me why Christians still call themselves sinners, even though we sin on occasion. But that's not who I am. That's not my identity. Romans 5 and 8, while I was yet a sinner, Christ died for me.
Were is the word there. And Christ died that we could be called righteous and called saints. God bless.
I appreciate this question. I think it is important for us to see ourselves in the light of what Christ has done for us. It's not like you come to Jesus Christ, you're baptized, you're welcomed into the church, and you're just the same old person that you were before.
No, you do have a brand new identity. You're one who is alive from the dead, Paul says in Romans chapter 6. So if we have this self-conception that I'm just still miserable and just a wretch, if you will, and that God, I'm going to continue to sin as I was before, that's okay. There's a problem there, because Paul says in Romans chapter 6 verse 1, what shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound by no means?
That's not what we're called to. And then he bases that in the following chapters on that new identity that you were speaking of that we have in Jesus Christ. Now, is it inappropriate to still refer to us as sinners in some sense?
I don't think that that's the case. In fact, there's this slogan that came out of the Reformation that we're simultaneously just and sinful, that God has justified us as sinners. It's not that we were justified because we are holy inherently or because of some righteousness in us. We still, every day, continue to sin against God in that word and deed.
We have indwelling sin still. And so in that sense, we're still, even as believers with this new identity, sinners, but we can distinguish between, I guess, the kinds of sinners that we are. We're sinners who have been redeemed by the grace of God. And by the way, the apostle Paul doesn't seem to have any problem with referring to himself still as a sinner. In 1 Timothy chapter 1 verse 15, he says, The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. He still viewed himself in a very real sense as a sinner in need of the grace of God, and we should realize that too. But there has been this definitive shift, this break with sin because of what Jesus Christ has done for us on the cross in uniting us to himself by faith and granting us that new life. And so thank you for your question. May the Lord bless you and be with you. This is Core Christianity. Let's go to Jared calling in from Texas. Jared, what's your question for Pastor Adrian?
Hi. So my question had to do with, I guess, issues of conscience and perhaps even spiritual attack. I've been struggling trying to mesh all of these different passages together and that's Romans 14. In verse 14 says, you know, I know and I'm convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. And then in verse 23, he who doubts is condemned if he eats because his eating is not a faith. Whatever is not a faith is sin. And the balancing that with 1 Timothy chapter 4 verses 1 to 5, as well as Colossians 2, 20 to 23, where it talks about, you know, us dying to the elementary principles of the world and not to submit to ordinances such as do not handle, do not taste, and not giving into these doctrines of demons that, you know, just how to balance having, you know, not violating your conscience.
Yeah. Jared, great question because it seems like, you know, you look at that text in Romans 14 or also in 1 Corinthians 8 where it seems like there's some liberty with regard to some of these questions related to food, eating and not eating certain things. And then you look at these other passages, 1 Timothy chapter 4, the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and the teachings of demons through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. You see these serious questions with regard to food and the imposition of these laws pertaining to food in places like the book of Galatians as well.
You also see it in the book of Hebrews too to some extent. The issue is this, are we binding the consciences of people and saying that you have to eat these things in order to be right before God, in order to be justified? And in part that was what was happening with the agitators in the New Testament, those people who were trying to impose the laws, the ceremonial law, the food laws onto believers, Gentile believers who have come to faith saying, yeah, you know, you guys are Christians but unless you do these things you aren't really justified, you aren't really a part of the family of God, you aren't really a believer.
And so that was the issue and that's why you have these warnings and the warning in particular in 1 Timothy 4, I think that's what we're getting there. It's, you know, people who forbid marriage, who require abstinence from certain foods that God commanded us to give thanks for. And so not really understanding where we are in redemptive history but trying to impose these things on the church. Whereas Paul says, look, there's freedom of conscience here. Don't impose this, in particular the rules and regulations of the old covenant onto the new covenant church because to do so would be to undermine the work of Jesus Christ, what he's come to do.
He's torn down that dividing wall with its rules and regulations in his body. He's made all things clean for us. The Gospels say this, you see this also in the book of Acts. And so we do have freedom to eat or not to eat or to drink or not to drink. The question is one, making sure that with that freedom that we have and this is where the conscience issues come up, that we're not causing a brother or sister to stumble, that we're not eating and drinking in such a way that would genuinely cause offense to someone who has a weaker conscience. And so that's really, you know, the discussion in 1 Corinthians 8, for example, or in Romans 14.
That's the focus. He says in verse 20, Do not for the sake of food, this is Romans 14, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats.
It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble. The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves. But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats because the eating is not from faith, for whatever does not proceed from faith is sin. So if your conscience pricks you as you do something and you just feel like, I can't do this, this is sin, this is wrong, well, if you keep doing that, then yeah, there's a real problem. There's an issue there.
But if you realize, no, we have freedom in Christ, I don't need to make a big deal about this, then there's freedom and you're free to enjoy that food or that drink or whatever it is. And so I appreciate your question. Thank you for calling in with that, Jared, and pray that the Lord blesses you. God bless. Thanks, Jared.
Appreciate you. This is CORE Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. Here's our phone number again if you have a question about the Bible or the Christian life. It's 833-THE-CORE.
That's 1-833-843-2673. Let's go to David calling in from Liberty, Missouri. David, what's your question for Adriel? Well, it's kind of a two-parter and I heard something yesterday from a pastor that's very well known and is, from my understanding, a very well respected pastor that's on the radio and all that. And he said that there are passages in the scripture that are not, should not be there. For instance, Jesus writing on the sand with the woman that committed adultery. He said that one is in brackets and it means that it should not be in the Bible and something we shouldn't take literally. And he also used where Paul talks about, I believe, if I'm misquoting this, forgive me, but no, nothing affecting us. I'm paraphrasing, if we get sick or when Paul got bit by the viper, things of that nature, that we shouldn't take literally because it doesn't belong in the Bible.
That's why it's in brackets or parentheses. I've never heard of that before and the same thing is along the lines with, for those that don't believe in the rapture, then what sets off the tribulation? Because it went along the lines of what he was talking about, not being in the scripture or not taking the scripture literally. I've just, I've never heard that before.
Well, there's an excellent question there. And, David, I get the concern because the moment people start talking about don't take the Bible seriously, you don't really need to look at that passage or take that for what it seems to be saying, right? That should cause concern for those of us who believe that the holy scriptures are inspired, that this is the word of God to us.
Anytime someone minimizes that or seems to be picking and choosing what they believe is true and what they don't think is true, that can be a real issue. Now, there are a few passages in the New Testament in particular that will get brought up. One of them is the case with the woman caught in adultery, John chapter 8. Another one is the longer ending of Mark's gospel, which is what I think you were referring to at the end of the gospel of Mark where it does talk about the disciples picking up serpents and so on and so forth. Another one is in 1 John. Those passages of scripture, the issue is when we look at some of the earliest New Testament manuscripts, they're not in those New Testament manuscripts. And so some people think, well, they were maybe added later. You think of the longer ending of Mark, the earlier manuscripts end Mark earlier in, I think, in verse 8 or somewhere around there. And so some people think, well, because there's this sort of abrupt ending, maybe a scribe came along after the fact and then sort of filled things in.
Here's the thing. First, this shouldn't call into question our belief in the authority and inspiration of the scripture. One of the things that's remarkable is even with these texts, there's nothing that contradicts what we see in the rest of the scripture.
Even with the longer ending of Mark, essentially what it's doing is it's preparing you for the book of Acts and the types of things that you're going to be seeing in the book of Acts. You think about Paul being bit by the viper and not dying and the disciples on the day of Pentecost speaking with new tongues and so on and so forth. And so there's nothing that we would say, is that supposed to be in the Bible? Is it not supposed to be in the Bible?
And it calls into question or contradicts the truths of scripture that are already affirmed in other places. There are some who make a case that, yeah, these are still inspired. They're a part and should be taken as scripture. My view is they probably weren't original, that they weren't in the earliest manuscripts. And so there's good reason to think, well, maybe they weren't original. And so I think it's important to know that. Going into it, I have friends who are ministers who say, you know, I just wouldn't preach on that text in scripture and I would explain to the people in my congregation about the manuscript evidence and what's there, essentially, to help them understand.
And so I just don't want you to feel like... I think that this pastor probably had and does have a high view of the authority and inspiration of the scriptures. It's just wrestling through the reality that these texts, those three that I mentioned, aren't in some of the earliest manuscripts. I don't think that this guy is trying to do something sneaky or call into question the authority of scripture as a whole. I think we're just wrestling with wanting to make sure that what we are preaching and teaching is what was there in the original. And so I appreciate, David, your question bringing this up, and hopefully that helps you. By the way, a lot of times in our Bibles when you see these things, like I'm looking at the ESV right now of John chapter 8, and usually it's in brackets and it'll explain a little bit, at least.
You know, there'll be a footnote. Some manuscripts do not include John 753 through 811. Others add the passage here or after 736. So you can see, as textual critics are working with the manuscript evidence, they're trying to piece this together.
And so I appreciate your question, and thanks for giving us a call. And, Adriel, just a quick follow-up. I'm guessing you would say that's much different from the Apocrypha that we see in the Catholic Bible.
Yeah, I mean, absolutely. And certainly one of the reasons why, you know, that wasn't embraced as inspired scripture is because you do have serious contradictions there to some extent with what we find in the New Testament and the theology there. And so we believe in the authority and inspiration of the scripture, and we can be confident that we have it. 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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