Why should we pursue justice if vengeance is God's? 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. You can call us right now with your question. Here's our phone number.
1-833-843-2673. You can also post your question on one of our social media sites. And, of course, you can always email us at questionsatcorechristianity.com.
First up today, here's an email question, Adriel, from one of our listeners. This is from John. He says, But, on the other hand, I remember verses like vengeance is God's. Also, when Peter cut off the ear of one of the Roman guards who came to take Jesus away, Jesus rebuked him.
Is there a way to reconcile these verses and the different feelings that I have? Yeah. I mean, obviously, a really important thing to consider, especially in light of events like what happened yesterday. And I know, Bill, this weighs heavily on your heart, and it's weighed heavily on my heart, as well as more information comes out. I want to take just a moment to pray, in particular, for one of the family members of the victims. One of the little girls, Hallie Scruggs. Her father's a pastor there in Nashville.
Chad Scruggs. And just for all of them, I just want to pray right now, asking for God's mercy. Heavenly Father, we come before you as your people, and we are heartbroken and devastated and longing, Lord, for justice, for healing.
God, these kinds of things just cause us to long even more for the new creation, for the restoration of all things. And I pray that as we long and as we wait for that, that you would comfort the afflicted and the brokenhearted. And I pray, in particular, for this minister, for Pastor Chad Scruggs, Lord, that you would be with him, with his wife, with their other children, with their family, comforting them, Lord Jesus, by the grace of your Holy Spirit. I pray that you would be with the other families of the victims, Lord God, that you would bring comfort, and again, O Lord, that you would give wisdom to your people and to your church to minister to and care for those who are hurting right now. We pray in Jesus' name.
Amen. So, you know, these things happen, and obviously there's grief, there's anger as well, the longing for justice, retributive justice even. And so how do we make sense of that desire inside of us, which I think is a very good desire, but then also the call that God has placed upon us as his people not to take vengeance. And the passage that the email was referring to is Romans chapter 12, Beloved, verse 19, Never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God. For it is written, Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord. To the contrary, if your enemy is hungry, feed him.
If he is thirsty, give him something to drink. For by so doing, you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Yesterday we were confronted with great evil, and so the call upon us as Christians, the church, is never to respond with more evil. We are not the ones who deal out as the people of God, the wrath of God. And that's why Paul says, look, leave it to the wrath of God. When we as Christians are persecuted for our beliefs, for our faith in Jesus Christ, it's not our job to punch back, to fight back. Now, God has instituted the world in such a way that justice, this kind of justice, the justice of the sword, is in the hands of civil government. And that's actually what Paul is going to say in the very next chapter, in chapter 13.
He talks about the civil government bearing the sword and not bearing the sword in vain. And so, I mean, what you had with the shooting yesterday is an example of that as police went in and shot this woman who, again, committed these horrific things. The longing for justice and that prayer for justice is totally legitimate. And in fact, you know, when I've been preaching through the book of Revelation, in Revelation chapter 6, I think you have the clearest example of this. Revelation chapter 6 verse 9, when he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God, and for the witness they had borne, they cried out with a loud voice, O sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth.
Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been. We take comfort in the fact that God's people, the people of God who suffer immensely, who have died in tragic events like this, are with the Lord now, with Jesus perfected in holiness, in his arms, resting in his arms, and we long to see justice and evil and wickedness in the world, crushed by the truth of God as the Gospel goes out, but at the end by God's justice and judgment when Christ returns. But in the meantime, as I said, we're called not to fight evil with evil, but to overcome evil with good. And so may the Lord help us as his people now to do that, to fight back, quote unquote, against the evil in society, the hatred oftentimes directed to us as Christians, as followers of Christ. May we fight back, not in the way that the world fights, but with prayer, with true worship, with the proclamation of the Holy Gospel and the pursuit of justice in the world today. Thank you for that email.
Thanks for that response, Adriel. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. We'd love to hear from you if you have a question about the Bible, the Christian life, doctrine, theology. We're open to your calls right now. Here's the phone number. It's 833-THE-CORE. That's 1-833-843-2673. Let's go to Carolyn, who's calling in from Missouri.
Carolyn, what's your question for Adriel? Yes, Matthew 6, 14 through 15, Jesus said, If you forgive men their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions. And what is the meaning of that? Does that mean we won't have our sins forgiven and might not go to heaven?
Carolyn, thank you for that question. This coming right after Jesus gave the Lord's Prayer, and in the context of that prayer, we pray, Forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors. And then again, Jesus hammers at home in verse 14 and 15. And so the question is, Does this mean that if I don't forgive, I won't be forgiven or I'm not forgiven?
We want to be very careful here. So first, an unforgiving heart, the unwillingness to forgive, the inability to forgive, is rooted in a real, I think, lack of understanding of the Gospel to begin with, because forgiveness ought to flow from the forgiveness that we have received. We who have sinned against a holy God every single day in thought, word, and deed, we who owed this immense debt, if you will, to the true and the living God, this debt of righteous living, of obedience to His law, and yet we have fallen short of that debt. We've all fallen short of the righteousness, the glory, the goodness of God, and yet God, through Jesus Christ, has said to you, You are forgiven.
You who believe in me, you are forgiven. And so as those who are forgiven, we ought to and must forgive the people around us who have sinned against us. And oftentimes when we fail to do that, when we're unwilling to do that, we're failing to grasp the depth of God's mercy and grace and forgiveness in our own lives. So the priority is not our forgiveness. It's not you forgive and because you forgive and you do X, Y, Z, then God accepts you and loves you and forgives you.
No, it begins with the forgiveness of God, Carolyn. And that's precisely what Jesus made clear. We want to let scripture interpret scripture here, and that's precisely what Jesus made clear just a little bit later in the exact same Gospel, in the Gospel of Matthew. Chapter 18, Jesus gave a parable, which has come to be called the parable of the unforgiving servant, where he describes a particular situation where someone was forgiven an immense debt, something they could never repay. And then they went to one of their servants, someone who was working for them, and they were unwilling to forgive a much smaller debt. And that servant, that wicked servant who had been forgiven so much but was unwilling to forgive, the master summoned him and said, You wicked servant, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me, and should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant as I had mercy on you?
And in anger, his master delivered him to the jailers until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you if you do not forgive your brother from your heart. And so unforgiveness is a serious, serious thing.
It's a serious sin. Now I know that that's not to minimize, Carolyn, the way in which people have sinned against us. We're not saying you just pretend like they didn't sin against you, you don't seek justice, as I spoke earlier with that first question. No, we're called to do all of those things. It's right to pursue justice, to pursue accountability, but from our hearts we're called to forgive, not to earn God's forgiveness, but because God has freely given us his forgiveness in Jesus. And if we've been forgiven, then we must forgive.
God bless you, Carolyn. Thank you for that question. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez in light of the school shooting yesterday, getting a lot of questions about how can God allow this sort of thing to happen.
And you may actually be in conversations this week with someone who's asking that very question. We have a wonderful resource on this topic. It's called How Can Christianity Be True If God Allows Evil and Suffering?
And it's a free resource. You can find that by going to corechristianity.com forward slash questions. Again, corechristianity.com forward slash questions. Let's go back to the phones. Tony is on the line from Oklahoma. Tony, what's your question for Adriel? Yeah, Adriel, how are you doing? I'm doing well. How are you doing, Tony? I'm doing good, sir. My question, I've got prodigal children.
They're older now. And my concern is I always hear these messages. It sounds like I'm supposed to reconcile regardless of what the situation is. And I really struggle with that because when I look at scripture, I see that the prodigal child, when he came back to his father, I remember he said that, you know, he apologized to his father. Then he had sinned against God first and then realized he had sinned against his father. And it's just really hurtful, but it's hard because I came to faith in my first marriage. I wasn't following my Christian faith.
I was raised in Christian home, but I rebelled. And when I found Christ, my wife left and actually raised two daughters on my own from the ages of four and six years old. When they're 18, their mom found them, decided at 18 for each of them that she wouldn't have a relationship with them. She's never grown out of her way. She still parties and does all kinds of stuff.
So she kind of became the popular one. And it's really painful because I've got grandkids from him stuff. We did reconcile with my oldest daughter several years ago. I got remarried in 2010 and we do have a daughter together and I have three step kids. They all love me.
It's a great situation, but I just don't know how to I don't know if there's anything I can do. Well, we Rex on my oldest daughter. We literally get used.
We get lied to about a lot of things. It was really painful. We were expected to watch her kids and then she wouldn't show up all night till the next day. And I actually got upset with her because I raised them on my own. I never did that. I explained to her that as a parent, you got to be responsible for your kids. And I never did that to them where I left them with anybody and never came, you know, didn't show up till next day. But I've just heard pastors from it.
It feels like you're supposed to just sweep that under the carpet. And I mean, I love my kids. I pray for them all the time. I raised them in the church. I know they've been given a good, solid foundation. They saw me with I worked a lot of pro-life industries as a spokesperson.
I also worked in prison ministry. So they saw faith in action. They're raised with it. I always pray for them to tell that they're still continuing in their faith. But what makes it hard to pastor is my family has kind of turned away from God. A lot of them don't go to church anymore. Well, they've pulled my kids in.
So there's no accountability there. They've just everybody accepts my kids. And I've even been attacked for my pro-life views and stuff like that. And so me and my wife, our family kind of feel like we're on the outside looking in and I love my kids. I miss that I don't even get to have any time with my grandkids. But I don't know that I can do anything.
I mean, I just don't feel like they're ready to even look at anything or or any accountability. And it is really hard because I do love them, but I know that they're in God's hands. Yeah. Well, Tony, thank you. May the Lord be with you and grant you his grace and wisdom. And may he be with your girls as well, drawing them back to himself. Of course, you think of the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15, exhibiting the love of his father, of the father for his wayward children, his children who wander into sin, rejecting God even.
You said that's where your where your children are right now. It's amazing when we look at the parable of the prodigal son, the prodigal son says, Father, give me the inheritance now so I can go and squander it essentially, which is just another way of saying, Dad, I wish you were dead. Because when do you get an inheritance? You get an inheritance as a child when your parents die, when your dad dies.
And so for the son to do this, I mean, it was just this heinous, horrible thing. And he goes and he takes the inheritance and he squanders it. And he realizes once he hits rock bottom, he realizes how much better it was when he was under his father's roof. And he returns thinking maybe I'd been horrible, maybe my father can make me a servant in his house. But the father, full of love and full of compassion, welcomes him, wraps him in the best robe, throws a party, says my son was dead, but now he's alive. And I think we always want to hold out that hope for our loved ones, for our friends, for those we know who've wandered from the church, especially for our children, saying, God, help them to come to their senses.
Maybe it's going to require one of those rock bottom experiences. But I think for your part, what you're called to do, Tony, is to be steadfast in prayer, to continue to lead a godly example as a man and as a father. I don't think, even though they're going through these things, I don't think that you reject them, you distance yourself from them, but you continue as a loving father to pursue them.
You're not always going to agree with the decisions that they make as adults, but again, I think what you want to do is you want them to know the door is open. I love you. I want to see you walking with Christ. I want you to experience the love of the Father, the heavenly Father, through his son Jesus. And so praying, continuing to pray, not to lose heart, Tony, and to, again, set that example. And when you're frustrated about decisions that they're making, I think we do, as loving fathers, want to communicate the truth and say this is going to cause pain in your life, but at the same time, not in such a way that we're coming with condemnation and sort of shutting the door and making it seem as if there's no hope and you're not going to be there for them.
No, you want the door to be open. You want to extend that love and also that truth, communicating the truth. And so may God help you to do that, Tony, and may he bless you and your family and give you perseverance and strength and wisdom again with your adult children. Tony, thanks so much for your call and for listening to CORE Christianity. If you have a question about the Bible or the Christian life, our phone lines are open.
In fact, we're going to be recording a second episode of CORE Christianity after our live program ends here in just a few minutes. So if you weren't able to get through, you can still call us for the next 35 minutes or so. Here's the phone number. It's 833-THE-CORE.
That's 833-THE-CORE or 1-833-843-2673. Get a lot of calls here at CORE Christianity about God's will. What is God's will for my life or the job that I'm thinking about taking or maybe a move I'm considering or maybe what school I should go to for high school students considering college.
How do we figure that out? Well, we've actually got a great resource we'd like to offer you on that topic today. Yeah, get a hold of this booklet.
It's only about 50 pages long. It's called What is God's Will for Me? And it's going to walk you through a biblical understanding of discerning the will of God in your life. It's yours for a gift of any amount over at COREChristianity.com. Again, the resource is What is God's Will for Me? You can find that again at our website COREChristianity.com forward slash offers.
What is God's Will for Me? There's lots of great resources on our website. We encourage you to browse it. Maybe this afternoon spend some time looking at the different resources we have for you.
COREChristianity.com. Well, let's go back to the phones. Lynn is on the line from Missouri. Lynn, what's your question for Adriel? Thank you, Pastor Adriel. I really appreciate the answer you gave the first gentleman.
I presume it was a gentleman about this terrible tragedy and not taking revenge. As Christians, I think it's imperative that we continue to pray for these grieving families and to come around in practical ways afterward with help, maybe helping with a funeral or bringing food and just listening. But I'm wondering your thoughts on as Christians who are to obey the government to be peaceful and, you know, trying to do good as both Christians and American citizens. Is there anything that Christians could do specifically to help mitigate these terrible tragedies or even to help prevent them in the first place in a practical way in addition to our prayers? Lynn, thank you so much for that question.
You're absolutely right. I think it is imperative that we don't stop praying and crying out to the Lord. Prayer is a powerful tool that God has given to us. And through prayer, there are actual changes, things that are accomplished in the world, in society as well. So let's not stop praying, but you raise a really important question. And I know there are many people, especially because we've seen this, right?
I mean, it just seems like every other week or so, you turn on the news and there's an active shooter somewhere. And so these kinds of things happen over and over and over again. So there are many people who've just grown tired even with that statement, you know, well, we're praying. And the response is, well, we got to do more than just pray.
And so what is the more there? And I think there are a number of issues that people have tried to identify. I mean, obviously, there's the issue of mental health, which is a serious problem in our nation. There's the issue of gun violence, which is obviously another serious problem.
And so that's where it requires. I do think that there's more that can be done, but that's what requires wisdom. And thinking through truly, you know, OK, how do we how do we diagnose this issue, this repeated problem as a society?
What is the root cause of it? And then how can we begin to address that? And that's where you're going to have a lot of people who who disagree, frankly, which is there's there's nothing wrong with that.
But, you know, people who say, well, I think the main issue is mental health or I think the main issue is gun violence or the main issues is something else. At the end of the day, we ought to, as Christians called to love our neighbors, do everything we can to promote the thriving and flourishing of life. It's a part of the Decalogue when the Decalogue commands us, the Ten Commandments commands us not to murder. The positive part of that command is to pursue anything and everything that would lead to the thriving of life and of society. And so we ought to do things. And I think that's that's a part of what we can pray about is, Lord, give us wisdom. Give us wisdom to know how to how to address personally in our own families some of these things. But more broadly, you know, with our neighbors in society, how to how to address these things as well. And so I don't think that it stops at prayer.
It begins at prayer and prayer has to go all the way through. And then I think we ought to look at, you know, the situation and consider what can we do and what ought we to do to pursue the thriving and flourishing of our neighbors, of all people, because God calls us to that as a simple matter of his law, of what he calls us to as Christians. And so, Lynn, I'm so grateful for your question. And may God give us wisdom. May he give the church wisdom. May he give those who are in positions of power, you know, civil government and authority wisdom to put a stop to these terrible things that have been happening again and again. Lord, be with those who are suffering and be with us, Lord, granting us your grace and peace. Amen. 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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