How are we to decide what a joyful noise is to the Lord? That's just one of the questions we'll be answering on today's edition of CORE Christianity. Hi, this is Bill Meyer, along with Pastor Adriel Sanchez, and this is the radio program where we answer your questions about the Bible and the Christian life every day. Our phone number is 833-THE-CORE.
That's 1-833-843-2. If you get our voicemail system, feel free to leave your question there. You can also email us anytime at questionsatcorechristianity.com. First up today, let's go to Amelie calling in from Missouri. Amelie, what's your question for Adriel?
My question for Adriel, well, first of all, I want to thank him very much for his program, and I listen to it every single day. And my question to him is based on a call from a previous caller that wanted some clarification on the issue of, if you're not baptized, you're not saved, that he had heard. And I wasn't confused about that or didn't need clarification on that. And as I understand it, Pastor responded that, not to minimize baptism, that it is very, very important, but we're saved by being justified by the work of Jesus on the cross and repenting. My question is, I know that we cannot continue to be justified because we're justified once, but do we continue to be sanctified as we mature in the faith and as the days, weeks, years go by? That's my question. Amelie, thank you so much for the question.
I love when we get follow-up questions, and thanks for your encouragement as well. So with regard to justification, justification is an act of God's free grace, and you either are or you aren't justified. There's not a range of being justified.
Some people are less justified, others are more justified. It's this legal declaration. It's God saying, you are righteous, you've been justified.
You think of the metaphor of the courtroom. I mean, that's where the language of justification comes from, justification, condemnation. We're thinking in terms of a courtroom here, and God being able to say to sinners, you're justified, not on the basis of your own righteousness or some inherent righteousness inside of you, because the fact of the matter is we've all sinned and fallen short of God's law, God's glory, but we're justified on the basis of the righteousness of Jesus Christ that's been given to us, imputed to us, and received by faith alone, the forgiveness of our sins.
Those are really the two aspects of justification. Sometimes you'll hear people say justification means just as if you've never sinned. Well, that's one part of it, because in justification, our sins are forgiven, but it's more than just as if you've never sinned. It's as if you've perfectly kept the law of God. That's how you can be righteous in God's sight, and so it can't be your own righteousness. This is what the Reformers referred to as an alien righteousness, a righteousness that is given to you by faith and received by faith alone, the gift of righteousness.
And Paul uses the language of the gift of righteousness in Romans chapter 5. So our justification isn't increased or decreased based upon how we're doing in the Christian life, and that's really important. That's vital for us to understand.
But we are growing. We ought to be growing day by day in our sanctification, and that, too, is the work of God's Spirit. It's something that the Spirit of God is doing in us as the people of God through the means that God has provided, through scripture, his word, through his people, through church and worship. God is using these things, these means to mold us more and more into the image of Jesus Christ, and that is a process.
That's a process of inward renewal. We sometimes wish that the process was a lot quicker, faster than it is, but the entire Christian life is a life of repentance, a life of being sanctified, of growing in grace. And so, yes, absolutely, we are called to continue in that and to pursue that with everything in us. And even that pursuit is a gift that God grants to us. It's God who is at work in us, Paul says to the Philippians, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. And so, at the outset of today's broadcast, it's a great reminder for all of us, brothers and sisters, if you believe in Jesus, you have been justified, and having been justified by faith, we have, you have peace with God through Jesus Christ.
And now, pursue him with all of your heart. Seek to grow in Christ. Pray and say, Lord, sanctify me day by day by the power of your Holy Spirit, and help me to walk in the Spirit that I might not fulfill the sinful desires of the flesh.
And so, may God help all of us in that, sister, and thank you again for your encouragement and for reaching out to us. Just a follow-up question for you, Adriel. How much are we involved in the sanctification process? Obviously, it's the work of the Holy Spirit. We read about the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians, and that's really a demonstration, a sign that we are filled with the Spirit. But how much is it active on our part or cooperating with the Holy Spirit?
How do those two things fit together? You know, what's interesting is Paul, in the book of Galatians, says, don't be deceived. Whatever you sow, you're going to reap.
And that's just the reality. We're called to sow to the Spirit, to pursue God, his word, to let the word of Christ dwell in us richly. So, if somebody's thinking, well, great, God is the one who sanctifies, so I'm just going to sit back here, and if I don't grow in holiness, it's his fault, that sort of a thing.
Well, no, that's a real problem. We've been set free from sin, justified so that we might pursue these things, enabled by the grace of God to do so. And so, we should use everything at our disposal and all of our energy, all of our strength to pursue the Lord.
And of course, we fall short of that. And that's why we're not saved by our sanctification. That is to say, we're not justified by our sanctification. It's not like you're becoming more justified the more sanctified you are. But as those who are justified, we are being sanctified, and we're pursuing and called to pursue that growth in grace every day as we avail ourselves to the means of grace and to the opportunities that God has given to us to grow in love for Christ.
And so, we don't want to be lazy here. We want to receive all of God's gifts, including this one. Really good counsel. Thanks for that, Adriel. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez.
We'd always love to hear from you if you have a question about the Bible, the Christian life, something going on at your church, something going on in your own Christian walk that you're struggling with. Here's our phone number. It's 833-THE-CORE.
That's 1-833-843-2673. If you get our voicemail, feel free to leave your question there. Let's go to Bill, who's calling in from Missouri. Bill, what's your question for Adriel?
Okay, I'm ready. First, I want to thank you, Adriel, and thank you, Dr. Bill, for the work you're doing for our Lord. Question is, what would you say to an articulate Jehovah's Witness at your door? Bill, I love this question, and I've had many experiences with Jehovah's Witnesses over the years. So, they're knocking on your door. You invite them in, and you want to have a conversation about the Gospel.
There's a couple of things, I think, to recognize first. One, the translation of the Bible that they use, it's called the New World Translation. There are some serious problems with the New World Translation, places where they twist or mistranslate Scripture, especially passages that have to do with the deity of Jesus Christ, because you need to remember that Jehovah's Witnesses reject the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. They reject the belief, the orthodox Christian belief, that Jesus is the eternal Son of God, God himself. God of God, as we confess in the Nicene Creed, those great creeds of the faith that help, I think, to unpack core Christianity, we might say. So, they reject those doctrines, and in rejecting those doctrines, the doctrine of God, the doctrine of the deity of Christ, they really reject the Gospel, too, because if Jesus is just or was just a mere man, he couldn't provide the perfect atonement for our sins, and so they undermine the faith altogether. And so, you know, a lot of times when I've spoken with Jehovah's Witnesses, I want to get straight to the heart of the matter.
Who is Jesus, and what is the Gospel? And this is where, you know, this is where there's that challenge, because if they're going to passages in their own Bible, and they're saying, well, this is what it says in my translation, you're going to realize, hey, that's not what it says in my translation. You know, John 1, 1, for example, or in Colossians chapter 1, those passages that oftentimes we might go to to defend the doctrine of the deity of Christ, they've corrupted, and it's a horrible thing, it's a tragic thing. Let me tell you one thing that I've done, and you can even use their Bible when you have this conversation with them, is I'll say, okay, I believe that Jesus is God, and this is what the Christian churches believed for 2,000 years, based on the teaching of Scripture, and it's at the very heart of what the Gospel is, and I believe that he is God because it's what the Bible teaches, and of course they're going to disagree with you there, but what you can do is you can open up to a place like Psalm 102, and you can even do this in the New World translation, and you can read Psalm 102, and in particular in verse 24, this is, you know, the psalmist is crying out to the Lord for his grace, for his mercy, and then he's marveling at God's great power and creation, and he says, of old, this is verse 25, Psalm 102, verse 25, of old, you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you will remain, and they will all wear out like a garment.
You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away, but you are the same, and your years have no end. And if you ask, okay, well, who's the psalmist talking to here? It's very clear that in Psalm 102, even in the New World translation, the one who's being addressed here is Jehovah, God. This is God who's being spoken of there. If you go over to the New Testament in the book of Hebrews, Hebrews chapter 1, here's the amazing thing. The author to the Hebrews attributes those words, he says, you know who the psalmist is talking about there?
To Jesus Christ. Psalm 102 is about Jesus, the author to the Hebrews says. This is Hebrews chapter 1, verse 8. But of the Son, that is, of Jesus, he says, and here's a quote from one psalm, your throne, O God, is forever and ever, and the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness, therefore God your God has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions. And, and then you read this, you, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands, they will perish, but you will remain, they will all wear out like a garment, like a robe you will roll them up, like a garment they will be changed, but you are the same, and your years will have no end. The author of the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the author of the Hebrews, is attributing this to Jesus. He's saying Psalm 102, the one who the psalmist is praying to there, he's talking to Jesus. Now, I've brought that up to many Jehovah's Witnesses, there are so many other things you could bring up to them, but I've brought that up to many Jehovah's Witnesses, and every single time they've said the same thing, I'll have to get back to you on that. And you know what?
They never have. Because there's no end, you either have to embrace what the Bible teaches, or you're going to have to find a way to just go around it. And that's what they've done, you know, and they've done that by corrupting so many passages of scripture. So I would say, look, you apply the Word of God, you talk about God's Word, you talk about the Gospel, ultimately.
That we're only saved by grace through faith, and that Jesus, the eternal Son of God, the second person of the Holy Trinity, provided that perfect atonement that we need, but if He wasn't God, then we're hopeless, we're doomed. And I would say, have those conversations, but pray. And pray because there is a blindness there, there is a deception, a demonic deception, frankly, I would say, at work, in and through the Jehovah's Witness teaching and doctrine. And so pray that the Lord would set those people free, the people that are at your door, that God would set them free through His Word and by the power of His Spirit.
Thanks for your question. Boy, that's great. I appreciate the fact that you have been so bold in welcoming these Jehovah's Witnesses into your home and having those conversations, because when I see them coming down the street, I just hide and turn the lights off. Well, I think I've been blacklisted now, Bill, because I think I've had so many that they're just like, okay, stop sending people to that guy's house. And I never know at first, they're like, you know, they walk in, and right now in my living room, just all my Bible theology books, they have all these bookshelves, we have no space in our house, so just theology books everywhere. So they probably walk in and just think, whoa, what did we get ourselves into? And I never know, do I start off by saying I'm a pastor or not, you know, is that, anyways, I think I've been blacklisted. You say, you've walked into the wrong house, buddy.
Yeah, that's exactly what I said. They come in and say, oh, you're in trouble now. No, I don't.
I don't. But now you guys have to do the work, because I'm on the blacklist. So you guys take them to Psalm 102 and Hebrews chapter 1 and pray that the Lord saves them and delivers them from the bondage that they're in. Amen.
So well said. Thank you for that. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. We'd love to hear from you if you have a question about the Bible or the Christian life, doctrine, theology, you name it, we're open to your question. In fact, you can email us your questions.
Here's our email address. It's questions at corechristianity.com. Let's go to Carson calling in from Birmingham, Alabama. Carson, what's your question for Adriel? Hey Pastor Adriel, I have a question about forgiveness. That is, how do we forgive someone who has seemed to have wronged us in a way that is unforgivable, particularly something they're not repentant of? Carson, this is obviously such a difficult, difficult issue and something that many Christians struggle with. There was a poll, I think Barna did it some time ago, that said something like one in four or two in four Christians just has someone in their life that they say, I cannot forgive that person.
I just don't even see how it's possible. Now, we're called to forgive. That's something that's very clear in scripture.
But one of the things that we've done on the broadcast before, and I think it's important to do, and I think there's biblical basis for doing this, is distinguishing between forgiveness, which we do. We forgive from the heart, now imperfectly, and it requires a lot of grace and a lot of prayer and a lot of help, but there's a difference between forgiveness and reconciliation. If somebody hasn't repented, I can say, I forgive you, and what I mean by that is I'm not trying to retaliate. I'm not wishing you harm.
I'm not longing for evil bad things to happen to you. What I had in my heart there, I'm saying, Lord, I forgive this person. Now, that also doesn't mean that we can't pursue justice. I think, especially in situations of abuse, you can forgive someone while also exposing the abuse.
In particular, we're thinking about things that were done that were illegal. That's a part of, in one sense, how we love another person is by exposing the wickedness so that they can come into the light. But we're called to forgive. We can't have reconciliation, though, unless the other person repents, unless they're willing to acknowledge the fact that they've sinned.
If they don't acknowledge that, well, then there's really no reconciliation because the relationship is strained. Now, that doesn't mean that you can't, again, from the heart seek to forgive, but reconciliation is dependent upon that person coming to repentance. One thing that you can do, and this is a part of, I think, how you exercise forgiveness for the one or the ones who have sinned against you is you can pray that they would repent, that they would acknowledge the heinousness of their sins and turn to the Lord because their sins are displeasing to God and invite His judgment, His wrath.
That they would recognize the heinousness of their sin and turn to the Lord. And so praying for that, that's, I think, one of the ways that we extend grace and forgiveness. But again, and so much of this, I think, has to come from a really close relationship with Jesus, where we're saying, Lord Jesus, You have forgiven me so much. The mountain of sin that I had committed against You, against Your word, against Your people, You've forgiven me.
Help me to take the grace that You have given me and to extend that to others. To not seek vengeance or retaliation. This is what Paul gets said in Romans, you know, God says vengeance is mine, I will repay. Not to seek that, but to pursue peace and the repentance and salvation of others, even those who have sinned against me.
You know, this is one of the reasons why Jonah didn't want to go to Nineveh because the Ninevites were terrible. They had abused and sinned against the people of God in terrible ways, and yet God was merciful to them. Now, again, that doesn't excuse sin or abuse in any way, but we're called to forgive and we're called to extend the hope of reconciliation should others truly repent. And so, brother, I don't know all of the details behind your question here, but I pray that the Lord gives you much grace and wisdom and also healing.
That the Spirit of God would be at work in your life, giving you healing and freedom from the ways in which you've been sinned against. And may the Lord bless you. Thank you for reaching out to us.
Thanks, Carson. I appreciate you being a regular listener and we'll be praying for you in that whole situation. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. We get a lot of calls from people who have a Catholic friend or relative or even sometimes a spouse, and they're a Protestant and they're saying, there's just some real significant differences between what the two of us believe.
So we've created a resource for you that really will help you have those conversations. Yeah, the resource is called What Still Divides Us, and it's a short booklet getting into some of the main differences between Protestants and Roman Catholics. And especially for our audience, we have a pretty broad audience, listeners who are Protestant, Roman Catholic, maybe even some Jehovah's Witness and Mormon listeners, although I wouldn't include Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons within the sort of bounds of the Christian faith or Core Christianity. But we know we have listeners from all over the place and listeners who are curious about some of the differences between these major traditions. And so if that's you, if you're curious about the differences between Roman Catholicism and Protestant Christianity, get a hold of this resource over at corechristianity.com forward slash radio. Well, let's go to a voicemail that came in here at the Core.
This is Ray in Sacramento, California. My question is, are we being judgmental to say that a certain sound style of music is wrong to use for Christian music? I know the Bible says make it joyful noise unto the Lord. How are we to decide what is joyful to the Lord? Whether it's a rap beat, a heavy metal beat, a reggae beat, classical beat, country, is that wrong if it's Christian worship music about the gospel, about Jesus?
Just have been wondering about that for a while. Thank you, guys, and God bless. Hey, great question. So I think there are a couple of ways we could think about this. One, if we're talking about the music that we're singing on a Sunday morning in a church service, I think that's one way of looking at it, because the reality is that the church service is for the people of God, which is this diverse community of faith. So I don't think it'd be helpful for our call to worship, we're going to sing a rap song.
That's just not what we should do. We want to include everyone as much as is possible. We want the music to be good and true and excellent and focused on the Lord and not a distraction for those who maybe won't identify with one particular style or another. If your question is, is it okay for Christians to make music in these different styles or genres of music that is about the Lord and what God has done in their lives, I think, yeah, there's freedom there, and I know that God has actually used that in powerful ways. Not long ago, we interviewed Kevin K.B.
Burgess. He's a Christian hip-hop artist, and he shares in a book that he wrote, Dangerous Jesus. We interviewed him about the book, but he shares a little bit about his own conversion, how he came to faith. At the heart of it was somebody sharing a hip-hop album with him that essentially was full of the gospel.
Now, not everybody's going to identify with that or fully understand it all, but he did. So we can see God working in and through these things, and I think we can say, that's awesome. Praise the Lord for that. And we should pray that God continues to do that in all sorts of different ways as the Word of God goes out, whether it's through music or preaching or whatever it is. And so, God bless. Thanks for that question. We'll be right back.
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