Can a Christian become perfect before heaven? 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 at 833-THE-CORE.
That's 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, let's go to Rodney calling in from Iowa. Rodney, what's your question for Adriel?
Hi, Adriel. Hey, I love your show because it teaches me how to respond to people when they have questions about Scripture. But my question today is, in teaching my son about Scripture, here's what I've done. I've brought him all the way up to the Old Testament in Genesis and Creation, and then Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the Jews, and Jesus Christ, and how he was prophesied because we all need a Savior. But I'm at the point where I've stayed away from the morality issue up until you know, it's been a couple years I've been teaching him, hoping I could see some response, but I'm not sure in dealing with the morality issue where to go from here, Adriel, and I would like to know if you had any suggestions on that. Well, I mean, you're going to have to get there. Rodney, if you don't mind my asking, how old is your son?
27. Okay, well, it sounds to me like you're doing a great job in terms of giving a framework for the teaching of the Bible, redemptive history, beginning with Creation, and then the story of the patriarchs, really helping to set the scene. And if you're able to do that and point to Christ or show how all of these things are pointing forward to Christ, the coming Messiah, the Redeemer of mankind, wonderful.
I mean, I think that that's really, really good. But there does come a point for each of us, I think, where we're confronted with the claims of Jesus Christ and the call that he has. I mean, you know, the apostles in the New Testament make it very clear. Christ came into the world to save sinners, and that's just not good news for those who believe and not for, you know, the whole world. I mean, the free offer of the gospel goes out to everyone, and all mankind is called to repent, to turn to Christ. And so I think of the calls to discipleship that you see throughout the New Testament, where Jesus says, if any man would come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. And so there comes that point of decision, of being confronted with the words of Christ. And I think you're doing a wonderful job of, again, setting the background up, you know, the framework for the teaching of the Bible. But just sort of like, you know, when Jesus is talking to Peter in the Gospel of Matthew, and he says, who do men say that I am?
Who do you say that I am? That's the key question for your son. He's 27, and so I think posing that question to him, you know, thinking about what I've been teaching you, what the Bible says, who do you say that Jesus is? Because Jesus calls you to himself, to follow him. And following Christ does look like leaving behind our sins, turning from our sins, and turning to him.
And so I know that that's, you know, I know that that's the hard thing to bring up, to be confronted with, because we don't want to let go of our sins, whatever those habits or those patterns might be. And so I think for you, and so I think for you as a father, talking to your son about this, highlighting the goodness of Christ, and, you know, what he calls us to, and how he's infinitely better than the things we hold on to, the things we're tempted to cling to instead of following him. That would be one approach, and so I think you have to be clear about who Jesus is and what Jesus calls us to. That doesn't mean that he's going to respond positively right away, but you do, you don't want to mince words when it comes to the identity, the person of Christ, and his work for us. You want that to be clear. And rest, Rodney, in knowing the fact that faith comes through hearing and hearing through the word of Christ, that God will use his word, clearly communicated, clearly preached, to change the hearts of men.
That's how real change happens. It happens through the word of God, not watered down, but faithfully proclaimed, and by the power of the Holy Spirit. And so God bless you, give you wisdom and insight into how to, you know, talk about this further with your son, and how to present the gospel clearly, and may the Lord, you know, bless that by the work of his spirit. And I want to take a moment right now to pray for you, and to invite all of our listeners to pray for you as well, Rodney, as you continue to have these conversations with your son. Our Father in heaven, we come before you right now knowing, Lord, that you are good, knowing that you use your word to transform our hearts, that faith comes by hearing and hearing through the word of Christ, and we pray for our brother Rodney, who has been teaching his son about your word, and about your word.
We thank you for him. We thank you for his faithfulness. We ask that you would continue to sustain him, that you would fill him with your Holy Spirit, giving him insight into your word, giving him wisdom about how to apply your word specifically to his son, so that it might encourage him and even convict him at times. We pray that you would give him boldness, Lord, not to be afraid to talk about the truth of your word, but that you would use your word to work in Rodney's son. Would you draw him to yourself, Lord Jesus?
Would you open his eyes to see you, to know you, and to follow you? We pray these things, dear Father, in Jesus' name. Amen.
Amen. Rodney, thanks so much for your call, and we will continue to pray for you in that whole situation. And, you know, Adriel, I'm just, I'm struck by your answer. It seems like in today's culture, one of the places we need to start when we have conversations with someone about the Christian faith is the identity of Jesus, because when we, we're in such a pluralistic culture, and people may say, oh, you know, Jesus was a prophet, a great teacher, but we really need to keep bringing them back to, okay, who does Jesus say he is, and now who do you say he is? Yeah, I mean, that's the key question, and I think, you know, when Peter confesses the Christ, Jesus says to Christ, Jesus' response is, you know, blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah. Flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And so really understanding who Christ is, the Messiah, I mean, that is the work of the Holy Spirit, and unless we come to grips with that reality, the identity of Jesus Christ, then we're lost. I mean, you can claim that Jesus is a great teacher, that Jesus was a prophet, sort of like Moses or something like that, but until you understand that he is the Son of God, come to redeem us from our sins, God incarnate, then you're missing it. And over and over again in the Gospels, Jesus made that clear. So many people have no problem with Jesus as a great teacher, but as the sovereign Lord, they do have a problem with that, and so that's why I said, you know, being clear about who Jesus is and what he calls us to, that is so important, and may God bless our brother and his family, and also just so wonderful, Bill, to hear this dad wanting to teach his son the Word of God. God help all of us, those of us who are fathers, to be intentional about that and to expose our children to the Scriptures.
Amen. 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, something going on in your church life that you're concerned about or have a question about. Here's the number, 833-THE-CORE. That's 1-833-843-2673. Now's the time to call.
Our phone lines will be open for about 15 minutes or so. Let's go to Rick, who's calling in from Nebraska. Rick, what's your question for Adriel? Yes, Pastor Adriel?
Hey, Rick, you're on the air. What's your question, brother? I had a question about rewards. I know that we are not supposed to have that as our goal, and when we are called home, that our sins are no longer remembered. But we do get rewards for the life that we live. When we die, are those rewards cast at Jesus' feet and some have more rewards than others, or does that mean we have more responsibilities, like one might be a street sweeper and one might be a manager at different roles in heaven? How does the reward work?
Yeah. Hey, great question, Rick. I tell you, I would not mind being a street sweeper in heaven.
Give me any job, really. But you know, you're right that the New Testament does indicate that we are going to be commended, rewarded, for what we've done here on earth. You have Paul's letter to the Corinthians, where he seems to indicate this, referring to those who built with those precious materials, you know, with silver and gold. It's a picture of doing things for the glory of God, you know, not for selfish reasons. I also think of the book of Revelation, Revelation, chapter 14, verse 13, and I heard a voice from heaven saying, write this, blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. Blessed indeed, says the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them. You can't take anything with you when you die, you know, but our deeds do follow us, and we will hear, those of us who are in Christ, we will hear, well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Master.
And so what those rewards are, some have described them as more responsibility, right? We're thinking about the new creation, going to heaven when we die, but then also the new creation, that new world, really, the restored world that's going to be established, where the glory of God is going to fill the entire planet in a way that's never been done before, and so you have that. But, you know, a lot of it is just us speculating, frankly, you know, does this mean I'm going to have a bigger mansion in heaven, a nicer heavenly car or whatever in the new creation? We don't know, we do know, and I think this is meant to be a comfort for us, knowing, you know, you think of in the Sermon on the Mount when Jesus talks about doing good works and not doing them to be seen by others, by man, and he says, you know, well, there's your reward, you have your reward, you've been commended by other people, they're praising you, and that's what you were looking for, but really that's not done for the Lord, that's not done for your heavenly Father. But when our heavenly Father sees our good works done in secret, He will reward us, and I think a part of that reward is, you know, something that we experience in this present age, but I think also, you know, in the age to come, when we stand before the Lord, there is a reward that awaits us, so knowing that God sees everything that you do, even if nobody else sees it, that should be a comfort to you, knowing that He himself will reward you. You don't need the praises of others, God is going to reward you, and I think that's the point here. Now again, what exactly those rewards look like, I'm not entirely sure, I really am not entirely sure, and I don't think that the Scriptures speak super clearly to this in terms of what those rewards are going to look like in the age to come. I think what we can be sure of is that God is good, I think we can also be sure of the fact that nobody is going to be upset about their standing, if you will, in the presence of God.
It's not like, oh man, we're going to be jealous of that guy over there because I'm the heavenly street sweeper and he has a nice office in the new creation or something like that. No, we're going to be full of joy and celebration and worship. And so the big takeaway here is, one, know that God sees what you do and will indeed reward it in this age in some sense, but also in the age to come. And two, know that whatever that is, it's greater than we can ever even fully fathom now, but we look to the Lord in patience as we continue to commit ourselves to Him and to good works for His glory.
God bless Rick. 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.
Maybe you consider yourself to be an agnostic or an atheist and you just stumbled on this program and you're wondering, hey, I'm not sure I buy all this stuff about heaven and Jesus. Hey, we're open to your questions as well. Give us a call right now.
833-THE-CORE. That's 1-833-843-2677. By the way, at this time of year, we often get a lot of calls about celebrating Christmas. There are some Christians who have this view that somehow Christmas is a pagan holiday, and so we've created a resource that really responds to that argument. Yeah, I'm really grateful that we're able to offer this resource and have been offering it.
I think we started offering it last last Christmas because we get this question so often. And it's one of the things that skeptics and critics of the Christian faith will bring up. Maybe you're atheist friends or you've seen it online floating around. You guys are celebrating Christmas, but you know that's really a pagan holiday.
You've allowed pagan worship to creep into your own worship, so Christianity must not be true. This resource is something we produce, something we put together to help address that misconception, to help you understand the significance of the celebration of Christmas and why the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ is indeed so important. It's called Five Reasons Christmas Isn't a Pagan Holiday. Get a hold of this. It's over at corechristianity.com, and it's free.
You can download it for free. Be a great resource if you've got a friend or relative who has a different view about Christmas. We've certainly heard from those folks that say, yeah, I've got a family member who says, no way, I'm not going to get a Christmas tree. It's just a pagan thing. So feel free to go to our website and download this great resource, Five Reasons Why Christmas Isn't a Pagan Holiday.
Well, we do receive voicemails here at the core, and you can call us 24 hours a day and leave us your voicemail question. Here's one that came in from David. My question is, can a Christian become perfect before heaven? Consider Jude 24, which says twice that he can present us faultless and perfect before heaven.
Okay, thank you. You know, I was just talking to a friend about this the other day. Is it, right, it's not likely, but is it possible maybe, right, can you conceive of a Christian being perfect maybe for a day, maybe for a couple of days, maybe towards the end of their life? You know, they've grown in sanctification so much that they just don't sin anymore.
Is that possible? Well, look, some of the godliest people that I know, people that I aspire to be like, what they would say to me, and I think to you, is every day I have to say to God, forgive my sins, because we sin against God in thought, word, and in deed. It's not just the external actions, it's the attitudes that we have as well that oftentimes can be sinful, and sometimes it's just like, man, I can't even control that inclination.
I have to repent of this feeling that I have because it's so contrary to the word of God, or I'm not responding to God's goodness like I should. It's not just, we oftentimes think of sin as just doing things that are forbidden in God's word, but sin is also failing to live up to what God calls us to. You're not not sinning just because you don't get in fights with your neighbor. We're sinning when we fail to love our neighbor like we should positively.
It's not just being isolated, right? And so I think when you realize God's law and the nature of God's law and what God calls us to, you quickly see that, man, this side of heaven, I'm going to struggle with sin. And the reason is because what we sometimes refer to as indwelling sin, we're still in this battle. Paul talks about it in the book of Galatians, Galatians 5, you know, the flesh lusts against or fights against the spirit. They're referring to the Spirit of God and our flesh, this thing, where we have this tension. I think it's what Paul is also mentioning in places like Romans 7.
And then you also have two other texts, I think, that are clear on this. You have Ecclesiastes in the wisdom literature, Ecclesiastes 7, verse 20, which says there isn't anybody righteous who doesn't sin. All of us still struggle with sin, with indwelling sin. And then John, in 1 John 1, verses 8 and 10, says if anyone says they're without sin, they're a liar and don't practice the truth. And so does that mean that we should just throw our hands up and not try and not pursue holiness?
Absolutely not. We should be growing in a love for God. God's Spirit is at work in us as believers, sanctifying us, making us more and more into the image of Christ. And so we rejoice in that.
We rejoice in the powerful work of God. And yet even as so many Christians throughout the history of the Church have recognized that reality, they've also said, we're still going to have indwelling sin. We're still, even our best works are still going to be tainted by sin.
They're good works. They can be truly good works before God, because, you know, it's the work of His Spirit in us. But they're not perfect. We aren't perfect, and we won't be until we're perfected in holiness and we're brought into the presence of the Lord. Now lastly, you brought up that text in Jude, and you see this sometimes in the New Testament where it talks about being presented faultless or blameless before the Lord. And I would just say that doesn't necessarily mean that we're going to be or can be perfect this side of heaven. We do know, I mean, this is just at the heart of the doctrine of justification, that through Christ's work for us, we can stand justified in God's sight as if we had never sinned, because the righteousness of Jesus Christ has been given to us and imputed to us, received by faith alone, so that we can indeed stand before God's judgment seat justified upright because of the work of Christ in us.
And so that's one thing I would appeal to. And I would also say, just practically, if you think that you're living the Christian life and you're doing it perfectly, there's going to be a real issue. I mean, some real pendulum swings there, because you'll feel like you're doing good for some time. And usually what that means is you're minimizing God's law. You're not really actually fully understanding the extent of the law of God in your life and what God calls you to. The only way we can think we're perfectly obeying the law of God is if we minimize its demands on us. But then the moment you fail, you're going to go the opposite direction. You're going to feel crushed and condemned.
And I've seen this pendulum swing in so many people. And so, again, it's not that we throw up our hands and we don't pursue holiness and we don't try. It's just that we recognize in all humility that we come before the Lord as sinners, and we're going to have this fight with indwelling sin until God redeems us fully, until we're in the presence of the Lord, glorified ultimately. And so I appreciate that question, and God bless you, and God help all of us to grow in holiness through Christ. Amen.
This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. Let's go to Kimberly, who's calling in from California. Kimberly, what's your question for Adriel? Hello. Hi, guys. Thank you.
It's nice to be on the air with you. I was wondering, my question I have written is, I had practiced Catholicism throughout my life, and I realized that a lot of texts that I have read through, or I have knowledge of, I had a question of whether or not men were considered prophets in the Old Testament, and and women were considered saints at the time, only due to the, I put like a ramification for prophets, like for the men who had sacrificed, you know, due to the, due to my knowledge of, you know, how I grew up thinking, you know, when, you know, for instance, maybe Joseph was prayed to, you know, during time of like hardship, of like being by myself, you know, like in isolation, and I would like to see how I would, you know, not isolate, you know, and then say St. Jude for something that's lost, like care or some kind of affection that maybe I would need like a patient, you know. Hey Kimberly, so it sounds like you're bringing up this question of intercession or praying to the saints, and the saints there being people who, I guess, being identified by the Roman Catholic Church as saints, so not just any Christian, and what I would say in the New Testament, the word saints is often used to refer to just believers, you know, altogether.
When Paul writes to the Corinthian Church, even though they struggled with sin, he can refer to them as saints, as those who have been set apart by God, called as holy ones through Jesus Christ, and so according to the teaching of the Bible, all those who have faith in Jesus Christ are holy ones, are saints. Now throughout the history of the church, there were certain people, you know, the martyrs, for example, who were identified as extra holy, you know, we, you know, entered into sainthood and there was this tradition of praying to them, or asking for them to pray for us. Now I don't buy that, I don't believe in that, I don't think that's something that you see in the New Testament per se, you don't have examples of the apostles calling Christians to, you know, ask for, you know, those who have gone before us to intercede. What I will say is this, Kimberly, this should be a great comfort to you, it is a comfort to me, we do have a great high priest in Jesus Christ who ever lives to make intercession for us. We read this in Romans chapter 8, in Hebrews chapter 7, Jesus, Jesus himself prays for you and prays for me. The Holy Spirit actually even makes intercession for us, we're told in the book of Romans, and so we have this great comfort and you can go directly to God through Jesus Christ because he is your great high priest, no matter what's going on in your life, no matter what you've lost or what you need, you can go to the Father through the Son and by the power of the Holy Spirit. of God's Word together.
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