The following are questions received for this month’s TCT “Ask the Pastor” program. They came in from across North America, evidently from newer and older Christians, from beginners as well as from more seasoned students of Scripture. The panelists are there to serve them all, and do so not as those who know all the answers, but as those who have benefited from the answers of many other students of Scripture along the way. We stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us. Ultimately, then, there are no silly questions, apart from the ones we fear to ask. Those we answered in the program on March 6 have asterisks. Appended are some of the texts and ideas I offered.
Donna from King, North Carolina and Carl from Pulaski, Tennessee: Why isn’t Cain listed in Adam’s genealogy? And why does Adam’s lineage in Gen. 5:13 begin with Seth, excluding Cain & Abel?
Bobbie from Raleigh, North Carolina, Mary Lula from Euclid, Ohio, and Bernie from Georgia: What does the Bible say about cremation? May Christians be cremated?
** Diana from Parish, Tennessee; Vicky from Arcade, New York; Otis from Ahoskie, North Carolina; Carla from North Carolina, and Patricia from Paducah, Kentucky: Is it a sin to be baptized more than once and do you need to be baptized to go to Heaven
Clues: Matt. 28:18-20; Eph. 4:5. Baptism is not necessary to go to heaven, since entrance into heaven is through faith alone. However, an unbaptized Christian is utterly anomalous in the church of the New Testament era. Re-baptism is not a sin, but is unnecessary since baptism signifies a definitive entrance into the church, union with Jesus Christ, and cleansing.
Stewart from Marion, Ilinois: What is the function of Deacons in the church?
Edmund from Macon, Georgia: Is the church perfect (without sin)?
** Donna from Cleveland, Ohio: Is giving in to sin (yielding to the flesh) the same as willful sin?
Clues: James 1:12-15; Galatians 5: 1-25. There is a difference between the proactive pursuit of sin (which is rebellion) and reactions to devilish temptation.
** Ruth from Sun City, Arizona: Please explain the gift of discerning of spirits.
Clues: 1 Corinthians 12:4-11; 1 John 4:1. The discerning of gifts was an extraordinary gift of the Spirit given prior to the completion of the canon. The gift is now exercised normatively in relationship to the understanding and use of the Word (Acts 17:11; Hebrews 5:13-14).
** Chris from Mayford Hts, Ohio: Please explain what it means to live in the Spirit and to worship in the Spirit.
Clues: Worship in the Spirit was referred to by Jesus as an historical development resultant from his work and the gift of the Spirit (John 4:24). The idea also had reference to the office of prophet, whereby a prophet could see things he otherwise could not have seen, and heard things he otherwise would not have heard (Rev. 1:3, 9-10). As regards life in the Spirit, it is likely more accurate to speak of living by the Spirit, thereby indicating that the blessing of the Spirit in Christian living is not isolated from life according to the Word of God which the Spirit has breathed out.
** Ann from North Carolina: What are the rewards in Heaven?
Clues: The rewards are spoken of in many places in the New Testament. E.g., Matthew 5 and 6; 16:27; 25:14-30; Luke 12:33-34; 1 Corinthians 3:11-15; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Revelation 22:12. Yet, we are not told exactly what the reward is other than God himself. The Bible uses such terms as crown, treasure, inheritance, and eternal life; but as 1 Corinthians 2:9 reminds us: “eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” We can deduce, however, that the reward will entail size of both responsibility on the new earth and spiritual capacity.
** Janice from Ilinois: When one prays to be saved, salvation comes. Is it wrong that sometimes pastors ask the person to pray again?
Clues: Only if the evidences of a new birth remain perpetually absent. E.g., Love toward God, Christ, his Word, his people, and a hatred of sin.
Elizabeth from Gallion, Alabama: Is it right for someone to hold membership in 2 churches at once?
Liesha from Miami, Oklahoma: What is the difference between tithing and sowing?
Linda from Canton, Ohio and Faith from Huntsville, Alabama: Is it a sin to get a tattoo? Is it a sin to get your ears pierced?
** Anonymous from Nebraska: Going by I John 3:15 can a person who has had an abortion be forgiven?
Clues: Since the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is the only unforgivable sin (Matthew 12:31), the answer must be yes. However, someone forgiven will know a repentance involving a radical commitment such that another abortion is, outside of extreme circumstances, unneeded.
Dennis from Plainfield, Washington: Why was Samuel allowed to come back to speak to King Saul?
Terra from Calgary, Canada: Why did God bring in the Law when the previous Hebrews were under grace?
Julie from Lockhart, Texas: Is it a sin to drink alcohol beverages?
** Vonda from Winston Salem, North Carolina: How is someone born again?
Clues: For the new birth see John especially (John 1:12-13; John 3:1-21; 1 John 2:28ff.). The new birth is one example of the metaphorical clothing of the regeneration of God’s children. We can say that the new birth is from above, solely God’s work, mysterious, issuing in a new nature, and seen in fruits of faith and repentance.
Sam from Van Wert, Ohio: Do you think that Jesus provided enough evidence that He was the Messiah when He was here?
** Janice from Griffin, Georgia: What does it mean to be under conviction?
Clues: “Under conviction” means under conviction of sin. Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would exercise a ministry of convicting sinners, thereby pointing to them the necessity of embracing Christ (John 16:8-11).
John from Buffalo, New York: How does one rightly divide the word of truth?
Marilyn from Winston Salem, North Carolina: Will people of Noah’s time and the people of Gomorrah have to stand before God again for judgment? I have been told that they will be judged again. Is that correct?
Jean from Delroy, Ohio: In the Gospel of Luke, why did John the Baptist have to die?
Shirley from North Carolina: What does Rev. 21:8 when it speaks of the “fearful” ?