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If Scripture calls homosexuality a sin, how do we love without being judgmental, and yet be true to God’s Word?

Any sexual activity outside of God’s design for sex is a sin. God designed sex to be a physical and spiritual bond between a man and a woman who are married to one another (see Genesis 2:24). You can read our denomination’s statement specifically on homosexuality here.

How we interact with those who practice any kind of sexual sin depends on various circumstances too numerous to recount here. We should, however, always be guided by the balance of truth and grace.

It’s not necessary, for instance, to “correct” the behavior of those who do not follow Jesus. Jesus came to save sinners (Luke 5:32), and Paul did not judge those outside the church (1 Corinthians 5:12). Scripture teaches, however, that after a person is saved by God and decides to follow Christ they become a new creation and the Holy Spirit makes their spirit responsive and aware of God. Jesus followers want to follow Jesus rather than live in a pattern of sin. (See Romans 8: 1-17).

When someone who follows Jesus is caught in a sin, Scripture tells those who are spiritual to restore them gently (Gal 6:1). Restoration entails bringing them back into fellowship with God and other Jesus followers by teaching truth and encouraging them to live it. 

 

Why did the books of the Bible get organized the way they did?

Some readers are surprised to learn that the books of the Bible are not placed in chronological order. The short answer for why is that those who compiled them did not believe a chronological reading was necessary to understanding. Instead, they used other criteria, namely genre, which is a type of work that loosely adheres to a particular style for a particular function.

The Jewish people look to Moses as the greatest prophet—the early Church would probably have agreed. It is fitting then that the Old Testament begins with the five books of Moses, also known as the books of the Law. These are followed by historical books, then poetry, then major and minor prophets to make 39 books in all. 

The 27 New Testament books are ordered similarly in groupings by genre. The four gospels come first, followed by the historical book of Acts. Next, are Paul’s letters to the churches, grouped according to length, followed by personal letters, and ending with prophecy

Is the life of Christ recorded in any historical records besides the Bible?

Seven known secular historical documents refer to the existence of Jesus and His ministry.  

  1. The  Annals by First Century Roman historian Tacitus mentions Christ and his crucifixion by Pontius Pilate in book 14, chapter 44.
  2. The Babylonian Talmud, a historical collection of the post-biblical history of the Jewish people, mentions Jesus as leading the Jewish people astray. 
  3. An undoctored Arabic passage was written by the first-century historian Josephus in Agapius, “The book of the Title” refers to Jesus’ ministry, crucifixion under Pontius Pilate, appearance to many after his crucifixion, and his international following. 
  4. Pliny the Younger in a letter to Emperor Trajan in 112 A.D. asked for advice on dealing with Christians who sing hymns to Christ as if to a god. 
  5. A historical letter from Syria written between 73 A.D. and the Third Century by Mara bar-Serapion, refers to the murder of “the wise king of the Jews,”  believed to be a reference to Jesus. 

How can we influence people in the workplace?



One of the two Greatest Commandments is to “love your neighbor as yourself.”  In a famous discussion, a great scholar asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied with a story about a man who saw his enemy broken and beaten on the side of the road and chose to help him at his own expense. Jesus said the man who helped his enemy demonstrated how to love your neighbor. (You can read about it in the story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37).

This teaching is as relevant today as it was two thousand years ago. It’s easy to love and care for those who are like us–our own people,  tribe, or family. It’s rare to find people who will sacrifice time or money for others who are outside our scope of responsibility.

But doing so is the foundation of kindness–and kindness is a game-changer for everyone.

At work, this may mean refusing to live by worldly attitudes and going the extra mile for your employer. It may mean refusing to gossip about a coworker or judge fellow employees (even if they deserve it). It may mean talking less about yourself, asking questions that invite others to share about their own lives, and giving time to listen. 

When you do this, you love your neighbor as yourself. People will notice and you will become an influencer. 

Why do we believe that the Bible is against LGBTQ when Jesus never said anything about it?

LGBTQ was not a movement in first-century Palestine. But we can know what Jesus would have said if LGBTQ had been there.

That’s because Jesus affirmed that the Scriptures were true. He taught them, and he applied them with grace.

LGBTQ is not a word found in the Bible, but LGBTQ is about sexuality and sexual expression. Sexuality and sexual expression are found in the Bible.

Scripture defines sexuality as an order of creation established by God as male and female. Scripture defines sexual expression as something created by God for spiritual/emotional, physical, and covenant bonding between a man and a woman in marriage and for producing children.

Anything outside of these bounds is a distortion of God’s creation and plan. Scripture calls that distortion sin. So did Jesus.

You can see how Jesus addressed sexual sin with truth and grace in John 8:1-11.

For more information on sexuality and sexual expression as it pertains to those who follow Jesus, see our denomination’s Biblical Principles for Living.

What is speaking in tongues? Does it happen today? What is the purpose?

Tongues is one of the spiritual gifts referred to in the New Testament.  It is the God-given ability to speak in a human language that is unknown to the speaker. Unquestionably the first occurrence of tongues in Acts 2:4-11 was languages. Tongues can also be a special language that some use for private worship and prayer (1 Corinthians 14:14-15).

The spiritual gift of tongues is not a common practice in our tradition, but we are open to the possibility that it still exists. We are cautiously open however because this gift was obviously misused in the first century among the Corinthian believers and it is misused today. Only two or three are to speak in tongues during a service and it must always be interpreted ( 1 Corinthians 14:27-28). This is often violated today. As a spiritual gift, God gives the gift of tongues to whoever he chooses ( 1 Corinthians 12:11) and not everyone will receive the gift of tongues (1 Corinthians 12:30) and yet today there are many churches that hold classes to learn how to speak in tongues. This again is a violation of God’s word.

Its purpose was to enable people from another language and culture to hear that God was doing something special and they were able to hear about it in their own language. It was a sign to unbelievers (1 Corinthians 14:22) in that they realized something miraculous was taking place (they were hearing people who couldn’t speak their language speak their language) and they clearly understood the message of the gospel. Tongues and the interpretation of tongues are two of the four “sign gifts,” primarily used to establish that the message and the messenger were from God (Hebrews 2:4). As the gospel spread from Jews to Gentiles, tongues also acted as a sign that people from different groups had received the Holy Spirit and were saved (Acts 10:44-47, 19:1-6).  This has led to another significant misunderstanding and misuse of tongues today – a common teaching among churches that promote tongues is that tongues indicate that you have received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Paul told the Corinthian believers that they all had been baptized in the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13)  but not all of them spoke in tongues (1 Corinthians 12:30).

Anyone who feels that they have a sign gift should know that we do not actively practice the sign gifts at Calvary. Those who do, lovingly practice them quietly and privately, for the purpose of self-edification and in a non-divisive manner.

What should the Church do about reversing the moral decay in our culture?

The short answer? Nothing. (But read on because the longer answer may have what you’re hoping for.)

Morality was not the focus of Jesus’ mission among nonbelievers. Jesus came to save the souls of men and women. (Luke 19:10). Being “good” doesn’t save you. What Jesus did for you saves you. Our job, as “the Church,” should be to continue what Jesus started–sharing the good news with lost people.

One of our core values at Calvary is that everyone needs the gospel more than they need anything else. Sharing the gospel always begins with loving people as they are.

How to Share Your Faith is a class that offers great resources on befriending nonbelievers in order to share Christ. Sign up. We’ll contact you in time for our fall class!)

Coincidentally when the Church grows because more and more people in that culture get saved and follow Christ, the culture gradually changes to reflect the Christ-like values of its followers.

Is it permissible for Christians to drink alcohol?

Calvary cautions individual decisions concerning the consumption of alcohol. We are in full agreement with the statements found on the Bible Fellowship Church resource, Principles for Biblical Living on alcohol.

Can a believer be friends with an unbeliever?

Jesus was friends with unbelievers. He was called a“friend of sinners” (Matt. 11:10).  Paul, therefore, instructed the Corinthians to befriend/associate with unbelievers( 1 Corinthians 5:9-11). He expected them to socialize with unbelievers ( 1 Corinthians 10:27), and he was focused on reaching lost people (1Corinthians 9:19-23).

The Apostle Paul said that while we were sinners, God died for us (Romans 5:8) and that while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of Jesus and have been saved by His life (Romans 5:10). 

Just as God reconciled us to Himself, He wants us to become ministers of reconciliation, sharing the message of hope with other people  (2 Corinthians 5:16-20), especially unbelieving friends. That starts with something as simple as being a friend. 

Do believers who commit suicide still go to Heaven?

Suicide is a sin because it destroys someone who was created in the image of God. But nowhere do the Scriptures say that suicide is a sin that is not forgivable.

Suicide is perhaps one of the most devastating acts that someone can do. It puts an end to a life that God began–and it transfers anguish and pain to loved ones for the rest of their lives. But the Scriptures are clear that nothing that happens in life or death can separate those who are in Christ from Christ (Romans 8:28). 

 

Genesis 1:8 – The Expanse

Question:  In Genesis 1:8 God calls the expanse that separated the waters that were above and the waters that were below heaven. What is the relation, if there is one, to the heaven that we now think of with streets of gold and angels praising God? Is this expanse the only thing that God reveals as heaven in the OT, and then he reveals a new heaven in the NT? Can we call the expanse heaven today? 

Answer: The word heaven/heavens is used to speak in some cases of our atmosphere as in Genesis 1:8. It is also used of the heavens which we would understand as outer space where the sun, moon, planets and stars are located. And it is used to speak of the abode of God. When reading a passage you need to ask which heaven is intended – the context will often be clear.

Genesis 5 – Noah’s Age

Question: If Noah was 500 when he was told to build the ark and 600 when he & 3 sons and all the wives got on board with the animals, how many other children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren did he leave behind? I would imagine that he had many more than just 3 sons in 500 years, yes??

Answer: It is possible Noah had children prior to Shem, Ham and Japheth. If he did, those children must not have been walking with God. Genesis 5:32 seems to indicate that he had Shem, Ham and Japheth either as triplets when he was 500 or individually around Noah’s 500th year. The flood occurred in Noah’s 600th year (Gen. 7:6). Based on Genesis 11:10, Shem was 98 years old at the time of the flood. We only know what these verses tell us however.

Adam & Eve

Question: How many people did God create? Genesis 1:27says : ” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created. V. 28 God blessed them and said to them…” The man should refer to Adam. But who were the male and female and where did they go after God created them?

Answer: God created Adam and Eve as the male and female. He didn’t create anyone else just them. It can be a little confusing because Genesis 1:1-2:3 are an account of what happened on the 6 days of the creation week. On day six he created man (mankind) as male and female. Genesis 2:4-25 is a more detailed account of what happened on the sixth day of creation when God created the male, Adam, and the female, Eve.

Climate before the Flood

Question: Prior to the Flood, was the environment like that of a hyperbolic chamber which increased oxygen levels and created larger than usual plant and animal life? 

Answer: Genesis 1:6-9 says, “Then God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” God made the expanse, and separated the waters which were below the expanse from the waters which were above the expanse; and it was so. God called the expanse heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day…”

It had been theorized from this that there was a layer of water some distance out from the earth that surrounded the earth. It is theorized that this canopy would create a greenhouse and/or hyperbaric chamber environment. If this was the case, it would be ideal for plant life and increase blood-oxygen levels in animals. The pressure would also help animals with very large lungs like T-Rex to breathe. Many Creationists today are questioning this theory.

See the following page at Answers In Genesis for articles on this subject:

http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/2009/09/25/feedback-collapse-canopy-model
http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/2003/03/31/lack-of-oxygen

Fish & the Flood

Question: Not clear on why God decided to kill the birds of the air and the creeping things on the earth. What did they do that grieved God? Then OK, He did destroy them in the flood, but I’m guessing that the fish of the seas were spared? They weren’t specifically mentioned. So was it that the fish of the seas where never really put under man’s control so, that’s why they were not destroyed?

Answer: God destroyed the whole earth and basically returned it to the state described in Genesis 1:2. It isn’t exactly clear why He chose this method which included man and animals but one good explanation is that He did this to wipe out mankind but the animal world was included because God had place the animal world under man’s authority/dominion. This includes the birds and the fish. Based on the fossil record lots of fish, perhaps most, died in the flood as well birds and land animals.

 

Question: If God destroyed the fishes in the water during the flood. Where did all the fish come from? Noah didn’t put them on the ark did he?

Answer:  I believe you are correct that Noah didn’t put fish on the ark. God didn’t destroy all of them in the flood but many of them were destroyed and we know that because they ended up as fossils in rock layers on mountains. So, the fish we have today would have come from the fish that survived the flood.

Animals before the Flood

Question: Pre flood: Gen 9:2 Was there a different relationship between the animal kingdom and man than there is today? (It seems odd that Eve would be sitting around in the garden and having a casual conversation with a serpent) 

Answer: Apparently there was a different relationship. Keep in mind that her thoughts about a snake/serpent would have been completely different as a newly created woman prior to the Fall than our viewpoint today. Similarly, if animals were like animals today and didn’t speak she may not have understood or known that right away and wouldn’t have been overly surprised and leery of a talking snake or perhaps prior to the fall they did speak – we really do not know.

Creation Days

Question: What does it mean when it says, then there was evening and then there was morning, why does it say this for each day?

Answer: We as Americans think of a day as being a morning and an evening, but the Jews think of a day as an evening and a morning. The significance in Genesis 1 is that it is defining each of the days of the Creation week as a 24 hour day. The Jews as a result to this day start their day at 6PM not 12AM like we do.

Israel? Jacob? Who is who?

Question: In the story of Joseph, is there a significance to why in 37:1 it’s Jacob but then later he referred to as Israel but then at the end of the story he is called Jacob again?

Answer: Israel was the name that God gave to Jacob back in Genesis 35:10 and in Genesis 35 both names are used interchangeably for Jacob just as you noticed in Genesis 37. I don’t believe there is any significance. He was known and referred to by two names.

Egyptians “Overtook”

Question: In Genesis 14:9 it says, “The Egyptians-all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots, horseman and troops-pursued the Israelites and overtook them as they camped…”. In the next paragraph it goes on to act like they saw them coming and got away. Why does it say that they “overtook” them in verse 9?

Answer: We naturally tend to take the word “overtook” to mean that they “caught” them. But remember that words find their specific meaning in context. In light of the context of the events as described following v.9, “overtook” should be understood, probably even interpreted, as “they caught up to them.”

Pharaoh’s heart was hardened

Question: It states multiple times throughout the chapters discussing the plaques that the Lord hardened pharaoh’s heart. I realize Pharaoh considered himself a god and was stubborn to begin with and also understanding that continued rebellion against God will cause the heart to be hardened, but how does the Lord continuing to harden his heart affect Pharaoh’s free will?

Answer: We are delving into an area that we do not and cannot completely understand. The Scripture is very clear that God is sovereign and all powerful. It also indicates that man has some sort of freewill and responsibility. We as humans tend to think of God exercising His sovereignty as somehow being unjust in that it is violating man’s freewill. Theologians come down on both sides with arguments either defending God’s sovereignty or man’s freewill. Paul deals with…

 

 

the issue in Romans 9:1-11:32 and particularly uses the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart as an example in Romans 9:14-18.
“What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth.” So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.”

The New American Commentary has a good analysis of this passage and what was going on with the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart.

“The point is that God’s favors are not determined by anyone or anything outside of himself. God’s purpose in election rests not upon human will (thelo in v. 16 can express desire or purpose) or effort (a participle from trecho, “run”) but upon divine mercy. Although God elects with sovereign freedom, it does not follow that Israel had nothing to do with their rejection. Later in the chapter we will learn that Israel failed to attain a right standing with God because they pursued it on the basis of works (vv. 30-32). The sovereignty of God does not set aside human responsibility.

Paul used the case of Pharaoh (an individual rather than a nation as in vv. 7-13) to demonstrate that God withholds mercy and hardens whomever he chooses (cf. Exodus 7:3; 14:17). Pharaoh, that implacable enemy of God’s people, was raised to the position of king of Egypt so that God might display in him the evidence of his power (Exodus 9:16). Although Pharaoh’s rise to a position of authority undoubtedly had a secular interpretation, God was at work in his career, bringing him to prominence. God did it in order to display his power by bringing Pharaoh to his knees and so that his character as the one who delivered the children of Israel from Egyptian bondage might be known throughout the world. Verse 18 summarizes the argument. It provides the principle of divine action on which the preceding events were based. God shows mercy as he chooses, and he hardens people’s hearts as he chooses. He is sovereign in all that he does. Although the text says repeatedly, however, that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, it also stresses that Pharaoh hardened himself (cf. Exodus 7:13-14, 22; 8:15, 19, 32; 9:7, 34-35). Morris notes that “neither here nor anywhere else is God said to harden anyone who had not first hardened himself.”[1]

So Pharaoh can be seen to be exercising his freewill in response to things God had sovereignly put before him, things God knew Pharaoh would respond to just as he did.

Kill Moses?

Question: If the Lord wanted Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt then why in 4:24 it says the Lord met him there and tried to kill him.

Answer: In this story we are given minimal and strange details but apparently, during Moses’ years in Midian, he had not obeyed God’s command (cf. Gen. 17:10-14) to circumcise one (or both?) of his sons. So God was about to kill Moses, for this disobedience. Zipporah, Moses’ wife, circumcised her son with a flint so God would spare Moses.

When is the “Sabbath” really?

Question: In the Reading in Exodus 20, Verses 8-10, Moses is told to keep the Sabbath, the 7th day, holy. Why do we not honor/follow this?

Answer: Keeping the Sabbath (Saturday) holy and ceasing from work is the 4th of the 10 Commandments given to Moses for Israel at Mount Sinai. Today, we as the Church typically worship on Sunday the first day of the week for the following reasons:

1. All the 10 Commandments are restated in New Testament. As such they are typically reaffirmed, even strengthened, as they are in Matthew 5. In the case of the 4th Command, the New Testament changes it.

Paul says the following in Romans 14:4-6:  
“Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God.” 

So Paul is teaching that it isn’t so much the specific day as long as you have a time for God that you are convinced is pleasing to Him.

2. In the New Testament we have evidence that the day of worship has been changed from Saturday to Sunday because of Jesus’ resurrection on the first day of the week (cf. Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2). In Revelation 1:10, John was worshipping on the Lord’s Day.

3. Jesus, who said that He is the Lord of the Sabbath (Matthew 12:8) says in Mark 2:27 that, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.” In other words, God established the Sabbath as a rest for His people, not because He needed a break, but because we are mortal and need a time of rest, of focus on God. In this, our spirits and bodies are both renewed.

Israel celebrated the Sabbath on Saturday as a day of rest remembering the greatest thing that God had done up to that time which was the Creation. For us today we are to rest and worship on Sunday, the Lord’s Day, the day of the week that Jesus was resurrected from the dead, remembering what is now the greatest thing that God has done – saving us through Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection.

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