Q & A 501-

Question #501 – Strong statements

I have trouble understanding “The cost of being a Disciple” Luke 14 25-34. Such strong statements that I don’t understand. Why is it at times the Gospel is hard to grasp as to what it means?

Leon’s Response

I agree that sometimes Jesus statements seem hard to grasp. In Luke 14 and in the last verses of Luke 9 you have extreme challenges, such as to be a disciple one must hate father, mother and one’s own life to be a disciples and one must forsake all he has to be a disciple. The point being made by Jesus is that God and His kingdom must come first in our lives. In the story of the rich young ruler the Lord knew that his money was standing between him and real discipleship so he said if you want to be perfect or mature then go sell all you have and give it to the poor and come follow me. Any time the kingdom of God and following Him isn’t so important to us that we would be willing to leave anyone or anything in order to be His then we aren’t really putting him first. The graphic illustrations are different ways of making this same point.

Remember in Matthew 13 Jesus told two parables about the kingdom. One of the man who found the treasure hidden in a field and going and selling all he had to buy the field and the one who was seeking good pearls and found one pearl of great price and sold all he had to buy it. God wants us to know that being right with him is more important and more valuable than any and everything else.

Question #502 – Homosexuality immutable?

Having read your q&a about homosexuality, it seems that it would be okay for gays to date and kiss et cetera (just not have sex) just like the unmarried people your congregation. Is that your position? Please explain in regards to your previous concession that homosexuality is immutable.

Leon’s Response

Homosexual sex is a part of the sexual immorality described in the Bible. I don’t believe that one having desires for one of the same sex is always preventable and may well be something born with. And I do believe it is the same as a heterosexual having desires for one of the opposite sex. But even with the relationship of a man and woman it is sinful to lust for the person and have sex with them in your mind. In Matthew 5:28-32 Jesus said if one looks at a one to lust for her he has committed adultery in his heart. So for two people to try to play the game with God and go up to the very edge of having sex but not have intercourse isn’t right. You can’t fool God in what you are doing. To have close friends of any sex is great. But I don’t think it is likely that one will go through the foreplay for sex then stop right before it is consummated. Even if you could you would find yourself in a lustful situation.

With regard to God’s plan, follow Jesus reasoning in Matthew 19:1-11. He went all the way back to creation and noted that God made them male and female. In Genesis 2 when God said it wasn’t good for a man to be alone and then made a helper suitable for him he made the woman and brought her to the man. Imagine Adam and Eve standing naked before each other. Their bodies were made for each other. It will never be the case that two men or two women standing naked before each other will see that it is obvious we were made for each other.

The fact that we have longings in life does not mean we have the right to fulfill the desires. People long for money, power, popularity and a ton of other things but the longings don’t make it right to do what God says not to do, such as coveting or stealing. If you have read the other responses I’ve made on this subject you are aware of the different Scripture on this point. Romans 1:18-26; I Corinthians 6:9-18 followed on in chapter 7:1-5 demonstrate God’s plan for all. God loves all people and we are all sinners in need of His amazing grace. But I must be turning from all sins and to Him to be right with him. Look at I Thessalonians 4:1-9.

Question #503 – Can I be forgiven?

Well the only way to say this is I am a sinner, I cheated on my first wife and we divorced, she remarried. I have been thinking about baptism, will I be forgiven and can I remarry?

Leon’s Response

Any sin or sinner can be forgiven of their sins. Read I Corinthians 6:9-11 where Paul mentions all kinds of sins including adultery and said to the church that “Such were some of you. But you are washed, you are sanctified, you are justified in the name of the Lord and by the Spirit of our God.” In Titus 3:5-7 Paul said we aren’t saved by righteousness that we have done but according to his mercy by the washing of new birth and the renewal of the Holy Spirit. The blood of Christ can cleanse any sin. One must believe in Christ, repent or turn from their sins and to the Lord along with being baptized into Christ to thus begin the new life with Him. In Acts 22:16 Ananias told Saul to arise and be baptized and wash away your sins calling on the name of the Lord.

As to the question about remarriage, yes I believe you can remarry at that point and be right with God. Read I Corinthians 7 where Paul answers question sent to him by the church in Corinth about marriage. He says every man should have his own wife and every woman her own husband and they should give themselves to each other to prevent sexual immorality, He told them if they could remain single and not be tempted to become immoral that they should do so but if they didn’t have the gift to stay single without getting involved sexually with someone to marry because it was better to marry than to burn with passion. He told the married to stay married and if they separated to stay single or be reconciled to their mate. He told Christians married to non-Christians not to leave if the non-Christian was willing to live with them but if the unbeliever left the brother or sister was not under bondage. He gave illustrations about people who were slaves and those who were and weren’t circumcised to tell them to remain in the situation in which they were called or became Christians. Then he applied the principle to marriage, saying if you were married when you became a Christian don’t seek a divorce. If you are divorced when you were called as a Christian remain unmarried, but if you marry you have not sinned and if a virgin marries they have not sinned. So Paul says if you become a Christian as one divorced it isn’t a sin to marry but it will add some difficulties to your life.

Question #504 – How to use God’s money?

Bro. Leon, could you give me verses of scriptures as how we are to use God’s money as a church. What do you feel is right or wrong?

Leon’s Response

There isn’t any place in the New Testament that talks specifically about the church’s use of money and what is right or wrong. There are many places he talks about things churches did with their money but only in principle does he tell us what not to do with it. In 2 Corinthians Paul talks a great deal about giving to the church. These points all build on the teachings of I Corinthians 16:1-2 where he told the church at Corinth that his commands to them were the same as to the churches of Galatia. “On the first day of the week let each of you lay by in store as God has prospered him so there will be no need for gathering it when I come.” The collection here and the one discussed in 2 Corinthians 8 and 9 are specifically about Gentile churches taking up money to help the poor saints in Jerusalem. It wasn’t just a benevolent collection, but Paul was hoping to tear down some of the walls between the Jewish Christians and the Gentile Christians. In Acts 21 he returned to Jerusalem with the collection. It didn’t have the result he had hoped for. He was arrested there and would have to appeal to Caesar to keep from being executed by the Jews. In 2 Corinthians 8 he tells of the churches of Macedonia giving all they were able to give and then some, pleading with him to allow them to be part of the contribution. He tells the Corinthians that they need to follow that example. He told them in chapter 9 to give generously, according to what they purposed in their hearts. In the last few verses of chapter 9 he tells of the gratitude that had been shown to those who gave to the saints and to all men. Later in chapter 12 he mentions that “He robed other churches taking wages from them while he worked with the church in Corinth.” In Philippians 4:14-through the rest of the chapter he tells these brethren how much he appreciates the support they have given him in his work. In I Timothy 5:8-16 Paul talked about teaching Christian families that they needed to take care of their own relatives so the church wouldn’t be charged with such duty and the church could help those widows who didn’t have families to help them,

In Acts 11:27-30 the church in Antioch was asked to send relief to the church in Jerusalem because of a famine that was coming to the area. They all gave as they were able and the money was sent to the elders in Jerusalem. From these passages it is clear that the church spent money in helping those in need and in support of the preaching of the gospel. In I Corinthians 9 Paul talked about the fact that those who preach the gospel should live by the gospel.

But the early churches were mostly small churches that met primarily in homes of some members. There wasn’t the kind of formal treasury as is common today. It seems to me the best answer is that a church has a right to support with their money anything that the church should be doing. If a thing is the work of the church then it should be supported by the church. While there is no mention of support for buildings, or for worship for example these are the work of a church and should be supported by it. Also, in thinking of what the church can support and can’t support one huge question is what is the goal of the support. We can even support good causes for the wrong reasons and it become a wrong action.

Finally, the best pattern for the church to follow on anything is Jesus, himself. The church is the body of Christ (Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians 1:18). We are to live out today the mission and work of Christ as He did in a physical body on this earth. When you look at what He did and what He taught us to do it becomes clear what a church should support and what it shouldn’t. Think of His great commission in Matthew 28:18-20. We are to make disciples of people in every place baptizing them into the name of the Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit and teach them to observe all thing commanded us and the Lord will be with us all the time. We must support with our money and our lives the mission of reaching and teaching people for Him all the time.

Question #505 – One race, one man?

Good site helpful answers to the questions. I don’t know whether this helps or not as an addition to question 46 we are all related. The Chinese thought they were a different evolutionary development from the rest of the world. But studies in blood and genetics have now shown that even they (who did not like the idea of being related) have now been shown to be scientifically, also a bit of a shock for those of the Klu Klux Clan variety the same genetics show we are also racially related.

Leon’s Response

That would certainly fit with Paul’s statement in Acts 17 when speaking to the people of Athens “God has made all nations of one blood” or “one man”.

Question #506 – upcoming marriage adultery?

If you were studying with a non-scripturally divorced, non-Christian, who was about to be married again, would you argue that his upcoming marriage will be adultery? Would God look at his circumstances differently since he was not a Christian nor his spouse in his first marriage?

Leon’s Response

In studying with anyone who hasn’t given their life to Christ in obedience to His will, I would begin by teaching them the gospel that God made us and wants a relationship with us so much He willingly gave His unique Son to live as a man, go through our temptations and die for our sins so we can be saved. I would point to His resurrection and ascension back to God to a place of authority over all and that He sent His Holy Spirit to be with us and help us live and grow in Him. I would point to I Corinthians 6:9-18 to show that no matter what has happened in the past they can be washed, sanctified and justified in the name of the Lord and by the Spirit of our God. I would point out that when I give my life to God my body becomes the temple or sanctuary of God and our bodies belong to Him and that being the case should lead me to live a pure life staying away from immoral behavior.

I would then note that in I Corinthians 7 God’s answer to man’s problem with immoral relationships is that each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband and that they should give themselves freely to each other. God considered it defrauding one another to withhold oneself from their partner in marriage. I would note that the most important thing in a marriage is that each partner is devoted to God and is a help to the other in living for God. I would try to lead them to first make their commitment to God and obey His will before entering any discussion of marriage.

I do believe that one involved in a marriage failure even if they were part of the problem that led to the break up can be forgiven of that failure and can live a Christian life. In light of I Corinthians 7:17-28 I do believe a Christian who is free from a wife or loosed from a wife can marry another person and there be no sin involved. They must repent of all sin including the breaking up of their marriage and be committed to living a different life, one of faithfulness to God and to their partner from that time forward.

Question #507 – God’s love & gay marriage

My friend Kevin wrote this: Would he be correct in his words?

God Is Love: Thoughts On Gay Marriage Share

“God is Love!” I join with the apostle John in remembering this truth. “Everything you do should be done in love.” I join with the apostle Paul in striving to live this truth. “Every minute build in more generous love to others.” I join with the apostle Peter in developing this truth. “As you are loved, Love!” I join with our Lord Jesus the Christ in being shaped by this truth.

Love is not a means to an end. Love is the means and the end. Love is the practice that will identify those who are the Kingdom of God. Love is a citizenship, that must pervade every element of praxis in a reborn life.

It is because of this I have stood at odds for a very long time with many people I love dearly in conservative Christianity over the issue of ‘Gay Marriage.’ I do not take anyone to task on their reading of and understanding of the Bible. However, I can not understand how reading a book, that calls it’s followers to be a people defined by love one could ever use it as a source to demonize any class of people.

If YHWH God is love, and his are people who are known by their love; then Christianity’s politicized campaign against gay marriage has cost her very identity. It is as impossible to tell a person they are “Love by God” and campaign to deny them of any civil rights, as it would be to tell a hungry man, “be warm and well fed” and leave him to starve.

I am reminded of the words of Jesus who said, “Be compassionate, as the Lord your God is compassionate.” This call to compassion must be as enveloping as the very compassion of God.

I am aware that many people who have heard countless Christian leaders press how ‘Gay Marriage’ is the most pressing issue to the church today may be very offended by this. Feel free to correct me, I close by going back to the beginning.

Love is not a means to an end. Love is the means and the end. Love is the practice that will identify those who are the Kingdom of God. Love is a citizenship, that must pervade every element of praxis in a reborn life.

“God is Love”

Leon’s Response

I largely agree with what he has said. It is true that many have acted in hateful ways in the name of God. I’ve had the opportunity to study with several people who have been living in a Gay relationship and have helped several come out of that lifestyle to a single lifestyle or even into a husband-wife relationship with the opposite sex. But I’ve never known anyone who changed their lifestyle as a result of being harshly condemned. It is possible to help one see that their lifestyle is wrong before God in a loving, caring way. I know that many would turn to Matthew 23 to see how strongly Jesus spoke to the Pharisees and Sadducees. But there isn’t a time when he spoke so strongly to anyone living in sin. Even the woman caught in adultery was treated with compassion. It was only the religious leaders who had a poor attitude that he spoke harshly to. As Christ followers we desperately need to lose the “I’m right and anyone who differs is wrong” spirit and become so deeply concerned about anyone who isn’t right with God that we would become all things to all men to somehow save some. When I read Romans 9:1-6 as Paul says he would wish that he was accused and separated form Christ if it would mean the salvation of his fellow Israelites I’m deeply convicted that I have not showed that kind of love to many people.

Question #508 – disagreement over having another baby

I want a fourth child and my husband doesn’t. I have been married for six years and we have 3 boys and I would like to have a daughter. Before my husband and I gotten married we both agreed upon having 4 or 5 children (husband->) if we could afford it. He also told me that he would not have any more children after the age of 30 and he will be 28 this year. I don’t want a child right now because we are not as stable as we should be but, I would prefer just one more, boy or girl , in the near future. He has stated to me that he does not want any more children regardless and that I should get my tubes tied. He even makes us use condoms during intercourse (in which he knows that I don’t like.) I feel that he is very controlling with a lot of things but now I have no control over my own sex life and I don’t think that it is fair. I have put up with condoms for almost two years and when I have a talk about other contraceptives he has said that he would use his own protection anyway. I don’t know how to handle this because he has dishonored our conversation we had before marriage so we just don’t talk about anymore but when people ask are we having any more children, he jokes about it and it is a very sensitive subject for me. I have prayed about it and just don’t think about it too much but it seems when I see or hear about babies being born I get sad. Am I wrong, what shall I do?

Leon’s Response

It is important that you both be open with each other and talk about why each of you feel as you do. Why has he decided he doesn’t want another child? Why do you feel so strongly that you want another child? Of course, you would not be able to know if it would be a girl this time, so how would you react if it is another boy? The New Testament doesn’t really talk about the subject of couples having any particular number of children. It does talk about taking care that we don’t have sex outside the marriage relationship (I Corinthians 6:13=19). It does talk about the married couple and their sexual relations in I Corinthians 7:1-6. Each woman should have her own husband and each man his own wife so they aren’t tempted to have sexually immoral relationships. Each person in the marriage, belongs to the other person as well as to God. “Your body is not your own, it belongs to your husband.” “Husbands, your body doesn’t belong to you anymore. It belongs to your wife.” He tells us not to with hold sex from our partner unless it is by mutual consent and for a short time for us to give ourselves to prayer and then come back together so Satan won’t tempt us in our lack of self control.

In Hebrews 13:4 it says that marriage is honorable in all and the bed undefiled, but fornicators and adulterers will be judged. Part of the concept of being one flesh is the coming together in sexual relations. Some important things to remember are that every child deserves to come into this world loved by both a mom and dad and deeply wanted by both. I would never recommend to any couple to have a child when one partner doesn’t want a child. It is too easy for matters like this to build a wall between a husband and wife and ruin a marriage, and by doing so the children already lose out because of it.

If this continues to be a matter of conflict I strongly urge you to see a Christian counselor and talk it out with someone there to help. In the mean time both of you need to read and think about these Scriptures, Ephesians 5:21-36 and I Peter 3:1-9 When wives and husband submit to each other and the wife allows the husband to be the leader in the family and when a husband loves his wife like Christ loved the church, these problems should be solved quickly. In the sexual relationship each partner should be trying to make certain the other one has a great experience in the sex. When we start thinking only of ourselves it will kill the relationship. In the I peter passage he tells wives the best way to change their husband about anything isn’t with words or nagging but by being the person God wants them to be. The husband is to dwell with his wife according to understanding, honoring their wife as the weaker vessel and as heirs together of the grace of life.

Your marriage relationship is the most important relationship you can have outside your relationship with God. Even our children aren’t as important as our marriage. In marriage is the only place two people become one flesh and God joins us together in the relationship (Matthew 19:6). By all means don’t allow this disagreement to destroy your marriage. Children will grow up and leave home to start a different family. Your marriage should last for a life time.

Question #509 – after the resurrection questions

After the Resurrection why do you think there were those that did not recognize Christ. Do you think that his appearance had changed? Something like back in Psalms 45? Do you think the violent earthquake in Matthew 28:2 was just felt in that area of where the tomb was? Where as at the Crucifixion it caused many thing to happen in the area (rocks split, tombs broke open, bodies were raised to life). I could see that being a miracle.

Leon’s Response

As to why the people didn’t recognize Christ after the resurrection, I think there may be multiple answers. One of the primary answers is given in Luke 24 when He met with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. The text says that they were kept from recognizing Him until they were at the table and Jesus prayed for the food. It may be that his appearance had been changed and that God dept them from recognizing him immediately. When Mary heard his voice she recognized him. It was the showing of the scars that showed Thomas who he was. From the fact he still had the scars it is demonstrated that his body had not be completely changed. But it was obviously different since he came through the door with it closed.

As to the earthquake, it likely did cover a good bit of the area, but as with modern earthquakes it probably became less of a threat the further they were from the epicenter. This earthquake, I believe, was a miraculous thing to show God’s concern for what they had done in crucifying His Son. Some of the affects demand that it be more than a natural event, especially the fact that bodies were raised from the dead and were seen alive in the city. Like the other miracles of Jesus it was a sign to help them believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God (John 20:30-31).

Question #510 – Beatitude breakdown

Have always heard different takes on The Beatitudes. Could you give me a break down on each one as to what they mean?

Leon’s Response

The beatitudes are given by Jesus as the first section of the Sermon on the Mount as revealed in Matthew 5. They are laid out so that Jesus says “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the gentle for they shall inherit the earth, Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be filled, blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God, blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the sons of God and blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy and blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

In these Jesus lays out the qualities needed for one to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. The lay out of each beatitude is that he states a special blessing on all who live in a particular way and in the last part of the beatitude names the blessing for that beatitude The blessing for the poor in spirit is they receive the kingdom, etc.

There are seven qualities: Humility – poor in spirit. He used the strongest word for poor that was available in the Greek language. It’s not a word that would mean one is at the poverty level and has to strain to make ends meet. Instead it is the word describing one who is totally without. God wants us to recognize that on our own we have nothing to offer God. We are spiritually bankrupt and need grace from God to have anything from God. It is this humility or poverty of spirit that leads one to believe in Jesus instead of themselves. The second is to mourn and he again used the strongest word for mourning available. It means to cry out in grief. It is the idea that one seeing their sins, their guilt and realizing they have nothing to offer God, turns from sin in deep repentance to make things right with God. The third principle is gentleness or meekness. It literally means to be “Under control” It is the same word used for the taming of a wild animal. When we have trained a horse to ride we will say of the horse that it is gentle. His power is still there but it is now under control. If one is gentle and under God’s control they will willingly confess their faith in Jesus, the Christ. For one to hunger and thirst for righteousness is to crave righteousness the way a starving man craves food or a man dying of thirst craves water. It is only when we have such a craving for a right relationship with God that we are filled. If we have such a hunger it will lead to our being baptized into Christ. The principles of mercy, purity of heart and peacemakers are marks of one who is living for God in the world. If one has these characteristics in their lives it will lead to their being persecuted for righteousness. It also leads to our being the salt of the earth and the light of the world.

Question #511 – Women’s Role In Worship

I have read the questions and comments about women serving in worship services. And from my understanding you fill that they should not. You quoted the scriptures I Corinthians 14:34-35 and I am glad you did. You continue to say that women should keep quiet but if you look at that scripture the Greek word for women is wives. So shouldn’t you look at this that wives should remain silent in the churches of Corinth? this pertaining to the Corinth culture? In the same book I Corinthians chapter 11 1-16 states that women prayed and worship in the church. They just covered their heads when doing so. Worship is about order and unity. Please explain to me again why women shouldn’t lead or participate in church worship. Thank You God Bless

Leon’s Response

I appreciate you reading the questions and answers. You are right that the specific point made in I Corinthians 14:34-35 is about the wives of the prophets which is why he would say if they wanted to learn anything they could ask their husbands at home. But three things in the verse demand that it be applied wider than the specific application. One is that the statement begins with “As in all the churches of the saints”. Second, that he says of the point that this is what the law also said, and third, that he makes a general application when he adds “It is a shame for a woman to speak in the church meeting”.

With regard to chapter 11:1-16 it does refer to men and women being together and women praying and prophesying and their need to demonstrate submission. This does indicate that women can speak forth God’s word and pray in the presence of men. But there is a distinction made in verses 1-16 and the teaching that follows in verses 17 and following about the Lord’s supper. There is it noted that this was when the whole church comes together in one place indicating this was different from the meeting in the beginning of the passage.

The speaking in 14 is on the same point as talked about with tongue speakers keeping silent if there is no translator and prophets keeping silent when another prophet is speaking. Worship is always about praising and pleasing God so he obviously has the right to say how it is to be done.

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