Q&A

10/1/2017 Q&A We are Followers of Jesus Christ

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Who is the author of Not a Fan?

Kyle Idleman

 

What does Jesus mean when he says 'salt' can lose its saltiness? As I understand this, it would appear to contradict other verses that offer assurances of salvation for followers of Christ. (John 10:27-28 for instance.) I don't believe God's Word will ever contradict itself, so I must be misunderstanding something. Can you help me understand this? Thank you!

The important question you are asking is when is a person truly saved or, in other words, what evidence points to salvation.  Philip Ryken says it well -

“If we are not disciples of Jesus Christ, then we are of no spiritual use.  This is the point of the miniparable that Jesus gave to close this discourse:  “Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored?  It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile.  It is thrown away.  He who has ears to hear, let him hear” (Luke 14:34-35; cf. Matt. 5:13).  Jesus used this expression when he wanted people to pay attention to something important.  What is important here is that unless we follow Jesus in the true way of Christian discipleship, we are worthless to the kingdom of God – as worthless as salt that isn’t even salty.

Salt has many useful purposes.  Unless it is salty, however, it is not good for anything at all.  This is a surprising image because the very essence of salt is to be salty.  How can salt possibly lose its taste, and still be salt?  This could never happen to pure sodium chloride, of course, but it could happen to the kind of salt that Jesus used.  When people “passed the salt” in those days, it was an impure chemical compound produced by the evaporation of saltwater from the Dead Sea – sodium chloride mixed with other crystals. Thus it was possible for the salt to leach out of the compound, and when this happened, what was left was completely useless.  There was nothing that anyone could do with it; it was not even good enough to use for fertilizer.

What Jesus said about salt that isn’t salty can also be said of a disciple who is not really a disciple.  In the same way that salt has to be salty in order to be salt, so also a disciple has to be a disciple in order to be a disciple!  This means being a disciple in the biblical sense:  A hating-your-family, carrying your-cross, renouncing-everything-for-Jesus disciple.  A disciple who does not love Jesus more than anything else he loves is not his disciple.  A disciple who does not carry his cross in daily death to self is not his disciple. A disciple who does not give everything over to Jesus is not his disciple.  However extreme this may sound, it is Jesus himself who says that unless we do these things, we cannot be his disciples.” (Philip Graham Ryken, Reformed Expository Commentary)

Ryken is not saying you have to be a perfect disciple, but he would say, and the Bible concurs, that someone who has responded to God’s love and invitation is going to have some degree of salt, some evidences of taking up a cross and following Him.  Listen with spiritual ears!

8/27/17 Q&A Pastoral Search

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If Pastor Josh becomes our Senior Pastor, is Gateway going to hire a new Associate Pastor?

This has been one of the most frequently asked questions throughout the pastoral search process.  Gateway has been slowly transitioning to a staffing model that will support multiple campuses and ministry areas.  We have staff members that support CR9, staff members that support North Main, and staff members that support ministries that span both campuses.  One example of the changes is our campus pastors.  Everyone is probably aware that Mike Barnhart is the Campus Pastor at North Main.  The CR9 campus has a Campus Pastor too, Pastor Ben.  If Pastor Josh is approved as our Senior Pastor, then Pastor Ben and Pastor Mike will continue as Campus Pastors at their respective locations.  Prior to Pastor Ben’s retirement in May 2019, Gateway will need to hire a new Campus Pastor for CR9.  While our Senior Pastor will have primary responsibilities for preaching and vision setting, our campus pastors will be our lead shepherds, supported by elders and staff at each campus.  So, will Gateway hire an Associate Pastor once Pastor Ben retires?  Quite possibly, but the title we use and the responsibilities will be different from what we’ve traditionally had. 

8/6/2017 Q&A Are You on the Right Road?

During the sermon this morning at the 9:00 service, Pastor Ben talked about different beliefs people have. He mentioned about people who believe they will be reincarnated and get a "do over" in some other form. It felt as if he was saying that those beliefs are OK and if you want to believe that it is alright? It seems to me that would be the perfect opportunity to tell folks that regardless of what they want to believe, what will happen when they die is they will meet GOD and have that time to give an accounting for their beliefs and their life. From there, it will only be two choices, Heaven or hell. Eternal separation from GOD. Maybe it's just me, and I took the inference incorrectly?

Re-incarnation is not a biblical view of the afterlife.  It’s actually a version of works-righteousness – if you didn’t get it right the first go-round, then you will get another chance to work your way to God.  And it’s also a ‘spiritual’ sounding avoidance of the clear Bible teaching that there is heaven and hell.  In the context of the message, however, I didn’t think it was stated as somehow an ok belief system.  Perhaps I could have provided more clarity, but I hope and pray that no one left Sunday morning with a wrong view of eternity.  Thanks for a good question.

7/30/2017 Q&A The Good, The Bad, and the Impartial

Do we believe that there are two hells? Will there be a second chance for those currently in hell? I was asked this at Joshua's men and I felt dumb for not knowing about 2 hells.

I know that Joshua’s Men participants are reading through Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology this year. I’d encourage you to read chapter 41 (particularly the section titled “The Souls of Unbelievers Go Immediately to Eternal Punishment”). This should clear up the “are there two hells” part of your question. However, to answer your second question, there will not be a second chance for anyone to repent and receive Christ after they have died. That’s why it is important for us to share the Gospel while there is still time for them to turn from the sin and turn to Christ.

You mention God answers your question. How does the answer come? Is it a generic feeling?

God speaks to us in a variety of ways. Most clearly, He speaks to us through the Bible. That’s why it’s important for us to read, study, and memorize God’s Word. Additionally, God will speak to our spirit. This may be what you mean by generic feeling. The caution here is to always check these feelings with the Bible, as God will never contradict Himself. Finally, God speaks to us through others. That’s why Christian community (Life Groups at Gateway) are important.

Where did Josh's view on heaven and our eternal bodies come from?

My (Josh’s) view of heaven and our eternal bodies comes primarily from the Bible. I’d encourage you to read 1 Corinthians 15:35-58 and also the last two chapters of Revelation. Also, as I said in the sermon, Jesus’ resurrected body gives us clues, as well, as to what our eternal bodies will be like.

 

7/23/2017 Q&A Our Judgement; God's Judgement

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Could you please send me the Gallop or Barna poll you eluded to on shifting morality? Thanks.

Here’s a link to the article on our nation’s shift in morality.

Here’s a link to the article on the shift being due to the 55+ age group.

 

How do you stand up for moral issues without appearing as if you are judging others? There is so much accusation of hate when you only state what we hold as the truth.

What I tried to stress in the sermon is that the best way to stand for moral issues is to tell the truth while living according to the moral issues you are standing for. For the Christian, though, we can’t pick and choose the biblical morals we want to follow. When we do, we lose our moral authority, because it appears as if we’re picking and choosing the moral behaviors we want to judge others with while ignoring the moral expectations in the Bible that we’re not living up to.

One example that may help: When it comes to our biblical stance on marriage being between one man and one woman. This is a truth that we cannot back down on. Yet our words of truth will be more compelling if our Christian marriages were all the Bible calls them to be (see Ephesians 5:22-33). Without vibrant, grace-filled, abounding-in-love Christian marriages, the world hears our words, but looks at what we’re doing in our marriages and says, “I think I’ll pass.” But if we Christians show the world what a biblical marriage is — in flesh and blood — then they may want to hear from us because we’d be showing them something that’s desirable.

 

What is the difference between opinion and judgement? Can you have an opinion without being judgemental?

An opinion would be “I like vanilla ice cream more than chocolate.” A judgement would be “Everyone who chooses chocolate is an inferior human being.” So, yes, you can have an opinion — “I like vanilla ice cream” — without being judgemental — “people who like chocolate are OK, too!”

 

7/9/2017 Q&A Exchange the Truth for a Lie

How did Adam and Eve know what God meant when He said, “…You will surely die” if there was no death in the Garden of Eden?

Adam and Eve may never have seen death, but they would have understood that death is a catastrophic event that they did not want to experience.

There are many things in life, since the Garden, that we hear about but don’t fully understand until it is our personal story – for example falling in love.  You may have been told that it is a life changing, mood-altering, magical time.  But until you have fallen in love and experienced the joy, and sometimes the pain, it remains an unknown thing.

Adam and Eve may never have seen death but they knew that it was an ugly thing.  Moreover, they knew that it was the consequence of disobeying God, the fruit of loving sin more than loving God.  All sin begins with not loving God enough to believe His Word.  And the consequence is always death.  The good news, however, is that death has been “swallowed up in victory” (I Corinthians 15:54) for those who believe (unlike Adam and Eve) will never die.  Jesus said,  “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26)

Believing is the only certain antidote to death.

7/2/2017 Q&A God Revealed and Our Deception

What do you say to people that say the verses in the Bible about homosexuality/sexual immorality is no longer relevant like the verses that say women shouldn't wear pants or cut their hair? Where can I find sermons on homosexuality? How do I teach the truth to my children when the world tells them lies?   

(Guest Answer from our Youth Ministry Director, Adam Borsay)

Thanks so much for the important question! Before even addressing the specifics of how we respond to the common objection that compares homosexual behavior to “ignored” rules like what we eat and what we wear, it is essential to understand the nature of God’s revelation found in the Old and New Testaments in relation to God’s laws. While this response will focus on the interaction between what is and isn’t “relevant” when moving from the Old Testament to the New Testament, it is without question that the New Testament is unambiguous concerning God’s view and expectation regarding sexual relationships!  

While many theologians and pastors have written in great depth on this subject (end of response lists resources), let me try to keep it fairly simple for right now while encouraging you to take advantage of the valuable contributions of Godly men and women who have done significant work on this subject.  

The Old Testament has a variety of “types” of Laws of God that served specific purposes for God’s covenantal people in Israel. Two broad categories to understand are: 1)  Moral Law, and, 2) Ceremonial Law. Ceremonial Law was directly related to the conditions God set for His people to appropriately worship Him and approach Him within the sacrificial system. It was provided for the purpose of illustrating the uncleanness of our own hearts and lives and God’s perfect and Holy Righteousness.  

Moral Laws are the universal non-negotiables that ALL people were responsible for as an outflow of God’s creative decrees and His own Nature. The Apostle Paul describes this moral culpability on all people to the Moral Law of God in Romans 2:14 when he states, “For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves”.   

Ceremonial Laws are no longer binding BECAUSE of Christ. Through Christ’s death and resurrection we are now able to boldly approach the throne of God (Ephesians 3:12). This does not invalidate the ceremonial laws that God gave His people, it is instead COMPLETES them.  

Moral laws are the outflow of our very design by a Holy God and are our ongoing responsibility to live righteously, and they continue to be binding. “Thou Shall Not Murder” is a moral law that we are all accountable to at all times. It doesn’t change just because our culture changes. Living within God’s will/design for our interpersonal relationships (sexually and otherwise) are always true regardless of cultural changes.  

The Gospel ultimately gives us hope in two powerful and life changing ways in relation to the Ceremonial and Moral Laws:

1. Because of the Cross, I am no longer unable to approach the throne of God because of my ritual uncleanness and am not under an obligation to follow purity laws about my clothes and the food I eat (amongst others).

2. Though I am still accountable to God according to His Moral law, I have hope because of the cross, that when I place my faith and hope in Christ and Christ alone, that even sexual sin will not be too much to be paid for by the Blood of the perfect Lamb.   

If someone challenges you to be “consistent” when it comes to the Bible, you can point out that it would be INCONSISTENT to require avoiding shrimp while trusting in Christ AND it is INCONSISTENT to trust in Christ and live in sexual sin.

For Further Reading

Article:

Tim Keller: Old Testament Law and the Charge of Inconsistency 

Books:

Barr, Adam. Compassion without Compromise

Butterfield, Rosaria. The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert

DeYoung, Kevin. What does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality

White, James. The Same Sex Controversy (Note from Adam: This book does a very thorough job of addressing specific issues that have been brought up by this specific question)