A new bulletin article is posted every week! You can subscribe via our RSS feed or contact us via email to receive a mailed copy of the bulletin every two weeks. Both the electronic and mailed bulletins are provided free of charge.
Overcoming a struggle
Struggles come in all shapes and sizes. Some are very addictive, which makes it even harder to stop. But for those who want to go to heaven, one of the best ways to cease doing that which is wrong is to admit what it really is – sin! Calling sin “a struggle” can lessen the severity to some degree. Moreover, it also conveys the idea that quitting is not controlled by the individual.
The sooner people see what sin really is, the sooner they can understand how to properly deal with it. Every person I know who drank alcohol, smoked or used hard drugs and now does not had to decide to quit! Unless one makes up their mind, they will continue to give in to “that struggle.”
In writing to the Ephesian brethren, Paul stated that we should not give place to the devil (Eph. 4:27). By that, he specifically mentioned, “put away lying…be angry and sin not….let him who stole steal no more…let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth….” (verses 25-29). One does not overcome anything if they do not repent, which means to turn away from (Luke 13:3). By turning away, measures are put in place to help one not do it again. In the Ephesians text, Paul said instructed the reader to not steal and instead begin labor with hands. For those who spoke corrupt words, Paul admonished them to begin speaking words that edify. In essence, the audience was to told to replace their bad, sinful habits with good ones.
I realize that people who become addicted to something will genuinely struggle to overcome it. However, all sin can become addictive. Some people cannot seem to stop being jealous or envious. Other cannot seem to stop lying to themselves and making excuses for not serving the Lord as they should. Every sin is serious and causes people to be separated from God (Isa. 59:1-2; Rom. 6:23).
Everyone struggles with sin, but everyone has also been commanded to STOP sinning (I John 2:1). May we grow in the desire to never sin as the first step in turning away from those sins we personally struggle with.
A good question
Last week, a listener to our weekly radio program called in a Bible question. She said that she had been invited by someone of the 7th Day Adventist church, and they wanted to know about the practice of keeping the Sabbath. Let’s take a closer look at the doctrine of keeping the Sabbath and the 7th Day Adventist group.
Sabbath-keeping is not a new doctrine
When God gave the law to Moses for the Israelites, they were commanded to keep the Sabbath holy (Ex. 20:8-11). Those who violated that law were to be stoned to death (Num. 15:32-36). When Jesus walked with man, He kept the law concerning the Sabbath (Luke 4:16). This should not surprise us as Jesus lived and died under the Old Law. The Old Law was not done away with until Christ’s death (Heb. 8:6-7; 9:16-17; Col. 2:14).
Sabbath keepers after the death of Jesus
Even after Jesus’ death, we read of individuals in the Bible who continued to gather on the Sabbath to worship God. Such people, like Paul, had rejected Jesus and they were caught up in Judaism prior to obeying the gospel (Gal. 1:13). This is why you can read about the apostle going into synagogues on the Sabbath to preach to the Jews (Acts 13:1415:21; 17:2; 18:4). When Paul went to the synagogues to teach after his conversion, he was NOT keeping the Sabbath. The synagogues were filled with lost Jews, and he was preaching with the intent to convert them to Christ. Sometimes people would listen and obey (Acts 17:2-4; 18:8).
No keeping of the Sabbath today
After Jesus died and the New Law (New Covenant) came into effect, (Matt. 26:28), Christians were not required to keep the Sabbath. Saints gathered to worship the Lord on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7; I Cor. 16:1-2). God’s people were admonished not to worry about Jews and religious pagans who would now judge them in food, drink, festivals, the new moon or sabbaths (Col. 2:16). Specifically, the Jews would rebuke Christians for not keeping Old Testament rules. God’s children were told not to listen to them (Gal. 4:10-11).
Worshipping on Saturday
We need to realize that there is a difference between Christians gathering on a Saturday to worship and the keeping of the Sabbath. We have occasionally held revivals at the church building on a Saturday to worship. But these gatherings do not replace the requirement to assemble of the first day of the week – Sunday (Acts 20:7, 1 Cor. 16:2. This means that although we gathered to worship on a Saturday, certain practices are reserved for Sunday. Christians remember the Lord’s death by taking the Lord’s Supper on Sundays (Acts 20:7; I Cor. 11:17-18, 23-26). The church also takes up a collection (I Cor. 16:1-2; II Cor. 9:7). Those things should not be done on Saturday. You can study, pray and sing anytime, as we read Christians doing (Acts 16:25; 20:36; 8:28-35).
7th Day Adventist’s Church
Finally, note that you cannot read about this religious group anywhere in the Bible. Instead, it was started by man in the 1840s. One early leader was Ellen G. White, who claimed to be a prophet. Our only goal is to follow Christ by belong to the church that He built (Matt. 16:18; Acts 20:28). Since Christ purchased His church with His own blood, we know it began at the time of His death around 33 AD. Mankind needs to test the spirits to see where they are of God because many false prophets have gone out into this world (I John 4:1). Rather than leaning on personal opinions, we should merely accept what God has made perfectly clear.
Am I being unkind?
After someone reads the first article, he might get the idea that I do not like the 7th Day Adventists. This is not be true. Just like the Lord, we are to love everyone (John 3:16; Matt. 22:39). Nor does it mean that I believe that 7th Day Adventist members are insincere. The scriptures tell us how people can be sincere and full of zeal but still be in error (Rom. 10:1-3). Someone can be kind, generous and even believe in God and yet still be in their sins (Acts 10:1-2; 11:14).
The Bible describes how being straightforward can cause people to think we are enemies (Gal. 4:16). My goal is to not put people down in order to puff myself up. When someone asks a Bible question, they ought to demand an answer from the word of God (I Pet. 4:11). Perhaps most importantly, God’s opinion about the religious sect is far more important than my own opinion.
I realize that it is easy for me to answer someone’s question without discussing this face to face with them or members of the 7th Day Adventists. As much as I want to give proper representation, I ought to be willing to talk about this with anyone who is a member of that group. The Lord expects me to give an answer for the hope that is within me (I Pet. 3:15). Something is obviously wrong if I will talk about a false doctrine but am unwilling to talk about it publicly.
No one should be ashamed of the gospel of Christ (Rom. 1:16). Getting together and discussing the scriptures in a calm and orderly way is to be encouraged. For the sake of all our readers, this holds true with any religious group that is out there. When a lady asked me to sit down with her preacher so the two of us could discuss the scriptures while she listened to both sides, I jumped at the opportunity. I say this so you know that you can do the same.
Christians have no excuse for being rude and hateful. We should have a genuine concern for all souls. How about you? Would you like to get together and study God’s word? It is my prayer that you will consider this offer and reach out if you are interested.
How do I balance that?
In our first article we discussed having proper confidence that we are going to heaven by keeping the faith. How can Christians do this without thinking we are earning our salvation though? The key is to understand the difference between working out our own salvation with fear and trembling (Phil. 4:16) and being saved by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8). After all, faith without works is dead (James 2:24).
Consider Titus 3:1-8. In these verses, Titus is told what he is to teach the brethren. The teachings are broad and include everything from obeying the rules of the land to speaking evil of no one. He was to remind them to leave behind their former ungodly lives (verses 1-2). Notice that even with all the commands given, Titus is told that the demonstrated kindness of God did not come “by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us…” (verse 5). In essence, Titus is told that our good works do not earn God’s kindness because salvation was already offered to us.
God’s kindness came first and is seen in many ways. Logically, there would be no race to run if mankind was not given the chance to run it in the first place. Man could not keep a faith unless it had already been delivered (Jude. 3). How could we have a hope of heaven unless there was heaven to offer man and consequences if it was rejected?
The assurance Christians have is directly related to their trust in what the Lord said. Because faith comes by hearing the word of God (Rom. 10:17) and we know that hearing the word without obeying it is unprofitable (James 1:22), our hope rests in walking by faith. Those who believe you cannot be 100% certain of your chances of heaven show their lack of faith. If you do what the Lord says and do not question Him, you will have complete peace.
Anyone who is convinced they are right with the Lord should not be afraid to defend what they believe. After all, we are to give an answer for the hope that is within us (I Pet. 3:15). Do you have that hope? And more importantly, do you know why? Consider these things and contact us if you have concerns.
That is not what I asked
Have you noticed how; when you ask someone a question, they often answer a different one? For example, this often happens when you ask people, “Are you going to heaven?” Many people give a response but do not truly answer the question. As you read this article, ask yourself if you are guilty of answering the wrong question.
When I ask you, “Are you going to heaven?” I am not asking you…
Do you want to go to heaven?
Although this is a good question, desiring to go somewhere and knowing whether you are going somewhere are very different. Some have concluded that they are going to heaven based upon their desire. We know this is true because of what Jesus said will happen in the last day. In Matthew 7:21-23, Christ speaks of the many who will think they are going to heaven merely because they want to go there. Let me be clear – it is good to desire to go to heaven! God’s word tells us of the requirements to actually get there though. Desire does not answer the question, “Are you going to heaven?”
Does God want you to go to heaven?
No Christian should doubt whether our heavenly Father wants us to go to heaven. He sent His Son to die on the cross so that we all might be saved (John 3:16). We are even told that our God does not want anyone to perish (II Pet. 3:9). However, we are not guaranteed to go to heaven just because our Creator wants us to go. It is true that God desires for us to join Him in heaven and thus made it accessible to us, but this does not answer the question, “Are you going to heaven?”
Do others say you are going to heaven?
Many religious people have been misled and now have a false hope of heaven. They believe they are going to heaven because of what their preacher said or because of what their family and friends told them. They are not considering what God has said about the matter. This is like when Eve was told in the garden that she would not die for disobedience when God clearly said she would (Gen. 3:4). Those who think they can blame the preacher or family member who taught error need to remember what Jesus said - when the blind lead the blind, both will fall into the ditch (Matt. 15:14). The teachings of men do not answer the question, “Are you going to heaven?”
Do you feel like you are going?
It is sad when people are taught that they cannot know whether they are going to heaven. These people often express interest in heaven but only say that they hope to get there. Jesus came to the earth to give us a peace that surpasses all understanding (Phil. 4:7). We already discussed how people can have false assurance of heaven, but this does not mean that we cannot know. God’s standards are clear, and we should remember this when asked “Are you going to heaven?”
We can know if we are going to heaven
The fact that we can know whether we are going to heaven means we can also know when we are not going. By looking to the true path described in God’s word, we can know with certainty whether we are on track to go to heaven and can take appropriate action (Matt. 7:13-14). Notice Paul’s confidence: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but to all who have loved His appearing.” (II Tim. 4:7-8).
Paul’s confidence does not stem from pride or love of self – it stems from confidence in our Lord. All of us are in a fight and a race that we can win, but we need to keep the faith like Paul. May we examine ourselves (II Cor. 13:5) and make sure we have a proper assurance that we are going to heaven.