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    If God takes our souls right away when we die, will God send us back to earth to our graves on Judgement Day? And what if you died without a burial or grave?
  • Through Jesus Christ we have the gift of eternal life in Heaven. Therefore it is natural for Christians to have questions about how exactly that works. What are the steps between my life here and my eternal life in Heaven? Now as to your first question, the Scriptures do say in Ecclesiastes 12:7 that when we die “the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.” Then, on the Last Day, the Bible makes it clear that we will be raised to life - our bodies together with our souls. “The body that is sown perishable, it is raised imperishable, it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. (1 Corinthians 15). However, Scripture doesn’t tell us exactly how God accomplishes this or the exact steps involved, it simply tells us that through death we become partakers of eternal life. God is all powerful, so he can do this.
    Now some have wondered about what happens to those of us who die before Judgement Day. Do our souls sleep in God’s care and then are awakened on the Last Day to inherit eternal life? Or, if I die tonight, will I already be in Heaven, and then on the Last Day I will be raised with my body to continue to enjoy everlasting life? In other words, is there a ‘soul sleep’ between now and the Last Day? Scripture is relatively silent on the matter - the Holy Spirit wants us to focus more on the certainty of our eternal life, instead of exactly when we receive it. However, there are some statements made that seem to contradict the idea of ‘soul sleep’. In Philemon 1:23 Paul says “I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far.” It doesn’t seem like Paul thought that after he died and his soul was with God he would be totally unconscious until Judgement Day. However, the important thing is that we know, just as Paul did, that through death we receive eternal life with our Savior.
    Now as to your second question - what happens to Christians who die without a burial or grave? Well, on the Last Day they are raised to life, with their complete and perfected body. In the first line of the Apostle’s Creed we confess “I believe in God the Father almighty.” God is all powerful, nothing can stop Him from fulfilling his promise. When I die, whether I am cremated, if I drown in the Ocean, or if my remains have long since turned to dust, it doesn’t matter. Nothing can stop God raising my body to be with Him forever. This is what Paul is referring to in Romans 8: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Nothing can separate us from God, and on the Last Day he will raise us - wherever we might be - to eternal life with Christ.

    Why should I trust the Bible?
  • Hundreds of books are available giving overwhelming evidence and solid reasons to trust the Bible. Many Bible statements can be confirmed through history, archeology, anthropology, astronomy, and other fields. These "proofs" will never convince a skeptic to believe in God, although some skeptics have been led by this evidence to study the Bible and become believers in Christ Jesus.

    The Bible is "self authenticating." God himself convinces us that the Bible is true as we hear the Bible message. Read the Bible and hear God speak to you through its pages. It is through the Gospel message in the Bible that God brings us to faith and strengthens our faith.
    Romans 10:17   Romans 16:25-26

    The Word Of God (the Bible) calls itself a "double-edged sword", "flawless", "a light for my path", "seed", "the sword of the Spirit", "the power of God", "fire", and "a hammer that breaks a rock." Hebrews 4:12   Psalm 12:6   Psalm 119:105 Luke 8:4-15   Ephesians 6:17   Romans 1:16-17   Jeremiah 23:29

    Jesus said, "Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God."  Matthew 4:4

    What do you believe about rapture, the coming of the Antichrist at the end of the world, and the Bible's Book of Revelation?
  • Thank for your question. The end times can be a challenging subject! I will try and answer each point that you brought up briefly but succinctly. I won't be able to go into any great detail, but I hope I can at least give you some basic reasons from the Bible as to why we believe what we do.

    1) The rapture. 
    Although I cannot speak for all Lutheran Churches, I can say that we in the WELS do not believe in a 'rapture.' The reason we do not believe that a rapture of believers will take place before Judgement Day is because Scripture does not say that one will. In fact, Scripture asserts the opposite: the Last Day is the only Judgement. That is what the writer to the Hebrews says in 9:27 - "Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgement." Also, Scripture does not speak of a 'rapture' where some believers will be taken to heaven and everyone else will be left on earth. Many times Christian groups that believe in a rapture will use passages to prove that the Bible does talk about a rapture, however often these passages are misused. One example is Luke 17:34-37. Jesus is talking to the disciples and he says "I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left." Many people think that in this passage Jesus is talking about a rapture that will take place before Judgement Day - and that some believers will be taken to Heaven while everyone else will be left on earth. However, if we keep reading we can see what Jesus is not talking about a rapture. In verse 37 the disciples ask "Where, Lord?" - they want to know what happens to the people who are left. Jesus immediately answers them "Where there is a dead body, the vultures gather." Here Jesus is clearly referring to death, eternal death. The one who is left is not here on earth to continue to live their lives, but is handed over into death. In this passage then, it's clear that Jesus is talking about the division that will happen on Judgement Day between believers who will be taken to heaven and unbelievers who will be handed over into death in hell.

    2) The Coming of the Antichrist
    What or Who the Antichrist is has given Hollywood plenty of fodder for bad movie scripts over the years. Unfortunately, it has also confused people about what the Bible says about the coming of the Antichrist. We WELS Lutherans do believe that the Antichrist must come before Jesus returns. However, based on Scripture, we believe that he already has come and is still currently at work. I encourage you to look at 2 Thessalonians chapter 2, where Paul gives some identifying characteristics of the 'Man of Lawlessness.' One of them is in 2 Thessalonians 2:7 where Paul says "For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work." In other words, the coming of the Antichrist and the power of lawlessness was already in the world and beginning during Paul's time. There are obviously other passages that give us more information, but already here we can see that the idea of the Antichrist being an evil figure that shows up right before Judgement Day is not what Scripture says. Instead, it says that the Antichrist was already coming into the world at the time of the early church, and that he will continue to oppose the Gospel until the Last Day, when Jesus will "reveal" him and "overthrow him with the breath of his mouth." 

    3) The Book of Revelation
    The Book of Revelation can be a challenging read. However, it is also a very comforting and edifying read. I don't want to take up too much more space, however I would like to share a few short thoughts that I myself keep in mind when reading Revelation. A) It is a book of visions. That means it can be very, very difficult (if not impossible) to come up with an exact chronology for what's going on in John's visions. The book of Daniel is very similar in this respect. B) Because they are visions, many of the things mentioned are merely symbols - and that has to be kept in mind. A good example of this is in chapter 7. Johns says he sees 144,000  who are "sealed" as servants of God. This has lead some to think that only 144,000 people are true believers. However, in the very next verse (vs. 9) John says "After this I looked and there before was a great multitude that no one could count.....they were wearing white robes..." So here John clearly says that the number of people in heaven is beyond counting. Therefore the 144,000 of the previous verses is obviously a symbolic number. C) Keep the atoning blood of our Savior Jesus at the center of everything. Without Jesus our Savior the book of Revelation makes no sense. Indeed, without Jesus the entire Bible makes no sense, for these are the Scriptures "that testify about him." (John 5:39) 
    Can a Christian watch movies and TV?
  • Thank you for your question. When it comes to whether or not a Christian can watch TV the answer is ‘yes.’ TV can be a form of relaxation and entertainment. God is pleased when we work hard and he blesses us with relaxation and rest. So again, in of itself TV is not wrong, and watching TV isn’t wrong. It is an adiaphora, that is, something God has neither commanded nor forbidden. Another example of adiaphora is driving a car: God has never told we have to travel that way, but he has also never forbidden us from using them.

    However, too much TV can be a problem. God makes it clear in his Word that he wants us to live lives of thankfulness to Him for the gift of eternal life he gave us through His Son Jesus Christ. Part of living lives of thankfulness to God involves being honest, working hard, and being responsible people. God does not want us idling away in laziness, sitting on the couch for nine hours binge watching a show. As Paul says in 2 Thessalonians 3:11 - “We hear some among you are idle….such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to earn the bread they eat.” And again, in verse 10 - “if a man will not work, he shall not eat.” There’s nothing wrong with watching TV now and again or relaxing after a hard day’s work in front of the Brewers game. However, lying in front of the TV days on end staring at a screen is a habit our Lord doesn’t want us to get into.

    Another thing to keep in mind is that not everything on TV is suitable or acceptable in God’s eyes. As Paul says in Philippians 4:8 - “Whatever is true, whatever is noble,whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy think about such things.” I also encourage you to read Ephesians 5, where Paul tells us to be imitators of God and to avoid obscenity, foolish talk, coarse joking, and drunkenness. Many things on TV openly display sinful behavior such as foul language, violence, sexual promiscuity, drunkenness, drug use, and other things. Especially in our time the shows on television seem to be filled with characters brazenly embracing sin. As the Apostle Paul said, these are not things that God wants us to fill our heads with. A Christian will therefore be selective and discerning in what they watch (and in what they allow their children to watch).
    So in short, watching TV is a matter of Christian freedom - we are free to watch TV and free to not watch it. There are many things such as sporting events or educational programs that can be enjoyable to watch. However, Christians also realize that not everything on TV is pleasing to God and therefore many things should be avoided. Too much TV can also be an avenue to laziness, which a Christian wants to avoid.

    I hope this helps? Feel free to ask more questions any time.
    I've never read the Bible before. Where is the best place to start?
  • One recommendation would be to start by reading the first three chapters of Genesis, then read the entire books of Luke and Acts. The important thing is to start reading the Bible and continue to do so. Set aside a time each day for Bible reading, such as during lunch, when you first get up in the morning, or just before bed. To read the entire Bible in three years, daily readings are available at DailyReading.

    Your Bible probably has an index listing the order of the 66 books in the Bible. The 39 Old Testament books are first. Genesis is the first Old Testament book, so it is also the first book in the Bible. Luke and Acts are the 3rd and 5th books of the New Testament. They are located about 1/5 of the way from the end of the Bible.

    Genesis chapters 1-3 contain the historical account of creation and the fall into sin. Here is found the reason why there is pain and suffering, and why we need a Savior from sin who will restore creation to its original perfection. You'll see why we wear clothes, the origin of marriage, and why a week is 7 days long. Moses wrote the book of Genesis in about 1,450 BC.

    Luke is the historical account of the 33-year earthly life of Jesus Christ. It was written by a physician named Luke in about 61-63 AD.

    Acts is the historical account of the Christian church covering about 30-62 AD. It is a continuation of the book of Luke. Luke wrote Acts around 62-64 AD.

    Many people, books, and websites may have told you conflicting stories about God and what the Bible says. Why not go to the source and read the Bible yourself? The Bible tells us everything we need to know about God and His great love for everyone. The central theme of the Bible is Jesus Christ. You can be like the 1st century Christians living in the city of Berea, who checked the Bible to see if what they were told about God was true. Acts 17:11

    Good Shepherd's would be glad to give you a printed Bible as a gift. Just stop by our church and request one.
    Is my faith strong enough?
  • Am I going to heaven?  Some Christians mistakenly look inward for the answer by asking themselves:
    "Have I really given my life to God?"
    "Have I done enough for God?" 
    "Is God on the throne of my heart?" 
    Instead of asking, “Is my faith strong enough,” we should ask, “What did Jesus do for me?”  Jesus paid for our sins in full.  God says he forgave ALL of our sins while we were still dead in sin and incapable of doing any good works (Colossians 2:13).  Our sins have been forgiven on account of Jesus’ name (1 John 2:12).
    If you worry whether or not you have faith, then look to Jesus and what he did for you.  He has given you eternal life as a free gift.  Do you want to believe this?  If so, then God has already given you faith in Jesus as your Savior.
    “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith”  (Hebrews 12:2).


    What is Epiphany?
  •    January 6 is Epiphany, when we celebrate the making known of Jesus to the non-Jews, and remember the wise men who visited the baby Jesus.

       There are many misconceptions about the wise men. Scripture does not say how many there were, but since they brought 3 gifts for Jesus, some assume that maybe there were 3 wise men. The wise men did not visit Jesus on the day he was born, as the shepherds had. The wise men visited months later, after Mary and Joseph had moved into a house in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:11).

       The wise men were not Jews, but came from another country to worship the baby Jesus. God had selected the Jews as His chosen people, but Scripture is also clear that God also chooses everyone from every race and country to be His own (Romans 10:12-13; Colossians 3:11). God offers eternal life in heaven to every person of every race, gender, or position in life, even the worst of criminals (Galatians 3:28; 1 Timothy 2:3-5; 1 Timothy 1:15-16).

        We pray: Lord thank you so much for loving me and all people everywhere. I know I will have eternal life in heaven, because Jesus paid the penalty for my sins and for the sins of everyone else too. I praise You for making me an heir of eternal life. Amen
    Why is there pain and suffering in the world?
  • In the beginning pain and suffering did not exist. God had created a perfect world without pain, disease, or death. Genesis 1:31   Deuteronomy 32:4   Romans 5:12

    Adam and Eve were the first man and woman. They are the ancestors of every human being. Genesis 3:20

    Adam and Eve lived in complete joy and contentment without pain or suffering of any kind. They had a perfect and close relationship with God. That relationship with God was the center of their lives, their very purpose for living. Everything changed when Adam and Eve rebelled against God. This corrupted their entire thinking. They now had evil thoughts and desires. Their rebellion and corrupt thinking (sin) separated them from God. We, as their descendants, have inherited this will of rebellion against God (sin). Just as it did with Adam and Eve, our sin separates us from God too. Isaiah 59:2  Romans 8:7

    We are all sinners. Ecclesiastes 7:20   1 John 1:8   Romans 3:10   Psalm 53:3

    A consequence of sin is death. Romans 5:12   Romans 6:23

    What is God's answer to pain and suffering?
  • As mentioned above, pain, suffering, and death are a result of our rebellion against God. Our rebellion breaks our relationship with God. God answers our rebellion (our sin) with love, by carrying out His plan to restore creation to its original state of perfection (with no pain, suffering, or death) through Jesus Christ. Revelation 21:4   Romans 8:21   Acts 3:21   1 Corinthians 15:26

    God's plan is this: He sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to live a sinless perfect life in our place, to die an innocent death on the cross to pay for our sins, and to rise from the dead. Jesus did all this. Jesus offers everyone an exchange. Jesus gives us his perfect life and innocent death (His righteousness) in exchange for our sins. Everyone who trusts in Jesus as their Savior receives that free gift of righteousness in exchange for their sins. 1 Corinthians 15:21-22   1 Peter 3:18   Romans 5:19   John 3:16   Romans 3:21-24   2 Corinthians 5:21

    Where did the Bible come from?
  • The Bible (the Scriptures, the Word Of God) is a collection of 66 books, written over a period of about 1,550 years (roughly 1,450 BC – 100 AD), by many different prophets and apostles, living in several different countries. God guided these people as they wrote the Bible (God inspired them).
    2 Peter 1:20-21   Galatians 1:11-12   Ephesians 3:3-5   2 Timothy 3:16

    The Bible is The Word Of God, not the word of humans.  1 Thessalonians 2:13

    The Bible has 2 parts, The Old Testament and the New Testament. The 39 books comprising the Old Testament were written in Hebrew with a few parts in Aramaic. The 27 books comprising the New Testament were written in Greek. There are many English translations of the Bible. Some translations are more faithful to the original, while other translations are loose paraphrases that change some of the meaning. This website generally uses the New International Version 1984 (NIV-84) English translation.

    What happens at the end of the world?
  • God is the definition of perfect and total love. God is love. 1 John 4:7-10
    God is also the definition of perfect fairness and justice. Job 34:12   Deuteronomy 32:4   Deuteronomy 10:17   Jeremiah 9:24

    God is the lawgiver. He is not under any law, since His very nature and being define right and wrong, justice, fairness, and love. God cannot be held to any standard, for He is the highest standard, the standard to which everything is compared. Isaiah 40:25   Job 4:17   Job 21:22   Isaiah 33:22   Matthew 5:48

    God must punish sin in keeping with His fairness, justice, and righteousness. Nahum 1:3   Daniel 9:14   Psalm 5:4-6   Ezekiel 18:23

    At the end of the world, everyone who has ever lived will face God the Righteous Judge. Hebrews 9:27   2 Corinthians 5:10   Romans 2:5   Hebrews 4:13

    Everyone who ever lived and trusted in Jesus, received Christ's righteousness as their own, and will be judged sinless. They will spend eternity in heaven with God, where there will be no pain or suffering, only happiness and great joy. Those who did not receive Christ's righteousness (who did not believe in Jesus their Savior) will receive the just punishment for their rebellion (their sin). They will spend eternity completely separated from God in hell. John 3:36   John 5:24   Mark 16:16   Matthew 25:46   2 Thessalonians 1:8-10

    Who is Jesus Christ?
  •    “Christ” is a title meaning “anointed.”  “Christ” is a Greek New Testament word, the same as the Hebrew Old Testament word, “Messiah.”   
       The Bible tells us that Jesus Christ is fully God (John 1:1; Isaiah 9:6), fully human (John 1:14;  Romans 8:3;  Galatians 4:4-5), our Creator (John 1:3;  Colossians 1:16), and our Savior from sin (John 3:16;  1 Peter 3:18).
        Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is fully God and fully human. This is why He could live a sinless life in our place and die on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. The Son is NOT a created being as some people teach. The Son is the One True God, who humbled Himself for our sake, and became fully human, to be our Redeemer from sin.
    One of our interactive Bible Studies answers this question in more depth, Who Is Jesus Christ?
    Is anyone of any denomination welcome at your church?
  • In the Bible we read that God “wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth”  (1 Timothy 2:3-5 – NIV2011).   
    Everyone is invited to worship at Good Shepherd’s.  We have guests at worship on most Sundays.  Common visitor questions about worship at Good Shepherd’s are answered at worship FAQ.
    Some of our worship visitors simply wish to see what Lutheran worship is like.  Others come somewhat regularly, as a variation to worship at their non-Lutheran congregations.  All are welcome.
    Some of our worship visitors are looking for a new church home.  People from a variety of religious (and non-religious) backgrounds are now members of Good Shepherd’s.  Good Shepherd’s community outreach seeks to reach those who have no Christian church home.  It is not our place to seek those who already have a church home, where they hear the gospel message (John 10:16), but we gladly welcome those who are looking for a new church home, or who have none.
    Our pastors are always happy when asked (whether by guests or members) “Where is that taught in the Bible?”  Some churches teach the basics (like the Nicene Creed), and then say we cannot know for certain other Christian teachings.  Good Shepherd’s is not like that.  We follow Christ’s command to teach all that God reveals in Scripture (Matthew 28:20;  Deuteronomy 12:32;  also see  Deuteronomy 4:2; Matthew 5:18-19; Luke 24:25; 2 Thessalonians 2:15; Revelation 22:19.)   
    Everyone is welcome to come visit Good Shepherd’s worship and/or Bible studies as often as they wish.  Everyone is invited to ask our pastors, “Where is that taught in Scripture?”
    Will you baptize my child?
  • Good Shepherd’s regularly baptizes children (including infants) whose parents are not members of our congregation.  Please contact one of our pastors to discuss the baptism of your child. 
    Jesus says, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” (Mark 10:14). 
    We (adults, children, and infants) are all sinners who need a Savior.  In Psalm 51:5 we read: “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.”   (also see Romans 3:9-10;  Genesis 6:5;  Romans 3:22-23). 
    Jesus paid for the sins of everyone (“the whole world”), including children and infants.  In 1 John 2:2 God tells us, “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”  (also see John 1:29;  2 Corinthians 5:14-15).
    Faith in Jesus is a gift from God.  We do not do anything to receive faith from God.  Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith —and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”
    The Scriptures show that children and infants can have faith in Jesus.  “…from the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise” (Psalm 8:1-2 and Matthew 21:15-16).   “For you have been my hope, O Sovereign Lord, my confidence since my youth.  From birth I have relied on you; you brought me forth from my mother’s womb.  I will ever praise you.”  (Psalm 71:5-6).  “And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck.” (Mark 9:42).  “…from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 3:14-15).
    Jesus tells us to baptize the people of “all nations” (Matthew 28:18-20). 
    God can bring infants to faith through the Word of God in baptism.  “…baptism that now saves you…” (1 Peter 3:20-21).  “He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5). 
    Is creation faith and evolution science?
  • Creation and evolution are two competing explanations of origins.  Both share the same observable evidence: the same fossils and rocks, the same plants and animals, the same stars.  So why two explanations instead of one?
    World Views   Everyone interprets observable facts based upon their own prior views.  This is why creationists believe that a particular observable fact clearly confirms creation, while evolutionists believe that the same observable fact clearly confirms evolution.  Both creationists and evolutionists have problems understanding how some of the evidence fits their position.  Both have proposed unproven solutions to their respective problems.
    Creation   Creation starts with the view that there is a Creator God as described in the Bible.  Creationists interpret observable evidence in light of this.  Less than 15,000 years ago, God created time, space, and everything in the entire universe.  He did this in six days of ordinary length.  During those 6 days God created every “kind” of plant and animal.  The Biblical “kind” is not the same as any modern taxonomic rank (species, genus, family, order, etc.), although for many living things it may be closest to “family.”  Significant variation has developed within each kind, due to natural selection.  No new kinds ever develop, but some kinds have gone extinct.  Creationists believe there was a planet wide flood which covered the entire earth.  Most creationists believe this single flood produced most fossils.
    Evolution   Evolutionists start with the view that all things — living and non-living — came into existence naturally.  If there is a God, he had nothing to do with origins.  Evolutionists interpret observable evidence in light of this.  [Many Christians believe that God used evolution as a means of creation.  Even these “theistic evolutionists” normally interpret facts as though God had nothing to do with origins.]  There are many evolutionary views, but the following is commonly held by most evolutionists.  About 13.7 billion years ago, an infinitesimally small point rapidly expanded (the big bang) producing time, space, and energy.  Then energy cooled becoming elements of matter.  These lighter elements were pulled together by gravity to form stars.  Stars made the heavier elements, which later formed naturally into planets.  Living things came naturally from non-living chemicals.  The first one-celled life forms gradually changed into all the various plants and animals.  Evolutionists reject the possibility of a planet wide flood on earth.  They believe fossils and rock layers were laid down over hundreds of millions of years.
    Is One More Scientific Than the Other?   Creationists and evolutionists each use science.  Their starting views serve as judge over all scientific investigation.  Evolutionists reject all interpretations that would imply a Creator God, such as the strong evidence pointing to a worldwide flood, and that life cannot come from non-life, because that would go against their starting view of natural causes.
    Our Creator   In the Bible we learn the truth of our origins from God, the one being who was there at the very beginning.  The world God created was a paradise.  There was no disease or death.  God created Adam and Eve, the first man and woman, who had a very close and loving relationship with God.
    Suffering and Death   So much changed when Adam and Eve rebelled against God.  Their entire thinking was corrupted.  Now they had evil thoughts and desires.  They no longer loved and trusted God.  Suffering and death entered the world because of their rebellion (Romans 5:12).  We, as their descendants, also have this spirit of rebellion against God.  That is why, by nature, we are so enticed by evolution with its promise to eliminate the need for God.  Adam and Eve’s rebellion against God (their sin) separated them from God, just as our sin separates us from God (Isaiah 59:2;  Romans 8:7). 
    GOD’S ANSWER   God answers our rebellion (our sin) with love.  The Bible tells us in the book of John, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  John 3:16  (NIV)
    God is carrying out His plan to restore creation to its original state of perfection.  He desires to give everyone, including you, the free gift of eternal life with Him in heaven (Revelation 21:4).
    Do we know much about who Jesus really was?
  • TV and magazines often have a show or cover story about the “Real Jesus.” They always interview several “experts” who say that Jesus is someone other than the Jesus described in the Bible. These so called “experts” do not believe what the Bible says about Jesus. They invent the “Real Jesus” from their own imagination.

       The Bible tells us that Jesus is fully God (John 1:1; Isaiah 9:6), fully human (John 1:14;  Romans 8:3;  Galatians 4:4-5), our Creator (John 1:3;  Colossians 1:16), and our Savior from sin (John 3:16;  1 Peter 3:18).

        Jesus, the Son of God, is fully God and fully human. This is why He could live a sinless life in our place and die on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. The Son is NOT a created being as some people teach. The Son is the One True God, who humbled Himself for our sake, and became fully human, to be our Redeemer from sin.

    See the interactive Bible study "Who Is Jesus Christ?
    Why do so many churches celebrate the Sabbath on Sunday, since God never changed the Sabbath to Sunday?
  • You are correct.  God has not changed the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday.  What God has done is give New Testament believers the freedom to worship on any day they wish.  Good Shepherd’s repeats its Sunday worship service on Monday night.  Some of our area sister churches (WELS congregations) have worship on Saturday, Friday, and other days, in addition to Sundays.  God has given us that freedom.
    “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins,  having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.  And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.  Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.  These are a shadow (Greek ‘skia’) of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.”
    (Colossians 2:13-17 NIV84)
    God placed Old Testament believers under the ceremonial law (including the Sabbath law), which served to point people to Christ as their Savior from sin.  Once Jesus had lived and died for everyone, people no longer needed to look forward to a coming Savior.  The ceremonial law (the “written code, with its regulations” including the Sabbath laws) was no longer needed, since its purpose had been fulfilled.  Jesus “took it [ceremonial law, including Sabbath law] away, nailing it to the cross.”  The Sabbath law was “a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.”   We no longer need a “shadow” of what’s to come, because we have the real thing, we have Jesus.  So God declares “Do not let anyone judge you by … a Sabbath day.”
    Old Testament (OT) and New Testament (NT) believers are saved in exactly the same way: Jesus took our sins and paid for them on the cross, and Jesus lived a perfect live and gave us that sinless life as a “robe of righteousness” for us to wear.  The difference between OT and NT believers is that OT believers lived under the civil and ceremonial law, while NT believers do not. 
    NT believers (those living after Christ’s death on the cross) have much more freedom than OT believers.  We are not required to sacrifice animals, refrain from eating pork, wash certain ways, celebrate certain festivals, refrain from planting crops and picking grapes every seventh year (Sabbath year), worship in Jerusalem, or worship and refrain from work on a certain day (Sunday the Sabbath). 
    In Hebrews 10:1-6 we read, “The law is only a shadow (Greek ‘skia’) of the good things that are coming--not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship.  If it could, would they not have stopped being offered?  For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins.  But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins,  because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.  Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: "Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me;  with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased.”  (NIV84)
    In Hebrews 10 God presents us with the same line of reasoning he used in Colossians 2.  The ceremonial law was a “skia” (Greek for shadow or foreshadow) of the coming Savior.  The ceremonial law was a “reminder,” and keeping it did not take away sin.  When Christ came, the ceremonial law was no longer needed, since Christ took away our sin as an accomplished and finished action.
    The Romans 14 passage below describes Christians who still follow the ceremonial law, as being acceptable to God, but weak in faith.  This includes those who eat only vegetables, and those who consider one day as more holy than another. 
    “Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters.  One man's faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables.  The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him.  Who are you to judge someone else's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.  One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.  He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God..” (Romans 14:1-6 NIV84)
    God warns us not to become enslaved by observing special days (Sabbath):  “But now that you know God--or rather are known by God--how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?  You are observing special days and months and seasons and years!”  (Galatians 4:9-11 NIV84)
    It seems Sunday became important in Christian worship starting while the Apostles were still living.  It is fitting that so many Christian churches choose to worship on Sunday (“the Lord’s Day” in Rev 1:10), as that is the day that Jesus rose from the dead.
    In Troas, Paul and the Christians there celebrated Holy Communion on Sunday.  “On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight.”  (Acts 20:7 NIV84)
    “Now about the collection for God's people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do.  On the first day of every week (Sunday), each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.” (1Corinthians 16:1-2)
    I would like to know more about Mary after Jesus' death.
  • The Bible provides very little information about Jesus’ mother, Mary, especially after Jesus’ death and resurrection. 
    Mary was present when Jesus was on the cross.  At that time Jesus directed his disciple John to take care of Mary, and John did so (John 19:26-27).
    Mary was with the disciples just after Jesus’ ascension to heaven.  In Acts 1:12-14 we read, “Then they returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city.  When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James.  They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.”
    The Acts passage above mentions the brothers of Jesus.  These brothers are named in Matthew 13:55-56,  “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas?  Aren’t all his sisters with us?...”  Jesus’ brothers are also mentioned in Matthew 12:46-50.  These passages are good evidence that Mary gave birth to children after Jesus was born.  It is also possible that these brothers and sisters of Jesus were children of Joseph from a previous marriage, or even cousins of Jesus.  Regardless of the exact relationship, these brothers and sisters of Jesus would certainly have played a role in the later years of Mary’s life.
    Jesus’ brothers initially rejected Jesus as the Messiah, “For even his own brothers did not believe in him” (John 7:5).  After Jesus rose from the dead, some or all of his brothers and sisters came to faith.  James, the brother of Jesus, was probably the author of the Biblical book of James and the leader of the Christian congregation in Jerusalem. 
    Mary died in Jerusalem around 47 AD, according to Christian tradition.
    Mary is a wonderful example for us all, a hero of the faith.  Like all the heroes of faith mentioned in Scripture, Mary was a sinner who needed a Savior.   We sometimes would like to know more about these heroes of faith, but God has chosen to not provide those additional details.  The central message of all 66 books in the Bible is about Jesus our Savior. 
    Why are there so many churches?
  • All who believe in Jesus as their Savior are one in Christ Jesus. We desire that all Christians would also unite in one visible Christian church, but our hope is unfulfilled, since we are divided in what we teach and believe.
    God desires that all Christians be united in their full acceptance of the teachings of Scripture.  In 1 Corinthians 1:10 we read, “I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.”  God wants us to faithfully accept everything that is in the Scriptures.  We are not to ignore any of God’s teachings.  Deuteronomy 4:2; Deuteronomy 12:32; Matthew 5:18-19; Matthew 28:20; Luke 24:25; 2 Thessalonians 2:15; Revelation 22:19.
    While God desires Christians to agree on ALL teachings, few churches today agree on even the most basic of Christian teachings. A large portion of Christian churches teach things contrary to Scripture: they falsely teach that Christ did NOT physically rise from the dead, they falsely teach that we must do good works to gain salvation, they falsely teach that the Bible is filled with errors, and they falsely teach that God did NOT punish Jesus for our sins. 
    Christians who do not accept Biblical correction, but instead advocate false teachings, cause a division between believers. God commands us to separate from these false teachers. In Romans 16:17 we read, “I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them.” Also see 2 Thessalonians 3:6; 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15; Matthew 7:15; 2 John 1:9-11.

    What Does God want us to learn from catastrophes?
  • This question was asked by a person living in the Philippines, where 2013 brought a shooting, earthquake, and a very destructive storm (Typhoon Hayian, locally called Yolanda). 
    Living in this sin cursed world can be difficult.  Disasters seem to be everywhere.  Sometimes we wonder, what is God doing?
    What does God want us to learn from catastrophes?  Jesus answered this question by referring to worshipers murdered by the governor, and to 18 people killed by a falling building.  Jesus said, “Do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem?  I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” (Luke 13:1-8)  God is patient with our rebellion against Him (our sin).  God wants everyone to come to faith in Jesus (2 Peter 3:9).  Disasters remind us that we will someday die, and then our time to come to faith is over. 
    God wants us to trust Him, even when we do not understand why disaster has struck.  Think of Job.  In one day he lost all his children and all his wealth.  Job continued to worship God and said, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.”  (Job 1:20-21)  Then Job lost his health, but still he said, “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”  (Job 2:10)  God never told Job why these disasters happened.  God commended Job for placing his trust in God.  (Job 1:8; 1:22; 2:3; 2:10; 42:7-8)
    We can learn much from Job.  Even in the midst of great suffering, Job confessed a strong trust in his Savior God, “I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth.  And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another.  How my heart yearns within me!”  (Job 19:25-27)
    Also see the following in this Q&A:
    Why is there pain and suffering in the world?
    What is God's answer to pain and suffering?
    These posts from our blog archive may also be of help:
    9/11 Attack, Oil Spills, Crime (9-15-2010)
    A Model of Faith  (4-13-2011)
    Could we pray for the abuse of animals in this country?
  • Yes, we certainly can pray for the end of animal abuse. 
    The Bible has much to say about our care for animals and for everything else God gives us. 
    In Psalm 50:10-12 we read; “For every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills.  …for the world is mine, and all that is in it.”  God created everything that exists.  He claims everything as His own.   God even claims all people as His own, because He created us and redeemed us (redeemed means He paid for our sins on the cross).  In Isaiah 43:1b God says, “you are mine.”  For more on this see parts 1 and 2 of this Bible study.
    God gives us the world for our use.  In Genesis 1:28 God tells us to subdue the earth and rule over all the animals.  He also tells us to be good stewards (caretakers) of all He gives us, which includes the animals.  “A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel” (Proverbs 12:10).  “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain” (Deuteronomy 25:4).
    Not only does God tell us to care for animals, God himself personally cares for animals and sees to their needs. 
    Luke 12:6-7  “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.  Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”
    Matthew 6:25-27  “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”
    In these Bible passages from Luke and Matthew, Jesus is making the point that we should trust God for our earthly needs.  God cares for the birds, and we are more valuable than birds, so God will certainly care for us also.
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. ~ HEBREWS 12:2 (NIV)