Q&A Sunday - July 8, 2012
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We had or first Q&A Sunday Sermon on July 8, 2012.
Members of the Trinity Church congregation submitted their questions to be answered in the sermon in advance. The ones which were not included in the sermon were answered in writing.  

We are a congregation of Christian believers. To be a “Christian” in the purest sense of the word means that Jesus Christ is the exclusive source of salvation and that our only direct source of reference regarding the life and ministry of Jesus Christ is the Holy Scriptures – The Holy Bible. Because we believe that the Holy Bible is inspired by God in its original text, inerrant beyond the comprehension of the human mind, and complete in knowledge for a foundational relationship with God, it is from this exclusive source we find it applicable for  spiritual teaching, for identifying problematic issues, for the issuance of corrective measures, for maturing us in a more Christ-like development, and equipping us to accomplish all God calls us to do in our Christian faith..  

All of the questions you have submitted will be answered utilizing Biblical references, doctrine and proven principals for their primary responses. If you place little or no credibility in the reliability of the Holy Bible, then you may experience difficulty in accepting the answers that are given. The bottom line is; either we believe what God has spoken to us in Scripture or we don’t. If that is the truth, then we must accept the accurate accounts (ranging from 49 AD until 367 AD) of how the Biblical cannon was carefully compiled for our benefit.


Psalm 119:4-12

You have ordained Your precepts, That we should keep them diligently. Oh that my ways may be established To keep Your statutes ! Then I shall not be ashamed When I look upon all Your commandments.  I shall give thanks to You with uprightness of heart, When I learn Your righteous judgments. I shall keep Your statutes ; Do not forsake me utterly ! How can a young man keep his way pure ? By keeping it according to Your word. With all my heart I have sought You; Do not let me wander from Your commandments. Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You. Blessed are You, O LORD ; Teach me Your statutes.


                                                            II Timothy 3:13-17

But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.


1). What did you mean a while back when you referred to "so-called" religions. Isn't there only one God, no matter what His/Her name or how He/She is worshipped?


Since the dawn of creation, mankind has created several “gods” of their own making to attempt to fulfill their own desires and motivations. We as Christians believe that there is only one true God and that “He” exists in compound unity as the person of the God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, an implicative doctrine found throughout the entire Holy Bible. However, the problem with other “religions” is their foundational premise.

Most people look at the spectrum of available religions from the superficial vantage point and come to the conclusion that “all religions are really the same foundationally, and only vary in the superficial areas of reference and preference. In fact, it is actually just the opposite. All religions vary radically in the foundational issues and appear somewhat similar on the surface. They vary foundationally so that they can be unique and hold to their particular preferences and not be blurred together under “one God”. This is obvious in the contemporary relational issues between Jews, Christians and Muslims. They all claim the same “one God” is telling each of them to do things quite contrary to the other existing religions. So who is in touch with the real God?

These differences take place because their foundational beliefs vary radically even though they may look somewhat alike superficially because they are organized into groups with committed and trained leaders, and they meet together at specific times to perform their acts of worship and ritual.

Another consideration is the Hindu faith. Hindus are not monotheistic. (believers in one God only) They have a host of deities that they honor and worship. Some Hindus even include Jesus Christ and Mohammad amongst their personal collection of deities. Buddhism believes primarily that life is an illusion and that everything is basically “one”. Almost all religions vary radically on how the world came into existence, the problems of sin and suffering and even the course of major historical events that have affected mankind spiritually and theologically..

So what makes Christianity stand out amongst the other “so-called” religions? There is one major principal of Christian doctrine that sets the Christian lifestyle apart from all of the other “so-called” religions in the world. It is the doctrine of grace. No other “religion” even begins to offer something close to grace. Grace defined is unmerited favor – getting something we don’t deserve. It means that you can’t do anything to get it or deserve it. That is what God the Father give us through Jesus Christ his Son. Grace, in the form of salvation from our sins is accomplished through the death burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ for each one of us. One of the foundational passages of Scripture that explains this is Ephesians 2:8 & 9.

Every other “so-called” religion is based on works. In other religions it matters what you do or what you don’t do. You can never do enough to secure your eternal position or your salvation. You can only hope you have done enough or done it the right way to earn your salvation, forgiveness, or a better life in whatever is going to happen to you after this mortal life ends.

In the Christian faith you can’t “do” anything to earn favor with God. All we as Christians have to do is accept the gift of grace that God extends to us through the atoning sacrifice of His only Son Jesus Christ. That acceptance of grace transforms us as we start to become more like the person God wants us to be. It is the acceptance of salvation from God that helps us do the right things as we grow and mature in our Christian faith. We are not working hard like others in other religions to become acceptable to “a god” or group of deities. As Christians we choose to live our lives in a way that reflects God’s grace to others around us.

As for the gender issue of God (He/She) - God is referred to in the male gender in Scripture simply because in the culture and times when the Biblical texts were written the societies were very patriarchal. Contemporary western scholars (not theologians) tend to want to get technical about the gender issue of God when in fact it is a non-issue. Theologically the Bible (specifically in the New Testament) describes the very essence of God as “Spirit” (John 4:24) “Light” (I John 1:5) and “Love” (I John 4:8) none of which obviously begin to determine a gender debate about God.    


2). I heard in a sermon last year at a local church that there were two versions of The Beginning. One without original sin and one with and that the church authorities chose the latter to keep the worshippers under control. Your opinion?


My “opinion” is that there is always somebody trying to accuse someone else of manipulating or controlling someone else by twisting a passage of scripture around for the sake of a preferred doctrine or circumstance. Philosophically and theologically it would appear to be highly irrational to perceive the beginnings of history without mankind falling into an original event of sin. (See Genesis chapter 3)

The end result, which is the current condition of our World is far too obvious with or without a Biblical or historical account to work with. We do not live in a perfect world. The reason there is evil and imperfections in this world we live in is because of the very nature and essence of sin. Even non religious scholars and intellectuals will affirm that as fact. The Apostle Paul says that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23) and thus defines the obvious decay of the world we live in. To say that the “theology of sin” is just a tool of control or manipulation for the advancement of certain religious leaders over their followers is not a logical statement.

The psychology of someone making such an accusation is probably rooted in some form of bitterness toward someone or some organization of an opposing viewpoint. We as Christians acknowledge original sin without any debate. We realize the need for forgiveness and from our sins reconciliation with a holy God who loves us so much that He provided salvation through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God’s only Son.        


3). I believe that people want to be good. And I don't believe that I sin every time I turn around. Most of us just do our best. Is this true?


I think that indeed most people “want to be good”.  I don’t think most of us do sin “every time we turn around”.  But by our human fallen nature, we do sin. No one is perfect but Jesus Christ. We are told that repeatedly in Scripture. That is why He is our example in this life. We need forgiveness when we do sin. If we are truly honest, we are very “regular” sinners. There is just too many opportunities to fail our Lord on a daily basis. Most North American “Christians” are more consumed with materialism than their own spiritual well being. The prevailing attitude amongst most Christians is to ignore or hide their sins.   

Paul tells us in his letter to the Romans that ”all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) . He also says that “the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23) The Apostle John writes to us and says that even as Christians “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”. (I John 1:9)

The real problem is that we are incapable of truly doing “our best”. Doing “our best” means we have to make it happen. It implies that somehow we have to tip the scales with the amount of “good works” we do. That is when faith in Jesus Christ disappears and faith in our selves and our ability to do our best appears.

   In the Christian faith you can’t “do” anything to earn favor with God. All we as Christians have to do is accept the gift of grace that God extends to us through the atoning sacrifice of His only Son Jesus Christ. That acceptance of grace transforms us as we start to become more like the person God wants us to be. It is the acceptance of salvation from God that helps us do the right things as we grow and mature in our Christian faith. We are not working hard like others in other religions to become acceptable to “a god” or group of deities. As Christians we choose to live our lives in a way that reflects God’s grace to others around us.


4). What really separates Roman Catholics from Protestant Christianity? Aren’t we all Christians?


First let’s examine what Protestants and Catholics have in common. Both Roman Catholics and Protestants acknowledge the exclusive centrality of Jesus Christ in our salvation and in the Scriptures. There is no debating that our salvation is found in the atoning work of Jesus Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection.

Both Roman Catholics and Protestants acknowledge the Trinitarian Godhead – God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit (compound unity). When we see that much theological material in just two statements, we must admit that there is a lot of common ground.

The protestant Reformation of the Christian Church was not the first split of the Church, and it will not be the last. In 1054 the Eastern Orthodox Church split from the Roman Catholic Church (in the West) over ultimate authority when the Bishop of Constantinople and the Bishop of Rome excommunicated each other within a week’s time.

The Protestant Reformation actually began with John Wycliffe an English theologian and Jan Hus a Polish Catholic priest in the early 1300s. It is officially attributed to Martin Luther and the posting of his Thesis 95 in 1517 o the Church doors at Wittenberg, Germany. The arguments and eventual split was not handled well by either side. Historical research has made evident that both potential protestants and those of the Roman Catholic faith acted in very un Christ-like ways, making false accusations to the point of blood shed. This is why many Protestant Christians refuse to celebrate on “Reformation Sunday”.   

Most theologians and Church leaders agree that the primary doctrinal dispute among many peripheral issues is rooted in authoritative doctrine of “Apostolic Succession” This stands in obvious contrast to the Protestant position commonly referred to as the “Priesthood of All Believers”.

Roman Catholics rely heavily on their interpretation of Matthew 16:15-20  He said to them, "But who do you say that I am ?" Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." And Jesus said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.  "I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church ; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven."

Roman Catholics interpret Peter as the “rock” that Jesus builds His church on. Protestants interpret the proclamation Peter mad when he said “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” As the “rock” Jesus builds His church on. When these interpretations are debated in the light of authority in the Church there is a vast difference of opinion and practical application.

The same authority issue comes up by varying interpretations of  John 20:21-23 So Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you." And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit.  "If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have

been retained." This passage is interpreted by Roman Catholics as Jesus giving His apostles (only) exclusive privilege to forgive sins, thus establishing a priesthood of future descendants and the sacrament of confession utilized within the Roman Catholic Church.  

On the other side, Protestants believe that every Christian is a priest of God on a personal level. They utilize the following passages of Scripture to support their position; I Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race, A royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light ; and Revelation 1:6 He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father -to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Luther also promoted the doctrine of “sola scripture” which he said meant that everything we believe in doctrinally is and should be derived from Scripture alone. The Roman Catholic Church says that the traditional teachings of the preceding Church leaders (Popes and Bishops, and Cardinals) are equal to Scripture, because they are supported by Scripture. The Vatican houses what they refer to as the Majesterium, a teaching foundation for the world wide Roman Catholic Church.

The doctrine of “sola scriptura” has basically become an inactive threat as far as doctrinal positionship in the Protestant Christian Church. There are so many thousands of denominations in the Protestant community, each having their own preferential doctrinal interpretations of Scripture. Thus they have made their own micro-majesteriums and keep their adherents by how they interpret Scripture rather than exclusively utilizing Scripture alone for doctrine.    


5). I have always been puzzled by the parable of the rich man going on a trip and entrusting his money to his three servants. Please explain it.


Jesus taught the parable of the rich man who went on a trip and entrusted certain amounts of his wealth to be managed by who he thought were his most trusted servants. Matthew 25:14-30  "For it is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them. "To one he gave five talents, to another , two, and to another , one, each according to his own ability ; and he went on his journey. "Immediately the one who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and gained five more talents. "In the same manner the one who had received the two talents gained two more.  "But he who received the one talent went away, and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money. "Now after a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them.  "The one who had received the five talents came up and brought five more talents, saying, 'Master, you entrusted five talents to me. See, I have gained five more talents.' "His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things ; enter into the joy of your master.' "Also the one who had received the two talents came up and said, 'Master, you entrusted two talents to me. See, I have gained two more talents.' "His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things ; enter into the joy of your master.' "And the one also who had received the one talent came up and said, 'Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed. 'And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.' "But his master answered and said to him, 'You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow and gather where I scattered no seed. 'Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest. 'Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.' "For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance ; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. "Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness ; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

The primary question most people have about this parable centers around the statement made by the master to the third slave who did nothing with the wealth entrusted him. The statement  'You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow and gather where I scattered no seed. 'Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest.

The word “knew” is probably better interpreted as the word “thought” or “perceived” because it is often used in other passages to define the cognitive issues of understanding or relating to people or situations. This is reinforced by the phrase “ Then you ought to have….” Implying the returning master was saying “if you really thought I was that kind of person, you should have….”  

The second common question commonly asked about this parable discerns the other statement made by the returning master; "For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. This is a middle Eastern cultural mentality that still exists today. We “Westerners” want everything to be equal, and we want everyone to have good self-esteem. Remember, the original texts of the Bible were not written tin North America to people with a Western cultural mindset.  

This parable is actually more about relationships than it is about utilizing what God has given you in a multiplying way. God does give us abilities and talents that He wants us to use properly and to the benefit of His Kingdom. But the real issue is that of being properly related to “the master” and understanding what He truly desires of us. If we have a functionally good relationship with God and we can understand who He really is and that He loves us and has a very good plan for our lives, we will do what he has desired of us, and our gifts and talents will be properly used and multiplied in His Kingdom.      


6. If there is a loving God, why is there a blood sacrifice needed? (for forgiveness of sins)


This all began back at the beginning in Genesis 3:21 The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them. This verse appears just after God “discovers” that Adam and Eve have sinned by eating of the forbidden fruit. It states that He took the skins of an animal and clothed them to hide their nakedness (personal shame). Where did God get the animal skins? An animal had to die. The animal’s blood was shed so that Adam and Eve’s sin could be covered. 

This story was obviously passed down to their children, Cain and Abel because of the account we read in the next chapter of Genesis 4:3-5 So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the LORD of the fruit of the ground. Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and for his offering; but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell.

Abel brought a blood sacrifice (firstlings of his flock) to the Lord and Cain did not. We clearly see the pattern that God has established for them to operate in. As we read on through Exodus and Leviticus we find that same required pattern instituted in the establishment of the wilderness Tabernacle and the Law being given to Moses on Mt. Sinai. This theme continues throughout the Old Testament and even at Solomon’s Temple being dedicated in Jerusalem.

The real and final act of  blood sacrifice is found in the crucifixion of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We find four accounts of this in the New Testament – Matthew 26 & 27, Mark 14 & 15, Luke 22 & 23, John 18 & 19. Jesus Christ became the ultimate sacrifice for our sins by the shedding of His blood. This paid the price for all the sins of humanity. It was a price that God had decreed from Genesis 3:21 and now was fulfilled by a perfect “Man” (Jesus Christ) being offered up for all of us.    

We find this evidenced in Scripture in Hebrews 4:14 & 15 “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.”

Later on in the book of Hebrews we find a very clear and obvious definition for God’s requirement of a blood sacrifice. Hebrews 9:22 And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.

Finally, the Word of God tells us of the power of salvation given to us by Jesus Christ on the cross in Revelation 12:11 "And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.

Ultimately, God has mandated that salvation from our sins can only obtained through a blood sacrifice. He has so lovingly provided it for us through His only Son Jesus Christ. Either we accept His plan for our salvation, or we don’t. 


II Peter 1:20

But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation.


No one individual has a right to interpret Scriptures to say what they want them to say.

We must allow Scriptures to speak truth uniformly