Tuesday, February 21, 2012

New blog site

Thanks for reading "Explain the Bible." I have merged several of my blogs into my new site, www.bobrogers.me. On that site you can find Bible teaching, Holy Humor stories, articles about church ministry and Southern Baptists and a collection of other thoughts from this pastor. I hope to see you there!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Please explain Psalm 8:2

Question from Christina:
Hey Brother Bob! The preacher at my parent's church referenced Psalm 8:2 in his sermon. I was wondering about your interpretation of this Scripture. I have read it in several different translations, but I would love to hear your opinion of what it actually means.

Answer from Pastor Bob:
Christina, I read the verse, and there are different translations of it, because the Greek translation is quoted in Matthew 21:16 when Jesus refers to this verse. It seems the best translation is something like what the English Standard Version says: "Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger."
The context is a psalm of praise, so the Greek translation, which is quoted in Matthew, interprets "strength" as "praise," the idea being that the words that come out of the babies and infants are strong words of song, or praise songs.
Jesus referenced this passage because children were singing His praises in the temple.
So when you take the context of the praise psalm "How majestic is your name in all the earth" (v. 1), along with how Jesus referenced the verse as praise, it seems that He is saying that God can show his might and strength by using the weakest and smallest of His people, infants and babies, and defeat the strongest earthly foe imaginable. God can do this through the simple words of praise of His people, no matter how weak they are.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Do dogs have a soul and go to heaven?

Question from Anna:
I hope I can get your opinion on this: do dogs have a soul and do they go to heaven?

Answer from Pastor Bob:
Anna, Genesis 1:27 says that humans are made in God's image, and Genesis 2:7 says that when God made Adam, the man became a living soul. However, nowhere does the Bible say that animals have souls.
Several passages in scripture imply that animals will be in heaven, such as Isaiah 11:6 which describes a future paradise of the wolf and lamb, leopard and goat, calf and lion living together in peace. Revelation 21:1 says there will be a new heaven and new earth in the last days, so I believe God will have animals in heaven for the enjoyment of mankind. However, animals are not made in the image of God nor do they have souls like human beings, for only human beings can have a personal relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

How should we react to Osama bin Laden's death?

Question from Molly:

I truly do support our brave troops and pray for their families in this tough time for our country ... BUT something did not feel right to me seeing the people in D.C. screaming and celebrating the death of a human being. The first thing I thought to myself is "Would our loving God find glory in this?"
I know somewhere in Proverbs it says that we should defend ourselves (can't think of the verse off the top of my head, I'm sure you know though) but Romans 12:17-21 also says:

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (Romans 12:17-21)

So, I really am confused and wanted to know what you thought about this situation...

Answer from Pastor Bob:

It is a difficult issue, because you are correct, as Christians it is not ours to avenge, but to leave it to the Lord. However, most Christians agree that there is such a thing as a "just" war when a greater evil is prevented. A good example is World War II and the ultimate death of Adolf Hitler.
There was a great German pastor in World War II named Dietrich Bonhoeffer who opposed Hitler. Bonhoeffer even participated in a plot to assassinate Hitler, and he was a Christian pastor! Why would he do that? Because Bonhoeffer knew that it would stop a greater evil.In the Old Testament, Moses was sent to Pharaoh and told to demand justice for the Hebrew slaves. God even sent a "death angel" as a final plague upon the Egyptians to set the people free. When the Hebrews fled across the Red Sea and Pharaoh chased them, God allowed the Egyptians to drown in the sea, and Exodus 15 records the song of rejoicing that Moses sang at their defeat. That is why Proverbs 11:10 says that when the wicked perish, there are shouts of joy.
How do we reconcile this with Jesus' words in the Sermon on the Mount about turning the other cheek and loving our enemies? I think we need to make a distinction between personal offenses and social justice. While it is a virtue to overlook a personal insult, it is not a virtue to overlook a tyrant who is oppressing a people. The former act would be consider an act of grace; the latter would be considered a gross negligence of justice.
I cannot judge the hearts of those who shouted and jumped for joy at the news of Osama bin Laden's death. I'm sure for many, it was a hateful rejoicing at a man's death. However, for others, it may have been more of a celebration of justice being done, as we find in some of the psalms, such as Psalm 69:19-25. This psalm is quoted by Paul in Romans 11:9-11, and is applied to the death of Judas Iscariot by the early church in Acts 1:20. You will notice in Psalm 69 that the psalmist does not ask for an opportunity to personally harm his enemy, but he asks God to bring about justice, which is actually the same thing we read in Romans 12:19, where we are told to "leave room for God's wrath." Thus as a Christian, I do not rejoice that a man is dead, but I do rejoice that God executed His justice to end an evil terrorist who will never be able to blow up another building or murder any more defenseless people.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Does God require that people not sin before they are saved?

Question from C.S.:
Does God require that people not sin before they are saved?

Answer from Pastor Bob:
Sometimes people think that they must stop sinning before they can be saved, but that is not what the Bible teaches.
While God does not want us to sin, He recognizes that we do sin, and we need a Savior, because we are unable to overcome sin on our own.
The answer is not to try harder. We need transformation, not just trying! As the apostle Paul says, "For the desire to do what is good is with me, but there is no ability to do it. For I do not do the good that I want to do, but I practice the evil that I do not want to do" (Romans 7:18-19).
That is why we needed God to come down to earth in flesh, as Jesus Christ, and die on the cross as the perfect, sinless sacrifice for our sins, paying a price that we could not pay ourselves. Read this verse carefully: "But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!" (Romans 5:8). Notice that it says that Christ died for us "while we were still sinners." You see, we are saved by God's grace, not by the good deeds we do (Ephesians 2:8-9). If we could just stop sinning on our own, we wouldn't need Jesus to die for us. Galatians 2:21 says, "I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing."
Once we accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, we are forgiven of sin. "Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1). Then we begin a growing process as a Christian, of daily growing to be more like Christ and seeking victory over sin in His strength. Romans 6:11 talks about how a Christian should "consider" or "reckon" self to be "dead to sin," and Romans 6:13 says to "offer" yourself to God. So it is a decision of the mind and will to believe God has truly forgiven us, and to daily offer ourselves to Him in faith.
We are saved from the penalty of sin when we trust in Jesus. We then daily learn to have power over sin as we live the Christian life. When we die and go to heaven, then we will finally have victory over the presence of sin in our lives.
The apostle John wrote to Christians,
"My little children, I am writing you these things so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father-- Jesus Christ the Righteous One" (1 John 2:2). This is the wonderful assurance we have as believers-- that we offer ourselves to God, desiring not to sin, but if we do sin, we do not have to live in fear of losing salvation, for Jesus Christ is our defense attorney, standing before God, the righteous judge. Satan may accuse us, but Jesus stands to plead our case, saying that He shed His blood for our sins. And God, the judge, declares us "not guilty" of sin before Him, forgiven!

Follow-up question from C.S.:
If God does not require people to not sin before they are saved, than why does God send people to hell for doing those sins that he does not require them to not do?

Answer from Pastor Bob:
Interesting follow-up question.
I think the misunderstanding comes at the point of why God we would be separated from God for eternity in hell. It is not because of sins, but because of sin. That is, it is not because we commit or don't commit certain sins, but because we have a sin condition, a sin problem.
Think of it like this: if a person has an infection that causes a cough and fever, it is not enough to treat the symptoms with Tylenol or a cough suppressant. Antibiotics are needed to get rid of the infection. Likewise, trying to just get people to not do "sins" is like treating the symptom instead of the cause of the illness.
That's why Romans 8:3-4 refers to the sin offering of Jesus on the cross as satisfying the "law's requirement" (singular), rather than "requirements" (plural).
All people are sinners, guilty before a holy God, according to Romans 3:23. So something must be done about that sin condition; if not, we will be separated from God for eternity in hell. Thus, God does require us to remove the guilt of sin to go to heaven. Since we cannot do this in our own power, we need the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ.
Once we trust in Jesus to save us by his grace, that grace that we receive from God motivates us to begin winning victory over sin. Titus 2:11 says, "For the grace of God has appeared with salvation for all people, instructing us to deny godlessness."
So to say God "does not require them not to do" sins is a misunderstanding of what God requires. God requires us to trust in His solution to our sin problem, trusting His salvation by the cross of Christ. And when we make Jesus Lord, then God's Spirit will require a change in our lives, giving us a new desire, drawing us away from sin. But God does it by treating the root cause of our sin, not just the symptoms.

Another follow-up question from CS:
Bob how than can Jesus die for sins in my stead. if I don't go to hell for committing sins but for being born guilty and born a sinner? This means I would be going to hell for being born separated from God because of Adam, and Jesus would be dying not for my sins but for what I would be going to hell for, how could Jesus be punished for something I can't be punished for?

Answer from Pastor Bob:

I did not say that I am responsible for Adam's sin. In fact, I am not. I'm responsible for my own sin. Romans 5:12 says that sin entered the world through one man (Adam), and death came to all people as a result, but the verse also says, "because all sinned." In other words, Adam brought sin into the world, but each of us are responsible for our own sin.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Where did the spirit of Jesus go between His death and resurrection?

Question from Danny:
Does the Bible say where the spirit of Jesus went between His death and resurrection?

Answer from Pastor Bob:
Christians have different opinions about that, but the best explanation I can find is from 1 Peter 3:18-20, which says of the time of His death and resurrection, that Jesus "went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, because they formerly did not obey, when God's patience waited in the days of Noah..."
This passage may mean that at His death, Jesus' spirit went to preach the gospel to those who lived before Him, to give them the opportunity to believe in Him. This interpretation seems to be affirmed a few verses later in 1 Peter 4:5-6, where Peter says that everybody will face Judgment Day, which is "why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead..." apparently meaning Jesus' trip to the land of the dead before His resurrection. Otherwise, it would not be necessary for Jesus to preach to the dead, because Hebrews 9:27 says it is appointed unto mankind once to die, and then face judgment, implying that now that Jesus has come, after death it is too late to make a decision for Christ.
No wonder the apostle Paul says in Romans 3:25-26 that God patiently waited to judge the sins committed before Christ, leaving them unpunished until "the present time." But now that Christ has come, all people must be judged by their response of faith to Christ, even those who died before Christ.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

What does the Bible say about living together?

Question from April:
Can you tell me where it talks about living together before marriage? Not sex. Just living together? We are talking with my son this weekend and we can't find it. Thank you ;)

Answer from Pastor Bob:
Well, I don't know any couples living together who aren't also having sex. But the sin is the sexual immorality before marriage. Hebrews 13:4 says, "Marriage must be respected by all, and the marriage bed kept undefiled."
If a couple were in the same household under the supervision of parents, it might be different, although just sleeping in the same house puts them in a very tempting situation.
The other problem with living together, is that even if a couple was not sexually active, everybody would assume they were, and Ephesians 5:3 says that there should not even be a "hint" of sexually immorality among you. So it harms their Christian testimony.
In addition to the Biblical reasons, there are psychological and social reasons why cohabitation is a bad idea. Couples think they are "trying out" marriage by living together, but it is impossible to "try out" marriage, because marriage is a commitment, and there is no commitment to living together. Either party can leave at any time, so it is not really a test of marriage. And studies show that people who live together before marriage are 50% more likely to get divorced than those who do not. Why is this? Well, if they don't respect the bonds of marriage before marriage, why should they respect the bonds of marriage after they are married?

Saturday, January 29, 2011

How many children did Jacob have?

Question from Bryan:
How many children did Jacob have? 15?

Answer from Pastor Bob:
Jacob (whose name was changed to Israel) had 12 sons (see Genesis 29:31 -30:24 and 35:16-19.) He also had one daughter who was named, Dinah (Genesis 30:21), and there are references to other daughters, but they are not named (Genesis 37:35; 46:7). Thus he had more than 13 children, but we do not know the exact number. The 12 sons formed the twelve tribes of Israel.
Often, the two sons of Joseph (Jacob's grandsons) are each counted as a tribe. They were Ephraim and Manasseh. But the priestly tribe of Levi, which lived in cities and had no land, is left out of the count to keep the number at 12 tribes assigned portions of the Promised Land.
NOTE: Thanks to Pastor Donnie Brannen for pointing out the plural "daughters" in Genesis 37:35 and 46:7, which I missed and had to add here later.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Does the Bible say that ghosts are real?

Question from Jason:

[My wife] came home telling me that somehow at work they got in the conversation about ghosts and whether Christians believe they are real or not. Can you help me with this? And can you provide me with specific scripture?

Answer from Pastor Bob:

The King James Version translates "Holy Spirit" as "Holy Ghost," because in the English language four hundred years ago the words "ghost" and "spirit" meant the same thing. However, today, we associate the word "ghost" with a shadowy image of a dead person coming back to haunt people, whereas the Bible is referring to an unseen living person of God when it calls Him the "Holy Spirit."
Regarding the modern idea of ghosts, we read in I Samuel 28 that King Saul consults a medium and asks her to bring up the spirit of the dead prophet Samuel to speak to him, and she does! But the Bible strongly condemns mediums and witchcraft (see Leviticus 19:31). In fact, the first part of 1 Samuel 28 mentions that King Saul had banished the mediums and spiritists from Israel, but then violated his own law to try to bring back the ghost of Samuel. So yes, it is real, but it is satanic and should be avoided. Delving in ghosts leads people into dangerous territory. Instead, we should be consulting God's word, not spirits of the dead. Isaiah 8:19 warns, "When they say to you, 'Consult the spirits of the dead'... shouldn't a people consult their God?"

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Is it correct to tell someone their loved one went to heaven?

Question from Lianne:

I have been wondering lately is it biblically wrong or correct to tell someone that has lost a loved one that they have went to heaven or to a better place? And if you can, can you please back your answer up with scripture? I have been saying this but I am wondering if we should be saying this. The reason I say that is because we really do not know where our loved ones are going after they pass on or do we? I mean we can believe that they are going to heaven, but we do not know for sure, do we?

Answer from Pastor Bob:

Lianne, when speaking to a person who has lost a loved one, you always want to be encouraging and comforting, but you do not want to say something that is beyond what scripture says.
The key to answering your question is: do you know that your friend's loved one has given a clear testimony of having trusted in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord?
Scripture says in 2 Corinthians 5:8 that we are confident that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord, and in 1 John 5:13 that if you believe in the Son of God (Jesus), then "you may know that you have eternal life." Paul himself speaks with confidence about going to heaven when he dies (Philippians 1:21-23), and he talks to Christians about going to be with the Lord, using the plural "we" in 1 Thessalonians 4:17. So if you know that your friend's loved one has trusted in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, then yes, it is very appropriate to say that the person has gone to heaven.
But what if you are uncertain whether or not your friend's loved one was a believer? Maybe you have not heard, or their testimony was unclear. In that case, I would suggest that you focus on the hope that we have in Christ, without being specific about the individual who is deceased. In other words, you can say, "What a comfort it is to know that when we believe in Christ, we will see one another again in heaven."
Finally, if you are fairly certain that the deceased was not a believer, you may want to say something like, "I'll be praying for God to give you comfort during your time of loss," and if the grieving person is also an unbeliever, you can ask for an opportunity to share the hope that you have in Christ and how they can know that they can go to heaven.