Faith Related Q and A

» The Bible tells us that Jesus has crushed Satan's head (Gen. 3:15, John 19:28). Unless I'm misunderstanding something (in which case, please correct me), that means that the devil is now powerless. If that is so, then why do we consider him to be one of the three main forms of temptation (along with our sinful flesh and this world; see 1 Cor. 7:5 for one place Paul says that we can be tempted by the devil)?
Your question takes us back to the Garden of Eden. After sin shattered the perfection of Eden, God promised a Savior (Genesis 3:15). We will need to recognize the setting and the language to understand that Satan is still a powerful tempter today. God spoke the words of Genesis 3:15 to Satan, but he spoke them for the benefit of Adam and Eve and all their descendants. God announced that there would be animosity between his children and those on the side of Satan—whether they are fallen angels or people. God then revealed that one of Adam and Eve’s offspring, the promised Messiah, would crush Satan’s head. Keep in mind that Satan is a spirit being, having no body of flesh and bones. In Eden, he assumed the form of a serpent. With no physical head to be crushed, God’s promise spoke of a crushing blow to the power of Satan. Jesus delivered such a blow when he rose triumphantly from the dead and then descended into hell to prove to Satan who had won the battle (1 Peter 3:18-20). What we can say from Scripture is that Satan is a defeated enemy of God at this point. He still has the ability to tempt people today, and he seeks to do just that (1 Peter 5:8-9). God, in his wisdom, before the end of time will allow Satan to have more freedom to do his evil work (Revelation 20:3). But finally, on Judgment Day, Satan’s power will be crushed completely and he will not be able to tempt people anymore (Revelation 20:10). In summary, God promised that a Savior would crush the devil “in respect to his head” (a literal translation). Jesus came into the world to “destroy the devil’s work” (1 John 3:8). Jesus dealt Satan a crushing blow when he resisted his temptations, died for the sins of the world and then rose to life victoriously. Jesus will put Satan out of commission on the last day. I will explore your question a little more in a future “Light for our path” column in Forward in Christ.

» This is about the question prompted by Genesis 1 & 2. What is WELS' explanation of the narrative of creation in regard to the order of creating animals and man? Genesis 1 explains animals were created first. Genesis 2 prompts man first (in verse 7) and again in verse 18. Is this an intentional typo? I feel God wants us to focus on life, he wants us to love life. And the pursuit of knowledge (i.e. creation) is something that can cause more harm than good. I would reach out to my own pastor but I feel embarrassed to cause chaos so directly and out of the blue.
What will be helpful is keeping in mind that Moses presents the six-day creation account in Genesis 1. In the following chapter, in Genesis 2, Moses goes into more detail of the creation of Adam—and then Eve. It is clear from the inspired record that God created animals before he created man. The closest thing I can come to with a “WELS explanation” is what we state in This We Believe, a statement of belief of our church body: “1. We believe that the universe, the world, and the human race came into existence in the beginning when God created heaven and earth and all creatures (Genesis 1,2). Further testimony to this event is found in other passages of the Old and New Testaments (for example, Exodus 20:11; Hebrews 11:3). The creation happened in the course of six consecutive days of normal length by the power of God’s almighty word. “2. We believe that the Bible presents a true, factual, and historical account of creation.” This link will show you those paragraphs in the context of the statement of belief.

» How can I truthfully and lovingly respond to a friend from church who is captivated by the messages of Sarah Young found in the best-selling devotional "Jesus Calling" and its "sequels" and is promoting the words and methods that Sarah invites us to use to experience the intense pleasure of the presence of God?
I would suggest first asking your friend some questions to understand her interest in the books you cited. The answers she provides will give you direction for your own responses. I would also suggest reminding your friend how God communicates to us. While God can do anything and communicate to people in any way he chooses, he explains that he has spoken and revealed his will through inspired writers and his one and only Son (Hebrews 1:1-2). Because Jesus is the final and most complete revelation of the Father’s will, we do not look for revelations and communications from God apart from his word. The Lord explains that his word is all-sufficient for salvation (Luke 16:29). It is through the word of God that the Holy Spirit works in people’s hearts (John 6:63; Romans 10:17). It is God’s word that provides direction for life (Psalm 119:105). Christians recognize that it is their Lord who speaks to them through his word (John 10:27-28). A section of Scripture like Psalm 119 teaches us that it is through the word of God—and not by mystical experiences—that God speaks to us. If, by “promoting the words and methods” of the books you cited, your friend is a disruptive force in the congregation, you may eventually need to have a conversation with your pastor. God bless your conversations with your friend.

» What is the WELS members' favorite hymn?
I cannot point you to a single, specific answer. Different data yield different results. In a recent favorite hymn survey, “I Know that My Redeemer Lives” garnered the most votes. Among students, “In Christ Alone” was the top choice. When it came to congregational reporting of hymn usage, “Oh, Come, Oh, Come, Emmanuel” rose to the top. Keep in mind that these results did not come from scientific polls, nor are they to be viewed as “official” in any way. The popularity of hymns understandably varies from one person to another. We might have “all-time” favorite hymns; we might value one hymn over others in specific situations and times in life. Regardless, what a wonderful blessing we have in our hymnody. King David had it right: “I will sing the LORD’s praise, for he has been good to me” (Psalm 13:6).

» My best friend's sister recently ended a long-term relationship and, against our better judgement, we started dating. After realizing that we had rushed into things (based upon a mixture of how fast the relationship seemed to move and my fear that she was transferring lingering feelings and expectations for her ex onto me), we agreed to "take a break" and try again later. During these few weeks I have begun to feel that despite our past friendship and mutual interests, we aren't compatible. The problem I'm having is that she very invested in making our relationship work, I don't want to hurt her, and I told her we would try again. She doesn't have any real friends aside from me and her family doesn't support her in anything she does (except for the relationship with me). I understand that doing the right thing will be painful and I have been praying for answers and the strength to act. Do you have some Scripture to help me or some words of wisdom? Thank you.
If you told your friend that “we would try again” and you do not intend to follow through on that, you want to confess your shortcomings and seek her forgiveness. Your friend deserves an honest explanation. Are there Scripture passages applicable to your situation? These passages come to mind: “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32). “Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body” (Ephesians 4:25). “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6). “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” (Colossians 4:6). I hope these passages are helpful. God bless you.

» What is the evidence behind Joseph being the same person as Imhotep in Egypt? I have seen a lot of support from both sides online, but little information from very reliable sources.
There is no evidence. The two men lived hundreds of years apart from one another.

» Could you please explain some of the core differences and similarities between Christianity and Messianic Judaism? We accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. They appear to have parallel beliefs to us departing from traditional Jewish beliefs. I'm not including Jewish people that are members of the WELS and other denominations since it's the Lord's will that all people be saved through faith in Christ regardless of ancestry.
Because Messianic Judaism is a movement rather than a church body, the identification of its beliefs may not be true from one adherent to another. In general, the similarity would be a common recognition and confession of Jesus Christ as the promised Messiah. In general, Messianic Judaism would differ from our beliefs and practices in that it retains some of the Old Testament practices, and denies Baptism and the Lord’s Supper as means of grace.

» Can God create a rock so heavy that he can't lift it? I have heard this question several times before, and it seems self-contradictory, because since God is all-powerful he should be able to both make the rock and lift it.
You are correct in noting that this question is self-contradictory and illogical. Atheists have long asked this question to try to force Christians to concede that there is something incomplete about either God’s creative power or his providential power. God’s power cannot be limited by self-contradictory and illogical questions. The Bible explains that God’s power is unlimited. When God appeared to Abram, he identified himself this way: “I am God Almighty” (Genesis 17:1). The psalm writer explained: “The Lord does whatever pleases him, in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths” (Psalm 135:6). God’s unlimited power is just one of many attributes that separates God from people. In the context of salvation, Jesus said, “What is impossible with man is possible with God” (Luke 18:27). Thank God that he has unlimited power and boundless love (John 3:16).

» After marital and Christian counseling, I have decided to file for divorce from my husband due to marital unfaithfulness and forms of abandonment. My question is, as I look forward, is it ever OK to date again? At what point would that be acceptable?
If your marriage ends because of your husband’s unfaithfulness and desertion, you would certainly be in a position to date again. There is no set time that would need to transpire between your divorce and dating again. I can say this: dating quickly after the divorce might raise questions in the minds of others, but then what is “quickly”? That definition is going to vary from one person to another. Your pastor could offer you good counsel on this matter. God’s blessings to you.

» Since you have a campus ministry, we were expecting that you would be catering to college kids. However, our granddaughter came home this weekend and said that she attended your service last weekend and found the songs depressing and sad. It left her with a bitter taste in her mouth. She told us that she will now be attending the Free Church. What's equally sad is that she has two friends from our area whom I'm sure she'll persuade to go to the Free Church with her. What exactly are you doing to leave this kind of impression?
As WELS pastors coordinate campus ministries in hundreds of locations throughout our country, I do not have knowledge which campus ministry you are referencing. Regardless, you and your granddaughter want to forward any concerns you might have to the pastor who is responsible for that campus ministry. What I can do is encourage you and your granddaughter to keep music in proper perspective. So, I would ask: is it wise to attend a church that might have more upbeat music but that denies the Sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, turning them into “ordinances”? Is it wise to attend a church that teaches millennialism because its music is deemed more cheerful? Those are two of the doctrines of the Evangelical Free Church that are not biblical. It is a sad situation if your granddaughter trades biblical doctrine for music that meets her preference. Again, I would encourage you and your granddaughter to keep in mind what is most important when it comes to our worship of God, and to speak to the pastor where your granddaughter worshipped. God’s blessings to you both.

WELS Q&A are topics that are submitted to the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod website.  The articles here are an automatic feed from the wels.net Q&A website.  Even though we may not have generated this contect, we are in fellowship with the WELS and generally subscribe to the beliefs of the breatheryn in the synod generating these answers.

Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! ~ Luke 24:5-6