Faith Related Q and A

» "What's your sign?" How can a Christian use this question to open a conversation that lovingly explains the dangers of astrology and horoscopes?
What an interesting question! I can imagine a response that includes statements like these: “My sign is the cross of Christ.” “I trust the God who made the stars and holds the future in his hands.” Bible passages that could accompany those statements are Galatians 6:14, Genesis 1:16, Psalm 8:3-4, Psalm 139:16 and Isaiah 46:10. With a little more explanation from the Bible, you could let questioners know that you follow the “star of Jacob” (Numbers 24:17). That prophecy pointed to Jesus Christ. You have the right approach in that you want to “open a conversation” on the subject of astrology and horoscopes. At some point you can explain how the Bible warns of those practices (Leviticus 19:31; Deuteronomy 4:19, 18:10-12). God bless your testimony of Christian faith!

» My girlfriend and I really want to move forward and possibly someday get married. She is Baptist and I am WELS Lutheran. Both of our beliefs are firm and we both don't want to agree with the other side. The deciding factor for us moving forward is whether to baptize our children as babies or to wait and do believer's baptism. What I have told her, and what I believe, is we should baptize babies because 1. Baptism creates faith 2. Receive forgiveness of sins - child would be in heaven if he/she dies 3. Babies can believe and the Bible commands us to Her response is that it seems like Lutherans just try to find some shortcut that makes sure we see our babies in heaven, if they were to pass away, and that it is twisting of God's word to just have the outcome we wish for. What should I say, and what other points should I bring up? I know it was long. Thank you!
Another reason for baptizing infants and children is because they are part of Jesus’ instruction to “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20). The littlest and youngest of human beings are included in “all nations.” Also, we baptize infants and children because they are sinful by nature and have a need for spiritual rebirth (Psalm 51:5; John 3:5-6). Recognizing their natural spiritual condition and addressing it is not a “shortcut” of any kind. Another topic of conversation you can have with your girlfriend concerns the source of Christian faith: who is responsible for it. Saving faith is God’s gift to people (Ephesians 2:8), worked in their hearts through the word of God (Romans 10:17). People cannot bring themselves to saving faith in Christ or decide to invite him into their hearts because they are by nature spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1), spiritually blind (Acts 26:17-18) and enemies of God (Romans 8:6-7). When we recognize that God works saving faith in people through his word, then we will recognize that God can work saving faith in infants and children through the application of water and his word. It is good that you and your girlfriend are having these discussions. I trust you are fully aware of the challenges that can exist in a marriage in which a husband and wife do not agree on what the Bible teaches—and the blessings that husband and wife enjoy when they share a common faith. Continue to share the truths of God’s word with your girlfriend. God bless you.

» What does long-suffering mean? My daughter has a chronic medical condition which is hard for me to accept and deal with. I wonder if this applies?
“Long-suffering” is the King James Version counterpart of “patience” that we find in more contemporary Bible translations. “Long-suffering” or “patience” is a quality attributed to God (1 Peter 3:20) and his children, Christians (James 5:8, 10). By your patient attitude, the word applies to you and your situation. When we keep in mind that “patience” is part of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22), we recognize that God develops and increases that attribute in us through the use of the gospel of Jesus Christ. May God continue to give you and your daughter patience as a loving and wise God directs all in your lives for your spiritual and eternal welfare (Romans 8:28). God bless you and your daughter!

» I am in need of something written by the WELS that explains the specific reasons the New Living Version translation is not acceptable. I don't question our stance but need help addressing it accurately and precisely with friends who like the NLV and want to see it become the official Bible of our church. I truly appreciate any specific help you can provide.
This link will take you to a document titled “Evaluating Bible Translations.” The New Living Translation is one of the translations evaluated. Do keep in mind that there is not an “official Bible of our church.” The recent discussions in our church body regarding Bible translations have addressed which translations to use in our publications. While walking together as a synod, congregations enjoy Christian freedom in the use of Bible translations.

» I’m talking to a young lady whom I’m considering to date and be my future wife. I’m non-denomination and she’s WELS Lutheran. She wants her future husband to be WELS Lutheran. Is it wrong for me to convert from non-denomination to WELS Lutheran?
It would be wrong only if you joined your friend’s church simply because of your desire to have a relationship with her. Membership in a congregation and church body implies that a person’s faith matches the confession of that church and church body. WELS congregations offer Bible Information Classes (or ones with similar titles) that explain biblical teachings. Upon completion of the classes, adult confirmation is available for those who profess that the instruction they have received is what the Bible teaches.  Adult confirmation would then establish membership. I would encourage you to attend the classes offered by your friend’s congregation. With your background, you will especially be interested in the lessons on Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. God bless your study of the Bible!

» I'm dying from a terminal illness. I'm frustrated because I believed Jesus would help me. The longer I suffer, the more I doubt. If there is life in heaven after death, why does the Bible say no one praises God from the grave?. A living dog is better than a dead lion? No one has ever been to heaven except the one who came from heaven? Jesus said this. I have lost everything in this life. The more I pray for faith and a relationship with God, the worse I get. Is anything God tells us in his word true? What makes Israel's God different from another society's god? Why do good God-fearing people suffer with no help? Am I not loved by the God I put all of my hope in?
Dear friend, your questions tell me that you need someone to talk to and someone to serve you with God’s word. I trust you have a pastor with whom you are in contact. He will be able to address your questions in more detail than I can. Here is how I can respond from a distance. Physical death is one of the consequences of sin (Romans 6:23). We will all experience death (Hebrews 9:27) unless the Lord returns visibly to this world in our lifetime. When it comes to illnesses, the Lord can heal and extend life from our perspective or, in his love and wisdom, he can allow death to take place. In either case, God is working for our good (Romans 8:28). In the latter case, God is bringing about the greatest good possible because he is calling one of his children home. Psalm 6:5 does state: “Among the dead no one proclaims your name. Who praises you from the grave?” That verse is simply pointing out the contrast between those who are alive on the earth and those who are not. A section of the Bible like Revelation 7:9-17 describes Christians who had died praising God in his presence in heaven. The verse you cited about a dog and a lion (Ecclesiastes 9:4) simply speaks of the connection of hope to life. Death ends all hope for those who are not connected to Jesus Christ in faith. Jesus’ words about heaven (John 3:13) mean that only he came from heaven to earth to explain spiritual matters to people. No human being has gone from earth to heaven to acquire that information and then returned to earth to share it. Everything that God tells you in his word is true (Numbers 23:19; John 17:17). He tells you that your sins have been forgiven (1 John 2:2). He tells you that whoever believes in Jesus has forgiveness of sins and eternal life (John 3:16). He tells you that those who believe in Jesus will live forever (John 11:25), and death cannot separate his children from his love (Romans 8:38-39). The God of the Bible, the triune God, alone exists (Isaiah 45:5). All other gods are idols. You can trust God—and his power and his wisdom and his love. Again, I hope you have a pastor with whom you can share your questions and concerns. He will be glad to share the message of God’s word with you. God bless you.

» Hello: I am currently a few weeks from completing my Master's degree in counseling. Today in class we had an interesting discussion I would like to hear the Christian view on. The discussion was on the presentation of mental disorders and if certain things could be classified as a symptom. In one case, the patient reported having a premonition a loved one would die the day before they did. While it could be considered a symptom of this patient's disorder, it started a discussion if premonitions could actually be a symptom since most people at one time or another have experienced them. The experiences discussed ranged from meeting a significant other and knowing they'd marry that person, feelings to take a different route only to learn later of an accident that occurred around the time they would have been there, feeling like a loved one was going to die before they did, thinking of someone only to hear from them, etc. The discussion proceeded to speculation where they come from - God, deceased loved ones, angels, Spirit guides, etc. I don't recall Scripture talking about premonitions. What is the Christian view on premonitions and where they might come from?
In the Bible, God certainly did speak directly to individuals about future events (Exodus 7:1-5) or through others (2 Kings 20:1; Acts 21:10-11). While God can do anything, we do not have any promise from him—or expect him—to speak to us outside the Bible (Hebrews 1:1-2). For a good treatment on the topic of information and the future, I would refer you to the first chapter of the book “Wizards that Peep.” It is available from Northwestern Publishing House.

» If a Christian father stands by idly as his child is being kidnapped, is he guilty of sin? I heard an Amish person say that if someone is in danger like this, they should not do anything because they believe in non-resistance. I was reading the Large Catechism and it seems to suggest that those who fail to defend their neighbors are guilty of sin. I am going to be a Christian father soon and have seen these types of things in the news, and want to know if it is right for a Christian father to defend his child or if he should stand by idly. Thank you.
Perhaps the section of the Large Catechism you have in mind is this: “Secondly, under this commandment not only he is guilty who does evil to his neighbor, but he also who can do him good, prevent, resist evil, defend and save him, so that no bodily harm or hurt happen to him, and yet does not do it. If, therefore, you send away one that is naked when you could clothe him, you have caused him to freeze to death; if you see one suffer hunger and do not give him food, you have caused him to starve. So also, if you see any one innocently sentenced to death or in like distress, and do not save him, although you know ways and means to do so, you have killed him. And it will not avail you to make the pretext that you did not afford any help, counsel, or aid thereto, for you have withheld your love from him and deprived him of the benefit whereby his life would have been saved.” [Concordia Triglotta, 635] A recently-published answer included this response: “Some Christians look to Matthew 5:39 and Romans 12:17 as absolute directives not to resist physical threats. In their context though the verses advocate love toward others instead of seeking revenge. “Others look to sections of Scripture like Proverbs 24:11-12 and Luke 22:35-38 as the basis for defending oneself and one’s family from physical threats. John 18:10-11 describes Peter’s wrongful use of a weapon as he tried to interfere with the Lord’s humble submission to his Father’s will. “The positive emphasis of the Fifth Commandment ‘to help and befriend [our neighbor] in every bodily need’ can find application in defending oneself and one’s family.

» What is the biblical stance on self-defense that ends up in someone being killed/murdered in relation to the Fifth Commandment? Does God allow us to protect our family to that point, or are we charged to love our enemy and pray for those who persecute us regardless of what harm they may be intending to inflict? An example would be a home invasion or something of that sort.
The Hebrew word in the Fifth Commandment (Exodus 20:13 and Deuteronomy 5:17) prohibits murder—the illegal and inappropriate taking of human life—and does not forbid all taking of life. So, for example, governments can rightly implement capital punishment (Romans 13:4) if they so choose. What about individuals who want to protect themselves and their families, you wonder? Some Christians look to Matthew 5:39 and Romans 12:17 as absolute directives not to resist physical threats. In their context though the verses advocate love toward others instead of seeking revenge. Others look to sections of Scripture like Proverbs 24:11-12 and Luke 22:35-38 as the basis for defending oneself and one’s family from physical threats. John 18:10-11 describes Peter’s wrongful use of a weapon as he tried to interfere with the Lord’s humble submission to his Father’s will. The positive emphasis of the Fifth Commandment “to help and befriend [our neighbor] in every bodily need” can find application in defending oneself and one’s family with a weapon.

» Recently, I've heard people say the Holy Spirit put words in their mind. Usually, the words they are referring to are a Bible verse. How can a person know if the words are from the Holy Spirit or something that their human mind generated? Additionally, some people claim that God "lays" something on their heart. How can a person decipher these thoughts and feelings as being from God or generated in the human mind?
Considering what the Bible teaches about the work of the Holy Spirit, we may not have to wrestle too much over your first question. The Bible teaches that God’s word is “alive and active” (Hebrews 4:12). The Holy Spirit works through the gospel—the word alone or the word connected to water in Baptism—to fill hearts with saving faith. Then, the Holy Spirit dwells within Christians (Romans 8:9-11; 1 Corinthians 3:16). As Christians, our new self delights in God’s word (Psalm 1:2). When we use God’s word and impress its truths on our hearts (Deuteronomy 6:6-9), it is no surprise that the Holy Spirit is at work in our hearts and minds (Romans 8:16). That work can certainly include leading us to recall Bible verses and biblical truths. With your second question, you would want to ask people what they mean by God “laying something on their heart.” It could be a matter of seeing an opportunity to help someone and then thinking of Galatians 6:10 – “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” Or it could be a conscience that awakens (Romans 2:15). Again, you would want to ask people to explain what they mean by that expression.

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.

...yet knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ... ~ Galatians 2:16