Archive for the ‘Doctrinal Issues’ Category
Copyright, all rights reserved, Tattoo Jack
From Pastor Paul to a brother in the church:
Dear Brother: Thanks for asking about tattoos in the context of Lev. 19:27-28, which reads as follows: “You shall not round off the hair on your temples or mar the edges of your beard. You shall not make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourselves: I am the LORD.”
I do not understand the prohibition on tattoos in Lev. 19:28 to be a universal command forbidding God’s people everÂ to have tattoos, so that for a Christian ever to have what we can call a tattoo would be a sin. As you also mentioned, in the context it forbids Israelites to have tattoos specifically because they were associated with pagan religion and mourning rituals. Therefore, the more immediate and abiding prohibition for us is really to avoid worshiping idols and embracing false religion of any kind.
However, Lev.19:28 does connect to a larger biblical prohibition against “harming” the human person in body or soul, because we are made in God’s image. Even our bodies teach lessons about the divine glory. Though God does not have a body, the eye teaches that God sees; the ear that he hears, etc. (Psalm 94:8-9 “Understand, O dullest of the people! Fools, when will you be wise? He who planted the ear, does he not hear? He who formed the eye, does he not see?”) The orderliness, integrity, and essential appearance of the body is to be maintained according to God’s intention. Therefore, bodily disfigurement in general is prohibited. [read on…]
From Pastor Paul:
“But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret” (Mat. 6:3).
Sometimes we take our Lord’s words here as the central rule of Christian giving, roughly translated as, “Once you have decided what to give, don’t ever think about it again, because this will only lead to sin.” We think the righteousness Jesus required lies in a carefully maintained ambidextrous ignorance, never considering the purchasing power of the dollars we drop into the offering plate every Sabbath.
This disembowels God’s gift to us of giving back to him. He stands in need of nothing; all things are his (Psa. 51:10-12). He fills up our hands with his good things so that both left and right may adoringly concur to lay our gifts at his feet. “For from him, and through him, and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen.” (Rom. 11:36).
Our Lord did speak against the sinful motives and manners of the Pharisees in alms-giving. Don’t give with self-congratulation or ostentation. But whenever God tells us to put off sin, there is always a corresponding goodness to put on. This oxymoronic “self-centered giving” must give way to the God-glorifying, church-building, man-helping, Christian-transforming act it should be. [read on…]
From Pastor Paul:
Christians often have questions about their future. Will Jesus always be a human with us? Is his body in heaven? Will we have a body forever? In answering these questions for some young people recently, I wrote the paragraphs, with biblical proofs, below. If you have any of these questions, take a look also.
1. Our Lord Jesus was bodily raised from the dead. It was the physical and truly human body of Jesus that was raised from the dead to live forever more. His dead body was in the tomb, but then was not there because his spirit reinhabited it. He showed the wounds of his death on the cross to his disciples and said he was not just a spirit but flesh and blood, and ate with them several times after being resurrected (Luk.24:41-42, Act.1:3, 10:41). As a resurrected human Jesus had the very same body, but with new capabilities: he passed through locked doors and disappeared before two disciples (Luk.24:36, 31). The resurrected Jesus looked like himself and only failed to be recognized when either his disciples weren’t expecting him to be alive or the Bible says “their eyes were prevented from recognizing him” (Jhn.20:15, Luk.24:16). He says, “See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself.” Jesus says after ascending into heaven, “I died, and behold I am alive forever more” (Rev.1:18): this refers to his human nature’s dying and then returning to a life never to be discarded, because in his divine nature he did not die and return to life… [read on…]
From Pastor Paul:
Our church does not forbid participation in Halloween, because the Bible does not. Therefore, going “trick-or-treating” is not necessarily wrong. Some on the session remain fascinated by jack-o-lanterns. Nor do we think all scary things must be automatically reviled. Nonetheless, the following biblical considerations keep us from an uncritical, full-blown participation in Halloween. We do not condemn Christians who disagree, as long as they share their candy with us. [continued]