I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus and count them but rubbish.

Ask the Pastor

We started a new series this week called Ask the Pastor. We have invited the congregation to ask those spiritual questions that perhaps have not ever been answered in any other way. I have done my best to answer them. I began this sermon by talking about how to properly interpret scripture. By doing so anyone can look at scripture and find the true meanings therein.


2 Timothy 2:15 & 3:16


Today we start a new series I have been looking forward to all year.


I am thankful that you all have made it start out so well by producing your questions for me.


I am excited but at the same time there is a level of nervousness b/c there is a level of informality to this series.


Later as time dictates we will open up the floor to questions that you might have.




Now I would like to begin this series by setting up some preliminaries for us to follow and go by.


I. Series Preliminaries


            A. Why the ASK THE PASTOR Series?


Ill.: To be honest you might be asking this question. Why are you doing this? Perhaps you saw this and read how you the people would more or less help me build my sermon series and thought, “Oh we’re doomed, Jason has run out of ideas!”


But the fact of the matter is that I like this idea for this series b/c…


1.  JC often taught with interaction as a Center Piece.


  • During that time it was not uncommon at all for the Rabbi to spend ample time in teaching and then allow for the gathering to respond.


  • When JC taught the disciples many times they would reply with a question or comment seeking more information.

So this idea of having the gathering ask questions is founded b/c the concept of interaction between teacher and disciple in the Bible.


2.  But I also did it b/c there were questions that did not fit into a series per say.


Ill.: I have had several questions that have been asked that I could not really find a place to put it in a series. Some questions just don’t fit into the flow of the series of sermons we plan through out the year.


So ASK THE PASTOR gives us the chance to answer questions that are hanging out there and should be handled.

But with this I want to throw out some additional thoughts…


            B.  Guidelines for the Series.


There is a need to set a standard for this series to keep from causing confusion or disorder.


So keep in mind…


1.  I don’t have all the answers.


I would be foolish to think that I will have all the answers and that your questions will be so thoroughly answered as to leave no open ends.


This will be especially true if there are open forum questions asked by you.


Sometimes it can be a very daunting task to answer questions as they are tossed at me.


Ill.: Last Sunday night I had just such a time. I was talking about Paul preaching to the Greeks and for the life of me I could not think of where he was at. I knew it but in a moment of human error I couldn’t get it out.  Thankfully a couple of people filled in the blanks for me by saying, “Athens on top of Mars Hill.”

So understand that if today you ask a question and I cannot give as good an answer as you want or I would like to have go easy on me.


If it’s a question that needs a follow up I will include it in my questions for the series, research it and cover it more thoroughly later.


2. To keep order if you ask a question please ask the question and then allow for an answer w/out debate.


What we want to do by doing that is set the standard for order. We don’t want to create an atmosphere of debate.


  • JC often had to deal with this in His teachings. He would be teaching and the Pharisees would want to debate an issue with Him.

Though I know this will not be a problem I still want to note it so we might keep a level of order in this informal time.


            C.  Biblical Interpretation.


Ill.: One of my goals as a minister and even in this series is to teach you how to be people who should go and get the answers on your own.


I love to teach and preach but I want you to understand that you don’t have to come to me for the answers. The answers are very easy to find if you apply some of the very basic steps I apply in my own study.


Study of the scriptures is something that is vital to the Christian and true growth does not solely exist here on Sundays but when you’re on your own with the Word.


2 Timothy 2:15 (NIV), Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.


Do’s and Don’ts of Biblical Interpretation…


             1. DO start with Scripture first.


When we have to all sufficient Word of God laid out by the inspiration of the scriptures then why go anywhere else?


2 Timothy 3:16 (NIV), All Scripture is Godbreathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.


  • But there is always that temptation for someone to have formulated a basic idea and then go to scripture to back it up.


  • Instead we should have an idea and then allow the either validation of that idea or rejection of that idea be determined by what God’s Word tells us.

So the first logical DO is to check scripture first and don’t be fooled by those who claim to have a new Word from the Lord or concept or idea.


Instead seek out God’s perfect words found only in the Bible.


            2. DO seek outside help.


Now I know that sounds contradictory in light of my previous comment


But something’s in scripture are not all together clear or may not make sense in light of our cultural differences from that 1st Century to today.


At some point you will be stumped and need help.


ONLY after you have thoroughly checked out scripture can you look at other materials for assistance.


But be warned that you should do so with the greatest of caution b/c some material out there is plain wrong.


But the use of…


  • Concordances


  • Dictionaries and reference books


  • Commentaries can help you.


If you wish to study something and need guidance then you can ask me about it and I’ll do my best to guide you.


            3. DO seek to understand the cultural differences of the Bible.


Some of the biggest mistakes is not understanding the culture of the time in which the Bible writers lived in.


Understand that even with the inspiration of the HS the writers were also influenced to write in such a way to connect with the current audience.


When we don’t understand that culture we are often left to taking our culture and interjecting it into Scripture or applying to ourselves something that was not to be passed on.


Or outright make a conclusion that is wrong.


For Example a well known instance, Paul tells us that women should keep their heads covered in the assembly…


So does that mean now all the ladies must have hats on or covering? Do our ladies here today sin b/c they do not?


  • In that culture women had to have their heads covered and some even wore a veil over their faces. Only their husbands saw them without.


  • To uncover would be a disgraceful thing that only prostitutes did to attract men.


  • B/C of this sudden freedom in Christ that women had Paul had to tell them they could not uncover.

Ill.: For that culture uncovering the head of women would be the same as a women in our culture choosing to dress in a manner that is too revealing and thus cause problems.


  • Paul is saying, “You women who are free in Christ should still practice propriety and dress modestly.”

But we would not know that if we did not understand the culture at the time.


So we can take that and apply it to mean that in this day and age women (and men) need to be aware of what they wear and how it impacts others.


But be sure you understand some measure of the culture of the Bible’s Writers to understand fully the writings full meanings.


            4. DON’T build beliefs on limited verses or passages.


Ill.: As much as I cannot stress enough knowing the culture at that time to have a better understanding of the Bible so also I cannot express this enough…

                        CONTEXT, CONTEXT, CONTEXT.


Many through the ages have chosen to take a single passage or verse and build their theology on it.


To do this leaves out many scriptural understandings that would either add or debunk your thoughts.


1 Corinthians 15:29-30 (NIV), Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them? And as for us, why do we endanger ourselves every hour?


The problem with this is no where else in scripture is there mention of there being a need for us to be baptized for the dead giving them a second chance.


Now what does this passage mean in its stricter sense is unclear. This is one of the passages that is the hardest to understand in the NT.


But b/c of the lack of additional information we conclude that we cannot build a doctrine around it.

Instead here is what you should do when you come to an understanding or thought about doctrine…


  • Verse/ Common Verses: If you find an obscure verse then the best thing to do is begin with it. Look at it and what it is saying. Look for verses in scripture that cover the same subject matter.


  • Chapter: Next look at the chapter that verse appears in as a whole. Read what is surrounding it and how it impacts that particular verse.


  • Book/Letter: Next read the whole book and see how the whole book impacts the verse.


  • Example: Most of Paul’s letters have themes and go through a process of laying out full details.


  • Romans is like this: The first part talks about how one is saved, the second part talks about how we should live in this salvation.

So to understand some of the material of Romans you have to at times look at the whole letter.


  • OT/NT: Depending on where you are at in scripture you may need to read the whole of that Testament and then b/c we are under the NT age read and see how that OT passage works in the NT time.

            5.  DON’T allow old sayings and popular phrases into scripture.


Many people make the mistake of thinking something is in the bible when it is not.


When what do this often is culturally popular to say becomes scripture.


But we must be careful to not add to scripture those things that are not there.


Ill.: Such sayings as, “Cleanliness is next to Godliness” or “God helps those who helps themselves,” are not in scripture.

So make sure you know if it’s in scripture and if it applies.


            6. DON’T apply the wrong Covenantal Period.


Scripture is basically broken down into two periods of time…


  • OT Covenantal Period: God is preparing the people for the Salvation that is to come. He gives Laws and Orders of Worship to be carried out until that time that JC comes to save all.


  • NT Covenantal Period: JC has come died for the sins of all and that whoever would call on Him would be saved. The OT order is gone as far as some of the restrictions and procedures.


So as much as we like to maybe apply some of those OT rules to our time in the NT we can’t b/c they just are not to be applied b/c JC has come and those times have passed away.


Only when something is repeated or commanded again in the NT writings should they again be given consideration.


For Example: The Mosaic Law tells us to not eat meat that still has its life blood in it or to drink blood …


Leviticus 17:14 (NIV), Because the life of every creature is its blood. That is why I have said to the Israelites, “You must not eat the blood of any creature, because the life of every creature is its blood.”


Now that was under that OT Covenant and should not apply unless it is reapplied in someway in the NT.


Well it is actually…


Acts 21:25 (NIV), As for the Gentile believers, we have written to them our decision that they should abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality.”


  • See the Jews wanted to have the Gentiles to follow the Mosaic Law but the Leaders of the Church come together and produce a list of basic rules for these Christians.

One was to not ingest the blood or uncooked meat with blood.


So all of the OT must be taken in view of the NT when it deals with the continuation of a certain commands.


Some have been repeated and we should carry them out and some we are no longer bound by.


It’s important for us to know the difference and not wrongly apply scripture.




Ok I realize our preliminaries have taken up all our time more or less.


Don’t worry we will get to those written questions if not this week then next.


But today just to get us going I would like to take the last five minutes and open up the floor to questions if you have them.


What we will do is I have Chris Cornett who has our cordless mic to walk and pass it to you.


If you have a question simply raise you hand. I’ll point you out and Chris can get you the mic.


Either stand or sit and ask your question.




Since we don’t have any immediate questions lets proceed to some of our quicker written questions for today.


Question 1: What Happens to Animals when they Die? Do they have souls? Will they be in Heaven with us?


The Bible is very vague about what will happen to animals who exist in this present world.

Most specifically in reference to person’s beloved pets. Will they be there?


I can understand that feeling since many have pets they have grown to love.


But scripture makes no clear mention of the destination of our pets.


What does scripture tell us about animals…


  • We have dominion over them: God told Adam to take charge of all living things.


  • Fear is instilled in them b/c of their use for food after flood: Animals are presented a source of food after the flood.


  • God prescribes uses in the OT/Clean and Unclean: God sets in the Mosaic Law specific rules for eating of animals and also their use in sacrifice by the Jewish people.


  • In the NT Paul says they like all of creation struggle and suffer b/c of sin: That their degeneration to death and violent behavior though not labeled sin is a direct cause of the fall of man we see in Genesis.


  • Ambiguous Imagery of Lion and Lamb being at peace in New Earth: Now we don’t know if this is imagery of the peace that will be there or literal reference to the animals being benefited by the restoration of creation or not. It does not tell us if these are animals of a new creation or ones that have lived on earth.

So the final destination of animals in that sense is inconclusive.

But I will say that since they have been given to man to be eaten and thus are killed by humans they do not have a soul or the same kind of animated spirit like humans.


Otherwise that would be wrong for God to allow b/c it would go into the area of murder.


In thinking about this again I don’t think we can come to a conclusion on it clearly but I feel that with the perfection that is heaven there will not be much thought as to who is there other than knowing God is there.


Everything and everyone else will pale in comparison to being there worshiping God.




One Final Question…


Question 2: Why Three Crosses, Why not just One?


I will be honest I have never really thought too much about this question.


And I am going to make the assumption that the questioner is referring to why there were three that day instead of just one execution.


  • But scripture tells us as JC is being led away to be crucified there were two criminals who were slated to die as well and went with Him.

Ill.: Now we don’t know with all certainty if these were literal crosses or just a cross beam carried by the condemned and they were led away to be hung on something akin to scaffolding.


What we do know from scripture is three men went out and were crucified.


But why three? Is there significance to there being two criminals with JC?

There are several reasons for multiple executions and the first one is the most important…


            1. God foretold its occurrence.


  • One of the most important reasons this had to happen was b/c God had prophesied through the Prophet Isaiah that it would be so.

Isaiah 53:10-12 (NIV), Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand. After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors.

Now if this does not happen then something so minor as if JC was alone or with others when he was crucified calls into question the God of the Bible.


Remember that truth of what God decrees is lost in even the simplest prophecy.


So the main reason for three Crosses instead of one b/c God Himself said it would be so.


It fulfills the prophecy that God produced concerning His Son.


Luke 23:32-33 (NIV), Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left.


The other reason for men going to the cross with JC that day…


            2. Magnifies the Low Position JC took.


  • As one criminal would later say they were men deserving of death b/c of what they had done.


  • So the Son of God was hung up with men of great crimes.

Ill.: When I was thinking about this I remembered that some scholars believed these were not just any criminals. They were part of the rebellious activities of Barrabas and their murderous plots. They had a hand in some of those occurrences.


So it could be that as people walk by they look up and see two well known criminals part of an underworld organization and the passers-by might scream, “Look at those low life’s getting what they deserve for their crime,” and then seeing JC, “And that guy he must have been part of that group of low life’s too they all deserve to die.”


We don’t know but perhaps associations like that bring that much further down into the miry depths of the worlds sin that much more the Son of God.


So it is very likely that to be numbered with these transgressors only accentuates the depths to which JC was willing to be lowered for us to be saved.


But despite that I hope you understand one thing remains true…


  • On one of those crosses was the Lord JC who gave Himself for the Sins of the world.


  • No matter how many crosses are up there only one matters in the eternal picture.


  • The one who died to set us free. He willingly went to that cross and was given up as the perfect sacrifice.


And today if you don’t know the God-Man who was on that center cross we invite you to come and be forgiven.





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