Please forgive me for taking up your time, but I became so excited when I came across this site!
- I understand that ignorance is not an excuse, and that transgression of God's laws is sin. However, this is my question: What if my brother who was just taught the gospel of Christ a few weeks ago, understood that he was in sin, being outside of Christ, begins to fervently study the Scriptures daily. He realizes within a week of studying that viewing pornography is a sin, so he immediately and sorrowfully repents of that sin and prays for forgiveness. The other day, he did not tell the truth when he filed income taxes. He dies in a car accident without realizing he had sinned; therefore not knowing to repent, he did not repent. I think his soul is in the hands of a merciful and compassionate God. Someone else has said lying is sin, sin is transgression of God's law, and ignorance is no excuse, so my brother is going to hell just like anyone else who sins! I know neither of us is the judge, but this is bothering me. I know God was compassionate in the Old Testament. I think our God was then, and is now, a compassionate God. What do the Scriptures say?
- During worship services in some churches of Christ, the atmosphere is full of excitement and fervor. In others, the worship services are solemn and reserved. Both are teaching the doctrine of Christ, and worshiping in spirit and truth. My question: If a visitor (member or non-member) begins to clap during the singing part of worship or during preaching, how should the minister, or members handle the situation? (There are no elders at this congregation.)
- What should one do, how should one react when the ministers, leadership, and members fail to meet the needs of fellow Christians? The minister has a holier than thou attitude, does not like to be questioned, and bullies from the pulpit. It is becoming more and more difficult to worship in spirit and truth. I know worship is not all about me, or about the minister. I know it is about my Heavenly Father. But how do I continue to sacrifice my willingness to serve and worship the Lord in such an environment as this, when there is not another congregation of the Lord's church to choose from in my city?
"Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one's praise will come from God" (I Corinthians 4:5).
It is not up to you, I or anyone else to judge individuals in regards to their final destiny. We teach what God said. God said lying is wrong (Revelation 21:8). Whether your brother purposely or accidentally lied or whether he could understand that lying is wrong is between him and God. For anyone to judge another is to make judgments without all the information. The only place we can make judgments is in the application of God's word in the here and now. "Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life? If then you have judgments concerning things pertaining to this life, do you appoint those who are least esteemed by the church to judge?" (I Corinthians 6:2-4). So, in other words, if I know someone lied, I am responsible to tell him that lying is wrong, warn him about the consequences, and encourage him to change. But whether ultimately that lie keeps him out of heaven or not is between him and God.
"But if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth" (I Timothy 3:15).
When someone does anything wrong, it becomes a teachable moment to show the person what God expects of them. See: Is it wrong to clap or raise hands during singing?
"I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry" (II Timothy 4:1-5).
Read how John the Baptist preached in Matthew 3:7-12 and think about what it would be like to have John in your pulpit. The question is about the perceived attitude of the man preaching, something that people cannot accurately judge because it requires knowing the person's thoughts. What makes a man a good or bad preacher is whether he is accurately teaching the Word of God.
Thank you so very much for the responses to my questions. Thank you so much for the opportunity to ask.