Faith and Practice #10

In this tenth edition of the “Faith and Practice” segment Dr. Joseph Pipa sits down and interacts with questions from our listeners.  This is a new monthly feature of the podcast and you can get more information about this feature here.

In this edition we dealt with the following questions:

Question: Is doing seminary work on the sabbath a violation of the sabbath? Certainly it is work that is dwelling on God and the things of God, but it also is work. Is this a violation?

— Ryan from California

My question concerns the relationship between the church and the state. I was wondering if you would present what you think is the Biblical position regarding that relationship.

For instance, let’s say that a president or a king becomes a believer while they are yet in a position of power. Would it be the king’s job to enforce God’s laws upon all of the people, even if a vast number of them are unbelievers, or would it be his job to keep his faith to himself and not let it affect his political decision making? Or is there a middle ground?

Let us use the Sabbath as an example. It would seem that the king has the following options available to him when it comes to people working on Sunday in a non-essential job:

1) He could declare it illegal for any non-essential business to be open on Sunday.

2) He could be completely hands off and let businesses decide for themselves when to be open, though he would publicly ‘recommend’ or ‘encourage’ businesses not to be open on Sundays.

3) He could pass a law that protects Christians from being punished by secular businesses if those believers do not wish to work on Sundays.

Which of those options do you feel to be the most biblical? Is there an option that I have not considered that you would advocate? I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this matter. Thank you. — Eric from Pennsylvania

Could you please share some resources for training ruling elders? Also, we’ve got a young man in our congregation who appears to have potential for going to seminary. As elders we are trying to help him discern whether he may be called to ministry. Can you please share some wisdom in this regard to enable us to serve this brother and the congregation well? — Randall from Missouri

Question: Could you explain the differences between the 2, 2.5, and 3 office views? Also, how the different sides defend their perspective from Scripture? — Troy from Wisconsin

I have a question about the teaching concerning heavenly rewards. As I have studied, I have found this notion difficult to square with the Scriptures. But, as I have never heard anyone outrightly say that this teaching is false it occurs to me that what I may be suffering from is an unclear exposition of what is meant by this teaching or may simply be in error myself. So, if you will indulge my long explanation/question, I would greatly appreciate the insight you can offer here.

If all that is meant by heavenly rewards is that in the age to come there will be differing degrees of knowledge and communion with God, even as we observe such a difference among believers in this age, then I can understand that. Similarly, if what is meant is that God will bless according to one’s actions according to their stations, such as how a farmer in this age will reap the fruit of the crops he’s planted whereas one who has not will naturally not reap, then that too is not something with which I have a problem. However, the teaching as I have understood it does not work along those lines.

I have generally understood it to mean that, while salvation is by grace through faith alone, the quality of our life in the age to come is determined by the acts we perform in faith. I find this notion problematic for a couple of reasons. First, I see little scriptural support for it and the passage that I have most commonly seen used in support of it, 1 Corinthians 3:10-15, is not speaking to that issue at all. Second, it seems to cut against the grain of the way the Bible speaks about salvation as a whole. Since communion with the Triune God, union with Christ Himself, and all the benefits in Him are our inheritance, the notion that there is something in addition to that which we should anticipate and strive to receive seems foreign to the biblical teaching on salvation and the life of the age to come. It also seems to be at odds with reason since it seems to imply that our communion and union with Christ in the age to come is a state that can be improved.

So I submit this hoping for some clarity on the issue. Am I simply wrong and the doctrine is well supported Scripturally counter to what I’ve believed? Have I misunderstood the doctrine? Am I even close to hitting the mark here at all? Thank you for your time and consideration Bill and Dr. Pipa and I am looking forward to seeing you in January!  — Drew from Florida

Two Christian Sabbath questions from a family trying to remember the day in the midst of elders/fellow congregants who see it as legalistic.

  1. How would you respond to the argument that we know that 1st and 2nd century Christians worked on the first day of the week without any obvious efforts to take the day off. Why should we be different? (I think I know the answer to this, but I assume Dr. Pipa will be more gracious and thorough in his response).
  1. We have older children/younger teens who have little interest in keeping the Sabbath — we have, and continue to, instruct them, but beyond that, what are some practical tips to help them use the day profitably, without it becoming drudgery to them?  — Anonymous
  1. Should a church member who is struggling with a besetting sin abstain from the Lord’s Supper? If an elder notices a church member abstain from the Lord’s Supper is it appropriate for the elder to ask the member about it?
  1. How should the session deal with a member who stops attending or appears to be slowing down in attendance? Would the session do anything different if several families are leaving at once, all giving various reasons/excuses?  — Anonymous

Listen Here:


One comment

  • Thanks so much for another great F&P episode—it is so important that the faith we confess gets lived out in our lives and churches. I appreciate how sound AND practical Dr. Pipa’s advice is… And he’s almost convinced me to actually read some Southern Pres. stalwarts! May the Lord continue to bless and uphold you labors. Much love from us at Providence OPC in Greensboro.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *