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The Christian Walk, the End, and Tattoos

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Question #1:   This coming summer, our congregation will conduct a 3 day camp retreat and I am invited to speak with the brethren on the topic "Walking With The Lord". I am not a public speaker nor am I a preacher. I am just an ordinary member of our Church who once lead Sunday bible studies for the youth. After I got married in the 90s and moved, I lost contact with my congregation and my spiritual life started to wobble. I encountered many difficulties in life as a married man. I almost forgot the basic tenets of Christianity during the 12 long years of my life estranged from God, until in 2002 when the Lord closed the company I worked with for 10 years. It was then, that the hardship I felt is crushing me. It was then, during the crushing hardships that followed, that I realized the Lord was calling me back. Now, I am a happy person, not only because God called be back, but because my family are now joining me in praising and worshiping the Lord! "Walking With The Lord" is a broad topic, and I don't know where to start. I know this may be asking a lot, but can I ask from you an outline with regards to this topic? I will be addressing this to married couples, to young adults and youth as well.

Thank you once again for being a partner in Christ Jesus.

Response #1:  Thanks for your e-mail and your good words. I congratulate you on your progress for our Lord and on your desire to minister His Word.

As you say, the Christian "walk" is a very large topic indeed. It is not too much to say that there is not much to distinguish it from the gospel of Jesus Christ overall, except perhaps that it is the gospel as we directly apply it in our individual lives. Of course, it is not possible to completely divorce content from application. Nearly all of the epistles in the New Testament are primarily concerned with one aspect or another of the Christian "walk". I like to call this area of doctrine "Peripateology" (after the Greek peripateo meaning "to walk"), and have it planned as part 6B of the Basics series (unfortunately quite a long time coming from this particular point in time).

I think, if I might suggest, in a presentation of limited time one is best served by picking some aspect of this large field of study and concentrating on it. For example, one might take the overall basic principles of spiritual growth (listening, learning, believing, helping as I have described it in Peter lessons 10-19). Another helpful way of looking at the Christian walk is from the standpoint of the renovation of Christian thinking. Rather than repeat everything about that concept here, below are links to some detailed treatments of the theme of "virtue thinking" which I hope will prove helpful to you if you choose to emphasize this aspect of our daily walk with Jesus:

        Walking with Jesus

Imitating Christ (Peter #17)

        An Introduction to "Virtue Thinking"

        Techniques of "Virtue Thinking"

Finally, another theme apropos of your talk and one which I wish to develop in the near future deals with "waiting for Jesus". There are many scriptures which emphasize the need for us to live our lives in the light of our Lord's return, "Marana tha!" (1Cor.1:7; Phil.3:20; 1Thes.1:10; Tit.2:13; Heb.9:28; cf. Mk.15:43; Lk.2:25; 2:38; 12:36; 23:51; Acts 24:15; Rom.5:1-5; 8:23-25; Gal.5:5; Jas.5:7-8; 2Pet.3:12-14; Jude 1:21). This is a concept closely related to "patience" (Rom.5:1-5), to "peace" (Jn.14:27), and to "entering into His rest" (Heb.4:1-16).

As you can see, any one of these topics could be the basis for a large presentation, each in its own right. I would encourage you to think about the time you have available and the precise manner of presentation first, then decide whether to take a general approach, covering as many points as possible via overview, or a specific one, taking a detailed look at the most important scriptures and principles of one particular aspect of the Christian walk.

In any case, you certainly have the "battlefield experience" to understand, communicate, and illustrate by way of your personal testimony just how important a close walk with the Lord is, both how hard it is to endure in the world without being close to Him, and how wonderfully peaceful even difficult times can be when we are walking with Jesus at our right hand, following the path He would have us to tread.

I have kept the Lord always before me. Because He is at my right hand, I will not be moved.    
Psalm 16:8

In Him who is the only way, the only truth, and the only life eternal, our dear Savior Jesus Christ.

Bob L.

Question #2:  

Greetings, your input would be most appreciated. What is referred to in 2nd Peter Chapter 3 verse 10, when it says, "The heavenly bodies will burn up and be destroyed, and the earth with everything in it will vanish". Are the heavenly bodies planets? Thanking you in advance.

Response #2: 

This is a reference to the destruction of the present heavens and earth which will take place at end of the Millennium, when this present kosmos gives way to the New Heavens and the New Earth, when the New Jerusalem descends and we take up residence in that glorious place where "righteousness dwells". The Lord will burn away the present contaminated universe (planets, stars and all), and replace them with a pure and sanctified new heavens and earth. This is necessary in order for God to live with mankind forever (in the New Jerusalem), for, as it is now, our sins have separated Him from us - we can have no direct fellowship with holy God. Only through our resurrection are we made ultimately holy so as to be able to be with Him forever, and only through a complete restoration of the universe (and destruction of the tainted present one) can it be made fit for Holy God to dwell in with us forevermore. This is the final act of God's "judgment restoration, and replacement" that is playing out in the seven millennia of human history (see part 5 of the Satanic Rebellion series).

Other scriptures which speak to this point: Ps.102:25-27; Is.34:4; 51:6; 65:17; 66:22; Hag.2:6; Matt.24:35; Heb.1:11-12; 12:26-29; 2Pet.3:10-13; Rev.20:11; (compare 1Cor.7:31; 15:24; 1Jn.2:17).

And see the following link for more details on the process:

        The New Heavens and the New Earth

        The New Jerusalem

Hope this is helpful.

Yours in Him,

Bob L.

Question #3:  

I was reading your reply to a young man who asked about tattoo's. He stated his friend had gotten one and his sisters said it was against God. Your reply tends to make it appear that all tattoo's are bad, wrong, or evil. If a tattoo expresses your love for God, as a cross, dove, or Jesus, then is that not still another way to open doors for sharing God's love to those who in other ways may never come in contact with him? I am not saying that we should all get Christian tattoo's, but that not all tattoo's are bad. As you said in your reply, "For those who truly put Jesus Christ first in their lives, this attitude cannot help but bubble out for all to see". Maybe part of that bubbling out is a Christian tattoo and a chance to share what he can do with those who don't know him. I have been a Christian since for a long time and feel I have served God in many ways, and try to continue to do so. I used to avoid people with tattoo's but have found they are no different than the rest of us. We are all searching for something. If a tattoo helps someone share God's love with another then I will use every chance I get. At my age, I do not have any tattoo's, yet, but when I do it will be a Christian Cross with the words Father, Son, & Holy Ghost.

Response #3: 

In all such replies, I try not to go beyond what scripture actually says. I do not think (nor have I said, suggested, or implied) that tattoos are evil, nor that people who have them are for that reason bad or evil. However, I do think that getting tattooed is a bad idea for Christians, even if there is no specific prohibition (not all things are profitable: 1Cor.6:12; 10:23). My overriding point in all these discussions has been to suggest that what little information the Bible has on the subject casts them in a negative light - and so I am taking my cue from the Bible. It is also seems clear to me that by their very unnatural nature, tatoos have the potential of sending an overall anti-social message of a rebellious mind-set (whether or not that is fair or intended).

You state in your e-mail "I used to avoid people with tattoo's but have found they are no different than the rest of us. We are all searching for something." Some people tend to avoid the tattooed because they too feel uncomfortable, an understandable thing as indicated by your own experience. This is quite different from avoiding someone because they are poor, or a different race, or have a disability, or for any other of a variety of conditions over which the person has no control. Tattoos are different because a person who goes out his/her way to get a tattoo is willfully sending a message. We might not know what that message is, but we can be sure that it is self-willed, so that the instinct of avoidance is not unloving but self-protective. Having the patience to look beyond the tattoo - especially in hopes of Christian ministry - is a laudable thing. To my mind, however, getting a tattoo to show sympathy or solidarity would be a mistake. Even if the tattoo were a Christian symbol I would not endorse this course (maybe especially if it is), anymore than I could in anyway feel good about an Ichthys blasted out of the rock on Yosemite's Half-dome. In both cases, a God-given thing would have been defaced, and that always calls into question the motives and the good sense of those doing the defacing (and necessarily affects their witness). There are plenty of ways to share the truth of Christ (and to show sympathy while so doing) which do not involve behaviors which are either clearly wrong or otherwise at least open to question.

I would counsel every Christian and every partaker of this ministry to exercise God's love and kindness to everyone and not to let a tattoo or other minor, surface consideration be allowed to impair the gospel of Jesus Christ. That is a far cry, however, from endorsing or validating something which is suggestive of alienation from authority (God's authority included).

Thanks for your feedback - I suppose we'll have to agree to disagree on this one.

Yours in the One set the ultimate example by giving up everything for us, the One who bears the marks of the cross in His hands and feet, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Bob Luginbill

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