THAT'S A GOOD QUESTION !!
This page is set up in order to bring questions of faith into focus. Many people have questions regarding faith in general and in particular. Is the Bible trustworthy? Is Christ Jesus who he claimed to be? Is Evolution true? This page is dedicated to asking and answering questions people have. If you wish to ask a question please contact us with your question and Pastor will do his best to respond. You question will be listed and response provided. We do not claim to have an easy answer to every question, but you will receive a response that seeks to respect your question(s).
CONTACT INFO: Our phone number is 1-708-771-8456
CAN ANYONE TRUST THE BIBLE ?
That's a good question. Many people believe the Bible was translated so many times it lost a lot in the process - errors and contradictions entered into the writings and transmission of texts. Others believe the Bible is not accurate 'in depicting persons, place and accurate `dates. Yet through archeology we have found that the Bible is often accurate in what it says. The first thing to remember is this. The Bible was not translated many times - it was translated from the Hebrew and Greek once - what we have are many translations from the One Hebrew and One Greek languages which comprise the bulk of Manuscripts. While it is true that there are some Scribal errors in the Transliteration from Hebrew and Greek, these errors are minor and do not cause concern when it comes to the Major doctrines and beliefs within the Bible. It is true that some errors were made by scribes, but are of the sort which may be a slip of the pen, or the reversal of words, a different spelling of the same word, etc . But none have caused major concern theologically or called into question the integrity of Scripture. While it is true we do not have the Original Manuscripts, we do have a great wealth of Manuscripts representing the Old and New Testaments. The accuracy of these manuscripts as we compare them to earlier dated manuscripts (such as the Isaiah Scroll, Dead Sea Scrolls) and having been dated nearly One Thousands years earlier than the Masoretic text (texts used before Dead Sea discovery) were amazingly accurate when compared to the earlier finds. This means that those who copied these texts were cautious and accurate in what they did. We can rest assure that what manuscripts we have and what they signal in terms of dates and accuracy gives us great hope that the present Bible is a good representation of the original texts. You can study these facts in detail by going to a Christian book store and finding a simple booklet by Rose Publishing called, 'Why Trust The Bible'.
Remember - Many, so called errors and contradictions, may be errors in our reason and inability to understand the Bible fully. What seems like errors often turn out to be reflections of our limited reason and not the Bible's inability to accurately communicate truth. Yes, there are difficulties that most evangelical scholars are aware of, but these difficulties do not out weigh the amazing unity and credibility of the Bible. As we unearth more and more evidence through archeological finds, we are realizing how accurate the Bible really is. Science and Technology have been a gift in helping to restore faith, rather than remove it, for many believers!
We will explore More questions of the Origins of the Bible in greater detail as we move on.
DO WE HAVE ANY PROOF THAT THE BIBLE IS INSPIRED ?
Yes, there are many signs pointing to the Bible being inspired. I would say Prophecy is one of the more interesting arguments for the Divine origins of Scripture. Old Testament Prophecies regarding the Messiah were written hundreds of years before the Coming of Jesus Messiah - the chances of Jesus orchestrating his life to fulfill the more than 300 (First and Second Comings) prophecies is - well, very unlikely. The Critics say many of the prophecies were written after the events - but with the discovery of the Dead sea Scrolls, this theory has been jeopardized substantially. The Book of Daniel, for example, lists the Rise and Fall of Four Kingdoms (the Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Alexander the Great, and a fourth Kingdom, Dan. 7) Daniel saw the rise of some of these kingdoms, but would not live to see the rise of the Fourth Kingdom. Many thought this prophecy was written after the fact, but a finding of the Daniel Scroll which dated well before these events actually happened by at least 150 years, put to rest the critics argument. We have yet to see the rise of the Fourth Kingdom, but Jesus may have a clue to its rise in his discourse in Mark 13 when he gives his disciples an overview of things that must happen in the end of time. Jesus first gives them a prophecy which will take place in their life time (The destruction of the Temple in 70 AD), and then goes on to relate what will happen in the end of time. He quotes Daniel regarding the Abomination that makes desolate and mentions that such times will be very bad , more horrid than any time since the creation and up to the end. Apparently Jesus thought these events were future and signaling the consummation of History.
In any case Prophecy can help one to trust the Bible because it simply points to the reality of a supernatural God behind these prophecies. They could not have happened by chance. Just a few prophecies regarding Jesus can demonstrate how improbable it would be for him to manipulate them to make him look like the long awaited Messiah.
- Be of the Tribe of Judah - Gen. 49: 8-10, Micah 5:2 - Fulfilled: Matt. 1: 1-3, Hebrews 7: 14, Rev, 5:5
- Be Born in Town of Bethlehem of Judea: Micah 5: 2-5, Fulfilled - Matt. 2: 1-6 (The word, 'Ephratah' is important because there were two Bethlehem's at the time of Jesus' birth - note how accurate the Prophet is - not just a vague notion, but pin pointed!).
- Born of King David's line - Isa. 9: 7, Fulfilled - Matt 1:1:1, Luke 1:32
- Be Born of A Virgin - Isa 7:13, 14, Fulfilled - Matt 1: 18 - 23, Luke 1: 26-35
- Hung on a Tree - Deuteronomy 21: 23, Fulfilled - Galatians 3: 13
- Have his Feet and Hands Pierced - Psalm 22: 16, Zech 12:10, Fulfilled - Matt 27:35, John 20:25-29
- Cast Lots for his Coat - Psalm 69: 20-22, - Fulfilled - Matt 27:34, Mark 15:23, 15:36
Well, lets stop here. There are 100 prophecies Jesus fulfilled regarding his birth, his ministry, his death and resurrection, his attributes, etc. The odds of these being fulfilled by chance is incredible! We may be certain that if prophecies such as Daniel's and those concerning Jesus have been fulfilled, we can be certain that the prophecies regarding Jesus' second return will be fulfilled as well.
MANY CHRISTIANS SAY THE BIBLE WAS WRITTEN BY GOD, EVERY WORD AND WITHOUT ERROR, HOW DOES THIS WORK?
Lots of people have a false notion of the Bible and what we mean by, 'Inspiration'. Orthodox Christianity does not hold to the notion that the authors of Scripture were in trance -like states being used by God to mechanically write down what God wanted said. Orthodoxy has always held that God used the unique attributes, personality, language, idioms, and cultural contexts in which the Authors lived to write what they wrote. Inspiration (II Timothy 3: 16) means 'breathed out' and 'God-Breathed. No mention of dictation. Inspiration means that God moved the authors of Scripture to write accurately because by the guidance of the Holy Spirit NO human error was allowed to enter into the writing. It is not impossible for God to move man in this sense to a degree that no human error in reason and logic distorted the intentions of God.
WHY ARE THERE FOUR GOSPELS AND NOT JUST ONE?
The Bible is a very human document with all the human characteristics of the authors present. We note various styles even between the Gospels. Matthew is Jewish and his gospel uses Jewish ideas and concepts, Luke was a Doctor, and we can see his medical influence in his gospel, John and Mark also have their unique characteristics. These differences in style do not point to contradictory errors, but compliment one another. What one author found important to note another may not have found important - but together, they all say the same things regarding the major facts and events regarding Jesus' life, ministry, death, and resurrection. If God had only used one author for the Gospel, chances of this one being lost or contested would be high. Having four, means there are more versions being passed on and this offers greater credibility in terms of their being authentic. God not only inspired each author but through His providential care, foresaw a need to have many copies of the Gospels written versus one copy alone. He is in control and His wisdom is greater than ours - thank God!
REMEMBER: Inspiration means God guided (Not mechanically dictated) the writing and writers of the Old and New Testaments in such a way as no human error entered the writing of scripture.
I Read that One Church said they Take the Bible seriously but Not Literally, what About you?
I cannot speak for everyone. But let me put it this way. When you get a letter from the IRS do you read it literally? When you give instructions to someone do you want them to take you for what you are saying OR would you rather they just interpret their own way? When your doctor reads your X-rays would you want him or her to interpret them like a work of Modern Art? No. You want to know the truth and you want your banker to deal with literal facts as well - trust me.Why when it comes to the Bible do we give ourselves the right to ignore the same rules we want for ourselves?
Those who wrote the Bible wrote literature. It is to be regarded as such and therefore rules appertaining to literature apply to the Bible as well (Literal reading). The Epistles were letters - those who wrote them wanted to be taken literally and seriously. Yet, the Bible uses parable, poetry, figures of speech (See John 16: 25) and a host of other linguistic styles to communicate. Still, they communicate truth. Think of a menu - it describes a real meal (maybe not very well!), you do not eat the menu, you eat the meal it points to. The Bible, when it uses parable or figures of speech is nevertheless pointing to a truth that is literal. When Christ ate his last supper with his disciples, he took bread and Wine. He said regarding the bread (this is my body), yet the disciples knew it was bread and not Jesus' real body - yet it pointed to a real literal event (his Flesh being crucified). The Wine also pointed to a real literal spilling of his blood on the Cross. Here you have a perfect example of Literal and Figurative brought together as only the Bible can do. We are not dealing in myths (see 2 Peter 1:16-21) and fables, Peter warns that interpretation is not to be done willy nilly, but with responsibility and no interpretation is private (subjective). Many churches regard the Bible as stories even containing myths. They claim to take it seriously, but how can they if they cannot read it literally? Many churches claim that Justice and Mercy is a must for Christians to follow and they are right - yet they take this command from the Bible - do we take it seriously but not literally? The Bible can be difficult to understand, but it is generally clear when it intends the reader to understand the lesson in literal or non-literal sense. Many events and people in the Bible that were once considered 'mythic' have been found to be historical fact. We need to keep an open mind and nothing can replace the need to learn the Bible than good old fashion study. This is a good question and will be explored in more detail latter.
My Minister Says Hell is The Pain, wars, and sufferings we see going on in the world, he says hell is more psychological than a real place. Is He right?
It is fashionable for many churches not to speak about Hell these days. But Jesus talked more about hell than heaven. The problem with limiting hell to this earthy realm is that, 1.) It contradicts the Bible, 2.) It contradicts Jesus' beliefs, 3.) It demeans the atonement of Jesus Christ for sins. The emphasis today on God's Love forgets that God is also Just and Holy and must punish sin. No sin can enter heaven, Jesus the perfect man/God paid the price for our sins so we could be justified before a Just and Holy God. If Hell does not exist then there would be no need for Christ to suffer and die for us. Many clergy teach a form of 'universalism' which says everyone will go to heaven in the end. This, however, is not a biblical teaching and does great harm to God's character as a Holy God since it makes God a liar and man more knowledgeable than the Creator.
If there is no Hell, we have no need to answer to anyone and evil and good really do not exist. One can begin to see how rejection of Hell causes theological, moral, and ethical problems. The Bible is clear that a real hell exists just as a real heaven exists. People want the good stuff but want to reject the bad because they do not want to submit to God's word and want to explain their sins away by boasting of their own righteousness (I am a good person). People will not go to hell for rejecting Christ, they will go for their rebellion and sin against God (Original or Adam's sin) This Sin was inborn and is not 'psychological' in the sense that going to therapy will wash it out of us. Sin is a a part of every human beings nature from the start , it is intrinsic to our very selves - Jesus is the solution not the problem because he was not born in sin and thus could pay the price for our sins (Hebrews 4: 9-16). Sin is real and the denial of Hell makes sin merely a personality disorder or minor glitch in our, otherwise, good nature. Romans Chapters 3 and 4 puts to rest the myth of man's goodness before a Holy God, we are told in Chapter 4 how faith in Jesus Christ Alone can justify us before this Holy God. In John 14: 6 Jesus makes a great claim regarding himself, "I Am the Way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father BUT by (through) me". It is evident that not everyone will make it to heaven therefore Jesus' warnings should be taken seriously.
Some People Say All Religions are the Same and Lead to the Same God, is This What You Believe?
It is evident not all religions are the same or there would not be 'all' religions. There are similar teachings among all faiths of the world, but there are many differences. Many today want to ignore these differences as a way of being 'nice' and 'politically correct' such as the movement called 'Progressive Christianity' and the 'Jesus Seminar'. Unfortunately, when we ignore these differences we dishonor every one for lack of integrity. Many Christians have strong convictions (May be they do not always communicate them very well), and we are called narrow minded, but do you not think other's who follow other religions do not have as strong convictions? Why would they be what they are if they did not think their faith was the best way to go????
Many religions outrightly contradict one another. Eastern Religions such as Zen and Classic Buddhism deny the existence of a god (they are basically atheistic), Hinduism believes in thousands of gods, but do hold to an ultimate god), Christianity believes in a personal God, and holds to One God. Islam believes it was not Jesus who died on the Cross, and says God does not have a son. Christianity teaches that it was Jesus who died on the cross and God does have a son. We may all be wrong, but we cannot all be right!
The real question people are asking when they make this statement that 'all religions lead to the same God', is usually based on ignorance of what other religions teach. It really is not a 'salvation' question, 'who can be saved', as it is a 'what is truth' question. If objective truth does not exist then all things are good to go. If objective truth does exist, than error and falsehood are a reality. One needs to compare the claims of 'all' religions and see how they square with reality as we know it in the natural world as well as the historical evidence of their historicity. It is work and many do not want to take the time to do this work, but truth can only be found by use of reason and logic. The Bible and it's claims can be put to the test of reason. Does, for example, the account of origins of life and matter seem realistic in many Eastern religions as they compare to Judeo-Christian teachings on Creation? Is Science finding the cosmos more like what Genesis says or more like new age and eastern forms of philosophy state. Do your research and I am sure you will find that Christian Faith offers answers to the most important questions in life. I do not believe all religions lead to God because Jesus clearly states that He is the Way to God. If I say all lead to God then I would have to conclude that Jesus was not right, a bit mad, or being deceptive. If he were any of these, why follow him? But history speaks in favor of the truths of Jesus Christ and of the Bible - Finally, many people forget that Christian faith is not about 'teachings' alone, it is centered on a person ... Jesus Christ. Jesus made claims regarding himself that no other religious leader ever made (to save people, forgive sins, heal, and rise form the dead, himself being God 'I Am'). Some want to reduce Christianity to a set of moral and ethical statements and teachings, but if you take the PERSON of Jesus out of Christianity, you do not have Christianity. This is what makes Jesus Christ unique among all others. I choose to place my faith in Jesus Christ alone.
Pastor I do not understand the 'Literal' Bible thing ... Do I take everything word for word literally?
No and Yes. Consider this. The Bible speaks of God in anthropomorphic language (Human characteristics) like, the eys of God or the Ears of God. We know God does not have 'literal eyes' and 'literal ears' because God is Spirit. But the authors use such language so that we as humans can understand that, God does see all, and God does hear all. Jesus told the parable of Lazarus and the rich man (Luke 16: 14-31). The descriptive language of Jesus was in order to POINT to a larger reality - the parable is not to be taken word for word literally in the sense that the images are literal - BUT the larger sense of the parable is literal - The divide between God and the Living at Death is a chasm that can never be bridged. Jesus wanted human's to understand the seriousness of the real threat of eternal separation from God and the living. The Bible often says that God appeared 'Like' or 'As' a pillar of fire. Notice the qualifying words 'Like', 'As'. The author of Revelation, John, describes a multitude of real visions of the future using language that was available to him at the time. Try describing an atomic bomb when you have never heard of one - or a jet plane ... you may use images which are like what you are seeing that comes close to the object. Have you ever said, the sunrise was beautiful? Well, we know the sun does not rise - the earth revolves. Yet we still use the term. A Star falling from heaven to earth (from the sky) may be a comet - but to the author it is or appears as a star. The POINT , something is going to take place that is big! The reader of scripture must place themselves in the mindset of the author. Literal means that even symbolic language points to a literal event or truth. This is why we must be careful not to say we do not take the Bible literally - this suggests none of it should be taken literally. Some of it is in plain language and some of it is in parable and symbolic language - all of it is truth in whatever mode of language it uses. The descriptive elements of scripture may be in symbolic forms at times, the prescriptive is always literal - even when certain prescriptive elements are no longer applicable to our time. Many prophecies have been fulfilled such as the coming of Messiah Jesus - but they are still in the Bible to remind us that God keeps His promise and will keep His promise in the present and future.
Do our Pets go to Heaven?
The Bible does not say much about animals having souls. It does say there will be animals in heaven for the Wolf shall lay down with the lamb Isa. 11):6) meaning the great enemy of the lamb is the wolf brought into a restorative relationship in heaven. I have had many pets in my life - I loved them and missed them when they died. Yet, the Bible places a unique status on Human beings as opposed to animals. Man was created for fellowship with God in a way that animals were not. Yet, God notes even the sparrows fall. God loves what He creates, and we should treat animals with love and respect. The Bible does not make any claim to animals going to heaven - God is merciful to all His living Creation, but we should not teach something which the Scriptures do not clearly teach in order to make us feel good. Love your pets, they are a blessing and a gift.
When We Die, Do We Go Right to Heaven or Hell?
The Bible teaches us that the dead go to their graves and know nothing. In the Book of I Corinthians chapter 15 Paul covers many questions regarding death and the resurrection. Paul points out that at the sound of the Trump the dead in Christ shall be raised and we who are still alive shall be changed (Rapture). If the dead go right to Heaven or Hell, why would they be raised only to return to their bodies (in heaven, taken out of heaven, and re-united with their body?). 2 Peter states that God reserves or holds back the wicked until the day of judgment to be punished (2 Pet. 2:9). Job 21:30 Says those in their graves will hear His voice and come forth, the dead who die in Christ and those who die without Christ are sleeping until the day of resurrection. The Just shall be raised when Christ comes for his Bride (all true believers) and the Unjust will rest until the end when they will be raised to appear before God's White Throne Judgment (Rev. 20: 11-15). We do not go right to heaven or hell - no one is in Hell and no one in heaven right now. It is only when the Trumpet sounds upon Christ's Second return will the just be raised, and at the end of time, when the unjust shall be raised. Some will be with the Lord forever, others will suffer punishment forever as separation from God. Our loved one's are sleeping awaiting the resurrection. They are not conscious of their even having died - it will be like falling asleep and waking - have you ever had surgery? One second you alert, your out, and you awake and many hours have passed. Many thousands of years can pass, but it will be as a minute.
I Think Jesus was the greatest Teacher of All, but is it a must that we accept him as The Only One who ever Taught truth?
Many hold Jesus as a great teacher and prophet, and this is true. This question is good. Yet Jesus claimed more for himself than a moral teacher - he claimed to be the way to God (John 14:6). If Jesus is a good teacher, would a good teacher mislead someone? If so he would not be a good teacher at all but very bad. Because of the many claims Jesus made regarding himself, we need to see the Person of Jesus as central to our faith over his being merely a 'good teacher'. If Jesus was not honest about his claims, say ... to die for us, or to raise on the third day, then he was lying to us and we cannot trust someone who lies to us - he is not a good teacher. Or, he was crazy and thought he was 'all that'. You have to decide - liar, crazy, or Lord. He does not leave any options.
My Friend says she is Both a Christian and a Neo-Pagan (wicca), Can she do this? I Think she can because I have listened to her tell me her beliefs and they Are Similar To the Christians.
People make the error of assuming similar means same. Aspirin and Arsnick may come in while tablet form (in deed they are both white and powder), but one will cure your headache while the other will kill you. Similar does not mean the same in all cases. Just because you friend may borrow some 'Christian' terminology does not mean she is a Christian. Wicca or 'white witchcraft' is opposed to the bible and its teachings. They are mostly pantheistic (god is all and all is god, nature worship) and this is more an Eastern Philosophical notion than Christian. There is no such thing as 'white witchcraft', its all bad (Deuteronomy 18: 9-14). The distance between wicca and Biblical Christianity is wide and very different. A follower of Jesus claims Jesus to be Lord and Savior - he is Lord over our lives and Savior of sinners. Most neo-pagan and wicca practitioners would deny the inherent sin of mankind (Adams sin) - they would see no need of a savior because we are basically good. You might want to study up on wicca and neo-paganism yourself and get answers from an unbiased source as well as from your friend and compare and contrast them.
My Friend Says the World will End soon, will it?
I hope not before I get my tax return. Your friend is watching too many dooms day stations about 2012??? I believe Jesus will return again as he states. The Bible does not speak of the 'end of the world' as our secular culture depicts it (The New Age Eschatology (End times). It speaks about a New Heaven and a New Earth after a 1000 year reign of Jesus on Earth - but it is not the end of the earth but the restoration of the earth to the original state God intended (See Revelation chapters 20,21,22) Jesus' predicted a time of trial before a 7 year period of tribulations - after this tribulation, he would appear to defend Israel and put an end to the worlds madness - he will reign a thousand years on earth and then a final rebellion will break out and he will then utterly destroy sin and evil. The Last Judgment (Great White Throne) will be the time God judges all who rebelled against him and do away with sin forever. Then God will restore all things as He has promised. The Christian should rejoice in this, God wins in the end and those who trusted Jesus will be with him forever in the new heaven and earth and the new Jerusalem. (See Mark Chapter 13 regarding Jesus' discourse regarding last things). If the world ends in 2012 then Jesus was wrong since we have not entered the seven years of trials as Daniel spoke of. Read your Bible and you will find all you need there - the new agers place their trust in Nostradamus and so on (he was wrong most of the time), Jesus can be trusted. We do not know when he will return, but he warns of signs to look for as a warning that he is soon to make his appearing as the Lion of Judah. God bless you as you search the scriptures for this amazing promise! Keep your eyes on Israel as the state of Israel is the focus of prophecy.
Will I Be Punished if I do Not Go to Church?
Knowing some churches it is a punishment to go to them. In all honesty - no. We are not saved by going to church but only by trusting that Jesus saved us and justified us before God. Church, or the people of Christ, is a fellowship of like-minded followers. We go for support, worship, study, and fellowship. Doing the walk solo can cause followers to miss the richness of fellowship. I would suggest finding a Bible centered church where the Bible is believed and taught and the minister takes time to teach and preach an uncompromising message. There are some good churches out there that are contemporary in style, but solid in their doctrine and beliefs. Choose these. God bless you as you seek fellowship with the body of Christ. Oh, you might consider that the book of Hebrews 10, the writer suggests the benefits of fellowship, do not forsake the gathering together - we must also remember that God commands we take a day to rest and worship Him. (Hebrews 4: 1-13 be encouraged).
Is Reincarnation True?
The only way to prove reincarnation and its teachings is to have died, been reincarnated, come back and tell us if it is true. But reincarnation says you (after you get your Karma right) dissolve into Nirvana (Universal mind or something like that). If this is true, how do those who believe it know since once you dissolve coming back and saying reincarnation is real is not possible. We have a bit of a logical problem going on. Jesus claimed he would die and raise again, there is an empty grave to show us he came through on the goods - at least no one has been able to find him yet (not even the Jesus Seminar folks), but they will be long gone before they discover his bones - because they are not there! Hebrews says, "And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him." (Hebrews 9: 27-28). As Christians reincarnation cannot be true or else we would not need Jesus to die for us and Jesus would be wrong- we could do it all ourselves without Jesus. Clearly the Bible is right when it states we are born (Once), die (Once), and are judged (Once). Reincarnation does away with the sacrificial death of Jesus altogether. Those who want to blend the two will have problems answering to Christ's claims. Besides, who would want to be dissolved into nothingness when Jesus offers eternal life with the promise that we will be known and know one another (I Corinthians 15) ! Reincarnation wipes out our individuality while Christ restores it. Christ came back to follow through on his claims - he is living today - trust him! Note also the passage in its claims to Jesus' first coming to die for sin, and his second to come as King of Kings!!
Why do I continue to Sin even when I know God? Can I ever stop so that God will accept me?
You are in good company fellow human and fellow sinner. Paul said, "That which I do not want to do, I do, and that which I want to do (the good), I do not do" (Romans 7: 15-17) Paul did not understand his actions, but he knew that the law he tried to follow only pointed to his imperfection. Our best efforts to be perfect before God will only lead us to see how imperfect we are. This is why Paul reminds us that it is only Christ's perfection that is imputed (Freely given) to us by grace alone, "Therefore since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ' (Romans 5: 1-9). We, like Paul continue to strive for that high calling before us, sin will always be in us, but it need not control us - God can give us help on the way. We are encouraged in Romans 8: 31 and following "If God is for us , who can be against us. He did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us, how will he not also graciously give us all things". The book of Romans as well as Ephesians and Galatians are utterly beautiful in their description of the Sin-sick soul finding hope, not in our own efforts or goodness, but in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the Cross! We will struggle with sin until Christ redeems us in Heaven - but take heart, we have an advocate, Jesus our high Priest, who makes intercession for us before the Father(Hebrews 4: 14 and following). It is Christ who dwells in us and the more we look to him, the more our desires to live for the world fades - My friend take heart in these words, "For through the law I died to the law, I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself up for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if justification were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose" (Galatians 2: 19-21). He is with you always - keep your eyes on him alone. You are not alone.
There are many Paths to God, we are All on a Journey - what makes you Think Yours Is the Only One?
Yes, we are all on a journey - but are we all on the same path? First of all, it is not 'my' path - Jesus made the way or path, through his sacrifice on the Cross, he is the way and the door - we must enter through him. Some paths may lead one is the wrong direction - and hurt, and destroy the one on it. Other paths lead to the goal. God accepts us on the Journey no matter where we are, but He wants to give us the right map so , on that journey, we are also on the right path! Every journey has a destination otherwise it is just wayward wandering with not goal or purpose or destination. When you go to a fine resort you rent for the week and you begin in Chicago and the lodge is in Colorado, you want to reach the goal - you do not just drive around endlessly. God has a destination for us - heaven - but the way is on His terms not ours. Yes, many journey on their paths - but you may want to make sure the path is the right one. Paul warns Young preacher Timothy, "O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called, knowledge, for by professing it some have departed from the faith" (I Tim 6: 20-21). We have many today looking for answers, but never arriving at them - they rather drift in uncertainty as if this was noble - it is cowardly. These days we hear a lot about searching - but we also hear there is no absolute truth - how can one search for what does not exist? Even some churches say the 'search not the certainty' is the goal - This is empty nonsense and silly to think truth cannot be known - even if in part. Paul says that even in his day some were, "Always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth" (2 Timothy 3: 7). Things have not changed much in our so-called age of knowledge. Do not be taken off guard by those who claim that to know anything is arrogant - they are arrogant since they claim they know for certain you cannot know for certain - think about it. Keep on the journey and you will arrive at your destination - stay on the right path!
Can I Be a Christian and still Believe in Evolution?
It depends. What you mean by 'evolution'. Mico-evolution poses no problem to the Christian - species do have various changes among them - this is a fact we can see. But this does not contradict the Bible. Maco-Evolution (Classic Darwinian) claims that we evolved from lower life forms and species can leap to others (A ape can become a man) given billions of years of chance and Natural Selection. However, the evidence for this form of evolution is lacking. We need to see the transitional forms from species to species and they do not exist. You would think over billions of years there would be some? Darwinism does not explain where the origin of matter comes from or how it all began. Many who hold to evolution make the error (evquivocation) of describing Mico- evolution when they think they are talking about Maco-evolution. This is a common error even with Christians who want to believe in God but also evolution. Some say God is involved with evolution (which one, mico or macro?) if Darwinian chance and natural selection, then we have, or they have, a god who works with or by chance??? If they hold to the God of the Bible they might know God is sovereign over all and lacks no knowledge of anything, so a God who works with chance cannot be an all-knowing God. Yes, you can be a Christian and hold to evolution but you may be a Christian in error. Jesus himself believed in Adam and Eve (Matthew 19: 3-9). He who Created them... those who hold to classic evolution are saying Jesus was mistaken. Many people do not even understand the classic evolutionary argument, they simply say what they have heard with little critical analysis involved. Think through this stuff, they claim to be 'thinking people' but they are not considering the consequences of their theory. Intelligent Design theory is much more interesting and growing in interest - take a look at it. The complexity of the Cell is overwhelming, Darwin said in his 'Origin's, that if one living organism which was complex (irreducibly)could be found his theory would go under - well, we have many examples of complex organism which could not have come about by chance the human single cell is one example. Think about it. Darwin never saw the inside of the Human cell, he could not have know how intricate it was. Macro-evolution cannot explain this with any authority. I reject Macro-evolution not for religious reasons as much as for scientific reasons. Classic evolution has also been harmful to moral and ethical thinking, if there is no God,or if God is not involved (deism) and we are lower lifeforms, there is no truth, no right, no wrong - anything goes. Hitler knew this reading Darwin and we can see where that led. Christians must be responsible in what they believe, ideas have consequences.
What is a 'Progressive Church'? I Hear some call themselves this.
The term, 'progressive' can mean many things. Theologically speaking, it has come to mean a particular theological posture that does not hold to Historic and Biblical Christian faith. Many progressives believe that the Bible is just a book like any other though inspiring to read, God can be a force or whatever you want, Jesus is just a man who did not die for our sins, was not messiah of the Jews and did not literally rise from the grave, and he certainly will not return. Having denied all essentials of true Christian faith, progressive are basically more akin to Humanist and Unitarian Universalist beliefs than Christian faith even though they insist on holding on to the title, 'Christian'. Unfortunately many progressives churches are related to a particular ideology which is very liberal (Jesus Seminar for example), and relate to an official movement that holds the same title, 'Progressive Christianity' with their own website (check it out for more info). Sadly, having denied the truths of Christian faith these folks see Christianity as an ethical and moral religion versus a Faith in a living Jesus Christ as savior and Lord. They believe all religions are equal and truth is relative, therefore Jesus is just another nice guy, even though he was totally confused regarding his identity. They fail to realize, however, that if truth is relative and there are no absolute truths how can they make claims about anything - they can never be true according to their ideology - well, too bad Jesus was not as smart as they are ... poor guy, if only he would listen to them. While they may think having answers is arrogant, they fail to see their certain beliefs in no answers is arrogant - and the claim to know for sure these things - even knowing more than God in this instance, is very arrogant (How ironic!). They say they are not judgmental, but judge the Bible as not trustworthy and judge orthodox and traditional Christians as uneducated or unenlightened as they. In reality, they stand as judge over God's Word and thus, over God. This is the height of arrogance and very dangerous. Many progressives cherish the 'question' over answers. Yet they claim to have answers such as, there is not absolute truth and all religions are equal - these are claims to truth and an themselves put forward an answer! Are they right? if so they hold to truth and contradict themselves all the time, if not, why listen to them. They are ever searching and never reaching any knowledge or meaningful answers - seems futile. In reality many 'progressive churches' have drifted away from true Christian faith and more sadly, many churches are moving in this direction. They seek their own ways over Christ's and create God in their image because this god demands nothing from them. It is better to find a Bible centered church that teaches Jesus Christ as he is presented in the Gospels. Progressive Christianity is far too broad to make any significant difference in a persons genuine search for the Jesus of the Bible.
What is Christian maturity?
Christian maturity is growing more into the likeness of Jesus than yourself. Many , even Christians, are led by their feelings - moods and desires. Maturity can come to mean not having our desires and wants pronto - we can put them off for the more excellent service to Christ and others. In our fast-food, fast-everything culture, many Christians think that God is something like a Grampa image who gives us presents and meets our every need. Discipline is not fun, but it builds character and maturity so that we become ready to serve God and allow Christ to reign more fully in our lives. Emotions cannot dictate the mature Christian, a mature Christian learns to control their emotions. Emotions and feelings can be good, but also misleading. The world goes on feeling and emotion. The mature Christian goes on putting aside their desires for what God desires. The feel-good gospel of many churches only creates carnal-minded followers - we must hear the gospel even when it says what is uncomfortable and offensive to our ears. Paul says in Hebrews chapter 5 "For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food. For eveyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil" (see Hebrews 6: 1-8). In I Corinthians Paul says that maturity is giving up childish ways. Being child-like in faith is good, being childish is not. Putting self aside we serve Christ - this is Christian maturity in part. We must move from milk to meat.
I Keep the 10 Commandments, will I go to Heaven?
Have you ever lied? Taken what was not yours, Lusted after someone, Wanted your friends or someone's car or wealth? If you can honestly say yes to even three of these (take God name in vain included), you have not kept the commandments and God would be just in not letting you into heaven. In God's eyes you would be a lying, theif, blasphemous, covetous person. Because God is Holy, He cannot tolerate this behavior. If your depending on the 10 Commands to get you there you might want to re-think your position. We need to try to follow the 10 commands - they are good, but we know we cannot fulfill the law perfectly. Christ did this for us and we are justified by his perfect obedience to God. We get to heaven by Jesus' perfect sacrifice not our goodness. In each others eyes we may seem a 'good person', but in the eyes of a Holy and Righteous God, we fall short (Romans 3: 1-31, 5: 1-9, 12-21). We must still strive to be faithful followers of Jesus, we will always be sinful until we are glorified when Jesus comes and resurrects us and judges us. But, we will never satisfy God's demands on our own terms. Jesus has done that already. All you need to do is accept that he paid the price for your sins; accept him as your savior and live a better life for his sake. Salvation is not a free-ride whereby you are saved and therefore you can sin - we will be held accountable for our sins even as saved people, but we will be judged by Christ for our faithfulness to him, not our belief in him. We are justified at once, we are sanctified throughout life, we are glorified at death. There are consequences to are sins even after being saved, but these are not eternal as in the case of those who reject Christ finally. The Believer will be saved, even if he may lose some of his rewards in heaven. (Read II Peter 2: 4-22 and 3: 8-13).
Is God the God of all people?
This is a yes and no answer. In the general sense God is Father over all people - in terms of His being the Creator. In the sense that God is redeemer of all people this is a 'No' response. The book of Romans (Chapters 1 and 2) speak of the general blessings all people have obtained - rain, goods, homes, food, and the blessings from creation. This is what we call 'common grace' - or, "it rains on the good and the bad alike". Yet people do not give thanks to God for these blessings freely given. Some worship a generic version of god - a god that is vague or a force or something like that. This is not the God who has revealed Himself in the Bible. If I say, "Have you been to Washington", you might say, "Which one? Washington DC, Washington, ILL?", It is important to know the specifics here because many people say 'god' but have no idea what or who that god is. So in a sense people know there is a god, but they may not know the One True God. In this sense, their unwillingness to not know the True God, may mean they are not in a reight relationship with this God and therefore are not truly 'relating to God' which is the difference between how God relates to them (as their God or as a god). The Bible helps us understand God and how to have a relationship with Him, many want to forge without this necessary resource and end up with a non-specific generic version of God which offers little in terms of a relationship. God has His own demands regarding who he is and what he expects of us - this is how we enter a relationship with the living God - on His terms. Jesus Christ is the 'terms' and a relationship with him is what God desires now - this is 'special grace' or saving faith. Without this faith no human can expect to know the One God who is fully revealed in the incarnation or Jesus Christ, God in flesh appearing. It is really up to us to relate to the general blessing of a Creator or know this Creator personally.
Does Jesus really Love Everyone?
Jesus loves us perfectly - but not everyone loves Jesus. Love cannot save us it can draw us to the one loving us - but not all, because of free will, will choose to love Jesus. If this is the case, Jesus must - sadly- let them go their way even if this means the wrong way. The rich young man came to Jesus and asked what he must do to obtain salvation - Jesus said sell all and follow me. The Bible says the young man departed in sorrow because he had many things (Goods). Jesus did not go after him if you notice, he let him go. Love sometimes carries pain at once with it. Jesus grieved over Jerusalem before his triumphant entry (Palm Sunday), because he knew they would reject him and he would suffer and die soon, He was rejected at Nazareth - his own home town (not birth town Bethlehem), and could do no healing because of their unbelief. The criminal on the one side of Jesus rejected him , the other accepted him, Jesus addressed the one who accepted him, we do not hear of the other's destiny and Jesus did not force his love on him - he let him go. Yes, Jesus loves us, but this love must be matched with our acceptance of him as Savior - if love alone could save us, the cross would not be needed and such love would be forced - rejection of Jesus is the possibility that exists with our freedom to love or reject him. He is sad that people make the wrong choice, but must allow it if love is to be real and real love lets us be free even if it ends up hurting us. Jesus was angry at some people, but anger does not mean love does not reside - his anger was just and Jesus never sinned when he got angry. We want sentimental love - but Jesus taught and demonstrated perfect love - deep love - sacrificial love. In this sense he loved all, even though not all will respond to this saving love of the Cross - sacrificial love. The most un-loving thing God/Jesus can do is force people to love Him or be in Heaven with them - that may be hell for them - think about it.
What is The Gospel?
Simply it is God's love toward us that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. It is, "For God so loved the World that he gave his only begotten Son, that who soever believes upon him shall not die but have eternal life", it is the power of God as victor over the grave and the Cross as victor over death. The Gospel is freedom and abundant living in God and walking with Jesus Christ in a#personal relationship. The Gospel is the GOOD NEWS that God came to save us because He loved us and wants us to respond to His love in Jesus by accepting his Son as our savior and Lord. It is Life forever and forever in God's presence. The Gospel is the power unto salvation. It is for you and all who receive it.
Do I have to Be a Member of A Denomination to Go to Church?
No. Denominations are man-made. They do serve various purposes, but can get in the way of fellowship with Christ and other believers. Some denominations are faithful in their work of the Gospel; they preach it and love it and follow it. Others have moved away from the Gospel and are distracted by other matters which, though important, have subverted the message of redemption (salvation). But any denomination that believes in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, His death on the cross for our salvation, his virgin birth, his divine and human nature, his bodily resurrection, his second coming, and the Bible as ultimate authority and inspired, is united with all those of the body of Christ in the world. We may have different styles of worship, but the key beliefs of historic and apostolic Christian faith is what unites us all. There are believers in all denominations and there are problems in all as well. It is good to place first things first - first you are a Christian; a follower of Jesus the Messiah, how you choose to work out that following is up to you. Second: read your Bible, it is your guide and, If it is not written in the scriptures, then you need not worry about it - anything that comes between you and God (man-made rules and teachings) is not important, check all things against what scripture teaches. But be careful that you seek a church (whatever denomination) that will preach the gospel, teach the Bible, and help you to grow in your relationship with Jesus. Ask questions about what a particular church believes, and make sure it is focused on the Bible and Jesus Christ as the Gospel presents him. Most churches welcome all people into the church regardless of your status as a member of that denomination - I like to consider myself and my parish as simply, 'Christian'.
Is Sunday the Sabbath? was it changed?
It was not changed. Saturday has always been the Sabbath that God commanded to be remembered forever. All early Jewish-Christians celebrated the Sabbath beginning Friday at sundown and lasting through to Saturday at Sundown. Jesus never changed the Sabbath nor did any disciples or early followers of Messiah Jeshua (Jesus). The church changed the day of worship latter on from Saturday to Sunday because Jesus rose on Sunday. Sunday is a worship day for Christians to gather, but it is not the Sabbath of rest - it is a day we commemorate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Some Christians such as the Seventh day Baptists and Seventh Day Adventists among some (More emerging these days) have always held to a Seventh day Sabbath (Saturday) and believed it never changed; we are seeing a greater interest in the Jewish roots of Christian faith today. It is OK for Christians to celebrate the Sabbath and still meet on Sunday to celebrate Jesus Christ. I celebrate many Jewish Holidays because my Savior is Jewish but they do not contradict the new emphasis Jesus Messiah gives them (He is our final atonement for example for Yom Kippur) he is our Passover Lamb for Passover. The Jewish Holiday's are essential indicators of the main themes of Jesus' ministry and much symbolism is contained in them as they relate to Christ Jesus. We need to read the New Testament through Jewish eyes otherwise we miss a great deal of the richness that lies within these books. But Saturday is the Sabbath of rest as God commanded as a perpetual memorial to creation and God's work.
Did Jesus Rise from the Grave with a Real Body?
Yes. The resurrection is an historical event not a spiritual idea or feeling nor subjective reality for those who want to experience it. Jesus never claimed to be raised spiritually and Thomas found this out when he touched Jesus' hands - Jesus said, see that a spirit has not flesh and blood. You could not get more clear than this. In Acts chapter one we hear of Jesus presenting himself alive by many infallible proofs - being seen by them for 40 days... (Acts 1: 1-3) and that this very Jesus who was taken up to heaven will so come in like manner as you saw him go into heaven (Acts 1:11). One cannot see a spirit go up and return - even if you could, the language used in Acts indicates Physical Bodily presence in both Jesus' departure and Second return. Those who want to spiritualize the resurrection are going against all evidence and the Bible as well - they need to read their Bible's once again. Jesus rose bodily in physical form in time and in history, and he will return in the same physical Body he was in during his earthly ministry, death, and resurrection. His body is glorified but the same body as ours will be (I Cor 15) In a moment, at the sound of the trump, the dead in Christ shall be raised and we who are alive shall be changed in the moment of a twinkling of an eye"!!!! We too shall have a physical Body like Jesus' prepared for eternity - in Heaven ! He is Risen - happy Easter !!!!!
Some Say We Should Not See the Resurrection Literally, like the Jesus People, are they right?
I Think you mean the 'Jesus Seminar', and I do not take them literally. Their methodology is wrong from the start. They depend on Gnostic literature as authoritative for study of New Testament themes and texts. No, they are not right and are indeed not within historic and Biblical Christian faith. People like Borg and Bishop Spong say we cannot take the Bible at face value, yet they write books that they want you to take at face value. For them truth is uncertain, but they want you to know for certain that what they teach can be believed - why else would they write them? They are blind to their own Liberal Fundamentalism. I suggest giving a close and critical look at the Jesus Seminar presuppositions and bias so tied to their method of interpreting the Bible. There are many good books out there that refute their thinking - I will list some a bit latter. Stick to the real Jesus who is really alive and really bodily raised - once you have experienced the real authentic Jesus of the Bible nothing can compare.
Is there Counterfeit Christianities ?
Yes, many forms of 'Christian' beliefs are out there. The New Age movement likes to use Christian terminology and twist Biblical texts to fit there views. Many people into Eastern forms of Philosophy use Christian ideas but totally miss the redemptive meaning of Christ's life - he ends up being a good teacher and prophet - however wonderful these forms of thinking may view and present Jesus, they are not presenting the Biblical nor Historic Jesus of the Bible. There are many counterfeits out there and Jesus in Mark 13 warned that many false christs would come in the end of days - if you hear someone say, "Look here is christ, or there is christ, do not listen to them". The Bible gives us a good idea of what to look for when choosing between genuine Christian faith and the authentic Jesus, and false teaching regarding Jesus. Look at: Matt. 24:5, Acts, 5:36 - 37, Deuteronomy 13: 1-4, Matt 7:15; 24:11 (False prophets), Exodus 7: 8-13 (False miracles), 2 Corinthians 11:14 (Angels), Galatians 4:8 false gods), Matt 7: 15 - 23 (Good works), 2 Timothy 3:5, I John 2: 19, II Corinthians 11:26, I John 4: 1-3 (False spirits, demons), I Timothy 4: 1-3 (False doctrines), Galatians 1: 6-10 (false gospel). The Bible gives us knowledge of false teachings and more - we are not in the dark concerning how to know the difference - know it. The best way to avoid false teachings is to stick to the Bible and allow the author to speak to you his original intent rather than interpreting the text your own way.