Common Questions and Misunderstanding about Jesus
If God is so good and loving, why does he allow evil?
This is a flawed premise since it implies that we are in a position to decide what is good and what is not good about God. We ourselves do not know what good is naturally, for we are not basically good. How then can we judge God?
Still, the question of evil persists, and we often hear the question “why?”, especially in the aftermath of some tragedy.
The Bible describes God as holy (Isaiah 6:3), righteous (Psalm 7:11), just (Deuteronomy 32:4), and sovereign (Daniel 4:17-25). These attributes tell us the following about God: (1) God is capable of preventing evil, and (2) God desires to rid the universe of evil. So, if both of these are true, why does God allow evil? If God has the power to prevent evil and desires to prevent evil, why does He still allow evil?
Remember that God created the entire universe and He said it was good (Genesis 1:31), including human beings (Adam and Eve). In fact, God created human beings more unique than all his other creation, he created them in His likeness; which means that human beings were given the ability to commune with his maker. We have his likeness mentally, morally, and socially. Part of being made in God’s image is that Adam had the capacity to make free choice. When Adam chose to disobey God, sin, death and suffering became a part of human life. And the sin of Adam (known as Original Sin) resulted in the evil in this world.
God could have changed everybody’s personality so that they cannot sin, but this would mean that we would lose our ability to have free will. Rather than possessing those things that make us humans, we would instead be robots. We wouldn’t want that, and God doesn’t want that for us either. So instead God made Adam and Eve innocent, but with the ability to choose good or evil.
And yes, God could divinely intervene whenever we choose to sin, such as stopping the gunmen robbing the convenience store, stopping bullies from abusing other children, or stopping thieves from shoplifting. While this solution sounds attractive, it would lose its attractiveness as soon as God’s intervention infringed on something we wanted to do. We want God to prevent horribly evil actions, but we are willing to allow lesser evil actions to exist, and that’s just not possible if we allow God to intervene on our sins. In fact, we embrace lesser evil actions. If we want God to stop sexual affairs, it also means that God would have to stop you from checking out that model, and He would have to stop your access to pornography. If God had to stop thieves from stealing, he would also have to stop you from making personal copies at work or taking a personal call at work, and he would definitely have to stop you from cheating on your income tax or that test that you’re taking. You see, if God intervenes on sin, he has to intervene on all sins, not just the big ones. And in doing so he would take away from our wants and choices, and once again taking away our free will. So God gave free will to Adam and Eve and they chose sin, and sin opened the door to evil.
You may say, “Wait a minute, I didn’t choose to sin. Adam did”. Yet, the Bible teaches that all of us have sinned (Romans 3:23). We are not sinners because we sin; we sin because we are sinners. We have a natural hunger in us to do what is wrong. James 4:1 says that there is a “whole army of evil desires at war within you”. You don’t have to train a toddler to lie, they do that naturally the moment they learn to speak. You don’t have to teach a teenager to lust, it comes naturally. All of us have sinned, and therefore we allow evil to dwell on this world.
So you see, we all chose to sin. God gave us the free will to pick Him or sin, and we all chose sin. By choosing sin, a natural state of evil dwells within us and in our environment. Evil, sad tragedies such as death, hatred, and sorrow exist today because of sin. Pain and sorrow are products of evil, and sin is the creator of evil.
But there is good news, we may sometimes struggle to understand the “why’s” of a certain tragedy, but we know the “Who” that will carry us through it. He promises, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God.
Did God create evil?
Since God gave us free will to choose good or evil, our instincts immediately would tell us: doesn’t that mean that God created evil and therefore we shouldn’t be held accountable for our sins? But let’s think about this for a minute. evil is not a “thing” like your computer or electricity. You cannot have a jar of evil. Evil has no existence of its own; what it is is the absence of good. For example, holes are real but they only exist in something else. We call the absence of dirt a hole, but it cannot be separated from the dirt. So when God created EVERYTHING in the Universe, it is true that all He created was good. One of the good things God made was creatures who had the freedom to choose good. In order to have a real choice, God had to allow there to be something besides good to choose. So, God allowed for humans to choose good or reject good (evil). When a bad relationship exists between two good things we call that evil, but it does not become a “thing” that required God to create it.
Perhaps a further illustration will help. “Does cold really exist?” the answer you would likely be thinking is“yes.” However, this is incorrect. Cold actually does not exist. Cold is the absence of heat. Similarly, darkness does not exist; it is the absence of light. Evil is the absence of good, or better, evil is the absence of God. God did not have to create evil, but rather only allow for the absence of good.
God did not create evil, but He does allow evil. If God had not allowed for the possibility of evil, both mankind and angels would be serving God out of obligation, not choice. He did not want “robots” that simply did what He wanted them to do because of their “programming.” God allowed for the possibility of evil so that we could genuinely have a free will and choose whether or not we wanted to serve Him.
What is Hell? and is Satan a real being?
Yes, Hell is real. Hell was created as a realm that was designed to enact justice on those who violate His laws. Hell was originally created not for humanity, but for the devil and the fallen angels (demons) who joined him in Satan’s rebellion against God, a fact Jesus confirms: “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels'” (Matthew 25:41).
However, hell was extended to also include those from the human race that would follow the devil’s rebellion. Describing an end-time judgment, Jesus acknowledged this fact: “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.’ . . . Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.’ . . . And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matthew 25:31-34,41,46).
When we chose sin and evil we also chose eternity of punishment for our sins. God holds us accountable for our actions and decisions, and in choosing sin we chose disobedience to God. Therefore, because God being a God that demands justice, He needs to punish us for our sins. The punishment for sin for women is painful child birth and that woman would desire to rule over man, but he will rule over her. And for man his punishment is that he will have to suffer working hard to make a living. And more notable for this topic: for mankind, the punishment was death, and after death eternal punishment for our sins. The place for eternal punishment is hell.
Jesus actually spoke three times more about hell than he did about heaven. Jesus describes hell as outer darkness (Matthew 22:13), weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 8:12), unquenchable fire (Mark 9:43), fiery furnace (Matthew 13:49-50), eternal punishment (Matthew 25:46), and place of torment (Luke 16:23). We understand that hell is a place of eternal suffering and there no way out of hell (Luke 16:26).
Although Satan has persuaded many people that he doesn’t exist, Satan definitely is a real, personal being, the source of all unbelief and of every kind of moral and spiritual evil in the world. He is known by various names in the Bible, including Satan (meaning “adversary”—Job 1:6;Romans 16:20), the devil (i.e., “slanderer”—Matthew 4:1;1 Peter 5:8), Lucifer (Isaiah 14:12), the serpent (2 Corinthians 11:3;Revelation 12:9), and many others.
The existence of Satan as a personal being is proven by the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ recognized him as such. Jesus referred to him frequently by name (e.g.,Luke 10:18;Matthew 4:10) and called him “the prince of this world” (John 12:31;14:30;16:11).
The apostle Paul called Satan the “god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4) and the “prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2). The apostle John said, “The whole world is under the control of the evil one” (1 John 5:19) and that Satan “leads the whole world astray” (Revelation 12:9). These could hardly be descriptions of an impersonal force or a mere personification of evil.
I am a good person, isn’t that good enough?
Most people believe they can earn their ticket into heaven because they are a “good person”. The argument usually is: “I haven’t murdered, raped, stolen anything, and therefore I am a good person. Especially in comparison to Hitler (who obviously is a bad person)”. But there is a flaw with that response, whose standard of “good” are you going by? If you are comparing yourself to Hitler than by most people’s standard yes, you are good. But what happens when you compare yourself to a mother Theresa, Billy Graham, Martin Luther King Jr, or your local pastor? All of a sudden, you aren’t looking as “good”. The problem is that our human standard for “good” is subjective when we allow for humans to dictate the rules. But because God is perfect and heaven is his home, He gets to make the rules. And because God is perfect his standards aren’t subjective, but rather they are objective. God’s standard for good is perfection. That means that in order for you to be good enough to earn yourself a trip to heaven you have to live a life entirely free from sin. That means you have to live your entire life without lying (not even a white lie), stealing and cheating, think evil thoughts about a person, looking at another person with lust, envying what another have, and so on. If you’ve done any of those things just once, you’ve already disqualified yourself as “good” before the Lord’s eye. In fact the Bible teaches that “For ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:13 NASB). So you see, you may in fact be a really good person, a superb law abiding citizen, but you aren’t “good” enough to earn yourself into heaven.
So since I’m not “good” enough, how do I make it to heaven?
The word Gospel means “Good News”, and it really is the good news. Knowing that mankind would choose sin and not God, God had a plan to save us from our punishment of sin: eternal punishment in hell. Understanding that the standard for getting into heaven was perfection (a life of no sin), God sent his one and only son to earth as a human being. Jesus, God’s son emptied some of his divine attributes and came down as flesh, He was fully man and still fully God. Being fully man he could experience pain, hunger, anguish, and suffering. But being fully God, Jesus was able to separate himself from the curse of sin and live a perfect sinless life. Jesus was then used as a sacrifice on our behalf when he was hung on the cross. Jesus endured and took on the suffering and punishment for our sins. He is our key into heaven.
All other religions say that you must atone for your own sins, or earn your own forgiveness. The Bible and the Gospel say that this is impossible, and that is why Jesus died for us. The death of Jesus for the sins of mankind is the fundamental belief of Christianity. Paul states in 1 Corinthians 15:1-3:
“Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures”
The need for Jesus to die for our sins lays on two major truths:
Man is a sinner and atonement for his sins need to be made.
God is holy, and sinful man will not be able to approach God until justification is complete.
The Bible states that ALL of mankind are sinners (Romans 3:23). This simply means that we are not perfect, we have all made mistakes, and we all fall short of the perfect standard of God. This sin is what separates us from God and hinders us from ever spending eternity with Him.
The Bible also says that the wages of this sin is death (Romans 6:23). In other words, in order for reconciliation with God to be possible, the price of a death needs to be paid. Obviously, if we were to try and pay that price ourselves, it would be our end. Not only that, but since we are sinners, our sacrifice would be insufficient and imperfect.
Some have stated that Jesus came to show us how to overcome and correct our sins. Actually, Scriptures teach the opposite. It shares how it is impossible for man to change himself. Jeremiah 13:23 says:
“Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil.”
So if we can’t achieve salvation on our own, and cannot pay the price on our own, we run into a dilemma on how will we be able to attain salvation?
This might be a dilemma for us, but not for God. Romans 5:6-8 states:
“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Therefore, Scriptures teach that Jesus came and took the penalty of our sin in order for us to receive forgiveness and be free from the consequences of sin (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Christianity offers grace based salvation, we aren’t saved by anything we did, but we are saved by God’s work of grace (Ephesians 2:8-9).
The first step to your salvation is repenting of your sins and accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and savior. Once you do that, you will begin a progressive relationship with Jesus Christ. Meanwhile, His Holy Spirit will convict, guide, and sanctify your life, and in the process seal your salvation. It is important to note that Jesus’ atonement for our sins does not cover EVERYBODY’s sins, but only covers those who believe and follow Jesus Christ.
How can you Christians say that Jesus is the only way to heaven?
Are you saying that if a person does not believe in Jesus Christ, they are going to hell? Jesus Christ Himself said it, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6 NASB). If humankind could have reached God any other way, Jesus would not have had to die. His voluntary death on the cross makes this fact even more compelling.
Christians are not superior to any other person. A person who believes Jesus Christ is the only Son of God and proclaims that truth is just one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread.
Don’t all religions teach the same thing?
People often ask one of the following questions:”doesn’t all roads lead to God?”, “Aren’t there multiple ways to God?”, “If a person is sincere in his or her beliefs, won’t he or she get to heaven?”. If we allow that all beliefs are true, then once again we face the dilemma of “by what standards do you live?”. All belief systems cannot be true, because they cancel each other out. If you take time to look at what each religion teaches, you’ll find that all other religions are work base, and we’ve already covered that no matter how hard you work at it you could never earn your salvation. Only Christianity offers you hope outside of yourself. As grace based, Christians have Jesus Christ who did all of the work when he died for our sins and rose again. The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died on a cross for our sins, that He paid that debt in our place, and that if we will turn from our sin and follow Him, we can be forgiven and know that we will go to heaven.
How can a God of love send someone to hell?
When asking this question, we are only viewing God from one perspective: his loving attribute. But we are forgetting another attribute of God, we are forgetting that God is a just God demanding justice. God’s character demands justice and His love doesn’t outweigh his demand for justice and vice versa.
We must understand that without hell there would be no final victory over evil. understand is the difference between “want” and “will.” Does anyone “want” to go to hell? No. But do people “will” to go to hell? Unfortunately, the answer is, yes, many do.
The fact is, there is a way to escape hell and the sin that brings such a terrible judgment upon us. God is indeed justice, but He is also love, and in His love He took our sins upon Himself at the cross. Christ paid the judgment in full so that we don’t have to face hell. Paul writes, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God” (Romans 5:8–9).
If there is no hell, then there is no need for a cross or a Savior. But hell is very real, and as Christian author Os Guinness says, “For some, Hell is simply a truth realized too late.” It is a sobering fact that those who choose to reject Jesus in this life will have their request honored in the next by a loving God who will indeed acquiesce to their wishes and send them to the choice they themselves have made.
The reason I am not a Christian is because there are so many hypocrites in the church
This excuse is often given by those who want to continue to live in darkness. They do not want to be brought into the light of Jesus Christ. Jesus does not say, “Follow the church,” or, “Follow the people.” Jesus says, “Follow me” (Matthew 9:9; Mark 8:34; John 12:26).
We are given the freedom to choose. We have the ability to sin–to make choices that are against the teachings of God. Church is not a meeting place for saints, but a hospital for sinners. The worst sin you can commit is to say no to God. It is a “Son” issue, not a “sin” issue. You will find hypocrites in the church because we are all sinners. You will also find people who are trying to live their life according to the teachings of Jesus Christ.
I tried church before, but it didn’t work for me.What did you try? Did you go to a church? Did you read the Bible? Did you ask Christ into your life? Did you trust in what Jesus claimed? Did you examine the claims of Christ? Most people know the Ten Commandments and the things that “thou shalt not” do. But the Bible also commands us to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Mark 12:30). If you are not doing that, you are falling short in God’s eyes.
Does Baptism save me?
The belief that baptism is necessary for salvation is also known as “baptismal regeneration.” It is our contention that baptism is an important step of obedience for a Christian, but we adamantly reject baptism as being required for salvation. We strongly believe that each and every Christian should be water baptized by immersion. Baptism illustrates a believer’s identification with Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. Romans 6:3-4 says, “Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” The action of being immersed in the water illustrates dying and being buried with Christ. The action of coming out of the water pictures Christ’s resurrection.
Requiring anything in addition to faith in Jesus Christ for salvation is a works-based salvation. To add anything to the gospel is to say that Jesus’ death on the cross was not sufficient to purchase our salvation. To say that baptism is necessary for salvation is to say we must add our own good works and obedience to Christ’s death in order to make it sufficient for salvation.
To further prove that, we see that in the beginning of John chapter 4 it states that Jesus’ disciples are the ones baptizing people, not Jesus. If baptism was crucial to our salvation, Jesus would have actively been baptizing people. We also see that Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:14-17 that, “I am thankful that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius… For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power”.
How Can I have a relationship with Jesus Christ?
Having a personal relationship with God begins the moment we realize our need for Him, admit we are sinners, and in faith receive Jesus Christ as Savior. God, our heavenly Father, has always desired to be close to us, to have a relationship with us. Before Adam sinned in the Garden of Eden (Genesis chapter 3), both he and Eve knew God on an intimate, personal level. They walked with Him in the garden and talked directly to Him. Due to the sin of man, we became separated and disconnected from God.
What many people do not know, realize, or care about, is that Jesus gave us the most amazing gift—the opportunity to spend eternity with God if we trust in Him. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”
Having a personal relationship with God means we should include God in our daily lives. We should pray to Him, read His word, and meditate on verses in an effort to get to know Him better. We should pray for wisdom (James 1:5), which is the most valuable asset we could ever have. We should take our requests to Him, asking in Jesus’ name (John 15:16). Jesus is the one who loves us enough to give His life for us (Romans 5:8), and He is the one who bridged the gap between us and God.
The Holy Spirit has been given to us as our Counselor. “If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you” (John 14:15-17). Jesus said this before He died, and after He died, the Holy Spirit became available to all who earnestly seek to receive Him. He is the one who lives in the hearts of believers and never leaves. He counsels us, teaches us truths, and changes our hearts. Without this divine Holy Spirit, we would not have the ability to fight against evil and temptations. But since we do have Him, we begin to produce the fruit that comes from allowing the Spirit to control us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
This personal relationship with God is not as hard to find as we might think, and there is no mysterious formula for getting it. As soon as we become children of God, we receive the Holy Spirit, who will begin to work on our hearts. We should pray without ceasing, read the Bible, and join a Bible-believing church; all these things will help us to grow spiritually. Trusting in God to get us through each day and believing that He is our sustainer is the way to have a relationship with Him. Although we may not see changes immediately, we will begin to see them over time, and all the truths will become clear.
If you recently just accepted Christ and wish to speak to a pastor or you have further questions, please feel free to contact us firstname.lastname@example.org or (303) 427-5510.
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