"Seeing is believing. If I can't see it, I don't believe it exists."
We believe in many things that we can't see. Ask a skeptic if he has ever seen the wind? Has he seen history? Has he ever seen his brain? We see the effects of the wind, but the wind is invisible. We have records of history, but it is by "faith" we believe that certain historical events happened. Television waves are invisible, but an antenna and a receiver can detect their presence. The unregenerate man has a "receiver." However, the receiver (his spirit) is dead because of sin (see Ephesians 2:1). He needs to be plugged into the life of God, and then he will come alive and be aware of the invisible spiritual realm.
# "I know that I am a sinner, but I confess my sins to God each night. I tell Him that I am sorry and that I won't sin again."
If you find yourself in court with a $50,000 fine, will a judge let you go simply because you say that you are sorry and that you won't commit the crime again? Of course not. You should be sorry for breaking the law, and of course you shouldn't commit the crime again. However, if someone stepped in and paid the $50,000 fine, then you would be free to go from the demands of the law.
God will not forgive a sinner on the basis that he is sorry. Of course we should be sorry for sin-we have a conscience to tell us that adultery, rape, lust, murder, hatred, lying and stealing, etc., are wrong. And of course we shouldn't sin again. God will, however, release us from the demands on eternal justice on the basis that someone else paid our fine. Two thousand years ago Jesus Christ paid in full for the sins of the world. His words on the Cross were, "It is finished!" In other words, the debt has been paid in full. All who repent and trust in Him receive remission of sins. Their case is dismissed on the basis of His suffering death.
# "I have broken the Ten Commandments, but I do good things for people."
Hollywood Stars do similar things. They commit adultery in their youth, and then become involved in giving to AIDS research, etc., as they grow older. In their minds they think that they are balancing the scales. They have done bad, and now they are doing good. However, the Bible reveals that the motive of guilty sinners is one of guilt (see Hebrews 9:14). They are attempting to bribe the Judge of the Universe. However, the Judge in this case will not be corrupted. Good works cannot earn mercy. That comes purely by the grace of God. He will only dismiss our case on the grounds of our faith in Jesus.
# "I don't feel guilty."
People often don't feel guilty when they sin because they have "seared" their conscience. They have removed the batteries from the smoke detector of their conscience, so that they can sin without interruption.
# "How do we present the Gospel to those with whom we work?"
People we work alongside are almost like family. We don't want to offend them unnecessarily, because we have to daily rub shoulders with them. We therefore need to be rich in good works towards those we come in contact with on a daily basis. The Bible tells us that this is a legitimate means of evangelism. Jesus said, "So let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in Heaven." By "doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men" (1 Peter 2:15). Sinners may disagree with what you believe, but your good works makes them say, "I don't believe what he believes, but he sure does. He certainly is sincere in his faith." A gift left with a note on a fellow worker's desk can do more good in some people's minds than a thousand eloquent sermons. We can show our faith by our works. They may not like a tree of righteousness, but they cannot help but like its fruit. Pray for an opportunity to share the Gospel, being careful not to infringe on your boss's time.
# "Christianity oppresses women by making them submit to their husbands!"
The Bible does say, "Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands. Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for it." A man who understands that Jesus Christ gave His life's blood for the Church will love his wife with passion. He will honor her, respect her, protect, love and cherish her as much as he does his own body. He will never say or do anything to harm or demean her. It is in this atmosphere of love and security that a godly wife willingly submits herself to the protective arms of her husband. She does this not because he is better than she is, rather, simply because this is God's order for His creation. A lion rests while his mate prepares his food. He lies under the shade of a tree and now and then roars to let everyone know that he is king of the jungle. The world stands in awe at this order in nature, but refuses to acknowledge that the same One who ordered nature, orders mankind. A godless world rejects the God-given formula to make marriage work. It thinks it knows best, and suffers the heart-breaking consequences of destroyed marriages and ruined lives. The Christian ideal of marriage is not one of an authoritarian and chauvinist male, holding his cringing wife in submission like an obedient dog. It's the very opposite. While most of the great religions treat women as inferior beings to men, the Bible gives them a place of dignity, honor, and unspeakable worth, expressed so evidently in Proverbs chapter 31.
# "Could you be wrong in your claims about Judgment Day and the existence of Hell?"
The answer to this question is that the existence of Hell and the surety of the Judgment are not the claims of fallible man. The Bible is the source of the claim, and it is utterly infallible.
# "How do you keep the young earth theory consistent with astronomical data that says that stars are millions of light years away, yet if they are that far away, how do we see them? Shouldn't the light not yet have reached us?"
No doubt God made Adam as a fully-grown man-perhaps with the appearance of being 30 years old, even though he was only a few minutes old. That would probably be the case with all of His creation, including trees (with their annual "age" rings), mature-looking birds, stars, etc.
# "The fact that there are so many versions proves that the Bible has mistakes. Which one is right?" True, there are many different versions of the Bible. There are versions in Chinese for the Chinese. There are versions in Russian, for the Russian people. There are actually thousands of versions of the Bible--some are in modern languages, some in foreign languages and some are in old English. Few, in the printing age, can claim that they don't have access to the Scriptures in their own language.
# "The Bible has changed down through the ages."
No it hasn't. God has preserved His Word. Anyone can now obtain access to computer programs that give the original Hebrew and Greek words, and the only "changes" that have been made, have been made for clarity. For example, the old English says, "Unless ye repent, ye shall perish," while a contemporary version may say something like "Unless you repent, you shall perish."
# "Didn't men write the Bible?"
Absolutely. When you write a letter, do you write the letter, or does the pen? Obviously you do. The pen is merely the instrument you use. God used men as instruments to write His "letter" to humanity. They ranged from kings to common fishermen, but the 66 books of the Bible were all given by inspiration of God. Proof that this Book is supernatural can been seen with a quick study of its prophecies.
# "The church is full of hypocrites."
Hypocrites may show up at a church building every Sunday, but there are no hypocrites in the Church (Christ's body). Hypocrite comes from the Greek word for "actor," or pretender. Hypocrisy is "the practice of professing beliefs, feelings, or virtues that one does not hold." The Church is made up of true believers; hypocrites are "pretenders" who sit among God's people. God knows those who love Him, and the Bible warns that He will sort out the true from the false on the Day of Judgment.
# "How can people be happy in Heaven, knowing that their unsaved loved ones are suffering in Hell?" Those who ask questions such as these fall into the category of those who asked Jesus a similar question. They said that a certain woman had seven consecutive husbands, whose wife will she therefore be in Heaven (Mark 12:23)? Jesus answered them by saying that they neither knew the Scriptures nor the power of God. The unregenerate mind has no concept of God's mind or His infinite power. If God can speak the sun into existence; if He can see every thought of every human heart at the same time; if He can create the human eye with its 137,000,000 light-sensitive cells, then He can handle the minor details of our eternal salvation.
# "God told Joshua to kill every man, woman, and child. If that's your 'God of love,' I don't want to have anything to do with Him!"
God didn't confine His wrath to the Canaanites. He proclaimed the death sentence upon the whole of humanity. We will all die because we have broken God's Law. Every one of us is waiting on death's row. Instead of standing in moral judgment over Almighty God, come down from your throne and judge yourself according to the Law of God. You will find that you have a multitude of sins and you therefore are not in a position to point your holier-than-thou finger at another sinner, let alone a holy God.
# "Do Christians sin?"
"The great foundational truth respecting the believer in relationship to his sins is the fact that his salvation comprehends the forgiveness of all his trespasses past, present and future so far as condemnation is concerned (see Romans 8:1, Colossians 2:13; John 3:18; John 5:24). Since Christ has vicariously borne all sin and since the believer's standing in Christ is complete, he is perfected forever in Christ. When a believer sins, he is subjected to chastisement from the Father, but never to condemnation with the world (see 1 Corinthians 11:31,32). By confession the Christian is forgiven and restored to fellowship (see 1 John 1:9). It needs to be remembered that were it not for Christ's finished work on the Cross and His present intercession in Heaven, the least sin would result in his banishment from God's presence and eternal ruin." (Unger's Bible Dictionary, Moody Press, p. 377).
# "Jesus died on the Cross, therefore we are all forgiven every sin."
The forgiveness that is in Jesus Christ is conditional upon "repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ." No one has biblical grounds to continue in sin, assuming that they are safe because Jesus died on the Cross.
# "How can you know that you are saved?"
A two-year-old boy was once staring at a heater, fascinated by its bright orange glow. His father saw him and warned, "Don't touch that heater son. It may look pretty, but it's hot." The little boy believed him, and moved away from the heater. Some time later, when his father had left the room he thought to himself, "I wonder if it really is hot." He then reached out to touch it and see for himself. The second his flesh burned, he stopped believing it was hot. He now knew it was hot! He had moved out of the realm of belief into the realm of experience! Many Christians believed in God's existence before their conversion. However, when they obeyed the Word of God, turned from their sins and embraced Jesus Christ, they stopped believing. The moment they reached out and touched the heater bar of God's mercy, they moved out of belief into the realm of experience. This experience is so radical, Jesus referred to it as being "born again." The Apostle Paul said if you are "in Christ" you are a brand new creature. When Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, he said, "My speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God" (1 Corinthians 2:4-5). What Paul was saying was, "I deliberately didn't talk you into your faith, but I let God's power transform you." He didn't reach them through an intellectual assent, but through the realm of personal experience.
Suppose two men walked into the room just after that child had burned his hand on the heater. One was a heater manufacturer and the other a skin specialist. Both assured that boy that he couldn't possibly have been burned. But all the experts, theories, equations and arguments in the world will not dissuade that boy, because of his experience.
Those who have been transformed by God's power need never fear scientific nor any other argument, because the man with an experience is not at the mercy of a man with an argument. "For our Gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance…" (1 Thessalonians 1:5).
# "Why are there so many different religions?"
It has been well said that "religion" is man's way of trying to deal with his guilt. Different religions have different ways of attempting to rid themselves of sin and its consequences. They fast, pray, deny themselves legitimate pleasures or chasten themselves, often to a point of inflicting pain. This happens because they have a conception of what they think God (or "the gods") is like. They then go about to establish their own righteousness, being "ignorant of the righteousness which is of God." The "Good News" of the Christian faith is that no one need suffer the pains of religious works. His blood can cleanse our conscience from the "dead works" of religion (Hebrews 9:14). Jesus took our punishment upon Himself, and He is the only One who can save them from sin and death. See Acts 4:12.
# "Are you saying that Christians are better than non-Christians?"
The Christian is no better than a non-Christian, but he is infinitely better off. It is like two men on a plane. One is wearing a parachute and the other is not. One is not better than the other, but the man with the parachute on is certainly better off than the man who is not wearing a parachute. The difference will be seen when they jump. Jesus warned that if we "jump" into death without Him, we would perish.
Our great problem is a law that is even harsher than the law of gravity. It is the Law of an infinitely holy and just Creator. The Scriptures warn us, "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God." They tell us that we are His enemy.
# "I don't mind going to Hell. All my friends will be there."
Those who say such things don't believe in the biblical concept of Hell. This is simply because their understanding of the nature of God is erroneous. The slow-witted criminal thinks that the electric chair is a place to put up his feet for a while and relax. It may be wise therefore to speak with him for a few moments about the reasonableness of a place called "Hell." Reason with him by saying, "If a judge in Florida turns a blind eye to the unlawful dealings of the Mafia; if he sees their murderous acts and deliberately turns the other way, is he a good or bad judge? He's obviously corrupt, and should be brought to justice himself. If he is a good judge, he will do everything within his power to bring those murderers to justice. He should make sure that they are justly punished.
If Almighty God sees a man rape and strangle to death your sister or mother, do you think He should look the other way, or bring that murderer to justice? If He looks the other way, He's corrupt and should be brought to justice Himself. It makes sense then-that if God is good, He will therefore do everything in His power to make sure that justice is done. The Bible tells us that He will punish murderers, and the place of punishment-the prison God will send them to is-a place called 'Hell.'
God should punish murderers and rapists. However, God is so good, he will also punish thieves, liars, adulterers, fornicators, and blasphemers. He will even punish those who desired to murder and rape but never had the opportunity. He warns that if we hate someone, we commit murder in our hearts. If we lust, we commit adultery in the heart, etc."
Then ask him if he would sell an eye for a million dollars. Would he sell both for ten million? No one in his right mind would. Our eyes are precious to us. How much more then is our soul (our life) worth?
# "Why is there suffering? That proves that there is no 'loving' God."
Study the soil for a moment. It naturally produces weeds. Nobody plants them; nobody waters them. They even stubbornly push through cracks of a dry sidewalk. Millions of useless weeds sprout like there's no tomorrow, strangling our crops and ruining our lawns. Pull them out by the roots, and there will be more tomorrow. They are nothing but a curse!
Look at how much of the earth is uninhabitable. There are millions upon millions of square miles of nothing but barren deserts in Africa and in different parts of the world. Most of Australia is desert. There is nothing but miles and miles of useless desolate land.
Not only that, but the earth is constantly shaken with massive earthquakes. Its shores are lashed with hurricanes, tornadoes rip through creation with incredible fury. Floods of biblical proportions soak the land, and terrible droughts parch the soil. Sharks, tigers, lions, snakes, spiders and disease-ridden mosquitoes attack humanity and suck its life's blood. The earth's inhabitants are afflicted with disease, pain, suffering and death.
Think of how many people are plagued with cancer, Alzheimer's, Multiple Sclerosis, heart disease, emphysema, Parkinson's disease and a mass of other debilitating diseases. Think of all the kids with leukemia, or people born with crippling diseases or without the mental capability to even feed themselves. All these things should convince thinking minds that something is radically wrong. Did God blow it when He created humanity? What sort of tyrant must our Creator be if this was His master plan?
Sadly, many use the issue of suffering as an excuse to reject any thought of God, when its existence is the very reason we should accept Him. Suffering stands as terrible testimony to the truth of the explanation given by the Word of God.
But how can we know that the Bible is true? Simply by studying the prophecies of Matthew 24, Luke 21, and 2 Timothy 3. A few minutes of openhearted inspection will convince any honest skeptic that this is no ordinary book. It is the supernatural testament of our Creator as to why there is suffering . . . and what we can do about it.
The Bible tells us that God cursed the earth because of Adam's transgression. Weeds are a curse. So is disease. Sin and suffering cannot be separated. The Scriptures inform us that we live in a fallen creation. In the beginning, God created man perfect and he lived in a perfect world, without suffering. It was Heaven on earth. When sin came into the world, death and misery came with it.
Those who understand the message of Holy Scripture eagerly await a new Heaven and a new earth "wherein dwells righteousness." In that coming Kingdom there will be no more pain, suffering, disease or death. We are told that no eye has ever seen, nor has any ear heard, neither has any man's mind ever imagined the wonderful things that God has in store for those that love Him. Think for a moment of what it would be like if food grew with the fervor of weeds. Think how wonderful it would be if the deserts became incredibly fertile, if creation stopped devouring humanity. Imagine if the weather worked for us instead of against us, if disease completely disappeared, if pain was a thing of the past . . . if death was no more.
There is a wise saying: "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is." That is solid advice for when you are dealing with sinful mankind. But the promise of a new Heaven and a new earth come from a faithful Creator, and there is no greater insult to God than not to believe His promises. When a nation repents and finds peace with God through trusting in the Savior, God promises to forgive their sins and heal their land.
The dilemma is that we are like a small child whose insatiable appetite for chocolate has caused his face to break out. He looks in the mirror and sees a sight that makes him depressed. His face is nothing but ugly sores. But instead of stopping eating his beloved chocolate, he takes solace by stuffing more into his mouth. Yet, his very joy is actually the cause of his suffering.
The whole face of the earth is nothing but ugly sores of suffering. Everywhere we look, we see unspeakable pain. But instead of believing God's explanation and asking Him to forgive us and change our appetite, we run deeper into sin's sweet embrace. There we find solace in its temporal pleasures; thus intensifying our pain, both in this life, and in the life to come.
# "When Jesus was on the Cross, He cried 'My God, why have you forsaken me?' This proves that He was a fake. God forsook Him."
When Jesus was on the Cross, the sin of the entire world was laid upon Him. His words were fulfillment of Bible prophecy. Psalm 22:1 says, "My God, my God, why have thou forsaken me?" Then the Scriptures give us insight as to why God forsook Jesus on the Cross. "…But thou are holy…" (v. 3). A holy Creator cannot have fellowship with sin.
# "When you are dead, you are dead."
What if you are wrong? What if God, Jesus, the prophets, the Jews, and Christians are right and you are wrong? If there is no afterlife, no Judgment Day, no Heaven and no Hell, then God is unjust and each of the above are guilty of being false witness. It means that Almighty God couldn't care less about the fact that a man rapes a woman, then cuts her throat and is never brought to justice. If you are right, and there is no ultimate justice, you won't even have the joy of saying, "I told you so." However, if you are wrong, you will lose your soul and end up eternally damned. You are playing Russian roulette with a fully loaded gun.
# "Do you sin, as a Christian?"
If a Christian sins, it is against his will. He falls rather than dives into sin. He resists rather than embraces it. Any dead fish can float down stream. It takes a live one to swim against the flow. .
# "You are using 'scare tactics,' by talking about Hell and Judgment Day."
In the late 1980s, the U.S. aired TV advertisements that asked, "What goes through the mind of a driver who is not wearing a seat belt in a head-on collision?" Then they showed a crash dummy having its head crushed by a steering wheel in a collision, and said, "The steering wheel!" Those were scare tactics, but no one complained because they were legitimate scare tactics. That's what happens in a head-on collision if you are foolish enough not to put on a seat belt.
To warn of Hell is fearful, but it is absolutely legitimate, because the Bible says that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
# "How do you witness to an elderly person, or someone in whose home you are a guest?"
For most of us, it is far easier to witness to a stranger than to someone you know and respect. An effective way to soften the message without compromise is to speak in the "first person" or in testimonial form. Say something like, "I didn't realize that the Bible warns that every idle word that I have spoken, I have to give an account of on Judgment Day. I thought that as long as I believed in God and tried to live a good life, I would go to Heaven when I died. I was so wrong. Jesus said that if I as much as looked with lust, I had committed adultery in my heart, and that there was nothing I could do to wash away my sins. I knew that if God judged me by the Ten Commandments on Judgment Day, I would end up guilty, and go to Hell. It was when I acknowledged my sins that I began to understand why Jesus died. It was to take the punishment for my sins, and the sins of the world, etc." Then, depending on the person's openness, you may ask, "How do you think you will do on Judgment Day, if God judges you by the Ten Commandments?"
# "Is 'Hell-fire' preaching effective?"
Preaching the reality of Hell, without using the Law to bring the knowledge of sin, can do a great deal of damage to the cause of the Gospel. A sinner cannot conceive of the thought that God would send anyone to Hell, as long as he is deceived into thinking that God's standard of righteousness is the same as his. Paul "reasoned" with Felix of temperance, righteousness and judgment to come. This is the righteousness that is of the Law and judgment by the Law. Felix "trembled" because he suddenly understood that his intemperance made him a guilty sinner in the sight of a holy God. The reality of Hell suddenly became reasonable to him when the Law was used to bring the knowledge of sin.
Imagine if the police suddenly burst into your home, arrested you, and angrily said, "You are going away for a long time!" Such conduct would probably leave you bewildered and angry. What they have done seems unreasonable.
However, if the law burst into your home and instead told you specifically why you were in trouble by saying, "We have discovered 10,000 marijuana plants growing in your back yard. You are going away for a long time!" at least you would understand why you are in trouble. Knowledge of the law you had transgressed furnished you with that understanding. It makes judgment reasonable. Hell-fire preaching without use of the Law to show the sinner why God is angry with him will more than likely leave him bewildered and angry-for what he considers unreasonable punishment.
# "God Sure Blew it--Creation is a Mess!"
Three million people die of mosquito bites each year. Hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and earthquakes slaughter tens of thousands. We have devastating droughts, multitudes crippled with arthritis, children dying of Leukemia, masses of other cancerous diseases, endless suffering, unspeakable pain and death. What sort of tyrant would create us and then give us all this grief? Then again, could it be that "Mother Nature" has a Senior Partner-Father God? Which puts us in an interesting dilemma: If God is an "all-loving" father figure, as we are often told that He is, we seem to be left with three choices. One: God blew it when He made everything (He's creative but incompetent). Two: God is a tyrant, who gets His kicks from seeing kids die of Leukemia. Three: Something between God and man is radically wrong. There's our choice…and you don't have to be a rocket scientist to lean towards number three. Something between man and God is radically wrong. The Bible tells us what it is. There is a war going on. We are told that mankind is an enemy of God in his mind through wicked works. That's not too hard to see. He is forever committing murder, rape, lying, and stealing (watch the TV news tonight to confirm that fact). He uses God's Name as a curse word, while "Mother Nature" gets the glory for His creation (unless there's a horrible disaster. Then man calls that "an act of God").
An applicable acronym for "war" is "We Are Right." That's why any country goes to war, because it has the conviction that it is in the right. A few moments of going through God's Law shows us who is right and who is wrong. We, not God, are the guilty party. If we want His blessing back on our nation, we must make peace with Him, and that can only happen through faith in Jesus Christ.
# "I used to be a liar and a thief, but that was years ago. Now I try to be a good person."
Time doesn't forgive sin. If a man commits murder on Monday, but on Tuesday he is kind to others, he is still a murderer. If a man lies and steals, unless he comes to the Savior, his sins remain with him until he stands before God in Judgment.
# "What about all those people who have never heard the Gospel? Will they all go to Hell because they haven't heard about Jesus Christ?"
No one will go to Hell because they haven't heard of Jesus Christ. The heathen will go to Hell for murder, rape, adultery, lust, theft, lying, etc. Sin is not failing to hear the Gospel, "sin is transgression of the Law" (1 John 3:4). If we really care about them, we will become missionaries and take the good news of God's forgiveness in Christ to them.
# "I'm as good as any Christian!"
A Christian isn't better than a non-Christian. He's just better off. A person who has to jump out of a plane and is wearing a parachute is no better than a person without a parachute. He's just better off.
# "How should I witness to a Jew?"
Sadly, many of today's Jews profess godliness but don't embrace the Scriptures as we presume they do. Therefore, it is often difficult to reason with them about Jesus being the Messiah. This is why it is imperative to ask a Jew if he has kept the Law of Moses-to "shut" him up under the Law and strip him of his self-righteousness. The Law will show him his need of a Savior, and become a "schoolmaster" to bring him to Christ, as happened to Paul, Nicodemus, Nathaniel and the Jews on the Day of Pentecost. They had the advantage of the Law. It was the Law that brought 3,000 to the foot of the Cross on that day. It was a "schoolmaster" to bring them to Christ (Galatians 3:24). Without it they would not have known that they had sinned (Romans 7:7), and would not have therefore, seen their need of the Savior.
# "How should I witness to a homosexual?"
"I had an angry lesbian heckle me while speaking in Santa Monica one Friday night in front of a large crowd. I was so pleased to have the Law of God as a weapon. When she insisted that she was born with homosexual desires, I told her that I was too. I was born with a capacity to be a homosexual, to fornicate, commit adultery, to lie, and steal. I said that it was called 'sin,' and that we all had it in our nature. It diffused her intent on making me seem like a 'gay-basher.' I could see the frustration on her face when she wasn't able to take the discourse in the direction she wanted. Instead of seeming the poor victim, she found herself in the public hot-seat of having sinned against God."
From, How to Win Souls and Influence People (Bridge-Logos).
The way to witness to a homosexual is simply to follow the biblical guidelines and use the Law.
# "I've tried to read the Bible, but I can't understand it."
The Scriptures tells us that the "natural man" cannot understand the things of the Spirit of God. Most Americans would find it difficult to understand the Chinese language. However, a child who is born into a Chinese family can understand every word. That's why you must be born again (John 3:3). The moment you become part of God's family, the Bible will begin to make sense.
# "Who made God?"
There is no question as to whether or not God exists. Every building has a builder. Everything made has a maker. The fact of the existence of the Creator is axiomatic (self-evident). That's why the Bible says, "The fool has said in his heart 'There is no God'" (Psalm 14:1). The professing atheist denies the common sense given to him by God, and defends his belief with the thought that the "Who made God?" question can't be answered. This, he thinks gives him license to deny the existence of God.
The question of who made God can be answered by simply looking at space and asking the question, "Does space have an end?" Obviously, it doesn't. If there is a brick wall with "The End" written on it, the question arises, "What is behind the brick wall?" Strain the mind though it may, we have to believe (have the faith) that space has no beginning and no end. Exactly the same applies with God. He has no beginning and no end. He is "eternal."
The Bible, however, gives us a little more information on the subject. It informs us that time is a dimension that God created, into which man was subjected. It even tells us that the time will come when time will no longer exist. That will be called "eternity." God Himself dwells outside of the dimension He created (2 Timothy 1:9, Titus 1:2). He dwells in eternity. He is not subject to time. Simple study of Bible prophecy will prove this to any reasonable skeptic. God spoke history before it came into being. He can move through time as a man flicks through a history book. It is because we live in the dimension of time that logic and reason, demand that everything must have a beginning and an end. The way to handle the subject is the same way we handle the difficulty of space having no beginning and end-by faith. We simply have to believe it's so, even though such thoughts put a strain on our distinctly insufficient cerebrum.
# "Jesus didn't condemn the woman who was caught in the act of adultery. He condemned those who judged her by saying, 'Let him that is without sin cast the first stone.' Therefore you shouldn't judge us."
The Christian simply tells the world that God (not the Christian) has judged all the world as being guilty before Him. Jesus was able to offer that woman forgiveness for adultery, because He was on His way to die on the Cross for her. She acknowledged Him as "Lord," but He still told her, "Go your way and sin no more." If she didn't repent, she would perish.
# "Doesn't the fact that the Bible says that 'God repented' show that He is capable of sin?"
The English language is very limited compared to the Hebrew and Greek. For example, we have only one word for "love." If I say I love another man it can have negative connotations. However, the languages of the Bible have a number of words for different types of love. When the Bible says that God repented, the English language limits its meaning. It doesn't mean that He sinned. It simply means He regretted an action.
# "Is water baptism essential to our salvation?"
While we should preach that all men are commanded to repent and be baptized, to add anything to grace to be saved becomes "works" in disguise. Even though certain churches give a list of Scriptures which speak of the importance of water baptism, to say that we must add anything to the work of the Cross is to demean the sacrifice of the Savior. It is to say that His finished work wasn't enough. We are saved by grace, and grace alone. Our obedience-water baptism, prayer, good works, fellowship, fasting, etc., issues from our faith. Salvation is not what you do, but Who you have: "He that has the Son has life" (1 John 5:12).
# "Why is the God of the Old Testament a God of wrath, while the God of the New Testament is a God of mercy?"
The God of the New Testament is no different than the God of the Old Testament. "They" are one and the same. The Bible says that He never changes. He is just as wrath-filled in the New Testament as He is in the Old. He killed a husband and wife in the Book of Acts, simply because they told one lie. Jesus warned that He was to be feared because He has the power to cast the body and soul into Hell. The Apostle Paul said that he persuaded men to come to the Savior because he knew the "terror of the Lord." Read the dreadful judgments of the New Testament's Book of Revelation. That will put the "fear of God" in you, which incidentally is "the beginning of wisdom."
Perhaps the most fearful display of His wrath is seen in the Cross of Jesus Christ. His fury so came upon the Messiah, it seems that God enshrouded the face of Jesus in darkness so that creation couldn't gaze upon His unspeakable agony. Whether we like it or not, our God is a consuming fire of holiness. He isn't going to change, so we had better . . . before the Day of Judgment.
# "I think you are intolerant to say that Jesus is the only way to God!"
Jesus was the One who said that He was the only way to God. For Christians to say that there are other ways to find peace with God is to bear false testimony. In one sweeping statement, He discards all other religions as a means of finding forgiveness of sins. This is in line with other Scriptures: "Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under Heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12), "For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus" (1 Timothy 2:5).
# "There is no absolute truth. You cannot be sure of anything!"
Those who say that that there are no absolutes are often very adamant about their belief. If they say that they are absolutely sure, then they are wrong because their own statement is an absolute statement. If they are not 100% sure, then there is a chance that they are wrong and they are risking their eternal salvation by trusting in a belief that could be wrong.
# "The Bible says 'An eye for an eye.' It encourages us to take the law in our own hands by revenging wrongdoing."
This verse is so often misquoted by the world. They say that it is giving a license to take the law into our own hands and render evil for evil. However, it is a reference to civil law concerning "restitution." If someone steals your ox, he is to restore the ox. If someone steals and wrecks your car, he is to buy you another one…a car for a car, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.
The spirit of what Jesus is saying here (verse 29) is radically different to the "sue the shirt off the back of your neighbor" society in which we live.
# "What do you do if someone says that they have never lied, stolen, lusted, blasphemed-if they completely deny having any sin at all?"
Ask him if he has kept the First of the Ten Commandments. Has he always loved God above all else-with all of his heart, mind, soul and strength? If he says that he has, gently say, "The Bible says that "there is none that seek after God." Nobody (outside of Jesus Christ) has kept the First of the Ten Commandments. One of you is lying-either you or God…and the Bible says that it is impossible for God to lie."
# "Judge not lest you be judged. You, therefore have no right to judge me when it comes to my sins!" The world often takes this verse (out of its context) and uses it to accuse Christians of being "judgmental" when they speak of sin. In the context of the verse Jesus is telling His disciples not to judge one another, something the Bible condemns (see John 21:21-23, Romans 14:10, and James 4:11). He speaks of seeing a speck in a brother's eye. In John 7:24 He said, "Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment." If a man steals, lies, commits adultery or murder, etc., the Christian can make a (righteous) moral judgment and say that the actions were morally wrong, and that these sins will have eternal consequences. Chuck Colson said: "True tolerance is not a total lack of judgment. It's knowing what should be tolerated-and refusing to tolerate that which shouldn't."
# "How do we reach our neighbors with the Gospel?"
Neighbors are like family. We don't want to offend them unnecessarily, because we have to live with them. We need to be rich in good works towards all men, but especially our neighbors. The Bible reveals that this is a legitimate means of evangelism. Jesus said, "So let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in Heaven." By "doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men." They may disagree with what you believe, but your good works makes them say, "I don't believe what he believes, but he sure does. He certainly is sincere in his faith."
A friendly wave, a gift for no reason, fresh baked goods, an offer to help do some painting, etc., can pave the way for evangelism. Pray for that day, and be prepared for it when it comes.
# "I hope I'm a Christian."
Of all the things that you should be sure of, it's your eternal destiny. To say, "I hope I'm a Christian," is like standing at the open door of a plane, 25,000 feet in the air and answering, "Have you got your parachute on?" with, "I hope so." You want to know so-and you can, simply by obeying the Gospel.
# "Doesn't the 'Big Bang' theory disprove Genesis?"
Try and think of any explosion that has produced order. Does a terrorist bomb create harmony? Big bangs cause chaos. How could a big bang produce a rose, apple trees, fish, sunsets, the seasons, hummingbirds, polar bears-thousands of birds and animals, each with its own eyes, nose and mouth?
Here's an interesting experiment: Empty your garage of every piece of metal, wood, paint, rubber and plastic. Make sure there is nothing there. Nothing. Then wait for ten years and see if a Mercedes evolves. Try it. If it doesn't appear, leave it for 20 years. If that doesn't work, try it for 100 years. Then try leaving it for 10,000 years.
Here's what will produce the necessary blind faith to make the evolutionary process believable: leave it for 250 million years.
"New scientific revelations about supernovas, black holes, quarks, and the big bang even suggest to some scientists that there is a 'grand design' in the universe.'" (U.S. News & World Report, March 31, 1997). A child can see that there is "grand design" in creation.
# "Is it possible that Jesus fainted while He was on the Cross, and revived when He was in the tomb?" Jesus had been beaten, whipped, was bleeding from His head, back, hands and feet for at least six hours. While he was still on the Cross a soldier pierced his side with a spear and blood and water gushed out (John 19:34-35).
"It is impossible that a being who had stolen half-dead out of the sepulcher, who crept about weak and ill, wanting medical treatment, who required bandaging, strengthening, and indulgence, and who still at last yielded to his sufferings, could have given to the disciples the impression that he was a conqueror over death and the grave, the Prince of Life: an impression which lay at the bottom of their future ministry. Such a resuscitation could only have weakened the impression which he had made upon them in life and in death, at the most could only have given it an elegiac voice, but could by no possibility have changed their sorrow into enthusiasm, have elevated their reverence into worship." Strauss, New Life of Jesus, I, 412 (tr.)
(From, Who Moved the Stone? Frank Morris--Lamplighter Books).
# "Where did Cain get his wife?"
Cain was only part of the result of the command to be fruitful and multiply. No doubt Adam and Eve gladly obeyed God and the human family bred like rabbits-especially under God's blessing, and with the fact that the human life span was not restricted to a mere seventy years. Cain simply married a distant sister, as each of us do when we enter the matrimonial state with another member of the human family. God had not forbidden what we now call "incest." It was not against the law, because there was no incest law to transgress.
# "God made me like this. Sin is His fault!"
If this won't work in a civil court, it certainly won't work on Judgment Day. Even with today's crafty defense lawyers, it would take a rather moronic judge to fall for the old "God made me do it" defense. We are responsible moral agents. The "buck" stopped at Adam. He tried to blame both God and Eve for his sin, and it didn't work.
# "I find it difficult to have faith in God."
If you don't believe someone, it means you think that they are a liar. The Bible says that those who don't believe God accuse Him of lying. Martin Luther said that there is no greater insult to God, than not to believe His promises. See Hebrews 11:6.
# "Religion has caused more wars than anything else in history."
It is true that man has used religion for political gain. Hitler had "God with us" engraved on the belts of Nazi soldiers. America said, "Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition." The law may even allow you to start the Christian Nazi Party, if you so desire. You can become a "reverend" for a few dollars through the tabloid classifieds and then further your political agenda with the world's blessing, no matter how much it smears the name of Christ.
If Jesus told His followers to love their enemies, and someone puts a knife into someone's back in the name of Christianity, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that something isn't quite right. If we human beings can detect it, how much more will God? He will deal with it on Judgment Day.
# "You shouldn't talk about sin because Jesus didn't condemn anybody. He was always loving and kind."
In Matthew 23 Jesus called the religious leaders "hypocrites" seven times. He told them that they were "blind fools," full of hypocrisy and sin. They were children of murderers. He climaxed His sermon by saying, "You serpents, you generation of vipers, how shall you escape the damnation of Hell?" He then warned that He would say to the wicked, "Depart from Me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels" (Matthew 25:41).
# "Where Do All The Races Come From?"
Some have asked the question, if all of us are descendents of Adam and Eve, where then do all the races come from? The Bible informed us 2000 years ago that God has made all nations from "one blood"(Acts 17:26). We are all of the same race--the "human race," descendents of Adam and Eve, something science is slowly coming to believe:
"WASHINGTON (Nov. 15)--Science may have caught up with the Bible, which says that Adam and Eve are the ancestors of all humans alive today.
"Peter Underhill of Stanford University in California remarked on findings published in the November 2000 issue of the journal Nature Genetics…''We can look at the tree and see, 'Oh, this section of the tree is where Asians go. We can say, 'Oh, here is a Japanese Y chromosome and this is a Chinese Y chromosome,''' Underhill said. What the tree does not do, he stresses, is identify so-called races. Geneticists have long agreed there is no genetic basis to race -- only to ethnic and geographic groups. ''People look at a very conspicuous trait like skin color and they say, 'Well, this person's so different' . . . but that's only skin deep,'' Underhill said. ''When you look at the level of the Y chromosome you find that, gee, there is very little difference between them. And skin color differences are strictly a consequence of climate.'' By Maggie Fox (Reuters).
# "My God would never create Hell."
Those who say that are right. Their god would never create Hell, because he couldn't. He doesn't exist. He is a figment of their imagination (the place of imagery). They have created a god to suit themselves. It's called "idolatry," and it's the oldest sin in the Book. Idolaters will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
# "What about other religions?"
All major religions strive to rid themselves of sin. They may practice fasting, prayer, good works, self-denial of legitimate sexual pleasure, dietary restrictions, lying on beds of nails, etc. The uniqueness of Jesus is that he said something that no religious leader ever said. He said, "The Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins." Jesus Christ can wash away every sin any man committed, because of the fact of the Cross. He can release us from the torture of guilt. We cannot do anything in the way of religious works to wash away our sins. It's a free gift of God (Ephesians 2:8,9). Look what "religion" does (or rather doesn't do):
"It is a constant torture to me that I am still so far from Him whom I know to be my very life and being. I know it is my own wretchedness and wickedness that keeps me from Him." Mahatma Ghandi
# "I was once a 'born-again' Christian. Now I believe it's all rubbish!"
Simply ask him the question, "Did you know the Lord?" If he answers, "I thought I did," gently say, "So you didn't. You had a false conversion. You were a stony-ground hearer who received the word with joy and gladness, but in a time of tribulation, temptation and persecution, fell away." If he answers the question with "Yes," gently say, "So you admit that He is real and that you are in rebellion to His will."
# "You are trying to make us feel guilty by quoting the Ten Commandments."
When someone suggests that you are trying to make them feel guilty, ask which one of the Ten Commandments makes them feel guilty. Simply say, '"The Bible says, You shall not steal. If you feel guilty when you hear that-why do you think it is? Could it be because you are guilty?"
# "I will wait until I am old, then I will get right with God."
You may not get the chance. God may just lose patience with you and kill you. Perhaps you don't think that He would do such a thing. Then read Genesis 38 and see how God killed a man because He didn't like something he did. Jesus spoke of a man who boasted that he had so many goods that he would have to build bigger barns. God said the man was a fool, and that night He let death seize the man. Those who say that they will repent in their own time, lack the fear of God. Their understanding of His nature is erroneous. If they caught a glimpse of His holiness, His righteousness, and His consuming justice, they wouldn't trifle with His mercy. Such arrogance needs to be confronted with the thunders of Mount Sinai. He is not wise who thinks that he can outwit his Creator, enjoy a lifetime of sin, and repent at the last minute. Deathbed repentance is very rare. God killed a husband and wife because they told one lie (Acts 5:1). He lost patience with them. Most people think that God's patience is eternal. It is evidently not. The Bible says that it is through the fear of the Lord that men depart from sin (Proverbs 16:6). While they don't fear God, they will be complacent about their eternal salvation (Matthew 10:28).
# "What do you say if someone says, 'I've broken every one of the Ten Commandments'?"
Do not take this statement to mean that the person has seen the gravity of their sinful state before God. It is often used as a way of throwing off conviction. Pharoah said that he had sinned, but his repentance was superficial. Say to him, "Well let's take the time to go through them one by one and see if you have."
# "If the Jews are God's 'chosen people,' why have they been so oppressed?"
Israel's blessings were dependent upon her obedience. If the nation sinned, it would be chastened. This is God's warning to the Jews: "Then the Lord will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other, and there you shall serve other gods, which neither you nor your fathers have known-wood and stone. And among those nations you shall find no rest, nor shall the sole of your foot have a resting-place; but there the Lord will give you a trembling heart, failing eyes, and anguish of soul. Your life shall hang in doubt before you; you shall fear day and night, and have no assurance of life" (Deuteronomy 28:64-66).
"After many days you will be visited. In the latter years you will come back into the land of those brought back with the sword and gathered from many people on the mountains of Israel, which had been long desolate; they were brought out of the nations, and now all of them dwell safely" (Ezekiel 38:8).
"Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it" (Zechariah 12:2,3).
# "Jesus wasn't sinless-He became 'angry' when He cleared the temple."
The Temple of God was filled with the day's equivalent of money-grabbing televangelists. Anger at hypocrisy isn't a sin-it's a virtue.
# "There are contradictions in the accounts of the resurrection."
The chronology of the resurrection: The three women went to the tomb, and saw a young man. He told them of the resurrection and instructed them that they were to tell the disciples. They left and returned later with Peter and John. The disciples then left and the women stayed. It was at that time that Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene.
# "Why are there so many denominations?"
In the early 1500s, a German monk named Martin Luther was so conscious of his sins, he spent up to six hours in the confessional. Through study of the Scriptures he found that salvation didn't come through anything he did, but simply through trusting in the finished work of the Cross of Jesus Christ. He listed the contradictions between what the Scriptures said, and what his church taught, and nailed his 95 Theses to the church door in Wittenberg, Germany.
Martin Luther became the first to "protest" against the Roman church, and thus he became the father of the Protestant church. Since that split, there have been many disagreements about how much water one should baptize with, how to sing what and why, who should govern who, etc., causing thousands of splinter groups. Many of these groups are convinced that they are the only ones who are right. These have become known as Protestant "denominations." Despite the confusion, these churches subscribe to certain foundational beliefs such as the deity, the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Bible says, "…the foundation of God stands sure, having this seal-the Lord knows those that are His" (see 2 Timothy 2:19).
# "If God gives me some 'sign,' then I will believe."
The unsaved often want a "sign" from God. This is in spite of the testimony of creation, their conscience, the Bible, and the Christian. The Cross is the only thing that can truly convince a sinner of the reality of Who Jesus is. Once they understand that the holes in His hands and His feet are there because of their own sin, they will fall at His feet and cry, "My Lord and my God!"
# "We are told by those who insist that we must keep the Sabbath Day, that we are in great error because we worship on the first day of the week. We are informed that Sun-day comes from the Pagan belief and worship of the Sun god. We are told that Jesus and Paul kept the Sabbath Day as an example for us to follow, and that the Roman Catholic Church is responsible for the change in the day of worship. If we continue to worship on Sunday, then we will receive the mark of the beast."
Let's briefly look at their arguments. First, nowhere does the Fourth Commandment say that we are to "worship" on the Sabbath Day. It commands that we rest on that day: "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it" (Exodus 20:8-11).
Sabbath-keepers worship on the Saturday. Do they know where the word "Satur-day" comes from? It's from the Latin word "Saturnus--Saturn + Old English dæg day." Obviously Saturday is from the pagan day of worship of the planet Saturn (astrology).
If a Christian's salvation depends upon his keeping a certain day, surely God would have told us. The Scriptures tell us that at one point, the Apostles especially gathered to discuss the attitude of the Christian to the Law of Moses. Acts 15:10-11, 24-29 was God’s opportunity to make His will clear to His children. All He had to do to save millions from damnation was say, "Remember to keep the Sabbath holy," and millions of Christ-centered, God-loving, Bible-believing Christians would have gladly kept it. The only commands they gave were to refrain “from meat offered to idols, from blood, things strangled and from fornication.”
There isn't even one command in the New Testament for Christians to keep the Sabbath holy. New Testament references to Sabbath-keeping instruct us not to listen to those who tell us what day to keep (see Colossian 2:16), and that man was not made for the Sabbath, but the Sabbath for man (see Mark 2:27). The Sabbath was given as a sign to Israel (see Exodus 31:13-17). Nowhere is it given as a sign of the Church. Thousands of years after the Commandment was given we can still see the sign that separates Israel from the world--they still keep the Sabbath holy (Ezekiel 20:12-13).
The Apostles came together on the first day of the week. The breaking of bread was on the first day of the week (see Acts 20:7). The collection was taken on the first day of the week (1 Corinthians 16:2). When do Sabbath-keepers "gather together?" On what day do they break bread or take up the collection? It's not on the same day as the early Church. They tell us that history informs us that the Roman Catholic church changed their day of worship from Saturday to Sunday. What has that got to do with the disciples keeping the first day of the week? That was the Roman Catholic church in the early centuries, not the Church of the Book of Acts.
Romans 14:5-10 tells us that one man esteems one day of the week; another esteems every day. Then Scripture tells us that every man should be fully persuaded in his own mind. We are not to judge each other when it comes to the issue of on what day we should worship.
Jesus did keep the Sabbath. He had to keep the whole Law be the Perfect Sacrifice. The Bible makes it clear that the Law has been satisfied in Christ. The reason Paul went into the Synagogue each Sabbath wasn't to keep the Law. If it was, then it was contrary to everything he taught about being saved by grace and grace alone (Galatians 3:11). It was so that he could preach the Gospel to the Jews. This is clearly evident as one reads the Book of Acts. Paul had an incredible evangelistic zeal for Israel to be saved (Romans 9:1-2). To the Jew he became a Jew, that he might gain the Jews ( see 1 Corinthians 9:20). That meant that he went to where they gathered on the day they gathered.
D. L. Moody said, “The Law can only chase a man to Calvary, no further.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law. We are no longer in bondage to it. If we try and keep one part of the Law (even out of love for God) we are obligated to keep the whole Law (Galatians 3;10). That means that we shouldn't separate it into the Moral, Ceremonial and Civil Law and keep the parts we choose. If we keep part of the Law (even out of love for God), then we are obligated to keep the whole 613 precepts.
If those who insist on keeping the Sabbath were as zealous about the salvation of the lost as they are about other Christians keeping the Sabbath, we would see revival.
Charles Spurgeon said, "I am no preacher of the old legal Sabbath. I am a preacher of the Gospel. The Sabbath of the Jew is to him a task; the Lord's Day of the Christian, the first day of the week, is to him a joy, a day of rest, of peace, and of thanksgiving. And if you Christian men can earnestly drive away all distractions, so that you can really rest today, it will be good for your bodies, good for your souls, good mentally, good spiritually, good temporally, and good eternally."
# "Is repentance necessary for salvation?"
It is true that there are numbers of Bible verses that speak of the promise of salvation, with no mention of repentance. These merely say to "believe" on Jesus Christ and you shall be saved (Romans 10:9, Acts 16:31). However, the Bible makes it clear that God is holy and man is sinful, and that sin makes a separation between the two (Isaiah 59:1-2). Without repentance from sin, wicked men cannot have fellowship with a holy God. We are dead in our trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1) and until we forsake them through repentance, we cannot be made alive in Christ. The Scriptures speak of "repentance unto life"(Acts 11:18). We turn from sin, to the Savior. This is why Paul preached "repentance towards God and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 20:21).
The first public word Jesus preached was "repent" (Matthew 4:17). John the Baptist began his ministry the same way (Matthew 3:2). Jesus told His hearers that without repentance, they would perish (Luke 13:1-3). If a sinner need only believe to be saved, then the logical conclusion is that if belief is all that is necessary for salvation, one need never repent. Those who think such thoughts are perhaps ignorant of the fact that a false convert "believes" and yet is not saved (Luke 8:13). The spurious convert believes yet remains a "worker of iniquity." Look at the warning of scripture: "If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth" (1 John 1:6). The Scriptures also say, "He that covers his sins shall not prosper, but whoso confesses and forsakes them (repentance) shall have mercy" (Proverbs 28:13). Jesus said that there was joy in Heaven over one sinner that "repents" (Luke 15:7). If there is no repentance there is no joy, because there is no salvation.
When Peter preached on the Day of Pentecost, he commanded his hearers to repent "for the remission of sins"(Acts 2:38). Without repentance, there is no remission of sins; we are still under His wrath. Peter further said, "Repent…and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out" (Acts 3:19). We cannot be "converted" unless we repent. God Himself commands all men everywhere (leaving no exceptions) to repent (Acts 17:30). Peter said a similar thing at Pentecost. He said, "Repent and be baptized every one of you." With so many scriptures speaking of the necessity of repentance for salvation, one can only suspect that those who preach salvation without repentance are strangers to repentance themselves, and thus strangers to true conversion.