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Frequently Asked Questions

 

 

Who is God?

This question has been around since the beginning of time, and finding out its answer is one of the key issues of life. According to the Bible (God's revealed truth about Himself) there is only one God (Deut. 6:4) who exists in three co-equal and eternal persons. In other words, we worship "God" (singular), who exists as three persons: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (plural). This is a very difficult concept to understand, but the Bible makes it clear that this concept of a "Trinity" is the essential nature of God (in other words, who God is). Some have described the Trinity like a hot iron. In a hot iron, you have light, heat, and metal. Light, heat, and metal are three different elements that form one coherent item. But there is really no way to describe the Trinity accurately with an earthly illustration - why? Because we're trying to describe an eternal God from a human perspective. That's sort of like a group of monkeys trying to describe nuclear physics. Belief in the Trinity comes down to a faith issue: we believe in the Trinity, not because we can comprehend one God who exists as three co-equal persons, but because the Bible makes it clear that it is truth.

There are many religions that do not believe in the Trinity. Jehovah's Witnesses - Mormons and Muslims just to name a few. But the Bible is clear. There is only one God (Deut. 6:4) who exists as three persons. (John 6:27, Ephesians 4:6, Hebrews 1:8, Acts 5:3-4 - these passages show the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as being God). If we deny the truth of the Trinity, then we deny the truth of Scripture. If we deny the truth of Scripture, then how are we to believe what the Bible claims about salvation? This is why it is key to understand God as Trinity.

The entire Trinity is at work all the time in the world, in the church, and in our own spiritual life. For instance, when we pray, the Father listens to our prayers (Matthew 7:7-11), the Son is our "defense attorney" before the Father in case we have done anything wrong (I John 2:1), and the Spirit intercedes on our behalf so that our prayers are heard with maximum effect by the Father (Romans 8:26,27.) The entire Trinity is involved, not only in our prayer lives, but also in our salvation (when we trusted Christ as our Savior), our sanctification (our spiritual growth) and our glorification (when we are transformed into our glorified bodies after we die). The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are always working in us and on us!

 

What does God do?

God is different than people in the sense that He is absolutely self-sufficient. He doesn¹t get lonely or bored. He doen't need cable or GameBoy or sports. At the same time, God in His nature is big on bringing glory to Himself. Basically, God is about the business of making His name and reputation BIG! Therefore His will and actions are a part of an ultimate plan to glorify Himself. It is almost as if God is a master artist, and He is painting a Masterpiece on the canvas of time. When God began painting, it was the beginning of time, when the picture is completed, it will be the end of time. We live in the midst of the brush strokes, so it is impossible to see how everything fits together, but we can be assured that the Artist knows what He is doing.

He is bringing everything (every kingdom - spiritual and physical; every person - saved and unsaved; every being - angelic, human and animal) under His absolute authority.

"Then the end will come, when he (Jesus) hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet...When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all." I Corinthians 15:24-28.

At the same time God is drawing humanity to Himself through His Holy Spirit. He created mankind to be with Him but sin separated humanity from their Creator. Since then God has been seeking to draw mankind back to Himself. He sent His Son to redeem our depraved souls. He sends His Spirit to draw us back into a proper relationship with Himself.

 

What is God like?

There are two basic ways to get answers to this question. On the one hand, we can learn what God is like through experience. We see the world around us and live our lives, and the sum total of each day is a lesson on what God is like. The problem is, we don't have a good frame of reference to put our experiences in, so understanding what God is like through experience is very confusing without some kind of context. Let me illustrate, suppose you were developing a new friendship with someone from another country, but you didn't know which country or anything about it. Over time you would probably feel really confused because that person has many different customs and mannerisms that are, well, foreign to you. However, if you checked out a web site that gave you all the background and nature of that country, suddenly the things that your friend does would start to make sense. In the same way, consider the Bible as the website that gives you the background and information you need to put your friendship with God into context. So what would you find out on God's website?

  1. God is eternal (Gen 21:33) - this means that He always has been and always will be. He never had a beginning and will never have an end.
  2. God is unchanging (James 1:17) - this means that God's nature and character will always be the same. He is totally reliable, stable and unchanging.
  3. God is everywhere (Psalm 139:7-12) - not that He is "in everything," but His awareness covers all places and all times. There is not one molecule on the remotest part of the Universe that is out of His field of vision.
  4. God is Sovereign (Ephesians 1:8) - this means that He is the ruler of all the universe - "cosmic King" - for eternity. Everything and everyone is ultimately under His control. Even Satan must get permission from Him to do certain things (Job 1,2).
  5. God is all knowing (Matt 11:21) - this means that God knows all actual and possible things. He knows what was, what is, what will be and what could be. There are no mysteries to Him. He knows everything about you. He knows what you are like and what you will be like in the future. He knows more about you than you do.
  6. God is all powerful (Rev. 19:6) - this means there is no being more powerful. If you brought all the creatures in the universe together and collectively tapped their strength, their strength would be nothing compared to God's strength. He is infinitely more powerful than anything and anyone!
  7. God is love (I John 4:16) - this means that God is motivated by unselfish and pure concern. "For God so loved the world that he gave..." (John 3:16.) Because God loves, God gives.
  8. God is Holy (I John 1:5) - this means that He is completely separate from anything sinful, because sin is anything contrary to God¹s nature and character. Therefore all the other attributes of God are tempered by His holiness. His justice is holy. His love is holy. His wisdom is holy...and so on.
  9. God is Jesus (John 1) - if you want to really know what God is like, get to know Jesus Christ through the Gospels. Our Savior is God in the flesh.

 

How does God view sin?

To answer this question, we must first look at how the Bible defines sin. In its basic definition, sin is defined as "missing the mark". What is the mark? The "mark" is the perfect character of God. So, when any being in the universe commits an action or thinks a thought, or even holds an attitude contrary to the perfect character of God, it is sinful because it has missed the "mark."

Additionally, the way that life, the universe, and everything was set up was to reflect (or mirror) God's glory based on His character. In other words - we're supposed to make God BIG with the way that we live! That's what we were created to do...bring Him glory! When people ditch that plan by sinning, they pay the consequences. As a result, sin angers and hurts God because it is an insult to His character, and it destroys the design of the universe that God loves. When people sin, He must react because of His holiness, and because of His love.

An illustration would be a child who is about to touch a hot stove. The adult knows that this is a deviation from obedience (don't touch the stove!), and it will injure the child he or she loves dearly. So, the adult must react. The same is true of God. That is why He cannot and will not ignore sin, and why it angers and hurts Him.

 

How do I know God's will?

The answer to this question comes in two basic parts. First, we can know God's will by studying His character through His Word. When we look at His nature and attributes (what He is like), we then know that since we are made in His image, it is His will that we imitate those same characteristics. In other words, it is God's will that we grow up to be like our heavenly Daddy! Thus, since God is holy, we should be holy, since God is love, we should be loving. Since God is just, we should be just, and so on. All the commands in Scripture regarding His will for our lives ultimately revolve around you living a life that is pleasing to Him.

The second part has to do with God's people on this earth. Questions like where you should go to college, who should you date and where should you work are the types of questions that we struggle the most with on this earth. God does not promise to give signs and wonders to you for answers.

We can get an idea as to God's will by seeking godly counsel with those who follow God. We also can seek God's will through praying to God that He will guide us through circumstances. Seeking God's will by studying Scripture, prayer and asking advice from committed Christians are the three main ways to know God's will. Remember to keep God's Word as the ultimate source of finding God's will for your life, and judge everything else on that basis.

 

Why did God create the universe, heaven and hell?

To answer this question we must go back to the nature of God- God is self-existent. What that means is that God was not waiting around in eternity past being lonely and looking for something to do. So why did He go to the trouble? Because God created the universe first and foremost to bring glory to Himself, and second to have fellowship with His creation. Thus, everything was made because of God's design in making His name BIG. That means that every person, planet, star, galaxy, ocean, tree, and blade of grass was designed to scream out that our God is an awesome God! Heaven, then, was designed as a place where God is eternally glorified by His creation. As well, heaven was created as the place where God can eternally enjoy His loving relationship with His creatures (us).

Unfortunately, before people were created, one of His angels decided that he had a better plan for the universe. This angel was called Lucifer (Satan), and his pride caused him to ditch God's perfect plan. Satan decided that making his name big was more important than praising God. Satan persuaded a third of all the angels to follow his plan, and as a result, they were kicked out of heaven and out of their jobs as God's servants. At that moment, evil and sin came into God's perfect universe because they "missed the mark," and God sent them to a place where these rebellious beings could exist apart from fellowship with Him. This place is called hell. Matthew 25:14 tells us this place was originally created for Satan and his angels (now called demons), but it is also reserved for people who willingly choose to follow the same plan as Satan.

People on this earth who reject God's offer of eternal life through Jesus Christ make a choice to spend eternity in hell. For their entire lives they tell God - "not Your will, but mine be done" and finally, God responds - "very well, your will be done - spend eternity apart from me" (2 Thesselonians 1:8-9). This is actually an act of mercy on God's part, because it is a far worse fate for people who do not have a relationship with God to be in His constant and Holy presence, than to be in hell itself.

 

What are Some Common Misconceptions when it Comes to the Gospel?

Misconception #1: You have to say a prayer to be saved.

Saying a prayer never saved anyone! It is our faith and trust in Jesus Christ that saves us. Saying a prayer is simply a way to verbally express to God the faith that we have in our hearts. There is no Biblical reference to Jesus ever leading anyone through a prayer for salvation. As a matter of fact, we don't see any of the Christians in the New Testament ever leading someone else through a salvation prayer. It's fine to lead someone through a simple prayer to God. Just make sure they understand that saying a prayer doesn't save them. Their faith in Jesus saves them.

Misconception #2: You have to be water baptized to be saved.

Water baptism is an outward sign of an inward change. It is a picture of our new identity in Christ. Although there are a few verses that are misinterpreted by some that say it is necessary for salvation (Acts 2:38, Mark 16:16, etc.), there are over 200 verses in the New Testament that make it clear that salvation is a matter of faith alone in Christ alone. If baptism were necessary for salvation then it would have to appear as a requirement for salvation every single time the word "faith" or "believe" or "repent" does. As a matter of fact, in Acts 10:44-47 some people trust in Christ as a result of Peter's preaching. Notice what he says in verse 47, "Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have." They received the Spirit before they were baptized. According to Ephesians 1:13 we receive the Spirit as soon as we believe. In other words, they were saved before they were ever water baptized.

Misconception #3: Eternal life is a license to sin.

The natural response to a free gift is gratefulness. The better and bigger the gift, the more grateful one tends to be. In the same way, when we are given the best gift ever, the gift of eternal life, our natural response should be a life of thankful service for God (Romans 12:1).

Yes, there are times when all of us have abused the grace of God and sinned. In the words of the great preacher, Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones,

"The true test of gospel preaching is whether or not it can be abused."

Grace that cannot be taken advantage of is not grace. When we abuse God's grace (and we all do from time-to-time), we miss out on the full blessing of God in our lives. We are cheating ourselves of present contentment in our earthly lives and future rewards in the heavenly life to come.

 

Isn't true spiritual warfare rare?

When many Christians think of spiritual warfare, they often think of some surreal kind of cartoon battle of "good angel" versus "bad angel" in the invisible spirit world. Others imagine some kind of Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets X Files meets Blade encounter. Still others conjure up thoughts of movies like the Exorcist, where good meets bad in a battle for the body. As a result spiritual warfare seems like it's rare. It seems like an X-Men adventure in the underworld underground. The result? Most Christian teens don't take it seriously.

That is a mistake.

The Bible says something very interesting about spiritual warfare. According to God's Word this unseen battle takes place in the context of relationships and the brain.

Ephesians 6:12 shows us that this spiritual battle is in the middle of everyday relationships with people,

"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."

Those relationships that you are struggling with, that brother who keeps picking on you, those students at your school who are making fun of your Christianity, that teacher who verbally criticizes your belief system in class, all have an invisible reality behind them. You see, our problem is not with "flesh and blood". In other words, our problem is not with people. Our problem is with the devil who uses those relationships to discourage, distract and deceive us. Relationships are a battlefield for spiritual warfare...and so is your mind.

2 Corinthians 10:4 and 5 makes it clear that your brain is a battlefield,

"The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ."

These verses are filled with military terms. God tells us that we have powerful weapons to bust through Satanic strongholds in our brains. What is a stronghold? It is a wall of wrong thinking that keeps God out. It is the moat around our minds that refuses to allow the Word of God to penetrate. It is the iron gate of sin, built by Satan himself to keep your thoughts worldly.

When you became a Christian your soul was saved. You were adopted as a child of God and your sins were nailed to the cross. You became a new creation in Christ. You have a new Father, a new home in heaven, and a new path to walk. But you need a new mind as well. Satan has lost your heart to Jesus and the last thing he wants is to lose your mind to Jesus. So he establishes strongholds (walls, moats, gates, etc) of wrong thinking to keep your brain thinking wrong thoughts about God, life, relationships, movies, music, sin and him.

How do we break through these strongholds? We use our weapons! We use the catapult of God's Word and the ramrod of God's Spirit to break through the gates and shatter the walls and we capture our thoughts for God! Your brain is a battlefield!

 

More Questions:

For every truth of God Satan has an arsenal of lies. In other words there are more than ten questions when it comes to the devil and spiritual warfare. What's a Christian teenager to do? Measure everything you hear by God's Word. New bank tellers are trained to spot counterfeit money, not by studying counterfeit money, but by becoming familiar with the real thing. The same is true of spiritual warfare. The way you identify Satan's lies is by becoming super familiar with God's truth. The more time you spend studying God's Word, depending on God's Spirit, the more you will be able to tell a counterfeit from the real thing.

 

Why does God allow bad things to happen?

Obviously there is no simple way to answer this question without the risk of too simple of an answer. However, one starting place towards untangling this difficult issue is to consider what we talked about in the questions "What does God do?" Put simply, God's purpose in creating life, the universe, and everything was to bring glory to Himself (make His name BIG ). Therefore ALL events that happen are inside the painting. Evil, then, could be seen as some of the colors of the perfect painting done by the Artist. Does this mean that God takes pleasure in evil and tragedy? Absolutely not! In fact, consider this - the problem of evil and bad things happening is the reason that God had to sacrifice His own Son - thus no one has suffered more at the hands of evil than God Himself.

One of the reasons that God allows bad things to happen to His children is to mature them spiritually.

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything" James 1:2-4.

 

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