Faith

Answer

Reconciling Enslavement to Sin With Freedom of the Will

How do we reconcile the idea of "free will" with the doctrine of "indwelling sin"? I've always been told that God did not create evil, that human beings sin through their own free choice, and that for this reason we are all accountable before Him. But recently I heard a Bible teacher say that we are actually enslaved to our own sin nature and unable to do God's will no matter how hard we try. If that's true, how can I be held responsible for my own actions? And how can I ever hope to make any progress in the Christian life?

Read more

Answer

The "JEDP" Theory and Its Implications for Biblical Credibility

Do you have any thoughts on Julius Wellhausen's (1844-1918) so-called "Documentary Theory" of the Torah or Pentateuch? According to this theory, the traditional "Books of Moses" (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy) weren't written by Moses at all, but by a group of authors who can be distinguished by their different literary styles: the "Jahwist" writer, the "Elohist," the "Priestly" author, and the "Deuteronomist." When I first heard about this it really threw my faith for a loop. Since then I've met "progressively minded" Christians who claim that it's "no big deal" – that it doesn't really matter who actually wrote the first five books of the Bible. What do you think?

Read more

Answer

What It Means to Be "Made in the Image of God"

What is the Bible trying to convey when it says that we are created "in God's image"(Genesis 1:27)? I've heard this phrase many times, but I'm not sure that I really understand what this means. Can you shed any light on this question for me? Does sinful man continue to possess the "Image of God," or was it lost when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit?

Read more

Answer

God Without Moods or "Passions"

What do theologians mean when they say that God is "without passions"? The other day I was doing some reading and came across this statement. Recently our pastor has been talking about the importance of living out our faith passionately, and now I discover that God Himself has no passions! This has caused me some serious confusion. Does this imply that He doesn't love us "passionately"?

Read more

Answer

Significance, Self-Esteem, and Pride

Isn't a desire for significance or self-importance just another form of sinful human pride? Recently I heard a Christian leader say that God has "planted a hunger for significance in the heart of every human being." He went on to add that this drive is behind nearly everything we do. I couldn't help connecting this idea with everything I've heard over the years concerning the importance of "self-esteem." As far as I'm concerned, these teachings seem to imply that God is responsible for human pride, which the Bible clearly represents as the root of all sin and evil. How can this be?

Read more

Answer

"Doing All Things Through Christ": What It Does and Doesn't Mean

Can I really "do all things through Christ?" Besides being a strong Christian, I'm young, full of energy, and enthusiastic about life. As a result, I have big plans and want to do great things for God. When I talk like this, my family and friends tell me I've got stars in my eyes. When I quote Philippians 4:13 – "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" – they just laugh and brush me off. I know I'm right, but haven't yet figured out a way to convince them. Can you help me?

Read more

Answer

The Origin of God

Where did God come from? This is something I've always wondered about. When I look at creation, from the astronomical to the cellular level, it's impossible for me to think that such beauty and complexity is the product of mere chance. But that still leaves one question unanswered: Who made God?

Read more

Answer

Pain, Injustice, and God's Love

If God is fair, just, and loving, why is there so much suffering in the world? I want to believe in His goodness, but the injustices of life have convinced me that, if He does exist, He must not care very much about what goes on in this world. Just recently, my neighbor, a good and generous man, lost his little girl in a collision with a drunk driver. As fate – or God – would have it, the drunk driver survived the accident unscathed. As I'm sure you realize, this is not an isolated incident. How can things like this happen so often if God is the loving Creator Christians make Him out to be?

Read more

Answer

Preparing for the End Times

What should Christians be doing to get ready for the cataclysmic events preceding the end of the Age and the Second Coming of Christ? Given the current state of affairs in the world, it's hard to avoid the conclusion that the Lord may be returning soon. I'm trying to hold on to my confidence in God and live by faith, but some of my friends and relatives tell me that's not enough. They're selling their homes, moving to remote desert or mountain locations, stockpiling food, buying weapons and ammunition – the list goes on and on. Is this right? Are we really supposed to run and hide as things get worse? Or should we stay where we are and continue to minister to the people around us?

Read more

Answer

Prayer and Its Place in God's Sovereign Plan

If God has a plan, why should we pray? Do our prayers really make a difference if He already knows how things are going to turn out? Christian friends have often assured me that God is working out His plan for me and my children. At the same time, they have also urged me many times to have faith in the power of prayer. To me, this sounds like a contradiction. Isn't God's plan going to work itself out whether we pray or not? Will things be any different if we don't pray?

Read more

Answer

Hearing God's Voice Inside and Outside of Scripture

Does God speak today, or only in the Bible? Since becoming a Christian a short time ago I've been doing my best to grow steadily in Christ and walk closely with Him every day. I really want to know what it's like to hear His voice and carry on an intimate conversation with Him in every situation. But it's precisely at this point that I've become seriously confused. Some of my Christian friends say that, if we listen closely, God will speak to us directly, just as He did in Bible times. But others insist that His Word can be found only in Scripture, and that "divine messages" of any other kind are completely bogus. What do you think?

Read more

Answer

"Original Sin" and Our Need for Salvation

What is "original sin?" I don't understand what Christians mean by this term. They seem to be saying that God holds me responsible for something that someone else did. How can that be right? It makes God sound cruel and unjust. I live a good life and I try to be kind to everyone I meet. I'm a teacher, a responsible citizen, a good parent, and a member of several service clubs. Why do I need Jesus Christ to "save" me just because Adam and Eve chose to eat a piece of forbidden fruit thousands of years ago?

Read more

Answer

What the Bible Says About Political Rebellion and Revolution

Is political revolution biblically justified? Recent events in the Middle East have raised this question in my mind. For the most part the evangelical Christian community seem to be sympathetic of these "revolutionary" movements, but I can't help wondering whether the Bible supports this kind of activity. Isn't it simply rebellion against the governing authorities? How can this be reconciled with Paul's exhortation to "submit" to the state (Romans 13:1-7)?

Read more

Answer

Forgiving the Unrepentant

How can I forgive someone who isn't sorry for what he's done? My father hurt me deeply when I was young. I've tried and tried to forget about this, but every time I think I've succeeded the pain jumps up and bites me again. Christian friends have told me that I need to forgive him-in my heart, unconditionally, without even discussing the situation with him. But I can't understand this. Yes, I know that we're supposed to forgive those who come to us with a repentant attitude (Luke 17:3, 4). But what about a person who isn't repentant? How can he receive something he isn't even asking for? Even God doesn't forgive us until we turn to Him and express a desire to receive His grace. What do you think I should do?

Read more

Answer

Muslim and Christian Views of God

Don't Christians and Muslims worship the same God? Ever since 9/11 we've been hearing dire warnings about the "dangers" of "radical Islam." I'm as concerned as the next person about threats to our national security. Still, I can't help feeling that this kind of talk is overblown. In fact, it strikes me as being pure religious bigotry. Instead of demonizing Islamic believers, we should be emphasizing the common ground we share with them. After all, 'elohim and 'allah are just two different forms of the same name. Aren't they?

Read more

Answer

What the Bible Says About Forgiving Yourself

Is "self-forgiveness" a scriptural idea? This isn't the place to go into details, but certain events and circumstances have left me carrying a heavy load of guilt. I believe in Christ and His death on the cross, but in this case my beliefs don't seem to have the power to change my feelings. If you knew my situation, you might understand why. People tell me that I need to "forgive myself," but I just laugh when they say that. Who am I to "forgive myself?" And where does the Bible ever tell me to do any such thing? I've searched the Scriptures over and can't find anything that supports this idea.

Read more

Answer

Those Who Have Never Heard the Gospel

What's going to happen to people who have never had an opportunity to believe in Jesus? Will they simply be condemned? All my life I've been taught that faith in Christ is the only path to a saving relationship with God. I still believe this, but the older I get the harder it becomes to dismiss troubling questions about the many wonderful people I've known who don't believe in Christ. And then there's the issue of the millions who have never even heard or understood the Gospel. Is it really possible that God will simply send all of them to hell? Isn't there some way of getting around this disturbing conclusion? I'm beginning to wonder if hell is even real.

Read more

Answer

Cremation: A Biblical Perspective

Does the Bible have anything to say about cremation? My spouse and I have been discussing our final will and testament, including our personal preferences regarding funeral arrangements. I feel strongly that cremation is the best way to go, but my husband says that it's a "pagan" practice. He claims that the Bible condemns it. In particular, he says it's sacrilegious to destroy the body by fire since as Christians we look forward to the hope of resurrection at the end of the age. What's your perspective?

Read more

Answer

Homemaking and the Biblical View of Work

Where does homemaking fit into the Bible's teaching on work and labor? I've always been happy in my role as a stay-at-home wife and mother. Then I heard a series of messages about the role of productive labor in God's plan for mankind. Since then I've been having doubts. I spend my time preparing meals, wiping the noses of jelly-faced toddlers, and mopping the kitchen floor. As far as I can see, I'm not contributing anything economically, so I'm not sure my efforts have any benefit for the rest of society. How can I take pride in my "work" or view it as having any kind of larger significance? And if I'm not part of that system, how does the biblical concept of the "Sabbath rest" apply to me?

Read more

Answer

The God of the Old Testament vs. the God of New

Why is God so angry in the Old Testament and so loving in the New? A non-Christian friend has used this question to plant a seed of doubt in my mind. He argues that the scriptural picture of the Lord's nature and character is inconsistent and self-contradictory. This has really got me thinking. Christians are always saying that God never changes. Where is the biblical support for that idea?

Read more

Answer

Ongoing Sin in the Christian Life

How can someone claim to be a Christian while continuing in sin? Recently I heard the testimony of a Christian woman who had left the abortion industry to become a leader in the pro-life movement. Most of what she had to say was inspiring. But she made one statement that frustrated and confused me: she claimed that she had been a church-going Christian even while working in the abortion clinic. How could a true Christian possibly remain associated with such murderous practices even for a single minute? Shouldn't she have said, "I thought I was a Christian at that time, but later on I saw the light and experienced genuine conversion?"

Read more

Answer

Heaven: "Present With the Lord" vs. "Soul Sleep"

Do we go straight to heaven when we die, or is there some kind of a "waiting period?" This is all very confusing to me. Christians talk a great deal about "going to heaven," but Scripture never once indicates that anybody moves straight into the presence of God at the moment of death. Instead, it describes a Day of Resurrection at the end of the age. Someone told me that the human soul simply "sleeps" until that time, and I tend to think he's right. I also hear many people say that we will see God "face to face" when we get to heaven, but the Bible clearly states that no man has seen Him at any time. Can you clear up these misunderstandings for me?

Read more

Answer

Biblical Perspective on Christian Involvement With the Fine Arts

Is there any legitimate place for the arts within the biblical worldview, or is it simply a frivolous and "worldly" pursuit? How can we tell good and godly art from bad art? Our daughter is an art student at the university, and we're worried that she's just wasting her time and energy. More importantly, we have deep concerns about the moral aspects of what she's doing – her Life Drawing class regularly requires her to sketch the nude human figure from a live model! How do you feel about that?

Read more

Answer

Islam and Christianity: Are They the Same?

Don't Muslims and Christians believe basically the same things? Since 9/11 some Christian groups have been spreading what I consider slander about our friends in the Muslim community. I find this deeply troubling since there are a couple of fine, upstanding Muslim families living in my neighborhood. As I understand it, Islam is a religion of peace and is just another path to God. Why can't we all just get along?

Read more