1. Where should I start reading the Bible?
One of the Gospels is a good beginning. They give an account of Jesus’ life and ministry on earth. The whole Bible points to the message of Jesus Christ, so to read of his life is a good start. Matthew is recorded first and shows us the genealogy of Christ, proving his existence in history. Mark is the shortest gospel and Luke is an eye witness account so reliable evidence indeed. John includes a great deal of Jesus’ teaching and the very words he spoke. The 4 gospels can be found at the beginning of the New Testament.
2. Why did Jesus have to die?
We have all sinned, done wrong, without exception. God who made us is a pure and holy God. It tells us in Habakkuk 1 v 13 that his eyes are too pure to look on evil and that he cannot tolerate wrong. Our sin separates us from God. Being just, God has to punish sin. But the good news is that instead of punishing us he sent his son to die on the cross so we could be forgiven. The Bible tells us that there is no forgiveness for sin without the shedding of blood. ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life’ – John 3 v 16. We need to admit our guilt before God and trust Christ who died for us.
3. Do all religions lead to God?
Unfortunately many people believe there are many paths up the mountain to reach God. The reality is however that God is not up on the mountain. He came down to reach us. All other religions teach that we have to live a good life and we might possibly be saved. The Bible teaches that none of us are good enough for God. So God came down and reached out to us when he sent his son to die for us. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me”. Christ is the only way to God. Our ‘good works’ and ‘religion’ fall far short of God’s requirements. We need to trust Christ as he is the only way to God the Father.
What other religion has a God who loved them so much that he died for them?
Other religions often have gods of stone, wood or a ‘greater being’ which need to be served and feared. We have a God who came to serve and dwelt amongst us. A God who bore our sins in his body on the tree so that we can be forgiven and have a personal relationship with Him.
The other difference from other religions is that we are assured of salvation – there is no doubt. Romans 10 v 9 says that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
1 John 5 v 13 writes, ‘These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.’
4. Is the Bible consistent in its teaching?
Absolutely! The Old and New Testaments both portray our God to be just, powerful and yet loving in His dealings with His people. The Bible is a collection of narration, letters, poetry, history, dialogues and parables. It was written over a period of 1500 years and by approximately 40 different people. Yet there is not one contradiction in its teaching. Why? – Because it is God-breathed. 2 Timothy 3 v 16, tells us, ‘All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness’. These authors were taught by the Holy Spirit as the catechism tells us. Some argue that, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’ contradicts Jesus’ teaching when he told the people to ‘turn the other cheek’. We must look at the context. In the first instance the instruction was being given by God to the leaders of the nation of Israel, so that they could uphold the law. In the second, Jesus was speaking to individuals, urging them not to seek revenge or take the law into their own hands but to leave it to the authorities – whether that be God or man. We also have the verse in Psalm 14 v 1: ‘The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God”.’ Surely we can see the folly!! of quoting only part of that verse or taking it out of context.
Having read the Bible all the way through many times, we can confidently say it is thoroughly consistent, reliable and trustworthy. We urge you to read the Bible for yourself and not just take our word for it.
5. Why does God allow so much suffering in the world?
First and foremost, we must understand from where suffering comes. It does not originate from God – He made the world perfect. Yet man in his disobedience brought sin, and consequently suffering, into the world. Suffering and death are part of the curse of sin on the world (Genesis 3 v 16-19). Adam and Eve fell, and when they did, they brought to themselves and to all of their descendants the suffering of death.
As finite human beings we do not understand the infinite mind and purpose of God. He does have a reason behind all suffering. We need to remember that God is sovereign, that is, in charge and in control of all things. It is His sovereign will that determines each circumstance. Therefore, we can safely say that no suffering is without a purpose in the plan of God, even though we may not see that purpose clearly.
The Lord will bring glory to His name either in the suffering or by removing the suffering. Either way, we must trust Him to know and do what’s best, however agonising the situation. He does all things well (Psalm 18 v 30) and for the good of His people – Romans 8 v 28, ‘And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.’
There are many issues with suffering we find difficult to grasp but the simple (albeit often difficult) answer is to trust. Trust the sovereign maker of heaven and earth. Trust the sovereign maker whose ways are perfect. Trust the sovereign maker who sent His innocent son, Jesus Christ, to suffer on the cross so that we could be rescued from the ultimate suffering of eternal hell. Because of sin in this world, we may not escape suffering in this life but in Christ we have a perfect, peaceful, eternal home awaiting us. Revelation 21 v 4 assures us, ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” The lamb will be there in all His glory, on the throne, and we will reign with Him.
6. What happens when we die ?
Death is indeed a solemn matter. Not only do we leave this earth, but for many, we leave behind family and friends who grieve, and can go through excruciating sorrow. This is NOT what God intended. When he created the world he made it perfect with man and woman in the garden of Eden having sweet fellowship with one another and with God himself – this was meant to last forever. But, when Adam and Eve disobeyed God, sin entered the world bringing calamity with it – sorrow, misery, shame, guilt, sickness, death and, its biggest consequence, separation from God. Due to sin, we lost perfect fellowship with our Creator God. (Isaiah 59 v 2: But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you.)
God could have left us in our miserable state and rebellion against him but instead demonstrated love and mercy towards us. He sent his Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross, taking the punishment for our sins, so that we could be forgiven and made right with God. Those who turn to Jesus Christ will be forgiven. ( 1 John 1 v 9: If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. ) and will have eternal life ( John 3 v 36: He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him. )
The Bible tells us that when we die our bodies will perish but our souls will live forever. We will stand before Almighty God who will judge us for the lives we have lived. (Rev 20 v 12: And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.) God is holy and just and needs to punish sin – just as the law courts punish criminals. Although God’s justice is perfect.
Throughout the Bible we are warned of this judgement. Jesus himself on numerous occasions warns his listeners of God’s judgement and wrath. ( Matthew 10 v 28: And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. ) For those who have turned to Christ and lived for him, eternal life with Christ himself awaits them in heaven. For those who have ignored God, lived for self and gone their own way, eternal punishment separated from God awaits them in hell. Describing the unbeliever Christ explains in Matthew 25 v 46: “And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life”.
This is a very serious message – no wonder the Bible exhorts us time and time again to ‘flee from the coming wrath.’
We need to STOP and EVALUATE the huge impact of sin: misery, anguish, pain, sickness, death, separation from God, guilt.
We need to STOP and WONDER at the mercy and patience of God who could have condemned mankind immediately for ruining his perfect world.
We need to STOP and UNDERSTAND the justice of a perfect God ( Habakkuk 1 v 13: You are of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on wickedness.) and needs to punish it.
We need to STOP and MARVEL at the love of God who sent his Son to Calvary so that we ( Romans 5 v 8: while we were still sinners ) could be forgiven.
We need to STOP and REALISE we all have an eternal soul with an eternal destiny – in heaven or hell.
We need to STOP and QUESTION, ‘How will I stand before God on that great day of judgement?’
Isaiah 55 v 6: Seek the LORD while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near.