Here are some brief answers to just some of the frequently asked questions about Christianity. The issues covered here are complex, so if you would like to know more please come along to the church where a leader will be pleased to discuss them in greater depth with you.
How do we know God exists?
We can only know God exists if he chooses to make himself known. The good news is that he has done this in history in the person of Jesus. Had we lived in Israel almost 2000 years ago, we could have seen him face to face. Jesus claimed to be God and he backed up those claims with his actions. He calmed storms, healed the sick, cast out evil spirits, raised the dead, and forgave people. When Jesus himself was put to death, he rose again. The evidence of Jesus’ life and actions demonstrate that he was who he claimed to be: the living God. He is our principle reason for knowing that God is there.
Isn’t a Christian just a good person or someone who just believes in God?
God wants us to be friends with him not just good enemies. It is not good enough to just to believe God exists (even some people who hate God believe that he exists). We actually need to apologise to God for rebelling against him, and thank him for the death of Jesus which pays for our rebellion. We should then ask God to help us live with Jesus as our Lord. We are to live in a way that pleases God because we have been forgiven, not in order to be forgiven.
Do I have to go to church to be a Christian?
The short answer is clearly no ! Going to church makes you a Christian like going to a railway station makes you a train. A Christian is not defined by what they do for God, but by their trust in what God has done for them in Jesus. God is not after church attenders; he is building a family. Of course, once you are a member of his family it will be natural to want to meet with other members of the family. Therefore for the Christian being part of a local church is a visible expression of their faith in Jesus.
Is there life after death?
We all have to face death. Jesus tells us there is life after death. For those who put their trust in Jesus there will be eternity with God (ie. Heaven). For those who reject Jesus there will be eternal separation from God (ie. Hell).
Christians are hypocrites, so why would I want to be one?
If you have known a Christian and felt they behaved badly towards you it is understandable that you would feel this way. When evaluating Christianity, you should ultimately decide about its value, not on the bad performance of its followers, but on its founder – Jesus. The accounts of Jesus life in the Bible (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) show he was no hypocrite, he perfectly practised what he preached. Check out his life and claims by read one of these accounts for yourself.
How do you know the Bible is a reliable historical document?
To establish the historical reliability of ancient documents scholars apply various tests. When these tests are applied to the Bible the results are way above any comparable early writings as a document to be taken seriously as reliable history. The Bible has stood the test of time as both an accurate historical document, and a theological interpretation of God’s involvement with humanity.
If God is so loving how can he send people to hell?
Through reading the Bible it is clear there are two critical sides of God’s character – his justice and his love. Since humanity has rebelled and God is supremely just, we all deserve to be punished. The punishment we are given is the punishment we ask for. If we tell God we want to be separate from him, God gives us what we want – eternal separation. We just didn’t realise how bad that would be. But because God is supremely loving. He sends his son who takes all the wrath of God’s anger on himself. If we accept the death of Jesus for us we can spend eternity in heaven not hell. The amazing thing is not that God sends people to hell (for that is horrible – but just), but that God opens the way for us to go to heaven – not because of our good works, but because of his great love in sending Jesus to take our punishment.
What about those people who have never heard of Jesus?
The Bible does not specifically address this question. However, the Bible does reveal to us a God who will be absolutely fair in his judgements. Justice is good if you have done the right things. But if you have not, mercy is the best option. Many people behave as if they have heard nothing about God when in fact they have. You need to respond to what you have heard, and not use this question as an excuse for your inaction. With regard to those who have never heard, we need to put our trust God’s fairness and justice.
If God is good, why is there so much suffering in the world?
There is no simplistic answer to this question. All of us endure suffering in our lives, and many people suffer greatly. The degree to which some people suffer is heart-breaking. The Bible shows us that God is all perfect (he hates suffering and evil) and all powerful (he could remove it in an instant). Suffering exists in the world because of the humanity’s rebellion against God. God hates suffering, has suffered himself, and has promised that there will be no suffering in heaven. God is presently holding off on removing suffering and evil from the world so as to give us the opportunity to turn back to him and receive the forgiveness we don’t deserve for rebelling against him (rather than the punishment we do deserve).
What about other religions?
There are many people who sincerely believe in a different ‘religion’ or ‘creed’. They may be very worthy religions or creed, but sincerity is not the issue. We must remember that people can be sincerely wrong. Truth is the issue. It is not possible for every religion to be true or right because they contradict each other. Christianity has some distinctive features which are not compatible with other religions. Other religions say you must do certain things in order to be right with God. Christianity says Jesus has done it all. He died to make us right with God. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”