Thank you to everyone who sent in these wonderful questions. Each and every one of them were great! I really enjoyed reading and answering them through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I hope you enjoy!
Q: “What do you think the difference is between religion and a relationship?”
A: The answer to this question is simple but profound. My First Lady at Faith Temple Christian Church in Greenville, NC actually touched on this once when preaching about Christianity being about relationship. She said,
“Religion is man trying to reach up to God but Christianity is God reaching down to man.”
In religion, there isn’t this intimacy with God. Religion is full of traditions and check lists of things that have to be done in order to earn eternal life or God’s love. In religion, I believe people focus more on crossing every “t” and dotting every “i” rather than actually aiming to get to know and please God. In religion, God is this far off deity Who is watching you to make sure you perform sacrificial rituals correctly to earn your forgiveness. The beauty of relationship is that desiring to please God is a natural thing. We refrain from sin and spend time in prayer and the Word because we long to please the One we are in a relationship and long to commune with Him. We revere Him as Lord but can talk to Him as our Father. There is this open communication between the perfect God and an imperfect people. We can cry out to Him wherever we are…we don’t have to pray at a certain time a day in a certain direction. When we stumble we can go to Him for forgiveness instead of having to visit a Pope or kill a lamb. For brevity of this post (because I could go on and on about this topic lol I LOVE IT) watch this spoken word by Jefferson Bethke called “Why I Hate Religion.
Q: “Is there such a thing as God telling believers to ‘get rid’ of someone in our lives? Understanding the difference between getting rid of and separation.”
A: There are times when God not only asks us to separate ourselves from someone but He actually has us rid them from our lives. Some people in our lives may be toxic for us and our walk with Christ. In the season we are in, separation may not be enough so God will have us to remove them completely for the time being, or He may even have that removal to be permanent. It is a misconception that as a believer, it is ungodly for you to cut people off who may not be where you are spiritually but that is not true. God would never have us keep someone in our lives who may be jeopardizing our own walk with Him. I am not saying cut off any and everyone who may not be where you are in Christ, but definitely monitor who you commune with. Always seek the Holy Spirit for guidance on who should and shouldn’t remain in your life.
2 Corinthians 6:14
Do not be unequally bound together with unbelievers [do not make mismatched alliances with them, inconsistent with your faith]. For what partnership can righteousness have with lawlessness? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?
Q: “How can man be naturally sinful but made in God’s image?”
A: God created man in His image and man was perfect and had perfect communion with God. After Adam ate the fruit and gave dominion of the world over to satan, sin entered the world and the flesh then became sinful. With sin now in the world and man having free will, man has the freedom to choose right or wrong…unfortunately, we often choose wrong. We weren’t created sinful…when sin presented itself, we chose the sinful nature.(Genesis 3)
Q: “If God loves everyone, why does He send people to hell?”
A: I wouldn’t necessarily say that God sends people to hell but rather that He honors their decision to live without Him. If someone doesn’t want to spend their life with Jesus on earth, it’d be kind of rude of Him to force that person to spend eternity with Him in Heaven. Hell was never intended for people, it was created for satan and the fallen angels but unfortunately, those who choose to follow satan on earth end up following him to hell as well. Hell is the absence of God’s Presence which is complete and utter pain, destruction and turmoil…far worse than any human mind can comprehend.
Q: “If God loves the world, why does He allow all of these terrible things to happen?”
A: When man ate the fruit and allowed sin into the world, he handed dominion of the world over to satan. The devil is now the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4). Being that satan kills, steals and destroys and he is the god of this world, that means that this world will be full of stealing, killing and destruction. God loves the world so much that He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die and rise again that we might accept Him and have the promise of eternal life and communion with God in Heaven. The devil wants to taint our view of God by making us blame the destruction of the world on Him when in reality, the state of the world is our fault because we handed it over to satan. We should rejoice and be grateful to God and the Lord Jesus Christ that He was willing to buy us back so that we don’t have to go through this hell and then die and go to hell.
11 And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation. 12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned—13 (For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law.
1 Corinthians 15:21
For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a Man.
“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”
Q: “If God does the changing of hearts to follow Him, why can’t He change everyone’s heart? How do you think He picks and chooses who’s going to perish or not?”
A: Although God could make all of mankind serve Him, it wouldn’t be meaningful. No one wants someone to have a relationship with them because they have to. God wants for people to choose Him…He wants to be loved voluntarily not by force. God wants people to commune with, not robots to control. Also God is just and He gives us free will. Because God is just, He will not impose on our right to choose Him and Heaven or our flesh and hell. It would be unjust of God to force us to love Him.
When you ask about God choosing who will and will not perish that touches on predestination. Predestination is the belief that God has already selected those who He wants to go to Heaven and those who will be sentenced to hell. Those who support thisinterpretation of predestination use Ephesians 1:3-6 as a basis:
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love 5 He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will—6 to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves.
God wouldn’t create someone just to predestine them to hell. He loves His creation and wants all of us to spend eternity with Him. Those who support predestination misinterpret this scripture and forget the characteristics of God. God is just and fair. As my friend Kofi says, “It would make God cruel if He created people just to punish them.” I believe that God destined all of us to spend eternity with Him. He had already planned to send His Son Jesus to die for us that we may be adopted into sonship and spend eternity in Heaven. However, we humans have free will to decide whether we will accept this sonship. Jeremiah 29:11 says “For I know the plans that I have for you, plans of good and not of evil to give you an expected end.” God already gave us an expected end for good but many unfortunately choose to not follow Him to that end. God in His sovereignty and omniscience knows the way people will go and what they will end up choosing. Before the creation of the world, God already chose to send His Son to rescue mankind but God also knew who would and would not accept this salvation.
God’s omniscience is a lot for our human minds to wrap around so I think an analogy will help. Griffin from Men in Black 3 has the ability to see all of the possible futures based on the choices people make and the things they do in the present. As people make decisions, he sees the future change according to that decision. Although Griffin is definitely NOT God and nowhere near close to being like Him, I believe that this clip will help you kind of get this concept:
God is just and fair. If He predestined some for Heaven and some for hell that would be unjust and unfair which are two characteristic traits that are not God.
Q: “If God knew some people would go to hell, why did He even create people in the first place?”
A: God was completely satisfied in Himself. He was lacking nothing and was in need of nothing but He wanted to create a people to love and be loved in return. Although He knew some would not choose Him, He still saw the ones who would choose Him as being worth it. From Genesis 1 to Revelation 22 God displays His love for His creation and His desire to be among them and commune with them.
Q: “If Jesus really rose from the dead, why aren’t most people Christian?”
A:After Jesus’ resurrection, many of the Jewish leaders were enraged because they hoped that their plan to have Him crucified would work. They started a rumor that Jesus’ body had been stolen by the disciples.
11 Now while they were going, behold, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all the things that had happened.12 When they had assembled with the elders and consulted together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, 13 saying, “Tell them, ‘His disciples came at night and stole Him away while we slept.’
People were beaten, imprisoned or martyred for believing in and preaching about Jesus. With this new rumor of Jesus’ body being stolen and the threat towards their life, it wouldn’t be surprising that not everyone believed. Even today, many countries make it illegal to be a Christian so believers are either imprisoned or killed and many others choose to not minister in those countries for fear of their safety.
Also 2 Corinthians 4:4 says that,
The god [satan] of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, Who is the image of God.
Q: If God exists, why doesn’t He come down and reveal Himself?
A:He did…and we crucified Him.
The Jewish leaders replied, “By our law he ought to die because He called Himself the Son of God.”
Q: “If Jesus was perfect when He walked the earth, why does the Word say that He learned obedience? If He was perfect, wasn’t He already obedient?”
A: Yes, Jesus was perfect as the Son of God but coming from Heaven where everything is perfect and there is no sin or temptation, coming to earth meant that He had to learn to refrain from sin and temptation. Jesus was fully God and fully human so His flesh had to learn obedience (Hebrews 2:5-18). Through His suffering and the disciplining of His body Jesus was able to learn obedience to the Father so that He would not be tempted or fall into sin.
8 though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.
Q: “What happens to people who never hear the Gospel preached because they don’t live near Christians?”
A: Although God chooses to use man to spread His Name, He isn’t limited to this means. God is able to reveal Himself to anyone, any day at any time if they are willing and open to receiving Him (and even if they aren’t to be honest with you).
All throughout the Bible, God has spoken to people directly and He does the same today for He is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).
Moses in Genesis was raised by Egyptians who serve multiple false gods, however, God spoke to Moses clearly at the burning bush and revealed to him Who He is (Exodus 3). We know that Moses had no idea Who God was prior to that encounter for he asked God Who He was. After this revelation from God, Moses was never the same.
13 Then Moses said to God, “Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His Name?’ what shall I say to them?”
14 And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”
Take a look at Paul as well who used to be called Saul. He was one of the main people in the New Testament murdering Christians for their faith in Christ until Jesus Christ stopped him on the road to Damascus and revealed Who He is to him. Saul was a murderer, driven on killing anyone who professed Jesus Christ but God still met him where he was and opened his heart to the Truth. After this encounter Paul went on to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ and his letters ended up making most of the New Testament.
Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.
3 As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. 4 Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”
5 And he said, “Who are You, Lord?”
Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.”
6 So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?”
Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
God may choose to use people to preach the Gospel through but He is still able and does speak for and introduce Himself. God is just…He makes sure that everyone has the opportunity to know Him, accept Him and have eternal life.
Q: “How do you get saved?”
A: To accept salvation you must confess your sins to Jesus, welcome Him into your life and heart as Lord and Savior and believe that He died on the Cross and rose again.
9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
And it shall come to pass
That whoever calls on the name of the Lord
Shall be saved.
30 And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
Q: “Once you get saved, does that mean you will never sin again?”
A: No it doesn’t. Being saved frees you from the chains of sin but sometimes as human beings we still stumble or fall into sin. As long as we live in the flesh, we will have times that we fall into sin because flesh is sinful. However, knowing that we can’t be perfect while in our flesh is not an excuse to not try to refrain from sin to the best of our ability.
“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Paul speaks on the battling against sin while in the flesh in Romans 7:21-25
21 So I discover this principle: When I want to do what is good, evil is with me. 22 For in my inner self I joyfully agree with God’s law. 23 But I see a different law in the parts of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and taking me prisoner to the law of sin in the parts of my body. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this dying body? 25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with my mind I myself am a slave to the law of God, but with my flesh, to the law of sin.
Q: “Can you lose salvation?”
A:To say that something can be lost or taken away because of something you’ve done would be to say that it is something that can be earned. Ephesians 2:8-9 says,
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.
Salvation is a free gift of God given to us when we put our faith in Jesus Christ, His Son. Jesus paid the price for our salvation and once we receive it we cannot lose it.
Q: “If salvation isn’t based off of our works, does it matter if I sin or not?”
A: Yes it does. We don’t refrain from sin to earn salvation however we refrain from sin because it hurts God, drives a spiritual wedge between us and God and spiritually kills us. When we sin, we are basically saying that the things the world is offering us and the temporarily satisfaction it brings means more to us than God and the eternal joy He gives. Our sin breaks God’s heart. When we follow the ways of the world we are really following the ways of the god of this world, satan. The devil’s mission is to steal, kill and destroy. When we partake in sin we are killing our spiritual man. God doesn’t tell us to stay away from sin to be bossy or to not allow us to have fun. He tells us to refrain from sin for our own eternal good. Also, being that God is perfect, He can’t have dealings with sin. This is why Jesus had to die to cleanse us from our sins so we could have communion with God again. Once receiving salvation from the enslavement of sin, why would we want to continue to indulge in it? That would be like someone rescuing a woman from her sex lord (a man who traffics females) and then her running back to him late in the midnight hour.
Matthew 3:8 says,
Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God.
1 Corinthians 20:23
23 You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is beneficial.
Q: “Is baptism important? If someone gets saved but dies before they can get baptized, will they go to hell?”
A: Baptism is very important. Even Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior was baptized (Matt. 3:13-17). Baptism symbolizes to the world, you dying to your sinful nature, being washed clean by Jesus’s blood and coming alive in Him.
1 Corinthians 12:13
13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.
1 Peter 3:21
21 There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,
16 And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the Name of the Lord.’
12 buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, Who raised Him from the dead.
No. If someone receives salvation but dies before they get baptized, they will not go to hell. I say this because, if someone goes to hell after getting saved because they didn’t get baptized, that would mean that one has to do something in order to secure their salvation, which is not true. In fact, when Jesus was hanging on the cross, the thief to the right of him received salvation before he died from crucifixion. He wasn’t baptized but Jesus told him, “I assure you, today you will be with Me in paradise.” (Luke 23:24)
Q: “Acts 2:38 says to be baptized in Jesus’ Name and in Matthew, John was baptizing in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Which one is the correct way to be baptized?”
A: Acts and Matthew were both correct. You do get baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ. When John was baptizing in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, he was still baptizing in Jesus’ Name because Jesus is the Son. So by saying “in the Name of the Son” he was baptizing in the Name of Jesus.
Q: “The Bible has been re-written and re-written with over 100 translations. How can one say it is inspired by God and not man made?”
A: It is true that there are so many translations of the Word however, the Bible has not been rewritten a hundred times. When we see the many translations of the Word, many believe that each translation had been translated from the previous translation but that’s incorrect. The original text of the New Testament for example was written in Greek and even to this day there are manuscripts of texts that were copied over from the original text written 2000 years ago. Translations are translated from original text rather than from whatever translation preceded it.
Also, the Bible proves itself daily. The prophecies written in the Word 2000 years ago have been being fulfilled over time showing that this text was inspired by the Holy Spirit. On top of this, when one sits and reads throughout the Word, the level at which the text is written…the way things in the Old Testament come back up in the New Testament…the foreshadowing…the depth of the scriptures and how you can read the same text over and over at different times in life and be given a new word from the Lord is just mind blowing. The Word of God is like an onion with so many levels, I personally don’t believe any human mind could write a text this of this caliber. The Bible is made up of books, letters, manuscripts, etc. from men who had close relationships with the Lord. The way the accounts of these people in different cities, villages, nations could all write what the Lord told them and what they say and then their accounts line up perfectly with someone else’s proves that God was involved. There is no way man could write something so deep, profound, eternally relevant, and concise like the Word without guidance of the Holy Spirit.
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I hope that these answers were helpful in clearing up any confusion or concerns any of you had. Thank you again for sending in these questions. Don’t hesitate to email me anymore questions that may arise at email@example.com