Difficult Questions Answered

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If I don’t forgive others, does that mean God won’t forgive me?

Craig Carter, Pastor

Lynn Haven United Methodist Church

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus made a frightening assertion: “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:14-15 NLT)

Does this mean God’s forgiveness is conditional? Certainly not, because the New Testament makes it clear God in Christ has already forgiven us. But what it does mean is that if we harbor unforgiveness in our hearts, we will never fully experience God’s forgiveness. I like to compare it to a drain pipe that is clogged with impediments. Only when they are removed can water flow freely. In the same way, our lives are stopped up with all kinds of “stuff” that is a result of other persons’ poor choices. We can never fully receive God’s blessings, including His forgiveness, until we make room. The way in which this happens is by forgiving others.

Further motivation for forgiving others is found in Jesus’ parable of the unmerciful servant recorded in Matthew 18. Even though the king forgave this man’s enormous debt, he steadfastly refused to forgive the paltry debt owed him by a fellow servant. When the king found out what happened, he had the unforgiving servant thrown in prison and tortured. The message is clear: any sins committed against us pale in comparison to the sins we’ve committed against God. Since He has freely forgiven us, we are compelled to go and do likewise.

So the question is not, “If I don’t forgive others, will God forgive me?” Instead, we must consider, “If I’ve received God’s forgiveness, why in the world wouldn’t I want to forgive others?” The answer is obvious and forces us to take the Apostle Paul’s words to heart: “Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” (Colossians 3:13b NLT)

April 20, 2019No comments
If a child were to ask you the following question: “How do you know God is real?” what would your answer be?
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Rev. Michael Murphy

Is God real? How do we know He really exists?    People have always asked this question, not just children or teenagers, but even adults.  In the Bible even Moses asked the question to God, “Who are you? What do I tell people when they ask, “who are you God?”  The answer he got was, “Tell them  “I AM THAT I AM !”   [EXODUS 3:14].  So even today this question is still asked.  Besides what the Bible tells us and the historical evidence shows, there is one thought I would like to share with you, to give you something to think about.  First, know we must come to God by faith, [Hebrews 11:6, “For he that comes to God must believe that He is.”]   So let’s look at some very simple things created by God that we can see and KNOW that He is real. Each day we see the sun, the stars in the sky, the moon, this earth and all the beauty He created. But let’s look at something we cannot see.  How many people have ever seen the wind?  We see the results of the wind, but have never actually seen the wind !   We  believe in the wind because we see the trees blowing, the flag waving, the bird being pushed through the air,  all by the wind that is there, but cannot be seen.   We can also know that we have not seen God, but just as the wind is real, He is real also. We want to see before we believe, but Jesus tells us “Blessed are those that have not seen but yet believe.” (John 20:29). The next time you look and see the trees moving from the wind, remember you cannot see the wind, but yet you believe. God is just as real as the wind.  By faith you can believe in God and know He is REAL !!!

April 20, 2019No comments
I’ve heard some of my friends say that the God of the Old Testament is a God of hate and that the God of the New Testament is a God of love. What do you say?

Dr. Michael Claunch, Pastor

St. Andrew Baptist Church

The question your friends are asking is a common one, but one that results from not reading the Bible completely. First, God is not a God of hatred. God does hate sin, and ultimately God does send His wrath upon sin and those who choose to continue in sin. The wrath of God is a consequence of His holiness.

Holiness is the only part of the character of God that is thrice repeated in worship in heaven. “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty.”

  • Out of God`s holiness, His wrath falls upon those that reject the one and only way God has provided for people to have sin forgiven and be holy also.
  • This provision was made by Christ´s substitutionary death on the cross and His resurrection.
  • It is accepted by putting one´s faith in Christ and trusting Him as Lord and Savior.

Both Old and New Testaments declare both the wrath and love of God.

WRATH:

Ezekiel 18:4 … The soul who sins shall die.

Matthew 5:29 If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.

LOVE:

Deuteronomy 23:5 … the Lord your God turned the curse into a blessing for you, because the Lord your God loves you.

John 3:16 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.

Only those who reject the provision of God´s love in Christ need fear His wrath

April 20, 2019No comments
You hear a lot of people saying what is “wrong” with the church, but what in your opinion is “right” about the church?

Kenny Payne, Minister

Palo Alto Church of Christ

Because the church is people, not brick and mortar, there will always be obvious things “wrong” with the church, since people are not perfect! The church is a group of sinners saved by the grace of Jesus Christ, therefore, it is a good idea to look long enough to notice the wonderful things about the church.

The church is a loving spiritual family. With God as our Father and Jesus as our older brother, we unite in a love that is deep and sincere.

The church is a place where we tell one another the truth about ourselves and the world around us. Jesus told us that the truth would set us free, and despite the pain of hearing and acknowledging the truth, it does liberate us from our sins and pretensions.

The church is actively serving the “least of these” in the world in the name of Jesus Christ. Throughout our history the church has been involved in some of the most helpful projects to serve people – like creating hospitals, orphanages, rescue missions, etc. We follow the example of Jesus who came, not to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.

The church is a community of encouragement. We are taught to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn (Romans 12:15). People find real help and support from their church families, not just words.

Love, truth, service, encouragement – these are just a few of the things that are right with the church. To discover more you should really just go see for yourself!

April 20, 2019No comments
I am an atheist. I will give you 10 minutes to convince me to at least reconsider Christianity before I completely write it off. What would you tell me?

Dr. Bruce Barton, Pastor

Central Baptist Church

I am an atheist. I will give you 10 minutes to convince me to at least reconsider Christianity before I completely write it off. What would you tell me?

There can be no such thing as an atheist. This is why: Let’s imagine that you are a professing atheist. Here are two questions for you to answer: First, do you know the combined weight of all the sand on all the beaches of Hawaii? We can safely assume that you don’t. This brings us to the second question: Do you know how many hairs are on the back of a fully-grown male Tibetan yak? Probably not. It is therefore reasonable to conclude that there are some things that you don’t know. It is important to ask these questions because there are some people who think they know everything.

Let’s say that you know an incredible one percent of all the knowledge in the universe. To know 100 percent, you would have to know everything. There wouldn’t be a rock in the universe that you would not be intimately familiar with, or a grain of sand that you would not be aware of. You would know everything that has happened in history, from that which is common knowledge to the minor details of the secret love life of Napoleon’s great-grandmother’s black cat’s fleas. You would know every hair of every head, and every thought of every heart. All history would be laid out before you, because you would be omniscient (all-knowing).

Bear in mind that one of the greatest scientists who ever lived, Thomas Edison, said, “We do not know a millionth of one percent about anything.” Let me repeat: Let’s say that you have an incredible one percent of all the knowledge in the universe. Would it be possible, in the ninety-nine percent of the knowledge that you haven’t yet come across, that there might be ample evidence to prove the existence of God? If you are reasonable, you will be forced to admit that it is possible. Somewhere, in the knowledge you haven’t yet discovered, there could be enough evidence to prove that God does exist.

Let’s look at the same thought from another angle. If I were to make an absolute statement such as, “There is no gold in China,” what is needed for that statement to be proven true? I need absolute or total knowledge. I need to have information that there is no gold in any rock, in any river, in the ground, in any store, in any ring, or in any mouth (gold filling) in China. If there is one speck of gold in China, then my statement is false and I have no basis for it. I need absolute knowledge before I can make an absolute statement of that nature. Conversely, for me to say, “There is gold in China,” I don’t need to have all knowledge. I just need to have seen a speck of gold in the country, and the statement is then true.

To say categorically, “There is no God,” is to make an absolute statement. For the statement to be true, I must know for certain that there is no God in the entire universe. No human being has all knowledge. Therefore, none of us is able to truthfully make this assertion.

If you insist upon disbelief in God, what you must say is, “Having the limited knowledge I have at present, I believe that there is no God.” Owning up to a lack of knowledge on your part, you don’t know if God exists. So, in the strict sense of the word, you cannot be an atheist. The only true qualifier for the title is the One who has absolute knowledge, and why on earth would God want to deny His own existence?

The professing atheist is what is commonly known as an “agnostic” – one who claims he “doesn’t know” if God exists. It is interesting to note that the Latin equivalent for the Greek word is “ignoramus.” The Bible tells us that this ignorance is “willful” (Psalm 10:4). It’s not that a person can’t find God, but that he won’t. It has been rightly said that the “atheist” can’t find God for the same reason a thief can’t find a policeman. He knows that if he admits that there is a God, he is admitting that he is ultimately responsible to Him. This is not a pleasant thought for some.

It is said that Mussolini (the Italian dictator), once stood on a pinnacle and cried, “God, if you are there, strike me dead!” When God didn’t immediately bow to his dictates, Mussolini then concluded that there was no God. However, his prayer was answered some time later.

* Excerpted from God Doesn’t Believe in Atheists by Ray Comfort.

April 20, 2019No comments
I am in college and am confused because we are being told that science has disproved much of the Bible. What would you say to me?
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William & Donna Pfeffer, Pastors

The Tabernacle

I would suggest that you use this time to allow your faith to grow by looking at some facts concerning our Bible.   Understand that the Bible was written over a 1500 year period by 40 authors, prominent men of their times and completed approximately 2000 years ago.  The Bible is not a scientific book but consider the following that before anyone understood the truth of these statements the bible records:

1. The earth is a sphere. (People used to think is was flat)    Isaiah 40:22

2. The number of stars are more than a billion.  (It was once held that there was only 1100.)  Gen 22:17, 32:12, Jeremiah 33:22

3. Every star is different.  (It was once thought that they were all the same.) 1 Corinthians 15:41

4. Light is in motion.  (It was believed that light is fixed in place)  Job 38:35, 38:19

5. Air has weight.  (The thought used to be that air is weightless.) Job 28:25

6. Winds blow in cyclones.  (It was believed that winds blow straight.)  Ecclesiastes 1:6

7. Blood is the source of life and healing.  (Practice used to be to bleed sick people.)  Leviticus 17:11

And I could continue with more facts but what is most important is that you should have an idea of what you believe and why you believe it.  Life will come at you with many issues and challenging problems but instead of allowing them to push you away from your faith, see it as an opportunity to grow spiritually and in knowledge of your faith by opening your Bible.

Also find comfort to know that many famous scientists were also believers (Newton, Kepler, Pascal, Bacon, Pasteur, Kelvin, Marconi, Maxwell, Carver, Fleming, Hertz, and Von Braun, to name a few).

April 20, 2019No comments
Will people be condemned for not believing in Jesus if they have never heard his name?
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Cory Colravy, Pastor

Covenant Presbyterian Church

Sinners are not condemned for what they don’t know about Jesus but for what they do know about God from creation, and willfully suppress and reject (Rom. 1:18-32). If ignorance of Jesus is an excuse at the Judgment (which it isn’t), then an argument could be made that we shouldn’t chance people’s eternal destiny by evangelizing them. But salvation comes, not by ignorance, but by hearing the truth of the gospel (Rom. 10:17). Therefore, God sends His people into all the world with the message of free forgiveness and eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ that we might be right with God and fulfill our life purpose: to glorify Jesus Christ in all things and enjoy God forever.

It is not “God’s job” to forgive anyone or even to give them a chance to be saved. (It’s not God’s job, but it is His promise.) Salvation is not an entitlement. The sovereign Lord owes us sinners nothing but judgment and condemnation in hell under His just wrath forever. Our problem is that God’s holiness sits on us like a feather and, therefore, like mud on a pig, we are too comfortable in our sin. We need to learn that we are all “sinful beyond measure” because God is infinitely holy (Rom. 7:13). The more appropriate question is, “How is it possible that God could save any of us filthy, rebellious sinners at all?” We make God small, forgetting that He sovereignly saves whom He pleases and His hand is not shortened (Is. 59:1). God is the Potter, we are the clay. Has the Potter no right over the clay to make out of the same lump of humanity some for honored use and another for dishonored use (Rom. 9:21)?

April 20, 2019No comments
A lot of people I know say: “I am a Christian but I don’t go to church.” What, as a pastor, would you tell a person who says that?
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Steve Rascoe, Pastor

First United Methodist Church of Panama City

I have had some amazing experiences in my life outside of the Church that I knew God was there. When I read the Bible, no where do I read that Christians have a solo act in living in the world. Actually the scripture talks about community and refers to the community as an “assembly” or “body of Christ.” The New Testament is full of “one another” commands. We are to comfort one another (I Thessalonians 4:18), build up one another (I Thessalonians 5:11), confess our sins to one another (James 5:16) and pray for one another (James 5:16) A Christian who answers only to himself can easily rationalize sinful attitudes or actions; regular contact and fellowship with other Christians can keep us close to the heart and will of Christ.

There are some irreplaceable pieces of the Christian life and experiences that cannot happen when you live in isolation from the church. Every Christian is designed to become a part of the body of Christ. A single verse can answer this question: Hebrews 10:25  “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

I pray we all can consider the need to be a part of a Church. We all are broken people, but through God’s grace we can find a place to share in our brokenness and find healing. It is a place where you can be given the opportunity to give back to others from the struggles you have experienced. Together we can be the Church!

April 20, 2019No comments
In your opinion, what is the basic Christian argument against evolution?
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Dr. Craig Conner, Senior Pastor

First Baptist Church

When it comes to how everything above us, below us, and around us came into being, we really have only two choices. We believe in the Genesis account of creation; or we believe in man’s theory of evolution. We either believe Genesis 1:1 that “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”, or we believe that everything evolved over billions of years. Make no mistake, we cannot believe both and it is futile to try and harmonize the two. It has to be one or the other.

Evolution is a theory that was invented to eliminate the God of Genesis who gave us His Law which we have broken. Society embraces evolution because it eliminates the God to whom we are accountable. If there is no creator there is no judge, if there is no judge we can live as we please. Evolution fits perfectly into the predominant ideology of the day, humanism. To me it is much more reasonable to believe the eyewitness account of the Creator than to believe a theory of someone who was not there when it happened.

The Christian’s argument against evolution is Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created….” It all boils down to the issue of “authority.” What is our authority? It is either the Bible or scientific theory. Everyone must choose whether they will appraise Scripture by science or science by Scripture. It is just that simple when it comes to evolution- what is our authority? The origin of everything that science can observe is explained in one succinct verse, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

April 20, 2019No comments
Why doesn’t God always heal the sick when we pray for healing?
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Dr. Wade Rinehart

First Choice Physical Therapy

One of the names of God is Jehovah-Rapha, “the Lord who heals.” So “Why doesn’t God always heal the sick when we pray for healing?” God is never surprised by the trials in our lives. God is sovereign and he is never caught off guard by our diagnoses of cancer. He knows our needs before we do and will supply us what we need when we need it. Mathew 6:26 states” Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”

Although we don’t need cancer, or even a cold, God sometimes uses these trials to refine us and bring us closer to him and closer to the person we were meant to be. So, in light of God’s sovereignty, and the fact that he knows what we need, our diagnosis of a disease might sometimes be a positive thing. I believe that things just happen because we are human and live in a fallen world. However, the big ticket items, like cancer, may in certain instances, be a blessing in disguise. Mark 8:26 states “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?”

What a tragedy to lose someone to cancer or some other terrible disease, but an even greater tragedy to lose a soul to grips of hell. C.S. Lewis stated it best when he said “Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

April 20, 2019No comments