making and maturing disciples of Jesus Christ in Birmingham and for the world

These are some of the questions that people most frequently ask about the Christian faith. We have given brief answers, together with Bible passages for further reading. To read the answer, simply click on the question.

You can watch video answers to similar questions here.

To take things further, why not come along to one of our Sunday services, or one of our Investigating Christianity courses?

1. Questions about God

We can only know anything about God if he chooses to make himself known. He has done that in various ways, supremely in the person of Jesus. So, we could have seen God face to face if we had lived in the right place at the right time. Jesus himself said, and showed by his actions, that he was the Son of God.

Bible passage: John 1:1-18

The Bible shows that God is both loving and just. If we reject God and choose to live apart from him, he gives us what we choose and deserve – eternal separation. However, because of his supreme love, God sent his Son Jesus to take that punishment for us. If we accept Jesus’ death in our place, we will spend eternity with God and never be separated from Him. In some ways, it is harder to believe that we can go to heaven at all, than that God sends people to hell.

Bible passages: John 3:16; John 3:36; Romans 5:8

There is no simple answer to this question, but it is possible to live with it.  The Bible says that God is perfect (he hates evil and suffering); loving (he loves those who suffer); and powerful (he is able to end suffering at any time). Yet suffering is to be expected in a world that has rejected this good and loving maker. But God has also suffered by becoming a human being in order to die and bring us back to himself. And he has promised a day in the future when there will be no more suffering for his children in heaven.

Bible passages: Luke 13:1-8; Romans 1:18-32; Romans 3:10-12

2. Questions about Christianity

Being a Christian is about knowing God as Father, through his Son Jesus Christ. God wants us to be friends with him, actually his children, and not just well-behaved strangers. Plenty of people say they believe in God and yet live as if they hate him.  We need to say sorry for hating him, trust in the death of Jesus for our forgiveness, and turn back to him. We will then live in a way that pleases God because we have been accepted by him, not in order to be accepted.

Bible passage: 2 Corinthians 5:11-21

Most Christians are very aware that they do not always live in a way that pleases God. They do not claim to be perfect, and nor does the Bible say that they are. However, a hypocrite is not merely someone who does wrong, but someone who pretends that they haven’t. A Christian is not someone who never sins, but someone who trusts Jesus for their forgiveness when they do let him down (which they will).  Jesus himself could never be accused of hypocrisy.  For example, he taught, ‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you’. Then, as he died, he prayed for his killers, ‘Father, forgive them’.

Bible passages: Luke 6:27, 28; Luke 23:34

Science assumes order and uniformity in the world and provides ways of understanding what ordinarily happens. Science cannot disprove the miracles recorded in the Bible, as these are instances of what God did once. This is the realm of historical rather than scientific enquiry. Science is brilliant at showing us how things in the world usually work – in other words, how God does things.  But it is not able to answer questions such as: ‘Why are we here?’, ‘Where are we going?’ or ‘How should we relate to God?’

Bible passages: Psalm 19; Romans 1:18-20

It is not easy to give a simple answer to this question. Going to church does not make anyone a Christian – any more than walking into a garage makes you a car! So, there are people who go to church who are not Christians.  Having said that, God is building a family, where he is the Father and Christians are brothers and sisters of his Son Jesus. So, what could be more natural than for the family to gather – to learn together and to encourage each other – and that is what church is.

3. Questions about the Bible

The Gospels, which tell the story of Jesus, were written between 30 and 60 years after he died and rose, within the lifetime of the eyewitnesses. Luke and John in particular stress the reliability of what they have written. The large number of copies of the original manuscripts means we can be confident that we have what was originally written. Other historical writings confirm what is written in the New Testament at many points. The best way to check it out is to read one of the Gospels for yourself.

Bible passages: Luke 1:1-4; John 20:30-31; 2 Timothy 3:16

It is difficult to know what to make of this question. The Bible has a lot to say about things like marriage, alcoholism, stress, guilt and anxiety. It condemns dishonesty, immorality, arrogance, greed, selfishness and obscenity. It addresses issues such as violence, war and natural disasters. It sets out principles for modern ethical issues like abortion, euthanasia, homosexuality and human cloning. It speaks about family life, the enjoyment of sex, employers’ and employees’ responsibilities, social justice, business integrity and personal finances. More than that, the Bible deals with the greatest questions we can ever ask: Why are we here? Where are we going? What is life about, and where did it come from? The Bible is the most relevant book ever!

Bible passages: Titus 2 (or anywhere in the New Testament!)

4. Questions about Jesus

Jesus certainly was a good teacher – the greatest ever to walk this earth.  However, he also made extraordinary claims and did extraordinary things, all of which make him much more than a good teacher if they are true.  And if they are false, then he is not even a good teacher but a fraudster.  Jesus said and did things which can rightly be attributed to God alone, and this was backed up by a perfect life of amazing love, compassion and integrity. Why not check him out for yourself by reading a Gospel?

Bible passages: Mark 1:1; Mark 2:1-12; John 6:25-59

The Christian faith stands or falls with the resurrection of Jesus from the dead: if Jesus did not rise from the dead, there is no Christianity worth believing. Now, consider this: Jesus spent only three years in the public eye, never wrote a book, died age 33, and left only a bunch of demoralised followers who went back to their fishing jobs. How, then, do we explain the meteoric rise of the church? The Bible’s answer is simple: Jesus was raised from the dead. It tells how hundreds of people claimed to have seen Jesus alive after he had died; how the disciples suffered for proclaiming that he had risen from the dead, which they would hardly do if they knew it was untrue; and how no one could produce Jesus’ body and so disprove the resurrection.

Bible passages: 1 Corinthians 15:1-8; Matthew 28:1-10

5. Questions about other people

Lots of people sincerely believe in all kinds of things. Believing something sincerely, though, does not make it true (or untrue). The religions of the world are very different.  Some have many gods, a few have just one God, while some have no god.  Of those that believe in one God, Judaism says that Jesus did not rise from the dead, while Islam claims that Jesus did not die.  They cannot all be right!  Other religions broadly say that we must do certain things to be accepted by God. The Christian good news is that, while we can never be acceptable to God on our own, Jesus has done all that is needed for us to be accepted by God, if only we will put our faith in him. What makes Christianity different, therefore, is Jesus Christ.

Bible passages: John 14:6; Acts 14:12, 17:22-31

The Bible does not explicitly address this question. In part, that may be because anyone who is holding the Bible has in their hands the truth about Jesus.  However, the Bible does reveal that God will be absolutely fair in his judgements. Justice is fine if you have done what is right; but if you have not, mercy is what you need. Many people behave as if they have heard nothing about God when in fact they have. We need to respond to what we have heard, and not use this question as an excuse for doing nothing.

Bible passages: Genesis 18:16-33, Luke 13:22-30

Photo by Richard Shephard

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