Q&A – Sunday, June 3, 2018

Questions and Answers at Impact

Biggest Questions:

  1. The Bible: Whose to say the Bible is true?  How can you trust or believe in it?    In the end, therefore, the answer a Christian will give to the question, “Why do you believe the Bible?” is “Because Jesus the Resurrected endorsed the Old Testament and authorized the New.” That’s not a presupposition. It’s not an unthinking, close-your-eyes-and-jump leap of faith. It’s a considered conclusion built from a careful argument.
  • Is it accurate? So in a sentence, I believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, because of the divine origin of the Bible and that divine origin is as evident as the divine origin of the universe.

2. Morality: What’s wrong with Sin: Why strive to be Purity?  What’t the point?                                       Today I want to argue that if God exists, then the objectivity of moral values, moral duties, and moral accountability is secured, but that in the absence of God, that is, if God does not exist, then morality is just a human convention, that is to say, morality is wholly subjective and non-binding.

3. Resurrection: Did Jesus really Rise from the Dead? Okay 3 points:

  • The tomb in which Jesus was buried was discovered empty by a group of women on the Sunday following the crucifixion.  And no one ever found a tomb with Jesus in it!!  They would have paraded his body through town…
  • Jesus’ disciples had real experiences with one whom they believed was the risen Christ.  The Disciples changed lives are evident in history: both secular and Christian history.
  • As a result of the preaching of these disciples, which had the resurrection at its center, the Christian church was established and grew.  From this the church grew…
  • Creation/Evolution: How can you believe God created the world?  By chance, a big bang, apes to humans…
  • Two big issues, if everything evolved how did it start, that’s first, second, if everything evolved then where are the transitional figures. 

4. God’s Existence: Is there really a supreme being who rules the World? 

  • IS THERE A GOD?  Does God exist? The complexity of our planet points to a deliberate Designer who not only created our universe, but sustains it today. Many examples showing God’s design could be given, possibly with no end. But here are a few:
  • The Earth…its size is perfect. The Earth’s size and corresponding gravity holds a thin layer of mostly nitrogen and oxygen gases, only extending about 50 miles above the Earth’s surface. If Earth were smaller, an atmosphere would be impossible, like the planet Mercury. If Earth were larger, its atmosphere would contain free hydrogen, like Jupiter.3 Earth is the only known planet equipped with an atmosphere of the right mixture of gases to sustain plant, animal and human life.
  • The Earth is located at the exact right distance from the sun. Consider the temperature swings we encounter, roughly -30 degrees to +120 degrees. If the Earth were any further away from the sun, we would all freeze. Any closer and we would burn up. Even a fractional variance in the Earth’s position to the sun would make life on Earth impossible. The Earth remains this perfect distance from the sun while it rotates around the sun at a speed of nearly 67,000 mph.
  • Ninety-seven percent of the Earth’s water is in the oceans. But on our Earth, there is a system designed which removes salt from the water and then distributes that water throughout the globe. Evaporation takes the ocean waters, leaving the salt, and forms clouds which are easily moved by the wind to disperse water over the land, for vegetation, animals and people.
  • The human brain processes more than a million messages a second. Your brain weighs the importance of all this data, filtering out the relatively unimportant. This screening function is what allows you to focus and operate effectively in your world. The brain functions differently than other organs. There is an intelligence to it, the ability to reason, to produce feelings, to dream and plan, to take action, and relate to other people.
  • The eye…can distinguish among seven million colors. It has automatic focusing and handles an astounding 1.5 million messages — simultaneously. Evolution focuses on mutations and changes from and within existing organisms. Yet evolution alone does not fully explain the initial source of the eye or the brain — the start of living organisms from nonliving matter.

5. The universe had a start – what caused it?

Scientists are convinced that our universe began with one enormous explosion of energy and light, which we now call the Big Bang…The universe has not always existed. It had a start…what caused that? Scientists have no explanation for the sudden explosion of light and matter.

  • The universe operates by uniform laws of nature. Why does it?

Much of life may seem uncertain, but look at what we can count on day after day: gravity remains consistent, a hot cup of coffee left on a counter will get cold, the earth rotates in the same 24 hours, and the speed of light doesn’t change — on earth or in galaxies far from us.

  • The DNA code informs, programs a cell’s behavior.  All instruction, all teaching, all training comes with intent. Someone who writes an instruction manual does so with purpose.

CHALLENGING QUESTIONS:

  1. Why is there Evil and suffering?

Sigmund Freud called religion an illusion humans invent to satisfy their security needs. To him, a benevolent, all-powerful God seemed incongruent with natural disasters and human evil.

God, though sovereign, gave us freedom to follow Him or to disobey Him. This response does not answer all concerns (because He sometimes does intervene to thwart evil) but suggests that the problem of evil is not as great an intellectual obstacle to belief as some imagine.

2. What about all the contradictions in the Bible?

Ask your questioner for specific examples. Often people have none, but rely on hearsay. If there is a specific example, consider these guidelines as you respond.

  • Omission does not necessarily create contradiction. Luke, for example, writes of two angels at Jesus’ tomb after the Resurrection (24:1-9). Matthew mentions “an angel” (28:1-8). Is this a contradiction? If Matthew stated that only one angel was present, the accounts would be dissonant. As it stands, they can be harmonized.
  • Differing accounts aren’t necessarily contradictory. Matthew and Luke, for example, differ in their accounts of Jesus’ birth. Luke records Joseph and Mary starting in Nazareth, traveling to Bethlehem (Jesus’ birthplace), and returning to Nazareth (Luke 1:26-2:40). Matthew starts with Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem, relates the family’s journey to Egypt to escape King Herod’s rage, and recounts their travel to Nazareth after Herod’s death (Matt. 1:18-2:23). The Gospels never claim to be exhaustive records. Biographers must be selective. The accounts seem complementary, not contradictory.

3. What about those who never hear of Jesus?

God’s perfect love and justice far exceed our own. Whatever He decides will be loving and fair. A friend once told me that many asking this question seek a personal loophole, a way so they won’t need to believe in Christ. C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity wrote, “If you are worried about the people outside [of Christianity], the most unreasonable thing you can do is to remain outside yourself.” If Christianity is true, the most logical behavior for someone concerned about those without Christ’s message would be to trust Christ and go tell them about Him.

4. How can Jesus be the only way to God?

When I was in high school, a recent alumnus visited, saying he had found Christ at Harvard. I respected his character and tact and listened intently. But I could not stomach Jesus’ claim that “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6).

Two years later, my spiritual and intellectual journey had changed my view. The logic that drew me (reluctantly) to his position involves three questions:

  • If God exists, could there be only one way to reach Him? To be open-minded, I had to admit this possibility.

5. If the sun and moon were created on the fourth day, how can day and night exist on the first day?

  • The sun, moon, and stars aren’t the only sources of light.  Consider that in heaven, according to Revelation 22, there will be no sun, but there is still light.  It’s possible for light to pre-exist the sun, moon, and stars.

6. Is each day in creation to be considered as a literal day as we know it?

  • Perhaps so.  But there is a variance of opinion among believers as to whether it’s literal or not.  Personally, I’ve seen it as such, but I don’t have a lot of heartburn with people who see it otherwise.  Scripture is theological in its thrust, i.e. the function of it is to reveal the nature of God, etc.., as opposed to being a comprehensive historical and scientific document.

7. What are some scriptures to uplift me when I am feeling bad about myself?

A. It is a sad truth that many today struggle with how they feel about themselves. Thankfully, there are hundreds of Bible verses that you and I can look to when we are in need of reassurance of our value. I would suggest that, first, you read through Genesis 1. Notice verse 31. God said His creation was “very good”.

  • Quite simply, God doesn’t make junk. You are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). Another place to look would be Isaiah 41:10. There are few passages in scripture that bring me as much comfort as this one. God is always there for you and He will give you strength. Other passages to meditate on would be 2 Corinthians 12:10, Proverbs 3:5-6, Philippians 4:6-7, Daniel 3:25, and Philippians 4:13.

8. What are the differences between the major world religions? 

  • Ultimately they have other ideas on life and faith, but ultimately the biggest difference is in how you are saved.  In every religion but one you are saved by your good deeds and works.  But in Christianity you are saved by faith in Jesus.  Ultimately by his grace in faith…Ephesians 2:8-9,  “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.

Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.”

9. Why does God allow trials/temptations to come into our lives?

  • God question and a tough one to answer…I think the biggest answer is in James…1:14 “Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away.”
  • The verse before adds to the discussion, 13 And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong,[c]and he never tempts anyone else.

10. Question: “What is the purpose of the church?”

Answer: Acts 2:42 could be considered a purpose statement for the church: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” According to this verse, the purposes/activities of the church should be…

  • teaching biblical doctrine,
  • providing a place of fellowship for believers,
  • observing the Lord’s supper, and
  • praying.

…there are other great verses that describe the church, here’s a few…

  • The church is to teach biblical doctrine so we can be grounded in our faith. Ephesians 4:14 tells us, “Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.”
  • The church is to be a place of fellowship, where Christians can be devoted to one another and honor one another (Romans 12:10), instruct one another (Romans 15:14), be kind and compassionate to one another (Ephesians 4:32), encourage one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11), and most importantly, love one another (1 John 3:11).

11. “Why is there so much disagreement about holy communion?”

Answer: Holy communion or the Lord’s Supper (also known in some churches as the Lord’s Table or the Eucharist) is the source of significant disagreement within the church as a whole.

  • What’s agreed upon is found clearly in Scripture: communion was instituted by Jesus during His last supper with His disciples. During that time, He served them bread and “the cup.” He told them that these elements were His body and blood (Matthew 26:26–28Mark 14:22–24). He also instructed them to repeat the ceremony in remembrance of Him (Luke 22:19).
  • Disagreements over holy communion stem from many questions: Was Jesus speaking of His body and blood figuratively or literally, or were His words a mystical combination of the figurative and literal? How often is the church to observe communion? Is the Eucharist a means of grace or simply a memorial? What was in the cup—fermented wine or unfermented grape juice?

12. Question: “What is koinonia?”

Answer: Koinonia is a Greek word that occurs 20 times in the Bible. Koinonia’s primary meaning is “fellowship, sharing in common, communion.” The first occurrence of koinonia is Acts 2:42, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” Christian fellowship is a key aspect of the Christian life. Believers in Christ are to come together in love, faith, and encouragement. That is the essence of koinonia.

13. When should we celebrate the Lord’s Day?

Answer: The Lord’s day, mentioned once in Revelation 1:10,  is typically thought of as Sunday, but it is not a direct counterpart to the Jewish Sabbath—in other words, Sunday is not the “Christian Sabbath.” Although we should set aside a day for rest and honoring the Lord who died and rose for us, we are not under the Law (Romans 6:14–15).

  • As born-again followers of Jesus, we are free to worship Him on any day that our conscience determines. 
  • Romans 14 gives clear explanation of how Christians are to navigate those subtle gray areas of discipleship. Verses 4 and 5 say,

“One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God.”

14. Question: “What is Expositional Preaching?”

Answer: Expositional preaching at its simplest is preaching that is focused on explaining the meaning of Scripture in its historical and grammatical context.

  • Expositional preaching involves explaining what the Bible says to a contemporary audience that is likely unfamiliar with the cultural and historical settings that the passage was written in.
  • The word exposition simply means “a setting forth or explanation.” So expositional preaching is the explanation of Scripture that is based upon diligent study and careful exegesis of a passage.
  • It is the primary call of the pastor or preacher as we see in 2 Timothy 4:2: “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all long-suffering and teaching.”

15. What do Christians believe about the rainbow vs. what the world believes?

Genesis 9:13-1613 I have placed my rainbow in the clouds. It is the sign of my covenant with you and with all the earth. 14 When I send clouds over the earth, the rainbow will appear in the clouds, 15 and I will remember my covenant with you and with all living creatures. Never again will the floodwaters destroy all life. 16 When I see the rainbow in the clouds, I will remember the eternal covenant between God and every living creature on earth.

  • God has created a beautiful reminder of His covenant with His people.  And people have perverted it and distorted it…but they do that with a lot of God’s beautiful creation.  Don’t give up Christian, the rainbow is a simple of God’s covenant with us, let’s celebrate His creation and forget the sad distortion!