Ask Your Preacher
My question is how do we know God personally, and what is it like to know Him personally?
Seeking To Understand
Dear Seeking To Understand,
We know God through the Bible. The Bible tells us about God, and it tells us about His Son. The Word of God is so close an embodiment of God’s ideals that Jesus was called ‘the Word’ (Jhn 1:1-4). It is through the Word that we learn to trust God and place our faith in Him (Rom 10:17). When we read Jesus’ Word, we see the mind of the Father and the Son (Jhn 12:49-50).
Why did Jesus quite frequently refer to himself as the "Son of Man" (Matt 16:13) when it is so essential to our faith and salvation to recognize and confess him to be the "Son of the living God" (Matt 16:16-19)?
Dear Name Confusion,
Jesus was both Son of Man and Son of God – it is one of the great and awesome truths of the Bible. Jesus was completely Deity, and completely human at the same time. Verses like Jhn 1:1-3 and Col 3:15-17 make it clear that Jesus was and always has been God. He is eternal and existed before man – Jesus even said so Himself (Jhn 8:58). However, if Jesus had simply been God pretending to be a human, His sinless life wouldn’t have been nearly as impressive. Instead, we are told that Jesus suffered in all things exactly as all other people do – yet without sin (Heb 4:15). In all things, Jesus was a flesh-formed human just like the rest of us (Heb 2:17-18). Jesus often used the term ‘Son of Man’ because He spent a lot of His life emphasizing His humanity and empathy with the pains of mankind. Jesus spent little time pointing out His deity – His life did that for Him (Matt 27:54).
Hey guys, you don’t know how much your answers mean to me. I really appreciate it, and I have another question on my mind that burdens me a lot. Does God test us, or does He allow us to be tested? Is it something similar to temptation when He allows us to be tempted, but doesn’t tempt us?
Dear Trial Trouble,
The Bible says that God never tempts us to do evil (Jas 1:13). God never purposefully puts us in a situation with a desire for us to sin. The devil wants to devour you with sin, but God never does (1 Pet 5:8). However, God does put us in situations in order to find out what we are made of. God tested Abraham when He asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac (Gen 22:1). God put Abraham in a position where he could succeed or fail – but the key is that God wanted him to succeed (Gen 22:14-18). Abraham was tried by God (Heb 11:17), so God could bless him. God may put us in circumstances that are difficult, but His desire is always to benefit us.
On the other hand, the devil tempts us for the purpose of destroying us – just like he did with Jesus in the wilderness (Matt 4:1). That is why God promises us that He will never allow the devil to tempt us beyond what we are able to handle (1 Cor 10:13). The devil tries to set us up for failure, and the Lord tries to set us up for success.
How do you forgive yourself as God has forgiven you?
What you are asking is one of the most difficult things in life – forgiving yourself. Like all things, God is better at forgiveness than we are. Many people hold on to the guilt and shame of sin far too keenly. God tells us that there are several things to remember:
- Even if your heart condemns you, God keeps His promises. On the Judgment Day, we will be judged by God's standards, not whether or not we feel worthy (1 Jn 3:20).
- We can reassure our own hearts that we have been forgiven when we study and live by the truth of the Bible (1 Jn 3:18-20). The more we immerse ourselves in God's teachings, the quicker we begin to realize that forgiveness isn't about being worthy… but about having faith in the mercy of God.
All in all, self-forgiveness takes time... just like all areas of growth.
The question I have: I believe six years ago, the Lord placed in my heart the desire to become a nurse, and ever since I received that, I've been pursuing this, taking classes and asking questions. This quarter, I'm taking a biology class, but for some reason, I'm starting to wonder if this is what God wants me to do. The reason why I'm asking myself and asking God this is because this quarter, I find myself struggling to sit down and study and do the homework. I want to do well in this class; I want to understand what I'm studying; I want to be that nurse for God that knows what she is doing.
What I want to know is why it is a struggle for me now. Is it because I'm out of God’s will? (I hope not.) Or is it something I'm not seeing?
Nursing A Career
Dear Nursing A Career,
God doesn't miraculously imbue us with what profession we should take and the power to sail through classes. The fact that you are having to work hard for your degree isn't a sign from God one way or the other. Hard work is a blessing, and hard workers are pleasing to God. Ecclesiastes says that we have the freedom to pursue whatever things we want in this life – as long as we remember that God will judge us in the end for the life we lived (Eccl 11:9). Being a nurse is a noble and kind profession, and there is nothing wrong with pursuing it, but don't think that God directly spoke to you that you need to be a nurse. God doesn't work that way. God speaks to us through His Son's Word, the Bible (Heb 1:1-2). We are faithful when we listen to that Word and obey it (Rom 10:17). Nursing school is a difficult challenge for even the most agile minds – you aren't struggling because you've done something wrong.