Ask Your Preacher
If God is love, and God is a jealous God, but love can never be jealous, then what is God???
Doing The Math
Dear Doing The Math,
When the Bible talks about God being a jealous God (Ex 34:14), it is saying that God is jealous in the sense that He does not accept us worshipping false gods. This is very similar to the type of jealousy a wife might show for her husband. A loving wife is jealous for her husband – she won't accept him having affections for any other woman.
However, when the Bible says that "love is not jealous" (1 Cor 13:4), it is dealing with envy and coveting. A loving person doesn't get upset when good things happen to others; they rejoice with them (Rom 12:15). In this sense, God is not jealous. God never gets upset when good things happen to His children. In fact, He is the source of all blessings (Jas 1:17).
I am currently a Deist, not tying myself to any one religion or belief; however, I do believe that there is a Supreme Being, One who orchestrated the birth of the universe. However, I also believe in the findings of our scientists, such as the Big Bang theory and the scientific theory of evolution. Because I believe in a god, but not a Christian god, where does that leave me on that Great Day (according to Christianity)? I just figure that if Christianity WAS the correct path after all, would that "kind and just" God send me to an eternity of damnation, or would He understand my doubts because He created me in His own image?
It is understandable with all of the opinions that are thrown around as science for you to feel torn between belief in God and the belief in evolution, but it isn’t enough to believe in a generic god – we must place our faith in the God. After all, even the demons admit belief in deity… but that won’t save them on the Day of Judgment (Jas 2:19). Jesus is a very exclusive Savior. He very boldly claims, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and no comes to the Father, but by Me.” (Jhn 14:6). If you don’t have a life of faith built upon following Christ, you won’t be saved. That may sound harsh, but let’s talk about the evidence that God provides to make it possible for a deist to turn into a christian.
First of all, all faith is built upon some sort of evidence. That evidence may be historical data (like when you trust traffic lights to work properly because they have statistically done so in the past), it may be personal experience (i.e. when you trust a friend because they have shown good judgment and loyalty in the past), or circumstantial evidence (like when a jury convicts a murderer based upon the evidence presented to them – even when there weren’t eyewitnesses at the scene of the crime).
Your belief that there is some sort of Supreme Being is probably based upon some sort of basic evidence from the world that you see around you. Rom 1:20 says that God has provided evidence of His existence in the creation around us. From galaxies to atoms, this world shows the signs of design. A design requires a Designer. God’s handiwork is seen in the finely-tuned craftsmanship of the human eye, just like Nikon’s handiwork is shown in the craftsmanship of their cameras. You’ve done well to acknowledge His existence in a general way… but we would beg you to keep digging deeper.
Don’t be dissuaded by the scientists that say we evolved from goo. First of all, not all scientists are evolutionists – no matter what the media tells you. Thousands of biologists, geologists, doctors, paleontologists, etc. believe in the Creator of the Bible, and they are intellectually honest in doing so. The scientific evidence has led them to the Bible, not away from it. Second of all, things like evolution and the Big Bang are a way of interpreting the scientific data, not a concrete finding from the data. One scientist sees a bed of fossils, and because he doesn’t believe in God, he interprets that the fossils were created over millions of years. Another scientist sees the same fossil bed, and because he does believe in God, he interprets that a catastrophic event (like Noah’s Flood) is what caused such a sudden build up of fossils and silt. They see same evidence, but come to vastly different conclusions. Read “Atheism-Colored Glasses” for further details on the subject of scientific bias.
Next, after looking at the general evidence of God’s existence, it is time to look at the specific evidence of the Bible’s supernatural origins. The Bible is a unique book; it is a book that no human could ever write. We would encourage you to read “Who Wrote The Bible?” for a comprehensive list of reasons why the Bible is a book that only God could have written. Once we begin to see the evidence for the Bible’s divine origins, we have no choice but to ask ourselves, “Will I follow God’s Word?”.
God expects us to follow Jesus because He has given us plenty of evidence that Jesus is the one and only true Son of God. We would encourage you to follow the evidence – it will lead you straight to Jesus the Christ.
Does prayer really work??? I pray for situations to change in my life, and they don't. I do the best I can to try to get ahead, but it seems like more frustrating things end up in my path. Furthermore, it seems as a slap in the face to my faith. I watch those around me who barely believe in God live fulfilling lives. What does God want me to do?
Up In Arms
Dear Up In Arms,
Prayers do work, but God still has veto power. We are told to pray that “if the Lord wills, we will do this or that” (Jas 4:15). Jesus taught His disciples to pray for the Lord’s will to be done (Matt 6:10). Part of prayer is that we need to learn to trust that God knows what He is doing. We are entreating the Creator of the Universe with our problems, and just like any loving father, our Heavenly Father sometimes says, “No” to our requests. As every parent knows, children sometimes ask for things that aren’t in their best interest, or they ask things unaware of the bigger picture. God wants to give us good gifts (Matt 7:11)… sometimes that means that He answers our prayers by giving us something different than what we expected.
Now, let’s talk about those prosperous unbelievers that you are seeing. Your frustration is valid, and David had the same frustration. In Psalm 73, David talked about his animosity toward the success of the ungodly… he said it made him so mad that he almost fell away from God (Ps 73:2). However, David finally concluded that the ungodly were not blessed because their entire existence was slippery and dependent upon their physical prosperity (Ps 73:18). Only God’s people have an eternal hope that gives us comfort regardless of how life goes here (Ps 73:27-28).
Does God listen to everyone's prayers or just really faithful people's prayers? How faithful do you have to be for your prayer to be heard? Do you get heard more often the more faithful you are?
Wondering How It Works
Dear Wondering How It Works,
In short, who is praying and how they pray matters. God says that a righteous man's prayers do a great deal of good (Jas 5:16). That would by default mean that an unrighteous man's prayers wouldn't do much, if any, good at all. God told Israel that their ungodly lifestyles meant that He wouldn't hear their prayers at all! (Isa 1:15) There are other things that will stop your prayers from being heard:
- Treating your spouse badly (1 Pet 3:7)
- Praying for "show" (Lk 20:47)
- Praying selfishly (Jas 4:3)
- Praying without gratitude (Col 4:2)
There is no doubt that the Bible teaches that we should examine ourselves before approaching God in prayer. A wrong attitude or lifestyle can seriously jeopardize our prayers effectiveness. The flip is also true though! Proper attitudes and behavior are rewarded:
- Asking for wisdom (Jas 1:5)
- Consistency (1 Thess 5:17)
- Godly living (Jas 5:16)
- Asking without doubt (Jas 1:6)
When we are constantly praying, trusting in God's strength to answer, humbly seeking his wisdom, and living lives that befit God's servants, we can expect powerful results! Prayer is perhaps one of the greatest tools in a Christian's arsenal (perhaps also one of the least utilized). The Bible is how God speaks to us; prayer is how we speak to Him. Just like a child asking their parent for a privilege - how we approach God makes all the difference.
Hi. I have a huge longing to repent and change my life. One of the things holding me back is that I am afraid that if I take this new road that I will have to admit to people (that I love dearly) all the injustices I committed towards them, and this will hurt them dearly and for sure cause our relationships to deteriorate. Is this part of the forgiveness process? Is it a question of forgiving myself and asking God for forgiveness, or will I have to admit my sin to those that it might hurt?
Thank you and I hope that you can help.
We must confess all of our sins to God (1 Jn 1:9) and be prepared to get help with our faults from other christians (Jas 5:16). When James talks about confessing sins to each other, he is talking in the context of prayer. His point is that when someone prays for you as you struggle with sin, that prayer will make an immense difference. He is not stating that you have to announce every single sin you have ever committed to each and every christian you meet.
There are definitely times to tell another person about your sin.
- If you have sinned against them, you must admit it and ask for forgiveness (Lk 17:3-4).
- If you believe the knowledge of your previous sin will help them (1 Tim 1:15-16).
- If you are struggling with a sin and need help (Jas 5:16, Eccl 4:9).
- If it would be deceptive to not reveal the sin (1 Jhn 1:8).
All of those situations constitute an appropriate time to confess your sins to another person. God doesn’t call us to parade our past sins before all we meet, but there is a time to own up to our faults before both man and God. Now, it is also important to remember that confessing your sins is only part of the process of becoming a christian – if you have not yet done the five steps God gives us to become a christian, we recommend you read "Five Steps To Salvation".