Ask Your Preacher
After Jesus' time on Earth, there were people spread throughout the entire Earth. What happened to the Indians of America and South America? None of them had any idea whom Jesus was until the Spanish Catholic missionaries forced them to listen. There was a thousand plus year difference between Jesus' death and that Spanish conquering. If the only way into heaven is through Jesus Christ, how is it that someone who has never heard of Him is going to spend an eternity in damnation? I know this is quite a lot, but as a Christian, I need to search for these answers to further myself as a better minister.
Dear Spanish Inquisitor,
Let’s address your concerns about those who didn’t hear about Christ until many years after His death and resurrection. God has always given every human the chance to live a life of faith in Him. During the transitional period from Judaism to Christianity, and during the time it took for God’s Word to spread across the globe, God dealt with ignorant nations the same way He always has.
We have a single statement in the book of Romans that hints at what kind of law the nations were under before hearing of Christ. Rom 1:14-15 says that the Gentiles (Gentile means ‘non-Jew’) had a law of conscience written by God on their hearts. This doesn’t tell us much, but it does point out that God had a system for judging the Gentiles… it was just different than the system He used for judging the Jews or today uses for judging Christians. Rom 1:20 says that God’s invisible attributes are clearly seen in the world around us and that everyone is accountable for recognizing God’s sovereignty regardless of what other knowledge they have. These verses just give a glimpse at the pre-Christian Gentile world, but it is enough to paint a picture that God had a plan; we just don’t know exactly how it worked. We do, however, know that God judges righteously, and no one will ever accidently end up in hell (2 Tim 4:8).
Does the exact Hebrew translation say in the Ten Commandments, “Thou shalt not kill”? Or does it say something along the lines of “Thou shall not murder”? Obviously, Moses was a great military leader (along with Joshua, David, Gideon, etc.). I'm a soldier, and I get asked this question. I don't know how to answer it.
On The Defense
Dear On The Defense,
The Hebrew word used for ‘kill’ in the Ten Commandments literally means ‘murder’. There is a difference between killing someone in self-defense and pre-meditated, intentional murder of another human being. The Bible has plenty of examples of faithful people going to war (David killed Goliath in battle – 1 Sam 17:49-50). The Bible is also full of examples of capital punishment for certain crimes (Num 15:35). Num 35:15-16 makes a distinction between accidentally killing someone and premeditated murder. A police officer may have to kill someone while serving the community, but that isn’t murder. The same is true with a soldier.
I have struggled with this my entire life, including my entire Christian life. NO one will even try and provide an answer – only quote Scripture that doesn't provide an answer.
I have been taught God is all-knowing, all-powerful, can do anything, etc. That being said and believed... why do such evil things happen to little kids (molestation, rape, murder)? It might make sense if they were adults... but little kids?
How can you be all-knowing, all-powerful, watch what is happening to little children, and not help?
Everyone says, “FREE WILL; God doesn't mess with free will.” Then why pray? IF He will not intervene to prevent an evil done to a child, why would He intervene and help you with patience or sickness or anything else?
I just don't get it. I'm a parent. I could not watch an evil done to my child and do nothing. PERIOD.
Please explain… if you can.
Dear Angry Mother,
All suffering is caused by mankind and sin. When God made the world, He made it to be good – it was sin that destroyed that perfect vision. All wickedness and evil brings pain to God and grieves Him, and He will only endure it for so long. In Noah’s day, God saw all the violence that was in the world, and it made Him deeply sad (Gen 6:5-6). God gives mankind the freedom to make our own choices, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t pain Him to see the evil upon this earth. God tells us that the only reason He endures it is because He is longsuffering and desires to give as many people as possible the chance to repent and turn to Him (2 Pet 3:9). God's longsuffering is what is hard for us to comprehend because if we were in His shoes, we wouldn't be as patient with wickedness as God is. But then again, we also wouldn't send our own son to die for wicked people – so it is a trade off.
God's patience is greater than ours, which feels like a blessing when we think of our own need for forgiveness... but it feels like a curse when we look at others’ behavior going unchecked. It is a dark and ugly world, and God’s love is the shining light in that darkness (Jhn 3:19) – His love is deeper than ours, and His patience is profounder than ours. Just remember this: all the blameless (including children) will be comforted in His arms in heaven (Rev 21:3-4). This darkness will not last forever, and it will seem like a mere wisp of time when we get to eternity (Jas 4:14).
I understand the reasons and the potential good that can come from suffering, but why does God allow some to suffer more than others? Though none are completely innocent, there are many in the world who seem to suffer unfairly and undeservedly.
Dear Why Them,
Some people suffer greatly, and others face relatively few problems. There are several reasons that someone might have a greater portion of trials.
- We reap what we sow (Gal 6:7-8). The choices we make have consequences in this life – and in the next. What you do affects you and those around you that you come in contact with. When you behave godly, certain things happen; when you behave sinfully, other things happen. That is a universal principle of life. If a woman drinks while she is pregnant or a child is neglected and malnourished because of ungodly parents – they will suffer the consequences of the choices their parents make. Some children face health issues that were totally avoidable if the parents had simply lived moral lives. Satan is sowing disaster wherever he can and we are all affected by our own choices and the choices of others around us.
- Sometimes bad things simply happen because they happen. Job suffered greatly, and his children died, but it wasn’t his (or their) fault. Job hadn’t done anything wrong, nor had his kids. It all happened because Satan wanted to do evil (Job 1:6). As long as we live in this world of sin, there will be troubles. Sometimes, there isn’t anyone at fault… just time and chance wreaking havoc in a sinful world (Eccl 9:11).
- Sometimes people suffer so that God can be glorified. Jesus’ disciples asked Him why a certain man had been born blind, and Jesus answered, “So that God’s works might be revealed in him.” (Jhn 9:1-3) This man’s ailment provided an opportunity for God to show His glory. There are times that we suffer, so God can teach us and teach others through our pain (Eccl 7:2-3).
This world isn’t fair – if it were, it would be heaven. Instead, we live in a fallen world where man has been exiled from paradise. This world is not our home; christians await a better world (Heb 11:16).
Why did God harden Pharaoh’s heart when Aaron went to tell him to let His people go? Doesn't that go against free will??
Chisel In Hand
Dear Chisel In Hand,
It is true that Ex 7:3 says that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, but Ex 8:15 says that Pharaoh hardened his own heart. Both are true. God hardened Pharaoh’s heart by sending Moses to take Pharaoh’s slaves away, and Pharaoh chose to allow the plagues to anger and harden his heart instead of soften it. God sent the events that affected Pharaoh’s heart, and Pharaoh chose how he would react to them.
It is the same as the statement, “I made him angry” versus “He got angry with me.” It is true that our words and actions can cause a reaction from others, but at the same time, when someone gets angry, that is still their choice. Pharaoh was the kind of person that when confronted with the signs and wonders from God, he hardened his heart and became angry. God sent the signs and wonders; Pharaoh chose to react like he did.