Ask Your Preacher
Does God know the future? If so, how can bad things that happen be justified?
Dear Trouble Ahead,
God knows our days upon this earth, but He also gives us the freewill to shape various aspects of the world that we live in. Just because God has knowledge of how you and I will behave does not mean that He causes our behavior to happen in a certain way. Foreknowledge is not the same as causation. A doctor may know that a patient is going to die of cancer, but that doesn’t mean the doctor caused the patient to die of that ailment. God gives mankind the freedom to make decisions, but He also has the wisdom to know how those choices will affect the future (Job 12:13).
What role does economics play in the Christian lifestyle?
Giving An Account
Dear Giving An Account,
Economics plays a huge role in the life of christians. It has been said that Bible has over 15,000 verses that pertain to money. Anything that is talked about that much in the Bible is obviously an important topic! Money is neither good nor bad – it is amoral. People do good things with money, and people do bad things with money. Money isn't sinful, but the love of money is the root of all sorts of evil (1 Tim 6:10). A christian's attitude towards money is vitally important. Whether you have much or little, learning to be content is the key to godly living (Heb 13:5).
Is it normal for a christian to sometimes have doubts about his faith? Like, maybe whether Christ is really the Messiah or not or all the things in the Bible are true or not?
Dear Doubting Myself,
Everyone faces times of doubt in their life; the key is to strengthen the weaknesses in our resolve. Like the man who cried out, “I believe, help my unbelief!” (Mk 9:24), all christians must recognize that faith must grow and increase over time.
Faith is the evidence of things not seen (Heb 11:1). We can’t see God, but there is plenty of evidence that He exists. The whole creation cries out as evidence of God’s existence (Rom 1:20). As science and our knowledge of the natural world have increased, the proof of God’s existence has increased as well. Books like Has God Spoken? by A.O. Schnabel, Case For A Creator by Lee Strobel, I Don't Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist, and Evidence That Demands A Verdict by Josh McDowell are excellent resources that make clear the existence of the God of the Bible. Take the time to fill your mind with information from sources like those mentioned above, and you will find yourself more confident in no time (Php 4:8).
What happens if God does not give us an answer to our prayers? What if we don't hear from Him in a while? Is He ignoring us?
There are two reasons that God might not have answered your prayers yet. The first reason is that He is ignoring your prayers because you aren’t a christian or you aren’t living faithfully. Read “Whose Prayers Count?” for the list of things that will make God turn His back on your prayers. Anecdotally, it is also important to remember that God doesn’t answer prayers by speaking directly to us – read “The Sound In The Silence” for details.
The other reason is that God’s timing is different than yours. God answers our prayers according to His will, not ours – in fact, we should pray that the Lord’s will be done (Jas 4:15). Having said that, it is perfectly appropriate to keeping praying until the answer is clear – God is pleased with the consistently prayerful (1 Thess 5:17). He wants you to ask over and over – until He gives you an answer. David prayed vehemently for the life of his child until the child died (2 Sam 12:22-23). Paul prayed for his sickness to be removed three times until God told him to accept the pain (2 Cor 12:8-9). Cornelius’ prayers were constantly before the Lord until Peter was sent (Acts 10:4-5). Even our Lord prayed in the garden repeatedly that He might not have to die on the cross (Matt 26:39). The key in all these circumstances was that the requests ceased when God answered. Once God made His decision apparent, whether it was yes or no, acceptance began.
God never gets tired of hearing from His children. Christians are to constantly seek Him in prayer. The most direct example of this is Christ’s parable of the unjust judge in Lk 18:1-5. Christ taught that parable so that “men ought always to pray, and not to grow weary”. God wants to hear from His people. So don’t stop asking for help; He is listening.
Is it true that no matter what we do, as long as we have said the Sinner’s Prayer, we will go to heaven because of what Jesus did for us?
Praying It’s True
Dear Praying It’s True,
The sinner’s prayer is not how people become saved. If we want to know what it takes to be saved, we should see what people in the Bible did to become saved. The Bible outlines five separate requirements for salvation, and all of them are necessary.
- Hear the Word. Faith comes through hearing, and hearing comes through the Word of God (Rom 10:17). Until someone hears God’s Word, they are incapable of obeying it.
- Believe the Word. It is impossible for someone to become a christian unless they believe that Jesus is the Savior and Son of God (Jhn 20:31, Acts 16:31, Jhn 3:16).
- Repent of your sins. ‘Repent’ means to ‘change your mind’. That change of mind always involves a change of action as well. Repentance is when we change our mind about what is important and submit ourselves to Jesus and His Word. Repentance is a necessity of salvation (Mk 6:12, Lk 13:5, Lk 15:7).
- Confess Jesus to others. If we have sworn our allegiance to Jesus, we must be prepared to publicly confess Him as our Lord. If we won’t confess Jesus before men, He won’t confess us before God (Matt 10:32-33, Lk 12:8-9).
- Be baptized in the name of Jesus for salvation. Many groups baptize people, but very few baptize people for the right reasons. Baptism isn’t merely an “outward showing of an inward faith” or “for membership”. Baptism is what saves us (1 Pet 3:21). Baptism is the point where someone goes from being lost to saved because they are buried and resurrected with Christ (Rom 6:4-5). Baptism is the final requirement to become a christian (Acts 2:37-38, Mk 16:16, Acts 2:41). There is not a single example of someone becoming a christian without baptism. Baptism is just as necessary as the other four requirements.
If we want to have total confidence that we are saved, we must do everything the Bible says to receive salvation (Ps 119:160). Prayer is a wonderful thing to do, but it isn’t a part of the conversion process.