Ask Your Preacher
My grandmother died this year; she was ninety-four years old. She had two daughters. In her will, she left the major portion of her estate to her younger daughter. When my grandfather was alive, they had a living trust; their estate was divided equally between the two daughters. My grandmother always favored her younger daughter and her family, and it was very noticeable to an outsider. When the reading of the will was done, it hurt my mother, making her feel even more unloved. My mother never did anything to deserve this. My mother is a God-fearing Christian and has always done the right thing. My aunt won't have a thing to do with my mother, which was another blow to my mother. What does God think of a woman who would cause so much pain?
Your question is a loaded one. Realistically, we all cause others pain, and every story has two sides to it. We won’t even begin to talk about the eternal fate of someone we’ve never even known. After hearing your perspective, we can’t imagine why anyone would behave like that, but that is always the way you feel when you only hear one side of a story (Pr 18:17).
Jesus was once asked by two men to settle a family dispute about money, and His answer was, “Who made Me a judge or divider over you?” (Lk 12:13-14). We would have to take the same tact – it isn’t our place to try and unravel family financial squabbles.
We are very sorry for your pain, and we are so sorry that your mother is hurting. The best advice we can give is to not focus on what others think of us and remember that if we serve the Lord, He will cause all to work together for good (Rom 8:28).
If God and Jesus are the same, how did He really suffer? He already knew He would be okay, and the man on the cross beside Him didn't. How is that fair? And if They are one in the same, why do we have to go through Jesus to talk to God? If God is Jesus, then They are the same; why can't we just talk to God?
One And The Same
Dear One And The Same,
As far as the Father and Jesus being the same... they are both deity, but they are also unique beings. There are three parts to the Godhead: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This is most easily seen in Matt 3:16-17. When Jesus was baptized, the Father spoke from heaven, and the Holy Spirit descended as a dove. Each of them is eternal (they were all at the creation – Gen. 1:1, Gen. 1:2, Col 1:15-17). John 1:1 specifically says that Jesus is Deity. Jesus is different than the Father, but He is part of the Godhead. Jesus even said that He had always existed (Jhn 8:58). The apostles worshipped Jesus as God (Jhn 20:28).
When Jesus died on the cross, He really felt the pain, and He really had to trust that the Father would raise Him from the dead in the end. His faith was strong, but it was still something that took great strength of character and it still hurt – faith in the outcome didn't remove the pain. After all, Jesus was completely human just like everyone else; the only difference was that He had the strength of character to not sin (Heb 4:15).
God is the Creator, and if He wanted to create people on Earth, He could have made people know who He was really easily without all the pain and suffering. Why didn't He just appear and let people see Him and talk to them or make it easy? Why does there have to be so many punishing rules? I just don't get it.
Can’t See It
Dear Can’t See It,
The answer to your question is that God did appear to mankind. God appeared to mankind through the signs and miracles given to the Israelites and the patriarchs, and lastly, He appeared to mankind through Jesus (Heb 1:1-3).
The fact is that when Jesus walked this Earth, most people didn’t believe in Him. He was perfect and without sin (Heb 4:15), He spoke like no man had ever spoken (Jhn 7:46), and He performed miracles like raising people from the dead and giving sight to the blind… and yet, the Jews still killed Him. The problem isn’t that God hasn’t made it easy enough; the problem is that most of us don’t like the implications of having a Creator who is in charge.
You see, those punishing rules aren’t punishments; they are instructions for living from our Designer. God created man in His image (Gen 1:26-27), and He gave us the Bible as an instruction manual for how to properly function. Not following the manufacturer’s instructions for a table saw can break the saw and cause injury to yourself and others. In like manner, when God made us, He gave us an instruction manual, so we wouldn’t harm ourselves, others, and cause Him sadness. The Bible is God’s power for salvation for us (Rom 1:16). The rules are for our salvation; the punishment comes as a natural consequence of living without those rules.
I know I need God in my life, and I want to believe, but I keep getting stuck on things like how God existed before everything, heaven, hell, and eternity. I can't wrap my mind around those concepts. I know the Bible is real; it proves itself, but how do I comprehend God when we've never seen miracles, visions, Jesus, etc.? All today's Christians have is the Bible; is this fair for us today when people back then had all these signs?
Hard To Believe
Dear Hard To Believe,
Miracles had one very specific purpose – to give evidence that the apostles, prophets, and Jesus were from God. Paul called miracles “the signs of an apostle” (2 Cor 12:12). Heb 2:4 states that God bore witness to the apostles and prophets through “signs and wonders”. Even the enemies of Christ agreed that miracles were a sign of divine approval (Acts 4:16).
Ironically, even though you and I often think that miracles would make more people believe, we know that isn’t true. During Jesus’ life, He performed more good deeds and miraculous acts than could be written down (Jhn 21:25)… and yet, they crucified Him because they didn’t believe. Moses parted the Red Sea in front of an entire generation of Israelites who walked through on dry ground… but all of that generation died in the wilderness because they didn’t believe (Heb 3:17-19). Generations of Jews saw miracles, heard prophecies, and still turned their back on God’s will.
Miracles don’t make people faithful. It takes an honest and humble heart to turn to God… and miracles or no miracles, that has never changed. As you said, you know the Bible is real, and it proves itself. What you do about it is a matter of examining your character, and a miracle wouldn’t change that.
No one can comprehend the totality of God or His invisible greatness, but the evidence is all around (Rom 1:20). Even the greatest mathematicians can’t wrap their brains around infinity, but we understand the basics of the concept, and that is enough to know that we need to begin preparing for it.
The Bible says in the old times men had two or three wives. How can that be true because of the Ten Commandments?
Dear Two Many,
The Ten Commandments, which are found in Ex. 20:1-17, never address the issue of polygamy and polygamy was part of life in the Old Testament. The New Testament teaches that Christians should honor God through monogamy (1 Cor 7:1-2, 1 Tim 3:2). There are scores of examples of monogamy being God’s preference for man:
- Adam & Eve were designed monogamously (Gen. 2:24).
- No polygamy existed until 7 generations after Adam (Gen 4:19).
- Noah, the last righteous man of his day, had only one wife (Gen 7:13).
- Qualification for an elder (Tit 1:6)
- Qualification for a deacon (1 Tim 3:12)
- Qualification for a worthy widow (1 Tim 5:9)
- Every New Testament command for a husband or wife assumes monogamy in the commandments (Mk 10:12, 1 Cor 7:3, Eph 5:33, etc.).
- The comparison of Christ and the church to a husband and wife relies on a monogamous design for marriage (Eph 5:22-23).