Ask Your Preacher
Hey, it's me again. So there is this extremely weird guy on my bus, and he is an atheist. How do I lead him to Christ? God is not dead.
Trying To Teach
Dear Trying To Teach,
Ironically, the Bible doesn’t say much to those who believe that we are all a cosmic accident. The only verse in the Bible that specifically deals with atheism is Ps 53:1 which says, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ ” From God’s perspective, there is so much abundant evidence of a Creator that an honest heart will admit it. Statistically, this is also true – even with the rampant spread of evolutionary teachings, only a miniscule percentage (1.6%) of the American population consider themselves atheists. Rom 1:20 states that God built the universe, so it might stand as ever-sufficient evidence of His existence.
Studying Creation evidence is an enjoyable and wonderful thing. We here at AYP have an entire section devoted to Bible Evidences, but ultimately, if someone has totally disregarded the existence of God… Psalm 53:1 says they will be a very hard nut to crack. If he is honestly willing to look at the evidence though, we have found some luck in referring atheists to the books Case For A Creator by Lee Strobel and Has God Spoken? by A.O. Schnabel. Both books are well worth the read, and well worth sharing.
I have a question that is somewhat troubling to me. Two friends of mine were having a debate about politics and religion, and one of them said that God hates the unrighteous. Put so point blank, it really made me think, and I did some reading online, searching Christian sites to see what people have to say about it and received further conflicting messages.
I know God hates sin, but God sent out His word to everyone in the world. The unsaved reject it, but it was sent to them. So how can He have tried to save people He hated? Does He hate them? If He does hate sinners, how does that go together with Jesus’ admonitions to love thy enemy and what He says about a doctor not coming for those already healthy but rather for those who are sick? Jesus and God are one, so clearly, if God hating the sinner is true, it goes to together somehow, but I don’t understand how.
I read someone’s comment that said, “A man who steals is a thief. God hates the thief who steals”, and yet, Jesus sought out thieves to save them.
This question is very troubling to me. I know everything God does is right, but somehow it is very hard to accept the plain statement ‘God hates the unsaved’. I know the unsaved will go to hell, and I know justice is very important to God, but again, Jesus, God, and the Holy Ghost are one, and there so many instances of compassion in the Bible that it’s hard to believe He just hates them, and that’s it. Or am I just having troubling believing this because I don’t want to believe it?
Not A Hater
Dear Not A Hater,
The Lord loves people but hates sin. God tells us it is appropriate to be happy when evil is destroyed because it means righteousness is prevailing (Pr 28:28), but God also says that it pains Him when the wicked perish (Ezek 18:23). Here is the problem – when a person's life becomes so intertwined with sin that the sin has become the essence of who they are, God hates that. Ps 5:5, Ps 11:5, Lev 20:23, and Pr 6:16-19 makes that clear.
Think of it this way, if you saw someone push a small child, would you be upset at the action or upset at the person? The answer is both. The action came from the person and originated from their character. All sin is that way. God doesn't inherently hate people, but when someone consistently rebels against God, hurts others, spreads lies, and harms God's work here on Earth... God's anger extends to both the sins and the people who flagrantly commit them. They have chosen to put their lives in opposition to Him, and as much as it pains Him, He must consider them enemies.
Since there was slavery in the Bible, was slavery a sinful practice back when it was around? And would it still be considered sinful?
The Bible does not ever directly condemn slavery, but it does condemn treating slaves like property. In the Old Testament, God allowed a bankrupt Jew to sell himself as a slave to pay off his debts, however he was not to be abused or mistreated by his owner (Lev 25:39-40). God reiterates this idea in the New Testament. Slaves are to serve their masters loyally and faithfully (1 Tim 6:1, Tit 2:9). Masters are to treat their slaves as fellow humans, without threatening or hurting them (Eph 6:9). Masters are to be just and fair to their slaves (Col 4:1). God never says it is wrong to have slaves, but He very clearly denounces the brutality that we often associate with slavery. If a slave master lived as God commanded, he would treat his slaves as hired hands… and many Christians did just that in the first century.
However, God does make it clear that being a slave is a less than desirable situation. Slavery is a reality that exists within various parts of the world, so it must be dealt with from a Biblical perspective, but freedom is always a better option (1 Cor 7:21).
Thousands of years ago, in many countries, continents, islands, etc., far away from Israel, how could inhabitants hear messages like Jhn 3:16? Were they just out of luck because they didn't live in the area to hear it and died and went to hell?
Dear Logistically Implausible,
The Bible doesn’t tell us much about the Gentiles (a ‘Gentile’ is anybody that isn’t Jewish) that lived before Jesus or before Jesus' message covered the globe as it has now, but what little we do know tells us that God didn’t forsake them. When God called Abraham out from amongst his people (Gen 12:1-2), everyone that wasn’t descended from Abraham became a ‘Gentile’. The Old Testament follows the descendants of Abraham and God’s covenant with them; that is why there isn’t much said about the other nations that lived on this planet. Here is what we know:
- God praised and blessed honest Gentiles. Melchizedek is called a ‘priest of God’ (Gen 14:18), and Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, was the priest of Midian (Ex 3:1) and worshipped God. We don’t know exactly what arrangement God had with these men, but we know that they were pleasing to God and not a part of the Jewish nation. Another great example of a godly Gentile was Cornelius. God blessed and heard Cornelius’ prayers (Acts 10:1-4).
- Some Gentiles were blessed by God through conversion to Judaism. Rahab and Ruth were both Gentile women that turned to God by becoming Jews. Both of these women are mentioned in the lineage of Christ (Matt 1:5).
- We have a single statement in the book of Romans that hints at what kind of law the Gentiles were under. Rom 1:14-15 says that the Gentiles 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.
All of this just gives a glimpse at the pre-Christian Gentile world, but it is enough to paint a picture that God had a plan to save those who lived far from Israel; we just don’t know exactly how it worked.
Will those who are mentally handicapped and cannot grasp the conditions given in the Bible to be saved go to heaven or hell? If all humans are born with the sinful nature and HAVE to trust in Jesus to forgive their sin, how can they have that understanding if they are mentally handicapped?
You aren’t born in sin, and those with mental handicaps would fall under the same rules as children. In order to obey the gospel, we must have the maturity to:
- Take responsibility for our sins (Acts 3:19).
- Hear and understand the Word of God (Rom 10:17).
- Be responsible for our own spiritual growth (1 Pet 2:1-2).
Children and those with mental disabilities do not have that ability, and God only holds us accountable for what we are able to do (2 Cor 8:11-12).
The teaching that we are born sinful is a Calvinist teaching called ‘Total Depravity’. Total Depravity means that Calvinists believe that everyone is born completely sinful and depraved. A totally depraved human is incapable of doing good or pleasing God. This is completely false. All babies are born without sin and perfect in God’s sight (even David recognized that his dead child was going to be in heaven [2 Sam 12:23]). Sin is not a birthright; it is a choice (Gen 4:6-7, Jas 1:13-15). Humans sin when they choose to do wrong; they are not born in sin.
The false teaching of ‘original sin’ is very common in today’s society. If a congregation teaches that you are born in sin, they are false teachers. Sin is a choice we make in life (Isa 7:15-16), and all humans are born upright and good (Eccl 7:29).