Ask Your Preacher
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.
It says that we must keep the Sabbath holy – which means for us to give back to God our time, relax in His presence, and get a day off just for Him. Why do we keep working on Sundays?
Dear Rest Up,
Saturday is the Sabbath day… but Christians don’t have to worry about keeping the Sabbath. The word ‘sabbath’ means ‘rest’. The Sabbath day was a day that the nation of Israel was told to rest, stop working, and make holy to the Lord (Ex 31:15). The Sabbath was part of the Old Testament law – a law that Christians are no longer under (Gal 3:23-25). We are specifically told not to let anyone bind the Sabbath on us (Col 2:16). Christians worship Christ on the first day of the week – Sunday (Acts 20:7, 1 Cor 16:1-2). We are not bound by the strict rules of avoiding all work like the Jews were, but we are told to treat Sunday as “the Lord’s day” (Rev 1:10).
I am having such difficulty understanding many things. I am of Baptist faith and was raised in church; however, I have not been attending for a long time. I seem to be the only one with questions. I don't want to be like this, but every time I ask my questions, it seems I always get an answer of, “You just have to have faith and not question things. They are too big to understand.” That doesn't seem to help me at all. ‘Why did God make the devil?’ is one of my questions. I know that he was a fallen angel, but why did God make him knowing that he would be evil, and being He knows everything, it seems He would know the outcome of him turning against Him. If God wanted a perfect world without sin, He could have had it. He is God; He could have done whatever He wanted. He already knew that Adam and Eve would eat the apple, so how did they have a chance not to? He made them and already knew the outcome. I don't see how that is free will or choice when He already knew they were going to mess up.
So Many Contradictions
Dear So Many Contradictions,
The Bible does give answers, and many people have turned away from God because the denominational world has failed to give them those answers. There are some things that we don’t have answers for, but the questions you are asking are fundamental questions that the Bible clearly gives answers to.
All of your questions come down to the same issue – if God knew that people (and the devil) were going to do bad things, how come we are still to blame? 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 gave them cancer. 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). God, having the wisdom to see that freewill also meant that people would have the freedom to choose bad things, doesn’t mean that He is to blame for our choices. Furthermore, God didn’t just sit idly with His foreknowledge. God planned before the foundation of the world to save us by sending His own Son to die (Eph. 1:3-4). Even though He isn’t responsible for our choices, God sent the perfect cure.