It’s true that FAQs are usually concerned with times of services, email addresses, names and other administrative details, but we at Oasis thought it might be a good idea to consider briefly some of the usual questions Christians get asked. Obviously space won’t allow us to go into loads of detail, but hopefully these brief responses will at least begin to give some insight.
Can anyone really know that God exists?
This is a really good question. The word ‘know’ is a strange one really. Think about this for a moment- how do we know that Henry VIII really lived? Of course we trust he did live, because lots of people have written about his life and some of those individuals even met him and served him in his court. But have you ever thought about this- that’s exactly why we can read the Bible and know that the people whose lives are described in it were real individuals just like you and me (and Henry VIII!). The Bible records history (as well as other types of writing) and we can be confident that the characters we find there are genuine men and women who lived their lives for God.
But these facts only help us to trust that the people in the Bible are real- but our first FAQ wants us to explain whether we can know that God exists. The Bible teaches that although God is invisible, He has made Himself visible in the things He has made. For example, consider the size of the universe and the vastness of space. For the Christian, this is evidence for the existence (and power) of God. Similarly, consider the atoms and electrons- tiny invisible pieces of matter that make up our physical world. For the Christian, such order and detail demonstrates God’s infinite creative power.
Also, what about the amazing planets in our solar system? They move with clockwork precision and bring us the seasons in which our food grows. There are so many other things we could think of that show God’s amazing creativity and majesty.
All of the above though, however powerful, only help us to know about God- but there is a way in which we can know God. Think about this- a man may know about a person by reading that person’s life story in a book. However, imagine how much more that man would know the other person after he has met him and spent time in his company- seeing his actions, hearing his ideas and his answers to questions. It is the same with God. We can know about Him; but, more importantly, we can know Him.
Somebody once said, “If you want to know what God is like, just look at Jesus”.
Ultimately, if you really want to know God, then all you need to do is to ask Him, and He will answer by leading you to the Bible and to His Son, Jesus Christ.
Anyone who wants to know God (not just know about God) should pray something like, “Lord, if You are there, and if You will allow me to find You in Your Son Jesus Christ, then please lead me into all truth. In Jesus name. Amen”.
Jesus Himself said, “Anyone who seeks will find” and elsewhere in the Bible God promises, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all of your heart”. Seek the Lord, then, while He may be found.
If God is real, and He is good, then why do bad things happen to good people?
Having explained that Christians believe that God can be known about and known personally, we should understand that this next question is one of the most frequently asked questions in Christian history. Christians believe that God is completely good- but they realise too that very bad things happen. This causes many to ask, “Why does God allow bad things to happen? Why doesn’t He stop them?”
There are many answers to this question and space doesn’t allow us to consider them all. However, we can think about the following responses.
The first thing we need to get straight is that God does not cause the bad things to happen. Often, the terrible things that happen do so because people choose to do them. The issue of free will is an important one in Christianity and the Bible makes it clear that one of the characteristics that God gave to humans was allowing them to make their own moral choices. Some people may choose to do good things, while others may choose to do bad things. Imagine a bread knife on a table. One person could use it to slice bread to give a hungry child, but a different person could choose to do something terrible with the same knife. Whichever choice is made, it is the person with the knife who caused the good or evil thing to take place: it is certainly not God’s fault that a bad thing happened.
But someone may ask, “Why didn’t God stop the bad man with the knife?” Once again, the issue of free will must be considered again. If God allows us to make our own choices, then we must learn the lessons that our choices bring. It is wrong to expect God to intervene all the time in our world- (this would make us feel either like prisoners or robots!) As humans, we must learn to choose to do what is right and sometimes we must learn from our bad choices.
Even though Christians do not have all the answers to why bad things happen there are two important things we must realise;
a) God understands what it feels like to suffer: He suffered separation from His only Son and He carried the sins of the entire human race when He was crucified.
b) One day all suffering will end: The Bible promises that there will come a day when human history as we know it will end, and God will bring in a new reality in which there is no sin, no death, no pain, no suffering and no mourning.
Is it really possible that all religions can lead to God?
This question is more easily answered by asking another question: Imagine I had a box containing lots of different maps and I chose five at random before distributing them to five different people: If those individuals all then used the maps they were given, would they all end up in the same place? The answer is obvious; the answer is ‘No’.
The religions of the world are all very different. Some believe in heaven, some do not; some think one particular day of the week is the most important, but others think a different day is; some think eating certain foods is good, but others think that eating that same food is bad! It all sounds quite complicated really but one thing is for sure- they can’t all be right!
The one thing that religions do have in common, however, is a belief that humans should try to live good lives, and if they do, they will be rewarded after their life on earth. All religions have at their core a belief that one day all ‘good’ humans will stand before God and will be able to say “Look what I did for you by living as best as I could.”
Christianity states from the outset, however, that God alone is perfect and that no matter how ‘good’ a person may think he or she is, all have failed and come short of God’s standard of perfection. No-one, then, can come up to God’s perfect standard and this is bad news if a person is hoping to ‘pass God’s test’ on judgement day.
The good news of Christianity, however, declares that even though all humans will fail to reach God’s perfect standard, He loves us so much that He sent Jesus to die in our place. If you park illegally and I pay your fine, the law is satisfied, you are free from the requirements of the law, and I have demonstrated generosity. We have all sinned and failed to meet God’s standard but God Himself, because of great His love for you, has paid the price so that you are free to go. The death of Jesus for you means that you can go to heaven because of Jesus’ perfect life, which was freely given up for you and for me.
We said before that religion is based on a person saying to God, “Look what I have done for you”. Christianity, however, begins by declaring, “Thank you God for what You did for me.”
Today, why not thank Him for sending Jesus to die and pay the price for all the sins you will ever commit. Thank Him, then give Him your life.
Surely anyone who is a generally good person is acceptable to God aren’t they?
‘Good’ is a relative term and this means that we call something ‘good’ because compared to something else (something less good!) it is! That’s a complicated sentence but it should help us to understand that compared to God, Who is utterly holy and perfect, nothing is good! As we said in the previous answer, all people are bad. Imagine I challenged you to a swimming competition from Liverpool’s Pier Head to Manhattan Island in New York, and imagine that you were an Olympic standard swimmer and I was a novice: In the competition I would soon need rescuing and you too would fail, even if you had managed a significant number of miles. The problem for both of us, of course, is that the goal was far too challenging- neither of us was ‘good enough’ to complete the challenge. It is the same with our standards of “right-ness” before God. Compared to me, you may be more ‘right’ and ‘good’, but compared to God, we both fall far short. Thank God, then, for Jesus Who willingly went to the cross bearing our sin so that we never have to find a way to please God by our own goodness. The VERY good news is that we can please God simply by receiving the perfect life of Jesus into our own life. In Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, the one truly perfect life was offered to God as a ransom for us. It is finished! Hallelujah!
Is it possible that someone like me could possibly ever be good enough to get into heaven?
We have just seen that some people (usually religious ones) think their life is the sort of life that will please God enough to permit them entry into heaven. We saw also, however, that only the life of Jesus is truly perfect to God. But what about people who are painfully aware of their shortcomings, failures and sin? What about those souls who know only too well that they are far from God and carry secrets, shame, and sins from which they cannot seem to escape?
Be of good cheer for God Himself has provided the answer! Jesus said that he came to seek and save the lost and when a person is aware of his or her ‘lost-ness’ then they really are near the kingdom of heaven.
There’s an old story in which an incredibly wealthy man left the country for another land and placed his senior butler in charge of an auction in which all of his vast collection of very expensive and luxurious belongings would be sold shortly after he had departed. Before leaving, the rich man gave an order that the first thing to be sold at the auction must be a portrait of his son that he had completed some years earlier. The truth of the matter was, however, that the artwork was very ordinary and had no particular beauty or attraction in and of itself. The world’s wealthiest collectors were all present when the auction began and the master’s incredible array of personal belongings was laid out for all to see. As instructed, the master’s senior butler opened the proceedings by announcing that the first lot for sale was the portrait of the man’s son. The collectors twitched impatiently as they waited for the lot to pass so that they could begin bidding on the serious items in the sale. Initially there were no bids for the portrait, but eventually a poor woman who had only attended the auction out of interest, seeing that no-one was bidding, offered £1 for the drawing. She was very poor but there was something about the portrait of the friendly face that she liked. Having allowed time for any rival bids, the butler declared the drawing, “Sold”, before announcing that the auction was now closed. The waiting millionaires were agitated and asked, “Why is the auction concluded if we have only just started?” At this point, the senior butler made the audience aware of his master’s final instruction before he departed: “Whoever buys the drawing, gets everything. Whoever has the son, gets all I have!”
That simple story contains a beautiful truth for the person who thinks himself or herself too poor, lowly, or even too bad. God has sent His Son to die for all people and if anyone will receive Him, God will instantly adopt them into His family. If you receive the Son, all that the Father has becomes yours.
As the old hymn says, “The vilest offender who truly believes, that moment from Jesus a pardon receives”.
Receive Christ today- you will never look back!
To receive Jesus Christ and begin a new life with Him, may we suggest the following short prayer:
Dear Lord Jesus, thank You for Your perfect life, and for the death You died for me.
Thank You for helping me to see that the issue of my bad-ness is fully addressed by Your beautiful goodness.
Thank You for making accessible total forgiveness for my sins- thank You for dying for me.
Thank You that the new life You brought out from the tomb when You rose from the dead is now offered to me!
I now want to use the free will that You have given me humbly to request that You move Your life into my life.
Have all that I am, and help me to let You have access to all areas of my life.
Cleanse me from all guilt, and fill my life by the power of Your Holy Spirit.
Thank You Lord Jesus that I shall never be the same again. Amen.
If you took the opportunity to make this your prayer then know this for sure; you have just embarked on the most thrilling journey, and your life will never be the same again. If you’re happy to do so, why not contact us and let us know that you have made a decision to serve the Lord Who died for you; we really would love to hear from you.
Jesus said, ‘I will never refuse anyone who comes to me’
(Jn 6:37 J.B.P.)