What is a Christian?
Answer: The word “Christian” is used three times in the New Testament (Acts 11:26; 26:28; 1 Peter 4:16). Followers of Jesus Christ were first called “Christians” in Antioch (Acts 11:26) because their behavior, activity, and speech were like Christ. The word “Christian” literally means, “a follower of Christ.”
Many people who do not believe and trust in Jesus Christ consider themselves Christians simply because they go to church or they live in a “Christian” nation. But going to church, serving those less fortunate than you, or being a good person does not make you a Christian. Going to church does not make you a Christian any more than going to a garage makes you an automobile. Being a member of a church, attending services regularly, and giving to the work of the church does not make you a Christian.
The Bible teaches that the good works we do cannot make us acceptable to God. Titus 3:5 says, “He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.” Ephesians 2:8 tells us that it is “…by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”
A true Christian is a person who has put faith and trust in the person and work of Jesus Christ, including His death on the cross as payment for sins and His resurrection on the third day. John 1:12 tells us, “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” The mark of a true Christian is love for others and obedience to God’s Word (1 John 2:4, 10). A true Christian is indeed a child of God, a part of God’s true family, and one who has been given new life in Jesus Christ.
Why do bad things happen to good people?
Answer: This is one of the most difficult questions in all of theology. God is eternal, infinite, omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent. Why should human beings (not eternal, infinite, omniscient, omnipresent, or omnipotent) expect to be able to fully understand God’s ways?
The biblical answer is there are no “good” people. The Bible makes it abundantly clear that all of us are tainted by and infected with sin (Ecclesiastes 7:20; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8). Romans 3:10-18 could not be clearer about the non-existence of “good” people: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” Every second we spend alive is only by the grace and mercy of God. Even the most terrible misery we could experience on this planet is merciful compared to what we deserve, eternal hell.
A better question would be “Why does God allow good things to happen to bad people?” Romans 5:8 declares, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Despite the evil, wicked, sinful nature of the people of this world, God still loves us. He loved us enough to die to take the penalty for our sins (Romans 6:23). If we receive Jesus Christ as Savior (John 3:16; Romans 10:9), we will be forgiven and promised an eternal home in heaven (Romans 8:1). What we deserve is hell. What we are given is eternal life in heaven if we come to Christ in faith.
Often things happen to us that we simply cannot understand. However, instead of doubting God’s goodness, our reaction should be to trust Him. ”Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
What does the Bible say about homosexuality?
Answer: The Bible consistently tells us that homosexual activity is a sin (Genesis 19:1-13; Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9). Romans 1:26-27 teaches specifically that homosexuality is a result of denying and disobeying God. When people continue in sin and unbelief, God “gives them over” to even more wicked and depraved sin in order to show them the futility and hopelessness of life apart from God. 1 Corinthians 6:9 proclaims that homosexual “offenders” will not inherit the kingdom of God.
God does not create a person with homosexual desires. The Bible tells us that people become homosexuals because of sin (Romans 1:24-27) and ultimately because of their own choice. A person may be born with a greater susceptibility to homosexuality, just as some people are born with a tendency to violence and other sins. That does not excuse the person’s choosing to sin by giving in to sinful desires. If a person is born with a greater susceptibility to anger/rage, does that make it right for him to give into those desires? Of course not! The same is true with homosexuality.
However, the Bible does not describe homosexuality as a “greater” sin than any other. All sin is offensive to God. Homosexuality is just one of the many things listed in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 that will keep a person from the kingdom of God. According to the Bible, God’s forgiveness is just as available to a homosexual as it is to an adulterer, idol worshipper, murderer, thief, etc. God also promises the strength for victory over sin, including homosexuality, to all those who will believe in Jesus Christ for their salvation (1 Corinthians 6:11; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Philippians 4:13).
What does the Bible say about sex before marriage?
Answer: Since 1 Corinthians 7:2 clearly includes sex before marriage in the definition of sexual immorality, all of the Bible verses that condemn sexual immorality as being sinful also condemn sex before marriage as sinful. Sex before marriage is included in the biblical definition of sexual immorality. There are numerous Scriptures that declare sex before marriage to be a sin (Acts 15:20; 1 Corinthians 5:1; 6:13, 18; 10:8; 2 Corinthians 12:21; Galatians 5:19; Ephesians 5:3; Colossians 3:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:3; Jude 7). The Bible promotes complete abstinence before marriage. Sex between a husband and his wife is the only form of sexual relations of which God approves (Hebrews 13:4).
Far too often we focus on the “recreation” aspect of sex without recognizing that there is another aspect—procreation. Sex within marriage is pleasurable, and God designed it that way. God wants men and women to enjoy sexual activity within the confines of marriage. Song of Solomon and several other Bible passages (such as Proverbs 5:19) clearly describe the pleasure of sex. However, the couple must understand that God’s intent for sex includes producing children. Thus, for a couple to engage in sex before marriage is doubly wrong—they are enjoying pleasures not intended for them, and they are taking a chance of creating a human life outside of the family structure God intended for every child.
Is Jesus the only way to Heaven?
Answer: Yes, Jesus is the only way to heaven. Such an exclusive statement may grate on the postmodern ear, but it is true nonetheless. The Bible teaches that there is no other way to salvation than through Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself says in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” He is not a way, as in one of many; He is the way, as in the one and only. No one, regardless of reputation, achievement, special knowledge, or personal holiness, can come to God the Father except through Jesus.
Jesus is the only way to heaven for several reasons. Jesus was “chosen by God” to be the Savior (1 Peter 2:4). Jesus is the only One to have come down from heaven and returned there (John 3:13). He is the only person to have lived a perfect human life (Hebrews 4:15). He is the only sacrifice for sin (1 John 2:2; Hebrews 10:26). He alone fulfilled the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 5:17). He is the only man to have conquered death forever (Hebrews 2:14–15). He is the only Mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5). He is the only man whom God has “exalted… to the highest place” (Philippians 2:9).
Jesus spoke of Himself as the only way to heaven in several places besides John 14:6. He presented Himself as the object of faith in Matthew 7:21–27. He said His words are life (John 6:63). He promised that those who believe in Him will have eternal life (John 3:14–15). He is the gate of the sheep (John 10:7); the bread of life (John 6:35); and the resurrection (John 11:25). No one else can rightly claim those titles.
Eternal life in heaven is made possible only through Christ. Jesus prayed, “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent” (John 17:3). To receive God’s free gift of salvation, we must look to Jesus and Jesus alone. We must trust in Jesus’ death on the cross as our payment for sin and in His resurrection. “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe” (Romans 3:22).
What does the Bible say about divorce and remarriage?
Answer: First of all, no matter what view one takes on the issue of divorce, it is important to remember Malachi 2:16: “I hate divorce, says the LORD God of Israel.” According to the Bible, marriage is a lifetime commitment. “So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate” (Matthew 19:6). God realizes, though, that since marriages involve two sinful human beings, divorces are going to occur. In the Old Testament, He laid down some laws in order to protect the rights of divorcees, especially women (Deuteronomy 24:1-4). Jesus pointed out that these laws were given because of the hardness of people’s hearts, not because they were God’s desire (Matthew 19:8).
The controversy over whether divorce and remarriage is allowed according to the Bible revolves primarily around Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:32 and 19:9. The phrase “except for marital unfaithfulness” is the only thing in Scripture that possibly gives God’s permission for divorce and remarriage.
However, the Greek word translated “marital unfaithfulness” is a word, which can mean any form of sexual immorality. It can mean fornication, prostitution, adultery, etc. Jesus is possibly saying that divorce is permissible if sexual immorality is committed. Sexual relations are an integral part of the marital bond: “the two will become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:5; Ephesians 5:31). Therefore, any breaking of that bond by sexual relations outside of marriage might be a permissible reason for divorce.
Sometimes lost in the debate over the exception clause is the fact that whatever “marital unfaithfulness” means, it is an allowance for divorce, not a requirement for it. Even when adultery is committed, a couple can, through God’s grace, learn to forgive and begin rebuilding their marriage. A divorced and/or remarried believer should not feel any less loved by God, even if the divorce and/or remarriage is not covered under the possible exception clause of Matthew 19:9.
Is the Bible truly God’s Word?
Answer: There can be no doubt that the Bible does claim to be the very Word of God. This is clearly seen in Paul’s commendation to Timothy: “… from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:15-17).
One of the evidences that the Bible is truly God’s Word is seen in its unity. Even though it is really sixty-six individual books, written on three continents, in three different languages, over a period of approximately 1500 years, by more than 40 authors who came from many walks of life, the Bible remains one unified book from beginning to end without contradiction.
Another of the evidences that indicates the Bible is truly God’s Word is the prophecies contained within its pages. The Bible contains hundreds of detailed prophecies relating to the future of individual nations including Israel, certain cities, and mankind. There simply is no logical way to explain the fulfilled prophecies in the Bible other than by divine origin. There is no other religious book with the extent or type of predictive prophecy that the Bible contains.
Another of the evidences of the divine origin of the Bible is its unique authority and power. This authority and power are best seen in the way countless lives have been transformed by the supernatural power of God’s Word.
One is the historicity of the Bible. Because the Bible details historical events, its truthfulness and accuracy are subject to verification like any other historical document. Through both archaeological evidences and other writings, the historical accounts of the Bible have been proven time and time again to be accurate and true. In fact, all the archaeological and manuscript evidence supporting the Bible makes it the best-documented book from the ancient world.
It should not surprise us that, no matter how the Bible is attacked, it always comes out unchanged and unscathed. After all, Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (Mark 13:31). After looking at the evidence, one can say without a doubt that, yes, the Bible is truly God’s Word.
What does the Bible say about abortion?
Answer: The Bible never specifically addresses the issue of abortion. However, there are numerous teachings in Scripture that make it abundantly clear what God’s view of abortion is. Jeremiah 1:5 tells us that God knows us before He forms us in the womb. Psalm 139:13-16 speaks of God’s active role in our creation and formation in the womb. Exodus 21:22-25 prescribes the same penalty—death—for someone who causes the death of a baby in the womb as for someone who commits murder. This clearly indicates that God considers a baby in the womb to be as human as a full-grown adult. For the Christian, abortion is not a matter of a woman’s right to choose. It is a matter of the life or death of a human being made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26-27; 9:6).
“What about cases of rape and/or incest?” As horrible as it would be to become pregnant as a result of rape and/or incest, is the murder of a baby the answer? Two wrongs do not make a right. The baby is completely innocent and should not be punished for the evil acts of its father.
“What about when the life of the mother is at risk?” Honestly, this is the most difficult question to answer on the issue of abortion. First, let’s remember that this situation is the reason behind less than one-tenth of one percent of the abortions done in the world today. Any couple facing this extremely difficult situation should pray to the Lord for wisdom (James 1:5) as to what He would have them do.
For those who have had an abortion, remember that the sin of abortion is no less forgivable than any other sin. Through faith in Christ, all sins can be forgiven (John 3:16; Romans 8:1; Colossians 1:14). A woman who has had an abortion, a man who has encouraged an abortion, or even a doctor who has performed one—can all be forgiven by faith in Jesus Christ.
What does the Bible say about suicide?
Answer: The Bible views suicide as equal to murder, which is what it is—self-murder. God is the only one who is to decide when and how a person should die. We should say with the psalmist, “My times are in your hands” (Psalm 31:15).
God is the giver of life. He gives, and He takes away (Job 1:21). Suicide, the taking of one’s own life, is ungodly because it rejects God’s gift of life. No man or woman should presume to take God’s authority upon themselves to end his or her own life.
So, according to the Bible, suicide is a sin. It is not the “greatest” sin—it is no worse than other evils, in terms of how God sees it, and it does not determine a person’s eternal destiny. However, suicide definitely has a deep and lasting impact on those left behind. The painful scars left by a suicide do not heal easily. May God grant His grace to each one who is facing trials today (Psalm 67:1). And may each of us take hope in the promise, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13).
What is the importance of Christian Baptism?
Answer: Christian baptism is one of two ordinances that Jesus instituted for the church. Just before His ascension, Jesus said, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19–20). These instructions specify that the church is responsible to teach Jesus’ word, make disciples, and baptize those disciples. These things are to be done everywhere (“all nations”) until “the very end of the age.” So, if for no other reason, baptism has importance because Jesus commanded it.
Baptism is to be done in the name of the Father, Son, and Spirit—this is what makes it “Christian” baptism. It is through this ordinance that a person is admitted into the fellowship of the church. When we are saved, we are “baptized” by the Spirit into the Body of Christ, which is the church. Baptism by water is a “reenactment” of the baptism by the Spirit.
Christian baptism is the means by which a person makes a public profession of faith and discipleship. Baptism illustrates, in dramatic style, the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. At the same time, it also illustrates our death to sin and new life in Christ. As the sinner confesses the Lord Jesus, he dies to sin (Romans 6:11) and is raised to a brand-new life (Colossians 2:12). Being submerged in the water represents death to sin, and emerging from the water represents the cleansed, holy life that follows salvation. Romans 6:4 puts it this way: “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”
Very simply, baptism is an outward testimony of the inward change in a believer’s life. Christian baptism is an act of obedience to the Lord after salvation. Baptism illustrates a believer’s identification with Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. Everywhere the gospel is preached, people are to be baptized.
Questions and answers from www.gotquestions.org. No web page or email response should be construed as counseling, therapy, legal, or other professional advice IN ANY WAY WHATSOEVER. As such, in consideration for using the service of GotQuestions.org and Antiochprogressivechurch.org, you hereby RELEASE Got Questions Ministries, Inc. and Antioch Progressive Church and any of its officers, directors, or representatives from any liability for any decision you might make in your life.