Lostwithiel Community Church
Lostwithiel Community Church

Difficult Questions

Sometimes things can get in the way of us knowing God and His love, in the way that He wants us to. Things that trip us up, and prevent us from growing spiritually. These the Bible calls stumbling blocks, things we find it hard to get beyond. 
I could just say believe and trust God regardless, but you may not feel you are at that point yet …..some of these blocks need breaking up a bit, so you can step over them. 

In my experience, it’s when I’m caught up in myself and my own situation and feelings, that moving on is hardest. Often we need to look at things from outside ourselves, to see things from a broader perspective, preferably God’s. 

I've posted up some answers to a few of these difficult questions that we struggle with. These are not definitive answers, I am a limited human being like everyone else, but hopefully someone will find it helpful in their spiritual journey. So here goes.....


If God is good, why is there suffering in the world ? 

When God made everything, it WAS perfect. He looked at what He’d made, which included people and said it was very good. But part of that perfection was to make us like Himself, not in our physical appearance, but in things like our ability to create, to reason, to love, and to chose. Freewill is an important part of what we are. We are not programmed robots. 
God wanted people to love Him back freely, just as He loves us. So there had to be a choice. That choice was between listening to God, obeying Him and doing things His way, living in the way He had created us for, OR to go our own way, to disobey God, to reject His love. 
The first people Adam and Eve, tempted by Satan (a fallen angel at work in the world promoting evil), disobeyed God, and messed up the friendship they had with Him and each other. That first sin brought death, decay, and suffering into the world. And we have been rebelling against God ever since, doing it our way, thinking we know better and don’t need the One who created us. 
So we choose to put ourselves outside of God’s blessing, protection, and friendship. The result is suffering, from the direct results of sin and a decaying body, things like illness, genetic disorders, disease. And the suffering that we all cause by doing things our own way, through selfishness and a lack of compassion, leading to hurt, abuse, war, hatred, and so on. 
Not all, but most suffering, is caused by ourselves or the result of our rebellion against God.  So if God didn’t cause it, why does God allow it ?                       
Because in His love, He has given us freewill to chose. He wants us to love Him and love each other, and if we had done that there would be no suffering in the world. It’s not what God wants, and He has promised that one day when Jesus returns in power, that after that time there will be “no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things will have passed away” (Revelation 21:4). 
And importantly Jesus has come to earth the first time and suffered horrifically on the cross, dying for our sin. The Son of God understands suffering, and can be your strength through it, if you turn to Him. Alternatively you can blame God for it all and rant and rave at Him, as so many do. 

 

If God is loving, wouldn’t everybody go to heaven, how could He send someone to hell ?

 

God loves us as His creation. He wants us all to know His love and live in that security, BUT, we have been given freewill to chose to receive and return His love or not.     The best way to think about it maybe, is that Heaven is eternity with God and everything that is good, with an absence of evil. Hell is eternity without God and anything good, and is a place of evil, pain, and suffering. God is the source of love and goodness, so if someone rejects God in this life, they are expressing that they don’t want to be a part of that. Unfortunately heaven and hell is a very black and white choice, where there is no middle ground. There’s no place called ‘heaven especially for atheists’, where people can enjoy all the benefits of knowing God without having to know God.  The choice in a way, is not whether a person wants to go to heaven or hell, the vast majority of people would say heaven. The choice is whether people want to acknowledge God and be in a loving relationship with the One who created them and sent Jesus to die for them….or not. People arn't so sure then.

Sounds so simple, but for years I did things my way, in my pride thinking I knew better and didn’t need God. Chosing to live a life of sin, indulging my desires, but all I got as a result was fear, loneliness, and insecurity. Knowing God means that I know that I AM LOVED, that someone cares about me and has the power to make a positive difference in my life. It gives me hope in this life that my life can count for something good and important, and hope for eternal life, after this body dies.

There is a very real sense in which God doesn’t just send people to hell, people chose it, even though often unknowingly.

The Bible says, ‘God wants none to perish but all to come to repentance…to a knowledge of the truth’. That’s His heart’s desire for us, but because He is God He also knows that’s not going to happen, that most people will sadly reject His love.

If you’re still struggling with the whole idea of God sending people to hell, try this….. if God was to let everyone into heaven, it would be like you inviting to permanently live with you in your family home, everyone who has hated you, treated you badly, snubbed you, ignored you, and verbally abused you. You wouldn’t do it, would you ?God invites in everyone who wants to come, who will respond to his love. He doesn’t choose who comes, He invites everyone. It’s us who make the choice to respond or not.

The only way to heaven is through putting our faith in the grace, the love of God, shown through Jesus coming to die for us. The question is, ........what will you do with God’s love ?

 

Don’t all religions lead to God ? They’re all pretty much the same aren’t they ? 

The simple answer is no they don’t, and no they aren’t. 
This subject is huge and large books could be written about it and probably have been. 
Put simply, most of the world’s religions involve human being’s trying to get to God, to earn salvation, through following a law, through rituals, through meditation, and so on. The Bible says that you can’t do it. No matter how good someone is, no matter how hard they try, they can’t reach God because God is perfect and none of us are. We have ALL sinned and fallen short of God’s glory, we’re all in the same boat and need help. And because God loves us, He sent Jesus on a rescue mission to die on the cross, to sacrifice himself for our sin, so that by faith in him we can be saved. The way to God is through faith in Jesus Christ. God has done it, not us. We simply have to put our trust in Him (something we seem to find very difficult). 
At the very centre of belief, true Christianity is unique in this regard, and different from the religions of the world. 

There are some similarities in world religions, as they deal with people’s relationships with God and each other, with things spiritual, and there is some agreement on things like morals, but there are some central differences on the most important issues such as what God is like, how we can know God, what is good and evil, the nature of love, and so on. 
The Bible says ‘God is love’ and that the most important things in life are to love God and each other - Not obey a law; not carry out obligations; not die for our cause; not destroy others of a different belief; not bring offerings or sacrifices to an altar, …other than ourselves and our love.  A genuine committed love given by God, that then comes from the core of our being, and is shared with others through our words and actions every day.


Can you believe science and Christianity, aren’t they in conflict with each other ? 

I see no conflict between good science and Christian belief as stated in the Bible. Good science is after all the study and interpretation of what God has made in creation. The problem is that there is a lot of ‘bad’ science, which is in fact not science at all but the propagation of an atheist belief system. This is especially true in Western Europe, where the media has given considerable time to people with an anti-God agenda. Science is about examining evidence and measurable results, and coming to conclusions interpreting those results. Problem is that much science today, especially that around evolution, is theories based on an anti-God world view. It is supposition upon supposition. There is no experiment or test for something they believe is millions or billions of years old. Even carbon dating has been shown to be very unreliable (for example some of the measurements taken after Mount St Helen’s erupted). 

Christian and atheist scientists look at the same evidence, for example fossils and strata in rocks, and come to totally different conclusions. Why ? Because they have opposing belief systems, through which they view the evidence. The Christian looks at the possible results of a total world wide flood as described in the Bible, the pressure, the silt, and so forth that was produced, and says that the evidence we have is consistent with that. The Atheist says that the flood never happened because the Bible isn’t true, therefore there must be another explanation for fossils and strata, and that can only be time, and lots of it. 
We need to be honest, and admit that a lot of ‘science’ in this country is not as objective as we perhaps thought it was. 
Good science has little trouble with the Bible, and visa-versa. 

 

 

With all that's going on in the world, how can I find any peace or assurance ?

 

The result of the European Union referendum has left some people angry, confused, afraid, and perhaps most of all, insecure.

Nobody knows what’s coming next, not that we ever do in reality, but something like this really shakes us up.

Add to that what appears to be a generally corrupt and aggressive Russia, the choice of candidates for the U.S. presidential election, and the increase in radical Islamic terrorism, and you have a recipe for uncertainty and fear.

The times they are changing, but to what, and is time nearly up ?

Some people believe we are close to ‘doomsday’, the end of the world, and when we see the news or look around us it’s not hard to see why they think that.

Terrorism, war, earthquakes, famine, disease, growing anger and hatred, rulers of powerful nations who seem to have lost all sense of reality and what is right. And then we look around us closer to home. A continuous stream of child abuse cases, parents struggling with many just giving up, our children under threat from all directions it seems. A lack of direction in society, no moral compass, little hope and an increase in hedonism as people give up the struggle of life, and simply look to escape.

What’s the point ?  What choice is there ?   What’s going on, and how will it end ?

We need something constant, solid, reliable, that we can depend on. Someone to be honest and speak the truth rather than politically correct falsehoods or at the other extreme hate-filled rhetoric.

The human race has tried to bring about a peaceful caring society for thousands of years, have tried every political and social system imaginable, and have utterly failed. The problem isn’t just the system, it’s us, because we make up the system - People. You and me.

Some people in their arrogance claim we are becoming more civilised and evolving into superior beings, but it seems that all evidence is to the contrary. In fact we seem to learn virtually nothing and be incapable of the change needed. Greed, lust, arrogance, jealousy, envy, gluttony….we just can’t seem to get rid of the selfishness that drives us. Some try to do good, many don’t even bother, but we can’t seem to effect lasting positive change, either on the world or on ourselves. And it’s not just the politicians and the elite, we shouldn’t kid ourselves, we are all in the same boat, …and it’s slowly sinking.

I’d like to suggest that what’s needed for each of us is a new start, but with a totally different way of seeing things and of ‘being’. Something or someone, who can offer true hope, peace of mind, forgiveness for past failures, assurance for the future, caring and truly loving relationship, all that we need to live life to the full.

That something or someone, is Jesus Christ.

He has been rejected by many out of hand, without them really finding out more, but that’s a mistake, for Jesus offers all the things listed just above and more, the very things people need and truly want, for themselves and their children. Don’t assume what you’ve heard about Jesus is true, for what you see on TV and read in the press, is nearly always wrong, and is how atheists and secularists want him portrayed. Find out for yourself. Jesus is a real, historical figure, not a myth or legend, the evidence is overwhelming that he existed, was killed by crucifixion, and said to have risen from the dead.

In the Bible are 4 specific accounts of Jesus’ life, death, and what followed. These accounts, named after their authors, are Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Together they are about the size of a small novel, they don’t take that long to read, so why not have a look and make your own judgement, make your own choice ?

You do have a choice, we all do. Carry on the way you are, or look at an alternative, Jesus, who could change your life forever as he has done for many, and cause you to see the future in a totally different way.

 

We meet at 5 p.m. most Sundays at the Army Cadet Drill hall in Lostwithiel (near Co-op).                  New morning service (see under News or Services, for more details).

Contact us today!

If you have any queries please contact us:

 

 

pastor@lostwithielcommunitychurch.org.uk

 

 

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© Graham Jarrett