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Questions from You: Lightning Round

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During our “Questions from Jesus” series, we’re encouraging Faith Church attendees to submit questions they may have to Jesus and/or to Faith Church through the number (219) 440-2463. We’ll be trying to answer some of the questions submitted on this blog each week.

Often on game shows, they have something of a “lightning round” where they try to see how many questions a person can answer in a specific time. This week’s Questions post is this lightning round for some of these questions that I will try to give quick answers to. So, I’ve set the clock, here we go:

Did Adam and Eve have belly buttons if they weren’t born? I’m genuinely curious.

There is no way of giving a definite answer here – the Bible doesn’t say yes or no. The argument for “no” would be that belly buttons come from the umbilical cord, and Adam and Eve were never in the womb. The argument for “yes” would be that God created them as full adults (they were not babies) so he would make them like other adults. I would lean towards no, but this is not definite and also not an issue of salvation — but fun to think about!

Will God punish us when we break His commands? I know Jesus took our punishment for us, but why then do our actions have consequences?

Romans 8:1 tells us that there is no condemnation for those who are Christ Jesus, so we are not punished for our sins in that sense, but Hebrews 12:4-11 tells us that God disciplines those whom he loves. There are consequences for our actions so that we can learn and become more Christlike; this does not mean that we are condemned or unloved but rather that we are loved, as God disciplines us like a child because of his love and wants us to learn from our choices.

I wrestle over the question of losing salvation with verses like Mt 7:19-23, Mt 10:22, Col 1:21-23, 1 Tim 4:1 to name a few. Do we approach it as people don’t lose salvation but maybe the people referenced never truly had faith?

Passages like Matthew 10:22 and Colossians 1:21-23 point to the fact that the saved will persevere to the end, what the Reformed tradition calls the perseverance of the saints. Now, this does not mean that people will not struggle or stumble, but they will not ultimately fall away; they will return. We know that there are people who confess faith but then either never walk forward in it or walk away from it (which 1 Timothy 4:1 alludes to); the Bible warns us to make sure that we don’t do that and so calls for us to endure and continue in the faith. What about those who do not continue – should we say they “lose their salvation”? I think Matthew 7:19-23 is a helpful passage in this, as it says that Jesus will say to some that “I never knew you.” Not, “I met you once and you fell away.” What that indicates is, as the question suggests, these people who believe and fall away never truly knew Jesus; they might have had the signs (even doing great works described in Matthew 7:19-23!), but they never seems to have real faith or really knew Jesus. 1 John 2:19 similarly says that those who leave the faith were never truly part of God’s family. The reason that we believe that people with faith will endure is that the Bible speaks about God keeping them; for example, it says that all whom God calls will come to be glorified and nothing can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8238-39), that when God begins a good work he brings it to completion (Philippians 1:6), and that Jesus will raise up all who believe will be raised at the last day (John 6:37-47) and no one can snatch them out of the Father’s hand (John 10:27-30). To summarize all that, people with true faith cannot lose their salvation and will reveal their true faith through God keeping them in the faith until the end.

How can a loving, merciful God send someone who is good and does great things for others on this Earth to hell? And then have someone who calls themself a Christian and says they’ve accepted Jesus, but is a terrible person on Earth come into Heaven with Him? Why would God create people He isn’t going to save?

There are a lot of things at work in this question. The first thing to note right off the bat is that all humans, even the one who is the greatest humanitarian, is a sinner who has turned away from God (Romans 3:23) and that all who sin deserve eternal punishment as our “earnings” (Romans 6:23). Therefore, no amount of work can save us; we are saved by faith and not works (Ephesians 2:8-9), and this salvation comes through belief in Jesus and not any other way (Acts 4:12). That means that the person who does good and great things for others on earth but yet rejects God still stands condemned; the person does good things but is still a sinner and stands under the wrath of God. God is loving and merciful in sending his Son but is also just in punishing sin. But while we know that we are saved by faith and not works, we also see in Scripture that without works, faith is dead (James 2:14-26); true faith leads to a changed life, such as the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Therefore, if there is a person who says they have faith but there is no fruit of their faith in their life, perhaps their faith is a deceived faith. Just because someone says they have accepted Jesus does not mean they truly have, as Jesus says that many will say to him “Lord, Lord” but do not do what he says and do not truly know him (Luke 6:46-49); if there is someone you know that says they are a Christian but shows no indication of seeking to follow Jesus, you should talk with them about it, challenging them for their life to match their confession. That is a loving and merciful thing to do.

Now, a related question that people often ask is what about those who are bad for their whole life and then have some sort of deathbed confession; they get heaven, the same thing that those who have been following Jesus for a long time get? The parable of the workers in the vineyard in Matthew 20:1-16 is a good reminder of the fact that all those who place their faith in Christ, whether early in life or late in life, are saved, as God promises salvation for faith; we all get what God promised (salvation) whether we follow a long time or just for a short bit. If we feel like we are “jipped” if we follow for a long time while we could have gotten the same thing for just following Him for a short time, we need to remember that following Jesus can be hard but it is when we find true life both now and in the life to come (see Matthew 19:29). Those that have a deathbed conversion after a bad life did not get the joy of following Jesus and knowing him well during their time on earth.

The other element of this questions is even harder, in terms of why God would create people He isn’t going to save. This is where we start to get into issues that we can’t always answer but can turn to Scripture in Romans 9-11, in which Paul talks about the fact that God gives grace to some and passes over and hardens others. We know he is the potter and has a wonderful plan, but we might not know why it is that case – but do we trust that He has a good reason? Are we okay with not having all the answers? If you need to have all the answers to the issues in the world, are you not trying to be the infinite God rather than the finite creature that we are? If you have a God that is never mysterious and one that you can fully understand and explain, would that mean that we have a God we have made in our image rather than that we are made in His image, able to understand and explain some things and not all things? These questions are not meant to dismiss the question (it is a good question!) but hopefully reframe it; sometimes, we have questions that lead us to an answer, but other times we might have questions that lead us to God and trusting in Him.

There are more than can be answered, but I thought I would conclude with a variety of questions that are very tough to answer but to point us to the place where I would look for these answers.

  • I have difficulty praying for complete reliance on God due to fear of the trials in the future. Why does it seem our lives can become “messier” as Christians?
  • Do You really love me?
  • People are hurting all around me, mentally and physically. Why aren’t You helping them?
  • Why can’t I believe in You? Why is it so hard to?
  • Why do there have to be weeds in God’s garden?

I don’t know all the circumstances you are dealing with that lead to these difficult, and totally understandable, questions, but when I deal with questions like these, wondering about God’s love and his seeming inaction in the world — and the difficulty that Christians seem to face (as it can be harder to follow Jesus than not), I always go to the cross of Christ. It shows me that God loves me so much, loves me in spite of my sin that he sent his son to willing endure it. The cross is a horrific event — showing me what my sin deserves — but God loves me enough to spare me from it and take it upon himself. If my Lord and Savior went to the cross, I shouldn’t expect my life to be easy and pain free as a follower of him; we see in Scripture that all who desire to follow Jesus will suffer, as will take up our cross and follow him. Our life will be messier, but we also know that it is messier for a time but that by losing our life in him, we will gain true life. I then look around the world and see suffering and say, “Why don’t you do something,” and I see God point me to the cross and say, “I have.” Evil and hurt endure for a time, but the hope of the cross and the resurrection shows us that this is for a time; it will end when Jesus returns. The cross shows us that God is not callous to the suffering, ignoring it, but enters into it. When I am distraught by suffering in the world, I remember that God loves the world more than I do and he must be more distraught by it – and the cross is his answer. Now, all those things are not easy to say and believe in tough moments of like, but I know I need to lift my eyes up to the cross to

And that is the buzzer. We will have more questions to answer next week.

Questions about Bible or theology? E-mail them to Pastor Brian at Theology@wearefaith.org. You can also subscribe to this blog by filling out the info on the right side.

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