is there evil and suffering in the world?
- The question implies that if a
good God exists, then evil shouldn't, because God being all powerful,
should stop it.
- We need to ask and answer two
questions. First, what is evil? It is that which is against God.
It is anything morally bad or wrong. It is injurious, depraved,
wicked. Some acceptable examples might be murder, rape, stealing,
lying, and cheating. Second, if we want God to stop evil do we
want Him to stop all evil or just some of it? In other words,
if just some of it then why? If He were to stop only part of the
evil, then we would still be asking the question, "Why is there
evil in the world?"
Let's suppose that someone was about
to commit murder. God would have to stop him, maybe whisper in
his ear, or if that didn't work do something a little more drastic
like have something fall on him, or stop his heart, or make his
hands suddenly fall off. Anyway, God would have to do something.
What if somebody wanted to steal?
God would have to stop him too, right? Undoubtedly, God's imagination
would permit a more practical method than I have suggested, but
the end results would be the same.
What about lying? If someone were
to tell a lie, then to be consistent wouldn't you want God right
there to stop that person from lying? After all, He couldn't let
any evil occur could He?
Let's take it a step further. Suppose
someone thought something evil. Then, of course, God would have
to step in and prevent him from thinking anything bad at all,
right? The end result would be that God could not allow anyone
to think freely. Since everyone thinks and no one thinks only
pure thoughts, God would be pretty busy and we wouldn't be able
to think. Anyway, at what point do we stop, at the murder level,
stealing level, lying level, or thinking level? As your questions
implies, if you want God to stop evil, you would have to be consistent
and want Him to do it everywhere all the time, not just pick and
choose. It wouldn't work.
Evil is in this world partly because
we give it its place but ultimately because God, in His sovereignty,
permits it and keeps it under His control.
Then you might say, "Couldn't He
just make us perfect and that way we wouldn't sin?" He already
did that. He made a perfect angel, Satan, but he sinned. He made
a perfect man, Adam, and he sinned. He made a perfect woman, Eve,
and she sinned. God knows what He is doing. He made us the way
we are for a purpose. We don't fully understand that purpose,
but He does.
- God is sovereign; He has the
right to do as He wishes. He has the right to permit evil for
accomplishing His ultimate will. How can He do that? Simple, look
at the cross. It was by evil means that men lied and crucified
Jesus. Yet God in His infinite wisdom, used this evil for good.
It was on the cross that Jesus bore our sins in His body (1 Peter
2:24) and it is because of the cross that we can have forgiveness
- Consider the biblical example
of Joseph in the Old Testament. He was sold into slavery by his
brothers. Though they meant it for evil, God meant it for good
(Genesis 50:20). God is so great that nothing happens without
His permission, and in that permission His ultimate plan unfolds.
In His plan He is able to use for good what man intends for evil.
God is in control.
makes Jesus so special?
- Who He said He was. He said He
was God. In John 8:58, Jesus said, "Truly, Truly, I say to you,
before Abraham was, I AM." When He said, "I AM," He was quoting
from the Old Testament in Exodus 3:14. That is where Moses was
talking to God and asked Him His name. God answered and said,
"I AM." When Jesus said "I AM" He was claiming the name of God
for Himself and thereby claiming to be God. Other great men of
history point to a philosophy and teach good ideas. Only Jesus
pointed to Himself, claimed to be God, and spoke with authority
that matched His claim.
- What He did. Jesus forgave sins
(Luke 5:20). He rose from the dead (Luke 24), raised others from
the dead (John 11:43-44), and He walked on water (John 6:19).
No one on earth has ever done the things Jesus did. There is no
way around it. Jesus is special, about that there can be no doubt.
did Jesus have to die in order for me to go to heaven?
- Because the wages of sin is death
(Romans 6:23). Though Jesus never sinned (1 Peter 2:22), He bore
our sins in His body on the cross (1 Peter 2:24) and died. He
died in our place. Instead of God making us pay for our sins,
He did it Himself by becoming one of us.
- Two things happen when we sin:
one to God and one to ourselves. When we sin, God is offended.
Why? Because it is His Law that we are breaking. Also, when we
sin we are killed. We don't die right there on the spot, we will
face a death that is far more severe. Sin kills us (Romans 9:12)
by causing eternal separation from God (Isaiah 59:2). God hates
sin (Habakkuk 1:13) and sin must be punished. Since we are unable
to please God because we are all sinners, He made an offering
that is pleasing to Him. That offering was the sacrifice of Jesus
on the cross. There was no other way. If there were, God would
have done it.
makes you think the Bible is the word of God?
- Prophecy. The Old Testament was
written before Jesus was ever born. The New Testament was written
by the men who knew Jesus, who walked with Him, ate with Him,
and learned from Him. In the Old Testament there are prophecies
concerning His birthplace (Micah 5:1-2), that He would be born
of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14), that He would be rejected by His own
people (Isaiah 53:3), that He would be betrayed by a close friend
(Isaiah 41:9), that He would die by having His hands and feet
pierced (Psalm 22:16-18), and that He would rise from the dead
(Psalm 16:10, 49:15). In the New Testament all these prophecies,
and many more, are fulfilled by Jesus. Now, this is the question
you must answer: "If the Bible is not inspired from God, then
why does it have so many fulfilled prophecies?" How is that possible
if the Bible were not from God?
Only God knows the future, has power
over it, and can look into it to tell us exactly what will happen.
In the Bible we have the finger prints of God: fulfilled prophecy!
- Wisdom. The Bible is full of the
greatest truths about man and God, sin, and salvation. The Sermon
on the Mount (Matthew 5) is beautiful in its wisdom, humility,
and love. The Psalm are incredible poetry of great depth and
beauty. The New Testament epistles are great descriptions of love,
forgiveness, longsuffering, kindness, etc. Even if you don't want
to become a Christian, studying the truth God has revealed in
the Bible will greatly help you in your life. (The aim is not
to merely to get the person to use the Bible as a guide to good
living, but to encourage him to read it. This way, he will at
least be reading the Word of God and be that much closer to conversion
because God's Word will accomplish what He wants it to (Isaiah
New Testament was written so that it would only look like Jesus
- Then what you are saying is that
the New Testament writers lied about Jesus. He really didn't rise
from the dead and all those miracles about Him are really false,
I could see your point, but there
is just one problem. How do you account for the writers of the New
Testament teaching about truth, love, honesty, giving, etc. all
based on lies? Why would they suffer hardships like beatings, starvation,
shipwreck, imprisonments, and finally execution for nothing but
lies? What you are saying doesn't make any sense and raises more
questions than it answers.
The only logical explanation is that
the fulfilled prophecies really did happen. Jesus actually rose
from the dead. He performed miracles and He forgave sins. He forgave
sins then and He can still do it now. My sins are forgiven, are
Bible is full of contradictions.
- Really. Do you know of any? Could
you quote me one or two?
- (Just in case someone actually
does quote what he thinks is a contradiction, it is up to you
to give a competent answer (1 Peter 3:15). If you can't, don't
worry. Simply tell him that you will research it and get back
with him, and make sure you do.
- There are areas of
Scripture that are difficult to understand. This does not mean
the Bible is untrustworthy. A very good book to have is the Encyclopedia
of Bible Difficulties by Gleason Archer, Zondervan Publishing
House, (Grand Rapids Michigan).
do I know which religion is right?
- (This is a difficult question
to answer because it involves discussing some principles that
the person you are witnessing to may or may not agree with. For
example, does he or she agree with you that truth is knowable,
that God would attempt to communicate with His people, or that
only one religion may be right? Usually, I start by acknowledging
the difficulty of coming to an easy answer. However, I tell them
that I do have an answer; I am sure it is the right one, because
it is an answer based on evidence. What kind of evidence? Prophecy
and its fulfillment (see question # 34), Jesus and His miracles,
the resurrection of Christ, etc. Then I ask that person if he
or she knows of these things happening in other religions.(1) The answer is invariably, "No." Then I point out
that they have only happened in Christianity. If any religion
were true, Christianity fits the bill.
is whatever you feel is right.
- How do you know what you feel
is right? Haven't your feelings ever turned out to be wrong? Are
you are saying that what you feel determines truth? If so, then
you are putting yourself in the place of God and looking to yourself
for what you "feel" is right.
- If religion is whatever you feel
is right then that could lead to chaos. What if some people had
a religion where they felt stealing was acceptable? And what about
lying and cheating? Would you trust someone who believed in a
religion that felt it was alright to steal, lie, and cheat?
- Hitler felt killing Jews was right.
He was wrong. The Bible says that the heart is deceitful and untrustworthy
(Jeremiah 17:9). If you could come to know truth by what you felt,
then the Bible, which is the revelation of God, didn't need to
be written. But, it has been written and it has revealed that
only God is the Source of truth, not your feelings.
- I've never known truth to contradict
itself. What if someone felt that something was right and another
person felt it was wrong. Would they both be right? If your statement
is true, then how could there be a contradiction like that if
feelings determined truth?
religions are different paths to the same place.
- If all religions are different
paths to the same place then why do the paths contradict each
other? Does truth contradict itself? Let's review the teachings
of just three religions:
- Buddhism is pantheistic
and says there is no personal God and everyone can reach
Godlikeness on his own.
- Islam says that Jesus was
just a prophet and not the only way to God.
- Christianity says that there
is a personal God and that the only way to Him is through
Jesus (John 14:6).
If these three religions are, as
you say, different paths to the same place, then why do they contradict
each other? Does truth contradict itself?
about dinosaurs and evolution?
- See the section on Evolution.
- Also, you could read a couple
of books: Evolution The Fossils Say No! by Duane T. Gish
(Creation Life Publishers, San Diego), and Man's Origin, Man's
Destiny by A. E. Wilder-Smith. Bethany House Publishers, (Minneapolis,
Minn.). Both books will help you greatly.
- Even if evolution were true (it
isn't -- but just for the sake of argument), does that mean there
is no God? How do you know God didn't use it to get us here? (I
am not teaching that evolution is true, nor that God used it,
which is called theistic evolution, I am simply reasoning with
them.) If you believe in evolution does that mean you aren't a
sinner? God won't accept the excuse that you believed in evolution
and not Him.
- Have you examined evolution to
see if it is true? Evolution is not all that you are led to believe.
There are all kinds of problems in the fossil record. New theories
are being raised all the time to account for why there aren't
any undisputed transitional forms found between any species of
any kind, anywhere, anytime in all the fossil record. But, you
wouldn't know these things because you haven't studied. You need
to know the facts about evolution and you need to know the facts
1. Note: Be careful. Just because someone does
not know if there has been any similar occurrences in other religions
doesn't mean that there aren't. You should point that out. However,
no other religion in the world has ever made the claims that Christianity
has, and lived up to them.