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Bible Studies

What are the Answers to Life's Ultimate Issues?

By Dr. Richard J. Krejcir
1. What does the Bible say about the existence of God and is Jesus really God?
2. What does the Bible say about life after death?
3. What does the Bible say about there only being one way to get to heaven?
4. What does the Bible say about Jesus rising from the dead?
5. What does the Bible say about what happens to those who die without ever believing in Christ?
6. What does the Bible say about how Christians can believe in a loving God with SO much suffering in the world?
7. What does the Bible say about other religions?
8. How can the miracles in the Bible be true?
9. What does the Bible say about the spirit world?
10. What does the Bible say about New Age beliefs?

1.      What does the Bible say about the existence of God and is Jesus really God? 

First, Christians do not believe in God because they can prove He exists: they become sure He exists as they believe and trust Him. 

Second, believing in the existence of God is a requirement in order to become a Christian, but believing in the existence of God doesn't make you a Christian. You can admit that someone or something exists and still not be willing to have anything to do them. The Bible makes this point clear when it says. "You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that - and shudder" (James 2: 19). Throughout history people have believed in the existence of supernatural beings. Instead of asking, "Do I believe in God?" a more appropriate question is, "what kind of God do I believe in?"  

Third, Christians are not people who believe they have discovered God; but, people to whom God has revealed Himself. Christians believe in a very specific God. This God has shown Himself through creation, through the Bible, and convincingly in Jesus Christ. 

Fourth. Christians are aware that there are many questions created by the existence of God. In fact, they realize that without God all questions become meaningless. Leaving us without any ultimate reason for our existence. 

All the questions and answers that follow take for granted not only the existence of God; but also the fact that He is a God who allows Himself to be known. Christians are sure that God exists and that Jesus is God because they have met Him personally through the Bible and their lives. 

T H E BOTTOM L I N E: "The fool says in his heart, "There is no God. " (Ps 14: 1)

 

2. What does the Bible say about life after death?

The scientific mindset tells us the answer is 'Oblivion' but this is not a popular belief in society. People who say we all just die and that's it, are sometimes viewed as courageous. But their group is small, They seem a little like the man who stood on the railroad tracks and yelled as the train was bearing down on him, "It may hit me, but it won't hurt me!" Death is the train. By the time it hits you, it's too late to decide whether it might hurt you or not!

On the other hand 'Life after death', is a popular belief, most religions have some kind of teaching on this. Some even believe we re-enter new lives after death, reincarnation. But the Bible teaches that life goes only one way, not in circles. In other words, we pass through death once and what happens beyond this life depends heavily on what has happened in this life! How we behave and learn in this life affects what we will experience in the next. So we need to be serious about life before it ends!

Up to this point, Christianity sounds like any other religion. But it is right here that Christianity parts ways with all other religions. In general religion tries to get people to make themselves good enough for a positive experience in the afterlife. Christianity says this cannot be done. By the time we are aware of our own sin, we are already drowning in it. Religion shouts to the drowning person, "swim harder"; but through Christ, God throws us the life preserver, He offers to rescue people who otherwise are hopelessly lost. Paul said: "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this; while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).

            The Bible clearly teaches in life after death, there will be a judgment on how we have lived this life. Only those who have accepted Christ's suffering in their place will be declared "not guilty," From that point on, people will be, for eternity, with Christ or apart from Christ. 

THE BOTTOM LINE: "man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment" (Heb 9:27). "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ" (Rom 6: 23).

 

3. What does the Bible say about there only being one way to get to heaven?

This belief troubles many people because it seems so narrow minded, so limited, Maybe you have heard someone say, 'We are all traveling to the same destination; we're just taking different paths," or "It doesn't matter what you believe in, as long as you're sincere." But the truth is always narrow. If a car hits you then you get hurt or die. If you swim in the ocean you will get wet. Sincerity is important, but it is not a substitute for truth.

'What if you failed an exam in school or a performance review at work and then tried to argue with the professor or your boss that you should have passed because you were sincere? Do you think they would buy it? Not a chance! Both you and your teacher would know there are right and wrong answers to the test questions, and your job objections. And because you did not give the right answers, or performed as you should then you failed. What if you drank a liquid that looked like a harmless soft drink, but it contained a deadly poison? The old chemistry saying, "little Johnny is no more what he thought was H2O (water) was H2SO4 (sulfuric acid)."  

Would your sincerity matter? No, you would die because you drank poison. That's the narrow truth. What kind of surgeon would you like to have operate on you? A skilled and well-trained doctor, or someone who sincerely loved you, but was a medical school dropout? The answer is obvious.

Let's say you want to call your friend on the phone, but you forgot his phone number, so you punch in any random numbers, because you sincerely WANT to reach him so badly. SURELY your sincerity will get you through! No way- only ONE phone number will work. 

            Here's one last question, suppose you were traveling and came to a dead end at the edge of a cliff. But you heard that there was a bridge across the chasm ten miles to the east. Would you stand at the precipice and whine and complain that the bridge wasn't at the spot where you stood? Would you complain that the bridge builder was unfair because they provided only one way across? Of course not! You'd be thankful that there was a way across, and you would cross the bridge.

            The point? Truth is narrow! There is only one way a person can get to God, only one bridge to heaven, Jesus Christ. Christians didn't make this up. Jesus himself said that HE was the way, the truth and the Life. The only way: then He proved that what He claimed was true through His life, death, and resurrection. Thus you should thank God there IS a way! Because He was not obligated to save anyone, He did it out of pure undeserving love.  

THE BOTTOM LINE "Jesus answered, I am the way and the truth and the life, No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6) 

"It's not that I am afraid to die, I just don't want to be there when it happens" Woody Allen

 

4. What does the Bible say about Jesus rising from the dead?

Wouldn't Christianity be more of an acceptable faith without the awkward belief that the Founder rose from the dead? It would sure make it easier to get along with other religions. After all, their founders died and stayed dead. Some think it's time to call the Easter story a nice fable.

            Make no mistake; the resurrection of Jesus was the birth of Christianity. You cannot get rid of it any more than you can disbelieve in your own birth date. If you disprove the bodily resurrection of Jesus, Christianity tumbles into a run-of -the-mill religion. The resurrection is the proof and power of the gospel.

That's why Christians insist on the resurrection. It's the foundation for their faith.

            Something remarkable and shattering happened to a group of people on that first Easter. It transformed them from confused and fearful followers of a dead teacher into confident believers who gave their lives for Him. After being with the risen Christ, they shared a hope greater than death with anyone who would listen! Simple men and women became courageous. Many sacrificed everything, including their lives, to spread the good news. They knew death was defeated and Jesus was alive!

            People tried many ways to explain the resurrection away, Often those who begin to try to discredit the Bible end up as believers. The resurrection still convinces people of the truth about Christ. 

THE BOTTOM LINE: "And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins" (1 Corinthians 15:17).

 

5. What does the Bible say about what happens to those who die without ever believing in Christ?

Christians believe Jesus' statement: "whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life. For God's wrath remains on him" (John 3:36). Jesus explained that this condemnation and wrath means eternal punishment and separation from God: "How will you escape condemnation to hell?" (Matthew 23:33)

Two distinct groups fail into the category of those who die without believing in Christ: (a) those who hear about Christ, sometimes repeatedly without ever responding. And (b) those who never hear. (Sorry; after reading this you are not part of group b!) Has this been an issue for you? Consider this scenario. A rescue ship arrives on the scene of a disaster and throws rescue lines to those drowning. But some of the victims instead of allowing themselves to be pulled to safety shout questions about whether the ship will guarantee to save everyone or what will happen to those who don't get a rope in time. Not only does this not make sense, it also presents the possibility that not responding will delay the rescuers from saving others. Those who know the message but do not respond before they die will have rejected Christ. The Bible is clear on their fate. If we disown Him, He will also disown us (2 Timothy 2: 12).

             The fact is that God loves all human beings and would like nothing better than to rescue all of us. (2 Peter 3:9). He created men and women in His image with a built-in thirst for Him (Genesis 1: 27), reveals Himself through nature (Romans 1: 18-20), through the Bible (2 Peter 1: 21), and through His Son Jesus. Who showed His love for us and died for us (John 3: 16). He has done everything conceivable, even entrenching upon our human free will (such as with Paul) to draw people to Himself.

But from Adam and Eve on, men and women have consistently denied and rejected God, Including those who saw Christ with their own eyes (John I: 10- 12). God does not judge them for what they have not heard, but for what they have heard and rejected (Luke 12:47-48, Romans 2:11-16). The fact is that God does not send anyone to hell. People send themselves by rejecting God's love and mercy!

When it comes to those who have never heard Christians trust in the justice of God. They take seriously the command to take the gospel around the world. The Bible also promises that those who seek God will find Him, and at the same time it is us who are accorded of the search; for God seeks us before we seek Him (Luke 11: 9-10).  

  • What are you doing with the truth that you know about God and His Son, Jesus? 

THE BOTTOM LINE "I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now the day of salvation." (2 Corinthians 6:2)

 

6. What does the Bible say about how Christians can believe in a loving God with SO much suffering in the world?

Christians do not believe they have figured out suffering, because we all sill get sick and we still suffer and die. We still suffer loss and broken hearts. Even TV preachers who claim God will heal you if you have enough faith suffer in pain and one such preacher who is famous for the prosperity gospel (believing God is a divine bellhop and will give what ever you desire if you have faith. But this is anti- Scripture) I know, has suffered the extreme pain of cancer and another with an unknown disease.

It is not so much how we answer the question or problem of suffering, but how we live our lives with it! Suffering builds, convicts, purifies and molds us to be better, stronger and prepares us for the wonder of eternity. We did not start out with suffering; sin entered in and distorted everything. It is by our free choice to rebel that caused all things in the universe to fall into depravity. Yet God will work it out for His glory and our good (Rom. 8:28)!

Everything suffers in the universe, as I sit and type this the filament of my lamp is burning away. The sun is extinguishing its finite fuel. Everything has limits and endings. We are not promised a smooth pain and error free ride in life. If so, what would be the point, what would we learn if everything went our way. It might be fun to hypnotize about, but in reality a time comes when we must venture out and experience life. And life, the soil, our soul and everything have been corrupted with sin.

We are here for a purpose to learn and grow and sometimes it takes suffering to bring it on. Remember no one in history lost so much and suffered so much who did not deserve it, as our Lord Jesus Christ! And He did it for you and me so we can have eternal life, a cost that He paid that we could not.

Pain in life is unavoidable and often unanswerable. Our whys are usually met with silence. But God has given us something far more valuable than answers. He has given us Himself. Jesus understands our suffering. He has been there. "Because He Himself suffered when He was tempted. He is able to aid those who are tempted" (Hebrews 2: 18). The cross is proof that God understands suffering.

 

Here are some other ways the Bible helps understand the conundrum of suffering: 

  • Humans have a free will and natural Laws remain consistent. These two cause conflicts with each other resulting in suffering. The laws of physics that makes an airplane fly will cause a person to fall. Just as the hardness of a hammer can drive in a nail and be useful for construction and will also smash a thumb and case pain. Combined with that is that all things, soil, people, animals, nature…are all corrupted by sin. (Romans 8:18-24)

 

  • Human beings misuse their free will by rebelling against God rather than obeying Him. That rebellion affected all of our relationships too, so when a spouse is abused or a person is robbed this caused by the rebellion and sin of others that affect those around the person inflicting the sin.

.

  • The Bible describes how creation has suffered because sin had ecological consequences. Thus we are in an imperfect world that produces all sorts of pain. (Genesis 3-4)

 

  • Suffering sometimes comes through the way people treat each other intentionally. They have the ability to do good, but wrong decisions and pride cause a lot of pain and evil.

 

  • God gave us many good gifts that we have put to the worst possible use. The element Uranium can be an incredible pollution free source of energy (fusion) or it can be misused to do mass destruction. Or be miss-engineered to produce power that causes harmful waste (fission), all by our fee choice to mold it in the way we desire.

 

  • The church exists to be the representation of Christ on earth. When we care for the poor as we care for Christ, when we ignore the poor we ignore Christ. The church and the people of God for the most part have neglected their call and duty. God uses Christians as instruments of His grace and dealings and will rarely intervene personally. So it is up to us to follow in His character to elevate suffering. Jesus told Paul he was persecuting Him.  (Acts 9; Romans 8; Galatians 3; Ephesians 3; 5; I Peter 1; I Corinthians 12; II Corinthians 3; 5) 

            In spite of much evil in the world the Bible says there could be much, much more. God sets the boundaries by His Spirit. Only in eternity will we be able to appreciate just how much God intervened daily to keep evil under control. For Christians, the greatest hope is that God defeated evil once and for all time on the cross, but the fruits of it we will not fully see until we go home to the place we were created for, Heaven.

Though we do not like to admit it, pain is sometimes beneficial. God gave us a capacity to feel pain as warning of even greater potential suffering. The initial pain of touching a hot pipe is nothing compared to the suffering of holding on to it. Pain helps us reconsider our options. For Christians there is hope through the pain. All suffering will eventually end. Christians trust that God Will prevail. And remember we are only on this earth for a short, short, short time in the grand scheme of eternity, we are here temporarily, and our permanent home is yet to come!

Sooner or later God will abolish suffering and this hope makes life endurable for believers (Revelations 21-22). 

THE BOTTOM LINE "He will wipe every tear.,. There will be no death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." (Revelation 21: 4).

 

7. What does the Bible say about other religions?

First a clarification is needed. The word religion can mean two very different things. Sometimes it is used to refer to a denomination within Christianity like Baptist, Episcopal, Lutheran, Methodist, and whatever yours may be (there are nearly 1,500)! These are not different religions, because they all hold the same essential core truths of Christianity (they are suppose to, but not all do). They are merely different expressions of Christianity. Most of the deviations are in the way we govern the church and how we perform our worship services. But 99% of essential doctrine is in agreement, what we disagree with is not essential. And of course there are always rogue pastors, teachers and churches who toot their own horn and ignore the clear precepts of Scripture!

            Sometimes religion refers to a systems of beliefs, these include Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, UFO cults, or ??? Christians can respect other religions because they all contain some truth, but not the Truth of the Way, of Jesus Christ! Thus, Christianity is exclusive as most religions are, even though the world of academia may say all religions are the same. This popular notion that religions are only different on superficial things but are all the same is flat out not true. Actually, religions tend to be more similar on superficial matters but differ at their core. For instance, most religious groups encourage prayer, but to whom those prayers are directed differs greatly in each religion, even in Protestant (Jesus, God, Holy Spirit) verses Catholic (Jesus, God, Holy Spirit, and Mary)

            There is at least one point that makes Christianity unique. All the other systems teach that the individual is ultimately the master of their own fate, with eternal punishments and rewards based on one's behavior in this life. But the Bible says that eternal life is a gift, which cannot be earned and certainly is not deserved. How we live and what we do becomes very important as a response to God's free gift, not an effort to earn that gift in any way. Christians can appreciate the ethical systems others have formed. They can respect the lives that followers of other religions live. But when the discussion turns to setting the fact of sin and the matters of eternity. The Bible says, "Jesus is The Answer." 

THE BOTTOM LINE "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12).

 

8. How can the miracles in the Bible be true?

Christians believe in miracles because they believe in a God who acts. He is not a static or unconscious power. He has established laws of nature, and He can intervene in those laws if He chooses. He reserves the right to suspend those laws if He chooses to do so. Miracles are exactly that, events beyond natural understanding. They demand a supernatural explanation.

All four gospels describe miracles in the ministry of Jesus. He exercised control over every aspect of life. The main lesson is that miracles can confirm faith but not create it. "And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith" (Matthew 13:58). "When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue and many who heard him were amazed. "Where did this man get these things?" they asked. "What's this wisdom that has given him that he even does miracles!" (Mark 6:2). "If I had not done among them what no one else did they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have seen these miracles and yet they have hated both me and my Father" (John 15:24; Luke 16: 19-31).

The problem, for the unbeliever is that he or she must keep a closed mind. Their own senses and awareness must be the final test of truth. No matter how unusual the event, or how well it is witnessed he or she must deny the miraculous. Allow one little miracle and suddenly the world becomes a place into which God may present Himself at any moment, Christians are convinced by the grand miracle: the resurrection of Jesus Christ. If it is true, then the miraculous is always a possibility. If the resurrection did not happen, then it doesn't really matter if there are miracles or not, that is because, as the Bible puts it. "If Christ has not been raised your faith is futile you are still in your sins" (1 Corinthians 15:17). 

THE BOTTOM LINE: "Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe. " Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in the book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name." (John 20:29-31)

 

9. What does the Bible say about the spirit world?

The Bible recognizes the spiritual realm as real and infecting upon us and tells us about spiritual powers for good and evil. It explains what is behind our struggles in life: "Finally be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms" (Eph 6; 10-12).

Angels are described as superhuman servants of God. One of these, Satan. rebelled against God and took a large number of angels with him. They were cast out of heaven and will eventually be permanently put in hell (2 Peter 2:4. Isaiah 14:12-15, Rev 20: 10). In the meantime. Satan and his forces are actively polluting the world with sin. Their plan is to use people's own rebellious nature against God to keep them from hearing the gospel. "The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers so that they cannot see the light of the gospel.." (2 Corinthians 4:4). They also take advantage of human tendencies: "For everything in the world - the cravings of sinful man the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does - comes not from the Father but from the world" (1 John 2: 16).

The Bible records many types of Angels, Seraph, Cherub, Demons as well as "Powers", Principalities" and such. We do not know what these last two actually are. Only that God is a great Creator and our understanding of the universe is a mere drop in the ocean!

Christians have been freed from Satan's power: For God has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves. In whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins (Colossians 1:13-14). Jesus Himself prayed for us: "My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one" (John 17: l5).

Christians are called on to willfully resist the influence of Satan: "Humble yourselves. Therefore under God's mighty hand that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him. Standing firm in the faith. Because you know that your brothers- throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings" (I Peter 5:6-9). 

THE BOTTOM LINE: "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38-39) 

 

10. What does the Bible say about New Age beliefs?

The Bible speaks forcefully against any attempt to replace the worship of the One true God with worship of our self or any created thing. New Age beliefs really turn out to be dressed up 'Old Age' unbelief, such as a mix of Hinduism and Pantheism. People keep coming up with alternate ways to express their basic rebellion toward God. The Bible describes the process this way: "For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise. they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles" (Romans 1 :21 -23).

New Age philosophy is often called a progressive step in humanity's evolution toward divinity (this is also what Mormonism teaches). This is diametrically opposed to faith in Jesus Christ. One explanation for the growing popularity of the New Age movement is that it rarely presents itself in an obviously religious form. The term New Age seems to be innocently attached to everything from music styles to diets, from relaxation techniques to medical practices. But the underlying philosophy is seldom discussed. Although some of the things called New Age are benign, such as the music and diet, which some committed Christians find relaxing and beneficial. Just be careful and discerning!

Most New Age thinking is based on Hinduism and Animism. It teaches through 'enlightened' gurus. They teach that a person is able to discover the 'god' within and finally arrive at a state of god-consciousness. In essence it teaches that we are all gods and our real problem is that we have not yet realized it (ironically this teaching has crept into some churches, so be careful). But Ezekiel warns: "In the pride of your heart you say. I am a god; I sit on the throne of a god in the heart of the seas.' But you are a man and not a god though you think you are as wise as a god" (Ezekiel 28:2).

Genesis also makes it clear that humans are created beings that are very special to God, but not god: "So God created man in his own image, in the image of god he created him; male and female..." (Gen 1: 27).

Extensive worldly acceptance of New Age thinking has invaded medicine, music, politics, and education it must be seen as a demonic effort to stage an attack on Christian values and teaching. Followers of Christ have always been urged to be alert: "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the principles of this world rather than on Christ" (Colossians 2:8). 

THE BOTTOM LINE: "They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator  who is forever praised. Amen." (Romans 1: 25)

 © 1984, 2001 R.J. Krejcir www.intothyword.com

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