What is Christianity all about? Some frequently asked questions.
If you're wondering what Christianity is all about, it is quite easy to explain. We all have a choice of two ways to live our lives - our way or God's way. Click here to have it explained to you simply ... it could be the most important thing you ever do.
What do Christians believe? Here is a summary of the whole of the Bible's message. Below are some common questions.
God is the loving ruler of the world, and he made us to live in a special relationship with him.
People everywhere have rebelled against God our creator, and have tried and failed to run the world themselves.
God will judge this rebellion, but because of his love for us, he sent Jesus his son into the world so that we do not have to suffer the consequences of our rebellion.
Jesus died to take the punishment for our rebellion, and rose from death as the ruler of the world. God offers us a new start with Jesus running our lives.
We can continue to reject Jesus, OR we can let Jesus run our lives and receive from him forgiveness and a new start in our relationship with God. Click here for more details of this choice we all have to make...
How do you know that God exists? We can only know God is there if he chooses to make himself known. He has done this in history in the person of Jesus. Had we lived almost 2000 years ago, we could have seen him face to face. Jesus claimed to be God and he backed up those claims with his actions. He calmed storms, healed the sick, cast out evil spirits, raised the dead, and forgave people. When Jesus himself was put to death, he rose again. The evidence of Jesus' life and actions demonstrate that he was who he claimed to be: the living God. He is our principal reason for knowing that God is there. (see John 5:18, 20:28-29)
Can we trust that the Bible is true and accurate? Scholars of history apply various tests to ancient documents to establish their historical reliability. When these tests are applied to the Bible it stands head and shoulders above any comparable early writings as a document to be taken seriously as reliable history. The Bible has stood the test of time as both an accurate historical document, and a theological interpretation of God's dealing with humanity.
Aren't all good people Christians? How good would you have to be? Suppose you and I took an exam with a pass mark of 100. I get 80, you get 95. We have both still failed. Some of us are better than others, but nobody meets God's standards. God says that there is only one way to be a Christian and it is not being good - we actually need to apologise to God for rebelling against him, and thank him for the death of Jesus which pays for our rebellion. We should then ask God to help us live with Jesus as our Lord. We are to live in a way that pleases God BECAUSE we have been forgiven, not IN ORDER TO be forgiven. (see Romans 3:23, John 14:6)
What is the purpose of life? Many people think that their life has no purpose. Others make their own purpose and take their own direction. The Bible, however, has a straight answer to this question. God gives us our purpose. We were made to know him and serve him, to have friendship with him. Our relationships with each other on earth may well be an echo of the ultimate relationship we were meant to have with God.
Is there life after death? Everyone has a sense that this life is not the end. The Bible teaches clearly that this life is not all that there is, and to give our lives meaning and worth, they have to be evaluated or judged, because God is a just God. Those who rebel against God will be eternally separated from him in hell. Jesus paints a description of hell in the darkest hues imaginable - he speaks of people being cast ‘outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ (Matthew 22:13) However, if we accept God’s rescue through Jesus, we are given an undeserved gift of eternal life and when we are judged, God will grant us new life in heaven.
Do you have to go to church to be a Christian? The short answer is clearly a big NO! Going to church makes you a Christian as much as walking into a garage makes you a car. A Christian is not defined by what they DO for God, but by their trust in what God has DONE for them in Jesus. God is not after church goers; he is building a family. Of course, once you are a member of his family it will be natural to want to meet with other members of the family. A church is just God's family getting together.
Why does God allow suffering? There is no simple answer to this question. All of us go through suffering in our lives, and many people suffer greatly. The degree to which some people suffer is heart-breaking. The Bible shows us that God is all-perfect (He hates suffering and evil) and all-powerful (He could remove it in an instant). Suffering exists in the world because of the human race's rebellion against God. God hates suffering, has suffered himself, and has promised that there will be no suffering in heaven. He has done something about our suffering by sending Jesus to die so that we can be forgiven and be with him in heaven. (see John 5:14, Romans 8:18-25, Hebrews 12:7-11)
Who was Jesus? Not only do we have four records of his life and work in the Bible, called the Gospels, but there is also evidence from non-Christian sources about him. His life was remarkable. Even his enemies couldn’t find fault and had to make up charges against him. Jesus claimed to be God, and backed up these claims by miraculous signs and forgiving sins (Mark 2:1-12). The evidence shows that Jesus was either mad (claiming to be God), or bad (leading people astray), or he really was God - the divine Creator as a perfect human being.
Did Jesus really rise from the dead? The New Testament is dominated by the the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, so we must consider its importance. Consider the facts: Jesus died at 33, spent only three years in the public eye, never wrote a book, left nothing but a group of demoralised followers who had gone back to their day job - fishing! How do we account for the meteoric rise of the church? The Bible’s answer - Jesus was raised from the dead. It describes how several people claimed to have seen him over a period of 40 days after he had died; how the disciples suffered for proclaiming that Jesus had risen from the dead, which they surely would not have done unless they believed it to be true; and how no one could produce Jesus's body, which could have easily disproved the resurrection.
What about those who have never heard of Jesus? The Bible does not specifically address this question. However, the Bible does reveal to us that God will be absolutely fair in his judgements. Justice is good if you have done the right things. But if you have not, mercy is the best option. Many people behave as if they have heard nothing about God when in fact they have. You need to respond to what you have heard, and not use this question as an excuse for your inaction.
Aren't all religions the same? There are many people who sincerely believe in a different 'religion' or 'creed'. They may be very worthy religions, but sincerity is not the issue. We must remember that people can be sincerely wrong. Truth is the issue. It is not possible for every religion to be true or right, because they contradict each other. Christianity has some distinctive features which are not compatible with other religions. Other religions say you must DO certain things in order to be right with God. Christianity says Jesus has DONE it all. He died to make us right with God. Jesus said, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (See also John 14:6)
Isn't faith purely psychological? If faith was based on our experience and how we feel, then this could well be true. However, Christianity is based on real historical events (the life, death and resurrection of Jesus) and the truth of Christianity has nothing to do with our mental state.
Hasn't science disproved Christianity? Science is gradually coming to the conclusion that the world could not exist as a result of random chance. More and more scientific evidence is pointing to the existence of a creator. Science is discovering how God made the universe.
How can a loving God send people to hell? The Bible reveals two critical sides of God's character - His justice and his love. Since all of us humans are rebels and God is supremely just, we all deserve to be punished. If we tell God we want to be separate from Him, God gives us what we want - eternal separation. We just don't realise how bad that would be. But because God is supremely loving, He sends His son who takes all the wrath of God's anger on himself. If we accept the death of Jesus for us we can spend eternity in heaven not hell. The amazing thing is not that God sends people to hell (for that is horrible - but just), but that God opens the way for us to go to heaven - not because of our good works, but because of His great love in sending Jesus to take our punishment.