I've read the gospel but still have questions
If you’ve read the gospel but still have questions before you’re ready to accept it and believe, you’re at an important crossroads. Jesus tells us, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3) Eventually you’ll need to lay your questions down and trust Him even though you don’t understand it all. That said, there does seem to be a time to ask questions - some level of investigation may be necessary for you to know what you believe.

decide for yourself

Whether you were raised in a Christian home, a home that believed something other than the gospel of Christ or a home that believed nothing at all, there comes a time when we must each decide for ourselves what we believe. When you allow yourself to think it through, that’s when you can make it our own. If God is real and the gospel is true, it should be able to stand up to some questions.

There were two men in recent history that were considered very intelligent and each wrestled with the idea of Christianity. The first of these two men was C.S. Lewis (author of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe) who “vigorously resisted” believing. After much reasoning with friend J.R.R. Tolkien (author of Lord of the Rings), Lewis ended up laying down his atheism and embraced faith in Christ. The second man was Josh McDowell who set out to prove the Bible wrong but instead found overwhelming evidence of the Bible’s perfect accuracy. He traded agnostic beliefs for Christianity and wrote Evidence that Demands a Verdict about his quest to prove the Bible wrong.

Generally those considered intelligent by the world’s standards find faith difficult to embrace. You might say their own intelligence gets in the way. God has “hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children” (Luke 10:21b) The sooner you can work through your questions and believe, the sooner you can enjoy all the benefits that God bestows on those who believe.

check your motives

If you’re asking questions because you so want to know and be sure, you’re gonna be ok. Jesus tells us, “seek and you shall find” (Matthew 7:7b) He knows your heart and if you are genuinely looking for answers, He’s going to want to help you through that process. On the other hand, if you’re just asking questions to get attention but don’t really care about the answers, you‘ve got to check your motives. Those who are simply trying to undermine Christians by trying to trick them with questions are in bad company. The Pharisees (the evil-hearted religious teachers in Jesus’ time) tried to do the same thing to Jesus. Good luck trying to outsmart God!

what is the heart of your question?

As you went through the gospel, was there any specific point that you found yourself resisting? That’s the area you should look further into.

• Is it hard to accept that God is the Creator of all?
“For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20)“For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God.” (Hebrews 3:4)
Take a look at this amazing video:
https://tubitv.com/movies/452964/god_of_wonders (or google “God of wonders documentary”)

• Are you doubting that Jesus is God?
Read Exodus 3:13-14 followed by John 8:57-58
Read Psalm 107:28-30 followed by Mark 4:37-41
“And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was (John 17:5) He said He was God. If He was lying, would He have been willing to die for the lie?If He was insane, would he have been esteemed by so many and made so much sense? Have you ever met someone that was crazy? They don’t act like Jesus did. Jesus healed “crazy” people. He did miracles and fulfilled every prophecy written about the coming Christ in the Old Testament. Read the book of John and ask yourself - is Jesus the Lord?

• If God is so good how can He send good people to Hell?
They send themselves to Hell by refusing to believe. “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:18) It’s also about the definition of good. Our standards of good are based on comparing ourselves with other people. God’s standard of good is absolute perfection. Compared to God’s goodness, no one is good. “As it is written: There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10)

God created Hell for the devil and demons. Until we accept who Jesus is (God) and what He did for us on the cross, we belong to the devil who is the god of this world (and a hateful master). This is true whether we are good or bad. It God’s desire that we allow Him to pay for what we owe and then, purchased by His blood, we belong to Him - a loving Master. For each that can accept this, they will go to Heaven to be with Him for eternity based on what Christ did for us. For each that reject it, they will go where their master the devil is sent, to Hell.

• The good I’ve done will help me get to Heaven.
On the cross, shortly before Jesus died, He declared, “it is finished!”. The word “finished” is from the Greek word, “tetelestai,” which means “paid in full.” How can you help pay for something that has already been completely paid for?And yet if you’ve been under the impression that your good actions (or lack of bad actions) has been paying toward your ticket to Heaven, it can be a difficult reality to accept that it’s gotten you nowhere in terms of credit with God. Even so, don’t let that keep you from understanding and embracing the truth that Jesus is God and did everything necessary to save you. This is not to say one shouldn’t be good. Just don’t get confused about what your goodness is accomplishing regarding Heaven. You need what Christ did for you - paid in full.

• How could Christianity be the only way to Heaven?
Before the guards took Jesus away from the disciples to have Him crucified, He was alone in a garden talking with the Father in Heaven. He knew the horrible physical pain He was about to suffer and what it would be like to experience having all of our sin be put on Him. He knew for the first time in His eternal existence He would feel se per at ion between Himself and the Father as He experienced the penalty we deserve. Because of this, He was deeply distressed and asked the Father if maybe there was another way to save sinners. In the end, He needed to lay aside His intensesorrow and distress and go through all that lay ahead of Him on that very difficult road. If faith in Christ is just one of many ways to get to Heaven, do you think Jesus would have gone through all that He did? “Yes I gave my life for the lost and it was unthinkable what I went through but don’t worry there’s countless others ways to get to Heaven”? Really?? “Jesus said to him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6) “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Jesus Christ, who gave Himself a ransom for all” (I Timothy 2:5-6a)

• With so much pain in the world, how could God be loving?
God has given mankind the amazing gift of free will. We are not automatically obedient but are only obedient when we choose to be. When we choose to disobey that is called sin. It‘s sin that causes the pain in the world. When Adam and Eve sinned, it opened the door to much trouble (Genesis chapter 3). It’s because of so much sin that God shortened the possible life span of people. You can blame people’s sin for the sickness and death around us. “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23a) When we or others around us sin it causes painful consequences. In order for us to live in a world where free will exists, this is how it must be. That said, it’s painful for God to see us hurt. “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18) “Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4)

The pain we see in the world is a reflection of the devil who works to draw people into disobedience. The enemy seeks to “steal, and to kill, and to destroy” (John 10:10b) The beauty we see around us is a glimpse of God‘s loving character. As an artist’s heart can be seen in his work, so we can see God‘s beauty, awesome creativity, profound intelligence and His love for us in the natural world around us (apart from sin’s effect). Also, we see things from our limited perspective and therefore have limited understanding. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9) You have too high of an opinion of yourself if you think you know better than the all-knowing God.

When you think about it, who says that God has to be loving? He is - he‘s perfectly loving. But why do we assume that that’s how it would automatically be? We can feel very fortunate that it just so happens that the all-powerful creator IS loving. Imagine the kind of existence we would have if the creator was vindictive and cruel like the devil is.

• What about people in “Bongo Bongo” that have never heard about Jesus?
This question seems to be less about needing an answer in order to believe, and more about trying to stump the Christian answering it. This verse in Romans speaks to the situation of dying without hearing about Jesus. “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20) There is an account of missionaries meeting an unreached group in Africa and as they were able to explain the gospel to them, they learned that these people already knew about God from creation. There are those who will hear and respond out of every people on the earth. “For you were killed, and have redeemed us to God by your blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation” (Revelation 5:9).

• I’ve done too many terrible things in my life.
This would be the opposite response of people that are hoping their own righteousness is worth something. These dear people know all too well that they have sinned against God, and have probably been beat up by their own conscience and by the accuser of our souls the devil. If this is you, know that God is not shocked by what you’ve done and nothing we can do is greater that the love He has for us. The forgiveness He offers for those who will believe goes deeper than any depths of our sin. He wants to forgive you and set you free from the shame of your past you’ve been living under.

Please let Him pay for those sins of yours by believing Jesus is in fact God, and understanding that His death and resurrection conquered sin and death on your behalf. Let Him give you the clean start, the certainty of salvation and the strength to live in a pleasing manner to Him. “He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:10-12)

• What’s so important about believing?
It’s believing that separates the saved from the unsaved. “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:18) He made salvation available to all, but the way to access it is through believing. As simple as that sounds, most will not believe. “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14) Why is it so difficult to believe? The definition of believe involves trusting in the reliability, truth or strength of something. So believing is not something that comes without knowing enough about Jesus to trust Him with your life. Would you walk across a narrow old bridge without first checking out if it’s safe? Would you jump out of a 3rd story window into a white circle of fabric held by four people without considering the strength of both the fabric and those holding onto it? Making this type of assessment is part of the decision to believe.

In the end, too many people are comfortable with their ignorance and don’t want to take the effort to think it through. Not to mention a part of them wants to keep their distance from God because of their deeds. “This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.” (John 3:19-20) If you’re unsaved and reading this, you’re halfway there. Most won’t consider what it means to get saved “...because of the hardness of their heart” (Ephesians 4:18b) Keep processing it. Keep wrestling with your questions. From my experience, when someone is ready to believe, good luck stopping them. They’ve come to the end of themselves and see a glimpse of this loving God that waits on the other side. “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6) When we believe, we are instantly forgiven, become spiritually alive and receive His Holy Spirit.

• What does it mean to be born again?
Jesus tells us, “unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (John 3:3b,6) Being “born again” is far more than just getting a fresh start. A fresh start means nothing’s changed - you just have another chance at something. When someone is born again, something has definitely changed. When you get saved, the Holy Spirit causes your previously dead spirit to be become alive or born in you. Why was your spirit dead? It goes back to Adam and Eve. God warned them that if they were to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, they would surely die. (Genesis 2:16-17) We know they ate of it, but didn’t die physically. Instead their spirit died within, leaving them with their soul (mind and emotions) and their physical body. It’s the spirit that communicates with God (because He is spirit). Though they were made in God’s image (3 parts - like the Father, Son and Holy Spirit) they were reduced to two parts. Everyone born from then on was without an alive spirit - only soul and body. The one exception is Jesus, who did not have an earthy father, but instead the Holy Spirit. He was born with an alive spirit. When we get saved, an alive spirit is born within us! We can then truly communicate with God and understand the Bible (it’s spiritually discerned - understood only with an alive spirit within you).

• I know all this is probably true and I should believe it, but I’m involved in a sin that I’m not willing to give up.
If this is where you are at, you are at a dangerous place. The Bible lists many sins and says those who do them will not inherit the Kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10) The thing is EVERY one of those sins is forgivable, but those continue in them and seek to protect the sin from God will continue to run from God. “For everyone practicing evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.” (John 3:20) As long as you keep your distance from God, you will not understand and accept what He did for you and will not get saved. If you’ve come to the point where you insist your sin isn’t sin, you’re even one step further from Him and from getting saved. Sin brings pleasure - many use the pleasure of sin to self-medicate pain in their heart. Why not trade the imperfect method of self-medicating for a solution that will heal your wounded heart. “Turn from these useless things to the living God (who made all things).” Acts 14:15b

There’s an interesting method of catching monkeys in the jungle. The trap is fixed to the ground and features a hole just big enough for the monkey to reach inside. When he grabs the bait, his hand is no longer small enough to fit back out through the hole. He is so set on keeping the bait that instead of letting it go and running free, he holds fast to it until he is captured. Holding on to a sin is like that. “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Mark 8:36) “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” -Jim Elliot.

• I can see that this is true and eventually I will believe it, but I like how my life is right now.
Maybe you’re not involved in an obvious sin that you want to hide from God, but you’re concerned that your life will change in ways you don’t like. You’ve seen what religious people can be like, and you don’t want to become like one of them. There’s two kinds of “Christians”. There’s the religious ones that aren’t saved yet, don’t really understand what it’s all about, but have decided it’s important so they go through the motions of dressing up and piously going to church and maybe being slightly smug, thinking somehow they’re better than others for it. And yet, they really seem no happier than anyone else. Who would want that for themselves? Then there’s those who have actually been saved, and they go to church, too, because they are in love with this God who has saved and forgiven them, and given them peace and joy that they’ve never known. They are hungry to know more about what the Bible says and to be with others who are experiencing the same. They know they are sinners, now forgiven, and they have compassion on those who are still lost as they once were.

As far as fearing losing what your life is like right now, consider Plato’s “allegory of the cave”. (I’m not a student of Plato, but this comparison is helpful). He said we are all like prisoners chained inside of a cave, thinking that what we we’re experiencing is as good as life can be. Then one of the prisoner’s chains falls away and as he looks around, he sees that what he thought was important and real was foolishness and leaves the cave and basks in the beauty of the sun and fresh air and the trees and the singing birds and everything around him. Do you think he wishes his life hadn’t changed? Similarly, neither will you. That said, much of the life around you will stay the same, but inwardly you’ll be set free and see it in a different light.

• I want to be my own boss - I don’t want to be owned by anyone.
You want to be in charge, make your own decisions and don’t want to have to answer to God. If you reject God, by default, you belong to the devil who is the god of this world. He is a hateful master. “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.” (2 Corinthians 4:3-4) “You once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.” (Ephesians 2:2-3) Let yourself accept the costly payment Christ made on your behalf so that you can be free from a cruel master and instead enjoy being cared for by the Shepherd of your soul.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23) What part of that sounds undesirable Who do you want to belong to - the One who made you and loves you or the one who hates you and seeks to destroy you? It’s one or the other - there’s no other option.

• This is not what the rest of my family believes.
This can be a challenging concern for a few reasons. Your family might be upset if they learn you believe something different. To this point, they have their reasons to believe what they believe. That said, sticking with your family’s beliefs instead of believing the saving gospel of Christ will not get you to heaven. After sharing the gospel with a friend, he told me it made a lot of sense, but the rest of his family members were agnostics. He added that if he went to heaven and they weren’t there with him, heaven would be like hell to him. I tried to explain that maybe God intends that he be the first to get saved, and then God can use him to help his family get saved, too. What if you stick with your family’s beliefs, and then you’re the first to die. It could happen that your family gets saved after that point - and then you’re in hell without them. There will be things we do that our family may disagree with. Where you will spend eternity is a matter more important than being agreeable with your family.“Choose you this day whom ye will serve” (Joshua 24:15a)

• This is all so new - I’m going to need time to process it.
If you’ve never heard any of this before, needing time to process is reasonable. Have you ever had to push a stalled car? Even in neutral, it’s difficult. That said, if it’s on a level surface, once you’ve got it going it’s surprising how far you can push it. However, once you stop, good luck getting it going again. If you can see that there is something true and important to all of this, keep processing it, but don’t lose momentum. If you let it go you may tell yourself you’ll get back to it, but you’ll get busy with life and before you know it, the end of your time will come and it will be too late. “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!” (Psalm 34:8)

While there may be countless questions, God has all the answers. You can ask Him anything and in His perfect wisdom and timing He’ll decide if you need the answer or not. What you don’t want to do is what’s called putting Him to the test. This is essentially trying to force God to answer you on your terms and in your timing. For example, a young man asked God to prove that He existed by making his roommate say the word “banana” when he got home. Of course it didn’t happen. Some questions can be answered by asking a mature Christian that has good biblical understanding. After hearing the gospel explained, a young man asked, “if I have a lot of sin in my past, how long does it take for God to forgive it?” The clear answer is the blink of an eye - the moment you believe you are completely forgiven. If you do come to understand and believe that Jesus is God and that you need the payment He made for your sins, you will be saved. And for the rest of your life, you’ll likely continue to have questions come to mind and God will in time lead you to the answers as needed. The bottom line: you need to understand your need for the payment Christ made on your behalf when He died on the cross. You need to believe that Jesus is God and understand that 3 days after His death He was resurrected - alive and has conquered the power of death. You need to see God for who He is - His loving heart. When you see that, you’ll know you can trust Him with your life.

Any questions or comments? tom@gospelguardians.com