Each week's questions/answers will be posted in a different tab with the corresponding dates. Please click on the question to hear/see Randy's answer.


  • Week 1 - 4/23/17
  • Week 2 - 4/30/17
  • Week 3 - 5/7/17
  • Week 4 - 5/14/17
  • Week 5 - 5/21/17
 

How Can Christians Believe The Bible Is God's Word Without Error?



Questions & Answers

 

Do Non-Christians Really Deserve Eternal Punishment?



Questions & Answers

 

Why Do Bad Things Happen To Good People?

Is Jesus Christ The Only Way To God?


Questions & Answers

 

What Is Required For Eternal Life?

How Do You Know That You Are A True Christian?


Questions & Answers



Questions & Answers From Texts and Emails

The questions/answers are listed from last received to first received. Please check back as more questions/answers will continue to be posted. 

 

  • Can we trust Jesus' word?
     

    Jesus promised the end times would come in the first century. Either he was wrong or he was speaking so cryptically that it could be considered deceptive. How can we trust other things he said if we can't take his word at face value?

     

    “Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all has taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” Luke 21:32-33 ESV

     

    This is a difficult text. You’re asking a good question and a thoughtful one. It's one Christians have wrestled with for centuries. A couple things need to be said. Jesus is speaking at around 30 AD, which means that when Luke writes in about 60 AD, thirty-something years have passed since the original phrase was spoken. In that time, people have certainly passed away. If what Jesus meant by "this generation" is his immediate audience in 30 AD, a clear contradiction that would have been apparent to all, including Luke. Yet Luke acts as though there is no issue. He doesn't hide it as an inconvenience nor does he add any explanatory comment to this statement of Jesus. Thirty years later, he writes it exactly as Jesus said it, indicating that he sees no contradiction between the passage of time and Jesus’ statement. Unless we are assuming Luke, Matthew, and Mark - all of whom report the same story in almost exactly the same way - are particularly dense, we have to assume that they heard this prophecy of Jesus with different ears than we did and did not understand it as referring to the present, living generation.

     

    So, what does it mean? There are a couple options, but the most compelling one to me is that "this generation" refers not to the present, living one Jesus addresses but rather the one that experiences the signs of verses 25-27. He's speaking specifically about the last days and he’s telling them that when these signs begin, the end will come swiftly and suddenly and there will be no delay. The generation that sees the first of those signs will see their fulfilment. This fits with other portions of scripture like 1 Thessalonians 5 that tell us that "the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, 'There is peace and security,' then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape." I hope that’s helpful!

  • Couldn't one say that the Old Testament was just foreshadowing of the New Testament by the author? Or do we have proof that the Bible was truly written by multiple authors?
     

    Since the Old Testament contains prophecies that were fulfilled later in the New Testament: (e.g. Jesus will rise on the third day), then couldn't one say that this was just foreshadowing by the author? Or do we have proof that the Bible was truly written by multiple authors?

     

    That’s a great question. If there was just one writer, it would a be a real concern. However, there are no major Bible scholars on either side of the aisle who would argue that the Bible was written by only one person. In fact, scholars antagonistic to the Bible often argue that there a more authors for individual books than the books themselves claim. For example, it is common to hear people argue that there were more writers for the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible) than just Moses (see JDEP theory), that letters like 2 Timothy were not written by Paul even though that letter begins with the claim of Pauline authorship, and that Isaiah is a composition of multiple writers and not simply Isaiah himself.

  • Why do Jews themselves question Jesus being the Messiah and believe he is no more than a teacher?
     

    Jesus being a Jew - and there are over 300 old testaments - new testament prophecies fulfilled, and so many manuscripts why do Jews themselves question Jesus being the Messiah and believe he is no more than a teacher?

     

    There are a couple reasons for this. One, they did not expect the Messiah to come in the form that he did. Jesus brought together prophecies that they would have seen as disparate. This is why it was so hard for the disciples to swallow that Jesus had to die on the cross, even though they knew the contents of Isaiah 53 and its depiction of a suffering servant who dies for the sins of others. They knew of the prophecies of the triumphant Messiah in places like Daniel 7, but hadn’t seen the connection to his suffering. The resurrection of Jesus forced the church to go back and see the Old Testament in an entirely new light, tying together promises that they would have previously seen as disconnected. He’s the Messiah, but not the Messiah they expected. It’s what’s happening in Luke 24 when Jesus unpacks the narrative of the Bible to his disciples and reveals the whole thing is about him. It’s a mystery hidden but now revealed. Second, God himself sent prophets warning Israel that this would happen. For example, in Matthew 13, Jesus himself references Isaiah 6 where Isaiah prophesies that Israel will hear but not understand, see but not perceive and then says that this is now fulfilled.

  • Why is communion not a bigger general part of worship at Perimeter? (e.g. every service, every week)
     

    We love the Lord's Supper at Perimeter and in our denomination, the PCA! The Bible tells us that we proclaim the Lord's death "as often as" we take it, (1 Cor 11:26). That means it is good for God's people to come to the Table regularly. Our denominational Book of Church Order, also says that congregations should observe the Supper “frequently” (58-1), but leaves the question up to the elders in those churches to decide how often that should be. In larger churches, that has usually been monthly, or even less frequently. It can be a real challenge to pass out the elements to 2,000 people in a relatively timely manner. Because we believe that the Lord's Supper is very important, but not central to worship, (that would be the preaching of God's Word), we don't believe it's absolutely necessary to incorporate that logistical challenge in our Sanctuary service every single week. Instead, we observe the Lord’s Supper regularly in the Sanctuary, and we also created two other services that observe it every week, in the Chapel and Hanger at 10:45 (9:00 Chapel does not). So, there's almost always an opportunity to participate in the Supper at Perimeter!

  • What about claims that one church (like the Catholic Church) is the only true church and all others are misguided?
     

    Jesus is the head of the church and no one else, (Col 1:18, Eph 1:22). In order to be “a true church” a congregation does not need to be affiliated with some particular leader, sect, or denomination, but to properly preach the gospel of Jesus. While we wholeheartedly believe in our own theological distinctives, we love and celebrate any other congregation that teaches His message of salvation by grace through faith.

  • The Bible says that God hates divorce and that Christians should not divorce. What if a spouse or both spouses break their marriage covenant with another again and again and again?
     

    While God does hate divorce, there are some instances when He permits it. Historically, the church has allowed divorce in cases of adultery or willful abandonment. Those are the grounds for Biblical divorce in this church and denomination, as well. That does not mean that one should divorce if their spouse is unfaithful. There are numerous stories, in our congregation and many others, of incredible healing, forgiveness, and spiritual growth that have resulted because both spouses chose to stay in the marriage and work through it. If reconciliation is possible, it is always preferable! We should always seek that first. (Matt 19:6-9, 1 Cor 7:15).

  • Can i just donate money instead of tithing?
     

    Great question, and I appreciate the way you asked it with a heart that desires to be generous with your money. The topic is a big one, so I’ll give you a couple of principles to think through and would encourage you to study further. Underlying the tithe is the reality that God owns everything and has given us all we have. That makes us all stewards of what we have. The word tithe literally means “tenth.” In the Old Testament, the people of God were asked to give a tenth of what they owned to the Lord (see Genesis 14, 28; Leviticus 27; Malachi 3). Those offerings provided for the poor and for the basic needs of those doing the work of ministry for the people. In the New Testament, we see Jesus and the other New Testament authors affirming the practice of tithing as a command from God (Matthew 23; Luke 11; Hebrews 7). In both the Old and New Testaments, we have countless examples of God’s people giving far more than a tithe to support the work of ministry (both local and abroad) as well as to provide for the poor (see Exodus 35; Leviticus 19:9; Matthew 10; 2 Corinthians 8-9; 1 Timothy 5).

  • How do I become a pastor?
     

    Here are three quick thoughts that I hope you find helpful. First, do you have a real desire for pastoral ministry? Some would call that an “inward call.” Second, do people in your church who know you well affirm your gifts and abilities for pastoral ministry? That might be called an “external call.” Third, take the time to devote yourself to quality theological and pastoral training. Most people would recommend getting a Masters of Divinity at a seminary. A great resource to help you think through these things is a short book titled Called to the Ministry by Edmund Clowney.

  • Can you address hypocritical "Christians" and how do you trust the church when you've been burned too many times?
     

    Great question, and a very important one. Nobody likes surrounding themselves with hypocrites. Jesus was particularly agitated by hypocrites too (just read Matthew 23). A hypocrite, by profession, in the Greek world when the Bible was written was an actor - someone who literally put on a mask and pretended to be someone else. Jesus called out the religious leaders for pretending to be holy, righteous and religious, when in reality they were backstabbing and deceptive. He hated that. It’s one of the worst forms of manipulation. Jesus said their religion was empty. So, if hypocrites bother you and have hurt you, you’re in good company. 

     

    What about the church today? There are two ways you can think about it. First, a particular church may be genuinely full of hypocrites - people pretending to be holy and happy on Sunday, but living completely different lives the rest of the week. These are the kind of people who may need to reassess whether or not they truly believe what they say. We might be hard pressed to find many organizations - religious or not - that aren’t full of people pretending to be something they’re not. The second way you can think about it is this. In Matthew 9, Jesus is being questioned about why he spends so much time with “sinners.” He responds by saying, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick ... For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” The church is not a place intended to be a gathering of people who’ve “got it all together.” I’ve heard it said that the church is the only organization in which the only qualification for membership is to admit that you’re unqualified. Everyone in the church is in need of healing and we don’t have it all together. That’s why Jesus came and died for sin. When we act like we don’t need Him, that’s when we become hypocrites. Trust can be lost so quickly and it takes a long time to rebuild, especially if you’ve been burned repeatedly. 

     

    So what can you do? Look for a church where you find that people are honest about not having it all together, but don’t be surprised if you run into a few hypocrites along the way. To some extent, we’re all recovering hypocrites.

  • How would you respond to someone that believes in a higher power or being, but also believes that it's simply impossible to know which god is real or if any of the religions that exist are truly representative of the higher power that exists?
     

    Good question. If there is God it would be He who would have to reveal himself to us. We as the created beings have no way to get to Him, unless He wants us to find him! So it is impossible for us to know. We are 100% dependent on Him making his way to us. When He does, He proves Himself to be the one true God. He does that by the convicting and convincing work of the Holy Spirit as well as showing us His love.

  • If God is perfect, then why did His creation fall short of Him?
     

    Good question! He did not design creation to be perfect. The text in Genesis shows that man had the ability to fall short from the start. It was built into him. He also had the ability to obey. But he chose to disobey. Since the fall, those who are not in Christ have no ability to obey. All they can do is fall short. Those who come to faith in Christ and are filled with the Holy Spirit are empowered to obey. Not perfectly and not all the time. But they can choose to obey.

  • I am a strong Christian and believe the Bible with all my heart, but still am never satisfied. What can I do?
     

    A better question may be, “How can I be more satisfied in life?” Our answer would be to find joy in Christ. Who He is, what He has done and what He will do. A hard part of the answer may have to do with looking for satisfaction in the wrong places and perhaps needing to ask the Lord to give you a heart of repentance and then faith.

  • When interpreting the Old Testament, how do we put it into the 21st century?
     

    When interpreting the Old Testament, how do we put it into the 21st century? Because in it, it says for example, to not cut your hair which obviously isn't something we follow now.

     

    Good point. The OT has laws that pertained to that society/group of people and were intended for them. Those were embodied in the civil law. They also had the ceremonial law which was used to make sacrifice. And then they had the moral law (10 commandments +). The ceremonial law was fulfilled by Christ. The civil law law was done away with when Israel was sent to exile. The moral law still stands. And we consistently break it. That is why Christ had to come and pay the penalty for us.

  • In light of predestination, how is free will harmonized?
     

    In Romans 9:19, Paul asks the rhetorical question "who can resist His will..." The answer is obviously "no one". In light of predestination, how is free will harmonized?

     

    Great question. We are given free will, but it is not autonomous. In other words, we are not independent. We are able to choose, but within the framework the Lord has established. He calls us to be dependent on Him and he freely gives us gifts that we can use for His glory.

  • Does the Bible say anything about life existing anywhere else in the universe?
     

    No

  • How do we know something is not missing that was somehow excluded but meant to be part of the Bible?
     

    Since the Bible was written by different men and compiled together, how do we know something is not missing that was somehow excluded but meant to be part of the Bible? Something important...

     

    We don’t. We only have certainty because, for those who are in Christ, the Holy Spirit enlightens our minds to understand that scripture "as is", is sufficient, clear and inerrant.

  • How can we totally believe in the concept of all scripture being as if God himself wrote it?
     

    Ox goring laws from Exodus, chapter 21: "if the ox has been accustomed to gore in the past, and its owner has been warned but has not kept it in, and it kills a man or a woman, the ox shall be stoned, and its owner also shall be put to death... If the ox gores a slave, male or female, the owner shall give to their master thirty shekels of silver, and the ox shall be stoned." Problem: this is written as God speaking to Moses but it sounds like a man-made law (why would God even condone slavery?)...so it makes it difficult to totally believe in the concept of all scripture being as if God himself wrote it - different gods so everyone had a god,
    not just condoning slavery, but valuing the slave at 30 shekels, but if a regular person is killed its the death penalty.

     

    Ox goring laws, from Exodus, chapter 21: "if the ox has been accustomed to gore in the past, and its owner has been warned but has not kept it in, and it kills a man or a woman, the ox shall be stoned, and its owner also shall be put to death ... If the ox gores a slave, male or female, the owner shall give to their master thirty shekels of silver, and the ox shall be stoned. Problem: this is written as God speaking to Moses, but it sounds like a manmade law (why would God even condone slavery?)... so it makes it difficult to totally believe in the concept of all scripture being as if God himself wrote it...  Different gods so everyone had a god, not just condoning slavery, but valuing the slave at 30 shekels, but if a regular person is killed it's the death penalty.

     

    Great question! God does not condone slavery just as he does not condone divorce. Slavery and divorce happen because of the fall of man. Let’s look at the full passage: 28 “If a bull gores a man or woman to death, the bull is to be stoned to death, and its meat must not be eaten. But the owner of the bull will not be held responsible. 29 If, however, the bull has had the habit of goring and the owner has been warned but has not kept it penned up and it kills a man or woman, the bull is to be stoned and its owner also is to be put to death. 30 However, if payment is demanded, the owner may redeem his life by the payment of whatever is demanded. 31 This law also applies if the bull gores a son or daughter. 32 If the bull gores a male or female slave, the owner must pay thirty shekels[f]of silver to the master of the slave, and the bull is to be stoned to death."

    So redemption is possible through payment. That points to the work of Christ for us. Interestingly, 30 pieces of silver is what Judas got for betraying Jesus. 

  • How can God be three persons?
     

    Randy addressed this question in the April 30 session. As he said it is a mystery and most illustrations that are employed to make it understandable, fail at some point. The word Trinity does not appear in the Bible, but that in no way diminishes the legitimacy of the godhead. Throughout the New Testament there are explicit references to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. There are indirect references in the Old Testament. As Randy quoted from the creedal document, The Westminster Catechism: “How many persons are there in the Godhead? There are three persons in the Godhead: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory.” Even though each New Testament writer acknowledged the existence of the Godhead implicitly and the early church fathers acknowledged it in their writings, one could easily say it is, and will remain, a mystery.

  • Let me ask about suicide. If someone commits suicide will he or she go to hell?
     

    The scriptures are clear that life is to be held in the highest regard. Because of this, one might conclude that to take one’s life would be the worst possible offense. However, the scriptures do not identify suicide as the unforgivable sin. For those who find themselves in a deeply darkened state where they are unable to consider any option other than suicide, it would be reasonable to conclude that, in those times, their thought processes may be impaired. Stories are told of Christians struggling with severe depression, who saw this as their only solution. In our fallen world, we acknowledge that we live in a time when suicide has become a serious issue and there are many contributing factors influencing those who are most vulnerable. If we find ourselves personally dealing with this situation we should lean into the grace, mercy and kindness of God and place our confidence and trust in him and him alone. There are resources and people who can help.