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If God has a plan for everyone, does He plan evil?

You ask a great question–and a very tough one.  The origin of evil puzzles us because of our understanding that God originated all things and if so, did He originate evil?  I will quote from Norm Geisler and Ron Brooks:

1.  God made everything perfect.

2.  One of the perfect things God made was free creatures.

3.  Free will is the cause of evil.

4.  So, imperfection (evil) can arise from perfection (not directly, but indirectly through freedom).

They go on to say, “One of the things that makes men (and angels) morally perfect is freedom.  We have a real choice about what we do.  God made us that way so that we could be like HIm and could love freely (forced love is not love at all, is it?).  But in making us that way, He also allowed for the possibility of evil.  To be free we had to have not only the opportunity to choose good, but also the ability to choose evil.  That was the risk God knowingly took.  That doesn’t make Him responsible for evil.  He created the fact of freedom; we perform the acts of freedom.  He made evil possible, we make evil actual.  Imperfection came through the abuse of our moral perfection as free creatures.

As for the snake, the same answer applies.  God made Satan the most beautiful of all creatures with the perfection of free will.  Satan rebelled against God, and that became the first sin and the pattern for all sin that followed.  Some people ask, “What made Satan sin?”  That is like asking what caused the first cause; nothing outside his own free will caused him to sin.  He was the first cause of his sin and you can’t go back any father than that.  When we sin, ultimately we (by our wills) are the cause of the evil we do.  (When Skeptics Ask, p. 62-63)

What’s Required to Be Saved?

Question:  Do you have to be sorry for everything you have ever done or just know that you are a sinner and that Jesus is your Savior and want a relationship with him?

In order to be saved, there must be an awareness of your sin and God’s wrath against it.  The cross is God’s wrath (righteous anger) poured out on sin.  When a sinner becomes aware of his sin, and then becomes of aware that God provided Jesus as a sacrifice for his sin, he is then faced with a choice:  receive Jesus’ sacrifice and resulting forgiveness, or reject Jesus sacrifice.  You do not have to know everything you’ve ever done wrong (wow, what a list!), but you will be sorry for everything you’ve done wrong.

By the way, all of this is the work of the Spirit.  He convicts unbelievers of sin and draws them to Jesus.  What a great God!

Should I be Re-baptized?

Question:  I prayed a prayer of salvation at the age of 7 and was baptized.  I have since then questioned whether or not I truly understood enough to have genuinely been saved.  Should I be re-baptized now that I know that I am a Christian?

If you truly came to Christ after your first baptism, I would highly encourage you to be re-baptized.  Every baptism recorded in the New Testament followed conversion.  New Testament baptism comes after one’s decision to follow Christ as a symbol of what God has done inside that person’s heart and life.  Baptism has no saving value–it is only a symbol.  However it is a powerful symbol, a wonderful testimony of God’s work in you.

 

Is Salvation Inherited?

Question:  Is salvation inherited to a certain extent.  (1 Corinthians 4:14:  “I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children.”)

No.  Salvation is not inherited at all.  If it could be inherited Jesus’ death would be in vain.  Ephesians 2:8 is clear:  “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God…”  Salvation is God’s work from beginning to end.  We cannot inherit salvation from our parents or from Godly people we may know.  They can help us to come to know Christ by teaching us about Him, but no one can save himself or another person.  Christ alone brings salvation to lost people.

In 1 Corinthians 4:14 Paul refers to the Corinthian believers as his “children” because he has invested much time in them as a spiritual parent/pastor to them.  However, to push the analogy, he did not birth them.  Pastors, Bible Fellowship leaders, small group leaders, one-to-one disciplers function, to a large extent like surrogate spiritual parents to those younger in the faith.  We did not birth any of the children we teach, but we are given great responsibility in teaching them.

Knowing our Miscarried Children

Question:  How will we know our miscarried children in heaven?

1 Corinthians 13:12 sheds some light on this:  12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.”  Heaven will be a place where our vision and our knowledge are greatly increased.  Rather than seeing a faint representation of ourselves, we’ll see ourselves as Jesus sees us…face to face.  Rather than knowing part (our limited knowledge) we will know Jesus fully just as he fully knows us now.  While it is somewhat of a theological leap, logic seems to indicate that, if our knowledge of God grows, so would our knowledge of one another.  We will know God more fully…as a result we will know one another more fully.

Randy Alcorn’s book simply titled Heaven is a great resource.  I highly recommend it!

How old are babies in heaven?

Question:  How old are babies in heaven?

Who knows!  One verse of Scripture that could shed light on it is 1 John 3:2, “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.”

We know that we will be like Jesus.  Does this mean that we will be like him in physical appearance, or maturity (age)?  I would say that I think so, but Scripture isn’t at all clear on this.

How do I know my child is ready for baptism?

Here are a few questions worth considering:

1.  Does your child understand the seriousness of sin.

2.  Does your child understand that his/her sin requires God’s salvation?

3.  Does your child understand that God gave Jesus to die in his/her place on the cross for his/her sins?

4.  Is your child sorry for his/her sins (i.e. sense his/her need of a Savior)?

5.  Does your child believe/accept Jesus’ death and resurrection as truth?

As you seek to answer these questions, pray for God’s wisdom.  The Holy Spirit will draw your child to God through Jesus Christ.  Trust the Spirit.  He will lead you and your child in a way you both understand.

Interracial Marriage

In the Old Testament, God repeatedly warned Israel about marrying outside of their own people.   In Deuteronomy 7, God says, ” 1“When the LORD your God brings you into the land that you are entering to take possession of it, and clears away many nations before you, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations more numerous and mightier than yourselves, 2 and when the LORD your God gives them over to you, and you defeat them, then you must devote them to complete destruction.  You shall make no covenant with them and show no mercy to them. 3 You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons, 4for they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods. Then the anger of the LORD would be kindled against you, and he would destroy you quickly.

God’s concern is clear:  they will turn Israel away from following God.  His command was never an issue of race, but an issue of relationship with God.

This principle is restated in the New Testament in 2 Corinthians 6:14,  “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?”

The most important question of dating and marriage is this:  does the person you are dating love Jesus more than you?  Do they believe Jesus died, in their place, for their sins, on the cross?  Have they committed their lives to Jesus?

Hot Topics for Hot Summer Sundays

This blog is for questions related to the Hot Topics sermon series.  For those of you reading who do not attend Grace Community Church in Marion, NC, these questions come from people who attend worship services and then text them to me after the service.  I have already answered these questions from the stage.  If you want to hear the sermon related to the question, then check out graceforall.org.  Click on the Hot Topics button to download the sermon (or you could visit itunes!).

Here we go!

Well, this is the first official post to digging-in.com. Our plan–to dig into God’s Word together, discover real answers for real questions, all in order to do what God has called us to do here at Grace: exalt Christ, transform lives, and embrace a community.