Where are the 3 days between Jesus’s death and resurrection?
The New Testament is clear that Jesus rose on the third day. Some people are troubled by the fact that if Jesus was crucified on Friday afternoon and raised on Sunday morning, then he could not have been in the ground for 72 hours. However, this is not a problem since the Jews had a custom of referring to any part of the day as the full day. We do the same thing in informal conversation: “I saw her last night” doesn’t necessarily you were with her all night long. It means at some point in the evening, you saw her. “I’ll see you tomorrow” doesn’t mean that you’ll spend all day with me. It means that some time tomorrow, you’ll see me and we’ll talk. That’s a common conversational idiom that people routinely use. The Jews did the same thing. For them, any part of the day could count as the whole day. Jesus was crucified on Friday afternoon. That’s Day 1. He was in the tomb on Saturday. That’s Day 2. He was raised on Sunday morning. That’s Day 3. This means that Jesus was dead and buried for around 36 hours. But since those hours covered parts of three days, they count as the same as the whole. So there is no biblical problem with Jesus being crucified on Friday and raised on Sunday.
Can you give me a reason we Christians need to practice and celebrate Christmas?
My answer is simple. The Bible doesn’t tell us to celebrate Christmas nor does it forbid us to celebrate Christmas. It is in short a matter of personal freedom. Christians should feel free to put up a Christmas tree and give gifts if they like and churches should feel free to sing carols, have Christmas parties, and sponsor various Christmas outreach events. But there is no command to do so. Christmas is truly a Romans 14 issue. Some celebrate it, some don’t. Let those who celebrate not look down on those who don’t. Likewise, let those who prefer not to celebrate Christmas look down on those who do. By the way, to say this is not to endorse every single Christmas tradition. I’m simply saying that it is good to remember that Christ was born so that we might be saved. How we do it and when we do it is not commanded and is, therefore, a matter of Christian freedom.
What happens when we die?
The Bible is very clear on the answer to this question. Jesus told the thief on the cross, “Today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). Paul said to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8). Paul said in Philippians 1:23, “I desire to depart and be with Christ.” Believers go to be “with the Lord” when they die. I have often told dying saints not to worry about it. “Before your loved ones can get to the phone to give me a call that you have died, you will already be in heaven.” We are either on earth in this life or we are in heaven with the Lord. Nothing in between.
Speaking in Tongues
If by “relevant” you mean, “Could this happen today?” my answer is yes, it could happen today. I don’t think an ironclad case can be made that tongues ceased in the first century. However, I see nothing in the New Testament about the gift of tongues as a mark of spiritual maturity or closeness to Christ. Even in the first century, this gift was not for all Christians. It also appears to have been actual foreign languages not known to the speakers but to the hearers (Acts 1:1-13). Paul also mentions it as a sign to unbelievers (1 Corinthians 14:20-22). On a few occasions, I have heard people utter unintelligible phrases that they called the “gift of tongues.” However none of what I have heard squares with what I read in the New Testament (just my personal judgment). I have no quarrel if someone says, “I have the gift of tongues.” But I do not agree with people who say, “I have the gift of tongues and you must agree that I have the gift of tongues.” I’m perfectly happy not to worry about what people do in their own private prayer times. But I do not think it is helpful for people who say they speak in tongues to evangelize for their views inside the local church. I have seen instances where that has been decidedly non-helpful. Speaking in tongues should not be made the mark of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer or evidence that someone has a closer walk with God. Over the years, I have observed many wonderful, strong, godly, Spirit-filled believers who did not speak in tongues. That would encompass most of the people I have personally known. I have also known a few to whom those adjectives apply who said they speak in tongues in private. I have no issue with that as long as someone else does not make their personal experience the standard by which they judge others, e.g. “I speak in tongues and you need to also.” Count me out on that one.
What is sin?
Sin is doing what is wrong, as well as not doing what is right. It is breaking the Law of God (1 John 3:4). In other words, it is doing what is against God's will. If he says "Do not lie," and you lie, then you have sinned. If he says "Do not steal," and you steal, then you have sinned. And, according to God, sin separates you from him (Isaiah 59:2).
Sin is an offense to God's character. Because God cannot lie (Titus 1:2), it is wrong for you to lie. Because God cannot steal, it is wrong for you to steal. Right and wrong, then, is a manifestation of the character of God. God is holy; he cannot sin. Sin offends him personally because they are his laws of right and wrong you are breaking. If you have offended him, then you must find a way to "unoffend" him. The problem is that you can't, but he can and has, by offering his Son, Jesus Christ, on the cross as a sacrifice for sin.
Am I too big of a sinner?
Nobody is too big of a sinner. The love of God and the sacrifice of Jesus are capable of cleansing the worst of all sin. Even Hitler could have been saved if he would have turned to Christ. You have sinned the same as anyone else. It is just that your sins are yours. They aren't too big for God to wipe away. Sin has no power over God, only over you.
Let me ask you something. Do you think murder and adultery are serious sins? Yes? Well, David, a man in the Bible who was called by God "a man after His own heart," (Acts 13:22), was a murderer and an adulterer. It was not because of David's sin, but because he wanted to dwell in the house of the Lord forever (Psalm 27:4). Anyway, David tried to hide his sin from everyone. But God knew his sins and exposed them. David repented and threw himself on the mercy of the Lord. God forgave him and loved him. God loves you, and he will forgive you if you put your trust in Jesus, and ask him to forgive you of your sins (Rom. 10:9-10).
Is there such a thing as sin?
Sin is doing what is wrong before God, it is breaking his law (1 John 3:4). But, to say there is no such thing as sin is to say there is no God. But, if there is a God, then it makes sense to say that he is the Law giver, the one who reveals what is right and wrong like do not murder, do not steal, etc. Are you willing to bet your life that there is no God? Are you absolutely sure that how you have behaved in this world will mean nothing when you face God in the next?
Think about it. Saying there is no such thing as sin doesn't mean there isn't any. Besides, if you have you ever lied, or cheated, or stolen, then according to the Bible, you've sinned.
How do you "know" there is no such thing as sin? After all, you'd have to "know" there was no God, too. Are you sure you "know" there is no God...or do you just "believe" there is no God? There is a big difference.
What is Salvation?
Salvation is when God forgives a person of his/her sins and saves him from damnation -- which is the righteous judgment upon all who have broken his law (i.e., do not lie, do not steal). This judgment consists of God condemning the sinner to eternal punishment in hell (Matt. 25:46). This is the destination of all who reject God's provision for the forgiveness of sins. Being saved from this judgment is only accomplished through faith in Jesus as Savior who is God in flesh (John 1:1,14; Col. 2:9). He died on the cross for sins (1 Pet. 2:24; 1 Cor. 15:1-4). If you want salvation, you need to trust in what Jesus did on the cross, receive him (John 1:12) and turn from your sins (Acts 3:19). Only then can you have eternal life and be with God (Eph. 2:8-9).
What do I do to get saved?
Salvation is a free gift of God (Rom. 6:23). Jesus bore sin in his body (1 Pet. 2:24), and paid the penalty for breaking the Law of God, which is spiritual death (eternal separation from God, Isaiah 59:2). If you want salvation, you need to admit that you are a sinner and that you want Jesus to forgive you of your sins. You must acknowledge that there is nothing you can do to earn forgiveness and that Jesus is the only way for you to be saved (John 14:6). You must turn from your sins (Acts 3:19). Pray and ask Jesus to forgive you. You need to trust in him completely. Seek him; he will save you.
Repentance is part of salvation. Once saved, you should stop doing those things that are displeasing to God. He will live in you and give you the ability and desire to resist sin (1 Cor. 10:13). When you are saved, expect to change -- for the better.
Is baptism necessary for salvation?
No, baptism is not necessary for salvation. Faith in Jesus is sufficient for salvation. You don't have to do anything. Christ has done it all. However, baptism is very important and all believers should be baptized. If you refuse baptism after salvation, I would doubt your conversion.
There are denominations that believe baptism is necessary for salvation. The arguments used, on the surface, seem to be powerful. However, upon examination, baptism is found to occur after conversion, and is not in any way a cause or part of it. Take, for example, Acts 10:44-47.. While Peter was witnessing, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message...and they were hearing them speaking in tongues and exalting God. Then Peter answered, "Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?"
- This passage shows that baptism happens after salvation. How do we know they were saved? They were speaking in tongues -- which is a gift from God to believers (1 Cor. 14)and they were exalting God. Non-believers do not exalt God. Also, Peter said they had received the Holy Spirit. That is only for Christians, and it happened before baptism. (Note: speaking in tongues is simply a sign of salvation. It is not necessary that a Christian speak in tongues as a proof of salvation. Not all speak in tongues (1 Cor. 12:30).
- Another set of verses applicable to this issue is 1 Cor. 1:17. Paul says, "For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel..." The gospel is what saves, and it is explained in 1 Cor. 15:1-4. Baptism is not part of the gospel; it is something that the believer does after salvation.
Baptism is only a symbol of that which saves, and symbols don't save.
There are no verses that say that baptism is necessary for salvation or say that if you do not get baptized you are condemned. But there are verses that say if you don't believe you are condemned (Mark 16:16). So, baptism is important, but it is not necessary to be saved -- otherwise, we would not be saved by faith, but by faith and a ceremony.
Furthermore, if baptism is necessary for salvation then babies who die in the womb, during birth, or right after birth could not be saved. It would also mean that anyone who receives Christ on his deathbed and dies before getting baptized would go to hell. It would mean that faith is not what saves you. But we know this cannot be.
"For what does the Scripture say? “And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.” 4 Now to the one who works, his wage is not reckoned as a favor, but as what is due. 5 But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness," (Rom. 4:3-5).
Am I good enough?
How good do you have to be to get to Heaven? God is holy, and requires holiness. Holiness is purity. Even though you may think you are good enough, even one sin disqualifies you from being in the presence of God. You could never be good enough. That is why you need Jesus.
The Bible says that there is none good enough. "There is none who does good, there is not even one," (Rom. 3:12). Goodness is measured by God's standard - not yours.
To say that you are good enough means that Christ did not have to die. But He did die to save sinners. The Bible says if righteousness can come by good deeds, then Christ didn't need to die (Gal. 2:21); but He did, so being good isn't enough.
What if I'm doing the best I can?
Even if you could do far better than you are doing now, you still can't do well enough, because you don't please God by being good (Gal. 2:21), but by accepting Jesus (John 1:12) and trusting in what he did on the cross, not what you do by your own effort.
Sincerity is not the way to heaven. What if you are sincerely wrong? (Remember John 14:6 says salvation is through Jesus, not sincerity.)
If you are relying on your sincerity, then you are saying because you are sincere, you are therefore good enough, on your own, to be with God. Don't you see that to appeal to your sincerity is to appeal to your own goodness which is ultimately an appeal to pride. This is because you are appealing to something that is in you and not God, for your reason to go to heaven? I am sorry, sincerity is not enough. You must have faith, in Jesus.
How long have you been doing your best? Has it worked so far? Has it given you eternal life?
I tried Christianity once
The Bible says that once you are saved, you are never the same again; you are a new creature (2 Cor. 5:17). If you have gone back to your old ways, then most probably you were never saved (1 John 2:19). If, however, you were saved, then God won't let you stay in rebellion for long. He will deal with you in whatever way is necessary to bring you back into fellowship with Him.
Did you become a Christian by going to church or by asking Jesus to forgive you of your sins? The latter makes you a Christian, the former doesn't.
You don't try Christianity to see if it works, or if your life gets better. You receive Christ because you trust what he has done for you on the cross so you can escape the judgment of God upon you for your sin.
I am not that bad of a person
Whether or not you feel you are bad or good is not the real issue. The Bible says that all have sinned (Rom. 3:23). If all have sinned, good or bad, then all will suffer the judgment of God. God does not require someone to be pretty good; He requires that he not sin at all. But He knows that you cannot be sinless. That is why He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever would believe in Him would not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).
The Bible says that our good works are filthy rags before God (Isaiah 64:6). It isn't saying that we might not try to be good. It is saying that whatever good we do, it is not good enough. It also says that there is none who does good (Rom. 3:12). The standard God seeks is perfection. We cannot please God on our own. That is why Jesus died on behalf of sinners. If you want to be good enough, then you must let God see you through the righteousness of Jesus Christ. That is the only goodness that counts to God.
I can't believe in a God who would send people to hell
Denying it or not liking it doesn't mean it isn't real.
Hell was originally created for Satan and his angels. In the future, it will contain those who join Satan in rejecting God. If you reject God's provision for the forgiveness of your sins, then you will join the Devil who rejected God from the beginning. Is that what you want?
Could you believe in a God who would become a human, suffer at the hands of humans, and be killed by them, all so that His death could be the payment for their sins? That is extremely loving. God is saving people who deserve to go to hell - and we all deserve that. Remember that the same God that sends people to Hell also died for them. If they reject what God has provided, then what is God left to do? He would have to judge them.
Whether or not you believe in something does not change the fact of its existence. Jesus spoke often of hell (Matt. 25:41-46; Mark 9:47-48; Luke 16:19-31) and warned us so we would not go there. Would you say Jesus didn't know what He was talking about?
Are you implying that it is unjust for God to send people to hell? If so, then you accuse God of injustice. Sin is wrong and it must be punished. What would you have God do to those who oppose Him and do evil? Do you want Him to ignore that which is wrong? Do you want Him to turn His head and not be holy and righteous?
I don't want to give up what I like doing
Are you saying you must stop doing what you're doing now, if you become a Christian? That means you know it is wrong. Let me ask you something. If you were to become a Christian, and God was to live in your heart, and you looked back upon your life, would you say to yourself now, "I did a lot of things I wish I hadn't done?" Probably so. The Bible speaks about just such a thing. In Rom. 6:21 it says, "What benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed, for the outcome of those things is death." What you are saying is that God will require you to give up certain things that you like to do. Since God only wants what is good and right, and you say you don't want to give up what you are doing, then you are saying you want what is wrong.
Will you let your pleasures get in the way of salvation? Is your life of sin worth an eternity of pain? Jesus said, "What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?" (Mark 8:36).
I have things I need to do before I become a Christian
Like what? Why do you need to do these things before you come to God? Are they bad things or good? If they are bad, then you shouldn't do them. If they are good, why can't you become a Christian and then do them?
Nothing you can do could be more important than your relationship with God. To put Him off is unwise. What if you die before you become a Christian? Then you would be eternally without hope.
Your statement implies you believe following God will mean you won't be able to do the things you want to do. If that is true, then that means the things you intend to do would displease God. Are you saying you prefer to do something God wouldn't want you to do? If that is so, you are willfully sinning against God, and putting yourself in a dangerous situation. That is all the more reason you need His forgiveness.
There are too many hypocrites in the church
Church is a good place for hypocrites, as well as liars and thieves. It is there they will be exposed to the Word of God, and learn that hypocrisy is wrong. For you to judge those in the church is to condemn yourself, because we are all hypocrites in one form or another. Your recognition and condemnation of it tells me you know it is wrong. Is it hypocrisy to point a finger at the church full of sinners when you yourself are one as well?
It has been said that you must be smaller than the thing you hide behind. Are you hiding behind the hypocrisy of others to keep yourself out of church? You must realize that you are responsible for yourself and God won't ask others about you on judgment day. He will come to you and ask you to give an account for your life. The hypocrites in the church will also stand before God, with or without you there.
People don't counterfeit pennies. Why do you think there are hypocrites? Because Christianity is valuable.
What about those who have never heard the Gospel?
That is a good question. The Bible says that God is a just God. We know that whatever He does is right. When it comes to those who have never heard the Gospel, He will do what is right, whatever that is. But as for you, you have heard the Gospel and He will judge you according to how you respond. He is calling you to repentance, to turn from sin and come to Him.
Romans 2:11-16 speaks about those who have never heard the Law of God, and how they will be judged according to the law that is written in their hearts. The Law written in their hearts is the knowledge of right and wrong. Perhaps God's judgment of those without a proper knowledge of Him is included there where it says that they will be judged according to their own consciences that "bear witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them." All I know is that God will do what is right, and the only way to have your sins forgiven is through Jesus.
Is Suicide the Unpardonable Sin?
I have been asked by numerous people: Is suicide the unpardonable sin?
It is also possible to distinguish between passive and active suicide. Consider this case from Robert Wennberg’s Terminal Choices: Euthanasia, Suicide, and the Right to Die (while not agreeing with everything he wrote, I’ve been greatly helped by Wennberg’s book):
destiny has already and forever been determined. We must recognize the distinction between eternal forgiveness that is ours the moment we embrace Jesus in faith, and that temporal forgiveness we receive on a daily basis that enables us to experience the happiness of intimacy with the Father.
Is suicide ever morally permissible? What moral judgment do we make in the case of the soldier who falls on a live grenade to save the life of his friend; or when the destitute mother stops eating what little food remains in order that her child may live; or when the POW swallows a cyanide capsule, knowing that otherwise he will be brainwashed and tortured into divulging crucial information that will be used to the detriment and perhaps death of his countrymen? What moral judgment do we make in the case of a soldier trapped in a burning tank from which there is no hope of escape? Is it morally permissible for him to end his life with a gunshot to the head rather than to die in agony in that fiery inferno?
What about cases of terminal illness when someone declines treatment that will prolong an already painful life? Such a decision was likely not motivated by the desire to die sooner but by the desire to die less painfully. Thus, is itsuicide when one seeks to shorten one’s life merely byrefusing to retard the progress of an inescapable dying condition?