Bible Query -
Q: Is Christianity a religion?
A: Christianity can rightfully be called a religion, as James 1:27 does, because it speaks about God, how we should live, and what happens after you die. However, it would be incomplete to say that Christianity is merely a religion. It is God's way of transforming our lives, and providing forgiveness so that we can live with Him forever.
We need to realize the holiness, majesty, love, justice, and power of God. We have to understand how we have fallen short of God's standard of justice because of our sins. There is no way to Heaven except through the free gift of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for our sins. To be born again we have to accept this gift from God, and commit our entire life over to Him.
Islam, Judaism, and Hinduism do not promise being "born again" in a transformation to be a child of God.
Q: What if I don't believe that there is a God?
A: At the end of a meeting, the famous evangelist D.L. Moody was accosted by a man who said, "Mr. Moody, I am an atheist." Here is a paraphrase of what Moody told him.
Let me ask you, out of all the information in the universe, how much information do you think human beings know? "
The man said maybe 10%. (That was rather generous, but Moody did not press the point.)
Moody continued, out of all the information that people know, what percent do you know?
The man said maybe 20%.
Moody then said, out of the 80% of human information you do not know, and the 90% more than no humans know, do you thin there any possibility that there might be a God?
The man said it was possible.
Moody then said, "OK, then you are not an atheist; you are an agnostic."
Moody then asked him, if there really were a God out there, who loved you and created a heaven for people, would you have an interest in knowing about Him.
The man said, "if there was, then sure."
Moody responded, "Ok then, you are not an agnostic, you are a seeker."
Moody then said, "If there were a letter, purportedly written by this God, would you be interested in seeing it?
The man said, "Sure!"
Moody said, "here is the gospel of John in the Bible. Why don't you take it home and read it!"
Let's look a bit more closely at these three "stages".
Atheist to Agnostic: The famous scientist Isaac Newton once had a beautiful, intricate, mechanical model of the solar system. An atheist friend of his came over. He greatly admired the model and asked Newton who made it. Newton replied that nobody did; it just made itself. The friend asked again, and Newton repeated his answer. The friend started to get angry, when Newton asked him, if you cannot believe something as simple as this made itself, then how can you believe the universe could make itself?
There is a famous philosophical argument for the existence of God called the Cosmological Argument. It says that every created thing had a cause for its creation. Now things can cause other things, but since at least one created thing exists, there had to be a first cause, that was itself uncaused, because you cannot get something from nothing. Now this does not prove that Christianity is true, or that the first cause was personal, but everyone has to believe in a first cause.
But is the first cause intelligent? Now despite what they say, even atheists believe in "god". If you define "god" as that which is eternal, with no beginning, all-powerful, even the most close-minded atheist believes in "god". It is just that they call their god "random chance". Now which is more reasonable to believe. That the amazing balance, order, and beauty in the universe had an intelligent design, or that it was only random chance. If physical constants had been a little different, atoms would not exist; water would not have a large enough liquid range for life on earth to exist, animals could not breathe, and the earth would not be in a place to support organic life. Is it reasonable to believe that all of our lives, and existence, is a cosmic "accident"? No, there has to be Someone out there.
Agnostic to Seeker: The brilliant French scientist Blaise Pascal's had a famous saying called "Pascal's Wager". It is sort of a tongue twister that goes: To believe in God involves great potential gain and no potential loss. To not believe in God involves great potential loss and no potential gain. Great potential gain with no potential loss is better than great potential loss with no potential gain. Therefore it is better to believe in God than not to believe in God." His point is still valid today, - even if you can't say that fast.
Now if God wanted to hide Himself, and not reveal Himself to man, admittedly, He could do so. But if God revealed Himself, how could He? He might leave hints in nature. He might speak to individuals, who would be His spokesmen. On the other hand, an imposter might have spokesmen too. So God would "validate" His spokesmen by having them accurately foretell the future, and do miracles. Finally, He might come Himself. If He came in all His glory, our skin might be blown away by the blazing brightness. But, if He is Almighty, He could figure out a way to come, leaving aside most of His glory, so that we could bear to see Him, and yet understand Him as God. How could God communicate with us? I believe He did all the above.
If God were to come to earth, not in so much glory that everything were destroyed, but with enough power to do miracles, tell the future, and teach great things, would that satisfy you? If God were to do that, just how many times would He have to come to convince you? Once was good enough for me. The evidence of fulfilled prophecy, the undeniable fast of the resurrection, and the testimony of the apostles, eleven of which gave their lives dying for Christ, is enough for me. How about you?
Q: How can I believe that the Bible is God's words, since it seems just like any other religious book?
A: Benjamin Franklin, always the experimenter, once did a test with the Bible. Once when he was in the French Court, Franklin heard some French aristocrats putting down the Bible, so here is what he did. Franklin wrote out the story of Ruth in his own handwriting, changing all the names to French ones. Then he read the story to the aristocrats. They asked him "But where did you find this gem of literature, Monsieur Franklin?" Franklin answered, "It comes from that book you so despise, la sainte [Holy] Bible!". (This is according to the Believer's Bible Commentary p.287-288.)
If God were to reveal Himself to people, how would He do it? He would not need to wait until the people entered a scientific age, for the truths about himself, and what they should do would be for all times. He might give some prophecies of the future, have His special messengers do some miracles, and teach us the highest ethical standards. If such a book existed, would you want to read it? Such a book exists, and it is the Bible.
One would think God would know how to succeed, such that the book would not be lost but be widely published. There are not many widely published religious books that claim to be from God: the only ones with any following besides the Bible are the Qur'an, the Vedas, Mahabharata including the Bhagavad-Gita, the Upanishads, and the Tritipaka. We would invite you to compare the teachings of the Bible with these at any time.
For example, The Qur'an in Sura 4:34 says that if a wife continues to not listen to her husband, the husband is to "beat" or "scourge" his wife. The Arabic word here does not mean tap lightly; it is the same word used to beat a violent criminal or a camel. If a wife is good, but a husband is remiss, the Qur'an never says the wife is to either beat her husband or find her father, brother, or another man to beat her husband. Sura 18:85-86 states that a man followed the setting sun and found that it went down into the waters of a muddy spring. Now we know the sun does not go down into a muddy spring.
"My sons kill their enemies and my daughter is an empress, and I am completely victorious. My voice is supreme in my husband's ears. The oblation that Indra made and so became glorious and supreme, this is what I have made for you O gods. I have truly become truly without rival wives. Without rival wives, killer of rival wives, victorious and pre-eminent, I have grabbed for myself the attraction of the other women as if it were the wealth of flighty women." Rig Veda 10.159.3-5. The basis for the caste system that keeps people of lower castes (generally darker complexion) from higher positions is also from the Rig Veda 10.90.11-12 p.31.
Like the Rig Veda, the Bhagavad Gita also supports the caste system of segregation in India. "O son of Prtha [Arjuna], those who take shelter in Me [Krsna], though they be of lower birth -- women, vaisyas [merchants] and sudras [workers]--can attain the supreme destination. How much more this is so of the righteous brahmanas, the devotees and the saintly kings. Therefore, having come to this temporary, miserable world, engage in loving service to me." Bhagavad Gita 9.32-33 p.497-498.
The Katha Upanishad p.19 tells us something of the nature of the Hindu "God" Brahman: "To him [Brahman] the Brahmins and Kshatriyas are but food, and death itself the condiment [that is, spice]." The Upanishads teach that the goal of man is to lose all love, concern, and individuality as they are reabsorbed into the cosmic flame.
The Tritipaka might have "cooler" teachings, but Buddhism also teaches that all life is suffering and that people should escape to a place where there is no love or hate, joy or sadness, and no individuality.
So before saying the Bible is just like any other book, read 1 Corinthians 13, the Sermon on the Mount, and especially the last week of Jesus in the gospels, and see.
Q: Won't you go to Heaven if you are simply a good person?
A: Just as you and your roomie can set the rules in your own apartment, God can set the rules for His house. If a strange but friendly dog comes to my door, who is not housebroken and will go to the bathroom or throw up on my bed, he is not coming into my house. (And that goes for humans too.)
Actually if you are a good person you would go to heaven, but just how good would you have to be? God's standard for his perfect place is perfection, and according to Him, Romans 3 says that nobody measures up. Even worse, we are subject to the judgment for the sins we have already done. Well, actually one "man" is perfect enough. That is Jesus Christ. Though He did not have to, He chose to die in our place. If we accept His free gift, and if we are willing to submit our lives to God's process of making us holy, perfect, and acceptable to Him (in other words, "housebroken for Heaven")
Q: How do you know that your way is the right way?
A: First of all, it is not "my" way, it is Jesus' way. Show me someone else who had over 200 prophecies and implications made about Him before He was born, and show me someone else who rose from the dead, and you can consider their way too.
You know, some of the prophecies were incredibly detailed, such as the one in Daniel 9 about the time that the Messiah would die. Others are incredible, such as Him being called "God with us" or being born of a virgin (parthenos in Greek) in Isaiah. So if I make a list of all the people who were born in Bethlehem, died around 32-33 A.D., were claimed to be born of a virgin and claimed to be God, and I go through the list and see how many of them did miracles and rose from the dead, I only have one candidate. Who else has the credentials?
Q: How can God be loving and allow all the stuff that's going on in the world?
A: While originally the world was good, do not forget that today we live in a fallen world. Nobody is good compared to God's standard, but many times, bad things happen to people less deserving than others who appear to get away scot free.
This would seem to make life unjust, that is if earthly life were all that there is. A former editor of Scientific American, an agnostic named Martin Gardiner, made a profound point in his book, The Whys of a Philosophical Scrivener. He said that if you believe in justice (and he did), then you have to believe in an afterlife. In other words, life is so unjust on this earth, that if everyone does get justice, there must be a time after death when justice is dealt out. Christians call this Judgment Day. Centuries before, Lactantius (c.303-325 A.D.) made almost the same point in The Divine Institutes book 6 ch.9 p.171-172.
The world is far from an ideal place, but if it were ideal, what would it be like? Nothing bad would happen to anyone, and nobody would get sick or die. Though everyone would have the free will to do whatever they pleased, everyone would unanimously choose to love God and others. I believe in this ideal world, called Heaven. The pangs of earth tell us not to feel too comfortable here, but 1 Peter 1:6-9 reminds us that the sufferings of this life are nothing compared with the joys of the next for God's people. Earth is not the best of all possible worlds, but it might be the best process to the best of all possible worlds: heaven.
Q: Given that God has both great love and great wrath, how are we to understand the Hell and the Lake of Fire?
A: We can think of punishment after death in terms of five complementary metaphors: a cosmic trash dump, a judgment, a quarantine, infinite growth, and a time warp of destruction.
A chosen destiny: Look at Hell from the perspective of a wicked person: Imagine Hitler being in heaven, without ever repenting of what he did. Imagine millions being forced to live with a Holy God forever, against their will. Can you even imagine this? I can't. Rather, I think that if someone finally says they do not want to love, serve, and worship God forever, God reluctantly says "OK". God will build a separate universe just for them, and they can do whatever they want in that universe. This universe we call Hell. Of course God is the source of all love and goodness, and they will not experience those things there. They may have former friends with them in Hell, but without the love, they will not be their friends anymore. People are not all there is in that universe. Demons and others will be there with them. So a person in Hell did not directly choose the suffering of Hell, but they chose the path of rejecting God and led them to their destiny.
A trash dump: One of the most common words Jesus used for "Hell" is Gehenna. Gehenna was actually the trash dump outside of Jerusalem. They would pile the refuse out there, and when it got high enough to stink, and there were enough rats and other creatures, they would burn it. Hell can be thought of as a cosmic trash dump of those who choose to be unfit to be with God in Heaven.
A quarantine: In my house, I want to keep out what is filthy and causes disease. I have the right to refuse entry to those who would want to hurt my family. If I think I have that right, does not God have the same right for His house?
A judgment:We should not practice cruelty to any creatures, but is cruelty to an ant is different than cruelty to a dog, or a human. In laws, murdering a citizen is different than assassinating a president or king. In other words, the severity of the sin is partially gauged by who or what you are sinning against. Then that would make sins against the most holy God is far, far greater seriousness than sins against others.
Infinite growth: Imagine someone having a sin in this life, such as greed or lust. Imagine having the desire for that sin grow by 0.01% per year. Now imagine that the person has been in Hell for a million years, and has the certain knowledge that the sinful desire can never be satisfied.
A time warp of destruction: The Bible gives hints that time with God in Heaven is not the same as we experience time on earth (Pet 3:8; Ps 90:4; Tt 1:22; possibly Rev 11:7). Time in the afterlife in general could be significantly different. The Bible speaks of the smoke of their torment and Lake of Fire as forever, but it also talks of "perishing" and "destruction". Given that God gave us eternal souls, and that He gave us the sobering ability to choose to be apart from Him forever, some evangelicals have seen perhaps a merciful mitigating of the infiniteness of sin. Destruction does not have to mean annihilation (which is against eternal punishment) but rather an asymmetric loss of consciousness or sanity.
Some of these previous metaphors are not intended as Biblical definitions of how the Lake of Fire has to be, but rather, not unbiblical descriptions of what it might be like.
Q: How can I believe in miracles?
A: And people said the Wright brothers could never fly either. It was "absolutely certain" man could never supersede the natural law of gravity, and yet it happened. Scientists also asserted that the atom could never be split, and time was constant for everything too. We can be amused by the dogmatic mistakes of past scientists, never even guessing that future generations might be amused by the mistakes of our science.
Furthermore, since the Creator made all the natural laws, how can you be so sure He cannot supersede the natural laws with more ease than even the Wright brothers? Imagine for a moment that you could observe and communicate with beings in a two-dimensional universe. You would tell them some "miraculous things" such as you could see their inside and outside at the same time. You could "see" around corners, and you could make things appear and disappear (just by moving them in or out of the plane). If they asked to see you, you could poke three fingers in their plane, and they could observe that you looked like three circles. I am certain they too would have people that would scientifically state you were impossible. So, can we really be so sure that our primitive knowledge knows all that is?
If you have studied either chemistry or physics, then consider this. Given what we know of quantum mechanics, and statistical mechanics in chemistry, if someone had no special powers except the power to make something happen that was already statistically possible, there are few miracles in the Bible that could not be done (besides predicting the future).
Someone might say that if a miracle would convince them, it would have to be a really big miracle. How about the resurrection of the dead? See the next question for more on that.
Q: Isn't the resurrection of Jesus is just a mythical story?
A: No. Some people today believe in flying saucers; others believe men landing on the moon was a myth. Some people believe in astrology and tarot cards; others think our love, respect, and everything that gives us meaning in life is nothing more than chemical reactions coming from an random "accident". As weird as some beliefs are today, that is a symptom that there is something wrong here. What is wrong is that too few people ask the simple question: "where's the evidence?". Even for things that cannot be verified by scientific experiment, such as history, we should still ask "where's the evidence?" by looking at eyewitness accounts, and evidence you would submit in a court of law. So if you are asking to see "evidence" of the physical resurrection of Jesus, that is a fair thing to ask.
We have four different lines of evidence. First we have the evidence of the gospel writers. We have the evidence of Paul, who saw Jesus in a vision, and knew of over 500 people who witnessed Jesus after His resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:5-7).
However, many people are not aware of the non-Christian evidence for Christ. The Roman historian Suetonius (120 A.D.) wrote of a magician from Palestine named "Chrestus" who allegedly rose from the dead. The Palestinian historian Thales wrote of the darkness over the land at that time. The Roman historian Tacitus also mentions "Christus" who was killed under Pontius Pilate. There is a common letter, from a man named Mara bar-Serapion who wrote a letter to his son around 73 A.D. He encourages him to emulate wise men of history, such as Socrates, Pythagoras, and the wise king the Jews executed. Josephus was a Jewish historian who wrote about Jesus as well as James, his brother. The Jewish Talmuds also mention Jesus as a magician. Jesus is mentioned in The Babylonian Talmud, Tol'doth Yeshu, Barailu, The Amoa 'Ulla', Yeb. IV 3, and Baraita. Lucian of Samosata, a second century satirist, wrote of Christ as crucified in Palestine. He also said Christ taught that all men were brothers and encouraged the abandonment of the Greek gods. Pliny the Younger, a governor of Bithynia, writing in 112 A.D. to the Emperor, asked how to treat Christians, and he briefly described their beliefs, including that Jesus was a God. Phlegon from Caria, writing in 137 A.D., also wrote of a great darkness over the land in 33 A.D.. (He did not mention Christ though.)
A third line of witnesses is Christians who wrote about their faith. Clement of Rome, who wrote a letter to the Corinthians that we can date rather precisely at 96/98 A.D., speaks all about Christ and Paul. Ignatius, died by 116 A.D wrote many letters. Polycarp was another Christian martyr and disciple of Ignatius who died c.163 A.D. Papias, martyred around 156 A.D., Theophilus of Antioch, died either 181 or 188 A.D., Justin, martyred 165 A.D., Irenaeus, (182-188 A.D.), Clement of Alexandria (193-217/220 A.D.), Tertullian (198-220 A.D.), and Hippolytus, died 235/6 A.D., also wrote extensively about Christ. The Didache (or Teachings of the Holy Apostles) was an anonymous church manual, written about 150 A.D., though it could be as early as 120 A.D. Tatian, who lived from 110 to 172 A.D. was a Christian turned Encratite Gnostic who wrote a harmony of the gospels called the Diatessaron. If every single copy of the gospels were destroyed, we would still have all or parts of about 79% of verses in the gospels from just the Diatessaron.
A fourth line of evidence is the Christian church itself. It is estimated that about 40,000 Christians were martyred prior to Christianity becoming the official religion of the Roman Empire. If all of the early Christians, including the apostles, not only died for what they knew was a lie, they boldly traveled throughout the known world proclaiming what they knew was a lie with such enthusiasm as to launch the world's largest religion, then this "miracle" of skeptics is almost as great as the miracles in the Bible.
With all the preceding evidence, there is just one more question. When people tell you that the resurrection of Jesus is just a myth, ask them: "where is your evidence?"
Q: What are the miracles in the Bible?
A: There are a great number of miracles: even not counting prophecies and God working through natural means. Here are the miracles (including divine appointments) just from Genesis through the Song of Solomon.
Miracles that occurred in Genesis
Creation of the heavens and the earth. Gen 1
Creation of the Garden of Eden. Gen 2
Noah's flood. Gen 7-8
The Tower of Babel and confusion of speech. Gen 11:7-9
Sending diseases on Pharaoh and his household because of Sarai. Gen 13:17
God appears to Abraham as three visitors. Gen 18
Sodom and Gomorrah destroyed. Gen 19:1-29
Birth of Isaac to Sarah, an elderly barren woman. Gen 21:1-2
God called Hagar to find a well. Gen 21:17-19
An angel called to Abraham and provided a ram in place of Isaac. Gen 22:12-13
Abraham's servant immediately found a wife for Isaac (divine appointment). Gen 24:12-16
Miracles that occurred in Exodus
Pharaoh's daughter found baby Moses (divine appointment) Ex 2:5-6
Moses and the burning bush. Ex 3:2-6
Moses' rod and leprous hand. Ex 4:2-7
Aaron's staff became a snake. Ex 7:8-10
The Egyptians' staffs became snakes, but Aaron's staff ate them up. Ex 7:11-12
Plague of blood. Ex 7:19-22
Plague of frogs. Ex 8:6-7
Plague of gnats. Ex 8:17-18
Plague of flies. Ex 8:24
Plague of livestock dying. Ex 9:6-7
Plague of hail. Ex 9:23-25
Plague of locusts. Ex 10:12-15
Plague of darkness. Ex 10:22-23
The Passover. Ex 12:29-30
Cloud and the pillar of fire. Ex 13:21-22
Crossing the Red Sea. Ex 14:21-31
Water made sweet at Marah. Ex 15:25
Provision of quail and manna. Ex 16:13-15; Lev 11:4-9
Water from the rock at Massah. Ex 17:1-7; Num 20:11
Israelites defeated the Amalekites as long as Moses' hands were held up. Ex 17:11
The Lord descended on Mt. Sinai, which looked aflame with fire. Ex 19:20
The people were struck with plague because the golden calf. Ex 32:35
Radiant face of Moses. Ex 34:29-30
Miracles that occurred in Leviticus
Nadab and Abihu died for by having unauthorized fire before the Lord. Leviticus 10:1-2
Fire from the Lord Leviticus 11:1
Leviticus 11:4-9 already mentioned with Exodus 16:13-15
Miracles that occurred in Numbers
Miriam temporarily had leprosy. Numbers 12:10-14
Numbers 20:11 already mentioned in Exodus 17:1-8
Balaam's donkey. Numbers 22:32-32
Plague against the Israelites. Numbers 25:8-9
Miracles that occurred in Deuteronomy
Moses was strong and still had good eyesight right before he died at 120 years old. Deuteronomy 34:7
Miracles that occurred in Joshua
Crossing the Jordan River. Joshua 3:15-17
Fall of the walls of Jericho. Joshua 6:20-21
Hailstones and the sun stands still while fighting the southern Canaanite kings. Joshua 10:11-14
Miracles that occurred in Judges
Gideon's fleece. Judges 6:36-40
Samson's barren mother and father saw an angel and had Samson. Judges 13:2-6
Samson's strength. Judges 14:5-16:20
Miracle that occurred in Ruth
Ruth chose Boaz's field to work in (divine appointment). Ruth 2:3,19-20
Miracles that occurred in 1 Samuel
Hannah was childless, but had Samuel. 1 Samuel 1:3,17
When the Philistines had the ark, their idol fell, and they were afflicted with tumors. 1 Samuel 5
God killed 70 men of Beth Shemesh who looked into the ark. 1 Samuel 6:19
Saul just happened to enter unknowingly the cave where David was hiding. (divine appointment) 1 Samuel 24:3-4
Miracles that occurred in 2 Samuel
Uzzah was killed reaching out to steady the ark. 2 Samuel 6:6-7
The LORD sent a plague because David counted the fighting men. 2 Samuel 24:15-16
Miracles that occurred in 1 Kings
The LORD appeared to Solomon twice. 1 Kings 3:5; 9:2
Drought prophesied by Elijah. 1 Kings 17:1-6
The jar of flour and the jug of oil that were never used up for the widow at Zarephath. 1 Kings 17:7-14
Elijah raised the dead boy of the widow of Zarephath. 1 Kings 17:17-18
Elijah and the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel. 1 Kings 18:38
God supernaturally feeding Elijah afterwards. 1 Kings 19:1-9
The LORD appearing to Elijah. 1 Kings 19:9-13
Miracles that occurred in 2 Kings
God sent fire to kill soldiers sent to capture Elijah 2 Kings 1:9-12
Elijah goes to heaven in a whirlwind. 2 Kings 2:11-12
The Jordan River parts for Elisha. 2 Kings 2:13-14
Elisha and healing the water. 2 Kings 2:19-22
A bear mauls 42 youths jeering Elisha. 2 Kings 2:23-25
The widow's oil. 2 Kings 4:1-7
Elisha raised the Shunnamite's son from the dead. 2 Kings 4:8-37
Elisha removes poison from food in a pot. 2 Kings 4:38-41
Elisha feeds 100 men with 20 loaves of barley. 2 Kings 4:42-44
Elisha heals the Syrian Naaman of leprosy. Gehazi gets the leprosy. 2 Kings 5:1-27
An iron axehead floats. 2 Kings 6:1-7
Elisha traps Arameans. 2 Kings 6:8-20
Aramean army retreats after hearing chariots and horses. 2 Kings 7:5-8
185,000 Assyrians killed besieging Jerusalem. 2 Kings 19:35-36; 2 Chr 32:21; Isa 37:21-37
Miracles that occurred in 1 Chronicles
Uzzah killed after touching the ark. 1 Chronicles 13:9-10
Sound of marching at the tops of the balsam trees. 1 Chronicles 14:15
Plague on Israel after the census. 1 Chronicles 21:14-15
Miracles that occurred in 2 Chronicles
Moabites and Edomites fight each other instead of Israel. 2 Chronicles 20:22-23
King Uzziah becomes leprous after offering the priest's sacrifice. 2 Chronicles 26:20-21
See 2 Kings 19:35-36; 2 Chronicles 32:21; Isa 37:21-37 for the Assyrian army decimated.
No miracles occurred in Ezra through Song of Solomon
Miracles that occurred in Isaiah
(Visions and future miracles are not included here.)
See 2 Kings 19:35-36; 2 Chronicles 32:21; Isaiah 37:21-37 for the Assyrian army decimated.
No miracles occurred in Jeremiah or Lamentations
(Future miracles are not included here.)
Miracles that occurred in Ezekiel (not done yet)
(Visions and future miracles are not included here.)
Ezekiel 24:15-18 Ezekiel's beloved wife dies.
Miracles that occurred in Daniel
Daniel interprets Nebuchadnezzar's dream Daniel 2:24-49.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego saved through the fiery furnace. Daniel 3:20-30
Nebuchadnezzar lives like an animal for a time. Daniel 4:31-34
The writing on the wall. Daniel 5
Daniel in the den of lions. Daniel 6:16-28
No miracles occurred in Hosea though Malachi
Miracles that occurred in the gospels (not done yet)
Miracles that occurred in Acts (not done yet)
Jesus taken up to heaven. Acts 1:9-11
At Pentecost tongues of fire and speaking in different human languages. Acts 2:1-13
Peter and John heal a 40+ year old crippled beggar. Acts 3:1-10,22
The meeting place as shaken after believers prayed. Acts 4:31
Ananias and Sapphira killed for lying to God. Acts 5:1-11
The apostles heal many people. Acts 5:12-16
Apostles miraculously released from jail. Acts 5:17-21
Philip performs miracles in Samaria. Acts 8:4-8,12
Simon the sorcerer amazed people with his magic (whether fake or true it does not say.) Acts 8:8-11
Philip and the Ethiopian 8:26-40
The vision and blindness of Saul of Tarsus. Acts 9:1-12
Saul's sight is restored. Acts 9:17-18
Peter heals Aeneas the paralytic. Acts 9:32-35
Peter heals Tabitha (=Dorcas) Acts 9:36-43
Cornelius and those in his house speak in tongues (prior to being baptized) Acts 10:44-48
(not finished after here)
No miracles occurred in Romans through Jude
(Visions are not included here.)
Miracles that occurred in Revelation
(Future miracles are not included here. John's vision is not listed here.)
Q: Isn't it ridiculous to expect anyone to follow absolute guidelines?
A: Now we all recognize that some things are not absolutes, such as matters of taste, color, or style. However, call me old-fashioned if you wish, but I happen to think that serial murderers are at least socially challenged. Call me politically incorrect if you wish, but I think that Stalin starving millions of Ukrainians to death was absolutely less than kind. Call me a safety nut if you wish, but I sometimes think that jumping out of 21 story high windows can be unsafe to your health. Perhaps you disagree with all this, or else perhaps you hold to some absolutes too.
Therefore, "my fellow absolutist", the question is not if absolutes exist, but rather what kinds of things are absolutes. There are physical absolutes: such as if you push your car off a bridge, its resale value just might possibly go down. There are emotional absolutes: if you tell your boyfriend he is the only one you will ever love, and yet the next day he sees kissing another man, you just might have to wait a long, long time before getting an engagement ring from him. So if these things just might possibly be close to absolutes, why would you doubt that there might be moral absolutes too?
A friend of mine wrote a paper for a philosophy class about Kant's view that good is defined as "that which is done out of a sense of duty." He let me read the paper while he went to lunch. He told me just to put it on his bed and lock the door when I left. I did that and later joined him at lunch. He asked me what I thought of it, and I told him I disagreed. Hitler's soldiers, who killed all those Jews as their duty, were not doing a good thing. Nobody who is ordered by a gang boss to commit a crime is doing a good thing. In fact I told him, I thought that was so wrong, that I felt it was my duty to tear up his paper into little pieces! Now wasn't that a good thing? - He then picked up a table knife and talked about his sense of duty.
A Christian friend of mine was once in a philosophy class where the professor was teaching that everything was relative. In fact he said, when he turned his back on the class, the class did not exist. He turned his back to demonstrate. Just then another student threw a book and hit the professor in the back of the head. The professor turned around rapidly and barked, "who did that". The student said, "nobody did, because he do not exist!" Like a book with some mass, the absolutes of reality have a way of bonking us on the head when we ignore them.
On a more grim note, some things can be both relative (like statistics) and absolutes. For example, some years ago a study done on a city on the Mexican border that found that 20% of the prostitutes had AIDs. Now let's say an immoral man tries to "protect himself" such that the risk of transmittal is 10%. If a boy stops for the rest of his life after 10 encounters, the chance that he is AIDs free is 81.7 %, that is, 1 - (1 - (.2)*(.1))^10. If a man stops after 50 encounters, then the chance that he is AIDs free is only 36%. Yes, there are even absolutes in the relatives.
Q: Jesus was a partying dude and if He were here, wouldn't He party with us?
A: Jesus went to weddings and many dinner parties. He never got drink, never lost His head by getting stoned, and never dishonored His body. Now there are rotten parties and fun parties. One way to tell which is which by how the people feel the day after, or as one Christian put it, "you can bow and worship God, or you can bow and worship the commode [toilet]." We Christians do like parties actually, and we would like to invite you to come: every Sunday morning. Of course it is not a mere party, but rather both a joyous and awe-inspiring worship of the Living God.
Q: What if I've always been a Christian?
A: Well perhaps you are, but of course everyone who feels like wearing that label is not necessarily one in God's eyes. To be a Christian means to follow Christ. It means to acknowledge that God is our Creator, loves us, and will judge mankind on judgment day. It means to repent of our sins; not only sinful acts, but the good things we should have done and failed to do, as well as our words and thoughts. It means to acknowledge that we ourselves can never be good enough to merit going to God's perfect Heaven. Rather, we simply accept the freely given grace of eternal life, given through Jesus Christ dying on the cross for our sins and bodily rising from the dead. It means to trust our lives over to God. Instead of trying to get to heaven through our own good works, to accept Jesus as the Lord and Savior of our lives, and live to please Him.
If you have already given your life over to Christ, that is great. I would like to learn about your experience. If you have not, no time is better than the present. I would like to share with you what I have learned, and be here to try to answer any questions or doubts you have before you come to Christ.
Q: What if I used to be a Christian?
A: If so, that sounds sad. It is hard for me to imagine what it would be like to feel so loved by the most powerful, yet loving being in the universe, to be so greatly valued by Him, and then cast yourself away from that love. It must feel ten times worse than a girl (or guy) you really like who breaks up with you because one time you were acting cold and uncaring. What would it be like to have such a great purpose in life, as to help other people live forever in joy, and then to come to a place where your life and goals are just meaningless combinations of chemicals that nobody would care about in the coming centuries. I would like to hear your story.
Q: Is drinking alcohol OK, since even Jesus turned the water into wine?
A: Jesus did turn water to wine, but it never said anyone got drunk on the wine. Drinking in moderation is permitted, but we are commanded not to get drunk. One time a heavy drinker I knew went to a Bible study, and he opened the Bible for the first time in a long time. The very first verse he turned to was Ephesians 5:18, which says: "Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit." (NIV). He later told me he thought the Bible study was "spooky".
Q: Since some Christians I know party with me, what's the difference?
A: Of course, just claiming to be a Christian, or just going to church, does not make you a Christian anymore than walking across a football field makes you a football star. An obedient Christian would not do things against God's commands, such as getting drunk.
As a Christian, I used to "party hearty" with non-Christians too. I drank (but no alcohol, only soft drinks), I never used drugs or did anything else dishonoring God. Like anybody else, I wanted to get to know people and see old friends. However, I gradually stopped going, basically because I got bored. When people drink so much that they will not remember a word you say the next day anyway, what is the point?
Q: I think religion is personal, so why not just worship God in my own way?
A: Yes, our relationship with God is supposed to be personal. Christ was very personal to the apostle Paul. - so personal, that Paul risked his life, traveling throughout the Mediterranean world, to tell everyone he could about having a personal relationship with God! There is also evidence that the apostle Andrew went to modern-day Russia, Matthew went to Ethiopia, and the apostle Thomas probably went as far as India. However, instead of worshipping God in your own way (like Cain tried to do), why not try to worship God in His way. After all, the worship is for Him and not yourself, right?
Q: I'm not really that wicked compared with that murderer inside a prison cell.
A: Maybe not, but we all still fall short of what is required to go to heaven. Even though some, like King Herod, had greater sin than others like Pontius Pilate (John 19:11), that does not provide you much comfort if you are separated from God for all eternity. The ultimate question is: do you want to spend all eternity with God, praising and serving Him, in ways we cannot even imagine? If not, then God says the final "OK". He will make another universe, where you and others with similar sentiments can do your own thing. Of course God is the source of all love and goodness, so that other place, a wild preserve if you will, is going to be pretty awful without God. That place is called Hell. Jesus often called it Gehenna, which was also the name of the trash dump outside of Jerusalem. Of all that you could have been, of all the love and goodness you could have experienced, is now trashed. And you will have no one to blame, except yourself.
Q: The Bible is just for priests and ministers because no one can really understand it except them.
A: I can relate to those feelings. We should be in awe of God's Holy Scripture; it is amazing that the super-intelligent, all-knowing God would choose to reveal His words to all of us poor, dense, forgetful people. Perhaps demons would be laughing at our intelligence, or rather lack thereof, except that by God's Word, through God's power, we have authority over them. But, even though theologians spend lifetimes mining the richness of the Bible, we should not be too afraid of God's Holy book to read it, and equally important, obey it. The message of salvation is simple enough that even small children can learn enough of this book to know the way of salvation. But even though it is simple, it still gives a lifetime of challenge to follow. While good books have been written to teach who do not know anything about the Bible how to study it, let me give you a few brief pointers.
If you want help (and I am sure you do), pray before you study God's Word, asking for God's guidance.
Remember, God does not require us to know everything about what He has not revealed, but God has given us both the privilege and responsibility of knowing what He has revealed. He wants you to learn it even more than you want to learn!
When studying the Bible, practice
Observation: See not just what the verses are saying, but also the verses before and after, and any parallel passages.
Interpretation: Comparing with the rest of the Bible, interpret the meaning God intended for those verses.
Application: So what? Determine what you can learn from this that will (or should) make a difference in your life.
Get in a good Bible fellowship. One reason we need to get together with other believers is so that we can help each other
Get some good Bible resources from other Christians. Study Bibles and good Bible study booklets abound, and commentaries are helpful. A concordance will help you find other passages with the same thought or word. There are good (as well as bad) internet resources too. One that specifically answers over 8,667 questions on the Bible is www.BibleQuery.org. www.MeeknessAndtTruth.org also has lots of helpful materials for defending the faith, and www.leaderu.org has many articles on Christianity and other topics. www.watchman.org has materials showing what is wrong with false religions, such as Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons.
Q: Why don't you believe all the prophets (including Mohammed)?
A: An Ahmaddiya could ask a Muslim the same question: why don't Muslims believe their prophet, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. But Baha'is can ask Ahmaddiyas the same question: why don't they believe their prophets, the Bab and the Baha'ullah. Even Muslims would agree that we are not to believe Musailama al-Kadhdhab, and Anasi of San'a, because we can all agree we are not supposed to believe all the prophets when some are false prophets.
So we do not believe Mohammed, because Mohammed is a false prophet.
Of course a Jewish person could ask why both Christians follow Jesus, because the Jewish Talmud taught that Jesus was a false prophet. Going back even farther, Pharaoh of Egypt did not at first see that Moses was a true prophet.
So, given that we are to believe every prophet of God, and disbeliever every false prophet, how do you tell the true from the false prophets?
On this crucial issue God gives us two tests. In Deuteronomy 18:20-21, if they advocate worshipping other gods, or prophesy things that God did not command. 1 John 4:1-3 also adds that if they deny that Jesus came in the flesh, and Jeremiah 6:13 shows false prophets who spoke their own words as God's words.
The Old Testament, which we have copies of from the time of Jesus and before in the Dead Sea Scrolls, teaches very clearly that God is a Father, and believers are His sons, not in a sexual sense, but by being adopted into His family, being born again as a new creation. Mohammed and the Qur'an explicitly reject this. Mohammed, as a prophet, and the Qur'an as allegedly God's Holy book, are saying false things about the true God.
Q: Since Protestantism came here only by 19th century it is impossible to say that our great, great grandparents in the 16th century were thrown in hell.
A: Agreed. While some Catholics can be genuine Christians too, why go back only as far as Protestantism? Many non-Jewish people died before Christ was even born. While the Bible does not tell us everything about them, it does tell us about God. God is righteous and just (Rom 3:4-5), and God does not count sin where there is no law (Rom 4:15; 5:13). However, that does not let people off the hook, for even stone age natives have an imperfect copy of God's law in their conscience (Rom 2:14-15). And we have all broken that. But just as God was able to save, Noah, Abraham, Job, and others through Christ, even though they had never heard the name of Christ, God is able to save all who call upon Him, regardless of what they know.
Q: I don't have time for small group because I am very busy with my work and family.
A: The key thing is not joining a particular group or not, but do you have faith in God? Specifically, do you have faith that God wants you to have a healthy, balanced life, which includes family and work as well as closeness to Him? Do you have faith that God will provide you with all the time you need to do what you should be doing, even though that might not be enough time to do all the extra things you want to do that God never intended for you to work yourself to death doing?
All Christians will stand before the judgment seat of Christ (also called the bema seat judgment), and give an account and have their works tested (1 Cor 3:11-15). So you can set your temporary earthly priorities how you want, but do so knowing that you will have to give an account of how you set them. If you should be doing something, then do it.
Q: Trinity and Oneness belief looks the same with me. Its just all semantics. After all they believed Jesus is God.
A: Mormons, New Agers, and even an occasional Buddhist all believe that Jesus is God too; you have to believe in the right God. Rather than saying one specific doctrine is essential, to the exclusion of others, it is important to submit and believe everything God has revealed about Himself.
It is a horrible lie to say that the Father died on the cross.
At Jesus' baptism the Father spoke, and the spirit descended in the form of a dove. Was Jesus a ventriloquist who deceived people with a magic act, or are there three distinct beings?
Hebrews 5:8 says that the Son learned obedience. Ask a Oneness person, exactly whom was the Son obedient to?
Or as one Oneness preacher said on the radio, "I would refuse to worship a God who would send "His Boy" to die instead of Himself."
Q: You really cannot say your belief is right while the others are wrong.
A: In one way you are correct. I cannot say that my views and opinions are right, But Jesus can, and I would just like to share with people what He said. I had an elementary school teacher whom I hope you do not find too dogmatic; she insisted that 2 + 2 = 4. I never thought to tell her "that's true for you, but not true for me." If you needed open heart surgery, would you want to go to a physician who said, many people have successfully performed this surgery in the same way, but hey, I am feeling really creative today. I want to try things differently. No, you hope the surgeon not only knows the right way, but is dogmatic about following what is right and using great skill in doing what is best for the patient. The truth is, I needed open heart surgery. In fact, we all need open heart surgery; to replace our heart of uncaring selfishness, with a new heart, from God, filled with supernatural love. We need not just any physician, but the best physician around. We need Jesus to come into our heart.
Q: I really do not have time for this Bible right now.
A: A Christian, Charles E. Hummel, wrote a good booklet on this, called the Tyranny of the Urgent, where he concluded: "The tyranny of the urgent is the enemy of the important." We allow ourselves to be swamped with so many little tasks that have deadlines that we fail in doing what is of highest importance, just because it does not have a deadline (at least not that we have knowledge of). Just how long is your life on earth going to be, compared to eternity? You should not fail to consider the most important things, and what is more important than God and your eternal destiny. If you genuinely do not have enough time for God, then pray to God; asking Him to cut out of your life all the things that keep you from drawing closer to Him.
Q: The Bible is just written by men like us and so is subject to error.
A: Could God Almighty write a perfect word with an imperfect pen? - of course He could. He is Almighty. While neither Peter, Paul, nor any other apostle claimed to be perfectly sinless, we have to decide if we will trust Christ's apostles or not. If we trust them, here is what they said about Scripture.
"For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty." (2 Peter 1:16 uNASB)
"But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God." 2 Peter 1:21 uNASB)
"All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work." (2 Timothy 3:16-17 uNASB)
"...just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you. As also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction." (2 Peter 3:15b-16 uNASB)
Finally Jesus told Satan, "It is written, Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God." Mt 4:4. In the other temptations, Jesus answered Satan with Scripture. It was good enough for Jesus; hopefully you will think it is good enough for you.
Q: I don't think 1 billion Roman Catholics are going to hell just because they differ with your belief.
A: Neither do I. But I have to tell you, there will not be any Catholics in heaven. There will not be any Protestants in heaven either, and I say that as a Protestant. The only people in heaven will be children of God, who love and obey Him. I think some Catholics are genuine Christians. I also think some Catholics and Protestants are not. I am not here to get to you join mine, or any other organization, I am here to invite you to a relationship with God. However, if your religion, whether Catholic, Protestant, or other, leads you to stop paying attention to God's Word and follow something else instead, then your religion is an idol that stands in the way of a genuine relationship with God.
Q: Religion is also important because James mentioned it in his letter. (1:26-27)
A: Religion can be important, but as Elijah would tell you in 1 Kings 18:27, religion is not always good. It depends on the religion. For some, religion is an idol that stands in the way of God. When someone wants to murder someone, or do other things that grieve God's heart, in the name of religion, that religion is toxic. Paul said the sacrifices of pagans are made to demons in 1 Corinthians 10:20. For others, religion, even "Christian religion", is a sedative that does nothing. Being religious cannot save anyone, only God saves people. But that being said, James teaches us that religion CAN be very good, and we should all have this kind of religion. Religion that is good externally does acts of love toward others (i.e. visiting orphans and widows in their affliction), and internally has a disciplined obedience to God (keeping oneself unstained from the world).
Q: Jesus cannot be God and man at the same time.
A: Why not? If God really is Almighty, who are we to tell God what He cannot do? A man cannot become God, but God Almighty is not too weak to be capable of appearing as a man. If someone thinks that God cannot reveal Himself "in person" then that person's God is too small, and is not the real God. So we can only follow what God has revealed to us about what He has done.
A mere man should not accept worship (Matthew 28:9,17; Luke 24:52), and cannot forgive sins that only God can forgive (Mt 9:2-6; Mk 2:5-12; Lk 5:20-23; 7:48-50). Jesus did though, because He was not merely a man, but God also.
Q: The Trinity is of pagan origin and is a teaching of the Roman Catholic Church.
A: That is a oft-repeated myth propagated by atheists. No historian would say that and be considered competent. Theophilus of Antioch (168-181/188 A.D.) used the term Trinity before there was a Roman Catholic Church. Tertullian (198-220 A.D.) wrote an entire work on the Trinity, and though he lived in Rome he was a Montanist, separate from Roman bishop. Likewise Novatian (250-254/257) wrote A Treatise Concerning the Trinity and he started his own denomination. In addition, we have 12 other Christian writers, prior to 325 A.D., who used the word Trinity.
Prior to this, Ignatius of Antioch wrote extensively that Jesus is God, and he was a disciple of John the Apostle. Of course, in the Bible John 1:1 says that The Word [Jesus] was with God and was God. The apostle Thomas called Jesus "my Lord and my God" in John 20:28, the blind man worshipped Jesus in John 9:38, and the disciples worshipped Jesus in Matthew 14:33. Wise man worshipped Jesus in Matthew 2:11, and wise men worship Him today too.
Q: There are many rules to follow when you become a born-again Christian.
A: Yes, but there are many rules to follow when being married too: be considerate of your spouse, don't beat your spouse, don't fool around with others, etc. But when two engaged people are in love, thinking of marriage as just a bunch of rules is probably the farthest thing from their mind. They are thinking of their permanent relationship. Yes, God gives us commands, not just optional suggestions, and we are to obey our Lord. But this is not Christianity, just an outward expression of Christianity. Christianity is a relationship between me, with all my imperfections, and all-holy, loving God, who loves me even more than I love myself; who loves me even more than I can imagine. Obeying the rules is much easier, once we finally figure out that the rules are for our benefit and safety, and that God's way is the best way.
Q: If your pastor beats my minister in a religious showdown of debate then me and my family will transfer to your church.
A: The issue is not argument, as lawyers argue, but truth, as scientists or researchers might discuss. There was a British politician, a brilliant debater, who did not believe in God named William Wilberforce. A personal friend of his, on a long train ride, shared the truth of the gospel, and Wilberforce demolished him in debate. The Christian finally told him just to be quiet and listen to the truth. Anyway, some time afterwards Wilberforce became a Christian and was a leading cause of abolishing slavery in all British possessions. Make sure the motive is learning the truth, not just winning an argument.
Q: How can you just ignore Jesus' mother.
A: We don't. We honor and respect Jesus' mother, but it is blasphemy to place her at the same level as Jesus. Paul is fearful that some will fall away and be devoted to others besides Christ in 2 Corinthians 11:2-3. But the Catholic church has called her the name of an evil idol: the Queen of Heaven, in Jeremiah 44:17, "co-redeemer" (redemptrix) and "co-mediator" (mediatrix), that are engaging in idolatry when Jesus is our only mediator according to 1 Timothy 2:5-6.
Q: The Protestant Bible is different from the Roman Catholic Bible therefore the former is incomplete.
A: That does not follow, because it could be that the Roman Catholic Bible has additions. While all Christian Bibles are the same on the New Testament, on the Old Testament there are not two views (Protestant and Catholic) but rather at least five:
1. "Basic" 39 books of the Old Testament agreed to by Jews and all Christians.
2. Catholic Council of Trent has this plus 8 books plus 4 additions to Daniel and Esther.
3. The Slavonic Orthodox Apocrypha is the same as the Catholic except also 2 Esdras, 3 Esdras, 3 Maccabees, and parts of two other books (Prayer of Manasses and Psalm 151)
4. The Greek Orthodox Apocrypha is the same as the Slavonic Orthodox except that is also has 4 Maccabees.
5. The Historic Coptic Apocrypha has 1, 2, 3, Maccabees, Baruch, Ecclesiasticus (Sirach), Judith, Tobit, Wisdom of Solomon, and additions to Daniel and Esther. However, under Cyril V (1874-1927) the Coptic Church rejected these.
The early church had a variety of opinions, with many of the non-Hebrew speaking writers accepting the apocrypha. Jerome, who translated the apocrypha in the Vulgate accepted the apocrypha as scripture early in his life, but after he learned Hebrew he rejected them as Bible canon.
Now knowledgeable Catholics will even agree with Protestants that the apocrypha has provable historical errors, especially the Book of Judith. Doctrinally, the Prayer of Manasses also teaches that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob never sinned against God. As Charles Ryrie said, if you in a meat processing meat, and some fell in the mud on the ground, even though it is still mostly good meat, would you want people to eat it? So we do not need to follow problematic books. - of course not.
Q: Faith and good works must go together for a person to go to heaven.
A: Yes they go together, but not in the way you might think. People often confuse what earns our salvation, what gets us saved, and what displays that we are saved.
Earns salvation: Neither faith nor works merit salvation; we can never do enough of either to erase the sins we did. It is Christ and His sacrifice that earned our salvation, not anything we did or believed.
Gets us salvation: To be saved we must combined the gospel message we heard with faith (Hebrews 4:3). We are saved by grace through faith, not of works (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Displays salvation: But a faith that does not desire to show forth works is not a saving faith. Even demons "believe" and shudder. Faith without works is dead. (James 2:14-26).
Q: We cannot know for sure we are going to heaven.
A: The apostle John says otherwise in 1 John 5:13. You would have a valid point - but only if going to heaven depended on our own merits. We would never know if we worked hard enough. Actually the Bible says that none of us worked hard enough, and if we have ever sinned, then the broad door to heaven is forever closed to us. But even when we had no hope of our own, God gave us hope, by sending a narrow door through which we can get to heaven. This door is Jesus (John 10:7), and by giving up our own ambitions, and turning our lives over to Him, He gives us forgiveness through His shed blood on the cross, and carries us through to eternal life. It is a gift of grace, not of our works (Ephesians 2:8-9). We simply have to accept it by faith.
Now faith is not something to take for granted; Paul commands us to "test ourselves" that we are in the faith in 2 Corinthians 13:5-6. This assumes that we are able to test. 1 John 5:12-13 says that we can "know" that we have eternal life. Likewise John 5:19 says that we can "know that we are of God".
Q: My parents don't want me to go to church but the Bible says, "Obey God rather than men." (Acts 5:29)
A: It is important to obey those in authority, whether it be parents, government officials, teachers, etc., but we are to obey God as our highest authority. We are to obey and honor our parents (Ephesians 6:1-3), so I would still go to church, if possible, but make it clear to your parents that you respect them, and will obey them in everything that does not contradict what God says. If your grandparents were to have told your parents not to pay taxes or pay their debts, would your parents have obeyed? Likewise, you have to pay the honor you owe God for what He has done in creating and saving you.
Q: Its okay for me to practice my belief alone and not attend church.
A: There are at least two kinds of faith "self-directed faith", a faith on your own terms, where the ultimate source and authority of faith is yourself, and "obedient faith" on God's terms. If God were to command us to meet together, then people of faith would have to decide which kind of faith they would put their trust in. Hebrews 10:25 commands us not to forsake assembling together. But it is up to us whether to have an obedient faith or not.
Sometimes a Christian might not be too enthusiastic about meeting with other Christians because the Christians they would meet with have flaws, or they had a bad past experience. No Christian is perfect, and we need each other, to encourage, correct, and on occasion rebuke each other, in love. It is great if you obey God enthusiastically, but when we are not enthusiastic, we are still called to obey God.
Q: What is right for you may not be right for others.
A: What I feel is right does not matter much, because I might be mistaken, even about what is right for me. The Communists felt that killing non-Communists was right for them. Radical Islamic terrorists feel that suicide bombings are right for them, some drug addicts may feel that taking opium is right for them, and Jains feel that starving themselves to death is right for them. No, what matters is what God says is right. We can choose to follow or reject what God tells is right, but pretending we do not know the truth God has revealed to us is not an option He gave us.
For more info please contact Christian Debater™ P.O. Box 144441 Austin, TX 78714. www.BibleQuery.org