Saturday, October 30, 2010

In "Bible answers for kids" you can find out what the God's Word says in answer to questions that children frequently ask.

To find out more about my ministry to children, go to my main 'Blog' -http://www.unclemaurice.blogspot.com/

To view all my teaching resources, go to http://www.mauricesweetsur.blogspot.com/

To access Object lessons and Illusions, go to http://www.objectlessons.blogspot.com/

To access Bible lessons and Teaching Tips go to http://www.teachinglessons.blogspot.com/

To access Stories, skits and puppet plays go to http://www.christianstoriesandplays.blogspot.com/

To access all my material on major teaching themes, check out the 'Special Blog' sites below :-

1. Creation. http://www.ms-creation.blogspot.com/
2. Christmas. http://www.ms-christmas.blogspot.com/
3. Easter. http://www.ms-easter.blogspot.com/
4. The Bible. http://www.ms-bible.blogspot.com/
5. Prayer. http://www.ms-prayer.blogspot.com/
6. Hearing from God. http://www.ms-hearing.blogspot.com/
7. The Ten Commandments. http://www.ms-tencommandments.blogspot.com/
8. John 3.16. http://www.ms-john316.blogspot.com/
9. Teaching Memory verses. http://www.ms-memoryverses.blogspot.com/
10.. Gospel Illusions. http://www.ms-gospelillusions.blogspot.com/
11. Object Lessons (using natural laws). http://www.ms-objectlessons.blogspot.com/
12. Lessons involving balloons. http://www.ms-balloons.blogspot.com/
13. Lessons involving fire. http://www.ms-firelessons.blogspot.com/

To access my site for children go to http://www.funatkidzone.blogspot.com/

Maurice Sweetsur mnmsweetsur@xtra.co.nz


Introduction.

One of the best ways that children learn is by asking questions. For this reason I try to encourage children in my classes to do this.

Kids do ask some really interesting questions, and we should always be prepared to give simple, age-appropriate, Biblical answers to them.

If you as a teacher are asked a question, you are expected to give an instant answer, and I am sure that we have all discovered that on reflection these may not be completely adequate. It is for this reason that I encourage children to write out any questions they have and give them to me. Thus, I am then able to consider their questions, and if necessary research the answers - using the Bible as my main source - and give my answers the next time I see the children.

This Blog contains many questions that children have asked of me in classroom situations, together with my considered answers. I hope that you find them helpful. Most of us have a "Denominational bias", but I have tried to steer clear of this and give strictly "mainstream" Biblical answers.

I am sure that you will discover that many questions (such as Who made God? Is there life elsewhere in the Universe? Why is my brother?sister nasty to me? When did God create the dinosaurs? Did Jesus really rise from the dead?). come up time and time again. So become familiar with the answers to the most common questions, and then you won't have to keep researching them.


CONTENTS.

Who made God?
Is there life elsewhere in the Universe?
Why did God make us, and the world?
Why did God create the earth the way it is?
When will the world come to an end?
Which came first the chicken or the egg?
When did God create the Dinosaurs?
When did God create angels?
Why did God use Adam's rib to create Eve?
Why did Adam and Eve sin against God?
Where did Cain get his wife from?
Did some people in the Bible really live until they were over 900 years old?
Was the Universe created with a "Big bang"?
Did people evolve from monkeys?
If Adam and Eve were white skinned, how did dark skinned people come about?
Why is water essential for life?
Did God make cavemen?
What proof is there that God exists?
Is Jesus really God?
Did Jesus really rise from the dead?
When is Jesus coming back to earth?
Why does God answer some prayers but not others?
Where is heaven?
Did God write the Bible?
How do I know the Christian faith is true?
Do people have more than one life on earth?
If God knows the future, does that mean that no matter what I do, it cannot be changed?
Why is my brother / sister nasty to me?
Why does God allow suffering?
Why do we have earthquakes?
If I ask God for something, will he give it to me?
Can God speak to us with a voice that we can actually hear?
Can I be a Christian, even if my parents aren't?
Do all religions lead to God?
What is my purpose in life?
Can Christians perform miracles?
How old is the earth?
How many different types of Christians are there?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Who made God?

"If I told you the answer to that, I know what your next question would be. You would say "Who made the person who made God ?" Then, if I told you that , you would ask "Who made the person who made the person who made God ?" Then, if I told you that, you would ask "Who made the person who made the person who made the person who made God ?" etc. etc.

No, the answer is NOBODY made God. God is eternal. That means He has no beginning or end. He has always existed. In fact, there was a time when there was no matter (solid things), no space, and no time, only God Himself. Then God spoke and by His power brought everything in the Universe into existence. The exciting thing is that although we have a beginning, God has made each one of us eternal as well. That means the "real you" - your Soul and Spirit will never die.

I know this is hard for us to understand, because we are used to living in time, with beginnings and endings. But let us consider the alternative. If there is no God (or Creator), that means that everything in the Universe must have created itself - beginning with nothing. Our common sense tells us that nothing can make itself - it has to have a maker or creator. That is why most people in the world believe in a Creator (God). It requires far,far too much faith to believe that everything made itself out of nothing. It is far easier to believe that there always has been a loving God who created everything.


Is there life elsewhere in the Universe?

Surveys in a number of countries indicate that the majority of people believe that there is other life in the Universe, apart from on earth.

We now know that the Universe is absolutely enormous, with countless billions and billions of stars (our sun is a star). People reason that because there are so many stars, there are probably billions and billions of planets associated with them. And the chances are that millions and millions of these planets will be similar to earth, and therefore capable of sustaining life.

Unfortunately, some people believe that life can form itself by chance processes, and if it has happened on earth - then why not on other planets as well? However life CANNOT form itself. A creation needs a Creator. A design needs a Designer. The only One who can create life is God.
So the question we should really be asking is "Has God created life on other planets?"

The only Person who knows everything about everything is God. And God has written us a book called the Bible, which tells us everything we really need to know about life. Therefore the first place we should go to find out if something is true or not is the Bible. Unfortunately, the Bible doesn't say if there is life somewhere other than on earth, so we cannot know for sure. However, by studying the Bible, it does seem that life (certainly intelligent life) outside of the earth is extremely unlikely.

The Bible makes it clear that our earth (small as it may be) is THE most important place in the Universe. It was on earth that God created the first man, Adam. It was here that Adam sinned and brought God's curse on "the whole of creation." thus bringing it into "bondage to decay" (see Romans 8. 21). If there were extraterrestrials (ET's) on other planets, it would hardly be fair that their world was adversely affected because of Adam's sin here on earth!

It was on our earth that God's Son, Jesus Christ, died for our sins "once for all" and redeemed (bought back) the "whole of creation" to Himself. If Jesus died on earth "once for all", that seems to exclude the possibility of Him then going off to other planets to die all over again!

And it will be to here on earth that Jesus will one day return for those of us who are trusting in him. The Bible talks about us (the Church) becoming "the Bride of Christ". And I can't imagine Jesus having more than one bride!

Although we cannot therefore know for certain that there is not life elsewhere in the Universe, if it does exist, we can know three things about it :-

1. It is younger than life on earth, because God didn't create the sun, moon, stars, and consequently any planets that may be associated with them, until Day 4 of the Creation week, whereas He made the earth on Day 1.

2. There is no need to be worried that the earth may be invaded by ET's who are able to take control because they are more advanced and/or intelligent than we are. No. Any other life forms, if they exist at all, cannot be superior to us, because we humans are made in God's image - and you can't get better than the best!

3. It is not important to us on earth. God tells us in the Bible everything that is really important for our lives. Therefore, as it doesn't mention life outside of earth, it cannot be important to us, if it exists at all. If it were important, the Bible would have mentioned it.



Why did God make us, and the world?

We are all on a journey through life, but some people live all their lives without ever finding out why they are here on planet earth in the first place. It is such a shame. Would you get on a train or a bus without knowing where it was going? I don't think so. But for some people, life is rather like being on a journey without knowing where they came from, why they are on the journey, or even where they are going!

The answer to the question is quite easy. God created us to be His friends, so He can enjoy us, and we can enjoy Him, both now and forever. Therefore, we came from God - he created us, He did so to be His friends, and, if we are trusting in Jesus, we are on our way to heaven.

God made the world (in fact the entire Universe and everything in it) for our benefit. He wants us to enjoy it, and to look after it on His behalf. What a wonderful, privileged position God has given us human beings.



Why did God create the earth the way it is?


OUR AMAZING EARTH.
(My thanks to David Goodwin of Kidsreach - ( www.kidsreach.org.nz ) for providing the illustrations for this presentation)


God created the earth as it is for the benefit of His 'Special Creation' - us! We are to enjoy it and look after it (including everything that God has created on it, such as the animals) on His behalf.

God made the earth just right for us to live on. Even very small changes in the earth's conditions would make life, as we know it, impossible.
God's Creation is proof of the Work of a Creator!


God is very good


Consider the following nine facts - - - -

1. The earth is about 150 million kilometres from the sun. This is exactly the right distance to hold the temperature between 0 degrees C. and 40 degrees C. on most of the earth. This is the temperature needed to sustain most life. But if the earth were just 5% closer to the sun, not only would it be too hot for us, but the oceans would boil and the water would all evaporate. It has been calculated that even a 2 degree C. rise in the average surface temperature of the earth would be enough to melt the polar ice caps and cause devastating flooding). If the earth were only 5% further away from the sun, the oceans would freeze, making life in them and transport on them impossible.



2. The earth's orbit around the sun is nearly a perfect circle. If, as in the case of most other planets, the orbit were oval shaped (like an egg), the earth would be blazing hot as it approached the sun, and deathly cold as it moved away from it.



3. The earth rotates once on its axis every 24 hours. If it didn't rotate, one side would be day all the time and be very hot, and the other would be night all the time and be very cold. If the earth's speed of rotation were much slower than it is, our days would still be very hot, and our nights very cold. If the rotation were much faster, the wind would blow so strongly that we wouldn't be able to stand up in the open. The length of each day and night is also just right for the amount of sleep we need.


4. The earth is tilted on its axis by about 23 degrees. If it wasn't tilted this way, we would have no seasons. Countries near the equator would be very hot. Those far from the equator would be too cold to grow food - resulting in a world-wide food shortage.



5. The diameter of the earth is about 13,000 Kilometres. If it were only about 10% less than this then, because of the consequent reduction in gravity, most of the oxygen which we need to breathe would escape into outer space. If the diameter of the earth were 10% greater than at present, the increased gravity, and hence air pressure, would cause the polar ice caps to melt - resulting in devastating flooding.




6. Our atmosphere contains about 21% oxygen, which is just right for life on earth. A much higher level would make the planet highly inflammable, but at a much lower level, fire would not burn at all. And we would find it very hard to breathe!

Another type of oxygen is ozone. This forms a layer in our atmosphere which absorbs the very harmful ultraviolet light from the sun and prevents it reaching us on the earth. The problem with ozone is that it is poisonous. So where to we find this ozone layer? About 15 kilometres above the earth's surface, where it can do us no harm.




7. The pull of gravity on the earth by the moon and the sun causes the tides. Tides cleanse the ocean's shores, help put oxygen (that fish breathe) into the water, and help keep the ocean currents moving, preventing the sea from becoming stagnant. If the moon were a little smaller or a little further away than at present, there would be very little tidal action, resulting in even the oceans becoming stagnant and the death of all aquatic creatures. If the moon were a little larger or a little nearer than at present, the tidal action would be too severe, with low lying areas being flooded twice a day!






8. Unlike the earth, the moon doesn't rotate about its axis. This means that the same side of the moon always faces the earth. This side is made up of mostly dark dust, and so it only reflects about 7% of its sunlight to the earth. The other side of the moon is extremely rocky, and therefore very reflective. If this side faced the earth, our nights would be almost as bright as our days, thus making sleeping very difficult.




 

9. Although we don't know the purpose of all the planets in the solar system, we do know that the two largest, Jupiter (318 times the size of the earth) and Saturn (95 times the size of the earth), with their strong gravities, are in just the right positions to pull many comets and meteors away and prevent them crashing into the earth and killing us all.






What a wonderful Creator we have, who not only made the earth just right for us to inhabit, but He also keeps it that way year, after year, after year.

"God's eternal power and divine nature can be seen from the things He has made." (Romans 1.20).


When will the world come to an end?



Over many centuries, many religious people have made predictions of when this world will end. Some have given a specific year, and others have even predicted the exact day and time. Needless to say, they have all been wrong so far - because we are all still here!



The Bible does tell us that the earth (as we know it) will be completely destroyed one day. But before that happens, there is another important event that will take place. Jesus will return to earth for those of us who are trusting in Him. The return of Jesus will then set in motion a train of events, which will then result in the world's destruction.



When Jesus was on earth the first time, about two thousand years ago, he was asked when he would return? Jesus told his questioners that he didn't know, and that only God, the Father knew the exact time.



It seems to me that if even Jesus doesn't know when he will return, it is very unlikely that any human being will know the time! The Bible, in fact, tells us that the return of Jesus will be a surprise. His return will be unexpected - nobody will be looking at the clock, waiting for him.



The Bible tells us that before Jesus returns, the conditions will have to be just right. Certain things (or signs) will have to happen first.



1. The "major" sign is that the Jews will return to their biblical homeland of Israel. The Romans destroyed the Jewish temple in Jerusalem in 66 AD and began persecuting the Jews. As a result, these people were scattered throughout the earth for almost 2,000 years. However, in 1948, the present nation of Israel was re-established, and many Jews subsequently returned to their ancestors' ancient homeland. Thus, "Sign 1" has already been fulfilled.



2. There will be an increase in wars, wickedness and violence throughout the world. Most people will agree that this is true "today". Things are getting worse and worse.



3. There will be an increase in natural disasters, such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, tsunamis, etc. Most will agree that this is true today.



4. The Gospel (Good news about Jesus Christ) will be shared with all the world's different people groups. This "sign" has not yet been fulfilled. Technological advances over the last century, with the invention of such things as radio, television and the internet, has seen a great increase in the spread of the Gospel. However, there are still many people groups in remote areas of the earth that have still not had an opportunity to hear and respond to the Gospel. Jesus will not return until the church has completed this task.



5. Many Christians believe that another "sign" will have to take place before Jesus returns. And that is the rebuilding of God's Temple on its original site in Jerusalem. This remains unfulfilled.



Therefore, don't be misled by future "prophets" who predict the timing of Jesus' return, or the end of the world. When Jesus does return, He will do so unexpectedly.


Which came first the chicken or the egg?

People like asking this question because there appears to be no answer to it. If someone answered 'the chicken', they would say "But the chicken must have come from an egg!" But if someone answered 'the egg', they would say "But the egg must have come from a chicken!"

The answer to the question is - The Chicken. God made the first of each type of creature fully formed. For example, He created the first man and woman, Adam and Eve as mature human beings. God made the first of each type living form, each with seeds within themselves so that they could then reproduce after their own kind. And this is what we find in nature today. Thus oak trees (their seeds are called acorns) produce oak trees, carrots produce carrots, cats produce cats, dogs produce dogs etc. etc. And chickens have seeds, (contained in their eggs) which produce chickens.


When did God create the Dinosaurs?

The Bible tells us that God created all the land animals, including dinosaurs, on the sixth day of the creation week. He also created the first people (Adam and Eve) on the same day.

Some people may try and tell you that dinosaurs lived and died millions of years before people were on the earth. But there is absolutely no evidence to support that claim. I choose rather to believe God who, unlike people, was here in the beginning, knows everything and cannot lie.

The word 'dinosaur' (meaning terrible lizard) cannot be found in the Bible, but that is because it was only first used about 165 years ago after bones from these reptiles began to be discovered. However, a dinosaur-like animal called Behemoth is described in Job 40. 15-19. This fits the description of what is called today a Brachiosaurus. And a sea-going monster called Leviathan is described in Job 41. Thus from the Bible, it is clear that man and dinosaurs once lived together.

Dinosaurs were reptiles. The major difference between them and other reptiles, like crocodiles, was the position of their limbs. These came out from under their bodies, rather than from their sides. This gave them a fully erect posture, similar to mammals. Some dinosaurs were small (about the size of a chicken) and some were very large, weighing an estimated 80 tons and standing over 10 metres high. Like many creatures which once inhabited the earth, dinosaurs are now (probably) extinct. Many would have been drowned at the time of Noah's flood. But the few that were saved on the ark may not have been able to survive the dramatic changes in climatic conditions after the flood.


When did God create angels?

The Bible does not tell us exactly when, but it was probably on the first day of the creation week that we read about in Genesis. We think this because Job 38.7 tells us that "all the sons of God" (Angels) "shouted for joy" when God "laid the earth's foundation."

The angels were all created holy (good), otherwise God could not have said on Day 6 that everything He had made was "very good". Therefore it was after the creation week that some of the angels (possibly a third of them) rebelled against God. The leader of these fallen (bad) angels is named Satan (meaning 'adversary').

The majority of angels have always remained faithful to God, and the exciting thing is that God created them so that they could serve and help us humans. Mighty and powerful that angels are, it is only us humans who have been created in God's likeness. And it is only for us humans that God's Son, Jesus died on the cross.


Why did God use Adam's rib to create Eve?

To make the first woman, God caused Adam to fall into a deep sleep. Then He took one of Adam's ribs and built Eve from it. Eve was to become Adam's helper and wife. The name 'Eve' means 'life', because she would become the mother of the whole human race. Everybody who has ever lived since then has descended from her.

God chose to use a rib rather than one of Adam's other bones because this is the one bone in our body that will grow back if it is removed. Thus Adam would not have to go through life with one rib short. If he had done so, this world would not have been perfect. And God clearly tells us that His creation was indeed perfect in the beginning, before Adam and Eve's later rebellion in the garden of Eden which spoiled everything.

Some people mistakenly believe that because God removed one of Adam's ribs, all males now have one less rib than females. This is completely untrue. We all have 24 ribs each, 12 on each side of our rib cages.

God blessed Adam and Eve and told them to have many children and fill the earth. So it was God who designed marriage of a man and a woman, and the family unit, way back in the beginning.


Why did Adam and Eve sin against God?

The Bible tells us that in the beginning God made a perfect world, and that His finest creations were people. The first people (Adam and Eve) were made in God's own image or likeness (See Genesis 1 v. 26).

God could easily have made Adam and Eve like robots, so that they were programmed to obey him. But He wanted someone much better than that. He wanted people that would obey and love Him, but because they wanted to. Not because they had to. Thus, God gave people free will - the ability to choose. Thus Adam and Eve could choose to love and obey God, or they could choose not to love or obey Him.

Well, we all know what happened. Adam and Eve made the wrong choice - they disobeyed and rejected their Creator. But when people make bad choices, there is always a consequence, a price to be paid. Probably you have made some bad choices. Perhaps you chose to disobey your mum or dad, for example. And then found that there were consequences for it. Maybe you were punished!

There was a terrible consequence for Adam and Eve's bad choice. God placed a curse on the earth, and the whole world became "bad".

We still see the results of this today all around us. BUT THERE IS GOOD NEWS. God still loved His creation and had a plan to make things "good' again. He sent His Son to die on the cross. Now, if we put our trust in Jesus, we are forgiven all our wrongdoing and bad choices. Not only that, Jesus is able to come into our lives and make us clean and new on the inside. Now, although we can still choose to make bad choices, we are much less likely to do so as our desire now is to please God, rather than ourselves.


Where did Cain get his wife from?

The most common question that people ask Bible teachers is certainly "Who made God?" (For the answer - see above). The next most common question is the one asked here.

Adam and Eve were the very first two people. Although the Bible only tells us the names of three of their children (Cain, Abel and Seth), it does tell us that they had other sons and daughters. As Adam lived until he was 930 years, there were probably lots of them.

At the beginning of human history, Adam's sons, including Cain, must have married their own sisters. This is because Adam and Eve were the parents of everyone. After that, their children's sons could have married their sisters or their girl cousins, and had children of their own. Very soon there would have been thousands of people living on the earth.

It is against the law for brothers to marry sisters today, why could they do it back then?

Let's first consider the world today. If brothers marry their sisters, then their children may be deformed or sick or handicapped in some way. This is because in our genes, we all have some 'copying mistakes' that have built up in our family over many generations. Different families have different copying mistakes. When people with different gene mistakes marry, the good genes from each partner tend to override the other partner's bad genes, so that deformities do not appear in their children. But if people with the same gene mistakes marry, then their children are liable to inherit two sets of bad genes, and so they can be handicapped in some way.

This was not a problem with Adam and Eve's children, because God created Adam and Eve perfect, with no genetic mistakes! So there was no problem with brothers marrying sisters.

But then, when sin entered the world, God withdrew some of His power that stopped things falling apart. His perfect creation began to degenerate. There was death and decay, and many genetic mistakes began to develop in all living things. This was minimal at the time of Cain, so intermarriage was okay, but by the time of Moses, about 2,500 years later, genetic mistakes had built up to the point where it was necessary for God to forbid brothers from marrying their own sisters. That is why it was okay at the beginning, but not okay today to marry your close relative.


Did some people in the Bible really live until they were over 900 years old?

A better question would be "Why do people live such short lives today?" The important thing to remember is that when God first created the earth it was completely different from what it is like now. God called it "very good". The Bible indicates that the original climatic conditions on the earth were perfect for life, and that there was no pain, sorrow, sickness or even death. All these 'bad' things (including death) only came into God's perfect creation as a result of Adam and Eve's disobedience in the Garden of Eden.

Thus Adam only died because of his disobedient act. He died spiritually - in other words he became separated from a holy God - immediately. But it took 930 years for him to die physically. Likewise Adam's early descendents mostly managed to live until they were over 900 years of age, the oldest recorded one being Methuselah who survived until he was 969. But eventually they all died.

About 1,700 years after creation came the great flood at the time of Noah, with consequent major changes in the climatic conditions. Now the earth was a much more hostile place in which to live. In particular many Bible scholars believe that the protective water vapour canopy, which had once surrounded the earth, collapsed at the start of the flood leaving all life forms exposed to harmful radiation from the sun, and therefore much more likely to have shorter life spans.

The Bible record indicates that this did indeed happen. Although Noah managed to live until he was 950 years old, his son, Shem, only survived for 600 years. A few generations later, when the effects of the dramatic climatic change had really taken hold, we read that Abraham only lived until he was 175. At the time of King David (about 1,300 years after the flood), this decline in life spans had levelled out to the present average of about 70 years.

The Bible describes death as "the last enemy". The good news is that God has promised that one day Jesus will completely defeat this "last enemy", and He will create a new earth when, as in the beginning, there will be no more death.
Was the Universe created with a "Big bang"?



The Universe, and everything in it, is real. That is a fact, But how did it all come into existence? There are only two possible explanations. Either Someone created it (i.e. God). Or, it must have all made itself.



Our common sense tells us that everything we see (e.g. our clothes, shoes, watch, pet dog etc.) must have been made (created) by someone. That is why most people believe in God - the Creator of the Universe, earth, and the first of all the different types of living creatures).



Some people, however, deny the existence of God. This is usually because THEY DO NOT WANT TO BELIEVE IN HIM. For to do so means that if they admit that God made them, it follows that He owns them, and has a right to tell them how they should behave. These people don't like that idea, so deny that God exists, mistakenly thinking that therefore they can set their own rules for life and basically live however they choose.



People who deny the existence of God (Atheists) need therefore to try and explain how everything came into existence without a Creator. Simply put, they have to believe that the Universe created itself out of nothing. (To believe that actually requires a lot more faith than to believe in a Creator!). So how then do atheists explain how the Universe, and everything in it formed? The only idea they have come up with is called Evolution, which was first made popular by Charles Darwin about 150 years ago.



Evolutionists use the idea of a 'big bang' to try and explain the beginnings of the Universe, even though none of them were there to see what actually happened! They say that first of all there was absolutely nothing. Then, around 15 billion years ago, the universe was born in a searing hot fireball which we call the 'big bang'. Everything - all matter, energy, space, time - came into being at that precise instant. As the fireball expanded it formed lots of hydrogen gas, which spread out and filled the universe. Then the clouds of hydrogen gas started to pull themselves together by gravity. These clouds got hotter and hotter until they formed stars. Then some of these stars exploded and formed all the other elements like carbon and oxygen, These elements cooled and began to "freeze out." growing into galaxies, containing stars such as our sun. Then about 4 billion years ago the earth was formed. About 500 million years ago life began spontaneously on earth.



However nobody can explain how all the energy and matter contained in the billions of stars in the universe was somehow there, condensed into a single point, which suddenly 'exploded'. Where did the first energy come from? How could it all have been contained in a single point? What made this point explode? And who ever heard of an explosion making order and design? What happens when fireworks explode? You certainly get a bang, but all you have left is a big mess!

There are lots of sound scientific reasons why the big bang idea is wrong, could not work, and simply did not happen.

It is far easier, in fact, to believe that Almighty God made the sun, the moon, the stars and everything in the universe the way He says He did in the Bible.





(Click to enlarge)


Did people evolve from monkeys?



There are only two explanations for how you, and all other human beings, came into existence.

The Bible tells us that an eternal, all wise, all powerful Creator made the first of every different kind of living creature, pretty much as we find them today.

The second explanation says that mankind started out thousands of millions of years ago when some kind of accident caused non-living material to change into a very tiny living animal. This tiny animal (which despite its size, we now know to have been extremely complex), then changed slowly over the years to become every living thing that has ever lived, including you. This theory is called evolution (See Diagram).

Suppose for a moment that a 'big bang' did result in the production of a lot of non-living chemicals. (See "Was the universe created with a big bang?) How did these then turn into living creatures? No human has ever created something living from something not living, but evolutionists must believe that this actually happened at least once by random, chance processes.

Can we test these two contrasting ideas as to how we all came to be here? There are two ways we can test which one is more likely to be true.

1. Ask "Is evolution happening today?" The answer is obviously "No." We never observe one kind of creature changing into a different kind. Thus, cats always give birth to cats, dogs give dogs, potatoes give potatoes and carrots give carrots etc. etc.

2. Is there any evidence to show that evolution ever happened in the past? Again the answer is "No." Fossils are a collection of 'dead things' - creatures and plants that lived and died in the past. But the fossil record shows clearly defined species, with no evidence of one type of creature changing into a different type. If evolution were true, we would expect to find billions of transitional (intermediate) forms. But they are just not there.

There have been a number of claims that 'intermediate' forms have been found (e.g. ape-men), but on further inspection they have proved to be false. So-called ape-men, for example, have subsequently been shown to be really either apes, men, or fraudulent hoaxes (e.g. Pilkdown man).

.Science is concerned solely with what is happening in the present. It cannot tell us anything about what happened in the past. So when it comes to the origins of things, we move into the realm of speculation and personal faith.

Ultimately, the question is "Who are we going to believe? Fallible men who weren't there in the beginning, or God who is the only one who was there?"

For more teaching on Creation and Evolution, see my 'Creation' Blog at www.ms-creation.blogspot.com











If Adam and Eve were white skinned, how did dark skinned people come about?

The Bible doesn't tell us what colour God created Adam and Eve, but they would have almost certainly been mid-brown. God is a God of variety. He created the first two humans and gave them the ability to be able to reproduce a great variety of people - as we see in the world today. In the same way God only created (for example) two dogs, but gave them the ability through breeding to produce all the different types of dogs that we see today. But, of course, they are all still dogs, just as people are still people!

The differences between black and white skinned people are actually very small, and all due to a brown pigment (coloring) in our skin called "Melanin". If you have a lot of melanin, you will have very dark skin, if you have a moderate amount, you will have a mid-brown skin, and if you have a small amount, you will have "white" skin.

The amount of melanin you have will be dependent on your parents. If both your parents are dark skinned, you will (probably) also be dark skinned. If both your parents are fair skinned, you will (probably) also be fair skinned. However, if your parents are mid-brown skinned, or if one is dark skinned and the other white, then the colour of your skin will be less predictable. You are most likely to be mid-brown, but actually you could be anywhere between "white" and "black", depending on which parent has passed on to you the genes (information) that determine skin colour.

The picture above is of twin girls born in England in 2005. Their parents could both be described as mid-brown but, as you see, one twin inherited a "white" gene (very little melanin) , and the other a "dark brown" gene (a lot of melanin).

Thus it is clearly seen that only a few generations after Adam and Eve, there could easily have been a great variety of people on the earth, with many different shades of skin colour.


Why is water essential to life?

God certainly made us a lot of water. In fact 70% of the earth's surface is covered with it, although only about 1% of it is ready to drink.

The vast amount of water on the Earth's surface helps keep Earth's temperature fairly steady. This is because it takes a lot more of the sun's energy to warm water than it does to warm land. So the land heats up during the day and cools down during the night more quickly than the ocean does. This gives different air temperatures over the land than over the sea, and this generates winds. Winds keep the air we breathe fresh, as well as bringing clouds and rain to the land.

Without water we would die in a few days. This is because it plays a part in almost every process that occurs in our bodies. Our bodies are mainly water, and water is a major part of our blood.

One of the most important things about water is that it can dissolve many other substances. Because of this, the water in our blood can carry vitamins and minerals from the food we have eaten to the rest of our body, where they are needed for growth, repair and energy.

Water also flushes our bodies of waste products, one of which is carbon dioxide produced by our cells. The water in our blood dissolves this and carries it back to our lungs where we breathe it out. When water evaporates, it absorbs heat from its surroundings. This is why sweating cools us down.

Water contains dissolved oxygen from the air, enabling fish and other water-animals to live in it.

One of the most unusual but important properties of water is that it expands when it freezes (other liquids contract). This is why icebergs float, and why ice forms first on the top of water instead of on the bottom. This means that fish can swim underneath the ice. Otherwise, all the water in a river or lake could freeze and the fish would be killed.

God certainly knew what He was doing when He designed water to be the way it is.

As liquid water is essential for life, that is why space probes have been sent to other planets to search for it. They haven't found any yet, but even if they did, that would not mean that there was life there. Water cannot produce life. Rather, life is the result of a special creation by God.



Did God make cavemen?

Some people believe that long ago there were ape-men, and then the first humans were dumb cavemen. This is not true. There never were any ape-men. And the first people weren't dumb either. They were very clever.

The Bible says that a man named Jabel was the first of those who live in tents and look after livestock - cattle, horses, etc. His brother Jubal invented the harp and the flute. It takes a lot of intelligence to do that, as well as to play them.

Another man, Tubalcain, invented all kinds of tools out of bronze and iron. This meant he knew how to extract copper, tin and iron from their ores.

All of this culture, such as farming, making music, and using tools, is proof that the very first people on earth were not ape-men, and not dumb cavemen either. Civilization existed from the very first.

Later on, after God scattered the people from the tower of Babel (see Genesis, chapter 11), some groups lost their abilities and degenerated to become simple cave dwellers, but others continued to live civilised lives, using their various skills.


What proof is there that God exists?

Many of our prominent political leaders today say that they do not believe in God, citing "lack of proof" of God's existence as the reason for their unbelief. I have tried to put myself "in the shoes" of these people and asked myself that if I genuinely was seeking proof of God's existence, what proof could God give me that would convince me that He is real? I came up with the following four proofs that God could give to convince me of His existence.

1. Creation. If God is real, I would ask Him to create something, out of nothing, that I could see with my own eyes and touch with my own hands.

2. Communication. I would ask God to communicate with me, perhaps by sending someone, or even writing to me, to tell me things like what He is like, why He made me, what His plans are for me, and if there is there is life after death.

3, Revelation. I would ask God to reveal Himself to us by visiting planet Earth in person. When He was here, I would ask Him to prove His power by doing things we humans cannot do, and that defy the natural laws of the universe. Things like multiplying matter, defying gravity, commanding nature (such as storms) to obey Him, commanding the sick to be healed and the dead to come back to life.

4. Finally, if God were real, I would ask Him if He really loved us humans, and to do something to demonstrate how much He loves us.

I cannot really think of any other proofs that God could give to convince us that He is real. But surely those I have listed above are more than enough. If God did all that, surely nobody could still doubt His existence. The proof would be irrefutable! But then I remembered - GOD HAS ALREADY GIVEN US THOSE FOUR PROOFS!

1. We only have to look around us to see the vast number of wonderful things that have been created (If there is no Creator, they must have created themselves, beginning with nothing. And to believe this requires an unreasonable faith!). - "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands." Psalm 19.1.

2. God has sent us many messengers to tell us about Himself - they were usually called Prophets. And He has written us a letter that tells s all me need to know to live our lives the right way. It is called the Bible. - "In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways." Hebrews 1.1. "All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness." 2 Timothy 3. 16,17.

3. Two thousand years ago, God did visit this planet in person. We called Him "Jesus". And while He was with us, He did stop or suspend the natural physical laws that govern the universe. We called these mighty acts "miracles". "Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples." John 20.30.

4. God did demonstrate how much He loves us by allowing Himself to be crucified on a wooden cross. "God demonstrates his love for us in this. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5.8.

I must conclude that God has given us many proofs of His existence. Enough, I would suggest, to convince any person genuinely seeking the truth. Yet many still deny His existence. No, the problem is not with God, it is not a lack of proof. Rather, the problem is with people. Many refuse to believe. To do so would mean that they would have to admit that they were responsible to a Higher Authority, and our selfish nature naturally rebels against that. Jesus put it like this "You refuse to come to me that you may have life (John 5. 40). Or, as the old proverb says. "There are none so blind as those who do not want to see."

So let us continue to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all who will listen, and pray to God to open the eyes of the (spiritually) blind.


Is Jesus really God?

The belief that Jesus Christ is the God-Man, i.e. completely God and completely human in one Person is the basis of the Christian faith. Most people believe that Jesus was human, but some doubt that he was also God. So why then do we believe that Jesus is God Himself? Here are a number of reasons.

1. His self-centred claims. The self-centredness of Christ's teaching marks Him out from other religious teachers. He clearly thought of Himself as distinct from man and one with God.

a. Intimacy with God. Jesus made some astounding claims. For example He said, "I and the Father are one." (John 10.30). and "Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father." (John 14.9). Jesus also called Himself the 'Son of God.' In those days the word 'son' implied 'the same as' rather than 'dependent upon' or 'derived from' as it does today. This oneness that Jesus claimed with God was both unique and eternal (John 8.58).

b. Authority over men. Jesus did not think or speak of Himself as an ordinary man among men. He set Himself apart from the rest of mankind and claimed authority over them - to teach about God (Matthew 7.28,29) - to call men to Himself (Matthew 7.24-27; 10.37) thus making Himself the object of their faith, love and obedience - to forgive repentant sinners (Mark 2.5) - to judge the unrepentant (Matthew 7.21-23, Matthew 25.31-33).

Faced with these claims we cannot dismiss Jesus as just a good man or a great teacher. He was either deluded, a liar or divine. As C.S. Lewis the author of "The lion, the witch and the wardrobe" put it "Jesus was either mad, bad or God."

2. His balanced and humble conduct. Jesus did not behave like a person with delusions His character confirms His claims. Consider this paradox:-

His claims sound like a madman's, yet his conduct was poised and balanced.

His teaching appears proud, ("I am - - - the way, the truth and the life - - - the bread of life - - - the light of the world - - - the resurrection and the life") yet He was humble.

His words were thoroughly self-centred ("Come to me - - - ") yet His deeds were absolutely unselfcentred.

This combination of self-centredness and humility is unparalleled in the history of the world.

3. His divine works. The miraculous works that Jesus did do not prove His divine (Godly) nature, but they are in accordance with it, and support His claims that He is God.

4. His bodily resurrection. The evidence for the resurrection of Jesus was considered in the last (April) edition of Kidzone. His resurrection - like His divine works - do not prove His deity, but it is in accordance with it.

5. The claims of scripture. The scriptures clearly portray Jesus as God. Some passages (e.g. John 1.1-3 and Colossians 1.15-19) cannot be explained if Jesus is not God.

Summary. The 'acid test' of Christianity stands or falls on the position we give to Jesus Christ. If Jesus is not God, then His death on the cross cannot possibly bring salvation to us. If He is God, His coming to earth, and supremely His death and resurrection is, for every person, by far the most important event in the history of mankind.


Did Jesus really rise from the dead?

Christianity stands or falls on the resurrection of Jesus. As Paul expressed it "If Christ was not raised from the dead, our faith is useless - - - - and we are to be pitied more than all men." ( 1 Corinthians 15. 14,19 ). Conversely, if Christ did rise from the dead, what He said and did is of vital importance to everyone who has ever been born onto this planet. So why do we believe that Jesus really did rise? There are three main reasons.

1. The disappearance of His body.

It is generally acknowledged that after Jesus was crucified and buried, His body disappeared. Three theories have been proposed by doubters to try and explain this.

A. Jesus didn't really die on the cross.

It is suggested that Jesus only fainted and later recovered in the tomb. However, this theory fails to explain how the experienced Roman soldiers at the cross became convinced that Jesus was dead, or how, after such a horrendous beating, Jesus became strong enough to roll away the stone sealing His tomb, and walk out unnoticed by the guards.

B. Jesus' enemies stole His body.

If this were true then, when the disciples later claimed that Jesus had risen from the dead, they would have easily been able to stop such talk by producing the dead body. This they were unable to do.

C. Jesus' disciples stole His body.

This theory fails to explain why the disciples would later risk their lives (by proclaiming that Jesus had risen from the dead) for something they knew to be a lie.

Such theories do not fit the facts or satisfy human reason. The only feasible explanation is that He rose!

2. The reappearances of Jesus.

The Bible records that after His death, Jesus appeared to more than 500 people on at least eleven occasions in a number of different places over a period of six weeks. These appearances were not hallucinations - for these arise from wishful thinking. In fact the disciples were at first sceptical. After the crucifixion of their leader, they were completely disillusioned and defeated. The last thing they expected to see was Jesus alive again.

3. The change in the Disciples.

This, and the consequent emergence of the church, is regarded as the most convincing evidence of the resurrection of Jesus. Shortly after the crucifixion, something happened to the disciples to change their disillusionment, defeat and fear to courage and conviction. From hiding behind locked doors for fear of the Jews, these early disciples suddenly began to risk their lives by going out to preach the Gospel to a hostile world. Only the resurrection of Jesus could explain this turn around.

People will always argue over the resurrection of Jesus, but the Bible says "Without faith it is impossible to please God." (Hebrews 11.6). The only way anyone can discover for themselves whether Jesus really did rise and is alive today is to personally turn from their sins and put their trust in Him. Then they will "know" that Jesus is still very much alive!


When is Jesus coming back to earth?

Jesus' Disciples once asked Him this very question. His reply was very interesting. He stated that only Father God knew the answer to that. This response reminds us that although Jesus was still God, He left behind some of His Godly qualities - such as knowing everything, and being everywhere all at the same time - when He left heaven to come to earth.

However, Jesus did then on to give us a clue. He said that just before His return (sometimes called His 'second coming') to set up His everlasting Kingdom on earth, conditions here would be very much like they were in the days of Noah. What was it like then in the days of Noah? Well, people were very wicked. They had forgotten about God and His eternal laws, and just did whatever they wanted so that the earth became "full of violence."

Most people would agree that the earth today is becoming more and more like it was in the days of Noah. Each year it seems to get worse with more wars, more violence, more murders, more greed etc. Therefore many Christians believe that the return of Jesus to earth cannot be too far away.

Having given His Disciples this clue, Jesus basically told them that they were really asking the wrong question. He went on to tell them that the really important question in life was not when He was returning to earth, but were they really ready for His return? In other words, are we really trusting in Jesus? Do we really know Jesus as our personal Saviour? If the answer is "Yes" then we are ready for His return, and should be hoping that He comes very soon.

Why does God answer some prayers but not others?

That is a very good question, and one that many people, including Christians, are puzzled over. It is certainly true that some prayers are answered and others are not. For example, one person may be miraculously healed and another not. One person may have his needs totally met, and another not.

Why is this? Some Christians will talk about the importance of having faith, not having any unconfessed sin, forgiving those that have hurt us, honouring your parents, etc. All this is very important as we need to remove any obstacles which might prevent God from answering our prayers. But it is not the complete answer. Some people may truly be "right" before God, but still don't get their prayers answered. Others may not be totally "right" with God, but still see Him answer their prayers.

Other Christians will say that it is not God's will that a particular person be healed - that overall, it would be "bad" for them, or God can use their sickness to keep them humble, enable them grow spiritually, or to encourage others to persevere. Others will say that God may not have healed the body, but He has done an "inner healing" However, these ideas contradict the plain teachings of Jesus. God wants us to be well and prosper in all areas of our lives.

To understand this problem, we need to understand the times we are living in. The Bible teaches that there are three time periods that this earth has or will experience.

1. The Beginning.

God created a perfect earth. Everything (including the first people) was "Very Good." There was no pain, disease, sorrow, suffering, or even death. God used to visit the first people in person. They were the best of friends, and people didn't upset or annoy each other. Everyone got on well together. There were no hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, or volcanic eruptions. Animals didn't hunt, fight, kill and eat each other. Weeds, thorns and thistles didn't grow amongst the flowers and crops. In summary, all of Creation was in perfect harmony.

2. "This present evil age."

The first people, Adam and Eve, disobeyed God. Consequently, God put a curse on His creation, and absolutely everything went bad. Thus began what the Bible calls "This present evil age". Every once perfect relationship that people had - with God, with each other, with the rest of creation - was now spoiled.

But God had a plan. He chose a special people called the Israelites, to whom He kept giving some amazing promises. He promised that "This present evil age" would come to an end when He sent His Messiah (Anointed one of God) to earth. The Messiah would usher in "The Kingdom of God", when every "bad" and evil thing would cease, and the earth would be restored to it's original perfect state. God's special people believed His promises and looked forward with expectation to the coming of the Messiah. However, this did not prevent them from suffering great hardships, slavery and persecution in the meantime.

3. The Kingdom of God.

This began about 2,000 years ago when the Messiah, Jesus Christ, died for our sins and then rose again from the dead. You are now probably thinking "Wait a minute. If the Messiah brought in the Kingdom of God 2,000 years ago, why is there still so much badness and evil in the world?" The answer is because we are now living in overlapping time periods. Jesus did bring in the Kingdom of God, but "This present evil age" is still here for the time being. However, the Bible tells us that Jesus will return to earth in the future and bring in the Kingdom of God in it's fullness, doing away with "This present evil age" for ever.

In that day, everything will once again be perfect, just as it was in the beginning. No more getting old, sick, or dying, No more arguments, fights and persecution. No more animals killing each other, weeds in our gardens, or working hard to grow our crops. No more hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, etc. And everyone will know and love God for themselves.

Meantime, because of the present overlapping time periods, we experience a mixture of them both. Some people pray and get healed or have other needs met. Others do not. Some experience many of God's blessings - restored relationships with Him and with each other, joy, peace, health, prosperity etc. Others do not. Some people experience no problems following Christ. Others are still persecuted for their faith in him. Most people alive today will experience a mixture of the blessings of God's Kingdom and the hardships of "This present evil age."

Conclusion.

Until Jesus returns to earth and brings in God's Kingdom in it's fullness, we will always experience a mixture of "good" and "bad". However, the good news is that we don't have to wait until then to have our relationship with God completely restored. We can know and enjoy that today. And there is nothing in life more important than that.

A personal comment.

Shortly after I became a Christian in 1980, I believe that God spoke into my spirit and told me that He had called me to be an apologist. I really believe this was God because at the time I didn't know what an apologist was. I had to look the word up in the dictionary! An apologist is someone who explains why they believe in the Christian faith.

Consequently, I have always concentrated on teaching the Bible, rather than applying (or ministering) it. Over the last 30 years, I can't actually say that I have prayed for that many people in a "one to one" situation. However, I did spend about 12 years in Ayrshire, Scotland involved in "Door to door" evangelism. Of the many people that I encountered, some did ask me to pray for them - for a healing, or some other need. I always agreed, and some stated afterwards that God had met their needs. However, the majority appeared to be unaffected.

This state of affairs used to trouble me greatly. I began to think that there must be something wrong with me - that I was doing something (or not doing something) that prevented God from answering my prayers and meeting the needs of my contacts. Consequently, I became even more reluctant to pray for others.

It was not until I really began to understand the consequences of the fact that we are living in overlapping time periods, that I began to realise that we will not always receive the full benefits of God's Kingdom. But I know that one day, when "This present evil age" is done away with, that we will. Although my understanding of this area is still far from complete, at least I now no longer blame myself when "nothing" appears to happen following prayer.

So be encouraged, if you don't see answers to some of your prayers, it is probably not you that is at fault - it is a consequence of the overlapping time periods that we are living in. Don't give up. Keep on pressing through to God. Forget the times when "nothing" appeared to happen, and remember the times when you were successful.


Where is heaven?

Jesus came from heaven to earth, so He knows all about heaven. Actually Jesus didn't say very much about where heaven is, or what it is like. He was more concerned with warning people about the dangers of rejecting him, and so missing out on heaven altogether.

We do know, however, that heaven is beautiful, permanent and that we won't ever die, get old, get sick, hungry, tired, etc. Because everything there is "very good". The best thing about it is that Jesus will be there.

As to heaven's location, the Bible describes heaven as being "Upward", "To the North" and "Beyond the stars". Many Christians believe that heaven is on another planet in another part of, or beyond, our Universe. Other Christians believe that heaven is located right here, but in another dimension, so that we are completely unaware of it. If you have seen the film "The Lion, the witch and the wardrobe" it may be rather like that, when the children passed through a "Door" (in the wardrobe) into a new world existing in another dimension.

We don't need to worry about how we will be transported to heaven. Jesus will take care of that. Just make sure that you are really trusting in him.


Did God write the Bible?

The Bible claims to be the inspired Word of God. In other words it was written by God, Himself. (See for example 2 Timothy 3.16 and 2 Peter 1.21). Christians believe that to be true. Here are seven reasons why we believe this.

1. The Bible does not contradict any scientific fact.

The Bible claims to be the TRUTH - and all its scientific statements have proved to be correct! Here are a few examples.

In ancient times, the earth was generally thought to be supported by huge pillars. But this conflicts with what Job said of his Creator 4,000 years ago: "He spreads out the northern skies over empty spaces; he suspends the earth over nothing. " (Job 26.7).

At the time of Christopher Columbus, navigators were concerned that by travelling too far they might fall of the edge of the world. Scientific observation had shown that the earth was flat - water finds its own level, so the sea must be flat! However, some 2,700 years ago Isaiah said of his Creator, "He sits enthroned above the circle (literally ball) of the earth." (Isaiah 40.22).

Nearly 2,000 years ago, Jesus referred to a future event that would happen in a split second (the blinking of an eye). In the same passage (Luke 17) Jesus said that it would be day with people working in the field (verse 31) and night with people asleep in bed (verse 34). How was this possible? It used to be thought that when it was daytime, it was daytime all over the world. We now know, however, that when it is daytime at one longitude, it may be night at another - thus enabling us to understand Jesus' statement.

And so we could go on. The Bible has proved to be remarkably accurate in all of its scientific statements. The people that God used to write down these statements doubtless believed, along with their contemporaries, many unscientific notions. However, God ensured that no such untruths came to be included in His Word,


2. The fulfilled prophecies.

A prophecy is usually a prediction about a future event. Hundreds of prophecies in the Bible have been fulfilled, exactly as foretold, often hundreds of years later.

Biblical prophecies are not vague and rambling such as those of Nostradamus and other supposed prophets. Bible prophecies deal with specific places, people and events. Their fulfilments can be verified by reference to subsequent history. For example Isaiah (chapter 53) foretold the death of Christ with minute accuracy more than 700 years before His crucifixion. In fact, over 300 Biblical prophecies about the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus have been completely fulfilled.

Biblical prophecy can only be explained by divine inspiration. God, the Creator of time, is outside of time. He is the One who controls the future and, therefore, the only One who knows the future.


3. There are no contradictions in the Bible.

This is quite remarkable when you consider that the Bible is a collection of 66 books written by at least 40 different people over a period of about 1,600 years. You would normally expect such a collection of different books to have many contradictory statements, but the unity of the Bible is extraordinary for every book agrees with all the others, like some gigantic jig-saw.


4. There are no proven errors in the Bible.

Because of its remarkable claims, no book has ever been scrutinised by its critics as closely as the Bible. Yet, despite this, there remain no proven errors in the Bible.

Much of the Bible concerns a record of the conflicts between the Israelites and neighbouring nations. For centuries there was no evidence for these wars outside of the Bible itself, and critics claimed they were a mixture of legend and invention. Today, however, 'myth' after 'myth' have proved to be true history. Archaeologists have discovered numerous cities beneath the sands of the Middle East, together with countless inscriptions, letters and other items all proving conclusively that the biblical accounts are an authentic record and that the characters referred to truly existed at the times stated.


5. The remarkable Mosaic Laws.

Our public sanitary laws date back less than 200 years. The Bible, however, contains a remarkably good sanitary code. Modern public health officers are concerned with public cleanliness, purity of water supplies, dispersal of sewage, clean food, education of the public, and control of infectious diseases. The Mosaic law (The Ten Commandments and other laws that God gave to Moses) covers all these aspects in Leviticus chapters 11 - 16.

When plagues such as the black death swept across Europe in the Middle ages, the Jews, in stark contrast to the other peoples, survived in large numbers. This was because of their healthy habits and high moral standards, as a consequence of their keeping the Mosaic laws. The Jews themselves did not know anything about germs or how diseases spread. Their motivation for keeping the laws was simply "The Lord said." And we know that it was essential for God's plan for the Jews to survive. Their survival and the subsequent formation of the state of Israel was a result of God's protection and the fulfilment of His promises as foretold in the Bible.


6. The Authority of Jesus.

Even a brief glance at the Gospels will convince anybody that Jesus Himself accepted the scriptures (what we now call the Old Testament) as directly from God. Jesus quoted from the scriptures frequently and always treated them as God's Word "which cannot be broken" (John 10.35).

As Jesus accepted the scriptures as God's Word, how can anyone who claims to follow Him not do likewise?


7. The life changing power of the Bible.

Amongst the countless thousands of books that have been written, the Bible is the only one that claims to be alive and have the power to change lives (see Proverbs 4. 20 - 22, Isaiah 55. 11, and Hebrews 4. 12). These amazing claims have been completely vindicated as down through the centuries countless multitudes have found them to be true for themselves. As people have READ, BELIEVED and OBEYED the Bible, their lives have been completely transformed.

The above was extracted from a Booklet "The Bible. The work of man or the Word of God?" that I wrote a number of years ago. If you would like a free copy of the complete booklet and you live in Britain, I understand they are still available from New Life Centre, Prestwick, KA9 2PA, Scotland. If you live in New Zealand, please email me your postal address, and I will send one on to you.


How do I know the Christian faith is true?

We are all exposed to a variety of different beliefs. This can be quite confusing to realise that there are many different religions, sects, denominations etc. You may ask "Do they all differ in what they teach, or do they have beliefs in common?" "How can I be sure of which one is true?" "Does it really matter which faith I choose to follow?"

Firstly, you need to understand the difference between Christianity and Religion. Religion is about us attempting to reach up to God through our own efforts, usually by observing certain rules or doing good works. Christianity is the exact opposite. It is about God reaching down to us through His Son, Jesus.

Whereas Christianity says we can only come to God through faith in what Jesus did for us on the cross, all religions and sects basically teach that in order to gain God's acceptance, we need to improve ourselves and reach God by our own efforts. The second difference from Christianity that religions and sects have in common is that they deny that Jesus is the GOD-MAN i.e. totally God, and totally man in One Person. Some deny Jesus' humanity, but most deny His divinity.

I think that 'religious' people must be the most unhappy people on earth. Their religion teaches them that they are 'sinners', but doesn't offer them the power to change their ways. Thus when they sin, they can't really enjoy it because they are aware that they are breaking God's rules!

Secondly, it is important to understand what a Christian really is. Christianity is not about following a certain set of rules, but rather it is about having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. A Christian is a "Christ-in-Person". In other words, a person in whom Jesus Christ is living - because He has been invited to do so, following repentance of sin and faith in His substitutionary death on the cross.

Christians may belong to many different types of churches, and these sometimes disagree on some minor issues, but if they accept the Bible as their Final Authority for what they teach, they will agree on the important doctrines (beliefs) such as :-


1.The divinity of Christ. (Jesus is God)
2. The substitutionary death of Jesus on the cross for our sins.
3. The bodily resurrection of Jesus.
4. Our need to be 'Born Again'. (God's Spirit changing us on the inside).
5. God accepts us on the basis of our faith in Jesus alone.
6. The Bible, as first given, is the divine and infallible 'Word of God'. (What the Bible says, is what God says).

Ultimately the important thing is not who is right or wrong about "little things", but whether Jesus is really living in you?

Conclusion. Amidst the great variety of faiths that abound today, how can we know that the Christian one is the true one? The Bible says "Taste and see that the Lord is good." Psalm 34 v. 8. Or to use a modern proverb, "The proof of the pudding is in the eating." If anyone sincerely tries Jesus out for themselves, then they will 'know' that His way is the true way. If you sincerely invite Jesus to come and take charge of your life, He will give you an assurance that that you are now really part of God's special family.


Do people have more than one life on earth?

Many Eastern religions teach that after a person dies he/she is then born into the world again and has another life. Then after they die a second time, they are reborn again, and so on and so on. This belief is known as reincarnation. Most people who believe this also believe that the type of life you are presently living determines the quality of your next life. Thus if you lead a good life, you will probably be born into a wealthy family next time. Conversely, if you lead a bad life, you may well be born into a life of poverty next time round. And if you lead a really bad life, you may come back as an animal, or even an insect next time!

Some people who have allowed themselves to be subjected to the ungodly practice of hypnotism appear to then remember a 'former' life on earth. The interesting thing is most of these people seem to remember being a famous person in the past. Many, for example, claim to have been King Henry V111, or Queen Elizabeth 1. However our common sense should be setting off alarm bells here - They can't all have been Henry V111 or Elizabeth1 !

The idea of reincarnation is attractive to some people because it means that if you make a mess of this life, you will always get a second chance. But the important question is not whether this is an attractive idea, but whether it is true?

The only person who knows everything is God. And He has written us a book called the Bible which tells us everything we need to know concerning our life and what happens afterwards. If you believe something that disagrees with the Bible - you are wrong! You need to change your beliefs so that they agree with the Bible. So is reincarnation true? Definitely not! Hebrews 9 verse 27 says "We die only once, and then we are judged." If reincarnation were true, that would obviously mean dying more than once, and that clearly contradicts the Bible. Therefore it must be wrong.

Thus the Bible makes it clear that we only have one life, and then we will stand before God in judgement. And at that time the only thing that will matter to God is whether we have accepted or rejected His free gift of the Lord Jesus Christ. That is why it is vital to accept Jesus Christ as our Saviour in this life. We won't get a second chance!


If God knows the future, does that mean that no matter what I do, it cannot be changed?

Most followers of Eastern religions believe this. They say that our lives are all planned out beforehand for us, and nobody can change their destiny. Thus, for example, if you are destined to have a road accident at age 35, you will have a road accident at age 35! Nothing can change that.

This fatalistic "What will be will be" attitude to life is shown up in many different ways. Thus people may not bother to take care when they are driving a vehicle because they think that if they are destined to arrive safely at their destination, they will arrive safely. But if they are destined to have a crash, they are certain to have a crash - even if they drive carefully. At the Bali bombings a few years ago, most of the native inhabitants of that island just stood back and watched the aftermath. They took the attitude "It must be God's will. If people are going to die, they will die, if they are going to survive, they will survive. Therefore no rescue attempt will make any difference."

God certainly does know everything, including our futures. However the Bible makes it perfectly clear that we are in control of our own destinies. The choices we make today will largely determine what our future lives will be like. However, our eternal, all-knowing God is outside of time as we know it, and is able see the choices we make in the future. They are, however, still our choices. For example, Jesus always knew that Judas was going to betray Him, but that doesn't mean that Judas was not responsible for his actions. No. He made a bad choice! Interestingly, it was actually the "Westerners" in Bali at the time who, after the bombings, rushed to the aid of the injured - thus outworking their belief that what we do can indeed influence the outcome of an event.

So make sure you make good choices in life. And the most important one we have to make is what we are going to do with God's gift of Jesus - to accept Him as our Saviour and Lord, or to reject Him. I hope that you make the right choice. It will affect your eternal destiny.

Why is my brother/sister nasty to me?


"Before I answer your question, can I ask you "How about you ? Are you nasty to your brother / sister ? It is very easy for us to see the faults in others, but very hard to see the faults in ourselves. Brothers and sisters are often nasty to each other, and to understand why, we have to go back to the garden of Eden. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, that brought sin into the world, and spoiled everything. We are all descendants of Adam and Eve and have been born with a selfish nature that wants its own way. Children soon realise that being selfish all the time often gets them in to trouble, so they learn to control their behaviour, especially when they are outside their home environment. However, without Jesus, their selfish nature is still there. When you live with the same persons day after day ( like brothers and sisters ), this selfishness is bound to show itself from time to time, often resulting in "nastiness" to each other.

If your brother or sister is really nasty to you, there are two important things you can do. Firstly, pray that they will hear and respond to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and allow Him to begin to change their selfish nature. Secondly, whenever your brother / sister is nasty to you, then you be nice to them. The Bible tells us that we are to defeat evil, not with evil, but rather with good. (Romans 12.21).That can be a really hard thing to do, but if you persist in being nice to them, then usually they will start being nice to you !


Why does God allow suffering?

Because everybody goes through tough times sooner or later, we have all asked a question like this. We might ask "If God is all powerful and all loving, why does He allow suffering? Why doesn't God stop all the trouble in the world?" God's ability is usually not in doubt, but rather the question is why He does not appear to act. Surely the all-loving God as revealed in the Bible would do something?

Only God, Himself knows the complete answer to this. However, we can share some thoughts with those who are genuinely seeking answers to this problem.

1. God does not cause suffering - man does. God created people with free-will. This means we have the ability to choose to either obey or disobey our Creator. Our first ancestors chose to disobey God. This was in reality rebellion against their Creator. As a result of this rebellion (the Bible calls it sin), a curse came upon the whole earth so that everything in it was affected and began to degenerate to the state we find it in today.

Thus, man's original sin first brought trouble and suffering into God's perfect world, and our continuing sin results in continued trouble and suffering.

2. Although God does not cause trouble and suffering, He is often able to use it to get our attention.

The most important thing in life is our relationship with God who we can only know through a personal faith in Jesus Christ. However, if we all lived completely trouble-free lives, most people would never give God a second thought! As Jesus said "What would it profit a man if he gained the whole world and lost his own soul?" (Mark 8.36). It is often through trouble or suffering that God is able to gain our attention and make us aware of our need of Him. Numerous people have in fact only found a personal faith in Jesus Christ after a tragedy in their lives.

3. God is primarily concerned with our characters, that is what we are rather than what we do.

Our character can be defined as a measure of what we have overcome. Thus, as we overcome problems and difficulties, our characters are developed. A trouble-free life would, in fact, hinder this development. And whilst this life lasts for only a short time, our characters are for eternity.

It is an interesting fact that many of the men that God has used the most throughout history have been those that have suffered the most in their lives. The Apostle Paul, Martin Luther and John Bunyon (author of Pilgrim's Progress) immediately spring to mind.

4. God, being all-powerful, could stop all suffering on the earth in an instant if He chose to. But what would He actually have to stop? - People! Suffering is the result of sin, and to remove sin God would have to remove all sinners - everyone! But because He loves us, God would rather transform us than wipe us out. The good news is that through the death of His Son on the cross He has made it possible for that to actually happen.

5. God understands our suffering. He does not ask us to face suffering without having first faced it Himself. This He did on the Cross when Jesus suffered more than anyone. Through that Cross He now provides us with the grace and power to face suffering.

God then has done something about trouble and suffering. The basic problem in the world is us - self-centred people. But through a commitment to Christ, God, by His Spirit, is able to come into our lives and change us, giving us new God-centred natures. Then as individuals are transformed, the societies in which they live are changed. This is verified by reference to history. In times when large numbers of a particular community have committed themselves to Christ (this is called a revival) the crime rate in that community has fallen to almost zero. This then is God's plan for our world - to change individuals who in turn change the world in which they live.

The only real answer to suffering is to become a Christian, for then we have His unbreakable promise that all things (including our suffering) will be working together for our good (Romans 8.28).

6. The complete answer to mankind's problems and the end of all suffering is the coming again of the Lord Jesus Christ. Then, God has promised, the creational order prior to man's disobedience and rebellion against God will be restored. "The desert shall blossom as the rose, the eyes of the blind shall be opened, the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped, the lame shall leap and the dumb shall sing. The lion shall lay down with the lamb, swords shall be turned into ploughshares, and a government of peace shall be established."

These are just a few biblical expressions of the future kingdom rule of Christ. The whole of creation is looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth. This is good news in a world of trouble and suffering.



Why do we have earthquakes?

This is a question that many New Zealanders have been asking. The city of Christchurch suffered a major earthquake in September 2010, followed by another one in February 2011 - with consequent fatalities totalling almost 200, and much property damage. Many aftershocks have also rocked the region.


I have heard many 'experts' express their opinions as to why earthquakes occur - but none of them have been really satisfactory. However, we will have a look at some of the reasons that have been proposed. I will group their opinions into three main sections.


A. Some 'experts' talk mainly about the physical causes, and leave God out of their reasoning. They point out that the crust of the earth (on which we live) sits on tectonic plates of rocks, which in turn float on very hot molten metal in the core of the earth. As these plates are slowly moving they collide with each other, producing a massive release of energy in the form of earthquakes or volcanic eruptions.


A good way of understanding this is to imagine a kettle full of water, which is being heated up. When the water gets very hot, it will release energy in the form of steam, which will usually be released through the kettle's spout. However, if the kettle had no spout, it would eventually explode. In the same way that a spout is a kettle's release valve, volcanoes and fault lines where tectonic plates collide, act as release valves and thus prevent more severe and widespread devastation. However the question "Why is the earth like this?" still needs to be answered.


1. Atheists deny the existence of God, and thus believe that the earth must have been made by random, chance processes. They, quite rightly, point out that if the earth was made in this way, it was very unlikely to have been made perfect, and thus earthquakes, etc. should not really be a surprise to us. However atheists deny the fact that EVERYTHING has to have a creator. Absolutely NOTHING can make itself.


2. Some 'experts' believe in a Creator, but say that He must have not got it quite right when He made the earth, hence its imperfections. However the Bible tells us that God is perfect, and that thus He can (and did) only make perfect things.


3. Some 'experts' say that God did make the earth in the beginning, but that He doesn't really care what happens to it. However the Bible tells us that God does care. In fact, He cares passionately about everything He has created.


B. Some 'experts' believe that God actually causes earthquakes (and other natural disasters) as punishment for people's bad behaviour or rejection of Him. They point to God's judgements in the Bible, such as Noah's flood and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. God is a God who judges sin. However, before God ever judged anyone with a disaster, He always gave the people many warnings, and provided a place of safety for those who trusted him - as He did at the time of Noah's flood. In the case of the Christchurch earthquakes, for example, no warnings seem to have been given, and no place of safety provided. Thus "Believers" suffered alongside "Unbelievers". It is inconceivable that God allowed His own people to suffer just so that He could punish the "Unbelievers".


The Bible does talk about a future Judgement that will come upon the earth. But He has already provided a place of safety for those who trust in Him - and that is through the cross of Jesus. Anyone truly trusting in Jesus, and what He did for us on the cross, will be safe. Many Christians believe in fact that "Believers" will be taken off the earth before this final judgement.


C. Some 'experts' say that although God does not cause earthquakes, He could stop them if He chose to. However, He chooses not to prevent them so that "Good" can come from them.


There is certainly some truth in this, as very often "Good" follows natural disasters. In the case of the Christchurch earthquakes, for example, much "Good" followed in two main areas.


1. Neighbours in the city became more caring, helpful and loving to each other. Also many from outside the city gave up their time, talents and money to help in the recovery process.


2. Following the earthquakes many became scared. They began to realise the uncertainty of life, and turned to God to find answers and security. Following any natural disaster there is always an immediate increase in church attendance.

This is all "Good", but the actual cause of the earthquakes remains unexplained.


WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY?

I am sure that all these 'experts' gave their explanations with the best of intentions. However, they have one thing in common - None of the explanations (or at least none that I have heard) have taken into account what the BIBLE actually says! Personally, I am not too interested in what people say. But I am very much interested in what the Bible says. Because what the Bible says is what God says - AND HE SHOULD KNOW!


The Bible tells us that in the beginning God made a PERFECT world. Everything was "Very good". However, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, tsunamis, tornadoes, floods, droughts, diseases, etc. are NOT "very good".


Something has obviously gone horribly wrong with God's "perfect world". And the Bible tells us what it was. The very first people, Adam and Eve, rebelled against their Creator. This rebellion was so serious that God put a curse on the earth. And EVERYTHING was affected by this - people, animals, plants. Even the earth itself. The Bible, in fact, talks about the earth "groaning" (a good description of an earthquake) until Jesus returns to make a new earth, and everything is restored to its former perfect state.


All "Bad" things on the earth, whether they be natural disasters, diseases, wars, murders, theft, etc., etc. can be attributed to mankind's original and ongoing rebellion (sin) against our Creator. The Good News, however, is that God still loved mankind so much, He sent his Son, Jesus, to deal with our sin problem once and for all. This Jesus did when He took our sins upon Himself on the cross. This means that we can all be reconciled to God now. And sometime in the future, the remainder of creation will also be reconciled (made new).


CONCLUSION.

The Bible tells us that this present condition of the earth will get worse and worse until Jesus returns to abolish all "Bad" things. So, until that day comes, the only safe and sensible thing people can do is to make sure that they are trusting in Jesus.


If I ask God for something , will He give it to me?

God has promised to give us everything we need (read Philippians chapter 4, verse 19) but, like any good father, hasn't promised to give us everything we want. There is a big difference! Some of the things we might need are food, clothes, homes to live in, families to look after us, joy - if we are feeling sad, peace - if we are troubled, patience - if we are waiting for something, and love - if we are finding it hard to get on with someone.

God always wants the very best for His children. However, He will never give us something that He knows would be bad for us. He loves us too much for that. So, the answer to the question is sometimes:-

"Yes" - God really wants you to have what you asked Him for.

"Wait" - God wants you to have that thing, but the time is not yet right.

"No" - God knows that the thing you asked Him for would not be good for you.

There is nothing wrong in asking God for things we want, but very often people ask God for something purely out of selfish motives, rather than thinking beforehand what might be best for others, or what God might want us to have. A better approach would be to ask God for His will to be done in your life, and then ask Him to place His desires in your heart. Then you will be able to pray for something with faith, being confident that it is also God's will that you should have whatever you ask of Him.



Can God speak to us with a voice that we can actually hear?

God can speak to us in many different ways, and these include using an audible voice that we can actually hear with our ears. But this way is not very common. The way He choses to speak to us is not important. The important thing is are we obedient to what God says? Listed below are a number of ways in which God can and does speak to people.


1. The Bible.

This is God's Word, so what the Bible says, God says. This is the main way in which God communicates with people today. Thus, if you neglect your Bible reading, you could well be preventing God from speaking to you.

Although all of the Bible is God's everlasting message to us all, He can take a part of it - perhaps even a single verse - and use it to speak into our lives, by making it 'come alive' to us, so to speak. Thus as we read this particular verse, we get excited and just 'know' that God is using it to speak to us.

God can of course bring to our mind at any time any scripture that we have memorised. Almost every Christian has experienced times when the Holy Spirit calls to mind some scripture or truth at a moment when it is needed. That is why scripture memorisation is so important for all of us.

2. An audible voice.

The Bible records a number of occasions in which God spoke to people this way, perhaps the best known being the boy Samuel. This is not God's usual way of communicating with people today, but that is not to say that He cannot or will not speak to you in an audible voice.

I have never heard God's audible voice, but I know a number of people who have. In most cases, someone's life was in danger. It was as though God had to speak to someone urgently to avert the danger. However, I once taught my children's class about God speaking to Samuel. The following week a girl came up to me and said "God spoke to me a few days ago in an audible voice, just like He spoke to Samuel. He told me to go and tell my Gran. that He loved her." I asked her if she had done it, and she replied that she had. This reminds us that the important point is not how God speaks to us, but whether we are obedient to what He says.


3. An inaudible voice.

Although you may not hear God speaking to you with your ears, if you are trusting in Jesus, God's Spirit lives in you and He can speak to you through your spirit. For example, you may get a 'little voice in your head', a strong desire or impression to do / not to do something, speak to someone, go / not go somewhere etc. The closer you grow in your relationship with God, the more clearly will you be able to recognise this 'inner voice.'

We all have ideas, and we tend to think "Oh, that idea is mine." But perhaps God placed the idea in your mind in the first place!

I once came across an eight year old girl in the school playground, crying. I asked her what was wrong, and she replied that none of the other girls ever played with her and that she had no friends. I told her that I would pray for her and ask God to give her a good friend. As I began to pray, I noticed another girl about 100 metres away begin to run towards us. She arrive just as I finished my prayer and had said 'Amen.' She looked at the girl I had been praying for and said "Will you come and play with me?" An instant answer to prayer! But why did that second girl suddenly run over to the first one and ask her to play? I don't really think that God shouted down into the playground with a loud voice "Hey Jessie, Go and ask Jodie to play with you." No, I think He just put the idea in the mind of Jessie (who interestingly was a Christian) "Why don't you play with Jodie. She's not really all that bad." Therefore, I think that Jessie had heard God's inaudible 'inner voice'. However, the important point was that she was obedient to what God said.

4. Your conscience.

This is one of the things that makes us different from animals. God has given to everyone who has ever been born a conscience. This is God's voice within us all that warns us - by making us feel uneasy or anxious - when we are about to do wrong. God will never take our free will away and prevent us from doing wrong, but He will always warn us when we are about to make a mistake.

We should always listen to our conscience, because if we keep ignoring this "little voice" and continue doing wrong, the voice will appear to get smaller and smaller until we can hear it no more.

5. Older Christians.

By this I mean people who have known Jesus longer than you have. They are often able to give us good advice and help guide us into what God wants us to do.

6. Circumstances.

God can use the everyday events of life to guide us. This can be likened to the opening and closing of doors. For example you may wish to get into the school Rugby team, but you are never chosen. Therefore you start playing Soccer instead - and find you have a greater ability for Soccer than you ever had for Rugby.

When certain events happen at the same time in our lives, it is very easy to just write them off as coincidences. Often it is only as we look back that we are able to see God's hand guiding us through these 'coincidences'.


7. The desires of your heart.

Psalm 37.4 says "Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart." Most people think this means that if you put God first, He will then give you whatever natural desires you happen to have. I interpret this verse in a slightly different way. I believe it means that if you concentrate on "delighting yourself in the Lord", He will then put His desires for you in your heart, so that they become your desires as well.

Probably the strongest motivation for doing something is that you desire to do it. So do you have a strong desire to be something, to do something, to go somewhere? It could be that God has given you these desires because that is His will for you.

8. Through Prophets.

A Prophet is essentially a Messenger. That is someone who hears from God, and takes His message to someone else. There are many Prophets in the Bible. Indeed much of the Old Testament itself is a recording of these ancient messages from God.

There are still Prophets in the Church today, and God may use one of them to bring you a message, perhaps to tell you to do something or to go somewhere. But if someone 'brings a message from God' to you, how do you know that it really is from God? The main thing to remember is that God uses Prophets to confirm what He has already spoken to you about. For example, suppose someone comes to you and says "God wants you to go to China." If your reaction is something like "What me? What a surprise! I have never thought of going to China." Then forget it, this message is not from God. However, if your reaction is more like "Oh yes, I have always been interested in China, I love the Chinese people, I always thought I would go there one day," then this message is almost certainly from God. It is God confirming what he has already spoken into your life, and perhaps enabling and encouraging you to take the next step in your preparation.

9. Through dreams and visions.

We all know what dreams are, and God can speak to us through them. Visions are often similar to the 'moving pictures' we get in dreams (or they could be just a still picture), but God gives them to you while you are awake. God spoke to many people in the Bible through dreams (e.g. Joseph and Daniel) or visions (e.g. Peter and Paul).


A few years ago, I went to a Sunday school weekend camp. The theme of the camp was 'Hearing from God.' On the Sunday afternoon the Camp Leader gave each child a notebook and pen, and told them to go out and be completely on their own for 30 minutes. They were all told to ask God to speak to them, and write down in their notebook what they thought He said. On their return, all but one or two of the thirty children claimed that God had indeed spoken to them. Many of the children said that they had seen visions, including many of Jesus on the cross.

There was one new boy to the Sunday school at that camp, and no-one knew very much about him. He shared a cabin with three other boys. On returning from their 30 minutes of isolation, these three boys all independently said that they thought God had to them "I will never leave you, I will never let you down, I will be with you always." Their cabin companion then said that that message must be for him. He revealed that his parents were in the process of divorcing, and he felt let down and was worried about what was going to happen to him in the future! Isn't God good! He doesn't speak to us so we can just say "Wow, God spoke to me." No, He speaks to us for our benefit, or for the help and encouragement of others.


How can I know if it is really God speaking to me?

There are two tests that we can apply to any message we think may be from God.

1. Does it agree with the Bible?

God never contradicts Himself. Therefore, if your message doesn't agree with God's revealed Word in the Bible, then it is definitely not from Him. For example, if you think God is telling you to tell a little lie because it will get you out of trouble, forget it! That is not from God, because the Bible says "Do not lie."

2. Do you have 'Peace' about the message?

Colossians 3.15 says "Let the peace of Christ rule (be the umpire) in your hearts." An umpire is the one who decides. And God has given us His Peace as our umpire, so that we may know if something is from Him or not. Thus, if you feel at peace about a message, supposedly from God, then it probably really is from Him. On the other hand, if you feel uneasy or anxious about the message, that is God removing His Peace to warn you that this is not from Him.

How can we hear more clearly from God?

If you love God, your greatest desire will to know Him better and communicate more fully with Him. How can we hear more clearly from God then? Fortunately, the answer is very simple - stay close to Him!

If I was talking in my normal voice and you were sitting close to me, you would hear me very clearly. But suppose I was still talking in the same way and you were at the other end of the room, or even outside the room. Would you hear me so clearly then? No. You may not hear me at all, and if you did, you would probably hear me incorrectly and get the message wrong.

It is exactly the same when hearing from God. If we stay close to Him, we will hear Him clearly. But if we are a long way from God, we are unlikely to hear Him. How then, can we stay close to God? There is no short cut to this. We need to ensure that we spend adequate time in His presence by reading and meditating on His Word, talking to him (prayer) and doing what we know He has already told us to do. Then we will be in the right position to hear from Him when He speaks to us.


Can I be a Christian, even if my parents aren't?

The answer is "YES". You need to understand what a Christian really is. If you ask most people what a Christian is, they will probably reply something like "A person who goes to church", or, "A person who prays a lot and reads the Bible", or, "A person who does lots of good deeds and is always kind to others". All these things are good, but none of them make a person a Christian. Rather, these are some of the things that Christians do - because they already are Christians! Real Christians do these things because they can't help themselves. They are "natural" to them because Jesus has changed them on the insides, and given them a God-given desire to do these things, which is simply an outward expression of their new love for both God and other people.

Of course non-Christians can also do some or all of the above things, but that doesn't make them Christians. Some people do these things to try and please God - because they don't understand that God's forgiveness and acceptance can never be earned, no matter how 'good' they are, or how hard they try. Others do these things to try and impress people, so that they will think well of them, or be good to them in return.

One of the best ways of understanding what a real Christian really is, is to consider the three words :- CHRIST IN PERSON. When you condense these words into one, you are left with CHRISTIAN.

Thus, CHRIST IN PERSON = CHRISTIAN.

In other words, a Christian is a person in whom Jesus Christ is living. And He can only live in you if you invite Him to do so asking Him to forgive your sins (wrongdoing) and to come and take charge of your life.

It is wonderful to have Christian parents, because they can help and encourage you in your new Christian life. But even if they are not, don't let that put you off living for Jesus, because ultimately we are each responsible to God for what we do with His gift of Jesus to us - either to accept or reject.

Why not pray and ask God to bring someone into your life who is able to teach you more about Himself?


Do all religions lead to God?

Some people think that if a person is sincere in following their religion it will eventually lead them to God - no matter which religion they are actually following. Thus they may be Christian, Jew, Moslem, Buddhist, Hindu, or something else. You can imagine God at the top of a mountain with many paths leading up to him. Although the paths start at different points, they all eventually lead to God.

Contrast this idea, however, with what Jesus said. He said "I am the way, the truth and the life. No-one comes to the Father, except by me. (John 14 v. 6). Note that Jesus said "I am the way" He didn't say "I am a way" He said "I am the way." Thus it is abundantly clear that Jesus claimed to be the only way to God.

What it comes down to is: Who are you going to believe? Jesus, the Son of God, or mere humans who don't know everything and often make mistakes.



What is my purpose in life?

(Much of the material shared here is taken from Norman Warren's book "The purpose driven life").

Why do I exist? Why am I here? What is my purpose? People of all cultures have always searched for purpose and meaning to life, and have asked questions like these. However, the Bible makes the answer quite clear.

It has been said that "The two greatest days in a person's life are the day they are born, and the day they find out why they were born." Everyone reading this has obviously had their first "greatest day", but maybe, for some of you, today could turn out to be your "second greatest day".

God created everything for a purpose. The fact that you are here means that God has a purpose for you. Actually, God has created all of us for FIVE special purposes.

1. God created us for Himself. So that we might enjoy God, and He might enjoy us, both now and forever. Thus, we were made to know and love God.

When we express our love to God, that is called WORSHIP. We can worship God in many different ways, for example, singing a song to Him, talking to Him, admiring a beautiful sunset while giving thanks to God in our hearts, helping someone in need, obeying your parents, etc. etc. WORSHIP, in fact, is anything we do that gives God pleasure.

2. We were created to be adopted into God's family. And God's family is called the church. Everyone who puts their trust in Jesus Christ becomes a member of God's family.

The Bible likens God's family to a human body. In other words, every part of the body is important, and is dependent on all the other parts. Thus, our purpose is to work together to see the body (church) strengthen and grow. We do this by loving, praying for, encouraging, and helping each other. These activities are called FELLOWSHIP.

3. We were created to become like Christ. And to know what Jesus is like, you only have to read about Him in the Bible - Totally good, holy, loving, perfect, etc. This growth of us into the likeness of Christ is called DISCIPLESHIP. Discipleship is a lifelong job, and requires our co-operation and effort.

Galatians 5.22 lists nine "fruits of the Spirit" that God wants to see grow in our lives. These are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self control. God may well place us in environments where these attributes are more able to grow.

For example, if He wants to see more love in your life, He is unlikely to surround you with nice, loving, friendly people. No, you are more likely to meet a lot of annoying, unloving, unfriendly people. In these circumstances your "love" will have more opportunities to grow.

Likewise, if God wants to see more patience in your life, you are quite likely to find yourself in numerous traffic jams or Supermarket queues!

4. We were created for SERVICE, i.e. to serve God by serving others. The Bible tells us that God has actually prepared works for us to do. And if God wants you to do a particular job, He will always prepare you for it beforehand.

God has equipped us for service by giving us a SHAPE This is what makes us who we are, and everyone has their own SHAPE, which makes us unique. Each letter of the word "SHAPE" stands for something that makes us uniquely qualified for the service God has prepared for us to do.

S stands for Spiritual gifts that God has given to us as He wills for the strengthening of His family (the Church). The full list of these nine gifts can be found in 1 Corinthians, Chapter 12. These are not permanent gifts, but are given by the Holy Spirit for a particular situation at a particular time.

For example, someone might be given the gift of Prophecy. They hear God's voice, and are thus able to pass on His message to someone that it is intended for. Someone might be given the gift of Wisdom. Thus, they are suddenly able to see God's way out of a difficult situation. Another person may receive the gift of Faith. Thus, he may be praying for someone, and suddenly "know for certain" that his prayer will be answered.

H stands for your Heart. What are you passionate about? What do you really love?

Some of the passions people might have are for teaching children, helping the poor, sick, or elderly, seeing better government etc. Many people have a strong passion for helping people in a different country. Usually a poor one. These passions are given to us by God. We should concentrate on them, and find out how He would have us make a difference in this world.

A stands for Abilities, i.e. the natural abilities that you are born with. These run into the hundreds, e.g. music, sport, languages, mathematics, nursing, teaching, making friends, etc. etc. God wants you to use your natural abilities to serve others.

P stands for PERSONALITY. We are all unique. God has created each of us different, with different personalities. Probably the two best known personality types are the Extrovert and the Introvert.

It is important to remember that whatever a person's personality is, it is not a case of it being "good" or "bad". Rather, it is just the way God intended them to be. Don't try to change your personality. Just be yourself, remembering that God can use a person of one personality in one situation, and a person of a different personality in another situation.

E stands for EXPERIENCES. God allows us to go through many different types of experiences in our lives, some "good" and some "bad". But, having gone through them, we are then in an ideal position to help others who are themselves experiencing similar situations.

Types of experiences may be involving your family, your school time, your job etc. But the most helpful ones will probably be your Painful experiences. Thus, you may be able to help someone who is sick, injured, going through a family break up, having learning difficulties, struggling with a bad habit, etc.

5. We were created to reach others for God. This is called EVANGELISM or MISSION. God wants everyone to know of His love, and He has chosen His family (the church) to make this love known through both word and deed.

God wants us to help the needy, but no matter how much you do so, it is important to remember that you will only be affecting their present lives. On the other hand, Evangelism, telling people how they can receive eternal life, is FOREVER. You could effect a person's eternal destiny. And there is nothing more important than that.

Many Christians are reluctant to tell others about Jesus Christ for fear of rejection. They think "If I tell my friend about Jesus, they may not like what I say - - - - they may not like me for telling them - - - - they might stop being my friend". If you feel like that, what you should do is pray and ask God to fill you with love for your friend. That is because God promises us "Perfect love drives away fear". In other words, love and fear can't both exist at the same time. And if you are truly filled with love for a person, your greatest desire will be for them to know Jesus for themselves. Then, God is well able to direct you as to the best way to share His wonderful love with them.

In summary, our five purposes of life are :- WORSHIP, FELLOWSHIP, DISCIPLESHIP, SERVICE, and EVANGELISM.


Can Christians perform miracles?


Jesus raised the dead, healed the sick, and performed many other miracles. Many people believe that Jesus was able to do this because He was actually God. Well, He certainly is God, but He is God who became a man. When Jesus came to earth, He left his divine (Godly) qualities behind in heaven. During His 33 years on earth, Jesus was fully human, restricting Himself to do only what other humans can do.


According to the Bible, Jesus didn't perform any miracles during the first 30 years of His earthly life. However, after He was baptised in the river Jordan by John the Baptist, the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus in the form of a dove. Thereafter, Jesus began His miraculous ministry - not because He was God, but because of the continuing indwelling power of the Holy Spirit.


The exciting thing for all followers of Jesus is that this same Holy Spirit which filled Jesus is available to us! And that is why there are numerous examples today of miracles and healings being done through ordinary Christians. They are achieved through the power of the Holy Spirit.


In fact, Jesus once said "If you have faith in me, you will do even greater things than I." (John 14.12). Your first thought may be "Greater things!" Surely no human could do "Greater things" than Jesus? But a closer examination will show that even some "Greater things" have in fact been done by some Christians. I will give two examples.


1. In his 3 years of ministry, how many people did Jesus personally preach to, see them respond, and enter the Kingdom of heaven? We can only make a very rough estimate but, as the population was much less 2,000 years ago than it is today, it is unlikely to have been more than a few thousand. However there are many Evangelists, such as Billy Graham and Reinhard Bonnke, who have seen tens of thousands of people respond to Jesus and enter into the Kingdom of heaven IN ONE EVENING!


2. How many people did Jesus raise from the dead? There are 3 or 4 cases mentioned in the Bible (although there may have been a few more which were not recorded). However there are reports of Christians, such as Smith Wigglesworth, raising as many as 20 people from the dead.

These are some of the "even greater things" that Jesus talked about.


How old is the earth?




The only way that anyone could know the age of the earth would be if they were present when it was being formed. As only the Creator Himself was present, He is the only one who could tell you when He made it. Although the Bible doesn't tell us exactly when the earth was created, by a careful reading of its recorded events and time spans between them, we can conclude that the earth is about 6,000 years old. It may possibly be slightly older than this, but not by much.



Contrary to what some people believe, Science cannot tell us how old the earth is This is because scientific experiments can only be performed in the present, and not the past. Therefore, as no human was present when the earth was first formed, we cannot look to any human to give us a definitive answer.


There are, however, numerous ways in which people can try to estimate the age of the earth. (For a more detailed revue, see the Creation Ministries International web site).These estimates vary from just a few thousand years (which are close to the age derived from the Biblical record) to about five billion years! However, all these methods depend upon many assumptions, mainly that the change processes that we can presently observe happening on the earth having always occurred at the same rate. No-one can know this.

The fact that different methods of estimating the earth's age, and indeed different scientific laboratories using the same method, come up with very different answers, suggest that conditions on the earth have not always been the same and demonstrate how unreliable such findings are.

Which earth age-estimation methods a person chooses to believe will depend on their world view. Biblical Christians will obviously accept the "young earth" estimates, whereas Evolutionists will choose to accept the "old earth" estimates. That is because for evolution to be even remotely possible it would require aeons of time for all the necessary changes to take place as we evolved from chemicals to a living single cell, and then into man, not to mention all the many different life forms we find today.

Most of these methods actually conclude that the earth is "young", usually giving values of between about 5,000 to 1 million years. The only earth age-estimation methods that give answers of billions of years are the radiometric dating methods in which the rate at which one type of chemical element is changed into another is measured. For example, if we know that element A in the earth is slowly changing to element B, then by measuring the present rate of change, and the amount of A and B presently in the sample, we can calculate how long the process has been occurring, and thus how long ago it was first formed. However, apart from assuming that the rate of change has always been constant, we need to assume that there was no "B" present at the beginning, and also that no "B" was leached out of the sample over the supposed billions of years that this was taking place. This no-one can possibly know!

Does it really matter whether we believe that the earth is "young" or "old"?

I believe it does because if we doubt the accuracy of the very first part of the Bible, what justification have we foe believing other parts of it, such as when it talks about the resurrection of Jesus and the means of obtaining eternal life through Him?


How many different types of Christians are there?


The answer is ONE. You need to understand what a Christian really is. If you ask most people what a Christian is, they will probably reply something like "A person who goes to church", or, "A person who prays a lot and reads the Bible", or, "A person who does lots of good deeds and is always kind to others". All these things are good, but none of them make a person a Christian. Rather, these are some of the things that Christians do - because they already are Christians! Real Christians do these things because they can't help themselves. They are "natural" to them because Jesus has changed them on the insides, and given them a God-given desire to do these things, which is simply an outward expression of their new love for both God and other people.

Of course non-Christians can also do some or all of the above things, but that doesn't make them Christians. Some people do these things to try and please God - because they don't understand that God's forgiveness and acceptance can never be earned, no matter how 'good' they are, or how hard they try. Others do these things to try and impress people, so that they will think well of them, or be good to them in return.

One of the best ways of understanding what a real Christian really is, is to consider the three words :- CHRIST IN PERSON. When you condense these words into one, you are left with CHRISTIAN.

Thus, CHRIST IN PERSON = CHRISTIAN.

In other words, a Christian is a person in whom Jesus Christ is living. And He can only live in you if you invite Him to do so asking Him to forgive your sins (wrongdoing) and to come and take charge of your life.

I understand why somebody could ask the above question. There are thousands of different religions in the world, the followers of some of the best known being the Moslems, Hindus, Buddhists and Jews. Even among the Christian faith, there are many different Denominations or types of church. It can all be rather confusing to the outsider.

The first thing to realise is that Christianity is not a religion. In fact, it is the opposite of religion. Religion is all about us trying to please God, to reach Him by doing good works. On the other hand, Christianity is all about God coming down to us as Jesus and meeting us where we are. All we are required to realise that it is impossible to please God by our own good deeds and to accept what Jesus has done for us on the cross. It is the difference between trying and trusting.  (See Figure below).



No matter how hard we try, we can never reach God by our own good deeds.

There are two radical differences between all religions and Christianity.

1. Religions teach that our only way to God and Heaven is through our own Good works.
2. Religions deny that Jesus is God. (Many believe that Jesus was a good man or a Prophet, but they deny His divinity).

At the centre of the Christian faith is the belief that Jesus is God, and that we can ony reach God and Heaven through Him (see John 14.6).

Different Christian churches.

There are three different types of Christian churches. They differ because of what they have as their FINAL AUTHORITY for what they believe and consequently the way they live.

1. The Roman Catholics.

Roman Catholics have as their final authority their church leaders, in other words the declarations of their Popes, past and present. They believe that the Pope is God's spokesman on earth, and that therefore what the Pope says is what God says. Also, as God is infallible, so must be the Pope's declarations.

The problem arises when one Pope may contradict what a former Pope had declared, or what is taught in the Bible.

2. The Liberal churches.

This group have as their final authority human reason. They respect the Bible and what various church leaders have said, but if this is against what their mind tells them is true, they reject it. For example, they may deny most of the miracles recorded in the Bible such as the bodily resurrection of Christ and attempt to explain them away. Unfortunately, if you remove the miraculous from the Bible, you are just left with a few interesting stories and some good moral teaching.

3. The Evangelical churches.

The Bible is their final authority. They use their human reason, and they appoint leaders, but when these contradict the Bible, they submit to the authority of the latter, believing that it is the inspired and infallible Word of God.

Even among the Evangelical group of churches, there are many different denominations, and variations in what they believe and teach. However, many of these differences are 'minor doctrines' and ultimately not important to our salvation. Such 'minor doctrines' include Water Baptism - i.e. the Baptism of infants or 'Believers', the present day operation of the gifts of the Spirit, the method of Church government, the role of women in the church and the correct interpretation of the 'End Times'.

I would suggest, however, that there are six 'Major doctrines' that Evangelical churches have in common, and around which they can have true unity. These are:-

1.The divinity of Christ.
2. The substitutionary death of Jesus on the cross for our sins.
3. The bodily resurrection of Jesus.
4. Our need to be 'Born Again'.
5. God accepts us on the basis of our faith in Jesus alone.
6. The Bible, as first given, is the divine and infallible 'Word of God'.

We should remember, however, that true Christians can be found in all these three types of churches. The type of church you attend doesn't determine whether you are a Christian or not. A true Christian (CHRIST IN PERSON) is simply someone with Christ living within them, because He has been invited to do so.