Yes, God, I Have a Question!
On Tuesday June 12th, the women of The River Church did a survey around town. We asked people, “If you could ask God any question, what would it be?” There were some really great questions asked! I (Pastor Joan) have numbered all of those questions out below and would like to share about them from a Biblical perspective. If you have more questions, please contact us!
Question 1: Why does God take people at different stages of life? (Also asked: Why do young people die?)
As unpleasant as it is to think about, everybody dies, and no one knows when that time will be! Most of us hope to live a full life into our old age. Seems like that’s how it should be! To die in mid-life, or even as a young person is deemed premature and unnatural, even tragic. It’s so painful! The Bible tells us that God is sovereign over all things, so sadly, many people assume that if someone dies young, that God “took” him. That makes us ask the question, “Did God cause my loved one to die prematurely?” That’s a difficult question that cannot be answered. But we can safely say that God is good, and he is not the author of sin, sickness or injustice in the world. This is a truth consistent in the Bible from cover to cover. These things are a part of life because the whole world is under the curse of sin from the fall of man in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3). Sin, sickness, injustice, and even death were never meant to be a part of God’s plan for mankind. They came as a consequence of man’s decisions and actions to be independent from God. It’s very, very difficult and hard to understand when a child dies, or a young person gets killed, or when a person in the prime of their life dies from a heart attack or from cancer. I believe those things make God sad, too. He hates sickness, tragedy and injustice, but until Christ returns to earth those things will continue. Thankfully the Bible assures us that because of Jesus’ work on the cross, death is not the end for those who trust in him. It’s only the beginning of life with God. None of us is guaranteed to live to be “old”. Death comes to all of us, one way or another. The important thing is live each day ready. Have you considered where you will spend eternity?
Question 2: Is there such a thing as eternal happiness? Will I be happy forever?
This is a great question, too! The Bible says that in God’s presence is fullness of joy, and at his right hand are pleasures evermore (Psalm 16:11). If you go to be with God in heaven when you die, the Word of God is clear that there is happiness with him for eternity (Matthew 25:21). We have a hard time with the concept of eternity. Eternity is forever. No end, ever. Yes, heaven will be a place of incredible joy because we will be with God, and he is good, kind, loving, understanding, clean, and fun. He is not like any other. Revelation 21:3-4 says, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” I hope that you are sure you will be with God when you die!
Question 3: How awesome is heaven going to be?
Well, from what we read in the Bible, it’s going to be AWESOME! Some people think that heaven will be boring. That we will sit around on clouds and play harps all day. Or that it will be like one super duper looong church service. I’m not sure where those ideas came from, but nothing in the Bible suggests that God is boring, and in heaven we will be with him. I believe we will be so fulfilled that our very best times here on earth will be like awkward middle school moments in comparison. Everything that has ever made us happy here on earth will pale in comparison with with the joy of being with God and experiencing what he has in store for us in heaven. To read about heaven in the Bible, read Revelation chapters 4-5 and 19-22. There’s also an excellent book on heaven that I’d like to recommend. It’s called Heaven by Randy Alcorn. Another book recommended by friends is Heaven is For Real by Todd Burpo, about a little boy who had died and gone to heaven, but came back to life. He described his experience to his parents, who were blown away and recorded his stories.
Question 4: Will our pets be in heaven?
The Bible is not clear on this, but I hope so. Someday there will be a new heaven and a new earth, and I’d like to think there are animals there galore, and I hope to see some of my dear pets, my cats Blackeye and Sneaker, and our bird Tyke. Randy Alcorn has much to say about this in his book Heaven.
Question 5: Do we age in heaven? Like babies — will babies that have died (or children, or whatever) age or stay the same?
The Bible is silent on that as well. I would like to imagine that life for our loved ones in heaven is how it was meant to be in the Garden of Eden originally — before man’s sin brought the earth under the curse. Before sin, Adam & Eve’s children would have been born as babies and grown to adulthood, but their aging would not have led to death because there would not have been death or sin or sickness. So perhaps a child who is in heaven is growing like a normal child would here on earth — only no sickness or pain or suffering to content with there. Only the happiest and best for that little one, for he/she is with Jesus! The Bible also says that we will receive new bodies in heaven. We don’t know what they will look like, but we know it will be more glorious than our present bodies. If you have a loved one in heaven, be encouraged that if you are in Christ you will see him/her again.
Question 6: Am I going to heaven? (How can I know I’m going to heaven?)
First, the Bible makes it clear that God earnestly desires people to be with him in heaven. More than that, God wants a dynamic relationship with every person here on earth before they even die. But there’s a problem, and to understand heaven, you first need to understand the problem. The problem is sin, and every person on this planet has it from birth, starting with Adam and Eve and continuing on to us (Romans 3:23). There are varying degrees of sin, but the results of sin are the same: separation from God, both here on earth while you’re alive and apart from God (in hell) after you die (Romans 6:23). This is true for the nicest-of-nice grandmas as well as the most repulsive of criminals — it only takes one sin to separate us from God. This separation makes it impossible to know God here on earth, and if it is not remedied before we die, it means eternal separation from God for eternity. Most people want to think that everyone goes to heaven when they die, but that is not the truth that the Bible teaches. Only those who have applied God’s remedy for sin will go to heaven to be with God. If I had white carpet in my house and my children came home covered in mud, I would say, “You’re not coming in the house looking like that!” It doesn’t mean I don’t love them or want them, but I would insist that they strip off their muddy clothes and rinse off in the hose before I would let them in. Likewise, God is holy — clean and perfect in every way — and our sin is intolerable in his house. We must deal with our problem of sin or we do not enter! Good news: God sent his own Son, Jesus, to earth to pay the price for our sin. You’ve heard the verse, “For God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten son, that whoever would believe in him would not perish, but have everlasting life.” Most people do not know that the next verse continues with, “For God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might have life.” Jesus is God’s remedy for sin! Thru Jesus you can begin a relationship with God here on earth that continues on seamlessly when you reach heaven. You will not be a stranger to God! You will be welcome as his friend because you are covered with Christ’s saving blood and you have been living your life for him. What does one do to receive God’s remedy for sin? First, admit your need to God! Admit to him that you understand your sinfulness and that you cannot pay this debt on your own. No matter how good you are, even the nicest-of-nice people have sin that separates them from God. In prayer, put yourself before God, just as you are, with all your sin. Tell him you are sorry for your sin and ask him to forgive you for all the wrongs you have done against him. Ask him to cleanse your heart with the blood of Jesus, and invite him to be the boss of your life. Thank him for his forgiveness, and determine to live your life wholly for him.
Question 7: Will God forgive me for my sins?
The Bible is clear on this. In John 6:37 it says, “…whoever comes to me I will never drive away.” We must come to him, though. Just because Jesus died for you doesn’t mean your sins are forgiven. You need to receive his forgiveness for yourself. It’s like God has a big Christmas tree, and under it is a present with your name on it. If you never come to him and get it, it will stay unopened, and it’s your loss. But for those who do come to him, I John 1:9 says this, “If we confess our sin, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Doesn’t matter what you’ve done — stealing, lying, cheating on spouse, abortion — if you come to God with a repentant heart, he will cleanse you of your sin.
Question 8: Why does a loving God send people to hell?
Hell is a place of eternal torment; it was never meant for people, but was created to punish satan and his hoard of demons (Matthew 25:41). God doesn’t send anyone there — in fact, he gave his only Son so that people could be saved from hell (John 3:16-18). God’s remedy for sin is free and freely given to any person who will come to him. Those who reject his offer of salvation are like drowning victims of a shipwreck who refuse to get in the life raft. God does not want any person to experience hell (II Peter 3:9); that’s why he has instructed believers to tell the good news of salvation in Christ. He wants you to come to him to be saved. I hope you will not refuse him. “For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath, but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” I Thessalonians 5:9.
Question 9: What’s my purpose? What am I meant to be here for?
Almost all people ask this question! Everyone desires a life with meaning! Many spend their whole lives seeking for meaning and fulfillment. The Bible says that God gives life and that God gives you purpose. We think life is all about us and for our happiness, but we have it backwards! It’s all about God, and all for him! If you take some time to read Psalm 139, you will see that God knew you before you were even born. No matter what the circumstances of your birth, God gave you your life! And he knew the exact time and place in which you would be born (Acts 17:26), and he’s prepared things for you to do that will give him glory. Ephesians 2:10 says “We are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Instead of living to please God, though, our sinful nature lives to please itself. But we will never be fulfilled if we live to please ourselves! We need to first get ourselves right with God to find our purpose! (See questions 6,7 and 8!) When we are in right relationship with God and live to please him, God’s purpose for our lives will unfold little by little. Ephesians 1:11-12 says, “In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.” God wants to do wonderful things through you! Surrender your life to him and ask him to unfold his plans for your life. It will be the best decision you will ever make! Romans 11:36 says, “For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever!” An excellent book written on this subject is The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. If you would like a free copy, please contact our church office.
Question 10: What will my daughter be when she grows up?
We all have hopes and dreams for ourselves and for our children. We don’t know what will unfold from year to year. We make our plans, but God establishes our path. It’s good to know that he has our best in mind, and if we follow him we can’t go wrong. Some wisdom in this area is found in Proverbs 3:1-18.
Question 11: Will I ever fall in love again?
Being alone can be difficult. We all have a desire to love and be loved. I believe it’s hardwired into us because we’re made in the image of God, who IS love (I John 4:16). Falling in love is exhilarating, and companionship is fulfilling — we all want that kind of happiness! A poor relationship can be very painful, and ending a relationship hurts even more. I don’t know if you will fall in love again, but my advice to you is to take this time while you are alone and invest in your relationship with God. Men of good character are attracted to women of good character, and the other way around. God can help you grow beautiful in heart and learn to be fulfilled as a person without having to have someone. He is a true friend to the lonely. And if he does bring someone else into your life, you will be a healthier person in that relationship because of your relationship with God. (See Isaiah 61:1-3.)
Question 12: Why are there so many bad people?
This world is filled with a lot of evil, but God did not intend it to be that way! God created the world good and mankind without sin. Since man’s decision to be independent from God (in Genesis 3) every person born on this earth has a natural bent to sin. Some have more restraint in this area than others! Take Cain and Abel, for example. Both were born in sin, but Cain’s jealousy caused him to kill his brother. Abel was a better person of the two, but he still was a sinner. The more a person hardens his heart toward God and exposes himself to evil, the more sin that comes as a result. Yes, this world is filled with a lot of very evil people, but in God’s eyes, these people were still worth dying for. God desires the most wicked of men to repent and receive his love and forgiveness. Furthermore, God desires even good, moral, nice people to repent of their independence from him. The Bible says in Romans 3:10-11, “There is none good, no not one!” and in Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Even our best deeds aren’t good enough! The prophet Isaiah writes in chapter 64:6, “your righteousness is like filthy rags.” Even our own goodness falls short of God’s holy perfection, and we need a Savior just as much as any “bad person” to save us from our sin.
Question 13: Why are there drugs and violence? Why do we have so much war?
Because there is a devil who hates God and all he created! He wants to steal, kill, and destroy everything that reflects God’s glory and goodness on the earth, especially mankind, whom God man in his image (See John 10:10). He deceived mankind into disobeying God in the Garden of Eden, and since that time Satan has sown this world with injustice, strife, sickness and pain. People, who were meant to live in God’s goodness, became separated from God in their hearts because of sin. Galatians 5:19 tells us “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who life like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” The source of all human conflict is that every person has sin in their heart. James 4:1-2 says, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil. Through him is the solution to every conflict. I John 3:8, “He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.”
Question 14: Why did my husband get sick and get burned so badly? Why do bad things happen to good people? Why is there so much illness in the world?
Again, as I wrote in the last question, God never intended evil to be in the world. He is good, and he created all things good, and he created man with a free will. The devil deceived mankind into disobeying God, and the just consequence for that disobedience brought the law of sin into effect in our world. With the law of sin comes sickness, death, corruption, injustice, injuries, wickedness and pain. All of these things God never intended to be part of his creation, for He created all things good. In reality, bad things happen to all people. The main reason God sent his son Jesus was to destroy the works of the devil. And evil will be all around us until Jesus returns for his church and establishes a new heaven and a new earth.
Perhaps the deeper question here is this: If God is loving, why did he allow such a painful thing to happen to me? Why didn’t he prevent this hardship/tragedy/abuse from happening? This indeed is difficult to understand. Many people are angry with God because of these questions and even feel that God himself brought their calamity on them. Be assured that God hates suffering and injustice and is never the author of such. So why doesn’t he stop it? Since the fall of man, this world has been turned over to the control of satan and man. Man has a free will and God will not stop it. People can choose to do good or evil to one another. Accidents happen. So do natural disasters. Did God cause these events? We don’t know. But the Word of God is clear in Psalm 100:5 “The Lord is good, and his mercy endures forever.” Although heart-wrenching things can happen to people both good and bad, we are assured that God’s love and comfort can reach into the most desperate of circumstances. Billy Graham once said, “Life is hard; but God is good, and heaven is real.” The life we live is very short. Even if we live to be 80, that still passes very quickly. Eternity, however, is forever, and we would be wise to consider where our final destination will be. Hell is a place of torment and suffering that will not end. Heaven is a place of endless joy with God. What does it matter if we have a wonderful life here on earth, but spend eternity in hell? And though our troubles may be severe here on earth, those who put their faith in Jesus Christ for salvation will someday know suffering no longer and will know joy forever. (See II Corinthians 4:17.)
Question 15: Why didn’t God just get rid of satan when Jesus rose from the dead victorious over him? Why did God allow satan to continue on in his evil when he knew that he would cause so much trouble?
All of time is a wonderful dramatic plot which gives glory and praise to God! The Bible calls Adam in the Garden of Eden the “first Adam.” (See I Corinthians 15:44b-49.) He was created without sin, but gave in to temptation, resulting in the fall of man — and every man was born a sinner since that time. Jesus Christ, though he was God, was born 100% man, and lived a life victorious over sin and the temptation of the devil. The Bible says he was tempted in every way, as we are, but he did not sin (Hebrews 4:15). He paid the price for mankind’s sin by dying on the cross and rising from the dead. He is called the “last Adam,” and everyone who is born of God is part of a new spiritual race of people, whose hearts have been made alive in Christ. God left satan alive and active on the earth to glorify himself as the people of God learn their victory and authority over the devil. What the first Adam failed to do, we can walk in victoriously because we are “in Christ.” We are no longer slaves to sin, and the believer has authority in prayer, and over the works of the devil. Although we may not have seen the fullness of that victory in our lives, it gives God glory to see his Body, the Church overcome the enemy by the blood of Jesus and the word of our testimony. (Revelation 12:10-12)
Question 16: How can I better understand and appreciate everything around us?
Sometimes we get caught in the rushing flow of life and lose our perspective. We think that life is about us and for our happiness, when truly the center of life is God and his purposes. If we learn to view life from God’s perspective we will see life differently. It will give us hope in difficult times and help us be thankful for the good that we do have. Hebrews 9:27 says “Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.” We only get one shot at this life, so let’s make it count for God. Turn your life over to him now and give him thanks in all things. That will help you get that God-perspective and you will better understand and appreciate life around you.