[Lesson 90: Man's Questions; God's Answers (#1)] [Table of Contents] [Lesson 92: How Should Christ's Disciples Live?]
Peace be with you, listening friends. We greet you in the name of God, the Lord of peace, who wants everyone to understand and submit to the way of righteousness that He has established, and have true peace with Him forever. We are happy to be able to return today to present your program The Way of Righteousness.
Today we will continue what we began in the last program-answering questions which we have received from you, our listeners. We thank each of you who have sent us letters. Before we begin, there is one thing that we need to make clear. In answering your questions, we dare not rely on our own knowledge or the knowledge of others. We rely on God's Word alone. We do not have the answers to your questions, but God has the answers and has given them to us in the Holy Scriptures. The Bible says: "The word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." (Heb. 4:12) Now then, let us return to your questions. Again, we are glad to have a friend here to read the questions.
1.) Thank you. In this letter a listener writes: You said in one program: "That which is evil cannot come from God." I disagree with that, because I believe that God first created what is evil before He made what is good.
Allow us to answer this question with a question found in the Bible. "Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? Never!" (James 3:11) Just as a spring or a well does not give forth both fresh water and salt water, neither is God the source of both good and evil. The Holy Scriptures say:
"God is light; in him there is no darkness at all!" (1 John 1:5) "When tempted, no one should say, 'God is tempting me.' For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed…Don't be deceived, my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created." (James 1:13,14,16-18)
God's prophet, Habakkuk, wrote: "O Lord, are you not from everlasting?…Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong." (Hab. 1:12,13) Therefore if God cannot tolerate what is evil, we should not believe that He can create what is evil. God created the angel named Lucifer, but Lucifer became the devil by choosing to rebel against God. God created Adam, but Adam became a sinner by choosing to disobey God. The Word of God teaches us that the devil and the unrighteous heart of man are the source of evil and that God and His Word are the source of good.
2.) The next question is: If God is holy and full of mercy, then why does He stand by and watch the quarrels and wars and murders and wickedness of the world? Can't He do something to help people who are in trouble?
Indeed, God is the Lord of Mercy and what He should do to help people in trouble, He has already done! He sent the righteous Redeemer, Jesus Christ, to reconcile people to Himself and then to each other by dying for the sins of the world. However, before people can be truly reconciled among themselves, they must first believe in Jesus as the Savior whom God sent and submit to Him. When our relationship with God is right, then our relationship with people can be right. Only then will there be true peace. Everything depends on our response to God. We must take the remedy God has provided. Also, remember that God is going to judge this world for its wickedness. The Word of God says that the Lord Jesus Christ will return at the end of the age to judge everyone who refuses to accept and obey the truth. After the Lord Jesus has put down all of God's enemies, He will renew the whole creation. And then what is written in the Scriptures will be fulfilled, which says: "No longer will there be any curse.…There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." (Rev. 22:3; 21:4)
3.) The third question today is this: Something troubles me. I've always believed that if I sin, that sin will affect me, but it will not affect my children because they did not commit it. But you say that the sin that our ancestor Adam committed in the Garden of Paradise spread to all of his descendants, and that God must punish them. How can this be?
The Wolofs say: "An epidemic is not confined to the one from whom it originates!" and "The leaping gazelle doesn't produce burrowing offspring." This is true isn't it? We all agree that if you have a child, and you raise him in your own house, he will take on his character, good and bad, from you his parent. He will reflect your way of speaking, your way of living, your way of thinking, and your way of doing things. All of us belong to the family of Adam and Eve. We have descended from those who disobeyed God's commandment. Are we not like our ancestors? Who among us can say that we have never departed even once from the way of God's commandments? We are all guilty! We were born with a nature which disobeys God's commandments. From whom did we inherit this disobedient nature? From Adam. Like an awful disease, Adam's sin has spread to us all. Whether we like it or not, that is the way it is. That is precisely what the Word of God declares, when it says: "Sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned!" (Rom. 5:12) However, all hope is not lost, because the Word of God also says: "Just as the result of one trespass (by Adam) was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness (by Jesus Christ) was justification that brings life for all men." (Rom. 5:18)
4.) The next question is: Why is the Bible divided into two sections, an Old Testament and a New Testament?
In brief, everything that the prophets wrote in the Old Testament, that is, in the First Covenant, they wrote before the Messiah was born. Everything in the New Testament, the New Covenant, was written after the birth of the Messiah. Thus, the message of God's prophets who wrote the First Covenant was: "God is going to send the Messiah!" However, the message of the New Covenant is: "God has sent the Messiah, just as He promised through His prophets!" We thank God that the Bible has two sections--a First Covenant and a New Covenant, since in those two sections, we can see that what God promised so long ago, He has accomplished! God sent a Savior, Jesus Christ, just as He promised our ancestors in the Torah, the Psalms and the other writings of the prophets. As the rivers flow into the sea, so the Scriptures of the prophets find their fulfillment in Christ.
5.) Here's another question: Many say that man cannot know whether he will go to heaven or to hell. God alone knows. But you say that you know that if you die today, you will go to heaven. On what do you base such a bold claim?
Let us respond to that question with another question. Can God go back on His word? Is God faithful to keep His word? God's Word says:
"All the prophets testify about [the Lord Jesus Christ] that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through His name." (Acts 10:43) "I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life." (1 John 5:13)
Since God Himself has said in His Word that you can know that you have eternal life, who are we to say that no one can know where he is going to spend eternity? Yes dear friend, you can know where you will go after death! The question is: Do you truly believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and His perfect sacrifice? Or are you trusting in your own "good works"? Only those trusting in Christ can honestly say, "I know that I have eternal life!"
6.) Thank you. This listener asks: Jesus announced that the Counselor, the "Parakletos," would come after Him. Of whom did Jesus speak?
"Parakletos" is a Greek word meaning counselor, helper, or advocate. In Scripture the name Parakletos is used both for Jesus (see 1 John 2:1) and for the Holy Spirit. As we have read in the Gospel, before the Lord Jesus returned to heaven He promised His disciples, saying:
"I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever-the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you…the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have said to you.…He will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin…because men do not believe in me…" [Therefore] do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit." (John 14:16,17,26; 16:8,9; Acts 1:4,5).
The Lord Jesus said that the Counselor was not a man, but a Spirit--God's Holy Spirit--whom no one can see. Jesus told His disciples that after He returned to heaven, God would send the Holy Spirit down to live in their hearts. A few programs ago, we read how that is exactly what happened on the day of Pentecost, ten days after Jesus ascended to heaven.
In brief, the Counselor is the Spirit of Christ who comes to live in the hearts of all who accept the Gospel. If you sincerely believe, the Holy Spirit will cleanse and renew your heart, mark you as God's own child, and give you a share in God's holy presence forever. That is what the Scripture declares, saying:
"You…were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession-to the praise of his glory." (Eph. 1:13,14)
For those of us who believe, the Holy Spirit is our helper, our guide, our strength, our teacher, and so much more. He does so many things for us that we cannot begin to mention them all. One way He helps us is in our prayers. There is a big difference between reciting a prayer and truly praying to God! The Holy Spirit helps us to pray true prayers to God. As it is written: "The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express." (Rom. 8:26) All who truly believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ have this heavenly Guest, the Holy Spirit living inside them. The Scripture says: "If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ." (Rom. 8:9)
7.) The final questioner writes: I understand from your teaching that I will go to Paradise if I receive Jesus Christ as my Savior. Does this mean I can live just as I please and do evil things and still go to Paradise when I die? What does the Bible teach?
The Scripture answers this question clearly in the book of Romans, chapter six, when it says, "Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?" (Rom. 6:1,2) The message of the death of Jesus the Messiah on the cross and His resurrection from the grave is God's righteous plan to deliver sinners not only from sin's penalty but also from sin's power! If you accept that Good News in your heart with a sincere faith, the Word of God teaches that, in the instant you believe, God will accomplish two works in you:
First, God will forgive all your sins in the name of Christ, just as He has promised.
Second, God will renew your heart by the power of the Holy Spirit. Then you will begin to love righteousness and hate evil, because God will have placed in you His holy nature. Thus, the Scripture promises:
"If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" (2 Cor. 5:17) "Because…Christ…gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good!" (Titus 2:14)
When someone truly believes in the Lord Jesus Christ, he will no longer continue to practice evil, because God has placed in him His Holy Spirit--and "the fruit of the Spirit [in the life of the disciple of Christ] is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." (Gal. 5:22,23)
Our time is gone today, but, God willing, in the next program, we will look further into this question of how a follower of Christ should live.…God bless you. We leave you with this verse from the Psalms of the prophet David:
"As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him!" (Psa. 18:30)