Is the true Gospel something more than helping the needy standing for social justice?

Dear Pastor Charles: I have question for you. You keep referring to the gospel in your articles and I am not really sure what you mean by that. I believe in God and I try to live a good life and to do the right thing. My minister says that the true gospel is to help the needy and to stand for social justice. He says that as long as we do these things we are fulfilling what God requires of us and that by these acts we are saved. Just wondering what you think? Thanks for your response.

Dear Just Wondering:  
      Thanks for your question. It is not what I think that counts but it is what God thinks. I can only give you the facts of the Bible and you will have to decide for yourself. The Apostle Paul gives us his definition of the Gospel in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, “Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,”. Please take note of these words, by this gospel you are saved.”

    
      I realize that it is not popular in this day and age to believe that Christ died on the cross for your sins and that the only way to heaven is by confessing that you are a sinner, turning from your sins toward God and asking Him to save you by His grace. Unfortunately, the Bible does not give us any other alternatives. Besides, what is so bad about being grateful to a God who loves you so much that He was willing to sacrifice His one and only Son to pay the penalty for your sins. My friend, I can assure you that any other gospel you receive is from man and not from God and will lead you on a one way path to eternal destruction. 
   
      Listen to what the Apostle Paul says about the Gospel that he gave us; Galatians 1:11-12, “I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.”  From these words of Paul you are forced to make up your mind if he is telling the truth or telling a lie. If he is lying, then we are in big trouble because nowhere in the Bible does it say that we are saved by any act of righteousness, good deed, or social action. These things are good and proper for a child of God to do but they are not how we are saved. The Bible teaches us how we are saved in Ephesians 2:8-9, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– not by works, so that no one can boast.” 

      So you see, you can work your heart out and never be acceptable to God because He has already prescribed and provided the way. Please remember that God is Sovereign and if we are going to approach Him, we must do it His way. Remember Cain and Abel? Abel’s sacrifice was more pleasing to God than Cain’s. Cain brought the sacrifice that he wanted to bring instead of what God told Him to bring and God rejected it. In the same way, God will reject any offering of labor that you bring to Him as payment for salvation because nothing that you can do is more valuable than the blood of His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ.
    
      There is another verse that I think your minister needs to read and take to heart in Galatians 1:6-9, “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel– which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!” 
    
      My prayer for you is that you will open heart and receive the truth of God’s Word and come to Him as He requires. Please do not allow yourself to be lead astray by false gospels which have never been in short supply. Satan has tried to deceive mankind since the beginning. Don’t be fooled and end up spending eternity with him instead of Jesus. 

                                                           God Bless, 
                                                             Pastor Charles…. 

Why are the Jews referred to as God’s chosen people in the Bible?

Dear Pastor Charles: I have a question for your article that I hope you can answer for me. I have asked several Pastors and have yet to received a satisfactory answer. My question is: Why are the Jews referred to as “God’s chosen people” when He clearly refers to them in the Bible as a “rebellious and stiff necked people?” It doesn’t seem fair to the Gentiles that God would choose one people over another. Thanks for your response. Wondering…

Dear Wondering:  
      Thank you for your question as it is a good one. First, I would like to point out that God is omnipotent and can choose anyone He desires. Secondly, God did not choose a people, He chose a man, Abram. If you read your Scripture you will find that Abram was a Gentile. He was from the lineage of Shem and lived at Ur of the Chaldeans, which is on the Persian Gulf at the mouth of the Euphrates River in what is now called Iraq. 
  
      God called Abram out of Haran and made certain promises to him in Genesis 12:1-3, “The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”  So you see, God promised to bless all the peoples of the earth through him, not just the Jews.

    
      The Jews came from Abraham’s offspring through his grandson Jacob, who’s name was changed to Israel in Genesis 35. It was through Jacob’s offspring, Judah, through whom the blessing for all the peoples of the earth would come. That blessing is none other than the “Lion of Judah”, the Lord Jesus Christ. So God literally fulfilled His promise to Abraham by sending His only begotten Son to die an atoning death for the sins of the entire world, not just the Jews. 
    
      I am quite sure that God could have used any group of people He wanted in order to bring forth the Savior. I am also quite sure that if He had chosen a race of people who were already corrupted with idolatry and immorality, He would have found it far more difficult to lead them than even than the “rebellious and stiff necked” people who came from Jacob’s seed. By the way, I would like to tell you a secret, but please don’t tell anyone. I am not a Jew but I have been just as rebellious and just as stiff necked as the Jews that were described in the Old Testament. I just thank God that He provides the grace for me to be forgiven whenever I come to Him in repentance.
    
      The bottom line is this. The Bible says in Romans 3:9-12, “What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understands, there is none that seeks after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that does good, no, not one.” 

      Again, the Bible says in Galatians 3:28-29, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” So you see, God does not have any favorites. We are all lost sinners in need of a Savior. 
   
      The Apostle Paul, writing to the Gentiles of the Ephesian Church, said in Ephesians 1:3-8 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will– to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.” This passage is saying that before there existed a Jewish nation and even before the world was created, God chose us, those who accept the redemption of our sin by blood of Jesus Christ, to be His sons and daughters. How do you like that? Wonderful news is good for the soul, isn’t it?

    
      I sincerely hope that I have answered your question to your satisfaction. My prayer for you is that you may understand the complete richness and peace that can only come from knowing who you are in Christ Jesus. May God richly bless and keep you as you ponder the fullness of His Word.  

                                                                              God Bless, 
                                                                                 Pastor Charles…   

How many people will find the “narrow gate” and be saved?

Dear Pastor Charles: Matthew 7:14 talks about the narrow gate, the difficult path, and how few find the way. I interpret the word “few” to mean more than one but certainly less than several, maybe 20%. That makes me wonder if all of the people who I thought were saved really are. What exactly is Jesus trying to tell us here? Thank you for your help. Sincerely Wondering…

Dear Sincerely Wondering: 
      Thank you for your question. When I ponder on some of the things that Jesus said it causes me to reevaluate my own salvation from time to time. These are hard words that should cause us all to evaluate our individual walk with God. For sure, Jesus did not stutter when He told us the way of salvation. He made it plain when He stated in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” This is an exclusionary statement that flies directly in the face of the bankrupt ideals of political correctness. It steps on our delicate sensibilities to the point that some want to redefine God’s Word in order to make it more palatable to the masses. This fact alone is causing many liberal theologians to depart the faith in search of a “historical Jesus” who more suitably fits their particular lifestyle or personal belief system. You will find them couched behind statements similar to this, “Surely God is big enough to accommodate other points of view and will find other paths to God acceptable.” This relativistic viewpoint is being taught and embraced by many today. Unfortunately for them, one of God’s attributes is that He cannot contradict Himself.

    
      Let’s look at the Scripture from Matthew that is so troublesome to so many. Matthew 7:13-14, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” The words of this passage are not difficult to understand, ask any child to tell you what they mean. Our problem is that they are just too difficult to swallow. It is no secret that Jesus consistently calls for complete obedience and abandonment of the world in order to follow Him. There simply is no such thing as being a halfway Christian. Either you are all the way in or you are all the way out. Jesus makes that plain to us in Revelation 3:15-16, “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”
    
      I am afraid that the understanding of what it truly means to be a Christian has been watered down through the false teaching of what I call “easy believism”. The popular teaching of our day is that if one will give mental assent to the statement that “Jesus is Lord” and be baptized, then they are saved and can live their life in any fashion they please as long as they don’t go too far outside the norms of society. Dear friend, that is false teaching at it’s most devious and comes straight from the pit of hell via Satan himself. Look at what Jesus says in the very next verse. Matthew 7:15-16, “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them.” 

      To the folks who believe that they really do not need to make a complete commitment to Christ by repenting of the sin in their lives should contemplate Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:21-23,Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”

    
      In specific answer to your question, “easy believism” is the path that leads to destruction. I have heard this passage described as a funnel. The wide gate is the easy way that requires no change of lifestyle but gets narrower as sin begins to close in, which eventually leads to death and destruction. The narrow path begins at the narrow end of the funnel, which is Jesus Christ. If one enters through Christ, the Christian life expands and leads to the abundant life promised by Christ to His followers in John 10:10. 

      With all this said, I must caution you not to be the judge of another person’s salvation. That is Christ’s responsibility and He alone knows those who are His. It is declared in Scripture that the wheat would grow up with the tares and that Christ will, one day, do the separating Himself. Only He is the righteous judge who has perfect knowledge. 

      Try not to worry so much about percentages, just be sure that you are entering by the “narrow gate”. May God bless you as you continue to “study the Scriptures which are able to make you wise”

      My prayer for you is that God will use you in a powerful way in the service of Christ and His Kingdom. 

                                                                              God Bless, 
                                                                                 Pastor Charles…   

Will we remember our present lives in Heaven?

Dear Pastor Charles: Please answer for me what the Bible says about memory after death. Will we be able to retain the memories of our present earthly state? I hope this question isn’t too difficult for you. Thanks. Wondering.

Dear Wondering:  
      I, for one, hope that my memory improves after death. On the other hand, there are many things that I would not care to remember at all. 

      The Bible teaches that Christians will one day stand before Christ and be judged according to the deeds done in the flesh. 2 Corinthians 5:10, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” From this verse, it appears that God is keeping a record of our actions in this life. 

      Fairness dictates that if God is going to judge us according to our deeds, then we will be able to recall them. So that you do not misunderstand what I am saying, I am talking about born again Christians here. A Child of God will stand before Christ to give an account of his or her life and will be rewarded according to his or her works. 1 Corinthians 3:12-15, “If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.”

    
      To be fair about it, there is also a time of judgment waiting for those who do not receive Jesus Christ as their Savior in this life. Revelation 20:11-15, “Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” So you see, our memories do live on in this sense.
    
      In fact, it appears from the writings of the Apostle Paul that death is only a veil which is transparent to those on the other side. 1 Corinthians 13:12, “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” 2 Corinthians 3:18, “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” The Bible teaches that death is merely the shedding of the garment of mortal flesh. 2 Corinthians 5:1, “Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.”
    
      As far as I can tell, the Bible does not teach that we will be able to see what is going on down here after we are gone. However, it does teach that we will retain our memories of what happened in the flesh. Our Lord gave a good example of this in the parable of Lazarus and the rich man in Luke 16:22-31, “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’ “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’ “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father’s house, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’ “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'”

    
      I hope that I have answered your question to your satisfaction. My prayer for you is that you will one day see Jesus face to face for an eternity in heaven with Him. May you be richly blessed by the Lord of Glory.  

                                                                           God Bless, 
                                                                              Pastor Charles…  

Is the Bible truly the Word of God? The fellow who asked this question doesn’t think so…

Dear Pastor Charles: I have been reading your column for the past few weeks and I disagree with almost everything that you have said. You keep referring to the Bible as the “Word of God” and it very plainly was written by man and not God. If God did create man in his own image and gave him free choice in moral issues, then he would have no right to judge us since it was his decision to give us free choice. Since man is basically good in his nature don’t you believe that man can solve his own problems without creating an imaginary God to do it? Get Real.

Dear Get Real:  
      Do you really believe that man is basically good in his nature? Pick up any newspaper and read about the rapes, murders, drug busts, drunk driving arrests, child abuse and spouse abuse and then tell me that man is basically good in his nature. Not even animals act the way we humans do toward one another. You must have your head buried in the sand to make a statement like that. Did you know that there has only been 268 years of world peace in the entire history of mankind? If man could solve his own problems he would have done it long ago. No, I don’t need to create an imaginary god because I have a real one who loves this dirty old world so much that He sent His only begotten Son to die for it.

    
      God did create man in His own image and He did give us free choice concerning moral issues, however, He did not relinquish His right to be our judge. To even make the statement that morality exists presupposes that there must be a moral standard of right and wrong. Where do you think that standard comes from? Guess what, Get Real? “Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not bear false witness.” That’s right, it comes from the Word of God, the Bible. Without the Bible we would have no standard of right and wrong and our world would be in even worse shape than it is right now, if that were possible. Because man has free choice concerning right and wrong is the very reason that we need courts, lawyers and judges. You see, more often than not, we make the wrong choice. It is even difficult to find justice in our courts today though I am sure there are many fine judges and lawyers out there. God knows our hearts and He knows that no one on this earth is always capable of judging rightly, because no one really knows all the facts. No one that is, accept God.
    
      Man did put the Bible into writing. It was written by at least forty different men over a period of 1500 years. They were not professional writers by trade. They were farmers and fishermen for the most part. These men did not know each other or have complete access to each others work. However, the completed Scriptures tell one continuous story with unbroken theme and that theme is Jesus Christ. I would challenge anyone to pick five of the world’s best writers, give each of them the same theme and send them off in different directions with the instruction to write one fifth of a story without collaboration. I guarantee that the completed work would make no sense whatsoever. Though there were forty different writers of the Bible, there is only one author, the Holy Spirit. We Christians call this the “Inspiration of the Scriptures”. In fact, the Bible claims this about itself in 2 Timothy 3:16, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:” and also in 1 Thessalonians 2:13, “For this cause also we thank God without ceasing, because, when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually works also in you that believe.”

    It all comes down to this, my friend. Either the Bible is the Word of God and is true, or it is false as you claim. If it is false, then please tell me what hope you have for your life? If we die into nothingness and there is no judgment for our actions, then why not live it up and do whatever we want to do with no eternal consequences? But what if the Bible is true? It says in Hebrews 9:27 “…it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:” What will you do then? Will you say to God, “You have no right to judge me because I didn’t believe your Word in the Bible.” 

      The Bible teaches us that we will be condemned by our own words that are idly spoken so I ask you to please consider these things. I want you to know that as a Pastor and a follower of Christ, I do care about your soul. I want you to know that God loves you so much that if you were the only person alive on earth, He would have still sent His Son to die for your sins. I challenge you to search the Scriptures each week to prove me wrong and if you do, I will print a retraction. How’s that for a challenge? I pray that God will open the eyes of your understanding as you read the Scriptures that are able to make you wise. 

                                                                          God Bless,  
                                                                             Pastor Charles. 

Can we really know that God created the world as Genesis claims?

Dear Pastor Charles: I have been reading your articles for the past few months and I thank you for taking the time to respond to the all the questions you must receive. I never gave much thought to the subject of God until I started reading them. I am almost convinced that God is real and that the Bible really is the ‘Word of God’, as you call it. I even started to read the Bible for myself but I didn’t get very far. My question is this; how can we be sure that God really did create the universe as Genesis claims? Thank you for your response. Sincere Searcher…

Dear Sincere Searcher:
      Thank you for your question. My, you really didn’t get very far, did you? It is best that you settle this question first as it is the foundation to the entire Bible and to your future understanding of who God really is. The Word of God stands in direct conflict with the theory of evolution. The bottom line in the debate is that either God created everything visible from nothing or it magically appeared from nothing and randomly evolved into everything that is visible. Your entire belief system will rest on the foundation of your choice. Since no human being was present at the beginning, and everyone agrees there must be a beginning, then it is a non-observable event. Hence, the ‘theory’ of evolution. Either choice that you make involves a theological decision. Either God is who He says He is and created everything from nothing, or He does not exist and only random chance stands as our creator thus freeing us to become our own gods. Romans 1:18-20 tells us, “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”  So you see, God’s Word makes it plain that we must be sure about creation in our own minds.

      For all of us it comes down to one word, FAITH. Hebrews 11:3, “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” The fact that you are searching for deeper meaning reveals to me that there is something missing in your life. Perhaps you feel incomplete and hopelessly adrift because you are not anchored to the truth. The fact is that God did create you. The Psalmist tells us in Psalm 139:13-16,“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”  As you can tell from this writing, God deems you to be of infinite worth to Him. When He created you, God made a very special place deep inside of you that only He can fit into. When you ignore Him, the loneliness of that special place calls out to you for filling. You may try to fill it with other things such as relationships, money, drugs, alcohol or possessions but you will come up empty every time. Only a lasting, personal relationship with your loving Creator will satisfy your soul.
      In order for you to have that relationship, there are some things that you need to know. Hebrews 11:6 tells us, “…without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” To believe that God exists is to believe that He is responsible for creation. Otherwise, the Bible is just another fairy tale and so is your hope for anything more than eventually becoming food for a future generation of earth worms.

      You say that you are almost convinced. Please tell me what it will take to convince you? Obviously God is working in your life and He is calling you to a personal encounter with Him. Why not just ask Him to come into your life and give you the faith to believe? I assure you that you have absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain. Choosing to believe that the universe was created by an all knowing, all powerful God will not make you a hero with the evolution crowd but it will open eternal doors for you that can give your life purpose and meaning. My prayer for you is that you will stop struggling with God and put all your faith and trust in Him. May God richly bless you as you search for understanding.

                                                                                                           God Bless,
                                                                                                              Pastor Charles…

The most difficult question I have ever been asked.

Dear Pastor Charles: I am eleven years old and I hope you can help me with my problem. My mom and dad are divorced. My dad has a new wife and has moved away. They have children of their own and don’t want me. My mom has a new boyfriend and they don’t want me either. I live with my grandma. She loves me and takes me to church every Sunday. I like church, but I want to know why God won’t make mom and dad love me? It hurts so please help me Pastor. I will do what you say. Your Friend.

Dear Friend:  
      You have asked me the most difficult question that I have ever been asked. I don’t know if I can give you a real good answer to your problem but I will try my best. 

      First of all I want you to know that you are not alone in the world. Almost half of the children in our country today have divorced parents. Many of them are being raised by loving grandmothers like yours. It is clear to me that your grandmother loves you very much or she would not be taking you to church every Sunday. I thank God for your grandmother. Without her, you would be in very big trouble. What I want you to do is to tell your grandmother how much you love her and thank her for taking good care of you and for taking you to church on Sunday. Then I want you to thank God in your prayers for her. 

      I am going to tell you something now that I want you to always remember. No matter what happens to you and no matter how bad things get, GOD LOVES YOU! Jesus loves you more than anyone else can. In fact, He said in Matthew 18:5-6 “And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”  Jesus loves you so much that He even says that we adults must change and become like you in order to get into heaven, Matthew 18:3“I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Just imagine that, my young friend, heaven is going to be totally filled up with children. It’s going to be great fun. 

    
      When you think about your mom and dad, you need to remember that they are only human beings and all human beings make mistakes. They really didn’t start out with the intention of hurting you, they just got so involved in their own problems that they didn’t take your feelings into account when they made their decision to divorce. In order for you to understand this, you are going to need to be wiser than your parents now. Always remember that you are NOT the cause of their problems, you are the innocent victim of your parents’ inability to get along with each other. God hates divorce. He said it so many times in the Bible. God wanted your mom and dad to stay married to each other for life. It is definitely not God’s fault that your mom and dad broke the promises that they made to each other when they were married. 

      The best prayer that you can pray for your mom and dad is that God will open their eyes and allow them to see that their actions are hurting you. Pray that God will save them and help them to become like little children, then they will be able to see what they are doing to you. Don’t stop loving them just because they are hurting you. 

      You know, I wish that I could fix all of the problems of hurting children in the whole world and especially yours. As I was reading my Bible and praying about your problem, I came across some verses that gave me a lot of comfort. I hope they help you as much as they helped me. Psalm 27:10 says, “Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me”  and Psalm 68:5 says that God is “a father to the fatherless.”  This means that God keeps you even closer to Him than someone who has both parents. 

      Accept what God has said and talk to Him. Tell Him about your problems as you would your own mother and father. I promise you that He will listen to you and will help you in ways you won’t believe. As a Pastor, my love goes out to you and I will keep you in my prayers every day. May God Bless you and keep you. 

                                                                                                 Your friend always, 
                                                                                                           Pastor Charles. 

How can an all loving and all powerful God allow evil and suffering to exist in this world?

Dear Pastor Charles: I have a basic question that is preventing me from fully trusting God. I realize that this is only a short column but maybe you can shed some light for me. My problem is this: If God is all knowing, all loving and all powerful, then why does He allow the evils of suffering, injustice and tragedy to happen to His creation? Thank you for any help that you might give. Sincerely Bewildered.

Dear Sincerely Bewildered:  

      I sincerely thank you for your question for it is a very good one. In fact, you have touched upon one of the basic questions of theology, called theodicy, the problem of justifying God. The premise is this: Because God is all powerful and because He is altogether good, how can one explain the presence of evil in the world? If God were all powerful, He COULD do something about evil. If He were altogether good, He WOULD do something about evil. So why is there evil? Why do terrible things happen to good people? Why doesn’t God just put a stop to it? May I say to you, I believe that the Bible deals effectively with this issue and that there is an answer to your question.
      One of the early thinkers of Christendom, Augustine (354-430AD), dealt with this issue perhaps better than anyone else. His main argument is that evil, in itself, does not exist apart from good. In other words, as God created everything, He created it perfectly and called it good. In the account of creation in the Book of Genesis, after every act of creation, the earth, the waters, the grass, the plant life, the animal life, human beings, etc. God “saw that it was good”. Genesis 1:31 tells us, “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.” So you see, all that God made, He made good. There is no mention of evil at all in His creation. So if God did not create evil, why does it obviously exist?
      Please bear with a crude little illustration. I like to cook hamburgers on the grill so I go to the supermarket and buy three pounds of USDA prime. I put it in the refrigerator intending to cook it the following day. A business emergency arises and I am sent out of town for a few days. When I return home, I notice a very fowl odor coming from the kitchen. I trace the odor to the refrigerator and, as I open the door, I am struck by the full force of decay. My USDA prime hamburger has gone bad. That hamburger was fine as long as it was part of a living cow, but since it was removed, it began to decay. The action of the refrigerator slowed the process of decay but it could not stop it.
      So the question here is one of relationship. As long as the hamburger was attached to a living cow it was considered to be very good. However, when that relationship was severed, it necessarily faced the natural consequences of it’s separation. At the time of creation, man was in a right relationship with the Creator. He was created to be very good. He was given freedom of choice and responsibility for oversight of God’s creation. He could remain forever with no possibility death as long as he remained in a right relationship with God. Unfortunately, we know the rest of the story. Man chose the path of separation from God through his disobedience. This separation is what brought about the natural consequences of death and decay into the natural world. Separation from God is literal, eternal death of the mind body and spirit from which evil decay naturally ensues.
      The promise of God in the Bible is that He has provided a means of escape from this eternal, literal separation called eternal death. He fulfilled this promise by sending His only begotten Son Jesus to pay the eternal price required for our redemption from death. Jesus tells us about His mission on earth when He says in Luke 19:10 “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”  God desires a restored relationship with us.
      So you see, God cannot simply remove evil from the world because it would necessitate the complete removal of the human race. Since God is love, that would be out of character for Him. Our problem is not that we are inherently evil, but that we are separated relationally from our Creator. Apart from God nothing good exists. The Bible teaches us that there is only one way to restore a right relationship with God and that is through faith in His Son. Jesus said in John 14:6, “. . I am the way, the truth, and the life: no one comes to the Father except through me.”

    
      So now is the moment of truth for you, my bewildered friend. You have asked for my help and I am offering it to you to the best of my ability. Will you, right now, accept the truth of Scripture and get into a permanent, loving relationship with the living God? Having a perfect understanding of theology cannot save you. Living a pure life cannot save you. Dedicating your entire life to easing the suffering of humanity cannot save you. Only Jesus Christ can save you. Won’t you accept in faith right now that Jesus paid for your sins, your separation from God, with His own blood and that He rose from the dead for your sake? 

      My prayer for you is that you will turn from your unbelief and turn instead to Jesus with all your heart. Ask Him in your own words to help you in your doubt, to forgive your sins, and to come into your life as your Lord and Savior. Then get into a Bible preaching church as fast as you can and learn how to grow in your newly established, right relationship with God. May God bless you and keep you. 

                                                                                                   God bless, 
                                                                                                      Pastor Charles.

The Parable of the Two Sons. Which one really did the will of his father?

Dear Pastor Charles: In Mathew 21:28-31, Jesus asks the religious leaders of His day which of the sons in His story did the will of his father. First of all, when Jesus spoke in parables, there was always a comparison to real life. What does this parable tell us we should be doing for our Heavenly Father? Secondly, although He never says it directly, He seems to be saying that the son who said “yes”, but failed to do the work, was actually the one who did the will of his father. Is this what Jesus really means, and if so, why? Curious…

Dear Curious:
      Thank you for your in-depth question. Without a doubt, Jesus was in the face of the religious establishment of His day. Jesus came as the complete fulfillment of the Law the religious rulers represented, yet they rejected Him. Please notice that neither the Sadducees, the religious liberals who denied the supernatural, nor the Pharisees, the legalists of that day, were able to dispute the miracles that Christ performed. Instead, they attacked Him on the issue of authority. Look at Matthew 21:23, “Jesus entered the temple courts, and, while he was teaching, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him. “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you this authority?”

      This question is entirely relevant for each of us today and is one we need to ask ourselves. Who is the final authority for the rule of your life? Is it Christ or yourself? Do you want to accept God’s purpose and will for your life as revealed in His Word or do you want to make your own way? Obviously, the religious rulers liked being “in charge” and were not about to hand over their authority and position to some upstart from Nazareth, of all places. It is too those who had the most access to the Word of Truth and who had all the outward appearances of being righteous that Jesus addresses this scathing rebuke found in the parable of the two sons.

  
      Let’s look at the Scripture, Matthew 21:28-32, “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’ “‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go. “Which of the two did what his father wanted?” “The first,” they answered. Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.” The work that God requires is the complete forsaking of self rule and the acceptance of His ruler-ship over your life. The tax collectors and prostitutes accepted John’s baptism of repentance with a pure conscience whereas the religious rulers rejected John’s baptism. That is why Jesus asked them in Matthew 21:24-27, “.. “I will also ask you one question. If you answer me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. John’s baptism–where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or from men?” They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘then why didn’t you believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From men’–we are afraid of the people, for they all hold that John was a prophet.” So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.” Then he said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.” These rulers were blinded by their self-righteousness and could not accept the fact that they were desperately in need of repentance and salvation. They were willing to obey the letter of the law but not the spirit.

      Pardon me while I digress. This parable is entirely relevant today. I fear there are many people who have joined the church who are very sincere and very religious. They have a wonderful knowledge of doctrine and participate in the ordinances of the church with great zeal. They think they are Christians yet they might not be if there has been no real transformation in their lives.

    A genuine believer will be known by the fruit he or she bears which is the ‘Fruit of the Spirit”. The first of which is a true love and concern for other believers. Look at 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”The tax collectors and prostitutes were like the first son. At first they said “no” to God but they had a change of heart. They repented of their sin and came to Him for salvation and He accepted them with open arms. The stubborn religious rulers were like the second son. They outwardly said “yes” to God but refused to recognize and repent of their sin and come to Him, thus rejecting Him. I hope I have answered your question satisfactorily. May God bless you as you search the Scriptures “which are able to make you wise.”

                                                                                                     God bless,
                                                                                                        Pastor Charles…   

Was Judas really condemned by God before he was even born?

Dear Pastor Charles: I was reading my Bible the other day and came across a passage that is confusing to me. The passage is John 17:12, “While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.” I am assuming that Jesus is referring to Judas here. This sounds to me like Judas was condemned by God before he was even born. What Scripture is Jesus referring to here and was Judas chosen by God to be doomed? Thanks for your help. Curious…

Dear Curious:
   
    Thank you for your question. Jesus is referring to Judas in this passage. The Scripture He is citing is from Psalms 41:9, “Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.” King David wrote this Scripture under the guidance of the Holy Spirit at least a thousand years before Christ was born. We know that it is about Christ because Jesus applied it to Himself in John 13:18, “I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill the scripture: ‘He who shares my bread has lifted up his heel against me.”

 
      With a casual reading, it appears that God picked Judas well in advance to be the one to betray Jesus. So the question is before us; “Did God preordain Judas to destruction?” To answer that question we need to further study the nature of God in view of other Scriptures. I will quote a few here in order to shed some light for you:

Matthew 10:32, “Whosoever acknowledges me before men, him will I also acknowledge before my Father in heaven.”
John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
John 11:26, “And whosoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
John 12:46, “I have come as a light into the world, that whosoever believes in me should not abide in darkness.”
Acts 2:21, “And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Romans 10:13, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
1 John 4:15, “Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him, and he in God.”
1 John 5:1, “Whosoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God:”
Revelation 22:17, “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that hears say, Come. And let him who is thirsty come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” 
 
      Do you notice a common word in all these passages? “Whosoever” means anyone and everyone can come to God and accept the sacrifice of His Son Jesus as the total and complete payment for their sins. Even old Judas had that option available to him. Unfortunately, Judas chose to reject the Son of God just like so many in our world today. To reject Jesus Christ is to place the final nail in your eternal coffin. God gives each of us the same opportunity to come to Him on His terms, or to reject Him. You must remember that God knows each of us intimately and that allows Him to know, in advance, what choice we are going to make concerning Him. Therefore, He was able to determine, in advance, who would be the one to betray the Son of God.
 
      No one is chosen for destruction, though God does reserve that sovereign right. Judas should serve as a good wake up call for those who have been putting off a decision to turn to God. Jesus said that No one can serve two masters because you will end up hating the one and turning to the other. In other words, there will be no fence sitters in heaven. There are some other “whosoevers” in the Bible that bear mentioning here:
James 4:4, “…whosoever is a friend of the world is an enemy of God.”
1 John 2:23, “Whosoever denys the Son, does not have the Father: (but) he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also.”
2 John 1:9, “Whosoever does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whosoever abides in the teaching of Christ, has both the Father and the Son.”
Revelation 20:15, “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”

      I thank you again for your great question and I pray that you will continue  to search the Scriptures for it is only through them that we can come to know the “Word that became flesh”, our Lord Jesus Christ. May God richly bless you as you come to know Him more fully. 
                                                                                                     God bless,
                                                                                                        Pastor Charles…

"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free." Gal 5:1