Sunday, August 30, 2009

No Sin is Unforgivable Except Failing to Accept Forgiveness

I'd give anything to know that God has forgiven me for a terrible sin I committed many years ago. But how can I know that He has? Maybe He decided I don't deserve to be forgiven, and He's condemned me to carry this burden the rest of my life.
The Unforgivable?

Brad: There is only one sin that God can't forgive, and that is the sin of rejecting God's grace. All other sins, no matter how heinous and disgusting, are forgivable. Even a sin that would make you a pariah in the eyes of all humanity for all time does not place you beyond redemption. But you have to accept this gift. You have to truly believe in all your heart that God forgives you. If you can't truly believe that, you're in trouble. If you can, you're in the clear. Even Adolph Hitler or Jeffrey Dahmer might have been forgiven if they had been truly repentant before God prior to death. Won't you be surprised if you're singing in the heavenly choir one day and you see Hitler and Jeffrey Dahmer next to you? In heaven, we'll all be laughing, singing, and praising God together.
On the other hand, a person who rejects God's grace, no matter how "good" they seem, will burn eternally in Hell. If you choose that path, don't be surprised if you meet folks like Gandhi and Buddha down there. I don't think they ever became Christians.

Eric: Hopefully Brad can be forgiven for that answer.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Worship The One True God

Does it really matter which religion you follow if you're sincere about it? Don't they all lead to the same place, only by different paths?

Brad: Let me ask you--what would happen if you applied this logic to other aspects of life? If the doctor prescribes a certain medicine, do you then take just whatever pill you want to? Do you run red lights because all colors are "basically the same?" Would you jump off a balcony because it "leads to the same place" as the stairs?
Of course not. There are indeed many different faiths and many may seem attractive to you, but as in all parts of life there's a right and a wrong way. Christ is the right way, and the only way to salvation. Follow Him, or suffer the consequences.

Eric: All religions lead to the same place. They end up with you rotting in the ground.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Fourth Time's A Charm?

I think my marriages must have come from the devil. I'm only two years into my third marriage and already it's breaking up. How can I be sure my next marriage won't end up the same way?
Remarrying Is Not Good

Brad: God didn't intend marriage to be a source of conflict and unhappiness when He invented it by creating Eve and presenting her to Adam. As in the case of Adam, God has created a special perfect someone for each of us. But this person is rarely placed right in front of us. We have to find our soulmate, and that can be difficult. Along the way you can end up trying out husbands like outfits at a department store. Don't worry. The special someone God created for you might just be husband number four--you just didn't wait long enough and married the first three guys that came along.
Or, it's possible that you were married to the right person(s) and you didn't try hard enough to make it work. Because marriage is a lot, and I mean a lot, of hard work. It's the hardest job you'll ever have and some days--many days as you are well aware--you just want to give up. My wife likes to quip that although she's never considered divorce, she has thought about murder!
But we have a secret ingredient in our marriage that holds it together: Christ. Marriage should be a kind of three-way between you, your spouse, and Him. Maybe it was Christ that was missing for you all along. Did you ever think of that?

Eric: You can put an end to the failed marriages if you stop getting married.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

False Gods

How do I know when I pray that I'm praying to the right God?

Brad: Excellent question, Norm. God commands in the Bible "thou shalt have no other gods before me." So you must be thinking who are these other gods? They are false gods, meaning they don't really exist. You should never pray to, or believe in, a god that doesn't really exist. The One True God will hear prayers to false gods (He hears everything), but will not answer. Because consider this: if you were praying to say, the Muslim god Allah, and the Real God answered, you would think that Allah was answering, and that Allah was the same thing as the Real God.
The Bible makes it clear: the One True God is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. If you're praying to that God, then you'll be fine.

Eric: My invisible magic sky person is better than your invisible magic sky person.

Friday, August 14, 2009

We May Not Like Answer To Prayer

I've just about given up praying because it doesn't seem to do any good. Is God testing me or something?

Brad: We are so very limited in our understanding. We are ignorant and foolish compared to God, and His ways often seem confounding, frustrating, unfair, or capricious to us with our little bitty minds. I would ask you this: you have been talking to God. But have you been listening?
This may be a test, Sloan, and you're failing! Your faith is not nearly as strong as it's supposed to be. Silence can be God's passive-aggressive way of telling you to try harder, to be more faithful, not less.

Eric: No one hears you when you pray. No one.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A Hard Time Had By All

My husband lost his job months ago and it's placing a strain on our marriage. It's not just the lack of money, it's his foul moods and even his belief that God has turned His back on us. How can I get through this?
For Richer Or Poorer

Brad: In this situation, your husband may seem like a far cry from the guy you thought you married. You may feel embarrassed at his inability to fulfill his duties as the man of the house. On top of that, he's in a bad mood!
He's upset, FROP, because he has failed in every criterium which you use to evaluate his worth, and he's taking it out on you--and God. You certainly are going through a rough patch here.
But consider the story of Job. God allowed the devil to take from Job every thing he had in the world--every last possession, his children and his health. He ended up sitting around in the dirt covered with sores. How do you suppose his wife felt? Puts things into perspective, doesn't it?

Eric: God didn't abandon you. He was never there to begin with. Good luck!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Thy Kingdom Come

We pray the Lord's prayer at our church every week, but I wonder if the time will ever really come when God's will is "done on earth as it is in heaven."
Waiting in Biloxi

Brad: The Bible promises this will happen when Christ comes again to establish his kingdom of perfect peace and justice. It's easy for humans to be impatient, whining "What's he waiting for?? Why doesn't he make it perfect now? He could easily do so." But God's sense of time is different from ours. What seems like interminable centuries of strife to us is but a fleeting moment to Him.
Still, we must be vigilent. He is purposefully keeping the time of the second coming a complete mystery and He hasn't given us the vaguest hint of when it will occur. Why, the apostle Paul thought it might happen in his lifetime. Boy, was he off! We might have expected Christ to say somethng like "hey guys, just forget about my return for at least a couple millenia, ok?" but that's not the way He rolls.
And who knows? Christ might return before I finish writing this. Wouldn't that be something!
Still, don't stop doing the Lord's work, thinking He'll be here any moment to make everything perfect. Because realistically speaking, that could be a long ways off.

Eric: Cherishing delusions about a better future can help soften the pain of life, and that's why a proclivity for such ideas evolved. But only by recognizing and relinquishing our false hopes can humankind begin to take full responsibility for social ills and start to seek solutions in an objective manner.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Resisting The Devil

How much power does the devil really have? How can we resist when we aren't nearly as strong as he is?
Name Withheld

Brad: Although you should never underestimate the devil's power, don't fear it. The devil will ultimately be defeated in a final battle with God and be cast into a lake of fire.
Which kind of makes you wonder what his deal is, doesn't it? What's he getting out of this whole "evil" business? Doesn't he know his fate is sealed? Well, you see the devil
is amazingly crafty and formidable. But he's also a complete idiot, slaving away at a lost cause for no reason.
I ought to point out here as well that even when the "devil makes you do it" it's still your fault! So don't think you can just blame all your iniquities on him, sinner.
Conversely, you can't take credit for any good you do, because it's only through God's power that we resist temptation.

Eric: What you personify as the devil are really natural biological inclinations which at one time had an adaptive purpose but which we have collectively suppressed in order for our modern societies to function better.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Origins of God

Where did God come from? Did God have a Mommy and Daddy?

Brad: That's an excellent question, Spencer. It's an old question too, but not as old as God--God has no beginning! Can you imagine that? So no, He doesn't have a mom and pop. But He does have a son. And the son has a father. And the father is God, and so is the son. Make sense?

Eric: God doesn't exist, Spencer.