- Being a good person is all that really matters.Some argue that even if a person’s religion is false, what really matters is that she’s sincere about being a good person. This notion is based on the mistaken belief that God is pleased by “religion.”Sincerity doesn’t determine truth, however. One can be sincerely convinced of the truth—and be sincerely wrong. For example, many evil men such as Hitler were very sincere in their beliefs. God judges people based on truth, not opinions—and that truth is Jesus Christ.
- What about those who’ve never heard about Jesus?Such a question implies that God lacks compassion because he’s imposed his plan of salvation on us. Often such inquirers seem to imply that they’re more compassionate than God!An important biblical principle to understand is that no one has ever remained lost who wanted to be found. Just as God sent the apostle Philip to the seeking Ethiopian (Acts 8:26-39), Jesus promises all who seek will find (Matthew 7:7-8).
- The Bible is filled with errors.Because the Bible is God’s Word and God cannot lie (Isaiah 55:10-11; John 17:17; Titus 1:2; Hebrews 4:12), it’s totally trustworthy, free from any error. God’s Word is described as “the word of truth” (2 Corinthians 6:7; Colossians 1:5; 2 Timothy 2:15; James 1:18). Inerrancy isn’t a theory about the Bible; it’s the teaching of the Bible itself.What most people claim as errors in the Bible aren’t errors but difficulties. People think they’ve stumbled upon apparent inconsistencies when they haven’t taken the time to find out all the facts, or made an in-depth study of the passage. Many Bible questions have been answered as new discoveries have been made in fields such as language, history, archeology, and other sciences.
Regardless of the kind of difficulty found, not a single irreconcilable error can be found in the Bible’s pages.
- If God is so good, why is there evil?The thrust of this charge is that evil’s presence disproves God’s power. But is the presence of evil consistent with the God of the Bible? Consider:
- God didn’t create evil. Sin entered the world through Adam’s disobedience (Genesis 3).
- Evil is necessary for a free world. Freedom, or free will, gives humans the opportunity to make wrong choices.
- God hesitates to stop evil for an important reason. Just as parents often allow their children to make mistakes and suffer the consequences, God acts in a parental fashion with his creation.
- God has the solution for evil. Jesus accomplished the ultimate defeat of evil on the cross. But just as we don’t yet have eternal bodies, evil has yet to be removed from the world.
- Why is there suffering?Many hold that pain is evidence against God’s concern for humankind. However, pain can be used for good and bad purposes. Not all pain is bad. Pain is an essential mechanism for survival. Without pain, the body is stripped of vital protection. Pain is an important signal to warn of even greater danger.Suffering is a signal. It also can be a spiritual signal that reminds us of the fragile balance of life and our mortality. In The Problem of Pain, Christian apologist C.S. Lewis writes, “God whispers to us in our pleasure, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts to us in our pain; it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
Some suffering actually helps to bring greater good. This is best seen in Jesus’ own suffering. Jesus traveled down the road of pain, loneliness, and death—a road that led to the cross. Jesus isn’t just a Savior, he’s our suffering Savior. The cross is the ultimate example of innocent suffering.
At the heart of this issue is the underlying challenge that God isn’t fair. The problem is, society holds pleasure as its chief goal in life. This philosophy is known as hedonism, and those who live by this philosophy find any form of suffering offensive. To say God isn’t fair is an extremely dangerous charge.
If God gave us what we deserve, we’d be in trouble. It would be foolish to ask God for justice; what we need is mercy. God’s mercy and grace are so taken for granted that suffering and pain shock us.
6. If there’s a hell, why would a loving God send people there?
God hates evil, and one day, evil will cease. While evil and suffering and pain are very real, they are also very temporary.
The day God deals with evil, he will deal with all evil. In the meantime, God strives for as many people as possible to accept Jesus’ death and resurrection as payment for their sins, so they can live eternally with him. The sad fact is, many will make the decision not to be a part of God’s heaven. God won’t send them to hell; they’ll send themselves.
For God to force people to go to heaven against their wishes wouldn’t be heaven—it would be hell. Atheist author Jean-Paul Sarte noted that the gates of hell are locked from the inside by the free choice of men and women.
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