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- Is There Any Such Thing As Absolute Truth?
- What Makes the Bible So Special?
- What is God’s Free Gift?
- Where Will You Spend Eternity?
- Why Does God Allow Suffering?
- Aren’t All Religions the Same?
- How Can You Say that Jesus is the Only Way to Heaven?
- Why Should I go to Church if Christians are Hypocrites?
Is There Any Such Thing As Absolute Truth?
Many today are saying that truth is relative, or that absolute truth does not exist. What they usually mean is that there is no set of standards, rules, or laws by which we all must live. What is "true" for one person may not be true for another, etc.
Another way some say this is that there "are absolutely no absolutes."
Whether one says that there is no set of objective standards to which we are all accountable, or there are no absolutes, it's important to point out that these are actually self-refuting statements.
If someone says, "There are no absolutes," his actual statement is an absolute. He is absolutely asserting that there are no absolutes.
If there are no absolutes, then why should anyone's statement that there are no absolutes be taken seriously? Thus, the statement is a self-refuting statement.
In most cases, one's commitment to the idea that there are no absolutes is very situational.
For example (please don't actually try this!): someone says, “There is no such thing as truth; no such thing as absolute right or wrong.” Then punch the person in the nose. The cry will be immediate: "Hey, you can't do that!"
The question would then be, "Why can't I do that? Why can't I punch you in the nose? If there is no such thing as right or wrong, why is it 'wrong' for me to punch you?"
It's easy to see that non-absolutist thinking breaks down. We cannot live in a world shaped by that philosophy, because nothing is right, and nothing is wrong. There are no constraints to human behavior. The Jewish holocaust under Hitler is just as ‘right’ as taking care of the homeless in the inner city.
It's very refreshing to the seeking heart to know that God—the One who made us— also tells us the truth. He tells it the way it is. And He also sent His own Son, who is Incarnate Truth, to reveal to us what He is really like.
He is the One who said of Himself, "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man comes to the Father, but by Me" (John 14:6).
What Makes the Bible So Special?
* Christianity believes and teaches that the Bible alone is the revealed Word of God. Even though it was written by men, the ultimate author was God Almighty. This claim was not invented by the Church, but is the claim the Bible makes for itself.
“The word of the Lord endures forever” (I Peter 1:25, MLB). “All Scripture is God-breathed” (II Timothy 3:16, MLB). “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (II Peter 1:21, KJV).
Over 2,000 times in the Old Testament alone there are clauses such as “And God spoke to Moses,” “the word of the Lord came unto Jonah,” and “God said.” Moreover, the Bible claims to be a record of the words and deeds of God, thus the Bible views itself as God’s Word.
The mere fact that the Bible claims to be the Word of God does not prove that it is such, for there are other books that make similar claims. The difference is that the Scriptures contain indisputable evidence as being the Word of God.
One reason that the Bible is different from other books is its unity. Although this book was composed by men, its unity betrays the hand of the Almighty. The Bible was written over a period of about 1,500 years by more than forty different human authors. These authors came from a variety of backgrounds, including Joshua (a military general), Daniel (a prime minister), Peter (a fisherman), and Nehemiah (a cupbearer).
The authors of the various books wrote in different places, such as the wilderness (Moses), prison (Paul), and Patmos exile (John). The biblical writings were composed on three different continents (Africa, Asia, and Europe), and in three different languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek). The contents of the Bible deal with many controversial subjects. Yet, the Bible is a unity. From beginning to end, there’s one unfolding story of God’s plan of salvation for mankind. This salvation is through the person of Jesus Christ (John 14:6). Jesus Himself testified that He was the theme of the entire Bible.
“Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me… For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?” (John 5:39, 46, 47, KJV).
In another place, “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27, kjv; see also Luke 24:44).
The Old Testament is the preparation (Isaiah 40:3). The Gospels are the manifestation (John 1:29). The Book of Acts is the propagation (Acts 1:8). The Epistles give the explanation (Colossians 1:27). The Book of Revelation is the consummation (Revelation 1:7). The Bible is all about Jesus.
The entire Bible is a unity with each part needing the others to be complete. Dr. W. F. Albright puts it this way: “To the writers of the New Testament, the Hebrew Bible was Holy Scripture and they were the direct heirs of its prophets. It is, accordingly, quite impossible to understand the New Testament without recognizing that its purpose was to supplement and explain the Hebrew Bible. “Any attempt to go back to the sources of Christianity without accepting the entire Bible as our guide is thus doomed to failure” (cited by Roger T. Forster and V. Paul Marston, That’s a Good Question, p. 67).
Lest anyone think this isn’t something marvelous, we’d like to give you this challenge. Find ten people from your local area who have similar educational backgrounds, all speak the same language, and all are from basically the same culture, then separate them and ask them to write their opinion on only one controversial subject, such as the meaning of life.
When they have finished, compare the conclusions of these ten writers. Do they agree with each other? Of course not. But the Bible did not consist of merely ten authors, but forty. It was not written in one generation, but over a period of 1,500 years; not by authors with the same education, culture, or language, but with vastly different education, many different cultures, from three continents and three different languages, and finally not just one subject but hundreds.
And yet the Bible is a unity. There is complete harmony, which cannot be explained by coincidence or collusion. The unity of the Bible is a strong argument in favor of its divine inspiration.
The unity of the Scriptures is only one reason among many which supports the Bible’s claim to be the divine Word of God. Others which could be explained in detail are the testimony of the early Church, the witness of history and archaeology, and the evidence of changed lives throughout the centuries, to name but a few.
These factors led the great archaeologist, W. F. Albright, to conclude, “The Bible towers in content above all earlier religious literature; and it towers just as impressively over all subsequent literature in the direct simplicity of its message and the catholicity of its appeal to men of all lands and times” (The Christian Century, November, 1958).
The Bible is special. It is unique. No other book has any such credentials. No other book even comes close. “England has two books, the Bible and Shakespeare. England made Shakespeare, but the Bible made England” (Victor Hugo, cited by Mead, Encyclopedia of Religious Quotations, p. 49).
* McDowell, J., & Stewart, D. D. 1993. Answers to tough questions. Originally published: San Bernardino, Calif. : Here's Life Publishers, c1980. T. Nelson Publishers: Nashville
What is God’s Free Gift?
God’s free gift to us is eternal life! What can we do to earn this wonderful gift? Nothing! That’s the way it is with a gift—if we earn it, it is no longer a gift but payment for a job well done.
Suppose a workman put in a day of strenuous labor. He worked hard and did his best, and at the end of the day he expects to be paid - he has earned his wages. Now suppose this same workman went home and discovered a brand-new car in his driveway. Flying from the radio antenna is a card that reads, “Dear Nephew, I am giving you this car because I love you so much. All you have to do is accept it. Love, Uncle Joe.”
Now consider this: Suppose a man is on trial for armed robbery. The evidence is heard, the jury’s verdict is GUILTY AS CHARGED, and the judge gives him a stiff jail sentence. The robber has earned his punishment because the wages of robbery is time in jail. Now suppose the judge’s own son intervenes and offers to take the robber’s punishment for him, freely, with no strings attached - all the robber has to do is BELIEVE that the judge’s son can do this, and ACCEPT his offer.
That is how it is with God’s gift to us of eternal life. We are all guilty - there is plenty of evidence for that! And we all deserve the penalty, which is death. But Jesus Christ, God’s Son, has taken our punishment for us that we might live with Him forever. All we have to do to receive this wonderful gift is ACCEPT IT.
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” -Romans 6:23
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” -John 3:16
Where Will You Spend Eternity?
Many people give much thought and consideration to planning their futures. What will I do for a living- study to become a doctor or apprentice to become a plumber? Where will I live- in the mountains or in the city? Where will I spend my vacation- skiing in the Sierras or surfing in Hawaii? Where will I have dinner tonight- the Charthouse or Burger King? How shall I spend my evening- watching TV or surfing the Internet? We all make plans for our futures, both near and far-ranging. Have you considered doing some extreme long-range planning? Where will you spend eternity (the Bible says that there are only two eternal destinations) - heaven or hell?
The decision is yours. To plan for an eternity in heaven, you first need to accept God’s free gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ. On your own, you are not righteous enough to live in heaven in the presence of God. No one is. He is perfect (“holy”) and you aren’t. We are all full of imperfections- the Bible calls them “sin.” God’s Son, Jesus Christ, IS perfect and holy, and took the punishment Himself for all of our sins that separate us from God and make us unfit for heaven. Jesus gives us His righteousness when we believe in Him. As believers, we can confidently look forward to spending eternity in heaven with Jesus and with everyone else throughout the ages who have believed in Jesus.
How can you plan for an eternity in hell? One way is by procrastinating or neglecting the whole matter. Another way is by trusting in your own righteousness and hoping for the best. Both of these plans will insure an eternity in hell.
Since none of us can know what tomorrow will bring, why not decide now where you will spend eternity?
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.” -John 5: 24
Why Does God Allow Suffering?
We are confronted with the problem of suffering nearly every day. We may be experiencing suffering ourselves or we may hear about the sufferings of others through newspapers and television. We cannot escape the knowledge that in many parts of the world there are wars, famines, natural catastrophes, and epidemic diseases. And in our own part of the world we know people who have painful illnesses, difficult marriages, are unemployed, or are experiencing other hardships. We can rationalize some of what we see; for example, when a man who smoked two packs of cigarettes a day for fifty years contracts lung cancer, we are not surprised, and we are not inclined to blame God for the man’s cancer—we attribute it to cause and effect.
But what about so-called “undeserved” suffering? Why does God allow babies to be born with terrible birth defects? Why does God allow an innocent woman to be killed in a car accident caused by a drunken driver? Why are children in Africa allowed to die of starvation? Why does a large percentage of the earth’s population live in poverty? If God is good and loving, why does He allow these things?
When we dig deeper into the causes of the above mentioned examples, we discover that each of these cases often have their own “cause” leading to the particular effect. Many babies are born with birth defects because of an addiction of the mother; the drunken driver made a choice to be lethally irresponsible; third world governments are frequently corrupt... leading to inefficiency in food delivery systems, graft, and the economic peril of the people.
The bottom line is that God has given us the wonderful and powerful capacity of choice. With the power to choose comes the possibility to choose either good or evil. With the possibilities of good and evil come the necessary consequences. Hence, suffering exists in the world.
One might then ask, “Why did God give man the capacity of choice?” The answer lies in the fact that God desired sons and daughters with whom He could enjoy relationship, not robots or automatons which would serve and love Him involuntarily. In order for that kind of relationship to be possible, He would have to give us free will to choose Him.
Even so, we must remember that suffering was not God’s original plan for mankind. God intended for us to live lives of peace and fulfillment when he created our first parents, but when Adam and Eve sinned, sin entered the world, and death through sin. Along with death came suffering. As the saying goes, “We live in a fallen world.”
An unbeliever will probably never be able to resolve the problem of suffering to his own satisfaction. A believer may still struggle with the issue, but can be comforted by the knowledge that God is ultimately in control, and that good things can come from trials:
Suffering can make us more like Jesus.
Suffering can make us aware of our sins and drive us to God.
Suffering can glorify God as He strengthens us in our weaknesses
Suffering can make us long for heaven.
Suffering gives us opportunities to show compassion to others.
Suffering makes us dependent upon God.
Suffering makes us appreciate the good things we have.
God did not create suffering, but He is the cure for it. While we are in this world, we will have suffering, but Jesus said, “Cheer up! I have overcome the world!” (John 16:33).
“For I [Paul] consider the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” -Romans 8:18
“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” -James 1:2-3
Aren’t All Religions the Same?
A recent article in the local newspaper reviewed a new book which discussed the supposed benefits of being a devout Jew and a practicing Buddhist. The premise was that there was really no intrinsic difference between Judaism and Buddhism, and by implication, all world religions are equally valuable.
But is this true? Are all religions the same? What if they teach mutually exclusive doctrines? How can they be the “same” and advocate wholly contrasting views about who God is, about how to reach God, etc?
HINDUISM is polytheistic. But the Bible says there is only one God (monotheism):
“I am the First and I am the Last; Besides Me there is no God.” -Isaiah 44:6
Hinduism teaches that people must undergo many, many reincarnations because of the law of karma. But the Bible teaches resurrection, not reincarnation:
“I have hope in God...that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and of the unjust.” -Acts 24: 15
BUDDHISM is a 6th century B.C. offshoot of Hinduism. Buddhists do not believe in an absolute God, or else they consider God to be irrelevant. Rather, they concentrate on enhancing their own spiritual paths without the aid of deity. But the Bible says:
“The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” -Psalm 14: 1
“There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” -Proverbs 14:12
ISLAM and Christianity share certain historical roots, but have very different beliefs about the nature of God. Allah is an aloof being who expects his people to earn their salvation by adhering to the Five Pillars of Faith, which includes reciting the Creed, reciting ritual prayers, giving to the poor, fasting, and visiting Mecca. But the Bible teaches that salvation is a FREE GIFT to us, made possible by Jesus’ death and resurrection:
“For by grace you have been saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, NOT OF WORKS, lest anyone should boast.” -Ephesians 2: 8-9
Moslems believe that Jesus was merely a great prophet and not the Son of God. But the Bible says:
“But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.” -John 20: 31
JUDAISM and Christianity also share historic roots. Judaism starts the story; Christianity finishes it. In the Old Testament the Jewish prophets foretell the coming of the Messiah. Jesus is that Messiah, but the Jews do not accept Him as such, nor do they believe He is the Son of God. But the Bible says:
“Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father, either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also.” -I John 2: 23
“He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son does not have life.” -I John 5: 12
To summarize, Buddhism does not agree with Hinduism... Islam doesn’t agree with Judaism, and in many ways Christianity is the opposite of all of them. All of these other religions advocate man somehow reaching up to find that religion’s “god,” whereas Christianity teaches that God is reaching down to sinful man through the gift of His Son Jesus Christ.
The Bible teaches “...there is one mediator between God and men, the Man Jesus Christ.” -1 Timothy 2:5
Jesus said of Himself:
“I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” -John 14: 6
Christianity says that the ONLY way to reach God is through Jesus Christ, and that this is a free gift to us- all we have to do is accept this gift.
God can not be reached through reincarnation, as Hinduism teaches; through “right thinking” and meditation, as Buddhism teaches; through obedience to the Five Pillars, as Islam teaches, or through obedience to the Old Testament law, as Judaism teaches. These are all human attempts to reach God, and they will all fail. Again, Christianity teaches that God reaches down to us:
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” -Romans 5:8
Best of all, unlike the founders of the other world religions, the founder of Christianity is alive! As Jesus said,
“I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore.” -Revelation 1: 18
Why not place your trust in this very same Jesus today?
How Can You Say that Jesus is the Only Way to Heaven?
Isn’t it awfully narrow-minded of Christians to insist that Jesus Christ is the only access to God? Isn’t God at the hub of a great wheel, with all the spokes representing the world religions? Don’t all paths lead to God?
Jesus Himself does not allow us that option. He says of Himself:
“He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” –John 3:18
“I said therefore to you, that you shall die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you shall die in your sins.” -John 8:24
“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; NO ONE comes to the Father, BUT THROUGH ME.” -John 14:6
Jesus says He’s the ONLY way to God. But what if He was mistaken about this? What if He was deluded or lying when He made this claim? If that were the case, then Jesus could not possibly be a way to God at all, because we could not trust a delusional liar for anything, especially for our eternal salvation. People often say that Jesus was a great teacher. Think about what that means in the light of what Jesus said about Himself. Suppose you were taking a chemistry class at college and the professor stood before the students and announced, “Class, I am the only way to God.” Would you think he was a “great teacher?” No, you’d probably conclude that he was a fruitcake.
Apart from this, all of the major religions are in complete disagreement with each other. (See “Aren’t All Religions the Same?” FAQ) If the word “truth” is to have any meaning, they can’t all be true. Christianity, alone among the world’s religions, is not ambiguous. Because Jesus is the only way, there is no confusion.
Jesus proved He was Who He said He was by the miracles He performed, by His sinless life, by His fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies, and most importantly, by His resurrection from the dead. Why not investigate the unique claims of Jesus Christ for yourself?
“And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved.” -Acts 4:12
Actually, God in His love and mercy is responsible for the narrow way to salvation. In the gospel, He has left us absolutely without any confusion concerning how to get to heaven. He didn’t leave us multiple options. Instead of complex freeway signs pointing to every which direction, He sent One sign—His resurrected Son—to point us to eternal life. I, for one, am very glad He’s made it so clear. Because He does not want any to be lost, there is only one way, and there is only one Person to show us that way, Jesus Christ.
Why Should I go to Church if Christians are Hypocrites?
Many people do not attend church because they are dismayed by the perceived hypocritical behavior they’ve seen among professing Christians. But is this a valid excuse?
Even if it were true that all Christians are hypocrites, that would not invalidate the truth of Christianity. Christians are not perfect people, but they have been forgiven by the One who is perfect. Christianity stands or falls on the perfection of Jesus Christ, not on the perfection of His followers.
Moreover, not every one who claims to be a Christian is a genuine believer. A Christian is someone who has placed his trust in Jesus Christ. (See FAQ “What is God’s Free Gift?”) Just because a person is a member of a church does not mean he is a genuine Christian. Many of the terrible events in history that have been committed in the name of Christianity were not the acts of genuine believers.
But even so, genuine Christians can be hypocritical at times. Many people use this as an excuse for rejecting His claims. But why should you allow the sinful behavior of others keep you from Jesus? There are all kinds of excuses people give for not following Jesus- is this the one you’ve latched onto?
Jesus came to save us from ALL of ours sins- hypocrisy included. Paul said:
“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, will inherit the kingdom of God. AND SUCH WERE SOME OF YOU. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” -I Corinthians 6:9-11
If you are not a Christian, we invite you to attend church this Sunday. We ask you to overlook our faults and learn about how you can have your own sins forgiven and become reconciled with God. If you are a Christian and are not currently attending church, you are missing out on one of God’s greatest blessings for His people:
“And He gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and knowledge of the Son of God... that we should no longer be children tossed about with every wind of doctrine...” -Ephesians 4:12-14
“And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” -Hebrews 10:24-25