Got Questions?

by Justin Windham, Associate Pastor of Outreach & Discipleship

got questionsMany of us are a part of a unique generation–one that lives in the “internet age,” but also remembers a time before the World Wide Web.

In middle school, I can distinctly remember the tedious task of using big, physical, multi-volume encyclopedias to do research for homework assignments.
Yet, just a few years later in high school, I was browsing the internet to find information as though I had been doing it my whole life. Today, I can’t imagine not having the internet at my fingertips at any moment during the day.
As a child being raised in a Christian family, I learned a lot about God and the Bible through my parents and church. But when I had questions about faith, doubt, Jesus, the origins of the universe, pain and suffering, sin, and more–I didn’t know how to find the answers.
Aware of my frustrations, my parents bought me a reference book called, Where to Find It in the Bible: A Reference Guide from A to Z. I tattered that book’s pages as I would regularly scour it for biblical answers to very real questions I had.
Once our home PC became “web-enabled,” I began searching online for those same answers but quickly realized there was no “biblical orthodoxy” filter that ensured the results I found were actually from a Christ-honoring, bible-based perspective.
A few years later, a new and unique website called GotQuestions.org was published with the explicit mission of seeking “to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ by providing biblical, applicable, and timely answers to spiritually related questions through an internet presence.
Since that discovery, this has been my single most treasured online resource in my personal life and ministry.
The website does not just offer certain theologians’ opinions, but uses the Scriptures as the primary source of drawing conclusions. If a potential claim cannot be soundly backed by Scripture, the claim is not made.
And when ambiguity remains and clear-cut answers cannot be arrived at with confidence, the website gives the most compelling Scriptural arguments from the most prevalent views and leaves the reader to arrive at his/her own conclusions.
I have long believed that God is not afraid of our questions. If He’s truly God, there will always be satisfying answers to our most daunting questions.
Certainly, some of those questions won’t be answered on this side of heaven, but until then, www.gotquestions.org does a fantastic job attempting to fill the gap.
To understand the depth and breadth of this resource, I’m posting their current Top 10 most frequently asked questions. Click the links to view the related article.
As much as I love this website, like any extra-biblical material, no man-made resource is perfect and no one has all the answers except God Himself. I hope you enjoy using this website, but remember to always search the Scriptures for yourself and ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom and guidance as you seek truth.


Shush!

by Doug Baker, Lead Teaching Pastor
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“If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all” was a mantra with which I was brought up. Living in a family of six children, I’m sure its intended use was to foster kinder relations and less bickering. But, recently I’ve noticed circumstances in which it is increasingly difficult to hold to this maxim.

We observe today acts of injustice, social wrong, and immoral behavior that beg for someone to speak up.

From simple things like running a red light at an intersection because a driver didn’t want to wait, to more troubling developments such as the breakdown of civil debate about moral issues, an increase of corruption among our political and civic leaders, or the even more pernicious and troubling increase of sex-slave trafficking in San Diego—there are certain things that cry out for a response.

Every day there are disturbing news reports that challenge my childhood mantra, and I find it increasingly difficult to say anything nice when I hear them. But I also find that I cannot remain silent, saying nothing at all. There is an increasing moral necessity to speak up and address these injustices, highlight these wrongs, and re-affirm the moral standards by which ordered societies have always lived.

But instead of hearing a cacophony of voices agreeing with the necessity of jettisoning this boyhood proverb, what I often hear instead is a loud “Shush!  You need to get along and not make waves.” And this sometimes even from people who call themselves Christian.

I wonder what God would say about all this?

Would He want us to only speak up about our own wrongs and remain nicely silent before a world torn apart by its rejection of truth? Or would He want his people to speak truth into a decaying culture and bring light to its darkness?

The answer depends largely on whether or not we are concerned about the eternal state of people. First  Corinthians 5:9-13 tells us to not judge people in this world for their wrong choices, because God will ultimately judge them. However, we are also told to judge believers who engage in the world’s wrong behaviors.

I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”

We are compelled by God in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 to know that only those who have been cleansed from this world’s wrong behaviors will enter God’s future eternal Kingdom:

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

In putting these two perspectives together we are reminded both that God is very concerned with the way people in our world live and that He tells us He will ultimately hold them accountable for their behavior. We are not to judge them, rather God will do that in His time.

However, God does expect us to hold each other accountable for our choices and behaviors within the church. We are to judge each other so that evil does not gain a foothold among the God’s people.

According to God, people can be changed and their eternal destinies re-routed from hell to heaven. In fact, we were all once numbered among those excluded from God’s world and future kingdom. But a day came for each one of us when someone lovingly spoke up and gently addressed our wrong behaviors.

They were not judgmental in their comments. Rather, they let the Holy Spirit speak to our hearts while they spoke to our conscience and common sense. We felt God’s conviction within us and we responded in faith to God’s offer and these people’s urging.

God uses former sinners saved by grace, His Word, and His Spirit to speak to the hearts of men and women today to change them. And He most assuredly wants us to “associate with the sexually immoral of this world, the greedy and swindlers, idolaters, adulterers, men who practice homosexuality, thieves, drunkards, and revilers” in such non-judgmental ways that they can hear from us God’s call to a new way of life.

It is clear that He desires for each of them to be washed from their former sins, sanctified in their present practices, and justified before God almighty so that they too can participate in the coming Kingdom of God.

So, the nicest thing we can do for anyone is to lovingly and clearly speak up, address the practices and behaviors around us that God calls sin, and invite people who are engaged in them to turn to Him and be changed.

In light of all this, who do you know that needs to hear this message of renewal and hope from you today? How can you come alongside them in the near future and thoughtfully share the truth with them?