by Wes Moore

The truths about God are not settled…at least in the minds of the perishing. His every attribute and action is up for grabs in today’s free-thinking society. As always, you can run from the truth, but you can’t change it.

Here are solid, clear answers to four of the most common questions about the God of the Bible. (All of these and more can be found in my book The Spiritual Top 50.)

1. Aren’t we all part of God?

I wonder if those of you who are asking this question really understand all this worldview teaches about reality. The idea that “all is God and God is all,” as some put it, though it has many forms today, originated in ancient Hinduism, and is also known as pantheism. [1]

This view of life holds that God is not personal or even knowable. In pantheism, God is “transcendent reality of which the material universe and human beings are only a manifestation.” [2] In other words, God is not a person, with a will or personality, and cannot be understood by human beings.

Further, the life you are living today is not your first life, nor will it be your last. You are living but one of countless existences where you have been trying to earn your way to a higher state in your next cycle of birth, called samsara. Eventually you hope to become one with the impersonal, unknowable god.

Finally, suffering is an illusion caused by your false belief that you are an individual separate from the Ultimate Reality that is god. Suffering can only be eliminated through an increasing knowledge of your oneness with that mindless Reality.

Let me mention a few concerns you should have with this worldview:

  • If God does not have a will, he cannot help you. There is no one to turn to when you’re in trouble.
  • Who will love you? We all seek someone to love us. But a mindless entity cannot love.
  • The Resurrection of Jesus Christ shows that God is personal and knowable, that he acts in time to help people, and that people are not reincarnated, but resurrected.

2. Is God a she?

There are some things we cannot know about God unless he tells us directly. In terms of gender, the Bible (which claims to be God telling us about himself) clearly states that God is masculine, a “he.” This doesn’t mean that being female is less “godly.” After all, God created women and loves and values them just as he does men. And he gave them uniquely feminine qualities, qualities that flow from his perfect nature, though he is distinctly masculine.

But why trust the Bible’s claims about God? Here’s a short list of reasons (also see my article “Four Objections to the Bible”).

1.     The Bible is the most well-preserved book in human history.

2.     The Bible contains accounts of miracles written down by reliable eye witnesses.

3.     Science, archaeology, and experience confirm its teachings.

4.     It has transformed millions of lives, including mine.

This question touches on the whole concept of God’s nature. In addition to those who teach that God is a “she,” there are those who teach that God is in all of us and in nature (referenced in the last question). God, in their view, is “mother earth,” or some kind of combined, mindless consciousness of man, animal, and the natural world. God is not a person, with a personality and a will, but a presence in us all.

What I ask of those who hold this view is to show me your proof that God has these kinds of attributes. You have to have a reason for your beliefs. You can’t just believe something because you believe it. That’s irrational and absurd—that’s not only blind faith, it’s ignorant faith (no offense intended). Why? Because you can never know you’re right. You can’t say your belief is any more valid than believing in fairies or pixie dust.

In fact, the evidence shows the opposite. The same reasoning we use every day tells us that God must have a mind and a will, and that he cannot be a part of creation.

3. Why does God let people suffer?

To understand why death and suffering exist, you must understand two simple truths:

1. We have been separated from God, our source of life, allowing death to enter.

2. Our separation is not based on God’s choice, but ours.

The first man, Adam, refused the Creator’s command and brought death to all creation (Genesis 3:17-19). You might ask why God would allow us to suffer death in the first place. Why didn’t he stop Adam or rescind his sentence? At some level, the answer is a mystery; I can’t say for sure, and I’m not sure the Bible does either. [3] However, there are a few things I can say for certain.

First, God cares about you, and is not unaware of what you’re going through. He has ordered this situation for good (see the third point below), and will help you if you reach out to him now. He won’t necessarily make the problem go away, but he will give you strength to endure it, wisdom to understand it, and bring it to the end at the right time.

Second, God allowed it to fulfill his ultimate purpose in creating. His ultimate purpose was not to provide us with a “cushy pillow life,” but to demonstrate the full glory of his nature. Evil, death, and suffering demonstrate, among other things, the excellencies of his justice, mercy, patience, and grace.

Third, God allowed it to bring about a good otherwise not possible. The Bible is replete with illustrations of this. An excellent example of this is the death of Jesus Christ.

Finally, God has done more about it than anyone. He limits evil and suffering now, he commands his people to labor to meet the needs of those who are hurting, and he died so it could be fully and finally eliminated (Jesus Christ on the cross). Perhaps best of all, one day he promises no more (Revelation 21:4)!

4. Why would God send anyone to hell?

Here are a few things to think about when considering this question.

In the first place, why wouldn’t God send anyone to hell? Whether by execution or life in prison, we punish criminals severely when their crimes justify it. Why can’t God?

Second, don’t place your own sense of morality above your Creator’s. Be very careful when you think of elevating your changing, culturally influenced, and often corrupt moral compass over the unchanging, independent, pure moral nature of God.

Finally, to grasp the reasonableness of hell, you must understand the holiness of God. Holy means “separate or transcendent.” God’s nature—his sense of morality, justice, and judgment—is infinitely higher than ours. He’s on another level altogether. We’re like pee-wee league football, and he’s the best team in the NFL.

To us, a moral slip isn’t that big a deal. After all, we can honestly say we’ve been there before, or at least as sinners, we can understand. Only the most heinous of crimes move us. But God’s moral sensitivity is not so numb. He has never sinned; he is completely pure; he is infinitely offended with each moral lapse.

One famous confession says this: “The Lord our God is… infinite in being and perfection…who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; who is immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty, every way infinite, most holy, most wise, most free, most absolute.” [4]

A proper understanding of hell is required for a proper understanding of God.

Conclusion

Some questions in the culture are the same as they’ve always been; some are brand new. Whatever the case, there’s no reason to fear the evidence. The God of the Bible has given us solid, powerful answers to every question. Best of all, we are all capable of learning those answers and sharing them with those around us.

So, don’t be intimidated. Be bold. Engage the lost. Overcome their questions. And, most of all, lead them to the truth found in the humble Carpenter from Nazareth.

Notes
[1] Norman Geisler and William Watkins, Worlds Apart: A Handbook on Worldviews (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1989) on The Norman L. Geisler Apologetics Library on CD-ROM (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2002).
[2] Dictionary.com. Accessed June 24, 2010.
[3] Many would say God did not stop Adam because of free will. I used to think this as well, but I’m not sure this holds up biblically. God frequently shows his willingness to change the will of a person in order to get them to accomplish his purpose. See Proverbs 21:1, Jeremiah 41:11-12, and Philippians 2:12-13 for a few examples. Furthermore, that change of will does not make the person a puppet. Unlike us, God’s transcendent power allows him to influence the will without becoming a puppeteer.
[4] 1689 London Baptist Confession. “Chapter 2: Of God and the Holy Trinity,” available at: www.vor.org/truth/1689; internet; accessed March 30, 2010.