Some Common Questions and Brief Answers

These answers are not long or complete. They are simple starting points for you to think about. If you want some great places to check out and go deeper, please check our Links page

A. Is Christianity just one of many religions?

B. Are Christians claiming that they are the only ones who know the truth?

C. Why would such a powerful God be so narrow minded in providing only one way to Him?

D. If you are sincere in what you believe, does what you believe really matter?

E. Do you have to go to church to be a Christian?

F. If God made this world - why is it so messed up?

G. If there is a God - how can I know that He cares for me?

H. Times change, shouldn't our opinions and values change too?

I. If God cares - why do I still have problems?

J. Is God in control of life?

K. Why are Christians so negative about sex?

L. Is it possible for me to be forgiven?

M. Why are there so many different types of churches?

N. Does God laugh?

O. Who is Jesus?

P. What is this student ministry about?

Q. What makes Baptists different?

1. Is Christianity just one of many religions? At a quick glance it certainly appears that way. Many religions have a strong belief in a higher power, in a creating and sustaining force or person that is the author of life. Many believers of numerous faith groups even call that creator, author and power by the name of god. Those outside the Christian faith may be just as sincere in their belief system as Christians … so what is the difference? Well, Christianity is really not about religion. At the core of the Christian faith is a relationship, a personal and intimate relationship with the God of the universe. That relationship is made possible through His Son Jesus. Many are bothered by the exclusive claim of Jesus: "I am the way, and the truth and the life. The only way to the Father is through me." That is very clear and very exclusive. There is one way to the one true God. Now, before you get mad … please read the rest of this brief answer. Which is more exclusive (1) an entrance fee that requires a certain standing, approval, income, talent and connections or (2) an entrance cost that simply asks for all you have? Both options cost very much but the first option automatically excludes many because they do not and can not measure up - we just are not able to comply. A relationship with God through Jesus means that we don't have to worry about getting good enough standing before God to get in … we just are not able. "I mean that you have been saved by grace through believing. You did not save yourselves; it was a gift from God. It was not the results of your own efforts…" You can turn the gift down, you can try to bargain but you can not escape this life without facing the results of your acceptance or refusal of the gift. Christianity is simply about surrender on unconditional terms to the God who loves you, who seeks you long before you seek Him and who gave His Only Son as the payment for your entrance into a personal relationship with Him. We have a simple faith, not simplistic, not easy but that is basically it. Christians are not primarily good people or religious people … we are sinners who simply have realized Who is really in charge … and we have realized that He loves us. We do not claim that other faiths and religions do not speak of some of the truth. We believe that only through Jesus can anyone come to a saving and personal relationship with God. Back

2. Are Christians claiming that they are the only ones who know the truth? No, Truth is truth regardless of who speaks that truth and whether or not the person speaking even really believes it. We believe that there is absolute truth and God is the author of that truth. Not all beliefs are valid and true. The history of the Christian church even has embarrassing moments when we took stands that were unwise and even false. Yet the truth of God is available to all people: "… some knowledge of him has been made clear to them. Yes, God has shown himself to them." Christians believe that although some truth of God is available clearly to all - only through Jesus is the full revelation that God gives available. Back

3. Why would such a powerful God be so narrow minded in providing only one way to Him? When we look at this planet we live on and consider the many forms of life, climate and races … it would seem the belief that some teacher who lived some 2,000 years ago is the only way to the Creator is … well, narrow. When we then look at the universe in it's vastness and consider the smallness of our planet, Christian claims seems … well, small. The universe around us is complex and a mystery even to the scientists that study it from any angle. The fact that there is order, function and complex interacting all point to intelligence. Some deny that, most do not. There is a designer behind the design. If we have such trouble in grasping mechanical functions of the universe around us … even harder to understand is what is within you and me: "More than anything else, a person's mind is evil and cannot be healed. No one truly understands it." You may not agree with the evil description but you would have to admit that thoughts and feelings are complex. Is it more fitting for a powerful Creator to provide many and changing ways to Him or to clearly and simply declare the one path to Him? "The Word became a human and lived among us. We saw his glory - the glory that belongs to the only Son of the Father …" Behind every complex formula, theory and movement is a simple building block or statement. God is still mysterious and beyond us. Yet Christians believe that God has revealed Himself in a simple and clear way through Jesus because we are unable to grasp and understand Him on our own. Back

4. If you are sincere in what you believe, does what you believe really matter? I used to believe in Santa Claus, really. Every noise I would hear on Christmas Eve night was him waiting on me to sleep so he could deposit the gifts under our tree. My heart would pound and my mind race as I thought about him. He wasn't there … even though I felt He was. I know … I know … some of you are thinking that belief in some god is in the same category. My point is only this … feelings can be true or false. Feelings may come as a result of a pursuit, a reaction to an experience or a lack of sleep or bad food. Feelings are a part of life in all of it's fullness. Sincere feelings cannot stand up to truth that reveals the inaccurate content of the feelings. Back

5. Do you have to go to church to be a Christian? No, but you will be a crippled Christian if you do not. There are plenty of horror stories about bad church experiences. If you have been wronged and wounded by a group of people in a church, please do not let that end your search for a church family to give and grow with. Forgive those who have hurt you and ask God to help you find a church. Those of us in the church sometimes focus too much on organization or finances or tradition … but somehow, strangely in the middle of our fumbling, struggling efforts God moves and works within the church. The church matters to Him. There is no other substitute on this earth for involvement in a local group of believers. God loves you and loves His church: "Christ loved the church and gave himself for it to make it belong to God." Learning and love which bring intellectual and emotional spiritual growth is designed to be experienced best in church. Back

6. If God made this world - why is it so messed up? If you have asked that question, you have made an observation that many do not. Some think that we are getting better and better as we grow in technology and knowledge. It is hard to reach that conclusion when you see the harm and hurt all around us. But, could I ask you a question: If there is no God who is good, Who desires that we seek the good and Who enables us to do the good -where did you get the idea that any other option other than our current condition is possible? "We know that everything God made has been waiting until now in pain …" The pain of all of life is a reality but there is a greater promise: "that everything God made would be set free from ruin to have the freedom and glory that belong to God's children." The world in a lot of ways is really messed up - but there are pockets of goodness, interruptions of the darkness with light … and there is a rumor that there is a Hand that holds the light and sends that light out. Back

7. If there is a God - how can I know that He cares for me? You can only know that there is a Lover who really loves when the relationship has personal cost and sacrifice that the Lover freely choices in order to share love. We have all had friendships and relationships that seemed great when the laughter was loud and there was plenty of excitement and fun. Few are the relationships that stand strong when the tears flow, when the angry words come. Could I share with you what are words of strong love? "God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son so that whoever believes in him may not be lost, but have eternal life." Put your name in that signature of love … God so loves ME that He has given his one and only Son so that I could believe in him and not be lost …but be found and have never ending life. How can you know that God's love for you is secure? He chose to have His son sacrificed on a cross so that you could live and know His love. Because of the passion and pain of Jesus, God not only knows what you are feeling - He has felt your deepest moments of loneliness and pain. Yet the mystery of God's love does not stop there, until you take that one small step and give up to His love … you are still without God, without never ending life: "Those who do not believe have already been judged guilty, because they have not believed in God's one and only Son." God could force you to surrender. He will impress His thoughts on you, guide, push, whisper and reveal Himself in many ways … but He loves you enough to let you respond freely. After all, do you want to make someone love you … or would you rather that your lover freely choose you? The God of the universe choosing to let you choose? He loves you. Back

8. Times change, shouldn't our opinions and values change too? Change is often refreshing, sometimes good and keeps us from falling into a boring rut. But if everything is changing, varying from day to day; where can we stand to reach, to learn, to grow? If commitment is not dependable, if truth depends on popularity and opinion polls - will we be bold and dare to risk when we do not know what to depend on? There are times when tradition, structure and preferred methods become heavy burdens that keep us from pursuing the best. Sometimes our chosen, comfortable and familiar ways keep us from even being able to choose wisely in a situation. That kind of refusal to change does not please God either. He does not want us to put our trust in methods, techniques or structures. The Father wants us to trust, depend on and interact with Him. Yet His heart and ways do not change. Does that make Him boring and out of touch? Look around you, watch the waves at the beach, look at a mountain peak, take a look deep into space through a telescope, enjoy honest conversation heart to heart with a close friend. He does not change but He will always be a challenge to us! Back

9. If God cares - why do I still have problems? I do not know. I do not know your problem and how it came about. Believers in Christ have problems and those who do not believe have problems. Sometimes our problems are caused by poor decisions (sin), sometimes our discomfort and pain is caused by the sin of others, sometimes our problems come because we are living in the "not yet" - we are temporarily unable and limited, we are waiting for a conclusion or a promise The answer which disturbs many is that sometimes God brings the problem and pain. His reasons could be many: to teach, to heal, to change a heart, to correct, to leave an example. Get mad at God, He can handle that. He is God. Just do not quit turning to God or you have an even bigger problem. Could I quote an old, old Bible verse to you from the Older Testament? "You have recorded my troubles. You have kept a list of my tears. Aren't they in your records?" Those words from Psalm 56:8 tell you that God sees every tear that you shed and if you are His, if you trust Him even through silence, anger and fear … God will touch the wound that caused the tear. What will He do? I don't know. Back

10. Is God in control of life? Yes. Nothing that any person, army or power ever does surprises Him or escapes His control. That may bother you. It bothers me sometimes too. Yet God, who is in control, has in His design given you freedom to make many choices within life. He will empower you to pursue the good (His principles) and you will not escape collision with those same principles when you ignore them. That may still bother you. But if God is not in control of even the smallest occurrence in your life then He is not God and cannot be trusted in all of life's travels and experiences. Back

11. Why are Christians so negative about sex? Some believers in Christ are disturbed about sex because they see the cheap and ugly view of sex that is so common in songs, film and TV. Some believers in Christ are uneasy about sex because they were brought up believing that it is dirty and secret. Maybe some are negative because of sexual abuse in their life. The author of sex is not negative about sex. God made Mankind and made us male and female. He designed us with our sexual differences and attraction as part of who we are. When He did that He said "Oh my Myself, what have I done?" NO! He said "Very Good". Sex is not designed to be dirty or negative … We have made it that way. God has guidelines for sex that include one male and one female in the commitment of marriage that can freely and completely give themselves to each other physically, mentally, emotionally. God is not concerned about you as a teenager going too far! He does not want you to experience the heartbreak of selling yourself short. Back

12. Is it possible for me to be forgiven? Yes, with one condition, yes. No action, thought, habit or feeling is strong enough, horrible enough to keep you from the God who loves you. If … that is a conditional word. If you are a believer that turns to God and away from your sin (doing life your way). God does not often erase the results of our sin: we remember, we have physical or emotional scars, others remember and opportunities are lost. What cost do I have to pay to get forgiveness? Nothing. Jesus has paid the price. On the cross He spoke with some of His last gasps of life and said "Finished". Trust God to enable you to change. Turn from what does not please Him. Follow and obey what He has shown you is good, true and right. Experience the joy that you have been missing. Back

13. Why are there so many different types of churches? Vanilla ice cream may be your favorite but orange is mine. God has given us a lot of room to express ourselves and worship Him in different ways. Some Christians are very emotional. Some of us are Mr. Spock type Christians - we like logic and truth without a lot of emotion. God is not as hung up on the methods and traditions as we are. Some churches have been formed because of squabbles and fights with others. As long as a church focuses on Christ and believes that He is the Only Son of God, as long as the Bible is seen as the Word of God, as long as the Holy Spirit is given freedom to move and change and as long as that church teaches that it is God's grace (undeserved and unending love and kindness) and not our impressive efforts that makes anything that really matters possible - chances are this is a pretty solid group of believers. Pretty good chance. They may be different than what is your background or experience but they may think you are pretty weird too. Back

14. Does God laugh? I believe so. I hope so. Jesus wept, ate, got angry and played with children. Children are not drawn to people who do not laugh and smile. I have a theory: any God who made penguins, belly buttons and nose hair probably laughs a pretty good bit. I am not sure that He giggles. Back

15. Who is Jesus? He is purpose, peace, passion … Please read the words of author Calvin Miller and the musical group the Newsboys:

Poor souls, we are without purpose,
From battle to battle we run,
We are orphans who nervously search
For a Father to call us His sons.
Anxiety throbs in our heads
Our mind tries some purpose to see,
There's a strange, empty vacuum of pain
In the place where our hearts ought to be.
There can yet be life for the lifeless.
The hopeless have one hope sublime;
For our Master has driven His cross
In the cascading decades of time.
Come let us move from the foment of life,
And refine all the gold from the dross,
And fasten our purposeless living
To God's wondrous assurance, the cross.

Calvin Miller, Once Upon A Tree, page 27, Baker Book House 1991

But now in Christ Jesus, you who were far away from God are brought near through the blood of Christ's death. Christ himself is our peace.

Ephesians 2:13-14a New Century Version

be still and know He
know He is holy
be still and know He is God
love Him more dearly
see Him more clearly
be still and know He is God

Peter Furler and Steve Taylor, "Be Still" recorded by the Newsboys 1994 Ariose Music/ASCAP

Get still and listen. Get a good new version of the Bible (we have used the New Century Version) read the verses from Romans and John (chapter 3). Contact David if you need to ask some questions. Back

16. What is this student ministry about? Building relationships and restoring broken ones. We hope to encourage within our students a passion for God and compassion for others. As we pursue the truth together we want to change our lives as we follow our eldest brother Jesus. We want our students to be honest when times are good and honest when they are struggling and hurting. Back

17. What makes Baptists different? Probably the amount of chicken and ham we eat at church suppers. We believe in the Bible as God's Word to man. We believe that we are to follow the example of Christ by being baptized by immersion (you are going to get really wet). We do not believe that baptism saves you or completes your relationship with Jesus. He said do it so we do it. We also believe in remembering His sacrifice by sharing the Lord's Supper together (the bread representing His body, the juice representing His shed blood). We believe that Jesus is the only way God has chosen to call us into a saving and personal relationship with Him. There may be other differences but these are the main ones. Back

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