Saturday, December 22, 2012

101 Questions for Christians (Can YOU reply to these?)

I don’t think these questions should be unfamiliar to Christians. The answers and conversations surrounding these questions should be common amongst both new believers and mature believers, and both adult converts and those who grew up in Christian homes.

You might like to share these questions at a study group. Also, if any of the questions presents you with particular difficulty in answering then I urge you to start a conversation with other Christians about that question, and seek the answers together.

If you are not a Christian, but have Christian friends, you might like to challenge them to reply to  some of these!

Additional: These questions are not in any particular order and are not meant to make up a Catechism or curriculum.  They are merely written off the top of my head as a creative exercise.  There is no reason, other than for readability/reference-ability, why I have written every tenth entry in bold.

  1. Why do you believe that God exists?
  2. Why do you believe that the God of the bible is this God?
  3. Why do you believe there is only one God?
  4. Why do you believe that the bible is true and trustworthy?
  5. Why would God make such a terrible world with disease and pain?
  6. Why should anyone follow a God who lets bad things happen to good people?
  7. Why should someone who is basically a good person be punished in hell for not believing in your God?
  8. Why is it important to believe in the Trinity?
  9. What is the meaning of life?
  10. What if it doesn't make me happy to follow God?
  11. How come there are so many denominations?
  12. How do we know that we can trust the bible when there are so many different interpretations?
  13. What about Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, etc?
  14. There is no absolute truth! (Isn't there?)
  15. What causes division in the church?
  16. Is division in the church ever a good thing? Why?
  17. Have the gifts of the Spirit ceased?
  18. What was the biblical form for the gifts? (What did they look like in practice?)
  19. Do Christians have to give 10%?
  20. What about “prosperity preaching” - doesn't this prove Christianity is a scam to make money?
  21. Are all homosexuals going to hell? 
  22. Hell is going to be better than heaven! (Isn't it?)
  23. Do babies and children that die go to heaven? 
  24. What about people who never get the chance to hear the gospel - do they go to hell? (This doesn’t seem fair)
  25. What is the gospel?
  26. How does the gospel save people?
  27. Does this mean everyone will eventually be saved?
  28. Why eternal punishment? (and not just a short time)
  29. What does it mean to be born again?
  30. How does a person become born again?
  31. How should we read the bible?
  32. What is a study bible?
  33. What is a bible commentary?
  34. How does a Christian “hear” from God?
  35. Why pray if God already knows what we will pray?
  36. What is worship?
  37. What is discipleship?
  38. What is the difference between general and special revelation?
  39. Does God know what I'm thinking? Explain
  40. What is a miracle?
  41. What is God’s purpose in miracles?
  42. Can miracles be from the devil?
  43. Can we make God bring a miracle by praying hard enough?
  44. What does it mean to be holy and how does this apply to us and to God?
  45. Do miracles depend upon our purity and sinlessness?
  46. Do blessings depend upon whether we are sinful? (or have sinned)
  47. Can we be perfect in this life (completely free from sin)?
  48. How were people saved in the Old Testament?
  49. What qualities should Christian leaders possess?
  50. Why are there different versions of the bible?
  51. What is the best version of the bible for me? (and why)
  52. What is the difference between the Old and New Testaments?
  53. Are the books of the bible in chronological order? Explain
  54. What does the future hold? 
  55. When do/did the “last days” begin?
  56. What is God’s purpose in the suffering of his people?
  57. What is the purpose of hell?
  58. Who goes to hell?
  59. What will hell be like?
  60. What is the purpose of heaven?
  61. Who goes to heaven?
  62. What will heaven be like?
  63. Is there any place other than heaven or hell where people might go when they die?
  64. Do animals go to heaven?
  65. What is the difference between Roman Catholicism and Protestant Christianity?
  66. Why is Roman Catholicism wrong?
  67. What was The Reformation?
  68. What is the best way to know error or untruth when you see it?
  69. What should you do if you find out you are wrong?
  70. How do people identify their gifts from God?
  71. How do they use their gifts from God?
  72. What is the best form of church governance?
  73. What is the difference between a biblical pastor and a biblical teacher?
  74. Can we know for certain that we are saved?
  75. How do we reach assurance?
  76. Can we say if someone else is saved or not? Explain
  77. Can we lose salvation having once had it? Explain
  78. What does it mean that God is sovereign?
  79. Do we have free will? Explain
  80. If we don't have free will, does that make us robots? Explain
  81. If we do have free will, does our decision to follow Jesus mean we are smarter than those who choose not to? Explain
  82. Why is it important to have assurance of salvation as a Christian?
  83. What is discipleship?
  84. When is Jesus coming back?
  85. What should help Christians to get through hard times?
  86. What does it mean to worship in spirit and in truth?
  87. What does Israel have to do with Christianity (both past and present Israel)?
  88. Why did they sacrifice animals in Israel in the Old Testament?
  89. Why has the sacrifice of animals ended and will never be needed again?
  90. What does it mean to glorify God?
  91. How should marriage glorify God?
  92. What does it mean to be made in the image of God?
  93. How does ‘being made in the image of God’ inform our stance on abortion, war, and euthanasia?
  94. Can we earn our salvation? (Why/why not?)
  95. What is the fall?
  96. How does the fall explain so much of the imperfect world we live in?
  97. How does creation demonstrate the existence of a Creator?
  98. How does creation show the glory of the Creator?
  99. Should we read all of the bible literally? Explain
  100. How should Christians seek to make converts? (Methods, attitudes towards God, attitudes towards men)
  101. How do we examine ourselves to see whether we are Christians or not?

Get talking!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Covenant vs Dispensational Theology (a brief summary of some useful ideas)

Digging through some old notes, I found this handy piece noting some observations I made while wresting with dispensational theology. While my observations may not be perfect in this, they still have enough truth in them to be a good challenge to those who are strongly dispensational.

How did this study/summary come about?

I heard a few years ago that dispensational theology and covenant theology go head to head. I also did a bit of my own research into different eschatological systems. Read most of “A Case for Amillenialism. Understanding the End Times” by Kim Riddlebarger. Most recently, I have listened to Dr. D. A. Carson preaching through Nehemiah during 6 sessions at the 2008 Hamilton Reformed Churches Easter Convention.

Why was it so hard to even begin to work this one out?
Dispensational theology seems a lot easier to grasp because it builds a picture of last events from individual texts without having to build the case for an overarching interpretive system first. Despite this, I believe that covenant theology arises more naturally from scripture, though it takes some time to grasp because the nature of Biblical covenants is foreign to Western culture.

Another reason that Covenant theology is difficult to grasp is that people looking for end-times answers will not see the significance of God’s covenants because they don’t appear to be linked to the events at the end of time. The covenant interpretive system is more focused on the relationships between God and His people. This has implications from the beginning of time to the end and beyond. Our salvation is tied up with entering into covenant with God through His Son Jesus. Judgement at the end of time and the redeeming of creation is fulfilment of covenant.

The importance of covenant theology 
I see the major importance in the area of sanctification of Christians. Much of the Bible can only be understood through eyes which understand how covenants work and the related festivals, feasts, covenant blessings, covenant curses, internal structure, and solemn assemblies.

Solemn Assemblies 
A Solemn assembly is a ceremony where God’s people turn from their sin, restore worship, and restore their covenant relationship with God. These were done after periods of great national backsliding in Israel.

Leviticus 26 gives the outline of covenant renewal as followed in the later chapters of Nehemiah. A covenant renewal is called a solemn assembly through scripture (ESV).

This gives a deeper understanding to passages like Isaiah 1:13 where God says that He cannot endure their solemn assemblies. This is like saying that He will not allow Israel to renew their covenant with God. They have turned away from Him one too many times and He is now signifying His desire to not let them repent from their idolatry and wickedness. Very quickly, after these scary words, God displays His steadfast love (mercy) in promises of restoration. God has made the covenant and it is up to Him to keep it. Christians are passive partners in the formation of the covenant. God alone set it up and God alone will sustain it. In this we can have assurance of eternal salvation.

This makes it easier to understand passages such as Joel chapter 2 where covenant curses are described to explain what will happen to Israel when they reject their Messiah. Those specific judgements may not come down upon Israel, but the description of the signs shows that Israel will reject the messiah.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Where's Wally (or Sam)

Being a father takes more time than expected. Every day I am revising my estimates for time commitments at home and it feels somewhere around the 350% mark of actual available time. If you think that's ridiculous, you should see how much my wife has on her plate!  Baby's are time sink-holes, but they are so worth it!

This commitment to family means that I'm frequently absent from my former social spaces, both on-line and off.  If you've asked yourself, "I wonder what Sam is up to these days," then you can rest assured that I'm still alive and kicking, though busy, busy, busy!  Even so, I still find time to work on a number of creative projects as a form of mental release and reflection.  It actually occurred to me that I do a great deal of creation, so I thought I'd list some of that here to help me feel good about myself, and for those who haven't seen me in a while to see what I'm up to and where I'm at personally or professionally.

All of the following have been produced or contributed to in the last 12 months...

Sam Books and Thoughts - this blog containing all sorts of everything
The Physics Lounge - free high school video physics videos
See the Spirit - devotional type reflections on being a spiritual Christian (what other type is there?)
igage - education focused blogging
Apologetics Shorts - Brief responses to objections people have about Christianity
Learn to be a Real Man - Reflections on manliness
Thinkpad in High School - Reflections leading up to my demo of a Lenovo Thinkpad tablet and a review of my findings

I also have my Bible Study blog which is crying out for some attention.  I have plenty of reflections and work on this but most of it is in note form which is where the material for my other Christian writings often comes from.

I also have a concept for a full novel which I'm developing.  You can read an early draft of one section here

I'm always looking for ways to pay for the future (more children, their education, a house, etc) so if you know of any paid opportunities to write that you think could suit me, I love to hear from you!

Thanks for viewing!