To help you think clearly about the good news of Jesus Christ, we have provided answers to some of the most common questions people have about Christianity. Because Christians have always believed that the the Bible is God’s Word and the only source of divine truth and that it accurately communicates true knowledge about God, man, and the most important issues of life, we have chosen to answer these commonly-asked questions from the Bible itself.
How Do I Know that God Exists?
This is a massively important question, but, as it turns out, not terribly difficult to answer. All people know intuitively that God exists, but we suppress this knowledge because we love our sin and despise God. Consider Paul’s statements from his letter to the Romans (written around 65 AD):
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse (Romans 1:18-20 ESV)
We can clearly see God’s existence in the creation—the heavens declare the glory of God (Psalms 19:1)!—but we do whatever we can to resist this knowledge. Why? Because we know that we are guilty of sin and rebellion against our creator, and we don’t want to submit to his Word and his ways. Sophisticated philosophical, logical, and scientific arguments raised against the existence of God are simply an act of suppressing the truth that we know.
How Do I Know that the Bible is God’s Word?
As God’s Word, the Bible is a self-authenticating document. That is, it needs no other authority to validate it’s truthfulness than itself, for it comes from God Himself, and we know that the Bible is God’s Word because God reveals himself in it. As we read it, we are able to know that what we read is true.
The Bible also claims often to be the Word of God. The apostle Paul tells us that “All Scripture is breathed out by God” (2 Timothy 3:16), and all throughout the Bible we find the phrase “Thus says the Lord,” and “The Lord said.” As the Holy Spirit opens our eyes and removes our spiritual blindness (2 Corinthians 4:1-6), we are able to see that the Bible truly is breathed out by God. The Bible Jesus said that his sheep hear his voice (John 10:26).
Hasn’t the Bible Been Corrupted?
God himself promises that he will protect his Word. Isaiah 40:8, for example, says,
The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.
Jesus told his disciples that the smallest markings of the Hebrew Old Testament would remain in tact throughout the centuries:
For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished (see Matthew 5:18).
Jesus also said his own words would endure beyond the existence of heaven and earth
Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. (Mark 13:31 ESV)
But God has not left us to rely merely upon a faith-claim; he has provided empirical evidence of how he has preserved his Word over time.
Both the Old Testament and New Testament were written prior to the convenience of the printing press or ink-jet printers, so copying these documents required the work of scribes. Once the autograph—the original inspired text—was completed by the author (e.g. Luke, Paul, etc.), the only way to reproduce that work was to create written copies. This process was slightly different in the Old Testament than it was for the New Testament, but in both cases, hand copying was how the inspired message would be transmitted.
As the early Christians began to recognize the New Testament gospels and apostolic letters as divinely inspired Scripture, the demand for these documents intensified. Copies of these documents multiplied as Christians all over the Middle East and Mediterranean region sought to acquire reproductions of these God-breathed texts.
Scholars, both evangelical and non-evangelical, have determined, through the science of textual criticism, that we are able to recover the original text of the New Testament with a 98-99% accuracy. This doesn’t mean, however, that 1-2% of the New Testament text is lost. No, we know that among the extant manuscripts, we have 100% of the original text. The remaining 1-2% refers to a few places in the New Testament where we are not absolutely certain about specific words or phrases.
The process of hand copying, therefore, has provided the Church with a wealth of evidence in order to demonstrate that God has faithfully preserved his Word as the Church has handed it down from generation to generation. In other words, New Testament copies multiplied at such pace that no individual or coalition could have successfully altered the text so as to avoid the later corrective process of textual criticism. The sheer number of copies and geographical distribution ensured that errors would eventually be discovered and corrected. God’s wisdom, therefore, is on display in the process he chose to transmit his written Word.
The bottom line is this: God has protected the transmission of his Word just as he said he would. Today, our English Bibles are based on well-preserved and well-supported Old Testament Hebrew and New Testament Greek texts. As you read your Bibles, you can have certainty that you have God’s very Word before you. What a gift. There is no need to go elsewhere, for his Word is all we need:
Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4)
Where Did Other Religions Come From?
There are hundreds of religions in the world, where did they all come from? Scripture tells us that all religions are the result of humankind’s first sin. That is, ever since the first man and woman disobeyed God and incurred the guilt of sin, man has been hiding from his Creator because he knows he deserves judgment.
After their disobedience in the Garden of Eden, the first man and woman were the first people in history to practice false religion. Rather than trust God for full atonement of their sin, Adam and Eve attempted to atone for their own sin by using fig leaves to cover their nakedness. God overcame their false religion of works-righteousness by promising a redeemer who would pay the penalty of death in their place (Genesis 3:15) and by providing them animals skins for clothing. In other words, God did everything for their salvation. Ever since then, however, man has been bent on hiding from God and atoning for his own sin.
That is what false religion is: it is man’s futile attempt to earn God’s forgiveness while rejecting God’s provision of salvation. Actually, there are only two religions in the world: the religion of divine accomplishment (Christianity) and the religion of human achievement. Every other religion than Christianity has a system of works-righteousness where the adherent must practice certain rituals and keep certain rules in order to achieve salvation. Only Christianity provides full and free atonement for all our sins through faith alone in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
From What Must I Be Saved?
Christians often talk about their “salvation” or the fact that they are “saved.” Perhaps these expressions sound strange to you. May you’ve wondered from what these Christians have been saved or why they would need salvation in the first place. The phrases “I’ve been saved” or “You must be saved” make little sense if there is no impending danger.
The Bible teaches that our holy, infinite-personal God created the heavens and the earth—all of reality (Genesis 1:1). But Scripture also teaches that we have sinned against God in Adam (the first human) as our representative, and by our own sins. God’s standard is that we love him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-39). To not love God and neighbor like this—perfectly–is sin. But because God is perfectly holy and just, he cannot allow any disobedience to go unpunished. Apart from Christ, therefore, we are all under the wrath of God which will be poured upon unrepentant sinners for an eternity in hell. Therefore, we must be saved from God’s wrath and from hell.
We must also be saved from our sin. We are in bondage to sin and are unable to free ourselves from it. Jesus said, “Whoever commits sin is a slave to sin” (John 8:34). Apart from Christ, we are “dead in trespasses in sin” (Ephesians 2:1). We are unable to please God; we can only obey our sinful nature (Romans 8:8). At the very core of who we are, we are enslaved to sin. We need to be saved from the power of sin.
By bearing sin’s penalty, Christ frees us from wrath, hell, and the power of sin (Romans 8:1).
If I Don’t Repent of My Sins and Believe in Jesus, Will I Go to Hell?
Although it is not an easy topic to discuss, it is nonetheless true that those who do not turn to Christ in repentant faith will someday bear the punishment for their own sin for an eternity in hell.
Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. (John 3:36 ESV)
…in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9 ESV)
And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:12-15 ESV).
The glorious news of the gospel is that Jesus Christ has borne God’s wrath in our place so that if we turn from our sin to Christ in repentant faith, we will be saved from sin and hell and be given a new nature that loves God.
What about the Man on the Island Who Never Hears about the Good News of Jesus Christ?
In an earlier question it was noted that all people know that God exists (Romans 1:20). God’s existence is clearly seen in what he has made. This means all people—whether they live in an American suburb or a remote island—are without excuse for their unbelief. Those who have never heard the good news are in danger of going to hell just the same as those who have heard it yet reject it, for they are actively suppressing the knowledge of God they already have. This truth is one of the major reasons why Christians throughout the centuries have made it a priority to take the good news to all the nations (Matthew 28:18-20).
What Does it Mean to Repent and Believe in Christ?
To repent means to turn our whole persons away from following after sin and self to God and his will. True repentance looks for pardon from one’s sin in Jesus Christ alone and desires to follow after Christ in obedience without regret of giving up one’s past lifestyle and objects of affection. True repentance will express itself continually in the life of the believer.
Bear fruit in keeping with repentance (Matthew 3:8 ESV).
For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death (2 Corinthians 7:10 ESV).
True faith in Jesus, therefore, is always repentant faith. When we believe in Christ, we not only trust in him for salvation, we embrace all of who he is and what he desires and requires of us. We are not saved by our obedience, but true faith will always follow after Jesus in obedience.
And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, (Romans 4:5 ESV).
And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” (Acts 16:31 ESV)