The Big Questions

Where did the world come from?

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.  For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers.  All things were created through Him and for Him.” Colossians 1:15-16

Have you ever asked yourself the question, “how did I get here?”  Or for that matter, where did “matter” come from?  Thankfully, the Bible does not leave us to the mercy of the theories of philosophers and scientists to find the answer.  The Bible begins with the clear statement, “In the beginning, God….”  God existed before all things. All things were created by Him and for Him.  The Bible verse above refers to Jesus, God’s own Son, as the one through whom everything has been created, including you!  Because God has created all things by His powerful word, we know that all things and all human beings have a purpose.  You were created FOR Jesus.  You were created to love, worship, and serve God.  Heaven and earth, families and governments, minds and bodies were all created by God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  If that’s where all things come from, that means that all of creation bears the mark of God upon it and is precious in His sight.  That, my friend, includes you!

How do we know God exists?

“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork.  Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge.  There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard.” Psalm 19:1-3

Have you ever seen a baby being born?  How about a caterpillar being transformed into a butterfly?  Do you know why the sun and earth are just the right distance apart for life to thrive on the earth?  Why do people all over the world know that there is a right and wrong?  Why do all people around the earth seem to have some kind of religion?  The Bible teaches that the creation itself DECLARES or proclaims the glory of God.  There is no part of the world, no people group, and no hidden cave where the truth that there is a God and that He is powerful is not known.  We know God exists because He has revealed something of Himself in all that He has created.  We see His handiwork everywhere, not only in the creation around us, but our own heart and body testify that we were created for a purpose.  We can think and reason, love and hate, will and worship, unlike any other creature.  We were created in the image of God and so you yourself, even though you may not admit it, reflect to others the truth that God exists.

How does God speak to us?

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Though all of creation declares the glory of God and all men know the truth that God exists from what has been made, we can never really know what God is like unless He speaks to us more clearly.  The creation tells us that God is powerful, but the Bible tells us that God is also holy and loving.  The creation tells us that God is creative and imaginative, but the Bible tells us that God is also pure and just.  The creation tells us that God is eternal and is obviously far above and beyond all earthly life, but the Bible tells us that God also entered history in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ, lived life on the earth among His people, and continues to be active in the life of the world through the power of His Holy Spirit.  God speaks to us through the Scripture, the Bible.  God chose many men over many years to faithfully record His Word in the Bible which you and I have access to.  To know what God has spoken we need but take up and read!

What is God like?

“He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me?  The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works.” John 14:9-10

God has spoken.  God has revealed Himself to us in the Bible.  One of the wonderful truths about the Christian faith is that we have a God who has, in fact, told us who He is and what He is like. God is infinite (no limits), eternal (always was, is, and will be), and unchangeable (always the same, yesterday, today, and forever).  God is revealed to us in the Bible as the one, living and true God.  He reveals Himself in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.  Most importantly, God has revealed Himself in the person of His Son, Jesus, the Christ.  In the Bible passage above, Jesus proclaimed that if we have seen Him, we have seen the Father.  If you want to know what God is really like, look to Jesus.  See His compassion in welcoming the blind, the deaf, the diseased, the oppressed, and well-known sinners into His presence.  See His holy anger in rebuking the religious leaders of the day who talked a good talk but didn’t truly love Him with their heart.  See His love in dying on the cross for those who had sinned against Him.  See His power and authority as He forgave sins and raised the dead, and Himself rose from the dead as the conqueror of sin and death and hell.  See His tenderness as He gathers up little children and draws them to Himself.  In Jesus, we have the perfect revelation of God.

What went wrong?

“…Through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.” Romans 5:12

Have you ever been to a funeral?  Ever visited a family who has just experienced the death of a loved one?  Death is not natural.  We were not created to die.  We were created to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.  Death came into the world because of a rebellion against the Creator committed by the very first pair of human beings that God created.  Instead of giving God the worship and obedience and love that would have led to a life of great blessing, man rebelled against God by distrusting Him and seeking joy and peace by going his own way.  The Bible tells us that through Adam, we “all sinned” and the wages of sin is death.  The reason there is death, the reason there are floods that destroy human life, the reason there is cancer, and the reason you and I will both have to die is found in the reality of sin, which is nothing less than high treason against our Creator-King.  The wonderful truth of the Bible is, however, that God has acted to right the wrong!

What happens after I die?

“He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.  And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.” Hebrews 9:26-28

After death, all men will face judgment.  The Bible tells us that for all those who have  believed in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour, there will be an eternity of delight in the presence of the Lord.  Jesus said “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live”(John 11:25).  For those who do not believe in Jesus, the judgment that comes at death is a judgment unto condemnation.  Rather than enjoying an eternity of delight in the presence of the Lord, those outside of Christ will experience an eternity of despair, receiving the just wrath of God as the penalty for their rebellion against Him.

Can any Religion save me? What is unique about Christianity?

“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” John 14:6

Christianity is unique because it believes that Jesus, God’s own Son, spoke the truth when He said that He is the only way to the Father and that no one can come to know God the Father truly except those who have come to know Jesus Christ as their Saviour and Lord.  It is not simply that the religion of Christianity claims to be unique, but Jesus Himself claims to be unique.  He is the One who said “I and My Father are one”(John 10:30), He is the One who proclaims that He is “THE” way, not simply “A” way, He is “THE” truth, not simply “A” truth, and He is “THE” life, not simply “A” life.  The Bible is clear that our relationship to Jesus is the key to our salvation – the difference between eternal life and eternal death.  “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life”(1 John 5:12).  Salvation is found in no one else.

Who is Jesus Christ?

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation…  And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.  And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.” Colossians 1:15,17-18

“And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.” Hebrews 9:15

Jesus is revealed in the Bible as both fully God and fully man.  As God, He is before is all things and yet, as man, He also took on a human nature and was born in Bethlehem.  As God, He has power to heal, forgive, calm storms, turn water into wine, raise the dead, and Himself conquer death.  As man, He wept at the death of a loved one, He ate, He slept, He suffered, and eventually died on the cross.  Because Jesus is both fully God and fully man, He is the perfect and only Mediator between God and men.

Why the Cross?

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” Romans 3:23-26

The Bible tells us that the wages of sin is death and that all have fallen short of the glory of God.  Because God is holy and because God is just, the wages of sin must be paid.  If man were to suffer the penalty of his sin, no man could be saved, and yet, because God is just, sin must be dealt with.  God has dealt with the problem of sin by sending forth His Son to die on the cross. God’s anger against sin is propitiated, or satisfied, by the blood of His own Son.  The cross is God’s answer to the problem of man’s sin.  At the cross, we see both the great love and mercy of God in the giving of His own Son and we see the holy justice of God in that sin is atoned for.

How can I be saved?

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

“For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.” 1 Corinthians 15:3-4

“If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Romans 10:9-10

We are told in John 20:31 that we are given the record of the life and work of Jesus with one great purpose in view: “that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”  In answer to the question, what must I do to be saved?, the Bible responds, “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Believe that Christ died for sinners like you and like me.  Believe that Christ died for your sins, that He truly died and was put in a tomb, and that He truly rose again from the dead.  Confess with your mouth and believe in your heart that though your sin against your Creator God is great and deserves His wrath and judgment, He has poured out His wrath on His own Son Jesus who takes the penalty for our sin upon Himself.  Believe that He has risen!  Believe that He is coming again! Believe that He is the resurrection and the life and that those who believe in Him will not truly die but have life everlasting.

How can I learn more?

“Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105

“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” II Timothy 2:15

Living Hope Presbyterian Church is a confessional church.  What we mean by that is there is a system of doctrine, taught in scripture and summarized in the Westminster Confession of Faith that we adhere to.  It is in the study of scripture, and the helps like the Confession of Faith that we can learn more of the faith we confess.

Our system of doctrine, contained in the Westminster Confession of Faith, is summarized in the following paragraphs.

  • The Bible, having been inspired by God, is entirely trustworthy and without error. Therefore, we are to believe and obey its teachings. The Bible is the only source of special revelation for the church today.
  • The one true God is personal, yet beyond our comprehension. He is an invisible spirit, completely self-sufficient and unbounded by space or time, perfectly holy and just, and loving and merciful. In the unity of the Godhead there are three “persons”: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
  • God created the heavens and the earth, and all they contain. He upholds and governs them in accordance with his eternal will. God is sovereign (in complete control) yet this does not diminish human responsibility.
  • Because of the sin of the first man, Adam, all mankind is corrupt by nature, dead in sin, and subject to the wrath of God. But God determined, by a covenant of grace, that sinners may receive forgiveness and eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ. Faith in Christ has always been the only way of salvation, in both Old Testament and New Testament times.
  • The Son of God took upon himself a human nature in the womb of the virgin Mary, so that in her son Jesus the divine and human natures were united in one person. Jesus Christ lived a sinless life and died on a cross, bearing the sins of, and receiving God’s wrath for, all those who trust in him for salvation (his chosen ones). He rose from the dead and ascended into heaven, where he sits as Lord and rules over his kingdom (the church). He will return to judge the living and the dead, bringing his people (with glorious, resurrected bodies) into eternal life, and consigning the wicked to eternal punishment.
  • Those whom God has predestined unto life are effectually drawn to Christ by the inner working of the Spirit as they hear the gospel. When they believe in Christ, God declares them righteous (justifies them), pardoning their sins and accepting them as righteous, not because of any righteousness of their own, but by imputing Christ’s merits to them. They are adopted as the children of God and indwelt by the Holy Spirit, who sanctifies them, enabling them increasingly to stop sinning and act righteously. They repent of their sins (both at their conversion and thereafter), produce good works as the fruit of their faith, and persevere to the end in communion with Christ, with assurance of their salvation.
  • Believers strive to keep God’s moral law, which is summarized in the Ten Commandments, not to earn salvation, but because they love their Savior and want to obey him. God is the Lord of the conscience, so that men are not required to believe or do anything contrary to, or in addition to, the Word of God in matters of faith or worship.
  • Christ has established his church, and particular churches, to gather and perfect his people, by means of the ministry of the Word, the sacraments of baptism (which is to be administered to the children of believers, as well as believers) and the Lord’s Supper (in which the body and blood of Christ are spiritually present to the faith of believers), and the disciplining of members found delinquent in doctrine or life. Christians assemble on the Lord’s Day to worship God by praying, hearing the Word of God read and preached, singing psalms and hymns, and receiving the sacraments.