On Sunday, July 15, I took a leap of faith and opened the floor to questions from the church, Grace Point. I’ll be honest, this can be intimidating, but it is also a great opportunity to connect with those in attendance. To facilitate the questions, I provided everyone 5 minutes to write their question down. After collecting all the questions, they were randomly drawn from the basket. After reading the question, I did the best I could.
Here are a the questions I did answer:
Explaining Heaven & death requires a true explanation of God and his intent for relationship with humanity. The Genesis story of Adam and Eve helps us see God created humanity without death and in relationship with him. Adam and Eve’s decisions to disobey God brought forth the consequence of separation from God and death. Heaven is the full reconciliation of our relationship with God and the new life that overcomes death. This new relationship and new life is only possible through trusting in Jesus and his life, death, and resurrection on our behalf. So, to sum it up, death is a consequence of our broken relationship with God. Heaven is God’s promise of a restored relationship. Jesus is the way we overcome death and experience Heaven.
To be honest, I’m not sure there is intelligent life here, but let’s assume there is :). The scriptures do help us see that there is life beyond what we see and experience here on planet earth. Unseen beings such as angel, seraphim, cherubim, demons, and devils are described in the scripture (See for examples Isaiah 6:1-6, Daniel 10:7-11, 2 Kings 6:8-17, Ezekiel 1) . These creatures are not what we typically are referring to when we we ask the question of intelligent life. As to whether intelligent or sentient life lives on other planets is unknown and the scriptures do not indicate one way or the other concerning this. Did or would Jesus die for them? Consider this from Paul’s letter to the church at Rome:
For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. Against its will, all creation was subject to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day with it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. (Romans 8:19-24)
If God is the creator of all things, then if there is extra terrestrial life, it is part of his creation. It too longs for the fullness of salvation that Jesus purchased through his redemptive work.
The sacraments are the holy acts done by God through his people. In some Christian traditions, the acts of communion and baptism along with a few others are considered sacred and to be performed only by the priest. This notion that only a priest can perform these acts is linked to the concept of the Levitical Priest. In the Old Testament, we see detailed instructions regarding the work of the priest with regards to the sacrifices, tabernacle, holy furniture, and temple. These priest were of a direct lineage and were tasked with certain holy activities as mediators between God and man. Through the centuries some have still seen certain activities directed by God for the church to partake of as needing proper administration or supervision. This has led to the continuance of priest and the establishment of various sacraments. Across Christendom, there are two holy acts that are universally accepted, communion and baptism. How these acts are seen and administered varies depending upon tradition and one’s interpretation of scripture. Yet, each would tradition would recognize the supernatural work of God’s grace being associated with each of these acts. To preserve or protect the sacredness of these acts, and possibly the accessibility, these acts in some traditions are only administered by priest. This serves to highlight their weight as well as the need for qualified officers of the church. As a result some perceive that man still needs a mediator with God. Yet, the writer of the letter to the Hebrews helps us see that there is only one mediator and that is Christ Jesus. His mediation on the cross and through the resurrection allows us to draw near to God through the Holy Spirit. Therefore we do not need another human mediator. And the holy acts are available for each of us to conduct in reverence to God. (See Hebrews 4:14-16, 1 Peter 2:9, Matthew 28:18-20, 1 Corinthians 11:23-33)
One of the hardest things in life is to wrestle with the gap between our intentions and the results of our actions. More often than not, we intend good for others and ourselves, yet that is not what typically takes place. Even when we know the right thing to do, too often we do the wrong thing. Paul addresses this issue as he looks at the power of sin in relationship to the Law of God. In his letter to the church at Rome, Paul explains how he feels powerless to do what is right because his knowledge of what is wrong is awakened by the Law of God. He explains his battle of wanting to do good but doing wrong. He identifies the problem as the sin that lives in him (Romans 7:7-24). At some level Paul’s description is early familiar to us, because each of us has wrestled with this. We wrestle with sin because it is part of our genetic make up, passed down from our spiritual and physical parents, Adam and Eve. Paul goes onto describe us as slaves to sin. For many, this explains everything, but don’t stop with Paul’s explanation of being a slave to sin. Go onto the rest of Paul’s discourse in the following chapter. In chapter eight, Paul emphasizes the freedom from slavery that we have available to us through Christ Jesus! We don’t have to settle for the gap of intention and action. We can be empowered through Christ and His Spirit to overcome sin. Our good intentions are not enough, we need the empowerment of Christ in our lives. On our own turmoil will be a common result in our lives. Through Christ freedom, grace, hope, and love will occur, as we rely on his strength and power. Take the time to pray and ask God to empower your life.
There are times when we read through scripture and it seems to contradict other passages. Before you assume that the Bible contradicts itself, pause and ask yourself a few questions about the section(s) you are reading. Understand the Bible is not one story or one illustration. It is several stories and illustrations. Each letter, record, or conversation that is captured has a distinct audience. The interactions are specific to the audience. In Matthew 10, Jesus is letting his disciples know how difficult it will be as one of his followers. Jesus paints a picture of trials, hardships, and divisions. Each of these is a reality because of war that exists in creation. Jesus came to bring an end to the war through calling all to side with him. Ultimately, not all will take an allegiance to Jesus, so division will continue. In the end, when the final division occurs, it will not be Jesus casting judgement upon those who followed him and those who did not. The judgement on those matters has been made prior to Jesus’ final declaration. You and I choose our own allegiances (Jesus or our selves). Jesus simple makes these judgements final as he announces the decisions we’ve made. You see God does love us so much that he has made it possible for us to choose Jesus. God does love us so much that he has done everything necessary for us to be aligned with Christ. Yet, you and I must still make the choice. Ultimately, that choice will divide us from those who have chosen to go a different direction than we have. God is his grace and mercy allows us to choose our own way. What have you chosen.
These are the summation of the answers I gave. I hope to include other questions submitted and add my responses. What responses would you give?
Pick a question and post your response. Start your response by identifying the question first, then type away!
Thank you for reading this and interacting with me on this issue. Thank you to GPers who have trusted me to give honest answers.