Frequently Asked Questions

Who are the authors of UnderstandChristianity.com?

UnderstandChristianity.com was developed and is maintained by an independent group of pastors who saw a need for simple, biblical explanations of Christian teachings and books of the Bible. The explanations and commentaries were written hoping to accomplish just that. We also wanted to provide good reference material for anyone who wanted to study what the Bible itself had to say about certain doctrines.

We pride ourselves in the careful and in-depth study of God’s Word in the original languages, Hebrew (Old Testament) and Greek (New Testament). We also believe that Scripture alone should determine our doctrines, and that therefore Scripture as a whole should interpret Scripture (in other words, our human reason or anything else is never to trump Scripture).

Above all, we believe in sharing the joy of the message of forgiveness in Christ with all people. Please keep us in your prayers that we can continue to point people to Christ’s saving work.

If you would like to know even more about what we believe and teach, then we recommend that you dig deeper into the explanations written on the site and let us know if you have any questions (submit one below).

What religious affiliation do the authors of this website have?

This website has been developed and is maintained by WELS (Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod) parish pastors and missionaries.  This is not explicitly stated elsewhere on the site because the website is an independent undertaking and is not officially developed and maintained by the synod.

We would like to ask for your prayers as we continue to share God’s gospel message of grace to the world.  Pray that God can work through UnderstandChristianity.com so that more and more people can enjoy eternal life in our Savior.

Why does God allow people to suffer?

Suffering is one of those strange things that God never wanted to happen but he allows to occur for his good purposes. While suffering is a result of sin coming into this world, there are benefits that come from suffering in this life.

First of all, suffering can actually help someone who doesn’t believe in God. God wants all people to look to him, but an unbeliever whose life is easy and full of happiness in their mind doesn’t really have much of a reason to look to God. By allowing suffering to affect them, God is trying to send them a wake-up call. See Amos chapter 4 for a look into God’s use of suffering to do just that.

Suffering is also good for a believer. Not only does it get a believer to look to God just as was stated above for the unbeliever, but it also helps strengthen someone to better face the trials this world has to offer. A weightlifter has to go through pain and hard work in order to get stronger, and it is many times the same way for Christians who grow in their faith. A good portion of Scripture for this would be the beginning of Romans 5. Suffering can also help eliminate aspects of our lives that are not good for us. In the same way that a refiner’s fire burns away impurities, so can suffering help us shed those things that are least important so we can focus more clearly on God.

But that isn’t all. Suffering can also be a good thing for those who witness the suffering of a Christian. If a Christian accepts their suffering in a godly way and focuses on God and his love, then those around them who witness this will only see the comforting effect that faith in Christ gives and that the Holy Spirit brings. A suffering Christian who looks to God can be a beacon for others to see and hear the message of Jesus, as well as a great example for other Christians to follow when suffering comes into their lives.

Yes, suffering can be a terrible thing, but God also has a way of using it for so much good. Ultimately, he just wants people to see that Jesus was the one who willingly suffered for us so that we can live with him someday in a place where there will be no more suffering (Revelation 21:1-5).

How do you know Christianity is the one, true religion?

There is one really easy way to see why Christianity is the one true religion: grace. If you look at every other religion in the world except true Christianity you will see that they all have one thing in common: they all require some sort of works or good deeds in order to get into heaven or whatever name they give the afterlife. Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, etc., all require you to do something in order to be considered worthy by God. Even some people who call themselves Christians teach that we must do something to be worthy of going to heaven.

However, true Christianity is the only religion in the world that believes the truth: that God did everything for us simply because he loves us. Because we are sinful, we don’t deserve to go to heaven or deserve to be loved by God, but he loves us anyway. That’s called grace. Because of God’s grace, he sent Jesus to bear the guilt and pay the punishment of our sins, and he declares us “not guilty” through faith in him. And that’s it! God has done everything for us. And in response to his love for us and doing so much for us we get to live lives of love in return–not so we can earn heaven, but simply because we can again through Jesus’ gift of salvation.

So you see, in a way there are really only two religions in the world: man’s way and God’s way. Thankfully God has saved us through his way, Jesus, and he wants us to know it through his Word.

How do you know the Scriptures are the same as when they were written?

The first five books of the Old Testament were written in roughly 1446 B.C., and as they were passed down other writings were added to them that had obviously come from God’s messengers and prophets. All of these Old Testament books had been written between 1446 B.C. and roughly 400 B.C. They were commonly written down on animal skin, and after the animal skins had gotten too worn out they would be copied letter-for-letter, with the originals being destroyed to ensure no one would misuse them. If there was ever a mistake in the copy, then they would also destroy that to ensure a perfect transmission of the text. All of this careful work was done because these people recognized that these were not just words but were the very words of God.

The Old Testament books essentially pointed forward to the coming Savior and included the history of that promise being fulfilled and many prophecies concerning him to ensure that future believers could successfully recognize him. For about 400 years, from 400 B.C. until the birth of Christ, people used the Old Testament Scriptures to look forward to his coming.

During his ministry, Jesus chose the 12 disciples, his close followers and students, not only to preach after his resurrection but also to remember his words and teachings. Jesus died on the cross some time between 30-33 A.D., and his disciples continued to preach and teach for the rest of their lives. At some point between 40 A.D. and 60 A.D. the first New Testament book was written by Jesus’ disciple Matthew. Between 40 A.D. and 100 A.D. some of Jesus’ disciples and some of their disciples wrote books and letters in order to pass down Christ’s teachings. The youngest disciple of Jesus, John, wrote the final book of the Bible, Revelation, sometime around 90-100 A.D.

How do we know all of this? People recognized back in the disciples’ time that these books and letters needed to be preserved, so many men dedicated their lives to copying the text of the books so they could be distributed and passed down for years to come. Again, these scribes knew they were transmitting the very words of God, so they took the utmost care in doing so. Even today we have thousands upon thousands of copies of New Testament writings, a few having existed around the time of John! By analyzing the thousands of copies which have been found in many different locations, and by dating these manuscripts through carbon dating and style analysis, we have today what we can be confident is 99.9% the same as the original text written by the apostles. And the amazing thing is that 0.1% left over doesn’t affect a single doctrine.

So, as you can see, we have much scientific proof that the Scriptures as we have them today are the actual words and teachings of Christ and his apostles. God has graciously preserved his Word over the centuries so we can be sure he has saved us through Jesus.

Where did Christianity originate?

If you were wondering the location of Christianity’s origin, then that would be the Middle East. Jesus specifically taught and preached in what we know as modern day Israel, and much of his teaching was done in and around Jerusalem. Following his resurrection, he commanded his disciples to spread the gospel message from Jerusalem to the whole world (Acts 1:8).

If you were wondering when Christianity originated, then the answer to that would be after the very first sin. A common misconception is that Christianity started with Jesus 2000 years ago, but only the name “Christianity” began around Jesus’ time. The faith of Christianity has actually been around since the beginning of the world–Jesus simply came to fulfill what had been promised to Adam and Eve after they fell into sin (Genesis 3:15; for more information, go to this page). The Bible is the history of that promise being fulfilled by God. That means true Christian history has been around since almost the very beginning of history itself.

How do we know the New Testament apostles were inspired?

Jesus told the apostles before his crucifixion that the Holy Spirit would guide them in all truth and remind them of everything he taught them (John 14:25-26; 16:12-15).  The apostle Paul emphasized many times that he was chosen by Christ to be an apostle to the Gentiles, the non-Jews (1 Corinthians 4; 2 Corinthians 12), and the disciples of Jesus accepted this as truth (Acts 15:1-21; Galatians 2:1-10; 2 Peter 3:14-16).  For these reasons, the first thing we ask when considering whether or not a New Testament book should be included in the Bible is to ask the question: Was it written by an apostle or a close follower of an apostle?  Since there is much manuscript evidence for the writings of the apostles being genuine, and since the early church accepted them as the Word of God being spoken through Christ’s chosen messengers, we also accept them as truth like the Old Testament writings.

Did God really command the Israelites to kill the people of Canaan?

The simple answer is: yes, God commanded Moses, Joshua, and the Israelites to kill all the people in the cities they captured, even the women and the children.

But why would an all-loving God command such a thing?   He explains why in Deuteronomy chapter 7: “You must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy. Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, for they will turn your sons away from following me to serve other gods, and the LORD’s anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you” (Deuteronomy 7:3-4).

He emphasizes this again a little later to the Israelites: “You must destroy all the peoples the LORD your God gives over to you. Do not look on them with pity and do not serve their gods, for that will be a snare to you” (Deuteronomy 7:16; see also Deuteronomy 9:4-6).

As strange as it might sound, God’s command to destroy those people was actually an act of grace on his part, and not just for the Israelites, but for all people.   God knew that the false gods of the other nations would infect the Israelites’ faith and turn them away from him, the only true God who saves them.   And keeping their faith pure was also important for us because they were the nation that would bring forth the Savior of all nations.   This command, though harsh, was given for the sake of all people.

How was this fair to the people who were being killed?   This was God’s judgment on them.   He was cutting short their “time of grace” (their time to come to faith in God’s grace through the Savior).   They were sinful and believed in other gods instead of him.   When God judges someone, he does so based on whether or not that person had faith in the Savior when they died (Acts 17:31; Romans 2:16; Hebrews 9:27).   Here, with these nations, God was declaring his judgment on them early–before they died.   If the people who died did not go to heaven, they only had themselves to blame because of their unbelief and rejection of the one, true God and his Savior.   And if any of those people did happen to have faith in God and the coming Savior, then those people got to go to heaven, a far better place than anywhere on this earth.

What is the sin against the Holy Spirit?

First and foremost, the sin against the Holy Spirit is not unbelief.  If that were the case then all of mankind would be doomed to hell because by nature all people are spiritually dead in unbelief when they come into this world.  See Rom 5:6-8, 1 Cor 2:14, Eph 2:1-5, Eph 2:12-13, Eph 5:8, Col 1:21, Col 2:13-14, Col 3:5-10, Titus 3:3-8, and 1 Pt 1:14-16.

The sin against the Holy Spirit is the deliberate, willful, and malicious rejection of the Holy Spirit’s work even after coming to the knowledge of the truth.  The Holy Spirit’s work is to proclaim the successful work of Christ throughout the world.  Essentially, the Holy Spirit’s work is to create faith through the gospel message.  After a person hardens their own heart against the gospel message over and over again, exhausting the patience of God, God can declare that person’s heart permanently hardened and their time of grace over.  Therefore, this sin is not committed in ignorance, but is a willful and deliberate rejection in spite of true knowledge.

For this reason, we know that anyone who is afraid they might have committed the sin against the Holy Spirit has indeed not done so.  The fact that they fear being guilty proves they have not hardened their heart.

Since neither you nor I can read a person’s heart, we can only go about our work as Christians assuming that everyone we meet has not reached this point and committed this sin, no matter how much they resist the gospel.  Great persecutors of the Church and outspoken enemies of Christians have eventually come to faith in Christ, so we must continue preaching the Word to all people under the assumption that they, too, can come to faith.  We will leave all judgments concerning the sin against the Holy Spirit to God himself.

For all Scripture references concerning the sin against the Holy Spirit, see Mt 12:31-32, Mk 3:28-30, Lk 12:10, 1 Jn 5:16, Heb 6:4-6, Heb 10:26-31, Eph 4:30, and Is 63:10.

Why doesn’t God just destroy Satan and his demons now?

The first thing to understand about God and Satan is that God does indeed have total control over Satan.  If he didn’t, then Satan would do far worse to us than tempt us.  Think of it as God having Satan on a leash, allowing him to go only as far as God determines.

Why does God even allow him any room to roam?  God allows Satan and his demons to tempt people for a couple of reasons.  First of all, as strange as it might sound, God is actually able to strengthen us through trials and temptations.  One major example of this in the Bible is Job.  God allowed Satan to inflict Job with many difficulties, but in the end Job was able to learn that he had been trusting in his own goodness instead of trusting in God’s goodness, and Job was later able to appreciate more fully the blessings God had given him.  When we are tempted by Satan and we overcome, we actually come out stronger and more ready to take on things the world throws at us.  And through it all we remember that God will never give us more than we can handle (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Another reason God allows Satan to tempt human beings is actually because it is a form of judgment.  Those who reject God and his teachings and instead chase after the empty promises and teachings of Satan only have themselves to blame.  God is always there to try to help them and strengthen them and to lead them to faith, but giving in to temptation instead following God, who always provides a way out of that temptation, shows that the person would rather choose to follow Satan.

But why does God still allow all of this to happen?  Why doesn’t he just end this world already and create everything new as has promised he will do?  Quite simply because of his grace.  He wants more and more people to come to the knowledge of the truth and to have faith in him so they can live forever with him someday in an existence without any evil or trials or temptations.  Why doesn’t he just bring someone to heaven right after they come to faith?  Because he has given us the ministry of the Word.  We are the ones who are to tell others about him so they can simply believe God’s Word and his promises for what they are–his Word and promises.  And so, in a way, God would want as many Christians as possible to stay on this earth so more and more people can hear his message of forgiveness in Jesus.

So yes, while dealing with Satan and his demons is a painful and trying experience, our omnipotent God is in control of all of it to ensure that we follow him and continue to help others.

What happens when a Christian dies?

Christian death can be a very difficult thing for those who care for the deceased person, but God assures us that we can rejoice when someone who has faith in Christ dies.

When we physically die, our body and our soul (also called our “spirit”) separate, and our soul “returns to God” (Ecclesiastes 12:6-7; see also Matthew 27:50 and John 19:30).  If we have faith in God’s forgiveness through Christ, then we (our souls) get to live with God in heaven until the Last Day, when God resurrects our physical body and unites it with our soul once again (see Luke 16:19-31; Luke 23:32-43; 1 Corinthians 15:22-23; Matthew 17:1-9 for examples, as well as Daniel 12:1-3; Hebrews 9:27-28).

However, if people reject God’s forgiveness through unbelief, then God in his justice sends them to hell (see again Luke 16:19-31).  On the Last Day, they will also be raised from the dead since Christ paid for their sin, but only to go to eternal punishment in hell (see Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

Is it wrong to live with your boyfriend or girlfriend before marriage?

Staying completely moral in any aspect of life is certainly never wrong.  However, because we are all sinful and all of us have to battle our sinful nature with its evil desires, it is impossible for us to live completely moral lives.  Satan is always looking for an opportunity to get us to follow our sinful nature and go against what God wants us to do.

For these reasons, while existing in the same room as someone isn’t necessarily a sin, it isn’t a wise thing to do when that person represents such a temptation to indulge in sinful desire.  The apostle Paul implores us to “flee from sexual immorality” (1 Corinthians 6:18), and living with your boyfriend or girlfriend presents too much of a chance for Satan to take advantage of you.  Not only this, but society’s view of an unmarried couple living together pretty much assumes that they’re having premarital sexual relations, and we don’t want to give offense and make others sin against us by thinking such things.

Is it a sin as a Christian to kill yourself in order to get to heaven?

Killing yourself in order to get to heaven is a terrible misuse, and quite frankly misunderstanding, of God’s gift of life.  God, obviously, doesn’t want us to kill anyone–murder is a sin.  God creates life (Psalm 139:13-18) and preserves life (Psalm 145:15-16).  Therefore, by killing yourself you’d be doing the exact opposite of what God does and desires to do.

This was actually a problem in the early church (the first few centuries after Jesus).  Some Christians didn’t want to take the chance that the devil would lead them into unbelief, so instead they killed themselves before he could get a chance.  Some even killed themselves the moment after they were baptized!  Augustine of Hippo (5th century) confronted this type of thinking in his book, The City of God .

Killing yourself in order to get to heaven is also one of the most selfish things a person could do, and for that reason it is a misunderstanding of God’s gift of life.  Why are we here on this earth and what is the meaning of life?  For a Christian that’s easy to answer: God has placed us here and has given us faith through His Word so that we can help others come to faith and look forward to heaven just like we can.  If every Christian killed themselves the moment they came to faith, then we’d be disobeying Jesus’ command of “Go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19).  The apostle Paul reminds us that God has graciously given us the ministry of His Word and the honor of representing Him in this life (2 Corinthians 5:11-6:2).

With all of that said, we cannot know for sure if someone who commits suicide will go to heaven because God does not explicitly say either way in His Word.  We know that God is just and that He will do the right thing.  We also know that God is gracious.  In this life, that’ll have to be enough for us (and it is more than enough!).

When is divorce permitted by God?

First of all, it is important to note that every situation is different, so a person dealing with the possibility of divorce will have to exercise prudence when trying to determine their course of action.  Different instances can give rise to different paths one should take.

God in His Word gives two different circumstances for permitting divorce.  Jesus tells us that one circumstance is “marital unfaithfulness” (Matthew 5:31-32, NIV84), which means the act of adultery.  The apostle Paul gives us the second circumstance that is commonly referred to as malicious desertion (1 Corinthians 7:10-15).  Malicious desertion can be characterized as someone abandoning their spouse and creating some sort of separation between the two where staying together would be harmful for one or both spouses.  This does not mean “irreconcilable differences” as we commonly hear about it today.  Instead, this would apply to such cases as one spouse leaving, moving away, and completely abandoning the other, or even abuse of some sort.  Physically harming your spouse is absolutely malicious and is the exact opposite of the care God wants us to give to each other, especially our family members.

If the abuser says they are a Christian, they need to seriously consider what they are doing in light of what God’s Word says about marriage and sanctified living in general.  Paul tells us, “Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8).  If, after being instructed in God’s Word on what they are doing they still show no concern, then the above passage from 1 Corinthians 7 may apply.

It “may apply” because, again, each individual situation will be different.  In everything, someone who is being abused should seek counsel from their pastor.  Their pastor will be able to help guide the married couple through everything that is happening and will provide any advice in regard to what should be done next.

If you know of anyone who is going through this, consult your pastor as soon as possible.

If I’ve been baptized, does that mean I can live however I want?

Baptism does save us and make us children of God (check out this page for more information). Baptism is essentially the gospel message, the message of our forgiveness in Christ, connected with water, and therefore it grants us faith to believe in that promise of forgiveness and justifies us in God’s eyes.

However, this does not mean that we should receive God’s grace in vain and live unholy lives just because we were baptized.  As children of God we are to live a life of thanks to God, and as parents we are to continue to instruct our children in the teachings of God and the way of living he desires, especially after our children have been baptized because it nurtures and nourishes that faith God has given.

If Jesus says he did not come to abolish God’s Law, then how can Paul say we are free from the Law?

The passage in question is Matthew 5:17-20.   In that passage, Jesus says, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”   The Pharisees and teachers of the law were claiming that Jesus was preaching against the teachings found in the Old Testament (back then known as “The Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms”).   They believed that people had to follow God’s Law in order to get into heaven.   But in these verses Jesus is trying to explain to the people that he is not abolishing the Scriptures and the Law, but actually fulfilling them on our behalf.   The “Law” contains God’s righteous requirements, and it shows us our sin and our need for a Savior who could substitute his perfect life for our sinful lives.   The writings of the Prophets were writings that prophesied the coming of such a Savior who would pay for our sins and give us his righteousness.   By coming to earth, living a perfect life, and dying for the sins of the world, Jesus was fulfilling God’s Law in our place and fulfilling everything the Old Testament writers had written and prophesied.

That is the reason Paul says we are free from the Law of the Old Testament, because Jesus fulfilled it for us.   Galatians 3-6 and Colossians 2 are good sections of Scripture that help explain this.   Jesus became a human being to live under the law and fulfill it for us, and now we receive his perfect life of following the Law–his righteousness–through faith in what he did on our behalf.   (See the sections Forgiveness of Sins for All People and Jesus is True God and True Human Being for more information.)

We are therefore free from the burden of having to keep the Law perfectly because Jesus did not abolish it–he fulfilled it for us.

Does God hold us accountable for sins in our dreams?

The Bible does not specifically tell us whether or not we are held accountable for the sins we commit in our dreams.

That said, it would be good to think about what a sin actually is.  The Bible describes Adam and Eve before the Fall into sin as being in “the image of God,” that is, in perfect holiness.  Basically when it came to their actions, their will was perfectly in line with God’s will.  A sin is deviating from that will (falling out of line with God’s will).  God would never want sinful thoughts to cross our minds because they would be falling out of line with what He says is good.

However, that still doesn’t answer the question because we don’t know if God holds us accountable for thoughts that seem involuntary.  But what can definitely be said is that sins in our dreams are certainly evidence of our sinful natures, which have soaked into us to such an extent that they even infect our dreams!

Another thing that can definitely be said is that whether or not God holds us accountable for those sins, He already sent His Son to die for all sin.  And someday we will get to enjoy an existence where our wills once again will be in line with God’s will because Jesus has secured our victory over this “body of death” (Romans 7:14-25).

If Mary was sinful, how could Jesus be conceived holy?

The Bible is very clear about the fact that Jesus was perfect–without sin (see Jeremiah 23:5-6; Matthew 3:13-17; 4:1-11; 5:17-18; 26:59-60; John 8:46; Acts 4:30; 7:51-52; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 7:26-28; 1 Peter 1:18-19; 3:18).

If Mary was a human being and therefore sinful (she, too, needed a Savior–Luke 1:47), how could Jesus be without sin?  We don’t know.  The Bible doesn’t specifically answer that question–all it says is that the Holy Spirit conceived Jesus within Mary.  Does this mean that a man and a woman need to conceive together in order for there to a sinful child?  We don’t know because God didn’t explain it to us.  All he tells us is that Jesus was perfectly holy from birth and he leaves it at that because that’s all we need to know.

What does the Bible say about the role of women in the church?

God does give separate roles to men and women in the church.  Paul mentions this a few times in his letters and emphasizes that man is the head of woman, and Christ is the head of man.  This means that in the same way man submits to Christ, so also a woman is to submit to man.  The difficulty in understanding this concept comes from the way we use the word “submit” today.  In our culture today, “submitting” has the context of being less important or even being in a slave-like position.  This is not the correct understanding of God’s teaching.  “Submitting” here is not a bad or shameful thing–it simply means that women are not to exercise authority over a man in the church (1 Timothy 2:12).  Woman is every bit important as man–they are equals–they just have different roles.  Think of it this way: in soccer, a goalie has a different role than a forward.  They are both important in their own way–they just have different responsibilities.

Since the headship of man reflects the ultimate headship of Christ, it would be disrespectful to Christ for men and women to dishonor their roles.  This means that men should act as the head and women should recognize that headship.  This is where the issue of silence and head-covering in worship comes in.  A sign of respect and recognition of these God-given roles back in the culture of Paul’s time was women remaining silent in worship and covering their heads or wearing a veil.  Women who did these things were culturally showing their godly submission to men in the church, and therefore they were also showing respect to the Christ, the head of man.

Why do we not ask women to cover their heads or remain silent in worship these days?  Because the culture of our time does not find it disrespectful for women to have their heads uncovered or speak in church.  It is good to reflect the different roles of man and woman through customs of dress and appearance if the perceived meaning of those customs corresponds to the different roles.  However, in our culture, head-covering and silence are not customs that reflect those roles.

Does this mean that women can be pastors then, too, if people don’t find it disrespectful?  This issue would go back to women not exercising authority over a man in the church.  While Paul refers back to the culture of his time to explain why women should remain silent in church and cover their heads, when it comes to the roles of men and women in the church he refers all the way back to creation.  This means that man being the head of woman in the church is for all people in all times and does not depend upon culture or time period.

This teaching is difficult to follow in our culture for a few reasons.  First of all, women have been battling for many years for political and social equality, and women not being pastors seems to fall into that same category.  However, the roles of men and women within the church are not determined by their value to God–a woman not being a pastor does NOT mean that God in some way devalues her.  Absolutely not.  He just simply has defined her responsibilities in his church to be different than that of a man.

Secondly, many women have many superb qualities that would translate into them being great pastors.  However, since being a pastor would require her to exercise authority over men in the church, she would actually be dishonoring her head, man, if she did so.  Thus it is better for women to translate their God-given qualities into areas that would not disrespect her God-given role.

The crux of the issue, though, is the fact that many men have just not done a good job of acting as the head in the church.  Many men have not reflected their Savior in their work, their authority, or their care of women.  If more men would step up and be good leaders and good pastors, then it would be easier for all people, men and women, to honor their role and the ultimate headship of Christ.  Pray that more men would show the kind of respect for their role that God desires of them.

With everything the Bible says about the roles of men and women in the church, it is vital to remember that the apostle Paul prefaced everything with these very simple, yet very important words: “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Eph 5:21).  This is our motivation.  We serve one another in different ways, but we do it all because we know we are serving our Lord and Savior.

How can one live right with God?

The reason all people ask this question deep down in their hearts is because God has given each person a conscience, and that conscience tells us something is wrong between us and God: God is holy and we have sin.  But recognizing this is very important because it is the one thing that naturally tells us we need a Savior from sin.

Sadly, many people feel their sin deep down in their hearts and come up with other ways of dealing with it.  Many people try to cover up their sin with good deeds in order to ease their conscience.  Many try to compare themselves to others in order to make themselves feel better about themselves.  And many people deny the existence of God and try to ignore their conscience altogether.

However, the only way to be truly right in God’s eyes is to be covered up with Christ’s righteousness.  He lived a perfect life for us and died to pay for our sin, so now when God looks at us he sees Christ’s perfect life instead of our sin.  The Bible calls this “justification.”  And we receive the blessing of being justified through faith in what Jesus did.  And since Jesus died for all people, that means unbelief is basically telling God you don’t want those benefits.

Living right with God, therefore, is trusting that Jesus has taken from you every wrong thing you’ve ever done or ever will do.  Through this faith and with the help of the Holy Spirit we are able to live God-pleasing lives while we’re here on earth as thanks to God for everything he did for us through Jesus.  And as we live these lives of faith we learn what God-pleasing lives are by looking at what God says about holy living in his Word, which helps us understand his will for all people.

What does Jesus mean when he says we must carry our cross?

In Luke 14:27, Jesus is teaching the people who followed him that they can expect many difficulties to arise in their lives because they are Christians.  Being a Christian in this world is not easy–many people oppose Christianity and love to persecute Christians.  The people Jesus was speaking to did not realize all of the hardships that would come to them.  They thought that following the all-powerful Christ would make their lives much easier.  By telling them that they’ll have to “carry their cross” Jesus is telling them not expect comfort in this lifetime, but suffering because of the sinful world (the “cross” was a torture and execution technique used by the Roman government–it was a very painful way to die).

However, Jesus is telling them to carry their cross because he knows that it will all be worth it in the end.  Not only do sufferings strengthen us in our lives here on earth, but when God calls us to heaven we can expect a life without suffering–a perfect existence in his love.  That is why we Christians accept the persecutions we face in this world, because we know that in the end we will have eternal comfort thanks to Christ and the faith God has given us in him.

What does the Bible say about dressing modestly?

See 1 Timothy 2:9.  When it comes to dressing modestly it really comes down to the question, “How can I glorify God in my culture?”  The influence of culture is one of the most important factors in determining what is modest and what is not.  The point of dressing modestly is to make sure we don’t cause someone else to sin by thinking lustful thoughts or by thinking sinful thoughts of jealousy or criticism.  The culture that you are surrounded by will determine where those lines are drawn.

Dressing in a way that your culture deems modest is a God-pleasing thing.  Using dress as an attempt to get sinful attention in some sort of way is really dressing to glorify ourselves and not God.  This does not mean that we have to wear clothes that force attention away from us or look “ugly,” but just that we want to be respectful to those around us and to God.

What did Jesus do between the ages of 12 and 30?

The Bible actually tells us nothing about what Jesus did between the ages of 12 and 30.  When Jesus was 12, he went to Jerusalem with his family (Luke 2:41-52).  After that, the next thing we hear about is his presence at a wedding in Cana (John 2:1-12).  All the Bible tells us is that “Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52).  Therefore, we assume he lived with his parents and did what almost all children did back in his day: he worked with his father.  That is why you will often see Jesus in paintings working as a carpenter.  His earthly father, Joseph, was a carpenter.

Other than that, we cannot tell you what happened with Jesus between the ages of 12 and 30.  What we do know is he was perfectly obedient to his parents, and he did it for us in order to fulfill God’s Law on our behalf.  Then when he was 30, he began to preach and teach and show his real power, which all pointed forward to his death for our sins three years later.

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