Know Your Faith

”Who made God?”

That God is pre-existent and eternal implies that concepts of space and time cannot apply to Him. Words like “before” and “after” are creature-concepts and cannot be applied to the One who exists outside created space and time. Therefore, to ask “Who made God?” is to ask the wrong question about God and to attempt to bring Him down to our level.

The fact that the created universe (with its billions of galaxies) is infinite is already an idea hard for our finite mind to grasp. How then can the human mind understand the infinite and invisible God who holds this visible universe?

Scripture references: Col 1: 15 – 17, Ps 90: 2 – 4

from Alpha materials

”How can Jesus be God and man at the same time?”

For a finite man to become an infinite God would be an impossibility. But for an infinite God to take on the form of a finite man would be something entirely possible with God. Therefore, it is believable for God to take on human flesh in Jesus Christ. Therefore the issue is not whether a man can become God but rather whether God can become man.

However, the mystery of incarnation is not explained fully in Scripture. We are simply told that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of Mary, a human mother. The result of this supernatural conception within a human womb is that Jesus was born divine and human at the same time.

Scripture references: Lk 1: 35, Jn 1: 1, Phil 2: 6 – 8

from Alpha materials

”If Jesus is God, how can He still be the Son of God?”

When we say that Jesus is God, we are describing his essential nature. When we say He is the Son of God, we are describing His relationship with His Father whose essential nature is also God. We don’t mean that Jesus is God and also His own Son.

This is analogous to saying that Tan Ah Kow is a man, describing his essential humanity and at the same time saying that Tan Ah Kow is the son of man (his father), describing his relationship. And Ah Kow’s father is also a man.

Scripture references: Mt 3: 16 – 17, Jn 3: 16 – 18

from Alpha materials

”Aren’t all religions the same and teach us how to be good?”

While it is true that all religions have moral teachings, it does not necessarily mean that all religions are the same, any more than to say that all living things are the same because all living things are composed of 75% – 90% water. The things that make plant life, animal life and human life different are their differences, not similarities.

Christianity is different from other religions in 4 very important aspects:

(1) in other religions, it is man seeking God; in Christianity, it is God seeking man;

(2) in other religions, salvation is a reward earned by self-effort (good works); in Christianity, salvation is a free gift to be received by faith;

(3) in other religions, we make atonement for our own sins; in Christianity, God Himself made atonement for our sins;

(4) in other religions, heaven is a hope; in Christianity, heaven is a certainty.

Scripture references: Rom 5: 8; 6: 23

from Alpha materials

”Where in the Old Testament can we find prophecies about Christ?”

It is estimated that there are in the Old Testament, 300 prophecies of the first coming of the Christ and 500 of His Second Coming, all of them made three to seven hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus Christ, the Messiah. Following are some examples of OT prophecies:

  • “Seed of a woman”: Gen 3:15, Isa 7:14 (Gal 4: 4)

  • Descendent of Abraham: Gen 12: 3, 18: 18 (Mt 1: 1, Acts 3:25)

  • From the tribe of Judah: Gen 49: 10 (Lk 3: 33)

  • Born in Bethlehem: Micah 5: 2 (Mt 2: 1, Lk 2: 4 – 7)

  • Born of virgin birth: Isa 7: 14 (Mt 1:18, Lk 1: 26 – 35)

  • Triumphal entry into Jerusalem on a donkey: Zech 9: 9 (Jn 12: 13 – 14)

  • Betrayed by a friend for 30 pieces of silver: Zech 11: 12, Ps 41: 9 (Mk 14: 10, Mt 26: 14 -15)

  • Silent to accusations: Isa 53: 7 (Mt 26: 62 – 63. Mk 15: 4 – 5)

  • Soldiers divided his garments and gambled for his clothing: Ps 22: 18 (Mt 27: 35)

  • Crucified, “pierced through hands and feet”: Zech 12: 10, Ps 22:16 (Mt 27: 35, Jn 20: 27)

  • His side pierced: Zech 12: 10 (Jn 19: 34)

  • Deserted by God: Ps 22: 1 (Mt 27:46)

  • Vicarious sacrifice: Isa 53: 4 – 5, 6, 12 (Mt 8: 16 – 17, Rom 4:25, 5: 6 – 8)

  • Buried with the rich: Isa 53: 9 (Mt 27: 57 – 60)

  • Deserted by His followers: Zech 13: 7 (Mk 14: 27)

  • Christ at the right hand of the Father: Ps 110: 1 (Heb 1: 2, 3)

  • The way prepared by John the Baptist: Isa 40: 3, 5 (Jn 1: 23, Lk 3: 3 – 6)

  • Galilean ministry: Isa 9: 1 – 2 (Mt 4: 13 – 16)

  • Speaks in parables: Ps 78: 2 – 4 (Mt 13: 34 – 35)

  • A Prophet: Deu 18: 15 (Jn 6: 14, Acts 3: 20 – 22)

  • Priest after the order of Melchizedek: Ps 110: 4 (Heb 5: 5 – 6)

from Alpha materials

”If God is love, why does He send people to hell when they do not believe in Christ?”

God has never intended men for hell. His eternal plan has been for His children to inherit the new heavens and the new earth at the end of time. Hell was created as the final place of judgement for the devil and his angels: “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Mt 25: 41). Men in their sin have aligned themselves with the kingdom of darkness. So, unless they repent and return to God and acknowledge Him as their Father, they will go where their father, the devil, goes. But if they repent and acknowledge Goad as their Father, then they will be where their Father will be – the new heavens and new earth.

God in His love put into effect a rescue plan to save mankind from the awful consequence of their sin. This plan requires God to sacrifice His only Son to death at the Cross. People who rejected God’s rescue plan have only themselves to blame for ending up in hell because they choose to reject the life-line God has thrown out to save them.

Scripture references: Jn 3: 16 – 18, 2 Pet 2: 4

from Alpha materials

”I am basically a good person. I don’t do things to hurt or harm other people. Why do I need Jesus Christ to die for me?”

Sin is not just wrongdoing but the Bible defines sin as the rejection of God’s rule over our lives: “For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.” (Rom 1: 21) It is this root sin of rejection of God that leads to the darkening of our hearts.

Jesus identified the source of all our human sins as coming out of the human heart: “For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean.’” (Mk 7: 21 – 23) If we are honest with ourselves, we can easily identify with most of the sins Jesus listed as coming from a defiled heart.

from Alpha materials

”How can we sure the Bible is God’s Word, and not just a collection of religious writings by men?”

When we say that the Bible is “inspired”, we mean more than that it is “inspiring”. We are saying that the Author behind the Bible is God Himself, though He has employed human agencies in the production of it. We compared that to the analogy of a treasure in an earthen vessel. The container God uses is imperfect men but the content He imparts is perfect divine truths. God speaks through the limitations of human vessels, but the Holy Spirit enables us to look beyond the humanity of the containers to the content of divine revelation.

There are some arguments to support the claim that the Bible is no ordinary human writings:

  1. Testimony of Christ: Jesus Himself accepts OT scripture as God’s Word (Mt 5: 18, Jn 10: 35)

  2. Internal testimony: Scriptures make the claim to be God’s Word.

  3. Fulfilled prophecies: of Israel’s and world history before Christ and of Christ Himself; also subsequent history after NT.

  4. Unity of Scriptures: despite the many authors (40+) and time span (1500 years), the Bible has one central message: God is love and forgiving and seeking to restore sinners back to fellowship with Him.

  5. Ethical superiority: biblical ethics form the foundation of western civilization.

  6. Changed lives: where the Bible has been read, lives have been transformed.

  7. Historical reliability: despite critics’ attempts to relegate Bible stories to mythology, archaeological discoveries to date have continually attest to the historical accuracy and reliability of biblical stories.

Scripture references: 2 Tim 3: 16 – 17

from Alpha materials

"How do we know that the four Gospels in the New Testament give an accurate account of Jesus’ life and ministry but not the other so-called gospels like the gospel of Thomas or Judas?"

Through the recent movie, The Da Vinci Code, many people have heard that there are other “gospels” beside the four canonical (accepted by the Church) Gospels we have in the New Testament, viz., Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. These non-canonical gospels (e.g. gospels of Thomas, Barnabas, Peter, James, Philip, Mary of Bethany, etc) were circulating in the second century but were not included as part of our New Testament. Questions may be raised regarding why the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) are included in the New Testament while the other gospels are rejected.

The four canonical Gospels were written in the first century (between AD 65 – 100) and were widely quoted as authoritative by the early church fathers from the second century onwards. On the other hand, the non-canonical gospels were mostly written in the second or third century and were rejected by the early church fathers. Some of the doctrines in these gospels were gnostic and inconsistent with the canonical Gospels.

The idea of a New Testament canon is a developing one as early documents of the apostolic church were written in response to historical situations. Those that had the stamp of apostolic authority were copied and circulated by the early churches. In time, these documents were generally recognised as having apostolic authority and therefore inspired writings for the church to use. The books of the New Testament canon were finally established between the fourth and fifth century.