The following are answers to questions asked by a then-12 year old girl. This young lady had had a very, very difficult life, but was very bright and determined. At the time she wrote the note to me asking these questions, she had only recently come to live with her father – a godly man. Now a teenager, she has grown into a beautiful and sharp young woman.
She has given her permission to use our correspondence for this post.
1. Why do people look so depressing, sad, and miserable when we pray?
This is a good question. There is no good reason to be sad & miserable when we pray, but I think you are right that sometimes we look that way.
I guess the reason is that people want to be reverent, or to be serious, when they approach our Holy God. This is a good thing, since the Bible calls us to “Fear the Lord”. (Deuteronomy 6:13; Proverbs 9:10) BUT, if Christians do not have joy as they pray, then they are forgetting that God loves us; that He is our Father, and wants us to come to him with joy & thanksgiving. We are unbalanced between Fearing God & Loving God.
2. Why does God choose some people, but not all, to spread His Word?
I am guessing that you have two questions combined here.
First, Why does God not call everyone to be a Christian? The answer is that everyone is to hear the call to follow Christ, but only those God chooses are able to become Christians. Why does he choose some but not others? We don’t know.
Second, Why are not all Christians called to spread his Word? The answer: All are called to spread his Word, by teaching and by our actions. Some are called to spread his Word to other countries. Some are called to spread his Word by preaching in the church. Some to spread it by teaching Sunday school. Others are called to spread it to their friends, neighbors, and family. Not everyone does it, but all are called to spread the Word somewhere & somehow.
3. Why did God flood the earth when not everybody was being bad?
If you read Genesis 6:5 it says “The Lord saw …man’s wickedness…” There was no one good on the earth, everyone was being bad. Romans 6:23 says: “The wages of sin is death.” This means that anyone & everyone who sins deserves death – in this case by drowning in a flood.
In Genesis 6:8-9 it says “Noah found favor in God’s eyes…” and “…he walked with God”. This does not mean that Noah was perfect, and that he was not doing bad – though he was better than most men. (Remember Romans 3:23 “All sinned… fall short of the glory of God.”) That he “found favor in the eyes of the Lord” means that God chose to love him even though he was a sinner. Genesis 6:9 says: “Noah was a righteous man”… this means that he believed in God, and trusted God for his salvation. Noah did not believe he was good enough, and knew he needed God’s grace. (Romans 1:17 tells us that righteousness comes by faith. Hebrews 11:6 says: “Without faith it is impossible to please God…”)
Now the great thing about this is that God does the same thing with us. You & I, and everyone else, are sinners. We may be better than many people, but we are still not perfect like God wants us to be.
But read Romans 5:6-8… Is that great or what?!!
The important thing, though, is to believe what God has provided for our salvation from his punishment. For Noah it was the Ark, but really it was a Savior. For us (and for Noah, too, really) it is Jesus – a person not a boat!
Read 1 John 5, and it shows the importance of believing & trusting in Jesus for our salvation and forgiveness of our sin.
(A guy named Fritz Ridenhour has written a cool book for teenagers, How to Be a Christian Without Being Religious. It is about all this Romans stuff. I have a copy if you want to borrow it from me.)
4. Why does God make some peoples’ lives worse than others?
This is a difficult question, and I am so sorry that you have had some very hard things happen in your life. But the best way I can answer this is in two ways.
First, sin is in this world and hurts people –both those who sin and those they sin against. It will continue to hurt people until Jesus returns to take us with Him. This does not mean that God does not love us or care for us, or that he will not protect us. He does, and He shows it all the time. But what he also does is remind us that someday soon he will take us where there is no sin.
Look at it this way, before your Dad had you with him, he loved you, and cared for you. He gave you some good times, even though some bad things were happening around you. But he also told you that he wanted you to live with him. Even before you got to live with him you had both good & bad times. You looked forward to when you could be with him, and this gave you hope. Now that you have moved in with him many of the bad things are away from you. God continues to give us this same type hope when he reminds us of heaven – except all bad things will be away from us in Heaven. Until then our lives will be mixed with good and bad.
Why are some worse than others? That I do not know. The book of Job is a good example of your question, but God does not totally answer it. God simply says we should trust him, because we know He is good.
Second, some of our hardships come from decisions we make. There are consequences to our actions. If you commit a crime, you may go to jail. If unmarried teenagers are sexually active a pregnancy may result.
5. How does God choose when He wants your life to be over?
That is a mystery, but we know He is good and works out everything for His glory and the good of those who trust him. (Read Romans 8:28)
6. How is God with every church in America at one time? (In the whole world?)
This is another mystery. But God is a Spirit, and is not limited as we are to space.
7. If Jesus knew that he was gonna die why didn’t he run or hide?
This is one of the amazing things about the love Jesus has for us! Jesus indeed did feel the very things that we might suppose he would. Matthew 26:36-39 records that in anticipation of his crucifixion he said, “My soul overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death…” and praying, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.” What he meant by cup is “take away the wrath I will have to feel”. But amazingly Jesus said, “Yet not my will, but your will be done.” In other words, “Whatever you want, and whatever it takes, Father, I will do it!”
So why did he do it? Romans 5:8 says, “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” 1 John 3:16 says, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.” So the answer to your question is that Jesus felt like running away, but he loved us so much he would rather do what God wanted him to do than to save his own life. I am always amazed that I am loved that much – and so are you!
8. Why does God make some people bad and some people good?
Romans 3:12 says, “…there is no one who does good, not even one.” So it is important to realize that any goodness we think we see in ourselves or others needs to be compared to the holiness and perfection of Jesus. None of us measures up.
However, it is true that God allows some to act worse than others. Why does he keep some from certain sin, and allow others to hurt people? I don’t know. I only know that he is good, and that apart from his salvation & grace I would do more evil, and be condemned for it. But, in his grace, I do some good, and by faith all of the things Jesus did are counted as if I did them.
9. Why does God make some people cute and some people ugly?
Proverbs 31:30 says: “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting…” So before answering about God’s reasons, it is important to realize that standards of beauty are different from culture to culture, and from generation to generation. Proverbs tells us both that those who have physical beauty (or cute-ness) may eventually no longer be considered beautiful or cute, and that even if beauty were maintained there is no guarantee others would think so as perceptions change. So to answer your question with a question: What is cute?
However, the more direct answer is that God makes all people as he sees fit. It is the real beauty, what a person is, that God is most concerned with. And that is what he wants us to be more concerned with.
10. If we are not supposed to re-write the Bible, then why do people make new copies?
God commands us not to add anything to what he has told us, nor to take anything away from what he tells us. That is what is meant by not re-writing the Bible. However, since the Bible is to go to many different people, and in many different languages, it is appropriate that his Word be translated into different languages.
As for the many English versions, they all say essentially the same thing, but just have a different way of saying it. This is because they were translated by different people, in different generations.
It is true that some people make different emphasis because of the way they read the different words. But people do the same thing even using the same translations. People are limited in knowledge, and tend to filter everything through their own experience. The Scripture does not say different things to different people. God always has one meaning. Our responsibility is to be faithful to determine what that is. One day, however, all our disagreements will be settled, and we will know without question what the Scriptures mean. (Read about the Bereans in Acts 17:10-12)
11. If God knew that Adam & Eve were gonna’ sin why did he put that Tree of Good & Evil in the middle of the Garden?
Some think God was being mean, to put that tree there but telling Adam not to eat from it. But if you read the story, God told him he could eat from any of the many other trees. So it is important to see first that God is good and generous. He is not mean and selfish.
But why did God put that tree there? My short answer is this: To show us how much he really loved us.
While many people may disagree with me, let me try to simply explain.
Good and evil both existed, though Adam did not know anything about evil, and evil did not hurt him. God, in love, warned Adam not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good & Evil. Why would he need to know more? But evil still existed, as the opposite of Good.
It also was a way to test man’s love for God. Was God enough for Adam? Or would Adam want to “know” stuff apart from God? It was not intended to tempt Adam, though that possibility existed. It was a way for Adam to know his own heart.
Now, here is how God’s love is shown… It is easy to love someone who is good. It is difficult to love someone who is not good; someone who hates you. By eating from that Tree, Adam & Eve rebelled against God. In essence they said: “I hate you… you are not enough for me.” But they had no excuse. They had everything they needed in and from God. But they wanted more.
But God still loved them. So instead of killing them and starting over, he revealed a plan how he would win them back… A plan that so clearly shows God’s love, and wisdom, and grace, that it is glorious! He would redeem them back by sending his own Son to pay the price of their sin – and all the sin that would come from that first sin! (Genesis 3:15 is the first promise of Jesus.)
So God allowed the Tree to be there so that if – when – they disobeyed for no reason, he could prove His justice, wisdom, kindness, and how much he loved us.
12. Why does God let some people be poor and some rich?
I don’t know why he chooses some to be rich, and others to be poor. But I do know that he says that it is hard for rich people to become Christians. (Matthew 19:24) Because, I suppose, rich people trust in themselves and their money for everything, and not on Jesus Christ. But God also blesses the poor in a very important way. James 2:5 says:
Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the worldto be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?
It is important to remember that almost everyone in the USA is rich compared to most people in the world. You may not feel as rich as other people you know, but compared to people in other countries, you are. And it is also important to remember that Jesus was born poor. But 2 Corinthians 8:9 says:
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.
13. Why did God let Saddam attack America?
Why does God let there be war? War is a result of sin in the hearts of man.
James 4:1-2 says:
What causes fights and quarrels among you?Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet,but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight.
War is just bigger; when groups or countries fight against each other. Saddam is just one man who in this age has chosen to go to war in a big way. In the past there have been other men, like Hitler, who started wars.
Why did it happen to America? I can only ask: Why not? Because of Sin we all experience trials & hardships in this life. (1 Peter 1:6) Our country has largely been spared, but God never promises that no hardship will come; only that He will see us through. And, while we don’t like to admit it, Americans have sin that offends people. That does not justify the killing of the people on the planes or in New York, but we must remember it is a part of living in a fallen world.
However, when Jesus returns, all will be well for those who trust Him.
14. Why doesn’t God come to earth right now? What is God waiting for?
The Disciples asked this very question in Acts 1. Jesus’ answer was that “only God knows.”
I don’t know why He has not yet returned. But I do know He will return when He is ready; when the time is just right.
15. Why do people make up lies about how the universe was made?
Lying or not, people are wrong when they deny that God created the world from nothing, in six days, and all very good. Some are not “lying” because they have been deceived. But they are no less wrong.
On the other hand, sin leads to hard hearts; hard hearts lead to hating God. Hating God leads to pretending he does not exist. And some people, because they are still in sin, are trying to pretend God does not exist. And to them if God doesn’t exist, then he cannot have created the universe.
The problem for them is, that God is there, and He did create all things; and he continues to sustain all things.
16. Why doesn’t everybody believe in Christ? Why doesn’t God make everybody believe in Him?
Sin prevents people from believing. The Bible calls people “Dead in sin.” Dead people can do nothing to help themselves do or believe anything. The amazing thing is that some of us do believe. And that is because God chose us, and has made us alive. He has given us faith to believe; it is a gift. (Ephesians 2:8) (Read Ezekiel 37 – Ezekiel preached in a grave yard, and the dead bones came to life!!)
Why doesn’t God make everyone believe? I cannot answer that. I only know that all deserve death (Romans 6:23); that those who are condemned get what they deserve (and what we deserve); and that we who are saved do not deserve it (we are no better, smarter, cuter, etc.), but have been given a gift that glorifies God’s justice & grace. This is known as the Doctrine of Election.
17. Why does God give more talent to some people than others?
While all people are equally created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), and thus are equal in value, not everybody is the same. Like wealth and beauty, God chooses who he gives certain talents to. It is not because they are deserved, but just because he chooses. We don’t know “why” he does what he does. We only know that he is good, and does what is good. Because he is good, it is right; it is not “unfair”.
But it is also important to know that God gives to each person talent; and to each Christian Spiritual gifts. Everyone has them, uniquely given by God. We are told to learn what our gifts & talents are, to use them wisely for the benefit of others and the glory of God. We are also told that those who use them wisely may be given more, while those who do not use them wisely may loose them.
18. Do you have to go to school in Heaven?
In heaven you will have all knowledge. You will not know everything God knows, but you will know everything you need to know. So… I don’t see any reason to go to school in heaven…except to have fun!
19. Why did God make some teachers meaner than others? (Like Mrs. Quigley?!)
While I can’t comment about Mrs. Quigley, I can comment in general. Some teachers are mean because they have hard hearts, caused by sin. They express meanness instead of expressing love. They need to be prayed for, just as Jesus said to “pray for your enemies”. (Matthew 5:44)
On the other hand, sometimes we just think people are mean when, because they really love us, they are firm & demanding. Good parents are the best example. When they “punish” or discipline us, it is because they love us and want for us to know right from wrong. Likewise, a good teacher wants you to learn all you can learn, and will push you to do so. We pray for these people too – thanking God for putting them in our lives.
The hard part is being able to tell the difference.
No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peacefor those who have been trained by it. –Hebrews 12:11
He who ignores discipline despises himself, but whoever heeds correction gains understanding. –Proverbs 15:32
20. How does God let parents know what to name their baby?
There are some cases in the Bible where God specifically told parents what to name their babies. In many cultures names have some significance about the person, but not always. But the Bible does not command anything about names, so parents are free to choose whatever name they like for their children.
21. Does God not let you into Heaven if you didn’t get baptized? If he doesn’t, why doesn’t he let me get baptized?
While God does command us to be baptized, the baptism is not what saves us. The baptism is required to be part of the church on earth – of which God wants all Christians to be members. But it is possible to go to heaven without having been baptized. This should be unusual, but it is very possible. (If you want to talk more about baptism, I’d be happy to answer any questions you have. Hopefully we can have you get baptized very soon.)
22. What does Satan look like? Does anybody know?
Satan is deceitful, but nobody knows what he looks like. While because of his evil he is the epitome of ugly, Ezekiel 28:12 says Satan was created “…perfect in beauty.” How he has fallen!
23. What does Jesus look like?
There are no records as to what Jesus actually looked like. Interestingly, especially in light of the description that Satan was created in beauty, Isaiah 53:2 records of Jesus: “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.” This does not mean that Jesus was necessarily an ugly-looking man, but many believe he was physically unattractive, but nevertheless a beautiful man. (Read Isaiah 52:14, and it suggests that the absence of beauty was after his beating and torture… “disfigured”)
24. How will we know when Jesus comes to Earth if we don’t know what he looks like?
The best answer I can give is that when Jesus comes “riding in the clouds” (Psalm 104:3) all who believe in him will recognize him. Revelation 19:11-16 is a picture (probably symbolic) that is unforgettable & recognizable. But the best answer, I believe, comes simply from Jesus: “My sheep listen to my voice.” (John 10:27) Like a sheep recognizes the voice of the shepherd, so will those belonging to Jesus somehow recognize his voice.
25. What if somebody was not from a family that didn’t believe in Jesus but wanted to be a Christian? How do they become one?
While God has established a Covenant with his people, and blesses the households of believers who are faithful to that Covenant, God must save each person. One is not a Christian because he or she grows up in a Christian home. Each child must learn & understand that he/she is a sinner in need of a savior, and that Jesus is that Savior. He died on the Cross to take our sin; and he was Resurrected to give us Faith to believe. It is by repenting of our sin & Faith in what Jesus did for us that we become Christians.
For a person from outside a Christian home to become a Christian, he/she must learn & understand the same thing. However, it will not come from their parents. They will hear about Jesus through a friend (or a Missionary). But when they believe they will be every bit as much a Christian as the believing person who comes from a Christian home.
NOTE: You can be that “friend” to those at your school. (Matthew 28:18-20)
26. Why does everybody look so sad during Communion?
This is another good question, similar to the one you asked about prayer. However, in communion there may be more reason to look sad, though it should also bring joy.
When we come to the table we are reminded that we are sinners, and that Jesus had to die to pay the price for our sin. (Romans 3:23; Romans 6:23) That should make us sad, because someone else “got in trouble” because of something we did. Jesus took our punishment, although he was good. He is the only one who is. But even after we become Christians, and are forgiven our sin, we still sin. (1 John 1:8) And so being reminded of this, we may feel sad.
On the other hand, God the Father demonstrated his love for us by sending his Son; and Jesus demonstrated his love for us by coming (Romans 5:6-8; Philippians 2:5-11). He died on the Cross to pay what we were powerless to pay. We have been set free. He loves us! So for that, we should feel good.
Each time we come to the table we declare that. (1 Corinthians 11:26) And so we may feel both sad & happy at the same time. But in the end, we should be happy, because the truth of God’s Grace is Amazing & Great!
27. Why are only men allowed to be Elders, Deacons, and Pastors?
First, it is important for you to know that a Pastor is an Elder – no more, no less. A Deacon is different, but he is important. But this is another good question. Many people do not believe this, though the Bible teaches about this.
In 1 Timothy 3 & Titus 1 God, through Apostle Paul, gives us the requirements for these two offices. In each the requirement is that the person be a godly man. It is not because women are not good enough, or smart enough, or not important. It is just the way God created things. However, some people have used this to believe that women are not supposed to do important things in the church. That is wrong. And as you grow up, you should use all your gifts & talents in the church, for God’s glory and the good of others.
So, the short answer is, for whatever his reasons, that’s the way God set it up. (We can talk more about this if you want more info.)
I hope these answers to your questions helped.