Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Nature of God (Part 2) - Why does God send people to hell?

This topic became longer than I expected and so I had to split it.
Today I want to focus on the bigger question about the Nature of God.
And this is for people who have read the Bible...

Like I said about "Easter", we use that day to celebrate Jesus' sacrifice. However, some people, who may have skimmed over the Bible will think that there is quite a strange change between the Old Testament and the New Testament (these are the two main parts of the Bible).

The old testament is very different from the new testament.

The old testament speaks of the Almighty God and his power and influence on the ancient world. There are many wars that take place in the old testament and God himself has made it known through the prophets that it is He who causes the nations to rise and fall. He sent out plagues upon the Egyptians in order to free his people. He obliterated Sodom and Gomorrah. He wiped out the entire earth in a flood.

Then you may look at the new testament and read the story of Jesus. Jesus did not kill anyone. He healed the sick. He fed the hungry. He did not oppose the law, but even paid his taxes. He calmed the storm and walked on water. And when he was crucified on the cross, he forgave everyone who did this to him. On top of that, the act of sacrifice was to forgive the whole world of its sins. As long as people believe in his sacrifice, he offers them salvation... eternal life...

The old testament is full of God's wrath. There is much bloodshed. He even commands the Israelites, His chosen people, to destroy and conquer other nations.

The new testament is full of God's mercy. The only bloodshed is the sacrifice of martyrs who are persecuted and killed for their beliefs. God commands the believers to preach the gospel to all nations and to love your enemy. No killing. Only love and peace.

Why is there such a difference? Is this really the same God? How can Jesus and God be alike when it looks like the two testaments are completely contradictory?
Honestly, this is a really difficult thing to explain, especially to someone who does not or will not read the Bible. But I will try to explain this as best as I can.

Before we continue, we must make one assumption that is based on the Bible:
God is in control of everything.
To some, the concept is comforting. To others, the concept is scary.

Some people have this idea that God is some old guy who lives in the sky and created everything but doesn't really care about what he created. This idea of God is very different from how the Bible describes God. According to the Bible, God cares for everything. He is always in control. It is God who chooses where you are born. It is God who provides for all the living creatures, telling them where to go to find food and shelter. It is God who determines when you are born or when you die.

People don't like the sound of that. People like to be in control of their own lives, their own destinies.
We do have control over certain things. Unless we are being held against our will, we can choose what to do, where to go, what to eat... We do have some freedom. It's called free will. How then is God in control?

God controls our CIRCUMSTANCES. We control our DECISIONS in those circumstances.
There are circumstances to everything, and in those circumstances you make decisions based on what you can or cannot do.

How much control does one really have? If people put their mind to it, they can surely try to achieve great things. Some people might try to walk across a continent,  swim across a large body of water, or climb the highest mountain. But can you choose when or where you are born? Can you, as a fetus, declare that you don't even WANT to be born and would rather just stay in your mother's belly? There are things that are out of our control. Pertaining to death, you can certainly take your own life, but... can you control where you end up after you die (assuming there is an afterlife, the existence of which you still have no control over)?

Why am I writing about these things? Because there is something I want to make clear. God wants to save people from the ETERNAL death. God uses his control to accomplish this goal.

As long as we are on this earth, we are going to die. We cannot avoid this. Science can maximize your life span by keeping you healthy, but it cannot make you immortal. Whether a baby dies as soon as its born, or whether a man lives to a hundred and dies of old age, they both die in the end.
I don't want to make light of death, but this is the fact. You cannot escape physical death.

Then what is important? Is living your life to the fullest important? What's the point of it? Everything that you do right now... will be forgotten. Even as I write this blog I know that these words will not live on.
WHAT IS IMPORTANT? If we will die, then death (as an inevitable fate that we will all face) is important! And what is MORE important is what is after death... Heaven and hell.

What does Heaven and hell have to do with the Nature of God? The existence of Heaven and hell once again allows us to see that nature. God is trying everything he can to save us from the eternal death, that is... hell.
You may ask, "Why would God create hell in the first place? If God loves everyone, why does he have to send people to Hell?"

The important thing to remember here is that the current image and concept of hell is one formed by the human imagination. The Bible does not say anything about God creating hell. If you have a Bible, or you could just go to Biblegateway, check out the first verse of Genesis and confirm this to be true: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 

It does not mention hell.

Hell may not be a place he needs to create. There are no words in the Bible that say that God created a terrible place full of torment where he calls upon demons to torture people for eternity. This is just what people have imagined. As a Christian, I believe what the Bible says, not what people say.

In fact, the Bible says very little on the topic of hell. It only tells us what we need to know: hell is a place where the fire never goes out AND if we are not saved, we will be thrown into hell.
Fire? Fire is a physical thing. It is something we experience on this world. Hell is a spiritual thing, a separate existence from this earth (otherwise we'd be able to find it).

What we can conclude here is that the concept of fire is a REPRESENTATION (a symbol) in a way that is easy for us to understand. It may not be a literal fire at all. It could just be that the fire describes a painful feeling of torment. But where does this torment then come from? The torment comes from ourselves--our sin torments us. Hell... could just be a place where we are thrown... a place of true separation from God... and by being completely separated from God (the source of all good) we drown in the fires of our own doing/ and as demons (fallen angels) are separate from God too, we can certainly expect to find them there as well.

Okay, so hell may be of our own doing... but then why would God send people there?
Ever hear the saying: "My house, my rules"? Heaven is God's house, so to speak. If you don't follow the rules, you are simply kicked out. Unfair? If you barged into a stranger's house, would they not kick you out? If you don't follow God's rules, you are a STRANGER to God! It's not like his rules are complex. It's not like he's telling to you swim across the Pacific ocean, win the lottery ten times in a row, and eat a mouthful of poop. He's just telling you to believe! Because whether or not you get into his kingdom is up to him!

This is the reason why God is the same in the old testament and new testament: the situation is severe, therefore God methods MUST be severe. God does not want to kill, but he has no choice if people refuse to repent of their sins.
I don't want to continue this post for much longer so I'll only go through one example: the global flood.

Why did God wipe out the whole Earth in a flood? It states very clearly in the Bible that at that time mankind was terribly wicked and their thoughts were only full of evil all the time. You may think: "Oh, it can't be that bad, can it?" Ah, but there are criminals in this world that are full of wickedness, such that even if you give them a second chance they'll commit another offense. Imagine a world FILLED with these kinds of people who are willing to kill, steal, cheat, lie, abuse, assault...all the time! This is the kind of world they lived in!

You may think: "Oh, but I'm different. I would never do such a thing." Or "Society is different now. That was the past."
You think that way because things are (relatively) peaceful nowadays. But the world has always been filled with crimes against humanity. Take a look at War Crime . You'd think a soldier would have some code of honor. You'd think a soldier would be disciplined. But in a war against another nation, these soldiers are quick to exploit the population--mass slaughter, mass rape of women and children...and these things happened less than a century ago(see WW2) in a time when we could've considered people to be civilized!
And these crimes still continue today in countries full of war, turmoil and strife.

Why did God have to flood the Earth? Because people are easily influenced! If you are taught from the moment you are born that killing is good, would you think otherwise? But you were taught differently, which is why you can't understand what it feels like to be on "the other side" of the perspective. Even young children in some countries are given guns and used in war as soldiers. Killing is a way of life for them because they feel as though they don't have a choice. In some countries killing is more acceptable than in other countries! In some countries the abuse of women is seen as okay because the man "owns" the woman! It's not simply just about right and wrong. Even culture plays a part in morality!
In order to save the future generations from the eternal death, God HAD to erase the great wickedness on the earth. If God had not done so, then the children will all grow up to be like their fathers and mothers, doing whatever wicked thing they please. And then all the future generations will have been led to their doom--complete separation from good in the place known as hell.

I have gone on long enough about this. Perhaps I will continue this again another time.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Nature of God (Part 1) - Why do bad things happen to good people?

"Easter" has come and gone. To many it is a day of bunnies, eggs and chocolate. But to us, Christians, it is a day of celebration because our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, died for our sins and rose again victorious.

Sorry. I have to apologize. I know that.. .to someone who is not a believer, perhaps it all sounds a bit odd and confusing. Yet that is the only way to write about it. There are many questions that this would bring up to people who do not believe in Christ. How do we know that Jesus is really the Son of God? If he is God, why does he have to die for sins?
I do not wish to touch upon these things just yet.
But today I wanted to write about a very special aspect of this: The Nature of God.

Last time, I wrote about whether or not God exists. This time, assuming you believe that God does exist, you might now wonder... what kind of God is he?
People say God is good. Is he really? People say God loves us. Does he really?
I think a lot of people are very confused about the nature of God. And so... it is my duty to try to explain this as simple as I can in the Christian way of thinking. However, I am sure it will still be confusing.

I think this statement is both popular and fitting for the topic:
"Why do bad things happen to good people?" When we say this, it's usually because we want to add something else to it. "If God is real... If God is good... If God loves us..."
If God is real, good and truly loves us, why does he allow bad things to happen to good people?
Surely bad people should just have bad things happen to them. And good people should have awesome lives in which only good things happen to them. That would make life amazing.
Be good. Get rewarded. Be bad. Get punished.
Then everyone will want to be good!

First of all, I want to say that the statement is very subjective. What is good and what is bad? We humans usually have a general idea of these things. The Good? Having everything your heart desires. Being comfortable and happy. Having lots of friends. The Bad? Tragedy, illness, crime, war, and death.
I don't want to pretend that bad things don't happen. They happen.
I can't ignore that.
You see it on the news all the time.
A natural disaster devastates an area and people lose loved ones and their homes. Some evil people go so far as to exploit and use people to satisfy their own selfish, wicked desires.
Does that mean that God is not good? Does that mean he does not care?
I don't think so.
After all, you need to see the bad to understand the good. If you were never hungry, would you understand hunger? If you were always rich, would you understand what it means to be poor? You can look and observe other peoples' circumstances, but until you experience the bad, you cannot appreciate the good. And more importantly, you need to see the sin... to understand God.

What is this truth that can be revealed by the terrible things of the world? Sin exists. Look at humans and look at the world around them. Why are we so different from the animals? A species of animal will be bound to the instincts of that particular species. Whether they will have one mate or multiple mates is not up to them, but up to their "design." But humans are different. We can choose. Do we want to love and marry one person? Do we want to love and marry more? Do we not want to marry at all and either be promiscuous or chaste?

That is not all. Animals only kill to either feed themselves or protect themselves. Humans may kill another for a wide variety of reasons (love, hate, protecting their reputation). Even if some humans may steal out of need and hunger, many humans will still steal just because they can (looting during crisis and chaos). 

Choice is not a sin. But through their choices you can see sin. Even if you believe that humans are naturally good, you cannot also deny the fact that there is so much evil in this world. People will lie, cheat and steal. They will hate and discriminate based on nationality, gender, race or religion. There are "good" people in this world. I don't want to make it sound like it's all bad. But I just want to drive home the fact that good people... are not always good people.

"Why do bad things happen to good people?"
Do all murderers and serial killers look the part? If it were that simple, they'd all be caught! No--people can hide their true selves, they can hide behind a mask, behind a lie. The only way to convict someone of a crime is through evidence, not by appearances. Appearances are deceiving!

Then who are these good people that you speak of? You do not know everything about a man. You cannot claim that those people who look good are good. They may give to charity, may say wonderful compliments, but still could be rotten on the inside. That man/woman you think is perfect may loathe their own selves!
Then who are these good people? Are you perhaps... referring to yourself?
Do you consider your own self to be good? Interesting.
I won't judge you. I am not the judge. I have no qualifications to deem one person good or evil.
Then... who does? If God exists and he makes the rules, I'd say he has the authority for such things.
Your word against his.

You know what? Let's throw out the original question. Perhaps it doesn't reveal our situation in the first place.
It is no longer a matter of "Why do bad things happen to good people?"
The real question is: "Why does sin happen to everyone?"
And the answer is... because sin helps us understand the nature of God. And no, it's not because it shows that God is evil. Think about this. Life could always be worse. You could be homeless, starving, with a terrible illness, blind, deaf, mute, and without any arms or legs. Life could always be worse. Hitler could have won World War 2. Life could always be worse. Instead of Christians preaching hope, love and salvation, we could just be preaching that there is no hope--that the one true God just said that we're all going to Hell and there's absolutely NOTHING we could do about it. And whether or not you believed in Him made no difference.

No, I don't believe that sin shows that God is evil. Rather, through sin, we can see just how good he really is. Like two sides of a coin this universe is full of opposites. Light and darkness. Good and evil. Positive and negative. By seeing the bad, we can see the good. And by experiencing the bad, we can turn to, what we believe to be, the only source of good. God.

You may be experiencing the effects of sin in this world. Perhaps you are in great suffering and wondering if God really cares.
Well... you need not wonder why you are suffering.
It's because of sin. Sin is real.
There is one thing you must understand. Everyone will die on this world.
Death, even though it is considered a bad thing by some people, is also an inevitable thing.
But because you can experience this suffering, I hope you go to the one who can ease and even deliver you from that suffering. Because God cares. He's not letting you suffer in vain. A moment of suffering will lead you to him... so that you will not suffer the worst fate.

I urge you to seek out testimonies of people who found the goodness of God. One story deeply moved me. It is about a child who was forced into sexual slavery, a life of prostitution. Things were so bad that she was beaten and ended up in a hospital. While on the hospital bed, she earnestly, desperately prayed for God to help her. He saved her from that life by sending people to look into her case and give her a home and family.
If you are skeptical about that story, ask yourself this: would someone really lie about such things?
What do they gain? A laugh? Who would laugh over such a story?
I do not benefit from your belief, neither do the people who write their testimonies online.

I have more I wish to think about. But for now, let's leave it at that.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Does God Exist?

It is time to begin our long and arduous journey.
And what better way to start our journey than to talk about the very existence of God?

Does God exist? This is NOT a question that has plagued man for hundreds of years. No--for humans have always believed in the existence of some form of god: whether it be some form of nature (like the sun or the moon), some idol made from human hands (Greek gods, Roman gods, Egyptian gods), or... an all-powerful creator.

It's easy to dismiss most of these gods as nothing more than myth. After all, nobody has ever seen the real form of Zeus or Osiris, nor can they claim any kind of reason as to why these gods don't reveal themselves.

To most people, they are nothing more than characters in a story. And...the sun? We know what it is today. It's not a god. It doesn't even have free will, thoughts, or feelings
It doesn't talk or care about anyone or anything.
It's just a star--a ball of energy suspended in space... for no particular reason at all (that is... unless you believe in God, who created this system specifically to sustain life, give us days/nights and seasons).

These are modern times. We have science. We can study how everything works. We are logical. We are intelligent. Therefore, we can see that gods do not exist. And we see that humans only cling to such things... because it's in their nature. Is that true?


A human exists because we can see them, hear them breathe and interact with them. Every person has a name. They all live in this mortal plane of existence along with us. Therefore, they exist. Even black holes exist, though we can't truly see them, but we can study what they do and see their existence through their effects.

But what about God? If he's real, why doesn't he just show himself? Aren't we in the same boat as before?
What separates the concept of a one true God from the concept of gods? There's a reason why so many people still believe in God today, and why not as many people still believe in the Egyptian gods.
That is because, in many ways, as hard as it is to accept the existence of God, it is equally hard to deny it.

What? What am I saying? Didn't we just conclude that God can't exist by our standards? But since when have our standards meant truth? You all know that there are many people in this world. Everybody has a different mind, different upbringing, and ultimately, different conclusions on concepts about the meaning of life, what to believe, etc. You can test certain things and say, "Aha! That's right!" But there are some things you can't test.

You can pluck a piece of grass, leave it on the road and observe its death. You can prove that it will die. But can you PROVE that God does not exist? It's impossible. You can most certainly try. But.. .the very concept of God cannot be disproved, as much as it can't truly be proved. Convenient, isn't it (for believers)?

Let us consider some methods to test if God is real. How would we test something like that?

1) I'm going to pray to him and have him do something. If he doesn't answer my prayers, he's not real.

That doesn't prove anything! If God is real, why does he HAVE to answer your prayers? If you call me (especially in an ill-mannered attitude), I'm certainly not going to answer. If you call someone on the phone and they don't pick up, does that mean they don't exist? Of course not! That just means they CHOSE not to answer. If he is the most powerful being in the universe, what gives you the right to push him around?

2) We can't see/hear him. Therefore, he doesn't exist.

You know, some people claim that they have seen him. Does that prove he exists? No. It's one word against another. Once again, I will use the concept of a black hole. You cannot see it, but you can know it exists by the effects it has. But God doesn't have effects on this universe! Or does he? Perhaps everything that works the way it does... is because of his hand... controlling EVERYTHING. Remember, the concept of God we are trying to grasp is one that is ALL POWERFUL. Maybe God creates gravity to keep us on a planet. Maybe God watches over every single seed, allowing it to grow. We observe these things and see that they work/grow on their own, but is it impossible for some unseen force to be in control of everything? Or is that possible? Is that a truth? Or a lie? Can I prove that? No.

We humans are pretty limited. Have you seen the whole universe? No. Does every aspect of the universe exist? Yes. Just because we do not see it, does not mean it does not exist. People are more quickly to believe in the existence of aliens or ghosts. I won't say whether or not such things exist. I will say that nobody has proved or disproved such things either. Why? Because you just can't. Unless you have explored every single area of this universe, you cannot say that aliens do not exist. Unless you have the ability to see the dead in spectral form, you cannot say that they do not exist either.

We could go on and on about this. The fact of the matter is... belief does not change fact or fiction.
Whether I believe in God or not, does not change whether he is real or not. He is either... real... or just a product of our imagination.

Does God exist? I have already stated that, in my own opinion, there is no definitive way to prove that God does not exist because the very concept of God is one that is both difficult to prove and disprove. Is it all hopeless then? You've come here seeking an answer. You want to know: "DOES GOD EXIST?"
There is, however, one way to prove that he does exist.

Think about it. If you want to prove I exist, you can bring someone to see me. But unless I want to see you, you will not see me, or at the very least, you will have a difficult time doing so. I can run away. I can hide. Am I saying that God has hidden himself from us? Or perhaps... we have hidden ourselves from God.

This is not a game of cat and mouse. If you want to know whether or not God exists, don't ask me. Ask Him.
"But what if God doesn't exist?" So what? This is a personal thing. You don't have to stand on the highest mountain or building and shout. Afraid of being ridiculed? You can just ask Him quietly in the privacy of your own room. There is nothing embarrassing about it.

Does God exist? I can't prove that to you. There's only one way to know. And that's to pray to Him. So pray to Him. See for yourself. If God is real, he can make himself real to you. He can give you a sign. He can give you a vision.
If God is not real, then... that's it.
Your journey is over. What harm was done in seeking the answer to your question?

But keep this in mind. If God is not real, you have no reason to exist--you were just a mistake of nature (a beautiful, well-designed mistake). But if God is real... then there is a reason.
If I make something, it is because it has a purpose. Why would I waste my time making something I don't care for? People make paper to write on, people write programs to accomplish many different tasks. Things that are created have a purpose, whether big or small. Even a terrible drawing might just be imbued with the deep feelings of the artist.
If God is real... you are real.

If you have decided to give God a chance, please visit here for information on how to be saved.