What if God’s plan doesn’t want something important to me to go right?

Question: The Bible always says that God will make everything all right in the end, and if something doesn’t go right, it’s because God’s plan says it’s not supposed to go right. I know that’s supposed to make you feel better, but it does the opposite for me. What if God’s plan doesn’t want something important to me to go right? Please help, because this is one of the main reasons why I feel my faith is weak. For some reason, just “trusting the plan” doesn’t make me feel any better.

Answer:  There is an entire book in the Bible devoted to the search for some guarantee that our lives will go right.  It is the book of Ecclesiastes.  The author sought to “gain” a bright future through various means including wisdom and folly.  He discovered that folly is sure to bring pain and misery, but that even wisdom and behaving wisely cannot keep things going right.  And the ultimate proof of that is death.  We’re all going to die.  God will not rescue us from that negative future.  What he finally counsels is to enjoy the happy moments of life but prepare for the unhappy ones, especially death.  And above all, keep God’s commands.
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Is It Okay to Re-Imagine Bible Stories in a Fictionalized Manner?

Question:  Is it okay to retell Bible stories? I know there are many stories inspired by the Bible; it’s such a powerful book full of wonderful stories, so it’s kind of difficult to be a writer and not be inspired by biblical themes and lessons. However, I’m wondering if it’s alright to re-imagine Bible stories in a modern or fictionalized manner, and if so, what sort of rules should a writer follow when doing so?

Furthermore, I read somewhere that writers have rewritten the entire Bible to read and flow more like a continuous story. Is it acceptable as long as they give it a different title and keep it separate from the actual Bible? What do you make of that?

Answer:  Every time we preach or teach the Bible we are re-telling it.  We re-imagine it in the sense of seeking to understand how it applies to us today.  If you do a fictionalized version of a Bible story that is true to the intent of the original author and seeks to be accurate in regard to the cultural setting I think you do us a service.  You are creating a sermon on Scripture for us.

Yes, a continuous story Bible should identify itself as such.  That’s a helpful tool for understanding the Bible.

Why Do Good Things Happen to Bad People?

Question: Why do Good Things Happen to Bad People?

Answer:  There are several reasons good things happen to bad people:

  1. God loves bad people.  Jesus taught us to love our enemies and that this is loving like God the Father loves.  He sends life-giving rain on the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45-48).  We sometimes call this “common grace.”  God gives grace, undeserved favor, to people who are spitting in His face.  He still loves them.  They are made in His image and matter to Him.
  2. The image of God in us expresses itself in doing powerful and good things for others.  God created and so do we (in our limited way, of course).  We are driven to make a positive difference in our world and the benefits of that coming from all those who use their gifts from God for good are that good and bad people experience good things.
  3. God shows kindness to bad people to lead them to repentance (Romans 2:4).  Gratitude is a pathway to repentance.  If they resist such kindness they will experience His judgment in the end.  He compassionately reaches out to those who may yet reject Him.

What Are the Proper Elements to Use in the Lord’s Supper?

Question:  My Church has been using Oyster Crackers for unleavened bread ? And Grape Juice for the wine. I am very concerned about the Crackers. Are we not supposed to use unleavened Bread ? I’m very concerned !!!

Answer:  Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper during Passover and at Passover they would only use unleavened bread to remind them of the day they left Egypt in haste and left behind all the old life.  There is nothing said in Scripture about what exactly we must use in our supper to commemorate Jesus’ sacrifice and promised coming again, but we have historically used elements similar to those at the Passover dinner to show continuity with that past deliverance and our own.  Jesus is our Passover Lamb.

But I don’t believe we are required to use unleavened bread.  There are some places on earth where believers would have a hard time coming up with either of these elements (I’m thinking Papua New Guinea and other remote places).  The most important thing is that we are recognizing in these elements the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ for us and anticipating the great wedding feast of the kingdom when we will sit down to meal with Jesus as his bride and commemorate the coming of the kingdom to earth.

Is Isaiah 38:1-4 a Clear Example of God Lying or Changing His Mind?

Question:  How is Isaiah 38:1-5 not either God lying or God changing His mind?

Answer:  Here is the passage:

In those days Hezekiah became sick and was at the point of death. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him, and said to him, “Thus says the LORD: Set your house in order, for you shall die, you shall not recover.” Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD, and said, “Please, O LORD, remember how I have walked before you in faithfulness and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in your sight.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.  Then the word of the LORD came to Isaiah: “Go and say to Hezekiah, Thus says the LORD, the God of David your father: I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will add fifteen years to your life.

In a sense that is like asking,  “Why pray, we can’t change God’s mind? ” There is no doubt some mystery as to how prayer works. I would argue that God does sovereignly determine the course of life’s events but knows in His plan that we will pray and plans on answering those prayers.  But what about this particular incident with Hezekiah?

We see the same pattern with Hezekiah as we do with Jonah, when God tells the people of Nineveh through Jonah that in three days they will be destroyed but he only tells them that so they can have a chance to repent.  He only sends Isaiah to tell Hezekiah he is going to die so that Hezekiah has a chance to pray for another option. And then God rewards prayer with an answer.

As with much prophecy in Scripture that is negative in scope, there is this implied opportunity to change the outcome if Hezekiah responds, just as there was an implied opportunity for the people of Nineveh to respond and change the outcome. We are not used to these kind of prophetic situations so we don’t understand the implications. If Hezekiah doesn’t respond the way he did he does die as God foretold. God’s communication is not intended as unalterable. Hence,  no lie or changing of mind.

Interestingly,  we learn that Hezekiah had to go have a poultice applied to his wounds in order to be healed.  A supernatural healing through natural means.

Should I leave Catholicism?

Question: I am very concerned as I am a catholic and was wondering if our Lord meant that my church is Babylon and to leave the church, because of all the scandal that it has been going through lately. do you think I have reason to be concerned?pope-francis-2-300

Answer: There have been Protestant interpreters who have identified Babylon with the Catholic Church in the past and probably some who still do, but I find this interpretation very questionable. It is designated as a city, and though it is said to sit on seven hills in some translations (as Rome does), if the word here means mountains instead that would not apply to Rome. If mountains is intended it would be symbolic rather than strictly geographical, mountains representing places of power and authority. Babylon would be in control of seven kingdoms in this interpretation.

I think the best reason to leave the Catholic Church would not be for the scandals of late. Every human organization will have fallen human beings doing bad things that need to be dealt with. That is why Jesus taught a way of dealing with sin in the church in Matthew 18:15-20. The reason you should leave it is if it is in disagreement with the clear teaching of Scripture. Protestants have had problems in this arena with the fact that the Catholic Church, in our opinion, has obscured the gospel and the way of salvation, making it seem too much like it depends on our works to get us to heaven rather than the finished sacrifice of Christ. Martin Luther’s concern was that the Bible teaches justification (being declared righteous before God) by faith alone.

Protestants have also disagreed with vesting authority in one man in the church, and even with the councils of the church, as they can be fallible and it would seem to have indeed failed to preserve the teaching of Scripture. We see Scripture as our final authority, though we value the tradition of the church as a help to correct interpretation of Scripture.

Do you know that you have a saving relationship with Jesus Christ? Are you being taught in your faith to grow in grace and becoming more Christlike in your life? Is the church helping or hindering this process? Can you learn from both sides of the aisle? Do you really give allegiance to the Pope? These are the kinds of questions I believe are most important to answer in this consideration.

Isn’t worship of God just paying off the bully so He won’t bother me?

Question:  The fact that sin has to exist, otherwise no one would worship a god for saving us from it, and also if nothing bullyinghappens unless it is God’s will, then it must have been God’s will for Eve to eat the fruit and introduce sin.
 No sin, no need for a savior, no savior, no worshiping a God for saving.  Besides, if God made the rule that death was the punishment for sin, then sent himself/his son to be sacrificed so we are saved from that, then why are people worshiping this God? When all it is saving us from is delivering the punishment he intended to all along.   It’s like worshiping someone for not beating you up, its like God is cutting you so he can sell you a bandaid and then be praised once your cut has healed isnt it?
It doesn’t make any sense at all.

Answer:  You are assuming, first of all, that there is no reason to worship God other than salvation from sin.  This is like saying I cannot appreciate Yosemite’s glorious peaks unless I know something of the trash heap.  He is eminently worthy of praise because of His greatness.  But since He won’t force anyone to worship Him, yet loves us and knows we need to worship Him for our own good, He provides motivation and warning to stay in the right place.  Yet when we fail to heed the warning and make the most stupid choice possible anyway, He does not abandon us but provides a way to rescue us that is fair.  Your second assumption is that we don’t deserve to be “cut” or experience death for our disobedience.  If that wasn’t the fair and necessary consequence for our rebellion against the One who made us, then it was stupid for God to enter our world as one of us and pay that penalty Himself.  But if it is the only way to fairly deal with sin then He has done us the most magnificent service anyone could ever do for someone else.