Sunday, June 23, 2024
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Latest Online Messages

Listen online to the latest messages from Pastor Bob and others at Shoreline Community Church...

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Where Honest Questions Are Entertained

Grab a cup of coffee and let's talk...

How can I follow a God who sends people to hell?

God's chief desire is that we would avoid hell. The Scriptures tell us that He sends Jesus into the world to save us from the consequences of our rebellion (hell) rather than to send us to hell (John 3:16-21).

Why isn't it enough just to be a good person?

Christianity is not first and foremost about morality; it is about relationship. God is a person, not a thing, and desires that we relate to Him as a person. If He is the creator, the One in whom all things begin and in whom all things find their completion, then it is with Him that fullness of life is found.

The same is true about our future. Scripture describes heaven as the place where God is. It isn't some perfect amusement park that we somehow squeak into by the skin of our teeth. If we embrace Jesus now, then heaven is the place where that relationship continues without our current hindrances and ignorance. Hell is described as relational separation from God. It is the option for those who would not enjoy God's presence. Hell is a dead end, since further growth springs from intimacy God.

What about all the evil done in the name of God?

The fact that people fail to live up to an ideal does not mean there is necessarily anything wrong with the ideal. It does mean that there is something wrong with us, though. Jesus was pretty straight with us about our shortcomings. God is perfect and demands perfection, but none of us live perfect lives; all of us are screwed up.

How can we say that Jesus is the only way to God?

There are good and bad directions.

We know that we cannot get from Bellingham to Seattle by car by driving north on I-5; the Mount Baker highway will not take you to Mount Hood; and you can't get to my house on James Street. (You'll have to trust me on the last one.)

Why should I believe that Jesus actually rose from the dead?

There is little question that the story we have about Jesus is historical—the cities, politicians, and religious leaders He interacted with have all been confirmed historically. We have little reason to believe that the words of Jesus in Scripture are inaccurate, since they were passed on to us by the people who hung out with Him.

As long as I'm sincere in what I believe, isn't that enough for God?

Sincerity is important. Peer pressure and a desire for acceptance are poor reasons to follow Jesus. God doesn't ask us to fake it; He desires a free and sincere obedience.

But sincerity should not be confused with truth. I can sincerely believe that the earth is flat, but I will still be sincerely wrong. Since all of my decisions will result in real consequences, I want to base my decisions on the best information possible. Walking off a 100-foot cliff will result in great pain, regardless of my personal belief concerning the law of gravity. If Jesus is the Son of God, if He really is the source of life and fulfillment, then I really do rob myself of joy, peace and deeper growth by walking away from Him. Our response should be sincere, but it needs to be based on truth.

Are people who never heard about God going to hell?

I can't give a definite answer to that question. I have to trust God's character and believe that He will do what is right. Does Jesus appear to people who have never heard about Him in the last moments of their life, or just after they die, and give them a chance to respond? I don't know, but that wouldn't be inconsistent with His character. He desires that no one would be lost.

What difference does Jesus really make in the end?

I was standing in downtown Seattle when a college student came racing up to a man sitting on a mailbox. "Am I first?" he asked. "I just ran 20 blocks to find you." The man reached into his pocket and pulled out an envelope. The college student whooped with joy. He had heard a radio announcement that this man would be sitting on this mailbox holding tickets to a sold-out rock concert for the first person that found him.

I don't believe organized religion is necessary

If by "organized religion" you mean an impersonal, monolithic bureaucracy, then I share your desire to escape such an institution; but the church is something very different. A church is a group of people who have come together to worship God together, and to encourage and aid each other as they grow closer to Him. Jesus' intention in establishing the church was to create a community that would be united in love and service.

I'm interested in Jesus, but I don't want to have to become a Republican

Contrary to many media reports, the Christian community contains just as many Democrats as Republicans (Barna Report).

Jesus was offered the option of political power a couple of times. In one case, a crowd wanted to make Him king. His response was to slip away and spend some quality time with His heavenly Father; Jesus refused to align Himself with any political movement. Political parties are human institutions and subject to all the flaws and fickle goals of any other human institutions.

This does not mean that Christians are not politically active. As citizens of this nation, we are responsible to be involved in the democratic process. We are to attempt to represent Christ's compassion and justice, but never to confuse our civic duty with the deeper work of Christ's kingdom. Nor are we to tie the church to any one political agenda.