How is that for a title? Lately I have been sticking to posting recipes and other fluff on my blog because sometimes when I give my opinion I can get myself in trouble, but hopefully what I am writing won't be an opinion and will not offend anyone.
I had a conversation the other day with a co-worker (I work from home but go into the office twice a month). This man does not believe in God. He isn't hateful about it, he just does not believe. He has never read the Bible. He only went to church for a year because his parents made him. His wife is Catholic but he doesn't practice or believe what she does.
So I asked him the question that I have always wanted to ask someone who absolutely does not believe in God. "What do you believe happens when we die?" His answer was very matter of fact and honest. He believes our brain just shuts off and that is it.
Well, my immediate response is - then why? Why do you do anything you do? Why don't you move to the Bahamas and rack up credit card debt and really live life if this is all there is? Where is your hope? He didn't really answer that question. But he did ask "the biggie". The question all non-believers ask. "If God exists then why do kids get cancer?"
It is a great question and I said so. It is probably one of the most asked questions that there is. And I am not a theologian. Well, I started out by saying that some things in life are consequences of our sins. But there are other things that happen out of the blue. And the truth is is that God is Sovereign. He has a plan and we do not know it. We cannot understand the mind of God. “ For who has known the mind of the LORD?
Or who has become His counselor?” Romans 11:34
Then we went onto prayer. He said he believed everything happened by accident or chance. Of course I said that I do not and then he asked the second most common question that Christians get - "If God knows everything that is going to happen then why pray?" It is another great question. My answer was this - prayer is basically a bending of our will to God's will. We are basically acknowledging that God is in control and that we are aligning our will to His. I really like Aruthur W. Pink's book The Sovereignty of God and he points out that a sufficient answer to this question is that God bids us to pray as stated in I Thess. 5:17 - pray without ceasing,; Luke 18:1 - Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart,; James 5:15, 16 - 15 And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Confess your trespasses[a] to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
Pink goes onto say that prayer is not intended to change God's purpose nor move Him to form fresh purposes. God has decreed the means as well as the end, and among the means is prayer. Pink goes on to give several great examples of things that God said were going to happen and still the people prayed. One of them is a kind of famous verse in Jeremiah. God told the prophet Jeremiah in chapter 29, 11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. But instead of adding, there is, therefore, no need for you to ask me for these things, God says, 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you," declares the LORD, "and will bring you back from captivity.
Another great example is in II Samuel when David is praying for his sick son. God has already told him that he was going to die but David prays for him anyway II Samuel 12: 22 He answered, "While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, 'Who knows? The LORD may be gracious to me and let the child live.' 23 But now that he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me."
I heard a great quote concerning this very thing - "We do not trust in what God will do because we do not know what God will do. We trust in who God is." And in the end that is really all you can say. When you are dealing with an unbeliever and trying to relay all of this to him (or her) all the while knowing that they don't believe the Bible, well that is difficult but our job is to tell, it is the Holy Spirit's job to convict.
I leave you with this last thought from Pink on the matter of prayer:
. . . prayer is a coming to God, telling Him my need, committing my way unto the Lord, and leaving Him to deal with it as seemeth Him best.
I know there are whole books written on the subject and I cannot possibly cover it all here but my point is to get you to think about what you would say if you were asked these questions.
Continuing my conversation with my co-worker, he had told me he was a moral person. So I asked him, "Have you ever lied, cheated or stolen anything?" He said no. I said, "So you have never told a lie?" He said, "Well, a white lie." I said a lie is a lie is a lie. Have you ever cheated?" He said, "Not on my wife, but I did cheat on a test in high school." and then we were interrupted by my boss. But then he asked me if I had ever done any of those things and I said, "Of course, I am a sinner."
The conversation started out because he had said that he never had read the Bible. So I forwarded him John 3 and told him to read that. Unfortunately, I had to leave so I told him that if we were both still alive in two weeks we could continue our conversation.
Here is my point to all of this:
I Peter 3:15 - But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,
Be prepared to give an answer for the faith that you have. You never know when you meet a random person who is actually seeking answers. People are actually a lot the same. So the main questions you will probably get from unbelievers are these:
1. If God is good, why do bad things happen to good people?
2. If God knows everything that is going to happen then why pray?
I will throw in a couple of bonus things to think about - how do you respond when people say, "I am a moral person" or this one "I don't go to church because they are all hypocrites."?
We definitely should know what we believe and we should be daily in the Word and studying and be ready to give an answer. And we should not have to fumble in the concordance of our Bible - we should be memorizing Scripture so that at a moments notice we can tell people what we believe and exactly what the Bible says.
That is all for today - thanks for listening and if you have suggestions or verses I would love to hear them just leave me a comment but do it with "gentleness and respect". Thank you!