The questions below were collected by a youth pastor from students who are grades 6-12. The answers are provided by me, Bill Pratt.
1. What is a good way to approach someone about Christianity? Build a relationship with that person. Let them know that you care about them. Once you’ve earned their trust (this will likely take several weeks, if not months), ask them what they believe about God. Listen to what they say and don’t try to correct them. Keep asking more questions about what they believe and keep listening.
Eventually, after you’ve listened to their beliefs and tried to understand them, they will start to ask you what you believe (this may take several conversations, so be patient). At this point, feel free to share the gospel message and tell them why you think Christianity is true.
Here are some additional tips. First, don’t feel pressure to get your friend to place their trust in Christ the first time you talk to them about it. It may take time, and you should be patient. Realize that you are simply scattering seeds and that the Holy Spirit will water the seeds after you’re gone.
Second, emphasize that Christianity is primarily about a relationship with a person, Jesus Christ. Point your friends toward him.
Third, know what you believe and why you believe it. Don’t defend non-essential Christian beliefs as they will just serve to distract your friend from a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Fourth, if your friend has questions about Christianity, get them answers. Don’t ever tell them that their questions are stupid or that they “just have to believe.”
2. How can I tell other people about God when they have another religion without offending them? See answer to question 1.
3. How do I share Christ with someone with a different religion without being a jerk? See answer to question 1.
4. How do you share that Christianity is the one true religion? See answer to question 1.
6. How do I witness to my non-Christian friends who don’t care and do ‘bad’ things like smoke, sleep around, curse, etc. while still loving them and hating their actions? If your friends are doing these kinds of things, be sure that they aren’t influencing you to do the same things. Human beings have a deep need to feel part of a group, and if most of your friends are doing the wrong things, you will eventually give in. If you are sure that you are the one influencing them, see the answer to question 1.
7. How do we talk to Atheists? See answer to question 1. Check out these posts.
8. We always look at other religions as being wrong, but how do we know that our religion isn’t wrong and that another one is right? We have the assurance of the Holy Spirit that Jesus is God and that he died and rose from the dead to save us from our sins. However, in addition to this assurance, we know that Christianity is true because of historical evidence, logical arguments, scientific evidence, and our own observations of the world around us. The toughquestionsanswered.com blog presents these kinds of evidences and arguments and also points you to other resources that present these evidences and arguments.
For a brief description of how reason and evidence supports our faith, see this post and this post. If you want to read a book that takes you through the evidence for Christianity step by step, read I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist.
9. As a Christian do you respect other faiths? Yes. Every other religion believes at least some things that are true. We should respect the truths found in other religious faiths, even while we refuse to accept what is false in other religions.
10. I have a friend who says they are ‘not religious.’ How do I respond? See answer to question 1.
The Problem of Suffering
1. Why do bad things happen to good people? Some people blame God, or they claim that because there is so much pain and suffering, God must not exist. The Bible, however, disagrees. Genesis 3 makes it clear that mankind was to live in perfect peace in paradise on earth. It was the disobedience of Adam and Eve, the representatives of the human race, which introduced pain and suffering. Without their sinful act, the world would still be paradise. It is not God’s fault that humans suffer. He gave our ancestors a clear choice and they chose poorly.
2. If God loves us, why do bad things happen? See answer to question 1.
3. If God is good, why does he let such terrible things happen? See answer to question 1.
1. How was God here before anything was created? The answer to this question is that nobody created God because He is the one self-existent, uncaused, uncreated, eternal being. Only things that come into existence need a cause, but God never came into existence. He has always existed and will always exist. It is impossible for God not to exist. While the universe and everything in it came into existence, and therefore all need a cause, God is the only being that exists necessarily and eternally.
2. What happened with dinosaurs? Did they exist at the same time as Adam and Eve…or…what? Some Christians (young earth creationists) believe that the earth is only 6000-10000 years old and that dinosaurs existed alongside human beings. Most Christians, however, believe that the earth is about 4.5 billion years old and that dinosaurs lived between 230 million and 65 million years ago, well before human beings lived.
3. Why did Adam and Eve do what they did knowing there would be punishment? See this post.
4. Did God keep knowledge from Adam and Eve by forbidding them from eating from the tree of The Knowledge of Good and Evil? See this post.
5. What “proof” do we have to support creationism? If you mean young earth creationism, then I would recommend going to Answers in Genesis. If you mean old earth creationism, then I would recommend going to Reasons to Believe. If you mean creationism in the sense that God created the universe, then see this post, this post, and this post.
2. Why does God send people to hell if he loves us all equally? See answer to question 1.
3. Will Mormons and Jehovah’s witnesses go to hell? God judges each individual on their response to him, not on their religious affiliation. It is certainly possible that God will reward some Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses with heaven, but we simply don’t know. What we do know is that both of these groups deny several of the essential doctrines of Christianity, doctrines taught by Jesus and his apostles. It is our Christian duty to pray that they will turn away from their false beliefs and embrace the real Jesus.
1. How do you lovingly tell people that homosexuality is wrong? It is important to understand that it is homosexual behavior that we consider to be sinful, not just the feelings of desire for a person of the same sex. We all have feelings that drive us toward sinful behavior, but we must fight against those feelings, with God’s help, and not sin. The key is to emphasize that we love all people, regardless of their sexual desires. Jesus can save anyone, not just heterosexuals. For more information, see this post.
2. How should I, as a Christian, feel about transgender people and/or people who go through sex changes? What does God feel about people who are not comfortable with their gender? Is being transgender and having a sex change a sin? See this post and this post.
3. Why is the church so vocal about “worse” sins like homosexuality, abortion, etc. but largely ignores issues that plague the church more often like greed, pornography, apathy, etc.? Let’s take these one at a time. The reason that the church is vocal about homosexuality is because there is a massive cultural and political movement that is attempting to declare homosexual behavior as normal and not sinful in any way. This movement directly impacts the institution of marriage which directly impacts the raising of children. I have written numerous blog posts on why this issue is important. Please give them a read.
With regard to abortion, I think you would agree that the most serious sin one person can commit against another person is to murder them. Since the Supreme Court allowed for abortion on demand in 1973, there have been over 50 million babies killed by abortion doctors. Another 1 million are killed every year. There is no other sin that is taking as many innocent lives in our society as abortion. That is why the church talks about it so much. I have also written many posts on abortion. Please go read those.
For the second part of your question, I believe that the church does address topics like greed, pornography, and apathy, and a whole host of other sinful behaviors. It’s just that the media do not report these issues nearly as often.
Faith and Miscellaneous
1. How were people saved before the crucifixion? Jesus’ death and resurrection made salvation possible for all people before, during, and after he lived. Without his sacrifice, nobody could be saved. But what about the contents of a person’s beliefs? For people who lived before Jesus, and obviously did not know who Jesus was, salvation was by God’s grace and their faith. We see this summarized in Gen 15:6: “Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.”
2. How do you get stronger in your faith? Pray, read the Bible, surround yourself with other Christians, and practice Christian virtues by showing God’s love to other people. Additionally, many people make their faith stronger by studying theology and apologetics.
3. How do we get rid of our doubts about God? Write them down and be specific. Then go and get answers to all of your doubts. Every Christian has doubts of some kind, so you are not alone. The important question is this: Are you going to deal with them or just hope they go away?
4. What is the easiest way to determine God’s will for your life? God’s will for your life is determined by three things: 1) what the Bible commands you to do, 2) what your unique talents and abilities are, and 3) your circumstances and surroundings. If you are doing what the Bible commands, using the talents God gave you in accord with the circumstances in which you find yourself, you can be confident you are following God’s will for your life. Here also are several blog posts written about this topic.
5. How do I respond to gossip? Don’t participate. Change the subject.
6. Do you really have to be baptized to be a Christian? No. Baptism does not determine your salvation. However, the Bible does command that we get baptized, so if we can do it, we must. It is not optional for those who can.
7. What’s the difference between the different groups of Christian denominations? There are a tremendous number of differences among Christian denominations, far more than can be covered in a short paragraph (see this post if you want to really dig into all the different denominations). However, what is more important is to recognize the commonality among different Christian denominations. A true Christian denomination will affirm all of the essential doctrines of Christianity. Most Christian denominations differ on non-essential doctrines.
8. What makes Paul’s letters of encouragement the Word of God? All of Paul’s letters were accepted by the early church as inspired by God. We know this both from the New Testament and from the non-biblical letters and books written by Christians during the first few centuries of the church. See this post for an explanation of how books of the Bible were recognized as being inspired by God.
9. Can God make a rock that is too big for Him to lift? This is a nonsense question, kind of like asking what the smell of the color blue is. See this post for more details.