Years ago, a lady who didn’t attend church made an appointment to see me. She had questions and thought a pastor could answer them.
Her biggest question was, “If there is a God, why is there so much suffering in this world?” It’s everybody’s biggest question. We talked awhile. I gave her an answer, but it wasn’t a satisfying one.
Afterwards I thought, “I’m pretty good at answering Christians’ questions, but I’m not very good at answering pre-Christians’ questions. I can unpack passages about food sacrificed to idols, why women don’t have to cover their heads in church, and about the pre, mid, and post-tribulation rapture positions.”
“But I’m not very good at ‘Why is there suffering?’ ‘What about other religions?’ and ‘Why would a loving God create a place like Hell?’”
That day I resolved to learn the answers our world is seeking. I did a survey and found that there are only a few major questions pre-Christians ask. I repeated the survey two years later and found the same thing.
I’ve discovered that when sincerely seeking people get satisfactory answers to two or three of these questions, they’re able to put their trust in Christ.
I’ve discovered that every Christian asks these questions, too.
The 6 Key Questions People Ask about God
Here are the 6 main questions people ask and the short answer to each question.
1. Is God Real?
The simple answer to this is “Yes, and He’s given pointers to His existence all over the universe.”
Psalm 19:1 says, The heavens declare the glory of God.” Eccelestiastes 3:11 says, “God has set eternity in the hearts of men.” The Cosmological, Teleological, Ontological and Moral Arguments all point to the existence of God. So does the life and witness of Jesus. So does the personal testimony of billions of Christians.
Surprisingly, people in our day and age haven’t heard these things. Giving them these answers removes one stumbling point from them trusting their lives to the Lord.
2. Is the Bible true?
Most people in our society have heard a lot about the Bible, but they’ve rarely heard it defended by an informed and gentle source. Few of our neighbors have had a friend walk them through the Bible’s claims for itself. Or how it was composed. Or its historical, prophetical, archeological or transmissional accuracy. They don’t know about the Massoretes or the Talmudim and how carefully both groups transcribed the pages of the Old Testament to ensure no errors crept in. They don’t know that we have nearly 25,000 ancient manuscripts of the New Testament that enable us to reconstruct the original documents more reliably than the next ten or twenty ancient books put together.
Eyes pop when a credible friend walks through a few pages worth of this information with them.
3. What about other religions?
Religious tolerance has become a cardinal virtue in our day. Common consensus is that all religions basically lead to the same place. One of my favorite chapters in The God Questions is where we compare the top ten religious systems to each other. They all espouse different gods, different paths to him, and different after-lives. When a person gets through looking at these together, their only conclusion is, “These are all so different, they could all be wrong, but only one of them could be right.”
Our world needs this information! And when we give it to them, hearts soften, because minds are opened.
4. The problem of suffering.
The number one question everyone has is, “If God is so good, strong, and caring, why is there so much suffering in this world?” Understanding the nature of free will doesn’t cure the pain of suffering, but it does provide a moment of intellectual satisfaction, and opens the possibility of trusting God.
Learning that our world doesn’t make sense because we’ve entered into its story in the middle of a crisis helps people understand that this crisis if temporary, and that one day all will be restored to the way God intended it in the beginning.
That God didn’t author evil, doesn’t like or approve of evil, and is working as lovingly and diligently as possible to restore us the the Paradise He created in the beginning is a good answer.
But church people these days need some coaching before they are able to express this great truth to their friends.
5. Which is right: evolution or creation?
Western classrooms teach evolution with such security that it is hard for anyone to raise their hand with confidence and say, “Excuse me, there is a God who created all this!” Christians feel unequipped to explain the scientific accuracy behind the Genesis 1 account of creation.
What if they could know for certain that the earth was created by an omnipotent being? That Einstein’s theory of relativity requires that our universe had a beginning? That the Big Bang theory requires that the beginning was created by something outside our four-dimensional universe? That quantum mechanics and string theory point to dimensions outside ours, from which such a Creator could come? Imagine people understanding the impossibility of non-theistic evolution because of recent discoveries in microbiology?
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth is more than religious poetry. It’s scientifically plausible, accurate, and trustworthy. Helping neighbors to understand this empowers them to make an intellectually credible response to the God who is calling them to follow Him.
6. What happens when I die?
The Bible’s teachings on eschatology is the least-understood doctrine in most churches.
- The fact that right now there is a temporary Heaven and Hades and that one day there will be an eternal Hell,
- And that believers will live not in an ethereal place called “Heaven,” but in a physical place called “The New Earth”.
Because of our desire for tolerance, we rarely grapple with the reality of the permanent torment of Hell; or that of all the Bible’s teachers, it was Jesus who had the most to say about it.
In theology class, eschatology was that last doctrine to be covered each semester. If a professor ran short of time, his students rarely learned about life on the New Earth. Our world doesn’t understand the new heavens and the new earth because many preachers don’t understand them. Life in eternity needs to be preached, understood, and shared with our neighbors!
Passive agnosticism may be the largest religion of our day. Knowing about the incredible opportunities of Heaven and the unspeakable horrors of Hell is motivating and sobering and pushes people out of passive mode into making a decision.
Good answers for six important questions.
1 Peter 3:15 People
Ten years ago, a mechanic in his mid-thirties named Bill came up to me after the fourth or fifth week of our God Questions series and said, “Thank you. You have answered every question I’ve ever had about God.” Bill gave his life to Christ that day. He’s been growing ever since.
Our world needs that clarity now more than ever.
As church leaders we can work on two levels: by preaching it to all who will listen, and by equipping the men and women in our churches to love their lost neighbors enough to learn the answers to their questions and lead them to Christ.
Imagine an army of loving question-answerers set loose in your community. I can’t think of anything more honoring to God and more likely to change our world.
Led by pastors and church leaders, what our world needs today is 1 Peter 3:15 people – people who are prepared to give answers.
“In your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy,” Peter says, “always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15, ESV).
But how exactly is a busy pastor supposed to make that happen?
The God Questions Church Campaign
Those original questions grew into The God Questions Church Campaign which was first published in 2006.
In the last ten years, 2,000 churches have used the campaign to:
- attract unchurched people to their church
- help them find answers about God
- equip their believers with answers and give them a new heart for evangelism
- and connect them in small groups.
Because of the widespread, ongoing effectiveness of The God Questions books and campaign, the folks at Outreach have decided that the ten-year anniversary is a good time to update the tools and materials.
You can be part of the thousands of churches who will build up their core and attract their community by answering the vital questions people ask about God.
25 years after that lady left my office, New Song Church has seen over 20,000 people come to Christ. Your church can be a church of 1 Peter 3:15 people, who can give true and clear answers with gentleness and reverence.
I am praying that pastors across our country will equip their people and reach out to their neighbors with answers to the truth that will set them free.
I hope you will join us!
Start Here to learn more about the resources available for you at PastorMentor.