- 1. Why do I need to belong to a church?
The church is the people of God whom He forms to be His witness in the world of His gospel. The church is a community of followers of Jesus Christ who gather in His name to worship Him. The church is not confined to a Sunday morning worship service, but a living organism of everyday Christians who make God known through their testimonies and inviting others to get to know Jesus Christ as Lord for themselves. We call this the mission of the church. Belonging to a local church community then is God’s solution for families to connect with God in worship and be mobilized to serve Him in mission.
- 2. When I die, where do I go?
The Scriptures offer us a vision that is more broadly expansive than our question gives us. In the last book of the bible, the book of Revelation, John the Revelator sees a new heavens and a new earth. The hope of Christians is bodily resurrection. The renewal of the cosmos is our hope (Matt. 19:28). What then of our afterlife? Let’s be clear, the Scriptures uphold that the end of all things is the New Jerusalem where eternal blessedness is promised. What’s more, is that this will happen upon Jesus’ unveiling in glory (commonly called the Second Coming of Christ). Our interim period of souls that await resurrection from the dead. This is not purgatory. Saints (Christians) are said to sleep after they die. The apostle Paul says that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Cor. 5:8). Ecclesiastes 12:7 says that the spirit goes back to God. The hope of being with the Lord when we die is good news of comfort for those who believe in the Lord. There is however, everlasting punishment that awaits those who do not believe in the Lord (see Matt. 25:46). Eternity is on the other side of this life. Our allegiances to Christ or not will determine where our eternal state will be. In the final end, there will be a resurrection of the body; those have done good to resurrection of life and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment (John 5:29). In the Book of Daniel the prophecy given is that those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt (Daniel 12:1). The English poet John Donne summarizes this well, “One short sleep past, we wake eternally and death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.”
- 3. Why are there so many different denominations of churches?
The Christian Faith is historical. The church has been faithfully kept by God for thousands of years. For the first thousand years or so, the church was predominantly segmented into Latin and Greek speaking Christians. After a split between the Western and Eastern churches, the Latin speaking believers made up what we know as the Catholic church and the Eastern church is the Orthodox church that is make up of Greek speaking Christians. The Catholic Church then through the medieval period up until the sixteenth century was the main body of believers. During the sixteenth century, there were reforms that sought to be made to the church regarding indulgences and other corrupted forms of worship in the church. A monk named Martin Luther headed up this initiative. His desire was to reform the church from within as a member of Christ’s body. However, he exposing of the corruptions in the church coupled with a doctrinal distortion of the gospel led to Luther being excommunicated. This became a decisive moment for the question in scope. The church in Western Europe no longer had the governing authority of the papacy of Rome (who was a visible centralizing figure). The invention of the Gutenberg printing press (akin to what Google is today) made printed word available to more and more people. Literacy became a huge change in the lives of people. The Bible would be disseminated to more and more people as reading became increasingly possible.
Why then are there so many different denominations? It can be surmised in two ways: (1) the Reformation movement enabled a more visible expression of faith for various Protestant leaders; (2) God gave the church the opportunity to explore its manifold gifts. Whether Baptist, Reformed, Pentecostal, Presbyterian, Lutheran or Anglican, each of these denominations offer truthful teachings that emphasize facets of the precious diamond of the gospel that the church has entrusted. It is part of the history of the church that divisions and disunity have been part of its past. There is much for the church going forward to offer by way of unity and harmony in the Gospel by loving each other in conformity to our Lord Jesus Christ, for whom He purchased His blood for us.
- 4. What is prayer about? Can anyone do it? What would I say if I did?
Prayer is communing with God. It is more than simply talking to God, although words are an important way of relating God. Prayer is a spiritual act that happens when we lift up our soul unto the Lord. The book of Psalms are prayers. We would be wise to use these words in connecting with the Lord. Anyone can pray. People who find themselves downcast, burdened and in distress are especially driven to prayer. Why? Because our helplessness becomes an opportunity to pour out ourselves to Him. When we pray we bring ourselves to God. Prayer is more than a shopping list of items that need to be acquired. Prayer is finding God’s heart as our Father and relating without distortion as His son or daughter. If you are looking to pray, use the Lord’s Prayer. You can find this in the Bible in the Gospel of Matthew chapter 6 verses 9-13. Be encouraged that God calls you to come into His presence and tell Him what is going on and how much He means to you. Try today.