2 Tough Questions on God (And How to Answer Them)
1. If God just forgives all Christians and none of them go to hell, why would any Christian do good when they can sin all they want?
I remember being asked this question by two children, a girl and a boy about twelve and ten years old, after one of my engagements in Hong Kong. Apparently they were sent to me by their mother. When they asked me their question, I could not help but smile, because I remembered asking the same question of Christians when I was their age, also urged on by my parents.
In some religions, the reward for following a law is heaven, and the deterrent for disobedience is hell. Why would anyone make the hard moral decisions if they were promised the reward regardless? Since the solution to man’s problem is a law, the gospel’s idea of a heart transformed by God is foreign to many – as it was to these children.
When the young siblings in Hong Kong asked me their question, I sat down next to them, nodded toward their mother and asked them a question in return: “Do you love your mom?”
Slightly taken aback, they answered emphatically, “Of course!” Smiling, I asked them a simple question: “When she asks you to do something, like clean your room, what do you think would make her happier: if you cleaned your room because you love her, or if you cleaned your room because you were afraid she would punish you?”
Without hesitation, the sister answered, “Because we love her.” And as the words left her lips, the realization was apparent on her face: obedience under the shadow of threat is hardly obedience at all, but compulsion. Christian obedience, devoid of threat and rooted in love, is what God truly wants.
I began to explain to her and her brother that when we respond to the gospel and live as children of God, our Father changes our hearts and makes us want to obey out of love. For the next few minutes they continued asking me questions in earnest, clearly unfinished when their mother whisked them away.
The disjuncture between law and the gospel leads to other common questions Christians are asked. But right now let’s address an important question about Jesus and the Father. . .
2. If Jesus Is God, Why Did Jesus Never Say “I am God”?
Some people believe that Jesus never claimed to be divine. Rather, people began to believe this after Jesus left the earth. So we believed that later Christians were responsible for corrupting the true Christianity.
Why did Jesus not boldly and publicly proclaim his deity? This is a good question, but a good answer is readily available: He did not want to announce his identity right away. This is stated explicitly at the beginning of Mark’s gospel (see Mark 1:34 NIV).
Mark 1:3-4 (NIV)
“a voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.’”
And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
Jesus wanted to keep his identity a secret for a time. There were a variety of reasons why (see Mark 1:45; 3:6).
Mark 1:45 (NIV)
Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news. As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from everywhere.
Mark 3:6 (NIV)
Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.
Jesus did not want to be killed until it was the right time (John 7:30).
John 7:30 (NIV)
At this they tried to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him, because his hour had not yet come.
So Jesus did not want to publicly proclaim his identity. This is known among scholars as the “Messianic Secret.” When the days of his death and ascension were approaching, he headed straight for Jerusalem (Luke 9:51). That is when he was arrested and taken before the Sanhedrin to reveal his identity.
Jesus is the Messiah & in the Gospels Jesus only publicly proclaimed that he is the Messiah one time. That one location is at his trial before the Sanhedrin, the very passage where Jesus claims to be God.
To repeat, the one time in the Gospels that Jesus publicly claimed to be the Messiah was the same time he publicly claimed to be God. Jesus was the Messiah even though he publicly proclaimed it only once. We cannot demand he proclaim his deity more often or more boldly. He was not in the business of proclaiming his identity over and over again. He chose to wait for the right moment.
Also, though Jesus did not often proclaim his identity publicly, the Gospels inform their readers of his identity through the narrative of the text (for example, see Mark 1:1; 1:11; 3:11).
Mark 1:1 (NIV)
The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God,
Mark 1:11 (NIV)
And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
Mark 3:11 (NIV)
Whenever the impure spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.”
Throughout his gospel, Mark is preparing the reader for the moment that the Messianic Secret will be revealed, when Jesus will tell everyone who he really is, tying together all his words and deeds. This makes 14:62, the climax and divine revelation, all the more powerful and important to understand.
Mark 14:62 (NIV)
“I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
It is there that Jesus claims to be the divine Son of Man from Daniel 7 and the One sitting on the throne of God from Psalm 110:1.
The Lord says to my lord:
“Sit at my right hand
until I make your enemies
a footstool for your feet.”
After reading Mark through the lens of scripture I could no longer avoid the obvious. From introduction to climax, Mark’s gospel is an exposition of the deity of Jesus. The first biography of Jesus ever written is designed to teach that Jesus is Yahweh.
Source: N Qureshi (edited)