Gospel Questions and Answers
Why do I need to be "saved," and from what?
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven...
Being saved means that you are being preserved from experiencing something dreadful, which in this case is the wrath of the Almighty God when He judges our sin at "the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God" where He will sentence sinners to an eternity in the lake of fire. You need to be saved to avoid that horrible, but just, consequence.
What is God angry about and why is that anger toward me?
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men...
Mankind has provoked God's wrath because of our ungodliness and unrighteousness. God created mankind to be a partner to Himself, and have fellowship with and labor with God in what He is doing. Genesis 1:26–27 describes how God created man in His image and after His likeness. However, mankind quickly chose to reject God and in doing so, mankind became unrighteous and ungodly—the opposite of what God created man to be. Ungodly is simply being not like God in His thinking and character, in His way of being loving and true, and in opposing the things God is pursuing. Unrighteous means doing things that offend moral justice. Now, this isn't only mankind as a whole, but every individual, for we all have been ungodly and unrighteous.
How do I know what is wrong and right? How can I know enough to be judged?
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness...
Notice, the phrase, who hold truth in unrighteousness. That means we know truth and live in rebellion against it. It is to know something in your conscience, and then chose to violate that truth by acting in opposition to that truth. God will judge us on this basis, on the fact of what we do know, not on what we do not know. Haven't you known from a young age certain things are wrong to do and others are right? Have you always lived according to that knowledge? Living in violation of our conscience is what convicts us and makes us accountable to God, condemning us at His throne of judgment.
How do I know God even exists?
Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse...
Many in our humanistic culture today desire to reject the evidence of God's existence, but know for certain that there is no denying the Creator. We all know an all powerful Godhead exists because of the indisputable witness of creation, which speaks in perfect accord with the truth inside of us. To say that one doesn't believe God exists is a lie. Atheism is a smoke screen and is simply dishonest. At the judgment seat God will not accept this for "they are without excuse." This is a prime example of "holding truth in unrighteousness" (Romans 1:18).
How am I supposed to know what God wants from me?
Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools...
If we start with a basic knowledge of an all powerful God, who we know created us and the universe in which we live, that should lead us to some basic responses to Him: perhaps we would thank Him for our lives and the gift of creation. We may want to give glory to Him by seeking to know God and understanding His ways and making them our own. But, as the verses state, most people have not followed that basic logic, instead they've turned away from truth, become corrupt in their thinking, and actually turn to exalting themselves and their desires above the God of heaven and earth.
So, at the least we ought to seek to know God and honor God as our creator knowing that He gave us life and knowing that God probably created us for some purpose. Beyond this, we have a conscience, and therefore we know good and evil. As such, shouldn't we live according to that knowledge and do the good and not do the evil? But, how often have we done the evil and not the good? If we have violated our conscience in that way, what is the next logical conclusion? We will have to answer to our creator for violating the truth, the moral law, which is written in our heart.
Now, if we have failed in these ways, both in not giving God the glory He deserves and in violating our conscience, then isn't it logical that we should expect the God who gave us life to take that life away? Yes. We justly deserve death. But what can we do to get out of that? It's too late, we've already failed to give Him the glory He deserves, and we've failed to live by our conscience. The only logical thing to do would be to seek mercy from the one who will judge us, the one who has the power over life and death. Our only hope is for God to be merciful. Have you sought out God's mercy? (Skip to the last Q&A)
I'm not like a murderer or a thief; do I deserve to die and go to hell?
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness...
Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful...
The simple answer is, yes. You, like me, and everyone else deserves to die and go to hell, even if we have never killed anyone. The reason is that we are unrighteous and ungodly as we "hold truth in unrighteousness." It isn't only the very violent and destructive in society who will go to hell; it is those whose have not lived in submission and strict observance of the truth that they know. Moral truth of right and wrong, good and evil, is something everyone has a fundamental awareness of and yet, we chose to do things that we know are wrong. That is the fact which convicts us.
The second quote (Rom 1:29–31) gives us a list to compare ourselves to. Have you even done or been any of the things on that list? Ever disobey your parents as an older child or teenager? Ever told a lie, boasted about yourself, talked poorly of someone behind their back? These things make us guilty of God's wrath for they are wrong, we know they are wrong, yet we choose to do them any way. The just consequence for violating our conscience and willfully rebelling against truth we know is to die, lose the life God has given us, and suffer death for eternity.
Is there anyone who will escape God's wrath?
As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.
No one on the basis of their own merit or works will escape God's wrath. We are all guilty. Jew and Gentile, religious or not, tribesmen or advanced technological culture, no one will be found righteous. However, there will be some who escape the punishment for their sin: those who trust Jesus Christ as their saviour. Either we suffer that wrath ourselves, or trust that Christ has suffered it in our place. Faith in Christ is the only way to be forgiven and freed from the punishment we all deserve.
If I realize that I am guilty and deserve God's wrath, now what?
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus...To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
—Romans 3:23–24, 26
Being honest about your guilt is the hard part. But, once you accept it, now simply look to the mercy of God for He has supplied the opportunity for grace in Jesus Christ. Put your trust in what Christ has done for you and you will be saved from that wrath and guilt. As the verse says, "the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus." God's gift to you is a completely forgiven and just standing before Him, if you will only believe in what Jesus Christ did for you. Christ died on the cross and suffered the wrath of God, then rose again. Christ did not deserve God's wrath due to His perfect righteousness, and because He willingly suffered that wrath while not deserving it, God can apply His suffering to your account. God is completely righteous in offering this gift of grace because the consequence of your sin wasn't discarded or dropped; it was taken by a substitute, by Christ who took it himself.
It is a free gift that you are being offered. All you must do is trust what God says to be true about the redemption of Christ, trust that you will be justified on that basis. There is nothing else to do. Simply believe. God doesn't require a work of any kind, but He is looking at your heart and what you believe. Believe and your justification is sealed forever. Every sin you have ever done or ever will do has been forgiven and you are promised "eternal life." It really is that good and that simple. Please, receive God's offer of grace by putting your faith in Christ.
Ok, so maybe I've done some things that are wrong, but I'm still a lot better than many people I know. Doesn't that count for some thing?
Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things. But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things.
You may not realize it, but this question is a self-condemning question. For, if we take this position, we are actually judging other people of being less righteous than ourselves, thus acknowledging that there is a standard of righteousness and that we know people, and ourselves, have offended that. God's point in response to this is, you do "the same things" that you are judging others for: any of those things on the list of unrighteousness in Romans just prior to ch. 2. (see Romans 1:29–31, the previous Q.) God will judge you according to what you have done, not according to what others do.
And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God...
Beyond the self condemnation of such a statement, God asks you if you are really so foolish to think that you can get out of His judgment when you do the same things that others are judged for? Or, are you simply despising the opportunity He is giving you to repent (change your mind about who you are before Him) and accept the mercy and grace He is offering you? If you persist in this position of arguing your own righteousness above others, you are only going to store up more of God's wrath and it will be worse for you when you meet the Almighty, just God in His day of judgment.
Who will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: but unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; but glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: for there is no respect of persons with God.
God is perfectly just in the way He judges: according to every person's deeds. To earn eternal life, peace with God, and receive honor and glory from Him, all you have to do is always do what you know to be right, with "patient continuance" meaning you never stray from that, but you are completely consistent in "well doing."
If you cannot do this, then you deserve the "indignation and wrath" of God. You see, you may not have done horribly violent things to others, but you still have "not obeyed the truth" and therefore deserve God's wrath. I deserve God's wrath and I haven't done many of the bad things I know others have done. God judges according to truth, not relativity.
What about people who have never heard of the Bible or Jesus Christ?
For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; (for not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;) in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.
God will judge people on what they do know, not what they don't. As the verse states, hearing the law of God contained in the Bible doesn't help anyone become acceptable to God; all that does is give them more awareness of His standards and make them accountable to more truth. The Jews have more to condemn them knowing the law. People who have never heard the Bible actually do by nature some of the things the law demands, also they have civil and taboo laws of their culture; which, when they fail to act in accordance with such law awareness, they too experience a sense of guilt and condemnation. That is plenty to make them accountable before God. When the judgment day occurs, the "secrets of men," i.e., the truth they know and how they have violated that truth in their heart, will be the issue.
What about Israel? Haven't they escaped God's wrath by obeying the law?
Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God, and knowest his will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law; and art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law. Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal? thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege? Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God? For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written. For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision. Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision? And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfil the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law? For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.
By what God says here, Israel has not escaped God wrath by keeping the law, for they did not nor could they keep the law. If you are an Israelite, a Jew, and trust in your genealogy or your religious heritage to make you acceptable to God, please consider the truth in this passage. Having the law of God and knowing what His will is as explained in the law, does not absolve anyone from their guilt, for it is that very law that condemns the possessor of it. The law must be kept perfectly in order to not be guilty. Consider the witness of the law: Deuteronomy 27:26 Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them. And all the people shall say, Amen.
The law only proves men are sinners; thus, the daily sacrifice of beasts and their shed blood to cover sin. But without a realization of guilt and cry to God for mercy and to perfectly take away sin, not just cover it temporarily, the guilt and condemnation remains. Trying to continue to prove one's own righteousness in following the law only builds a longer list of failures. Instead, Israel, as with any person, needs to call on God's mercy and forgiveness, as stated in Hosea 14:1–2 O Israel, return unto the LORD thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity. Take with you words, and turn to the LORD: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves of our lips.
I'm a devout Catholic, Mormon, Buddhist...Doesn't my religious affiliation relieve me of guilt before God?
Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal? Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege? Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God?
Actually religious affiliations only prove that we are guilty and there is nothing we can do be free of that guilt. The Catholic church teaches many things contained in God's Word, but we must ask the Catholic member, do you adhere to those teachings perfectly? If you fail, then what? Answer: confession, having a priest absolve you of your sins. But, how many times will you go to confession? This is akin to the sacrificial system of the law for Israel. It doesn't actually take away sin, it is simply a constant reminder of sin and of the guilt that everyone bears. The only relief is a perfect sacrifice that can really take away sin, and that is what Christ accomplished on the cross. Trusting what Christ did for us is not a religion. Religion is man's attempt to make himself acceptable to God. Such an attempt only mocks the grace of God and shines a brighter light on our guilt. The only thing anyone can do to make up for their sin to God is to suffer for an eternity in hell.
Most religions are similar in nature as they try to create some system of works or practices, give the authority that only God has to men, and promise good things for adherence and punishment for failure. This is a delusion, only feeding the desire of our flesh to be able to do things on our merit to make us acceptable. Or, a few religions try to teach that no one really deserves God's wrath, but that we are all good and just need to accept each other. This is a delusion of its own, ignoring the guilt we all have before God due to violating our conscience. God does not condemn us for not being affiliated with some man-made institution, or for not accepting each other. God condemns us for knowing good and evil and yet choosing to do the evil and not the good. Religion in no way relieves that guilt.
What God desires is a "broken and contrite heart," which submits to the truth of one's guilt and need for God's mercy, and then trusts God at His word when he communicates how Christ has paid for that guilt to set them free. That alone relieves us of the condemnation. Please don't trust in vain religions that have no power to save. Accept that Christ suffered God's wrath for you.
At a fundamental level, doesn't our evil and unrighteous behavior provide a contrast to God's goodness and truth, which actually glorifies God and shows His excellence?
But if our unrighteousness commend the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance? (I speak as a man) God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world? For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his glory; why yet am I also judged as a sinner? And not rather, (as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say,) Let us do evil, that good may come? whose damnation is just.
God actually anticipates these kinds of philosophical objections to His judgment of our sin and asks the question for us in these verses. He also answers them by showing that this kind of a question is only given as an intellectually dishonest and desperate attempt to connive a means of freeing ourselves from guilt before God. Like the question, "Can God make a rock so large that He can't pick it up?" Whatever philosopher thought that up wasted his time and that of the people he told it to. These are mental gymnastics which profit nothing, but in red herring fashion only distract from the real truth.
God's answer: "for then how shall God judge the world?" The simple truth is not affected by such intellectual dishonesty. The facts remain. And in no wise shall our evil bring good to the situation in some backhanded complementing of God. God concludes His answer to and about those who hide behind such folly: "whose damnation is just."
What must I do to be saved from God's wrath and be made acceptable to Him?
But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
Nothing. You must do nothing, but God must do something and He did that through Christ. God has provided a way for you to be saved from His wrath and it has nothing to do with your own works. That way is by believing in what Jesus Christ has accomplished for you. So, God only requires belief. The shed blood of Christ paid for your debt of sin. Christ willingly suffered God's wrath on the cross even though He did not deserve it for He was completely righteous. Because of this, God can now freely offer us forgiveness and justification from all sin. God is just in offering you His righteousness, for your sins have been fully paid for by the blood of Christ.
Please, be reconciled to God by trusting in what Christ has done for you, and put your belief in His blood to pay for every sin, now and in the future. All the work is done; just believe.