American Lutheran Church

Long Prairie, MN

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why do Christians insist that Jesus is the only way to eternal life?
A: If we all woke up tomorrow morning and discovered that Mohammed never actually existed, it would not affect Islam in the slightest. If we discovered that Siddhartha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism, never existed it would not effect Buddhism at all. Why? These religions are based on the teachings of their founders, not on the founders themselves.
However, if we woke up tomorrow and discovered that Jesus never lived, or if he lived, that he was never raised from the dead, Christianity would completely collapse. Christianity literally stands or falls on the greatest of all miracles, the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Therefore, when Jesus boldly claims: "I am the way and the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father but by me.", Christianity takes him at his literal word. We also read in the New Testament book of Acts 4:12, "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."
Christianity is singular in its understanding of Jesus. He alone is the only one who claimed to be God in human form, to be the Savior of the world, and to bodily rise from the dead.

Q: Since my life is doing just fine, why do I need God?
A: The answer to that question is found in the definition of what is "just fine". Does "just fine" mean that you live with inner peace, at harmony with your family and coworkers, understanding and fulfilling the purpose for which you were created? Ninety-nine percent of all the people who have ever honestly answered this question admit that their life is not "just fine".
In the third century, a very rebellious man name Augustine hit rock bottom and admitted he was hopeless. In his despair, he found the answer to his greatest need, the Lord Jesus Christ. As he grew old, he made a very insightful observation. He said that within each person is a God shaped vacuum. Until that vacuum is filled by the truth of God, people are spiritually empty. People will never experience the fulfillment and joy intended by God until they have that vacuum filled.

Q: Isn't the Bible filled with myths and contradictions?
A: This statement is often put forward by people who have never really read the Bible! In fact, just the opposite is true. The Bible is the most studied and documented book in the history of the world.The Word of God has been under the microscope time and time again. At the turn of the century, many skeptics and liberal theologians pronounced that the Word of God was not historical, factual, but allegories, myths and fables. With the advent of the modern scientific archeology methods many expected that the Bible would prove to be a mere human document filled with numerous holes. Over the past 100 years, archeology has done just the opposite. It validated the truthfulness and reliability of the Bible even down to some of the smallest details.
If the Bible is to be considered God's Word to us, a word that is reliable, true, accurate, and life-changing, then it must meet certain requirements. First, it must be transmitted accurately from the time it was originally written to the present, so that we have an accurate representation of what God has said and done. Second, it must be correct when it deals with historical persons and events. Third, any revelation from God should be without any scientific problems. Such problems would reveal that it came from human authorship.
The Bible meets all these criteria and more. The text of the Bible has been transmitted accurately for over 3,000 years. There is more evidence for the accuracy of the New Testament than all other historical writings. In fact, the New Testament has far superior evidence for accuracy than the writings of William Shakespeare.Shakespeare wrote in the 17th century. Remember also that he wrote after the invention of the printing press. In every one of Shakespeare's plays there are gaps in the printed text. We have no idea what was written in these gaps. Scholars therefore "guess" what the text might have been. On the other hand, the New Testament alone has more than 25,000 handwritten copies that are in 99.000% agreement with one another. Remarkable!(Josh McDowell, A Ready Defense).

Q: Isn't truth simply what is true to me and what is true to you?
A: Nature and science demonstrate over and over again that truth is not subjective (what is true for me) but objective (what is true everywhere). Whether you live in Chicago or China, if you step out of a ten story building, you will always fall to a very sudden stop at the bottom.
Whether you live in New York or Paris, you have to eat food to survive. These represent objective truths such the laws of gravity and the necessity of food. They apply universally in the world. Science literally banks on these objective truths to determine the orbit of planets and the arrangement of human organs in the body.
The Bible teaches that just as there is scientific objective truth, there is also objective spiritual truth. The Bible says that there is truly a heaven and a hell, that God exists, and that he created angels and the universe. It also teaches that the world is filled with sin and that people can and do bad things to one another. The greatest objective truth is found in the New Testament Gospel of John 14:6.

"Jesus answered, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

     Jesus points out that the greatest objective truth of all is found in himself. He is the truth in human flesh! If we want to live eternally and be with God the Father forever, we need to come to Jesus.

Q: What can Christianity do for my daily life?
A: Built into each person is the necessity to do something that really makes a difference in this world. One of the most frightening comments ever made came from John Steinbeck in his book The Grapes of Wrath. The Grapes of Wrath depicts the life of poor itinerant migrant workers in the 1930's. Of those workers Steinbeck wrote, "And when they died it was as though they had never lived."
Life without purpose is not truly living. Jesus Christ offers real purpose for daily living. His purposes are both temporal (for this period of time) and eternal. It is exciting to realize that we can have a purpose for living that transcends a paycheck or a product.
Christianity can also fill a person's life with joy. Joy is the inner peace and confidence that is unaffected by outward circumstances. Joy is the byproduct of a living relationship with Jesus Christ.
Living for Jesus Christ can also benefit one's daily life in terms of health relationships. When a person is secure in Jesus Christ, the need to control others or manipulate them comes to an end. There is real joy and satisfaction in caring for another person, not because of what they can do for you, but because of the love of Jesus.

Q: I live a good moral life and don't hurt anyone! Isn't that enough to get into heaven?
A: The Bible presents the dilemma of the human condition. The most widely recognized laws that are universal in scope are the Ten Commandments. Those commandments are:

You shall have no other gods before me.

You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not now down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.

Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.

You shall not murder.

You shall not commit adultery.

You shall not steal.

You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, his manservant, or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

All of us have violated one or more of the commandments at one time or another. The dilemma for us comes in to play when we realize how God looks at sin (the breaking of his commandments). Listen to what the Bible says in Romans 3:20 & 23-25:

"Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin..."

"Since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, they are justified by his grace as a gift through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as an expiation by his blood, to be received by faith."

If we follow all of the commandments all of our lives, but break just one, we disqualify ourselves from the kingdom of God. The remedy is not being good enough or perfect. The remedy is in trusting totally in Jesus who lived the only perfect life ever lived. His goodness is transferred to us by grace so that we gain eternity based on his righteousness.

Q: Isn't the bodily resurrection of Jesus a myth?
A: The bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ is the very heart of Christianity.  St Paul addressed this in 1 Chrorinthians 15:13-17.

"If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.  And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.  More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead.  But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised.  For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either.  And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins."

     The changed lives of Jesus' followers is one of the most solid testimonies that Jesus did indeed rise from the dead.  Several years ago, Chuck Colson, who worked for President Richard Nixon during the Watergate era, stated that the disciples' faith and lives proves the reality of the resurrection.  He points out that he was a loyal supporter of the President Nixon.  He determined to stay by his President during the Watergate break-in investigation.  However, when the facts of Watergate flooded Washington D.C. those who supported President Nixon, including Colson, abandoned their leader.  Why?  Colson state that they were willing to give up their lives for the truth, but they were not going to sacrifice themselves for a lie.
    In just the same way, said Colson, the disciples of Jesus were not about to sacrifice their lives for a myth or a lie regarding a resurrection.  They sacrificed their lives for what they knew to be the truth.  The truth that Jesus rose bodily from the dead.
    Josh McDowell, in his book A Ready Defense, tells about Harvard law professor Simon Greenleaf, a man who lectured for years on how to break down testimony and determine whether or not a witness was lying, concludes:

"It was therefore impossible that they could have persisted in affirming the truths the have narrated, had not Jesus actually risen from the dead, and had they not known this fact as certainly as they knew any other fact.  The annals of military warfare afford scarcely an example of the like heroic constancy, patience, and unflinching courage.  They had every possible motive to review carefully the grounds of their faith, and the evidences of the great facts and truths they asserted."  (p. 240)

Q: Didn't Jesus sin just like the rest of us?
A:In the Old Testament the Israelites' relationship with God was based on the covenant with Abraham (Genesis 12) and obedience to the Laws of God.  Sin, the breaking of God's laws, was dealt with by the system of animal sacrifice.  In Leviticus 22:18-20 we read about this system and it's demands:

"Speak to Aaron and his sons and to all the Israelites and say to them, 'If any of you - either Israelite or an alien living in Israel - presents a gift for burnt offering to the LORD, either to fulfill a vow or as a freewill offering, you must present a male without defect from the cattle, sheep or goats in order that it may be accepted on your behalf.  Do not bring anything with defect, because it will not be accepted on your behalf'."

    The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah said that the day was coming when the Lord would make a new covenant found its fulfillment in his broken body and shed blood for our sins (Luke 22:20).
    The Jews of Israel understood that a human sacrifice for sin was impossible unless that human was without sin.  The New Testament affirms that Jesus never sinned.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet without sin.  (Hebrews 4:15)

    Just as his resurrection from the dead is mandatory for Christianity to exist, so is the truth that he once for all sacrifice of Jesus was accomplished because of who he was, God in human form, who never gave in to the power of sin.  Therefore his sinless death took the place of our sins, just as an animal sacrifice took the place of the Israelites' sins in the Old Testament.

Q: Isn't the local church only interested in my money?
A: Larry Burkett of Christian Financial Concepts has stated that the Bible speaks more about money and its use than any other topic!  Jesus spoke directly to the issue of using money for the blessing of others and the advancement of the Kingdom of God.
    While it is true that there have been unethical preachers of the Gospel who have fleeced followers out of their money, it is also important to state that the vast majority have been faithful in calling believers to use their money for the blessing of others and the advancement of God's Kingdom.
    While it is also true that the focus of the Church of Jesus Christ is on spiritual matters, it operates in a real world that requires money to operate.  The issue is not that the church asks people to give money, but why it asks, how it asks, and how that money is put to use.
    The local church is made up of and works with people.  The vast majority of its money goes to people who provide life changing ministry and assist people with their physical and spiritual needs. 
    Larry Burkett has said that Jesus is not just interested in your money.  Jesus is interested in your whole life.  Money and its proper use are just a portion of that concern.

Q: How do you know that there really is a God?
A: There have been many attempts to prove the existence of God.  Science, medicine, philosophy and ethics often illuminate the handiwork of God but do not prove his existence.  What will prove God's existence?  The Bible says that the most convincing proof of God's existence is a changed life.
    In the New Testament it is reported that Jesus healed a man born blind.  The man is brought before the Jewish religious officials who attempt to prove that healing did not take place.  The man born blind is mystified at their unbelief.  Finally in exasperation

"He replied, 'Whether he is a sinner or not I don't know.  What I do know is that I was blind, but now I see!'" (John 9:25)

     There is not greater proof for the reality of God than living testimonies of how we were once blind but now see.  For the past 2000 years there have been thousands and thousands of testimonies of men, women, and children who have discovered the truth about Jesus Christ.  No amount of scientific data will convince a skeptic about the existence of God.  But there have been many skeptics who have come to faith in Jesus after meeting people whose lives have been transformed from darkness to light.