The Seven Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask
by Ray Comfort
The seven most important questions...
I was going to die and there was nothing I could do about it. The only unanswered question was "When?" But I wasn’t the only one. Every human being had the same terminal prognosis. As far as I knew, the mortality rate among the world’s population was 100%. Death was a huge and unwanted elephant in the room that we were all supposed to quietly accept as a fact of life. No one was to question why death existed and or even ask how we could avoid it. It was bizarre.
I decided that I would at least visit my doctor to see what I could do to prolong my precious life. He was sitting behind a desk, gaunt, smoking a cigarette. He died a few years later. I wondered if science could help me. But it seemed that they were too busy trying to place a man onto the moon to worry about trifles like death.
So I was left with the inevitable. I was terminal and there was not a thing I could do about it.
Every year (in the United States alone) 562,340 people die of cancer (that’s 1500 every day), 40,000 annually die through car accidents, and 100,000 are helped out of here through hospital-related infections (dirty hospitals). If dirty hospitals don’t get you, incompetence may take you out--"between 40,000 and 100,000 people die every year because of doctors' mistakes, including surgical mishaps and drug mix-ups." Starvation, murder, heart disease, hundreds of other diseases, suicides, earthquakes, drowning, etc., wipe out around 150,000 world-wide each day. That’s an astounding four and a half million human beings dying each month; human beings just like you and me, with the same fears and concerns. Despite these horrific odds of survival, most of us think that we will make it through this day and eventually die of old age, one day. So it’s not a pressing issue.
But perhaps you are reading this because your situation has the elephant weighing heavy on your mind. It is a pressing issue, so let me give you some relief, and then we will deal with the details. Way back on April 25th, 1972 at 1:30 in the morning, I found my answer. To my unspeakable relief I found out why we die, and what we can do about it. I can’t express to you how wonderful it is that (as a Christian) I know that I have everlasting life. Death has lost its sting. I am no longer terminal.
So now, you have to decide if I’m deluded, or if I’m speaking the truth. Let me present my case, and then you decide if it makes sense. We are going to look at what I believe are the seven most important questions you can ask.FOOTNOTES:
1. CBS News 1.28.2010--source: American Cancer Society.
Question 1: How Do I Know God Exists?
It’s amazing how many people think that God’s existence is a matter of "faith." They think that we choose to accept that an invisible God exists, without any real evidence for His existence. We just "believe."
Could you believe that a soldier’s barracks had no builder? Obviously someone put it together, because buildings don’t happen by themselves. The fact that the building exists is positive proof that there was a builder. Who could believe that a building—with its doors, windows, heating, air conditioning, carpet, electricity, etc., happened by accident, made from nothing?
Its design adds to evidence of a designer. For example, the door is made for a man to walk though. It has a handle and hinges. Windows are made for him to see through. The air conditioning keeps him cool in summer, and the heating keeps him warm in winter. The lighting helps him see when it’s dark, and the carpet is for his added comfort. The building was intended specifically for his use.
In the same way, creation is proof that there was a Creator. Keep in mind that we can’t create anything from nothing. We don’t know how to begin. If you disagree, then make me a seed—-from nothing. Make it living, so that it grows into a plant that produces an edible fruit, and make it with the ability to create more seeds within the fruit, so that you can plant them and make more plants and more fruit. So if we can’t even make one seed, how intellectually deceitful is it for any rational human being to believe that nothing created everything?
But there is more. The evidence shows that this earth upon which we live was intended for our use. We have lighting during the day so that we can see what we are doing. The sea breeze keeps the air fresh and cool, and the warmth of a massive ball of fire in the sky keeps us warm and dry. Cows give us succulent meat to eat and leather to wear. They chew grass and give us milk, and from the milk we get cream, cheese, butter, yoghurt, and ice cream. Sheep give us mouth-watering meat to eat, and wool from their back gives us warm sweaters, and supplies carpet for our comfort. Chickens lay eggs for us to scramble, and sacrificially provide finger-lickin’ meat on our plates.
We have oceans that are rich with tasty fish for our dinner; the soil yields juicy fruits for the table and a huge variety of vegetables to keep us healthy. Trees breathe out oxygen for us to breathe in, and we breathe out carbon dioxide for them to breathe in.
We have eyes to enjoy the beauty of this amazing creation, ears to listen to melodious music, as well as hear the song of a myriad of beautiful birds that usher in the morning light. We have a mass of taste buds to relish mashed potatoes and gravy.
Add to this the wonder of man being made for woman and woman for man, and the fact that dogs give man enjoyment and keep him company. He has brilliant white snow upon which to ski, massive waves upon which to surf, the joys of blue skies, green grass, and white beaches with amazing and crystal-clear water.
On top of all this, gravity keeps his feet firmly grounded so that he doesn’t spin off into space, as this massive ball of dirt upon which he lives spins around at the breath-taking speed.
The amazing design all around us screams of the unspeakable genius of an incredible designer.
No wonder the Bible calls the professing atheist a "fool."
So there is no question as to whether or not God exists; which brings us to the second question.
Question 2: What Does God Have That I Need?
So here is our problem. We are all going to die. God is not. He is eternal. If I want to live forever, I have to somehow find a bridge to this eternal Creator. This is why so many billions have been interested in religion, down through the ages. This is why I became intensely interested in the subject of God on the night of my conversion. For about 20 years I didn’t give God serious thought for a minute. I was like a man who understandably didn’t have any thought about a particular cure, until he understood that he had the terminal disease that the cure treated. That’s a huge revelation for any human being to have.
Almost all religions have the common knowledge that God requires us to do that which is right, and we have done wrong. Consequently, the core of all the major religions is that they must do something to "justify" themselves. The four year-old tries to justify why he hit his sister—"She hit me first!" His explanation is an attempt to exonerate himself of guilt. He is seeking what is called "justification." And the thought behind those who are religious is--"If I can somehow justify myself by doing things and earn God’s favor, perhaps He will let me live."
Religious deeds are often combined with self-suffering as a means of seeking God’s mercy--"If He is angry at me for my sins, maybe I can pay for them myself in this life." The four year-old admits that he hit his sister, so he punches himself in the chest as a form of punishment. This is the motive for self-mutilation, fasting, self-denial, lying on beds of nails, sitting on hard pews, etc.
However, biblical Christianity teaches that no one can justify himself in the sight of God. There is a good reason for that, which brings us to the next important question.
Question 3: What is God Like?
To a child, the sun may look like it’s just a bright not-too-big ball in the sky, but it’s actually a huge mass of burning hydrogen and helium that's 865,400 miles wide, and its volume is about 1,300,000 times that of the earth. If I believed that it was square, made of ice, and that it came out at night, my belief wouldn’t change the sun’s reality. It is what it is, despite my beliefs.
In the same way, it doesn’t matter what we believe about the nature of God. He is what He is, despite our beliefs. So if we are going to consider His attributes, we must let go of every preconceived and erroneous image we have, and look at what He reveals about Himself in His Word, the Bible.
We are told that God is a "spirit." That means He is invisible to the natural eye. We believe in many things that are invisible: atoms, radio waves, television waves, love, history, and the wind, just to name a few. The life that inhabits our body is unseen. When we die, that invisible life leaves the shell in which we live. God is the well-spring of that unseen life.
Perhaps the most important thing we should know about God, is that He is holy:
"For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: 'I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite'" (Isaiah 57:15).
He is absolute moral perfect, and because of His moral perfection His very nature demands supreme justice. To put it in human terms, He is like a good judge who uncompromisingly upholds justice. He always does that which is right and just.
If a judge didn’t do what is right, if he turned a blind eye to serious crimes, he’s not a good judge. He is corrupt, and should therefore be brought to justice himself.
It is because God is good that He has set aside a Day in which He will judge the world in righteousness (Judgment Day). That will be the day when every murderer gets exactly what is coming to him. He will also punish thieves, liars, rapists, fornicators, adulterers, murderers, and blasphemers. Please stay with me now, because we are going to look at a biblical truth that changes everything.
Would you consider yourself to be a good person? Most of us do. So let’s have a quick court-martial and see if you are (as you maintain) a morally good person. You will be put on the stand and I will cross-examine you. All I ask of you is that you tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God. Can you manage that? Here goes.
How many lies have you told in your life? How you ever stolen anything? Have you ever used God’s name in vain? Jesus said, "Whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matthew 5:28). If you have lied, stolen, used God’s name in vain, or looked with lust, then you are a lying, thieving, blasphemous, adulterer at heart, and that’s only four of the Ten Commandments.
The dictionary says that a murderer is "a person who commits murder." But the Bible goes further. It says that if you hate someone, you are a murderer (see 1 John 3:15). Of course the person who has hated someone hasn’t physically committed murder, but in God’s eyes they have done the deed, because the intent is there and He therefore considers them guilty of murder (see Hebrews 4:12). That’s how high God’s moral standards are, and that will be the standard on Judgment Day (see Romans 2:12). Have you ever hated anyone?
The Tenth Commandment says "You shall not covet." To covet means "to have an inordinate or wrongful desire." Covetousness is a sin of the heart. We violate the Tenth Commandment simply by having an unlawful desire.
When Jesus spoke of the subject of lust (which is a form of covetousness) He spoke of it sexually, and said that when we lust we violate the Seventh Commandment, which says "You shall not commit adultery." The dictionary definition of adultery is "voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and someone other than his or her lawful spouse."
But Jesus said that when we lust after someone (when we covet them sexually), we commit adultery in the heart. Again, the person hasn’t physically committed adultery, but in God’s morally perfect eyes the desire is the same as the deed. The dictionary confines adultery to a married person. The Bible broadens it to include anyone who looks with lust, whether they are married or unmarried. If you have looked with lust, then you have committed adultery in your heart, and that’s the standard God will judge with on the Day of Judgment. If you’ve got red blood in your veins and a working conscience, you will know that you are in big trouble for transgressing that Commandment. So what are you going to do to try and "justify" yourself?
Here's what changes everything. Before you try to justify yourself, keep in mind that God is a perfect Judge. In His eyes you are a wicked criminal. You are guilty of violating His Law (the Ten Commandments). I can’t emphasize the importance of you grasping this--your understanding of the fact that you are a devious criminal will almost certainly determine your eternal destiny. Here is why. It is because we are wicked criminals in God’s eyes that any good works or self sacrifice on our part are in truth detestable attempts to bribe the Judge of the Universe. The Scriptures warn that the sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord. There is absolutely nothing we can do to justify ourselves in God’s sight.
How then do you plead? Innocent or guilty? You can’t say you are innocent, because you are not. You dare not point to your "good" works, because you haven’t any, and look what happens to the guilty on Judgment Day:
"Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God" (1 Corinthians 6:9-10, NKJV)
God’s wrath abides on you because of your sin (see John 3:36). The Bible says that you are an enemy of God in your mind because of wicked works. If you die in your sins and He gives you justice, you will damned in Hell (See Revelation 21:8). What should you do? You have only one option. It is to throw yourself on the mercy of the Judge. That brings us to the next question. To be continued tomorrow (God-willing).
Question 4: What Has God Done For This Sinful and Dying World?
The Bible compares us to lost sheep. We have "gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way." We have gone astray and live with our backs to God, but we are then told "and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all." What does that mean?
When I was about 8 years old I thought nothing of throwing a stone the full length of our street, just to see how far it would go. My problem was that I didn’t understand that sometimes actions can have serious consequences.
One day I was in a tree-filled empty lot, three doors along from our house. For some reason I threw a stone into the trees. Suddenly I heard the sound of glass breaking, and high-tailed it out of there like a rabbit that had just seen a hungry fox.
A few minutes later, the fox was at our back door. Then I heard my mom call my name, and then ask, "Did you just throw a stone through Mr. Prescott’s window?" I stepped out of my room and said that I had. I can’t remember anything else about the incident, except that my mom has said a number of times how proud she was that I had done the right thing by telling the truth.
When it comes to the issue of sin, we don’t understand that there are deadly serious consequences. We lie, steal, lust, covet, and blaspheme without too much thought. It’s no big deal. But every time we do so, we smash the window of God’s Law and that Law demands retribution. Now He’s waiting for us to do the right thing and ‘fess up. If we refuse to come out in the open we will pay for it ourselves, and there will be Hell to pay.
So what are you going to do? We have already seen that you can’t justify yourself. Simply do the right thing. Confess your sins to God. He knows all about the broken window, and in His great mercy He has already paid for a new one Himself.
God became a Man in the person of Jesus of Nazareth--a morally perfect Man, then He offered Himself as a sacrifice for the sin of the world. When Jesus was on the cross, the Father laid on Him the sin of us all. Think of it this way again. God is a Judge. We are guilty criminals who have violated His Law. Jesus stepped into the courtroom and paid the fine for us. That means, because of the suffering death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God can legally dismiss our case. He can commute our death sentence and allow us to live! Can you understand that? He took the bullet so that you don’t have to:
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil" (John 3:16-19, NKJV).
Do you remember how man-made religions seek justification? Look at what God did through the Savor: "Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification" (Romans 4:25).
This is what makes Christianity unique among other religions. Instead of man seeking justification, in Christ, God justifies the guilty sinner. Everlasting life is a free gift of God, and that brings us to a very important question.
Question 5: How Do I Approach Him To Get The Gift?
If I want to speak to a five-star General, I have to go to him on his terms. The importance of His rank demands it. When you and I come to God we have to come on His terms, and His stipulation is that we approach Him through humility and faith. This isn’t an intellectual faith that He exists. When the Bible speaks of "faith" in God, it is referring to a "trust" in Him. There’s a huge difference between the two.
Trust is the basis for many things we do in life. We trust bankers with our money. We trust historians to give us the truth about history, our doctors with the right medicine, and teachers with correct knowledge for an education. We trust that our dentist knows what he’s doing when he drills a tooth, and with our mechanics when he fixes our brakes. For a soldier, trust is walking in front of a buddy who has a fixed bayonet, or letting someone you hardly know pack your backup parachute.
The 1.5 billion people who travel by air annually trust more than pilots when they fly in a plane. Without too much thought, they trust their precious lives to unseen pilots, unseen air traffic controllers, and aircraft mechanics they will never see nor meet.
Trust is the glue that cements friendships. It’s what holds a marriage together. If trust goes out the door, so does the relationship. If you don’t trust someone, it means you think that they are not worthy of your trust. They are devious. Think of how you would feel if you said, "I love my mother. She is so faithful. She sure keeps her promises," and someone responded with "I don’t trust her!" His lack of trust would hopefully anger you, because it would be insulting to your mom. Insulting another human being by a lack of faith is bad enough, so whatever you do, don’t insult God through a lack of faith in Him:
"But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him" (Hebrews 11:6).
So with genuine sorrow ("contrition") confess your sins to God, turn from them (repentance) and trust alone in Jesus Christ as your Savior and your Lord. The moment you do that, God will "justify" you and grant you everlasting life.
"Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1).
Even though God is holy and we are sinful, upon God-given repentance and faith in Jesus we can have fellowship with Him, because He is rich in mercy to all that call upon Him. Do you remember Isaiah 57:15: "For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: 'I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.'"
Pray something like this today, because you may not have tomorrow:
"Dear God, I have sinned against you by violating your Law. Please forgive me. If you were to judge my many sins I would justly end up in Hell. But because you are rich in mercy and have provided a Savior, I can be forgiven through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I surrender my life to Him and trust Him alone for my salvation. In His name I pray. Amen."
Question 6: Is The Bible Reliable?
The early Christians didn’t have a "Bible," as we know it. The New Testament wasn’t compiled. There was no such thing as the printing press. Few could read. Their salvation wasn’t dependent upon the owing or even believing the Bible, but upon their relationship with the person of Jesus Christ . They heard a spoken message, believed it, put their trust in the living risen Jesus, and were converted by the power of the unseen God.
That was in the first century. In 1972 AD, I had a similar experience. After I was converted, I picked up a Bible and it confirmed my experience. I was experiencing a peace that I couldn’t understand, and felt clean on the inside. It was as though I was a completely new person. I had a sudden love for God, and couldn’t stop thinking about Jesus and what He had done on the cross. I was amazed to read in Scripture about a "peace that passes all understanding," that if any man is in Christ he is a "new creature," that "the love of God has been shed abroad in our hearts," and that the Holy Spirit points the believer to Jesus. Again, the Bible didn’t convert me; it simply confirmed my experience, and became an instruction book for me to know God’s will.
The New Testament was written in Greek, which is a far more complex language than English. The Amplified Bible expounds the original language so that we can understand its true meaning. Here is a key promise from Jesus, translated directly from the Greek:
"The person who has My commands and keeps them is the one who [really] loves Me; and whoever [really] loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I [too] will love him and will show (reveal, manifest) Myself to him. [I will let Myself be clearly seen by him and make Myself real to him.]" (John 14:21, Amplified Bible)
Believe the Scriptures, and make a habit of reading them every day without fail (see Psalm One for the benefits of a disciplined life). As you obey what you read, Jesus will become very real to you.
When someone tells you the Bible isn’t reliable--that they think they have found a mistake, look into it closely and you will find that they are the ones who have made the mistake.
Question 7: How Can I Be Sure of My Salvation?
The reality of your salvation will be directly in proportion to the authenticity of your repentance. If you fake it, you will certainly have a false conversion and eventually fall away from the faith. That was the experience of Judas Iscariot, and you don’t want to follow in his steps.
The false convert (the hypocrite) is like a Christmas tree. He may look healthy and have ornamentation, but because he has no root, in time he will whither and die. But if you are "rooted and grounded" as a Christian, you will grow in time (again, see Psalm One).
The bottom line will be your attitude to sin. For many people, lust is extremely pleasurable, and therefore probably the most difficult sin from which we turn. The unsaved world is mystified as to why any sane person would deny himself such pleasure. But, as a Christian, you know something the world doesn’t.
More than likely you love chocolate. You would be crazy to stop eating it--unless your doctor told you that were extremely allergic to it, and that the smallest amount would instantly kill you. Then you would have a good reason to keep it from your lips, despite the pleasure it would bring.
The Bible makes it clear that lust will kill you and then damn you in Hell:
"You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell" . . . "Then when lust has conceived, it brings forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, brings forth death" (Matthew 5:27-29, James 1:15).
So every time lust sweetly calls your name, you have a choice--to play the hypocrite and follow sin to death and Hell, or follow righteousness to everlasting life. Remember, any self-denial from sin doesn’t earn salvation. It’s simply evidence that you have truly been converted.
If you are a Christian, God promises that anything that life throws at you can only come by His permission. He will allow it because it will benefit you. That doesn’t mean that when it rains you won’t get wet. Lightning falls on the just and the unjust. It simply means that in the light of eternity, God will work every situation to your good. Christianity doesn’t promise a smooth flight. But it does guarantee a safe landing.
In 1413, John Huss was summoned to appear before the Roman church council in Constance. When he was thrown into a prison for nineteen months awaiting trial for his faith and then sentenced to death, he no doubt knew that God would work things out for his good. When he was burned alive at the stake and his charred, lifeless body fell among the ashes, the wonderful promise that God would work out for his good such an unspeakable horror remained unwavering.
On November 9th, 2006, "three Christian high school girls were beheaded as a Ramadan 'trophy' by Indonesian militants who conceived the idea after a visit to Philippine jihadists, a court heard. The girls' severed heads were dumped in plastic bags in their village in Indonesia's strife-torn Central Sulawesi province, along with a handwritten note threatening more such attacks. The note read: ‘Wanted: 100 more Christian heads, teenaged or adult, male or female; blood shall be answered with blood, soul with soul, head with head.'"
In Malatya, Turkey, April 18th 2007, three Christian men who were working in a Bible Publishing office were accosted by Moslems who had only days earlier attended their Christian Easter services. Their hands and feet were bound and they were tortured with butcher knives (for two hours), and finally had their throats cut. Each of the murderers carried a note saying "We did this for our country. They were attacking our religion."
In each and every case of horrific persecution, those who love God and are called to His purposes can stand on the wonderful assurance that He will work all things out to their good.
In closing, look at how this Christian mother’s faith holds her in a fiery trial (she wrote to our ministry about a gospel tract):
"In June my breast cancer became advanced bone cancer and this tract has been an excellent tool to share as I give my testimony in churches or just one on one. I have 6 children so God has given our family a 'megaphone' through this cancer diagnosis which is opening many doors to point others to Jesus . . . I am asking permission to make copies of 'I Have A Problem' tract to use in upcoming events. I am attending a woman's retreat at the first of February . I will be at the back of the room on a sick bed. This will certainly allow me to briefly interact with many who come my way to pray for me and I for them! Bone cancer is really painful and debilitating. This attracts interest. I do not want to waste my cancer! MY HEART'S DESIRE IS TO POINT OTHERS TO JESUS!"
So don’t trust in Jesus because you are afraid of what tomorrow will bring. Trust in Him because you are a sinner and you need a Savior on the day of Judgment. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but even death itself cannot separate us from Him , look at this wonderful promise from the Word of God. Read it purposely, meditate on it thoughtfully, memorize it, and then believe it with all of your heart:
"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For your sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:35-39)
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