FAQ

Here you will find answers to frequently asked questions.

Is the Bible really inspired by God?

This is one of the most important questions any person could ask. 2 Timothy 3:16 says that all scripture is God breathed. So the Bible itself claims to be inspired by God. Something to take note of is that the Bible isn’t a single book, it’s actually a collection of 66 different books written by 40 different authors. The books are from a variety of genres including, history, poetry, prophesy, wisdom literature, letters and apocalyptic literature. Most of these authors never knew each other personally. The reason for this is the books were written over a 1500 year time period. Add to this complexity the facts that the Bible was written in 3 different languages in three different continents and you have a recipe for confusion. But amazingly the books of the Bible compliment each other and seem to flow together as if a single author had written the entire text. There is a common storyline throughout the Bible, the creation, fall, and redemption of God’s people. Not only do all 66 books share a common storyline but also a common theme and message – God loves mankind and salvation from sin is possible through Jesus. All 66 books contain no historical errors or contradictions. It is a one-of-a-kind book.

Here’s a challenge for you. Go to any library in the world. Choose 66 books, written by 40 different authors. They must be written over a 1500 year period. That means if you have any current books some of your books must date back to 500AD. The books must contain a common storyline, theme and message and be written in 3 different languages, on 3 different continents. Lastly the books can’t contradict each other or have any historical errors. If you can produce such a collection of books I’ll admit the Bible isn’t the inspired Word of God.

The likely response to that challenge is it’s impossible. It is impossible for a human but not for God.

The Bible is the only book in history that passes that test.

Even with all that information aside, millions of people throughout history consider the Bible to be inspired by God. Roughly 100 million copies** of the Bible are sold or given away every year.  This makes the Bible the best selling book of all time***.

Why not read it for yourself?

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Why are there different versions of the bible?

The bible was originally written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. Today’s versions are translated, in most cases, by a team of language scholars, into English or another language. Translating is not as easy as one thinks. Often there is no direct translation possible from one Greek word to an English word. For example, the Greek word “sarx” has no direct English counterpart. In the book of Galatians the word is translated as “flesh, human effort, illness, man, no one, ordinary way, outwardly, sinful nature and that nature”. All these words overlap slightly in meaning but none is a direct counterpart for “sarx”. So the translators have to look at the flow of the passage and choose which word or words to use. This is the reason you can read the same scripture in a few different translations and they all read differently. Some translations have gone for a word for word or literal approach and other a freer or paraphrased approach. Then there are others that have taken a middle ground. See the table for placement of the translations.  This doesn’t mean that some translations are good and others bad. We would recommend using a bible in the middle section of this chart for your daily reading because they read easier than the more literal ones, but also to have a literal and a paraphrased version as well to refer to. You can never go wrong with more than one translation.

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Is Jesus real?

Listen to the following message called Jesus WHO? Fact or Fiction. In that message the speaker looks at the historical evidence for the person of Jesus. Jesus was not only a real person who walked the earth in the first century but he’s also alive today. Millions of people around the world will testify to knowing Jesus and that he has transformed their lives.

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Why do I exist?

One of the amazing characteristics of God is that he is a revealing God. He is not someone unknowable nor is he hiding away minding his own business. He want’s you to know him! Have a read of the following story, it’s written like a novel but the truth of the bible is found in it’s words. Below is a simplified version of the story of the Bible.

Way back on the day that time began, God had a wonderful plan. A creature called a human who would have relationship with God and out of that place of knowing God, for the human to rule over creation and to reflect to creation what God is like. Who better to reflect God than those who know God personally? That was the original blueprint. Adam and Eve lived in a garden called eden and spoke with God face to face. The tree of life was in the garden ensuring they would live forever enjoying and serving this wonderful God. Then things went horribly wrong when mankind disobeyed God. They ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the one tree God forbade them to eat of. The darkness of sin corrupted their souls and severed the wonderful relationship they had with God. No longer could unholy man be with a holy God. Darkness couldn’t stand in the presence of light. The man who sinned separated from the God who had never sinned. To stop mankind eating from the tree of life and living in their sinful state forever, Adam and Eve were removed from the garden of eden. Sin had it’s price and the price was death. And as hard as man tried he couldn’t rub out the stain of sin. It seemed that the harder he tried the larger his corrupt nature grew in his life. And down through the generations the curse of sin was passed from one person to the next. This tragic story however has a happy middle and a happy ending. All along God had a plan for fallen man. You see there was a way that the stain of sin could be removed. A substitute could be made. One without the stain could take the stain of another. God put his plan into action and called for himself a chosen people. A people who would carry his message to the nations. The message of substitution started with the sacrifice of bulls and rams to remove their sins. This temporary measure caused frustration however because each time a new sin was committed another sacrifice had to be made and the law that promised life became death to man. It caused sin to increase all the more. But this law and God’s dealings with the people of Israel were just the beginnings of his plan. They were a type and a shadow of what was to come. The climax of Gods plan came when he sent his only son Jesus to earth. Born of a virgin so as not to inherit the sinful nature of man. Jesus walked this earth 2000 years ago teaching about his Father in heaven and the kingdom of God. He was tempted in every way but didn’t sin. Then at the age of 33 he allowed himself to be substituted. Not one sinless life for the life of another but one divine sinless life for the lives of all mankind. The substitution takes place on a cross as all mans sins are placed upon him and he is separated from God and pays the penalty of sin – – – death. His dead body is placed in a tomb but after three days Jesus rises from the dead and is seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven. Seated in this position of rulership and authority Jesus now offers gifts of forgiveness of sins and repentance. Mankind now faces a choice, repent and believe in what Jesus has done for them on the cross or continue to live in unbelief. Those who repent and are baptised receive the completion of the substitution made on the cross. Their sins are wiped away and they receive forgiveness from God. Their relationship with God is restored and God adopts them as his sons and daughters. They now become co-heirs with Jesus and receive every spiritual blessing in Jesus. Now those who are restored live their life as a new creation and fulfil the original plan of God, to be his image on earth.

This is the good news of the Bible. It’s not about following rules or trying to be someone you’re not. It’s all about accepting what Jesus has done for us on the cross and allowing him to transform us from the inside out. Then we can know God and be the people he created us to be.

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Is it important that I join a church?

When someone is born they automatically join the human race. But on top of that the child needs to become part of a specific family. A family that will love them, nurture them, feed and clothe them. This principle is true spiritually as well. When a person receives Jesus as their Lord and saviour they automatically become part of the universal church but God’s intent is that each new believer is added into a local fellowship. A family of believers who will feed that new believer, disciple them and see them grow into the calling that God has for them.

In the book of Acts in Chapter 2 we read about the apostle Peter preaching the gospel message to a large crowd of Jews. In verse 41 it says “those who accepted his message were baptised, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.” Notice that these new believers weren’t saved and then told to go home to live out the rest of their days in isolation, they were added to the church. Then a few verses later Luke is describing daily life in the Jerusalem church and he says in verse 47 “And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Once again, new believers were added to the group of believers in Jerusalem.

In Acts 4 verse 32 onwards Luke once again describes the incredible unity of the early church. “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.” What a wonderful picture of church family life, unity of heart and mind and sharing their possessions for the benefit of all.

To be continued…

 

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Why does the church ask for money?

Let me start off by saying that this question is in no way intended to put pressure on people to give more money. God has blessed us as a church and he will continue to provide for all our needs into the future. The reason we teach on this subject it to bring freedom in this area for each believer. Our heart is that you would be free to give what the Spirit is telling you to give. So let’s look at what the bible teaches about money.

God has given everyone of us 3 primary resources. Time, Talent and Treasure. As Christians we realise that everything we have has been given to us by God. He is the source of all our time, our talents, and our wealth. Prov 3:9-10 talks about us honouring God with our wealth and the first fruits of our produce. We honour God when we give of our time in service to the body (the church), our talents in service to the body and when we give of our finances for the continued ministry of the body. The church uses the money to pay rent for facilities, to cover salaries of full time staff, to pay for insurance’s, to sow into other churches around the world who may not have as much as we have, to sow into and support ministry that spreads the good news into the nations of the world, and many other local expenses that are necessary including, consumables, music copyright costs, web hosting costs, printing and signage costs etc. As a church we sow 10s of 1000s of dollars every year into ministry that takes place in different nations around the world. Ministry that involves planting, equipping and strengthening churches in various nations. We believe that as a church God has blessed us to be a blessing to others.

We have a culture in New Gen of believers who sow generously and as a leadership we thank God for the generous people God has brought into the church. People who understand that you can never out give God and that he who sows generously will reap generously 2 Cor 9:6. It’s a joy to give of the things that God has given us. Freely we have received from God and so freely we give. We don’t give under compulsion but out of a heart that wants to bless others and serve God. Sowing generously is also not a formula for creating wealth. The more I give the more God will bless me. That’s not what this scripture (2 Cor 9:6) is teaching. Generosity results as we are transformed more and more into the likeness of Christ. God is a generous God and as we are transformed by him so we become more generous or more like Jesus. What this scripture is teaching is that as we give God will sow back into our lives so that we can keep giving and even increase our giving (2 Cor 9:10-11), which is a joyful thing. How wonderful to know that God will keep supplying seed for us to sow, especially since we find joy in giving (Acts 20:35).

Some have preached that the practice of tithing (which is giving a 10th of your income to the church) falls under the Old Testament law and therefore is done away with under the New Covenant. Some thoughts on this: Firstly, Jesus is the guarantor of a better covenant Heb 7:22. The New Covenant that we have inherited is as far superior to the old as Jesus is superior to the Old Testament priests Heb 8:6, Heb 8:1. If this New Covenant is superior then surely generous giving should be a superior form of giving and not a lesser form of giving? If generous giving results in giving 20, 30, 50 or even 90% of your income then why even worry about debating the doctrine of tithing, it has become obsolete like the old covenant Heb 8:13. This certainly seems to be the case in the first church in the book of Acts where believers regarded all their possessions as belonging to all and sold their possessions and gave to anyone in need Acts 2:44-45. The second point to consider is when Jesus rebuked the Pharisees about the condition of their hearts he told them they should have tithed but without neglecting justice and the love of God (Luke 11:42). Thirdly, Abraham gave a 10th of all his possessions to God Gen 14:20. Melchizedek means “king of righteousness” and Salem means “peace”. Hebrews 7 and Psalm 110 link Melchizedek with Jesus Christ. This tithe (tithe means 1/10) from Abraham happened 430 years before the law was given. Not only did Abraham tithe before the law but so did Jacob (Gen 28:22). We believe at New Gen that our generous giving begins with a tithe and overflows into generous giving because we are under grace, which empowers us to do God’s will and free to give freely.

Having said all this giving should be done anonymously and in accordance with ones faith. It should be done with a sober mind and with good stewardship in mind. God has given us finances that we should steward well. Giving your entire salary to the church in an act of bad stewardship will not result in blessing to your family. The bible teaches that God gives both seed to sow and bread to eat and that through generous giving he will multiply our seed (2 Cor 9:10). Generous giving is an act of faith. We give knowing that God will supply our every need Phil4:19. So don’t feel pressured to give a particular amount, ask God and let him direct your generosity. And lastly, enjoy the journey God will take you on. Sometimes God may say to give more than usual and it will be a step of faith. As you walk in obedience to the Spirit you will see the miraculous provision of God and you will be overjoyed. I personally have seen God provide miraculously and those are amazing experiences.

 

** http://www.economist.com/node/10311317

*** http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/records-1/best-selling-book-of-non-fiction/