Jesus Plus Nothing Bible Studies
Top 10 Questions from ‘others’ in the Bible
By I Gordon.
So far in this
series we have looked at the top 10 questions from God in the Old Testament and
from the Lord Jesus in the New Testament. This final part will look at the top
10 questions from ‘others’ in the scriptures. Again… this is just my list and
I’m sure you will have other favorites that speak to you. So let’s start with a
rather infamous deceptive question…
Satan: Did God really
Genesis 3:1-5 Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, "Indeed, has God said, 'You shall not eat from any tree of the garden'?" (2) The woman said to the serpent, "From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; (3) but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.'" (4) The serpent said to the woman, "You surely will not die! (5) "For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."
There is a principle of the ‘law of first mention’ in the Bible where you can learn about a particular topic by going back to where it is first recorded. Well, when it comes to questions, here is the first one recorded in the Bible. And what a question it is! It is a question by the serpent specifically designed to cast doubt on what God has said. That is the character of the enemy – He gets you to question what God says. The serpent came to Eve and asked ‘Did God really say…’? He doesn’t come and say outright that what God said is wrong but uses deception and craftiness through one question to put multiple questions in Eve’s mind. What was clear in Eve’s mind suddenly becomes clouded.
This is one of the tactics of the enemy ever since. He is always in the business of casting doubt on God’s word. The only remedy to such doubting questions is to have a thorough understanding on God’s word as recorded in His Bible. Hear again the word of the Lord on this important topic:
2 Timothy 3:13-17 But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. (14) You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, (15) and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. (16) All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; (17) so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
Cain: Am I my brother’s
Genesis 4:8-10 Cain told Abel his brother. And it came about when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him. (9) Then the LORD said to Cain, "Where is Abel your brother?" And he said, "I do not know. Am I my brother's keeper?" (10) He said, "What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood is crying to Me from the ground.
The context of this question is that the first person born on this planet has just killed the second person born. Clearly, we are off to a great start! When God comes, He asks Cain the question ‘Where is Abel?’ Now God knew where Abel was, so why was He asking? Well, He wanted Cain to acknowledge His sin obviously. But even more than that, as a question for today, do we know where our brother’s are? Do we know where they are at? Do we care? Do we look out for one another? Cain tried to lie to the Lord and replied ‘I don’t know. Am I my brother’s keeper?’ That is a critical question and it is at the heart of the question God was asking Cain… and us all - ‘Are we our brother’s keeper?’ Do we have a responsibility to care and look after our fellow brothers? Cain said no. The Bible says yes. A great example of this is where Jonathon kept David from the wrath of his father, Saul. In return, David was kind in blessing and keeping watch over Mephibosheth for Jonathon’s sake. In terms of the gospel we also have a responsibility, as God’s representatives, to share the gospel with those around us who don’t know the Lord.
Elijah: How long will you
waiver between two opinions?
1 Kings 18:17-21 When he saw Elijah, he said to him, "Is that you, you troubler of Israel?" (18) I have not made trouble for Israel, Elijah replied. "But you and your father's family have. You have abandoned the LORD's commands and have followed the Baals. (19) Now summon the people from all over Israel to meet me on Mount Carmel. And bring the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel's table." (20) So Ahab sent word throughout all Israel and assembled the prophets on Mount Carmel. (21) Elijah went before the people and said, "How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him." But the people said nothing.
Here is another question that doesn’t lose any of its power today! In the days of Elijah that vast majority of Israel sat on the fence when it came to the God of Israel. Yes, they showed some allegiance to Him at times... but they could just as easily walk in the other direction and worship Baal. There was a wavering in their minds as to who the true God was and this caused a lack of genuine commitment to either! In the language of the New Testament it was like the Laodicean spirit where the people were neither hot nor cold. Elijah’s question was ‘how long?’ ‘How long are you going to continue in this state?’ ‘When are you going to finally make a proper commitment for the Lord and stick with it?’ And look at how the people responded… ‘the people said nothing.’ They responded by not responding, which spoke volumes… The silence was deafening! The Western Church today is filled with many who claim to be Christians but really want a foot in both worlds. They want a little bit of Jesus but not too much least He convicts concerning their other worldly pleasures. Recent polls in the US report that between 77-82% call themselves Christians. I’m sure polls in the days of Elijah would have been as equally positive in Israel among those that believe in the God of Israel! Yet it didn’t stop them wavering between two opinions and keeping other ‘gods’. Yes, it’s a very relevant question then and now!
Mordecai: Are you here for
such a time as this?
Esther 4:12-14 When Esther's words were reported to Mordecai, (13) he sent back this answer: "Do not think that because you are in the king's house you alone of all the Jews will escape. (14) For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father's family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?"
In the days of Esther a crisis was brewing. A law had been passed that allowed the destruction of the Jews on a particular upcoming day. The seriousness of the moment had been impressed upon Queen Esther by her uncle Mordecai. He told her, as we read above, that she shouldn’t think that she is immune from the troubles and asks whether she has been granted her royal position ‘for such a time as this?’
Where has God placed you? Are there people in your sphere of influence that you can see that maybe, just maybe, have been put there because they need help in some way from you? Maybe it relates to where you live, where you work or the group that you hang out with. It could be any association. Have you been put there for such a time as this? God does bring people upon our path if we are open to helping others. This will only increase as the days grow darker in the last days. It is easy to remain silent and not act as Esther was doing. But sometimes it requires a gentle (or not so gentle!) prod from a ‘Mordecai’ in our life to see that we can actually make a difference in this situation. And who knows… maybe you have come into your position for such a time as this!
Job: Who can make the clean
out of the unclean?
Job 14:1-4 "Man, who is born of woman, Is short-lived and full of turmoil. (2) "Like a flower he comes forth and withers. He also flees like a shadow and does not remain. (3) "You also open Your eyes on him And bring him into judgment with Yourself. (4) "Who can make the clean out of the unclean? No one!
There is no doubting that the trials that Job went through where long and very difficult. During this time he began to despair of life itself. In the passage above Job is aware of his sin and seeking deliverance, asks the question ‘who can make the clean out of the unclean?’ Job’s answer, due to his current state of mind, is ‘No one!’ It is true that no man can make himself clean. If we were to attempt such a thing, where would we start? How long would our own efforts of being clean last? But it is also true that we have a God who can, on the basis of what Jesus did on the cross, make the clean out of the unclean! This question is similar to that of the disciples concerning salvation: Matthew 19:25-26 When the disciples heard this, they were very astonished and said, "Then who can be saved?" (26) And looking at them Jesus said to them, "With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
Thank God again today that He can do the impossible. For it includes making someone like you and me, someone unclean through thought and deed, clean again in His sight. Who can make the unclean clean? Only God can. And thankfully, God does.
Job: If a man dies, will he
Job 14:14-15 "If a man dies, will he live again? All the days of my struggle I will wait Until my change comes. (15) "You will call, and I will answer You; You will long for the work of Your hands.
The book of Job is said to be the oldest in the Bible so it is remarkable to see some of the questions that swirled around in his mind. What we find is that they are the same ones that we ponder deeply! We have seen in the previous question that he asked whether one unclean could become clean again. That is a fundamental question that many ask when they see their sin and position. But this question here is equally as fundamental to humanities thoughts. In our inner most being is a longing and desire to know what happens after we die. We see that right from the beginning humans has been pondering this question – ‘If a man dies, will he live again?’ Some in this day would have us believe that we simply go back to the ground and cease to exist. And yet, as the Bible says, God has placed eternity within our hearts and there is an inner knowledge in every human that we are more than just flesh and blood. We are not the just the process of random chance and change. There is a far greater purpose!
Job thankfully, knew the answer to his question. He states that He will wait for that day. He will wait until His change comes (at the resurrection). He says, quite beautifully, that ‘You (God) will call and I will answer You.’ And that ‘You (God) will long for the work of Your hands’. I hadn’t read that until recently. Or at least it hadn’t gone in until recently! But it’s great. For the believer it reminds us of the resurrection and return of Jesus Christ, who will come with a shout – a call, and His bride will answer! And He, our great Savior and creator, will long for the work of His hands. And that is us. We are His workmanship. We often hear how we should long for Jesus but it’s also useful to remember that He longs for us, His bride, His people! Yes, if a man dies, he will live again. All of mankind will be raised. Do you know where you will be spending eternity?
David: How can a young
person keep their way pure?
Psalms 119:9 How can a young man keep his way pure?
If we are talking about relevant questions for this age, how about this one? How hard it is for a young person to stay pure in this day and age? To be accurate, how hard is it for anyone to stay completely true to the living God in this age? But I feel most for the young people. We live in an age where the things of the world are constantly ‘in your face’ with advertisers blasting their messages into the minds of the youngest amongst us. School bullying and peer pressure that used to take a break once a person went home is now broadcast into your homes through social media. And we have a generation coming up addicted to pornography thanks to the instant access available on the internet. How, oh how, can a young man (or woman) keep their way pure in this age? It is a VERY relevant question!
A quick answer won’t do justice to this deep problem but I want to draw your attention to some thoughts in the verses following Psalm 119:9. The Psalmist does give an answer to his question. He says ‘By keeping it according to your word’. That’s the secret. He then goes on to elaborate upon how this is done in practice:
By seeking the Lord: vs 10a ‘I seek you with all my heart’
By prayer: vs 10b: ‘Do not let me wander from your commandments’
By valuing God’s word: vs 11 ‘Your word I have treasured in my heart so I will not sin against you’
By being teachable: vs 12 ‘Teach me your statutes’
By meditating on God’s word: vs 15 ‘I will meditate on your precepts and regard your ways.’
By putting God first: vs16 ‘I shall delight in your statutes; I shall not forget your word.’
Pilate: What is truth?
John 18:37-38 You are a king, then! said Pilate. Jesus answered, "You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me." (38) What is truth? Pilate asked. With this he went out again to the Jews and said, "I find no basis for a charge against him.
Pilate is going to make our list twice. His first question here is one that many ask in this post-modern age. But it is interesting that it is one that was also asked 2000 years ago. ‘What is truth?’ Is there such a thing as objective truth? In this age of relativism, it is popular to view everyone’s thoughts as equally valid as long as it ‘works’ for the individual. Having thrown out God as the basis for objective truth, it now comes down to each individual to find out what is true for them. How’s that working out for you world? In this way of thinking, there are no absolutes any more. Of course, without any absolutes, they can’t be absolutely sure of that!
The Christian believes in absolute truth for ‘thy word is truth’. Even more than that, truth was expressed visibly for all to see in the person of Jesus Christ. He was the very embodiment of truth. ‘I am the truth’ Jesus said. In everything that He said and did, humanity saw truth in action. And truth stood on trial before Pilate that fateful day. Though he puzzled over what exactly truth was, yet having listened to Jesus all that Pilate could say was ‘I find no basis for a charge against him’. Oh that all men would take the time to examine Him who is truth! And this brings us to the next relevant question...
Pilate: What shall I do
then with Jesus?
Matthew 27:21-22 Which of the two do you want me to release to you? asked the governor. "Barabbas," they answered. (22) What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called Christ? Pilate asked. They all answered, "Crucify him!"
Argh Pilate! When Jesus stood before him on trial, he knew that Jesus was innocent and that there was no basis for laying any charge on Him. More than that, Pilate had been specifically warned by God through a dream given to his wife, that Jesus was innocent! And so, with this weighing upon his mind, he gets to the all important question: ‘What shall I do, then, with Jesus?’ Yet instead of making a decision, he asks the question to the crowds of onlookers. And their answer is quick and brutal – ‘Crucify him!’ Everyone needs to come to this place where we ponder this all important question – ‘What shall I do with Jesus?’ It is a question that God requires each of us to answer. And answer it we do for even ignoring it or being apathetical towards it is giving an answer loud and clear. The fact is that we are all asked to ‘do’ something with the Lord Jesus. We are to believe on Him and give Him His rightful place as Lord of our lives. Pilate couldn’t make that all important decision, so he went with what the majority thought and wanted. What a terrible mistake he made! When we finally stand before the Lord there will not be security in numbers… What the majority thinks will be of no use! The word of the Lord to those who ignore or reject the salvation offered in Christ is another great yet sobering question - ‘How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?’
10. Paul: If God is for us who can be against us?
Romans 8:31-35 What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? (32) He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all--how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? (33) Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. (34) Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died--more than that, who was raised to life--is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. (35) Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
Let’s conclude our series with one of the great questions asked by the Apostle Paul. Well, there are a series of great questions here really. These questions are for believers only. Having spent eight chapters speaking about the work of God and the salvation that is ours in Christ, Paul now asks the important question ‘If God is for us, who can be against us?’ God has given us His Son, Paul says. But to expand on what this means Paul then asks a series of further questions starting with this - Will He not also give us all things? The answer is yes He will! God is for us. That thought alone is immeasurable! But the thought that He will give us all things is also amazing. We have been blessed with every spiritual blessing ‘in Christ Jesus’. The complete experience of this waits for the time when we come into our inheritance as the sons of God. All of creation is waiting and longing for that time! Look also at the question that Paul asks about God’s children – ‘Who can bring a charge against those that God has chosen?’ Again, a wonderful thought. You may not feel like it would be impossible to bring a charge against you. I can think of things that I could be charged with and I’d have to plead guilty! But thank God that in Christ there are no charges! It has all been paid for and forgiven. Another great thought in this passage is the question ‘Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?’ The past can’t do it. The future can’t do it. Neither death nor life can do it. Nor can any power attempt to do it. No… nothing can separate the child of God from the grace and love of Jesus Christ! Wow. Thank you Lord!
Some other great questions worth considering (if you haven’t had enough already!)
“Will not the judge of the earth do right?’ Gen 18:25
Job’s wife – ‘Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!’ Job 2:9
David - “Who is man that Thou art mindful of him” Ps. 8:4
David (quoting Jesus) – ‘My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?’ Psalm 22:1
David – ‘Where can I go from your Spirit? Psalm 139:1
John the Baptist – ‘Are you the one who should come? Or should we look for another?’ Luke 7:20b
Disciples – ‘Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?’ Mark 4:38
Jailor – ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ Acts 16:38
Paul – ‘Shall we continue to sin so that grace may abound?’ Rom 6:1
Paul – ‘How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?’ Heb 2:3