Bible QandA

Here is where Pastor Toru Asai answers to your questions about the Bible and Christian.

Questions about a Christian

Q1. Who is a Christian? What is the difference between Christianity and other religions?

A Christian is someone who believes that Jesus Christ died for his/her sins on the cross and that because of this, his/her sins are now forgiven. We believe that no amount of good deeds or remorse can take away the wrongs we've committed; it is only through the grace and mercy of Jesus' cross that we are saved. Anyone who has committed the smallest sin must pay for it by going to hell. There's no way around it. But God sent his only Son, who was without sin, to die in our place, so we wouldn't have to suffer and go to hell. This Son, Jesus, went to hell, paid the price of our sins and was resurrected. There's no sin too great that His cross cannot cover it. Why did God kill his own Son so we could be forgiven? Because that is how much God loves you. Anyone who believes this and confesses with his mouth "Jesus is Lord" is now a Christian. It's that simple.

Q2. What happens after we die?

All humans are made up of 3 parts: body, soul, and spirit. Haven't you ever struggled with conflicting thoughts and desires? That happens only because you have 2 separate entities within your body. It's your soul and spirit fighting it out. When we die, only our physical bodies die. Our soul and spirit keep on living and can never die, because they're not made of physical matter. Our spirit goes back to heaven, where it came from, but our soul can go to either heaven or hell. The soul of anyone who has sinned must go to hell. But the soul of anyone who believes in Jesus has been bought back by His cross and is allowed to go to heaven. Heaven and hell are real places. After we die, all of us go to one or the other and live there forever.

Q3. How do I get rid of my sense of guilt, fear, doubts, anger, depression, etc?

The root of all these hardships is sin. So the first step is to get rid of it. The only way to get rid of sin is to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior. When you do this, Jesus enters your life and starts living your life with you, taking each step with you and guiding you along the way. You cannot get rid of these things, or break any bad habits you may have by working hard or persevering. This will only end in failure and lead to more guilt, doubts, anger, and so on. When Jesus comes into your life, all these negative things disappear naturally.

Questions about the Bible

Q4. How does one become a Christian? Must a person be baptized in order to become a Christian?

First of all, we must define the meaning of "becoming a Christian" before answering this question. If you think about becoming a Christian merely in a religious sense, you could say that you become a Christian once you belong to a church or become a member of a denominational group. It is the same as when a Japanese person says his family is Buddhist. Even though he says his is a Buddhist, in most cases he does not have any heartfelt beliefs as a Buddhist. If you talk about becoming a Christian in this sense, then getting baptized means to belong to a church or denominational group and it can be said that you have become a Christian.

However, according to the Bible, a Christian is a person who follows Jesus Christ and has become a disciple of Jesus Christ. As for who this Jesus Christ is, he is the one who died on the cross for our sins. Therefore, a Christian is someone who believes and confesses that Jesus Christ died for his/her sins and was resurrected three days later from the dead. It is written in the Bible as follows:

That if you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord,? and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9)

People who believe Jesus and confess are "saved, " is the way Paul (the author) puts it, but to put it another way, this is what we Christians mean when we say that someone has become a Christian. If you believe in your heart and confess "Jesus is Lord." you have become a Christian. Please note that there are no additional requirements such as "if you get baptized, "if you belong to any church, " or moreover, "if you go to church." This can be surprising but it is the truth. The salvation of man is a very spiritual thing. You will be saved only through your personal relationship with God.

Things such as your parents being Christians or you going to church, or you participating in church events are mere outward manifestations of the real you. Your sins will not be forgiven and your life and heart will not be changed by any of these things. To become a Christian is to discontinue your former way of life and start a new one with Christ. This is not possible without the help of God's salvation.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (II Corinthians 5:17)

Q5: Do heaven and hell really exist? I think a man will cease to exist after he dies.

Heaven and hell exist and we are put into one or the other, after death. Many people from different cultures around the world and many religions believe in this concept. However, regrettably, it is impossible to prove like mathematics or physics. All we can do is tell what is described in the Bible. In the end, it is up to you whether you believe or not. The Bible certainly tells us about the world people go to after death. However, the Bible in fact does not tell us as much about this world as we like to think. Rather, 99% of the Bible has to do with how we are to live on this earth and how God works in our lives in this current world. This is surprising.

The following is a typical Bible verse concerning what happens after death. Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, (Hebrews 9:27) Perhaps the story of Lazarus and a rich man most realistically describes life in heaven and hell.

There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man?fs table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham?fs side. The rich man also died and was buried. (Luke 16:19-22)

This story describes where two men went after their deaths. It was told by Jesus and is an allegorical story. An allegorical story usually does not use proper nouns, but uses common nouns as in "There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father..." This allegorical story is very strange in that the proer noun "Lazarus" is used, as if Jesus is telling a true story. Somehow, the name of the rich man is not revealed. In any case, according to this story, humans continue to exist after death and not everyone enters the same. On the one hand is "Abraham's side" and on the other, "hell."

In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. (Luke 16:23)

It seems hell is not a good place. One world is visible from the other and people can see who is there.

So he called to him, ?eFather Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.?f (Luke 17:24)

This story continues, but we have found out that hell is a place full of agony and unbearable anguish. It seems that people continue to exist after death and that we remember our days on earth and remember the people we met and recognize one another.

If this is true, it would be a grave matter indeed since no one would want to go to such a place as hell. At any rate, why was this rich man put into such a place? What happens to him afterwards? I will tell you at a later time, but there are the following words:

And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone?fs name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:12-15) .

Q6: I want to understand Jesus words more. What kind of Greek dictionary and Hebrew dictionary should I get? Now I use Strong? concordance to get a better understanding of what certain words mean, but I want to go deeper.

This is a good question, but it will require some explanations besides simply giving the names of the dictionaries. Now, for those who are not familiar with Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, it is a concordance of the King James Version Bible with a cross-reference of every word to its correspondent word in the original text. Since King James Version is a word-for-word literal translation, it is easier to associate the English words with corresponding words in the original text. So without knowing the original language, you can look up the word in the Hebrew or Greek dictionary. And as you know, even if you have some knowledge of the language, you need to convert the conjugated words to the lexical forms to look them up in the dictionary, and it is not easy. But this Strong’s numbering system eliminates these difficulties to find the word you are looking for easily in the dictionary.

So, the Strong’s Concordance is very helpful for the students of the Bible, especially those of the Old Testament because all the words in Hebrew are listed under the three consonantal root words whether they are verbs, nouns, adjectives, adverbs, even proper names in the most authentic Hebrew dictionary called “The New Brown-Driver-Brigg-Gesenius Hebrew and English Lexicon”(usually called BDB). And of course, this is the dictionary every student of the Bible must have, but it is not easy to use unless you learn the language well. Yet, since it now has a Strong’s number attached to every entry word, even the beginners can easily look up the words they look for.

The dictionaries of the languages of the Bible are not simply for looking up the meanings of the word because you have already translations, and in most cases, you already know what the word basically means. But only if you want to study further about the little nuances of the word that is not reflected in the translations. So, the references to the places where the word occurs and how it is used in certain phrases or in the combinations with other words become so crucial. The possibility for the use of the information you find in dictionaries is almost unlimited. Even a quick glance of in which books of the Bible and how frequently the word is used gives you crucial information about the nature of the word: which groups of the biblical literatures use the word more often than the others, in which period of the history the word was used more, and even how the meaning of the word developed and changed in different periods, and so on. BDB even gives you the cognate words in the other Semitic languages so that the students can come up with new discoveries in the meanings of the word.

Concordances simply give the list of the occurrences of each word in the original language but do not categorize them under different meanings of the word. Thus, when the word occurs hundreds of times, it is very difficult to look at every occurrence of the word. So I recommend BDB together with “The New Englishman’s Hebrew Concordance.” This concordance gives entry words in Hebrew with Strong’s numbers, and the quotations of the places of each word in English (KJV). Here are the steps you usually take:

1. By using King James Version, go to the passage you are interested in, and find the particular word that you want to study.

2. Look up that English word in Strong’s concordance, and find the number it assigns to that word.

3. Look up that number in the New Englishman’s Hebrew Concordance, and there you have all the places where that Hebrew occurs.

And after this, it is all up to you to pull out whatever you find, but it is all raw material with not much taste. It takes a lot of meditation to come up with some kind of truth that is presentable to others.

Let us talk about dictionaries for the New Testament some other time.

Interested? Then come to our church and find out more! Christianity isn't something you study; it's something you must experience. God is alive and working in the here and now. What will He do for you?

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