Ask Father Paul 071509

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Answers to your questions about life, religion and the Bible

Pastors get some of the most interesting questions from people they meet and people in their congregations. Here are some questions I have received over my years of ministry and via email for this column.

Dear Father Paul: Do you really believe that God created man? If so, why did he create man? Doesn’t God already have everything he needs? — Robert

Dear Robert: Yes, I do believe that God actually created men and women. The story is found in the Bible in the book of Genesis, chapters 1 - 3. I personally believe that, although he is God, and thus has no “needs,” he wanted someone to love and someone who could freely choose to love him in return. Colossians 1:16 reiterates the point, “All things were created by him and for him.” So we were created for his pleasure. Again, God wanted someone who would love him and have fellowship with him freely ... not because they had to, but because they wanted to ... because they chose to, of their own free will. This free choice we have to love or not love God is a wonderful gift. God kept his end of the bargain ... he loves his creation unconditionally. Unfortunately, we have not loved him. We have all, starting with Adam and Eve, sinned and chosen to go our own way. I believe that God’s greatest wish is for each of us to return to fellowship with him and love him. We do that by receiving the one he sent, Jesus, his son, as our savior.

Dear Father Paul: How can I know whether someone is “really” a Christian or not. There are so many hypocrites. — Justin

Dear Justin: God cautions us not to judge others in his word, the Bible, so be careful. Jesus himself tells us in Luke 6:37, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven.” I try really hard to recall this verse every time I am ready to judge or condemn someone for something they’ve done, and believe me, as a pastor, I see lots of examples of people falling short of God’s love and his commands ... including myself. I try to remember that “I am not their Holy Spirit.”

With that said, we see that the Bible tells us several ways that we (and he) can tell who are “real” Christians. Here is one way. Jesus tells his followers in John 13:34-35, “A new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this will all men know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” So, if you hear hate coming from a person’s mouth or their actions, they are probably not a “real” Christian. Another way we (and he) can tell who his “real” followers are is found in John 14:15. Here Jesus says simply, “If you love me, you will obey what I command.”

So, we can be fairly sure someone is a “real” Christian if they love others and if they do (that is, put into practice) Jesus’ teachings and commands. Unfortunately, many who claim to be Christians aren’t and they do keep many people from becoming Christians. The story is told about Gandhi who became the leader of one billion Indians and led India Into independence from Britain in the 1940s. Gandhi remained a Hindu all his life. A reporter interviewing him once asked, “Mr. Gandhi, you lived in the West for many years before returning to India. How is it that you never became a Christian?” Gandhi thought for a moment and said this, “I have read the Bible, and if I had ever met a single real Christian during the years I lived in the West, I would have become a Christian.” Wow! Do others see Christ in you Justin? Do they see him in me?

Dear Father Paul: Why is there so much evil in the world? — Marge

Dear Marge: Because a great battle has been being waged on planet earth for eons. A battle between the forces of evil led by Satan, a fallen angel, and the forces of good, led by God. Satan hates God and he hates God’s creation, mankind, because God loves us and because we have the capacity to be reconciled to God and spend eternity with God in heaven ... and he does not.

People get hurt, they get injured when they wander onto a battlefield, even innocent people. Unfortunately, we live on a battlefield ... planet earth. For this reason hunger, war, disease, death, disasters and misery abound on the earth and will abound until Christ returns and sets everything right. The end of this battle is absolutely certain. God wins! The story is found in the last three chapters of Revelation, the last book of the Bible. Read them Marge. You will be greatly encouraged.

Do you have a question? I will try to answer you in the paper. Email me at, write me at P.O. Box 510, Fayetteville, GA, or call me at (678) 457-3050.

Father Paul Massey is pastor of Church of the Holy Cross Charismatic Episcopal Church in Fayetteville, Georgia. Church of the Holy Cross is evangelical, charismatic and sacramental, all three streams of the ancient, historic New Testament Church, together ... in one church. Guests are most welcome. Information, directions and worship times are available at

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