Mailbag Page 17

Since God knows the future, do we REALLY have free will?

Do our pets go to Heaven?

What is the difference between humans and animals?

What does the Bible have to say about "Senior Citizens?"

Who are the oldest people in the Bible?

Christian (???) Chat Rooms

QUESTION: Since God knows the future, do we REALLY have free will?

To answer the above question, we must first identify two Bible Facts. Namely...

1) God is omniscient

2) People have free will

#1 God is omniscient. That is, God all-knowing.

  • Since God is all-knowing, He knew everything about the universe and its creatures BEFORE He even created them.
  • Ergo, God has always known everything you will say or do throughout your entire existence.
  (Spoken to God...) For You created my inmost being. You knit me together in my mother's womb... Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be. Ps 139.13, 139.16

Known to God from eternity are all His works. (Acts 15.18
#2 People have free will. That is, people can make choices.   (God said...) This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live. Deu 30.19

Questioner's CONCEPT:
Omniscience Precludes Free Will


Bible Bell's REBUTTAL:
Omniscience Does NOT Preclude Free Will

Some folks think that God's omniscience is incompatible with our free will. To illustrate this concept, we will use the following make-believe example...

  • Fred decides to place a bomb on airplane Flight 999. While Flight 999 is in the air, Fred's bomb explodes, Flight 999 crashes, and everyone aboard is killed.
  • Because God is omniscient, He has ALWAYS known that Fred would decide to plant the bomb.
  • If Fred had decided NOT to plant the bomb, then God would have been wrong.

But an omniscient God CANNOT be wrong. Therefore...

  • Either Fred had NO choice except to plant the bomb, in which case God is a "puppeteer" -- we are God's puppets, and free will is an illusion.
  • Or Fred COULD have changed his mind, and decided not to plant the bomb, in which case the omniscient God does not exist.

To rebut the concept that God's foreknowledge is incompatible with human free will, we will continue with the example of Fred and his bomb...

  • The airport where Flight 999 originated has security cameras. These cameras make TV tapes of the surroundings of each aircraft.
  • After Flight 999 explodes, some FBI agents view these TV tapes. The tapes reveal Fred planting the bomb on the airplane.
  • At the moment that the FBI agents are viewing the tapes, it is no longer possible for Fred to change his mind about planting the bomb. This fact does NOT mean that the FBI agents are forcing Fred to plant the bomb.

In a manner of speaking, God has ALWAYS had the video tapes that the FBI agents viewed.

Thus, God's omniscience means that God knows our free will decisions BEFORE those decisions are made. It does NOT mean that God forces us to make those decisions.

QUESTION - Do our pets go to Heaven?

Curtis writes - My friend just lost her dog in a tragic accident, without being able to say goodbye to her. She was her best friend and companion for the last 5 years. I would like to comfort my friend by assuring her that her dog is in a better place. What Scriptures can I use to substantiate that the dog is in heaven?
Dear Curtis,
The Bible doesn't say that dogs go to Heaven. Neither does it say they don't. The Bible's focus is on Jesus and the salvation of humans.

We DO know that there are horses in heaven (Rev 19.11, 2 Kings 2.11).

The best thing for your friend to do is to ask God to take her dog to Heaven. God always listens to His children and their needs. If your friend prays for her dog, then the best way to comfort her would be to assure her of the power of prayer, and God's kindness in granting His children's requests.

QUESTION - What is the difference between humans and animals?

John writes - May I ask the difference between humans and animals?

Since both are living creatures, but humans are chosen to have dominion over animals, there must be something different.

The three main differences between people and animals are listed below...

Difference 1 - People were created in God's image. Animals were not. (For Bible Bell's lengthy essay on the image of God in people, CLICK HERE.)   So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Gen 1.27
Difference 2 - God's method of creating animals differed from His method of creating people...    
  • God created the animals by fiat. That is, He merely commanded their existence.
  Then God said, "Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind: cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth, each according to its kind''; and it was so. Gen 1.24
  • God created humans by a "hands on" method, as shown by the Bible verses alongside.
  And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. Gen 2.7

And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. Gen 2.21-22
Difference 3 - Humans are body, soul, spirit. Animals are body and soul only.   Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Thes 5.23

QUESTION: What does the Bible have to say about "Senior Citizens?"

The silver-haired head is a crown of glory, if it is found in the way of righteousness. Pr 16.31

The glory of young men is their strength, and the splendor of old men is their gray head. Pr 20.29

Rise in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the LORD. Lev 19.32

Let me remind you again that a widow's relatives must take care of her, and not leave this to the church to do. Then the church can spend its money for the care of widows who are all alone and have nowhere else to turn. 1 Tim 5.16

(Instructions to Pastors) Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.
Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. Titus 2.2-5

(More Instructions to Pastors) Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity. 1 Tim 5.1-2

QUESTION: Who are the oldest people in the Bible?

  • Methuselah 969 Gen 5.27
  • Jared 962 Gen 5.20
  • Noah 950 Gen 9.29
  • Adam 930 Gen 5.5
  • Seth 912 Gen 5.8
  • Cainan 910 Gen 5.14
  • Enos 905 Gen 5.11
  • Mahalaleel 895 Gen 5.17
  • Lamech 777 Gen 5.31
  • Shem 600 Gen 11.10-11

Christian Chat Rooms

"Cateyes" asks: Why is it so hard to get into Christian chat rooms?
I'll answer your question in a moment. But first, a word of caution...

Many so-called "Christian" chat rooms are FAR from being Christian.

Chat rooms that are run by non-Christian organizations, such as Excite, can be
really bad.
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. Mt 7.15

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 1 John 4.1
If you do visit Christian chat, I recommend you only go to those rooms that are sponsored and actively monitored by Christian organizations.

In answer to your question -- Christian chat rooms are sometimes crowded, and the computers that serve them have a limited number of folks they can handle at any one time.






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