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Expert Q&A: Everything you ever wanted to know about faith and the Bible, answered!

What’s your purpose in life? Check. How can you grow closer with your family? How can you grow closer to God? Check and check.
If you’re looking for answers to your biggest questions, the Bible is a great place to find out everything you wanted to know about living with faith in God. We rounded up questions from real GL girls, then invited our friends at Zondervan to shed some light on the things that matter most to y-o-u.

Scroll down for these Q&As on Christianity, then check out the slideshow to find the perfect Bible to fit your busy life.

Want to know more about the Bible's unshakeable truths? Watch this vid.
What are we in this world? What is our destiny, and do we have meaning?

To answer any of these questions, we have to start with the biggest question of all: Is God real? Take a look at Hebrews 11:6. It says a lot of things, but right in the middle of it all, it says one very important thing: God exists! In fact, the whole Bible is proof that God is real. And that one fact changes everything.

But what about purpose, meaning, and destiny?

Have you seen the movie The Princess Diaries? In it, a girl who feels like a nobody discovers she is actually a princess and the heir to the throne of a beautiful country. That not only gives her a royal identity, but it also gives her an important role to fulfill. The people of her country need a queen, and it’s her job to become that queen and serve the people by ruling with wisdom and justice.

That’s a good picture of our purpose and destiny in life. Because Ephesians 2:10 goes on to say why God created us: “to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Second Timothy 2:12 adds, “We will also reign with him.” As a daughter of the King, you are an heir to his kingdom. He has important things for you to accomplish for his kingdom here on earth, and you are destined to rule with him someday in heaven.

If my family doesn’t practice any religion, would it be bad for me to be a Christian?

Nope. Granted, it can be difficult to be a Christian in a home where no one else believes in God or Jesus, but it’s not impossible. And you won’t be alone, because God will be with you (Heb. 13:5). All you need to do is put your faith in Christ, live according to his teachings, and let God’s love flow through you.

I liked reading my kiddie Bible because the stories were so much easier to understand than my grown-up Bible. Can I just keep reading my old one?

The answer to this question is, sort of, yes and no. One the one hand, it’s great to read the Bible in a format you can easily understand. On the other hand, when you move from a storybook Bible for young children to a full-text Bible, you’ll discover amazing things about the stories you’re familiar with as you gain a deeper understanding of them. And you’ll be introduced to exciting stories you’ve never known before.

The good news is there are many versions of full-text Bibles to choose from. Some of these Bibles are specifically designed for teenagers, with features that explain what the Scriptures mean, offer interesting facts about life in ancient times and show how God’s Word relates to teens today. One of these Bibles is sure to be just right for you!

How much of the Bible is really true? Are the stories more like fables to live by, or are they real history?

The question of whether the Bible is really true is a good one. And you could ask the same thing about any book of ancient history.

Most of the stories in the Bible really happened. You can read it like a history book. But the great thing about real-life Bible stories is that they teach wonderful truths to live by. Even though they describe actual events, they offer valuable insights about what is right and what is wrong, and what is the best way to live. More important, they teach us about God.

Some stories in the Bible are fiction, however. These are parables that Jesus used in his teachings. For instance, the story of the prodigal son or the story of the good Samaritan may be just that—stories that Jesus made up to teach an important lesson. Whether they actually happened or not, these stories too offer excellent principles to live by.

Are there different Bibles for different religions? What’s the difference?

The Bible used by people of Jewish faith is called the Hebrew Bible. It essentially consists of the Old Testament portion of the Christian Bible. So these two kinds of Bibles are related. Remember, Jesus was Jewish, so the Hebrew Bible is the one he grew up with, studied and quoted in his teachings. The Christian Bible starts with the Old Testament and adds the New Testament, which consists mainly of the four Gospels (books about Jesus’s life) and the writings of Jesus’s chosen apostles.

Various groups of Christians use different versions of the Christian Bible. That’s because these groups disagree about whether or not some books should be included in the Bible. So, for instance, a Catholic Bible is different from a Protestant Bible, because a Catholic Bible contains a group of additional books called the Apocrypha.

There are other writings that are thought to be sacred by members of various religions. Examples of these include the Book of Mormon, which is considered sacred by Mormons; the Koran, which is considered sacred by Muslims; and the Vedas, which is considered sacred by Hindus.

My family is Christian and we read the Bible and go to church together all the time. Do you have any tips for more fun things we can do as a family?

There are lots of things you can do! Here’s a something you can do as a family: One night a week, have a family member show a scene from a movie then together talk about the faith issues this scene raises.

Looking for something a little more active? Go canoeing or kayaking together as a family and, afterward, talk about some of the interesting Bible stories that happened in and around rivers.

Another fun thing to do is to lie out under the night sky and see who can count the most shooting stars. Talk about the many ways in which God displays his glory in the skies—and for that matter, in all of his creation.

Get creative! You’re limited only by your imagination. Ask God to inspire you with ideas then go live life to the fullest!

Will reading the Bible really help me get closer to God? How do I do that?

People send each other texts and emails. Some people keep in touch this way even when they’re home together, in different rooms of the same house (sound familiar?).

The point is, communicating with someone is the best way to get close to them. It’s the best way to stay close, too. And one really great way for you and God to communicate is for you to read the Bible.

Make a habit of reading a bit of the Bible every day. If possible, set up a special time and place to do this. That will help make it part of your routine. You’ll be amazed at how often God blesses you by speaking to you powerfully and lovingly when you’re feeling down. One important point: Always pray before you begin reading the Bible. Ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you through God’s Word. He will!
Note from GL: The views expressed here are of one expert in response to questions about Easter, a Christian holiday. and Girls' Life magazine welcomes girls of all faiths and beliefs—this is just one point of view.

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by GL | 2/1/2016
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