Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Bible Says So???

This post is adapted from two messages given at Titusville Branch Fellowship in May 2008. Click to listen to Part One or Part Two.

One thing I've found frustrating over the years is hearing people give a defense for their faith saying, "because the Bible says". This kind of defense in our culture simply does not work. And it leaves the impression that the only evidence for a Christian belief is some kind of "blind faith". It suggests (as Josh McDowell states) that Christians have checked their brains at the door.

I can't imagine, when Paul was sharing his newly found revelation of Christ with the non-Jewish people, that he said, "Well, the Torah says so!" The Jews believed in the Torah, but the Gentiles didn't. What was his approach with the Gentiles?

Paul gave a clue when he wrote his letter to the Roman church. Romans 1:18-20 give some interesting insight into his perspective. Three things of note:

  1. People suppress the truth by unrighteousness.
  2. There are things evident within all people (God made them evident).
  3. There are things clearly seen about God through His creation.

Suppressing the Truth
It has been said that "people don't choose a belief system to live toward nobler ends, but to justify a lifestyle". In other words, people don't seek truth for truth's sake. They seek a sort of value system that will still let them get away with certain things they want to indulge in. By rationalizing certain decisions, we suppress truth. And the fact that we have to convince ourselves it's okay this time, tells us that we are actually suppressing truth. "Other people do it." "It's not that bad." "It's only a white lie." "We choose our own truth." The only reason we have to make up these excuses is because there is something inside us telling us the decision is wrong. And what we are really saying is we will suppress truth, we will do what is wrong, whenever it is convenient for us.

The bottom line here is that many people have a belief system, not because they are convinced it is true. Their belief system is necessary to justify their lifestyle. Until this particular issue is uncovered, there probably isn't much you can share about the reality of Jesus Christ.

Evident Within
Paul says there are certain things that God has made evident within all people. If this is true, then it we must let it affect the way we "defend" our faith. We need to find and point to the things which are "evident within". Do you believe that God made what is known about Him evident to the world? Apart from Scripture? That is what Paul is saying. If we believe this, it should affect how we share with others.

One thing that is NOT evident within everyone is the truth of the Bible! We shouldn't be appealing to the Bible to help a person believe in the Bible. We should be appealing to what is already evident within them.

What are the things that are evident within?
  • Conscience -- It is clear that we all have a conscience. We can rationalize it away. And the fact that we have tried only reinforces the point.
  • Morality -- Our culture has for years endeavored to suppress the idea of Right and Wrong. In Mere Christianity C.S. Lewis points out simply that we all appeal to this knowledge of right and wrong on a regular basis. Basically, his point is that we all at one time or another appeal to a standard of conduct we expect others to be fully aware of. You can read a short excerpt here.
  • Value -- It's interesting how most of us have a sense of our own worth. And for those who don't seem to, society tries to tell them how much worth they have. But some people who say they don't believe they are worth anything, are constantly exposing their true convictions through their choices of self-preservation. Even people who contemplate suicide are often trying to attract attention to themselves, or their own perceived worth.
These things are evident within, and with a little forethought, can be appealed to in contrast to a person's excuses for not believing the truth.

Clearly Seen
Some things God has made evident within and some things He has made clearly visible without. Paul says God's invisible attributes (His eternal power and divine nature) are clearly seen through what has been made. Again, if this is true, then we can appeal to things that are clearly seen. In conversing with people, we must operate from this vantage point.

What is clearly seen?

All of life attests to the Law of Cause and Effect. For everything we see there is some explanatory cause. And each cause is an effect of another cause. And you can keep going back through the causes of causes until you come to a First Cause.

One important aspect of the Law of Cause and Effect is that an effect or result cannot be greater than its cause. How does this relate? Dr. Henry Morris explains that the first cause in a universe of infinite space must at least be infinite in size. The first cause of boundless energy and power (seen through nuclear energy, stars, hurricanes and tornadoes, etc.) must have infinite power (at least in respect to our understanding). Additional examples include:
  • The First Cause of endless Time must be eternal in duration.
  • The First Cause of infinite Complexity must be infinite in intelligence.
  • The First Cause of Consciousness must be personal.
  • The First Cause of Life must be living.
  • Click here for further reading.

They are Without Excuse?
The end of Romans 1:20 says that "they are without excuse." Yet people are continually making excuses to deny the truth. Here are some I've heard over the years:
  • We all worship God in our own way.
  • Whatever the majority says is right is ethically right.
  • There is no absolute truth.
  • There is no right or wrong.
  • God wants us to be happy. This is what makes me happy.
  • Jesus' disciples made up the story of his resurrection.
  • A loving God wouldn't send people to Hell.
  • How can a loving God allow all the suffering in the world?

Asking the Right Questions
1 Peter 3:15 says we need to always be ready to give a defense for the hope that is in us. Sometimes the best defense, is a good ... question. "The Bible says" or "you have to take it by faith" is never a good response for the unbeliever who doesn't believe in the Bible. We must learn to ask questions that appeal to fundamental truths that are evident and clear to people -- questions that will point to the inconsistency of their excuse.

For example, a friend of mine used the familiar, "We all worship God in our own way." After a short pause, asking the Holy Spirit for a response, I asked him, "What way do you worship God?" In fact, this man didn't worship God at all.

When people say "there is no absolute truth", why not ask them "is that true?" Or to "whatever the majority says is right is morally right", ask something like, "what if ten guys decide it's right to rape one girl, is that right?" What about this one, "there is no right or wrong"? "So it wasn't wrong for Hitler to kill six million Jews?"

These types of responses point to the truth that is clearly seen. They expose the ridiculousness of coined excuses learned from a society that has suppressed truth. Why not begin listing excuses you hear from people today? Ask the Holy Spirit to bring to your mind appropriate questions to ask people that will point them to the truth that God has made evident within them.


Template by - Abdul Munir | Daya Earth Blogger Template