COMING TO KNOW CHRIST

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

MANKIND’S SKEPTICISM AND DISBELIEF

ABJECT SKEPTICISM TOWARDS GOD

What is the mind-set of a nonbeliever’s resigned mistrust and disbelief of God, that human attitude that impresses the operative Wrath in the life of the lost? (Rom 1:18-20)

The “thoughtful” nonbeliever is typically relegated to a cynical conclusion that God is mythical, and the life on earth is a one time transient existence ended by death. These are facts as far as the nonbeliever is concerned! Because, God doesn’t exist in the nonbeliever’s mind. Inevitable death and subjugation to the Wrath are life’s two certainties for those who reject God.

There is little doubt that the “thinking” nonbeliever will acknowledge the following humanistic/philosophic/religious concepts relating to mankind’s existence on earth:

· Morality: the conscious judgment and conduct as to what is right and what is wrong.

· Love: that attitude or conviction of caring for someone or something more that the caring for one’s self.

· Evil: the manifestation of self centeredness, the caring of self before others, the exercise of that which is wrong in terms of conduct regarding others.

· Sin: a transgression or offense against a moral law, the act of being morally wrong based upon accepted or imposed norms of conduct.

It is also a responsible assumption that the culturally endowed “thinking” nonbeliever who has an informed judgment on most worldly topics -- including religion --will accept that the Bible is, as a minimum:

· A historic mythology.

· A statement that provides many moral truths and wisdom.

· A significant story of human fallibility measured against the ideals represented by the character and teachings of Jesus Christ.

· The basis for all true Christian religions and a significant influence on the development and sustenance of Western civilization.

Further, most “thinking” nonbelievers - who are critically informed about Christianity and the diversity of Christ’s Church on earth - will acknowledge that the story of Jesus Christ, His teachings, and the teachings of the Apostles represent a high ethical calling for all mankind.

This all substantiates a highly probable truth that the thinking nonbeliever may objectively conclude, in a tainted atheistic or agnostic attitude, that the God revealed in the Bible does not exist. Therefore, at best, the Bible is a concocted mythology evolved or devised by mankind for mankind’s mythical purposes.


The essence of this conclusion is that mankind created the God of the Bible. That the God of the Bible did not create mankind. That the tradition of the Trinity is a bogus rationale, that Jesus Christ was not divine.

After all, following Durant’s cynical opinion, stated before, the culturally endowed nonbeliever may conclude that, following God’s laws of nature, children are not born of virgins, men do not walk on water, seas are not parted by divine direction, a basket of fish will not feed thousands, people who die do not return to life.

Further, in the nonbeliever’s experience, angels do not deliver messages to people. The theory of evolution is scientific and more sensible than Creationism or Divine Intelligence as advocated by the Church. Further, the Church appears to tumble on itself with doctrinal infractions breeding dissension. Many religious apparitions and TV preachers are proven to be fraudulent, and the promise of eternal life is seems impossible and cannot be proven.

Critically approved histories and scientific review do not confirm any of the Church’s miracles.The prevailing consensus of many nonbelieving contemporary scholastics is that the Bible is, at best, a mythology of unreal idealism.

Following the reverse thread of this conclusion, there is one basis the “thinking” nonbeliever cannot deny if he or she ascribes the Bible to being mythology. It is the ethical ideals and resulting standards provided by God’s Word, especially that Word in the New Testament of Jesus Christ.

Why is this so? Obviously, even a mythical Christ is an incredible example and lesson of goodness. That is why most nonbelievers like Jesus - - even to the point of wishing, if not hoping, that the myth about Jesus was true!

After all! Many nonbelievers celebrate His birth at Christmas, His resurrection at Easter, and observe Christian ceremonies at times of marriage, birth, death, including occasional prayers at meals or other events consistent with social custom.

This indirect acknowledgment, on the nonbeliever’s behalf, gives the true believer the impression that nonbelievers are hedging their bets against the possibility that it is not a myth after all, that the supposive myth could all be true. The certainty of the nonbeliever’s ultimate death, and the finality it implies, is not an encouraging alternative considering the promise of eternal life made by Jesus Christ secured in love!

In another sense, it is as to say that the “thinking” nonbeliever chooses to deny the reality suggested by the myth, but he or she cannot deny the ethic that the myth represents. Of course, the myth is not a myth for the believer. It is not a tale merely exceeding the romantic lessons of the knights of King Arthur’s round table, the rumblings of ancient Scandinavian gods, or the obsessive erotic habits of numerous deities of Greek lore. Belief is a reality not only for the ethical standards it imposes but also for the promise it represents, a conviction fulfilled by God’s gifts of Faith and Righteousness. (Eph 2:8; Rom 5:17)

SKEPTICISM DEFINED

Skepticism literally defined in the context of what follows is the contemptuous distrust of religion including Christianity and the denial of the reality of God.

The history of Christianity and Western civilization is inseparable. Throughout the history of Western civilization there have been waves of human Skepticism directed at the Christian Church. In many instances, these cynical periods have been justifiably provoked by excesses attributable to mankind’s occasional self directed exploitation of Church authority.

The discussion of Skepticism raises difficult questions that stimulate discomfort and negativity. One can ignore Skepticism. But, by ignoring Skepticism one serves Skepticism’s dual purpose:

· To undermine confidence in one’s belief or walk to belief.

· To attack Christianity as a defense of one’s choice not to believe.

Confronting Skepticism, by understanding its’ thesis and arguments, enhances the foundation to lead the nonbeliever that has a cynical persuasion to an obedient Hope and Love for God. But this is a difficult task, for facing Skepticism’s arguments is a distasteful task for the Christian who wishes to bask in the love and comfort of His Word and the relationship of believing brothers and sisters in Christ.

SKEPTICISM’S DIFFICULT QUESTIONS

The song of Skepticism is a constant moaning by the lost nonbeliever. These moanings (borrowed and amended from Philip Schaff’s History of the Christian Church) include provocative, difficult questions such as:

· Why should God have given his revelation to one small people, the Jews, and let it remain their exclusive possession for four thousand years?

· And then send to them a new revelation, in Jesus Christ, that after almost two thousand years is still confined to a small part of the human race?

· And why did He, during this time, allow the emergence of Mohammed and the proliferation of Islam, to decimate many places considered holy to Christianity?

· What kind of God is this who punishes Adam and Eve for seeking knowledge and then punish all mankind for merely being born?

· Why does he use intermediaries such as priests, ministers, and other “holys”, instead of speaking directly to us?

· Why is it that even “true believers” rile with each other on the interpretation of God’s Word, breeding an angry diversity within all formal religions and within Christ’s church?

· How can He explain why His specially revealed religion has been an engine of persecution, terror, strife, leaving men not better morally, after centuries of this dispensation, than before?

· How can a serious witness for God state “the history of the Bible is infallible” when such a teaching defies the progress of knowledge?

· How can God - who is omnipotent and prescient according to church teachings - condone the many natural disasters that condemn innocents (Christians and non Christians alike) to suffering and early death?

When viewed in total context and considered without thought of intelligent reply, these questions breach and undermine the confidence sustained by Hope. They are malevolent in character and intent. They show a spirit of malice that wishes to place the worst construction on everything, indicating either an ignorance of or a purposeful hate for God.
For, in every instance, the inspiration for each question has been a denial of the evident witness of God’s Love for those who believe and the corresponding witness of those who believe in their Love for God. (Rom 5:5)

The destruction, denial or elimination of such Love is devastating. For, when Love dies mankind’s Hope, Faith and Belief also die. It is a true statement that God exists for those who Love Him, and He doesn’t for those who don’t.

Mankind’s great error has historically been (and it will continue to be) putting itself before God. This was Adam’s and Eve’s fundamental sin. It is the primary sin that caused the prince of this world, Satan, the angel of darkness, to be dispelled from heaven. The manifestation of that sin is Pride. The consequences of this and other sins are many, and the form of these consequences is an expression of His Wrath, His annihilating reaction against unrighteousness sin.

IMPORTANT ANSWERS TO SKEPTICISM’S QUESTIONS

In contrast to the mean spiritedness of the forgoing questions, the following responses assume a different attitude:

· That the questions are not asked with malevolent intent.

· That the questioner is sincere in attempting to understand the difficult issues raised by the questions.

· That learning about God and His Word may be obtained by their answer.

With this attitude in mind, the answers become important for the following reasons:

· As an enlightening explanation to the nonbeliever who is on the walk with Holy Spirit to becoming a Christian.

· Because of the need for edification of the believer.

· So that the believer is “armed” with the Truth when confronting the “lie” of Skepticism when witnessing to others.

As stated before, fighting Skepticism, by squarely understanding its’ thesis and arguments, broadens the foundation for Hope and Love for God. The Truth will destroy the lie!

There are very good answers to the above cynical questions for the listener with the open mind and heart, the listener who is sincere in seeking an understanding. It should be noted that the careful reader will observe a subtle change in the questions, faithfully repeated here, which “soften” their malevolent overtone.

The answers to these questions, that follow, may appear to be as hard, in many respects, as the questions are in the first place. This is so because the reason for a person’s Skepticism is that he or she is looking into the looking glass and seeing their own reflection. For the issues raised by the questions relate to mankind’s conduct, in most instances, revealing humanity’s continuing disobedience of God.

· Why did God give his revelation to one small people, the Jews, and let it remain their apparent exclusive possession for four thousand years?

Abraham, and his descendents through Isaac, loved God. God’s charter to the Jews was that He was the one and only God. The revelation to the “chosen” and the sending of the Law to the Jews was a means to bring mankind to an obedient relationship with God.

The fact is that the Jews considered this their “exclusive possession,” in essence a select ecclesiastical heritage. And, because of this attitude, they failed God in evangelizing to others, the Gentiles. They also became so obsessed with their own religion, as exemplified by their legalistic following and propounding the law, that they confused their relationship with God by their ethnically oriented religious practice. And that is the state of the Jew today, a state of continuous disobedience with God, for seeing only themselves in terms of an extended family religion.

This status of the ethnic institutional character of the Jewish religion is not unique to the Jews, however. It is replete throughout all religions of every type. The problem for the Jew, and those religions that trace their heritage through Abraham, is that the Jew was the first chosen by God according to revelatory Scripture. (Gen 17:20,21) The Judaic religion not only failed God, it denied Christ. And even today to be a Jew demands a blood heritage and not a heritage by Faith, as identified with Abraham, the father of the Judaic/Christian heritage (Rom 4).

It is a tragedy of mankind that Jews have been, and are today, generally disliked for their elitist, differentiated, and bigoted appearance to others. Here are the chosen sons and daughters of Abraham and Sarah subject to the Wrath of the God that gave them the Abrahamic Covenant, for their continuing failures in placing themselves before others and God in their worship. They have taken seriously the sign of circumcision, thinking that it is the sign of their blood heritage, instead of it being the sign of Abraham’s righteousness through Faith (Rom 4). Truly, their religion has been and is their stumbling stone (Rom 9:32).

But, the experience of mankind placing religion before God has been and is being repeated in other religions, including Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, the various Protestant Christian religions, and various Christian based sects which do not recognize His divinity. This is so even though the lesson of the Jews is vividly apparent in Paul’s New Testament letter to Romans.

This is verified by the incredible wrathful disasters accorded the Jews in the Dispersion in 72 A. D. leading up through the Shoah in World War II and the present controversy encountered in Palestine. Will this same experience be accorded other religions? Of course, that is the lesson of history, where disobedience blinds the individual from the sanctity known only by the walk with Christ's Holy Spirit. (Rom 8:1-9)

Nevertheless, the religious Jew must be honored in love by the God fearing Christian, for the Christian believes that God will honor his covenant with the Jews.

This is, in a larger sense, the core issue in the United States today on the separation of Church and State. There is an important legal distinction between the reality of God and those religions that serve Him. This is where the marriage issue joins the matter of Church and State. The 1st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution provides “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” In no way does the 1st Amendment conclude there is no God! The 1st Amendment also confirms the “free exercise” of various religions to worship God.

· And then send to them a new revelation, in Jesus Christ, that after almost two thousand years is still confined to a small part of the human race?

True Christians believe that God came down to earth in the form of a man, Jesus Christ. He came to us with the singular purpose of giving His life so that mankind could be forgiven and freed from His Wrath, so that His Love could be spread to His chosen, those who choose Him in love. He came to remind mankind that mankind is to love God.

And He came to instruct mankind that its order of worship for Him, mankind’s religions, was not to get in the way of the love for Him. He came to give mankind the Truth and the commitment that His Holy Spirit would abide with us and in us if mankind had Hope and Love for Him.

He came to shed His blood as a satisfaction of all of mankind’s unrighteousness and disobedience (sin) and to place the Christian in an eternal right relationship with God. The good news is that by having an obedient Hope and Love for Him and His Son Jesus Christ, God Incarnate, believers will receive his free, gracious gifts of Faith and Righteousness, providing a sustaining conviction in a new nature seeking the Christ-like personality promised by the gift of the Holy Spirit’s Fruit (Gal 5:22,23).

That message has been the doctrine to billions of people during the past two thousand years (Rom 1:16). And, that message is the most important message being heard today, as mankind advances forward with a burgeoning world population.

All of this coincides with the development of earthly devices and techniques combined with environmental and moral abuses which can devastatingly wipe mankind off the face of the earth. It is all so clear and mathematically predictable. The events described in Revelations are approaching.

Take heart! Take heart! Christianity generally, and Christian renewal specifically, is a growing, vibrant movement through out the world even though it is being attacked by secularists, pansexuals and religious elements (Islam) that wish to destroy it. The consistency, sufficiency, certainty and authority of the Bible, is repeated in every tongue. It is a beacon of Truth that is the foundation of the promised extension of the Gospel to all of the human race, including those that hate God.

Beyond this, the Bible provides the standard that substantiates the true Christian Faith, that objective Faith that is called Christ’s Church, with ancient Church traditions going back to the Apostolic era. This means that His Word ties the traditions of the Roman Catholic, the Orthodox, Lutheran, true Anglicans, and all reformed protestant religions together. In another important sense, considering the full meaning of Romans 4, it also ties all descendents of Abraham through Faith, all those religions that worship God and acknowledge the First Commandment. This includes Islam! With this point made and established, let us consider the next question:

· Why did He, during this time, allow the emergence of Mohammed and the proliferation of Islam, to decimate many places considered holy to Christianity?

Christianity was a significant force in the development of Western civilization. But, even with the historical evolution of Christianity, the growth of various sects and a burgeoning hierarchy in the Roman Church was taking God from mankind and mankind from God. For there was no widely published Word at this time.

The Gospel’s dissemination relied on the circulation of hand written copies of the Gospel text and a reliance on an “oral tradition”. The so-called priesthood and the laity, and the general at-large public, were predominantly illiterate. Besides this, the evolution of the formal Bible, as it is constituted today, took shape over the first five centuries, a patient and remarkable gestation guided by His Holy Spirit.

Islam is a Christian cult, since Mohammed states Jesus is a prophet second to himself. The Koran is replete with references to Christ, Mary and the Holy Spirit! Mohammed came under the influence of the Nestorian heresy which coincidently questioned the divinity of Christ while inspiring the doctrine of Mary, “the mother of God.”

Islam honors Moses and the book of Genesis. Yet Islam ignores the teaching in Genesis 17:18-21:

And Abraham said to God, ‘Oh that Ishmael might live before Thee!’ But God said, ‘No, but Sarah your wife will bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; and I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. And as for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I will bless him, and make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall become the father of twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation. But My covenant I will establish with Isaac whom Sarah will bear to you at this season next year.’”

What is the explanation of Islamic “theologians” regarding this historic Scripture? They say Mohammed did not acknowledge these verses in Genesis even though these verses existed thousands of years before Mohammed!

It is established in Matthew 1:1-17 that Jesus Christ is of the line though Isaac. These verses (1:1-17) introduce the record on the birth of Jesus Christ in verses 18-25, Whose’ birth we celebrate each Christmas season. Mohammed came through the line of Ishmael.

God has His plan. He is in no hurry. Eternity provides a very different dimension! It discards the temporal perspective of four score years and ten compared to the perspective that is not constrained by concepts of time. And we in the present age are merely a small phase of God’s plan where mankind becomes reconciled to His eternal scheme. This reconciliation necessitates an understanding of believing mankind’s management of His affairs on earth.

Unfortunately, the system of mankind’s management of his earthly affairs is to glorify mankind, and this phenomena was starting to effect the Christian churches on earth in the seventh century when Islam started to emerge.

This problem of glorifying mankind as contrasted to God continued into the sixteenth century when the Protestant reformation took place. The Christian religions began to suffer the same manifestation experienced by the Jews during the Apostolic age, as a result of the conflict of obedience to the religion versus obedience to God.

Religion is a system of order and worship. It is not an end to itself as a de facto substitute for Hope and Love for God the Trinity. This is a hard lesson for all serious and devout Christians: to not let religion become an end to itself by subverting the extraordinary indwelling of the Holy Spirit on a one on one personal basis with the believer. Religion’s purpose is to support the believer in his or her personal, one on one relationship with the Triune God. The Bible is remarkably clear on this truth!

The outstanding fact is that while most Christian religions are based on the Bible as the fundamental cannon for church dogma and doctrine, many Christian religions dangerously subvert the Bible to mankind conceived doctrines, represented to be inspired, that either directly conflict with God’s Word in the Bible or that establish independent doctrines that are completely differentiated and irrelevant when compared to God’s Word.

The Bible is the fundamental statement of God’s Word. It is ancient and “constitutionally sufficient” for all purposes of Christian guidance: for the church, for the family, and for the individual.

The divisions between major God based religions, that share a fundamental and controversial decent from Abraham, are based on Hate today. And Hate is a violent sin subject to God’s punishment by His Wrath. God has demonstrated, throughout history, that He is mercifully tolerant, yet His Wrath may be violently administered:

· To peoples who place their religion on the alter to be worshipped instead of Him, and;

· Where the religion(s) create strife stimulating Hate between God’s beloved.

Christ’s Body, His Church, has been wounded in the past by Christian strife, and the division of His ministry today continues those wounds. Those in church authority, responsible for church dogma and doctrine, that foster division in Christ’s Body and, further, obviate the Truth of God’s Word, bear a heavy earthly responsibility subject to God’s Wrath and Judgment. Such wrathful judgments have always been profound, especially when we consider our own Adamic heritage.

· Why did God punish Adam and Eve for seeking knowledge and then punish all mankind for merely being born?

Whether actually or symbolically considered, the great sin of Adam and Eve is that their seeking of “knowledge” was an expression of disobedience that violated their Love for God by replacing that Love with the love of self!

Here is the most fundamental concept that has plagued mankind since the Garden of Eden: mankind now has the choice. The choice is to obediently love God, and by that act, be a beneficiary of God’s Love and His Grace, or to love self. In other words, in another way to “see” this truth, it is a choice between God’s Grace or God’s Wrath.

Is this given choice a punishment by God? Many consider the choice to be a punishment, for how else was the question, posed above, (Why did God punish Adam and Eve...?) inspired in the first place?

God’s punishment is that mankind has the choice to love Him or to love self, since Adam and Eve disobeyed and denied His Love in the first place. The Bible clearly establishes that all mankind shares in the heritage of this primordial, sinful decision. And, since man and woman are very intelligent, rational individuals with free will and a “human responsibility,” they are given the individual opportunity to choose.

God gave man and woman free-will, a concept recognized fully in the fifth century, nearly fifteen hundred years ago! The exercise of their free-will allows the ominous choice of having or not having Hope and Love for God, a choice of accepting or denying God’s Graceful gift of Faith, with the formidable consequence of having Belief or not having Belief in Him. For the constituents of Belief are Hope, Faith and Love where the Hope and Love for God is the human responsibility and Faith is given as a gift of God (Eph2:8) as a part of the overall gift of Salvation.

Man and woman’s God given power to think and rationalize gives them the cynical basis to conclude there is no God. This is an obvious factor when one ignorantly considers the earthly tragedies that effect the innocent, the sick, the poor and the larger evils perpetrated by mankind’s inhumanity to itself. This is especially illustrated by the convergence and clashing of the various strata of human power factions that control, and frequently devastate, every level of mankind’s earthly and fleshly destiny.

This power of rationalization becomes, in a larger sense, a self fulfilling rationalization leading to agnosticism, atheism, extreme liberal demands to make certain sins accepted moral practice. This rationalization induces “fence setting and backsliding”, not knowing which way to turn, a malady suffered by many who are professed Christians, who do not have a true Saving Faith and resulting Belief.

Further, mankind is free to follow or ignore God’s laws, whether the laws are the natural laws characterized and specified by science, or the moral laws that are revealed by Biblical commandments. Mankind’s prerogative, inspired by its free-will, to follow or ignore such rules extends to mankind’s evolving quest for a social moral order politicized by a given society’s secular law. Of course, the violation of any of these secular laws exposes the offender to a penalty. The violation of God’s laws is characterized as unrighteous Sin and subjects the nonbeliever to His Wrath, the consequence unbelief. (Rom 1:18:32).

It is truly an incredible thing that mankind’s choice to believe is so completely clouded by the question of whether God exists or not. This is mankind’s escaping rationale, avoiding the “human responsibility” accorded by its free-will, to place the responsibility on someone other, or some factor other, than its God given faculty to look at the obvious evidence and decide for itself. It is as to say, “Well, if I knew He existed I would certainly love Him.” What does the Bible teach us about this?

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” (Rom 1:18-20)

Again, if this is not true, then the whole Bible is a lie! Considering this, mankind can not exercise the choice without exercising the duty to choose well. Not choose well means the invocation of God’s wrath in all of its direct and subtle forms. Mankind ignores this truth in a sometimes cynical and cursory deliberation on the question of establishing a right relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

Yet, this same situation applies to a significant part of the constituency of Christians who pay lip service to the social demands of appearing Christian without giving serious thought to the concept that it isn’t the Belief in God that comes first, it is the Hope and Love for God!

Hope and Love for God, the primary constituents of Belief, sponsors His free gift of Faith (Eph 2:8).

· Why does God use intermediaries, such as priests and ministers, instead of speaking directly to us?

The Bible instructs the believer that God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, is with and indwells the believer. God does speak directly to and guide the believer. Prayer and meditation is a key channel of this communication. God’s personal, direct revelation is an incredible reality, made to every believer!

The following is borrowed from the book, My Church, by Gordon Johnson:

“There is no separate priesthood in the New Testament. Jesus broke down the barrier between God and mankind that made the priesthood necessary. His death on the cross rent the veil that separated the priesthood from the people. His death made possible a direct access into the presence of God by all who put their trust in Him.”

Hebrews 10:19,20:
“Since therefore, brethren, we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His Flesh”

Now the only mediator between mankind and God is Christ himself:

1Timothy 2:5: “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”

No other human mediator is necessary, and none can assume the role. There may be teaching (by the priests and ministers), there may be preaching, but each individual is accountable and has the privilege of direct access to God.

This Truth is the key to the lock of Skepticism. The problem is it is a Truth known only by the believer, and it can not be known by the cynic, the nonbeliever. For to know this Truth means that the cynical nonbeliever no longer exists, for the miracle of repentance, conversion, baptism and regeneration in Christ by the Spirit of God is the profound experience in anyone’s life.

This rebirth drives a stake in Satan’s heart, cripples and kills “the old man”, buries him, and resurrects a new creature (Rom 6: 1-9) with a special relationship with God through the Holy Spirit (Rom 8:11).

· Why is it that “true believers” argue on the interpretation of God’s Word, breeding diversity within Christ’s church?

One must understand that in matters of religious belief, fraud abounds. The devil is always at work sustaining and maintaining his flock, the unbelieving sheep of this world. A true believer seeks the knowledge of God’s Word, the Bible, in Hope for understanding and with a Love for the Word as it yields a Sanctifying knowledge.

Here is one of the most troubling challenges for believers. It is a problem area that delights the informed, nonbelieving cynic. The believer must develop a sense of discernment in understanding Scripture and the doctrines offered by formal religion. That is why “’true believers’ argue on the interpretation of God’s Word, breeding diversity within Christ’s church.”

Diversity exists in interpretation and in the practice of doctrine, the teachings where a religious organization reaches beyond what the Bible says, or precludes the reading of the Bible by Church members, or, by precept, ignores the Bible and its’ teachings.

There are religious organizations that use versions of the Bible that are purposefully modified with the objective of supporting their own belief and doctrine. These Bible versions are not faithful to the oldest known Greek and Hebrew texts. These religions dangerously subvert the Bible to man conceived doctrines, represented to be inspired, that either directly conflict with God’s Word or that establish independent doctrines that are completely differentiated and irrelevant when compared to the Bible’s teachings.

It is important, therefore, to have a correct Bible, and a doctrinal discipline that is Bible based. A “true believer” knows and loves God’s Word. He can answer the above question because it is the simple thesis of a true believer that God’s Word, the Bible, is consistent, without contradiction, sufficient, certain, and authoritative. And, it can be understood, without acrimonious contradiction and misinterpretation, by patient reading, the use of supporting explanatory reading materials, and deliberation with a priest’s, minister’s, or elder’s assistance and teachings - all under the divine support of the Helper, God’s Holy Spirit.

It is incredible that the Bible’s Truths have existed over two thousand years, and that these Truths become more meaningful, for all mankind, with each passing year, even though there is diversity and fraud.

· How can a serious witness for God state “the history of the Bible is infallible” when such a teaching appears to defy and retard the progress of knowledge?

There really is no inconsistency between the progress of knowledge and the Bible’s history. There have been noted failures, by those in authoritative church positions, that has resulted in conflicts between church doctrine and the “progress of knowledge”.

An “authentic” Bible is in fact a source of a consistent, sufficient, certain and authoritative knowledge that transcends anything that has resulted from man’s attempts in philosophy and certain branches of science, that pretend to substitute for God’s Word.

By way of example, one of the most prevalent “progress of knowledge” controversies is the Creationist versus Evolutionist confrontation. But the Bible’s teachings in Genesis have neither retarded or defeated the Darwinian theory. In fact, many Creationist arguments are scientifically derived.

The attempts by Creationist and those advocation Intelligent Design to influence secular law to allow the teaching of Evolution and other theories is inhibited by the reluctance of an apathetic populace regarding the debate in the secular courts and representative legislatures of the law. Creationism and/or the theory of Intelligent Design are not retarding the progress of knowledge in this case; the opposite is true.

The infallibility of the Bible is a basic Truth for those who believe. The “progress of knowledge” excites this conclusion to the great benefit of those who have the opportunity to believe and have yet to come to the Faith. The Constitution of the United States protects this possibility not because it is a lie! But, because it preserves God’s Truth, by assuring the religious freedom of each citizen in the fabric of America’s multi racial and religious secular makeup. America! America! In God We Trust!

· How do you explain why Christianity has appeared to been used as an engine of persecution, terror, and strife at certain times, which suggests leaving men not better morally, after centuries of this dispensation, than before?

It is a mistake to characterize Christianity as an “engine of persecution”. First of all, Christianity does not condone, nor can It tolerate the historic excesses by mankind, in the name of Christianity, that have led to specific “persecutions, terror, and strife” by major dominions of Roman Catholic and Protestant authority. Second, in point of fact, these actions violates God’s and Jesus Christ’s commandments to not only love God but to love one another (John 4:7 thru 19).

These crimes against humanity, perpetrated in the name of Christianity, are another example of mankind’s human and sinful practice to glorify self by the hate of, not the love of God. This fact is a sobering reminder and exemplification that just because one is a professed Christian does not mean that one has a true Faith and Belief or that one possesses their noble constituents, Hope and Love.

The question of mankind’s moral stature, “after centuries of this dispensation”, can be simply delineated. Despite the gross sins of people in authority within the Christian religions on earth, the predominant judgment is that Christianity has been a significant, dynamic, permanent force of “righteousness” and influence that has been the mainstay of Western man’s leadership in the evolving growth of the world during the past two thousand years. Even though there has been evil, there has been, in balance, far, far, far more good because of the inexhaustible force of God’s love and Grace.

· How can God, who is omnipotent and prescient according to church teachings, allow the many natural disasters that condemn innocents, Christians and non Christians alike, to suffering and early death?

It is the world’s natural order that the laws of nature prevail; the laws of nature are God’s laws. These laws are specified by man as a result of his knowledge and understanding through study and scientific observation.

One of these laws is the reality that all persons die in an earthly sense. Further, mankind is subjected to physical laws that, if violated, can yield a catastrophic result. There is a high probability that the most pious Christian, jumping from the top of the Empire State building, will meet his or her earthly end. Further, it is a natural result that disease, famine, pestilence. accident and natural disasters may hasten death and cause suffering. This is the world that we live in. It is not the Garden of Eden where suffering and death were unknown.

It is because of this temporary, risk filled excursion called life that mankind - these very intelligent individuals with the power of free-will - should be contemplative of the reality of a “higher power” that not only provides a better means for an earthly existence, also promises the reality of a life forever in and with that “power”.

The laws of nature do not discriminate between believers and nonbelievers: all men suffer and die in a physical sense.

Nonbelieving mankind’s accusative complaint that God condones suffering and death points to the real issue of the Wrath, non believing man and woman’s fundamental ungrateful attitude to think of self first and not recognize a great Truth, to come to know Him in love.

After all, shouldn’t unbelieving mankind bow in thanks for the fact that it has the opportunity of the life experience in the first place? This self centered attitude cynically directed at God is the source of misery, confirmed by the fact that mankind’s actions take the form of His Wrath and causes more havoc, suffering, and premature death than all natural catastrophic disorders combined.

An illustrative substantiation is there are over 35,000 people killed on the nation’s highways each year. Is this God’s work, or is it mankind’s? Is this a manifestation of the Wrath? No, God’s Wrath is directed at sin, not at innocents.

The promise of Jesus Christ is to comfort the many forms of mankind’s suffering by having a Spirit filled, joyful, moral life on earth, and an everlasting life thereafter through Hope, Faith and Love, a Consummate Belief.

Mankind’s choice to believe this is the difference between true suffering and death, in one cast of life’s experience on earth, and a patient suffering with earthly adversity combined with a confident knowledge that this life (the very short time on earth) is a transient experience guided by the Holy Spirit on a path to a greater glory, through Jesus Christ, by having a Hope and Love for God.

THE DIVERSITY OF RELIGION

PROBABLE BARRIERS TO BELIEF

One barrier for a thinking nonbeliever coming to belief is the skepticism inspired by the stories of religious events that appear to be mythical. Typical of these are the events described in the Creation story, Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham’s talks with God, Moses, the birth of Jesus, His death, resurrection and ascension.

Superimposed on these events are the doctrines of many religions that make assertions and postulations of belief based on certain suppositions and claims by leading prophets. Prominent among these “religious faiths” are the original beginnings of the Jewish religion (Moses), the Christian Catholic Church (Peter and Paul) sustained by miracles and myth, the rise of the Reformation (Luther and Calvin) that did not dispute the miracles and myths of the Catholic system, only rejecting the system’s abuses, the rise of Islam (Mohammed), the incredible rise of Mormonism (Joseph Smith and Brigham Young) and Christian Science (Mary Baker Eddy).

Accepting the probability that a religion’s claims are purposefully “imaginative” in terms of the miracles and mythical aspects of the stories told, there, nevertheless, is the reality that when dismissing their claims, much remains. For the constitutional aspects of Scripture is a formidable testament and influence on the progress, moral standards and the intellectual development of mankind. A mythical god of goodness is better than a reality of evil. When stripped of its miracles and myths, the remaining principles of a religion’s goodness and its’ teachings on evil remain as formidable lessons for mankind and, importantly, do not disprove the reality of God.

THE CONSTITUTIONAL BASIS OF SCRIPTURE

The constitutional aspect of the Scriptures is important as a means to explain and understand the diversity and differences of various religions. That is a hope that is established in the book of Romans. It specifies mankind’s need to reconcile with the message on God’s perfection and righteousness. Romans specifies the issues of sin for both the believer and nonbeliever, the nature of God’s grace manifested in His gifts as a function of a believer’s acceptance of God’s love, and the symbolic manifestation of the myth and miracle of Christ’s testimony and story in the reality of the believer’s life.

Here then is then a reliable conclusion, that myth and miracle portrayed in story indisputably establishes truth and meaning in the life of the believer!

THE GENESIS BASIS OF SCRIPTURE

The constitutional authority of Scripture, relying on the probable assumption that its stories of miracle are mythical, is the historic basis for religions relying on the Genesis story. Yet two major religions defy this constitutional aspect of the Bible Islam and the Church of Latter Day Saints with their two cannons: the Koran and the Book of Mormon.

The God of Abraham is the God of the Jews, Christians and Islam. All Jews, Christians and Islam are descended from Abraham who God chose to be "the father of nations".

Islam honors Moses and the book of Genesis. Yet Islam ignores the authenticated teaching in Genesis 17:18-21:

“And Abraham said to God, ‘Oh that Ishmael might live before Thee!’ But God said, ‘No, but Sarah your wife will bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; and I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. And as for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I will bless him, and make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall become the father of twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation. But My covenant I will establish with Isaac whom Sarah will bear to you at this season next year.’”

Mohammed came through the line of Ishmael. What is the explanation of Islamic “theologians” regarding this historic Scripture? They say Mohammed did not acknowledge these verses in Genesis even though these verses existed thousands of years before Mohammed!

Regarding the Jews, they reject the line through and to Jesus Christ! It is established in Matthew 1:1-17 that Jesus Christ is of the line though Isaac. These verses (1:1-17) introduce the record on the birth of Jesus Christ in verses 18-25, Whose’s birth is celebrated at the Christmas season.

The Mormons and many other “Christian religions” reject the teaching of the Trinity, that authenticates that God consists of the Father, the Son, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. But the Mormons have the strongest testimony on the existence of the Trinity in the Chapter 7 of The Book of Mormon of any known religious cannon including the New Testament!

And he hath brought to pass the ‘redemption of the world, whereby he that is found guiltless before him at the judgment day hath it given unto him to dwell in the presence of God in his kingdom, to sing ceaseless praise with the choirs above, into the Father, and unto the Son, and unto the Holy Ghost, which are one God, in a state of happiness which hath no end.”

The writer believes formal religion, per se, separates us from a true understanding of His revelation in Scripture. The God of Abraham unites us (Rom 4:13-17), but our uniquely defined religions separate us. No wonder the secularists are justified in pleading for the separation of Church and State.

The understanding of this is a beginning wisdom in explaining the diversity of the Christian faiths and the various major demarcations of Islam and the Jewish beliefs with their numerous sects and cults.

GOD’S LOVE FOR THE NONBELIEVER

THE GREEKS HAD A NAME(S) FOR IT

The writer has never studied the Greek language, except in discerning the use of certain words in the Bible. He believes, from his readings, the ancient Greeks sought specificity on philosophic issues, particularly when confronting social relations even though their language sentence structures are considered to have “a field of meaning.” Nevertheless, the concept of love appeared to be the “science” of their day. Where we wrap much meaning in the word “love” the Greeks used distinct terms to define its application.

Philia and its derivatives was a common term to express fondness and loving behavior. Agape was used by the writers of the New Testament to express dimensions of God’s love. But, the word Eros, expressing sexual love is not found in the New Testament. The word erotic is derived from the Greek Eros. It captures the intimation of sexual love used in American English. This leaves the writer to his own speculations as to the meaning of the word and concept of love in both a subjective and objective sense.

THE WRITER’S CONFESSION REGARDING LOVE

As I look back on my experience as a nonbeliever I ask the question, have I ever understood what true love means? I delineate the meaning of love from sexual lust, affectation, friendship, infatuation, desire, fraternal, occupational and parental instincts.

There is no question that I loved my mother and father, and that I love my dear wife and children. But was my love a true love or was it a form of expression where I loved because I wanted the psychic reward and comfort of satisfying my own self? In other words, was my love an expression of a self identifying pride, a love that was only a pretension in that I loved others as a form of loving myself?

Could I willingly place myself on the Cross, suffer, shed my blood and die for the ones I love as Jesus Christ did for me, let alone His dismissing and forgiving all those in the world who hated Him? (Luke 23:34) Could I do this with the full intention of serving as a sacrifice in love for others and not with a self serving expression of a martyr seeking personal glory?

There are many examples of those willing to give their lives as a martyr for personal glory, such as evidenced by the Islamic suicide bomber dieing in the name of Jihad, or the Kamikazes who gave their lives in the name of the Emperor to gain personal glory in WWII. These commitments to martyrdom are not in the name or love! Their deaths were a sacrifice for a cause but with the objective to obtain personal honor with the false promise and hope of personal glory. Such an intent and act may be the realization for one who has become apostate and then knows the error, such a Judas. (Matt 27:3-5) But the act of such sacrificial deaths is never the consummate expression of love for another.

I ask these questions and make the above observation as a confession of my ignorance of what true love means in the context of God’s love, in the context of a deeper meaning when the “I” of my love was displaced by the deeper understanding of God’s love for me and the transforming power of that love in coming to understand and enhance my love for others.

One should read the extensive testimony in Hebrews 11 that concludes that those who acted in faith, and who died because of their faith, did so knowing, “all these having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us, they should not be made perfect.” (11:39,40) This is the exemplification of God’s love for the believer – to give up one’s life for another -- by faith, and the reciprocal love of the believer for God. For faith is sustained by a love conduced by His Holy Spirit in an eternal time frame. That is the promise!

THE LOVE OF GOD, WHICH IS IN JESUS CHRIST

One answer to this expression of Christ’s love is the testimony of His ministry. It surpasses all tests and scrutiny on the historic reality of His existence and the truthfulness of His witness.

For as the historian Durant concludes about Christ’s disciples,
“That a few simple men should in one generation have invented so powerful and appealing a personality, so lofty an ethic and so inspiring a vision of human brotherhood, would be a miracle for more incredible than any recorded in the Gospels.”

There is an answer in Scripture to these questions.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or famine, or nakedness or peril or sword? Just as it is written, ‘FOR THY SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG; WE WERE CONSIDERD AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUHTERED.’ But in all these things we overwhelming conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, not life, nor angels, nor principalities, not things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 8:35-39)

The transforming power of Christ’s love is coming to understand how a believer’s love for others is magnified in the context of the deeper understanding of God’s love. The “I” of my love is displaced by the empowerment of Christ’s love through His Holy Spirit.

THE NONBELIEVER’S LOVE

The writer’s definition of a believer’s Love is the unselfish concern, caring or hope for another, a manifestation of the believer’s deep and abiding relationship with Jesus Christ. That definition is different in terms of God’s love for the believer. That profound love is exemplified by His evidentiary benevolence, the extensive gifts given the believer including Salvation, the Holy Spirit, Faith, Righteousness, and Eternal Life, the absolute proof of God’s existence.

What is a nonbeliever’s love? It is more often than not the concern or occupation with self, a manifestation of being “given over” to a self centered narcissistic conceit as a function of God’s wrath. (Rom 1:18-32)

But what is God’s love for the nonbeliever? What does Scripture say on this important question?

To put the question of God’s love for the unbeliever in context it is helpful to begin with Scripture that deals with the story of Abraham and His love for the believer that is “poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given us.” The subject of God’s love is introduced by the compelling verses in Rom 4:2-25; 5:1-5.

“Therefore also IT (Faith) WAS RECKONED TO HIM (Abraham) AS RIGHTEOUSNESS. (Gen 15:6; Rom 4:3 ‘Abraham believed God’) Now not for his sake only was it written, that it was reckoned to him, but for our sake also, to whom it will be reckoned, as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, He who was delivered up because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.

Therefore having been justified by Faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by Faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.

And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given us.”


Immediately continuing after these verses are the equally profound verses that answer the question regarding God’s love for nonbelievers in Romans 5:6-11.

“For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous person; though perhaps for a good man someone would dare even to die.

But God demonstrates His own love towards us that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Much more then, having been justified by His blood, we will be saved by the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled we shall be saved by His life. And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.”

Does God love nonbelievers? The Scriptures say yes, for “Christ died for the ungodly. While we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son.” This does not say nonbelievers who when given the choice to believe are not judged and condemned. Nor does this excuse the nonbeliever from His wrath. It does mean God acts in love even though the nonbeliever does not in reciprocating for the obvious presence of God and His moral witness. (Rom 1:18,19; 2:14)

That “love of God” which is “poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit” (Rom 5:5) is amplified and explained in 1 John 4:7-10.

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent his only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

GOD’S LOVE FOR THE NONBELIEVER

John MacArthur’s commentary on Romans 5:5, I John 4: 7-10.

“For those who accept His offer of salvation, God takes His indescribable and undeserved love and pours it out within the hearts of those who believe, through His own Holy Spirit who he gives to them….. Paul now reveals that , in Christ, we are also given the subjective evidence of permanent salvation, evidence that God Himself implants within our deepest being, in that we love the one who first loved us.”

“God’s immense love is supremely demonstrated by Christ’s dying for the ‘ungodly’, for totally unrighteous, undeserving and unlovable mankind. ‘But God demonstrates His own love towards us that while we were yet sinners, Christ dies for us.’ That sought of undeserved love is beyond human comprehension. Yet that is the love that the just and infinitely holy God had ‘toward us’ even ‘while we were yet sinners’.”

Gods seeks the lost nonbeliever:

Luke 15:1-7
“Now all the tax-gathers and the sinners were coming near Him to listen to Him. And both the Pharisees and scribes began to grumble, saying, ‘This man receives sinners and eats with them.’ And he told them this parable, saying, “What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulder rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost! I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”

God rejoices in the nonbeliever who repents and believes:

Luke 15:8-10
“Or what women, if she has ten silver coins and loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I have lost!’ In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of Angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

1 Comments:

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