The strange times we live in

As we look at the news, we understand that we live in strange times.  It is a time in which leaders are deposed and wars and coups abound.  Nations are restless, people riot, things happen at alarming speed, et cetera.

We want to concentrate on one strange aspect of our times.

It concerns a certain book, called the Bible.  That book tells us there is an Almighty God.

  • Yet the world says that God is a myth (think Richard Dawkins).
  • They tell us the Bible is ‘a product of man, not of God’ (think Dan Brown and The DaVinci Code).
  • They tell us the writers of the Bible were backwoodsmen who were uneducated and unscientific (think Richard Dawkins again and many of God’s enemies).
  • They tell us the Bible is just another book among the religions of the world.  Therefore it is of no consequence.  We can all do without that Cosmic Tyrant, God (think atheists and other haters of the Bible).

Yet, and here is the anomaly.

  • The very first verse in the Bible, Genesis 1:1, says, ‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.’  Now, if the Bible is just a book, and God a myth who only gives Christians a crutch, why did a ‘cottage industry’ of magnificent size spring up around this verse?
  • This ‘cottage industry’s’ sole intent and purpose is to disprove that verse.  It is the ‘evolution industry’ with its massive investment in writers, researchers, laboratories, news media, science journals, education laws, and many others.
  • Most people are aware of this massive effort to undo the first verse of the Bible.

The question we want to answer is, what is behind it all?

Who is desperate enough to convince people that:

They are just evolved apes that developed from an unknown ape-like ancestor?

  • They have to accept that there is no life after death.  They should not even question it.  Their genes are those of an evolved animal, so when they die that is also the end of them.
  • They don’t have a free will to make the choice the Bible presents.  Yet free will is permissible when they decide where to work, what clothes to wear, food to eat, or whatever.

Genesis 1:1 is even offensive in the theological world, the Church.

  • Many, many followers of Jesus side with the world and claim that Genesis 1 is nonsense.  There is no way that God created in six days.  It happened by chance over billions of years.
  • The question is why would Christians deny this clear demonstration of God’s omnipotence and wisdom?

Why is Genesis 1:1 so important that there is so much effort to disprove it? 

  • It is the best proof that there is a ruler over the world who hates God.  He is called the deceiver, ‘The great dragon was hurled down – that ancient serpent [Genesis 3:1] called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray.  He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.’ 1
  • Here on earth, the devil and his angels oppose God’s plan.  Ephesians 6:12 says, ‘For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, agains the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.’ 

If God was not powerful enough to create the first universe in 6 days,

  • There can be no new heavens and earth, ‘But in keeping with His promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.’ 2
  • There is no hope that Revelation 21-22 can be true.  Then the Bible’s message of eternal bliss and happiness in God’s presence, is ‘a pie in the sky.’
  • There can be no big bang to end this present creation and usher in the new heaven and earth, as described in 2 Peter 3:10, ‘But the day of the Lord will come like a thief.  The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.’
  • There can be no cosmic catastrophes, as in Revelation 8:6-13.  Hail and fire mixed with blood will be hurled on earth, a huge blazing mountain will be thrown into the sea, a blazing star will fall on a third of the rivers and springs of water and a third of the sun, moon and stars will be darkened.

Conclusion

The ruler of this world, the devil, knows God’s power and plans for an eternal Kingdom very well.  He lost his opportunity to be part of it.  So he wants as many people as possible to follow his disastrous way.  To achieve that he attacks the central core of Scripture – God’s omnipotence to create the foundation of what will eventually be the new heavens and earth.

References

  1. Revelation 12:9
  2. 2 Peter 3:13

Is the resurrection a myth?

The resurrection of Jesus has been and will always be questioned.  That is easy to understand: the ruler of the world, the devil,1 does not want people to know that he lost the battle against Jesus.  He does not want people to understand clearly that with the resurrection, God’s plan of an eternal Kingdom of Peace is a given, it is guaranteed, it will come to pass.

The new heaven and earth

We notice in Revelation 5 that only the resurrected Jesus could open the seals that will lead to the new heaven and earth.  Jesus’ resurrection is also the guarantee that we will be resurrected into new bodies and live eternally with our Lord.  Thus the resurrection is a huge problem and threat to the devil’s attempts to deceive the whole world.

The spread of the Gospel

There are many explanations why the resurrection is true.  One is the spread of the Gospel throughout the world (without the sword).  This could not have happened if Jesus was not resurrected.  The disciples were on their way back to secular work, when Jesus appeared and demonstrated He is alive and will return to His Father.  Empowered by the Holy Spirit they and subsequently other followers of Jesus, filled the earth with the Good News.

The breath of life

  • There is another reason why we can trust the resurrection.  In Genesis 2 we read how God formed the first man from dust.  What is dust other than atoms? God combined the atoms and then breathed life into the dust ‘statue.’  God has the ability to breathe life into lifeless atoms.  This life giving ability is naturally decried by unbelievers.
  • Since they mostly believe in evolution, they believe that life came from dead, non-living atoms.  The problem is that there is no scientific evidence for it.  Millions have been spent, and many researchers are kept busy to prove that life appeared on the planet in natural ways.  All the efforts lead to nothing.  To give life to the dead belongs only to our Lord God Almighty and His glorious Son, Jesus.
  • What does God’s life giving ability have to do with the resurrection?  If God could fashion a dust or clay image of a man, and breathe life into it, why can’t He breathe life into a dead body?  He did it with Lazarus.2  He did it with the son of the Shunamite woman. 3  Jesus raised the widow of Nain’s only son.
  • It is obvious that resurrection is easy for God.  The only reason God exerted all His might 4 is that the devil and his demons fought till the last to prevent it.  They lost and God won.  Hallelujah!

Conclusion

  • Jesus is the Creator.
  • God is the Creator.

They both have the ability to resurrect.  The resurrection of Jesus makes perfect sense right from Genesis 1&2.

References

  1. 1 John 5:19b
  2. John 11
  3. 2 Kings 4
  4. Ephesians 1:19-23

Can we be moral without God?

It made headlines that the majority of Americans believe that a person can be moral without God (Pew Research Centre, October 16, 2017).  According to the survey, ‘most U.S. adults now say it is not necessary to believe in God to be moral and have good values (56%), up from about half (49%) who expressed this view in 2011.’ 

Religious ‘nones’ believe it is not necessary to acknowledge God for morality.  ‘Surveys have long shown that religious “nones” – those who describe themselves religiously as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular” – are more likely than those who identify with a religion to say that belief in God is not a prerequisite for good values and morality.’

We accept the findings of the survey.  However, the question is, what does the survey prove, and what does it mean for the Church in general?  There are a few questions:

1. Does ‘morality without God’ increase morality in a country?

Does the belief that you can be moral without God mean that pornography will die; that violence, crime, child and sexual abuse will decrease?  It should if it is true.  The future will tell.

2. What is morality?

The definition of morality according to the British English dictionary is, ‘principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good or bad behavior.  A particular system of values and principles of conduct. Goodness or rightness.’

  • The general public uses the word, ‘morality’ according to that definition, but we need to distinguish between ‘morality’ according to the world and ‘morality’ according to God.
  • The Bible refers to ‘morality’ as ‘holiness.’  Holiness is a prerequisite for eternal life with God, because that is the way people will live in God’s future Kingdom.  Holiness is possible for a child of God, because Jesus died for our sins and made us holy in principle. 1  That means we can be filled with the Holy Spirit.  He is the One who then works from inside us to help us to increasingly turn away from wrong behavior to the lifestyle God desires in His Kingdom.

3. Is ‘morality’ a substitute for ‘holiness?’

Being ‘moral’ will not persuade God to accept people into His kingdom as His children.  It is a crude misunderstanding of the Gospel.

  • The Ten Commandments illustrate God’s position beautifully.  The first 3 command us to love God.  It is the foundation that will cause us to obey Him and do the next 7 commandments.  Without love for the Lord, there is no reason to obey His rules that are indispensable for His future Kingdom.  Jesus said in John 14:15, ‘If you love me, you will obey what I command.’
  • So we need to distinguish between morality (good living without God) and holiness (the way the people who love God will live in His kingdom), ‘…Since we have these promises [that God will be our Father], dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.’ 2

4. What other differences between morality and holiness?

As we said, the Ten Commandments give us an idea of what is basically an acceptable lifestyle to God.

  • Some of them like, honor your father and mother, don’t murder, don’t steal, manifest very visibly.  Yet others concern your thought life, like don’t covet your neighbor’s wife or possessions?  Nobody sees your thoughts, but out of them come evil desires. 3
  • In addition few people know what you do behind closed doors.  That is why it is important to distinguish between morality and holiness.  The claim we make is that it is generally impossible to live a completely upright life without an inner restraint, the Holy Spirit.
  • If it was possible, God would not have insisted on holiness.  Then living a moral life would have been enough.  But, as we know, many ‘moral’ upright people do funny things in their minds and behind closed doors.

Conclusion

The essence of ‘true’ morality is, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all of your soul, and with all of your mind… Love your neighbor as yourself.’ This includes the soul, mind, heart and effort.  Yet we can only do it with Jesus’ ongoing Blood of forgiveness for our lapses and the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit.

References

  1. Hebrews 10:10
  2. 2 Corinthians 7:1
  3. Matthew 15:18-20
  4. Matthew 22:37-39