Can atheists be moral?

Can atheists be moral without the Bible? Of course they can!  Atheists, Moralsskeptics, Christians, Muslims and Communists can live moral lives. Nobody denies, or should deny, it. However, there is a difference between a moral lifestyle (independent of God) and a God-dependent lifestyle. The Bible is not about moral living per se, but about becoming part of God’s Kingdom, part of the family of God.

God’s Kingdom

In the Kingdom of God, there is only one Ruler (God). Obedience, which means doing what God wants, is the recipe for a successful eternal Kingdom. Those who have learned to love and obey the Lord God Almighty, is part of God’s Kingdom. This means that they adhere to a lifestyle as prescribed in the Bible. What the world calls a ‘moral lifestyle,’ the Bible calls ‘holiness,’ a life pleasing to the Lord.

The ‘moral’ unbeliever lives his good life mostly by self discipline. He does not want God in his life.  Contrary to that, the believer understands that God is the inspiration that makes it possible to live up to His standards. Nobody on earth can do what the Bible commands without God’s help. Let us look at an example in Scripture, ‘… as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience….’ 1   It is impossible to do this 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. God knows it and He proved it in the Old Testament with the failure of the Israelites to keep the Covenant. Somewhere, somehow, with the best intentions, we slip, break God’s rule, and that’s it. Yet ‘…without holiness no one will see the Lord.’ 2

Logically God wants ‘all people to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth,’ 3 so He provided His brilliant solution, Jesus. Jesus makes it possible for us to be in a relationship with God, and to have the Holy Spirit inside us. The Holy Spirit is our Personal Coach who teaches us for example to live according to the standards that we referred to above, ‘clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

To summarise:

  • The ‘moral’ man does it all by his own strength, with his own designed moral standard, which varies among people.
  • The believer in God has the power of the Holy Spirit who helps him to keep God’s unchangeable standards of living.
  • The moral lifestyle is commendable, but it has a limited value. When such a person dies, the morals die also.
  • Contrary to that, the Holy Spirit inspired lifestyle does not stop at death. It carries over to the eternal reign of God.

Conclusion

The lifestyle of the moral man is to be commended. It has value and benefits in this life. Nobody denies that.

Contrary to that, the person who lives a holy lifestyle has benefits not only in this life, but also in the life to come.

The one lasting difference is that only the Holy Spirit filled ‘holy’ person will be in God’s presence eternally.

References

  1. Colossians 3:12
  2. Hebrews 12:14b
  3. 1 Timothy 2:4

God and Ethnic Cleansing

When we read about ethnic cleansing, we come into contact with the baser Ethnicside of human nature. It is almost unbelievable what humans can do to their fellows. Saddam Hussein and the Kurds, as well as, the Hutus and the Tutsis are examples of how one ethnic group can hate and attack another.

It is therefore surprising that God is also into ethnic cleansing. God and His people will live on the eternal new heaven and earth. It will be a Kingdom of peace and happiness. How is God going to accomplish that? In the present world everybody wants peace, but it is a scarce commodity. Not a day passes that there is not a rebellion or a some effort to get rid of undesirables, or whatever.

God cannot allow different nationalities in His Kingdom. Yet we know that He calls people from all the nations on earth. So there is a real possibility of ethnic strife.  He cannot hope that the different ethnic groups will live in peace, or trust that some slight provocation will not break out in violence and hatred as history proves. How will God neutralise the Chinese and Red Indian, Mexican and Arab, African and Indian national loyalties?

God had a brilliant plan to unite all the different nationalities, obliterate their old identities and give them a new identity. John 3:3-8 tells us about the new birth. When people come into God’s Kingdom they are born anew as children of God. The Bible tells us, ‘Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!’ 1  Such people know that, ‘…they were [are] aliens and strangers on earth….looking for a country of their own.’ 2 They are reborn with new ID’s and passports and they all have the same ‘nationality.’

To renounce one’s citizenship and become a citizen of a new country is not easy (people who emigrated can testify to that). So in God’s brilliance He gives each of His new citizens a personal Guide, the Holy Spirit. He teaches them about their new country, nationality, fellow citizens, and King. He sees to it that they understand it well. 3

What is the result? We rave about our King, love Him, adore Him, and obey Him. We are proud of our new nationality, because we understand that it is all the grace of God. We did not earn it, but we are ever so grateful and happy to become citizens of the very best country and King that ever existed.

God has solved the ethnic problem. There will never be racial superiority in His Kingdom, or a need to suppress minorities. We can thank God for His brilliance, ‘I [God] will live among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.’ 4

References

  1. 2 Corinthians 5:17
  2. Hebrews 11:13-14
  3. John 16:13-14
  4. 2 Corinthians 6:18

The Old Testament is necessary to understand Jesus

OT & JCMany Christians have a very superficial knowledge of the Old Testament. It is strange, because the Old Testament is part of God’s revelation to man. Perhaps it is the word ‘Old’ that gives the impression that it needs to be discarded. That is not true, since the Old Testament is divinely inspired, ‘All Scripture is God-breathed…..’ 

There are people who say: ‘Why bother about the Old Testament? Preach Christ. He is the Saviour.’  That is true, because it is the main message of the Bible. Yet why did the Holy Spirit give us the 39 books of the Old Testament? Is He so ‘ignorant’ that He did not understand that the Old Testament would be scrapped with the coming of Jesus?

Paul wrote to Timothy, ‘But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of …and how …you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.’ 2 At that time the Old Testament was the holy Scriptures.

The continual message of the Old Testament is that God’s chosen people, Israel, failed to obey Him. They failed all the way. Even the Gentile nations could not live up to God’s standards. The Old Testament’s message is clear and stark: nobody can live the upright life that God desires. God’s goal and plan is a perfect Kingdom and a perfect nation (able to obey God). There has never been a nation or even individuals who could consistently meet the requirement.

Nations are destroyed by imperfect leaders and rebellious citizens. God’s goal seems an impossible plan. We see that even with a  ‘special’ nation, Israel, with a perfect God, and perfect laws to organise society, they still failed. Thus God’s goal, the perfect eternal Kingdom, will remain an impossible dream, unless God has a brilliant plan. That He had. It is His Son, Jesus, the Saviour, the Conqueror of evil and the hope of His followers.  By demonstrating the failure of man’s own efforts, the Old Testament highlights the importance of Jesus, who makes God’s glorious Kingdom  possible.

For a proper appreciation of the magnitude of God’s solution in Jesus, there is no other source than the Old Testament. After the failures of the Israelites and the Gentile nations, God presented His ‘Final Solution,’ Jesus the wonderful Saviour and Lord (see the New Covenant in Jeremiah 31).

Conclusion

The Bible is a wonderful book: the Old Testament shows how important Jesus is; Jesus sends us the Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit teaches us the Truth; the truth is found in the Bible; the Bible includes the Old Testament (70%).  We should not neglect the Old Testament, since it makes us appreciate Jesus all the more.

References

  1. 2 Timothy 3:16
  2. 2 Timothy 3:14-15
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