Friday, July 30, 2010

Rudimentary Apologetics, Part 2

Jesus Christ was the perfect, final, and glorious manifestation of God, John 1:1-14; Hebrews 1:1-3. When Jesus came to earth, He came to reveal salvation to men, to redeem men, to reveal the will of the Father to men; all things that could not be learned apart from being instructed. Jesus came to glorify the Father by obeying His revealed will. The Father’s will was that Jesus should suffer death for the sins of the world, so that anyone who believes in Jesus may be given the right to become a child of God. When asking “what is God like?” or “who is God?” we need look no further than Jesus Christ.

Attempting to fabricate God is folly of the worst sort. To create an idea of God in your own mind and hold to it, even sincerely, does not please God or bring Him glory. Sincerely held religious beliefs, if wrong, will condemn no matter how much fuss and fervor one exerts. This is why knowledge matters more than experience; knowledge (or doctrine) must be the solid foundation on which one’s beliefs are founded. Experience, or practice, flows from knowledge mingled with faith. Christianity is a historical reality. Jesus lived, was crucified and was raised from the dead in our world, in ancient Israel, at a fixed point in time. God the Son was literally present on earth, and His words and Spirit ignited the church like fire. That He lives still is the basis on which the church stands; since we have a living Savior exalted in Heaven we have a living hope of being taken back with Him when He comes again.

The Bible (if merely man’s work) would be a fabrication of such ingenuity as to be miraculous. It took 16 centuries to pen the whole Bible. There were 40+ human authors. Few were related, or lived in the same time period. Some wrote and preached during times of war and famine; others wrote during times of great peace and bounty. None disagree with one another. In fact, prior revelations are artlessly expounded as progressive truth is revealed by God’s chosen spokesmen. Their numbers consisted of kings, prophets, priests, shepherds, fishermen, historians, singers, anonymous writers and more. Through it all God’s revealed purpose in creation and redemption are opened to mankind. Hundreds of prophecies were given, and many have been fulfilled already in history, being open to verification and asserting that those things not yet passed will certainly happen in God’s time.

Allow me to paint a picture about searching for God without external knowledge given to you. I will use myself as an example. Suppose that you knew that there was someone named “Ian Curtis” who ran this Blog, but knew nothing more than this. Now suppose, instead of searching for information from external sources, you instead proceed to invent “Ian Curtis.” You say that “Ian” is a woman from Germany who raises sheep and speaks Dutch. “Ian” is 43 years old and the mother of eleven children, and was once a famous song writer. Now suppose I came to you and said, “This is not me! I am not a woman, have never lived in Germany and do not speak Dutch; I am ten years younger and the father of two children, not eleven! I work at Subway, and have never tended sheep. I have not written any famous songs, I can assure you!” You may laugh at this, but this is in truth what so many people do when they arrive at the idea of God. They imagine Him, draw on their own finite resources, and miserably fail to capture the majesty of a Being who is Lord and Creator of mankind and the universe. This is why false religions do not honor God, and He will not simply “make an exception” to a sincerely held religious belief. One suffers ignorant deception until the genuine God of all the earth is preached. If someone rejected my defense of my person, despite my testimony and proofs, they are not demonstrating faith as the Bible defines it; they are practicing obstinacy and willful self-deception.

One may ask: how do I know the Bible records the words and deeds of the real, one and only, God? It is a fair question. Jesus answered: “If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority,” John 7:17. God’s word is self-vindicating, Hebrews 4:12-13. What does this mean? It means that God will not accept our excuses of blaming hypocritical Christians, lazy pastors, backsliding churches, etc. God’s word is greater than the weakness of His professing children. “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart,” Jeremiah 29:13. “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him,” Hebrews 11:6.

Jesus claims that anyone who comes to Him in faith He can and will save; the believing soul is saved from sin and death, and God’s glory is manifested in that redeemed life. This is the true God and eternal life; not weaving together a tapestry of things you would like “God” to be, should he exist, but a demonstration and testimony of the God who truly does exist, manifested for the redemption of His creation. Faith in such a God is not blind; such faith hears the testimony, sees transformed lives, weighs the evidence, and suffers godly conviction. Jesus didn’t die to rescue imperiled innocents; He died to rescue guilty sinners from a just condemnation. Love compelled Him. Such love is fitting for the true God of all the earth; may He receive all the glory. Amen.

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"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness," 2nd Timothy 3:16.

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All Scripture is taken from the King James Bible (KJV) or New King James Bible (NKJV). Copyright 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.