Remembering the Laws

December 27, 2018 at 3:33 pm | Posted in Q&A | 3 Comments
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Question: The laws that were given to Moses by God in Exodus 21 and 22 were given orally. How could so many laws be remembered by Moses and then transmitted to the people without writing them down?

Answer: Later on (probably during the wilderness wanderings) Moses did write them down, and, since he was inspired by the Holy Spirit at that time, there was no possibility of him making a mistake in remembering them. However, before they were written down, they were given with certain literary and mnemonic devices built into them to help with their memorization. One of these is the device of chiasmus. Also, faithful Hebrew fathers were supposed to rehearse the laws with their children frequently and regularly, so that they could be remembered and passed down from generation to generation. See Deuteronomy 6:1-9.

When the Word of God Crashes the Party

January 13, 2016 at 1:57 pm | Posted in Exodus | 7 Comments
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And Moses turned, and went down from the mount, and the two tables of the testimony were in his hand: the tables were written on both their sides; on the one side and on the other were they written.

Exodus 32:15

Moses with the tablets

The two “tables” (tablets) were identical – five “Words” on each side. Written documents in that day were: (1) papyrus (not very durable); (2) leather skins; (3) clay tablets; or (4) chiseled in stone (only the most important documents). These were the only documents in existence actually inscribed by God Himself without any human agency. Imagine the value!

And the tables were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, graven upon the tables.

Exodus 32:16

The written Word of God is not a violation of Commandment No. 2 (against graven images). God is so associated with His Word that He allows us to have it “engraved.” This refutes the accusation (sometimes made by Roman Catholics and Pentecostals) that Baptists and other fundamental Christians who hold to the Bible as the sole standard of faith and practice are guilty of Bibliolatry.

And when Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said unto Moses, There is a noise of war in the camp.

Exodus 32:17

Joshua was familiar with the sound of war. This sounded like war, even though it wasn’t. It was the first “rock concert” involving God’s people, but this type of loud boisterous worship was common in pagan idolatry – which Moses recognized when he discerned the singing amidst the din of revelry:

And he said, It is not the voice of them that shout for mastery, neither is it the voice of them that cry for being overcome: but the noise of them that sing do I hear.

Exodus 32:18

You can meditate on this passage of Scripture and judge for yourself how loud and boisterous Christian worship music ought to be. I would submit that it ought not to be mistaken – even from afar – for carnal syncretistic worship – a combination of worshiping the performer while ostensibly worshiping God.

There is a certain irony or at least poignancy in Joshua’s mistaken assertion that a battle was going on, because there WAS in fact a battle going on – a battle between Truth and falsehood – between the real and the fake – between God and Satan the counterfeiter. Because of Moses’s anger, you can see that he grasped this:

And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the calf, and the dancing: and Moses’ anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount.

Exodus 32:19

Moses had plead with God to turn from His anger, but now he saw with his own eyes, and heard with his own ears, and he too expressed righteous anger, breaking these unique, precious tablets in view of all the people “beneath the mount.” This was the exact same spot where the people verbally agreed to be bound by God’s gracious covenant. They broke the Covenant figuratively; Moses demonstrated it literally. We speak of breaking God’s law – but it is God’s law that will break the sinner – just as jumping upward off a roof temporarily seems to break the law of gravity, but ultimately breaks the jumper.

And he took the calf which they had made, and burnt it in the fire, and ground it to powder, and strawed it upon the water, and made the children of Israel drink of it.

Exodus 32:20

This describes a longer process than just one verse makes it sound like, but Moses wanted to utterly desecrate this false idol.

A Justice Sandwich

February 11, 2015 at 2:40 pm | Posted in Exodus | 6 Comments
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Exodus Chapter 21 starts off by addressing the rules governing servitude or slavery. The laws involving servants for Israel were supposed to be far different from the way the pagan nations practiced slavery. Remember, the Israelites had just come out of real slavery in Egypt, so, what is being dealt with primarily here is much closer to what we would call “employment,” than what we think of when we think of “slavery” as practiced by those who kidnap people and treat them like animals.

Most “servants” in Israel (except for foreign prisoners of war) were contract employees – the way the owner of a professional football team is said to “own” the players he signs to a contract. This type of employment contract was limited, under the Covenant Code, to six years, although the servant could decide to stay with his owner after that. The decision to place oneself into legally enforceable servitude for longer than the initial limited time period was to be taken seriously, and even discouraged to an extent, so there was a formal public ceremony to impress upon all involved the nature of what was being undertaken.

And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free: Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an aul; and he shall serve him for ever.

Exodus 21:5-6

The laws in this section of the Covenant are what are called casuistic and paradigmatic. They are casuistic, meaning that they are case-law examples. They were not intended to be applied by the judges narrowly or only to the specific situations described. They were designed for extrapolating into unforeseen or unusual circumstances. For example:

And if a man smite his servant, or his maid, with a rod, and he die under his hand; he shall be surely punished.

Exodus 21:20

What if the boss didn’t hit the employee, but chained him to a tree until he starved to death? Could he escape punishment by claiming the law didn’t apply to him? After all, there was no smiting involved. No. The law concerning the rod was a casuistic example of a broader principle. A wise judge could easily see this.

These laws were paradigmatic in this sense: What if a woman rather than a man hit her servant? The principle of the law would still apply. The genders were interchangeable unless otherwise specified. What if the boss hit the servant with an ax instead of a rod? It’s the same idea, and the same punishment would adhere. The paradigm was still in place

In studying the laws of the Covenant Code it is also helpful to understand that they are often chiastic in structure. Otherwise, they might seem random to the casual reader. A chiasm is a literary or an oratorical device that is used mnemonically. Since these laws were given verbally and were largely transmitted verbally, chiasms helped group laws together in interesting and therefore memorable ways. For example:

He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to death. And if a man lie not in wait, but God deliver him into his hand; then I will appoint thee a place whither he shall flee. But if a man come presumptuously upon his neighbour, to slay him with guile; thou shalt take him from mine altar, that he may die.

Exodus 21:12-14

The structure is A-B-A. A general principle is stated: (A) The one who kills shall be killed. An exception is described: (B) If the killing is not premeditated, the killer may find a safe haven pending inquiry. Then, the general principle is restated with greater clarity: (C) One who kills with malice aforethought is to receive the death penalty.

The technique of chiasmus may be thought of like a sandwich. Two pieces of bread are the outer brackets, and the most bland parts. But each subsequent ingredient has a match on each side as you move closer to the center: mustard on each slice of bread, two pieces of lettuce, two slices of tomato, pickles on the top and bottom of the meat, which is in the center, and which is the most interesting (and least obvious) and defining thing about the sandwich. So, many of the chiasms are more complex than A-B-A, and may look more like:

A
B
C
D
C
B
A

“He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to death” is very general – basically a restatement of the 6th Commandment. “And if a man lie not in wait, but God deliver him into his hand; then I will appoint thee a place whither he shall flee” seems like a nonsequitur – like it applies to negligent homicide or to manslaughter. “But if a man come presumptuously upon his neighbour, to slay him with guile; thou shalt take him from mine altar, that he may die” returns to the theme – with an additional detail.

It is also worth noting at this point that the subject of this particular chiasm is the well-known lex talionis – from the Latin for “law” (lex) and talia, meaning “in like kind.” The “law of retaliation” – an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth – was the law of perfect justice. The punishment was supposed to fit the crime. This was in contrast to many laws of the ancient world, which focused on monetary or material fines and allowed rich people to count the cost and hurt people when it was more convenient. On the flip side, though, the qualifiers to the lex talionis in God’s law were also in stark contrast to the too-strict laws of the ancient world that often allowed vengeance to take the place of justice.

If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life, Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

Exodus 21:22-25

Going to Extrem(iti)es

June 30, 2014 at 12:56 pm | Posted in Galatians | 7 Comments
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I would they were even cut off which trouble you.

Galatians 5:12

This is extreme language (about as extreme as it gets, at least in the New Testament). It shows how serious the Lord is about this circumcision issue. It’s as if the Apostle Paul told the Judaizers, “If you are so fixated on circumcision – if you enjoy circumcision so much – you should just go all the way. Stop “cutting around,” and, well, just “cut off.” The King James translation preserves the pun – the play on words. Paul is indicating that if the Judaizers would just go ahead and completely mutilate themselves, they wouldn’t be in any condition to bother him and preachers of the true Gospel any more.

There is a deeper issue here, though. People who are so zealous for rule-keeping are often trying to divert attention from their own fixation. They are not only teaching falsely – that keeping rules means greater spirituality – but they know their own lack of spirituality and their own perversion, and they believe that, by pointing at everyone else, the guilt and suspicion they feel will be deflected away from them. The wicked flee when no man pursueth, and the hypocritical accuse others even when no one suspects them.

Now, we go into a section of Galatians where it’s as if Paul knows that the Judaizers are going to argue (and surely they had been already) that, if people walk in liberty, if they are set free from God’s law, then what’s going to stop them from sinning freely?

In a sense, it’s the same old argument: “Grace? Grace? What’s going to keep us in line after we’ve been forgiven for all our sins?” The proponents of this argument act as though they have forgotten that we are called by God unto salvation. They sound like they think that God was just annoyed that there were some people who had to be judged, so He waved His hand, and said, “Fine, I’ll let you off the hook. I’ll stop being God for a minute. There, you’re free. Now go do whatever you want and leave Me alone.” Such a doctrine would be heresy.

For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.

Galatians 5:13

Liberty frees us from the bondage of the flesh – not the existence of the flesh. The “calling” of salvation is a calling to liberty. It’s a “setting-free” from the unconquerable power that sin has over an unbeliever. Christians are set free from the position of sinners: those that must answer for their own guilt.

Christians are also set free from the eternal pain of sin, as well as the judicial guilt of sin. They are set free from the penalty of sin, which is the punishment for sin: the specific retribution of God against sinners for sinning against Him!

Here is freedom: Jesus came and fulfilled (not destroyed in the natural sense) the Law for us. Now He, in the person of the Holy Spirit, comes to live in us, and He causes us, too, to obey the Law. This is not the bondage of the Law, not the letter of the Law, but the spirit of the Law – the Truth of the Law.

For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Galatians 5:14

Catechism Question 7

June 4, 2014 at 11:40 am | Posted in Children's Bible Catechism | 7 Comments
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Question 7: What is sin?
Answer: Sin is violating God’s law.
Prove it.

Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.

I John 3:4

“Trans” means across. Sinning is going across the boundaries of God’s law with ag”gression.” Two broad categories of sin are sins of “omission” and sins of “commission,” which are, respectively, any lack of conformity to, or transgression (violation) of, the law of God. In other words, both doing bad, and failing to do good, are sin.

Other verses to consider:

And if a soul sin, and commit any of these things which are forbidden to be done by the commandments of the LORD; though he wist it not, yet is he guilty, and shall bear his iniquity.

Leviticus 5:17

Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.

James 4:17

Three Reasons for Ten Commandments (Reflective)

May 14, 2014 at 8:53 am | Posted in Exodus, Uncategorized | 16 Comments
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We have seen:

1. The Revelatory Purpose of the Ten Commandments
2. The Restrictive Purpose of the Ten Commandments

Now we will look at:

3. The Reflective Purpose of the Ten Commandments

Under the revelatory purpose I said that the Ten Commandments in a sense reveal (or reflect) the character of God. However, they reflect the other way, too, and I believe this is the main purpose of the Ten Commandments: The Commandments are God’s mirror to show us what we really look like.

Do you look in the mirror in the morning? I don’t like it, but I do it, because it tells me the truth about me – what’s on my face, what’s between my teeth, whether I accidentally grabbed a purple tie and green socks. The mirror does nothing to help me look better – except to show me the truth.

Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.

Romans 3:19

No one can look at the Ten Commandments honestly or even with partial honesty, and deny that he is guilty before God.

Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

Romans 3:20

That’s why we use the Ten Commandments in evangelism. They let us hold up a mirror to lost sinners without us acting as their judge ourselves.

But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

Romans 3:21-23

When the Bible says that all have sinned, most people will see this as an excuse instead of an accusation. “Okay, I’m a sinner, but so is everyone else.” It’s not an excuse. We are people of unclean lips, but the fact that we are part of a group doesn’t excuse us. It makes things worse. We are not just sinners. We are part of a sinful race of people.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

Jeremiah 17:9

“The” heart is a universal subject. It means that everyone’s heart, apart from Christ, is like this. The Ten Commandments do not let us get away with those kinds of rationalizations. They are universally applicable, but they are also pointedly personal: thou shalt; thou shalt not.

God does not grade on a curve when it comes to sin, but even if He did, Jesus is the ultimate curve-breaker. He scored a perfect 100 on the “do not sin” test. The reflective purpose of the Ten Commandments is to show us our need for that perfect Savior, and to destroy any hope we might have in ourselves or in our own works.

Teach your children the Ten Commandments, but don’t teach them like a rule book. Teach them like a mirror. And make sure that you yourself have really looked into that mirror, as well. There’s no such thing as a “good person.” There are only wicked vile wretched worthless useless sinners, some of whom have been saved by the grace and mercy and love and blood and death and burial and resurrection of a good and a great Savior.

Three Reasons for Ten Commandments (Restrictive)

April 28, 2014 at 11:03 am | Posted in Exodus | 4 Comments
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Last time we examined:

1. The Revelatory Purpose of the Ten Commandments

Now we will see:

2. The Restrictive Purpose of the Ten Commandments

This may sound contradictory, because in the previous lesson I said that the Commandments were freeing, and now I’m saying they’re restrictive, but we have to remember that God’s laws are not just for Christians. They are for everyone – even the people that don’t love Him and the people who don’t want to know Him. The Ten Commandments do not have the power to stop anyone from breaking them, but they do remind sinners that there are rules – and that there are consequences for breaking those rules.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;

Romans 1:18

Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

Romans 1:32

Sinners break God’s law, but they break it less when it is there to restrain them. This purpose is sometimes called the “restraining” purpose of the Commandments, because, if they are upheld by society, they help to restrain unbelievers from hindering the Gospel.

Most crimes occur under the influence of the flesh or the devil, but some crimes are deterred because of the threat of punishment, and there must be clear commands against wrongdoing if punishment is to be prescribed for the breaking of those commands. If a society bases its laws on the Ten Commandments, that society will not be holy, because society is made up of sinners. But that society will have a government where it is safer to preach the Gospel.

Next time we will look at the reflective purpose of the Ten Commandments.

Three Reasons for Ten Commandments (Revelatory)

April 25, 2014 at 1:18 pm | Posted in Exodus, John | 15 Comments
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Lord, I say with the psalmist, I love Your law. We should meditate upon it every day and every night. We know that it is better than our own thoughts. We know that it is absolute truth. We know that those who love Your law will have great peace. Help us to see the correct uses for Your law, and especially Your Ten Commandments. In the name of the Lord Jesus I pray. Amen.

The Ten Commandments are a part of the “Law of God” – specifically, the Old Testament Law. They are normally thought of as something that children need to learn, or that we need to teach them to help them behave better, or that need to be posted in public, so people can see what Christians think of as “right and wrong.”

Do you believe in the Commandments of God? Most Christians would say yes. Do you know the Commandments of God? Some Christians would say yes. Do you teach the Commandments of God? Most Christians would say a hearty “yes” (or at least agree that they should be taught). But this is a different question: Do you love the commandments of God?

Therefore I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold.

Psalm 119:127

The Old Testament believers were supposed to love the commandments of God – to “love His law” – but in the New Testament we are “under grace” not “law.” So should we love the Commandments?

If ye love me, keep my commandments.

John 14:15

God’s commandments are not cosmic laws that God discovered and decided to adopt to keep order in His universe. They are not rules He made up to keep Himself entertained as He watched over His creation. They are simply an expression of Who God is – which leads us to the first of three purposes which are revealed in Scripture to tell us some of the reasons for God giving us the Ten Commandments and His moral law. (These are not the only three reasons. There are more, but these are three big ones.)

1. The Revelatory Purpose of the Ten Commandments

He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.

John 14:21

“Revelatory” just means something that “reveals” something – something that lets us know what something else is like. If you love God, you must love what God loves. The Ten Commandments reveal to us what sort of being God is. We know that He is the only true God, because the 1st Commandment tells us that there are no other gods before Him. We know that He is holy and is righteously jealous, because the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Commandments tell us that we are not to make anything that is supposed to look like Him, we are not to mess with His Name, and that we are to have special days set aside just for worshiping Him. We know that He is a God that ordains authority and submission and obedience because of the 5th Commandment, and that obedience and submission are how He prefers love to be expressed. We know that He loves life, because He condemns murder. We know that He loves and promotes marriage, because he condemns adultery. We know that He loves truth, because He condemns lying and stealing. We know that He is omniscient – that He knows everything – including what’s best in every circumstance, because He condemns covetousness, which is dissatisfaction with what He’s given us.

Some people call the “revelatory” use of the law the “teaching” use, so this purpose for the Commandments is also known as the “didactic” purpose. The Holy Spirit uses the law of God to teach us how to live in a way that’s pleasing to our God after we have trusted Christ unto salvation.

For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

I John 5:3

Do you see again the connection between loving God and loving His commandments? The lie of Satan and the lie of this world and the lie of our flesh is that rules and laws and commandments restrict our freedom – that they are “grievous” – that they are given to be a burden to us. But God says that this philosophy has it backwards. The worst type of slavery – the worst type of imprisonment – is “freedom” from God’s commandments. The worst thing that can happen to you is that you “get free” from God. Like a stray dog – a person who is “free” from God has himself for a master – and a man with himself for a master has a terrible master. Stray dogs get run over, they get sent to the pound, they get shot, they get killed by bigger and meaner dogs, they get rabies, they die alone and scared and miserable. Dogs are meant to be dominated by a master, and you and I are meant to be dominated by our loving Heavenly Father.

When you love God’s commandments and keep God’s commandments, that’s when you find true freedom. That’s when you become what God originally intended for you and I to be: His image-bearers – His good and obedient and loved and blessed children. That’s real freedom.

Next time, we’ll take a look at a second reason for the Ten Commandments.

The Trap of Leaving Our Limits

February 4, 2013 at 1:01 pm | Posted in Traps of Lawless Living | 8 Comments
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People are not saved from the penalty of sin by obeying laws or keeping rules. However, Christians (those who have already been saved by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ) should love God’s laws and should seek to avoid the traps that come with living as though God has not given us laws to obey. In this series of lessons, we will identify several traps of “lawless living” by looking at the account of Samson in the Book of Judges.

Samson’s death occurred when he pulled down a Philistine temple with himself and thousands of Philistines inside. Samson, who was empowered by the Holy Spirit, had the strength to make the most stable structures unstable, but, in a twist of irony, he himself was one of the most unstable men in the whole Bible. According to Scripture, the source of instability in a man is double-mindedness.

A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

James 1:8

Those who have the singleness of mind that comes with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit need not be so double-minded. A single-minded Christian will respect God-ordained boundaries, whereas a double-minded person crosses boundaries at his peril.

Samson was born in Zorah, a city in Dan, near the Philistine border.

And there was a certain man of Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren, and bare not.

Judges 13:2

He was one of those babies in the Bible where his birth had been foretold to his mother or his parents, like Isaac (Abraham and Sarah); Samuel (Hannah); and Jesus (Mary and Joseph). Some servants of God are chosen in a special way before their birth.

Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.

Jeremiah 1:4

But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace,

Galatians 1:15

In Samson’s case the angel appeared to Manoah’s wife, and then to both of them together. Although Manoah’s wife was thought to be barren, the angel told her that the child was to be a Nazarite from birth. John the Baptist is another example of someone who was chosen by God to be a life-long Nazarite. A Nazarite vow was normally a voluntary vow for a stated period of time, but for Samson, it meant that he was supposed to refrain from drinking wine or strong drink all his days.

Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When either man or woman shall separate themselves to vow a vow of a Nazarite, to separate themselves unto the LORD: He shall separate himself from wine and strong drink, and shall drink no vinegar of wine, or vinegar of strong drink, neither shall he drink any liquor of grapes, nor eat moist grapes, or dried. All the days of his separation shall he eat nothing that is made of the vine tree, from the kernels even to the husk. All the days of the vow of his separation there shall no razor come upon his head: until the days be fulfilled, in the which he separateth himself unto the Lord, he shall be holy, and shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow. All the days that he separateth himself unto the Lord he shall come at no dead body.

Numbers 6:2-6

He wasn’t allowed to touch dead bodies or get a haircut, either. It is helpful to make a distinction between Jesus, who was a Nazarene (from the town of Nazareth), but not a Nazarite (which means consecrated or separated under those particular Old Testament requirements). These restrictions were Samson’s boundaries. Physically, he crossed the boundary into Philistia, not to serve God, but to satisfy his own appetites. Spiritually, he crossed the boundary of his own Nazarite vow for the same reasons. He went into a vineyard. He had a wedding feast involving wine. He touched the dead carcass of a lion he had killed.

Do we respect our boundaries as Christians? Or are we double-minded and unstable like Samson? Often we excuse ourselves by thinking that we don’t want to really do any harm – that we just want to have a little fun. We think we can just step over our boundaries a little.

And Samson went down to Timnath, and saw a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines.

Judges 14:1

Samson went down to Timnath, not to make war against the Philistines, which was his calling, but to look for a woman. We might say he was “looking for love in all the wrong places.” Let us remember that God has ordained boundaries for our own safety. If we cross over into sin, we lose our ability to determine the consequences.

One Year Athe-versary

January 5, 2010 at 11:17 am | Posted in ProfessingAtheists | 1 Comment
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This post is a couple of days late, but, in celebration of the one year anniversary of this blog (which actually started on January 3, 2009), I have decided to re-post the post which has been by far my most-read post. It is one in a series of posts which make up an ongoing dialogue between a Christian and a professing atheist.

Professing Atheists Worship Creation Rather Than the Creator

Professing Atheist: I would challenge any Christian to step out side of the Christian “box” and just for a moment consider the vast scientific evidence regarding the origins of the universe and of life.

Christian: Since you have brought up scientific evidence, this may be helpful: Little children, in elementary school, are commonly taught the “scientific method.” I know it’s more complicated than this, but, basically it boils down to teaching them to take matter and examine its properties, and learn about it, using their natural senses. Touch it. Look at it. Smell it. Taste it. I’m not opposed to children being taught that way, but think of the spiritual implications. In Genesis Chap. 27, Isaac employed a form of the scientific method with Jacob. Jacob and Rebekah plotted to deceive Isaac into thinking that Jacob was Esau. Isaac touched him. He listened to him. He couldn’t see him but, no doubt, he smelled him. And he came to the wrong conclusion! It would have been better for Isaac just to believe God’s promise by faith, that Jacob, although the younger, and not Esau, was to receive the blessing.

Professing Atheist: Have you ever been in an aircraft? If so, the fact that you landed again is because a large number of scientists kept working and improving things until they got their sums right. Evidence matters. Planes fly, diseases are cured, water comes out when you turn the tap on, and you and I can argue in cyberspace like this. You benefit from real, evidence-based science as much as I do. It’s hypocritical of you to dismiss it.

Would you say that (for example) Iranians and pagan Vikings would be “without excuse” if they “failed to acknowledge” God?

Christian: Hypocrisy is being grateful for the benefits of evidence-based science while ignoring God, who created all the scientific laws that the aviators, doctors, and engineers have discovered (John 1:3). Every time your heart beats, it is not thanks to cardiology or cardiologists. It is thanks to God, Who has caused it to beat, by His sovereign power, your whole life. When you expel the next breath of air from your nostrils, you will have hope of another breath, not because a scientist discovered evidence of the air you breath, but because God provides it (Isaiah 2:22).

You can check this out by climbing up on a roof. Shake your fist, and cry out, “I don’t believe you exist, Gravity! You can’t be real! If you were real, you would not have held all those Norsemen and Iranians down! You would have let them float away in true freedom! Therefore, I defy, O Gravity, that you exist!” Then, leap off the roof. (By the way, I do not recommend that you really try this.) But if you did, you would see that, if you break God’s law of gravity, then God’s law of gravity will break you – literally. It’s the same way with God’s Biblical laws. You can break them if you want. But, if you do, they will break you (Galatians 6:7)

Professing Atheist: Well, I have other, more worthwhile calls on my time, but the Devil can quote scripture, as they say, so here I go. You will be as familiar with John 3:16 as I am, or as any of those people who hold up placards at wrestling matches. You would, I feel sure, assert that God’s purpose to all humanity, in sending his Son to die for us, is loving and merciful. Tell me, what do you believe that loving and merciful God, and gentle Jesus, meek and mild, have in store for these billions of people, all ignorant, in my humble opinion, through no fault of their own?

Christian: When considering the decision to accept, or willfully reject, the truth of the existence of God, it is irrelevant what anyone “thinks” would produce results, or what anyone’s humble “opinion” is – apart from Scripture.

I hope that the more worthwhile calls on your time do not include actually going to the wrestling matches where the John 3:16 placards are held. You are coming to that verse in isolation, not taking into account the entirety of Scripture. These Iranians and Vikings you mention – just like me, and just like you, and just like everyone else – are wicked sinners, who deserve God’s judgment (Romans 3:10; 3:23). Because He is loving and merciful, He sent His Son to die. Because He is just, righteous, true, and holy, He must judge those Who reject His Son.

(The other posts in the series – which received some attention, but were not nearly as popular as the one posted above – can be viewed here:)

Atheists Aren’t Real
Professing Atheists Are in Denial
Professing Atheists Are Disturbed by the Truth
Professing Atheists Fear the Bible
Professing Atheists Try To Allay Their Fears
Professing Atheists Understand More of the Bible Than They Want To Admit
Professing Atheists Are Incapable of Being “Good”
Professing Atheists Conveniently Pick and Choose Their Own “Morality”
Professing Atheists Do Have Faith
Professing Atheists Are Affected by Their Past
Professing Atheists Are Angry at God
Professing Atheists Pretend They Would Like God If He Could Be Controlled
Professing Atheists Despise the Idea of Answering To Their Creator
Professing Atheists Are Blind to Their Own Lack of Objectivity
Acting Like We’ve Been There


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