Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Proof Is Not Enough

Reason is able to confirm the existence of God by consideration of the birds of the air and lilies of the field (as it were); however, reason alone fails to comprehend the person and things of God Himself. We see evidence that He Is, but we cannot know Him by mere reason alone in the same way that a building gives evidence to a builder, but gives the admirer no personal knowledge of the builder. We can’t prove the existence of God. We can only point to the evidence of The Creator (more in this in a moment). Yet, God desires to reason (not dialogue nor debate, but to settle on His terms) with man who is in rebellion against Him (Isaiah 1:10-20). This is doing theology: practicing true science (applying unbiased knowledge), and pure philosophy (transforming the mind mind, using discretion, enlarging the world beyond personal interest) to fulfill God’s purpose for us and bring Him glory that is all His.

When the follower of Christ and seeker of God rub shoulders with the world, we find difficulty in bringing things of God to a mind that does not believe Him. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9). Steve Sanchez at “Stone the Preacher” provides an excellent point here: “I would be doing my atheist friends a great dis-service—it would almost be a sin—if I were to prove God’s existence. Why? If they believed in God because of my proof, they would still be dead in their sins and trespasses—damned!—even though they believed, because it didn’t come by faith.” It’s not that the world does not believe IN God, but that they won’t BELIEVE Him and come to Him by faith.

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:10-11) When we dialogue with those who are not walking with God, our message is one that accomplishes God’s purpose. Our message affirms that He is and that the hearer must exercise faith to be reconciled to Him through the grace that is His in Christ Jesus. Our message also affirms that He is and that the one who does not walk by faith should receive warning for rejecting God’s provision for Him in Christ Jesus. Either way, we must learn to speak the all the truth of scripture, reasoning. When we speak the Word of God, His purposes will be accomplished, not the things that we think should happen.

Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, ‘We will hear you again about this.’ So Paul went out from their midst. But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.” (Acts 17:32-34)

I learned years ago when doing street ministry that the person with whom I am directly speaking may not be the only one who needs to hear what God has to say. I was having a conversation with a man on the sidewalk one night and pleaded with him to repent and turn from his sins and trust Christ. What I did not realize was the policeman standing in the shadows was hearing everything. Now when I engage someone, even three or four at a time, I try to “speak” to everyone, focusing on the ones most attentive. These seem to be the most sensitive to the Spirit. Just because there are those that walk away does not mean that someone else has not heard.

Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:6-7). This is the gospel. This is God reasoning with man: He can be found, so call on Him (this means, “pray) while He is near. Literally, seek His face. “Now set your mind and heart to seek the Lord your God.” (1 Chronicles 22:19) God is not lost, but must be sought through the things by which He has made Himself known. Creation shows He Is; the Law shows how we are separated from Him; Jesus Christ (crucified, buried and raised again) shows us how to be reconciled.

Understand that sin must be punished, so be willing to turn from sin and return to the Lord, receive His compassion and be forgiven. He will be found by those who look for Him.

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” (Colossians 3:1–2)

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