3/25/2021 – Follow up to Imago Dei Sermon 1 – Why listen to God?
Tonight was a great start to our new series, Imago Dei. I’m very excited. This series is going to take us through some of the most foundational truths of Christianity. Things that we have to put in place so that your faith has some solid ground to stand on.
Last night, I addressed the question, “why should we listen to God anyway.” I wrote that sermon with Christians in mind. It wasn’t intended as a defense for you to defend the faith against skeptics or anything like that.
After it was over, I got a really great question. The question was, “how do I begin to explain to kids at school this sermon because, basically, they are just going to say, ‘you can’t prove God from a document (the Bible) that God claims to have written.'” What the student is referring to is called circular reasoning. It happens when you use the conclusion of the argument you are making as proof for the argument you are making. For example, America is the best place to live because it’s better than any other country. If I make the statement, I know God exists because the Bible says he exists; a non-Christian will automatically say, but the conclusion cannot count as evidence. You have to have separate evidence that proves God.
One more example:
Circular reasoning-Batman is the greatest superhero. Why? Because he is. No why? Because he is.
Correct reasoning-Batman is the greatest superhero. Why? Because he has a cool belt, and because he has an amazing car, and because he always wins fights, and because he is really tough.
See the difference?
Unfortunately, this is broken. Evidence cannot completely prove a statement (called an assertion). We can provide all the evidence in the world about why Superman is the greatest, but no matter how much evidence you provide, someone can always ask for more proof. Someone can say, but Superman has a cooler cape so he’s greater. Basically, the person who is more stubborn wins.
Identity is the only true proof of a statement or assertion.
A statement like God is the only God that exists because he says he exists in the Bible is only circular reasoning if it’s not true. If it’s true, then his identity proves he is true. The fact that he exists proves that he exists.
Let’s bring this back to the original question. How in the world do I get someone to buy all the stuff we have been talking about; that God’s identity proves he exists, and to prove to someone that it isn’t circular reasoning.
So, let’s get to my answer.
My answer is that you are asking the wrong question. The correct question is, why doesn’t this person believe?
Let’s dig into that for a minute, then I want to give you one extra apologetic tool to have available.
Romans 1:18 says “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.”
It’s saying that people don’t believe in God because they suppress the knowledge of him. It’s inside of them because God put it there.
It goes on to say, “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.
So, they are without excuse.” Romans 1:19-20
Do you understand the importance of this? It’s not that people need a better set of glasses to see the truth. They don’t need you to give them a little more evidence. They need you to boldly and lovingly call them to believe. They need for you to say over and over again, you are dead in your sin. You don’t believe because you are spiritually blind. Repent and believe.
Proverbs 26:4-5 says “Do not answer a fool according to his folly, lest you also be like him. Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes.” Basically, the author says don’t get in arguments with fools because you lose either way; you lose if you play their game, and you lose if you don’t.
Let’s talk redneck. If you are trying to pull out a truck that’s stuck in the mud, and the person yells “hey you will be able to pull me out better if you bring your truck down here in the mud too,” don’t argue with them about why it’s better not to do that. You simply say stop being an idiot, then you throw them a chain down, tell them to hook up and hold on, and you pull them out of the mud.
That’s what we are going for when someone asks you to argue evidence from God. It’s foolish to get in the mud and argue. You have the solid rock of God. He says to call them on it. Tell them they know God exists. Tell them they are suppressing that truth. Don’t back down. Stand toe to toe. Look them boldly and lovingly in the eye and say I love you and you know it’s true. Jesus died for your sin. He wants you to have faith in him.
Sometimes they will walk away laughing at you. But you must remember that you have nothing to lose. You have the high ground. They are the ones that are standing under the wrath of God and need saving.
Check out this verse, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12. There’s a lot more going on than just trying to prove facts to a person. There is a war going on for their soul. This person, according to Ephesians 2, is dead in their sins.
You have to stand firm on the fact that you aren’t responsible for convincing someone to believe. All you are called to do is to lovingly call them out of spiritual death. Call them to believe. God is the one that brings them back to life. God is the one that helps them believe. Their unbelief is between them and God. Not you.
I love that many of you are in the public school system as missionaries to your school. That’s great. The side effect to this is that you have been soaking up godless reasoning into your brains for your entire school career. I don’t care how strong a person is, it gets to you eventually.
Now I strongly believe that a person that has the holy spirit in their life will not fall to this. Philippians 1:6 pushes us to believe that. You need to understand that the reason you feel you must prove God to people happens because you have been indoctrinated by their system, not because scripture tells you this.
Now I’m not saying to be a sucker and simply be a Christian because the pastor says you can trust the Bible. But I am saying that secular reasoning is clouding our brains. It happens to me too!
To show how this works, someone that has never been indoctrinated with secular reasoning believes the story of Jonah and the whale without ever questioning it. Someone that has been affected will have to come to a time in life where they will wrestle with the fact that it’s true.
So, what can we do to protect ourselves from the enemy? Well, the rest of Ephesians 6 gives some great advice. Put on the armor of God. I’m not going to dig into that here. Do it yourself.
Here’s another tool though beyond just staying in God’s word and not getting thrown off track by sin.
Presupposition apologetics. Big word. No biggie if you don’t know it. You probably have heard of apologetics so stay with me.
Now earlier I said evidence cannot prove God, only identity. That’s true. But evidence sure helps you stay strong in your faith. Most people have heard of apologetics that give facts to prove God. That stuff is great. I’m not talking about that though. I’m talking about a battle of thoughts and ideas, not physical proof.
Stay close, it’s about to get deep.
So, here’s how this goes. In philosophy, if there’s a contradiction in your logic then something is not true. That’s the rule. That’s why intelligent atheists put so much emphasis on trying to prove that the Bible has contradictions. It’s because we all agree that if there are contradictions, then it’s not true.
A couple of things: A. Paradoxes and contradictions are not the same things. Stay strong on that!!! B. Aggressive intelligent atheists do not want to lose, so they keep the burden on you. They ignore their contradictions, which actually are contradictions, and put so much pressure on you that you stay nervous and can’t see their contradictions.
So, what contradictions do they have?
Presupposition apologetics states that Christianity is true because it is the only world view that doesn’t have to borrow one single thing from another worldview to exist. It’s that way because God is perfect and doesn’t need anything else to exist. His Bible is the same. And his followers enjoy the same.
Let’s look at this statement. All other world views have to borrow to complete their understanding of reality. They may have answers for some of these things but at some point, they don’t have an answer and have to borrow from another worldview.
1. Christianity has an explanation for the beginning of the universe. Some religions do, but science does not. Big Bang doesn’t explain the origin. Only the process. 2. Christianity has an explanation for why the world is broken in so many ways. Other world views try but fail. 3. Christianity has an explanation for what happens after death. 4. Christianity has an actual fix for sin. 5. Christianity has an explanation for the invisible things we experience in our universe. 6. Christianity has an explanation for why everything is governed by laws. 7. Christianity has an explanation for all the whys. You may not like the answer, but it tackles all of them.
For the sake of time, I’m not going to spend any extra time explaining why each one of these statements are true. I do want to hone-in on naturalistic scientific belief because that’s probably the biggest enemy of belief in God that we face.
When a scientist tells you that he or she only believes in things they can see and touch, a Christian typically says, “but do you believe in love?” They say “yes”. And Christian says, “but you cannot touch it.” They say, “it’s chemical reactions in the brain. I can measure and touch that.”
Here’s where apologetics takes over and says, “ok but love doesn’t fit into your worldview. You only believe in evolution and survival of the fittest. Things like being nice and loving others are not in your worldview. You have to borrow those things from Christians. If you truly believed only in science, you would go around killing anything that prevented you from surviving. You don’t because that’s not how society and our universe work. You borrow what you need from Christianity. You borrow consideration for fellow mankind.”
Think about this. Imagine if we were all walking around in bubbles. Each bubble was almost like a mini-universe. We were only allowed to behave according to our worldview. No trading of ideas. No looking at someone else and saying, “that’s interesting. I think I’ll use that idea.” I’m stating that Christians would be the only ones capable of surviving because of God.
If you have to borrow beliefs from outside your framework of belief, then your framework is not complete. It’s broken.
When I get discouraged or I doubt a crazy story like Jonah and the whale, I remind myself that crazy stories don’t equal false stories, they’re just crazy. But if someone has to borrow beliefs from me to complete their understanding of the world, then their view is untrue.
When an atheist throws rocks at your view, they are only damaging to your faith if you forget that.
Remember, they are damaging your perspective of your belief, not your actual belief.
Check out a man named Greg Bahnsen. He was a great man of God that was really smart but also really strong in this subject. Don’t get discouraged if you cannot follow all this stuff I have written or what he is saying in his videos. It took me several years to understand what in the world he was trying to say. It’s worth it though.
Also, let me encourage you to stay out of sin. Sin has a tendency to weaken your capacity to remember all these things. It sucks the life out of you and makes you really vulnerable.
Stay strong out there. Providing enough evidence for a spiritually blind person to see the truth will never be as powerful as the holy spirit using a person willing to stand up without fear and say God is the only God and he loves you.