Story: A Dr. Lee Scarborough preached about Jonah; everyone nodded approvingly except his own son. Later the kid accosted his dad: “There’s no way a human can survive inside the digestive tract of a whale for 72 hours. The lack of oxygen, the hydrochloric acid . . .” Scarborough replied: “Son, if God could make a man out of absolutely nothing to begin with, and if God could create the first fishes from nothing, surely He has the power to make a fish swallow a man—and still keep him alive for three days if He wants to.” The boy capitulated: “Well, if you’re going to bring God into it, that’s different!”
Psalm 14:1 says: The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” But some very wise and solid people say it too. They simply cannot buy the virgin birth, Resurrection, heaven. Some of us grew up with Adventist “training wheels” on our spiritual bicycles. Parents, schools, pastors told us that key pillars of our faith were so; our faith in them was unquestioning. But as adults, we make outside friends and read other books. A spouse may not willingly accept the dogma we grew up with; the training wheels come off.
Story: In 2007 the Discovery Channel aired a James Cameron special: The Jesus Family Tomb. Were the bones of Jesus, His brothers, parents, and Mary Magdalene (His wife) all found in an ossuary near Jerusalem? The “training wheels” on our Adventist bike say immediately: not possible! Jesus is our risen Lord; there could never be bones found in a gravesite here because our Redeemer is in heaven today.
Atheist Richard Robinson accuses Christians of clinging to their faith despite all evidence. “Christian faith is not merely believing that there is a god. It is believing that there is a god no matter what the evidence may be. ‘Have faith,’ in the Christian sense, means, ‘make yourself believe that there is a god without regard to evidence.’” And in a holy sense, faithful Christians do this, determining to trust in the Bible and our risen Savior despite what James Cameron may find in his archeological digging.
Three Points: First, evidence is important. Like the Christians in Berea, we should be willing to look at evidence without abandoning our commitment to our living Lord. Even Newsweekmagazine, in covering the Discovery Channel special, wrote that the clearest secular evidence supports the Resurrection story. How could disciples, in just 36 hours, steal the body of Jesus in front of 100 guards? Why would the Nazareth family of Jesus buy an expensive tomb in Jerusalem? Why were there so many eyewitness accounts of the resurrected Jesus? Why were the fearful, arguing disciples transformed into a courageous, unified band of Christian witnesses?
Second, agnostic thinking is often self-contradictory. In The Case For Faith, Lee Strobel interviewed former Christian Charles Templeton, who lapsed into atheism. Still, he spoke of his deep admiration for Jesus as a man. “He was a moral genius. His ethical sense was unique. He was the intrinsically wisest person that I’ve ever encountered in my life or in my readings. His commitment was total and led to his own death, much to the detriment of the world. What could one say about Him except that this was a form of greatness. He is the most important human being who has ever existed. . . . I adore Him.”
And yet the same Bible where they glean evidence of Jesus’ kind heart and wise words states unequivocally that Jesus is the Son of God, born of a virgin, resurrected in power, alive in heaven today as our intercessor, and soon-coming Redeemer. Why believe the Word of God when it describes Jesus’ gentle nature while ignoring the powerful and central truths about His divine mission to earth?
A New Ager once praised Jesus—as a gracious hero—who was so kind to His fellow thief on the cross, giving him encouragement. Again, the contradiction is stark: the last thing Jesus promised to do for him was to give him an eternal home in heaven. Is lying to a dying criminal the act of a good and wise teacher? This is a “logical train wreck!”
The third reality is that the things of heaven are an infinite mystery. Job, who surely had an excuse to doubt, loses everything in his life. He is the first biblical character to declare “Chapter Eleven,” and then asks in Job 11: Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty? They are higher than the heavens—what can you do? They are deeper than the depths of the grave—what can you know?
The plan of salvation is simple; a child can grasp it. The Ethiopian ruler comprehended it in one afternoon. But in the vast sweep of history and the glorious complexity of the 66 books of Scripture, we often have to bow before the mystery of our heavenly Father. “If [the Bible] contained no account of God but that which we could easily understand, if His greatness and majesty could be grasped by finite minds, then the Bible would not bear the unmistakable credentials of divine authority. The very grandeur and mystery of the themes presented should inspire faith in it as the Word of God.” (SC 107)
Story: In The Truman Show, actor Jim Carrey is an unwitting “star” in a fake world where he is constantly on television. Finally educing that something is wrong, he tries to escape from the fictitious Seahaven—and actually bumps his sailboat against the edge of the universe. He comes to the end of all there is. As we live our lives in God’s infinite universe, we can be thankful that there are unanswered questions. “If it were possible for created beings to attain to a full understanding of God and His works, then, having reached this point, there would be for them no further discovery of truth, no growth in knowledge, no further development of mind or heart. God would no longer be supreme; and man, having reached the limit of knowledge and attainment, would cease to advance. Let us thank God that it is not so.” (SC 109) Until Jesus comes, we will have unanswered questions and see through a glass darkly. But Nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus. Rom. 8:39
Submitted by David B. Smith. Better Sermons © 2005-2007. Click here for usage guidelines.