Sabbath Day Sermon, Saturday 16 August 2003
My sermon today is in response to some questions I have recently received which I hope will be edifying. At various times in our lives, we will be confronted by friends and family who keep on challenging our faith with difficult questions. They may accuse us of being illogical when we defend what we know to be true. What should we say to them?
Atheists in particular are very keen to 'disprove' the Gospel by what they consider to be impeccable logic and 'science'. One thing you have to realise from the beginning, though, is that every belief system - and that includes unbelief - is based on certain unprovable assumptions in the absolute sense. There is no way that you can 'prove' 100% that God exists and there is no way that you can 'prove' that He doesn't.
Our life with Yahweh is based on many things, but primarily it is a life in the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit). The Cross, as Paul said, is foolishness to those who are perishing but is life to those who have been embraced by it (1 Cor.1:18). That is because self-sacrifice in the cosmic sense makes no sense to the carnal nature whose instinct is self-preservation, and is the diametric opposite of the spiritual nature. Whatever 'logic' may be said to be, it does not follow the same set of rules in both natures. It all depends what the ground of that logic is. One is based on the assumption (consciously or unconsciously) on the principle of survival and views God and the universe through that lens. The other is based on divine love and self-sacrifice and which view God through that lens. God, however, can only be understood through the latter. And therein lies the dilemma in applying 'logic' to settle the debate on the existence or non-existence of God.
Furthermore, God is more than mental propositions. A God fashioned in the image of our thoughts will always be an impersonal one. The essence of Yahweh is Personhood in its perfect and cosmic sense. He has a heart. He has feelings. And logic, as we know, is notoriously poor in accounting for - let alone explaining - these.
What, then, is my assumption about God? It is that He is love in its most perfect and absolute sense (1 Jn.4:8,16). I cannot prove that mathematically, but I most definitely can rest confidently in that belief from the numerous experiences in my life which support that contention, some of them very dramatic indeed. Without that assumption, I am without a mental, emotional or spiritual foundation. The foundation of atheism (which means 'against God') is that there is no God! That is its foundation. Everything they believe in stems from that one assumption. So whether you believe in Him (theism) or do not believe in Him (atheism) the first assumption still rests upon Him.
Another approach by unbelievers - which is closely connected to atheism - is 'humanism' which, amongst other propositions (for there are many), posits that the ultimate in knowing, feeling, etc., is what can be known, felt, and experienced as human beings. This is also called 'existentialism'. Existentialism posits that the ultimate reality is bound by what we as individuals know and experience, and that truth should be defined on that basis. The result inevitably - especially when it comes to subjective and 'spiritual' matters - is that truth becomes a moving target and defined by each and every individual in the way that he 'sees' it. Whilst certain concessions may be made to a shared 'scientific truth', science is nevertheless acknowledged to have certain boundaries which cannot explain everything, at which point the philosophers take over and try to make sense out of the cosmos. And if you have read the works of the philosophers you will discover that - unless they are rooted in the Word of God - that there are as many philosophies as there are philosophers.
Occultism is a form of deism and humanism rolled into one but instead of viewing God as a Personal Being external to us it usually views 'Him' as the sum of all life, an impersonal 'cosmic force'. Thus everyone is, in a sense, 'God' too. This system is called pantheism and is the belief, in various forms, of Hinduism, Buddhism, and the nature religions like Shamanism, Wicca and even Satanism itself.
As believers we have to make the assumption that God is love and let Him explain for Himself what is meant by 'love'. That He does in great depth in His Word, the Bible. Studying it in faith, therefore, becomes one of our chief obligations. Thereafter we are to live by its precepts. In order to do this, however, we have to obtain an endowment of power called 'new life' or 'resurrection life' which provides us with a bridge into the heart of Yahweh Himself. It comes from confessing that we can not only figure it all out ourselves in our own power (in truth, the occultists and others aren't 'figuring' things out in their own power either but in an alternative one whose source is Satan) but that we cannot live it out in our own power either. It requires the mode of operation (faith) as is required of accepting anything we do not understand fully (and that is everything) only that faith is directed toward the Ultimate Reality -Yahweh-Elohim - and not some fantasy or set of lives engineered by Satan and his demonic hosts.
As a scientist I have engaged in numerous debates with atheists, humanists, and occultists over the 'logic' of my belief. Like Paul in Athens, I have concluded that philosophy is generally useless and is nothing more than word-spinning and verbal-fencing. It is a great time-waster. Science I have found useful only in the statistical sense, meaning that you can prove - at least on the natural level - that Creation is a far better model than Evolution in explaining biological origins, but you can't prove the case 100% either way - we simply weren't there to observe creation or evolution taking place, and we can't repeat the process either, the two criteria for establishing scientific 'truth'. What we can do (in this case) is challenge people to be scientifically honest (and that means teaching them to use the classical scientific method - the modified modern one 'assumes', by an act of religious faith, that evolution is 'true'). I am of the belief that teaching Scientific Creationism and challening the unscientific nature of evolution, is - if you have been trained as a scientist - an excellent way to prove that the foundations of atheism and evolution are not as firm as people have been brainwashed into thinking. Evolution is one of the major stumbling blocks to belief and is easily challenged. A good place to start would be our Science page and the links there.
The most difficult and frustrating people to discuss truth with are those who 'mix' God's Word with other writings (like the Mormons who consider their own scriptures have greater authority than the Bible which they claim has been 'corrupted') and who only accept parts of it (liberals, occultists), or who regard their personal experience (existentialists) as being superior to it. You cannot have a logical discussion unless there is a commonly accepted set of truth principles.
For New Covenant Christians we believe (1) That God is love, and (2) that the Bible is infallibly correct in the original Hebrew and Aramaic autographs. We unashamedly make these assumptions because this was the belief and testimony of Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) (Mt.5:17-18). You are inevitably going to have problems with people who do not accept these propositions and they will make it their objective (usually with supernatural aid from the dark side) to undermine them.
The evidence that these two propositions are true intellectually will come over time. I have, over the years, shelved many difficult questions and simply let Yahweh open the doors for my understanding. Though new and sometimes difficult questions keep popping up, I do find that the old ones get answered, and that as they do the roots of my faith grow deeper. I do not claim to have all the answers. Nobody can. But I do know that Yahweh reveals Himself line upon line, and principle upon principle, provided I remain in His Ruach (Spirit), His priceless gift to us.
We are all 'existentialists' in the sense that we walk by experience too, but we can never be that in the primary sense. Occultists have plenty of 'experience' in the demonic which shape their thinking, feelings, hopes and expectations. But it is counterfeit and self-destructive. Experience is never enough. Experience has to be subservient to something higher.
At critical junctures in my life Satan has come and tried to undermine my belief in my Two Great Assumptions. It happened about a year ago when a former Christian Pastor abandoned his Christian faith and devoted his life to picking the New Testament apart. I was sent his materials at a time when I was in the middle of critical deliverance ministry. He was saying that Yah'shua (Jesus) was a mere human being. At that critical point I had to make a choice: to believe his experience or mine - and mine was that the Name of Yah'shua (Jesus) is powerful to save. As a result of my continued faith, I continued to witness signs and miracles happening in harmony with what the New Testament said. It was bearing witness of itself in a powerful and undeniable way
I had to sit down and evaluate what life would be like without Christ or the New Testament. That took me some time of careful meditation. I was made aware that such a path would have severe and dire consequences for my capacity to love, my sensitivity, and indeed my whole future. I would, in fact, have to become a Talmudic Jew or maybe a Karaite with all the uncertainties and perplexities of that faith. I would be left with even more unanswered questions that I had before. The unfulfilled prophecies in the Old Testament would nag me. I would need to explain the Diaspora after the Bar Khochba revolt and the Jewish loss of their homeland. I would need to know why blood sacrifices were not being offered any more. I would need to observe Torah in a new way without any real hope that I was secure in my everlasting future. I would no longer have the power to expel demons. Most of all, I would lose the sweet and glorious relationship with my Messiah which gives me access to Yahweh directly.
Though much of my previous faith has now become certain knowledge because of the way that Yahweh has revealed Himself to me, I still live by faith. I remain a fallible human being eternally incapable of the fullness that Yahweh has. There is so much that I still do not know. Indeed, it seems to increase year by year as I realise that there is far more to be known than I at once assumed. In addition to all of these observations, I would add that there is nothing superior to the Christian ethic and set of morals upon the face of this planet, and that to abandon these alone would be a major step backwards. And in thinking not just of myself, I can see how much I would disadvantage my children in earth life - let alone the eternities - by offering them some other system.
And what of my friends who were once in darkness and have since been redeemed by the Light of the World? Could I send them back to the occult or false religion - things that were destroying them? What of the drug addicts with totally destroyed organ systems who were instantaneously healed by Yahweh when they trusted in the Name of His Son? What about all the other healings? What about the theophanies I have experienced, the great and glorious encounters with the Ruach (Spirit), our memories of which tend to fade in time unless the Ruach (Spirit) comes to remind us of them? What of the elation of that bond of fellowship which exists nowhere else? What of that incomparable love?
Those who have experienced the love of Yah'shua (Jesus) find it very difficult to abandon Him. Many, if not most, Christians, however, have never known that love. They are living a kind of nominal Christianity - a propositional or doctrinal Christianity without the love and empowerment of the resurrection life. They have not actually met Him. For these it is comparatively easy to be seduced away from the faith once a few logical nerve cells are challenged. That is why there is no true Christianity without a filling of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit). That is why a water baptismal ritual is never enough. There must also be a baptism of fire. And if that does not happen upon the profession of our faith, then it may well be that that faith is defective to some degree. It may well be that part of us has accepted Christ but not the rest. If that is true, then the soul is divided against itself and will be in constant internal warfare as the unredeemed part seeks to conquer or anaesthetise the redeemed part.
For some, this baptism of fire is gradual, and for others it is instantaneous. How it happens is not as important as the fact that it is happening. We do, in any case, go through may rebirths and awakenings in our spiritual journey in Christ, particularly if we have split-personalities, a condition which is far more common that most people are prepared to admit. The divisions that exist between Christians is often symptomatic of the divisions within Christians. The divided self may be tossed to and fro by every 'wind of doctrine', every new teaching, every challenge made by unbelievers. And it is for this reason that all believers desperately need the ministry of inner deliverance as soon as possible after conversion.
I mention this to you now because, much to my surprise, a few months ago I discovered that I had several sub-personalities that had never accepted Christ from the time I was a teen and earlier. This is a difficult time in our lives as we are challenged to make important decisions in our lives in the face of great temptations. Paul was especially anxious for young people and warned them to be careful. Like most teens, I fell into sin at that age, sins that were not properly repented of. To cut a long story short, I preached the message of salvation to these dissociated parts of myself and they received Christ. Thereafter many frustrating impulses within me died down and disappeared. Amongst other things, I became more loving to our dog. My family will tell you of the changes that took place. Getting used to the 'new me' has - even after being a believer for over 25 years - taken a bit of getting used to. I am still readjusting, waiting for old impulses to come and bother me which never do. I have found peace, and through the Name and power of Yah'shua (Jesus).
Logic has its limitations as does experience. Both are important at certain times and in certain places, but you will never find the truth through these alone. The Truth does not yield its secrets to you except through faith in the Most High God, Yahweh-Elohim, and His Son Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ). "God is love," the Bible tells us, and I will always believe that. The alternatives are simply too ghastly to contemplate. And I will trust 100% in the Word of God, because Yah'shua (Jesus) Himself said that they were 100% reliable, down to the very pen stroke of every letter.
These, then, are the Two Assumptions of my life. I will not compromise them. I have tested them often enough to be satisfied that they are absolutely true. I will happily have an open dialogue with anyone from any faith - or no faith at all - so long as they understand where I am coming from. I will happily debate the science of origins with them since I am fully satisfied in my own mind - through the scientific method alone - that evolution is no more than a religious system and not based on sound science. Since the Creation is a Book of Revelation all on its own, I have an added witness to my faith. I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the Cosmos did not make itself. It is plain to me - Christianity aside - that there is intelligence, order, and design. It is also plain to me that there are, simultaneously, destructive forces at work that would tend to reduce this order into chaos, but that this force is in no way creative. It is plain to me that there are two forces in our cosmos - one intelligent and creative, and the other less intelligent and destructive. We are blinded to these things to some extent by time, for things seem to move slowly. But if we are prepared to expand our minds by thinking things through logically, it is possible to see that there is a great Wisdom in our universe. It didn't all happen by chance. And that, for me - my religious experiences aside - alone dismisses atheism.
For those of you who are young and vulnerable in the faith, may I make this suggestion: don't try and figure everything out all in one go or all alone. There are many wise men and women of Christ who are worth listening to. But to gain the full benefit of their wisdom, you must be prepared to do some footwork. To have a strong and abiding faith means that you have to find out the truth for yourselves. The faith that is strong is never passive. You can't just be a listener. The faith that saves is the faith that acts. The faith which does not work is a faith that gradually diminishes until it is extinguished, just as a householder who does nothing to maintain his house will witness that house crumble and fall down eventually.
I mention this because we live in a time of so many modern scientific conveniences and alternatives that we have grown lazy and indifferent. To be strong an athlete must exercise. To be strong in the faith the believer must energetically put his roots down deep into the spiritual soil. That comes by serving, fellowshipping with other believers, continually searching for truth, and cultivating a relationship with Heaven through prayer and worship. This kind of activity breeds strength of character and robustness of soul. Such activity will enable you to meet the challenges of life, confront the attacks of the enemy confidently and victoriously, and either avoid or expose deception. It will enable you to make decisions that you can stand by without vacillating. It will enable you get off neutral ground - which has always been the enemy's ground, in spite of sounding 'special' - it isn't, it's a form of cowardice - and to become alive.
The answers to life's questions are available in the right season at Yahweh's pleasure provided we do our part. In the meantime, salvation is faith from beginning to end. Will you stand firm on that rock? If you do, priceless treasures will be yours, and an eternal security that is more precious that all the wealth of the earth. For if you know where you are going when this life ends, you are secure indeed.
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Last updated on 14 August 2003
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