Posts Tagged ‘agnostic’

Is it possible that God exists?

When confronted with this essential question many Atheists/Humanists do a delicate dance of dodging the question, and with good reason. There are three possible answers: yes, no, or maybe. But only one is intellectually honest. There are tremendous repercussions associated with the answer and the “dodgers” recognize that. Yes, I am talking to you, Hitchens. It is a coping mechanism: better to not answer than to have to face the crushing reality of their unreasonable worldview. It takes great faith to be an Atheist, unreasonable faith.

To be fair, let’s explore the options. Any die-hard Atheist will want to answer “no” to this irritating question. But to remain consistent with this claim requires a denial of anything immaterial in this life, including the existence of one’s own soul, free will, love or the possibility of miracles. A consistent belief in an exclusive material reality requires a denial of any objective standard of truth which is self-defeating. To affirm the impossibility of a spiritual reality also requires omniscient knowledge. People in our culture who consider themselves to be omniscient end up modeling strait jackets in padded rooms. If one’s worldview must deny so much of what we know to be true and it is apparently inconsistent with reality, then there exists a very real possibility that one’s worldview is false; hence, the dodging dance.

So you may think the safe option is to answer “maybe.” Not so fast. Agnosticism is a deceiving alternative. Blissful ignorance embraces the Agnostic view that says, “We cannot know if God exists.” Really? How do you know that? To claim I cannot know about a thing presupposes knowledge of the thing being denied. Agnosticism is a self-defeating claim that can never be true, but many people think it is a safe alternative to acknowledging God. Perhaps they think it buys them time or excuses them from seeking a viable alternative. We have incomplete knowledge as humans after all. A true statement to be sure, but it does not follow that we have no knowledge. Incomplete does not mean non-existent. We can know about God, even if we cannot understand Him fully.

So that leaves us with the possibility that God exists, but what is God? What is His nature? Is He many or one? We can neither create nor sustain our own existence, so we know that we are not He. But who is He? An overwhelming majority of the human population since the beginning recognizes the possibility of God. If God exists, then we can know about Him without any supernatural revelation even if we cannot know Him personally.

There are some acknowledgments about reality which correspond to the possibility of God, some directly some indirectly.
1. Truth is knowable.
2. Truth is objective.
3. Truth corresponds to reality.
4. Opposing claims cannot both be true.
5. Miracles are possible.

You might consider yourself a Seeker if you concede the possibility of God, but haven’t discovered yet whoever or whatever that may be. Seeking the truth in all things is a reasonable and worthy endeavor, don’t you think?

“You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” Jer. 29:13

“I permitted Myself to be sought by those who did not ask for Me; I permitted Myself to be found by those who did not seek Me. I said, ‘Here am I, here am I,’ to a nation which did not call on My name.” Is. 65:1

What about those who never heard about Jesus; will they be saved?

 

“What happens to someone who professes Christ, goes to church for 30 years, serves in the church and does all sorts of good in the church and then decides they don’t believe anymore? Are they still saved?”

 

Short answer: No, scripture tells us that they were never saved to begin with and that their leaving was to show us that.

 

Long answer:

 

First, I think we need to be reminded that only the Holy Spirit can testify to the authentic faith of another believer. While we may judge the fruit of a professed believer, and correct them in love, we do not condemn unbelievers for they are condemned already as we once were.  If someone professes Christ, however, they should be held accountable to the truth as a brother or sister in the faith. If they choose to reject the Holy Spirit, then we are to treat them as an unbeliever, not condemning them, but leading them to the truth with gentleness and respect.

 

1 Tim. 3:2 “The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.”

 

Secondly, the apostle John addressed this very issue within the church in his first letter. At that time people who were in the fold had left the church in the face of persecution and to follow other teachings. “They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us.” 1 John 2:19

 

Jesus explained how this happens in his parable of the seeds recorded in Luke.
“Those on the rocky soil are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no firm root; they believe for a while, and in time of temptation fall away. The seed which fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity. But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance. Luke 8:13-15 Jesus assured us that a true believer will hold fast to the end, bearing fruit with perseverance.

 

Christ, in speaking about salvation, says no one can snatch such a believer out of His hand. “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” John 10:27-29

 

We know that someone who has been saved by grace through faith is eternally sealed with the Holy Spirit. And according to John, they have assurance that Christ will keep them till the resurrection. True believers recognize and obey the voice of the Savior, seek the Wisdom of the Father and their lives testify to the Truth that they claim. As we see in 1 John, people can “play Christian” and “do church” appearing to be one of us, but never really know the Savior and later deny Him. John tells us that their leaving is an indicator to us that they were never truly one of us. In addition, many may confess Christ with their lips, but deny Him with their lives. While the heart of others may be hidden from us, the heart is never hidden from God the Father.

 

Now you might be asking, “How do I know that I’m not just “doing church” and just don’t know it?” Hmmm, sounds like a topic for next time…

 

What would you say to a friend who claimed that the Christian God doesn’t exist because there’s too much evil in the world?

One approach is to respond with a question, “How do you know what evil is?” Some say we learn right and wrong from our parents. Really? So when your son took a toy from your toddler, you had a lesson on property rights before she screamed in protest? And you taught your son how to lie before he came up with an excuse as to why he wasn’t violating these moral laws. We have a conscience so we instinctively know the moral law, we do not need to be taught these things.

We know there is a moral law because moral absolutes exist. Morality is not relative, if it were your morality would be right, mine would be right, there would be no standard by which to judge one behavior to be objectionable and another to be valued. The difference between Hitler and Mother Theresa would only be a matter of opinion. In order for you to judge one behavior right and another wrong a moral absolute standard must exist. If a conscience or moral law exists, then a moral law provider, someone outside of the prescribed standard must exist. Christians call this moral law provider God.

While God did not make evil He did allow evil to exist. When He created the heavens and the earth He declared it all to be good. Part of the goodness was giving some of His creatures free will. Because forced love is not love anymore than forced obedience is willful obedience. We are not robots, we have a choice to love or hate, to obey or rebel.

The evil you see in the world is the result of people living in opposition to the moral standard they know they ought to obey. We all violate the moral law to some degree bringing judgment upon ourselves. Because God is good and just, He must judge law breakers. But Christ paid our fine and took our punishment providing forgiveness and a way to become righteous, free from our transgression. Christianity is the only world religion that provides a Savior, that is Jesus.

 

If God knows everything and He is going to do what he wants anyway, why pray?

Short answer: We pray because God says so. 

1 Thess. 5:16-18 16 Be joyful always; 17 pray continually; 18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Long answer:

What do you think is the greatest hindrance to Christianity? Some say that AIDS, abortion, war, poverty, sin, atheists, or liberal politicians are. Billy Graham said “No! The greatest hindrance to Christianity today is Christians do not know how to practice the presence of God.”

1) How do I know God hears me?

a. We are called a royal priesthood. 1 Pet 2:5, 9 (While it may appear that God honors our prayers because we simply bear the name “Christian”, it is less about who we are and more about the character of God – the source of love and grace – that He honors our prayers.)

b. As part of a royal priesthood prophesied in the Old Testament Ex 19:5-6 (conditional upon obedience) and fulfilled in Christ Rev. 1:5-6 (firstborn of the dead, sitting at the right had of the father in his resurrected body, interceding upon our behalf), I have access to the throne of grace. Heb 4:16 (looking back to vs 15, Christ fully identifies with us, God put on human clothing to offer himself a sacrifice for us, resurrected in the body and prays continually for us. Through the Holy Spirit he enacts His will by praying through us–His priesthood. We are invited to, among other things, participate in miracles and share in His work on Earth establishing His kingdom while sharing God’s grace and His message of redemption.)

c. Christ has blessed us with every spiritual blessingin the heavenly realm. How does God see you? Replace the pronouns in Eph. 1:2-14 with I and me.

Are you living a life worthy of the name you bear?

2) Does intercessory prayer work?

a. Num 16:46-48 The incense from Aaron’s censor is a picture of the intercessory prayers of a righteous man. James 5:16 God sent judgment upon the rebellious Israelites. In obedience and according to God’s will, Aaron took his stand between those who had already shown symptoms of the plague and those who had not. He swung the censor creating a dividing line between the two groups standing in the gap and interceding for the suffering people.

b. Heb 7:24-25 Our participation in Christ’s high priestly ministry of intercession is literally our inheritance and a rare and precious privilege. If we do not practice God’s presence, who will?

If the Holy Spirit were removed to day, would you notice? How much of your life would be unaffected?

c. Example of intercessory prayer. Gen 18:17-33 (Abraham and Lot)

  1. Abraham identified himself with the sufferings and weaknesses of others. Read Jeremiah or Lamentations
  2. He plead the attributesof God for His creation. Ps.89
  3. He reminds God of his past mercies. Ps. 136

As we partake in communion with God all day, continually, we begin to identify with God’s character. We call this becoming Christ-like. We draw near to the source of our next breath and we share His heart. God’s desires become our desires, His will becomes our will. We can pray according to His will because He reveals His will to those who love Him. As a result, we see more prayers answered in accordance with our desires because we now pray His desires.

“This is that which unlocks the treasury of heaven. Many keys fit many locks, but the master key is the blood and the name of Him that died and rose again, and even lives in Heaven to save the uttermost.” Charles Spurgeon

3) How can my prayers be more effective?

a. How do we release power through prayer? Jam 5:13-16 We pray in affliction, praise in gladness, intercede for the suffering, restore the sick and grant remission of sins. Why is forgiveness necessary for efficasious prayer?

b. How can we experience the peace of God? Phil 4:4-7 Why is thanksgiving key?  What will it take for you to live a worry free life?

c. Sometimes God asks us to surrender parts of our life that we don’t want to give up.He might ask you to give up alcohol, an extra hour of sleep, your pride–things that might not be a sin to someone else. These things may not be a sin to someone else, but it may be creating  noise in your life by drowning out God’s voice.  His desire is for you is to have perfect communion with Him. He wants to see more of your prayers answered, too. What is the noise in your life?

What part of your life do you need to sacrifice upon the alter before God to eliminate any hindrances in your communion with Him?

So why pray? Look at the lead question at the beginning of the article again. The second premise implies an impersonal God.  This is the God of the agnostic or deist. A deist says, “we can’t deny God created, but after that He just stepped back and now watches everything like spectator viewing a great cosmic motion picture.” This view of God contrasts with the Christian God. God may be sitting on His throne in heaven now, but 2000 years ago He left the glory of heaven and put on humanity to suffer and die for you. You may veiw yourself as one insignificant detail on a great tapestry stretching across the heavens. But to God, that insignificant detail was worth suffering on a cross. Is this the activity of an impersonal being? Unique to the Christian faith, God desires a relationship, He desires communion and He has provided the way.

I close echoing this prayer found in Colossians 1:9-14 for you, dear friend.

 9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10 And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.