Why should a message be aimed at the complete doubt of God?
Because even children suddenly consider vast problems and then baffle teachers or parents. (Later in school, some teachers, too, may baffle the young.)
Sometimes adults, even committed Christians, may be drawn into disturbing doubts.
It needs to be said again that those opposing Christianity often sorely misrepresent and misunderstand the true theistic position. Most frequently caricatured are the evangelical's view of inspiration, the logic and coherence of the over-all view, and the intelligence of its proponents.
As for the atheist, when asked for evidence which disproves God, he will usually say that he is only agnostic. By this, he means he doubts God is really there but does not want to prove his position.
Now, it is indeed unfortunate that so many today are swayed into feeling that thinking, educated people are so generally agnostic that all intelligent folks should join them in doubt. Two considerations expose the weakness of this line of thought: l)Many scholars of stature are orthodox, earnest Christians. 2)There is very great disagreement among the "doubters." Therefore, in the light of these consideration, what other view of the origin of the universe and all matter shall be held?
Some time ago in a fraternity house discussion, several university students plied me with question after question -- all demanding my defense of the Christian position. Taking advantage of a pause, I turned the tables by asking, "Now, that I have presented my case, what evidence do you folks have in support of your position?" "Yeah, that's right -- one of them admitted -- what do we have? We don't even agree with each other!"
This message will be no simple, answer-all, cure-all, but I hope it draws everyone of us to deep and honest thought. Begin by studying our text carefully, John 6:66-69.
I. THE AGNOSTIC'S PREDICAMENT
Thousands turned away from Christ on the occasion of our text. Only the faithful twelve remained. Asked Jesus, "You do not want to leave too, do you?"
Observe Peter's searching question, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life." If you disbelieve and refuse Jesus and His message about the God of heaven, what have you left?
Many agnostics borrow hope from the Christian position. They have no right to do so. They must stand on their own without one shred of Christian comfort. Therefore, to you who are believing your doubts and doubting your beliefs, I should like to direct a series of questions. I intend them humbly and kindly, but nonetheless searchingly.
- What are you? If there is only matter in the universe, then how is it that you are conscious in a meaningful sense and able to communicate?
- What world view have you? Is there true coherence in your view? Meaning?
- How do you account for there being no atheistic nation or civilization? Surely, God is the only satisfactory explanation for general belief in some god -- among every civilizations of all history.
- Are you satisfied with what you have to share with your children? What have you to say that is solid and good regarding their religious life, their life-goals, and the essence of man?
- What moral dynamic have you -- to change even one life let alone help a struggling world? Do you have both the standards and the moral force to carry through a helpful plan?
- Does not passing time, advancing age sweep away all real meaning from your good moments? Soon, you will no more hear, "Goodnight, Dad, Mom!" They will be grown and gone. There at the window of your final convalescent home YOU will be the same YOU, but what will you have?
- What about death? Picture a young mother at the graveside of her only child. You are called on to go to her side and offer comfort. (Perhaps in the past you have enjoyed pinning this problem on the Christian with the hackneyed, "How could God allow this?" Now, here comes your turn to help with your solution!) Remember, no fog, please -- only solid truth. Distressed people need reality above all else. Suppose this bereaved woman is your wife, are you all set with what you have to offer? Still further, how will it be when all of life slips silently into the past....when even memory yields in the vain struggle to keep things alive. Your last love has toppled into the insatiable jaws of death, and the conviction settles upon you, "It is now my turn!"....what will you have?
Do you ever fail to do what is right? What about your sins, guilt, burdens? Are you always honest, truthful? Are you never lustful? Does it not matter? What do you tell your children?
I heard one well-educated agnostic bluntly confess, "Look, I am not happy and I admit it. If I moved out into space and looked back through a telescope at myself --an insignificant, meaningless speck -- I would see no reason to my life-struggle.... no reason to keep living, and no reason to die!"
Let us imagine for a moment a man who detests flowers. He is so angered by his neighbor's spreading flower bed that he goes out to the property line and rips up every plant that had crept over the boundary. Next, he erects a high, solid fence right down the property line. Now, what would you think of that man if you often found him at eventide leaning against his fence to catch the fragrance of the moist petals next door?
Well, I say that the atheist or agnostic has no right to the comforting fragrance from the Christian's flower-bed of truth. He must stand by his own blank terror of meaningless nothing. To borrow Milton's words, he must at last be "swallowed up and lost in the wide womb of uncreated night."
May I ask what if you are ultimately mistaken? What if there is, after all, that eternal place with God and that eternal place separated from God -- cut off from ALL good? What then?
II. THE CHRISTIAN'S POSITION
Then, how shall we get things started in the universe? Shall we say, "In the beginning NOTHING made everything?" Or, give such priority to PROTOPLASM? No, hear it: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth," Gen. 1:1.
If this is true, then we shall expect to find out a bit of what the Creator is like from His creation. "The heavens declare the glory of God," (Psalm 19:1). Is He not good? God is seen in a general way in nature.
But God is specially seen in the Bible. Here is His self-disclosure. Upon reading it, we find He is loving, holy, and most willing and prepared to forgive men their sins and to save them truly.
The heart of this wondrous communication is called the Good News, or the Gospel. Christ is the center of it all.
Jesus Christ is the Revealer. Said Peter to Jesus, "You have the words of eternal life." Would you know God? Jesus has that message. Indeed, He Himself is that message, that word, that revelation. John earlier sets forth the Son of God as the living, personal expression of God, John 1:1,18. Study also First John 1:1-3.
Jesus Christ is the Redeemer. Here is the only answer to our great dilemma. Even after we come to believe God exists, we discover that fellowship with Him is impossible. God is so holy; we are so sinful. Study Psalm 14: 1-3. Alas! we have broken his commandments in heart, when not in deed! We have shoved God from His throne, and made man the grand center of all things. Natural understanding teaches us that guilt is timeless. Whether reckoned today or tomorrow, it must be faced. Furthermore God knows exactly what we are and what we have done, Hebrews 4:13. See also I John 1:8,10.
Peter's final words shoot a ray of hope in our direction. "We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God." The Good News is that Jesus is THAT CHRIST....the long-expected Savior who was to come. God ordered His name to be JESUS, "for he shall save his people from their sins," (Matthew 1:21). He did not come only to revamp society. He came to seek and save lost men, Luke 19:10.
The death we ought to die for our sins, He died. No one else could die as a ransom for us. He did. Then He arose the third day as He said He would. Being alive, He not only figures into history today but He shall return to climax history according to God's own plan.
CONCLUSION: All this demands a response from you. Said Jesus, "Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own," John 7:17. "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved," (Acts 16:31). Believe on Him as Revealer, the very Son of God. Believe on Him as Redeemer, our Savior -- and "you will be saved." New life will be yours right now and forever!