Wednesday, December 17, 2014

God of the Impossible

It is easy to imagine that every Christian has heard the skeptical question, “Could God create a rock so heavy He could not lift it?” This question is usually asked by someone who desires to bring doubt on the existence of God or to push an evolutionist view of life. Often, such a person will smugly think that merely asking that question somehow proves that God doesn’t exist, that the Bible is not true, and that he has won the argument by default. He believes he has Christians “quaking in their boots” by merely asking a question that has, in reality, been asked and answered countless times. This question is akin to the ever-popular “Where did Cain get his wife?” and “How do you Christians explain the dinosaurs?” (See article here.)
 
The argument goes like this:  “If God can create a rock that He cannot lift, then God is not omnipotent. If God cannot create a rock so heavy that He cannot lift it, then God is not omnipotent. According to this argument, omnipotence is self-contradictory. Therefore, God cannot be omnipotent.” (Reference here.) 
 
“Omnipotence does not mean that God can do anything that you can string together in words. Stringing together things in words may not be anything that is actually even possible … For example, God cannot make a married bachelor … but that doesn’t count against God. If it is not a thing that is conceptually possible, then God cannot do it.” (Reference here.)  I might add to that, “…nor would He want to.” There is nothing in the character of God to indicate that he would fool around with the absurd.
 
The problem here is that people assume that if God is omnipotent, that means He can do “anything.” That is, however, incorrect. There are things God cannot do. He cannot sin. He cannot lie. He cannot deny Himself. He cannot do anything contrary to His nature. As a matter of fact, I can do some things that God cannot do. I can die. He cannot. I can sin. He cannot. There are many such examples. Does my ability to do some things God cannot do make me more powerful than Him? Of course not! Such a notion is absurd. The things God cannot do speak not of any weakness on His part, but they actually speak of His great power.
 
For a rock to be so big and heavy that He could not lift it, then it would have to be infinite and equal to His infinite lifting power. Material things cannot be infinite, so the question really is, “Can God make a contradiction?” That question is absurd, and the logic is flawed. The simple answer to this alleged difficult question is that God can make a rock of any size He chooses, but “infinite” is not a “size.” A rock of any size would not be infinite, because it could be made larger. Larger than infinite is another example of absurdity. Clearly, God can lift anything, regardless of its size or weight, because His power if infinite, and physical things are not. The obvious answer to the question is, “No, God cannot make a rock so heavy that He cannot lift it, and that does not diminish His omnipotence. Rather, it underscores it.”
 
I started college in 1964 and embarked on a path that let me into the field of education. Over all those years until I retired in 2012, I have heard repeatedly, “There is no such thing as a stupid question.” I understand the desire on the part of a teacher not to put down students and make them feel foolish in front of their classmates. However, it did not take me long to realize that there are, in fact, stupid questions. “Could God create a rock so heavy He could not lift it?” Now that’s a stupid question. Rather than making the point it is designed to make, it instead identifies the person asking it as being ignorant of truth, reality, and the nature of God. Such a question is a very pathetic attempt to prove a point, but it ends up proving just the opposite.
 
God making a rock so big He can’t lift it is not only an impossibility, but it is a logical absurdity. God cannot and does not deal with logical absurdities, which are nonsensical, such as square circles, married bachelors, numbers larger than infinity, etc. People using logical absurdities to try and disprove God’s power and therefore His existence are merely playing games with words, and their words do not prove them to be clever or right.
 
There is a big difference between that which is logically absurd and that which is merely impossible. Even though God cannot do things that are logically absurd, because that would put Him in a position of contradicting Himself, He can do the impossible. Notice what the Scripture says.
 
"Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son" (Genesis 18:14, NKJV).
 
"Ah, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You" (Jeremiah 32:17, NKJV).
 
"Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?" (Jeremiah 32:27, NKJV).
 
"But He said, "The things which are impossible with men are possible with God" (Luke 18:27, NKJV).
 
The life of our Lord Jesus Christ here on earth was “bookended” by two marvelous, miraculous, “impossible” events – His virgin birth and His bodily resurrection from the grave. Yes, these events were impossible, at least from man’s perspective, but they were not logically absurd. We can  believe in a virgin birth and a bodily resurrection from the dead, done by the power of our miracle-working God, but we cannot even imagine such things as a married bachelor, a square circle, or “my brother is an only child.” Those things are logical absurdities.
 
God is the God of the impossible. He has done many “impossible” things. He created the universe out of nothing. Yes, scientists try to tell us that the universe came about in a “big bang” in which virtually nothing exploded and became all the stars, planets, and everything else in our universe. That is impossible. Only God can create out of nothing. God made life from non-life. And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7, NKJV). Scientists would have us believe that life is just chemicals that managed to get arranged in the right order at the right place and the right time in order to produce life. That is nonsense and certainly describes something that is impossible without the supernatural working of the great Creator God.
 
God has done one miracle after another throughout the history of the universe. The virgin birth of our Lord Jesus Christ was no small miracle. "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel" (Isaiah 7:14, NKJV). This was impossible, but God had no trouble performing such a miracle. Even Mary had her doubts when the Angel Gabriel came to her and told her what was going to happen.  “‘And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.’ Then Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I do not know a man?’ And the angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God’” (Luke 1:31-35, NKJV).
 
God the Son, the great Creator of the universe, came out of eternity into time and space as the sinless, perfect, holy, God-man. He was born just like every one of us – with one very notable difference. He had a human mother but no human biological father. As a result, he had no sin nature and was therefore a fitting sacrifice for our sins. If He would have had a human father and therefore a sin nature, he could not have died in our place to save us from our sins. The virgin birth of Christ is an absolute necessity to the Gospel narrative. He could not be God if He were not virgin-born, and He could not be our Savior if he were not God.
 
The great miracle at the other end of the time the Son of God spent on earth is the resurrection. The resurrection makes the Gospel complete. Without the resurrection, we have, like most of the world religions, nothing more than a dead prophet. However, with the resurrection, we have a living Savior who has defeated death, and because of that, we who trust in Him have the gift of eternal life.
 
The resurrection is one of the most well-established facts of history. It is only because of bias and unbelief that this event is not recorded in secular history books.
 
“…the apostles whom He had chosen, to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days…” (Acts 1:2-3, NKJV). [Emphasis mine.]
 
“…He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time” (1 Corinthians 15:4-8, NKJV).
 
The evidence, biblical and extra biblical, for the resurrection is overwhelming. Jesus Christ rose from the dead, and that fact establishes the truth of the Bible, the truth of Christianity, the truth that He is God the Son, and the fact that there is salvation only in Him. "...and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead" (Romans 1:4, NKJV). Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12, NKJV).
 
As Christmas approaches, we hear so much about those who want to remove all “religious” symbols from the holiday. Some even go so far as to say Santa Claus and Frosty the Snowman are “Christian” symbols and that the holiday should just be called “Winter Solstice.” I really couldn’t care less about Santa, Frosty, Rudolph, the Winter Solstice or any of the other secular symbols of Christmas, and it is ludicrous for anyone to call these things legitimate symbols of the holiday.
 
Christmas is a time to celebrate the birth of our Savior into this world. There are many who are OK with that, just so long as we leave off the “virgin birth” part and see Jesus as nothing more than a baby in a manger. They see it as a sweet little story of a sweet little family who endured the hardship of the birth of a child in a stable. Their patience and enduring is a lesson in love, patience, and kindness for all of us, etc., ad nauseam. However, there is much more to it than that.
 
“The world’s Christmas celebration is bound up in a disturbing incongruity. On the one hand, people go to great lengths to support and sustain the legend of Santa Claus, using his mystical benevolence to leverage good behavior from their children. On the other hand, they systematically minimize the Person and work of Christ — the holiday’s rightful celebrity — to the point that the Lord is nothing more than a plastic infant, frozen for all time in the familiar nativity scene. They exchange the singular Christ for a cheap hoax” (John MacArthur, “The Fullness of God in Helpless Babe”). This entire article is available here.)
 
Beyond Bethlehem, there is the cross of Calvary and the resurrection. He did all of this to save us, and the Gospel message is very clear. “… I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you by which also you are savedthat Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures…” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4, NKJV). [Emphasis mine.]

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Story of Christmas is the Story of Jesus Christ

I wrote this article several years ago when I was administrator of a Christian school. It was published in the school’s monthly newsletter.
 
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“And by common confession great is the mystery of godliness: He who was revealed in the flesh, Was vindicated in the Spirit, Beheld by angels, Proclaimed among the nations, Believed on in the world, Taken up in glory” (I Timothy 3:16, New American Standard Bible).
 
Each year it seems more and more as if the Lord Jesus Christ is being excluded from the holiday that purports to celebrate His birth. His name is not even permitted in certain places, and anything which has any kind of a ring of being “religious” is systematically removed from every phase of official life. In some quarters, even the term “Christmas Break” has been replaced by “Winter Break.”  There are those who refuse to recognize the birth of the Savior but celebrate the “Winter Solstice” as an excuse to “party.” It has become utterly ludicrous that people celebrate a holiday but totally ignore the One to Whom that holiday is supposedly dedicated.
 
The story of Christmas is the story of Jesus Christ. It does not end in a manger in Bethlehem. It does not even begin there. It begins in eternity past. God the Son, Jesus Christ, is the great Creator of the universe. Yet, he willingly humbled himself to be born in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago and become a perfect, sinless human being. He came because of the His great love for us. There is certainly no other reason for His having done this. He lived for thirty-three years, doing good, healing the sick, raising the dead, preaching and teaching among the people. He never did even the slightest wrong thing, yet sinful, rebellious mankind accused Him of all sorts of crimes and condemned Him to death. Never in their wildest imaginations did any of these individuals realize that the hand of God was at work, even in the many lies they told about Him. God is so wise that He can use even the sinfulness of man to bring about His will, and that is just what He did in the trial and execution of His Son. Jesus Christ came to this earth to be the perfect sacrifice for our sins, yet He said of Judas, who betrayed Him, The Son of Man is to go, just as it is written of Him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.” (Matthew 26:24, NASB)  How can this be?  Because God is absolutely sovereign, and His plan cannot be thwarted. Even the rebellion and foolishness of man play right into the hands of Him Who ultimately controls everything. What a comfort for the Christian!
 
In the single most significant event in all of history, the Lord Jesus Christ rose from the dead three days after He was crucified. This made the salvation of all believers totally and permanently secure. Nothing and no one can ever change that. Satan, sin, and death are defeated foes which are only temporarily present. They cannot ultimately do us any harm. The skeptics often claim the Resurrection is a hoax, but it is, in fact, a historical fact of absolute status. It is more provable and demonstrable, even outside of the realm of faith, than a very large percentage of other historical facts. This single fact vindicates the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. It proves who He is, and it proves what He did. It proves the Bible to be true from cover to cover, from the literal creation of the universe and all it contains, to the ultimate judgment of all humans and the culmination of all temporal things into eternity future. This fact of the Resurrection totally validates the sinfulness of man, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the need in the heart of all people for the salvation which only He can provide. It makes foolish all the arguments of ungodly men and challenges them with the haunting question of the Roman Governor, Pilate, who asked the crowd, Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” (Matthew 27:22, NASB). Every human being must personally answer this question. There will be no exceptions.
 
At this special time of year, please consider Jesus Christ and what He has already done for you. Often, people get depressed around the holidays. Yet, all that He has done for us gives us every reason to be anything but depressed. He has proven the great love of God for each one of us. Nothing further must be done in order for God to prove He loves us. It has already been done. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us”(Romans 5:8, NASB). You need Him as your Savior. If you come to Him, He will give you eternal life, which is His great gift to you. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23, NASB). Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved...that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures...” (I Corinthians 15:1-4, NASB).

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Can Smart People Believe Stupid Things?

All too frequently we hear someone call his or her opponent ugly names, such as stupid, dumb, insane, foolish, idiotic, or maybe even worse. While this is very common, it remains true that the last tactic of those who have no substantive argument is name-calling and ridicule.
 
There are many situations in which smart people on both sides of the issue resort to name-calling as their chief strategy in the debate. For example, many very smart people believe that the way for a country to get out of debt is to spend more money, and they call their opponents "selfish," "stupid," "out-of-touch," "racist," etc.  Many smart people believe that somehow human beings have caused and continue to cause "global warming" or "climate change," and they accuse their opponents of being, among other things, "science-deniers" or "ignorant."  It is likewise true that many smart people believe that the way to stop gun violence is to disarm the potential victims so only criminals are armed, and they call those who disagree with them "gun nuts," "Neanderthals," or worse. In each of these situations, the other side often throws back equally abusive insults.
 
Many more such examples could be listed, but there is probably no place where this is more true than in the creation vs. evolution debate. Evolutionists frequently retreat to this tactic when they are in a place where they really have no answers. We hear that creationists are stupid, that they don’t accept science, that they ignore the evidence, that they are superstitious, and that they are in the minority and are therefore wrong. While none of these things are true, evolutionists find it necessary to keep repeating them so others will begin believing them. “No creationists are scientists, and no scientists are creationists” is frequently heard, and such a statement is, of course, absurd.
 
Richard Dawkins, a well-known atheist and evolutionist said, “It is absolutely safe to say that if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid, or insane (or wicked, but I'd rather not consider that).”  (Richard Dawkins, “Book Review of Donald Johanson and Maitland Edey’s Blueprints.” The New York Times, April 9, 1989. Section 7, 34.)
 
It is very tempting to throw the name-calling right back at the evolutionists. I once read a quote from someone who turned Dawkins' statement back on him, as follows:  “It is absolutely safe to say that if you meet somebody who claims that evolution is a proven fact, that person is ignorant, stupid, or Richard Dawkins.” While we can be amused by such things, name-calling is really not productive, because it doesn’t change anything. We who are creationists have truth on our side, so there is no reason to stoop to such tactics. Truth always comes out on top. There is no reason to fear that science will ever discover anything that proves God doesn't exist or that evolution is true. That which is false can never be proven to be true, no matter what anyone says or how the evidence is twisted.
 
In reality, there are many very intelligent and educated people on both sides of the argument. It is absurd for evolutionists to write off all creationists as stupid, ignorant morons who deny science. On the other hand, we who are creationists need to avoid throwing such invectives at evolutionists. Rather than making ad hominem arguments against individuals, it is far more productive to argue the merits of our position and attack the weaknesses of the other side.
 
If something is legitimately considered “science,” it must be observable, testable, and repeatable. Think of the things that really are not science at all that the evolutionist establishment asks people to believe. All matter came from a dot. Order came from chaos. Life came from non-life. Design came about without a designer. All of this happened without benefit of any intelligence behind it. This is nonsense and foolishness of the highest order. These things most certainly fall into the category of "stupid." Why then, do so many intelligent people believe these things to be true?
 
Evolution is full of holes, and it is absolutely ridiculous for evolutionists to claim they are practicing science when there is nothing remotely scientific about evolution, yet there are many very intelligent, educated people who accept it as proven science and absolute fact. How can this be? The operative words are “gullible” and “deceived.” There really is no other explanation.

When smart people are confronted with a stupid belief, the only way they can swallow it is to be deceived by it, and they can only be deceived if they are gullible. This is not a reflection on their intelligence. Rather, it speaks to their lack of common sense. Common sense should not be checked at the door when entering the science lab. If a scientist did so, it would certainly explain a great deal. When it comes to denial of the Creator God, it speaks to their spiritual blindness. "But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them" (2 Corinthians 4:3-4, NKJV).
 
Please note that I am not saying such people are “stupid.” There is a huge difference between “deceived” or “gullible” and “stupid.” There cannot be a “stupid smart person,” nor can there be a "foolish wise person," but there can most certainly be a “foolish smart person,” an “ignorant (uninformed) smart person,” or even a “gullible smart person.”

Evolution is a lie. Very few of those who push evolution are outright lying, because they believe the lie they are propagating. Instead, they have been deceived into believing something that appeals to the man-centered belief system of so many today, and they do not realize they are merely repeating what they have come to believe is established scientific fact. This video is the brief story of a professor who came to his senses about evolution after really listening to what he was teaching his students.

Scientists who look at evidence and conclude it proves evolution are interpreting that evidence from an evolutionary bias. Much of this bias is rooted in a very strong desire for evolution to be true, because evolution removes God from the picture. Without God, there is no accountability, and man is free to behave as he wishes. Is it also true that creationists are biased? Of course, and thankfully so. As Ken Ham said, "It is not a matter of whether one is biased or not. It is really a question of which bias is the best bias with which to be biased." (The Lie:  Evolution.)

There is the creation model, and there is the evolution model. While neither can be directly observed because they are ideas about the past, it is wise to look at the evidence and ask, "Which model best explains the evidence?" The answer to that one is quite clear.

Can smart people believe stupid things?
 
The answer is obvious. All one has to do is to look at the teaching of many very intelligent and educated people who believe in evolution to see that the answer is a resounding “Yes!”
 
“Professing to be wise, they became fools…” (Romans 1:22, NKJV).