Wednesday, December 28, 2016


This question is highly relevant. This is because many churches teach that the mind and the fruits of mental inquiry simply get in the way of what we are called upon to do – to believe and to have faith. They reason that the more we depend upon reason, the less we depend upon faith, the mainstay of the Christian life.

However, this didn’t seem to reflect the Gospel Jesus taught. Instead, He discouraged blind faith:

·       “If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” (John 10:37-38; 5:31-38)

Jesus never hinted that we should quiet our mind, but rather use our mind in to serve the Lord:

·       And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. (Matthew 22:37-38)

Using our minds for godly service is part of the greatest commandment! However, our minds must first be convinced that the risen Christ is the truth. This was Jesus’ strategy when He encountered His two disheartened disciples on the Emmaus Road, who sadly confessed:

·       But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. (Luke 24:21)

Jesus then sought to fill their minds with confidence in the truth, the very thing that they required:

·       And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. (Luke 24:25-27)

First, they had to be humbled and shown that they had been taken captive by discouragement because they were not abiding in the Word. Then, He would provide them with tangible evidence – Himself.

·       And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. (Luke 24:31)

The assured knowledge of the truth energized these two disciples to immediately return to Jerusalem where they found the others. This illustrates the fact that we too need evidential reassurance.

After this, Jesus then appeared to His other disciples who were hiding in fear.

Let me now try to anticipate your challenge:

·       Jesus was able to provide the best proofs of all – miracles. We are not. Instead, theistic proofs can only provide us with a probability of the truths of God and not the assurance that we are to have.

This, of course, is true. The proofs that I will be presenting may not be able to do much more than show that Christianity is probably true or that it is superior to other worldviews. However, I think that this is very important. These proofs and apologetics, in general, serve as a protective shield surrounding the inner core of our faith. Without this defensive shield, we are defenseless to protect our assurance against the many arrows of doubt and uncertainty.

While many tell me, “I just know what I believe and nothing will change that,” I am troubled by this answer. It seems to suggest that they are able to stand without the full armor that our Lord is requiring us to wear. Instead, this answer seems to smack of self-trust. In contrast, Paul warned:

·       Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. (1 Corinthians 10:12)

He had directed this teaching against those who thought they didn’t need to learn from the Israelite failures, convinced that Israel’s sins couldn’t overtake them.

However, is weighing evidences and proofs part of the full armor that God has prescribed for us? Is apologetics and the arguments for the Christian worldview part of the “belt of truth” or the “shield of faith” (Ephesians 6:15-16)?

Some would argue that it is enough just to know the Gospel and not the challenges that come against it. However, this does not seem to be the Scriptural message. Instead, we find admonitions to be knowledgable of false teachings:

  • "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.” (Matthew 7:15)

  • Then He charged them, saying, "Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod." (Mark 8:15)

  • Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. (Col. 2:8)

  • Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. (1 John 4:1)

However, it is not enough to be knowledgeable about the viper’s venom after we have been bitten. We also have to understand it well enough to apply the right antidote. Likewise, it is not enough to simply avoid false teachings. Instead, we are to proactively engage them – any arguments that challenge the “knowledge of God,” in order to bring these challenges into conformity with Scripture:

·       For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. (Cor. 10:4-5)

For example, we are told that God doesn’t exist, and that we believe in an unnecessary and unsupportable myth, now made irrelevant by science, which is able to provide the answers that religion had once provided.

The above verses inform us that it is our duty to engage these arguments. Even if we don’t feel threatened by them, our children will feel threatened and will demand answers. When the church is unable to provide them, our children will conclude that there are no answers and that the atheists are correct and go elsewhere.

Even I need to reassure myself in times of doubt and spiritual attack that I am going in the right direction. Theistic proofs, although they are unable to conclude the deal, have reassured me that my beliefs and experiences are valid.

The limitations of these kinds of proofs should not discourage us. All proofs are limited. When I am dialoguing with an atheist who will not listen to any of the evidences that I provide, I simply turn the tables on him:

·       I would be glad to give you many proofs for the existence of God. However, since I don’t talk to machines and computers, first simply prove that you exist, and then I will tell you everything you want to know.

The thoughtful atheist will soon realize that he is unable to prove that he exists and, therefore, he is being unreasonable to demand that I prove God exists. However, this doesn’t mean that he will admit this to me. (Interestingly, many atheists believe that they are little more than wet machines, denying that we even have freewill. Sometimes, I chide them by saying, “I don’t talk to wet machines.”)

I don’t think that any of us are above doubting. John the Baptist, while in jail, began to doubt that Jesus was who even John had acknowledged Him to be – “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”

He therefore sent his disciples to Jesus to conform if He really is the promised Messiah. Jesus didn’t answer these seekers, as many might today, with, “Just tell John to believe.” Instead, He provided them with evidential proof for the struggling prophet:

·       And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. (Matthew 11:4-5)

We must be prepared to do the same, just as we have been instructed:

·       Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. (Jude 3)

To ignore such teachings is to refuse the provisions of God at our own expense.

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