Today’s essay is a follow up to the article I posted Wednesday and to some of the replies given to that article. One commenter said, “repeating a story is not going to convince an atheist to start believing it.” I agree. One who has rejected the Bible is not likely to suddenly start believing because of a restatement of the Biblical stories. Should Christians seek to find proofs that will conclusively show the Bible to be true and dependable?
Many proofs of Christianity can be shown, and proofs have been given over and over again. Evidences can be given, but is that the real issue? Do those who reject the Bible refuse to believe because the evidence is not convincing? As I said in the previous article, lack of information is not the problem. Nor is lack of evidence the problem. The reason for unbelief is simple. Unbelievers start from the presupposition that the claims of the Bible are not true.
Everyone brings a personal bias to truth claims and the supporting evidences offered. Evidence is always filtered through the hearer’s own worldview. Those who assert that truth can be discovered only through naturalistic means are expressing a presupposition about truth. Naturalism presupposes there is no spiritual agency at work in this world. It presupposes the absence of a Creator, a Divine plan or an eternal purpose. No one examines evidence in a completely impartial fashion. Every evidence is viewed from the foundational assumptions of the viewer. As a result, God is not proven or disproven based upon increased evidence or a recitation of the facts
Those who refuse to believe the Bible will not believe regardless of what evidences are presented to them. This is declared in Luke 16. Jesus tells of a rich man who dies and goes to hell. He asks Abraham to send one back from the dead to warn his brothers. Abraham respond, “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.” The rich man says his brothers will not believe the Bible. Abraham replies, “Neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.” Even the most irrefutable evidence of Divine power will not convince those who have refused to believe the truth of the Bible. This is born out further in the life of Jesus. When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead the Pharisees response to the undeniable miracle was to plot the death of Jesus in attempt to prevent others from believing. When Jesus rose from the dead the priests knew He had been restored to life but they bribed the Roman guards to spread the story that the disciples had stolen His body. The evidence did not change the heart. Those who refuse to believe, will not be persuaded by the most convincing evidence.
From the human perspective the repetition of the Bible will not change the presuppositions of another. Yet there is no hope for faith apart from the Word of God. True faith is only produced by the supernatural working of the Holy Spirit in the heart of the person. Until the spiritual eyes are opened the heart will remain blinded. Only when God gives sight can the spiritually blind see the truth of the Son of God. Until then no evidence in the world will change the mind of the one who refuses to believe.
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It’s very much to do with evidence and proof. Do you believe that for everyone because of a CS Lewis quote?
Faith is not produced by evidence. Unbelief is not convinced by external proofs. This is true because of the spiritual condition of man. Everyone is spiritually blind and pathologically unable to understand the truths of God (1 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 4:18). The Bible shows over and over again that men refuse to believe in the face of the most convincing evidence. (John 12:37) God draws men to Himself and transforms the unbeleiving heart by the working of the Holy Spirit through the Word of God. “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” (Romans 10:17)
Digging a little deeper into this topic leads us to find that the question of belief in God is not actually due to issues with evidence or proofs. It is a moral issue. People simply do not want to believe in God because it inconveniently gets in the way of governing our own selves. C.S. Lewis writes before his conversion, “I was at this time living, like so many Atheists or Antitheists, in a whirl of contradictions. I maintained that God did not exist. I was also very angry with God for not existing. I was equally angry with Him for creating a world.”
While I cannot speak for all unbelievers, this is certainly not the case for me, nor for a number of other people that I know.
I actually started from the presupposition that all of the claims of the Bible are true, back while I was still a believer. I came to conclude otherwise, but I certainly did not start from a presupposition of unbelief.
Without knowing the details of your background I can’t speak to specifics, but if there had been genuine, saving faith you would not have turned away from what you once believed. Hebrews 10:39 indicates that those who believe to salvation cannot and will not draw back from that faith. Many people believe they believe. Jesus Himself said there will be those who stand in front of Him on the day of judgment convinced they were His true followers. They plead their case but discover their faith was a false one. Many people believe a false gospel. Many people believe the teachings of false churches and false preachers. Some have mistaken notions and expectations of God. Sadly many reject these lies without ever realizing they never understood the truth of the Bible. They think they are turning their back on genuine faith when all they are doing is turning their back on a counterfeit. When God does not live up to their mistaken ideas about Him, they reject God. There are many imitations of Biblical faith, but these are just unbelief masquerading as belief. Rejecting a fraud is wise. Equating a fraud with the truth is not.
I implore you, go to the Bible again without a critical spirit. Consider what it says about your soul, your sin, your judgment, your Savior and the full, free salvation offered to you. Leave the other questions alone. First deal with the truths of salvation. When those have been believed and obeyed then you will be in the proper position to understand the rest of the Bible.
My faith was sincere and wholehearted. If that is not “genuine, saving faith,” I am curious as to what it is that distinguishes “genuine, saving faith” from other sincere forms of faith.
That seems a fairly curious way to go about things, since the “truths of salvation” seem to be fairly dependent upon the other questions. Paul tells me, in 1 Corinthians 15:14-17, that if Jesus of Nazareth was not actually raised from the dead, then my faith in Jesus is a vain futility, and proclamation of the gospel is in vain. So, certainly, before I can “deal with the truths of salvation,” I must first become convinced that Jesus was raised from the dead.
Sincerity in faith does not make ones faith genuine. A person can be sincerely wrong. Genuine faith must believe the correct things. Those who genuinely believe God saves those who are good people are sincerely wrong. Their faith is not saving faith. They have a view of God and man that does not match what the Bible says. Saving faith is that which whole heartedly accepts the Bible as truth and submits one’s life to the demands of the truth. Saving faith agrees with the Bible that you have sinned, that Jesus died in your place and that you need to trust Him for salvation. Saving faith acts on that agreement by asking Jesus to pardon your sin and by rejecting all other means of salvation to entirely trust Jesus alone for forgiveness of all your guilt.
The ressurrection is one of the truths of salvation that must be dealth with first. It is also necessary to believe Jesus is God who set aside His glory to become human and suffer the wrath of God for your sin on the cross. There are a numnber of core truths related to that must be believed. People often raise other questions (i.e., If God is good why is there evil in the world?) that do not need to be answered before addressing the matter of salvation. Those things integral to the guilt of man, the nature of Jesus and the work of Jesus to effect salvation must be dealt with first. The other things can be left until later.