Stay with me for a few moments on leadership and our church. Spiritual leadership in a church revolves around the authority, the Bible, and our ultimate Leader, Jesus Christ, and His mandate for His organization. The Bible and that Person, Jesus, are our Leadership. The institutional flowchart has the pastor taking care of that responsibility on the ground and with the full support of the church, which by definition are believers. They believe in this. If they don’t believe in this, it won’t work. You can’t get people who don’t really believe to have bought in to this. They actually have to believe in this as a base, as a fundamental. Is that the case? Does everyone believe this? I think for sake of argument, we should say, “Yes, everyone here believes this; everyone is a believer.” Despite that, we have to help people be a part of fulfilling that thought. We’re saying they believe and we have to make sure there is a follow through, because the nature of the flesh tends toward not accomplishing what we say and think that we believe. I’m assuming we believe, but as one responsible to make sure people do in fact believe, I want to help us through those challenges. It would be good for us to at least first acknowledge that we do believe. That’s not difficult to do, that is, acknowledge something. Then we want to be sure we know what belief looks like. Jesus said what it was.
Bethel Baptist Church ~ El Sobrante, CA
As I write this, I have something I can’t see, except for the symptoms, but I know I have it, because of the symptoms, starting with a burning sensation in the back of my nasal cavity, somewhat into my sinuses. I knew what it was, but that wasn’t all the evidence. That night I didn’t sleep so well because I felt uncomfortable. The next day my nose started to run and my body ached. Two days later, my nose was Yosemite Falls during rainy season. Sure, you already know. I have a cold as I write this. I changed my behavior in a pretty drastic way based upon the symptoms of something I couldn’t see. I couldn’t even see when I got the cold virus. I have it though. I know. I had touched a lot of different people between Friday night and Sunday, probably didn’t use enough hand sanitizer, and again, I couldn’t see it. I still know I have it. Some of you might have guessed what this is about. You’re thinking and that’s good. We can’t see God, but we have the visible symptoms of God all around, mostly scripture, that say that He’s here and He’s working. We know we have a cold. We know it. We know even more that God is here and working. When I got a cold, I changed my lifestyle. How is your lifestyle adapting to the truth that God is here and working? The greatest truth that we live regards what we can’t see. This is living by faith and that pleases God.
You’ve heard the term, life goes on. It doesn’t. It actually ends. Everyone knows this and thinks about it on a regular basis. People are trying to do things to insure that life will go on, knowing that it is futile. Because life doesn’t go on, they choose to not think about life not going on, and instead say, “life goes on.” I can say, “I’m Albert Einstein,” and that doesn’t make me Albert Einstein in a very, very similar way as saying, “life goes on,” doesn’t really make life go on. If I keep saying “I’m Albert Einstein,” won’t make it more so. Most people would say that I was just insane, but they think differently about “life goes on.” Life doesn’t go on and there is only one trustworthy place to find out what to do about that. It isn’t cryogenics, where they put your dead body on deep freeze until medical science can solve death or whatever killed you. It isn’t some religion. It isn’t a man, like Buddha. The only place you can trust to find out how to escape death, once you’ve got there, is the Bible. The Bible is authenticated. It is validated. It is confirmed. It is sure. It is documented in more ways than are necessary to believe anything else. The reason people don’t believe it isn’t because of the nature of the Bible as a book, but because people are rebellious in their sin, so they don’t like it. They rebel against God. Since life doesn’t go on, we need the message of the Bible.
As we enter the summer season, I suggest you think about fulfilling eternal projects that won’t waste your summer. This short time on earth isn’t about you, isn’t about us, but about God. If you are saved, you believe that. If you don’t believe that, you’re not saved. If you’re not saved, there is much more to be concerned about. However, whatever God is doing in the way of saving you, you should be, and will be cooperating with if you are saved. You must cooperate, because you are born of God. As always, being eternal means three aspects: one, God, two, the Bible, three, the souls of men. The three aren’t, one, vacation, two, sleeping, and, three, play. I know you’ve got to be challenged in this. I understand that it is a time that some of you especially need to get some rest. You rest up for the very much busier school year period. I know that, so this isn’t anti-rest. As a Christian, we understand this life is work. As Jesus talked about, work for the night is coming for the night cometh when no man can work. To put it in farmer’s language, it is to make hay while the sun shines. Since time might open up in the summer, we can get some projects with people done. You might need to get some housework done too. That’s understandable, as well. I say the same thing about December. You won’t like looking back at a summer that you’ve wasted, so plan on not wasting it.
When Darwin wrote his Origin of Species, the technology that could look at the cell had not been invented. As far as that generation was concerned, it was just a mass or a blob. Then came the electron microscope and men could look at the cell and saw the irreducible complexity. It didn’t stop there. They went further and figured out DNA, that it was a code, a system of information and design. This, of course, blew apart everything that naturalists speculated to back up their presupposition. In addition to that, men already knew that there was no evidence of transitional forms in the fossil record, only the evidence of kinds. The incrementalism of Darwin, slow transformation over billions of years from simple to complex—men knew that had never happened. There was no basis for it. What I’m saying is that the worldview taught in the public schools, the entire university system, and the media is all a lie. They know it is. Everyone knows that all of this never occurred by chance. Someone put a room full of monkeys into a room full of computers and saw what even this level of intelligence could produce by chance. They didn’t come up with Shakespeare. They didn’t even get words. That could only occur by design. This world, solar system, galaxy, all the galaxies came from design and matches exactly what is taught in the Bible. God created the heavens and the earth.
The bottom line of any position that we take is, “Does scripture teach it?” If it does, then we believe and obey it. If whatever it is that we believe contradicts the Bible, it is invalid. We shouldn’t believe it – we have no basis for doing so. Religions have these issues to deal with, that is, what they believe and practice isn’t taught in God’s Word. The Bible does not teach, for instance, to sprinkle infants. That’s not in the Bible anywhere and there is nothing like it in scripture. You have to put it into the Bible in order to get it out. Someone may think that God’s Word teaches something, but it doesn’t. We should believe and practice what the Bible says, no more or no less, but what the Bible does teach will cohere to everything else that it teaches. It won’t contradict itself. If it is in fact what scripture teaches, you will see how it coheres with everything else in the Bible. Men are not saved by works and by faith. Those two contradict each other, so they could not both be true. One is false, and the Bible doesn’t teach anything false. The right position will agree with all other texts of scripture that say something about the same subject of a particular passage. A prerequisite for faith in and obedience to a teaching of scripture is the presupposition that you can read the Bible with the normal meaning of words or the basic laws of language.
I didn’t know it, but “certainty” is a philosophical concept that has entries in encyclopedias. More than ever, men are thinking about certainty, because they are less certain. We lived in a world with far more certainty in an earlier age. Was this good or bad? Some would have you believe a greater merit to doubt than certainty, except that doubt isn’t exalted by God in the Bible. It’s bad there. In the end, being uncertain insults God’s revelation. You are saying He hasn’t been clear enough or plain enough, short on ability to communicate. God couldn’t get His message across and so you’re uncertain. Either that, or we really don’t know. That really is a blank sky and when we die, we turn to worm food, at least until the sun burns out, all life on earth is eliminated, and the universe goes silent. Nobody is there to hear it, even if it did make a noise. I believe that God wants complete certainty, 100% assurance from us. He wants to believe fully. Not because of God, we don’t operate at that level of certainty, and so living in a continuous state of full assurance isn’t required as a definition of belief. Believing is something a little less than certainty, is what I’m saying. However, you are certain to the degree that it results in the full submission of your will to God. You turn from your will and way to His, because you’re certain enough that He is true, and you believe.
I’m just going to cut and paste Wikipedia on Pascal’s Wager for consideration: “Pascal’s Wager is an argument in apologetic philosophy devised by the seventeenth-century French philosopher, mathematician and physicist Blaise Pascal (1623–62). It posits that humans all bet with their lives either that God exists or not. Given the possibility that God actually does exist and assuming an infinite gain or loss associated with belief or unbelief in said God (as represented by an eternity in heaven or hell), a rational person should live as though God exists and seek to believe in God. If God does not actually exist, such a person will have only a finite loss (some pleasures, luxury, etc.).” This wager serves as an argument, but is it a wager? I think some people in churches, probably most, do treat their Christianity like it is a wager, but more of a losing one than a winning one. They treat the world like it’s winning the wager, if you consider where their true investment lies. I’m asking you to evaluate yourself on this. Our church requires little, and I say, “requires.” God expects more if you really believe this, you love Him, and you are convinced this is true. We base these kind of things on probability. How probable is it that Christianity is true? If you weigh it as 100%, at least you would say it is, by how you judge these things, what would your life look like?
I was talking to a man about a week ago, and in presenting him the evidence for the faith, I called the alternative “an accident.” He didn’t like the word, “accident.” He liked chance better, but accident didn’t sound like something he was believing or thinking. What I was saying is that he believed that we got here by accident, because that is the alternative to design. People don’t like to hear that, because it just sounds wrong, but it is what they believe, and that’s your intellectual choice. Do you believe that what you see with your own eyes is an accident or does it look like design to you? Of course, it’s design, and this is general revelation. Everyone knows it. It has to be design, because there are hundreds of details that have to be right for us to even survive. There is no way they all occur by accident. Who would credit an accident for all this? A rebellious person, who wants his life to be his own, to go his own way—that’s who—and it’s the height of unthankfulness, since God did it and continues to do it. These people are surviving only because of Him, drawing more breaths to use in blasphemy against Him. The amount of evidence that God provides is enough to screen out the rebellious from being with God for eternity. If you want to be on your own, the idea, then go ahead and be on your own, but it’s not going to look pretty.
Some like to frame the resurrection of Jesus as though it is a theological belief and not a historical event, but even based on the most conservative historical investigation, we must say that the tomb previously housing a doubtlessly dead Jesus was empty, and that people who before knew Him well saw and met someone they were convinced was this same Jesus, bodily alive. First, the empty tomb and, second, the convincing appearances of Jesus are the two conclusions the historian must draw. Sure, someone might be cautious—Thomas waited a week before believing what he had been told. Were it not for the astounding, and worldview challenging claim that is thereby made, based on the evidence alone everyone would long since have concluded that this was the correct historical result. Christianity exists, buttressed mainly on the resurrection of Jesus. If some other account would explain its rise, the alternative would be chosen, but other explanations are far less convincing as historical than the one the early Christians themselves offer: that Jesus really did rise from the dead on Easter morning, leaving an empty tomb behind him. Several reasons exist why people may not want, and often refuse, to believe this, but in weighing the possible accounts, to date, none of them have anything like the explanatory power of the simple, but utterly challenging, Christian one.