While we need to take responsibilities for our own actions, make no mistake, the Bible clearly reveals Satan’s affairs against man… and he does it oh, so subtly.
When I was growing up in the country there were certain things I experienced that were without a doubt real and easily believable. Take for instance when my dog had confronted a skunk; I smelled the odor and the evidence left no doubt what had taken place. Looking west and seeing the colors as the sunset were just beautiful. Before eating dinner one evening I picked up a pan with food in it and was reminded very quickly, it was hot; didn’t take long to realize it was either.
I remember driving a tractor while helping dad with the crops many years ago. He instructed me to steer the tractor in a certain direction. From my position in the drivers seat I could see the steel drum in front of the tractor but dad could not see it from where he was standing. I didn’t run over the drum but ran against it. How did I know dad was upset? I heard him in no questionable terms. Dad pretty well let his feeling be known in words that are not printable. Once on a vacation trip my granddaughter wanted me to taste one of those jelly bean type candies, I did and it was horrible. She laughed and told me the flavor was earwax and dirt. I certainly had no doubt as to what it tasted like.
I have used the above examples to illustrate the way we identify something. These 5 senses leave little doubt that what we hear, see, smell, taste, and touch are real. But there is something in this life that a lot of people have and it can’t be detected by one of these senses: Faith.
Faith as used in the New Testament is defined as “firm persuasion,” a conviction based upon hearing. We read in the Scriptures things that are true. We cannot determine this by the 5 senses. How do we determine it is true? We read in Romans 10:17, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.” When read, God’s word produces a firm persuasion and a conviction in our heart based on the Word. For the best definition of Faith notice Hebrews 11:1 says faith is the substance or assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. In this verse, which is the only definition of faith revealed in the Scriptures, the root word from which “substance” is translated means “ that which becomes a foundation for another thing to stand on.” In the last part of the verse the root word from which we translate “evidence” signifies a “conviction” in the mind by the substance as hearing reveals it. This faith is the evidence that it is and cannot but be so. We cannot see it, otherwise it would not be faith. As 2 Corinthians 5:7 says, ”We walk by faith and not by sight.” If we could prove by the 5 senses that faith existed then we would be walking by sight and not by faith.
But some have doubts about what the Scriptures reveal. There are certain things I don’t understand and can’t explain other than that is the way God accomplishes His purpose. His thoughts are so far above ours and His ways past finding out. But doubts and not understanding are completely different. One may believe that God raised Jesus from the dead on the 3rd day, and that Jesus was born of the virgin Mary and yet have doubts what God said happened in other instances. My question is “How do you determine which to believe and which to doubt?” We cannot say one miraculous event is believable and another we doubt. Doesn’t this show a lack of faith on our part of believing God accomplishes things in his own way?
Consider when Jesus told Peter to come to him from the boat in Matthew 14:31. Peter walked on the water but when he looked around he started to sink. Jesus extended his hand said, “O you of little faith why did you doubt?” The context of James 1:6-8 certainly applies here. The one doubting is described in verse 7 – 8. Let us accept the fact that there are some things God has done. The way He accomplished his purpose we may not understand. But not understanding and doubting what God says and the way He has done things are totally different. May we pray to understand as we increase our faith and not doubt what is revealed in Scripture.
The phrase, “In God We Trust”, is found on the United States’ currency. I fear it will not be there for very much longer. Why? As a nation, the majority seems to have lost their trust in God. The polls suggest a majority of Americans still believe in God, but how can anyone have faith in someone or something they no longer trust. We know the biblical definition of faith found in Hebrews 11:1 – “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen”(NASB). Thus, we have the difference in belief and faith; trust! Do we really trust God? When we receive a promise and feel assured the promise will be delivered, we must necessarily trust the promise giver.
In Joshua 1, God spoke to Joshua encouraging him to be strong and courageous in the face of the daunting task of taking the promised land. In His encouragement, He promised Joshua something that would bolster his courage; in verse 5 He tells him – “I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you.” What it came down to; did Joshua merely believe in God or did he believe God. Did he trust God when He said to enter the land which He was giving the people; the land of promise? The question we all have to ask ourselves is, do we just acknowledge God or do we really believe Him and trust Him?
When we read about the examples of faith listed in Hebrews 11, we read about people who really trusted God. God had made each of them promises. Each acted boldly based on their trust that God would keep His promises. Verse 13 tells us they trusted in God and His promises though they died without seeing the promises fulfilled. God has made us promises. Do we trust Him so as to act boldly based on those promises even if we do not see them fulfilled in this physical life?
This is a time in my life when I see the world not knowing who to trust anymore. Marriages fail due to a violation of the trust spouses place in each other. We see our current financial crisis because individuals with great power have violated the trust placed in them. Many see our government in what appears to be a complete shambles, so they have lost their trust in its ability to govern effectively anymore. When all else fails and when our trusted companions let us down, we can still trust in our God. We may not see the results we long for while on this earth, but do not construe this to mean that the results will not come. I often ask myself, do I want what I want now because I have placed too much emphasis on the here and now, or do I trust God to keep His most precious promise in the judgment? I strive to have a faith like Paul’s when he said in 2 Timothy 1:12 – “… for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day” (NASB).
I take great comfort in the words of Jesus when He spoke to Thomas about you and me in John 20:29 – “…Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed”(NASB). As a part of that faith, we must truly trust in God and Jesus to fulfill the promises made to us all. True faith and trust comes from knowledge of God and the history of His promise keeping. This knowledge is not found in philosophy or secular education; it is found in the Bible according to Romans 10:17. God has revealed Himself to us through His Word. But even beyond that, He has revealed Himself to us through His creation. Romans 1:18-22 tells us that God’s creation reveals His power, and by its very existence, man knows God. Verse 20 says, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” Verse 21 tells us that some did not acknowledge God because of their futile speculations and their hearts became darkened. Verse 22 says “Professing to be wise, they became fools.” I am reminded of the Russian cosmonaut, Yuri Gagarin, who while in space said he did not see God up there. Yet, astronauts Borman, Lovell and Anders of Apollo 8, chose to read from Genesis 1 about God’s creation. As Romans 1 tells us, some may come to distrust God to the point they no longer acknowledge God. Their hearts have become darkened.
Let’s all be guided by the wisdom found in Proverbs 3:5-8 – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your body, And refreshment to your bones.” Do I possess all knowledge and all understanding? No! But I do know God and am determined to obey His will whether I understand it completely or not. It’s a matter of trust.
In God we must trust!
It is becoming increasingly common for those claiming to be Christians today to deny the historical accuracy of the first chapters of Genesis. Having accepted the Theory of Evolution, they are searching for a means to make those chapters fit with their scientific outlook. One big problem with this is Adam. If the first chapters of Genesis are not historically accurate, then Adam is not a historically real figure. He is made into some representative of mankind as it developed through evolutionary means. However, Adam stands out as an obstacle to wedding the scientific views of evolution with the Bible. No matter how we slice it, the Bible presents Adam as a real historical figure. Not only that but a historical figure upon which the truth of his existence as a real person is based several New Testament doctrines. Let me share with you a few biblical passages that show the Bible presents Adam as a real historical man.
- Genesis 5:1-5 presents a historical narrative with a genealogy. Adam stands at the head of that genealogy. Interestingly, he is even given a length of life. At 130 years old he had a son named Seth and then lived another 800 years. That is an odd way to speak of a person who never really existed but is just a mythical construct to represent mankind in general.
- In I Chronicles 1:1, Adam is placed again at the head of mankind’s genealogy. He is not presented as a mythical construct or an allegorical parable. He is listed as a real person. The obvious question would be if the Theory of Evolution is true and Adam, therefore, is not, at what point in this genealogy did the author move from not real people to real people?
- In Luke 3:23-38, the genealogy of Jesus is traced all the way back to Adam. He is once again presented as a real historical person who held a place in a real period of time. Once again we ask, at what point did this genealogy move from real people to unreal people?
- In Matthew 19:3-9, Jesus based His teaching regarding divorce and remarriage on the creation of male and female, created that way from the beginning. Our marriage law is based on Adam’s marriage to Eve being a real marriage. Jesus clearly believed Adam was a real person. If we believe Jesus, we need to believe in Adam. If we can’t believe in Adam, then we must toss Jesus out as well.
- In Romans 5:12-21, Paul says sin entered the world through “one man.” The man to whom he attributes it is Adam. He is very specific. He does not say sin just entered some time in history as lower life forms evolved into humans. He says there was one man and sin came in through him. He is considered to be a type of Jesus. If we throw out Adam as a historical figure where does that leave us regarding Jesus? If we believe Paul, we must believe in Adam. If we can’t believe in Adam, we need to toss Paul’s writings out because he is wrong. By the way, this passage is truly important. Paul bases the teaching that Jesus saves us and removes our sins on His contrast with Adam as a real historical figure. If we throw out Adam, we throw out the doctrine of justification and life to all men through Jesus Christ as the second Adam.
- In the same passage above, Paul claims “death reigned from Adam to Moses.” Paul clearly sees that as a definitive period of time. He saw Adam as a real historical figure.
- In I Corinthians 11:8, Paul based his arguments regarding the covering on the Genesis account that woman was made from man and not man from woman, a concept that cannot fit with the Theory of Evolution. Paul saw that creation as a historical event upon which he could base teaching.
- In I Timothy 2:12-15, Paul based his instruction about women teaching within the congregation on the historical accuracy of the Genesis account of Adam and Eve’s creation. If God did not create them that way, then Paul’s argument falls flat.
Here is the point of all this. It may be that the Bible is completely wrong. Maybe God did not create Adam and Eve but rather humankind wound up on the earth through the evolutionary forces of nature. We need to examine the evidence and choose which of the two we will accept. However, let us not accept any laughable position that tries to wed the Scripture with the Theory of Evolution. If we accept the Theory of Evolution, we cannot accept Adam. If we cannot accept Adam, we cannot accept the doctrine of Jesus Christ.
I know we all believe. How many of us are willing to admit our unbelief? In Mark 9:24, the father of the demon-possessed boy did exactly that. “I believe, help my unbelief.” That seems a paradox, but it accurately describes where most of us are.
Think about it. If, as II Peter 1:5, 8 says, we must increase our faith, then there is still some unbelief in each and every one of us. That doesn’t mean we are lost, it just means we have to grow our faith.
The point is not really about how much we believe in God’s existence. I think that is pretty much a yes or no question. Either we do or we don’t. The issue is more about whether we actually believe Him. Do we believe His way really works? Do we believe He really has our best interests at heart? Do we believe Him so much we are willing to simply do what He says without modifying it with our desires and designs?
The New Testament is filled with teachings against sins, flaws and defects. It says we should get rid of resentment and bitterness (Ephesians 4:31). It says we should not pursue vengeance (Romans 12:18-19). It says we should turn the other cheek when someone slaps us (Matthew 5:39). It says wives should not separate from theirs husbands and husbands should not divorce their wives (I Corinthians 7:10-11). It says we should pray without ceasing (I Thessalonians 5:17). It says we should not forsake the assembling of ourselves together (Hebrews 10:25). It says we should seek first God’s kingdom and righteousness (Matthew 6:33). It says we should not let the sun go down on our anger (Ephesians 4:26). It says we should let no corrupting talk come out of our mouth (Ephesians 4:29). It says so much more.
Do we really believe all this? If so, why do we let corrupt talk come out of our mouths? Why do we hold grudges, resentments and bitterness against our spouses? Why do we miss assemblies or part of the assemblies for recreation and entertainment? Why do we seek to get even? Again, this list could go on.
We need to come to grips that in those moments when we violate these passages, we are essentially saying, “God, I don’t believe you. I know what you have said, but I think I have a better way.” I have done it time and again. I know you have as well. The point is not to compare notes to see which of us is better and who believes more. The point is for each of us to realize we are just like the man in Mark 9:24. Yes, we believe. But we have unbelief. There is only one place to turn to fix that. Turn to the Lord. Can you cry out to God, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief”?