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ANSWERING QUESTIONS #2
by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.,
A lesson given at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Hymn Sung Before the Lesson:
“Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear”
When you present the Gospel, Satan will have his demons doing their best to block your presentation. On the other hand, the person you are witnessing to may not have any objections.
1. I don’t believe the Bible.
The Apostle Paul quoted the Bible to Greeks who did not believe it. Paul did not try to convince those he witnessed to. In witnessing our main function is proclamation, not defence.
The main message of the Bible is how a person may have eternal life. What is your understanding about what the Bible teaches about that subject?
In about 98 percent of the time, they will say, “By obeying the Ten Commandments – or by trying to be good.”
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2. Doesn’t evolution disprove creation?
Dr. A. W. Tozer said, “We who believe the Bible know that the universe is a creation. It is not eternal since it had a beginning. It is not the result of a succession of happy coincidences whereby the number of matching parts accidentally found each other, fell into place, and began to hum. To believe that would require a credulity few persons possess.”
A young man was asked, “What evidence has convinced you that evolution is true?” He replied, “The similarities between animals and people. To me, that proves evolution.”
Back in the 1950s James Watson and Francis Crick discovered the key molecule of life, the DNA – a discovery that earned them the Nobel Prize. The human body has well over a trillion DNA molecules. It’s an incredibly complex system.
Crick, an atheist and an evolutionist, decided to find out the probability of a DNA molecule arising spontaneously over the course of 4.6 billion years that evolutionists say is the life of the earth. What were the chances of a DNA molecule of a single cell in earth’s history? Do you know his conclusion? Zero. Even in 4.6 billion years, it could never possibly have happened!
Did Francis Crick then say it had to be God that did it? He did not.
Does it seem peculiar that none of these scientists, receiving that evidence, admitted that their theory was wrong? None of them said, “Ever since Darwin, we have been teaching something untrue. We taught you that life arose out of the primordial slime as amino acids got together and formed a cell. And, after a billion years, here we are. We thought that is how it happened. But our theory has been disproved. We are sorry that we misled you.”
Do you know what Francis Crick did? He came up with a theory even more impossible. His new theory was that an advanced race of beings, on some far-off planet, sent out spaceships with their sperm on board, and seeded various planets. And that is where we came from. It sounds a bit like Star Wars!
Life can’t come from nonlife. That’s why the Bible says, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1; p. 3).
Three evidences that have helped me believe in the existence of God:
(1) The law of cause and effect.
Because I see in the universe causes and effects that logically point me to a great invisible cause whom I believe is God.
(2) The evidence of design.
If you went to Mars and found a perfectly designed watch there, you could logically conclude that the watch pointed to a watchmaker. So an elegantly designed world points to a worldmaker, a designer I call God.
(3) The evidence of personality.
We look at the famous painting Mona Lisa. We see evidence of personality. The painting could not be the result of an impersonal cause. This third evidence is important because a cause or force will not hold us accountable, but a person can and will hold us accountable for our sins.
3. My God isn’t like that.
The life of John Wesley, who started the Methodist Church, illustrates very clearly the importance of trusting in Jesus Christ alone for salvation. He went to Oxford Seminary for five years and then became a minister of the Church of England, where he served for about ten years. Toward the end of that time, in approximately 1735, he became a missionary from England to Georgia.
All of his life, he had been quite a failure in his ministry, though he was, as we would count men, very pious. He got up at four o’clock in the morning and prayed for two hours. He would then read the Bible for an hour before going to the jails, prisons, and hospitals to minister to all manner of people. He would teach, pray and help others until late at night. He did this for years. In fact, the Methodist Church gets its name from the methodical life of piety that Wesley and his friends lived.
On the way back from America, there was a great storm at sea. The little ship on which they were sailing was about to sink. Huge waves broke over the ship’s deck, and the wind shredded the sails. Wesley feared he was going to die that hour, and he was terrified. He had no assurance of what would happen to him when he died. Despite all of his efforts to be good, death for him was a big, black, fearful question mark.
On the other side of the ship was a group of men who were singing hymns. He asked them, “How can you sing when this very night you are going to die?” They replied, “If this ship goes down, we will go up to be with the Lord forever.”
Wesley went away shaking his head, thinking to himself, “How can they know that? What more have they done than I have done?” Then he added, “I came to convert the heathen. Ah, but who shall convert me?”
In the providence of God, the ship made it back to England. Wesley went to London and found his way to Aldersgate Street and a small chapel. There he heard a man reading a sermon that had been written two centuries earlier by Martin Luther, entitled “Luther’s Preface to the Book of Romans.” This sermon described what real faith was. It is trusting only in Jesus Christ for salvation – and not in our own good works.
Wesley suddenly realized that he had been on the wrong road all his life. That night he wrote these words in his journal: “About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.”
There it is. That is saving faith. Repenting of his sins, he trusted in Jesus Christ alone for salvation. Now, would you say that Wesley had not believed in Jesus Christ before this night? Of course, he had. He was a Biblical scholar and had studied about Christ in English, Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. He had believed in Christ in all these languages. But he had trusted in John Wesley for his salvation.
After this, he became the greatest preacher of the eighteenth century. But it all began when he put his trust in Jesus Christ alone for his salvation and received Him as His Lord. (Dr. D. James Kennedy, Evangelism Explosion, fourth edition, Tyndale House Publishers, 1996, pp. 183-184).
Epistemology is the branch of philosophy which deals with the question – how do we know? There are two ways people answer what they think about God.
1. Rationalism. The use of rationalism has led mankind down some strange and bizarre religious paths.
2. Revelation. Now, the Christian Church has always held that God revealed Himself through the Bible, and preeminently through His Son, Jesus Christ. So now the question is not what either of us thinks. The question is, “What has God said in the Bible and through His Son, Jesus Christ?”
4. Are the heathen lost?
Say, “What we are doing here and now is of much greater urgency than settling a theological debate.”
You may say, “Bob, that’s a good question, but I believe we can really leave the heathen in Africa in the hands of God, who is infinitely great and infinitely merciful. Today I want you to know for certain that you have eternal life. Perhaps later we can see all God has said about those who never hear the Gospel…The problem revolves around the question, ‘Would God sent the heathen to Hell simply for not believing in a Christ they never heard of?’
The Bible teaches that Christ did not come to condemn those who were already condemned. Men are condemned for only one thing – their sins.”
5. I don’t believe in life after death.
(1) Plato. The ancient philosopher Plato showed that for a seed to bring forth a tree with delicious fruit it first had to go through the process of disintegrating and dying. Plato concluded that the human body must die before it can emerge in another world and another life.
Plato lived four centuries before Christ and the Apostle Paul. Yet he taught the same evidence of life after death which Paul and Christ pointed out in I Corinthians 15:35-36 (p. 1227) and John 12:24 (p. 1132).
(2) The philosopher Immanuel Kant observed that all humans are concerned about right and wrong, a sense of moral duty. He said, “Why do right if justice doesn’t prevail?” In other words, he reasoned that for a sense of duty to be meaningful, there must be justice, for why do right if justice does not prevail? He reasoned that since justice does not prevail in this life, there must be another place where it will. In other words, the philosopher Kant reasoned that justice demands life after death. This sounds like what the Bible describes in Hebrews 9:27 (p. 1299).
Thus for Immanuel Kant, practical ethics requires life after death, and a judge who is very much like the God of the Bible.
(3) The first law of thermodynamics, as set forth by Einstein. It states that energy and matter cannot be created or destroyed. If man ceases to exist, he will be the only thing in the universe that does. The Bible in I Corinthians 15:49-51 (p. 1227) describes how the Christian’s body will endure. Thus Einstein was not an atheist.
(4) The last words of dying people.
The atheist Gibbon, on his deathbed, cried out, “All is dark.” Another atheist named Adams when dying was heard to scream, “Demons are in this room and they want to pull me down.”
In contrast, the Christian hymnwriter Toplady cried out, “All is light, light, light!” Everett, for 25 minutes before he died, said, “Glory, glory, glory.” Thousands of people have been granted to see what was to come, the life into which they were passing.
6. The recollections of resuscitated people.
It is worth knowing that recently several scientists have caused a stir in the scientific world that the conclusions of their investigations have caused them to believe that life goes on beyond the grave. I have heard of famous scientists who have had a foretaste of either Heaven or Hell. These experiences leave some questions to be answered. But they do provide interesting testimony.
Elizabeth Kubler-Ross was apparently not a Christian, but this was her statement, “The evidence is now conclusive. There is life after death.” Dr. Kubler-Ross said that these near-death experiences have been scientifically verified. “We’ve just been afraid to talk about it,” she said.
Dr. Raymond Moody said, “There is a buzz or a ring at the moment of death.” They all reported floating up out of their body and looking down at all the doctors in the resuscitation room. These are not a few, but over five hundred people, taken from all over the world. Everyone of these people reported seeing a person they described as a religious figure. This was especially true of atheists.
Dr. Kubler-Ross said to the hundreds of medical doctors who heard her speak, “I used to say, ‘I believe in life after death.’ But now I know.”
One thousand medical professionals and scholars stood up to give this doctor a standing ovation when she concluded her speech.
7. What about reincarnation?
It is a belief in Hinduism and Buddhism, but not of Christianity! I would respond, “The Bible says, ‘It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment’” (Hebrews 9:27; p. 1299).
All of these ideas ignore the atonement of Jesus Christ and His perfect righteousness. By His death on the Cross He, once and for all, takes away all of our sins. So when we trust Jesus, we are cleansed by the Blood He shed on the Cross!
8. Hell isn’t real.
Sometimes we find it helpful to say, “You know, it is a fact of psychology that we deny most passionately those things we fear most desperately. I wonder if the reason you don’t believe in Hell is that deep down in your soul you fear that if there is such a place you might go there.” Often the reply is, “I guess you are right.”
But you must go on and tell your prospect, “I don’t want you to believe in Hell. You can know for sure that you are not going to Hell. That is what the Gospel is all about. I believe in Hell, but I know I’m not going there because of God’s promise. That is much better than saying, ‘I know I’m not going to Hell because I don’t believe there is such a place.’”
9. We have our Hell here on earth.
You know, you’re partly right. I have known drug addicts who went through a living Hell on earth. I have known alcoholics who were enslaved by alcohol.
Pastor Mark Buckley tells of using drugs and ending up in a mental hospital. Pastor Buckley escaped from Hell on earth by trusting Jesus. Jesus saved Rev. Buckley from drug addiction – a hell on earth. You can order a copy of his wonderful conversion to Jesus – his life-changing salvation in Jesus Christ. Go to Amazon.com and order Mark’s book. It is titled, “From Darkness to Light: My Journey” by Pastor Mark Buckley. If you read the first few pages, you will read the whole book. I have just read it twice myself.
We are not Sabbatarians, but we do agree with Pastor Buckley, who said,
“When we trust God and rest, He can give us insights and understanding which makes us more fruitful in the long run…I am not advocating for spiritual legalism. I am encouraging you to set aside a time to rest so you can be healthy” (From Darkness to Light: My Journey, by Mark Buckley).
Please stand and sing our hymn, “O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing.”
O for a thousand tongues to sing
My great Redeemer’s praise,
The glories of my God and King,
The triumphs of His grace.
My gracious Master and my God,
Assist me to proclaim,
To spread through all the earth abroad,
The honors of Thy name.
Jesus! the name that charms our fears,
That bids our sorrows cease;
’Tis music in the sinner’s ears,
’Tis life, and health, and peace.
He breaks the power of canceled sin,
He sets the prisoner free;
His blood can make the foulest clean;
His blood availed for me.
(“O For a Thousand Tongues” by Charles Wesley, 1707-1788).