“The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God.” (Psalm 14:1)
Friday, March 20, 2009
www.bibleinthenews.com Audio & Print versions
On March 9th, the results of the 2008 survey of “American Religious Identification” were released. Mainstream media outlets were quick to report on the survey’s findings of a significant growth over the last two decades in the number of Americans who describe their religious identity as “No religion”, to 15%.
One of the authors of the survey, Barry Kosmin noted: “More than ever before, people are just making up their own stories of who they are. They say, ‘I’m everything. I’m nothing. I believe in myself… These people aren’t secularized. They’re not thinking about religion and rejecting it; they’re not thinking about it at all”.
But therein lies the issue. The Apostle Paul spoke of such in Romans 1:28:
“And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient (fit)”. The original Greek of this verse contains a play on words that might better be rendered: “Because they cast out the knowledge of God, God gave them an outcast mind”.
Not thinking about God is akin to rejecting Him. People may wish to believe that they have no religion, but is that truly the case? Is not Humanism their “religion”? Are not the objects of their affection their “gods”?
Paul also warned the Ephesians not to follow the ways of those around them who walk “in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart” (Ephesians 4:17-18). Such are those who cast out the knowledge of God.
The report on Religion in America may conclude that the “challenge to Christianity in the US” comes from “a rejection of all forms of organized religion”, but the constant assault on the Holy Scriptures, has played its part, as well, no doubt.
On March 4th, National Public Radio, in the US, aired an interview with Bart Ehrman, which they titled “The Gospel Truth: Sometimes A Little Hazy”. Ehrman, a professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, was hawking his latest book, “Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (and Why We Don’t Know About Them).”
Here is an excerpt from his book, describing how his deep faith and convictions were, over time, eroded away.
“… I was fully armed and ready for the onslaught on my faith by liberal biblical scholars who were going to insist on such crazy ideas [partial/non inspiration of the scriptures]. Having been trained in conservative circles, I knew that these views were standard fare at places like Princeton Theological Seminary. But what did they know… What came as a shock to me over time was just how little actual evidence there is for the traditional ascriptions of authorship that I had always taken for granted, and how much real evidence there was that many of these ascriptions are wrong.”
To such, we echo the words of Jesus, “Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God.” (Matt 22:29) For the Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, that “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God”, and these Scriptures are “able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus”. (2 Timothy 3:15-16)
Ehrman’s story, and the arguments in his book are dressed up to sound new and revolutionary, but the truth is, he has followed a well trodden path of those who, “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,” (Romans 1:22). There is nothing new here – just another example of how the “wise” of this world keeps up their constant assault on the Scriptures.
In the 14th Psalm, David wrote: “The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God…”.
Notice that there is more here than the fool who says “aloud” there is no God. This is a fool who has not necessarily reached that point. We may not have explicitly said “there is no God”, but our actions demonstrate our convictions. Our Lord said it well, did he not? “By their fruits ye shall know them” (Matthew 7:20) and, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matthew 6:21) . Is our “treasure” the “light of the knowledge of the glory of God?” (2 Corinthians 4:6-7) or has our heart followed after other treasure?
In line with this, an interesting observation was made by one of the authors of the report mentioned earlier. They noted that “religion has become more like a fashion statement, not a deep personal commitment for many”. Following David’s logic, the percentage of “Non Religious” in America would be substantially greater than 15%.
The account of Bart Ehrman’s transformation from zealous Bible student to agnostic academic ought to be a wakeup call for any God-fearing parent about to send their young ones (of any age) off to be “educated” in the ways of the “frog-like spirits”. Have you adequately prepared them for the assault on their faith? Have the alternatives been carefully researched? Is it really necessary?
Familiarize yourself with the sad, sad account of the family of Eli in Judges 2. Will a generation arise that “knew not Yahweh”?
The example of Abraham is clear, “…he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of Yahweh, to do justice and judgment…”. Let us resolve to do the same.
Young people especially, need to understand that, the Scriptures warn against prolonged association with those who assault our convictions. “Be not deceived: evil communications (companionship) corrupt good manners (morals)” (1 Corinthians 15:33). We may think we are strong enough, but the message is “be not deceived”.
Yahweh warned Israel in Deuteronomy 13:1-3 about following false prophets, that appeared to be able to do “signs and wonders”, yet whose doctrine led them astray. He expected His people to evaluate the doctrine independently of the “signs and wonders”, and indicated that the “sign or wonder” was a test from Him, to see if they loved Him with all their heart and soul, and would remain steadfast in their faith.
And so, it should be no surprise to us that God allows the foolishness of the world to appear plausible – to test our faith.
Yet what is our “faith” based upon? It must be based upon a solid conviction in, and understanding of the Holy Scriptures. For, “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).
In 1 Timothy 3:15, we learn that the “Ecclesia of the living God” is the “pillar and ground of the truth”, an obvious link back to Jacob’s vision at Bethel in Genesis 28.
A question that is well worth pondering is: Do our Ecclesias live up to this depiction, as a “pillar and ground of the Truth?”.
Previous generations have not been afraid to stand up to the assaults on the Scriptures, especially attacks against their authenticity and inspiration, by the “wise” of this world. Is our generation equally prepared and committed?
It is interesting to note how those who have rejected the God of Israel, somehow believe they “got educated”; as if they were previously “uneducated” and “simple minded”. That fits. For, the wisdom of the world is confounded by the simple message of the Gospel, which is “the power of God to Salvation”, wherein the “righteousness of God is revealed”. (Romans 1:16-17)
Jesus himself recognized God’s methods: he “… rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight.” (Luke 10:21)
The Corinthians were told: “Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool [to the world], that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise [of the world] in their own craftiness.” (1 Corinthians 3:18)
The God we worship has deliberately ordered his plan of redemption in such a way that His righteousness is upheld, and sin is seen for what it is, “exceeding sinful”. There is no room left for flesh to glory.1 Corinthians 1:26-29 tells us: “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chose, yea, and things which are not, to bring to naught things that are: That no flesh should glory in His presence.”
These are days of opportunity, let us not waste them, but let us rather examine ourselves, and make the necessary changes – in our personal lives, in our families, and within the Ecclesia, that we may be found to be wise hearted, and not fools.
We leave you this week with the words of David, in Psalm 19:7:Psalm 19:7: “The law of Yahweh is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of Yahweh is sure, making wise the simple.”
Join us next week for another edition of Bible in the News. www.bibleinthenews.com