I wrote an email tonight that I just have to put on this blog. There are things I really like saying, and this is one of them.
I wrote the email in response to the following question:
What are the implications concerning Old Earth vs. New Earth? What is all the arguing really about?
To me? One thing. Is our faith based on a real God who gives us a real Spirit, and are we following a being, Jesus Christ the Son of God, who really is the Truth?
If we are, then we can pursue truth. We can look at scientific evidence honestly, knowing that our God is Creator no matter what we find in the scientific evidence.
Or, is our faith based upon stories we read in a book? Sure, I agree the Bible is inspired. But I don’t believe in Jesus because of the Bible. I believe the Bible because I believe in Jesus.
Jesus is God. The Bible has some of the things–not even a very large portion of the things–God has said. I don’t believe God wants us to have faith in a book. It’s not even a book, anyway. It’s letters, poetry, and a few short books–many writings. We didn’t collect them into one until much later.
Jesus didn’t leave us a book. He left us apostles, and he left us a church that the apostles’ writings say is the pillar and support of the truth (1 Tim. 3:15).
When the church was being deceived, what did the apostles tell them to do? Paul told them to talk to each other, speaking the truth to one another … in love (Eph. 4:13-16). John told them that together (he used a plural “you” consistently) they would be taught by “the anointing” (1 Jn. 2:26-27).
The Roman Catholic Church wants us to believe that they are the church Paul speaks of that is the pillar and support of the truth. That’s false. The church that the Scriptures know about is the local church. You, your husband, and those who will follow Christ with you. The apostles say that together you, the church in your town, can seek God and be led by him into truth as you follow the anointing and speak the truth in love to one another.
Those whose faith is in the book, rather than in God, end up having to defend the book. We who place our faith in God find that God can defend himself! Rather than defending him, we depend on him to defend us!
I believe it is for this reason that Jesus, the Word of God, didn’t give us a book to be the Word of God. Yes, the Bible is the Word of God, but it’s only a small portion of the Word of God. Surely we don’t believe God’s words are limited to a thousand pages in all of history! Surely we don’t believe he’s been sitting around silent for 2,000 years! I believe he likes us, and he likes to talk to us and guide us.
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with my eye” (Ps. 32:8).
“As many as are led by the Spirit, these are the sons of God” (Rom. 8:14).
(Caveat: I’m not talking about me being led by the Spirit. I’m talking about us, the local church, being led by the Spirit. Here, locally, we follow God together, and I let my brothers and sisters speak to me from the Scriptures and from their own revelation to keep me from being deceived. We test the Spirits by the Scriptures. God won’t say something different–at least not significantly different, though there may be some minor cultural things–to us than he did to the apostles.)
Ok, one more thing. We have to look at the flip side of this. What did Jesus think of those who put all their trust in “the Book”:
“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you will find life, but these are they which testify of me! Yet you refuse to come to me so that you may have life” (Jn. 5:39-40).
Beware of modern Pharisees, who tell you that if the Scriptures turn out to be allegorical in some places, or to have scientific errors in another, then you can’t believe the Gospel. That’s ludicrous!
We can believe the Gospel because of its power! Jesus sent the apostles out to be witnesses of the resurrection, so that people would gather together and come to him. He is able to teach his people. Yes, he used the apostles to do some of that teaching, but do you notice in Acts how quickly Paul was willing to leave towns in which he had preached? In Acts 14, we read about him returning to some of those towns, in which he’d spent sometimes only three weeks or so, and appointing elders.
Who trained those elders? I would argue that it was the Spirit of God in the church.
The Scriptures are profitable for instruction in righteousness. They are profitable for correction, reproof, and rebuke. You will notice that all those things concern behavior a lot more than they concern theology. That’s because the point of the Scriptures is to thoroughly equip us for good works, not to make theologians out of us (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
In Titus 2:1, Paul tells Titus to teach “sound doctrine.” Look at the rest of the chapter some time and see what Paul considered to be sound doctrine.
Doesn’t sound much like a modern statement of faith, does it?
Christians desperately need to return to being practical, holy people. On the last day, Jesus doesn’t have a quiz about theology–not even about the atonement. He tells us about whether we fed him when he was hungry, clothed him when he was naked, or visited him when he was sick or in prison.
You want a real shocker? Look in the Book of Acts and find one place where an apostle told a lost person that Jesus died for their sins.
You’ll find where they told the lost that Jesus died. They had to. They were witnesses of the resurrection. You can’t witness of a resurrection if you don’t mention a death.
You’ll find where they said that Jesus forgives sins, but you will never find them tying the two together.
That’s not because it’s false. It is very true and very important that Jesus died for our sins. It’s all over the letters … to the church.
The lost, however, don’t need to know that to be saved.
We’re so confused into thinking that Jesus saves us because of what we know! That’s so unscriptural! He saves us because we want to repent of our sin–in fact, of our whole pointless lives–and follow him! He saves all his followers, which is what having faith in a person means.
We have to talk about “real” faith because we think faith means having faith in some facts about Jesus. If we realized that faith is in a (divine) person, Jesus Christ, and not in some things that he did, then we wouldn’t have to talk about “real” faith. Everyone already knows that you can’t claim to have faith in a person and ignore what he says.
Again, don’t miss what’s in Acts. The apostles never told the lost that Jesus died for their sins. They explained the atonement later, to the church, so that the church could understand the incredible thing that Jesus did for us and praise him and love him more than ever.
We don’t have the fragile faith that Ken Ham preaches. We have a vigorous real faith that comes from having the Spirit of God living in us, which we received through faith in Jesus Christ, the glorious, knowable, real, and living Son of God!
Evolution can’t shake that faith. If evolution is true, then our great God and his great Son did it. If it isn’t, then maybe Genesis 1 is absolutely literal.
Either way, we’re busy learning the proper lessons we should learn from Genesis 1. We want to be a full moon, reflecting as much of the light of the Son as possible in the darkness of the night, until Jesus returns and daylight reigns again. We believe and know that whether Genesis 1 is a literal description or an allegorical one full of spiritual lessons, either way it was our mighty God who created the universe, strewing between a sextillion and an octillion stars across 14.7 billion light years of space.
That, to me, is what the argument is about. I am not arguing that evolution is true, even though I’m arguing that evolution is true. I’m arguing that we have to be honest, and I’m arguing that we have to be united, holy, obedient believers in Jesus Christ, not divided, pharisaical defenders of our own particular interpretations of the small portion of God’s words that have been written down.
I hope I haven’t over-spoken nor offended you too much.
I really love our God, and I believe he’s way stronger than our ideas. He can take care of us even while we enjoy searching out the truth. Those who seek find. He doesn’t give snakes to children who ask for eggs. Let us not be “ye of little faith,” but let us address him as Father and trust him as children.