Examining Objections About The Bible:
The Bible Reveals Man's Heart
First Baptist Church
Des Moines, NM
This week on the Ministerial Alliance program, Iíve been looking at objections toward the Bible. Early in my own Christian walk, I spent well over a year studying the history and origin of the Bible, as well as looking at the different English versions to see if the differences in them were significant or not. I read those who supported the validity of the Bible as well as those who opposed it. I spent another year looking at and teaching on the claims of various religions and cults to see how they compare to Christianity. All this did was strengthen my faith in the Bible and in Jesus Christ.
The Bible makes claims like "I am Almighty God, walk before me and be blamelessÖ" (Genesis 17:1) and "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6) Those are exclusive claims and they draw a hard, fast line on the rock. As I look at other beliefs and other writings, I see the truth of that statement. Jesus Christ does not make compromises. Jesus never said "Find your own way and that way is true for you." He was not a relativist and His teachings are a sharp contrast to post-modern thought. Instead, Jesus said:
Matthew 11:28-29 Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (29) Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
Jesus says "Come unto MEÖand I will give you restÖ" he doesnít say "You must find your own way" but he says "I will give you rest."
When I talk to and read non-believers and those antagonistic toward the Bible, I find that this hard-cut line is one of their chief objections. They donít want to believe that there is only one way to the top of the mountain. They want to take their way or they want to combine Jesus with something else- thus we have so-called Christian Buddhists, or Christian Muslims, or Christian New Agers, or Christian whatevers. Man just naturally wants to do it his way and not Godís way. This truth was shown in the Garden of Eden when God commanded Adam not to eat of the fruit. Yet-
Genesis 3:6 Öwhen the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.
I have discussed this very passage with non-believers and the response I usually get is "So, they ate some fruit and as a result, God punished man forever and ever! I mean, get over it God!" What they donít realize is that the command to not eat the fruit was given for manís own protection. Prior to eating the fruit, man lived in a state of blissful innocence, unaware of good and evil. But immediately after eating:
Genesis 3:7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.
Immediately after disobeying God, that innocence was lost. John Milton wrote his classic book "Paradise Lost" on this theme. So, which would you prefer? Would you prefer to live in the Garden of Eden, running around blissfully and unashamedly naked and walking with God? Or would you prefer to have the knowledge of lust, rape, adultery, pornography, prostitution, and other sexual travesties and live apart from God? The eating of the fruit was disobedience and the price paid was loss of innocence.
But there in the Garden of Eden we see again the hard line that God lays down. He didnít say "You may eat of the fruits or not. I donít really care. Do what seems best to you." Instead, he says:
Genesis 2:16-17 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, "Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; (17) but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die."
So, God gave man free run of the Garden except for one single tree which He placed off-limits, both for manís own protection and to test his obedience. How is that a grievous command? And yet do you see what my non-believing friends say "Címon! Get over it, God!" Why donít they say "You were right God. We should not have eaten from the tree. It would be better to live innocently and in fellowship with you." Instead, man is angry at God.
In writing on an internet forum recently, I made 6 points regarding misunderstandings of Christianity. Point 6 was this:
6) The biggest single problem that I see is that people, even Christians, fail to understand who God is. They have been fed a watered-down gospel, a distorted view of the church, and an undermining of Scripture that makes people big and God small. Virtually every single objection that I see can be answered with that response- "You are making yourself bigger and God smaller." We simply do not understand our natural hatred of God, our subsequent rebellion, nor the severity of those actions. In our error, we expect God to be our genie and for everything to be done to our benefit. Rather, God does everything for HIS glory. I bet many of you are going to immediately say "How arrogant!" That's your natural reaction and it only displays your enmity with God. Our reaction should be "You and you alone are worthy of our praise (Revelation 4:11, for one). Our reaction should be "Not my will, but yours be done" (Matthew 26:39, for one). And our reaction should be "Have mercy on me, a sinner!" (Luke 18:13). But no...instead we create other gods or we try to eliminate God altogether or we worship the creation instead of the Creator (Jeremiah 10, Psalm 14:1, Romans 1). That's what we do and that's what Bible says we do.
My discussion partners immediately said things like "Iím not angry at God!" but after the discussion had run for a little bit, they started saying things like "Címon, get over it God!" or "Why did he put the tree in the middle of the garden anyway? Itís all Godís fault, really." Now, please, isnít that attitude pretty much exactly what I predicted? Itís all Godís fault? Really!? Should God have put the tree somewhere else, outside of the Garden where man couldnít get to it? Or was He perfectly right in placing it right in the middle of the garden? I say the latter. After all, God seeks hearts, not actions. King David, in spite of his sinful actions which included murder, adultery, and pride was called "a man after Godís own heart" (1 Samuel 13:14). He was called that because he had a heart for repentance, as evidenced from the Psalms, especially Psalm 51. Jesus said in Matthew 5 that if a man looks at a woman with lust, heís committed adultery with her in his heart. Jeremiah says:
Jeremiah 17:9-10 "The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? (10) I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings.
We find this statement:
1 Samuel 15:22-23 So Samuel said: "Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams. (23) For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He also has rejected you from being king."
Echoed by Jesus in:
Matthew 9:12-13 When Jesus heard that, He said to them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. (13) But go and learn what this means: 'I DESIRE MERCY AND NOT SACRIFICE.' For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance."
This is why the tree was in the middle of the Garden. God put it there to reveal the inherent nature of man. God and only God is just, holy, pure, and righteous. Even His creation cannot meet those qualifications. The placement of the tree and manís quick rebellion against Godís simple command revealed manís heart and revealed it to men willing to listen. This is what Jesus is referring to when he says "those who are well have no need of a physicianÖI did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance." In the context of the Bible as a whole, we know from Romans 3:10 and Psalm 52:3 that there is "none righteous, no not one". We also know from the example of the Pharisee and tax collector in Luke 18 that the man admitting his sin was the one who was justified. Therefore, what Jesus is saying is that heís come to call those who admit and acknowledge their sin. Those who stand and shake their fists at God and/or stand in their own righteousness will not come to Christ. In Matthew 9, Jesus echoes 1 Samuel in saying that God desires obedience over sacrifice. Jeremiah says that God tests the mind, to know the heart of man.
Let me give you an example. I have children and there are times when I desire that they not eat candy- this is for their own good, so that they might eat healthy food. I also desire that they not take things, such as money, that are not theirs. Taking things not theirs is called "stealing." Now, I could put the candy up on a high shelf out of their reach and lock the money in a safe. That would stop them from getting to those items, for a time. But the day will come when they can reach the top shelf or when theyíll find out the combination of the safe. Will the items be safe then? Instead of locking the items away, I can leave the candy and money in easily accessible location and train the children in obedience. If their hearts are wicked, Iíll soon see that when the candy or money disappear. But if their hearts are obedient, the candy or money can sit there forever or until I give them permission to take it. Which approach shows the true heart of the person- locking it away or leaving it in the open?
Therefore, the big picture of man is this- manís heart is wicked and not pure like Godís. The tree in the middle of the Garden brought this wickedness to the surface. The man who acknowledges his wickedness and acknowledges his sickness looks to a physician for healing. Jesus is that physician. Jesus, as God in the flesh, IS pure, holy, and fully obedient. According to Paul, writing to the church at Philippi:
Philippians 2:8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.
Christ was obedient to the point of death on the cross. Man in the pleasant Garden of Eden couldnít even be obedient to the point of not eating from a single tree, while Christ humbled himself to become a man and was obedient to the point of death on a cross. How dare we even begin to compare ourselves to Jesus, the Christ! The man who acknowledges his need for healing and understands that he cannot ever heal himself will look to Christ for this healing. In the great truth of the gospel message, our sins are laid upon Christ and his righteousness is laid upon us. In this way, we are healed and healed perfectly. We actually and literally have, according to Paul in 1 Corinthians 2:16 "Öthe mind of Christ" and are, according to Paul in Romans 8:29 are being "Öconformed to the image of Christ." In this way, man in Christ can become far more than man in Adam. This gift costs us nothing and is free to all who ask. And yet, men continue to shake their fist at God and say "Itís your fault!"
We are out of time once again! Letís resume this discussion tomorrow. Join me here on KLMX radio at 9:45. May God reveal the truth of His word to your heart and may you join the tax collector in saying "Be merciful to me, a sinner!" In Jesusí name, Amen!
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