Without Excuse

by BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

I have met many atheists, such as my former college professor who vehemently denied the existence of anything outside the natural world. He spent the whole semester trying to demonstrate the foolishness of believing in God and the Bible. From his perspective, faith in God was devoid of sound reasoning and mere wishful thinking. Although I earned his respect and we had some profitable discussions, he died several years later as a lonely alcoholic.

Many atheists, agnostics and freethinkers claim they have come to their conclusion through rational thinking and by thoroughly examining all the evidence. Despite not having the ability to know everything and be everywhere at the same time, they are certain God does not exist. They often portray themselves as being enlightened and intellectually superior, while those who believe in the existence of God are, in their estimation, delusional and in need of a spiritual crutch.

Atheism leads to self-centered worship,

where man, not God, becomes

the center of the universe.

However, Scripture indicates they are the real fools (Psalm 14:1) and are “without excuse” for denying God’s reality. Consider the insightful words of the apostle Paul:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 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. (Romans 1:18-20).

As Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit says, not only has God instilled within each individual a conscience that bears witness to His existence, He has revealed His reality through His creation. On the Day of Judgment people will be “without excuse,” or anapologetous in the Greek (“without a defense”) for rejecting God because of a supposed lack of evidence. There is more than sufficient proof that He exists.

The Real Reason

While I have heard many arguments against the existence of God, most admitted their initial reasons for rejecting God were of a personal nature such as unanswered prayer, suffering and pain or unwillingness to change immoral behavior. For instance, while at a soccer clinic I met a man named John. Every time someone would bring up the subject of God, John would get very agitated and start yelling that God did not exist and all religions were false.

After a few days of his ranting, I had a chance to talk with John alone. During our conversation, I discovered why he was so hostile: He had family members who were survivors of the Holocaust, and he could not understand why God allowed this atrocious event to happen. Thus, behind all of his arguments and hostile feelings, John was denying God’s existence because of the pain and suffering his family endured.

The apostle Paul goes on to talk about the second step people take after rejecting God: substituting the worship of the true God to worship something within creation:

For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever (Romans 1:25).

When someone refuses to acknowledge the true God, he sets himself up as God. In essence, atheism leads to self-centered worship, where man, not God, becomes the center of the universe. This is the way John lived his life: He became accountable only to himself. He lived a life of self-indulgence as he pursued all forms of temporal pleasures seeking to find lasting fulfillment. Despite all of his attempts, he admitted he still felt a void in his life and a yearning to find purpose and meaning to his existence.

As John and I continued our conversation, I was able to share with him why I believed in Jesus Christ. I explained how my faith was not a blind leap in the dark but was supported by evidence. I specifically detailed the various Messianic prophecies that were fulfilled by Jesus as well as the historical evidence that surrounded His resurrection. When we were done with our conversation, this man who had been so hostile toward God and Christianity looked at me and said, “I never knew there was evidence to verify the Christian faith. In all my dealing with Christians, they never once took the time to share this information with me.”

As the week of the clinic moved on, I continued to build a relationship with John. A few weeks later I received an e-mail: John shared how much our conversation touched his life and that he was now open to further investigation. He closed by stating that just as in the movie It’s A Wonderful Life, George Bailey had impacted the lives of others; so too I had been a George Bailey in his life.

The following are three important principles I use when dealing with self-professing atheists such as John: First, be ready to give a reason for the hope you have (1 Peter 3:15). You never know when a John will come across your path. Second, speak the truth in love (1 Corinthians 13:1-3). Your motivation should be to represent Christ, not trying to win an argument. Third, get beyond what is being said to understand why it is being said. Remember, behind every argument and hostile feeling is a person like John, who is hurting and in need of the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ (John 3:16, 17).

How Could Jesus Speak to Large Audiences?

by Bill Rudge

Scripture indicates that Jesus spoke to large audiences (thousands of people) by the Sea of Galilee. Skeptics said it would be impossible for Him to speak to thousands of people without amplification equipment.

However, I was in Israel at the site of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. The hill forms a natural amphitheater that slopes to the Sea of Galilee and amplifies the speaker’s voice. The air above the Sea of Galilee is very static so that sound waves travel easily. It’s possible Jesus stood at the bottom of the hill and spoke to the crowd who sat above Him.

Matthew 4:25-5:2 gives the following account:

Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed Him. Now when He saw the crowds, He went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to Him, and He began to teach them ….

While standing on the site of the Sermon on the Mount, I was talking in my normal voice to one of the pastors in our group who was almost 100 yards away, and he could hear me plainly. Then, while standing on the shore, we became very quiet and, although several hundred yards away, we could hear two fishermen talking to each other on a small boat.

Once again the Bible is authenticated and skeptics are silenced.

Why Is It Important Jesus Rose From The Dead?

by BJ Rudge, Ph. D.

IMG_9571

photo by Doug Mastrianno

It is extremely important that Jesus rose from the dead because the resurrection is the very foundation of the Christian faith. Paul stressed this point to the church at Corinth where many people were claiming there was no resurrection of the dead. In response, Paul asserts that without the resurrection there would be no Christian faith ––

But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. (1 Corinthians 15:13-14)

First, if in fact Jesus had not risen from the dead, He would obviously be a liar or a lunatic. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus predicted He would die and then three days later rise from the dead (Matthew 12:38-40; Mark 9:9-10; Luke 18:31-33; John 10:17-18). If He made these assertions and they did not come to pass, then He was either an insane individual, or else one of the biggest deceivers in history.

Second, if Jesus was not resurrected then the Gospel documents would be false. Each Gospel testifies to the fact that Jesus rose from the dead (Matthew 28; Mark 16; Luke 24; John 20). If He had not, then the Gospel accounts would lose all credibility and be discarded as historically unreliable documents. No longer would the Gospels be seen as primary sources concerning the things that have happened (Luke 1:3-4), but a product of later editing and manipulation on the part of the early church.

Third, without the resurrection the very testimony of the church would have been destroyed. The central theme of the early church was the preaching of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:22-36; 3:13-18; 4:10-12; 5:29-32; 10:37-43; 13:27-37; 17:2-3; 26:22-23). If the resurrection had not occurred, then it would have been impossible for Paul and others to persist in affirming that it had in fact occurred –– especially in the presence of hostile eyewitnesses.

Fourth, all Christians would still be in sin and under the judgment of God. Paul highlights this point to the Corinthian believers ––

For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied. (1 Corinthians 15:16-19)

Finally, without the resurrection no one would have the eschatological hope of eternal life. The resurrection of Jesus Christ demonstrates His authority over death. Those who place their faith and trust in Him have the assurance that death has been conquered. As Jesus said to Martha who was grieving the loss of her brother Lazarus –

I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. (John 11:25-26)

The resurrection is the crucial point of Christianity whereby it can either validate or discredit the Christian faith. This is why the apostle Paul stressed to the Corinthian believers that their faith would be in vain if Christ did not rise from the dead. The resurrection is part of the foundation of Christianity, without it the Christian faith could not stand.

If the resurrection did not take place, then Christianity is a false religion. If it did take place, then Christ is God and the Christian faith is absolute truth. (Henry M. Morris and Henry M. Morris III, Many Infallible Proofs –– Evidence for the Christian Faith)

 

Have You Asked The Question?

by Jim Weikal

Three different groups of people — citizens, religious leaders, and the twelve disciples — asked “Who is this?” about Jesus. The first group were the citizens of Jerusalem at Jesus’ triumphal entry. “When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, ‘Who is this?’” (Matthew 21:10). They were told “the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee” (v. 11).

The next group were the religious leaders who watched Jesus heal a paralytic. This paralyzed man was lowered from the housetop by his friends in hopes that Jesus would heal him. Jesus said, “Your sins are forgiven” (Luke 5:20). The Pharisees and teachers of the law “began thinking to themselves, ‘Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?’” (Luke 5:21).

The third group were the disciples. They watched Jesus calm a raging storm on the Sea of Galilee and “They were terrified and asked each other, ‘Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey Him’” (Mark 4:41).

The common people asked “Who is this” because of His popularity. The religious leaders asked because of a theological question — only God can do what Jesus did, forgive sins. The disciples asked the question because of His power over the forces of nature.

How you answer this question of Who He is will determine your eternal destiny. Bill Rudge has written an excellent book, Who Is This Jesus?, which we will be happy to send you free of charge. Request a copy for yourself or a friend. E-mail brm7@me.com or write to P.O. Box 108, Sharon, PA to request Who Is This Jesus? You can also visit the store at our web site, billrudgeministries.org, and download the free e-book.