This series of 26 lessons was developed for classroom presentation from the book by David Miller that should be required reading for every preacher, elder, and Bible school teacher in the Lord’s church: Piloting The Strait”.  This book is available from a variety of bookstores, Sain Publications at www.sainpublicans.com as well as from David Miller at www.apologeticspress.org.

 

CHANGES IN THE CHURCH

The Antidote to Change - God IS; Our Bible IS Inspired

 

How can we get out of the mess that our change agent brethren and the denominationalists have created?  How can we get people back on track and prepared for eternity?  That answer is simple: we’ve got to get back to the Bible. We must recapture those fundamental doctrines that foster and support a successful spiritual life.  We definitely need change!  But change for the good! Change back in the direction of God and his will.

The beginning point for this much needed recovery is a rooted, grounded, rock solid, belief in the existence of God and that the Bible is His inspired directions to those who would be His people.  But our changeable brethren already believe in the existence of God and the inspiration of the Bible; you say. But do they?  If so then why have they abandoned and/or substituted men’s doctrines for so many of its precepts?

 

James 2:19 “THOU BELIEVEST THAT THERE IS ONE GOD; THOU DOEST WELL: THE DEVILS ALSO BELIEVE, AND TREMBLE.”

 

Our world is filled with a multitude of belief systems.  Man has devised everything from atheism and humanism (that does not believe in a Supreme Being): to the Hindus that believe in a many gods; to the Buddhists that believe that every creature, from the ant to the human, possesses divinity.  The one common factor among all of these belief systems is the fact that they reject the idea of a Supreme Being who transcends the universe.  They do not believe that God created the material universe out of nothing by speaking it into existence in six literal days, including the first man and woman from whom all other human beings have descended.

The American culture, with its sensitivity to multiculturalism and pluralism, is gradually increasing its resistance to such fundamental concepts.  Much of America is in denial, rejecting the fact that this country was founded upon biblical beliefs and values.  This is generating confusion among a people who are unlearned in the precepts of God’s Word.  This confusion and disorientation on a national and cultural level is showing itself in the church in the form of doctrinal change due to relaxed convictions that God is real.  Nevertheless, more than enough evidence is available to prove the existence of God.

 

Cosmological Proof

 

The existence of God can be decisively proven on the basis of the fact of the existence of our universe.  The universe is here and had to come from somewhere.  The universe has not always been here and is not eternal.  The scientific Laws of Thermodynamics prove that the universe is running down and thus had to have a beginning.  Theories like the “Big Bang” are unreasonable and do not adequately account for its existence.  Such theories simply speak of matter being changed from one form to another.  But matter had to have been created initially, out of nothing, by some superior, eternal, omnipotent force. There had to be an uncaused First Cause, an Unmoved Mover.  The very existence of the universe is proof positive of the existence of a universe maker. The Bible states it very simply:

 

Genesis 1:1 “IN THE BEGINNING GOD CREATED THE HEAVEN AND THE EARTH.”

 

Teleological Proof

 

Proof for the existence of God is seen not only in the fact that the universe exists but also in the fact that the universe exhibits design, order and purpose.

 

Psalms 19:1  To the chief musician, A Psalm of David.  “THE HEAVENS DECLARE THE GLORY OF GOD; AND THE FIRMAMENT SHOWETH HIS HANDIWORK.”

 

Hebrews 3:4 “FOR EVERY HOUSE IS BUILDED BY SOME man; BUT HE THAT BUILT ALL THINGS is GOD.”

 

Psalms 8:1-4 “O LORD, OUR LORD, HOW EXCELLENT is THY NAME IN ALL THE EARTH!  WHO HAST SET THY GLORY ABOVE THE HEAVENS.  OUT OF THE MOUTH OF BABES AND SUCKLINGS HAST THOU ORDAINED STRENGTH BECAUSE OF THINE ENEMIES THAT THOU MIGHTEST STILL THE ENEMY AND THE AVENGER.  WHEN I CONSIDER THY HEAVENS, THE WORK OF THY FINGERS, THE MOON AND THE STARS, WHICH THOU HAST ORDAINED; WHAT IS MAN, THAT THOU ART MINDFUL OF HIM? AND THE SON OF MAN, THAT THOU VISITED HIM?”

 

If we readily recognize that intelligent planning is behind all ordered design, how could nature’s intricate networks have no planner?  To observe the fantastic design in nature and then conclude there is no Supreme Designer is to behave irrationally.  They put people that exhibit that kind of behavior in other matters in white jackets with their sleeves tied behind them.

 

Romans 1:20 “FOR THE INVISIBLE THINGS OF HIM FROM THE CREATION OF THE WORLD ARE CLEARLY SEEN, BEING UNDERSTOOD BY THE THINGS THAT ARE MADE, even HIS ETERNAL POWER AND GODHEAD; SO THAT THEY ARE WITHOUT EXCUSE.”

 

We have no excuse for rejecting God when we are surrounded by such an overwhelming display of wonders and marvels in the created order.  Yet so many do.

 

Morality Proof

 

Another proof for the existence of God is the fact that objective moral values exist.  If God does not exist, then all moral values, all ethics, all views of right and wrong are purely subjective.  That means that morality is merely the product of human beings arbitrarily deciding for themselves what is right and wrong.  If there is no God, if we are all merely the result of evolution — the mechanistic, chance forces of nature — then human life is ultimately of no more value than animal life.  A cow is just as valuable as a person.  You could place on a table a rock, a cockroach, a rat and a human baby and then go down the row of items smashing them with a sledge hammer.  If God does not exist, there would be no ultimate difference or significance to what you’re doing.  Such behavior would be judged only by personal preference, and individual taste, mere human subjectivity.  Now with this in mind does anyone have any question in their minds as why abortion is a problem is this country!  Why that a man such as Hitler could exist?  Why that a Godless country such as China can control their birthrate by forcing women to abort their pregnancy if they already have two children?  Why young men who have been seeped in evolutionary theory in their classrooms, taught that there is no absolute right or wrong and weaned on the most graphic violence in computer games that man can devise would take an AK-47 and spray the crowded hallway of their high school.

 

Conscience

 

The matter of moral value suggests a fourth proof for the existence of God: the conscience.  Within every human being, a moral sensibility, a capacity for moral distinctions exists.  This capacity within human beings is called the “conscience.”  Of course, our conscience must be trained or taught.  But if I think a certain behavior is wrong and I go ahead and engage in that behavior, there’s a part of me that will feel guilty and call attention to the fact that I went against what I believed.  It doesn’t matter what that belief system is or what it precepts it holds dear; if I violate what I believe there is an inner self that will bug me about it; at least until I’ve done it enough that I grow deaf to that inner self.

But the conscience is a proof of God. Evolution cannot account for it.  A conscience could not evolve from rocks and dirt.  A conscience is a spiritual quality that was created and placed within us by the Creator.

 

Acts 23:1 “AND PAUL, EARNESTLY BEHOLDING THE COUNCIL, SAID MEN and BRETHREN, I HAVE LIVED IN ALL GOOD CONSCIENCE BEFORE GOD UNTIL THIS DAY.”

 

Paul had lived his life holding on to those things that his conscience dictated, both as a persecutor of the infant church and as it most prolific apostle and evangelist.  He also describes the trap that men get themselves into and warns Timothy:

 

I Timothy 4:1-2 “NOW THE SPIRIT SPEAKETH EXPRESSLY, THAT IN THE LATTER TIMES SOME SHALL DEPART FROM THE FAITH, GIVING HEED TO SEDUCING SPIRITS, AND DOCTRINES OF DEVILS; SPEAKING LIES IN HYPOCRISY, HAVING THEIR CONSCIENCE SEARED WITH A HOT IRON.”

 

The Inspiration of the Bible

 

The Founding Fathers of America were believers in the Bible as the word of God.  They would, no doubt, be deeply disturbed at the change that has come over our nation and our churches.  Historically, American society as a whole has been characterized by its commitment to the Bible as God’s inspired word.  Our culture, our educational system, our political institutions, and our judicial system have all been profoundly influenced by the Bible as the authentic expression of the will of the God of Heaven.

The denial of the Bible has brought down upon American society a host of social and moral problems which have virtually brought the Western world to the brink of despair and moral bankruptcy.  The retreat from the Bible and its values in our day is the root cause of the social chaos and moral breakdown we are experiencing.  It is also a key cause of the spiritual decline in the form of change among churches of Christ.

God’s word has not been permitted to receive a fair hearing among younger generations.  They’ve not been given an opportunity to hear the evidence that exists to prove the Bible’s creditability.  Our young people have been sold a bill of goods by the Liberal preachers, teachers and college professors that let have themselves be spiritually seduced by the theological currents that have been swirling around our country for nearly a century.  They have been made to feel that people of intelligence, people who are informed, no longer believe the Bible to be a literal, errorless expression of truth from the God who genuinely exists.  Those who believe such a thing are seen as ignorant, close-minded, uneducated, unsophisticated oddballs.

To the unbiased and honest person, the evidence for the credibility of the Bible is overwhelming.  Far too many of our so-called scholars have been infected with the notion that the Bible is neither verbally inspired nor inerrant. They do not believe the Bible even claims to be inspired and inerrant.  They consider the Bible to be an expression by imperfect human beings of their perceptions of the spiritual realm.  When this kind of lax thinking prevails in an institution of higher learning, the faith of the young people we send there will inevitably be damaged and their spiritual strength, if we gave them any, destroyed.  Does the Bible provide proof of inspiration?

 

II Timothy 3:16 “ALL SCRIPTURE is GIVEN BY INSPIRATION OF GOD, AND is PROFITABLE FOR DOCTRINE, FOR REPROOF, FOR CORRECTION, FOR INSTRUCTION IN RIGHTEOUSNESS.”

 

The Greek term translated “inspiration” means “God-breathed”.  Paul here was confirming to us that Scripture, specifically the Old Testament, is the product of the breath of God.  God actually breathed out the Scriptures. The Bible is made up of God’s words — not men’s.  Three verses later (II Timothy 4:2) Paul declared “THEREFORE... PREACH THE WORD” Why; because it is God’s word.  Just as surely as God’s breath brought the universe into existence (Psalms 33:6), so the Bible is the result of Gods out-breathing as well.  And don’t let anybody pick on the little word “is” that was added by the translators in the KJV in II Timothy 3:16.  If it isn’t inspired, God breathed, it isn’t scripture!

 

In Matthew 17:4-5 we find:

 

“THEN ANSWERED PETER, AND SAID UNTO JESUS, LORD, IT IS GOOD FOR US TO BE HERE: IF THOU WILT, LET US MAKE HERE THREE TABERNACLES; ONE FOR THEE, AND ONE FOR MOSES, AND ONE FOR ELIAS.  WHILE HE YET SPAKE, BEHOLD, A BRIGHT CLOUD OVERSHADOWED THEM: AND BEHOLD A VOICE OUT OF THE CLOUD, WHICH SAID, THIS IS MY BELOVED SON, IN WHOM I AM WELL PLEASED; HEAR HE HIM.”

 

Peter never forgot God’s correction of his thinking. I don’t think we would either if we heard the voice of God literally boom out from the heavens his direction that Jesus is His beloved Son and we are commanded to hear Him.

 

II Peter 1:18-21 “AND THIS VOICE WHICH CAME FROM HEAVEN WE HEARD, WHEN WE WERE WITH HIM IN THE HOLY MOUNT.  WE HAVE ALSO A MORE SURE WORD OF PROPHECY; WHEREUNTO YE DO WELL THAT YE TAKE HEED, AS UNTO A LIGHT THAT SHINETH IN A DARK PLACE, UNTIL THE DAY DAWN, AND THE DAY STAR ARISE IN YOUR HEARTS: KNOWING THIS FIRST; THAT NO PROPHECY OF THE SCRIPTURE IS OF ANY PRIVATE INTERPRETATION. FOR THE PROPHECY CAME NOT IN OLD TIME BY THE WILL OF MAN: BUT HOLY MEN OF GOD SPAKE as they were MOVED BY THE HOLY GHOST.”

 

Peter was saying that the Scriptures provided to us by the prophets are just as certain and authoritative as the voice of God which spoke on the mount of transfiguration.

He further explains that the prophetic word, meaning the whole of the Old Testament Scriptures, did not originate in the minds of those who wrote (the meaning of “PRIVATE INTERPRETATION”.)  Scripture did not come from the “THE WILL OF MAN.”  Scripture is not the result of human research or human investigation into the nature of things.  Scripture is not the product of its writer’s own thinking.  Then were did Scripture come from?  Peter says “BUT HOLY MEN OF GOD SPOKE AS THEY WERE MOVED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT.” The word “MOVED” in the original language means “BORNE”, “BROUGHT’ or “CARRIED.” Peter is telling us that the Holy Spirit, in essence, picked up the writers, the prophets, and brought them to the goal of His choosing.  That means that the Scriptures, though written by means of human instruments, were so controlled by God that the words which resulted are truly God’s.

This same Peter understood inspiration and the significance of scripture because while waiting as instructed in Jerusalem with the 120 he declared and the Holy Spirit caused Luke to record that:

 

Acts 1:16 “MEN and BRETHREN, THIS SCRIPTURE MUST NEEDS HAVE BEEN FULFILLED, WHICH THE HOLY GHOST BY THE MOUTH OF DAVID SPAKE BEFORE CONCERNING JUDAS, WHICH WAS GUIDE TO THEM THAT TOOK JESUS.”

 

We could go on for several hours with further proofs of the Bible’s divine origin but our time will just not allow.

We could refer to Peter in I Peter 1:10-12 where he explains that the Old Testament spokesmen did not always understand what the Holy Spirit was causing them to record.

We could turn to II Peter 3:15-16 where Peter, again writing the words of God provided by the Holy Spirit, refers to Paul’s writing as Scripture.

We could prove that the Bible, unlike books written by men, contains no contradiction or disagreement within itself.

We could further point out that the Bible is stunning and uncanny in it’s accuracy regarding historical and geographical details.

We could turn to the Bible’s predictive prophecy as proof of its inspiration; knowing that the astrologers, psychics, fortune tellers, and self-proclaimed prophets of our day can’t come close to it’s level of accuracy.

We could turn to the fantastic foreknowledge of scientific truth that the Bible gives us as more evidence. But again time just does not permit and there are studies in Christian Evidences available that would help us understand all of these things, if we don’t already.