What is our motivation?
Published: 3 May 2014 (GMT+10)
Nathanael G., Australia, asks,
Now I have no idea whether this is the case or not, but it is just a concern.
Do you think that perhaps, when trying to prove the existence of God, the God of the Bible, or His creation, that you totally lose sight of the real goal? That perhaps proving God’s existence or proving a young earth becomes more important than God Himself. That our relationship with Christ becomes less important than proof of His existence.
Lita Cosner, CMI-US, responds:
I suppose it is possible that for some people, the creation/evolution debate and its associated arguments and proofs could take precedence over a relationship with God. But that certainly isn’t the case personally with myself, or with any of my colleagues that I’m aware of. In fact, our motivation is to help believers. There is such an onslaught against Christians in today’s culture, and evolutionary propaganda is so pervasive, that many Christians start to doubt whether the Bible is really true. Our speakers often hear how their messages have answered questions that people have had for years. And we receive the same sort of testimonies about the resources we offer on the web.
The reality is that while it sounds spiritual to ‘just have faith’ and not worry about answering skeptical attacks, having a sound intellectual basis for one’s faith allows us to help struggling believers. There’s a spiritual battle going on around the issue of creation, and we have to be equipped to do our part. And we do this because we love God and have a relationship with Him, and we don’t want evolution to be a stumbling block to other people coming to Him.
I hope this is helpful.
R. E., Mexico, asks:
Hello, CMI. My atheist step-brother friend asked me 2 questions I can’t respond:
Why pray to God if we got all the things we have by ourselves? And why thank God for someone having cancer cured if the chemotherapy did all the job?
Lita Cosner, CMI-US, responds:
First, a Christian acknowledges that all things come from God. For instance, I may have bought food with money I earned at my job, but God gave me the ability to work, a place to be paid for my work, and He sent the rain that allowed the food to grow that I buy and eat. If God did not send rain and all the crops shriveled, it would not matter how much money I had. So to refuse to thank God for food overestimates our ability as humans, the stability of the environment and our income, and underestimates how much we depend on God.
In the same way, God provided the skill of the doctors and the availability of the cancer treatments, so it is certainly suitable to thank God when cancer goes into remission. And how do we know that the chemotherapy did everything?
So the answer has to do with believing that every good gift comes from above (James 1:17). Because God created the world and continues to sustain it, we receive many good things, even though the world is fallen. We don’t deserve anything good from God, but God gives even the most hardened atheist pleasurable things in this life.
Debating people about the existence of the Lord is quite biblical. Scripture says that Paul "reasoned/discussed daily with those [people] who were in the market-place...and disputed with the Stoics and Epicureans" (Acts 17:17-18)
Being ready with an answer is important but studying apologetics should not take precedence over studying the WORD OF GOD or the GOSPEL OF CHRIST . I am very grateful for ministries like CMI that always take their stand on both of these regardless of the topic, the articles firmly rooted in GOD'S WORD. I was so wrapped up in being ready with an answer that I neglected scripture and it was ministries like this one that GOD used to correct me. PRAISE GOD FOR THAT!
You don’t go out to prove God’s existence. His existence is self-evident. Similarly all the things from God that are self-evident are used to better ourselves. An unbeliever’s eyes needs to be opened with an internally consistent worldview so that they can acknowledge He exists and interpret their reality with an appreciation of God. Most disbelievers want observational proof of God, but their problem is that they can’t discern spiritual things and are not righteous. (1 Corinthians 2:14 (ESV) “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.”). So, in their condition, they can never stand in the presence of God to observe Him or understand the benefits that come from Him. Matthew 5:8 (ESV) “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
Young earth is a presupposition detailed within the scriptures that recorded our early history which science can never observe thus prove. If we accept an atheist philosophy about the age of the earth then we reject Christ’s word’s confirming the bibles truth. If the world thinks young earth is nonsense the scripture advises in 1 Corinthians 3:18 (ESV) “Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise.”
There is yet another reason to thank God. When a person takes chemotherapy or any other medicine, it does not mean that God was not involved.
* Without prayer, the chemo may not have worked at all or taken much longer to work.
* Without prayer, the person may have even taken a turn for the worse after treatment, which often happens because the body is weakened by the chemo.
* Even if the person is taken by the Lord, the person will be surrounded by the Peace of God in their last hours.
We should never trust human effort alone and there is nothing better we can have than Almighty God at our side during great peril.
I want to thank Lita Cosner for both of her responses. In the first response regarding apologetics distracting from our relationship with God, I would also say that God wants to impact us in our Spirit (being born-again spiritually and communing with God's Spirit), renewed in our mind (understanding God as the Creator etc), and to subject our bodies to healthy behavior. Which leads into the second comment regarding what comes from God and what do we accomplish on our own as humans. For me, the short but complete answer is that if Jesus Christ had not died on the cross there would be no healing by any means as there would be no forgiveness. As a physician I rejoice when I hear of people healed by prayer to God, but also I thank God that there is healing available through medicine. Both are available because Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins. His death on the cross for sin was the complete payment for the justice of God the Father. His resurrection was confirmation of the completed payment. Through Jesus Christ we can now receive both mercy and grace.
Thanks be to God.
John G Leslie PhD, MD, PhD
Good article. I find myself talking to many atheists on Youtube. They go on Creation videos and try to thwart the faith of many Christians. In fact, many of them claim to have been Christian at one time. I post some of the things I post in hopes that some struggling Christian will have answers that they most likely will not get in church as the subject of creation is rarely taught and if so usually things like the gap theory. I taught a creation/evolution class at the church we were going to 3 years ago and it was amazing how many questions people had. Sadly, I had 3x as many people in that class then I did in my Biblical evangelism class a year earlier. Either way some truth went forth.
Keep up the good work CMI!
Why study creation on the terms given by The Creator in His holy Word? Why defend truth, when we follow the One who is The Way, The Truth and The Life? Why love God with all our mind? Why take His Word to be all inspired, uselful for correction and teaching? Why take The Allknowing to know better than all? Why be reverent to the source of all Christian teaching and doctrine - not partly but completely? Why believe Jesus when He spoke of what was earthly? Why hold God as being truthful, a Truthful Witness? Why bow to The Creators Own account of how He, in sovereign allpowerfulness, chose to create His creation? God is always truthful. No one gave Him anything first. And we are indepted to Him for everything - our life, the very air we breath, the bread we eat, any abundance we ought to share, every fiber of our being.
How can you have a relationship with someone you don't think is real? "But everyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him." Hebrews 11:6
Recognizing God as the Creator is the foundation for knowing who it is we worship and why. These truths are vital!
To me, the essential concern in the (1) creation/evolution, (2) worldwide flood/local flood/no flood, and (3) historical narrative/poetry/allegory debates is truth. My reading of Scripture reveals the God who is Truth. I come to know reality and truth by learning about and learning from the God who created the universe, everything. Even when truth is painful, I want the truth. I don’t want to live my life pursuing what is false. I don’t want to build my life on what is false, what has no substance in reality. Thus, if Jesus’ obvious endorsements of the truth of Genesis, as well as Paul’s and Peter’s, are in error, then the historic beliefs of Christianity are wrong. The work of CMI, ICR, AIG, etc. is about seeing the hand of God, the mind of God, the purposes of God, the attributes of God revealed by means of what the Triune God created. Because we can know that the Creator God exists simply by means of what God has made, all human beings are without excuse. The God of Creation is also the God of Revelation through Jesus, through His written word to us, and through His handiworks. Your work, CMI, is foundational!!!
The second question reminds me of the C. S. Lewis essay, "Work and Prayer". Just like God gives us controls over what we do (work), he also gives us some amount of control (although more limited - with good reason) over everything else (prayer). I can't put it as eloquently as Lewis did in this short comment, but I highly recommend reading the essay if you can find it. I know that it is included in a collection of Lewis essays titled, "God in the Dock".
"...having a sound intellectual basis for one’s faith allows us to help struggling believers."
I think it also bears mentioning that having a sound intellectual basis for one's faith helps one maintain that faith. The better we understand why we have faith, the more likely we are to hold onto it and not allow other atheistic ideas to cause us to stumble. I think this is why so many young people today are falling away: they are not grounded in their faith and the importance of Genesis!