Why we do what we do
Jesus said to him: “Feed my sheep” (John 21:17b)
Originally published in a CMI newsletter, May 2011
Most of you receiving this Update would be only too aware of the importance—socially, culturally, theologically and evangelistically—of making a strong stand on the truth of Genesis as real history—just as believed and taught by the Lord Jesus Christ and His Apostles.
But I imagine that some of you, while probably happy about the information that CMI produces continually, wonder about why a large percentage of our ministry is to Christians. We can’t stress often enough that we’ve found it to be the most effective way of reaching unbelievers, too. Let me explain.
First, most non-Christians will not bother to come to creation meetings ‘aimed at them’, however advertised. In fact, even most Christians won’t cross the road to go to a creation meeting (“I know God is Creator—who cares about the details?”). But when one of us turns up at their church—well, they’re already there, so they may as well listen—and boom! For many the ‘lights go on’ for the first time as to the vital, foundational importance of Genesis.
Strategic ways of outreach
And think on this: a substantial portion of such congregations become armed, equipped, emboldened and, humanly speaking, much more likely to be effective at witnessing. It’s because they are now fired up with confidence in the absolute truth of the Bible. And often many pastors comment on what a difference it made in the life of believers. (See later.)
Further, these Christians have relationships with unbelievers—family, work friends, etc. These are people with whom they have already, in a sense ‘earned’ the right to be heard—especially when these believers claim that what they say makes scientific sense—and it does. So by ‘energizing’ the majority of a congregation of even just 100 believers, there is an outer circle of some 300–400 hundred unbelievers. These are ones with the potential of getting hold of an article from Creation magazine, or a booklet or witnessing tract, or to be invited to their believing friend’s home to watch a DVD—for example, on how science and the Bible are compatible without compromise. We’ve often shared how we get news of folk becoming converted in that way. Sometimes we only hear about it years later, when one of our speakers returns to the region.
Then, too, sometimes unbelievers just happen to come along to a Christian meeting, even if only because they have been dragged there by their Christian friends or family. Sometimes this is because we can use enticing subject matter, like UFOs or the Ice Age. Some of those have told us much later how they were converted via a ‘process’ that began with a life-changing encounter via an unashamed defense of biblical creation with scientific integrity.
But there is one group we can sometimes overlook in this sort of analysis—those probably within every church who are not exactly on fire for God. For some, the problem can become apparent when they profess becoming saved—even after years as a ‘churchian’! Two of the earliest converts of the famous Welsh preacher, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, were his wife (who had been a churchgoing professing Christian for years) and the secretary of the first parish that called him!
Conversion—from tares to wheat
We heard of a similar example recently. It was the email testimony of Gert H, a university student (in a science/technology-related field) in Holland. Translated, Gert indicated that in 2003, he started to believe in the Christian faith—well, sort of. He says:
“At first … I made my own image of God and read the Bible that way … . I felt that evolution had long been proven and that the biblical creation story was myth, at best. Or, in my own words, nonsense. And the result was that I read the Bible with ‘atheistic eyes’. If the first chapter of the Bible was all wrong, why would the story of Abraham be correct? Were the Israelites ever in Egypt, and liberated from their bondage there? Did Jesus ever exist at all or … ?”
I suppose it’s easy to see why one would put Gert in that category mentioned, going to church, but likely unconverted. In 2006, though, he said, “I came to living faith through a series of lectures by [CMI-UK/Europe CEO] Philip Bell on the theme of creation vs evolution.”
Gert wrote that CMI’s presentations gave a scientific basis to “why the creation story and the Flood could be accepted as historical fact. He talked about the (wrong) assumptions made by evolution, and gave some hard evidence which in 3½ hours shook my whole world off its foundations. That, however, gave God the opportunity to do beautiful things in my life.”
Since that time, his now-vibrant faith has clearly blossomed and deepened. God and the truth of His Word now take center stage. He has immersed himself in the quality creation/apologetics literature available in Dutch (much of it translated from CMI materials via our co-laborers in that country). He is totally sold out on the truth of God’s word, with Genesis as total historical truth, and is now confident of His own salvation. Excitingly, Gert now uses much of his time to share his faith, and in particular the truth of Genesis—which has already brought fruit, expanding God’s Kingdom.
Put simply, church attendance ‘does not a Christian make’. I think that many might be really surprised at the level of biblical illiteracy in our day. Last year, one of CMI’s IT staff, a young man in his twenties, was in a group of ten young men from his church that had stopped for lunch in a park. Chatting, they asked each other about their work.
When he mentioned Creation Ministries International and Creation magazine, the very next question was, “So do you really believe in literal 6-day creation?” Then, he says, “It became full on … the questions didn’t shock me, but where it was coming from did. Most of these guys had grown up in the church and yet had no clue about the issues, of how evolution removes the need for Christ. I explained in a few words that if evolution is true then the world was never perfect, so what was the point of Christ? How could they expect to share a Gospel that made no sense to an unbelieving world? After repeating myself a few times they understood.”
Then one of his fellow parishioners simply said, “Evolution is true.” What was his evidence? He said, “Just look at fads in society, the way they spread and develop.” Huh? Our staff member explained how this was not evolution, and received grudging assent. Finally, one of them said, “OK, I’ve heard you, but I don’t believe anything you’ve said”, without giving any support for his own position.
The staffer concerned was actually shocked to find out the depth of both biblical illiteracy and lack of understanding of the science involved. This one short anecdote helps powerfully explain why, after over 30 years of going to church after church, it is still the most crucially important and effective part of what we do. It is also vital for us to expend our efforts to get into churches like that one, where we had obviously never been.
Then there are Christians who may be saved, but doubts and unbelief hamper their walk and effectiveness. Paul S., raised in a non-Christian home, wrote that he became a Christian at 27. Now 46, he writes that he is now “able to reflect on my almost 20 years as a Christian. I can assure you that although I know I was saved when I believed in Jesus for forgiveness of sins and turning to faith in Him, much time was required for me to completely eradicate philosophical naturalism from my thinking.
“I remember the pastor who was instrumental in my conversion mentioning eternal life in a conversation with me. I recall being embarrassed at the thought of eternal life as if it was some superstitious religious ideal not founded in reality. [I eventually believed but] I had nagging questions about the historical accuracy of a literal Adam and Eve and a literal Fall as well as age-of-Earth questions.
“I attended a CMI event at my church and was first exposed to your ministry. I now have complete satisfaction that the Word of God is true. … . I [realized] that should the Genesis account of origins not be true as plainly written, then the entire scriptural account from Genesis to Revelation stood on shaky ground. Not until your ministry presented this information to me have I been able to finally shed my doubts regarding biblical inerrancy. I no longer need to somehow make the biblical account fit into a billions of years time frame. … . I am now convinced that philosophical naturalism/materialism is the main underlying cause of doubt among even conservative Christians.
“I therefore consider your ministry of key importance to the Gospel. … . Our very human origins and God’s redemptive plan for humanity are rooted fundamentally in Genesis. It is obvious to me if Genesis were unreliable history, then all of the Bible could be regarded with suspicion; in fact prior to exposure to your ministry I always had nagging questions and underlying doubts about biblical reliability in Genesis. Your ministry has enabled me to be intellectually satisfied that the Genesis account is reliable history … my entire faith is strong … . Since doctrine [in all the] Bible stems from the Genesis account, I can now rest in assurance that my faith is a reasonable one.
“Thank you to your ministry for being a tool in the hands of the Holy Spirit for releasing my life and mind from the grip of evolutionary philosophical naturalism/materialism.”
It’s your ministry, too, for without your support as God enables, we would not be able to see these sorts of things that just keep on happening in many lives that we know of, let alone the many that we don’t get to hear of at the time. So please understand that even your small contributions really do help.