Archive for May, 2013


All Saints Weekly Devotional

Volume 2 Number 6

May 9, 2013

No True Atheists

From Pastor Bordwine

 

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 1:20)

According to the Bible, true atheism is impossible. You may question the accuracy of this statement because you have probably encountered someone who claimed to be an atheist. Generally speaking, such a person means that they do not believe in God and, moreover, do not believe that there is a God. But there is one teaching in Scripture that contradicts such an assertion. It has to do with the fact that we are created beings.

Theologians refer to this doctrine as “an awareness of divinity.” They mean that we all have a natural knowledge of God’s existence because God has planted such perception in our souls and has made His existence apparent in creation. (cf. Psalm 19:1 “The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.”) As created beings, our minds “automatically” recognize that we have a Creator. Because this awareness is part of what we are—beings created in God’s image—it cannot be erased. It is an inner testimony that never ceases to speak. (cf. Romans 1:18, 19 “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.”)

Due to sin, however, this awareness is corrupted and suppressed by the sinner and this results in manifold attempts to find and worship that which we perceive to be greater than ourselves. Therefore, every culture, even the most primitive, develops a religious expression by which the people seek to acknowledge One greater than themselves. Every tribe has given a prominent place to the idea of a superior being (or beings). These ideas are always inaccurate because, as just noted, sin distorts everything in our existence, including our thinking. The fault is not to be found in God, but in us—specifically in us as fallen creatures.

In Romans 1:20, quoted at the beginning of this devotional, Paul concludes that mankind “is without excuse” when it comes to knowing, acknowledging, and serving God. Obviously, he could not make such a dramatic statement if, in fact, it were possible for a man to escape this natural internal witness to the existence of his Creator. In the context of this verse, as just noted, Paul explains that man suppresses this natural awareness of God because it runs counter to his corrupted concept of himself and the world around him. He cannot eliminate this testimony from God, but sin keeps him from accurately interpreting it.

There is no such thing, therefore, as true atheism. For true atheism to exist, a man would have to rid himself of that which is part of his makeup. This is something that cannot be done. Fallen man may fight against this knowledge and, as already explained, give perverted expression to it by worshiping rocks and trees and various other creations of his own sinful mind, but he cannot eradicate that which God has implanted within us. (cf. Romans 1:23 “. . . and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.” Psalm 115:4-7 “Their idols are silver and gold, the work of man’s hands. They have mouths, but they cannot speak; they have eyes, but they cannot see; they have ears, but they cannot hear; they have noses, but they cannot smell; they have hands, but they cannot feel; they have feet, but they cannot walk; they cannot make a sound with their throat.”)

At this point, you may be wondering why I would choose such a topic for a devotional. The purpose of these devotionals is to provide encouragement as we go about our normal routines during the week. And there is a practical implication of this doctrine that provides much-needed encouragement and hope when it comes to our interaction with other people.

A believer and unbeliever have only one thing in common and that is a fact that they both come from the hand of God. As His special creatures, therefore, they both have this testimony of God’s existence, power, and wisdom within. When the believer speaks to the unbeliever about the gospel, for example, he is speaking truth that resonates with the natural awareness of God that resides in the heart of that unbeliever. This is their point of contact.

Assuming that I have this point of contact with unbelievers, I may be encouraged that my testimony is never given in vain, but will be used by the Holy Spirit as He sees fit. This fact also gives me hope because I know that the Biblical witness I provide will ring true with that knowledge of the Creator implanted in that person’s soul.

Those many conversations that you have with various people—members of your family, friends, and even strangers on occasion—are not wasted efforts regardless of how that individual responds. Scripture declares:

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:10, 11)

As you consider this devotional, I trust that you will find encouragement in your efforts to speak to others about your faith, especially if you have grown weary because you have yet to see evidence of the Spirit’s activity. As long as you are speaking Biblically and prayerfully, you may be confident that the promise made in the verses above will certainly apply to your attempts to convey the truth of God to those who are yet trapped in darkness.

Advertisements

All Saints Weekly Devotional

Volume 2 Number 5

May 2, 2013

A Better Way?

From Pastor Bordwine

 

Oh that my ways may be established to keep Your statutes!

(Psalm 119:5)

Do you agree that the concept of personal obedience is irrelevant within the context of living the Christian life? Many believers have been taught that references to obedience on the part of Christians somehow contradicts the gospel. As a matter fact, there is currently a vigorous debate going on within the evangelical Church regarding this question. One particular school of thought is that any talk of obeying God once a person becomes a Christian is somehow contrary to the message of salvation by grace through faith alone.

There are two major flaws in this thinking. First, it cannot be reconciled with the multitude of passages in which the writers of Scripture command some behavior while condemning other behavior. This implies, of course, that choices have to be made in the Christian life. And those choices, by necessity, must be made according to some standard. If we say that seeking to conform our lives to the commands of Scripture through simple obedience is not an option for the believer, then what do we have left? Some source of authority will inform our conduct. If the Bible is eliminated as a possible source, then we have only the leading of our own hearts. Keep in mind, however, this statement from the prophet Jeremiah: “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jer. 17:9)

Salvation does not bring with it an immediate perfection of our sense of discernment. The Word of God teaches the very opposite when it tells us that sin remains as a powerful influence in our flesh this side of heaven even after we are born-again. Apart from the Bible, therefore, there is no other source on which the Christian may rely for moral guidance if our desire is to reflect the character of God.

I said that the thinking described above has two major flaws. The second flaw is the complete mischaracterization of the idea of obedience in the Christian life. We do not seek to know and obey the Scriptures in order to impress God or established merit in His eyes. Our desire to know and obey the Scriptures comes from our sense of thankfulness to God for what He has done for us in Christ. For the Christian, attempting to bring our lives into line with the commands of Scripture is an act of humility because we have come to understand that we are not capable of righteous living apart from instruction concerning what constitutes such an existence.

I quoted from Psalm 119 above. This Psalm contains the conclusions of David as he meditated on the law of God. Throughout this Psalm, we find numerous references such as the one above: “Oh that my ways may be established to keep Your statutes!” David repeatedly expresses his desire to develop the highest regard for the commands of God. It was his prayer that his life be a reflection of the will of God as revealed to us in the Bible.

Clearly, David understood that walking before the Lord requires direction, correction, and encouragement and that is what we find in those passages where God tells us how to live. Again, these commands are not given so we might achieve or maintain our place before God, but are given so that we might know what pleases Him. Our love for God and for the Savior prompts us to seek that which David sought, which is a life characterized by holiness.

It is greatly troubling to know, as I mentioned above, that there are those who completely reject the notion of a believer showing concern for the Word of God as a source for moral guidance in our lives. This is in spite of the fact that Jesus Himself declared: “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (John 14:15) Our desire to express our love for God in our conduct is the work of the Spirit and is a natural response from those who have been delivered from condemnation and given eternal life.

Be on guard, therefore, as you avail yourself of all the sources of Christian teaching that are accessible these days. Take time to read Psalm 119 and pay attention to the many ways in which David described his dedication to the commands of God. By adopting David’s attitude toward the Word, you will find joy and, far from contradicting the gospel, your thankful obedience will confirm its reality and power.