Every Christian has to eventually make a decision which Bible translation to use in everyday study and reading. Evangelist Clinton De France addresses this difficult issue in a thought provoking and illuminating fashion in today’s Landmark Q&A.
(by Clint Defrance)
(by Clint Defrance)
Yesterday evening Kyle Butt, evangelist of the Church of Christ, met Dan Barker, the president of the Freedom from Religion Foundation to discuss the existence of the God of the Bible. Mr. Butt made some unfortunate errors in his speech that were quite disappointing to me, but overall, as in all cases, the truth was clear and evident. A man who sets out to speak against the Bible and the God it reveals is setting out on a hard road, in fact an impossible one! David long ago said, “The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” (Psalms 53:1) And this being the case, anyone who tries to affirm such a thing is going to set himself up to look like a fool! I would like to examine some of Mr. Barker’s arguments against the existence of the God of the Bible and I believe that Barker’s Blunders will be clearly manifest.
Mr. Barker is an intelligent and well studied man, and like the great “Goliath of Infidelity” Robert Owen who met Alexander Campbell many years ago, he has seen the ungodly nature of religious sectarianism. He brought up the fact that Bible believers cannot agree on the nature of God and how the Bible should be understood as is evident by the hundreds of “denominations of Christianity.” But this in no indictment against the Bible or God, but rather it is an indictment against human creeds and worldly wisdom! Every time that human traditions and creeds have been abandoned and men have resolved to “speak were the Bible speaks, and be silent were the Bible is silent” true Christian unity is the result! On top of the fact that Mr. Barker was never a New Testament Christian, but rather a member of a religious sect of human origin, the particular group that he was a part of is one that has had an infamous history of haoxery and scam and is highly emotional, however, the Bible make no mention of that religious sect and it developed hundreds of years after the death of Christ and the establishment of the Church! Let this be a lesson two great evils in this world. First, to the Atheists, establishing that religion has been perverted and changed does not in any way defame the beauty and the perfection of primitive Christianity, which can be accessed through adherence to the scriptures alone, and second to the advocates of denominationalism, do you not see that your defense of division in the body of Christ heaps shame and reproach on Christ himself! Remember the words of the Apostle Paul, “Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” (1 Corinthians 1:10)
No Evidence for God
Mr. Barker’s next claim against the existence of the God of the Bible was founded in the old claim of Atheists that “there is not evidence the God exists.” It seems that they think if they say it enough times it will be true, but still there are arguments that have never been answered that be cry the essential existence of God, and not just any God but the God of the Bible! Only the Bible offers an adequate explanation for the origin of the Universe. (Genesis 1) Only the Bible offers an explanation for the moral sensibilities that exist in men. (Romans 2:12-16) Only the Bible offers an explanation for the first cause! (Genesis 1:1) Only the Bible has remained unchanged and un-met in its explanation of things, while the greatest minds in the scientific community have been proven wrong time and time again! The more I study human science, the more I find that human science is so incredibly undependable and subject to change as new theories are accepted that I would not be able to sleep easy at night if I were to put my confidence in science alone! The world is flat. Matter is eternal. Lead can be turned into gold. Matter spontaneously generates. The universe is geocentric. These and scores of other embarrassing myths were once held to be scientific fact by the great Barker’s and Dawkins’ and Darwin’s of ages past and now they are regarded as foolish legends! How long will it be until Darwin’s theory of evolution joins these ranks? Already many reputable scientists are expressing strong reasons to doubt the theory. (Many of them reasons that have been raised by Bible-believers since Darwinism began) Certainly there is evidence for God and not mentioning it is not the same as answering it!
Mr. Barker “quoted” 14 alleged discrepancies in the Bible and gave Mr. Butt 10 minutes for his answer. In this Barker used a brilliant, and age old debating ploy of heaping far too many arguments on his opponent for him to possibly answer in the time he had to rebuttal. However, Mr. Butt gave a good response, that being that none of these alleged discrepancies were “new discoveries.” Every one of them have been addressed and answered more than adequately thousands of times in books that are readily available. The contradictions that Mr. Barker claimed to find were the result of taking passages out of context, setting the Old Testament against the New (ignoring the New Testaments explanations of these differences) and failing to consider the full nature of God! In a future article we will give consideration to these and other such alleged discrepancies.
The problems that Mr. Barker has found with the Bible and the God of the Bible are his problems and the product of human error. I appreciate Mr. Butt for his stand for the truth and to Mr. Barker I say that for all of your zeal and dogmatic infidelity you made some fatal blunders when you attempted to use false science and men’s wisdom to wrestle with the word of God! – CED
Over the years there have been a great many good, honest, and sincere brethren who have held to the doctrine of a personal indwelling of the Holy Spirit. As I look into the teachings of scripture, though I do not doubt their wisdom or intelligence, I cannot agree that this is the truth. A number of old worthies, so far as I understand, held this position. But while they contended that the Holy Spirit Himself inhabited their bodies, they did not argue any operation, separate and apart from the word. In fact, from what I have heard, they would freely admit that He did nothing separate from the Word. Over time the generations that followed, and held the same belief, took it a step further, arguing that He did something, but they didn’t know what it was, some suggested there was no way of knowing. Finally we are now in a dark stage of this idea’s development, as men are boldly and brazenly declaring that the Holy Spirit has specific operations that He works in the lives of men without the medium of the Word (directly or personally). Some take it further than others, but all are in a very dangerous position that compromises many fundamental truths of God’s Word, including the Bible’s claims about itself.
The Bible’s Claims About Itself
The same scriptures that we have used for years to fight the Catholics, Mormons, and Holy Rollers, challenge this idea of direct operation. The Apostle Paul told Timothy that the “scripture” makes us “perfect” and “thoroughly furnishes us unto every good work.” (2 Tim. 3:17) We learn form the Apostle Peter that through the “knowledge ofHim” we are given “all things that pertain unto life and godliness.” (2 Peter 1:3) How do we come to the “knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” by some miraculous, supernatural, unexplainable working of God? NO! The Bible is clear in informing us that knowledge of God comes only by the Word. “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17) This is the Holy Spirit working our lives! “For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God… For “who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:11-12,16)
The Bible says that it does this great work of perfecting, edifying, and furnishing, and that it does it perfectly and thoroughly. Shall we call the word of God a liar? This truly is the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit!
What Does the Holy Spirit Do that the Word Does not Do?
The Bible is very clear in informing us what the work of the Holy Spirit is, yet these personal indwelling, direct operation folks try to make it ambiguous and uncertain. When Christ promised to send Him in the 14th chapter of John, He explained why He would be coming: He would comfort, He would convict, He would convert, He would guide, and He would abide forever. All these things areaccomplished in the Word!
I heard a man teach at a funeral not so long ago, that Christians should allow the indwelling Spirit to give the peace and comfort, “and then seek your comfort from the scripture.” This is incredulous! Earlier this year I lost my father to cancer, this ended a long and agonizing experience of watching him suffer. It would have been easy for me to blame God and be lost in despair. But that didn’t happen, the Holy Spirit did what He was sent to do, He comforted me as I read of a hope in the resurrection of Christ Jesus, as I read of the paradise that awaits the saved and the victory through Christ over death and the grave. Apart from the scripture I had no comfort, no rest, and no peace.
I have further known many Christians who were engaged in wrong doing, ignorant of there sin, and were not compelled to stop until, shown in the Word of their error. They were convicted. Did the Holy Spirit not dwell in them? If so why did He not personally queue them in on their wrongdoing? On the day of Pentecost, how did those Jews fall under conviction that moved them to repent? By the working of the Holy Spirit? Yes, of course! Then, by direct operation? NO! The Bible tells us, “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37)
What about conversion? This too cannot be done with the Word. “Faith cometh by hearing…” When Cornelius, the believing gentile, desired salvation, he prayed to God, and God sent Peter to preach to him. Remember the prayer of Jesus, “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” (John 17:17)
Some will testify, “I have been in a tough situation, when I didn’t know what to do and I felt the Holy Spirit telling me what was right.” If ever a man was guided to do what is right, he was guided through the word. David said, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” What could we ask for that God has not provided in His perfect word? Nothing I say, indeed God has given exceeding abundantly more than we could ever deserve.
Many, in desperation turn to Romans chapter 8 and verse 26 as a final proof that the Holy Spirit works separate from the word. “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” Why must one assume that this is done separate from the Word, indeed in cannot be, for it deals with edification. We know this cannot be referring to intercession between God and man, for that is done by Christ alone (Romans 8:34; 1 Tim. 2:5), but this presents no problem, the 8th chapter of Romans is to Christians who are already restored to God, the “weakness” here mentioned is that of the flesh, a weakness of ignorance. When we are dead in sin we are without any knowledge of how to please or worship God, so when we are made alive in Christ our “mind must be renewed by the Spirit.” (Romans 12:2) We who do not even know how to talk to God can cry out, “Lord, teach us how to pray!” And in this weakness the Holy Spirit will intercede with edification through the word (Matt. 6:5-7; Mark 11:24)
Accusations: If He Doesn’t Work This Way, He Doesn’t Exist
These have been thrown these accusations at me, but they are foolish indeed. In the Beginning God created the heavens and the earth. For six days He continued to create, but on the seventh day He rested, He stopped creating, and has never worked in this manner since. That is not to say that He has lost any of His power or that He no longer exists, He just doesn’t work that way anymore. It was said of Abel that he, “Being dead, yet speaks.” Now he doesn’t speak like he used to, but he still speaks. The Holy Spirit is not dead, the Holy Spirit is not resting. He is working today, doing what he was sent here to do, but he is doing that work through the instrument of God’s Holy Word. CED