Friday, 1 October 2010

Questions, Questions, Questions - Sullivan Upper SU

I didn't really relish going to school back in the days when I had to, but I very much enjoy it now, and I definitely enjoyed it last Friday when I had to opportunity to go to Sullivan Upper, Holywood, and speak to the SU group there.

There were dozens of young people there, and after speaking to them for a while I got flooded with loads of questions.  Time didn't permit me to get to them all (reminds me of exam time when I was at school), but I want to try to get to them now. 

"Why is there such a split in the world in terms of religion?"  Harry Ironside was asked about why there were so many faiths in the world, and how could anyone know what was true.  He responded that he knew of only two religious beliefs.  The questioner was astonished and told him there was Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism etc. etc.  Ironside replied that there are still only two religious beliefs, those who say you need a Saviour, and those who say you can save yourself. 
This helps us tremendously in our search for truth.  If God is righteous (and if there is a God then His nature must be absolutely righteous) then good works are obligatory 100% of the time, and every sin must be condemned - this leaves us in a state of utter helplessness because we've all sinned, and thus we need a Saviour.  Only the message of the Gospel offers that.  Just ask someone from one of the other world religions to tell you about their saviour - see what response you get - who are they going to talk about?  If a person won't acknowledge they're helpless, then they're inventing a god who isn't absolutely righteous - a god who will fudge on the issue of sin, and so we see the profusion of religions across the world in which people are trying to work their way to the place they want to go - it's all about them, whereas in the Gospel it's all about Christ - you have to trust Him to deal with your sin and bring you to God.  We shouldn't be surprised that so many people try to do it themselves - people don't like to admit they're charity cases!
You may say, "But people are a product of their environment - if you'd been born in India you would have been a Hindu, if you'd been born in Iran you would have been a Muslim etc."  Well, that may be true to a certain extent, but the Bible teaches that there will be people in heaven from "every kindred and tongue and people and nation" (Revelation 5 v 9) so no one can use their background as an excuse because there will be people in heaven from the same background, and everyone there will be giving credit to the Lord Jesus, not to their religion or quality of life, (the Lord teaches a similar lesson in Matthew 12 v 41-42).  The sincere seeker of the truth will find it, and God will get them the information they need, as Acts chapters 8 & 10 teach.

"What happens to babies and little children who die?"  The Bible teaches that we experience physical death as a result of Adam's sin (Romans 5 v 12; 1Corinthians 15 v 21), but the punishment people receive in hell is because of their own sins (Revelation 20 v 11-15).  God will not punish people for sins they haven't committed, nor will He punish people who genuinely aren't responsible for their actions (Jonah 4 v 11).  The grace of God which reaches out to offer forgiveness and salvation to the rebel who repents certainly encompasses the child who didn't rebel and couldn't repent.
In addition, we may have a case in point in 2Samuel 12 v 23 in which David took comfort in the event of the death of his baby boy that he would go to him.
One final point on this that may be significant, the Lord Jesus spoke about little children on one occasion and in that context He said "The Son of man is come to save that which was lost" (Matthew 18 v 11)  The significance of this is that the Lord said something strikingly similar yet significantly different in Luke 19 v 10 - "The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost".  In that context the Lord was dealing with a person who was responsible for his actions - seeking was required because the person had gone astray.  In the passage dealing with little children the Lord seems to be indicating that they haven't deliberately gone astray so He just comes to save them.  Read the context - it appears to me He is saying they are safe and secure (Matthew 18 v 10; see also Matthew 19 v 14)

One more for this post, then we'll take it up again in a subsequent one:
"What if there isn't a God?"  Well, I have mixed feelings about how I'll answer this one.  I'll go at it a few different ways:
  1. It would be logically incomprehensible - if there was any way we could know there is no God then it would be the most utterly perplexing thing ever because it would mean that literally everything came out of literally nothing - we can't then talk about logic, science, cause and effect because nothing caused everything, nothing created everything!  It would mean the amazing fine tuning of the universe was a massive fluke.  It would mean that consciousness came from chemicals, morality from matter, intelligence from mindlessness, purpose from randomness, etc. etc.  These are things that contradict science, reason and rationality.  It would mean that Jesus was either deceived or a deceiver; that the empty tomb, the transformation in the disciples, the explosion of Christianity is first century Israel, the conversion of Saul and James came about by something other than the resurrection.  It would mean that the fulfilled prophecies of Scripture were just good guesswork!  It would mean that the transformation in the lives of millions of people was effected by a deception, the answers to prayers and the amazing interventions have been illusions.  There is just too much evidence to be torn down for atheism to be credible!
  2. It would be utterly inconsolable - it would mean that justice will never be done - there will never be a Supreme Court because there is no law and there is no Judge.  The mass murderer and the murdered end up exactly the same - nothing.  It would mean that the sick, the diseased, the oppressed, the downtrodden, and the elderly have no hope - nothing to look forward to, just a few more moments of pain, pointlessness, passing the time, then they'll be snuffed out of existence.  What a dark prospect.
  3. It would be personally inconsequential - the message of the Gospel which I have believed is a message that has brought me such peace, joy and purpose.  I live life in the enjoyment of a real relationship with God through Christ.  I have the assurance of forgiveness and the anticipation of heaven - this is something that brings me such freedom and gives me such joy.  If I'm wrong about the issue of God, then I'll never even know it!  So I lose nothing.  If the unbeliever is wrong...they will know it - they'll lose everything.
Whether you are one of the Sullivan students or not, you can contact me with questions (  I don't have all the answers, but I believe the Bible does, and I would be delighted to try to help you find the answers there.