Monday, February 3, 2014

A better question

Tomorrow there is going to be a debate of sorts.  Bill Nye, of Bill Nye the Science Guy, and Ken Ham, of Answers in Genesis, are going to get together to publicly discuss this question: "Is Creation A Viable Model of Origins in Today's Modern Scientific Era?"

In the interest of public disclosure I'll say that before yesterday I had little awareness that this event was coming up and now that I have heard more about it my intention is not to pay much attention to it. 

Yesterday I stumbled across this article in the Chicago Sun-Times, which brought the pending debate to my attention.  What surprised me about the Sun-Times piece was the animosity of the authors towards Christianity in general, and Protestantism in particular.  To my understanding of history they made some profound misstatements about the origins and intent of the reform of the church in the 15th/16th century and the descendants of that reform today. 

Yesterday I preached from 1 Corinthians 1:18-31.  My sermon was titled "Wisdom: Not What You'd Expect."  One thing I tried to bring out of the passage was that there is a difference between the wisdom of the world and the wisdom of the church.  Paul says that various factions of the world seek proof of God through either signs or logic.  The desire to prove, or as in the case of the debate and the Sun-Times article, to disprove, the methods chosen by God to reveal himself to the world through logic continue today. 

In contrast to the wisdom of the world Paul holds out what he calls "the word of the cross."  Verse 18 says:

"For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." 

The "word of the cross" is a very brief way of saying this:

You and I are sinners.  Our sin is not merely doing something wrong or making a mistake.  Sin is rebellion against a holy God.  And rebellion against God deserves punishment.  Because God is holy, and you and I are not, we cannot possibly take the punishment that God's justice demands.  So God, the Father, in his mercy, sent Jesus, his Son, to live a sinless life and take on his body the punishment you and I deserve.  The Father found this work by the Son acceptable and raised the Son to eternal life.  When, by faith, we believe what Jesus, the Son, has done, we receive the promise of eternal life.  The punishment for our sin, all of it, has been paid by the Son, and our destiny beyond this world will be eternity with God. 

What Paul calls "the word of the cross" is a message that no amount of logic will arrive at.  There is no possible way to go from "A to B to C to etcetera" and arrive at "salvation in Jesus."  It is a message that is only arrived at through faith in what God has done in Jesus. 

Not faith in Jesus the good teacher.  Not faith in Jesus the example of a better way.   Only through faith in Jesus, the Savior.

I started writing this post with a somewhat negative opinion of tomorrow's pending debate. While I still don't have much interest in the central question that Nye and Ham will discuss, perhaps their discussion will touch some people in such a way that they begin to look more deeply into the central message of the Bible. 

For me, a better question, or perhaps the only question that matters, is about Jesus, and it is this one, the one that he asked to his disciples:

"But who do you say that I am?"

Peter's response was this:

"You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

Like Peter, I believe that Jesus is the Son of the living God, and so I find great comfort in what Paul called the "word of the cross." 

How does that word speak to you?

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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