Thursday, August 16, 2012

Letter to a Young Man

“…flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. (Matt. 16:17)

My husband corresponds with a young man we met in a nearby town, who was here on vacation (or “holiday,” as they like to call it) from England. We’re not sure he’s saved, and he recently asked my husband a couple of questions that my husband thought would be good for both of us to respond to. I thought I’d share them with you today, along with my answers. "How would you convince or attempt to convince an atheist or agnostic of the existence of God or Jesus? Any good arguments apart from a strong feeling or faith?" 

“I would start out, Damien, by referring you to a passage in the New Testament, where Jesus asked His disciples who people were saying that He was. After they told Him some were saying He was John the Baptist, or Elijah, or Jeremiah, the prophet, He replied, "But whom say ye that I am." (You'll find this encounter in Matthew 16:13-17).) One of His disciples, Simon Peter, rang the bell when he said, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." What Jesus said to him after that is very significant, I think: "Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona, for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven." Here's the thing, some things cannot be taught; they must be revealed. Or as an old Gaelic saying goes, "Who God does not teach, man cannot." 

Having said that, I do believe God often uses godly, concerned Christians to prod peoples' thinking and lay out the reasonableness of the reality of God, and the historical evidence of the death, burial, and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. But the "faith" you spoke of works both ways. As Alister McGrath points out in his outstanding book, Doubting, (you should get it, by the way) "To believe in God demands an act of faith--as does the decision not to believe in him. Neither is based on absolute certainty, nor can it be." There is no "scientific atheism" any more than there is scientific theism. By the way, for some good reading on the irrefutability of the claims of Jesus Christ, I would point you to Lee Strobel's book, The Case For Christ. 

But as I say, mere evidence will not make it real in the heart. Only revelation by God can do that.  I will tell you, however, without fear of contradiction, any man or woman who wants to know the truth about God and is willing to act upon that revelation by submitting to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, God will reveal Himself to. I can also tell you, Damien, that the "leap of faith" to God is well worth the risk and by no means a leap in the dark. Martin Luther said, "Faith is a free surrender and a joyous wager on the unseen, untried, and unknown goodness of God." I agree! I accepted God's offer of salvation as a child of nine, and now, sixty years later, I have more reason to believe than ever before. The illusive proof the world is looking for rests securely within my heart. 

I hope this will get you started in your search for answers. Get the two books I mentioned. I know they'll be a help to you. God bless you, young man, and may He make Himself real to you in the days ahead.” 

                                                    In the Joy of the Lord,
                                                                Salle Sandlin


No comments:

Post a Comment