This post is a response to: An Open Letter to Christians. It is part of Trinity Phix’s Defend Your Faith Series. This response is from our guest (and my dad) Pastor Bryan L. Kinney….
I know this response may seem lengthy, but trust me, it could be much longer. I wanted to give a clear response and apologize for taking so long to answer. Hopefully this will be the first of many such dialogs to come.
So let me begin…
At some point in my journey that led me to the Word of God I realized the only person whose ideology or opinions that were in 100% agreement with myself were my own.
I had to realize I could be wrong, so I made the conscious decision to accept the possibility that the way I viewed reality might have to change. I decided to build a reality based upon the possibility there existed a being who truthfully makes this claim…
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9”
Now accepting this truth as valid requires a major paradigm shift. Because if such a being existed, then it would be prudent to alter my thinking accordingly and recognize that no matter what I believe to be right or wrong–this being might be smarter than me, wiser than me, and if he has my best interest at heart, may know what is best for me. The real problem I find with most people is they want a God who fits their version of reality. It’s as if they are saying:
“If God does not fit what I think is right, then I won’t believe he exists. And if anything contradicts what I think, I will use my intellect and creativity to explain it”.
So once they make a determination of what love is, they reject anything that contradicts it. Once they determine what good is, they reject anything that contradicts that. And once they determine what is real, they reject anything that rejects that belief–even if what they believe contradicts the evidence before them.
A classic example is the fanatical adherence of many to Darwinian evolution. Despite the overwhelming scientific evidence (especially in the information sciences) that debunk this theory, many people with all kinds of degrees and high IQ’s still fanatically defend this theory as fact.
You see, many people do not want to deal with a being that causes them to submit and change what they have dictated as truth.
They will use their intellect and their creativity to rationalize and reject anything that does not fit what they have decided is truth. If the Creator himself does not agree with them, they will simply find a way to creatively rationalize what they want to believe or just out right reject what the Creator has said.
In essence, this is what is being said…
In my reality, it is wrong to select a group of people to become the protectors of God’s Word and call them the chosen people, so I will not accept a God that does not agree with my position .. after all I am smarter and have a greater sense of right and wrong than the Creator of the Reality in which I live.
It makes no sense to me that God, Creator of the Universe, would create a being or beings that would rebel or do what I determine as evil acts. Therefore, I reject this so called God and either refuse to believe he exists or better yet create my own version of who and what God is…
Or, as the Word Of God describes this mentality..
“And, instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles”. Rom 1:23 (NLT)
“For they don’t understand God’s way of making people right with himself. Refusing to accept God’s way, they cling to their own way of getting right with God by trying to keep the law”. Rom 10:3 (NLT)
Yes … There are legitimate questions that should be answered when it comes to accepting God. I do not believe in blind faith because if the God of the Bible did create this present reality and all that is contained within it, it is He himself who has declared that not only is His signature contained within it, but it is discoverable.
“By wisdom the LORD founded the earth; by understanding he created the heavens”. Prov 3:19 (NLT)
“For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God”. Rom 1:20
His signature has to be in the science, the philosophies, morality, history, archeology, sociology, psychology, and throughout every fabric of this reality in which we live.
Without going through the tons of scriptures that explain free will, here are two from the book of Deuteronomy that can possibly shed some insight…
“Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse. A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you this day: And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known” Deut. 11:26-28
I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: Deut: 30:19
God has placed before us options, and we can choose. We can either choose to see or not. We can choose to do or not. But we have no control over the ultimate outcomes of these choices because we simply cannot see the future nor control the external forces and actions of others around us. At best we can extrapolate from the past and hope for the best.
On the other hand, The Creator makes this claim about Himself in Isaiah:
Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: Isaiah 46:9-10
Think about this, if true, God is a Being who:
- Knows everything that will ever happen in our futures. Many of us, myself included, believe that God is not even bound by time.. that he is the Creator of time, and therefore the rules that bind us do not bind him.
- His intellect is capable of seeing and understanding every permutation and interaction of every action and thought of every human being, every living entity and every spiritual entity in all realities.
- He is capable of understanding every permutation and interaction of every thing–be it energy or matter on the atomic level, the subatomic level, the spiritual level or on any other non-conceivable level.
It is possible for such a being to use terms like “predestinate” without us being “puppets on a string”. Also, you have to understand that since the beginning there have been those who voluntarily submit themselves to God’s will. We emulate Jesus who said in John 5:30:
“I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me”.
God wants dedicated volunteers who can and will choose to trust him even when they think or feel there are better options. He places before us the blessing of voluntarily choosing to submit to his will or cursing.
Apparently Satan had this choice as well, and he made the ultimate decision not to do his will and tried to replace him. People want a benevolent God; unfortunately, the God of your desire is not the God of the Bible.
The God of the Bible is a God that judges and condemns sin, as defined by Him and not by men. He has declared that all sin, even the insignificant sins that in our opinion or so insignificance and should be ignored or forgiven, is punishable by death.
Physical death in the cosmogony of the Word of God is not death of the physical body but the total separation from God that occurs in the lake of fire created for Satan and his followers.
Satan was not a puppet with lack of choice any more than anyone else who is destined for the lake of fire. His ego got the best of him. He determined to “defy God” because in his opinion he determined that his views and ways were better than his Creator.
Many people today have made the free will conscious decision to follow in Satan’s footsteps and “defy God” because they believe they know better than God.
Yes, it is absolutely true that God gave us free will to choose, and if anyone wants to make that an excuse to defy him..
That is their choice.
If someone wishes to burn in the lake of fire because they don’t like what God did, that is also their choice.
Many children have told their parents: I did not choose to be born … what I do is all your fault. I would like to see that child try to make that case with a judge. And if someone wants to step up to their Creator and say: you gave me free will; therefore my choices are all your fault.. when judgment comes, guess how far that will get you?
CHOICE SUPPORT : EVIDENCE & PROOF
God does not want us to make our choices lightly. To help us make the proper choices he gave us the ability to reason, think, imagine, speculate, to be intuitive and much more.
If your looking for specific evidence that is beyond a shadow of a doubt, then the evidence for the God of the Bible is overwhelming. This is especially true when three elements are recognized:
- The diversity of controversial topics and the amazing continuity of what God says about these topics (remember the Bible is an anthology with many writers over a 1500 year period who come from many divergent backgrounds – farmers, politicians, kings, poor, rich etc)
- Its Uniqueness in its continuity, its circulation, its translations, its very survival through time, persecution and criticisms, its uniqueness in its teachings concerning prophecy, history and character, its uniqueness in its influence on literature, on civilization and more
- The specificity of fulfilled prophecy (not referring to what we call eschatology of prophecies concerning future events)
There have been many who have set out to disprove and discredit the Bible. But after examining the evidence, were convinced of the Word of God, and they published their findings. Here are three:
- Josh McDowell published his research that he gathered while trying to once and for all discredit the Bible. His findings are published in a book called “Evidence That Demands A Verdict”
- J. Warner Wallace a police investigator who specialized in investigating cold cases decided to use his skills to discredit the Bible and published his findings in his book called “Cold-Case Christianity”
And one more…
- Lee Strobel who was a top investigative reporter for the Chicago Tribune, and devoted atheist, decided to use his investigation skills to discredit the Bible. You can read his findings in “A Case For Christ”
You can find tons of writings that try to discredit the research of these individuals and others like them. But rather than read what scoffers say, one can read these and most importantly the Bible for yourself.
If the Bible is accurate, then scoffers are to be expected. There is a huge army of highly intelligent and creative people and other spiritual entities whose primary task is to twist and distort the teachings of God’s word.
“In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them”. 2 Cor 4:4
But God gave us minds and the ability to think and make choices on our own. He does not pre-program us as you indicated in your statement “God knew and planned that he would eventually revolt against him. The same thing can be said about all people who are destined for the Lake of Fire”.
Remember when we speak about the God of the Bible we are speaking about a being who has the ability to see past present and future just as easily as we can see what is in front of us. We are talking about a being who has the ability to see and understand every possible act and every permutation of every thought and action of every single person ever born in history.
When we do simple acts, like driving a car, our minds are going through numerous calculations and exploring numerous permutations of actions. And we do this without a thought. Now imagine, if you can, what a God who created you with this ability can do especially when he ‘knows the end from the beginning”.
So if you choose to “.. defy God because, in (your) opinion, even the predestined lake of fire-dwellers deserve salvation–even if they deny him”. That is your choice. If the Bible is correct and God is who he claims to be, you have made the decision to go to hell (lake of fire) just because you don’t like what He says. This is like walking out into the middle of a busy intersection on a red light because in your opinion you think red should mean go. This will not prevent you from reaping the consequences of your choice.
In Christ’s Love,
Pastor Bryan Kinney has a ministry called D.E.A.P Bible Ministries, where he teaches Christians to articulate their Faith in the marketplace of ideas. You can find out more information at deapbible.org. He is also an internet entrepreneur who assists people in making long-term residual income.