Newsletter April, 2004

ORLANDO CHINESE CHURCH MONTHLY NEWSLETTER

April, 2004


The Truth and Value in Christian Faith

Abraham and Maggie

Before we became Christians, we thought that Christian faith was superstitious belief. Instead of believing in GOD, we believed in science, human understanding capability, reasoning power, and other abilities. However, as time went on, we started to realize that everything we believed in was actually very limited in revealing the truth of life.

First, science is limited and thus has been corrected throughout human history. In 1858, Darwin published his claim about evolution for the first time based on the assumption of blending heredity. Based on this assumption, parents’ genes blend together in their children’s genes. However, in 1865, Austrian scientist, Gregor Mendel revealed the truth of discrete heredity. In fact, parents’ genes are fully copied to their children. However, some are hidden in one generation while others are apparent. The genes that are hidden in one generation may become apparent in the next generation. This explains the throwback of certain illnesses in different generations of a family. This discovery alone overturns Darwin’s hypothesis that humans were evolved from apes while apes evolved from fish. If humans were truly evolved from fish or ape, humans could give birth to apes or fish when the genes of apes or fish became apparent in their offspring. However, the long history of human life shows no such occurrence ever. Science is so limited mainly because the unknown universe is relatively infinite. The development in telescopes only reveals even more unknown stars and galaxies. Science is limited also because it can only explain how things happen in the world but cannot explain why things happen this way. Nobel prize winner Yang Zhenning said that above science is philosophy while above philosophy is theology.

Nonetheless, human’s understanding capability is also limited. Here, we’ll introduce two Bible related misunderstandings to illustrate the limits of human understanding. One example is British philosopher Bertrand Russell’s misunderstanding about the Bible. Matthew16:28 records that Jesus once said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom”. Based on this verse, Russell concluded that the gospels were false, as the kingdom of GOD did not come even after the death of all the apostles. However, John did see Jesus in the kingdom of GOD as recorded in the book of Revelation before he died. Many other proofs in the Bible tell us that some of Jesus’ disciples did see Jesus in GOD’s kingdom before they died. Thus Russell’s criticism of this Bible verse demonstrates his limited ability in truly understanding the Bible. The other example is Catholic Church’s misunderstanding of the Bible. Because the focus of the Bible is about GOD’s creation on earth and because of the misbelief in Ptolemy’s theory and Aristotle’s theory, the Catholic Church mistakenly concluded that the earth was the center of the universe and was therefore static. Therefore, when Galileo claimed that “the earth does move all the same”, the church inquisitors believed that Galileo was blaspheming against the Bible. However, the Bible does indicate that the earth moves in Job 38:14 “The earth takes shape like clay under a seal.” Clay under a seal is like the turning clay shown in the movie “Ghost”. Therefore, the Bible actually revealed that the earth is turning more than two thousand years before Galileo found out this fact. If we believed in such misconceptions of the Bible, we would be totally lost just like the blind led by the blind.

Besides, human reasoning power is also limited. A simple example of this limitation lies in the question of whether chicken exists before egg or it’s the other round. We refused to believe in GOD because we thought that there was no evidence for GOD’s existence. However, we believed in atheism even though there was no evidence for GOD’s nonexistence. The rational arrangement of everything in our world gives the general revelation of GOD’s creation. The Bible provides for GOD’s special revelation. Today many Christians testify the presence of GOD in our everyday lives. To believe in agnosticism is to ignore all these testimonies for GOD’s presence without sound reasoning. Besides, ignorance cannot change the fact that GOD exists.

In addition, we have limited ability to control our lives. When we were told that GOD loved us, we thought to ourselves, “who needs GOD? If we studied hard enough, we could control our future." Or could we? Can we live forever if we like to? Can we protect ourselves from all sicknesses? Can we hold on to our youth? No. We control neither our birth nor our death. We can control neither sickness nor our aging process. All in all, we are very limited in what we can control.

Hence, things we used to believe in such as science, human understanding, human reasoning, and other abilities are all very limited in providing us with the truth about life. However, the Bible is full of truth. First, the Bible was written by more than 40 authors in about 1,600 years. Yet, the content of the Bible is amazingly consistent as if one author wrote it. If it were not from GOD, this wouldn’t be possible. Second, the Bible objectively depicts what happened in history. For many years, skeptics claimed the Hittites were fictional, a tribe invented by the Bible’s authors. But in 1906 a German archaeologist, Bokasköy began digging up Hittite artifacts in the area we now call Turkey. Third, the Bible tells truth about the universe long before scientific confirmation becomes possible. One example is the turning movement of the earth as mentioned before. Fourth, the Bible gives many precise predictions that bewilder human understanding. One example, is the prediction in Isaiah 14:23 written perhaps between 701-681 BC. It was fulfilled in 539 BC. The prophet said that GOD would turn Babylon into a place for owls and into swampland and GOD would sweep her with the broom of destruction. After Cyrus conquered Babylon in 539 BC, the kingdom never again rose to power. Archaeologists dug up Babylon during the 1800s. Some parts of the city could not be dug up because they were under a water table that had risen over the years. All in all, the Bible is so precise and consistent that it is definitely not a product from man but from GOD Himself. Therefore, science, human understanding, reasoning, and other human abilities cannot uncover the whole truth about our lives. However, the Bible which is the foundation of Christian’s faith is precise beyond measure.

What is the value of Christian faith, then? Why do we need GOD’s love?

Many people realize the fact that human life is painful in general. Mr. Qian Zhongsu’s novel Encircled City depicts every goal of a human life as an encircled city where people outside the city want to go inside to achieve happiness while people who are already inside the city want to get out to obtain happiness. This novel reveals the fact that all goals set up by people are in vain because none can truly bring people happiness.

The Bible tells us that most of the suffering originates from sin while sin initiates from the ignorance of human’s position as the created and disobedience out of self-centeredness. Both Adam and Eve were provided with everything they needed in the Garden of Eden, but they wanted to become as powerful as the creator so much that all GOD’s commands were thrown out of their minds. Therefore, sin is not just deeds but an attitude – worshiping ourselves instead of giving first honor to GOD. Sin came to this world and brought about judgment, punishment, and suffering in the world. As judgment, Adam and Eve were thrown out of the Garden of Eden and separated from GOD forever. As punishment, death, toil, and suffering became part of human life. Today, we see sin both around us and inside us. Around us, we see people cheating each other in business, people killing other people, and people even legalizing homosexual behaviors. Inside us, we see more hatred than love, more criticism than praises, more cunning than caring, and more arrogance than humbleness. We are helpless and hopeless in sin. Since everyone is self-centered and serving self-interest, nobody can reach happiness that everyone tries to catch, but everyone is suffering because of the punishment of sin.

However, GOD is also loving. He wants to help us refrain from sin and have access to peace, joy, and eternal life. Therefore, He gives us one last chance through the sacrifice of Jesus, the Holy and sinless, on the cross to take away the punishment we deserve. He was punished in our place suffering insults and tortures. Men wanted Him killed and GOD turned away from Him. When Jesus died, the punishment was over. On the third day, He was resurrected and appeared to His disciples to let them know that whoever believes in Him will be resurrected after death and that whoever follows His words will have eternal life.

Jesus’ deity and existence have been testified either willingly or unwillingly in many aspects. A complete list would be impossible given the multitude of such testimonies. Only three examples are illustrated here. First, the miracles Jesus conducted clearly testified Jesus’ deity. Examples of such miracles include the healing of the sick, making the blind see, resurrecting the dead, walking on the sea, calming the storm, and many other miracles that no magician can imitate. Second, most of Jesus’ disciples were tortured to death because of their testimony for Jesus including Peter. Before Jesus’ resurrection, Peter denied knowing Jesus three times after Jesus’ arrest because he was afraid of persecution. However, after Jesus’ resurrection, Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit, fully believed in Jesus, and became fearless. When he was to be crucified for his testimony of Christ, he chose to be crucified upside down because he thought himself unworthy of being crucified the same way as Jesus was. Such a change in Peter was the result of his total belief in Jesus’ deity. Finally, when George Frideric Handel was bankrupt and in physical pain, he prayed that if GOD would not give him a new life, he would rather die as he was good for nothing. After he prayed, he was enlightened to compose the great music of the Messiah. When he performed the Messiah in 1742. George the second, the king of United Kingdom realized that “What kind of king am I? Only Jesus is the true king of kings.” Therefore, he stood up from the seat. As we know, at the time of George the second, UK was the greatest power in the world. George the second was the king ruling over a territory ten times the size of Roman Empire. All these testimonies indicate to us the deity and truth in Jesus Christ whom we can believe in to have salvation from sin and eternal life.

Many Christians find their lives after conversion to be joyful and peaceful as they have never expected. Danish Chapman was one of the three most famous participants of the Brethren movement started in England in 1829. He was born to a rich family. After he became a Christian at age 20, he started to serve the LORD until he was 99. He used his life to show the love of Christ and influenced many people. He once testified, “In the crucified Lord my heart had found rest and I was safely hidden in the fold of your great love.”

If you still have doubts in your hearts, you might pray for GOD’s guidance and enlightenment. Jesus said that: “ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7).