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A Word from Mike…
I recently watched a debate between a pastor and a former pastor-turned-atheist on the subject, Does Human Suffering Make Belief in God Unreasonable? When I read that it was in the works, I was interested in seeing how it would go. I had learned a bit about the former pastor-atheist’s position, but didn’t know anything about the pastor on the pro-God side. As I listened to the debate, I began to be disappointed…with both sides! I was not particularly moved by either one’s arguments; they just lacked punch, and, had I been looking to be persuaded, I would not have been toward either position. As I began to analyze, I asked myself what was missing. I concluded that it was not the debaters as much as it was the topic—they were simply rehashing the age-old question of what has been called the problem of evil. How can a good God allow evil in the world? More succinctly put in this context: How can a loving God allow people that He created, to suffer, when He has the power to prevent it? That was exactly the atheist’s argument.
As I thought on the matter, I realized that they were debating the wrong question. The term unreasonable is the problem. If I had been in the debate, I immediately would have had to concede! I readily admit that the existence of God isunreasonable—and it has nothing to do with human suffering or the problem of evil—it has to do with our ability to comprehend, with reason, the eternal existence of an eternal being. Nothing in our experience or senses gives us the ability to comprehend Him. When we come right down to it, humanly speaking, existence itself makes no sense (it is beyond our senses), and those who disbelieve have tried every way possible to explain it. It is, though, beyond explanation apart from revelation. We can’t figure it out, we have to be told what it is about, and we believe God did that through scripture. Though man can see evidence of a creator through nature (Ps. 19:1), if He did not speak, then there is no other way for man to know about his origin, about creation, or about meaning or hope in life with any measure of confidence. Scientists and philosophers take their shots, but, since they are relying solely on human intellect, there are, of necessity, leaps of faith and gaps in knowledge that leave them just guessing.
The former believer in the debate sounded quite hopeless. He has gone from being a believer in Christ to a nonbeliever. The book in which he once found meaning, and the savior in which he once found hope, he now sees as fable and nonsense; and that’s just the problem for all of us. When we value our ability to make sense of God on our own, we are a short step from a slippery-slope toward unbelief. We have a very limited perspective on reality, and when we try to make God logically understandable, we will fail; He refuses to be measured by His creatures’ estimations.
Back to the debate. Human suffering is difficult, and I agree that it would seem logical for a loving and all-powerful God to prevent it, but how arrogant is it for one to draw conclusions about the person and purposes of God based on what seemslogical? That would assume that such a one has a grip on He Who refuses to be gripped. So, how can we know God at all? Why is it that God and scripture makes such sense to some of us and not to others? Why do some of us “stick” with the faith and others don’t? It can only be explained by the work of God, Himself! He will only be known on His own terms, and that is when He quickens the understanding to see the reality revealed in His Word. John 16:8 records for us that the Holy Spirit is the One Who convicts or convinces (lit. expose or bring to light) people of their need for Christ. In other words, we will not respond to God’s light and message without the Holy Spirit’s help. Maybe we need to be careful how we appeal for people to believe and accept God’s offer of salvation in Christ. Maybe we place too much emphasis on a free-will decision that is capricious at best, when we should call on them to be sensitive to the convicting work of the Holy Spirit Who quickens the understanding and urges them to faith.
I am concerned that the current Calvinism / Armenian (free will) controversy in our ranks has taken many to where we place an inordinate amount of credence and emphasis on the human finite ability to deal with the infinite God, rather than on God’s part in the process. Notice that I have not stated a theological position on the controversy; I have, though, tried to emphasize a biblical fact that God has an active part in revealing Himself. Surely, both sides agree with that.
So, if our faith in God is based simply on the matter of it making sense to the mind, maybe it is time for a heart-check. If you and I are not believing and following because of the compelling urging of God’s Spirit upon our spirits, having certainly been sealed for the day of redemption, then we too could one day find ourselves to be former believers.
Soli Deo gloria!
Director / A.M., Harmony Baptist Association
In 2016 the Lord was very, very good to me in my itinerate preaching ministry. He allowed me to preach 115 messages in 24 different churches in Arkansas and Tennessee. Included in this were 10 revivals. I am so blessed that the Lord is continuing to allow me to preach since my retirement from the pastorate five years ago.
As I look at my 2017 calendar with the exception of January, I have many open dates. My contact information is listed below. If I can be of assistance to you, your church, or your association by supply preaching, revival preaching, interim pastor, or special event, please get in touch with me. I have promised the Lord I will travel anywhere at any time to any church.
May God continue to bless you and your ministry, not just in 2017, but until He comes!
A representative from Trinity Village Assisted Living called the office. They are looking for someone to lead a Bible Study on Thursdays from 11:00-12:00. If you would be interested please contact Ella Dorn at 870-727-9310, extension 235.
The Conference will be held January 30-31 at Geyer Springs FBC. A Prayer Leaders Workshop will be held on Monday January 30th from 9:30-11:30, led by Steve Gaines.
Guest speakers for this Event include: Steve Gaines, Robert Smith, Jim Cymbala, Vance Pitman, Todd Cook and Herb Reavis.
more information can be found by contacting: email@example.com
The Harmony Senior Adult Revival is scheduled for February 6 - 8 at 10:30 a.m. each day.
Services will be held at ShannonRoad Baptist Church on Monday...
Hardin Baptist Church on Tuesday...
and Pine Bluff First Baptist Church on Wednesday.
Lunch will be provided by the host church.
The speaker will be Dr. Alan Brock, Director of Missions at Linn-Livingston Baptist Association in Meadville, MO.
Mr. Mark Little will lead worship. Mark your calendars and plan to attend!
Today we updated the copy of Bro. Bobby Lamb's weekly report for January 15, 2017. Bro Bobby generates this report weekly and sends to various people. We wanted to add the page so more people could see what's going on in the Harmony Baptist Association. Check it out on the Info Center page of this website today.
Several new events have been posted onthe Info Center of this web site. Please check them out to see if you are interested and how to attend.
The next Executive Board Meeting will be held Tuesday, February 14th
Check out the new EXECUTIVE BOARD webpage under Teams and Committees
A new page has been added under "Teams & Committees" for Global Awareness. The name was changed from Missions Awareness. See the report and watch for updated information. Look at the photos and see if you can find yourself.
Please pray for the following pastorless churches:
Claud Road Baptist Church
Fellowship Bible Church
Forrest Park BC
Linwood Baptist Church, Moscow
Northside (Interim: Matthew Watson)
Oak Grove Baptist Church
River Road Baptist Church
Whispering Pines Cowboy Church
The Grief and Comfort Community, a bereavement support ministry, will begin the Fall session on Tuesday, September 13, from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p..m. It meets at the Harmony Baptist Association Office, 2001 South Cherry St., and is facilitated by Brenda Doucey and Lisa Grigg. If yu would like to participate, please call Linda at (870) 534-1021.