In the last two installments, we defined what “faith” is and what it isn’t. We then looked at the concept of worldview and considered the practical implications of the secularist worldview – which are dark and hopeless. In this installment, we contrast that dark future with the glorious hope the Christian faith and message offers. The goal is to compare and contrast the functional implications of the secular and Christian worldviews; how well do they each answer the “big questions” of life?
Just as we did with the secularist perspective, here is how the Christian message answers those “big questions” of life:
Where did you come from and why are you here?
The Scriptures say the triune God made the world and everything in it. He made everything good and great, and designed it to function properly – including you. You know this from experience; you know intelligent design when you see it. Your phone didn’t evolve into being over thousands of years, and suddenly give you the ability to tap on its glass screen and order espresso beans from Italy!
Because God made this world, that means He’s in charge of this world – including you. That means you aren’t your own; your life, your body and your soul are under authority just like your own children are born under your authority.
He made men and women with a special status (“the image of God”). This means we very dimly reflect Him in a structural way (intelligence, will, emotions, love), which means we (alone among God’s creatures) can actually know, love and worship God in a meaningful way - and He made us to do that!
Why does evil exist?
The Scriptures say God hardwired us to know what “good” and “evil” are, because He created the categories. “Good” and “evil” aren’t subjective cultural definitions; they’re objective facts that transcend culture. These terms were defined originally given in a Hebrew/Ancient Near Eastern context. Political realities put Jesus in a Greco-Roman context. Christianity, as the fulfillment of Judaism, began in an Eastern Mediterranean context, spread to the West, to African and to Asia and beyond. Scriptures stand outside of and act upon all cultures; they aren’t a myopic product of a culture.
Not long after the beginning, one of God’s angels rebelled against Him, and led other angels to do the same. That angel, named Satan (i.e. “the Accuser”) conspired together and got the first man and woman to join them. Their actions ruined themselves and ruined the world – including us. Now, instead of acting as God’s agents and living holy lives and worshipping Him, we’re born with just the opposite inclination - to push Him as far away as possible, to hate Him, to be terrorists in His creation. We’re each born always fighting against Him and trying to overthrow the monarchy in our own pathetic way. Even Christians (God’s own people!) are sometimes tempted to keep him in the corner, tucked away behind the stack of books like that deadline at work you don’t want to think about, or the medicine you don’t want to take.
So, we do bad things because we’re bad people. We do it because that original good mold has been broken, and every press from a bad mold reflects the original imperfections – just like a bad photocopy or a corrupted digital file. It doesn’t matter how many times you copy the bad file, it’ll stay corrupted. No matter how hard you try to please God, you’ll always commit more crimes of thought and action.
At your best, God sees you like the wannabe boyfriend or girlfriend who says he’d like to make a go of it, but who sleeps with a new partner every weekend. God has the same view of you that you’d have of the wannabe boyfriend or girlfriend; disgust and indignation.
The Fall is why people do mean, nasty and wicked thing to each other (from basic rudeness all the way to murder and genocide). That’s why there are floods, hurricanes, famines and droughts. We’re like malware replicating more and more malware, and this device that’s our world and ourselves will keep getting more and more infected the longer we continue without an antivirus app.
Is there any hope?
The Scriptures say there is hope. God promised to send someone, descended from the first woman, to fix everything and set it all right. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. There is a way out. There is someone who was willing and eager to step into the breach for you.
That someone is Jesus Christ. He’s the new representative man who will succeed where the first representative failed. This is how God fixes that broken mold – He makes a new one!
How can it all be fixed?
The Scriptures say Jesus is God. He’s always been there with Father and Spirit, and He’s always been equal to Father and Spirit. But He put on a cloak over his royal robes and came here as a real, flesh and blood man, to set the mold right for you.
For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering (Heb 2:10)
This means Jesus was perfect for you, as your representative, because you can’t ever be perfect. Because even at your best, you’ll always be the slimy wannabe boyfriend or girlfriend who wants a relationship, but just crawled out of a stranger’s bed to meet you at Starbucks. At your worst, you’re an ISIS fighter, a terrorist trying to perpetuate your own private revolution against God.
Therefore, because ‘the children’ share in flesh and blood, Jesus in the same way shares the same [nature] (Heb 2:14).
This means He came here as your representative, and He did it for two reasons
He did this so that, by [His] death, He would make powerless the one who has the power of death; that is, the devil (Heb 2:14)
He died for your crimes, in your place, as your substitute. So, if you say you’re sorry and come to Him, your soul changes ownership to from Satan to God. In a human sense, Satan has no hold on Jesus because He never sinned - Jesus renders Satan impotent for all who believe.
He also did it so that He would rescue those who, because of [their] fear of death, have been under the control of slavery all their lives (Heb 2:15).
This means that, if you believe in Jesus, He’ll take you by the hand and get you past Satan. As long as you reject Jesus, Satan still holds the deed to your soul and he’ll still be there at the end of the road, with a smirk on his face – because he knows you belong to him.
How will everything end?
The Scriptures say it’ll end with Jesus returning, the wicked being punished, and the righteous being rewarded (Jesus’ righteousness, not your own). This is where the resurrection matters - if Jesus just lived a perfect life and died a sacrificial death, then the job isn’t done. Because, as our representative, He never did anything wrong. That means the curse of death doesn’t apply to Him, which means death has no hold over Him like it does over you:
God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it (Acts 2:24)
It’s not just His death that rendered Satan powerless, but His resurrection, too:
And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins (1 Cor 15:17).
You don’t trust somebody to save you from an adversary if he’s been killed by that adversary! But, because Jesus rose from the dead:
He disarmed the rulers and authorities, and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him (Col 2:15).
So, Jesus rose from the dead, was seen by hundreds of eyewitnesses, and returned to heaven, where He’s patiently gathering His chosen people from every corner of the globe. He’s only waited so long because He still has more people He plans to save from themselves.
Skepticism and the Spirit
All this is only the briefest summary of the Christian faith and message. It answers the “big questions” of life. It gives you a framework for understanding the world as it is. People naturally roll their eyes at the suggestion of divine intervention in history.
I only ask you to think of intelligent design. Consider whether your car made itself over thousands of years, or whether it was designed by intelligent engineers to do a specific thing, and to do it well. Then consider our world, and you, and the evidence for design, intention and the Creator behind it all.
Then consider that, if a Creator did create the world and create you, then He can do all sorts of things that we can’t, and that means that creation is real, the fall is real, the promise of hope is real, the story of redemption is real, and the promise of the future restoration of some of us and this world to what it was supposed to be is real.
It’s only our cultural and individual arrogance (especially in our secular Western society) that makes us roll our eyes at divine intervention. That reaction is the fruit of that broken mold, that terrorist instinct that makes us hate God in our natural state. But, the truth is that you’ll only accept these truths if God sends the Holy Spirit to change your heart and mind. I’m only trying to make you think a bit. I can’t change your mind, but I can try and give the Holy Spirit some ammunition to work with.
This series concludes with the next installment
Tyler Robbins is a graduate of Maranatha Baptist Seminary, a DMin student at Central Seminary (Plymouth, MN) and a pastor at Sleater Kinney Road Baptist Church, in Olympia WA. He’s also an Investigations Program Manager with the State of Washington. He blogs as the Eccentric Fundamentalist and is the author of What’s It Mean to be a Baptist?