(un)Apologetic Week 2: When Worldviews Collide
Did the Jesus as described in the Bible actually exist? How can a loving God send people to hell? How is it possible that God has no beginning and no end? Why would God create the devil if He knew he’d rebel? What really makes Christianity better than all the other religions? Does the Bible really decide ethics and morals in your daily life? If God is real, why is there so much war, sickness, death? Christianity is exclusive and judgmental. Everyone should determine truth for themselves.
So, why was God okay with slavery? Why does He seemingly allow wars? Where was God when I needed Him? If God is loving and all powerful, why is there evil?
Well, good morning to everybody, and also to those who watch via the internet and the mobile app. We’re in a brand new series called “Unapologetic” that we started last weekend. We want to deal with the tough questions that come to us in our faith. A lot of people believe, when you read the literature and you see, especially 40 years and younger, they feel like the Church will not deal with tough issues, or we just sort of say, “Just go believe this. Go do what we tell you to do.”
But I just want you to know that we are going to do everything that we can, and we didn’t put a timeframe on this. Normally, we have like four to six weeks. We didn’t put a timeframe on this one. We felt like this was one that was needed, that was appropriate and it also goes into what I have been praying for lately as well. My prayer has always been, “God, help us to be a church that reaches the unchurched by being intentional neighbors that reflect Christ.” But, recently, my prayer has been, even more so, “God, I pray that You would raise up an army of Christians here in the Lakewood Ranch/Sarasota area that are uncompromising and unapologetic about their faith, so that we can truly see a massive move and revival of God in this particular area.”
The reason I feel even stronger about that is because God doesn’t just allow you to get 40 acres and buildings if He’s not up to something. So, we believe that and we’re doing that. Not only that, but this is, hopefully, a value-added part of this series. We’ve created on our website, if you go up to the top of the website, wherever you’re at on our website — GraceSarasota.com — and you click here, it will take you to the Unapologetic discussion forum. You can ask any question you have about God, about the Bible, about whatever you want to ask about. I have scholars that I have asked to be a part. They’re on this thing along with me. They’re answering questions as they come in, and giving you great academic scholarship answers from Christians who know this stuff inside and out. Not only is that a benefit to you, but it’s also a benefit if you have people that you know that have questions about God. You can direct them there and they can ask their questions there. Is that cool or what, that a church is doing that?
So, we’re taking this serious. This is a big deal. So, with all the series that I do, I always have sort of an umbrella, or what I call a big idea, that we come back to every single week, no matter what we’re talking about, that just sort of gives us what we’re doing and where we’re going in this particular series. For this particular series, the big idea is for us to be equipped so we’re not afraid to share and defend our faith. I mean, a lot of times when I talk to Christians — who are God Christians. They love God. I mean, there’s no question about it. They’ve settled eternity and all of those good things. They’ll serve, pray and all that stuff. But when it comes down to feeling comfortable, to just say, “Hey, let me tell you about Jesus,” they’re like, “I don’t know that I could do that because I don’t feel equipped. I don’t really feel like I could defend if people started asking me questions about my faith and all of that stuff.”
And I get it. That’s the reason why we’re doing this because it is — I take what I do really seriously. It says in Ephesians 4 that pastors and teachers should equip saints — that’s everybody in the room that is a Christian — so that They can work the ministry that God has called them to do. So, that’s a real serious deal. I mean, every weekend I come in here, I want to give you as much stuff as I possibly can so that you can walk out with a toolbox filled with tools so that you can do the things that God has called you to do.
In this particular series, what I want to do is I want to equip everybody in this church to feel comfortable about sharing their faith and defending their faith. We’ll spend as much time as we need to. These will be resources that we can go back and continue to look at over months and years in the future that, hopefully, will help us to be equipped to share our faith.
So, before I get into what I want to talk about this weekend, I want to do a little exercise that’ll get us sort of thinking to where I want to go. You probably have friends that have similar interests, but they disagree on certain things. For instance, does anybody have a runner friend? My wife’s a runner. Amen. You’ve got runner friends? We’ve all got runner friends. Right? I don’t know why they would do that. God created cars. Anyway, we have those runner friends that like to run. If you get around running friends that like to run, and you put them in a room together and they start talking, they start talking about their GPS stuff. They’ve got their Garmin, their Fitbit or their Apple Watch. Whatever they use. They have their reasons why they feel like, “No, no. I use this because when I ran this marathon, I looked at the chip and it got me this time. This one was the closest to the time.”
I’m like, “I am out on that stuff.” Anyway, they talk about it. It’s a big deal to them. And then their shoes. Man, you talk to runners, they like their shoes. I mean, I bought a pair of running shoes one time. Not because I was planning on running. I just wanted a pair of running shoes to make it look like I ran. Anyway, I put them on, I went around the house and my wife runs marathons and half marathons. I’m like, “Mindy, you should get these shoes. They are awesome.”
She’s like, “No. I’m a Nike girl.” I’m like, “What’s a Nike girl? What does that even mean?” They’ll tell you, “No, the reason I like my shoes is because when I ran with these other shoes one time, I lost three toenails.” I’m going, “I am out. Seriously. In God’s name, why would you want to lose toenails running?”
But they’ll so, “No, this shoe here fits better,” or whatever. And then they have their clothing that they like. New Balance. Nike. Lululemon. Wawawatermelon. Whatever it may be. They’ve got all this stuff. They’re like, “No, these clothes are better because I don’t sweat as much.” I’m thinking, “Who cares about sweating when you’re losing toenails?” Can I get an amen?
But they all have their reasoning for why they like their stuff. They’ve got their opinions. They’ll sit there and debate and argue about it. Those opinions and those thoughts come from experience, what they’ve done and all of that stuff. The things that they’ve read and all of that stuff. To give you another example of how that works, let’s talk politics. Amen? If you get two people in the room, you can get it going today for sure. You know? Talk about the economy. People will be like, “Oh, we need more tax cuts,” or, “No, we don’t. We need a living wage,” or, “We need to abolish the minimum wage.” Whatever it may be that people do. They’re passionate about this stuff. And the government, some people are like, “We need bigger government.” “Small government.” “We need more accountability.” “What about the isms?”
I mean, you get people together and they will go after it. And then social issues? But the reality is you know that the reason people see the world in the way they see it is because they’ve had experiences, they’ve thought through it, they’ve read stuff or they’ve watched stuff. They’ve come to their understanding of the way that they look at these particular things. Well, these are micro parts of what is a larger thing that philosophers, apologists and even atheist and agnostic scholars understand that we have that most of us don’t ever even think in this capacity. We think in the micro stuff, but like macro stuff? That’s called a worldview.
A worldview defined is the way we see the world, the way we make judgments about life and the way we answer the most difficult questions. And we do this all the time at a micro level. I mean, all the time in everything. We’ve got all the reasons that we believe this, and the way we see the way we see it. We can’t believe somebody else doesn’t see it the way we see it. We all know these things are going on, but oftentimes we don’t step back and ask the question, “Hey, is it possible that there is a worldview that is better than every other worldview at explaining the way we see the world, the way we make judgments about life and the way we answer the most difficult questions?”
Is that true? Here’s the problem. I know some of you all are going to have to go home and think about this, but I want you to think about it because this is important. We’ve been told a lie as a society. It’s a big lie. It’s a nasty lie. It’s a pervasive lie because it’s what creates everybody going, “I’ve got my own truth. I’ve got my opinion.”
Here’s the lie that we’ve been told: We’ve been told a lie that everybody is equal, and it’s not true. Some people are taller than others. Some people are smarter than others. Some people can run faster than others. Some people are more competent at other things than other people. There’s not equality like that. It just doesn’t exist. The Bible doesn’t even teach that. We’ll see that. In fact, you may not know this, but all the ancient scholars thought the worst form of government period was a democracy. The Bible makes fun of a democracy too. What’s interesting is — and I bet most of you all don’t know this. Our country wasn’t founded as a democracy, and the founding fathers never wanted it to be one. It was founded as a republic. We don’t know those things.
But see, when you get this idea that everybody’s equal, then what happens is when you come along and go, “No, this is a better way that I’m trying to tell you,” people go, “Dude, don’t be intolerant. Don’t be telling me that. I’ve got my truth. You can have your truth. Truth can’t be known.”
Well, that’s crazy. If truth can’t be known, how do you know the very statement you just made is in fact true? Think about that for a minute. Truth can be known. Maybe not every minutia of truth, but truth can be known. Are there truths, are there worldviews, that are better than others? That’s what we need to talk about. We need to talk about a worldview. Is Christianity a good worldview? Is it a valid worldview? Is it something that makes sense or are we just believing in something that’s crazy? Here’s the deal: When you say that this is a worldview — and it is because the early Christians didn’t believe in set-of-belief Christianity, which is what we believe in, primarily, in the west in America.
We have our set of beliefs. You go to one church and it’s like, “Believe this, believe this, vote this way, believe this thing here and you’re in.” Then you go down the street to the other church and they go, “Well, no, no. You’ve got to do this here, this here, and do this, and then you’re in.” Then you go down to another church and they say, “No, no, no. Those guys are crazy. This one here, this one here, this one here, this one here. And then you’re in.”
What happens is we get our little check marks off that we’ve got our set of beliefs right, and then we just sort of go live our life however we live it. The early Christians would have said, “Man, that is absolutely crazy Christianity. Christianity is a worldview. It is a way in which you and I see the world, make judgments about the world. It is a complete sellout of our lives.”
Jesus didn’t say, “Believe these six things.” Jesus said, “Follow me.” In other words, we totally reorient our life around Jesus. That's why Jesus said, “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.”
We think “repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand,” for whatever reason, means that you come down to an altar and cry and say a prayer and believe a few things and you're good. Jesus would have said, “That is not at all what I was saying.”
When He said, “Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand,” He was using the word “repent,” which is a compound word that means to change your mind. Metanoia is the Greek word. Change your mind. He says, “Change your mind from the way that you are living your world. Change the way you're living your life and become a kingdom person, which means that I'm not only your savior, I'm also your Lord. So, everything in your life — your family, your marriage, your kids, your finances, everything that you do is under the lordship of me because you are now a kingdom person.”
And that's a worldview, and Christianity is a worldview. It is. Now, listen, this is important. When the early Church came on the scene, they believed, “Man, Jesus got up from the grave. This is great stuff.” They came to a worldview of the day, which was the Roman worldview. The Roman worldview was pretty simple. Caesar's Lord. You can worship whoever you want, but you also got to worship Caesar. He's Lord. And Rome is the greatest nation ever. “Nobody competes. We’re the greatest nation ever. Don't even try to be better. You need to be totally into Rome. And here's the way you live as a Roman.”
They had a household code.
“And don't try to bring your junk into Rome and tell us how to live. We're going to live the way we live, and this is the way we live because we're the greatest ever and all this stuff.”
Well, the early Christians came out and said, “Alright, let's have a chat here. Caesar? Yeah, I don't really know him, but he's not Lord. Jesus is Lord. And we believe that Jesus is Lord. And this idea of Rome, I mean, we're glad that we're in Rome, but we're not really — we don't get into all the patriotic nationalism stuff because we're citizens of heaven. If we value one group over another than we're already doing a disservice to the Gospel anyway, which tells us to go into all the world. If we think one is better than the other, then we'll always have judgments against other people. So we don't do that. And we also don't do the household code the way you all do it. Y'all have this patriarchal system and we do it differently. Everybody's sort of focused on Jesus, and kids and dad's sort of work together, and slaves and owner work together, and husbands and wives work together.”
And what did that do when they came onto the world and they told the Roman world their worldview? Well, that's when worldviews collide. And when world views collide, there's usually sparks. And there will always be sparks when worldviews collide because when you start saying that, “Hey, this is a claim of truth,” you're going to get pushback because everybody — and you need to understand why you're getting pushed back, because everybody's been told that their opinion is as valid as yours.
And let me just tell you in as nice as I can — I'm not being snarky. I had a good cup of Dunkin Donuts coffee, so I'm in a great mood today, but the reality is that some opinions are more valid than others. Some things are more true than others. And we don't need to be scared of that, but we do need to ask ourselves the question, “Is Christianity and what we believe a valid worldview?”
And so, we need to talk about that. So Paul, when he would tell his church here — he's writing to the church at Colossae. He would tell them, “Hey, this is the way I want you to do this gig. I want you to walk in wisdom towards outsiders.”
In other words, for Paul, everything about his life was centered around Jesus. It wasn't like, “Set of beliefs: Christianity. And then I do this and do this and do this, and then I go back here to God and I’ve got God.”
No. For Paul, everything in his life — for all the early Christians, everything in their life was centered around who Jesus was.
So, he’s like, “You need to walk in wisdom towards — this isn't, you know, pull the guns out and go blazing. This is serious stuff here. The eternity matters here. So, we need to walk in wisdom towards outsiders, making the best use of the time.”
That's interesting. Paul thought that his whole life was centered around God's clock, not his clock. And he wanted to make the best use of the time in letting people know about who Jesus was. And he says, “So let your speech always be gracious.”
Novel thought, isn't it, that Christians would be gracious in the way we talk about Jesus? Can I get an amen on that? We should be. Right? Should be gracious.
And he says, “Seasoned with salt,”
That’s funny. I’ve heard preachers get up and go, “Oh, that's when you get them because you need to put salt on that wound and put salt in their eye. You give them truth, man.”
No, no. That's an idiom. What this means is that it should be flavorful, which means when we talk to people on the outside making the best use of time, we should be people that speak graciously, but we should also speak winsomely and fun and encourage things. We shouldn't be just, you know, just absolute wooden people that just sort of give stuff out. We should think about what we're doing here.
He's says, “So that you may know how to answer each person.”
In other words, we should be able to give some sort of answer that helps them determine what is going on in life. And the word “answer” is a compound word in the original language and it contains the word “krinó” in it, which is a Greek word for judge. Which means that we give them things to help them judge how life goes and to answer those questions that are good.
So let's, let's step back here and let's start asking some questions. What constitutes a valid worldview? Like when we talk about a worldview, should we be scared that we're Christians? I mean, is this something that we should apologize for or can we be unapologetic about what we believe? So what constitutes a valid worldview?
Well, first of all, any worldview that you have or I have, no matter what, it needs to be something that has reason in it. In other words, nobody's asking anybody to just check their brain at the door and just believe, shut your eyes and just jump out and have blind faith or anything like that. No. There needs to be reason. It needs to be thought through, and it also needs to be reasonable. And we'll talk about what that means in just a minute because there's a difference between absolutely evidence and proof stuff and reasonability, because most of the things that we do in life are based on reasonable things, not on logical certainties. But we'll talk about that in a second.
So, it needs to have a reason. It needs to be thought through. It needs to be reasonable. And it also needs to match up with our experience. Like, when we live life does this, does this match the experience of life? Does this sort of work in practice? And if your worldview doesn't work and there are all kinds of dichotomies between it, it's probably not a very good worldview. And this is the question. Is Christianity a good worldview? And I think it's a great question to ask, and it's one that I'm hoping that when you leave here today, you're going to leave here today going, “I don't have anything to fear at all about anybody that says anything about my Christianity because it is, in fact, the most reasonable explanation, the most reasonable worldview that there is that I could possibly have.
So, let's start here with reason. A lot of people do. They think when they talk about Christianity, they think that, somehow, we don't use our mind. They think that, somehow, we're not people that think through things. Most of the early sciences that were formed were formed by Christians that were excited about looking into the world that God had created. The Bible is full of passages that talk about you and me using our minds.
I don't have time to get into all of that, but there's one really beautiful one in Proverbs 25:2.
It says that God has concealed certain things. So it's like, you know, you don't know them right away. And the second part of that proverb says, “But it's the glory of kings to search things out.”
In other words, I mean, here's the writer saying, “Go search out those things that are difficult to find that don't make any sense.”
It's a glory of kings to do that. Jesus Himself told us. We know about loving with all your heart and soul and strength and whatever, but for some reason we forget that He also said to love Him with all of our mind. In other words, Christianity is not, “Check your brain at the door.” It’s, “Use your brain.” We want you to use your brain.
People say, “Oh, the Church doesn't use their brain.” That's not true. Many of us do. I mean, I've spent the last 30 plus years of my life doing nothing but studying and using my brain. And I've questioned things. I've read atheistic works. I've read agnostic works. I've read all of those things. I've read other religions to say, “Is this, in fact, true?”
So, here's the deal. When you and me go out — and we're going to spend whole weekends on these things, so these are just sort little teasers here. We're going to spend a lot of time on them. But when we talk about the creation of the world, are there reasons to believe? Is it reasonable to believe that we don't live in a world that was just sort of randomly here? Well, of course. I mean, to think that the world just randomly happened, there are a lot of questions that you would have about that. Where did that stuff come from? Would it matter come from? Where did the gases come from? I mean those are really serious questions.
For most of us, the most reasonable explanation for why the world is here is when we look at it, we say, “Okay. The world is a contingent world, which means everything that we can visibly touch and experience and see in this world required something else for its existence. Like, this Cue didn't happen without — I didn't happen — I didn't create myself. The world didn’t — I mean, it just didn't.
When we live in a contingent universe, it's by necessity that there would need to be a noncontingent being that could create the contingent universe, because contingent universes cannot create themselves. It's a reasonable explanation. Okay? When you talk about like the resurrection of Jesus — and we're going to spend a whole weekend — probably two weekends on this one. But when you look at the resurrection of Jesus and you understand historicity and you understand the first century and you understand all the things, the most reasonable and plausible explanation for why Christianity even started, and why it continues, and why the early disciples did the things that they did is because Jesus actually rose from the grave.
That’s the most plausible and reasonable explanation. There are other reasonings that are given, but the most plausible and reasonable — and we'll look at that in depth. But listen this. This is true. If Jesus rose from the dead — if that is, in fact, true — then Christianity is true. Period. Period. I mean, if Jesus rose from the dead — if somebody died and got up, then He is the man. Period. End of story. So, it doesn't make a difference if you go, “Oh, I don't understand some of that Old Testament stuff.”
No. If Jesus got up from the grave, just because you don't understand some of that Old Testament stuff doesn't negate the fact that Jesus got up from the grave. Everything, no pun intended, rises and falls on the resurrection. So, we'll talk about those things.
But when you talk about that and say, “I believe there's a god and I believe Jesus rose from the dead,” you're going to get kickback. You're going to get kickback from two specific camps. I know some of you are like, “This is too early for big words. Please don't give us big words.”
Okay. You don't need to go get this tattooed on your back or anything like that. You just need to understand the ideas here of what I'm saying. The two biggest things that are going to challenge you and me in our faith is what's called skepticism and evidential wisdom. We're going to talk about these in just a second. We're going to explain to you why these are both dysfunctional epistemologies.
Now you're like, “Oh, man. We're really going into big words today.” Some of you are like, “Man, I just showed up at a Pentecostal church. Somebody just spoke in tongues.” Well, let me interpret for you. Okay?
Dysfunctional. Most of us understand that. Epistemology is the way in which — it’s a compound word in the Greek. It's the way in which we know things are the way — it's the study of how we know; the study of how we come to believe certain things.
Both evidentialism and skepticism, which I'm going to show you in just a second, are dysfunctional epistemologies. They're dysfunctional in the way that we study knowing, study, belief and all of that. And let me explain to you how they are. And the reason I'm saying this is because I don't want you, when the neighbor comes over, the friend comes over or you're online and somebody says to you something like this, for you to go, “Oh, my gosh. I don't have any answers.”
No. You do have answers and that's why we're doing what we're doing here. I know this is not the normal church service that you probably are expecting, but we need to do this because we need to be equipped to explain to people about our faith. And if you're new here and you don't know what you think about God, just hang out with us. You can belong here before you believe. It's good stuff. Good people. We do a lot of good things. And eventually, hopefully, if you hang out with as long enough, you'll come to realize why we're doing it in the first place, which is because we truly believe that Jesus is Lord.
So, dysfunctional epistemologies. Let's just dig into this. The skeptic is going to come along and it's going to sound really good at the beginning when they come in. They may be your friends and whatever. You know? Family members. They say, “You can't really know that. You can't. You can't really know that. I mean, how can you really know that?”
I mean, some of you all have had that before and you're like, “That's why I don't want to share my faith because I don't have a good answer for that.”
When I tell you the answer for this, you're going to go, “Oh, man. I got gypped for my whole life.”
Because here's the deal. There are very few philosophers anymore that hold to skepticism. It's a self-defeating epistemology, which you'll see in just a second. But “you can't really know that,” or “there's no way to know that.”
You’ll hear that. See, this is an appeal to logic, and there's nothing wrong with logic. We want to have logic. We want to be logical people, but it's an appeal to logic. So, here's the problem with this whole inherent issue. The laypeople didn't get the memo from the scholars who left this many, many years ago because it's self-defeating in and of itself as an epistemology.
When you say, “We can't really know that. I mean, you can't really know that God exists. You can't really. There’s just no way to know that.”
The problem is that it's self-defeating. Let me tell you why. If we can't really know, then how do we know that we can't really know it’s in fact true.
See? Learn a Greek word: Phooey. See, the problem is when somebody tells you that you can't know something, what they're saying is a self-defeating issue because we can know things.
Now, we may not be able to know every single data point of every single thing, but we do not live our lives based on that. We live our lives based on the fact that we can know certain things. So, skepticism, by its nature, is flawed because we can know things, and things can be known. Just like when somebody says, “You can't know truth,” of course you can because if you can't know truth, then you don't know that the statement that you just made is, in fact, true. These are logically incompatible systems that nobody actually thought through the logic. It sounds really good on the surface, but you don't have to worry about that.
The next one is the more problematic to you and me. It's the one that most atheists and most agnostics live in today, and we need to be able to refute that and understand how to do that. And that's evidentialism. There isn't enough proof. It's no longer knowing. They've gotten past the knowing thing. Like, “We can know certain things, but you don't have enough proof is the problem. And I won't believe until I see evidence.”
And this is an appeal to proof or an appeal to evidence. And for most of us, at that point, we go, “Oh, yeah, man. There's no way that I could prove this.”
Once again, this is a complete dysfunctional epistemology. And let me explain to you why it is. Because when we talk about proof and we talk about evidence, there are two ways that we human beings do this. One of them is about 1% of our life and the other is about 99% of our life. The way we know things is, one, through logical certainty. Logical certainty, usually, is found in a textbook. Two plus two is four, or those geometry equations. Did anybody ever go to school and learn the geometry equations? Did anybody actually use any of those in life afterwards? If you’re a math teacher, God bless you. I'm just saying.
Anyway, the point is that when we look at logical certainty, this is something in a textbook that you find that’s logically certain. It's not the way we live our lives. It's not how we know things. It's not how we prove things. We prove things and know things through what we call psychological, reasonable or moral certainty. And it's different than logical certainty. So, let me explain to you how this works, and you're going to go, “Oh, yeah, man. No wonder.”
Because what the atheists are trying to do is they're trying to take evidence and move the goalposts so far down the road that nothing could ever be proven to them if you go this far. But this is not the way we do life. We do life here.
So, let me explain to you how this works. If I were to tell you, “Prove to me love with logical certainty,” you can't. We don't look at most of our life through the lens of logical certainty because we realize that's not a proof that we can prove. It's like it's not even a knowledge that we would even — we know that love exists because we've given love and someone has given to us love. We know that it exists, but you can't prove love. I could sit here and be an atheist about love and tell you, “Nope. You're just giving me an experience. Nope. You're just giving me this. You can't prove it to me.”
And I could sit there all day long trying to disprove you through logical certainty. And if you bought into that you'd have to come and say, “Well, I really...”
But that's not the way we do life. We don't do it without mind either. If I were to say, “I've got a mind and you've got a mind. I can think,” you could go, “No, no, no. We just all live in a matrix, I'm the only one in the room, and every one of you all are fake.”
Well, you can believe that. I mean, that’s fine, but the reality is that our experience and the things that we've seen — if you've been a teacher and you've taught people and you've seen them learn, there's every reason in the world to believe. It's reasonable to believe that a mind exists. You can’t logically prove it.
We don't even use logical certainty for anything. Have you ever seen anybody at any time, ever, before they flipped on the light switch, that opened up the electrical book to see, and then tore away the plywood and got in there to see if every single connector was there to make sure, with logical certainty, that that light switch, when they flipped it on, was going to turn on a light? Nobody does that. We go, “We're going to turn on the light,” and then when it doesn't turn on, we go, “Whoa. I wasn't expecting that.”
Because we don't live our lives based on logical certainty. We base our lives on reasonable certainty, like a chair. Have you ever seen anybody go and sit down in a chair and turn it upside down and make sure that every screw was in there and every leg is in there and whatever ? No, of course not. If you sit in a chair and you fall down, then you go, “That chair wasn't put together very well.”
I mean, that's just the way we live life. We live life through reasonable certainty. Another example is the room analogy. We're in a room. All of us are in a room. It’s a concrete block with just one doors. So, no windows, no anything. And all of a sudden we start hearing something on the roof. It's like, “Oh, it's raining outside.” And you've got a buddy in the room with you. “It’s raining.”
And then you hear, on the outside, cars going by. You hear them running through the puddles. You're like, “Oh, man. It must be really writing.” Then somebody comes through the door and they’ve got a raincoat on, an umbrella and they're soaked. They shut the door and you look at your buddy and go, “Man, it must be raining outside.”
And they go, “You don't know that. Prove it to me. Because how do you know that there's not somebody on top of the roof right now with a hose, pouring it on the roof and making it look like it rains? And how do you know that there's not a radio right on the outside that’s making sounds, and this person is a fake that came in with an umbrella?”
We would go, “Dude, that's just ridiculous,” but that is exactly what atheists and agnostics are going to require of you to try to prove to them God, because what they've done is they've taken a provable and evidentiary thing that we live our lives by and they've moved it into an area that they don't live their life by on anything except for this question of God. Reverse it on them.
“Where's the evidence to disprove the case for theism? There is none.”
They’re going to say, “Well it's — I don't have to believe anything. It's — you’re the one who has to prove to me because you're telling me that there's a god.”
“No, no, no, no, no. You're telling me you don't believe there's a god. You're telling me that there's not enough proof for you to believe there's a god. Well, what's the proof for you to believe that there's not a god? Why? Why do you believe that?”
They're not going to answer that and they're going to run from that all day long. I just want you to know that your faith is not something you need to be worried about or scared about. You have a faith that is very reasonable, and when you put it up against anything else in the world, Christianity is the best explanation for why we're here and what's going on in our lives. It explains all this stuff. Don't be worried about it. We'll continue to talk about this over the next many, many weeks. But I just want you to leave out of your day going, “Man, I ain’t got nothing to worry about about my faith. My faith is solid.”
Amen? Okay. Let's continue on here. Experience and the practical side of life, because this is where the rubber meets the road. We can have all these nice thoughts, but how does this work in practice? How does this work? Because here's the deal: A good worldview should be consistent with our practical experience. If it's not consistent with practical experience, what we believe doesn't work, then there's a problem. We have a dysfunctional worldview.
Well, here's why atheism and agnosticism are terrible worldviews. Morality. See, if there is no god and we're just a random bunch of stuff — there's no god, then there really isn't right and wrong. There's actually no meaning to life whatsoever. I mean, you may say, “Well, I'm bringing meaning to life,” but there is none. I mean, there's nothing.
Because for something to have meaning, there has to be something behind it that gives it meaning. For instance, if you go to a Chinese restaurant and you eat fried rice — how many know that if you're Christian, you eat fried rice? Can I get an amen? Anyway, so you're eating fried rice and then you have the fortune cookie. You open up fortune cookie. You pull it open and the fortune cookie says you need to leave the restaurant immediately.
You'd be like, “Hey, check this out, man.” You’d give it to your wife or your friend. They’d laugh and they’d turn it around and go, “What are the lotto numbers?” Whatever, because there's nothing. But if an FBI agent walked in and said, “Here's my badge. I'm with the FBI. You need to leave the restaurant right now,” you'd get up and leave.
Why? Because now there is an authority behind whatever it is that gives it, in fact, force. See, if there is no god, there is no morality. Period. See, nobody watches National Geographic and goes, “Oh, that cheetah, he is just scum for eating that caribou that’s limping on the African plain.”
We just go, “Oh, that’s the way it is.” I mean, you may not like it. You may not want to watch it, but you just go, “That's just what they do.”
Well, so are you if there is no god, which means you have no reasoning whatsoever to say somebody has done you right or wrong, which is interesting because my atheist friends always will come to me and go, “Man, this person did me wrong.”
I'm like, “Really? Tell me about it. There's no god. How was it wrong? Do whatever they want to do. Your worldview is the most inconsistent worldview ever. You know morality exists.”
Because, see, here's the question. The question isn't, “Can you be good without believing in God?” I’ve got atheist friends that are good people. They really are good people. They’d change a tire. They'd walk an elderly person across the street. That’s not the question. It's not, “Can you be good without believing in God?” The question is, “Can you be good without God?” And the answer is no because there is no good or bad, period, if there is no god. None. Don't be mad at people for killing people. Don't be mad at people for doing stuff because there is no objective morality if there is no god.
But here's what we know, and everybody knows this. If God does not exist then objective morality does not exist, but our reason and experience prove to us that objective morality exists. Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that God exists. You don't need to worry about this stuff.
Your faith, as we're going to see over many weeks, is the most consistent way to view creation, is the most consistent way to view the world, is the most consistent way to view human experience. And we all know that we're broken and we all know that we have deficiencies. There are things about Christianity that address that. And then, on top of it, you and I who are Christians know we have the internal witness of the Holy Spirit that we just know there's a god. I mean, it's like we just know that there is. There's an experience.
You know, people go, “Well, you can't base things on an experience.” Really? What about a stomachache? Can you prove a stomachache? Well, the reason we believe there's a stomachache is cause we've experienced a stomachache. So, when somebody else tells us they're having a stomachache, we can experience that together.
They'll tell you, “You can't believe in an experience.” Of course you can. Everything we do in life is based around these things. Don't let people convince you that somehow you’ve believed in something that's a fairy tale up in the sky. I can tell you that your belief in Christianity is the most logically consistent belief that there is. Hang your head high. You’ve believed in the right thing. Jesus really is truly God, and He really has come and He really does save.
Okay? So, let’s do some takehomes here and we'll get out of here. These are really important. First of all, Christianity is not really a set of beliefs. It's a worldview. And this is going to be a moment for some of you all because you need to have this moment. We in the West, and especially in America, have created set-of-belief Christianity. “Believe this. Believe this.”
You see it all time. “Well, they're not a Christian because they don't do this. They don't vote that way. They're not Christian.” See, that's set-of-belief Christianity. Christianity is a worldview. Christianity is that I have aligned myself under God, and everything in my life is under Him.
I got to go to a leadership conference with Tom, our executive pastor, this weekend in Atlanta. And the only people that could go to this conference were pastors and executive pastors. About 500 people in the room. Many of them — tons of them had churches way larger than us. But we sat at tables with people that were similar sized churches. We had like Ted Talks, and then we talked about it as pastors and whatever. They brought in all kinds of cool people to speak. Great pastors. People that are doing it. You know? Making it happen. Pastors that have 15,000, 20,000 or 30,000 people. And then we also had people that came in that were just leaders.
Well, they brought in Horst Schulze to speak. Horst Schulze was the founder of the Ritz-Carlton and he's also the founder of the Capella hotels. He came in talking about service and taking care of people and all of this stuff. I mean, it was a good speech, but it wasn't like — you know, as a church, I'm not quite sure we're running a hotel. We want to make people feel comfortable, but you know, it's not all about customer service. We just want to get people to Jesus, and we want to remove whatever obstacles that we can to, to make that happen.
So, it was a good speech and it was really good the way he was talking. But, at the end, all of a sudden, it was like a prophet hit the room because he started talking about how he never compromised. Like, so many times with the Ritz-Carlton, how it was going, they went into debt and they had all kinds of stuff when they were trying to launch this because he'd been with Hilton. And he goes, “But the one thing that we never did is we never compromised our brand ever, ever, ever.”
You know? And that was fine, and he talked about not compromising. And then he said this. He said, “Listen to me. The Church in Europe is dead because it compromised.” He said, “They started trying to figure out how to take God to the people and make God more palatable to the people rather than bringing people to the triune God of the universe. And that's the only one that can save.”
And he said, “Here's the problem: You're starting to compromise in America.”
I was like, “Man.” It was like all of us were like, “Man, this is a moment. John the Baptist just walked in and just spit truth”
Let me tell you something. This was shocking. Leaders were telling us that the churches that are trying to attract people doing the lights, the stuff and everything — and I'm not being negative about anything at all, in any way, shape or form. What they're finding is that those churches are not growing as much anymore. The churches that are growing in America and throughout the world are churches where people are experiencing God, where there is life change.
And let me tell you something: We cannot change the character of God and make Him into something that people like, and expect that God to change people's lives. We have to be consistent and not compromise and make sure that we tell people about the real God. And I'm passionate about that. This is a worldview. This isn't Jesus is my Savior and not my Lord. This is that He's my Savior and He's my Lord. All of it in. All-in, all-in.
Second thing. This is important. We should not let anyone tell us that our belief in God is unreasonable or lacks evidence. Don't let people do that to you. We have far more reasons to believe in Christianity than we have to not believe in Christianity. When it comes to the proof of the resurrection, it's unbelievable the things that prove the resurrection. You don't need to worry about that. Just don't let anybody get in your business on that. The psalmist sees it. He says, “The heavens declare the glory of God. The Sky proclaims His name.”
We look at the world and go, “There's no way this just happened.”
“The fool,” the psalmist says, “says in his heart, ‘There is no god.’”
Don't let anybody tell you that your faith is unreasonable or lacks evidence. That is just simply not the case.
Third, and this is really important for everybody to get: Love is greater than logic. You're not going to win people into the Kingdom of God through argument. You're going to win people to the Kingdom of God through loving them. And listen to me. This is a word for us because we post on Facebook, we say things about other peoples, we say things about other stuff. Let me make something very, very clear because this is a centerpiece of Christianity. Christianity doesn't just love those that are like them. Christianity loves enemies. We need to digest that because the power of the Gospel and the power of love is when you can turn the other cheek and you can love enemies, because people don't do that. They want to know why you do that.
Love is greater than logic. I’m going to tell you something. Your friends that don't believe in God, your friends that you're trying to win into the Kingdom of God, friends and you're trying to evangelize, can I tell you when it's going to be the time, the most optimal time, for you to come in in that moment? When they go through a crisis. Love them, love them, love them, love them, love them. And when that crisis comes up, that's the time where you get to speak into their life. They're going to be more open to it at that point than any.
And the last thing I'll tell you is this. Remember, always, it's the Gospel that’s the power of God unto salvation. It's not set-a-belief Christianity. We could change every law on this land and still have just as many people going to hell. You want to change this country? Get people to Jesus. Don't shirk our mission is a church. We are Gospel proclaimers. We preach Jesus and Him crucified and Him risen from the grave. That is the power of the Gospel. That is the power of God unto salvation.
Make sure that we let people know, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever would believe in Him would have everlasting life and would never perish.” That's what we need to be on message with. That's what we need to be on point with. Don't get caught up in all the other stuff. Let's make sure that we preach the Gospel because it is the power of God unto salvation. Amen?
Okay. Now listen, we're praying as a staff. We're talking as a staff. We believe that God brought things here to this moment the way we've been given land and buildings and all the stuff that’s going on. We're still building the church in Lakewood ranch. If you’re thinking, “Oh, they're going to move there.” No, we're staying here. We'll stay there. We're just to move from here to there, but we will give people opportunity to go there so we can have more room at both places. But we're going to continue to expand. We're going to be one church in two locations. I'm going to preach live at both churches, so it's not going to be a video screen Chip. It might be every once in a while, but bottom line is, for the most part, it is going to be live. All of those things.
But here's the deal: None of that matters. It doesn’t matter if it’s Chip, it doesn’t matter what church, it doesn’t matter what building. What matters is this: I believe that you are not here by accident. I don't believe we're here by accident. I don’t believe this church happened by accident. And I don't believe that things are being given to us by accident. I believe that God wants to raise up an army of men and women — older men and women, younger men and women — to go into Lakewood Ranch and create a massive movement of God and have revival hit this place. And I just want to do everything that we can to align ourselves and be that church that is ready, willing, and able when God says, “Get after it.”
And so, what I'd like for you to do is this. You don't have to do this, but if you would, if you put your hand over your heart, bow your head, and if this is you — you don't have to it if it's not you, but if this is you, just to pray something like this. Say, “Dear Heavenly Father, I believe that Christianity is a worldview, and I do believe that it is a lens through which I need to run all of my life, which means, in some ways, God, that's scary because that means that every little bit of everything that I do really needs to be filtered through what You want for me, not what I want for me. And so, Lord, I want to be that person.”
I want our church to be that church. We really, genuinely want to be a mobilized army of Christians that can share and defend our faith and can love like Jesus loved in the community. Lord, start that fire. Ignite that fire in my heart. Ignite that fire in our church, and help us to just continue to listen and learn and then go apply it in the real world, and to become the Christians and the people of God that You have created us to be.
“Lord, make that a reality in my life. I don't want what I want in life. I want everything that You want for me in my life, Lord. I'm reorienting my life. I am repenting. I am changing my mind and making sure that my mind is focused on the kingdom and on a Christian worldview so that we can do this stuff that You've called us to do.”
And so, Father, I pray that as we walk out of here that You would continue to lead guide and direct us. I pray that You would watch over us and protect us. I pray that You'd bring us back safely to when we meet again. And I pray, Lord Jesus, that You would help us to stay focused on what You've called us to be here at Grace Community Church: A church that reaches the unchurched by being intentional neighbors that reflect Christ. We love You, we thank You and we praise You. In Jesus' name, and everybody said, “Amen.”
Give the Lord a big hand clap. Tell Him you love Him. God bless everybody. See you soon.