Wrong Reason (7)
Jesus answered and said to them, “You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God.” Matthew 22.29
God and matter
There is a second missing component from the secularist’s wrong-reasoning view of God and Christianity, and we need to point this out as well.
Jesus rebuked the Sadducees, who denied the resurrection, by saying to them that their mistake lay in not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God. As far as the Sadducees could tell, people don’t rise from the dead. They die, you embalm them and put them in a tomb, and that’s that. They could see no way that dead people could come back to life, and nothing in their experience suggested that such was even a remote possibility.
Dead people stay dead, they believed, and so whatever religion we’re going to practice, it will be strictly a here-and-now thing.
They didn’t understand that the Scriptures teach the resurrection from the dead in many places. Or else their wrong premises prevented them from seeing such teaching in the Scriptures. They read the Scriptures faithfully, I suppose; but they were predisposed against seeing anything like a resurrection from the dead in their reading because they’d already made up their minds that rising from the dead was not a possibility. Their experience of life, limited as it was, led them to insist that, of course, whatever God there is must also organize His affairs along the same lines.
God, they reckoned, was limited by the constraints of space and time and the restrictions of material existence, just as they were.
Once Jesus had shown them that they didn’t know the Scriptures, it was but a short step further to declare that they were also ignorant of the power of God. They did not know God and so they did not understand that His power operated over, through, in, upon, and for all material things, but not in subjection to them. Indeed, Jesus spent a good deal of His earthly ministry demonstrating this fact. His miracles were designed to express the power of God to make sick things well, broken things whole, and dead things alive.
God’s power is neither defined nor limited by familiar material processes or “laws of science.” God made and upholds everything that is; His power is the determining force in the existence of all things. He can do with them what He wills, and they must obey His Word.
So, Jesus explained, if God determined to raise the dead, He certainly has the power to do so. And, as He was about to demonstrate through His own death and resurrection, this is precisely what God intends to do. The resurrection of Jesus would be the final blow to the lie that dead people don’t rise. And it would bear powerful and confirming testimony to all the other teachings of Scripture.
So we need to say to our unbelieving friends, when they snort at the idea of God or heaven or rising from the dead, that their faulty premise and wrong reasoning have led them to a wrong conclusion, both because they do not know the Scriptures and are completely unacquainted with the power of God. They do not know the Scriptures and therefore cannot be relied upon to judge what the Bible teaches. And they have not experienced and do not understand the power of God, so they are not able to comment one way or another on that subject.
God, eternal life, resurrection from the dead – these things are beyond the pale and experience of what secular and wrong-believing views of life can fathom or accept. So of course, such people are completely beyond their ken rendering judgments about these matters. It falls to us to explain these things to them, and that may entail our also exposing the faulty premises and wrong reasoning of their own worldview.
We will want to be winsome and respectful as we insist on the wrongheadedness of their reasoning and the silliness of their conclusions about God and the spiritual world. But we’re not doing them any favors by simply shrugging our shoulders and saying, “Well, you’re entitled to your opinion.” After all, the God Who gave His Son for their redemption and Who will one day preside over the flimsy excuses of every human being, would never say anything like that.
The requirements of neighbor-love
Our wrong-believing friends and neighbors are lost; they are dead in their trespasses and sins, and they have covered their eyes and filled their lives with lies and half-truths to keep from seeing the truth that is in Jesus Christ. They do not know the Scriptures nor the power of God, and they are trapped in the faulty premises and lies of their wrong-reasoning worldview.
If we truly love our neighbors as we love ourselves, then we will not sit by while they lie their way to eternal perdition. We will engage them in conversations about spiritual matters and listen politely and carefully as they proffer their reasons for not believing the Bible and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We will ask questions, seek clarification, point out inconsistencies in their views, and try to show them where they’ve overlooked relevant facts. We will pray earnestly for the Lord to extend His grace to open the eyes of their heart to the truth that is in Jesus. We will do everything in our power to understand and expose their wrong reasoning, and we will call them to consider Jesus and the Christian worldview as the only workable approach to a full and abundant life.
And we will use as much of the Word of God and the Good News of Jesus as time and circumstances allow, for we know that the Spirit of God wields the power of God for eternal life by means of this effectual, two-edged sword.
We must be ready with sound reason to give a reason for the hope that is within us, that the people to whom God sends us may hear the truth that is in Jesus.
1. Why does God not have to abide by the “laws of nature”?
2. How does the resurrection of Jesus demonstrate the power of God over things “everybody knows”?
3. How does His resurrection validate all the other teachings of Scripture?
Next steps: Download the PDF of this series, Wrong Reason, at the link below. Make copies for some of your Christian friends. Hand them out and invite them to join you in working through this study again and discussing the questions which the PDF provides. Make this a real opportunity to begin reaching out to the people around you with the love of Jesus.
T. M. Moore
You can download this and all the studies in this series, “Let God Be True,” by clicking here.
A companion book to this study, Understanding the Times, is available at our bookstore. Learn more about this book and order a free copy by clicking here. Our booklet, The Gospel of the Kingdom, can help you in being ready to proclaim the Good News. Order your free copy by clicking here.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.