July 16, 2008

Why won't they Believe?

Tommorrow I have the honor of giving the weekly devotional to the staff at Answers in Genesis. I have been asked by one of their leadership personnel to speak briefly and devotionally about what it was like presenting Genesis 1-11 in Ethiopia. And it occurred to me that the brief words I am preparing to share there might be encouraging to some folks around here. Here’s the short version.

I assumed, given the 3rd world setting of the men at PTI, that there would be no real need to hammer away extensively at evolution. Most of the guys have probably never even heard of Charles Darwin. So I said to Anthony, ‘I guess I don’t need to go into great depth undercutting evolution, huh?’ His response was: ‘Not so fast. Many of the men probably believe it.’ Why? Because Ethiopia is the land of Lucy, the ancient ape-like fossil hailed by some scientists as the evolutionary link between us and the monkeys. And, while I doubt any of the men at PTI are clued in to the science of it all, for many Ethiopians (including some of the trainees, I suspect) Lucy is a great symbol of national pride. Lucy allows them to say: ‘Ethiopia is the cradle of civilization. Man had his origins right here in our country.’ So, though they may not know the ‘science’ behind evolutionary thinking, they have a personal interest (a national pride, really) that causes them to lean toward evolution, or at least to see it as a respectable alternative within the church.

But what does that have to do with the staff at AIG, or with you, for that matter? Well, though the external reasons for rejecting biblical truth may be different, the Ethiopians are not all that different from the folks that AIG is trying to convince. How can people (even some who appreciate the Bible) go through something like the Creation Museum, and still walk away skeptical? Not because the facts are unconvincing. But because they have a personal interest that makes evolution more appealing to them. In this case it is not national pride, but personal pride. If a person accepts AIG’s science, they have big problems. Because if the science of Genesis 1-11 is correct, so probably is the theology. And that theology says that I am accountable to God, that I am a sinner, and that I am under a death sentence. And the natural man wants to reject these ideas at all costs. That is why he cannot believe creation science. That is why evolution is so appealing to people. Not because they really understand the ‘science’. But because, if they allow themselves to believe that we exist merely by chance and do not belong to a Creator, then there is no need to feel guilty or to repent.

People reject well-explained and well-researched biblical truth – not because the truth isn’t clear enough – but because they have personal reasons for doing so. And that is true of that co-worker or classmate with whom you are trying to share the good news of Jesus. The gospel is so plain … and attractive. Why won’t they believe? Not usually because you have not presented the facts clearly enough. But because they have a personal interest in keeping things just as they are. Their desire not to change keeps them from seeing obvious truth.

So what is the upshot? As important as clearly, winsomely sharing truth is … it is not enough. If it were, everyone who ever heard the gospel would be saved. But they aren’t because clearly presenting the truth is not enough. That is NOT to say truth is deficient. But rather to say that, if the Spirit of Truth does not come and open people’s eyes to the truth, they will never see and believe. Because it is in their best interest (they think) not to. They are internally biased not to see the truth. So as you share Jesus with friends, don’t get fed up and say to yourself: ‘It’s so obvious! I don’t see how anyone could reject this!’ Instead remember that there are all sorts of interests of the heart that blind the eyes. And make sure that you not only speak the truth of the Spirit, but pray that the Spirit of Truth would come along beside you and help them see!

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