During a recent sermon series at King’s Church, we have been taking a fresh look at the Five Solas of the Reformation. In that time, we have drunk deeply at the well of salvation and seen the Lord Jesus Christ and His power to save in new and fresh ways. It has been a joy!
I hope the series can be a blessing to others also, and so make these sermons available here.
IRREDUCIBLE COMPLEXITY – WHY EVOLUTION WON’T WORK
Rev. John Samson
What science once thought of as the “simple cell” is now understood to be far more complex than all the goings on in a large city! ALL the mechanisms would need to be in place and functioning perfectly at the very start, or else the cell would die. This is called “irreducible complexity”, and forever destroys secular atheistic evolution as an intellectually viable option.
From the article found here: concerning the 5 part mouse trap… “an irreducibly complex system cannot come about in a gradual manner. One cannot begin with a wooden platform and catch a few mice, then add a spring, catching a few more mice than before, etc. No, all the components must be in place before it functions at all. A step-by-step approach to constructing such a system will result in a useless system until all the components have been added. The system requires all the components to be added at the same time, in the right configuration, before it works at all…. the complicated biological structures in a cell exhibit the exact same irreducible complexity that we saw in the mousetrap example. In other words, they are all-or-nothing: either everything is there and it works, or something is missing and it doesn’t work.”
.. and remember that in the cell, we are talking about a system FAR more complicated and complex than that of an entire city enterprise!
“Darwinism has no mechanism for adding all the components at once. Remember, Darwin’s mechanism is one of gradual mutations leading to improved fitness and survival. A less-than-complete system of this nature simply will not function, and it certainly won’t help the organism to survive. Indeed, having a half-formed and hence non-functional system would actually hinder survival and would be selected against. ”
The bacterial flagellum is a cellular outboard motor that bears the marks of intelligent design. See http://www.arn.org/docs/mm/motor.htm.
“Evolution simply cannot produce complex structures in a single generation as would be required for the formation of irreducibly complex systems. To imagine that a chance set of mutations would produce all 200 proteins required for cilia function in a single generation stretches the imagination beyond the breaking point. And yet, producing one or a few of these proteins at a time, in standard Darwinian fashion, would convey no survival advantage because those few proteins would have no function – indeed, they would constitute a waste of energy for the cell to even produce. Darwin recognized this as a potent threat to his theory of evolution – the issue that could completely disprove his idea. So the question must be raised: Has Darwin’s theory of evolution “absolutely broken down?””
The answer seems to be a resounding “yes.”
Evolution is a theory in absolute crisis, yet for many, the alternative (Creation by God) is so utterly distasteful, it is dismissed out of hand.. but even as they do so, their conscience screams “there is a God.”
All of this is significant because according to the Bible, this is not a morally neutral issue without consequence. God is angry when the truth He has made manifest (of His existence) is suppressed.
Romans 1:18 – For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools…
Dr. James White remarked, “The progress in our knowledge of the irreducible complexity of life has rendered us truly “without excuse” when it comes to our attributing to the natural order that which God reserves for himself. Any person who can look at the mechanics of the cell, realize the order, the information, the complexity that makes any computer you are using to read this post look like a stick and a rock in comparison, and yet continue in the suppression of the God-instilled knowledge of His own existence is a person remaining in utter rebellion.”
The more we learn of science, the more we are “without excuse.” God does not believe in atheists.
The chief reason for me being a Reformed Christian is not a heartfelt devotion to the Magisterial Reformers like Martin Luther or John Calvin. No, the main reason is that the Reformed message thunders out from the pages of Scripture when the principles of hermeneutics (the science of biblical interpretation) are applied. When the Biblical text is left to speak for itself, within its own context, the truth is clearly seen. Texts taken out of their setting can be made to support many erroneous views and heresies. Surely, a text out of context is a pretext for all false doctrine. However, error is exposed when individual texts are subjected to analysis such as identifying the background, use of words, context, syntax, etc.
Some people are very quick to say that “the Lord showed them” the meaning of a verse. Yet it is often the case that the context of the verse totally repudiates the interpretation given. To fail to study the text’s context is not a mark of spirituality, but the exact opposite – a failure to honor the Holy Spirit who inspired the original words. We would never wish for our own words to be treated this way. How much more should this be the case when it is God the Holy Spirit who has inspired Scripture?
An old heresy, based upon a misinterpretation of John 10:34, suggests that men can become gods. This is the doctrine espoused by the LDS (Mormons) and other cult groups. I will let an excerpt from Dr. James White’s book “Is the Mormon my Brother?” show the context and true meaning of John 10:34.
– Pastor John Samson
Dr. White writes:
John chapter ten is one of the most beautiful in all of Scripture, for it speaks of the Lord Jesus’ relationship to His people in the terms of the Shepherd and His sheep. In the midst of talking about the glorious salvation that belongs to those who know and trust Christ, Jesus asserts that He and the Father are one in their bringing about the final and full salvation of all those who are given by the Father to the Son (vv. 28-30). When the Lord says, “I and the Father are one,” He offends the Jews, who realize that such a claim implies deity. No mere creature can be fully one with the Father in bringing about redemption itself! This prompts the dialogue that concerns us here:
“I and the Father are one.” The Jews picked up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, “I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?” The Jews answered Him, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.” Jesus answered them, “Has it not been written in your Law, ‘I SAID, YOU ARE GODS’? If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), do you say of Him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?” (John 10:30-36)
The use of this passage in LDS literature is widespread. “I said, you are gods” is used to substantiate the idea of a plurality of gods, and men becoming gods. Yet, even a brief review of the passage demonstrates that such is hardly a worthy interpretation, and some of the leading LDS apologists today avoid trying to press the passage that far, and for good reason. The unbelieving Jews seen in this passage, with murder in their hearts, are hardly good candidates for exaltation to godhood. What is more, the Lord Jesus uses the present tense when He says, “You are gods.” So, obviously, He is not identifying His attackers as divine beings, worthy of worship by their eventual celestial offspring! What, then, is going on here?
When we allow the text to speak for itself, the meaning comes across clearly. As usual the context is determinative. The Jewish leaders were acting as Jesus’ judges. They were accusing Him of blasphemy, of breaking God’s law. Their role as judges in this instance is determinative, for the Lord is going to cite a passage about judges from the Old Testament. The Jews make it plain that they understand Jesus’ words to contain an implicit claim of equality with God (v. 33). It is at this point that the Lord quotes from Psalm 82:6, which contains the important words, “I said you are gods.” But when we go back to the passage from which this is taken (and surely the Jewish leaders would have known the context themselves), we find an important truth:
God takes His stand in His own congregation; He judges in the midst of the rulers. How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked? Vindicate the weak and fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and destitute. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them out of the hand of the wicked. They do not know nor do they understand; they walk about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken. I said, “You are gods, and all of you are sons of the Most High.” (Psalm 82:1-6)
Here we have the key to the passage, for this is a psalm of judgment against the rulers of Israel. God takes his stand in His own congregation, that being His own people, Israel. He judges in the midst of the “rulers.” The Hebrew term here is “elohim,” which could be translated “gods.” The NASB however, recognizes that the context indicates who is being discussed, for the next verse reads, “How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked.” Who judges unjustly and shows partiality? Human judges, of course, human rulers amongst the people. Hence, the NASB rendering of “elohim” as “rulers.” It is important to recognize the use of the term elohim in verse 1, for the very same term appears in verse 6, and is what lies behind Jesus’ citation in John 10:34. Before moving on in the text, it should be noted that even at this point recognizing that this passage is talking about unjust human rulers removes this passage from the realm of possible passages to cite in support of a plurality of gods, and certainly, Jesus was not, by citing this passage, calling His accusers true divine beings.
When we get to verse six, we find that God has placed the judges of Israel in a position of being “gods” amongst the people. They were entrusted with the application of God’s law. God calls them to vindicate the weak and fatherless and to do justice to the afflicted and destitute (v. 3). This is their task, their duty. But they are failing that duty. They are not acting as proper, godly judges. Verse six, then, begins the pronouncement of judgment. Jesus only cites the beginning of the judgment-which was enough to make His point. But since many today do not immediately know the context the way the Jews did, we need to point it out. The rest of the phrase Jesus quotes is this: “Nevertheless you will die like men and fall like any one of the princes.” Such is hardly the terminology one would use of divine and exalted beings! And this explains the use of the present tense verb “You are gods” in John 10:34. Jesus is saying His accusers are, right then, the judges condemned in Psalm 82. And what kind of judges were they? Unrighteous judges, who were judging unjustly. Jesus was calling His accusers false judges, and they well knew it.
That this is the meaning of Jesus’ use of the passage is seen by going back to John chapter ten. Jesus refers to these rulers as those “to whom the word of God came.” Surely this is an apt description of the rulers who were set to judge in God’s place. Once He has made His application, and identified His accusers as false judges, He then asks, “Do you say of Him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” Here He points to their judgment of blasphemy and contrasts their errant decision with the Father’s sanctification and sending of the divine Son. The folly of their false judgment is manifest to all. This is the meaning of the passage, and pressing it to support the idea that men can, after aeons and aeons of evolution, become gods, only shows how far removed the LDS position is from biblical Christianity.
1) We should note that this passage is not teaching that the Father is the Son. The doctrine of the Trinity expressly denies the identification of the Father and the Son as one Person. The verb used in this passage is plural; hence, it can literally be translated “I and the Father, we are one.” LDS often assume that Christians are modalists, who believe the Father and the Son are one person, when this is untrue. The issue is always one Being shared by three Persons.
2)In fact, the common LDS usage of the passage is directly contradicted by a leading LDS authority, James Talmage, in his book, Jesus the Christ, 15th ed., rev. (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1977), p. 501, LDSCL. Note Talmage’s words:
“Divinely Appointed Judges Called “Gods.” — In Psalm 82:6, judges invested by divine appointment are called “gods.” To this scripture the Savior referred in His reply to the Jews in Solomon’s porch. Judges so authorized officiated as the representatives of God and are honored by the exalted title “gods.” Compare the similar appellation applied to Moses (Ex. 4:16; 7:1). Jesus Christ possessed divine authorization, not through the word of God transmitted to Him by man, but as an inherent attribute. The inconsistency of calling human judges “gods,” and of ascribing blasphemy to the Christ who called Himself the Son of God, would have been apparent to the Jews but for their sin darkened minds.”
(“Is the Mormon my Brother?” pp. 155-158 by Dr. James R. White)
In the early verses of John chapter 3, Jesus tells Nicodemus in no uncertain terms, the absolute necessity of being born again (or born from above). Unless a man is first born again (regenerated) he can never enter or even see the kingdom of God. Jesus stresses the fact that this new birth is not merely an optional extra. It is imperative. Jesus said, “You must be born again” (3:7).
Jesus didn’t tell Nicodemus what he must do to be born again. Why? Because it was not within Nicodemus’ power to perform this miracle. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (John 3:6) Flesh can only reproduce flesh. It takes the Spirit to regenerate the human spirit. This miracle of regeneration cannot be achieved by human effort, or by self performed surgery.
The new birth is not the improvement of the old nature, but the creation of an entirely new one. It is a birth, a new birth, and like the first one we experienced, it did not occur because of our decision to be born. Our will was not a factor in any way. We were born as a result of the will of others – that of our parents, and of course, God’s will to create us using the means of human, physical intimacy.
In contrast to our first birth, this new birth does not occur through human means. God alone brings about this new creation in Christ Jesus. As John, the Gospel writer had already pointed out in chapter 1:12, 13, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” Jesus makes it clear that human flesh can only reproduce flesh. It is the Holy Spirit alone who can recreate human spirits. The Holy Spirit is the sole Agent working regeneration in the human spirit.
In explaining this phenomenon of the new birth, Jesus then speaks of something very mysterious – the wind. Wind is mysterious, not because it is not real, but because it is not something we’ve ever actually seen. Though we know when it is around because of its effects, we’ve never actually observed wind with our eyes. Oh, we’ve seen trees swaying, leaves falling, papers flying through the air. Sometimes the effects of the wind are so powerful that the only word we can use for its effects would be devastation. The wind can cause havoc on a massive scale, as the victims of hurricanes can testify. But wind is mysterious because we can’t see it, and we are never sure about where it came from, or where it is going. It seems to have a mind of its own.
Concerning this, Jesus said, “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (3:8)
The word “pneuma” in Greek, like the word “ruach” in Hebrew means “breath, wind or spirit.” Jesus uses an obvious play on words here, describing the activity of the Holy Spirit in regeneration.
Of course, much more could and should be said about these opening verses in John chapter 3. But just for a moment, can we stop to appreciate the impact of verse 8? Here Jesus teaches us that when anyone is born of the Spirit, like the blowing of the wind, the invisible Sovereign Spirit of God has moved in mighty power. Yet in contrast to when a town or city experiences storm damage on a large scale, the effects of this “wind” are not in any way negative. Though powerful in the extreme, the Spirit’s work is amazingly precise.
When someone is born again, it is evidence of the fact that God, the Holy Spirit has performed extensive Divine surgery. He has taken out the stony heart and put in a heart of flesh (using the biblical imagery of Ezekiel, flesh is spoken of in contrast to stone, wheras Jesus, in John 3 is using the word flesh in a different way, speaking only of physical, human flesh). Ezekiel 36:26-27 declares, “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” What an amazing miracle this is!
I remember going to a Christian service at age 14, not wanting to be there, hoping for the service to end (even though it had just begun). I was only there because my father had asked me to go. I had no interest in Christ, nor in what I was observing when the congregation sang, and certainly, had no interest in what the preacher had to say. But sometime during the message, my attitude changed. I became interested. In fact, I became intrigued. I was fascinated, and struck by the realities of heaven and hell, and the need for a Savior, and for the first time in my life, was attracted by a Treasure I had never seen before.
I didn’t know it then, but I know now, that what happened in a little metal shed-like building in Chester, England that Sunday night of May 11th, 1980 was this… God, the Holy Spirit, invisibly blew into that service, and while I was hearing the Gospel (under the ministry of Cliff Beasley), in Sovereign and colossal power, yet with the skill of an expert Surgeon, He went to work on my soul. In an instant in time, I was born from above, the old heart of stone was removed and a new heart was put in that with every beat, wanted to know the Master, the Lord Jesus Christ. This Jesus, so to speak, stepped off the old dusty pages of the Bible and became a living Person in my eyes. All of a sudden, I really wanted to know Him, I really wanted Him to save me, and I really wanted His will in my life. And when the Gospel appeal was made, I came to Christ willingly in repentance and faith.
If you are born of the Spirit, God did the exact same thing for you. The Reformation sola of Sola Gratia (Grace Alone) simply expresses in doctrine what God has done for His people in experience. It is God and God alone who has saved us. All the credit for it goes to Him, because this birth had nothing to do with our intelligence (that we somehow worked out who Jesus was for ourselves), or our humility (we having conquered our own pride, were able to humble ourselves to be able to respond in faith to the Gospel). No, a thousand times, no! We are Christians because of the all conquering power of the mighty Spirit of God, who graciously stormed our hearts and worked His Sovereign will. He brought us forth by the word of truth, causing us to find sheer delight in the presence of God both now and for all eternity.
When Lazarus was raised from death, he did not immediately seek an attorney in order to sue Jesus for violating his right to stay dead! Nor did all the town’s people sue Jesus for not at the very same time raising all of their dead relatives from the graves. No, everyone marveled at the all-powerful call of Jesus. By the power of just His word, He actually brought a putrifying corpse back to life. Of course, no one was more thrilled with this Divine mercy than Lazarus himself.
Why do we speak so much about God’s grace? Because with Lazarus we can say that by the effectual call of God, grace has conquered our hearts and brought us to life. When we were spiritually dead in our trespasses and sins (the Greek word for dead in Ephesians 2:1, “necros” means “dead like a corpse”) God made us alive (Eph. 2:5).
C. H. Spurgeon once said, “The great King, immortal, invisible, the Divine person, called the Holy Spirit: it is He that stimulates the soul, or else it would lie dead forever; it is He that makes it tender, or else it would never feel; it is He that imparts power to the Word preached, or else it could never reach further than the ear; it is He who breaks the heart, it is He who makes it whole; He, from first to last, is the great worker of Salvation in us, just as Jesus Christ was the author of Salvation for us.”
“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience – among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved…” Eph. 2:1-5
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me… Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved, how precious did that grace appear, the hour I first believed.
Prayer: “Heavenly Father, Sovereign King, hear our cry. As Your gospel is heralded around the world, may the Holy Spirit of God, like a mighty triumphant wind, conquer dead human hearts today! It is man’s only hope! For Your great Name’s sake and for Your glory alone. Amen.”
THE TESTIMONY OF JESUS HIMSELF
John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
THE TESTIMONY OF PETER
Acts 4:10-12 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. He is “‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone.’ Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”
THE TESTIMONY OF PAUL
1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus
One of the main objections people have to the Christian Gospel is this issue …of exclusivity: that the Christian proclaims that only in Jesus Christ is salvation to be found. Certainly it would be less objectionable if Jesus was merely presented as simply one of the many ways to God. Yet it needs to be pointed out that it is not the Christian who came up with this idea, but the claim comes directly from Jesus Himself. Because of this, either Jesus is the Way to God as He said, or else He is a liar and a deceiver, and not even one way to God!
Lets think about this idea of there only being one way to God by looking at it from a hypothetical perspective. Follow the logic of Dr. R.C. Sproul as he writes the following in his book “Reason to Believe”:
Let’s suppose that there is a God who is absolute in His holiness and righteousness. Suppose He freely creates mankind and gives each human being the gift of life. Suppose He sets His creatures in an ideal environment with the freedom to enjoy the wonders of the entire creation. Then let’s suppose that God imposes one small restriction upon them, and warns them that if they violate that restriction, they will die. Would such a God have the right to impose such a restriction with the penalty of forfeiture of the gift of life if His authority was violated?
Then let’s suppose that for no just cause, the ungrateful creatures disobeyed the restriction. Yet suppose that when He discovered their violation, instead of killing them instantly, He redeemed them.
Suppose the descendants of the first violators increase their hostility and disobedience to God to the point that the whole world become enemies of God.
Suppose God still determined to redeem these people, and set aside a distinct nation for Himself, giving them special gifts, so that through them, the entire world would be blessed.
Suppose He kept delivering them from all their enemies, yet as soon as they were liberated, they rose up in rebellion to Him. Suppose, because of His mercy and grace, God sent specially endowed messengers or prophets to plead with His people to return to Him.
Suppose the people killed these divine messengers and mocked their message. Suppose they then began to worship idols of stone and things they had made. Suppose they then invented religions which were totally opposed to the truth He had made clear to them, and they worshiped creatures rather than the Creator.
Suppose in an ultimate act of redemption, God Himself became incarnate in the person of His Son.
Suppose this Son came into the world not to condemn the world, but to redeem it. Suppose this Son were rejected, slandered, mocked, tortured, and murdered.
Yet, suppose that God accepted the murder of His own Son as punishment for the sins of the very persons who murdered Him. Suppose this God offered forgiveness, and a cleansing from all guilt, victory over death and eternal peace with Himself. Suppose God gave these people as a free gift the promise of a future life that would be without pain, without sickness, without death, and without tears.
Suppose that God said to these people, “There is one thing that I demand. I demand that you honor my one and only Son and that you worship and serve Him alone.”
Suppose God did all that, would you be willing to say to Him, “God, that’s not fair, you haven’t done enough?” If man has in fact committed cosmic treason against God, what reason could we possibly have that God should provide any way of redemption? In light of the universal rebellion against God, the issue is not why is there only one way, but why is there any way at all?
“There seems to be growing up amongst us an idea that a man is of a persecuting spirit if he does not think that the one who flatly contradicts him is as right as himself. If we do as some wish, we shall in time reach that blessed state of charity which had been attained by the courtiers of the Sultan, who, when he said at mid-day, “It is midnight,” replied, “Yes, sire, there is the moon, and there are the stars.” Today, we are expected not to protest against Popery, lest we should be considered bigots; we must subscribe to all that men teach, if only they are sincere. Suppose a man, travelling due North, was sincere in thinking that he would get to the South, do you think his sincerity would bring him to the desired destination? If a man was sincere in thinking that prussic acid was a wholesome food, would the poison do him no injury? If a man starved himself while he sincerely believed himself to be feasting, how long would it take him to get fat? You say “these things are contrary to the laws of nature.” Just so, and the laws of God’s gospel are as fixed and true as are the laws of nature. If you are honest and sincere in keeping to the road of ruin, you will reach the natural end of that road, eternal destruction. Sincerity in believing a lie does not change that lie to the truth. There is only one way to heaven; there is only one Saviour, Jesus Christ is exclusively “the way.” This excludes all by-paths, all cross-roads, and all short cuts. Scripture knows nothing of the new theory, that we may be all right though we are in direct opposition to the Word of God.”
– C. H. Spurgeon, from a sermon delivered on a Sunday evening in 1856, at New Park Street. Notes taken by Pastor T.W. Medhurst.