Let's get back to the basics By L. Russ Bush
WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)--Every business, every hobby, every field of activity or study has its "basics." Certain skills, or practices, or fundamental truths underlie all of the important things of life. Our faith is no less built on certain fundamental truths. For example:
God exists, not as other things exist, but he is a real being who is there. He exists in a unique way, not merely as one of the many things in the universe. He is not subject to decay or to dispersion nor dissipation. He is the one on whom all things depend but who depends upon no one. Were it not for the fact that he created some things other than himself, he would never be known to anyone other than himself. That he did create, however, means that he can be known from the things that have been made.
Something exists, therefore God exists, for if God did not exist, nothing would exist. He causes and preserves all things, including us. This notion is basic to all of life and truth. The living world did not evolve by natural processes. Life comes from life; it does not arise from non-life. So basic a principle is this that we have no excuse to miss it.
Not only does a mere something exist, but something beautiful exists. The world is orderly and complex and full of variety and color. The world does not merely exist in its simplest state, but rather it has flexibility, excess capability and unusual complexity, yet it is stable, organized and understandable.
Unusual is this planet in this universe! There is food here that is suitable for the life that is here. We see nothing like that on Mars or Venus or on any other planet anywhere in the universe. Not that God could not make other worlds and other life, perhaps he has, but we have no evidence of his having made life anywhere else. This remains a unique world, especially suited for life, designed to sustain and support life, and filled with an enormous amount of life.
This God who caused everything in the beginning continues to sustain everything now. All life arises from his life, all design and purpose is from his intelligence and plan.
Our God is not only the ultimate source of reality, and he is not only the source of meaning and purpose, he is also the source of all moral law. Our actions have consequences. Some actions bring benefits and confidence and security, while others lead to loss and despair and guilt. This is built into the ways things are. God is a moral being, and his creation is in keeping with his nature.
These basic truths are not merely "beliefs," they are reality. Our God is real. This is not simply our opinion or our perspective or our viewpoint. This is the way things are.
Evolution is the false belief that all living forms have developed naturally, without divine initiative or divine guidance. The evolutionist believes nature is the "creative force" that produces life in all its diversity. Abortion is justified by denying that all life belongs to God. The abortion advocate believes the child's life is produced by and belongs exclusively to the mother. Many seek pleasure above all other responsibilities. Many deny a coming judgment and believe that it is right to do business in a purely selfish way. Cheating is justified if one thinks he or she can benefit by it.
Christians, however, must not forget our Lord's claim to be speaking the truth. He affirmed the biblical teaching about God, judgment, creation, honesty, and morality. He was obedient to his Father, even unto death.
His death, however, made life possible even to those who had sinned against God by denying him or violating his law. Christ's offer of salvation is based on his own righteousness offered to the Father as a substitute for our sin. God's salvation is an act of his pure grace based only on faith in Christ. This is a basic truth.
Why do we turn so easily to that which is false? Why so readily do we turn away from the basic gospel truths revealed to us by God himself? This is an age of violence, irresponsible use of sexuality, terrorist hatred, political struggle, loss of standards and denials of truth. Should we not recommit ourselves to a life of faith and the courage of our true convictions? Brothers and sisters, let's see it through and stay with the basics.
Bush is dean of the faculty and academic vice president at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.