Biblical Interpretation from Someone with no Training in Biblical Interpretation
Does God exist? Does any sort of deity exist? There is a point when every person has to figure out where they stand on this question. Many people say that there is no God, many say there is some sort of divine figure or figures, the rest are undecided. Such people are generally defined as agnostics. These folks prefer to not guess as to the answer to the question at the top. In fact, some claim there may be no way to really know for sure if God (or gods) exists or not. Unfortunately, based on what the Holy Spirit taught me, it’s possible that those who say “maybe” are more lost than straight-up nonbelievers.
Jesus was nearing the end of his ministry, and the religious leaders were making their last clean attempt to label him as a heretic. Therefore, they’d come at Jesus with questions, hoping he’d say something blasphemous so they’d be able to stone him. History records one such event,
They arrived again in Jerusalem, and while Jesus was walking in the temple courts, the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders came to him. “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who game you authority to do this?” (Mark 11:27-28)
Basically, they were asking if he was God, or if at least God was behind his works. However, Jesus reflected their question back by referencing the recently-killed prophet, John the Baptist. We read in Mark 11:29-30, “Jesus replied, ‘I will ask you one question. Answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. John’s baptism- was it from heaven, or from men? Tell me!’” The question he posed to them was if John was a prophet or a charlatan. If they admitted that John was a prophet, they’d have to acknowledge Christ as Lord (as John had proclaimed him as such), but if not…well, read on:
They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From men’…” (They feared the people, for everyone held that John really was a prophet.) (Mark 11:31-32).
Sticky situation. Because they didn’t know what to say, the religious leaders took the agnostic route,
So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.”
Jesus said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things” (Mark 11:33).
Since they wouldn’t answer Jesus’ question, he wouldn’t give them the answer to theirs.
So what does this mean? The Holy Spirit explained that people who linger in the middle-of-the-road for more than a short season are making a foolish move. Had the religious leaders answered wrongly, Jesus likely would have corrected them or at least given some sort of solid answer. Likewise, had they claimed that John was heaven-sent he probably would have confirmed their response. Rather, since they refused to commit, he gave them no answer. The same is true of agnostics today. Jesus is more likely to make his presence known and felt to a nonbeliever than to a “maybe.” And of course, those in Christ will have their faith confirmed. Jesus even commented on this situation in Revelation 3:14-16,
“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:
These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm- neither hot nor cold –I am about to spit you out of my mouth.
From this passage we can see that Christ would rather have someone turn totally against him than be a “maybe.”
There’s an even greater issue though with this. “Maybe there’s a God” will not get you into heaven. There’s an interesting passage that highlights how the Lord divvies up those going to heaven and hell. We read,
On the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to the prophet Haggai: “This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Ask the priests what the law says: If a person carries consecrated meat in the fold of his garment, and the fold touches some bread or stew, some wine, oil or other food, does it become consecrated?’”
The priests answered, “No.”
Then Haggai said, “If a person defiled by contact with a dead body touches one of these things, does it become defiled?”
“Yes,” the priests replied, “it becomes defiled” (Haggai 2:10-13).
Now, for those not well versed in the Law, let me try to clarify what is being said. The question is the effect of holy and unholy (defiled) things on neutral stuff. If a neutral object comes into contact with a holy item, does that make it holy? The answer, as we read, is no. However, if a neutral object comes into contact with a “defiled” item, does it too then become defiled? The answer is yes. This translates to salvation as well. When a person leaves this life, those who have accepted Jesus as their savior will go to heaven. Those who have spent their lives fighting against God and never repented will go to hell. But what about neutral people, those who did not commit to one side or the other? Just as when a neutral object is defiled by a dead body, so the neutral spirit is defiled by the dead one. That is to say, there is no mercy for a “maybe.”
Salvation comes through belief in Jesus and reaching out to him as your savior. Paul explained, “For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile- the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved’” (Romans 10:12-13). There’s no room for maybes in this system, they get filed in the same place as those who rage against the Lord.
But take heart, there is a God! The Bible reminds us,
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities- his eternal power and divine nature- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened (Romans 1:18-21).
If you can wake up, look around outside, breathe, and eat; and yet still question God’s existence; then you may as well set up camp with the atheists. As it is written,
For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men (1 Corinthians 15:16-19).
Paul makes it pretty clear that if you aren’t sure if God exists, you may as well stop wasting your time questioning it and live a life free of any “man in the sky” thoughts. Don’t be held back by a maybe, because the Christian life is one of patience, self-control, and forgiveness- if you’re not in it for Christ than you’re wasting your short time on this earth. I say this not to liberate you from some false religion you’ve put on yourself; rather, I do this with the confidence that if you dive headfirst into sin God will grab you and yank you out of whatever pit you end up in and bring you to salvation. Because when it comes down to it, in the spiritual realm a “no” is better than a “maybe.”