Welcome to The Berean Call podcast. I’m T. A. McMahon, TBC’s Executive Director. We’re currently re-airing a discussion I had with Dave Hunt in 2003 featuring his book Countdown to the Second Coming.
In this session Dave and I address the subject of hope, which the lost of this world do not have—certainly not hope in God. Instead, they have a substitute of hope in various forms such as a positive mental attitude and wishful thinking. They are centered upon feelings and have no basis in reason.
Biblical hope, on the other hand, is rooted in reason. Throughout the Scriptures, God gives us reasons to place our hope in Him. They are foundational to knowing and putting our faith in Him. Dave points out that as finite beings there are many things about our infinite God that we cannot comprehend, yet we can believe in Him based upon the reasons we can comprehend.
Ahead is a terrific conversation filled with numerous reasonable explanations that encourage our hope in Jesus Christ.
Tom: We’re going through Dave Hunt’s book Countdown to the Second Coming, and currently we’re in chapter 5. And, Dave, as you know, the title of that chapter is “Infinite Mystery, Perpetual Joy.”
Dave, what I want to do is, as we intro this chapter, I think the best way to do it is by reading the first paragraph.
“In a few more pages we will bring this book to a close by considering the majestic hope that true followers of Christ can have in the face of troubling attitudes, apostasies, and events we’ve described in the previous chapters. Hope is the antidote to all that; yet hope without a reason is no more powerful than a random belief. Nonetheless, through the grace of God, when we become familiar with the foundations of the faith that God invites us to anchor in Him, the hope we have in Christ takes wings—eventually of a literal kind! But before we talk about hope, it might be well to speak of cause.”
God does say, “Come, let us reason together.” And that’s important, isn’t it, Dave?
Dave: Absolutely. Faith is reasonable. It’s the most reasonable thing in the world—or in the universe—to trust God, and trust His Word. And we’ve mentioned it many times before: we can absolutely prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that the Bible is God’s Word. So then, we’re going to believe what He says and obey it.
Tom: So, you’re talking about reason, before we get to hope—reason with regard to understanding, with regard to a basis for, certainly not taking a leap of faith, but a reasoned faith. But before that, there have to be some things we can reason. And we are reasonable beings, aren’t we? We’re not like the animal kingdom.
Dave: Right, yeah. Christ said, “I am the light of the world. He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” And when you talk about light, when Christ is talking about light (“He’s the light of the world”), He doesn’t mean He’s a flashlight—some big light that shines, a physical light. He’s talking about spiritual light that brings us to truth, and that takes us beyond animal life. Truth has no meaning for animals, so they don’t know anything about love or justice, or purpose, or meaning. Unfortunately, the humanistic behavioristic psychologists, they have tried to fit man into the same mold as animals. They act by instinct. So we have, instead of reasoned responses, we have conditioned responses. Our experience has conditioned us to expect certain things and to react in certain ways.
But that obviously isn’t the case, because we can reason! The fact that we can reason about the universe takes us out of evolution. Evolution cannot produce reason. We know that intelligence, for example, is nonphysical. We know words are nonphysical, and we’ve talked about this also in the past. When I say “justice,” how much does it weigh? What’s its texture? What does it feel like? What does it sound like? What does it look like? Obviously, none of the five senses touch “justice.” This physical universe has nothing to do with justice. It belongs to a nonphysical realm.
We know that the brain doesn’t think, for example, as we’ve mentioned many times. If it did, we are the prisoners of our brain. What is my brain going to think of next? And then I guess I have to do whatever my brain thinks of.
So we can reason about things. And God, as you mentioned, has given us sufficient proof of what we can verify, so that when He says something we can’t verify, we accept it, because He’s already proved it.
Now, the atheist has all the same evidence in front of him, and he follows it along to a certain point. Then he takes a leap in the opposite direction—180 degrees. Even though all the evidence points to God, he denies it because he doesn’t want to believe it. He doesn’t want to be accountable to God.
But when the scripture says, “By faith we understand the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made with things which do appear,” we don’t understand that. There’s no scientist that understands that. We don’t know what gravity is. We don’t know what light is, or electricity or space or energy. But God has proven enough…well, the prophecies that have been fulfilled—we can verify the Bible. We know this is God’s Word. No one can write a book like this. So when He says things that we can’t understand, “Everything is made out of actually nothing,” we know there had to be a time when there was nothing there. You don’t get everything out of nothing. There had to be someone who could create whatever He wanted by speaking it into existence. And that’s God.
The tragedy is that the scientists, many scientists—I know a number of real Christians who are scientists—but many of them have forgotten the Creator.
God says, “If you will seek for me with all your heart, you will find me.” But instead of that, they’re trying to understand the universe. Trying to somehow find within the atom the reason for its existence, how it came into existence. And that is not going to happen.
So although they’re not idol worshipers, you know, in the same sense that someone is who bows down to a little idol that he’s made out of clay or wood or stone, they worship the universe itself instead of the Creator of the universe.
I remember Carl Sagan—he used to get really religious and just overwhelmed: “The universe! The cosmos! Whoa!” You know, “Isn’t it wonderful? We’ll never cease to exist, because just imagine that hydrogen atoms and oxygen atoms and so forth that are in our body were once part of a distant star system and will continue on like this.”
It doesn’t move me, and it doesn’t give me any thrill to know that my body parts are going to be part of a distant star system someday and continue on in this universe, a universe which is dying. But in fact, we know that there is a soul and spirit inside because we think, we reason, and this is not physical. So when the body dies and is laid into the grave, where will that thinker be? That’s the big question everyone must face.
Tom: Dave, you mentioned that Paul’s earnest desire is that all believers might attain to, and you quote Colossians:2:2-3, “The full assurance of understanding to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God and of the Father and of Christ in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
So, God has plenty for us with regard to our understanding and our growth—our development, really—in Him. Yet, Dave, at the same time, “we see through a glass darkly,” 1 Corinthians:13:12. But there will be a time when we have a greater understanding. So how do we deal with this right now?
Dave: Well, Tom, the scripture says—Jesus said, “This is life eternal that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.”
We better think in eternal terms, not just physical terms. We know that this universe will pass away. “Heaven and earth will pass away,” Jesus said. How do we know that? Second law of thermodynamics. Every fire, no matter how big it is, burns out. The sun one day will burn out—unless there is a Creator who is separate and distinct from the creation, and who can create a new universe, and in fact He will.
Otherwise, Tom, it’s all purposeless. One day all the schemes and dreams and corporate plans and ambitions of man will be like sandcastles washed out into a cosmic ocean of nothingness. It will all be as though it had never been, unless there is a Creator of this universe who has a purpose and a plan and who, in fact, as the Bible says, created us in His image. And although we have rebelled, sinned against Him, yet He came to this earth as a man in order to pay the penalty for our sins.
So the scripture promises us, and we know this, we know Him now—that we could know Him. If we seek Him, He will reveal Himself to us. But as you mentioned, we see through a glass darkly now. But one day—wow!
Well, the scripture says, “We will know as we are known.” In other words, it won’t be a matter of, well, God’s going to take a few million years to teach us all the things we need to know. No, we will know everything suddenly. We will be like Christ. “When we see Him, we will be like Him,” 1 John 3 says. And that’s amazing! We will know God. We will be in His presence. That is beyond comprehension.
Tom: Now, Dave, in terms of comprehension, again, there are things now that we don’t comprehend, but as you mentioned earlier, we’re built up to that. That is, there are foundations of the faith that we understand, that we can reason, but then there are areas beyond our comprehension. For example, the Trinity—mystery of…God is a mystery. Yet, it’s not a leap of faith with regard to our belief in God and what He’s done, because He has brought us along through reason.
Dave: Well, you mentioned the Trinity, and this is all through the Bible. And, Tom, I don’t profess to understand everything about the Trinity—certainly very little. But I know this: that we must have a triune God. For example, the Muslims, they believe in a single entity. As many Jews—they think Jehovah, Yahweh, is a single being. If that were the case, then He would be incomplete, because He could not experience love, communion, fellowship, and so forth. He would have to create other beings in order to even know what love is.
Tom: Now, Dave, you’re reasoning here.
Dave: I’m reasoning, right.
Tom: This is important.
Dave: Right, right. We can reason up to a point about this. On the other end of the scale, you have polytheism. You have multiplicity of gods—the Greeks, the Romans, you know, all the paganism. Take your pick. The Hindus have 330 million. But the problem there is they have diversity but no unity.
On the other end, we had unity but no diversity. So now, who’s the head god? Who calls the shots? They steal one another’s wives, they fight wars, you know—there’s no peace in heaven, there can be no peace on earth. That doesn’t make sense.
But we have what the Bible teaches—that there is unity and diversity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Not three gods, three Persons who are one in one Godhead, the Scripture calls it. I don’t understand it, but I know it must be.
So if you went to, for example, if you went back to Isaiah:48:16, “There…” one who must be God is speaking. He speaks from the beginning. You go back as far as you can go. He says “There am I.” And He is the one who speaks. This is the God who speaks—the person in the Godhead who speaks. And He says, “I have not spoken in secret. From the beginning, wherever it is, you go back as far as you can go, there I am.”
But then He says, “And now the Lord God and His Spirit have sent Me.” Wow, you’ve got one who must be God—He’s been here forever. And yet He says, “The Lord God and His Spirit sent Me.” Now you have a Trinity. There, each one is God, and yet they act in different ways. So the Scripture says the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. And it is the Holy Spirit who convinces men of the truth…well, first of all, of sin, of righteousness, and judgment to come, and of the truthfulness, then, of the gospel.
So we have this all through the Old Testament, and we don’t have time to go into the details of that. But if you took the Shema: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord.” And the Jews would say, “See, He’s a single entity.” No, no. “Hear, O Israel, Yahweh our Elohim is one Yahweh,” and “one” is echad. That means a unity. So in Genesis 2, it says “…the man and the woman became one.” Echad, one flesh.
In Samuel it talks about a number of soldiers who became one troop—echad, again. So we have not three individuals who have no relationship with one another, and we don’t have one single entity. But we have Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who are one—echad. A unity. I don’t understand it, Tom, but I know philosophically, logically, it must be.
Tom: Dave, the Father loves the Son. As you said incomplete, if God needed to create people in order to be fulfilled. He wouldn’t be God. So we’re just using reason there, but we’re using reason based on the Scriptures—what God has revealed to us in His Word about Himself. And as you said, we may not be able to fully comprehend it, but we certainly have the use of God’s Word, His revelation, plus reason.
Now, Dave, in addition to talking about the “mystery of godliness,” God becoming a man, we have the “mystery of iniquity”—why man, why His creation would rebel. This is a stunner.
Dave: Yeah, well, let’s first of all talk about the mystery of godliness, because without the Trinity, again, which we’re talking about, God could not become a man.
You know, sometimes people say, “Well if Jesus is God, when He was a fetus in Mary’s womb, or when He was dead in the tomb, who was running the universe?”
Well, the Father didn’t die on the cross. The Holy Spirit didn’t die on the cross. But then that’s a misunderstanding of death. It’s not unconsciousness, it’s not cessation of being, but it is separation from this body and separation from the Creator. But we don’t have time to get into that.
But this is a mystery. Paul says, “Great is the mystery of godliness, God manifest in the flesh….” Wow! “Seen of angels….” That must have staggered them, especially when He seemed helpless in the Garden and they took Him and bound Him. And then when they nailed Him to the cross. This is the One that created them? “Incredible mystery of godliness.”
“Preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory….” That’s an amazing mystery.
But now you’re talking about the mystery of iniquity. And…
Tom: Yeah, 2 Thessalonians:2:7.
Dave: It begins with Satan. Satan knew nothing but God. He was created in the presence of God. He wasn’t raised in a dysfunctional family. You can’t explain it that way in any so-called explanation of evil that doesn’t fit Satan or that doesn’t fit Eve. She wasn’t abused as a child. She was raised in the Garden. So somehow, the mystery—it’s incredible! It is the evil that is in the heart. It is a desire to be independent from God. And in Satan’s heart grew this ambition: “I will be like the Most High. I can do everything that God can do.” And that’s the New Age movement today, the human potential movement, and so forth. And Eve, then, believed this lie from Satan.
Now, Satan must be brilliant beyond our comprehension. That’s incredible! How could he have this ambition? Does he think he’s going to win? He is a self-deceived egomaniac. That’s incredible!
So we have a mystery. God is in charge! You can’t overcome Him, and yet men think they can somehow take their own way and defy the Creator. That’s incredible. This is the mystery of iniquity.
Tom: Yeah, Dave, we have—we’ve got about two minutes left. What’s the solution to this, solving the problem of evil, this last part of your chapter 5? God was manifest in the flesh. Go to 1 Timothy:3:16: “God was manifest in the flesh. Seen of angels, believed on in the world, received up into glory.”
Dave: Well, to believe the gospel. We can’t earn our salvation. There’s no way after you have sinned that you can make up for having sinned. You tell the judge, “From now on, judge, I promise you, scout’s honor, if you let me off this time, I’ll never, ever, ever break the law again.”
The judge says, “If you never break the law again, you’re only doing what the law requires. Now what are we going to do about the fact that you already broke the law?” The ticket’s been written out, the penalty has to be paid. And there’s no way, by living a perfect life in the future, even if you could, you could pay for sinning in the past.
So God became a man. He came down to this earth. He didn’t cease to be God, He’ll never cease to be man. He’s the one-and-only God-man. Because of who He is, because of His love for us, He not only hung on the Cross, they not only scourged Him, and so forth—that would never save anyone. That’s what we did to Him. That would only add to our condemnation. But as He hung on the cross, the scripture says, “It pleased Yahweh to bruise him. Thou hast put him to grief, when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin. All we like sheep have gone astray, we turned everyone to his own way.” But Yahweh, God, has laid on Him all of our sins and when He gave—before He gave His spirit into His Father’s hands, after He had paid the penalty His own infinite justice required, He cried in triumph, “It is finished.” The penalty was paid in full.
So what are we going to do? We can’t add to what He did. It doesn’t need any addition. It’s finished. All we can do is believe. The gospel says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” We believe in Him. We accept the payment He made for our sins. And it is credited to our account, and we are forgiven. That’s amazing! But this is the promise from God.