This week we focus on the question, “Are You Prepared for Eternity?” Along with Dave Hunt, here’s T. A. McMahon.
Tom: Thanks, Gary. You’re listening to Search the Scriptures Daily, a program in which we encourage everyone who desires to know God’s truth to look to God’s Word for all that is essential for salvation and living one’s life in a way that is pleasing to Him. In this first segment of our program, we’re discussing Dave Hunt’s book Seeking and Finding God, a book that he wrote primarily as a follow-up to send to people that he met on airplanes or in other places where serious discussions (conversations, really) about God developed with those who seemed to be truly seeking after God.
Now, Dave, you write in chapter four, and I’ll quote: “It is astonishing how many millions of otherwise seemingly intelligent people are willing to risk their eternal destiny upon less evidence than they would require for buying a used car.” Is that the case?
Dave: Well, most people – sometimes there are careless people; of course the used car salesman can talk you into things, tell you some lies and so forth, misrepresentations… I have a friend who just bought a business and somehow didn’t look carefully enough, and it was all misrepresented, and now he’s consulting a lawyer, trying to get out of it. But if you head into eternity, and you’ve been believing lies – I don’t know – there’s no lawyer out there that you can consult. In fact, it’s your fault.
So, Tom, I meet people all the time like this. One of the arguments I would use with them is, “Well, you’re a businessman. You’re intelligent. You went to school, you planned your career, you took your major, you know, and you took your training, and now you’re looking to advance in your career, and one day you’re heading for retirement, you hope. What have you done about when retirement ends in death?” That’s an embarrassing question.
“Well… [silence] Well, I haven’t looked that far ahead.”
Well, you might consider it, because I can tell you better than most people I sit next to, because I am so much older – it just goes…I don’t know where.
Tom, you’ve got, what, 18 years to catch up on me, something like that? But I’m sure you would say, “Where did it go?”
Dave: I can’t even remember, and it’s gone. It’s like a vapor, James says.
Okay, so it’s amazing. Going to spend eternity…it’s much longer than this life, and we can prove it. Why don’t people prepare for eternity? Good question.
Tom: Yeah. Dave, you have Thomas Hobbes here, mathematician, philosopher of the 17th century, and you note that he spent his whole life looking at the social system, looking how man lives, and noticing the evil within man and trying to resolve some of those issues. But you have a quote here by him. He says: “Now I am about to take…” This is as death was approaching – he said, “Now I am about to take my last voyage, a great leap in the dark.”
Dave: That’s a terrible way to go into eternity, Tom! Why would you – you wouldn’t take a leap in the dark on this earth.
Dave: I mean, you would be very careful [and] say, “Let’s get some lights on here. I’m not going to jump.”
I once was lost…well, I got lost because I was in a forest, heavy forest, where a big storm had gone through there 50 years ago – uprooted the trees (these are huge pines and Douglas fir) and left holes where the roots had come out. And I made my way to the top, and I fell in a hole, and I must have hit my head, because after I laboriously made my way to what I thought was the other side, the stream was running in the wrong direction. I had gone down the same way, okay? Well, I came to (and I had no flashlight) – I came to the end of some logs, and, “I don’t know what’s down there, and I’m not going to take a leap.” But here’s Thomas Hobbes – he’s leaping into eternity!
Tom: And, Dave, for some of our listeners, viewers, for the past…well, the past number of weeks, we went over the options. Some people say, “Well, there’s nothing at the end, so who cares? It’s just when you’re dead, you’re dead.”
Now, we’ve dealt with those issues. But then I think we’ve established [that] yes, there is an eternity in front of every living being.
So, Dave, what about people that say, “Well, I’ve got my religion to fall back on.” There are lots of religions, lots of ideas, everything from Valhalla to the Happy Hunting Ground, to Nirvana, Moksha, all these things.
Dave: Well, how do you know that your religion is right? That’s the question. They contradict one another. Most religions do unless they are pretty close to Christianity, and then they are talking about… Catholicism, for example…. Now, you were Catholic. You know that a Catholic doesn’t even know where he’s going – probably going to be purgatory.
Tom: Well, that’s the hope. If indeed purgatory is a reality, which the Scriptures don’t support.
Dave: Right. But how can you be sure as a Catholic that you are not going to commit a mortal sin just before you die?
Tom: You can’t; the pope couldn’t.
Tom: You know, we’ve talked about it – we have quotes from archbishops and so on. That’s the sin of presumption; at least, it used to be.
Dave: Well, I quoted in…I don’t know whether it’s in this book – probably not; in another one…I quoted Cardinal O’Connor from New York. Now, this was from the Wall Street Journal, and they quoted him as saying: “I don’t know where I’m going when I die.”
The pope – that was John Paul II then – the pope doesn’t know. Neither does Mother Teresa know. Well, I would say if the pope doesn’t know where he’s going, I mean, what about his followers? The pope was just here, the new pope – he did leave a blessing for peace and so forth. (It’s not going to bring peace.) Now, if they don’t even know where they’re going when they die, how can you be sure?
Tom: Well, they know where they want to go, but there’s no assurance. That’s the belief of Roman Catholicism.
Dave: Right. The problem is they are trusting the Church to get them there. And Jesus Christ said, “I am the way, the truth, the life. No man comes to the Father but by me.”
Tom, I was sitting next to a couple of Catholics, husband and wife, on the plane. They got a little upset because they thought I was a priest studying the Bible and so forth.
Tom: Which, Dave, that doesn’t happen too often. Not that there aren’t exceptions, but they would be exceptions.
Dave: Right. [unintelligible] Well, maybe they didn’t look closely. They thought it was a prayer book. But they wanted to know, “Are you a priest? Oh, you’re a pastor? No? What are you doing?”
“Well, I’m doing some research.” And I said, “I can tell you’re Catholics. In fact, I have right here in my file a letter from a Catholic lady.” Well, she had been married for 30 years. They had five children. Her husband divorced her and he got an annulment. And I said, “You know, your church gives sixty-some-thousand annulments a year. Now, if they can’t tell the difference between a divorce and an annulment, and they make exceptions for certain people, how can you be sure that they are right when they tell you how to get to heaven? And you could also say…”
And they were angry. “Okay, we don’t want to talk about this anymore.”
It’s like a person says, “Don’t confuse me with facts. My mind is made up.” It’s a very uncomfortable subject, and death is very uncomfortable for a lot of people. Well, then maybe we better face it.
Tom: Mm-hmm. Well, Dave, we talked about Hobbes and a leap of faith into the dark, a leap into the dark, a leap of faith.
Dave: Right, not a leap of faith though, because he had no faith, Tom. He didn’t know where he was going.
Tom: Yeah, right. But for many who profess to be religious that is a – you know, they say, “Well, my faith is going to get me there.” But as you point out in the book, many people don’t really know what they believe. They have some ideas, but they’re sort of hanging on while avoiding really thinking about the last – their last breath, or where they will spend eternity.
Dave: Well, but, Tom, you know the contradictions for Catholics, for example, because most Catholics, except for the ones you’ll find there Sunday morning, or whenever (and even many of them, they’re not that conscientious), and when you or I tell them, “Do you believe in indulgences? Do you believe that that’s the way to reduce time in purgatory, and so forth?”
“Nah, I don’t believe that. I don’t go to confession,” and so forth.
“Well,” I say, “You know, it’s pretty clear, the teaching. If you don’t follow the instructions, you don’t follow the rules, you are heading not for purgatory but for hell!”
“Well, I’m not worried about that. I don’t believe in it.”
“Well,” I say, “okay, if you will not have a little concern when your Church tells you [that] you’re going to hell, you apparently don’t think they know what they are talking about in that, why should you believe them when they tell you how to get to heaven?” Good question! They don’t have an answer.
Tom: Well, Dave, let’s push this beyond Catholicism. You say, “Unquestionably, there is nothing more important than having an impeccably factual and rational basis for one's faith.” Now, I’m sure, not just Catholics, as you’ve articulated, but you could take this to Evangelicals. Most people don’t believe that’s possible! Which is sad, because it is.
Dave: Well, I’ve had many people say to me, “Wait a minute…” In fact, I’m thinking now of a debate between Richard Dawkins and John Lennox. Richard Dawkins, most people would know, he’s probably the leader of the new atheists. Oxford professor John Lennox – Oxford professor and a Christian. Dawkins is just insisting that, “Well, faith…”
I guess Lennox had said, “Well, we want evidence before we believe something.”
And Dawkins says, “Well then, what’s faith? If you have to have evidence for faith, then it’s not faith.”
And Lennox said, “Does your wife love you?”
“Oh, of course.”
“Do you have any evidence for that?”
“Well, absolutely.” Oops! Silence. And Dawkins says, “Never mind about my wife. Let’s get on with this.”
So no, you would be a fool if you believed something that you have no evidence for. And a lot of people think, “Yeah, but that’s where faith comes in, so we don’t have to have any evidence. Faith.” Well, you’re trusting someone; you’re trusting your church. Do you have any evidence to believe that your church knows what it’s talking about? No. Well, we need some evidence, and the Bible gives us all kinds of evidence, and I guess that’s what we’re talking about in chapter four here.
Tom: Well, certainly there’s an idea that’s so incredibly popular today that, “Well, you have your faith, I have my faith. You know, yeah, we’re not going to really get into a heated debate over it. Your belief is going to carry you this way, my belief carries me this way, but we’re all going to be ending up in the same place, and so on, so what’s really to argue about?”
Dave: Yeah, the idea that if it’s a faith…
Dave: …then you can’t put that down. Everybody has their faith. Well, they’re entitled to it. Bush talks about people of faith. Well, what do you mean by faith – what faith? I guess anyone is okay so long as you say, “This is my faith.” Tom, that makes no sense! A Buddhist – I guess he’s got faith. A Muslim, he could say, “Well, I believe the Qur’an; I just have faith in the Qur’an.” Well, yeah, but we can show you a lot of problems in the Qur’an, a lot of contradictions and things that aren’t true.
And there are people like this who are Christians who when you say, “Oh you got some contradictions in the Bible here. You’ve got some unscientific statements. Let’s go over it.”
“Well no, I don’t want to talk about it.”
A lot of Christians are afraid to even question, “Well, is this true?”
If it’s not true, I tell people, “Look, if the Bible is not 100 percent true, and I mean 100 percent true – if I’ve got to pick and choose (‘Well, I don’t think that that’s true’), then you are not trusting the Bible.”
I mean, if you go to a doctor, and I know it’s common to get a second opinion or a third opinion, and the doctor probably won’t quibble about that. But they’re about to give you the anesthesia to go under for an operation, and you say, “Now, wait a minute, Doc, I want to be sure that you really know what you are doing. Tell me about your education and where you went to medical school, and your practice, because one of the problems with doctors and lawyers is, they are still practicing, you know.” That makes no sense. You have put yourself in someone’s hands. You are going to have to trust them, because no one is able to know everything, and has done everything. I can’t be sure. My auto mechanic works on the engine. I can’t look over his shoulder. Or the pilot flying the plane – of course you can’t get in the cockpit anymore, but there was a day, a time when you could. Well, I can’t…“Hey, guys, I want to sit up here in the cockpit with you because I’d really like to be sure that you are doing the right thing.” Well, I don’t know anything about flying an airplane, so how can I be sure?
Well, are you going to check up on your church? No, people don’t check up on their church because they call that faith: “Now that’s my faith.” No matter what it is that I believe, that’s my faith.
And Dawkins, he jumps on this: “Well, you see, faith is sacred. You don’t check that out.” But that’s not biblical faith.
Tom: Well, Dave - first of all, Dawkins is a man of faith. Atheism is a belief system.
Dave: Of course. Right.
Tom: He can’t prove that there is no God, but he’s working at it, okay?
Dave: Well, he admits that there’s no evidence that God does not exist. I mean, he can’t prove it. Well, he thinks that there is evidence against God, but he cannot prove it.
Tom: Right. Well, Dave, going back to religions, in this age of tolerance, with all the religions out there, wouldn’t it be clear to people when religions are contradictory to one another that they all can’t be right?
Dave: You would think so, Tom, but that seems to just pass right by people, or else they think, “Yeah, but my religion is right.”
Tom: But based on…again, we go back to this leap of faith. Somebody says, “Well, I firmly believe, you know…I was born a Catholic, I’ll die a Catholic.” “I’m a Buddhist.” “I’m a Hindu,” and so on. “My religion is the correct religion, the right religion,” and so on.
Now, what we’re asking here – you know, the program is called Search the Scriptures Daily – check things out. Don’t just buy into it because somebody says so, whether it’s Dave, myself, or whoever it might be. Let’s check it out. And there doesn’t seem to be…well, people are discouraged to do that because that seems to be intolerant.
Dave: Tom, a little common sense would say, “You want the police to be tolerant of crime? You want doctors to be tolerant of disease?” There are some things that are right and wrong, some things that are deadly. But just because it’s your faith or your religion, you’d better check it out yourself. How do you know your church is right?
“Well, my parents and then my grandparents…” Yeah, but who are you trusting? Who is the one that is guiding you? How can you be sure?
Now, before you’re on your death bed and you’ve got 30 seconds to live, you don’t have time to check anything out. You had better start – that’s all I’m appealing for in this book Seeking and Finding God.
Now, Tom, we’ve said it often: Why do we search the Scriptures? Why do we go to the Bible? We can prove the Bible is true. For example, prophecies – hundreds of prophecies about Israel! Hundreds of prophecies about the Messiah: where He would be born; when He would ride…the very day He would ride into Jerusalem on that donkey; that He would be crucified 500 years before crucifixion was even practiced; details of His life and ministry, and so forth. You cannot escape it. There’s nothing like that for Buddha, or Zoroaster, or anybody else!
And furthermore, there are no prophecies for Mary. I don’t want to just keep pounding on the Catholics, but where are the prophecies that give you when Mary would be born, and how she would be born, and about her ministry, and that we should trust her because she knows. It doesn’t exist! And how about Muhammad? No prophecies for Muhammad – nothing that would give you trust or confidence in the Qur’an, which has many contradictions in it. So we go with the Bible because we can prove it.
Tom: Yeah, and you know, somebody might be thinking, “Well, prophecies, you know, what does that mean?”
Well, what it means is that God, the Creator of the universe, has declared certain things, spoken forth that these things would take place, and the probability of these things, prophecies, as you mentioned, Dave – what close to a third of the Bible is prophetic?
Tom: What’s the probability of men, 40 men, over how many…?
Dave: Sixteen-hundred years.
Tom: Sixteen-hundred years – that they could come up with these prophecies, and that they would be fulfilled? The probability is zero! This has to be a miraculous book.
Dave: Right. The odds against it are astronomical. It couldn’t happen. So, Tom, even one prophecy, for example, that Israel would be divided by the nations, Joel:3:2. It’s been conquered, but conquerors don’t divide it up. That only happened in our day. That all the nations, Zechariah:12:2, that all the nations around Israel would be united against her, determined to destroy her! Well, they were always enemies of one another; they fought one another. How did they all get joined together? It happened that Israel would be the number one burden on the whole world? It’s the number one problem for the United Nations. They’ve spent a third of their time debating and talking about Israel, a tiny nation with one one-thousandth of the earth’s population? And no, this couldn’t be by chance, and this is the evidence that we have in the Bible. Nothing like that in the Qur’an, the Hindu Vedas, Bhagavad Gita, you name them – sayings of Buddha, Confucius…
Tom: But sadly, Dave, what we’re seeing in the Evangelical church is we’re really being weaned off the Word of God. We’re seeing a popular church that is becoming shallow, superficial, especially in their trust in the Word of God.
Dave: Tom, I never thought I’d live to see the day. Because when I grew up people believed the Bible. We knew the Bible. I can see myself as a little Sunday school child…
Tom: And nothing’s changed about the Bible, Dave.
Gary: You’ve been listening to a special edition of Search the Scriptures 24/7 with Dave Hunt and T.A. McMahon, a radio ministry of The Berean Call. We offer a wide variety of resources to help you in your study of God’s Word. For a complete list of materials and a free subscription to our monthly newsletter, contact us at PO Box 7019, Bend, Oregon, 97708. Call us at 800.937.6638. Or visit our website at the bereancall.org. I’m Gary Carmichael; thanks for joining us, and we hope you can be here again next week. Until then, we encourage you to Search the Scriptures 24/7.