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. Dave, our listeners out there—they hear the program from week to week, but some weeks I don’t see you, so we have to double up. So, where have you been? What have you been up to?
Dave: Where have I been?
Tom: Well, you’re doing your taxes—we know that.
Dave: (laughing) I guess I was in Kansas, wasn’t I?
Tom: Or Oklahoma.
Dave: No, Oklahoma, thank you.
Tom: But aside from your traveling, what are you working on? I think some of our listeners would like to know.
Dave: What am I working on? Well, believe it or not, James White and I are in the final stages of a debate on Calvinism in a book, so it will be all laid out in writing; people can go back and read it again and study it and ponder it. And I think the book is called: Calvinism Debated [the book is now called Debating Calvinism]. I think it will be very worthwhile. People can see both sides.
Tom: If you are a new listener to the program, we’ve been going through Dave Hunt’s bookIn Defense of the Faith, and it’s a book that has many questions that people have asked him over his many years of ministry and, as we have mentioned time after time, some are very tough questions. Some things you would wonder why anybody would ask, but some, I think, are challenging, and it’s good to be challenged. It’s good to know what you believe and why you believe it and to be able to respond.
Tom: The first question, Dave, is: “I’m a born-again Christian who received Christ as my Savior more than 20 years ago. At that time, I literally felt Christ come into my heart and change my life. Yet there are times when I have to fight doubts, because I just don’t feel right with the Lord. I know all the gospel verses and believe them, but it seems to me there must be something I’m missing. Can you help me?”
Dave: Well, there could be a number of reasons, I guess. Number one, if….
Tom: A feeling—I noticed time after time this person says…it’s a very subjective perspective, but go ahead, sorry.
Dave: Well, if you are not doing what your heavenly Father wants you to do, you could feel guilty. You know the old bumper sticker: “If you feel far from God, guess who moved?” And that can bring doubts, I guess. My assurance of salvation, however, does not depend upon my performance. That does not mean that, well, “let us sin that grace may abound.”
Tom: Which is an argument people use against salvation by faith alone.
Dave: Right, against eternal security: “Well, you guys can do anything you want,” and if you are truly born again, a new creature in Christ Jesus indwelt by the Holy Spirit, born of the Holy Spirit, there are some changes that have taken place. You have new desires, a new love in life, which is the Lord himself, and the desire is to please Him and serve Him.
On the other hand, sometimes a person can wonder.… This is so incredible! I was thinking about it driving here this morning. This whole universe that even exists, that we exist—it’s just beyond our comprehension. Where did it come from? How did it get here? Well, God created it. Well, how did He get to be God? Obviously, He didn’t get to be God—He must be God from forever, without beginning, without end—but that is mind-boggling. It goes beyond our comprehension.
How come He is God? How come somebody else isn’t God, you know? But, Tom, I find that I go back to the very beginning and to God’s existence, and that’s easy to prove from the universe, and we won’t go into that again. The universe hasn’t been here forever; the stars would have burned out by now. You know there was a beginning to it. The Bible starts out: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” I know this is true beyond the shadow of a doubt! Every piece of evidence that I have, everything that science points to, I know that we don’t even have to talk about evolution. The evolutionist goes on and on and on, talking about species changing from one species to another and evolving from some primitive slime or whatever…
Tom: No evidence.
Dave: No, but they shouldn’t even think about that until they solve the first problem: where did it all come from? I guess I’ve mentioned it a number of times—When I was a freshman in college (I can still remember), believe it or not, I was going to Oregon State before I moved down to UCLA.
Tom: A Beaver.
Dave: Yeah, I was a Beaver in those days, and I remember, I think it was Life Magazine, and I’ve probably mentioned this before, maybe not, but they were going to tell us where stars came from. And they did a whole series—beautiful pictures, and so forth—and, well, it started out with some hydrogen and various gases, and the gases began to accumulate mass as they got closer together, and that attracted more gases, and finally the light from a distant star ignited it. Come on now! You had to have a star—you had to have gases to start with. You had to have space.
Tom: So, where did they come from?
Dave: Until we take care of that, what’s the point of talking about all the other stuff? And if you take care of that, then everything else will fall in line. So, we go back to what we know is true: God exists; we know the Bible is God’s Word; prophecy—that’s unique to the Bible, absolutely.
Tom: Dave, let me just back you up a little bit. Because you have to deal with the fact—it has to be a fact, and we can only come to it by reason and then there’s all this…you talk about stars, gases—it all had to be created out of nothing!
Dave: That’s right.
Tom: And that seems incomprehensible to us.
Dave: But we know that it’s true. There was a time when none of it was there. So, if you are dealing with the God who always is, who creates everything out of nothing, then I think it’s ridiculous to imagine that He would use evolution. And when you think of the horror of evolution—all the death and the wrong moves that evolution makes by chance; appendages might sprout out, or the inefficiency of this, and the God who can create everything out of nothing, and even if you got all the right combinations of the chemicals together, how about life? We don’t even know what that is. So, anyway, back to where we started here…
Tom: This is all great encouragement to your belief, if you have doubt. What I understand you saying here is that you fall back, not totally, but at least in part, on why there has to be a God.
Dave: And why the Bible is His Word. Because the Bible lays it all out for us. And then we have prophecy and the events that have shaped history: world-shaking events, history-making events, foretold thousands of years before they happened—all laid out in the Bible. The coming of the Messiah, foretold all through the Bible, and how the Bible, written by forty different men over a period of 1,600 years, most of whom didn’t know one another—we’ve been through this—but it doesn’t…
Tom: It’s good to hear it again…
Dave: But it doesn’t hurt to go back over it again—most of whom didn’t know one another; they came from different times in history, different cultures. The only thing they claimed to have in common was they were inspired by the one true God. And this book, the Bible—how it is interwoven; it is just astonishing the more you study it, the more you know about it, the more you stand in awe. This is God’s Word, okay? Now, this is the book that tells me about Jesus—it gives the prophecies: when He would come, what He would do. And it tells me what my own conscience knows—that I have broken God’s laws. I have a conscience about that. I know that I have sinned. I know that I have not always done what was right, and I know that I can’t make up for breaking the law in the past by keeping it in the future. I know that the penalty, somehow, must be paid.
So, in contrast to the world’s religions out there, the Bible lays out a system of salvation—a way of salvation that makes sense. Furthermore, it is backed up by prophecy—fulfilled—there is no escaping it. And that God himself would come to this earth as a man through the virgin birth—He is the only one who could pay the penalty, the infinite penalty, that His own justice demands—that He would come to this earth as a man! He didn’t cease to be God, He will never cease to be man, He’s the one and only God-man—and that He would pay the penalty for my sins and that all I have to do is believe—accept the payment He made on my behalf. What else could I do? If there is something for me to do, then He didn’t finish the work. Is there something for me to add to His payment? No, impossible!
So, the Bible lays it all out, and it’s good news, and I trust Him. And I just say, “Lord Jesus, I’ve trusted You, I believe in You, I have received You as my Savior,” in contrast to those, remember in Matthew:7:22,23,24, that say, “Jesus said, Many will say to me, Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, in your name we cast out devils, in your name we did miracles, wonderful works? And he says, I will say to them, I never knew you, depart from me, you workers of iniquity!” Their problem was they were trusting to their works, to their performance, instead of His grace and His promise and His word.
So, how does the hymn go: “Nothing in my hand I bring, Simply to thy cross I cling.” Or, another hymn that says: “Just as I am, without one plea, but that thy blood was shed for me. And that thou bidst me come to thee, O Lamb of God, I come, I come.”
So, we have come to Him, we have trusted Him. He said, “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” This is the basis of my assurance of salvation. Now if I have a guilty conscience, then I need to get right with Him. But there is no better way to motivate me to serve Him and to love Him than recalling who He is and what He has done for me. That brings gratitude. That changes my life. There is nothing else that I want in this world. What is there?
Tom: Dave, I think of the scriptures in John, chapter 6, and Jesus said, after giving them a very difficult teaching, and many wanted to go away from Him, and He turned to the twelve and said: “Are you, too, going to go away?” And Peter—it’s amazing how much Peter understood and didn’t understand. You’ll see what I’m getting at in a second. But when Jesus turned to the disciples, Peter said—well, Jesus asked, “Are you, too, going to go away?” And Peter replied: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” So, although Peter was really…
Dave: “And we believe and know that thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Tom: Right. Now, Peter had doubts. They fled from Him afterwards. So there was a time for Peter where he really didn’t have the understanding he should have had. On the other hand, it isn’t all looking at the world and seeing God as our Creator, and who else could it be? It’s not just a matter of archaeology, or prophecy, and so on—there is an interworking here. The scripture says, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” That Word of God acts upon our heart as well as the Holy Spirit.
Dave: It says “His Spirit bears witness with our spirit….”
Dave: “We are the children of God, whereby we cry, Abba, Father, Daddy.” Yeah, so there is the inner assurance of the Holy Spirit as well. But the person that asks this question apparently didn’t have that inner assurance—at least he didn’t feel like…
Tom: Well, how much do we go by subjective? You can’t throw it all out.
Dave: No, but the inner assurance is subjective, and the point I was making earlier is that inner assurance comes from the Holy Spirit, and if we grieve the Holy Spirit by lack of love, we’re not fellowshipping with other believers, we are doing things that shouldn’t be done, or we’re just wasting our time on the things of this world that will pass away, then the Holy Spirit is grieved, and we don’t have that inner assurance, and I guess this is what the person would call “feelings”—“I don’t feel right.”
Tom: Well again, people who try to deny the subjective side, I don’t know how you could do that. If you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, it’s going to involve emotions; it’s going to involve a love for Him, on the one hand. On the other hand, Dave, you know in our many years of ministry, people write to us, and you just wonder on what basis are they grounded in the faith. Because many—their experiences seem to drive them in what they would refer to as their Christianity. We’ve had people who said they won’t do a thing unless they hear from the Lord. Driving to work, they stop at a stop sign—I’m serious! Just stop at a stop sign waiting to hear from the Lord—which way to go to work, because of the Lord. Dave, that’s a problem. You know, you hate to use the term “balance,” but there ought to be a way that a person can be on more solid ground.
Dave: There is such a thing as common sense. I don’t lie in bed saying, “Lord, shall I get up today?” No, there are things to do, and we proceed with our tasks. If the Lord gives us something else, fine. It’s like in our ministry, Tom, we never ask for anything from anyone. We trust the Lord. You know the old saying, “Where the Lord guides, He will provide.” And if the Lord doesn’t provide the funds, then we can’t do it. That’s one of the ways that He shows us, and He is so gracious to meet the needs of this ministry through those who know Him and are in touch with Him, and this is what we rely upon.
Well, did we cover that? is there another one, Tom, that we can get to today?
Tom: Well, one last thing—maybe you could tack this on. You say, in this section of your book, that it’s helpful to have some independent confirmation. You also mention that knowing goes beyond comprehension, human understanding. There are times where we can’t rely on that—
Dave: Well, you’re apparently…
Tom: Ephesians:3:19, for example: “To know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge,” and, certainly, David cried out to the Lord. I’m not sure this was David, but it’s in the Psalms: “Search me, O God, and know my heart: prove me, know my thoughts and see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
Dave: What is that? The New King James you’re giving us there, Tom? “See if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
Tom: I probably left it out.
Dave: (chuckling) No, no, you had “grievous” instead of “wicked.” I think “wicked” is a little more to the point now. We’ve got to get back to that solid King James!
Tom: I’m learning from you, Dave. As soon as I can learn to pronounce the words.
Dave: Yeah, that’s Psalm 139, the way it ends, and that is David crying out to the Lord. And David says that before his bones were formed in the womb, before he even came into existence, God knew everything about him.
So, well, you were talking about two different things there, Tom, the guidance of the Holy Spirit and then, independent confirmation—I’m not sure what that means. Apparently that was with reference to God’s guidance in our lives: What shall I do? Where should I live? What kind of a job should I have? and so forth.
Tom: Should I sell my home?
Dave: Yeah. Well, the Lord does guide in amazing ways, and I could tell hundreds of stories and you could too, of God’s guidance in our lives—how He has specifically done things. George Müller used to sit down, when he was at a crossroad, and he would put a line down the middle of the page and on the left side he would put why he should do it, on the right side why he shouldn’t. We have to use some common sense, too.
Tom: And when he got to the end of those lists, he would pray to the Lord that he would have no mind in the matter. Now here he was—he used his head, he did his research, he went down the road to do what he could do, but then he submitted it all to God. Very practical guy, yet you said earlier, we don’t do fund appeals; we don’t ask for funds; we trust the Lord. But we do lots of things, being good stewards of what we have, you know, materials that we offer and so on, and we’re trusting the Lord to move upon the hearts. So, it’s not that we don’t seek the Lord for this, but we don’t go to people. And there may be exceptions to that.
Dave: I have to be very careful that my own ideas don’t get in there. And you know the illustration that I have used many times. Here’s the young man, gets on his knees and cries out, “O God, lead me to the woman you have planned to be my life’s partner. But please let it be Joanne!” Well, he’s already got his mind made up, then how can God guide him? If he gets any signs, they’re going to head for Joanne.
Tom: I purchased a car on that basis, Dave.
Dave: Did you?
Tom: Yeah, and I rue the day. You know all the cars I’ve had, all the junkers—but this was the worst.
Dave: Uh-oh. So George Müller said, “I don’t want to have any mind in this. I want to be absolutely in your hands, Lord…”
Tom: And wanting God’s will.
Dave: “I want You to do it.” Is there time for the next one, or not?
Tom: We’ve got about 3 minutes.
Dave: Three minutes, whoa—I don’t think that’s going to do it. Tom. I don’t even know what is going on here.
Tom: Well, Dave, you could have fooled me! I think you’re making some sense.
Dave: Well, Tom, it is important to have confidence in the Lord, to trust in Him, because it goes beyond, “am I saved?” Okay, this man said, or man or woman, said, “I know the gospel verses. I know them all, but it’s just a lack of feeling confident.”
Okay, so we dealt with that, but now, what does that mean in my life? That I am saved! I can tell you what I was talking to the Lord about as I was driving here this morning: “Lord, I just feel so bad. Number one, it pains me that this world, I mean the human beings, now, I am talking about, do not even recognize the Creator! They’ve got their plans—you know, the United Nations and the politicians and everybody—they are working out their plan for this world and for their lives without any regard to God. Furthermore, what gratitude is there to the God who has given us life and breath and all that we possess? Who has given us health and strength? What gratitude is there? And then I was saying, “Lord, but I have such a poor understanding. Please help me to understand more who You are, and the wonder of what You have done, so that I could have the gratitude to express….I think it’s so horrible that…what does God say back in the Old Testament? “My people have forgotten me days without number.” We go on day after day and not give God the thanks and then…
Tom: Dave, in Romans, doesn’t Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit—was it Romans 1—talks about we weren’t thankful in our hearts, and look where that left us and leaves us.
Dave: Yeah, he’s talking, of course, about the ungodly, but I need to be more thankful. And then, if I am thankful, what do I want to do? Lord, I would like to make You known; I would like to see You praised in the earth. I would like to see people recognize who You are and be grateful and thankful. I want to serve You, Lord. Help me somehow to know You better and to make You known more clearly—to be more articulate, more, somehow, plainer, simpler, clearer in my expression of who God is and His love for us, so that I can help others to come into this as well.