They had been arrested, rebuked, publically humiliated, beaten, and imprisoned. Their crime? They were unashamed Christians, fearlessly promoting the cause of Jesus. But God had provided. They were released, and with their release came the added opportunity to have an eternal influence in the life of not just one man, but his entire family. So imagine the thrill that must have filled Paul’s and Silas’ hearts when the Philippian jailor spoke these words: “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30).
Everything they had suffered over the last few hours was validated in the interest this man now showed in becoming a Christian. Paul and Silas immediately advised him of his responsibilities and he and his family believed and were baptized for the remission of their sins (vs. 33). But then what? They had become Christians, but now came the responsibility to be a Christian. What were they to do?
Maybe you are in a similar position. Or maybe you know someone who is in a similar position. You/they have recently become a Christian or maybe you/they have been a Christian for years. But where do you go from here? You just want to be a Christian but you’re not exactly sure what steps you need to take after your obedience to really solidify yourself in the faith. What can you do?
Have hands open to serve. While we don’t read anything else about the jailor or his family from Acts 16, we do have plenty of other success stories from conversion accounts in the book of Acts. One of them is in Acts 2 when after 3,000 souls became Christians they immediately found their purpose in serving. In fact, their hearts were so open to serve that they “sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need” (vs. 45). Too often a person becomes a Christian and their attention is solely directed inward. Christianity becomes all about them, their wants, their desires. They forget about God and those around them. They fail to bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2). They give very little attention to doing good to all men (Galatians 6:10). Being a workman of God is rarely an option (Ephesians 2:10). They want Christianity but they have been convinced that they can have it their way and on their terms. That simply is not true. It flies in the face of everything the New Testament teaches us about what being a Christian is all about. If you want to be a Christian have hands that are open to serve.
Have a mind open to learn. Contrary to what many in the world believe about the church, many of us are open to listen, study, and learn things about the Bible that we admittedly do not know. Sadly, that is not true for many Christians. One of the greatest hurdles many churches have to face is members who walk into their Christianity with open prejudices and know-it-all attitudes. They have all the answers before the questions are even asked. Like Job said of his “friends” – when they die wisdom will die with them (Job 12:2). The church has faced this problem on many fronts: from the Christians in Rome and Corinth who thought they had all of the answers regarding meat that had been offered to idols (Romans 14; 1 Corinthians 8) to Diotrophes who just thought that he knew best about everything (3 John 9-10). Egos aside the fact is that any person only has all the answers in as much as the Bible has all the answers. But we must be open and eager to learn lest our ignorance be a burden to the work of the church. If you want to be a Christian have a mind that is open to learn.
Have a heart open to love. Jesus said that, among many identifiable marks, the world would know we are Christians only if we learn to love (John 13:35). I think this is one of those areas where a few have ruined the reputation of the many, but Christians aren’t known for their love any more. In fact, many in the world have come to, unjustifiably, label Christians as a hate group. I do not really question how many Christians honestly love those around them. I cannot judge what people feel. However, what we do is an entirely different matter. I wonder how often we actually show the world how much we love them. Do we ever offer a helping hand or a kind word in the name of Jesus? Do we treat people like we’re happy they are lost or like we want nothing more under heaven than for them to be saved? Our words and our actions put our hearts on full display. So if you want to be a Christian have a heart that is open to love.
I fear that there are many among us that are “playing Christianity.” That is, Christianity is not a serious lifestyle to them but just a pastime. Honestly, though, what is necessary to be a Christian is simple. Just be a Christian. Be a Christian in every sense of the term. Be a Christian in mind body and soul. Make it a commitment, a priority. Give your total allegiance to God. Follow Him unwaveringly. Serve Him unquestionably. Honor Him unendingly. That’s when being a Christian becomes more than wearing a name. It becomes an identity. Just be a Christian.
The Bible is the inspired, inerrant, all-sufficient word of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17). It contains the perfect law of liberty (James 1:25), the revealed will of God (John 17:7-8), and the gospel which is able to save our souls (Romans 1:16). Ultimately it is the message of the Bible that we will meet one day in judgment (John 12:48). So you would think, of all documents that have ever existed in our world, we would do well to pay attention to, accept, and obey it in every conceivable way. But of all the documents that have ever existed in our world there’s probably few that have been more widely ignored, scrutinized, attacked, and belittled than the Bible.
But I wonder if I were to ask you, “what is the most ignored verse in the Bible?” what would you say. Maybe you would point to some passage that emphasizes the oneness and peculiarity of the church. Perhaps you would look at passages like Mark 16:16 or Acts 2:38 that speak to the necessity of baptism. What about passages that speak to the purity and the participants in marriage, or some other moral issue that we are battling today? I would agree that all of these are problem areas that a vast majority of our world largely ignore. But if you were to ask me what I believe is easily one of the most ignored verses in the Bible at this point in our history I would probably point to Matthew 7:12 because somehow and in some way we have forgotten how to treat one another with a basic sense of kindness.
You remember what Jesus said in Matthew 7:12 – “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” We call it the Golden Rule and the way we typically word it is “treat others the way you want to be treated.” So let me ask, how do you want to be treated? Words like “kindness,” “respect,” “civility,” and “love” come to mind. I don’t know any normal person that wants people to mistreat them, speak rudely to them, or be disrespectful or hateful to them in any way, even by those with whom they might have disagreements. And yet when you look at so much of our interaction with people around us (particularly on social media) with whom we share differences that’s the route that is taken.
We’ve got to do better. God expects better of us. And for us to make the impact in the world that we need to be make we have to do better. We need some blatant, in our face reminders of what the New Testament tells us about the absolute importance of kindness as a part of our very identity as Christians. Here are just a few:
I remember many years ago watching the movie “The Green Mile” and in that movie Michael Clarke Duncan’s character, John Coffey made the comment at one point, “I’m tired, boss. Mostly I’m tired of people being ugly to each other.” I can identify completely with those words. I’m tired of seeing the way people communicate with one another. I’m tired of seeing the way people treat one another. I’m tired of seeing the division that exists in our churches, in our communities, in our families, in our government institutions, and in our world. It’s enough to make you cry out in prayer and say, “Come quickly Lord Jesus!” But the only way to fix it is for us to remember the words of Matthew 7:12 and choose to be intentional in our kindness towards one another.
Whereas our “adversary the devil,” the father of lies, seeks to keep humanity in a cloud of darkness and doubt,1 our omnibenevolent “God is not the author of confusion but of peace, comfort, and illumination. “[T]he Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning…brought us forth by the word of truth” (James 1:17-18). God’s unchanging, rock-solid Truth brings enlightenment and stability to a dark and chaotic world.
Even after seeing the light and obeying the Truth, we as Christians sometimes lose our spiritual bearings and find ourselves among the rocks and thorns (Luke 8:13-14). We can feel like we are drowning in a quagmire of doubt and despair, with blurred vision and hearts that are questioning all sorts of things which God settled long ago. Rather than living the Christian life to its fullest, we can get stuck in neutral (or reverse), “grasping for the wind” (Ecclesiastes 1:14).
Thankfully, frequent contemplation of the most fundamental spiritual truths of life can bring clarity amidst confusion, peace amongst apprehension, and courage in the face of fear. In a world full of sin, doubt, and chaos, walking daily with God’s answers to the four most important questions of life provides lucidity, focus, and a real, soul-anchoring hope.
These questions are so fundamental and so important that, if I had only one opportunity to speak to the world about anything, or if there was only one article that I could ever write, this is what I would say.
Do you know why you are here? This question is not about what you are doing at this very moment, or what you hope to do next month or next year. Rather, behind it all, underneath everything, at your very core, what is your “Why?” Why do you exist? What is your purpose in life?
Some contend that humanity has no real purpose. One of the world’s most celebrated atheistic, evolutionary writers of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, Richard Dawkins, has argued: “The Universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom…no purpose…nothing but pitiless indifference.” Graham Lawton, Executive Editor of New Scientist magazine, penned a one-page article in 2016 titled, “What is the Meaning of Life?” What answer did this leading atheistic evolutionist give? Here was his heavy-hitting first line: “The harsh answer is ‘it has none.’” “Your life may feel like a big deal to you,” he wrote, “but it’s actually a random blip of matter and energy in an uncaring and impersonal universe.” Since we supposedly “will never get objective data on the matter,” we are unable “to capture a ‘true’ or ‘higher’ meaning” to life.
Logically speaking, if there is no God and this natural realm is all there is, then Lawton and Dawkins are exactly right: there is no true, higher, objective purpose in life. We might “feel like” there is, but if we are just “dust in the wind” (as the band Kansas sang in the 1970s), then our lives really are as meaningless as “a random blip of matter.”
Yet, despite the innate vacuousness of naturalism, most people still seek to find purpose and meaning on an experiential level (though still purely subjective). If our lives do not naturally have meaning, then we’ll just keep searching for it anyway, or we’ll make it up as we go along. And so, we tend to look for purpose in pleasures, in power, in education, in employment, in riches, in rest, in conservation, or in trying to escape death. Yet still, a real, life-anchoring meaning, which brings hope, joy, and endurance even in the darkest of times, escapes us—just as it did one of the wisest and wealthiest men ever to live.
In the book of Ecclesiastes (one of the more unusual books of the Bible), King Solomon exclaimed:
If anyone could say, “I’ve tried it all,” it was Solomon.
Yet even though he “had everything” and “experienced it all,” Solomon repeatedly stressed the meaninglessness of life “under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). From a purely naturalistic, earthly perspective, “all is vanity and grasping for the wind” (1:14).
The cold, hard truth is: all naturalistic pursuits for ultimate meaning and satisfaction are futile. On both a logical and experiential level, the material realm is incapable of providing “objective data on the matter.” So, where do we find the answer to the meaning of life? Why am I here?
The answer to the first question is imbedded firmly and deeply within the answers to the next three, beginning with coming to understand where we came from. The reason atheists incorrectly conclude that life has no meaning is that they think that we came from nothing, from nowhere. If, as popular American atheist Dan Barker admitted, “Something came from nothing,” and, if, as the late, renowned cosmologist Stephen Hawking concluded, “Nothing caused the Big Bang,” then we have no logical reason to be here. There would be no ultimate meaning to life. We simply would be the result of a mindless, cosmic accident, which is impotent to provide a real purpose for our existence.
However, atheism is fatally flawed because matter demands a Maker; life on Earth demands a life Giver; complex, functional design in the Universe demands a Designer; and the supernatural attributes of the Bible demand a Supernatural Author. Thus, the evidence indicates that God exists and the Bible is His Word. In Ecclesiastes 12:1, the wise man gave the perfect starting point to finding real meaning to our lives: “Remember now your Creator.” Truly we can only begin to learn of our real purpose in life by reflecting on exactly where we came from.
We are not the result of a cosmic accident, nor are we the descendants of bacteria or baboon-like creatures. On the contrary, as Solomon concluded: we were specially made by the Divine Creator. Similar to God Himself, Who “is Spirit” (John 4:23-24), He made us as spiritual beings, but ones that inhabit physical bodies (Ecclesiastes 12:7). He made one man and one woman on the sixth day of Creation, saying, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…. So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:26-27). Not only did God specially make Adam and Eve, but He has uniquely made every spirit of every person since then. Thousands of years after Creation, Paul said to an audience of unbelievers in Athens, “We are the offspring of God” (Acts 17:28-29). He did not say that man had been a divine image-bearer in the past; he said, “we are (esmen) also his offspring” (17:28).
James wrote: “But the tongue can no man tame; it is a restless evil, it is full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we the Lord and Father; and therewith curse we men, who are made after the likeness of God: out of the same mouth cometh forth blessing and cursing. My brethren these things ought not so to be” (3:8-9, ASV). The thrust of the expression, “who are made after the likeness of God,” is that humans in the past have been made according to the likeness of God, and they are still bearers of that likeness. All human beings are divine image-bearers. All of us are sons and daughters of God by Creation. In a sense, all of us have royalty in our blood. Contrary to what some leading atheists contend (and we say this confidently, yet humbly), “We are a big deal!” because we come from a Big God!
Whether or not we come to know and acknowledge that we ultimately originated from the hand of God makes all of the difference in the world. Apart from Him, we are nothing and have no real meaning to our lives. But, “in Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). Only upon coming to this fact-based and fascinating conclusion can we successfully answer the most important questions of life, including our previous question, “Why am I here?” as well as our next question, “Where am I going?”
If there is no God and this supposed accidental, material realm is all there is, then we’re not going anywhere when our short lives are over. In a 1994 debate at Stanford University on Darwinism, atheistic professor William Provine summarized his views on modern evolutionary biology and its “loud and clear” implications. According to Dr. Provine, “There are no gods, no purposes, and no goal-directed forces of any kind. There is no life after death. When I die, I am absolutely certain that I am going to be dead. That’s the end of me. There is…no ultimate meaning in life.” But Dr. Provine is wrong: there is ultimate purpose, because the evidence indicates that an eternal, spiritual Creator exists, Who revealed to us why we are here and where we are going.
So where are we going? To be blunt, we are all on our way to the grave. A dash on a tombstone begins at birth and points to the day of death. “[T]he living know that they will die” (Ecclesiastes 9:5). “[I]t is appointed for men to die once” (Hebrews 9:27). Yet, the day of physical death is not the end.
After reminding man to reflect upon our origins at the hand of the Creator, Solomon revealed that man’s “spirit will return to God who gave it” (Ecclesiastes 12:7). Just as Rachel’s soul departed her body at death (Genesis 35:18), so does the spirit of every man (James 2:26)—not to go out of existence, but to enter the Creator’s eternal, spirit realm to await Judgment. Twice in the final 16 verses of Ecclesiastes we learn that “God will bring you into judgment” (11:9). In fact, “God will bring every work into judgement, including every secret thing, whether good or evil” (12:14). Indeed, “God will judge both the righteous and the wicked man, for a time for every matter and for every deed is there” (3:17, NASB)—at the judgment seat of God.
After instructing the Athenians about where they came from (“we are the offspring of God”—Acts 17:29), the apostle Paul logically directed their attention to where we are going: God has “appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man Whom He has ordained” (Acts 17:31), the Son of God, to Whom the Father “has committed all judgment” (John 5:22). The coming Judgment is a constant theme in the New Testament. In fact, when the Judge previously came to Earth as our Savior, He repeatedly warned mankind (especially in His parables) of His coming Judgment. From the wheat and tares to the dragnet (Matthew 13:24-30,36-43,47-50), from the rich fool to the wicked vinedressers (Luke 12:13-21; Matthew 21:33-40), and from the wise and foolish virgins to the sheep and goats (Matthew 25:1-46), Jesus continually reminded man where we are going.
Just prior to Judgment, “the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the angels with him, then shall he sit on the throne of his glory: and before him shall be gathered all the nations: and he shall separate them one from another” (Matthew 25:31-32, ASV). No one knows when this time will come (Matthew 24:36). In fact, “the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night” (2 Peter 3:10)—suddenly and unexpectedly.
The Bible speaks of “the time of your stay upon earth” (1 Peter 1:17, NASB). Like “a stay” at a hotel for a brief period of time, we are all just passing through this world. This planet is not our home, but only a temporary residence. If this physical realm lasts much longer, we are all going to die. But whether we die prior to Jesus’ return or whether He comes in our lifetime (and we avoid physical death), we are all going somewhere forever—we are returning to our Maker (Ecclesiastes 12:7); we are going to Judgment. And then, we are either going to receive eternal life or eternal punishment; we are going to heaven or hell (Matthew 25:46).
Realizing that every person will ultimately end up in either heaven or hell, the next logical, all-important question to ask is, “How?” How do we get from here to there?
Virtually no one professes that they actually want to go to hell, yet the path leading there is quite broad, and “many are those who enter” it in many different ways (Matthew 7:13). How exactly?
Similar to how God set “life and death, blessing and cursing” before the Israelites (prior to their entrance into the land of Canaan—Deuteronomy 30:19), God sets spiritual life and death before us all and pleads with us to “choose life.” God doesn’t want anyone to perish (2 Peter 3:9). He “desires all men to be saved” (1 Timothy 2:4). From the moment wretched sin entered the world, God began revealing His answer to the sin problem (Genesis 3:15; 12:1-3). Following thousands of years of Old Testament promises and prophecies pointing to the ultimate “Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29), “God sent forth His Son” to redeem the slaves of sin and allow them to become His saved-from-sin children (Galatians 4:4-5). “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:16-17). Indeed, God is so loving that He not only warned us of the eternal consequences of unforgiven sin, but even when we succumbed to sin, God took upon Himself the just punishment for our sins, that we might be saved! So why will many people still go to eternal hell? Because they choose to. Because they “trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was [they were] sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace” (Hebrews 10:29).
The Bible is all about God, His plan to save man, and what He requires from us in response. In general terms, God calls us to do what Solomon concluded 3,000 years ago about the “whole matter”: “Fear God and keep His commandments” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). Another way of stating what our general response to God should be is found in Solomon’s words in Proverbs 3:5-7: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths…. Fear the Lord and depart from evil.” Or, we could rightly summarize the essence of faithfulness (under Judaism and Christianity) with these challenging words from Jesus (Who was quoting the Old Testament22): “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40).
How do I get there—to heaven, that is? How do I go from being lost in sin to being saved by the grace of God? In other words, “What must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30; 2:38; 22:10).
Specifically, God wants us to hear His saving Gospel message and believe it (Romans 10:14,17; John 8:24; Acts 15:7). He wants us to recognize our sinful ways and humbly repent of them (Acts 2:38; Acts 17:30). He wants us to confess a sincere belief in Christ on our way to becoming a child of God. (In the past 2,000 years, many people have been put to death for uttering the simple phrase, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” In the 21st century, it carries no less weight.) By confessing Jesus as the Son of God and as Lord and Savior, we are saying that we have stopped living for ourselves and started living for the King of kings, the Master of our souls. The apostle Paul observed: “With the mouth confession is made to salvation” (Romans 10:10).
After confessing a sincere belief in Jesus, we have one simple yet profound step to take in order to become a child of God: be baptized for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38). Just as Saul was commanded to be immersed in water in order to “wash away” his sins by the blood of Christ (Acts 22:16), so must we (Mark 16:16; 1 Peter 3:21). As Christ died, was buried, and rose from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:1-4), when we are baptized we “die” to sin, are buried in water, and rise to live a new life as a Christian (Romans 6:3-4).
The New Testament epistles of Romans through Revelation were written to a diverse group of individual Christians and churches. They may be generally summarized with these words: grow in your commitment to the Lord as you await His return, and help others become and remain faithful.
Although living a committed Christian life can be tough, we will be able to accomplish all things that He has called us to do through Christ Who gives us strength (Philippians 4:13). We can confidently “walk in the light as He is in the light,” and know that “the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin…. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:7,9). We can live forgiven and guilt free and know that we are saved (1 John 5:13). “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58).
Faithful Christians can actually look forward (without any dread) to where we are going—to the end of time and the return of Jesus. “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20). “To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation” (Hebrews 9:28). Thus, “[w]e are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. Therefore, we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:8-10).
Along the way, we have the blessed privilege to help others in their journey to meet Jesus at Judgment. There is no better way to love our neighbors as ourselves than to help them get to heaven. Like Paul, let’s become “all things to all men,” that we might “by all means save some.” Let’s seek “the other’s well-being” that, in the end, “they may be saved” (1 Corinthians 9:22; 10:24,33).
We have now come full circle; we can end where we began. Since we can know where we came from, where we are going, and how to get there, we can absolutely know why we are here. Our lives are not meaningless. We are not mere molecules, DNA, or “dust in the wind.” The life of every individual human being is precious and important because of where we came from and where we are going. Our purpose is to prepare our souls for eternity and to help others do the same.
In a world of so much unbelief, doubt, despair, confusion, and insecurity, the God-revealed, crystal-clear, soul-stirring answers to the four most fundamental questions of life desperately need to be heard. Thoughtful meditation on these truths can clear away the fog of unbelief and refocus our lives around what really matters—the true meaning of life.
- Eric Lyons, Apologetics Press
Why do we believe what we believe? Answers to this question are legion. However, the most basic human motivations that lie behind belief and practice may be identified in light of Bible teaching. Here are a few:
If God exists and the Bible is His Word, then what we believe and why we believe it are crucial and eternally significant.
Intellectuals throughout history have considered themselves superior to others based on their alleged intellectual prowess. The atheistic elite of our day ooze arrogance in their condescending dismissal of those who believe in God. They seek to give the impression that they believe what they believe due solely to a rational, unbiased, sensible analysis of facts that have, in turn, led them to the beliefs that they hold. On the other hand, those who do not consent to their infidelity are depicted as ignorant, biased, and stupid. Consider the frantic judgment leveled by prominent evolutionist Richard Dawkins of Oxford University: “It is absolutely safe to say that if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid, or insane (or wicked, but I’d rather not consider that).”(1)
Despite such high and holy self-righteous declarations, the fact is that the very nature of error is such that a person can continue to embrace it only by means of impure motives. If an honest atheist is willing to examine the facts, he will either cease being an atheist or he will cease being honest. Hence, those who have distinguished themselves for their ongoing vociferous defense of their infidelity most assuredly possess one or more motives deep down in their hearts that enable them to dismiss the actual evidence that disproves their viewpoint.
Interestingly, atheists occasionally divulge their inner motives without particularly intending to do so. For example, in a makeshift “debate” conducted in 2010 on the campus of Caltech between atheists Sam Harris and Michael Shermer on the one hand, and Deepak Chopra and Jean Houston on the other, Sam Harris made the following observations:
Most of our neighbors believe in…a personal God who hears our prayers and occasionally answers them…. The God that our neighbors believe in is essentially an invisible person. It’s a Creator deity who created the universe to have a relationship with one species of primates. Lucky us. And He’s got galaxy upon galaxy to attend to, but he’s especially concerned with what we do, and he’s especially concerned with what we do while naked. He almost certainly disapproves of homosexuality.(2)
While we humans often constitute a hodge-podge of conflicting motives and inclinations, nevertheless, in our conversations we often unwittingly expose one or more of our hidden motives for believing what we believe. To ridicule Christians for holding to an ethical framework that was authored by the Creator of the Universe (Who created human sexuality) implies that the accuser disagrees with those restrictions on sexual behavior. But notice further that Harris implied something else: his belief in atheism enables him to not be concerned about his sexual behavior. The same motives that infected pagans throughout history in which their heathenism enabled them to be released from sexual inhibitions—from the Moabites(3) in 1500 B.C. to the Ephesians4 in A.D. 60—are the same for atheists. Unbelief allows a person to be free to engage in whatever sexual activity he desires, whenever and with whomever. The intellectual sophistication and academic elitism that accompanies modern atheism is nothing more than a smokescreen to indulge the flesh. The reason Hollywood hates Christianity is because they want to be able to give full vent to their illicit fleshly appetites without feeling the guilt that comes from flaunting the moral restraints given by the Creator. Christians in Ephesus in the first century fully understood these ulterior motives that underlie one’s belief system. They lived in a city that hosted one of the seven wonders of the ancient world—the Temple of Artemis—dedicated to the goddess with her vulgar adornments.(5) Paul spoke right to the soul of the population when he penned the following inspired words to the church—an apt evaluation of the unbelief that grips both atheism and much of the religious error of the world:
Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ! (Ephesians 4:17-20, ESV, emp. added).
(1) Richard Dawkins (1989), “Book Review” (of Donald Johanson and Maitland Edey’s Blueprint), The New York Times, section 7, April 9, p. 3, emp. added.
(2) Sam Harris (2010), “The Future of God Debate: Sam Harris and Michael Shermer vs. Deepak Chopra and Jean Houston,” Nightline Faceoff, ABC News, March 14, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0E99BdOfxAE; See also Dan Harris and Ely Brown (2010), “‘Nightline’ ‘Face-Off’: Does God Have a Future?” March 23, http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/FaceOff/nightline-face-off-god-future/story?id=10170505.
(3) Numbers 25:1-2.
(4) Acts 19.
(5) James Edwards (2016), “Archaeology Gives New Reality to Paul’s Ephesus Riot,” Biblical Archaeology Review, 42:28-30, July/August.