Gospel Gazette Online
Vol. 12 No. 9 September 2010
Page 6

Written for Our Learning

T. Pierce Brown

T. Pierce BrownWhen we find the story of Aaron and the golden calf as recorded in Exodus 32, we are especially reminded of Paul’s statements in the New Testament. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:11, “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.” In Romans 15:4 he says, “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.”

We are shocked and amazed that any of the Israelites could have passed through the Red Sea as they did, and to have seen the love, the care and the power of God as they had, and be so faithless and rebellious. We are especially amazed that a man like Aaron, who was the spokesman for Moses and had been invited up on the mount with Moses when he talked with God, could do as he did in making the golden calf.

His excuses and rationalizations would be funny if not so serious. “I cast the gold into the fire and there came out this calf” (Exodus 32:24) sounds more like a little child that was found with hand in the cookie jar than it does a statement of a leader of God’s people. However, it is no more difficult to understand than the kind of rationalization that we find among God’s people today. We have come to expect the people of the world to blame everything and everybody for their ungodliness. They were born and raised in poverty, abused by their parents, mistreated by the government and suffered all sorts of other indignities that made them not responsible for getting drunk, blowing up buildings, killing their classmates or whatever else they do. Any person who would live out in the woods and make bombs to blow up various persons must be insane, and not responsible for his actions. If he lives in town and burns down his apartment complex or kills all his relatives, he is still not responsible, for it is the ghetto or society or someone else who is responsible.

However, when we find the same sort of reactions among ourselves, even those of us who preach the Gospel, it is even worse. A preacher may preach some of the finest sermons on personal evangelism or giving that you ever heard. However, when you ask him why the congregation for which he preaches does not seem to abound in either giving or personal evangelism, instead of realizing it is because he has not practiced what he preached, he says in effect, “I cast my gold into the fire, and this calf came out.”

There are preachers and influential members who are found committing adultery with others in the congregation. It is not their fault in many cases, to hear them tell the story after they are caught. She was flaunting herself, he had been deprived of his rights by his wife or any number of other things. In any case, he had little, if anything to do with it, for he had just “cast his gold into the fire, and this calf came out.”

There is a grain of truth in that bushel of chaff, but one of the saddest things about the situation is that as long as it is the fault of the people, the fire or some other thing, there is no way we can repent of our sin and be forgiven. We simply cannot repent of another person’s sins. Regardless of how much fault there is in the other person, each of us has the responsibility to do what is right in every situation. What is your excuse for your failures, shortcomings and sins? Did the calf just come out, or did you shape it with your engraving tool?

Questions about God

D. Gene West

D. Gene West

Anytime one begins to teach that there is a true and living God who created our universe and all things therein, he will immediately be inundated with questions from those who do not believe in the existence of a Creator God (Romans 1:18-32) to whom man is accountable. One of the first questions one will hear is, “If everything that exists needs a cause, what caused God?” This question is heard frequently, and those who ask it suppose they have proposed the question that cannot be answered. Actually, they ask this question, as well as many others, because they have not listened carefully to what has been said about cause and effect. No one has ever claimed that everything must have a cause; rather we have claimed that everything that has a beginning must have a cause. Only things that are both finite and contingent need a cause. God is neither finite nor contingent and as such had no beginning, so there was/is no cause for His existence. God is both infinite and necessary; the uncaused Cause of all things finite or limited. If God needed a cause, we would have to search through an infinite regress of causes, and we would never arrive at His beginning. God is the first Cause; one cannot go back further than the first.

A second question often heard is, “If God created all things, then how did He create himself?” Again, we point out that only finite, contingent beings need a cause. A necessary, infinite Being does not. It has never been claimed that God is a self-caused Being. That would be impossible. However, this question, which in reality is an objection to belief in God, can be turned into an argument for the existence of God. Let us take a brief look at this argument. There can only be three possible kinds of beings: self-caused, that caused by another and uncaused being. Which type of being are we? We cannot be self-caused for that is impossible with regard to existence; we cannot bring ourselves into existence. If we claim to be uncaused, we would assert that we are necessary, eternal and infinite. Yet, observation of the lifecycle demonstrates that we are not uncaused. So, we must be caused by another. If we are caused by another, what type of being is God? He cannot be self-caused for that is impossible; if He is caused by another, we are led into infinite regress; consequently, He must be the uncaused Cause.

A third question that is frequently heard is, “Can God make a mountain so big He cannot move it?” In reality, this is a meaningless question inasmuch as it is asking, “Is there something that is more than infinite?” It is logically impossible for anything to be more than infinite, because infinite has no beginning or end. Another question very much like this is: “Can God make a square circle?” This question is like asking, “What is the smell of purple?” It is a category mistake, for colors have no smell and circles cannot be square due to the fact that it is a logical impossibility. Such contradict themselves because the very moment a circle became anything other than a circle, it would no longer be a circle. When we say that God is omnipotent (all powerful), we do not mean he can do the impossible. We only mean he can do that which is possible for Him. There are things possible for Him that are impossible for us. Any mountain God makes, He can control, put where He wants and remove from existence were He to desire to do so. Friends, you cannot ask for more power than that!

A fourth question most frequently comes in the form of an assertion, which says, “If God has no limits, then He must be both good and evil, strong and weak, and have existence and nonexistence at the same time.” No one has ever claimed that God is absolutely unlimited, but that He is unlimited in His perfections. Evil is not a perfection, neither are nonexistence and weakness. All weakness, ignorance, finitude, the temporary and other characteristics implying limitation or imperfection are imperfection. Consequently, God is limited only in the sense that He cannot enter into limitations. God is only limited by His unlimited perfection, and that is more that can be said of us!

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