Where do sceptics come from?
|Created by Gerard de Vos|
We have literally hundreds of different individuals, groups and religions working hard to destroy faith in the Bible. What drives them, and where do they come from? Their origin is explained in Genesis 3 in the context of the garden of Eden. There ‘that ancient serpent called the devil or satan’ (Revelation 12:9) asked Eve, ‘Did God really say....?’
We have very little information about skeptics (people ‘who habitually doubt the authenticity of accepted belief’: Collins English Dictionary) during the time of the Old Testament. God does repeatedly warn against false prophets and teachers, but skeptics stand outside His nation Israel. But everything changed when Jesus Christ was crucified. Then God’s message of salvation was no longer only for the nation of Israel. It became accessible to all peoples of the world.
The crucifixion of Christ, brought about a complete change in the heavenlies which affected humanity a great deal. When Christ died for the sins of the world, that ancient serpent lost his power. God’s plan of an eternal kingdom became a reality as man would be able to enter into God’s presence, washed from his sins by the blood of Jesus Christ. The devil, who is the chief instigator of opposition to God, was publicly declared to be the defeated foe in the heavenly realms (Colossians 2:15). His fate was sealed: he can only look forward to eternal punishment in the lake of fire. This is very aptly described in Revelation 12:4-12. He lost the battle against God’s angels and was cast out of heaven. He wanted to kill the woman’s (Israel) child (Jesus), but when he was unsuccessful (Jesus was raised from the dead and went back to heaven) he was furious. From then on he works tirelessly on earth to deceive the nations and lead them away from God.
Just like God has His followers (the believers in Jesus Christ), so the devil has his followers. These people unwittingly do his bidding. Examples of some of the early skeptics who questioned the New Testament, are Celsus (175-180), Porphyry (270-300), Macarius Magnes (375-400), Sossianus Hierocles (303-310) and Julian (362-363). It is virtually impossible to trace the descendants of the skeptics through the ages, but there must have been many, since the war against God never abated.
What are the characteristics of these skeptics? They display the spirit of the antichrist: they hate God bitterly, and devote their time and energy to debunking the Bible. They have no reason for it, since Christians as a group are not a danger to society.
What is the message of the skeptics to us? We understand that the Bible describes what is happening. Jesus asked almost 2000 years ago whether He will find faith on the earth when He comes (Luke 18:8b). This question is very relevant in our time. We witness an amazing crescendo of voices against the Bible and God. Which other book has ever described so accurately what is happening in society?
Skepticism has a long history. Its origin comes from the garden of Eden, with the question ‘Did God really say....?’ Just as Porphyri, Celsus and others questioned the Bible, concentrating on what seemed to them like contradictions, these people today are parroting the same questions. What is interesting is that none of the earlier skeptics succeeded in stopping the message of salvation or its spread all over the world. Neither will the modern day skeptics be successful. That day when Jesus conquered the devil on the cross, the victory of the church, and the defeat of the devil was eternally sealed. Nothing can change it.
PS. How are we to react towards these people? Ephesians 6:12 teaches us that we do not fight against people, but against the spirit influencing them. Remember that every skeptic, every atheist, every person who displays an attitude of intolerance and hatred towards God, is a living proof of the reality of the devil. They hate, but we should respond with love and good manners.