BASIC TRAINING-THERE IS A GOD
Dear friends in Christ,
An amazing story is found in the Bible in Genesis 18. Abraham and his family were camped at a place called Mamre. Three men appear. Abraham invited them to enjoy some hospitality. Two of the men were angels, the third was the LORD. How do we know? Genesis 18:17 says, “Then the Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do?Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation and all nations on earth will be blessed through him.” The story is about how Abraham interceded asking the LORD to spare Sodom and Gomorrah if only ten believers could be found. But just stop for a minute to consider! Imagine the LORD coming to your home. Imagine being able to say, “Yesterday I had lunch with the LORD.” Abraham was in the presence of God. Many would say you were losing your mind.
There is reason to be suspicious of surveys, but one caught my eye that was done within the past five years. People in Europe were asked if they believed in God. The survey revealed that 94% of the population of the tiny island nation of Malta believes there is a God. In the Czech Republic only 16% believe there is a God, while 44% said there is a spiritual aspect of life. 37% believe there is nothing. I was interested in Germany, the homeland of Martin Luther and my ancestors. There is a big difference between East Germany and West Germany. The article said, “Eastern Germany is perhaps the least religious region in the world. Atheism is embraced by young and old, though more so by younger Germans. One study in September 2012 was unable to find a single person under 28 who believed in a god. The popular explanation for this is the aggressive atheist policies of German Democratic Republic's Socialist Unity Party of Germany.”
What about America? 9 out of 10, according to one poll believe there is a God. But among millennials ages 18-30 or a little older, 25% don’t. This ought to cause great alarm.
As summer begins I would like to give a refresher course on some of the Bible basics. I am calling it “Basic Training” Today we start with God - There is a God.”
In the original Hebrew the third word in the Bible is Elohim, the Hebrew word for God. The verb is generally the second word in a Hebrew sentence. The Bible doesn’t present an argument for the existence of God. Why? Because it is a self-evident truth! Even the psalmist says, “The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
People make the charge that to believe in God is not reasonable. That is so untrue. To naturally believe that God exists is very reasonable. The Writer to the Hebrews says, “For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything.” In our subdivision this week lightning hit a house and it burned and did lots of damage. The Morash family is not waiting for the damage to suddenly repair itself. They are already working to get the house restored. A builder will be hired. He will need wood and paint and everything else. Setting all of the materials in the driveway and hoping for a good windy day will not put all the material in place. Workers will need to put it all into place. No house is built by accident. Neither is the universe.
I am no connoisseur of art, but most of you recognize this (show photo) photo of Mona Lisa. Leonardo da Vinci did not stand ten feet away from an easel and start chucking all kinds of browns and blacks and yellow paint at it so it turned out this way. He delicately guided each stroke of the paintbrush using God-given talents. This has become one of the most renowned paintings or all time. Mona Lisa was not created by accident. Neither is the universe.
Mathematicians say that ten notes on a keyboard give you a possibility of 3,628,000 possible notes. Francis Scott Key did not compose The Star Spangled Banner by simply grabbing the nearest baby he saw and put the baby at a keyboard, and what the baby banged out he transmitted to a sheet of music. Our God gave him a special gift to create a song that stirs our hearts and begins ball games. The Star Spangled Banner was no product of chance. Neither is the universe.
Our eyes have 800 individual parts. Was it evolutionary progression or Divine design? Since becoming deaf in my right ear I have studied a lot about the human ear. We have a wax gland in our ears. Wax is bad for hearing aids. The gland secretes wax to the inner ear. Some evolutionists believed this gland to be vestigial. That means the gland is useless and as the body evolves will disappear over time. Audiologists say, however, the waxy secretion keeps the inner ear lubricated. It also traps dust and other particles to prevent them from reaching and damaging the ear drum. Sounds like someone designed it, don’t you?
But we ask why we can’t we see him like Abraham did and a few others? That’s what Thomas wanted. “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe?” But we don’t have to see him to know he is real. First, remember that many who got a glimpse of the LORD were brought to their knees in fear because they were in the presence of holiness and they were not. “Woe to me!” (Isaiah) cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”
No, we don’t need to see to believe. Paul writes, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” The invisible, mighty, holy God of heaven and earth can be seen by what has been left behind in his creation. An hour or two after the service anyone can walk into this sanctuary and know that we had church here this morning. How? You can smell it! No, it’s not a gym locker room. The smell is good from the pleasant fragrances of perfume and cologne. You can also see someone must have been here. A hymnal left on a seat; a stray bulletin; a cheerio or two on the floor.
The Bible says, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”Look at the stars in the heavens; look at your complicated and wondrous body. God put it together. Louis Pasteur, world- changing scientist, once said, “Posterity will one day laugh at the foolishness of modern materialistic society. The more I study nature, the more I am amazed at our Creator.” There is a God. He is real.
There is a God. The conscience tells us so. John Quincy Adams, who became the sixth president of the United States, saw the failure of atheism in his day. He recounted three men who bragged about their independence from God. Yet their freedom from God failed them. Englishman Henry St. John, 1st Viscount Bolingbroke held views that opposed the church and theological teachings. He is often quoted by antireligious philosophers. Yet Adams said Henry St. John admitted that his anti-God beliefs “failed to support him in his last hours.”
Jean-Baptiste le Rond d'Alembert was a French mathematician, physicist, philosopher, and music theorist who despised God. In his last hours he was quoted as saying, “Happy are they who have courage, but I have none.”
Voltaire, whom Adams called the greatest genius of all, said that he behaved like the greatest coward of them all at his death. His last words were “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Voltaire, why did you forsake God? Those who attended him at his death bed became Christians because they didn’t want to die like he did. Why would they be afraid? After all there was no God they were accountable to?
Their consciences told them otherwise. Paul points out, in Romans 2, how Gentiles, who did not know the LORD of the Bible, yet know they are accountable to their Creator because their conscience says so. “The requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness.” The God-given conscience given to them by someone much greater than themselves made Bolingbroke, D’Alambert and Voltaire afraid. They knew they were going to be accountable but rejected the LORD who put that conscience there but also wanted forgiveness, life and salvation for them. There is a reason people on their deathbed want a doctor and a pastor. Conscience tells us there is a God.
While conscience and creation show us there is a God, we need more. Creation shows he is overwhelmingly more powerful than we are like an atomic bomb. That’s frightening. The conscience only reveals we sin against him, and that frightens us too.
How do we know he loves us? How do we know he cares? Besides that, who is he? Is he Allah? Is he the sun? Are there 495 million gods like the Hindus believe? Or when people talk about God are we all referring to the same one whether Jewish or Mormon or Jehovah Witness?
Through Isaiah the LORD offered a challenge to all gods and goddesses of all time and all places. “Declare what is to be, present it— let them take counsel together. Who foretold this long ago, who declared it from the distant past? Was it not I, the Lord? And there is no God apart from me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none but me.”The Lord is not some generic God that goes by whatever you want to call him. We have soap – Irish Spring or Dial of Dove or whatever. But it’s soap. God is not like generic soap. He is the LORD who reveals himself in Scripture. He predicted and things and they came to be. Is there another God who can do that?
It is not right to believe whatever you want about him or that they are all the same. Elijah told King Ahab who fostered Baal worship in Israel, “How long will you waver between two opinions?” There was no doubt who was God when the LORD made it clear on Mount Carmel when the prophets of Baal were fraudulent prophets following a fraudulent god.
In our Scripture verses for today Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? If you see me you see the Father. Jesus is God as the Father is God and as the Holy Spirit is God.
He also said, “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me.” The Scripture tells us about Jesus. The Scripture tells us about God.
We studied Nahum this week in Midweek Oasis. The first words of his prophecy are amazing. He tells us who God is. “The Lord is a jealous and avenging God; the Lord takes vengeance and is filled with wrath. The Lord takes vengeance on his foes and vents his wrath against his enemies.” Takes your breath away, doesn’t it? Yet just a few verses later in the same chapter the prophet writes, “The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him.” He is holy and just; he is loving and forgiving.
His mission was to reveal that the God of all creation is perfect and holy and just, but also a God of love and unfathomable mercy. On the cross he proved it. On the cross, revealed so clearly in the Word, humanity was judged and saved at the same time, put to death and given life, completely condemned and given endless hope.
There are a lot of things we can live without in life. With so many things in life at our convenience, we get confused with what we really need and what is not a necessity. We can get by on a lot less. Less food, less housing, less TV, in fact, no TV! But we need the LORD who reveals himself in Scripture. He reaches out to all of us with his love and mercy.