Is There a God?

Title: Is There a God?

Text: Romans 1:18-19,20,27,32

Time: August 26th, 2006

According to a recent poll taken by George Barna, 93% of all Americans believe in God, and yet many or most of those very seem people who claim to believe in God have their doubts. It’s one thing to hope there’s a God, or wish there’s a God, or even believe in some way that there’s a God, but it’s another thing to know that there’s a God. It’s the great privilege of all human beings to know that there is a God. In fact, according to the Bible, we all know, everyone knows, that there is a God, even though we may not all acknowledge or admit to a God. The Apostle Paul says in Romans 1:19, “What may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.” In other words, God’s existence is known by everyone because God has revealed his existence to everyone. No, not directly by a dramatic appearing or vision, but indirectly through his very creation. But if all people, everywhere know that there is a God because God has made it plain that he exists, why doesn’t everyone acknowledge God’s existence, and why do some have doubts about God’s existence – if it’s all so plain? The Apostle Paul answers that question too, in Romans 1:18, “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness.” According to the Bible, we are all sinners, we have all sinned, and therefore, at some point we have all suppressed the knowledge of God’s existence in one way or another. Some people suppress the knowledge of God’s existence their whole life; they are called atheists. Others suppress it only when it is convenient for them to do so, like when they want to do something they know God disapproves. Still others have temporary doubts about God’s existence because they’ve listened to and believed someone else suppressing the truth of God’s existence. But however it is done, according to the Apostle Paul in the Book of Romans, God’s existence is plain to anyone with an open heart and mind, but that it’s also possible to suppress this knowledge either long-term or short-term. We live in an age where the suppression of God’s existence has risen to a science. There are sophisticated arguments against the existence of God formulated by philosophers. There are scientific theories that argue against the existence of God by scientists. But more generally, there are nagging doubts about the existence of God found in the hearts and minds of many people living today in our secular, skeptical age – despite what the polls say. These doubts rob people of the faith and confidence that should be theirs about God. So I’d like to take a few minutes today and give three reasons from the Book of Romans Paul shows us that we can know there is a God. These three reasons form a sort of three-legged stool for us to sit securely on whenever doubts from our secular, skeptical age enter our mind about God’s existence. We can use these three reasons whenever we or anyone else we know has doubts about God.

First, We know God exists from the external, natural world. Romans 1:20, “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 men are without excuse.” So according to the Apostle Paul in the Bible, we know God exists because of his creation. We can know that there is a Creator through his creation. Now this is a very old and very solid argument for God’s existence, but today it comes under the label Intelligent Design. We know that there must be a God because nature exhibits the characteristics of being designed or created. For example, if we look at the orbit of the planet earth around the sun, we see that it forms an almost perfect circle around the sun. That’s important because if the planet earth were to come too close to the sun it would burn up; if it went too far away from the sun it would freeze. So earth is perfectly situated the exact place it needs to be in order to sustain life. Is that chance? Is that an accident? It seems more reasonable to believe that it’s the hand of God; it’s an evidence of God’s care for us on earth. Now the ancient people didn’t even know what we know today about space, orbits, gravity, etc., but what they saw convinced them of God’s existence. They saw seasons come and go in regular succession. They saw the earth yielding up food and other materials necessary for life. They felt the warmth of the sun in summer, and yes also the cold weather in winter, but always the extremes passed and people survived the seasons. How could the apparent order, sequence and proportion be explained except by the existence of a God? What is interesting even today it that people still naturally and intuitively feel the same way – even after Darwin’s theory of evolution. There are many people who buy into the theory of evolution, but there’s something else that makes them conclude that the complexity of life simply couldn’t have come about without the assistance of a God. In fact, that is the way most people still feel, despite the theory of evolution. There are just too many coincidences in creation, just too much order and complexity to be explained all by blind chance. Many people today are questioning whether the theory of evolution even makes sense any more because of huge gaps in the fossil record, irreducibly complex organisms in nature, and other problems. Even skeptical scientists are admitting that life on earth seems to have been designed because of the overwhelming odds against things just happening by any known natural process. According to the Apostle Paul, we can know that there is a God because God has made himself known through his creation. We can look up into the starry sky and sense that there is a God. We can look out across the natural world and feel that there is a God behind all that exists. We can even look at the miraculous design of our own human bodies and conclude that because of the overwhelmingly unbelievable complexity we walk around with every day, there must be a God. Doesn’t it make more sense to believe that a Higher Power created our minds with consciousness and thinking, rather than that it was accidentally produced by matter? We can know there is a God by pondering the natural world. But that’s not all.

Second, we know God exists from our internal moral conscience. Romans 1:27, “In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.” Here the Apostle Paul points to the human conscience. The famous philosopher Immanuel Kant said there were two ways he knew there was a God: first, when he looked up in the starry sky above, and two, when he reflected upon the moral law within. Every person has a conscience or moral law within, even though it may be developed or underdeveloped in certain ways. There is no person who exists or who ever existed that had absolutely no conscience. We hear from time-to-time about criminals who have no consciences. But that simply means they can kill or commit crimes without feeling any or very much regret, due to their backgrounds or to their repeat behavior so dulling their moral feelings. But even the worst criminals who seemingly exhibit no conscience, they still have values and judgments about right and wrong, especially wrongs done against them by others. Most criminals still want to be given a fair trial! That sense of fairness or justice is part of the conscience. Now C.S. Lewis, while an atheist before he became a Christian, could never explain why all cultures at all times exhibited morality if there were no God. He finally concluded that the only reasonable explanation for morality was that God has put within each person a basic moral instinct. He later explained that it must be part of the image of God that all people possess. We don’t even have to doubt whether God exists because all we have to do is look within ourselves and ask this question: “Why do I feel so strongly that some things are really right and some things are really wrong?” Not, “Why do I prefer some things over other things.” Not, “Why do I feel different about some things against other things.” But, “Why do I really believe that some things are really morally wrong in some universal way?” The answer, according to the Bible, is that God put within each of us a sense of right and wrong, even though we can deny or suppress this, and we often do whenever we want to do something against our conscience. All absolute moral truth comes from God, who is the source of all things, so when we sense something is absolutely right or wrong, we can trace the source of that feeling within us to God. How can we know that there is a God? Because only God can explain the source of our moral absolutes. If there is no God, there are no moral absolutes of right and wrong. But we know that there are absolute rights and wrongs, because conscience tells us there are. So here is a very powerful argument for the existence of God. We don’t have to doubt God’s existence because our consciences bear witness to him. But there is even more.

Finally, third, we know God exists from his revelation to us in the Bible. Romans 1:32, “Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.” The key phrase is: “Although they know God’s righteous decrees.” It literally means, “Although they knew God’s judgments.” The Law of Moses had spread far and wide in the ancient world with the constant movement of the Jews. By the time of Jesus and the early church the complete Old Testament was known and read throughout the ancient world. The pagan gentile world didn’t follow the Jewish laws found in the Old Testament, but they knew about them through the Jews. They knew that the Jews taught there was One God, and that this One God had given his laws, and that there would be Judgment Day to separate the good from the bad. This was all a knowledge based on God’s revelation in the Old Testament. After Jesus and the disciples, there was added to the Old Testament, the New Testament, so that now we have both the old Jewish revelation and the new Christian revelation from God. This is the third major way we can know that there is a God, through his revelation. By reading the Bible, we can see that it corresponds with what we know about the external natural world and what we know about our internal inner conscience. It explains why we stand in awe of a starry night sky, or gasp at the beauty of a sunset, or enjoy an inspiring mountain view, or are interested in seeing animals at a zoo – we are feeling the wonder of God’s creation, we are feeling praise for the Creator. The Bible explains all this in a way nothing else does. Also, the Bible corresponds to our greatest desires and aspirations. It explains that we long for a better world than the one we live in now because there really is a better world waiting in heaven. The Bible explains why we feel strongly about right and wrong, because there is an absolute right and wrong, and that someday there will be a Judgment Day where right and wrong is all sorted out. The Bible explains why we feel guilty when we do wrong, and explains how we can find forgiveness from God. The Bible explains why we fear death, but it also explains how we can have peace through faith. But most of all, the Bible explains how God revealed himself not only in nature and through the Bible but also by coming to earth in Jesus Christ to communicate his love for us and save us through his death on the cross. All of this in explained in the Bible, not in nature, or by looking at our conscience. So while we can know that there is a God by pondering nature or by reflecting on morality, we can most clearly know there is a God by reading the Bible. It’s different from any other religious or philosophical writings. It is clearly supernatural. It rings true.

So those are the three ways that we can know there is a God, as explained by the Apostle Paul. We don’t ever have to doubt that God is because all we have to do is reflect on one, two, or all three ways of knowing there is a God. We all from time-to-time have doubts arise in our minds about God, maybe not outright doubts about God’s existence, but questions as to whether we really know about God. Unfortunately today doubts are encouraged by our secular society. Children are sent to school all day and go through a secular educational process in the public schools. God is not mentioned by design so as to assure separation of church and state. But the result of this policy is that children are educated without a knowledge of God. They are taught the natural sciences without mention of the God who created all nature. In this spiritual vacuum it is easy for them to form doubts about God’s very existence. Secular college and university go even further in fostering skepticism and doubt. But it isn’t limited to education; the general culture is largely secular and doubt-filled. News in all forms is largely secular, even with an anti-spiritual bias. Doubts about God can arise just by reading, listening to, or watching the daily news. Television is mostly anti-Christian, so are movies, books, and music in the general culture. So there are many ways in which doubts can arise in the minds of people today. But if we would simply go back to these three different ways of knowing that there is a God whenever we feel ourselves doubting, we could actually strengthen our faith rather than see it falter. These three ways of seeing God actually produce worship as we reflect on God in these ways. Even though we live in a secular and skeptical world, we can be full of faith because we have all of God’s creation to show us his existence, we have our firm moral natures within each of us that confirm that there is a God, and we have most of all the Bible to explain to us the who, what, when, where, how, and why of existence. Do you ever doubt God? Have you ever been confused or frustrated about God? Did you know that God not only wants you to believe that he exists, but he more importantly wants you to believe in him, to trust in him? If you haven’t before, or haven’t done in a while, why not bow to God in prayer and ask him to make himself real to you? And then begin to read the Bible for yourself and see if it doesn’t explain and answer your questions about God.

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2 Responses to “Is There a God?”

  1. Topics about New-testament » Archive » Is There a God? « Jeffshort's Weblog Says:

    […] jeffshort put an intriguing blog post on Is There a God? « Jeffshort's WeblogHere’s a quick excerptBy the time of Jesus and the early church the complete Old Testament was known and read throughout the ancient world. The pagan gentile world didn’t follow the Jewish laws found in the Old Testament, but they knew about them through the … […]

  2. bobxxxx Says:

    “We know that there must be a God because nature exhibits the characteristics of being designed or created. For example, if we look at the orbit of the planet earth around the sun, we see that it forms an almost perfect circle around the sun. That’s important because if the planet earth were to come too close to the sun it would burn up; if it went too far away from the sun it would freeze. So earth is perfectly situated the exact place it needs to be in order to sustain life. Is that chance? Is that an accident? It seems more reasonable to believe that it’s the hand of God; it’s an evidence of God’s care for us on earth.”

    You have zero understanding of science, so you invoke your magic fairy to explain the orbits of planets. You belong in the Dark Ages mister.

    Do you really think your fairy keeps the earth in its orbit? Are you really that stupid?

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