|"A GREAT RETURN TO THE BIBLE" |
by Dr Pence Dacus
(Church History Correspondence Course)
THE GOD OF THE BIBLE
The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; neither is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all life and breath and all things; and He made from one every nation of the earth, having determined their appointed times, and the boundaries of their habitation, that they should seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, 'For we also are His offspring. Being then the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man -- Acts 17:24-29
The Bible teaches that God is the source and substance of all life. "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth"(Gen. 1:1). "Hath not my hand made all these things" (Acts 7:50). "God that made the world and all things therein..." (Acts 17:24). But how? And, how is man to comprehend such a thing? "Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that what is seen hath not been made out of things which do appear" (Heb. 11:3). Your review of Genesis 1-3 will refresh your mind concerning God's creative action. Summarized briefly it shows that God created the Universe, setting it in motion; and created the earth, populating it with animals. God's final creative act was to make man from the dust of the ground and give him dominion over all the earth. Having been created in the spiritual image of God, man was God's crowning glory. The Bible tells us of God's dealing with man from the beginning until about the year 100 A.D.
THE GREAT RETURN MUST START WITH A RETURN TO GOD!!!
The Universal Concept of God Evidences His Existence. "... he that cometh to God, must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him" (Heb. 11:6). Men in all ages have worshipped someone, or something which indicates a universal inner-acknowledgement that there is someone higher than themselves to which they must give honor, respect and glory. In other words, everyone acts like and feels that God is, therefore, He is. The Bible says that God put that feeling in man (Acts 17:27) and Acts 17:22-31 tells us why.
Concerning man's knowledge of God, the Bible says, "... that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse" (Rom. 1:19-20).
The things that are "made" (referring to man) "understand' God and are able to "clearly see" the "invisible things" because they are from the source of life -- God. This must mean that God has placed within man the "tendency" to feel after God which is inherently a part of his nature and "understood" in the sense that he naturally knows it since it is a part of his nature.
Why then, do not all believe the same about God? The Bible says, "Because that when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened" (Rom. 1:21).
What did they do when their imaginations became vain and their hearts were darkened (Rom. 1:22-25)?
* Professed to be wise, they became fools
* Changed the glory of God to an image like: man, birds, animals, insects
*Dishonoured their own bodies between themselves
* Changed the truth of God to a lie
* Worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator
They began to worship idols -- things they could see. Read Rom. 1:19-32. But, the point is this : Though they corrupted and changed the worship of God from that which He had intended, the fact that men worship (no matter whom, or what) is a testimony of the truth that God exists.
A Moral World Attests to the Existence of God Moral government in the world implies the existence of a moral governor. If man is a moral being, subject to moral law, then there must be a moral authority by which this government is enforced.
In every society men have a standard of right and wrong. These standards may vary with regard to some things, but other things such as lying, killing, or stealing are generally "wrong" everywhere. It is "right" to tell the truth and pay your debts. How did man come to consider some things "good" and others "bad"? Who told him? It was his conscience. His conscience tells him there is "right" and there is "wrong" and he can choose between them. Why? This shows that man is a moral being, subject to moral law (wrong vs. right) and that a moral Governor (God) will sit in judgment.
Man also trusts that justice will be done, and since nature knows nothing of justice, there is one (God) above nature who will provide this justice. Justice will be meted out by God at the final judgment day.
The Testimony of Nature Declares that God Exists Two Arabs were camping on the desert. The next morning one of the men looked out of the opening of the tent and said, "A camel passed this way last night." His companion replied, "How do you know? I don't see a camel." To which, the first man replied, "I can tell by the tracks."
The Bible says, "the heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth His handiwork" (Ps. 19:1). God's "handiwork" or "tracks" are on display in His universe. Can man see these "tracks" or this "handiwork"? The Bible says, "God hath showed it unto them ... are clearly seen ..." (Rom. 1:19-20).
What are some of the signs of God's handiwork? First, with regard to the existence of the universe, the question might be asked, "Can you explain how the universe came into existence?" By accident, someone says. It all started by chance -- uncontrolled, unplanned. By so stating this person admits that there must have been a first Cause. An accepted law of science is that "something cannot come from nothing. "
The universe is governed by "law". Laws are derived as a result of human observation and experience. One example is the law of gravity. But, it has come as a result of human observation. Is it infallible? Who knows but that heavier-than-air objects do remain suspended in space when we are not looking? We may believe they will always fall (as the law so states) but how can we be absolutely certain? Nevertheless, this is how "laws" are conceived.
Since an accident has been suggested as the way in which the world came into being, what evidence is available concerning the law of "accidents"? Do accidents produce anything? The answer is yes. For example, a formula for rubber was accidentally discovered when someone spilled sulphur into a container of latex. So, accidents DO produce things. But, WHAT KINDS OF THINGS? Machines? Has a catastrophic event of nature ever produced a machine of any type? Has anyone ever seen or heard of a volcano erupting an automobile; or a hurricane creating a passenger bus; or a tidal wave constructing a movie projector? No! In fact, ALL EVIDENCE AT OUR DISPOSAL, both past and present, supports the thesis that EVERY MACHINE HAS A MAKER! This "law" has been formulated in the same way as the law of gravity. Furthermore, it harmonizes completely with God's word -- the Bible. Read Heb. 3:4 where the writer says, "for every house is builded by some man ..." and he goes on to conclude, "but he that built all things is God."
Look at the watch on your arm. Observe the pen with which you are writing. Think about the glasses you use to read this print. Did they just appear suddenly and accidentally -- or DID SOMEONE MAKE THEM?
The universe has been compared to a gigantic machine, with its parts moving in complete order and harmony. We can tell the time hundreds of yours in advance because of the precision of planetary movements. For example, an astronomer can tell us the exact time the sun will rise on July 1, 2063 A.D. Is all of this possible as A RESULT OF BLIND CHANCE? No, it came as a result of "law" and the "law" is that EVERY HOUSE HAS A BUILDER.
So, God's handiwork is vividly displayed in our planetary system. What are some other evidences of "design" in God's creation? "The human body is an example of intelligent design. The functioning of two hundred bones, five hundred muscles, and two thousand ligaments binding them together, present a wonderful example of harmonious planning and design" (A.C.C. Lectures, 1958). Thus we can say with the Psalmist, "I am fearfully and wonderfully made."
Look at the wing of a bird. Who would insist that it is without design? Who can explain how food is taken into the body, then assimilated, and finally goes into the blood stream (man has hundreds of feet of blood vessels) only to come out in the form of energy? How does green grass when eaten by a black cow produce yellow butter? There are many other questions which could be asked similar to these -- but the fact that these questions are posed is the result of the following unavoidable factor. We can never see anything without at once thinking there must have been a cause for it; and we follow the chain of causes until we find some living agent.
Before a book, there must be an author. Before the architecture, there must be an architect. Before a garden, blooming in beauty, there must be a gardener. Before a work of art, there was an artist. And before the creation, there was a Creator. This is axiomatic and self-evident. It needs no words of proof. Only a fool says, "There is no God" (Ps. 14:1). New Testament Christianity, Vol. 1, No. 2).
God Is What?
Though we may understand that God is, the searching question remains -- Is What? Does He sit out there somewhere on the periphera of the universe unconcerned, without interest in His creation. The point is: If we are ever to know what God is like, He must reveal Himself to us. Only then will we be able to tell what kind of personality He is -- whether good, or bad, cruel, or kind. The Bible gives us a revelation of the person and work of God HE IS PRESENTED AS A GOD WHO:
Exists Independently of the World and Man God remains the same since he is not affected by the actions of men. God is not guilty of the sins and crimes of men for He is not involved in men, or their affairs. He existed before all things and exists apart from them. This does not mean, however, that he is disinterested in men and their actions. The Bible explains God's position in the matter -- He is concerned about man's welfare.
Is All Powerful The many mighty deeds of God recorded in the Bible are indicative of his eternal greatness. Take, for example, the creation of the world: "And God said, Let there be light: and there was light" (Gen. 1:3). Again we read: "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground; and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul" (Gen. 2:7). From these statements alone His omnipotence is clearly displayed.
Is All Knowing Another attribute of God is his OMNISCIENCE. This means that God is unlimited in knowledge. The Bible says, "known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world" (Acts 15:18). This statement implies an unsurpassed knowledge. From the time of the creation until now nothing has occurred of which God is unaware. "For he looketh to the ends of the earth, and seeth under the whole heaven" (Job 28:24). "The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good" (Prov. 15:3).
Is Spirit "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24). God has no physical form.
Is Unchanging "I am the Lord, I change not" (Mal. 3:6). Unlike men and things which are constantly changing, God remains the same. He is timeless -- " one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day'' (II Peter 3:8). Being perfect, He has no need to "adjust" or "restore".
Is Holy "... for I am Holy" (I Peter 1:16). God is pure, not being defiled with sin. He is utterly good and is incapable of lying (Heb. 6:18). He is perfect and we are admonished to be perfect also (Matt. 5:48). We are also told to be holy for he is Holy (I Peter 1:16).
Is Love "For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). "But God commendeth His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us" (Rom. 5:8). "God is love" (I John 4:8). No other quality is more characteristic of God than love.
Is Eternal He said, "I am because I am" (Ex. 3:14). There was no beginning with God and there is no end. He always has been and He always will be. He is the great first Cause -- without which there is nothing. He is the life -- giving spring of all that we know as "life".
Is Good and Severe "Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God" (Rom. 11:22). God is certainly good, as Christ said in Matt. 19:17, "There is none good but one, that is, God". However, the Bible shows us that God has another side also. God has made obedience incumbent upon man, and there is nothing which displeases God more than disobedience (I Sam. 15:22). "... to obey is better than to sacrifice ..." When Adam and Eve were disobedient they were forced to leave the garden of Eden (Gen. 3:22-24). And when Nadab and Abihu offered strange fire as an act of worship to God, He sent fire from heaven and destroyed them (Lev. 10:1-2). Moreover, the same God who sent fire upon these men will deal in like manner with the disobedient in the last day. "The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth" (Matt. 13:41-42). To refuse to recognise the Bible revelation concerning God's severity is a tragic mistake by many.
Is Just "... the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work ..." (I Peter 1:17). See also Acts 10:33-35 to note that God is fair in His judgments.
Is the Provider of a Place Where the Redeemed of All Ages Will Be Forever Jesus said to His disciples, "I will go away and prepare a place for you... I will come again and receive you unto myself that where I am there you may be also" (John 14:1-6). This is a place reserved for the obedient.
Conclusion. In this lesson we have studied the God of the Bible as He has been revealed to us in nature. And, in order to comprehend something of His nature, we have examined the revelation of Him in the Bible. He is all-powerful, all-wise, omnipresent, love, holy, good, severe, and just.
Through Christ, God revealed Himself as Father. It is the will of God that we think of Him as a loving Father. He desires to cherish and love us as sons and daughters. To those who become "sons of God" in truth, Jesus has said, "... They shall see God" (Matt. 5:8).
The following lesson will deal with God's word -- the Bible, and why we believe it to be His word.
Carroll, Wm., Bible Correspondence Course
Rice, Ira Y., Basic Bible Course
Dacus, Pence (ed), New Testament Christianity, Vol. 1, No. 2, July, 1964. (Articles by Tabor, Pierce and Cox)
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