Gospel Gazette Online
Volume 19 Number 7 July 2017
Page 5

Why I believe in God

Michael HooperI believe in God because of the existence of cause and effect. An effect cannot exist unless there is a cause behind it. A world of living things exists. That is an effect. It is not philosophically reasonable for one to conclude that such an effect resulted from a non-living cause. A living effect always implies a living cause. Belief in a living God as the cause of the world of living things is, therefore, philosophically valid.

I believe in God because design exists. Nature has been intelligently designed. Fish are designed to swim in water. Birds are designed to fly in the air. A designer is always implied whenever there is design. Since this earth on which we dwell is designed, then there is a designer who designed it. Therefore, it is reasonable to believe in a living God as the Designer of this mammoth design called earth. It is also most unreasonable to conclude that such a Designer does not exist when the design is so evident.

I believe in God because real “right” and “wrong” exist. Let us for a moment assume that there is no God, but how, then, is real right and wrong decided? What is right or wrong would be merely the product of individual human thinking. Right or wrong would be subjective since humans do not always think the same. Various societies would have their own subjective standards of right and wrong. The Nazi society headed by Adolph Hitler thought it was right to destroy millions of Jews.

Without an objective standard from a source higher than the human mind or society to determine right or wrong, the Nazi society would not be guilty of a real wrong. We would only think that they were really wrong, but we would not be able to prove it. It would be more like “their words against ours” type of situation without the objectivity of truth.

We are made as responsible beings by a source higher than subjective human societies. We, therefore, are answerable to that source. That whole scenario warrants the existence of a living God who made us, and we are accountable to Him for the choices we make. It also warrants the idea that God revealed to man’s conscience [by His Word or Truth] what is right. On that basis, all wrongs can be known. Belief in God’s existence is, therefore, reasonable.

I believe in God because intelligence exists. My intelligence could not have been a product of dead dirt, rock or gas, all of which are also void of any intelligence. My intelligence could not have appeared from nothing either. Nothing always produces nothing. It always takes something to produce something. If there were any point in time no intelligence existed, then there would have been no intelligence at all. That implies that the quality called intelligence is eternal. It, therefore, is reasonable to believe in an eternal and intelligent being called “God.”

I believe in God because of Jesus. No objective historian will deny that Jesus did live. In non-biblical writings, he was mentioned when He crossed paths with the prominent figures about which those non-biblical writers wrote. The information concerning Jesus’ life and ministry came to us through His witnesses who willingly laid down their lives for their testimony concerning Him. It is, therefore, hard to dismiss their credibility and the faithfulness of their message. According to their information, Jesus proved His claim to be God’s Son by miracles that He performed. That without a doubt proves that God exists.

“For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they [we] are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20  NKJV)

Preaching to Today’s Culture

Andy RobisonIn many places I’ve preached this point, and now it seems time to develop it into writing. Let me begin by stating the obvious: 2017 is not 1955. American culture in 1955 was vastly different from what it is today. At that time, most people were churchgoers, and most people claimed some kind of tie to Christ. The thrust of the Lord’s church, therefore, was to convert people from the falsehoods of denominationalism. The aim was to unite believers in the truths of restored New Testament Christianity. That battle still needs to be fought today! It cannot be denied! However, current culture vastly differs.

In today’s America, fewer people than ever go to any kind of church. More people claim atheism than ever before. Multiple generations of families have never set foot inside any place of worship. Some are pressing on to paganism; Islam is making wide inroads. The march toward blatant immorality is sweeping the nation individually, legislatively and judicially. Church buildings of all of the denominations are slowly emptying.

What does this mean for evangelism? First, it does not mean changing the Gospel. Indeed, the Gospel’s truth cannot be changed, but only perverted, and that with eternally sorrowful consequences (Galatians 1:6-9). God’s teaching on morality, salvation, church autonomy, unity, love, marriage, life and all subjects remains the same (Matthew 28:20; Jude 3)! Yet, the change in culture does have implications for our approach to teaching.

That is as biblical as it can be. When Paul preached to a culture of Jews in Antioch in Pisidia, his starting point was, “Men of Israel, and you who fear God, listen: The God of this people Israel chose our fathers…” (Acts 13:16-17). He then preached a sermon on Israelite history and progressed toward the Christ. I have never started a sermon with similar words because I have never preached to a primarily Jewish culture. When Paul preached in Athens, Greece, there was apparently no Jewish population, but there were many idolaters. The city had idols set up all around, and philosophers debated every new thing. The apostle would have faced a bewildered and eventually uninterested audience had he started with “The God of Israel chose our fathers…” Instead, he started where they were, with an acknowledgement of their recognition of spiritual things and a discussion of their statue dedicated “To the Unknown God” (Acts 17:22-23). Thus, he achieved relevance.

He affirmed that it was that God who was the only real God, the Creator of all. He reasoned with them from their philosophers and from their common sense before he ever got to Bible subjects. However, he ended up preaching the same full Gospel to them, calling on them to repent and be prepared for the Judgment (Acts 17:30-31). Our current culture mirrors more an Athens, Greece than an Antioch in Pisidia. It does little good to ask someone for a Bible study when he (a) doesn’t have a Bible (more and more don’t) and (b) doesn’t believe in it in the first place. Why, he may not even believe in God.

Could it be that many young people over the last forty or fifty years, caught in the throes of the changing culture (they never knew the old, and were bombarded with the new), have been lost even after a good churchgoing rearing simply because we might have missed this point? Perhaps we did well in preaching the Gospel from the angle of how to answer denominational friends. Yet, maybe, in some cases (forgive the overgeneralizations necessary for making points), the battles young people were fighting were not with denominationalists, but with atheists, evolutionists, humanists, Deists or even pagans. This is not to accuse of sin or error. Adults and everyone still needed to be equipped for the battle in which they were raised (analogous to Antioch).

However, things were changing rapidly. I merely suggest that maybe the changes were so fast and furious (to an Athens culture) that we had trouble keeping up. Once, I had the painful experience of losing a new convert to the doctrine of evolution. Thus, determined to prepare a whole congregation against this delusion, I preached several sermons on Christian evidences. Why should we believe there is a God? When I got done, an elder commented, “We’re glad you’re done with that; we already believe that.” Maybe it was my delivery; maybe it was somehow my fault. On the other hand, could it be that such a comment was (even innocently) bereft of vision in preparing a new generation for their challenges?

The fullness of the Gospel has answers for every challenge! In some corners of the world, preachers start off preaching against ancestor worship. I’ve never had to do that, but in those cultures, they do. The Gospel is always relevant! It is up us to study the Gospel, study the culture and flesh out the relevancy. The Gospel needs to be defended at every level, starting where each individual is. Can we work on making the Gospel relevant to our age, without changing its content? It is more than biblical to do so. It is imperative.

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