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`PRAY
Today we’re starting our, ‘What would Jesus say series’
What would Jesus say to someone who wishes God would make himself clearer?
I think this is the question behind many of our questions about God.
I remember being in an English lesson at high school
and we were having a debate at our table about the existence of God.
Being the only Christian at the table,
I was determined to prove everyone on else wrong,
prove there was a God.
On and on the debate went on,
the teacher even joined in, and then came a challenge..
Well, if there is a God,
ask him to open the classroom door in an unexplained manor!
I was on edge.
Do I pray, and see what happens,
I’d never seen God do weird miracle type stuff before,
so it probably wouldn’t happen I thought.
Would they then not believe there was a God?
But I was stuck,
I could hardly say, well God wont do that,
why wouldn’t he reveal himself in that really
clear and easy way?.
He hardly wants people to know him if he wont reveal himself clearly!
I had failed. I’d lost the argument.
I’d not managed to convince anyone of God.
But then, the door flung open.
Everyone on my table stopped in silence.
No, it can’t be!!!
Yes, it was -
Stuart was late again and entered into the classroom
in his usual arrogant fashion!
N
I’d failed.
Why didn’t God make himself clearer!
It’s the same question behind so many prayers people pray.
Did you know that over 50% of the UK pray during a crises.
That’s a lot more than just those who profess a faith!
They are the please help prayers.
My daughter is sick.
My husband is cheating.
Our debt is out of control.
Please help me Lord, and if you answer,
I’ll follow you with the rest of my life.
If God, you answer my prayer,
if you make yourself clear by helping me, then I’ll believe in you.
If God would just stand on the corner of my street and say hello,
then I would believe in Him.
Why doesn’t he make himself clearer.
It seems like a fair question.
I too left my English lesson that day wondering the same thing.
Why did God not make himself clear to my friends?
Well I think we need to step back slightly to answer the question.
And yet I still knew God to be very real, very clear in my life.
How can that be.

When we ask that question, there are, I think, 2 assumptions we have already made.
Let’s think about the assumptions I, and I suggest we all make when we sometimes or often wonder why God doesn’t amke himslef clearer.
The assumption is 2 fold.
1 - We would categorically believe if we saw signs from God.
God made clear in the Bible
Like answered miraculous prayers or classroom doors opening.
1 - We would catagorically believe if we saw signs from God. Like answered miraculous prayers or classroom doors opening.
2 - we are assuming God isn’t making himself clear - what if he is, but we are ignoring him?
SO that’s what we’re going to think about now in 3 points.
We’re going to look at the...

1 - The problem with signs from God

2 - The problem with us

Why signs, wonders and even answers to prayers don’t work anyway

3 - The wonderful clarity of God

Why you can know God clearly

RE Lesson - why wouldn’t God give us a sign, door opens
Why doesn’t he answer my pleas for help when someone is ill or I’m in debt.
Why doesn’t God make himself clear?
Firstly then...

1 - The problem with signs from God

This whole question is nothing new.
In fact, in the time of Jesus,
you would have thought there was no better time to live if you wanted God to make himself clear.
God, had become a man in Jesus.
He literally was standing at the corner of streets saying hello.
History records the life of Jesus,
and unsurprisingly,
the people of the time wanted to know if Jesus really was the son of God.
Make yourself clear they would say.
Have a look on the screen, this is the historical account recorded in the book of
Matthew 16:1–4 NIV - Anglicised
The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus and tested him by asking him to show them a sign from heaven. He replied, “When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” Jesus then left them and went away.
What was Jesus’s point.
The reference to the sign of Jonah, is simply Jesus predicting his death for 3 days before he rises again.
In other words,
Jesus fulfilling the promises of the Bible,
that God has made himself clear and we can have a relationship with him.
Jesus is the only sign that will help or work to make God clear.
How do we know that... well just before they ask for the sign,
Matthew 15:36–37 NIV - Anglicised
Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, and when he had given thanks, he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and they in turn to the people. They all ate and were satisfied. Afterwards the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.
matt 15
Jesus has fed the 5000 people with 7 loafs of bread a few fish.
Don’t look for signs says Jesus, they wont convince you.
In fact I’m doing signs and miracles everywhere and you still need to see more!
In other words,
the Pharisees and Sadducees
(who are all Religious leaders)
should have known that Jesus was exactly what God had promised them in the OT,
In other words, the Pharisees and Saducees (who are all Religious leaders) should have known that Jesus was exactly what God had promised them in the OT, in the bible. His teaching, and his promises of forgiveness, his lifestyle should have been clear enough to them.
His teaching,
and his promises of forgiveness,
his lifestyle should have been clear enough to them.
Even with the signs and miracles most didn’t see God!
If that classroom door had opened in my English lesson,
would any of my classmates believed?
Would you?
Even I would have been sceptical.
It was the wind, someone ran past and pushed it open.
These things happen.
We are a very sceptical people.
I went to a big healing event once,
and I don’t believe anyone was miraculously healed,
it was showmanship, staged, crowd hype mentality.
You see,
if God did give us ‘what we think would be clear’ signs,
then we would explain them away in another way anyway.
And for a second,
just image that God did do whatever we asked
whenever we asked him, to make himself clear.
Well that is not a God anyway, that is a genie in the lamp.
We have become God.
Do this do, that, yes, sir, yes ma’am comes his response.
It would not reveal God clearly at all,
it would show how self-absorbed we are in ourselves.
You might disagree,
but Jesus is clear when he’s asked to make himself clear by giving a sign.
He calls them an evil generation!
It says more about our problems than God’s lack of clarity.
So, our second point develops this point...

2 - The problem with us

I’ve already said that we don’t
and wouldn’t believe in signs and wonders as proving God anyway.
But that is fine,
becasue the bible, as we’ve seen says that we wont see God in that way anyway.
There are 2 core ways in which God says he chooses to reveal himself.
1 - is in creation.
2 - is in the bible
Firstly then creation.
William Paley, a famous philosopher in the 1700’s gave this analogy.
If you found a intricate pocket watch in the desert,
what assumptions would you make?
You would assume that something so intricate has to have a maker.
It tells us something about the maker as well.
To think it just formed out of a sand and weather phenomenon
would be a ridiculous leap of unfounded faith.
And the bible tells us that is the same with the natural world.
Think of your eye,
isn’t that far more intricate and incredible that a watch?
Psam 19v1-4 which we had read earlier says:

1 The heavens declare the glory of God;

the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

2 Day after day they pour forth speech;

night after night they display knowledge.

3 There is no speech or language

where their voice is not heard.

4 Their voice goes out into all the earth,

their words to the ends of the world.

As we look up to the vast expanse of stars and sky at night,
as we stand in awe at the splendour of the mountains,
as we mighty river meanders through the plains,
as wildlife and even humans pass by,
we are to hear the declaration of God’s reality!
Day after day,
night after night,
the universe pours forth speech and knowledge of God.
We ask the question:
Why doesn’t God make himself clearer,
and part of the answer is,
how could he make himself any clearer,
look around you at the natural world!
It is incredible,
intricate,
masterful,
beyond understanding
and beyond any other explanation.
But the problem with us,
well we ignore the obvious,
that there must be a creator,
and take huge leaps of faith to assume it all accidentally happened
through the chance movements of matter (that once didn’t even exist),
to somehow create the universe we live in!
Richard Dawkins,
who has a very healthy following for his science and outspoken criticism on the existence of God,
himself cannot explain where the universe comes from originally.
And yet, he says God is a delusion!
If we are prepared to entertain it,
the idea of God bringing creation about
is not as far fetched as believing it came about from, well, nothing!?
God is actually making his existence very clear through the natural world.
The problem is, we don’t want to hear it.
SLIDE back to points
The second way God reveals himself is through the bible.
I think we often think that this is such an unlikely way for God to communicate himself to mankind.
SLIDE
A book! An ancient book at that. Yawn..
But we’ve already considered the problem with signs,
wonders and answering everyone’s requests at will.
So, in fact why not a book!
Writing things down is actually the core way in which all
knowledge and information is passed on and shared in this world!
But a book is so, well…normal!
Of course it’s normal!
God wants himself to be ‘clear’, revealed in a ‘normal’ way!!
Ironically,
Ironically, God revealing his character and truth in the bible is such a simple and obvious choice, that we become suspicious of it!
God revealing his character and truth in the bible
is such a simple and obvious choice that we become suspicious of it!
But it shouldn’t be!
He wants himself to be revealed in a clear and accessible way.
A way that can be studied and thought about.
that cannot be changed or deteriorated,
that can be shared and protected for centuries!
And that is what has happened.
The bible is not open to subjective experience,
like signs and wonders,
or genie in a lamp prayers,
classroom doors or miracles.
It is simple and secure.
The problem is, we don’t always want to hear it.
Have a look at
2 tim 3:14-4:
2 Timothy 3:14–4:4 NIV - Anglicised
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.
2 Timothy 3:15 NIV - Anglicised
and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
Everything we need to know for salvation is in the bible 3v14
Everything we need to know for living for God and knowing God is in the bible 3v15
We are to listen to people teach it, like you are today, becasue it is crucial to know God, 4v1and2
But 4v3 - People will not want to hear it, because the truth of the matter is, we don’t wan’t to know God.
We don’t actually want him to make himself clear
because it would mean we have to change the way we live.
We will have to be God centered,
not self or even family-centred.
As I raise my children,
I often wish I was able to see all their behaviour,
behind closed doors,
at school at their clubs.
Why?
Because I want to train them to be the best they can be.
I don’t want them to make mistakes.
I want my instruction and love to be clear to them at all times.
But I know from experience,
they don’t always understand that.
I think back to my childhood.
I didn’t want my dad’s presence clear to me all the time.
It meant I couldn’t excersise the ‘I know better’ streak!
My younger brother’s head would have never gone through that plasterboard wall if my dad was always watching.
Don’t worry, we fixed the wall!
I would have never
But that’s how we view God.
He is making himself clear.
His existence is clear through the natural world,
and his character and love and desire for us is clear in the bible.
The real question is, do we want to admit it he is there, and listen to him?
What’s he todo, answer everyones requests for a sign - are you telling me you wouldn’t bend it to your gain, abuse the genie in the lamp. What happens when you’re clashes with another persons.
becasue we will then have to admit that we have caused him pain.
Even when Jesus walked the earth, he did many signs and wonders, but most still didn’t believe!!
So he offers us one sign...
DO we really want God to make himself clearer?
Ben’s head through the wall - wouldn’t have wanted my dad around at the time!
He created us, gives us everything, but we have ignored him, and that hurts God.
A book may seem like a rather uninspiring choice, but only becasue we are so used to them. But they exist becasue God created us this way!?
How do we learn all things in this life? We write them down and record them.
But the wonderful news of the bible is that despite all that, we really ought to listen to God.
But ironically,
it is ignoring his clear revelation that is the key problem.
Because when we listen,
we find out how much he does love us.
And this is our final point.

3 - The wonderful clarity of God

If you know any verse from the bible, it is probably this one
John 3:16 NIV - Anglicised
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16 NIV - Anglicised
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
it goes on to say...
John 3:17 NIV - Anglicised
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
You see the reason I was confused about what to do in my english lesson,
was not becasue I felt let down by God for not opeing the classroom door miraculously.
It was because I couldn’t explain to my friend why God was so clear to me in my life, and yet they couldn’t see him at all!
I didn’t need the door to open for God to make himself clear, he is clear to me.
Christians have a wonderful relationship with God.
It begins through Jesus, the sign of Jonah.
Jesus died to take the rightful justice of God,
becasue we have all ignored him in our lives.
But he also rose again so that we might enjoy the love of God.
And we do that primarily through seeing God clearly in the bible.
You see the bible doesn’t just reveal knowledge and facts about God,
it creates a relationship between us and God.
I can know lots about Donald Trump,
but I can’t say I have a relationship with him - not that I’d want to!
But I can have a relationship with God,
through Jesus, and cultivated through the bible.
Listen to what the Psalm we read earlier says God’s word, his bible, does for His people...
Psalm 19:7–14 NIV - Anglicised
The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring for ever. The ordinances of the Lord are sure and altogether righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb. By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward. Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from wilful sins; may they not rule over me. Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.
Psalm 19:7–11 NIV - Anglicised
The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring for ever. The ordinances of the Lord are sure and altogether righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb. By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
psa 19
psa 19
Psalm 18:7–11 NIV - Anglicised
The earth trembled and quaked, and the foundations of the mountains shook; they trembled because he was angry. Smoke rose from his nostrils; consuming fire came from his mouth, burning coals blazed out of it. He parted the heavens and came down; dark clouds were under his feet. He mounted the cherubim and flew; he soared on the wings of the wind. He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him— the dark rain clouds of the sky.
psa 18 7-11
As he enjoys God in his word the Psalmist cannot help but to interact with his loving Father, he moves into prayer.
Psalm 18:12–14 NIV - Anglicised
Out of the brightness of his presence clouds advanced, with hailstones and bolts of lightning. The Lord thundered from heaven; the voice of the Most High resounded. He shot his arrows and scattered the enemies, great bolts of lightning and routed them.
Psalm 19:12–14 NIV - Anglicised
Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from wilful sins; may they not rule over me. Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.
psa 19 14-
psa 18 12
God has made himself clear.
Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Bible Doctrine 4. God’s Words in Written Form (The Bible)

Several benefits come from the writing down of God’s words. First, there is a much more accurate preservation of God’s words for subsequent generations. To depend on memory and the repeating of oral tradition is a less reliable method of preserving these words throughout history than is their recording in writing (cf. Deut. 31:12–13). Second, the opportunity for repeated inspection of words that are written down permits careful study and discussion, which leads to better understanding and more complete obedience. Third, God’s words in writing are accessible to many more people than they are when preserved merely through memory and oral repetition. They can be inspected at any time by any person and are not limited in accessibility to those who have memorized them or those who are able to be present when they are recited orally. Thus, the reliability, permanence, and accessibility of the form in which God’s words are preserved are all greatly enhanced when they are written down. Yet there is no indication that their authority or truthfulness is diminished.

His existence is clear through creation and his character and love is clear in his trustworthy bible.

We do not hear God’s words of decree and thus cannot study them directly but only through observation of their effects. God’s words of personal address are uncommon, even in Scripture. Furthermore, even if we did hear some words of personal address from God to ourselves today, we would not have certainty that our understanding of it, our memory of it, and our subsequent report of it was wholly accurate. Nor would we be readily able to convey to others the certainty that the communication was from God, even if it was. God’s words as spoken through human lips ceased to be given when the New Testament canon was completed.

But if we don’t want to listen, we will never know him clearly.
good question below

Why is it important to your Christian life to know which writings are God’s words and which are not? How would your relationship with God be different if you had to look for his words that were scattered among all the writings of Christians throughout church history? How would your Christian life be different if God’s words were contained not only in the Bible but also in the official declarations of the church throughout history?

But if we do want to listen,
vv
then we should adsorb ourselves into his bible,
come to church, speak with his people, find out more and more.
Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Bible Doctrine 3. God’s Words Are the Ultimate Standard of Truth

What then is truth? Truth is what God says, and we have what God says (accurately but not exhaustively) in the Bible.

The reward is a loving,
vvv
eternal forgiven,
perfect relationship that revives the soul,
makes us wise,
gives joy to our hearts,
is light to our eyes,
eternal and perfect love from God,
purer than gold,
sweeter than honey,
guidance for life,
what a great reward.

Do you know of any proven fact in all of history that has shown something in the Bible to be false? Can the same be said about other religious writings such as the Book of Mormon or the Qur’an? If you have read in other books such as these, can you describe the spiritual effect they had on you? Compare that with the spiritual effect that reading the Bible has on you. Can you say that when you read the Bible you hear the voice of your Creator speaking to you in a way that is true of no other book?

The wonderful clarity of God is found in the bible,
and wonderful it is.
Christian’s here today, we can testify to this can’t we?
The great joy of getting to know God as we spend glorious time in his word, the bible.
www
The wonderful clarity of God is found in the bible,
and wonderful it is.
Can I urge you to see God this week in creation,
and read the bible to find God for yourself.
Take a gospel home!
Let me pray for us all now...

The fact that we do know God himself is further demonstrated by the realization that the richness of the Christian life includes a personal relationship with God. As these passages imply, we have a far greater privilege than mere knowledge of facts about God. We speak to God in prayer, and he speaks to us through his Word. We commune with him in his presence, we sing his praise, and we are aware that he personally dwells among us and within us to bless us (John 14:23). Indeed, this personal relationship with God the Father, with God the Son, and with God the Holy Spirit may be said to be the greatest of all the blessings of the Christian life.

PRAY
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