A little girl woke up in the middle of the night to loud booms of thunder and flashes of lightning. Frightened, she ran into her parents’ bedroom. “Mommy, I’m scared,” she said. The mother groggily replied “Go back to bed, sweetie. God will be with you.” The small girl stood there for a moment and then said, “Mommy, I’ll sleep here with Daddy; you go in there and sleep with God.”
Sometimes it is hard to wrap our brains around who God is and all He is. Just the other morning I asked God, “Who are you?” Trying to get past the surface knowledge - trying to image the immensity of God. He’s not contained in body or building; He’s in Japan and Portland and South Africa. If we went to Jupiter - He’s there. Who is this God! The truth is, if God were to reveal His entire essence to us all at once - we couldn’t handle it. Even though He is incomprehensible, we need to think about God and who He is and all He is.
A. W. Tozer said,
“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”
Let that sink in for a moment. What’s true about that statement?
What I believe to be true about God will determine how I live.
Belief and behavior are inseparable. That is the purpose of the Believe series - to mesh biblical belief with Christ-like living.
The purpose of Believe:
Not to debate theology, but to live Truth.
Not to defend God, but to express faith in the way we live.
Not to win an argument, but to save a soul!
If we’re going to get our beliefs right and our behaviors right, then it all begins with God. Our key belief for this week is
I believe the God of the Bible is the only true [sovereign] God, [who reveals Himself as] Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Why do we believe that?
What’s going on in your brain right now? I can almost guarantee I know what’s going on. Questions that begin with “Why” do two things: 1) They put people on the defense. “Why did you do that? Why did you buy that? Why did you believe?” 2) Questions that begin with “why” often trigger the need to search for a textbook answer. Our brains begin searching for the “right answer” - and if we give the right answer the person asking will be satisfied.
So when asked, why do you believe in God, we often go into a “defensive I have to find the textbook answer” mode. And if I answer just right, they’ll believe.” That’s a lot of pressure to put on ourselves.
Giving a reason for our faith is easier than we often make it. We need to get away from asking why do you believe or why do you not believe. And if someone asks us why, we need to reformulate the question in our brains and get out of defense mode. So how do we do that?
Before we answer that, let’s get several things clear:
There are an estimated 4,200 religions in the world.
The majority of earthlings believe in the supernatural - they don’t need proof the supernatural exists. It’s only a small fraction of people who reject the spiritual. Knowing that most people believe in the spiritual should alleviate a lot of pressure because we are the majority. We’re not the fools.
The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.
The author is referring to the Yahweh, but I think it’s safe to expand this to mean that only fools deny the supernatural, the spiritual realm and spiritual beings.
Now, we discussed this back in Oct and Nov of last year, so if you need a refresher, I can send you the notes or listen to the sermons online but understand that
The Bible does not deny the existence of other gods (ʾělō·hîm - spiritual beings).
That’s a good reason for having 4,200 religions in the world. The Bible does not deny other gods, nonetheless,
The Bible does claim that there is only one sovereign uncreated God - Yahweh.
And this God says, in
“You shall have no other gods before me.
You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me,
Here’s something interesting about that command and really all of Scripture - the Bible makes no attempt to prove or defend God’s existence or His position as the sovereign God. His existence and sovereignty is expressed as a reality – a reality that we can either accept or reject.
When someone asks, why do you believe, we often scramble to find textbook answers. But textbook answers rarely prove anything. We have verifiable historic, archeological and scientific proof for our faith, but believing isn’t just about proof, it’s about revelation.
So, when someone asks why, tweak the question a little and answer this - What reasons do I have for believing? And remember, it’s not about proving -
The key to believing is Revelation.
We must trust that God’s self-revelation is sufficient to know He exists. How so?
1) God reveals Himself in Creation
If you read the chapter this week, you’ll see the connection. The Bible is clear - everyone knows there is a god, but only the fool suppresses that knowledge. Psalm 19 tells us tells us that creation reveals the Creator. In Romans 1, we’re told that creation is so full of evidence for God’s existence that it’s inexcusable not to believe.
Astrophysicist Dr. Hunter Waite, who studies the universe said this,
“I look at the world from a macro level, and my daughter is a PhD in genetics and looks at life from a micro level. Whether you look up, or deep inside, you find evidence of a creator God.” ~ Dr. Hunter Waite
2) God reveals Himself in Relationship
This is huge when we compare the Judeo-Christian faith with the other religions. The crux of our belief rests on relationship. From Adam and Eve, to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob - to Israel and Moses, David, the disciples and millions of people throughout history – the Judeo-Christian faith is all about relationship. Interestingly, of the 4,200 religions in the world, nearly all of them are void relationship - nearly all are built upon ritual, appeasement of deities, personal gain and power, earning one’s salvation …. And there is only one religion that I know of that is based upon the unconditional love and sacrifice of the Creator. And it’s through His sacrifice alone that we are saved.
So what reasons do you have for believing? I look at creation …. I have this relationship …. I’m not giving textbook answers - I’m giving reasons based upon the revelation of God.
3) God reveals Himself in Power
One of the amazing things about God is His ability to do the impossible. The Bible is full of true stories of God revealing Himself and His power to people and nations. He rescued Noah from the flood, delivered Israel from Egypt through plagues and parting the sea, the walls of Jericho fell, a teenager killed a giant with a stone, Elijah called fire from heaven … sick made well, the dead raised, storms calmed … we could go on.
And the word of Yahweh came to Jeremiah, saying, “Look, I am Yahweh, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for me?”
We love the big power of God! And if you’re like me, I long to see more of the BIG power of God. But, God’s power is also revealed in the little, the subtle and sadly, many of us miss it - believer and nonbeliever alike. His power is often revealed in the process of transformation, conviction, and correction – that transformation of turning sinners into saints.
His greatest power is most often revealed through love and forgiveness
– loving the unlovable, loving the poor, the weak, the forgotten.
So what reasons do you have for believing? “I used to be _____, but now I’m ____. I used to hate those people, but now I love them.” See, it’s not a textbook answer people are looking for, but revelation and transformation.
Of the 4,200 religions in the world, I think this next is unique - I don’t think many can boast of this.
4) God reveals Himself in His Promises
Perhaps the biggest difference between weak and strong Christians is their knowledge of and trust in the promises of God.
There are over 3,000 promises from God in Scripture. These promises are made to individuals, to families, to groups and nations. Some are personal; some are universal. We have the blessing to look back in Scripture and see where God made promises and then see the fulfillment of those promises - even decades or centuries after the promise was made. God has never broken a promise and never will. Of the 4,200 religions in the world, I am quite certain that only one has a perfect track record of unbroken promises.
So, what reasons do you have for believing in God? “Let me tell you about His promises” - which translates into, “Let me tell you about His faithfulness. He has been so faithful to me.”
Do you see the difference between textbook and revelation?
5) God reveals Himself in Redemption
Of the 4,200 religions in the world, 99 % base their salvation, whatever that might be upon personal effort – on getting it right or doing enough or spiritual purging … whatever. It’s all about what the individual can accomplish and earn.
Christianity is unique. Salvation, being right with God, is based upon redemption. Redemption is only made possible through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Salvation is a gift, not by any effort of man. Redemption is only made it possible through the cross of Christ (which we’ll cover in week 3).
So, what reasons do you have for believing in God? I’m not good enough to save myself - I keep messing up - but let me tell you about Jesus who loved me and died for me - and He loves you too.
We don’t have to prove the resurrection is real. Not saying we shouldn’t try, but here’s the fact Jack -
For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.”
Sometimes we work so hard at giving textbook answers we blow it.
When people ask me why I married Susan - I don’t go into textbook mode - “Well, there was this human female within my visual range and my amygdala and neurons and sensory organs went into overactive mode and I thought to myself I would like to meet this creature before me ….” I don’t do that. I simply tell about who she is and the relationship we have together. I don’t have to prove anything - I just tell about the relationship.
If you have a relationship with the resurrected Christ, you don’t need to prove that He’s risen - you just talk about the relationship.
Hold onto that one.
6) God reveals Himself as the Father, Son and Spirit - and He does that in relationship.
“If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
It’s in red - Father, Son and Spirit - yet, there is only one sovereign God. Our job is not to prove, but to acknowledge, and we acknowledge this reality, not with our lips, but with our lives - living in the grace of Christ, in the love of the Father and in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.
Now, we are not told to defend God’s existence, but we are told to give a reason for our hope (1 Peter 3:15). So what reasons do you have for believing that the God of the Bible is the only true God.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.