Every Person Knows There is a God
Every person knows there is a God. In the Bible God tells us the truth about Himself: "Since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made" (Romans 1:20). Every person knows there is a God. His power made the earth and the stars. We see them; we cannot not see them. We know there is a Creator. More than this, we all have in ourselves a built-in moral compass, a knowledge that right is right and wrong is wrong. And we know when we violate that code. To know right and wrong is written on our heart. It is a gift to us from Jesus.
The Bible says that Jesus is the light that lights all men. John 1:1-5, 9, 10, 14:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made. In Him was Life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. . . The True Light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, yet the world did not know Him. . . And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
And yet this knowledge of right and wrong that we are given is incomplete. The True light, Jesus, who gives moral discernment to everyone, is not received by everyone. Because He is good to us, God grants us a life in which to grow in our knowledge of right and wrong, and to make full allegiance to the moral code we choose. He gives us an opportunity in life to become acquainted with who He is in person.
Consider this knowledge of God. Why do some look at the world and think that it is controlled by spirits? We might explain the way the world works in many different ways. So how can we make certain that we are not led astray by a wrong story? How can we avoid misunderstanding the testimony this world seems to offer us?
Navigate Your Life
God knew we needed more exact information than what the world around us can tell us in its present state. The world we see has been changed by sin. When the first humans disobeyed God, the plants and animals were changed. People were changed. All the world had worked together in harmony. There had been only truth; there had been only one story.
But when the first humans disobeyed God, the world was changed. Now it spoke with two voices, one truthful, the other confused. And so God gave to men special revelations. He sent prophets and gave dreams. He told men to preserve these communications. He led them to make record and as they wrote down this record He acted so that the revelation would be preserved from error. Then he caused these revelations He caused to be combined together into a book. This book is the Bible.
God protected this book. When men determined they would hide God's Word in a language that few people knew, God led His servants to translate it into the languages of the people. Down through the ages many of God's servants were slain for speaking His Word in the language in the people, and for proclaiming its clear teaching in contrast to the traditions of men. But God's servants would not keep silent. Because they were faithful, God's Word has been preserved. It has been given to us today. We can hear His Word and respond to His will. What a privilege!
The Bible is given to us to correct us. It protects us against wrong stories. Wrong stories can come from legends passed to us from long ago, or, wrong stories can be made up by men holding wrong principles. Some modern men tell us that the universe was created by chance and that humans evolved over long ages. They claim that humans developed from tiny organisms finally into men. That is a false story. The Bible protects us from false stories, both very old false stories, and very false newer stories. God did not need to make man in tiny steps over long ages. He made man adult, mature, and in His image in one day. And so, there are competing stories. We will have to make some choices about all these stories.
Freedom to Choose
God also gave us freedom to choose. He put it in your heart to know what is right. He put it in your heart to seek what is right. But He does not force one to do right. He does not even force us to love what is right. And even more stunning: He does not force us to know. A person can choose to stop knowing what is right. A person can remake and overwrite himself, and God will not take that option away. A person can choose to act in harmony with reality as it actually is, or, he can choose to act against what actually is.
We are free to choose what we worship. But this does not mean that one random way is as good as another. We choose from among stories but we do not create the ethical parameters. We do not determine what is good and evil; we discern what is good and evil. We can pretend to define reality. But we are granted choice and we can choose the lie. But God longs for us to choose His moral code because it is what is built into reality.
It is good to know how the world works. It is good to be able to know that humans cannot flap their arms fast enough to fly before you walk off a 200 foot cliff. It is good to know that a food is poisonous before you eat it. It is good to know the difference between right and wrong so that you can choose the right and abhor the wrong.
It is not just not best to feed poison to babies, it is morally wrong. We live in a moral universe; we are part of that moral universe with its built-in rights and wrongs. Without God's help we would not understand this world. Without His guidance we would bring evil into His world. We need the air He gives us to breath. We need the water He gives us to drink. We need God's understanding of right and wrong to know what to choose. And we need His grace, His strength, to actually do right and stop doing wrong.
He is so good that He gives us all these things not because we have earned them by our actions, but because He gives good gifts to His created beings. He is a generous God. He gave us His one and only Son to this world. What will we do with Jesus?
We were designed by God, and we are part of a moral universe. God made us in His image. He made us, in many respects, like Himself. We are moral beings and our decisions have to do with right and wrong.
He is the Creator; we are the creatures. But we are not just creatures; we are reflectors of Him. He does not need our worship but we need Him. He is complete without us but we are not complete without Him. We are designed to seek God.
Colossians 1:16 "All things were created through Him and for Him."
Revelation 4:11 "Worthy are you, our Lord and our God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things, and
by your will they existed and were created."
Acts 17:27-28 "He made from one man every nation of mankind. . . that they should seek God. . . and find Him."
Psalm 33:20 "Our soul waits for the Lord."
We are worshipful by nature. We will surely worship. But because we are damaged by sin, we are ready to appoint our own objects of worship. When we worship God we are helped, but when we worship other things, we are harmed. Just as we are designed to eat and because of the impact of sin upon us, we are inclined to want to eat the wrong thing, so too we worship, but we often choose for worship the wrong god. And yet, the difference between the God we proclaim, and all other "gods" is clear. He is the Creator, the Maker of all.
Psalm 33:6-9 "By the Word of the Lord the heavens were made, and
by the breath of His mouth all their host.
He gathers the waters of the sea as a heap;
He puts the deeps in storehouses.
Let all the earth fear the Lord;
let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him!
For He spoke, and it came to be;
He commanded and it stood firm."
And when He made all, Jesus made all to continuously preach. The creation continuously reveals God; it is built-in to the machinery.
Psalm 19:1-6: "The heavens declare the glory of God, and
the sky above proclaims His handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech, and
night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words,
whose voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out through all the earth, and
their words to the end of the world.
In them He has set a tent for the sun,
Which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and,
like a strong man, runs its course with joy.
Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and
its circuit to the end of them, and
there is nothing hidden from its heat (ESV).
But no surprise. His word is creative for it is the word spoken by the Creator of all. God's law is intended to have a restorative impact upon people. If He can make planets and stars then why would we be surprised that He can make the intricacies of a moral, worshiping, God-seeking human being?
Psalm 139:7-12 tells us that God is everywhere present. We cannot flee from Him. He is everywhere and everyplace, calling us.
The sun preaches to us during the day. The stars preach to us at night. But we ignore these things. We look instead into little screens that we have made. We look at a leaf and forget the forest. People forget God. People are asleep under the stars. They make themselves blind to God's truth He is telling on every side. Most humans are busy doing but not doing God's will, busy becoming but not becoming like Him, busy being changed but not being changed into His image. In His light we see light. In our own light we see mirages.
The creation preaches and the Bible instructs. But God did more. The Father sent Jesus, the ultimate revelation of His character, into this world. And so we learn about Jesus in the Bible. Our own personal experience seeking Him is also part of this learning. The Bible tests everything. We compare our experience with God's Word; we do not rewrite God's Word on the basis of our experience.
How Shall We Worship God?
How shall we worship this loving Creator? In His Word we are given many ways to remember Him. But there is one way in particular we must talk about tomorrow. This way shows whether we are worshiping Him according to His Word or according to our own convenience. There is a dividing line for the last days. There is a way to show our love and obedience to Him that makes clear whether we are Bible Christians or something else.
Jesus spoke to a group of very religious people one day, but He told them they were worshiping God in emptiness. They claimed to be worshipers of God but they were teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. They were setting aside God's truths to teach their their own confusion. They had departed from His Word and were teaching others to depart from His Word.
Some people are glad to be Christians as long as it costs them nothing, as long as they need not demonstrate submission. They are glad that Jesus would die for them on a cross, that He would buy them back from their bondage to sin, then their teaching suggests He leaves them disobeying.
But if we have come over to God's side, we will show it. What we do will show it. The faithfulness of our worship will show it.
God does not save us from starvation by starving us. He does not save us from sin by leaving us in sin. He does not save us by His Word and then leave us in disobedience to His Word. And so, tomorrow we will look at a very special gift He gives us in His Word. It is a gift that will help us and our children; a gift that will show if we are really worshiping God His way or our way; a gift that will protect us from false stories and light our lives with God's true story.
But we finish today with Jesus. This Jesus who preaches to us by what He has made. The Bible says that
"Since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made" (Romans 1:20). Every person knows there is a God. He made us and then He told us that he made us. And He set up this world to tell us every day and every night that He made us. He even gave us a special way every week to remember He made us.
This Jesus who made this world died on a Cross for us. He took our punishment, in which He had no part, and gave us His gift of rightness, in which we had no part. He offers to forgive our sins and renew us and give us life. Many preach a powerless Jesus--a Jesus who accepts us but does not change us; who leaves us at least partly asleep under the stars. The Jesus we proclaim today is a Jesus who wakes us up, who puts the Bible into our hand, forgives us, and strengthens us to do right. This is a Jesus who can change the world.
Human fulfillment is found in Him. You are made for Him. And so Jesus preaches to you and to me every night. Oh, we have spent too much of our life asleep under the stars. But how good God is! How patient. How merciful! He calls you; He longs to build you; restore you. He gives us life. He fulfills us. He has made us and invited us into His story forever.
That makes a difference. What will you do with this Jesus?
Deer Park WA SDA 2016-07-02
Chewelah WA SDA 2016-07-09
Mara Vision Outreach Bible Mission Camp, Maasai Mara, Talek Kenya 2016-08-09