“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” Genesis 1:1
How many sermons and articles have started out with these words: “In the beginning God…” Because this is the beginning; if we can’t start here, we really can’t start anywhere.
If all of creation evolved from a clump of cells on a lifeless, whirling ball, what made those few cells suddenly alive? How can a totally dead thing suddenly spring to life, start to breathe oxygen, feel, develop a nervous system and a brain to co-ordinate circulation, reproduction and…
The complexity, the variety of life forms we see, and their ability to reproduce all bear strong evidence of a Master plan. In fact it’s about impossible to imagine all this developed at random. And qualities like wisdom, kindness, loyalty, even jealousy and anger can never be drawn from the soil or the atmosphere.
If there is no God, there’s no purpose for life except to take whatever selfish pleasures we can find in it – or go around being nice to people and hoping they’ll be nice to us in return. (The ability to turn the other cheek doesn’t come out of the atmosphere, either.)
THE GOD WHO ANSWERS BY FIRE
We read in the Old Testament when God’s people started to slide and pay their devotion to Baal, God sent a prophet to challenge this idolatry. Elijah told King Ahab to gather together all the people and 450 prophets of Baal to Mount Carmel. There he put a question to the people: “How long halt ye between two opinions? If the Lord be God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.”
He proposed a test. He’d prepare a sacrifice to God, and the prophets of Baal would prepare a sacrifice for him. “And call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the LORD: and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God.” And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken.” 1Ki 18:24 (Read the whole account in I Kings Chapter 18, verses 17-39.)
God was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Man may say God’s an invention, but if so, He’s a pretty powerful one. All through history–and today–people all over the world testify that they have made contact with Him. That He has lifted them out of the mire and set their feet on a better path. That they have seen His miracles and can testify that He answers prayers. The entire Bible speaks of God and His miracles, His care for His people. Can this be a centuries-old delusion?
Yes, the people who claim to know God don’t always walk by the Bible teachings. Yes, they say “I believe,” then bend and twist words in the Bible to make loopholes for their own ideas. This doesn’t make the Bible any less true, any more than having a flock of crows perch in a tree makes the tree somehow less of a tree.
When I was a girl my dad would tell me that the Bible is just a made-up book written by men. But something deep inside told me that there really is a God and I longed to know Him. Over the years my husband and I both have heard God’s voice and seen His miracles. He has answered us both by fire (in amazing ways) and by a still small voice. (See I Kings 19:11 & 12)
But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. Hebrews 11:6
One night a young man from Albania was making his way to a new life Canada. He’d been brought up under communist teaching, had heard over and over, “God doesn’t exist. He’s not real. It’s all a lie.”
He began to question, “Why do they have to keep saying that? Surely by now a myth would be no trouble to them. Or isn’t God a myth?” He felt a longing to know the truth and later, working in Germany, he was able to obtain an Albanian Bible and began to read it.
He’d made his way to Spain, hoping to emigrate to Canada, but got tangled in a bunch of red tape. Nothing was working for him. One night in despair, finding the door to emigration barred, he sat in his hotel and cried out to this God. “Are You there? Are You real? Will You help me?”
As he sat there, his heart longing for an answer, on one wall of his hotel room there appeared a picture of Jesus with His arms held out as if inviting him to come. Was it there all along? Had he just not noticed it before? But the Lord spoke to him at that moment; suddenly he knew God is real. Jesus is real. The Bible is true. That night he turned his life over to God and asked for His guidance in the future. The next day the way opened for him: he got the emigration permit he’d been seeking.
LET HIM PROVE IT!
I have a dear friend who has told me, “If God’s real, let Him show Himself to me and I’ll believe it.”
So why doesn’t God appear to her? Why doesn’t Jesus just pop up here and there so people can see He’s alive? Why does He choose to remain silent when so many people say, “I’ll believe Him when I see Him.”
As for my friend, if God were to appear in front of her, it would stun her temporarily. But she’s quite determined to do things her way. If she weren’t she’d be asking more seriously, “Is there really a God? Does He care about my life and what I do?”
I’m afraid even seeing God wouldn’t make much difference in her life. If God were to miraculously appear before her, a few days later she’d likely say, “Must be my blood sugar was low or something; I just had a mirage or dream. I won’t believe it unless I see Him again.”
Much as I care for my friend, I realize she has her own agenda; she doesn’t want God –or anyone else, for that matter– making demands on her time, messing up her plans, forbidding vices, prejudices and grudges. And if we don’t want God to exist, we want to believe He’s a fable, why should He force us to believe and grudgingly obey?
“Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, “He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.” Mt 27:42
When Jesus hung on the cross there was a great earthquake, the sky was darkened, the heavy curtain of the temple was torn in half from top to bottom. Did all that persuade the Jewish leaders? What more would it take?
Jesus’ prophecy came true: God allowed the Romans to destroy Jerusalem; the Temple burned; the people were sold into slavery. Still many Jewish leaders refused to believe. What more would it take?
The end of the world? When every knee shall bow, and none of us will be able to deny what’s right in front of our eyes.