Summary: Is Jesus really God?
Questions I would ask God
Prove you exist!
In 2007 Richard Dawkins produced a best seller ‘The God Delusion’ in which he sought to prove that God did not exist and that those who believed in God were some how deluded. You know, I suspect, as many Christians bought his book as non-Christians. Many very scholarly Christians set out to disprove his book and yet Dawkins book became a best seller. One of the very best is a little book by Dr Alistair McGrath called ‘The Dawkins Delusion.’ Over the last number of years we have seen more and more books being published which seek to disprove the existence of God. Philip Pulmann, of The Golden Compass fame, has made no secret of the fact that his books are intended to promote atheism. In his latest book he has a little girl kill God. Whilst at one level the film is harmless entertainment at a much deeper level it is the introduction to a series of books whose very purpose is to kill any belief in the existence of God.
A school teacher told the class that they could paint anything they wanted. As she walked round the class she came to this little boy and asked what he was painting? “God,” came the instant reply. “No one has ever seen God,” she said. “They have now,” came the reply from the little boy. How many people, even in here this morning, would paint different pictures of God?
Rightly, or wrongly, I assume that most of you believe in the existence of God, though I have met people in church who do not. So I want you to imagine that tomorrow morning at coffee break one of your colleagues challenges the existence of God – how would you go about answering such a question? You may well believe in God but are you ready to give a reasonable answer to someone who does not?
The Bible itself just assumes God’s existence. Genesis begins: ‘In the beginning God…’ The Bible never sets out to prove God’s existence. In fact you cannot prove God exists. You can produce evidence for His existence but you cannot prove He exists. You can learn all about the Cosmological, the Teleological, the Ontological and Anthropological arguments for the existence of God. Of which Immanuel Kant said: “If you cannot disprove these arguments you must accept them and if you accept them you cannot disprove the existence of God and therefore you must accept Him.” If you are interested in these arguments you will find a sheet with the basics on the table in the hall – there are around 100 sheets, but we can photocopy more if you need them and you can also find them on our website.
I don’t propose to go through all those arguments this morning, so you can rest easy on that score. Just as in the same way that you cannot prove love or courage or cowardice so you cannot prove God exists. You can produce evidence for the same but you cannot prove it. So as we go through this sermon this morning I want you to think more of a courtroom than a laboratory when examining the evidence.
A number of years ago Joan Osborne sang “What if God became one of us?” Well that is exactly what Christianity claims – that God became one of us. We could start at Genesis 1 this morning and work our way through the whole of Scripture to prove the existence of God but I thought it best to come to the heart of the Christian message that in Christ Jesus God became flesh and dwelt among us. Turn with me to John 10.22-39.
Verses 22-23 The context of the passage is that Christ is at the Temple at the annual Feast of Dedication, a sort of renewal and rededication festival at which the grace of God was remembered and the end of the tyranny of one Antiochus. This feast was not given by God in Scripture but instituted by the Jews themselves to remember the driving out of the Syrian Antiochus. It is the forerunner of the modern day Hanukkah. John tells us that Christ was walking and preaching in Solomon’s Porch, which was an annexe of the Temple. He points out that it was winter – which may explain the walking whilst He preached but also uses the description of the weather to paint a background as to the frosty reception that His teaching had and was now about to receive.
Verse 24 some people gather around Christ to listen to his teaching but the context would suggest that they had crowded round Him to hem Him in so that they might confront Him. Amongst them are a group of Jews whose intention is to entrap him. So they ask why He is keeping them in the dark about his true identity. They feign genuine interest in order to illicit a response that might lead either to Christ being stoned to death for blasphemy or at least arrested by the Romans for creating a disturbance. They accuse Jesus of being unclear and deliberately obscure in his teaching and they demand clarification – is He God? Remember it is not clarification so that they might worship Him but an unambiguous statement that they might attack Him that they seek from Him. You know in all of Scripture not once in a public discourse did Jesus explicitly answer such questions, in private discourses with His disciples and with others, the Samaritan woman for example, He did. He did not answer the public questions directly because He knew men’s hearts and the reasons for the questions in the first place.