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Summary: There are so many ideas about "God," How can we know what to believe. This is a teaching sermon that attempts to answer the quest.

WITH ALL THE IDEAS ABOUT "GOD,"

HOW CAN WE KNOW WHAT TO BELIEVE?

Dr. David L. Haun

Of all the things God desires in our lives, the thing He wants from us more than anything else is that we know him. In the Old Testament book of Hosea, The prophet writes: "For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice, and in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings." (Hosea 6:6 NRSV)

Jesus echoed this same theme near the end of His ministry. One of the final recorded prayers which He offered makes this clear. In that prayer just before His trial, we hear Him say, "And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent."

(Jn. 17.3 NRSV)

If God has this primary desire for us to have knowledge of Him, what are we supposed to know? The answer might be found in the writings of an Old Testament prophet named Jeremiah. This prophet for God stated:

"Thus says the Lord, ’Do not let the wise boast in their wisdom, do not let the mighty boast in their might, do not let the wealthy boast in their wealth; but let those who boast, boast in this, that they understand and know me, that I am the Lord; I act with steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth, for in these things I delight, says the Lord’." (Jeremiah 9:23-24 NRSV)

How can we understand God’s reality in a way meaningful for our lives? How can we fulfill this requirement for a knowledge of God which He has intended for our lives?

THERE ARE TWO BASIC CONCEPTS REGARDING "GOD"

ACCEPTED BY INDIVIDUALS AROUND THE WORLD

First, there are those individuals who insist there is no supernatural power behind the universe in which we live. The world is simply the result of evolution or chance. There is no force with personality behind it. Perhaps the best examples of this position today would be the philosophy of Communism, or in the "free" world, those who believe in "Secular Humanism."

This concept stresses that the world and life on it is the result of a series of fortunate or unfortunate evolutionary actions. It is based upon the concept that there is nothing beyond the physical existence which we experience around us.

The contrasting belief is held by individuals, who believe there is some kind of God, force, or power that is responsible for, and in control of the universe and more specifically, our world. This force deals with everything we are and everything we have.1 These individuals, whether they call themselves Buddhist, Moslem, Jewish, Christian, or an Animist who worships a sacred tree in a jungle, believe there is an ultimate being and power behind creation and the world.

So, humanity is generally in one of two camps: those who believe there is a God or Force beyond man, and those who believe no such ultimate power exists. A third camp would say we simply cannot know one way or the other.

Adherents to each of these positions tend to deny the validity of the other position. Although there are instances of efforts through history to merge the positions, they are incompatible. There is an intelligent force behind creation and existence, or there is not. It cannot be both ways.

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