This morning I’m going to begin a series entitled “Faith Has It’s Reasons.”
Several months ago…a discussion with the staff encouraged me to do a series of messages addressing the common questions that are posed in regard to knowing God.
Purpose of this series is two-fold
1) To help us communicate the reality of God to others
“… in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” 1 Peter 3:15
2) Second purpose of this series is to strengthen you own faith, by realizing (or realizing again) just how reasonable it is; that faith has its reasons.
· Some of us here may not feel that reason plays a big part in our faith. Perhaps your experience of God is simply conclusive enough. I share those feelings and that experience. But I also know that all of us can become clouded in our minds and hearts; we get distracted and discouraged…our experience and emotions feel adrift…and our thinking becomes clouded…
I believe this series will strengthen your own faith…your own recognition of God…and your resolve to release your life to Him.
A word about the place of “reason” …
On a practical level… a relationship can never be reduced merely to reason;
…the mind and heart and soul all work in conjunction.
If I’m in conflict…how I feel relates to how I think and vice versa…each can open the other up or close the other…
That’s how God describes humanity’s relationship with him…hardened in heart and blinded in mind.
We see this in Pharaoh…through the process of 10 plagues…while others gave favor to Israel.
Religious Leaders…Christ was a threat to their control/power…but one (Nicodemus) came to him in the night wanting to understand more.
So it is that in recognizing the reality of God, we must consider our minds as well as our hearts.
This is especially true of recognizing and reckoning with the reality of God…the existence of God.
For God does not exist merely as part of the temporary, touchable world; but beyond it and through it.
God said to Moses, “I AM WHO IAM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: “I AM has sent me to you.” Exodus 3:14 (cf. John 8:58)
“I Am” means the self-existent, eternally existent, one. There is a basic implication here for the role of science. Science measures matter and therefore science by nature cannot discover God, only a world consistent with the existence of God.
C.S. Lewis explains…”Looking for God-or Heaven-by exploring space is like reading or seeing all Shakespeare’s as one of the characters. Shakespeare is in one sense present at every moment in every play. But he is never present in the same way as Lady Macbeth…
My point is that, if God does exist, He is related to the universe more as an author is related to a play than as one object in the universe is related to another.
If God created the universe, He created space time, which is to the universe as the metre is to a poem or the key is to music. To look for Him as one item within the framework, which He Himself invented, is nonsensical.
If God exists, mere movement in space will never bring you any nearer to Him or any farther from Him than you are at this very moment.”
GOD IS NOT ONE OF THE CHARACTERS, He is the creator. God is not found in creation, but through it.
Story of an atheist and Christian debating: Atheist claims “God is nowhere” to which the other simply changes a space in the letters to read- “God is now here.”
> The difference is in the space given…the space we give to recognizing him.
C.S. Lewis states, “We can ignore but we can nowhere evade the presence of God. The world is crowded with Him. The real labor is to remember to attend. In fact, to become awake. Still more, to remain awake.”
God’s Word, through the Apostle Paul, describes it this way…
Romans 1:20-21, 25, 32
‘For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened…. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator--who is forever praised. …Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.’
Here the Bible reminds us of our nature to turn away from God, but it also points to where the most basic connection to the existence of God lies…in creation, and in our conscience and souls.
Let’s consider what these elements tell us about the existence of God.
1. Creation -The Cosmological Evidence: If all that exists as we know it is by nature dependent, then it is logically compelling to recognize it is contingent on a source outside itself that is eternally independent.
Cosmological = Logical (Reason) and Cosmos (World) = Reason for the world. Begins with “the principle of sufficient cause.”
Everything known to us in creation is contingent…dependent (trees need air, sun, etc); nothing is independent or self-caused.
All of which appears to reveal the existence of an eternal, powerful source outside itself.
Can think more simply of a circle which points to a source outside the circle, eternal, unlimited, powerful and those kinds of adjectives come close to describing God.
2. Creation - The Teleological Evidence: If the design is complex, purposeful, and personal in nature, it reveals a designer more powerful, purposeful, and personal than chance.
Begins by recognizing the relationship between the design and the designer.
A fitting principle to consider in our modern times, when so many are able to design and create so much. We live in a highly creative world…from artificial organs to powerful computers and software…none of which compare to the ultimate complexity and intricacy and design of the world we live in…the bodies we live in.
Who is responsible? Can we as creative people deny creativity around us? Does not our design logically and compelling reveal a designer?
Of course this confronts the notion of all we know coming into existence by chance.
The Big Bang Theory has sought to suggest that chance created all, beginning with a random chance collision of two spheres of gases.
Yet no one can explain where those gases came from or relate easily to the mathematical probability of ever producing even a single cell.
Darwin, (in Origin of Species), said, “To suppose that the eye, with so many parts all working together could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree.”
The Teleological evidence of creation calls us to look at the world consistently; to look at the beauty of creation, the complexity of factors that sustain life, the personal nature of our beings,…to hold a child in your arms…and assume the same logic as you do when you look at a television or computer...Ask yourself what is rationally honest in response to the question of whether intention and design stand behind them?
3. The Human Conscience-The Moral Evidence: To assume or call upon any sense of “rightness” or moral nature is to assume a moral source beyond material world.
How does one account for the common moral nature found across cultures and continents?…the “oughtness” that even if clouded, is common in humanity?
Are gases, germs, and genes capable of creating a moral code of values and implanting them in the human mind?
The moral evidence simply says that there is either chance or order; if our existence is one of chance we can’t appeal to order, including any sense of right or wrong.
How often those who want to enjoy freedom from the existence of God express their feeling of rightness or wrongness about an issue…or their commitment to a cause they believe is right. Our consciences, even if clouded, know of a moral nature… a nature of which points to an ultimate source of order.
4. The Human Soul-The Evidence of Human Desire and Experience: Our deepest longings point to a source of satisfaction.
C.S. Lewis, says it this way…
“Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for these desires exists. A baby feels hunger; well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim; well there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire; well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire for which no experience in this world can satisfy, the probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”
Indeed, I believe the longings of the human soul are very telling. Pascal said it this way,
“There once was in man a true happiness of which now remain to him only the mark and empty trace, which he in vain tries to fill from all his surroundings, seeking from things absent the help he does not obtain in things present. But these are all inadequate, because the infinite abyss can only be filled by an infinite and immutable object, that is to say only by God Himself.”
The Psalmist comes to the same conclusion:
“Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has NOTHING I desire besides you.” Psalms 73:25
“The Christian doctrine of suffering explains, I believe, a very curious fact about the world we live in. The settled happiness and security which we all desire, God withholds from us by the very nature of the world: but joy, pleasure and merriment He has scattered broadcast. We are never safe, but we have plenty of fun, and some ecstasy. It is not hard to see why. The security we crave would teach us to rest our hearts in this world and pose an obstacle to our return to God: a few moments of happy love, a landscape, a symphony, a merry meeting with our friends, a bathe or a football match, have no such tendency. Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home.”…C.S. Lewis Problem of Pain p.115
Creation points us to God. Any sense of right and wrong in our consciences point us to God. The longing in our souls points us to God…that we long for something more.
…If you have received Christ into your life you have a living relationship with God…Holy Spirit within you…KNOW THAT YOUR MIND NEED NOT BE A SOURCE OF DOUBT…BUT OF STRENGTH.
If you’ve not yet made that commitment …you’re seeking to know God… don’t hold back… give yourself – heart and mind – to the pursuit.