Christian Students at U of C
Is There a God?
There is God
The Bible is the unique book in the world. The first subject covered in the Bible is God. God is the main theme of the Bible. The first verse in the Bible says, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." Scientists have explored our physical universe for a long time. Through their studies they have discovered that our universe is an orderly system that is full of design. Before we consider what the Bible has to say about God, let us first consider what the universe has to say about God.
God Declared Through The Universe
Look at the sky above you at night. Astronomers estimate that there are more than one hundred billion stars in our galaxy, and that there may be billions of galaxies in the universe. Each star we see represents a solar system in the universe. Our own solar system has the sun as the center, and it has nine planets revolving around it in clock-like precision. The earth, as one of the planets, speeds through space at 6,000 miles an hour and takes 365 days to circle the sun. This fact is astounding when one considers that a train traveling at one-one thousandth of this speed will many times miss its schedule. Furthermore, the moon in its motion around the earth has its orbit and period. The earth's rotation and the twenty-three degree tilt of its axis give us our twenty-four-hour day, our four seasons, and our many different climates. The movements of the sun, the moon, and the earth give us our wonderful calendar.
The distances between the sun, the moon, and the earth provide a marvelous environment for life to exist. If the earth were to come ten percent closer to or farther away from the sun, all living beings on earth would be either scorched to death or frozen. If the moon were 50,000 miles from the earth instead of 230,000 miles from it, all the oceans on earth would be sucked up by the moon; the land mass would be deluged, and the mountains would be submerged. The precise distances and circulations of the sun, the moon, and the earth tell us of a wonderful design that is in place. And these are but a tiny fraction of the movement of the heavenly bodies above us. Such a wonderful testimony displayed in the universe around us is a living witness to the existence of a Creator.
The law of cause and effect tells us that for every phenomenon there must be a cause. If a watch keeps time accurately, there must be a watchmaker who made it. If a house stands magnificently on a hill, there must be a builder who built it. If a garden is well-trimmed and fenced, there must be a gardener who is taking care of it. In the same way, the obvious design behind the universe speaks of a Creator who has caused these things to appear the way they are.
In physics there is the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which says that any physical system left to itself will decay and become disorderly. Yet the processes that operate in the universe, and particularly on earth, remain highly organized. There is order and design in everything that we see. For such order and design to come out of nothing would surely defy the natural law stated above. Dr. Boris P. Dotsenko, once the head of the nuclear physics department in the Institute of Physics in Kiev, who was taught in atheism, wrote in relation to the earth being what it is in spite of the Second Law: "As I thought about all of that, it suddenly dawned on me that there must be a very powerful organizing force counteracting this disorganizing tendency within nature, keeping the universe controlled and in order. This force must not be material; otherwise, it too would become disordered. I concluded that this power must be both omnipotent and omniscient. There must be a God - one God - controlling everything!"
Throughout history some people have at times opposed the idea of God. The very fact that they have opposed it means that God is there. The fact that some rebellious sons disown their fathers means that they do have a father. The fact that some people try to tear down the family means that the family is a reality. The law of inference tells us that opposition to anything presupposes that the thing itself exists. It has been proven in history that it is futile to oppose the idea of God, for no matter how cultures and human governments change, the belief in God always prevails in the end.
Let us consider what the universe tells us about God. The Bible tells us that God's "eternal power and divine characteristics" are seen through the creation (Rom. 1:20). As a painting displays the characteristics of the painter, so the Creator's attributes are manifested through His created universe. Although man cannot say much about God Himself, through the majesty displayed in the creation he can see that God is powerful. Psalm 19:1 says that "the heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament proclaims the work of His hands." The material universe speaks of God's glory, and it also speaks of His wisdom. The God who created the universe is powerful, glorious, and wise.
God Expressed Through Mankind
The very existence of mankind speaks of the existence of God. The human body is a true marvel. Although modern medicine has invented many machines to imitate and to replace man's organs and limbs, no machine can come close to the dexterity and effectiveness of the human organs. The human heart pumps 72 times a minute, or 40 million times a year, while one is awake or asleep. Every day an adult heart pumps blood through 100,000 miles of blood vessels, enough to travel around the world four times. It pumps enough blood to fill a 2,000-gallon tank car every day. Who could have designed such a wonderful organ within man? If one were to pile up the red blood cells in his body, the height would exceed that of Mount Everest five thousand times! The nose inhales air seventeen times a minute. Every day it has to process about 14,000 liters of air. In addition to adjusting the temperature of the air, it also has to temper its humidity and filter its dust. A man-made machine that will handle all these three functions might weigh one hundred pounds. What if such a "man-made nose" were to be installed on our face! These are but a few examples of the wonders of the human body. If we stand before a mirror, we cannot help but agree with what the psalmist in the Bible said: "I am awesomely and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, and my soul knows it well" (Psa. 139:14).
The very makeup of the human personality is also a strong proof to the creation of God. Man is not just made of an outward body, but is endowed with some natural traits such as tendencies and aptitudes to love, to be upright, to be holy, and to be righteous. These psychological inclinations are in every person, irrespective of the culture he inherits or the kind of language he speaks. No animal comes close to man in demonstrating these virtues. We must conclude that these human characteristics come from a source higher than man. The Bible says that they come from God, who Himself is the source of love, light, holiness, and righteousness. The reason man reflects these divine traits is that he was made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27).
Furthermore, there is a strange tendency in man to worship God. Even the most primitive culture is replete with ways and rituals in the worship of deity. The study of anthropology has found that this worship trait is peculiar to the human species. A monkey never builds a shrine, and a chimpanzee never prays. But everywhere on the earth man prays to God. The Bible says that man was created with a spirit (Job 32:8). This spirit is the organ with which man contacts and worships God.
The very fact that mankind has been able to exist until today is a testimony to the sovereignty of God. If God had held back the sunshine and the air, man would have ceased to exist on this earth long ago. Every second the sun burns up the equivalent of four million tons of fuel in order to keep our planet warm. If God were to charge man for this energy consumption, man would have to come up with about 160,000,000,000,000 U.S. dollars a day. But all this sunshine and air has come to us free. As the Bible says, "He Himself gives to all life and breath and all things" (Acts 17:25).
The ancient Greek poets declared, "For we are also His [God's] race" (Acts 17:28). The ancient Chinese sage Confucius called God "heaven" and taught men to honor Him. Socrates had "a strong belief in God as ruler of the world." St. Paul in the Bible said that "in Him we live and move and are" (Acts 17:28). One of Russia's most distinguished writers, Leo Tolstoy, was but echoing the words of St. Paul when he declared, "God is He without whom one cannot live."
Without God, human history could not have evolved the way it has evolved. God is behind everything that happens among mankind. He is the sovereign Ruler, the King above all kings. The first century Roman Empire persecuted the Christians, but in the end the Roman emperor Constantine himself was converted to Christianity. When Hitler attacked England, and again when he invaded Russia, for a time it seemed as if he would prevail. But God was sovereign in preventing his army from advancing. In the course of human history, though evil forces may prevail for a while, in the end goodness always wins. No despot or tyrant can establish his kingdom forever. King Nebuchadnezzar of the ancient Babylonian Empire boasted of his own glory, and was made to live like a beast for a season, until he humbled himself before the Almighty. The founding fathers of the United States of America realized that it is God who allows a government to stand. Over the United States capitol building the words "In God We Trust" are inscribed. The same words are inscribed on every piece of American currency. The course of human history is a strong testimony to the existence of God.
God Revealed in the Scripture
Although God is manifested in many ways through the universe and through mankind, the most direct revelation of Himself is through two things: His word and His Son. God's word is the Holy Scripture, which is the Bible. The Bible reveals to us the titles of God. Among the many titles for God in the Old Testament, primarily only three are used Elohim, Jehovah, and Adonai. Elohim is a plural noun in Hebrew. It implies the notion of "the faithful strong One." God is strong and faithful. He is strong in strength and faithful in word. Jehovah means "I Am That I Am," revealing that God is the self-existing and ever-existing One. He is the One who was in the past, who is in the present, and who is to come in the future. Adonai means "master" and "husband." On the one hand, God is man's Master; on the other hand, He is man's Husband. In the New Testament there are many other titles, such as Father, Lord, Jesus Christ, and Holy Spirit. All these reveal to us what and who God is.
The lives of the patriarchs are a strong evidence of God's working in men's lives. The experience of these men and their records show how God is the caring One who takes care of men's affairs and guides them to know Him.
If one reads the Old Testament he will find that the laws given by Moses are a living picture of God Himself. God is holy; therefore, the laws that He gave are holy. God is righteous; therefore, the laws that He gave are righteous (Rom. 7:12). The psalmist in the Old Testament tells us that we can know God through the law (Psa. 9:16). Without the law no one knows what God is like. The law is like a photograph; it shows us what God is like.
All the prophets in the Old Testament spoke through the inspiration of God (1 Pet. 1:10-11; 2 Pet. 1:21). It was God who put the words of prophecy into their mouths. The phrase "Thus says the Lord" is often repeated in the Old Testament. The wisdom of the prophets' words and the fulfillment of their prophecies have proved that their words are indeed divinely inspired. One of the greatest prophecies concerns the destiny of the nation of Israel. The Bible prophesied that the Jews would be scattered throughout the world, but that at the appointed time the nation of Israel would be restored and the city of Jerusalem would be returned to the Jews. We can see this in our own time with the restoration of the nation of Israel in 1948 and the return of Jerusalem to the Jews in 1967. The establishing of that tiny nation in the Middle East is a living proof of God's work in history.
No other book has been attacked as severely as the Bible. Atheistic governments have tried their best to remove this book from their lands, but God's sovereign hand has preserved this book. We are happy that the Bible is now being made available to the people of Russia, a country formerly under the rule of atheistic communism, after so many years of prohibition. We must realize that it is God's hand that has made this possible. The preservation of the Scripture is one strong evidence that God is alive in the world today.
God Manifested in the Son
Hebrews 1:1-3 says that God, having spoken to man in many ways in ancient times, one day decided to speak to man personally in Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is God coming in the form of man. His coming declared God (John 1:18). Through Him man sees God Himself (John 14:9). The Gospel of John records that when He was on earth, He told others one hundred fourteen times that He was God. In His last discourse with His disciples He made reference to His being God over fifty times. The miracles that He performed could not have been done by anyone unless this one was God. He ordered and controlled the laws of nature, changing water into wine (John 2:1-11), quelling the storm (Matt. 8:23-27), and feeding five thousand with five loaves and two fish (Matt. 14:14-21). He healed the sick, raised the dead, and cast out demons (Matt. 4:24; 8:28-32; 11:4-5). He spoke words of wisdom which only God could utter (Matt. 13:53-56).
After thirty-three and a half years of living on earth, He died a supernatural death. His death was a fulfillment of the prophecies of the Old Testament. He foretold His death to His disciples before the event happened. At His death He declared, "It is finished," meaning that God's work of redemption was done. The death of all world leaders marks the end of their influence and career, but the death of Christ formed the beginning of Christianity and the ushering in of an earth-shaking faith. It is no wonder that the centurion and soldiers who guarded Him at the cross confessed, "Truly this was the Son of God" (Matt. 27:54). His death was the death of the God-man. At His death the sky became darkened and the tombs were opened, and many bodies of the dead saints were raised. It was God who had died for man! No historian can explain the power that lies behind the death of Christ. The life and death of Jesus Christ are a living testimony to the power and work of God.
God's Plan for Man
The above discussion has proved to us that God is real and living. But we must ask the most important question: What is this God doing today? What is His plan for man today? Acts 17:27 tells us that God wants man to seek after Him and to know Him. He has displayed His workmanship in the universe, and He has spoken in His Scripture. He has even manifested Himself in Jesus Christ. His intention is that we would know Him. God has no intention to hide Himself. He intends that man would come to know Him first as the Creator and then as his God and his Father.
Second, God intends for man to worship Him. John 4:23 tells us that God seeks for true worshippers, those who would worship Him in spirit and in truthfulness. He has no intention for man to worship the things that He has created. The true worship of God is to worship with our spirit. In the past, man has set up many idols and worshipped these things instead of God. But in both the Old Testament and the New Testament, God forbids all forms of idol worship (Exo. 20:4-5; 1 Cor. 10:14; 1 Thes. 1:9b). He is the unique God. No other object is qualified to demand our worship.
The true worship of God does not consist of many rituals or forms. Neither the place nor the way we sit or bow matters much to God. What He cares for is that men would worship Him in their spirit. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit (John 4:24). If a person wants to receive radio waves, he must use a radio receiver. If a man wants to receive a telephone call, he must pick up the telephone receiver. In the same way, if a man wants to worship God and contact Him, he must use his spirit. One cannot hear color with his ears, nor can one see music with his eyes. We need the right organ for the right substance. God is Spirit and is not anything material. This is why we must not worship Him with anything material, but must worship Him with our spirit.
The way to use our spirit is to pray by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus (Rom. 10:12-13). If we will open our mouth and our heart and will pray to God, our spirit will touch Him, and God will be real to us.
The ultimate plan of God for man is that man would express God. The way to express God is to be filled with God. If we pray to Him and receive Him, God will come into us and will fill us. He will not be an objective God outside of us anymore, but will be a subjective God inside of us. He will fill us with Himself and will change our whole being. To be a Christian is not merely to believe in some creeds or to learn some teachings. It is to know God, to worship Him, and to express Him by being filled with Him.
Copyright (C) 1993 Living Stream Ministry, Anaheim, CA, USA. All rights reserved