Can you really come to know God, who claims to be Creator, Lifegiver, Sustainer of the universe, the One who does nothing without a reason?
Evolution claims that life exists because of a series of lucky accidents, that the laws governing the cosmos and life itself came into existence by chance, that the universe came from nothing and that everything we see has no purpose or meaning. When you look at the evidence of the origin of the universe and the supposed evolution of life, you cannot honestly say that science and human rationale have provided acceptable alternatives to the existence of God.
The answers to life's major questions have been available from ancient times, answered by the Bible. The Bible claims to be the Word of God Himself. This is where He has revealed Himself as the Creator and shown the purpose for His creation. (Be sure to request your free copy of the booklet Is the Bible True?)
Is God silent?
The skeptic asks, "If there is a God, why doesn't He reveal Himself?"—as though this would resolve all debate about God's existence. God, however, knows better. He knows that no amount of evidence will convince those who are determined not to acknowledge and accept Him.
That is exactly what God tells us repeatedly in the Bible. Not only did He reveal Himself to the writers of the Bible to pass on to us what we need to know, but He has revealed Himself to everyone through His creation.
Yet we often draw incorrect conclusions from the ample evidence He has provided. As we noted earlier, people hold underlying motives for refusing to believe in a Creator God or a higher purpose. This all too conveniently allows us to live however we want without interference from any divine authority.
The fallacy of that reasoning is that God won't simply go away so we can satisfy our selfish cravings. Denying the law of gravity just because we can't see, touch or handle it doesn't mean gravity doesn't exist. In the same way, denying the equally real and binding spiritual laws and principles God set in motion doesn't mean He and they magically go away. We remain ultimately accountable to the Creator, who has left us with abundant evidence of His existence.
Paul, an apostle who powerfully preached about the true God in a superstitious, polytheistic world, spoke unambiguously of the consequences of ignoring the evidence of the Creator. "Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse" (Romans 1:20, NRSV).
Paul is saying here that we can see ample evidence of a Creator, and we can understand His character and nature, by observing the physical creation. He asserts that the evidence is so unmistakable that a rational human has no excuse to conclude there is no God. Men have no excuse to conclude God is anything other than what He is: eternal, supreme, all powerful and infinitely good. A person who asks the right questions and honestly wants to know the answers will come to the same logical conclusion.
So powerful is the evidence for God that Paul declares: "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of those who by their wickedness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them" (verses 18-19, NRSV).
Although God clearly reveals His existence, He acknowledges that some men suppress the truth about Him. Why would anyone do that? Paul answers that "since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind and to things that should not be done" (verse 28, NRSV). Some simply don't want to acknowledge the existence of God so they can live as they want to live and do whatever they want to do. This explains why man has used his God-given abilities of observation and logic to reason incorrectly and draw false conclusions.
God's claim of Creator
The first statement in the Bible is clear as to our ultimate origin: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (Genesis 1:1). God here establishes the premise for everything else that will follow.
Later, through the prophet Isaiah, He summarizes His creation of earth and everything in it: "Thus says God the LORD, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread forth the earth and that which comes from it, who gives breath to the people on it, and spirit to those who walk on it" (Isaiah 42:5).
Through Isaiah God tells us to look at His handiwork in the heavens: "Lift up your eyes on high and see: Who created these? He who brings out their host and numbers them, calling them all by name; because he is great in strength, mighty in power, not one is missing . . . Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable" (Isaiah 40:26-28, NRSV).
On a clear night we can see about 2,000 stars with the naked eye. A century ago astronomers thought our Milky Way galaxy, with its billions of stars, was the entire universe. Now they estimate there are at least 100 billion galaxies, and possibly far more, each with billions of stars. The estimated number of galaxies continues to grow as new technological breakthroughs allow us to expand our view of the cosmos.
It would require supercomputers just to list the names or assigned numbers of a significant fraction of these stars. Yet God claims to have created every star and that He can account for each of them.
Where did God come from?
God anticipated the skeptics' often-asked question: "If God made everything, then who made God?" Notice His answer: "Before Me there was no God formed, nor shall there be after Me" (Isaiah 43:10).
God is not bound by time as we are. He is "the High and Lofty One who inhabits eternity" (Isaiah 57:15). Paul tells us that God "has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see" (1 Timothy 6:16).
The name most often used to refer to God in the Old Testament, Yahweh (translated "LORD"), means "the Eternal" or "He who was, and is, and is to come" (The Companion Bible, 1990, Appendix 4).
This name conveys that God is eternal and immortal. Jesus Christ also refers to Himself as "the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End . . . who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty" (Revelation 1:8). The universe had a beginning, and God existed before that time. He has always existed. Nothing—and no one—brought Him into being.
The Creator comes to earth
The Bible plainly says that God created all things through Jesus Christ, who is also called the Word (John 1:1-3; see also Colossians 1:15-17; Hebrews 1:1-2). "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14).
The One who actually performed the act of forming the earth, created life on it and brought the universe into being out of nothing came to earth and lived among men as a human being. He "stripped Himself of His glory, and took on Him the nature of a bondservant by becoming a man like other men" (Philippians 2:7, Weymouth Translation).
The Creator of the universe came to the world and lived and died like any ordinary human being. But He was no ordinary human. He represented the Father, teaching exactly the laws and principles that are embodied in the Father Himself. ". . . As My Father taught Me, I speak these things. And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him" (John 8:28-29).
Jesus lived His life on earth just as the Father would if He were here on earth. He perfectly personified the Father so that He could say, "He who has seen Me has seen the Father" (John 14:9).
Jesus taught a specific message: the gospel, or good news, of the Kingdom of God (Mark 1:14-15). He taught that we can become a part of God's family and that we can attain immortality in that family (Matthew 5:9, 45; Luke 6:35; 20:36). But this requires obedience to the laws of the Kingdom of God and faith in the King of that Kingdom (Matthew 19:16-21; Hebrews 11:6).
The Creator cares
Did God create the world and then leave it and us alone? Does He simply let the world run on, never intervening in human history, like a watchmaker who made the watch, wound it up and left it alone to eventually run down?
God indeed cares about His creation. He had in mind His purpose of creating the earth and human life, and giving humans the opportunity for immortality, well before He started—in fact, "before time began" (2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 1:2). This is completely contrary to the theory of meaningless evolution.
The Bible reveals God as one who cares enough about those He has created to intervene on their behalf. He says: ". . . For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, 'My purpose shall stand, and I will fulfill my intention'" (Isaiah 46:9-10, NRSV).
God has intervened in history before, as recorded in the Bible. He will do so again, but this time to bring the human experience to the point where men will come to recognize Him for who He is and accept His revealed knowledge and His purpose for them.
John 3:16-17, perhaps the best-known passage in the Bible, tells us: ". . . God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved."
What is more fantastic is that God is involved to the point that He will bring His purpose to its desired end. Humans made in the image of God will have every opportunity to know the true God and make clear choices, whether they will take Him up on His offer of eternal life or not.
Freedom to choose
God has given us freedom of choice. Speaking through Moses to His chosen nation, ancient Israel, He said: "I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live" (Deuteronomy 30:19). For more on why God gives us freedom of choice, be sure to read "How Does God Reveal Himself?".
Adam and Eve made the fateful decision to reject God's revelation and rely on their own reason to determine right and wrong. God has allowed mankind to reject His revealed knowledge. He has given us freedom to formulate our own philosophies about the origin and meaning of life and to experiment with ways of life, governments and institutions through which we hope to find lasting peace and contentment.
But it has been an experiment that has failed to give us what we're longing and searching for. Thousands of years of experimenting with philosophies and governments have failed to bring peace. History is littered with bloodshed, oppression and shattered hopes.
The experiment will continue to fail. Only with God's revealed knowledge can we find abundant life and bounteous blessings—the real reasons God created us and the way we can fulfill our purpose.
The logical conclusion
We see around us a world that has departed from the knowledge of God. Mankind has fashioned many societies, philosophies and ideas of human destiny without the help of God's revealed knowledge. Although God is involved in His creation, for now He has limited His involvement because He is allowing mankind to learn from its own mistakes.
Most people assume that if this is God's world He must be desperately trying to enforce His will and convert humanity to His way of thinking. But they also observe that, if this is the case, God's efforts are a miserable failure because the forces of evil are having much greater effect.
The simple truth of the matter is that God isn't trying to convert the world to His way of life now. He is permitting the human experience to play itself out to its logical, inevitable conclusion.
Like children who sometimes will come to understand that the stove is hot only after they insist on touching it, we adults often must learn lessons the hard way, through painful experience. Time and time again biblical history records God warning people of the consequences of rejecting Him and His ways. "I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live," says God. "Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die . . . ?" (Ezekiel 33:11).
Where will mankind's collective decisions lead us? Just as forsaking the knowledge of the Creator God and His laws brings suffering and anguish on an individual, it brings similar results on a national, and even a worldwide, level.
Jesus Christ foretold the inevitable outcome of human civilization apart from God: "For then shall be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days should be shortened, no flesh would be saved . . ." (Matthew 24:21-22).
We should be sobered by Jesus' words. It is in God's plan to allow man to come to the end of his rope, to the brink of annihilation, in the centuries-long human experiment. Only then will mankind will learn the lesson—the hard way.
(To better understand these major themes and how they will play out according to Bible prophecy, be sure to request your free booklets The Gospel of the Kingdom, Are We Living in the Time of the End? and You Can Understand Bible Prophecy.)
Direct divine intervention
The news isn't all bad. The good news is that Jesus Christ will intervene powerfully to prevent us from annihilating ourselves. Although Bible prophecy warns us the human race will face extinction, and a large portion of humanity will perish, our headlong race toward disaster will be cut short. Mankind will be spared, but it won't be because we have somehow found a way to solve our problems. It will be only because Christ will return to earth and finally bring an end to what the Bible calls "this present evil age" (Galatians 1:4).
It is at this prophesied time of great tribulation—of unparalleled global turmoil and danger—that Jesus will return. Literally and figuratively, it will be humankind's darkest days: "Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the [peoples] of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory" (Matthew 24:29-30).
For those who view the world from a godless perspective, the scene leading up to that time will be contradictory and confusing. They will see man wanting to be considered good, but still struggling with a nature that finds it all too easy to oppress and inflict suffering on fellow human beings. They will see frightening natural disasters taking the lives of tens of thousands of people and bringing immeasurable pain and loss to countless thousands of others, all the while failing to perceive God's concern.
If one problem is solved, several more will spring up to take its place. People will cry out to God, wondering where He is. But the simple truth of the matter is that humanity will reap the tragic results of removing God from the picture. They will have to learn the lesson that there are no answers without turning to God, seeking His instruction on how to live and how to fulfill His purpose for living.
God is now giving some the opportunity to fulfill their destiny. If you have the courage to reject the philosophy of meaninglessness and turn to your Creator to seek His will in your life, you can become a part of those who overcome this present evil world and share in Christ's reign after He returns to establish His Kingdom (Revelation 3:21; 20:4, 6).
The good news is that God will powerfully answer the question of whether He exists. All the world will know the true God, worshiping Him and learning His holy and righteous laws. "None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them" (Hebrews 8:11; Jeremiah 31:34). Mankind will at last find the peace and contentment we have sought for so long.
A relationship with the Creator
Can you really know God? The first step is to be willing to recognize the evidence He provides of His existence. As we have discussed in this publication, He provides plenty of evidence if we are willing to see and acknowledge it. We can draw many conclusions about Him from what we see in the universe and the world around us. We can then take the next step, to search for a relationship with the Creator.
King David reasoned correctly when he observed the marvels of God's creation. He came to at least two important conclusions in his observations. First, he concluded that a being who created the universe and gave us life must have a great purpose for us. "When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit [care for] him?" (Psalm 8:3-4).
Second, he concluded that a being who presided over such a creation would be right in everything He does, and that He is One who can be trusted. Psalm 19 shows that David understood this. "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world" (verses 1-4, NIV).
David understood that when we look into the heavens we can perceive this self-evident truth speaking to us as surely as though another person were speaking to us face to face. That message is available to every person everywhere and is understandable by anyone regardless of language: There is a great Creator, and He is infinitely greater than anything we can imagine. We are without excuse if we refuse to believe it (Romans 1:20).
David speaks of God's greatness, that "the law of the LORD is perfect . . . The testimony of the LORD is sure . . . The statutes of the LORD are right . . . The commandment of the LORD is pure . . . The fear of the LORD is clean . . . The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether" (Psalm 19:7-9).
On many occasions David marveled at the vast array of the Milky Way galaxy sparkling in the night sky. During his years as a shepherd he had time to study and wonder about the intricacies of nature. He drew on his early experiences to reach profound conclusions about his Creator.
You can ponder the same questions, look at the same evidence and reach the same logical conclusions. You can be moved by what you see with your own eyes and make a decision to accept God's offer to establish a personal relationship with you. If you do, you will be taking the first step toward inhabiting eternity with Him. We would like to assist you in this quest.
We are happy to send you further information on these vital subjects. To start, we recommend that you request your free copies of the booklets What Is Your Destiny?, The Road to Eternal Life and The Ten Commandments. To better understand the Bible, and to prove that it is the inspired Word of God, request Is the Bible True? and How to Understand the Bible. We also recommend that you enroll in our free, 12-lesson Bible Study Course so you can learn more about the Creator God and His purpose for you.
|©1997-2007 United Church of God -
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.
All correspondence and questions should be sent to email@example.com. Send inquiries regarding the operation of this Web site to firstname.lastname@example.org