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Sunday, January 12, 2014 am                        Basics Index

BACK TO BASICS
January – A Study of God
Why the God of the Bible?

 

Last week, as we began discussing the subject of God, we noted some reasons why we should believe in God.  We very briefly discussed how science and laws of nature demonstrate that something outside of the natural realm had to create this world.  There is such design in this universe that to deny a designer is foolish.  Furthermore, there is evidence that it all had a beginning – WHO (or what) started it?  Add to that the concept of life, our sense of morality and thoughts of eternity we find a compelling case for a creator.   David said in Psalm 14:1, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’”  Romans 1:20 tells us that His invisible attributes are clearly seen in the things that are made.  We briefly noted that the Bible does address each of these subjects attributing it to God. 

But having established that this world was created by an intelligent being still does not answer WHO He is.  About 1/3 of the world’s population professes to believe in the God of the Bible (which includes belief in Jesus and the NT).  And while that is the largest block of believers (and it is all inclusive – Catholic, protestant, JWs, Mormons, etc.), 2/3 of the world believe something else (21% Islam, 16% - nonreligious, 14% Hindu, 16% - other beliefs – Eastern religions, indigenous, etc.).  So why should we accept the God of the Bible? Can the case be made for accepting the Bible over all worldviews and religions? 

In our lesson this morning we are going to briefly make the case for why we should accept the God of the Bible.  In this I include the New Testament as part of the Bible (Muslims accept SOME of the Bible, Jews accept the Old Testament, etc. but they reject part or all of the New Testament).

I.                    What the World believes about God

a.        There are 7 major world views, with many divergent views beyond these

                                                   i.      Atheism – there is no god.  In this group we include those who question whether He exists (agnostics) and those who will not commit.

                                                  ii.      Pantheism – God is everything.  Espoused by some eastern religions

                                                iii.      Panentheism – God is IN everything.  Also known as process theology, this teaches that God is evolving along with the universe.

                                                iv.      Deism – God exists and created the universe, but he is not involved in it.

                                                  v.      Polytheism – there are many gods

                                                vi.      Finite godism – God created the world but he is limited by his own nature.  Either he is not everywhere or not all powerful or not all knowing.

                                               vii.      Monetheism, theism – there is ONE God (entity) who created the world and is involved in it – espoused by “Christianity”, Islam and Judaism.

b.       Which of these concepts is true?  Can we know who God is?  There are at least 2 approaches to answering that question. 

                                                   i.      You can seek to disprove all views that are NOT true

                                                  ii.      Or you can present the case for what IS true and that will of necessity eliminate other contradictory views.

c.        OUR approach in this lesson is to present the case for WHY we should accept the God of the Bible (though very brief and elementary).  With this, we have something to compare other worldviews with.

 II.                  Why the God of the Bible

a.        Revelation is how we know who God is.  HE reveals Himself to us.  Romans 1:20, Psalm 19:1-2 - tells us He reveals Himself through creation.  Heb. 1:1-2 and other passages tells us He reveals Himself to us through the words of His prophets and His Son. 
Dealing with nations that followed Idols, the Lord through Isaiah said, “For thus says the Lord, Who created the heavens, Who is God, Who formed the earth and made it, Who has established it, Who did not create it in vain, Who formed it to be inhabited: “I am the Lord, and there is no other. I have not spoken in secret, In a dark place of the earth; I did not say to the seed of Jacob, ‘Seek Me in vain’; I, the Lord, speak righteousness, I declare things that are right. “Assemble yourselves and come; Draw near together, You who have escaped from the nations. They have no knowledge, Who carry the wood of their carved image, And pray to a god that cannot save. Tell and bring forth your case; Yes, let them take counsel together. Who has declared this from ancient time? Who has told it from that time? Have not I, the Lord? And there is no other God besides Me, A just God and a Savior; There is none besides Me.” (Isaiah 45:18–21)  
The point is He has revealed Himself and it is through His word.

b.       The character of the Bible reveals that it is from God.  In our last lesson we discussed how the design of the world makes a case for a creator that is outside of the natural realm.  Similarly, the Bible because of its character demonstrates that it is the product of God.

                                                   i.      It claims to be from God – 2 Tim. 3:16-17, 2 Peter 1:20-21, etc.  Continually. Within its pages it speaks with authority in expressions such as, “the Lord said” or “the word of the Lord”.  In fact, such expressions are found some 2700 times in the Bible.

                                                  ii.      The unity of the Bible demonstrates that there was a divine designer behind it.  Consider how it was written over a period of 1600 years on 3 different continents, in 3 languages by some 40 authors who came from a variety of background (from kings, to shepherds, to government officials, scribes, physicians, fishermen, etc.)    YET, the story of the Bible is united and deals with the theme of man’s sin and God’s salvation.  Every book has its place and purpose in revealing this plan of man’s redemption.  And it does so without contradiction. That type of design demands a designer who transcends time (i.e. He is immortal and omnipotent). 

                                                iii.      It’s relevance – though written thousands of years ago, its teachings are just as relevant today as they were when it was written.  Its teachings on morality (though society doesn’t like it), the need for truth, honesty, family, and the nature of man remains the same.  It is a book that gives hope and gives man purpose.  (1 Pet. 1:25)

c.        Prophecy – the idea of prophecy is to reveal the message of God, often times before it occurs.  In fact, one of the ways to prove that a prophet is from God is by telling something before it happens with such surety that a divine source cannot be denied.  (cf. Prov. 18:22)
When you consider the impact of prophecy in the Bible, you find a strong case for God. 
Isaiah 41:21-23 says, “Present your case,” says the Lord. “Bring forth your strong reasons,” says the King of Jacob. “Let them bring forth and show us what will happen; Let them show the former things, what they were, That we may consider them, And know the latter end of them; Or declare to us things to come. Show the things that are to come hereafter, That we may know that you are gods; Yes, do good or do evil, That we may be dismayed and see it together.
Consider some of the prophecies in the Bible

                                                   i.      The book of Isaiah is filled with prophecies.  Second only to the psalms in the number of times it is quoted in the New Testament, it also presents some remarkable prophecies about the circumstance of Israel and Judah as it was written.  Isaiah is a prophet that wrote as Northern Israel fell to Assyria in the year 722 BC.  He prophesied that it would happen and continued to prophesy to Judah for about another 25-30 years.

1.       To Hezekiah, he prophesied how God would deliver him from the Assyrian army.  The deliverance was miraculous as in 1 night some 185,000 Assyrian soldiers fell. (Isa. 36-37)

2.       To both Judah and Israel he prophesied of the rising of Babylon to defeat Assyria (which happened around 612-610 BC) AND the fall of Babylon (ca. 636 BC) to the Medo Persian empire (Isa. 13:17-19).  In fact, Isaiah even named Cyrus as the one who would do this (Isaiah 44:28-45:1).  This prophecy is so spectacular that critics of the Bible say the book of Isaiah had to have been written much later than its inspired date. 

3.       Of Jesus we find some of the most detailed prophecies of His life and death.   His kingdom is described throughout the book.  His person is described.  In Isaiah 52:13-53:12 describes in the detail the suffering He would endure including our Lord’s resurrection (vs. 10), His death with the wicked and burial with the rich (vs. 9), etc.  All of these details can be confirmed in Jesus Christ in  the 1st century AD.

                                                  ii.      The Psalms also continually make reference to Jesus and its fulfillment in the New Testament.  One example is psalm 22 which describes our suffering Savior, again with precise details.  IT was written around 1000 BC.

                                                iii.      Daniel, who experienced the fall of Jerusalem in 606 BC and was carried away to Babylon, also witnessed the fall of Babylon and the rise of the Medo-Persian Empire (and Cyrus).  Throughout his prophecies he foretold of world history leading up to the time of our Lord and the Kingdom He would establish (Dan. 2:44).  He gave details of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Macedonia (Greece) and Rome and various events that would unfold.

                                                iv.      There has to be something to a book that professes to be from God and BACKS IT UP with such remarkable prophecies.

d.       Miracles – miracles by definition are actions that transcend the laws of nature.  While we do not experience miracles today like we read about in the Bible, a compelling case could be made for their authenticity during the time of Jesus and the apostles, AND during various time periods of the Old Testament.  For miracles to exist (ever) presents a case for the God who fashioned them.  The Bible makes the case for miracles coming from God.  ONE occasion is found in Matthew 9:1-8 where Jesus heals a paralytic.  But in the process He forgives the man’s sins as well and uses the miracles as PROOF that God was with Him.  
Miracles served to verify (and distinguish) the true messenger of God from frauds. 

e.       Scientific accuracy – while the Bible is NOT (nor does it claim to be) a book of science or medicine, yet it reveals remarkable details that are ahead of their verification through scientific procedure.  Some examples of this include:

                                                   i.       Heb. 11:3 “By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.”  As we examine this text we note that it speaks of God, being Spirit, created this world from nothing.  But here is another consideration: Because of scientific advancements we know that everything is made up of atoms, which are so tiny that they cannot be seen with the naked eye. 

                                                  ii.      Isaiah 40:22 speaks of the “circle of the earth that God sits above.  Recall how even in the time of Columbus, man thought the world was flat.

                                                iii.      Gen. 15:5 where Abraham’s descendants are to be as the stars of the heavens innumerable.  Up until the invention of powerful telescopes, man thought that the stars could be numbered, (somewhere around 1000).  Now we know better!

                                                iv.      Acts 17:26 speaks of all nations being made of one blood.  We now know that human blood is of a specific characteristic that is indistinguishable based on race, nationality, and gender. While there are different types of blood, they have nothing to do with such factors.

                                                  v.      Psalm 8: 8 speaks of fish passing through the paths of the sea.  These paths (we call them currents)

f.         The impact of the Bible – that Jesus lived cannot be denied.  That the Bible is a product of His disciples cannot be denied.   The impact that the Bible has had on the world is incredible.  Man has tried to destroy without success.  It is still the #1 best seller of all times and consistently on a yearly basis more Bibles are sold than even the strongest best seller on the New York Times list.
No book has influenced civilizations like the Bible.  The laws have transformed nations and even more.
Its power to change lives is powerful.  It can take a hardened sinner and transform him into a godly person.  It has saved marriages, made societies better, given hope to the hopeless and accomplished many other things.
One final observation about its impact: I find it interesting how the Bible is resisted by so many.  Christians are despised by the godless and worldly.  Our views are assaulted and often we are maligned.  This within itself describes the impact of the Bible in this world.  If its enemies see the need to destroy it and remove ANY mention of God from their lives it is obviously a testimony to the power of this book and its potential to impact our lives.  That alone should cause us to consider it.  And the Bible warned that this would happen:
1 Peter 4:4 notes that those of this world who “think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you.” (cf. 1 Pet. 2:12, 2 Pet. 2:12, John 17:14, etc.). 

 III.                The God of the Bible

a.        Cares about us personally – John 3:16 tells us He loved the world.  Gods of other religions are inadequate in this.  Many leave you guessing and see God as impersonal.

b.       The God of the Bible has revealed Himself to us

                                                   i.      WE have already noted how God revealed Himself through His word. 

                                                  ii.      HE revealed Himself through by sending Jesus,

                                                iii.      Many other religions fall short in this. 

1.       Atheism is mere silence with NO hope and no revelation.

2.       Much of eastern thought, which is ancient and even predates the New Testament (but not the Old Testament) is simply guessing at who they think God is.   

3.       Others find a god with flaws and weaknesses.  Such cannot be a sure source of hope.

4.       The God of Judaism has revealed Himself and is the same God as the New Testament.  BUT, Jesus fulfilled the work of the Old Law (another lesson later on).

5.       The God of Islam is NOT the God of the Bible.  Though he is a theistic god, a study of the Qur’an reveals a different god (Allah) than the Bible (though Islam claims he is the same god).  They are incompatible.  A study of the methods of revelation of Muhammad, his life and the book will reveal its inadequacy.  Time will not permit this discussion at this time.

c.        The Bible emphasizes that there is only ONE True God (Exodus 20:3, Isa 43:10-11, Eph. 4:4, 1 Cor. 8:6).  Therefore, if the Bible be true (and it is), then we must reject all other gods and religions which are contrary to it. 

 

Conclusion:  This is a brief summary of some reasons why I believe that God, who created this world and universe, IS the God of the Bible.  There is so much more that could be said, about each point that has been made, and many other points.  When you consider all these facts about the Bible, it becomes clear that the Bible is a product of God and therefore it is to be respected as such.

Do you believe in the God of the Bible?  Do you believe God?  If so, Let us respect it as the word of God, study it and respect what it says.   Think about these things.