This is a fun question to tackle. We won’t be able to do it justice in article format, unfortunately. But it’s very difficult to find out what’s actually true when it comes to almost anything. Many scientific disciplines are riddled (ironically) with dogma, bias, conflicts of interest, and corruption. Religion is surrounded by deafening opinions, zealots, and detractors. History is clouded, uncertain, and subjective. Everyone has an opinion and too much information bombards us relentlessly.
So we’re told “reality is an illusion” or “reality is a simulation” or “reality is undefinable” or “there is no good or evil, only balance,” etc. While each of these is an intriguing study, we’ll focus on what we know is true.
Christianity believes this to be true — God is real. He took a shapeless, empty rock and turned it into the beautiful earth we have now. He’s the only entity with unlimited power, but cares most about one group: us. We are nothing in the vast universe, but God cares about us (Ps 8.4).
The collection of books we call the bible is God’s message to humanity. I am fully convinced that the origins of this library are from not earth. Since the bible claims to be from God, and internal/external evidence overwhelmingly suggests a non-earth origin, I believe that it really is from God.
So what’s true? God made reality (Gen 1). He gave us consciousness and the ability to interact with the reality he made. He gave us complete freedom to choose our own destiny. He let humanity kill his son, just to bring his son back to life as tangible hope for all people. If we do what God wants, we get that second life too. There is good and there is evil, function and dysfunction. Good will last forever, but dysfunction will be destroyed permanently when Jesus comes back (Rev 20.9-15).
This earth is not going to last forever, a fact supported by both the new testament and mainstream science. This is truth. Where we’re going when the earth is destroyed is up to us.
That’s all we really need to know about reality — it’s as real as God is, and our next life will be as real as this one.
When I was younger I used to lay in bed at night and try to imagine what God looked like. I would try to put a face to Him, I’d wonder what He was doing, and I would ask myself if God knew that I was thinking about Him. I still ask those same questions to this day. It is likely that most, if not all of you, who are reading this article believe that there is a God and that He can see and hear all that we say. So the question I’d like us to ask ourselves in this article is this; since there is a God that has all power, why do we sometimes have difficulty following the commands that we find in the Bible?
Jeremiah 10:12 says, “It is He who made the earth by His power, who established the world by His wisdom; and by His understanding He has stretched out the heavens.”
God has ALL power. There isn’t an area that He is lacking power in. He controls the weather, He created us, and as Jeremiah said, “He made this earth” and we are inhabitants of His world. As humans, we sometimes forget just how powerful God truly is. Since God has all power, shouldn’t we be following what the Creator of everything has told us to do? In seven days He thought of everything we see around us.
Did you know that no one has ever had an original thought? For example, I could say that I’m the only person to have ever thought about a blue turtle. But before I thought of blue turtle, there was such thing as the color blue, and there were turtles before I thought of them. So what I’m actually doing is taking two things that God created and putting them together. We aren’t original; we just use what our Creator has already made. This God, the one who spoke everything into being, has given us specific commands to follow as Christians.
Since God has given us rules on how to live, we shouldn’t have a problem following them. They may be difficult, but God knows how to take care of His creation. The thought of the God of the universe watching out and guiding me through life is a great comfort! But on the flip side, what if we aren’t following what God has told us to do? There’s a saying, “Actions speak louder than words.” Our actions are a direct window into how we truly feel. If we don’t do what God has commanded, then that’s like us saying to God, “I don’t truly believe that there are consequences to my actions.” But that is a deadly place for us to be, because God IS real and there ARE consequences to our actions. God is real and the consequences of our actions are as well.
In the end it comes down to this: Not obeying what God has said is a reflection of how real we make God out to be. If we truly believe He is real, then we shouldn’t have a problem doing what He tells us to do. As Christians we serve the One true God, and He is ever present in the world. I pray that this fact will push us to do the commands He has given us because our God is alive and we all have an eternity with Him if we do what He tells us to do.
Looking back at when I was younger, I’ve realized that I asked the right question, but the most important part of those questions is how I answer them. Will I show through my actions that I truly believe He is alive? Or do I doubt the reality of God by not taking His commands seriously? Let’s try to always prove God is alive by following what He has told us to do!
I Thessalonians 2.1-6 reminds us that our motivation for staying faithful shouldn’t be selfish. We’re not here to gain a following or expand a financial portfolio. Those things aren’t intrinsically wrong, but using Christianity as an opportunity for financial gain is terrible. We’re faithful because it’s what God wants, and because we want to live with him forever.
The application of 2.7-12 is that God expects us to tell people about his son’s return, even if we have to do it alone. This means we don’t expect financial help as a condition for service. This means we teach with great patience. It means we share our time generously. It means we work hard. It means we invest all of our emotional resources into the work.
2.13-16 teaches that our message originated with the creator. It has a powerful effect on people who believe it. It also draws negative attention from people who find it too otherworldly to accept. For the most part, people find it difficult to accept the idea of a God. Beyond that, most find it even harder to believe that this God will destroy the planet, and will only rescue those who follow him. To most it reads like science fiction. As with other things that don’t fit a naturalistic narrative, our worldview is attacked as bring fringe or fantasy or irrational. But God will handle those who try to stop his message from spreading, so our job is to keep at it until our time is up!
Pioneers are fascinating, whether Gutenberg and the printing press, Jenner and vaccinations, or the Wright brothers and flying. Whether travel and exploration or inventions, people who went first or paved the way for us are people we may never think about but who we owe so much to. Even our highway systems, with paved roads that go through tall mountains, took people to make a way when there was no way.
Hebrews 6:20 uses a word only found in that verse–“forerunner.” The word had a diverse usage. It was used in athletics, of one who runs forward at top speed. It was used of one who went in advance of others, like horsemen or guides ahead of the army. In Alexandria, Roman ships heavily loaded with grain, were led out by a small guide ship. It was used in botany of the first green shoot, tree, or flower of Spring. Metaphorically, it was used of a “precursor” like the apostles or John the Baptist.
The idea in Hebrews 6:20 is that Jesus has gone behind the curtain before us into God’s presence. We can join Him there because His death made it possible for us (Heb. 5:8-9). But we also have unrestricted access to God’s presence now because He prepared the way. The writer tells us that this is our sure and stedfast anchor of hope that allows us to take refuge.
It is beautiful to think that Jesus has gone before us and paved a way for us. This is a theme the writer addresses throughout Hebrews. He shows us how Jesus has done that in the past, is doing it now, and will do it in the future.
He went before me in the creation (Hebrews 1). In the most elementary sense, Jesus went before me in that He brought me into being (Heb. 1:2). He made us knowing that He would someday become one of us, with a human body (Heb. 10:5). He made the circulatory system, the nervous system, the respiratory system, the skeletal system, as well as every other system, cells, tissues & organs, knowing He’d experience them. He was here on earth before most, if not all, the recipients of Hebrews and certainly before all of us—but He paved the way for life on this earth for all of us. He provided for my material needs (Mat. 5:45; 6:25-32; 1 Tim. 6:17), my emotional needs, my social needs (Gen. 2:18; Prov. 17:17), and my spiritual needs–He created me with a desire for worship, fellowship, and discipleship and guides me in the proper expression of each of them.
He went before me in my salvation (Hebrews 2:10). Your version probably says author, captain, founder, or even pioneer. The original word was used of one who founded a city, gave it its name, and became its guardian. Or it was used of a head of a family, a founder of a school, or military commander. The context of Hebrews 2:10 is that Jesus came to earth to experience humanity firsthand, but He’s called the author of our salvation. He does the sanctifying and we’re the sanctified (11). His death freed us from the one who had the power of death (14-15). He made forgiveness for our sins (17).
Hebrews uses “salvation” seven times, but also speaks of sanctification, propitiation, purification, and the like. The letter is full of blessings He gives now because of our salvation–assistance when tempted (2:18), assurance (3:14), bold approach to the throne (4:16), hope (6:19), mercy and forgiveness (8:12), confidence (10:19), nearness (10:22), endurance (12:1), and an unshakable kingdom (12:28). I get a clear sense that He wants me to make it through this world spiritually alive!
He has gone before me in my eternal destination (Hebrews 12:1-2). The writer draws to his conclusion, pointing us to “the race that is set before us.” Everyone of us is still in the race, running toward some conclusion. The writer says to look away from all other things to look at Jesus. He took the lead and is setting the example at the front of the pack. In fact, He successfully finished this race and is waiting on us to finish and join Him in a victory celebration. The only way to lose this race is to stop running, but if we keep our eyes on Christ we won’t stop. Jesus is our leader, inspiration, and goal we are running toward in our race.
The Hebrews’ writer says judgment is coming, but Jesus has paved the way for us. Throughout Hebrews, he tells us we can have confidence (4 times), assurance (4 times), and hope (7 times). Jesus is the basis for all of that.
Jesus made the hard choice. He left heaven and came to take the punishment we deserve so we could receive the reward He died to give us. He could have chosen to save Himself and let us die lost and without hope, but He made the unselfish choice. What about us? Are we willing to sacrifice now, so that we can ultimately receive the prize? We can do it! Jesus showed us how!
Today, the term “science” is overused, or should I say abused? People conflate consensus with knowledge. To get rid of today’s biases, let’s go back in time to see how Noah Webster defined the word nearly 200 years ago. Webster told us that “science” refers to “knowledge, or certain knowledge; the comprehension or understanding of truth or facts by the mind” (Webster). The focus then shifts to determining the facts upon which we can rely. Perhaps you’ve heard that something can only be established as fact if it is observable or repeatable in the case of an experiment. That determination is valid.
Thus, regardless of whether you accept the existence of a Creator or believe our existence is the result of random chance, you must recognize your conclusion as a matter of faith. This admission is not to say that there isn’t any evidence. There is proof. The Creator supplies testimony of Himself that the creationist accepts. But, it becomes a matter of faith because we were not present to witness firsthand events, and we cannot recreate our universe’s emergence from chaos or nothingness. As a creationist, I have more reason to believe in my facts than the person who has to think that everything came from nothing, an event that all of written history fails to report.
I apologize for the lengthy preface, but a brother once chastised me for not approaching these topics more “scientifically.” There appears to be an irrational belief that you cannot open your mouth to speak on a subject unless you have a doctorate. People seem to have forgotten that the world had learned men before American colonials established Harvard or Yale. Indeed, men like Abraham Lincoln, who kept the American Union together, were self-taught. No one questions Lincoln’s wisdom as they read the speeches that have outlived him.
However, in this information age, we have become skeptical of any information that contradicts our paradigm. I’m not necessarily condemning this skepticism because it’s often justified. As Christians, we recall the Holy Spirit’s compliment to the noble Bereans for cross-referencing Paul’s sermons with God’s Word (Acts 17.11). But we must remember that education is only a tool, a means to an end. Education teaches us how to comprehend the truth. Any idiot can wield a chisel, but only the diligent can carve a statue out of a marble slab. I say this to remind us that a man with an advanced degree can have an overpriced piece of paper and stumble over a topic, whereas an avid reader can speak eloquently about the issues about which he reads.
I cannot speak eloquently on the science found in Genesis 1.1-2. I can only offer what I’ve learned from researching the topic. I will say that I have made an effort to comprehend opposing viewpoints. They can be entertaining, even if I know they are not valid explanations for our existence. I add that God did not intend the Bible to be a science textbook. As a result, any science gained from the Bible results from the fact that the Bible is true (John 17.17).
Friends who do not believe in a Creator are left to believe in one of several competing theories. Most of us are familiar with the Big Bang. In August 2022, some said that the James Webb Space Telescope disproved the Big Bang theory. On the other hand, scientists claim that such a declaration results from a false scientific approach (Cooper). Fair enough. There would be several other intriguing alternative explanations, even if one dismissed the Big Bang. The concept of quantum entanglement is one of these theories. Don’t worry. I won’t even attempt to explain it since I have no advanced degrees in physics.
However, time, energy, space, and matter are all mentioned in Genesis 1.1. Interestingly, NASA informs us that the universe “includes all of space, and all the matter and energy that space contains. It even includes time itself” (Brennan). So, Genesis 1.1 looks at our existence from a scientific point of view.
“In the beginning” refers to time.
“God created” refers to energy.
“The heavens” refers to space.
“The earth” refers to matter.
But this is where things get tricky. God used the idea of time to help us understand. He did this by dividing the creation into 24-hour blocks of creative work, starting in verse 3. Real-time, however, began when the light from day one merged into the sun on day four, the sun around which our planet transits. A year is a unit of time defined by one complete revolution around this star. God elaborated further with the creation of the sun, moon, and stars, saying that they “serve as signs and for seasons, and for days and years” (Genesis 1.14 NASB).
We would not know that there were three consecutive 24-hour periods if God did not elaborate that what He did on days one through three was completed in an evening and morning, a day (i.e., the Hebrew “yom,” which implies the length of a typical day). As a result, God completed the initial work of creation when time did not exist. I don’t say this as a concession to allow for a fourteen billion-year-old universe.
The unspoken implication is that God first created the material from which He would later shape our universe, as demonstrated in Genesis 1.2. There was something nebulous there, over which God’s Spirit hovered before He said, “Let there be light.” What happens when you try to age something that existed before time? Consider the dating techniques we employ and the potential flaws they contain. These methods necessitate consistency. When estimating the decay of a radioactive isotope in a rock, for example, I must assume that this radioactive element has always decayed at the same rate. Have any of us been alive during the time required to observe the stated decay rate? In short, the answer is no. How did these radioactive isotopes get into that rock in the first place?
There’s also the question of what we see when God creates flora, fauna, and humanity. He made all of these things fully mature and capable of reproducing. Thus, despite being only seconds old, Adam would have appeared to be an adult man. Why should our planet and universe be any different? There is no reason for me to make an exception. As a result, a mature world may appear billions of years old despite being only ten thousand years old.
Despite being frequently used against Christians, I believe Occam’s razor is on the side of creationists. The most basic explanation for our origin is that a Being with the ability to create a universe did so. Otherwise, our observations of this complex universe force us to resort to explanations including absurdities, such as the possibility that a Higgs boson or something similar exploded and produced all of the universe’s material, which gradually shaped itself into what we now observe. The latter shaping process managed to do so without the assistance of Intelligence and created conditions on one specific planet orbiting a star in just the right place to allow primordial seas to slosh together the right set of molecules capable of transforming an inanimate substance into an animated one. The topper is that we have not even explained from whence the Higgs boson has come.
When all is said, it comes down to faith. Which set of facts will be accepted? I’ll borrow a smug expression from today: “I’ll trust the science.” Yes, I believe in the science of Genesis 1.1-2.
The world’s most powerful engine is mind blowing. It stands 44 feet tall, is 90 feet long and weighs 2,300 tons. It’s capable of producing 109,000 horse power, and over 5,000,000 foot pounds of torque. To say this is a powerful engine is an understatement.
You can take the most powerful engine in the world and it pales in comparison to the power of God. This engine could never speak a world into existence, this engine could never raise someone from the dead, and this engine could never forgive sins and give us the hope of eternal life.
Paul would tell us in Ephesians 1:19-20, “…and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places.”
Notice Paul’s description of this power:
It is “exceedingly great”
It is shown toward those who believe
It is the same power that raised Jesus from the dead and seated Him at the right hand of God.
Paul shows us how this power is given to those who believe in chapter 2:1-6. This power made us alive when we were dead. Colossians 2:12-13 tells us that those who were spiritually dead are now spiritually alive because of God’s power.
As Christians we must understand the power and might of God.
Do we understand what God could do to the world? Do we understand that God’s power is the only reason we are here today? Paul prays that we might know the power of God, and that that knowledge should shape our every thought and action here on earth.
Contrary to popular belief, it wasn’t the “apple” on the tree that got us banned from paradise, it was the pair on the ground…anyway, I want us to take a trip back to the beginning. This is where our account takes place. In Genesis chapter one, God has just created the world as He intended for it to be. A place of peace and harmony. No pain, sorrow, and a perfect relationship with his creation. After this incredible account of creation, God concludes by creating man. He designed a perfect world for Adam and Eve. He placed them in the garden, a perfect home where they had everything they would need.
He gives them only one command in Gen. 2:15-17, “The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”
The following account in chapter three is what I want to focus on. God gave Adam a helper suitable for him and her name was Eve. Everything was perfect. God even says after He looked upon his creation that everything was “very good.” But one decision changed the course of mankind forever.
In this account of the sinners at the tree, Adam and Eve are an example of what not to do when faced with temptation. This account also reveals the methods Satan uses to tempt us, and the choice that changed the course of the world.
Satan Sows Doubt (3:1-5)
Eve Felt Desire (3:6)
The Fall And Punishment (3:7-24)
One question that I’ve always had about this account is why God placed this forbidden tree in the garden. Genesis 2:9 says, “And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” Did God set Adam and Eve up to fail? Was He hoping they would slip up and eat the fruit? On the contrary, God was giving Adam and Eve the power of free will. Without this free will to choose, Adam and Eve would’ve been puppets.
True love always requires a choice.
Our parents would make us hug and apologize when we fought with each other. And I can tell you, there is a big difference between a hug that is forced and a hug that is given out of love and concern. God wanted Adam and Eve to choose to love and trust Him. The only way to give this choice was to command something that was not allowed. Therefore Adam and Eve could decide whether or not they wanted to be in a relationship with God. What choice will we make today? Will we live in sin, or live for Almighty God?
It’s been said that the there are more stars in the known universe than all of the sand on earth combined. That being said, in just one grain of sand there are more atoms than all of the stars. That’s pretty amazing. Our planet is but a speck in the grandeur of space. Countless stars, planets, galaxies, lightyears and somehow God is well aware of the happenings of people. Have you stood on the mountain tops? Have you observed the power of the oceans as the waves crash on the shore? Has your heart almost stopped after the vibrating sensation of a thunder clap resonates in your chest? The might of the Creator is everywhere in the world around us and at times it just demands to be noticed. A section of scripture that is mysterious and fascinating is found in 1 Kings 19:11-13. The Lord of hosts is about to show Himself to a depressed and exhausted Elijah, but in a way that he would never forget. “The Lord said, ‘go out on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.’ Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out to stand at the mouth of the cave. Then the voice said, ‘what are you doing here Elijah?’” In the solitude of Horeb, Elijah seeks to avoid the troubles of his world. The acoustics of the mountainous area along with the time spent in silence must have made the shattering rocks, raging fire, splitting hills, and rumbling earth all but deafening and definitely a terrifying display of divine power. Then in sharp contrast, a still whisper comes. This gentleness, no doubt, is the reason Elijah decides to cautiously emerge from his hiding place. God is teaching His worn-out servant a lesson that holds true for us today. The fact is, there is no more God, His wisdom, power, and presence in an earthquake than there is in the sweet breath of a blooming flower. The quiet ticking of a wrist watch reveals just as much intelligence and purpose as does the striking of a clock tower’s bell. One may walk out into an open field at night and stare up into the vast sky, lit up with numerous twinkling stars and declare, “I’ve found God!” But God is no more in the sky than He is in the blades of grass flattened beneath your feet. The question came to Elijah from that still voice, “What are you doing here?” To the prophet, his problems were too great and too large and his solution was to run and hide. God, in a magnificent way, is trying to remind Elijah of his place. Our place in life is not to take matters into our own hands or solve life’s many difficulties on our own. The answer is not to run away, but to walk humbly with our awesome God. He is strong enough to lift our burdens, wise enough to counsel us, patient enough to allow us to learn, and loving enough to constantly forgive.
Note: This is not going to be a quick read. Any answer to the question addressed is going to require some theological/philosophical consideration.
Stephen Fry is a well-known actor, activist, humanist, and athiest. When asked what he would say to God in a face-to-face, he replied, “Bone cancer in children, what’s that about? … How dare you create a world where there is such misery that is not our fault?” There’s more to the quote, but this sums it up.
“How can evil and a loving God coexist?” At some point, we have to confront this question in our own faith. Some can accept the problem of evil as being a byproduct of a fallen world. Others – especially those who have experienced evil firsthand – have a hard time justifying the two.
Most answers offered sound something like this: “The creation groans with the pains of childbirth up to now. Man, as a free moral agent, transgressed God’s law and brought the consequences of sin upon humanity. God cannot look upon evil, and certainly does not cause it. Every good thing and every perfect gift comes down from the father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.”
While the principles in this explanation are correct, it fails to address the question on at least two levels. One, it does not answer how God could allow evil to affect humans. We exist, technically, against our will. Two, it utilizes jargon. It’s easier to say religious-sounding things to answer difficult questions, but anyone struggling with this problem knows how frustrating this answer can be. It doesn’t address the question, and sometimes comes across as avoiding it altogether.
The following is based on personal study, as I’d wrestled with this problem, too. To be very clear: God loves us, and the existence of evil does not change that at all. This question was answered for me through an unrelated study that put a few things into perspective. Here’s the condensed version:
God created reality, and it was flawless (Gen 1.31). In fact, Jesus described heaven as being a return to this flawlessness (Matt 19.28). The code of reality was intact. God didn’t force us to love him, he gave us freedom to choose for ourselves. According to Romans eight, nature was fundamentally affected by the choice we made. This choice essentially introduced a bug into the code of reality. God didn’t create evil, we did.
Even though our choice has consistently been rejection – and we’re solely responsible for messing everything up – he still gave up everything to give us a second chance. Yes, Jesus sacrificed himself on a cross. This was extremely selfless and loving in itself. But this was NOT the only sacrifice he made.
Jesus – the one who designed and built reality (John 1) – permanently demoted himself for humans. He gave up his status to die for us (Heb 2.7). He’s in the father’s chair right now, but will step back down after the end of time (Heb 1.14; 2.8-9). He is still God, but permanently lower because he’s still human, too (I Tim 2.5; I Cor 11.3; I Jn 3.1-3; Heb 2.11-18).
So, how can evil and a loving God coexist? We’re stuck with the way reality is now, but he fundamentally changed himself to give us a second chance. He works full-time to get his family home (Rom 8.27; I Tim 2.5; I Jn 2.1-2). We changed the terms, but he changed the consequences. The most powerful entity in the universe stepped down – forever – knowing most of us would ignore it. When we look at it that way, it puts our own culpability into perspective and demonstrates God’s infinite capacity to love.
Your version may use the word “hallelujah” to begin Psalm 135. Hallelujah means “praise the Lord.” While it is synonymous with giving thanks, it means to laud a superior quality or act, to acclaim and express joy in doing so. What is so noteworthy is that the psalmist does this in very specific ways, recounting times in history when God demonstrates His power and glory on behalf of His people. As we walk through the psalm, we see this. Why is He to be praised?
HIS CHOOSING OF HIS PEOPLE (4)
HIS NATURE (5)–Great, Above All
HIS WORK IN CREATION (6-7)–Heaven, Earth, Seas, All Deep, Vapors, Lightning, Wind, Rain
HIS DEFEATING OF THEIR ENEMIES (8-11)–Egypt, Amorites, Canaanites
HIS BLESSINGS (12)–Gave His People A Heritage (Possession)
HIS POWER (13)–His Name And Remembrance
HIS PROMISES (14)–Compassionate Judgment
HIS SUPERIORITY OVER HIS RIVALS (15-18)–Deaf, Dumb, And Blind Idols, Just Like Humans
The writer calls on God’s people to praise and worship Him in song, expressing their adoration (1-3). He ends with a threefold call to “bless the Lord” (19-21). May I suggest that you work through something both in your daily life and in your preparation before every time you assemble to worship? Call it setting the table for fellowship with the Divine. Either meditate on the specific works and ways of God that are worthy of admiration, praise and honor or pray to Him, expressing these matters in specific terms. Focus on how He’s demonstrated greatness in blessing your life and the lives of those around you. Perhaps it’s answered prayer, providence, deliverance, or relief. Focus on His power and might in the affairs of our nation, in the activities of our congregation, and the occurrences within your family and personal life. Let the worship flow as you look around at all you see in nature, from the universe to right out your window. Think about the gift of Jesus for your sins. All of this will surely cause you to echo the writer in Psalm 135 and call out to others, “Praise the Lord!”