Thursday’s Column: Captain’s Blog
(now the pulpit minister of the Tompkinsville church of Christ, Tompkinsville, KY)
With countless opinions and information out there, God is just another “option” and the Bible is just “good advice to follow.” Dave Mustaine summed up how many people feel when he said, “The Bible and several other self help or enlightenment books cite the Seven Deadly Sins. They are: pride, greed, lust, envy, wrath, sloth, and gluttony. That pretty much covers everything that we do, that is sinful… or fun for that matter.”
Is the Bible just an ancient “self-help” book that tells us not to do anything fun? Questioning God is not something new. Even Epicurus said, “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then He is not omnipotent. Is He able, but not willing? Then He is malevolent. Is He both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is He neither able nor willing? Then why call Him God?” I truly believe that you can understand who God is just based on scripture. When He gave that book to man, He gave us a piece of Himself.
God wants a relationship with us (I Peter 5:6-7). This is why He has purposefully informed us about Himself. People need God whether they know it or not. I’d encourage you, as an individual, to put the Bible on trial. Put the accuracy of its pages to the test. It has withstood hundreds of years of accusations and doubt. Often we are able to grow in our faith and belief as a result of seeking and searching. As His church, we have a responsibility to proclaim the excellence of our creator. We do it by our love for others, exposing the evidence of His existence, and introducing Jesus every opportunity we have.
I believe that God exists. I believe that He communicated with His creation by direct contact, messengers, and a series of ancient texts. I believe that He wants His human creation to be with Him after they die. I believe that He expects those who claim to be His to act within the guidelines He set in those ancient texts. I believe that there is life after death and that where we go depends on whether or not we follow this God.
Why do I believe this, though? What reason do I have to believe in something I cannot experience with my senses? I was not there thousands of years ago when the prophets and Hebrews talked to God. I was not there when God came here to teach. I was not there when the authors of the original texts delivered their writings to the early church. The ancient texts translated into English sometimes do not effectively communicate the emotion of the words and concepts in the original language. So why do I believe these things? Why do you believe these things?
Think about this carefully. From Genesis to Revelation the message is clear: God wants His people to exist with Him after time is destroyed. This message was communicated to an impossible variety of people, sometimes separated by hundreds of years, thousands of miles, culture, kingdom, race, and language. There are tens of thousands of manuscripts of these ancient texts in many, many different languages. There are some 25,000 New Testament manuscripts or fragments that are separated by about a thousand years, at least 8 different languages, thousands of miles of geography, and many different cultures. Yet, they are at least 95% accurate to each other. The remaining 5% do not contain a single contradiction; rather, they are spelling errors, slips of the pen, writing on the wrong line, or minor variances (“God said” vs. “He said” or “and” vs. “but”).
Of the rich libraries we have of ancient literature, none can hold even the dimmest candle to the profound accuracy and unity of the scriptures. They could not have been produced by man alone. There had to be Someone not confined by time supervising each person as they wrote. Keep in mind, these ancient cultures did not have the advantage of modern communication. They were almost totally isolated from each other and would have known little of the others’ existence, much less what they experienced or wrote from God. Our Bible has supernatural origins and its contents reveal the nature of our Creator. What I believe comes from this book because I know it is God’s message to mankind. I encourage those who have not already done so to do an in-depth study of the origin of scripture. It is one of the most faith-building studies anyone could undertake. When you know with certainty that what you are reading contains the actual thoughts and desires of God, it bolsters your faith in ways I could not begin to adequately describe.
There’s a reason why we know who Galileo is. In 1610, with his telescope, the astronomer discovered four moons orbiting Jupiter. The same year, he discovered a strange oval around Saturn eventually known to be its rings. Then, in 1623, he observed an astronomical event, happening once every 20 years, known as the “Great Conjunction.” This is when the two giant planets in our solar system, Jupiter and Saturn, travel together across the sky and appear aligned. In fact, they are so close that to the naked eye they almost appear to be one giant star (known popularly as “The Christmas Star”)(Bill Keeter, Nasa.gov). Tonight, 12/21/2020, is the closest our two biggest planets have appeared together since that night 397 years ago when Galileo dubbed this phenomena with its popular name. The last time most of the earth had the view it will have tonight was March 5, 1226. A popular theory for “the star” of Matthew 2:2, which drew the Magi from the east, was the “Great Conjunction” (which happened three times in 7 B.C., in May, September, and December)(Joe Rao, space.com).
Did God, in His providence and the process of holding all things together (Col. 1:17), make the “Great Conjunction” part of His fulness of time (Gal. 4:4) that brought about the events surrounding the wise men and Herod in Matthew two? We cannot know that, but it is a powerful demonstration of the order and design of an omnipotent creator.
This God of order has made known some other “Great Conjunctions” through His eternal word:
There are actually so many more of these “combinations” or conjunctions that God has brought together. As compelling and awe-inspiring as His creative power is, as shown in tonight’s incredibly rare celestial occurrence, it simply builds our faith in His ability to fulfill the many great promises that saturate His Word. I hope skies are clear where you are tonight and that you will take the time to view the southwest sky right after sunset. Why not take a moment, as you gawk, to thank and praise the God who has so thoroughly revealed to you who He is and what He wants for your life?
He was born of a virgin and when He was about thirty years of age He was baptized in the Jordan River by John the Baptist. And being full of the Holy Spirit He began His ministry walking the dusty roads of Judea, Samaria and Galilee, performing miracles and preaching the gospel. And He did go out carrying His own cross toward Calvary, and He did hang there for hours writhing in anguish and pain. And He did cry out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” He did die there, shedding His blood for the sins of the world.
But there was a resurrection and He spent forty days with His apostles providing many proofs of a bodily resurrection–the tomb was found empty. And after forty days He spoke to them for the last time and as they watched intently He disappeared through the clouds on His way back to heaven. Some time later, when Stephen was being stoned to death, he cried out, “I see the heavens opened and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God.”
And so we have the assurance that our Savior is at His Father’s side making intercession for each one of us. And we can recall in the letter that the apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Colosse, where he cried, “Christ in you the hope of glory!” So as we are born-again children, we, too, can say, “Christ in us the hope of glory!”
This was and this is the reality of Jesus Christ.
I cannot stop staring at the mountains and the skies
The beauty is so breathless, an endless feast for my eyes
I cannot look at all this and give credit to luck or chance
I’m a victor of the Creator, not a victim of circumstance.
The heavens preach this sermon, Our God He loves and lives
All nature shares the message, what joy and hope it gives
He’s up in heaven waiting until the day He’ll bring us home
For now He’s left us evidence, and we pray, “Lord Jesus, come.”
I cannot stop looking into my little baby’s eyes
I see his parents’ imprint when he laughs and when he cries
In awe my tears are welling as his face shows eternity
This little one God’s endless power shows to all who clearly see
You cannot look at people and fail to see the living God
Our design says a designer, to say “no God” is to play the fraud
He’s patiently waiting for more people to come to Him and live
What will you do with this moment? Give what you have to give.
I cannot stop reading this Book that explains it all
My cause, my purpose, my destiny, His plan, His way, His call
It has proven to be perfect, it’s been tried and tried again.
It says there is an answer to my problem it calls sin.
The Bible shares the mind of God, it helps us find the way
It helps us understand His heart, and how to live today
It pierces our hearts so we’ll make room to put His will inside
How great our God to show us the path where we can walk at His side
Waters vast and oceans deep create a marvel and wonder
By its volume and power but also the creatures that you’ll find thereunder.
The stars and planets, galaxies, the universe, the vastness of outer space
The finest particles and smallest molecules, the most infinitesimal place.
The power of the greatest man who rules upon the land
The lowliest person who grovels around unseen and far from grand.
The outward beauty and loveliness of the Lord’s most fair person
The inward workings and intricate details of us all makes this so very certain.
To look upon the mountains high, whether green or rocky or tall
To investigate the tiniest plant and the creatures so delicate and small
Look afar or microscopically, dig and search, uncover
Test it, taste it, see it, smell it, here’s what you’ll discover
Locked within our DNA or viewed from light years away
You see the same truth, over and over, a fact that’s here to stay.
We are the evidence of a Being whose power and knowledge are unending
Who makes what is made extraordinary, through His infinite nature expending
But making what’s made and doing what’s done, His resources are not depleted
Because He is God, He’s never without. He never needs completed.
He’s worthy and mighty, He’s wonderful and true, the God we worship and serve
He’s faithful and ingenious, active and gracious, from perfection He cannot swerve
As you walk through the day and make observations, what you see or happens to you.
Whatever may change, crumble, fall, or fade away, God will still be faithful and true.
Endothelial cells viewed under a microscope
“God is.” God is real. God is alive. God is watching. God is in control. All these ideas and an infinite number besides are implicit in the fact of God’s existence. That God is implies other things.
God can work through every event of life among men to accomplish His sovereign purpose (Rom. 8:28). God, in an amazingly intricate way, weaves together the innumerable actions and occurrences that transpire in daily life on every continent according to His will. He does not make or force anyone to do anything, but He can work through even tragedies caused by men to effect good. The problem comes when one tries to define goodness on his or her terms rather than the transcendent good that is larger than the single person. Strength in trial, character in tragedy, example in spite of great loss or pain are all transcendent good that can occur even in the reverses we face in our individual lives.
God has not left us alone (Rom. 8:35-39). Deism suggests that God created it all, then took a Divinely giant step backward forever out of our affairs. Yet, God isn’t aloof and indifferent to man. This was best proven at the cross of Calvary. It is proven in the perfect Word He has left to guide us. It is proven through the strength derived from prayer. It is proven by the fellowship and companionship provided through the church He eternally purposed (cf. Eph. 3:9-11).
God holds us accountable (Rom. 14:12). What a privilege to be counted as part of the human race, made in the likeness of God (Jas. 3:9), and to be recipients of countless blessings! So “…from everyone who has been given much shall much be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more” (Luke 12:48). Especially is this true in relationship to God. He has given us life, an everlasting spirit, material and spiritual blessings in abundance, talent, time, and opportunity. For all of these resources, we shall give an account for our stewardship of them.
Only a fool would deny what is so clearly seen (Ps. 14:1; 53:1; Heb. 11:3). Since God is, we must respond appropriately. We should do so both from gratitude and a sober realization that His existence requires our proper response.