Thursday, May 26, 2016

P2 The God of the Bible Revealed in General Revelation and in Jesus Christ

Psalm 19:1 “The Heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows forth His handiwork.

Psalm 19:7 “The Law of the Lord is perfect converting the soul”

John 1:18 “….He has explained Him”.


In yesterday's post we began considering the God of the Bible. We noted that God's essential nature as an all-powerful and all-good God can be discerned from observations in both the external world and the moral order. One of my favorite designations for the Bible is “God’s Book”. The Baptist Faith & Message 2000 begins its first article with these words: 

“The Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired and is God’s revelation of Himself to man.” As one goes down through the rest of article, the emphasis is plain: God is the central character and focal point of sacred scripture. The BFM 2000 describes God as the Bible’s “author”. 

Further reading yields that by the principles of the Bible, God “judges” men’s hearts. Finally, all scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of Divine revelation. 

We had also observed that in as much as the Bible is “God’s Book”, we need to also know the “God of the Book”. The above three verses tell us three main truths about this God: 

1). His existence is revealed in the external world and the moral realm

2). He expresses Himself in scripture 

3). He is explained through Jesus Christ. 

God's existence is fundamental to saving faith, along with trust in the specific revelation He expresses in the Bible and in the Person and work of Jesus Christ. Hebrews 11:6 states: "And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him."

Today we are going to present a couple basic arguments for God's existence, along with showing how they connect to God's revelation of Himself in Jesus. 
1. God's power is observed in the external world by noting how the universe had a finite beginning
When we consider that the universe is not eternal, but rather began a finite time ago, we can propose the following argument for God’s existence:

Premise #1: Anything that begins to exist, has a cause for its existence

Premise #2: The universe began to exist

Therefore: The universe has a cause for its existence.

This first argument, though not telling us directly the nature of the cause of the universe, nonetheless suggests that the cause of the universe had to be outside of and prior to its beginning. Other arguments can be brought in to demonstrate that this cause is Personal, Eternal and Self-sufficient. 

The way we know that the cause of the universe is Personal is that one cannot get a finite effect (such as our universe) from an infinite cause unless that cause is endowed with the ability to choose when the universe would begin. The universe is an impersonal, material, finite reality. The cause of the universe would then need to be Personal, immaterial and infinite in power. These reflections upon the external world – such as our universe – lead to the conclusion that this Personal, immaterial all-powerful cause is God. 

2. God's goodness is observed in the moral order as the Lawgiver and source of objective moral values and duties
But now what about the moral order that we see in the universe – which is to say – the reality of objective moral values and duties? Again we can offer what is called the “moral argument” for God’s existence:

Premise #1: If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist

Premise #2: Objective moral values and duties do exist

Therefore: God exists

If people are asked whether or not it is wrong in all places, all times, regardless of cultural context, to harm little children – what will people say? Universally the answer would be: “of course it wrong”. Or again, do people believe in fairness, tolerance, the important of helping out others? When pressed, people will be heard saying things like: “that’s not fair” or “racism is wrong” or be outraged when witnessing a crime and feel the compulsion to decide whether or not to intervene. 

These moral impulses are hardwired into the fabric of humanity. Moreover, humanity has such values because they derive from a Moral Lawgiver. C.S Lewis once remarked that he would not know what a crooked line was lest there be a straight line with which to compare it. The obligation to “do what is right” cannot be explained by scientific hypotheses such as biological evolution. For the sake of argument - even if somebody should subscribe to belief in biological evolution through natural selection and mutation - evolution only serves to explain the biological survival of the fittest, rather than truth. In short, biological evolution has no place for truth - since its aim is not to discover truth, but only to describe what is seen presently and assuming that similar processes were operating in the far past to bring about life. 

On a worldview that believes only in the reality of the natural world, since truth itself is an immaterial property, then one subscribing to naturalism cannot know whether or not their naturalistic worldview is true. God’s existence as a Good God can only explain why there are moral obligations and ethical principles. 

Hence by considering nature and the moral code that the created order has contained within it – imposing itself upon us, we can conclude that the God of general revelation is the all-powerful creator, that is an all-good God.

Romans 1:18-20 expresses the first conclusion, namely that what can be known of God with respect to His Deity and power, is made known to all men. Romans 2:14-25 expresses the second conclusion drawn from natural theology – namely that the moral law written on the heart is evidence from the moral realm that this God that exists is not only all-powerful, but also all-Good.

Connecting God's general revelation of Himself as the All-Powerful, All-good God to the revelation of Himself in Jesus
As we noted at the beginning of this post, God has expressed Himself specifically in the Bible. The Bible is the revelation of Himself to man - as so stated in the Baptist Faith and Message. With that said, the Bible's central character is none-other than the Person of Jesus Christ. 

The remarkable ministry, claims and works done by Christ prefaced His historic death and resurrection from the dead. When we consider the God whom Jesus proclaimed in His earthly ministry as being not only His Father, but also He Himself sharing in the same nature with the Father - Jesus claims nothing less than full-deity (see John 5:18-24). 

Jesus' resurrection demonstrates in both a historical and theological way that the God He proclaimed and claimed to be the incarnation thereof does indeed exist. Henceforth, in Jesus we find general revelation's implicit claims about God and the Bible's specific revelation of God shown to be about the same God. One scholar, Dr. William Lane Craig, has summarized all of this in a fine argument, with which I will close out today's post:

Premise #1 There are four facts which are widely accepted by historians and scholars of different persuasions: Jesus' honorable burial; the discovery of the empty tomb; His post-mortem appearances & sudden faith of the disciples

Premise #2 The hypothesis that God raised Jesus from the dead is the best explanation of these facts

Premise #3 The hypothesis that God raised Jesus from the dead entails that God exists

Therefore: God exists

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