Embrace the Evidence

This is the third of six lessons in the God’s Not Dead series.

Josh begins by putting God on trial, CS Lewis used the phrase, “God in the dock” which was the British way to say, “God in the witness stand.”

Josh begins by showing that the creation itself points to the reality of a Creator. Science is a natural place to start by observing the tremendous order in the universe is without a doubt. Skeptics are not impressed with this since they demand to see direct physical evidence over a clearly designed logical argument. But we would not find physical evidence for God by observing the universe, just as we find no physical evidence for Steve Jobs by looking into an iPhone.

Let’s take a look at some evidence, beginning in Romans 1:20…

Slide4

Josh begins his presentation with the Cosmological Argument for the existence of God (argument from creation). The basic idea of this argument is that, since there is a universe, it must have been caused by something beyond itself. It is based on the law of causality, which says that every limited thing is caused by something other than itself. Plato is the first thinker known to have developed an argument based on causation. Aristotle followed.

  • Norman Geisler Information: (Download the PDF)
  • Stephen Hawking Information: (See the Geisler download) Hawking wrote, that the laws of physics breaks down before the Big Bang, and I know why. Creation is where time and space all began!

The laws of nature seem to be carefully designed with human life in mind. Our universe is fine-tuned for life. Gravity slightly stronger or lesser, what would happen?

Let’s talk about details that cannot be accidental…

Slide5

  • The distance from the earth to the sun.
  • The earth’s rotation rate and length of year.
  • The amount of water on the earth’s surface.
  • The types and amounts of gasses on the earth.
  • The size of our moon and its distance from the earth.
  • The location of the earth in this galaxy.
  • Properties of light that allow photosynthesis. The properties of the lenses in our eyes that allow focused and detail images.

The change of all these details being so perfectly set by chance is unimaginably small, given the number of planets in our universe.

Other factors that allow us to live on the earth: to advance culturally and scientifically. The atmosphere has the right gasses for us to breathe, yet transparent so we can study the stars. The amount of O2 allows us to produce fire and all its uses, but not combust uncontrollably and destroy most of the forests.

Slide6

Skeptics suppress the truth by appealing to several excuses:

  • The universe could have created itself.
  • There are plenty of other larger universes.
  • Ignore evidence and simply science and faith are inherently in conflict.
  • But these proposals are not based on evidence, but blind faith…
  • Many would accept ANY explanation no matter how unlikely, in order to avoid God.

Richard Dawkins brings up the question of “who created God?” which leads to absurd thinking. He is saying we must have an explanation for our explanation to offer it plausible. Think about the turtle on the fencepost, you don’t have to know how it got there, you simply know that it did not get there by itself.

Slide7

  • Since he created time and space, he must be beyond time and space.
  • Since every detail was designed for his purposes, he must be very intelligent.
  • Since creation came into existence out of nothing, he must be very powerful.
  • Since he has created a place to benefit people, he is personal, involved, and caring.
  • Since he is able to do miracles, act in ways that are atypical and special, atheists deny the possibility of miracles. But they require their own miracles to explain the universe coming to existence out of absolutely nothing.

Only an intelligent being can create Mt. Rushmore, so a geologist would not have to abandon his science to recognize that fact.

Slide8

Some people encounter all this evidence, it undermines the foundation of their belief that the universe is all that exists.

When they recognize that they were created, they can somehow have a relationship with this Creator God.

People act like animals because of evolution. If we came from apes, we should have no problem denying moral accountability, so sex at all cost is OK, theft and murder are right because it is the survival of the fittest.

We must help people to sense the Holy Spirit and allow him to convict them of the truth, that they have violated the law in their hearts.

People will either respond in anger, change the topic, or they will come to terms with their denial of God’s existence.

The evidence from science is one of the best ways to begin speaking about Christianity with agnostics and atheists. It dispels the myth that science and faith are in conflict, and supports many truths we find in the Bible.

The Bible is not a book of nature but is not in conflict with nature. Evidence can challenge the very foundation of an atheist’s worldview and can grant them space to consider the reality of God.

Evidence of Salvation

Take a little test that will help reveal to yourself some things about salvation. On a sale of 1-5 rate yourself:

  1. Never true
  2. Rarely true
  3. Sometimes true
  4. Usually true
  5. Always true
  • ____ I have an awareness and brokenness over my sin.
  • ____ I have a hunger for God’s word.
  • ____ I have a desire for living the Christian life of obedience.
  • ____ I have seen an increase in Satan attacking my faith.
  • ____ I have genuine love for others.
  • ____ I have a desire to share my faith with others.
  • ____ I have experienced social pressure or ridicule from non-believing family, friends, classmates, co-works, etc.

We will ALWAYS be growing in these areas, and we will NEVER reach a point where we perfectly do all of these things, but these seven areas are indicators that we are believers and are actively pursuing God. Let’s look at why these are solid evidences of salvation.

1. Brokenness over Sin:

  • 1 John 1:6 “If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.”
  • 1 John 1:8-10 “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.”

2. Hunger for God’s Word:

  • 1 Peter 2:2 “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation,”

3. Christian Life Transformation and Obedience:

  • 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”
  • 1 John 2:4 “The man who says, ‘I know him,’ but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”

4. Testing, Troubles and Trials in Life:

  • 2 Timothy 3:12 “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,”

5. Genuine Love for Others:

  • 1 John 4:7-23 “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.”

6. Desire to Tell Others About Your Faith:

  • Mark 8:28 “If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”
  • Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

7. Social Pressure Because of Your Faith:

  • John 15:18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.”
  • John 17:14 “I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world.”
  • 1 John 3:13 “Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you.”

Obvious Evidence for God

Evidence that God exists, that Christ is the Son of God and that, along with the Holy Spirit, God encompasses these three identities, appears throughout the Bible. To know that the one God created the universe forms the basis of faith, our foundation. We know God created the world and everything in it, and see evidence of this every day in its order and complexity and the way all things fit together in an extraordinary planned sequence.

Extraordinary order = Unimaginable Intelligence

This irrevocable order comes from the indisputable intelligence that created it, ordered it, even maintains it, in spite of man’s interference. Those who attempt to refute the existence of God, the Creator, have to believe in Him on some level in order to refute Him! We witness the miracles in creation every day.

They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God. Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. (Romans 1:19–22)

Man is Only the Created; We Know Who the Author Is:

Imagine the giant ego of man to think he can reason beyond God! This arrogance is hubris, from the Greek word meaning excessive pride, which becomes the downfall of the person who possesses it. Literature is full of stories in which the hero ultimately fails because success has gone to his head, and he loses his true perspective and direction. “They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen.” (Romans 1:25). Those who assume they know all the answers are victims of their own delusion. Remember: God is the judge of man; not man the judge of God.

Christians are constantly challenged by those who believe in evolution, the “accidental,” “scientific” process of change in the universe and living things. We are charged by Christ to patiently answer the naysayers, in the hope that the Holy Spirit uses our answers in their conversion:

Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. (1 Peter 3:15)

Know Thy Limits, Respect Thy Maker

For God is the ultimate intelligence, and we must accept that there is no way we will understand and explain everything. Our limitations as humans are too great. “God created man in his own image” (Genesis 1:26). Let us be reminded that an image is a representation of a being or object. A picture of a person is NOT the person himself. It is but a mere reflection. By believing that the Bible is God’s Word, recorded in remarkable consistency by many through the ages, we take God at His Word. Denying His Word reduces that denial to absurdity.

Indeed, for the unbeliever, our faith is blind, but as the Bible says in 2 Timothy 2:25, “Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth.” They cannot see truth until repentance. First Corinthians 2:14 says: “But people who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means.”

We have our foundational evidence: IN THE BEGINNING, GOD CREATED THE HEAVEN AND THE EARTH. (Genesis 1:1)
Enough said!
Praise be to God (not man)!

I found this article at Creation Today website. This is an edited version.

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Love One Another

In the 1980’s, Tina Turner asked the infamous question, “What’s love got to do with it?” According to John, it has a lot to do with it. The key passage for today is 1 John 4:7-16.

This month Skip has been preaching out of First John, a series about Learning to Love God’s Way. It seems to me that love is a funny word. We use it to describe the intense feelings that we have, but the word is somewhat limiting.

In the New Testament, there are primarily three separate words used for LOVE, and all of them are translated into English as “love.”

  1. Agape is a word used to describe the unconditional love that God has for us, a divine sort of love that comes from the nature of God.
  2. Phileo is more of a brotherly love; like Philadelphia is actually the city of brotherly love.
  3. Eros is a word use to describe the intimacy we find within marriage, like the erotic love that binds together a husband and wife.

We use the word love today in regard to things like, “I love my wife” to “I love the Auburn Tigers,” to “I love pizza.” It would be a good thing not to confuse my love for Kim and my love for pizza by using the word phileo or even eros.

Love can also bring up WARMTH as we think about that special someone in our lives, or it can bring FEAR, and maybe even COLD SWEATS because we know this relationship is getting serious.

So today, I’m going to talk about love. Now men, I know this is a tough topic for all of us. We are not too strong on expressing our feelings. Our wives and daughters can be crying over something and we have no clue what to do or how to make it better, so most of the time, for good or bad, we just leave them alone.

And then there’s the church. It’s a place that is FULL of feelings. When we begin to understand the sacrifice of Christ, and the depth of love that sent Jesus to the cross, it is emotional, and we don’t often know what to do with that emotion. So, if we are unsure or uncomfortable, we simply do our best to avoid the situation. That’s tough when it comes to church. Let me tell you, I’m uncomfortable talking about love; I’m no expert and I don’t have it all together when it comes to love, but this letter of First John is WAY TOO FULL of love to simply ignore it.

I sense that many men don’t come to church because it’s just not all that manly to hear about a guy name Jesus who loves us. We sing about love, in public, and declare our great love for Jesus, who after all, is another guy. Wrapping his arms of love around us just seems uncomfortable to men who are not yet believers. At times I wonder if we need to “man up” the church so that we don’t set up unnecessary barriers to reaching unchurched men for Christ. But today, this message is about the Love of God, a love that so many people often do not understand.

John had a lot to say about love, he comes back to this theme over and over in this little book. The Holy Spirit obviously wants us to understand love from a much deeper perspective.

Let me submit to you that there are two things about love that I notice in this chapter:

  1. What Love Proves
  2. What Love Produces

What Love Proves (1 John 4:7-11, 14)
How often do we read stories or watch movies that have a theme of proving one’s love or loyalty? How many times must we QUALIFY our love since it can mean so many different things to different people? For instance, conditional love sets up restrictions. It says,

  1. I will love you BECAUSE; (you have done something for me in the past).
  2. I will love you IF; (you will do something for me in the future).

But I doubt many of us enjoy this conditional form of someone’s love, because it appears to be a selfish kind of love. People will love someone else for what THEY get out of it. We don’t find this sort of love in John’s letter. I think the better way to describe God’s love is: “I love you ANYWAY.” JJ Heller has a song on K-love and she puts it this way: I will love you, for you. Not for what you have done or what you’ll become. That is God’s kind of love. So, what exactly does love prove?

1. Our love for God is proven by our love for one another (1 John 4:7-8, 11): 7 Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. 8 But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 11 Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other.

  1. Love is a Test: Love is actually a test of our fellowship in God, and our worship of God, because John tells us that “God is Love” (1 John 4:8). Love is at the center of God’s being; it is his nature. Since God’s nature is love, it becomes the ONLY test of the reality of our spiritual life. If God is living through us, his love WILL shine through.
  2. Love is a Guide: Not only is love a test but love is a Guide. Think for a moment about sailing. A navigator depends upon a compass to help determine his course, but why a compass? It’s because a compass determines our direction. The needle points north. Why? It’s because the compass is responsive to the nature of the earth. God’s nature is love and it acts as a guide in life, so we act out his love the way he has already demonstrated his love.
  3. Love is Responsive: Not only is love a test and a guide, it is responsive. Since the nature of God is love; then the person who knows God and has been born of God will respond to God’s nature. As a compass naturally points north, a child of God will naturally practice love.
    1. So this type of love for one another is proof of our love for God and is a test of a sincere and true faith. Believers claim a special relationship with God, having become “born of God” (1 John 4:7). If we are children of God, we share his divine nature. Although we are not perfect, we have a higher calling in life, to become more into the image and likeness of Christ.
    2. Not only are we born of God but we have the capacity to know God. This word “to know” (in 1 John 4:7) is much deeper than to simply have an intellectual understanding of God. The word has been used in Genesis 4:1 to describe the intimate union between the first husband and wife. So, “to know God” signifies a DEEP relationship with God, to share his life and to enjoy his love.
    3. John goes on to tell us that the one who does not love God, does not know God (1 John 4:8). To me, this indicates the lack of a personal experience with God. How could someone know God yet not love as God has commanded? It could be that this person has the knowledge in his head, but he has never allowed that knowledge to travel the 18 inches down into his heart. This person has sincerely deluded himself into believing he is one of God’s children. This is a dangerous position to be in. Our eternal destiny hangs in the balance!

2. God’s love for us was proven by the sacrificial death of Christ (1 John 4:9-10, 14): 9 God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. 10 This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. 14 Furthermore, we have seen with our own eyes and now testify that the Father sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.

  1. Love is Real: John tells us, “THIS is REAL love.” Not “I love you because,” or “I will love you if,” but “I will love you unconditionally.” Romans 5:8 tells us that God demonstrated his love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Now that’s real love. Bruno Mars sings about a girl he’s in love with, “I’ll catch a grenade for ya, throw my head on a blade for ya, jump in front of a train for ya,” but Jesus willingly gave his life so that the whole world might have everlasting life through his sacrifice on the cross and his resurrection.
  2. Love is Active: Not only is love REAL, but it is also ACTIVE. All you need to do is look at Paul’s description of love to discover that love is NOT a feeling, or an emotion; it is a verb, and it is active. Here is what Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13: 4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Now that doesn’t sound like an emotion or even a warm fuzzy feeling when she walks into the room.
  3. Love was Sent: Not only is love REAL, and ACTIVE, but it was also SENT to us from the Father. Did you notice that three times in three verses John mentions that Jesus was SENT? We know that Jesus was BORN into the world, that’s the essence of the incarnation; the Word became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14). Children are BORN into the world, but John says Jesus was SENT; God had a mission from the beginning to reconcile all people to himself.
  4. Love was Sacrificed: So, love is REAL, it is ACTIVE, love was SENT, and it was also SACRIFICED. We may have asked the question at some point in our spiritual journey, “Why did Jesus have to die?” “Was there not some other way?” Look again at 1 John 4:9, it says, God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. His death was NOT an accident; it was intentional. A sinner’s greatest need is for life (according to Ephesians 2:1) because, without Christ we are dead in our sins. So, it is ironic that Christ had to die in order for us to have life. Second Corinthians 5:21 says, God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

God is love. Have you really grasped the impact of that message? Have you embraced the love that God offers? Singer/songwriter, Chris Rice, understood this fact when he wrote a song called, Untitled Hymn, the first verse goes like this:

Weak and wounded sinner
Lost and left to die
O, raise your head, for love is passing by
Come to Jesus
Come to Jesus
Come to Jesus and live!

God is love, and his love allows us to be reconciled to the Father. John challenges us to love others because God so loved us anyway (1 John 4:11, 7). Remember we are not saved by loving Christ, or loving others, or being good (or believing that we’re better than the next guy). We are saved only by believing in Christ, trusting Christ, receiving Christ. Once we understand the magnitude of his sacrifice, our normal response must be to love God, and to love others. This is a spiritual transformation that takes our heart of stone and replace it with a heart of flesh.

Hey, let me bring this to a close, so I’m going to save the second part of this message (What Love Produces) for some another time. Right now, we need to focus on our relationship with God. In this passage, John tells us what love proves:

  1. Our love for God is proven by our love for one another: If we say that we love God, let’s evaluate our current relationships: spouse, kids, neighbors, co-workers, your boss… are we demonstrating an “I love you anyway” sort of love?
    1. If not, what personal changes do you need to make?
    2. Who do you need to go to, in order to reconcile a relationship?
    3. Who do you need to forgive and demonstrate the love of God?
  2. God’s love for us was proven by the sacrificial death of Christ:
    1. Do you not yet understand the magnitude of God’s love for you?
    2. Have you experienced God’s love first hand? Or have you just become familiar enough with a few Bible stories? Maybe your faith is really just second-hand, like people in your family believe, so maybe that covers you good enough. Don’t deceive yourself with poor theology.
    3. God wants to take all the scraps, the left over pieces of the broken dreams of your life, and all the junk, and make a great piece of art, a masterpiece that resembles the one who sacrificed himself so that you may have life.
    4. So, have you embraced the love of God and personally accepted Christ as your Savior? That was the reason he was sent, to take you from death into life, to save your soul, and give to you everlasting life that can start right now.
    5. Or perhaps you have been playing around with church just being close enough to be comfortable with God.

*The more we love God, the more we understand the love of God.
*The more we understand God’s love, the more we will love him and love others.

If you need to know more, or get things right with God, don’t delay. Don’t put it off another week.

If you need to receive Christ, I’m asking you to move out from where you are and come up toward the stage area and talk about getting right with God.

If you need to recommit yourself to Christ and begin demonstrating God’s love or get involved in God’s mission in this congregation, don’t leave this building the same as when you came in. It’s time to make a change.

If you have been debating on whether to join this church, what better time to unite with this congregation than right now? Get involved and connected to what God is doing in this place. He has created you for good works, acts of kindness and love, and for service within a local body of believers. Let the Love of God make something beautiful in your life.

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Resurrection Investigation

Paul was still in jail in Caesarea, and two full years had passed. Felix would bring Paul from time to time to talk, but there is no evidence that he continued in any conviction of sin; he was hoping for a bribe (Acts 24:26). The time had come for new leadership and Paul had a brand new audience. Festus replaced Felix.

Paul came before Festus and again he pleaded his case, that he had done nothing wrong (Acts 25:8). Festus invited him to Jerusalem for a trial (Acts 25:9) but rather than return to Jerusalem, Paul appealed to Caesar (Acts 25:10, 11) He was destined for Rome (which was God’s design already).

Festus had an interesting statement, he “was at a loss how to investigate” Paul’s claim that a dead man had come to life (Acts 25:20). How would each of us conduct such an investigation?

Our first task is to make it personal; Jesus is not just someone to believe in, he is someone to know. Once you know he is risen, a conviction develops that will not be swayed. We know him since he speaks directly to our hearts, not just our heads. Dead prophets of the Old Testament don’t save, guide, heal, deliver, answer prayer or speak through the ancient text. The first step is to open your heart to the possibility that Jesus is who he said he was. Then ask him if he is real, and be honest and open enough for him to reveal himself to you. A good investigative reporter asks these questions: who? what? where? when? and how?

What? This passage tells us the what; including who is in charge, what is he up to and where he is leading.

When? No one, not even Paul, knew the answer to when God would fulfill his promise. Paul just knew that God had called him to finish the task he had been given. The Jewish patriarchs all died before receiving the promise. They all believed God would send his Messiah, but they did not know when, or who it would be. They knew what he would come to do; bring salvation. They were certain of where; Israel, and then to other parts of the world. But the problem is that they did not know when God would do all of this.

How? Paul knew God was sending him to Rome, but he did not know how. Festus thought he had decided to send him to Rome (Acts 25:25) but it was actually God’s decision. Paul probably never imagined that his arrest would be a tool in God’s hand to give him an all expenses paid trip to Rome. God always fulfills his promises, and we just don’t know how he will do it. God promised to send the Messiah, but no one ever guessed exactly how he would do it.

Application: Each of us at some point in our lives must come to terms with the claims of Christ. C. S. Lewis wrote, in Mere Christianity, about his famous theological trilemma. Jesus claimed to be God (John 10:30, 14:9). That claim is either true or it is false. If it is false and he knew it; it make Jesus a liar. If it is false and he didn’t know it; it makes him a lunatic. Neither option makes Jesus one worth following. The only logical option is that he claimed to be God and it was true; so the choice we have to make is to accept or reject this fact.

The resurrection can be investigated as well (read more). I see it as God’s affirmation of all that Christ stood for and taught during his earthly life. Jesus proved that all he said and taught was true by rising from the dead; just as he said he would (Matthew 12:40, 26:61, 27:63, Mark 8:31, 9:31, 10:34, 14:58, John 2:19).