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What We All Know About God

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
October 5, 2022 9:00 am

What We All Know About God

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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October 5, 2022 9:00 am

Many people struggle to believe in a God they can’t see or touch or hear. But not only can you know that God exists, you can know him personally!

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Today on Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. If there's no God, there's no you. If there's nothing more than biology, chemistry, and physics, then there's no you in there. It also means that if biology is all there is, death is the absolute end of it all.

And that idea alone may not prove that God exists, but it convinces many people that something just doesn't quite sit right with an atheistic approach. Welcome back to Summit Life with J.D. Greer. As always, I'm your host, Molly Vidovitch. Today we're launching into a new teaching series called Unknown God. Pastor J.D. is talking about how you can know that God exists, and more than that, how you can actually know Him personally. Many people struggle to believe in a God that they can't see or touch or hear, but even if we don't want to admit it, deep down I think we all sense that there must be a Creator. So let's go to God's Word and find the answers.

Don't forget you can always reach out to us at jdgreer.com or give us a call at 866-335-5220. But for now, let's join Pastor J.D. Greer as he begins this new series with a message titled What We All Know About God. And one of the things that you might notice if you're paying attention to culture at all is that atheism seems to be making a small comeback in our culture. Over the last decade or so, a new set of articulate, kind of hip, cool, aggressive spokesmen have emerged, often calling themselves the New Atheists. They consist of people that we call the Four Horsemen of the Apostasy Apocalypse, people like Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett. They also include more cultural icons and talk show hosts like Bill Maher, Bill Nye the Science Guy, and Ricky Gervais.

Let me walk you through a little recent cultural history that I learned recently I thought was interesting and I think will help you too. Right after 9-11, the tragedy of 9-11 in our country, interest in religion surged. A lot of people went back to church or synagogue and they talked about our country's need for God. Well, at the same time, Sam Harris began writing a book called The End of Faith in which he said that religion was not the solution to the world's problems, that religion was itself the problem. You know, interesting, when he finished the manuscript, he offered it to more than a dozen publishers and every single one turned him down and didn't want to touch it.

He finally found one publisher who would publish it and when they published it, it spent 33 weeks on the New York Times bestsellers list. After this, he wrote a second book called Letters to a Christian Nation which basically said generally religious people are not the problem. In the book, if you read it, he said, you, Summit Church, he didn't call you by name, but he said you people like the ones that go to the Summit Church, you're the main problem, those of you who take your faith seriously. That same year, Richard Dawkins came out with a book called The God Delusion in which he basically said faith in God is stupid because evolution has mitigated any need for God and a loving God, if he existed, would rule the world differently than we see it ruled and religious people are mean and I don't like him and Dawkins said about this book, what he said was my goal is that religious people, when they open it, will be atheist when they put it down.

That was his goal. The next year, the late Christopher Hitchens, who is by far my favorite modern atheist, published a book called God is Not Great. He argued the same thing that Sam Harris did.

He tried to show that belief in God was not necessary and also that religion itself was what created most of the problems in our society. All these books were bestsellers, but here is where the sociological analysis gets interesting. The popularity of this stuff has not led to a surge in belief in atheism in our country. That number statistically has not really changed in the last few years. What has surged, however, listen to this, is the number of people who began to disconnect from any and all religion.

In fact, so many people have done this that there's actually a new name for this group now. They're called the nones. On the census, when you're asked to identify your religious affiliation, there's a large group of people that choose none, N-O-N-E. They're currently at about 23% of Americans. That's up, by the way, from 16% in 2007 and up from 7% in the mid 1990s. So in other words, in 25 years, they've tripled and statistically that is unheard of.

This number will probably only increase in the days to come. 35% of millennials put themselves in the none category with that number heavily weighted toward males. Males are more often nuns than females. Most nuns would say, hey, we're not hostile toward a spiritual faith in God, but we're just done with organized religion. Another way of saying that is it's not that they found atheism all that intellectually attractive, just that they find any kind of organized religion or religious confession unattractive. And they say things like, well, if there is a God, I'm not really sure that we can know that much about him.

And if you do claim to know something about him, then you're going to be arrogant and you're going to be a bigot and you're going to be bad for society. So you relate to God in your way or the deity in your way, and I'll relate to him in mine. By the way, for a few of you that are listening to me, this is all really encouraging because you finally know what category you belong to. You're a nun. You get to call your mom this afternoon and be like, hey, mom, guess what? I'm a nun.

Again, make sure that you spell it correctly for her so that she knows exactly what you're talking about. All right. Here's a question that I present to all of you, those of you who believe in God and those of you who question it. Here's a question. Why is the existence of God a question at all? For something as important as God, why should it require faith? I mean, my kids don't have to believe by faith that I, their daddy, exist. I don't ever have to say to them, hey, kids, I know that sometimes you're going to doubt my existence. And when you do, I just want you to recite this in your heart. JD is my daddy. I shall not want. He maketh me lie down in warm blankets.

My sippy cup runneth over. I don't ever have them say that. No, my kids are never in doubt about me being their daddy. So why should our relationship with God be any different? Why should that require faith? Well, see, I want to show you for the next three weeks what the Bible says about faith in God.

Show us what we can know and how we can know that we know it. And then what faith actually is and what it isn't. I also want to try to show you how the God that many people have rejected in the name of the Christian God is actually a made up God who didn't exist. In other words, they rejected the false view of God that didn't really exist.

But in doing so, they thought they rejected the Christian God, but they just ignore the Christian God. And I want to show you the fake God that they rejected who never existed. So I can also show you the real God who actually does exist. But you're gonna have to come back on week three for that.

All right. For today, for today, we're going to go through Romans one, where Paul explains where unbelief comes from. Paul is going to explain where unbelief comes from.

Here's what he says. Romans 1 18. For God's wrath is revealed from heaven against all godlessness and unrighteousness of people.

Watch this. Here it comes. Who by their unrighteousness, see this word, suppress the truth. Because since what can be known about God is already evident among them. Now when he says them, he's not talking about church people or Jewish people. He's talking about all people.

All right. Evident among them because God has already shown it to them. Verse 20 here. For his invisible attributes, the things we cannot see, that is his eternal power and his divine nature. We can't see that.

We can't touch it yet. Being clearly understood, having been clearly seen since the creation of the world and they've been understood. These invisible things have been understood and undeniable through what he has made. As a result, people are without excuse. Then he goes on to explain that what people did, the human race, what they did is they exchanged the truth of God for a lie and they worshiped and served what has been created.

All right. Maybe that was themselves. Maybe it was something on earth. Instead of the creator who was really the one that ought to be praised forever. There are three points that Paul makes here in these verses about belief and unbelief. Number one, he says what may be known about God is self-evident. Number two, he says our belief problems ultimately are going to go back to our problems. And then number three, he's going to explain that the opposite of faith in God is not actually atheism. The opposite of faith in God is idolatry. Now I'm going to spend most of our time on that first point and then just hit the other two real quickly at the end. Okay.

All right. Paul says, number one, if you're taking notes, what may be known about God is evident. If we, according to Paul, certain things about God are self-evident. We automatically recognize them and instinctively we know them. If we stop recognizing them, it's because, listen to this, something has distorted our view. And what that is, I'll get to toward the end of our message. Now, hear me, I'm not saying when I say that, that some people don't sincerely believe in atheism.

They do. It's just that there's always something that causes them to turn their backs on what are rather obvious indications that there's a God behind creation. I'm going to give you a few of these ways that God is evident. Don't think of these as proofs per se, but think of them as just strong indications that a normal person would look at and say, well, yeah, obviously there's a intelligent God behind this.

Now here's a handful of them. If there's no God, there's no you. If there's no God, there's no you. If there's nothing more than biology, chemistry, and physics, then there's no you in there.

You have a brain, yes, but there's no real mind, no self, no consciousness within the brain. Earlier this year, I read a book about Christopher Hitchens' final days. And two of the Christopher Hitchens was one of those four horsemen of the apostasy apocalypse I mentioned to you a second ago.

In 2010, Hitchens was diagnosed with a really aggressive cancer. And as it settled in on him that he was basically under a death sentence, he was going to die within the year, he wrote a book chronicling his last thoughts. The book was called Mortality. It's a really interesting book.

Some of the chapters in it are only a sentence long. In the book, he talked about how his doctors kept telling him, Christopher, your body is fighting the cancer. Your body is trying.

Your body doesn't want to give up. He said, I finally said to my doctors, I don't have a body. I am a body. And if biology is all there is, then he's right.

There is no JD. There's just this stuff right here. There's just flesh. Now, let me just ask you to consider, does that really jive with you? That there's no real you, the consciousness, the real self, the real you. That's just an illusion created by the synapses of your brain. Because see, here's what that also means. It also means that if biology is all there is, it means that death is the absolute end of it all.

And that idea alone may not prove that God exists, but it convinces many people that something just doesn't quite sit right with an atheistic approach. This is Summit Life with Pastor JD Greer. Today is a special day as we're kicking off a brand new featured resource available this month.

Hopefully it doesn't take listening to our program for very long to realize that we believe that the Bible offers us hope. It also provides us with principles that apply to every relationship that we have. So this month, we want to equip you to care well for the people in your life, whether it's someone who lives in your house or someone you work with, or even a long-lost friend. Our newest resource is a pack of encouraging greeting cards meant to help us grow the relationships that mean the most to us. Next month is Thanksgiving, and it's the perfect time to encourage someone, let them know you're thankful for them, or maybe even mend a broken relationship. This box set of cards comes with your generous gift to the ministry right now.

So give us a call at 866-335-5220 or check it out at jdgreer.com. I know I've told you before about Steve Jobs, who was Apple's iconic CEO. He told an interviewer on 60 Minutes shortly before he died. The interviewer asked if he believed in God. And he said, well, throughout my life, I've had seasons where I did believe in God and seasons where I didn't believe in God.

He kind of paused there for a minute. He says, but after I got diagnosed with cancer, he said, I certainly have found myself wanting to believe. He said, because it can't be that when we die, it all just fades to black. All the wisdom that we've accumulated as a race, all of our accomplishments. He said, somehow that has to live on.

See, the point is he knows something is off. I compare Hitchens' account of his final days with that of Shawna, a girl in our church with cystic fibrosis, who I've told you about before. She passed away just a few weeks ago. For a while, she might have been the greatest evangelist in our church.

I cannot personally ever remember being in the presence of another person who exuded such consistent serenity and joy. She told the doctors and the nurses and anybody else who would listen that what she was going through was nothing compared to what God had prepared for her in eternity. People would come in a room, she said, and they'd start to weep. And they would be like, here's a girl that struck down in her prime with her whole life ahead of her. And she would say, I would say to them, no, my prime is just ahead of me. And she says, I'm headed to my prime.

Our lives, whether we live 20 years or 120, they're only small drops of water compared to the expansive beauty of eternity's ocean. Y'all, it seemed like for every week for a while, I was meeting new people who were impacted by her testimony. Now, again, does her hopefulness prove that God exists? No, it does not. But it does show you that atheism goes contrary to a yearning inside of us we have that suggests that we are more than biology.

C.S. Lewis very famously explained it like this. He says, here's how I think about it. I've given you this quote before, but it's great. A baby feels hunger. Baby comes out of the womb hungry. Well, there is such a thing as food.

A duckling wants to swim. Well, there's such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire. Well, there's something that corresponds to that, and that's called sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.

Why would that be the one desire for which there was no corollary at all? What may be known about God is evident to us. Even Hitchens, as he approached death, began to question everything. And he had this real struggle because of the consistent kindness and the hope that was displayed to him by a Christian friend. If you're interested in this, it's in a great little book called The Faith of Christopher Hitchens, written by one of his friends, Larry Taunton, and it's fantastic.

I read it earlier this year. But that's one idea that you've got to wrestle with. If you're a nun, there's no God, there's no you.

Here's a second idea. If there's no God, there's no free will. There's no free will. If all we are is biology and chemistry, then our behavior in any situation is solely due to what our genes and our chemicals in us compel us to choose. Even when we think we're acting freely or think we're making a choice, it's just because some chemical construct in our minds pushes us to act this way because there is no us behind it all. There's just this stuff.

That's all there is, biology and chemistry. Now I'll give you an example where a new atheist, one of the new atheists says this himself on his podcast called Waking Up with Sam Harris. Sam Harris was complaining about certain people who take him out of context and misquote him and twist his words.

But then after he complains about it, he kind of pauses and he says, but you know, I really can't be critical. They had no choice. They're just acting in accordance with their genes because there is no freedom. There is no free will. And what that means is that every decision you think that you've made is actually an illusion.

Now again, I would just ask you, does that jive with you? Does that approach to life work? I once heard a scientist explain that people who committed rape, this was on a talk show, people who committed rape were just carrying out the pre-programmed instincts their DNA had built into them. He said ethically that repulses me, but scientifically we can't deny that certain people by evolution are programmed that way in order to propagate their species. But see, we know that's not true.

We know that a person who acts on the impulse to rape ought to be held responsible for that choice and ought not to have their behavior simply explained away as genetics and chemical outworkings. You cannot live as if you are just biology. If you do live as if you're just biology, you're going to be locked up by other biology. That approach to life just doesn't work.

Here is the third thing. If there's no God, there's no true worth. There's no true worth in anything. There's only ascribed value. Only ascribed value. If we're just biology and chemistry, that means nothing has real inherent value. There's just usefulness, value we ascribe to things because we find them useful. If you're a nun, you've got to consider this because this is a really big deal, especially, listen, when it comes to something like justice. If we're only biology and chemistry, there's no such thing as true justice.

There's only useful strategies for preserving our kind. For atheists, a statement like you truly ought to or you ought not to, those statements don't really have any meaning. Now hear me, that doesn't mean they can't be moral people. Some of the atheist I know are on par morally, if not greater morally, than a lot of the people of faith that I know.

It just means that their morality lacks a consistent intellectual foundation. You see, the only way that we can say something is unjust is if we appeal to a higher vision of how it ought to be. For example, Martin Luther King Jr. said that the racial, the reason segregation laws in America were unjust in his letter to a Birmingham jail, he said, the reason the segregation laws are unjust is because they conflict with the higher laws of God. And we agree, we look at oppression and we say that's wrong because it's not supposed to be like that. But if there's nothing higher than biology and chemistry, you can't say that because there is no supposed to. In fact, according to the laws of evolution, the only reason our species is here is because we violently beat out all the other competitors. That's survival of the fittest.

Our species won the Hunger Games. That's why we're here, according to that way of thinking about the world. This is a real problem for nuns because when it comes to religion, nuns love to say, well, I got my truth and you got yours. But they don't want to say that when it comes to justice. They don't want to hear somebody say, well, you got your justice and I got mine because they believe in basic human rights. And so murder and oppression and sexual assault are wrong in every culture. We don't want to hear about the abuse of women or the gassing of children in Syria and have somebody say, well, you know, that's just how they do things over there. We say, no, that oppression is wrong in all places at all times. So again, there's just something in the atheistic approach that just doesn't work.

You know, for what it's worth, C.S. Lewis, a professor at Oxford who was himself an atheist, said that this was ultimately what brought him to see that there had to be a God. He said, I've been an atheist. And the reason I was an atheist, my biggest objection to believe in God was all the injustice in the universe. And I thought, well, if there's a God, he should fix all that. In the end, however, he said, I realized that injustice was more of a problem intellectually for me as an atheist. Let me use his own words here. My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust.

Why didn't God fix everything? But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust? I'll add a few words here that he says.

I'll summarize. He says, basically says, if it's true that we're just here because of evolution and survival of the fittest, he said, what am I? There is no universal justice. All that the guy can say is that I see certain things as personally beneficial. But when I said that, my argument against God collapsed also, because the argument depended on saying that the world was really unjust, not simply that it did not happen to please my private fancies. Consequently, atheism turned out to be too intellectually simple for me. You see, if there's no God, there's no such thing as value.

There's only ascribed value, which means there's no such thing as true moral evil or injustice. That also means, by the way, that there's no such thing as beauty or love, because when you behold beauty, if there's no God, if there's just biology and chemistry, when you behold beauty, then you got to say, like Richard Dawkins does, well, the reason that you find that beautiful is because your ancestors saw that and thought there was food in it. And so they developed this. So that neurological feature that found that beautiful passed down to you and that's helped them survive. And now it's helping you survive. And that's why you find that beautiful.

And I hear him explain that in the God Delusion. And I'm like, really? When I look out at that sunset, the reason I find that beautiful is somehow subconsciously it reminds me of Twinkies.

Like that's really what's going on there. Or those feelings of romance, that love you feel towards your kids or your parents. All that is is a conditioned response that evolved in your genes that enabled you to propagate your DNA into society faster than your neighbors. Try putting that on a Hallmark card at Valentine's Day. On this very special day, my genes are releasing chemical compounds into my bloodstream because they've been cultivated through centuries of evolution to see you as particularly useful for the propagation of my DNA into the next generation. Listen, if you really believe that, I am impressed with your intellectual consistency, but I would advise you to downplay that perspective on Valentine's Day.

Y'all listen, you can't prove your love for somebody. You can't prove it exists by biology, but you know it's real. But if there is no God and we're only chemistry and biology, then beauty and love are simply illusions. Here's a third problem the New Atheism runs into. If there's no God, then something came from nothing. And this is maybe the most basic question of all.

Why is there something here rather than nothing here? In God Delusion, Richard Dawkins admits this is a problem. Here's what he says.

You got to read behind the words because he nerds him up a little bit, but what he's saying is pretty clear. Cosmology is waiting on its Darwin. Cosmology means ultimate origins. But what he means by that is basically we think that Darwin and evolutionary theories explain how life has developed on earth. But we admit that we don't know where life itself or the original materials for life, where they actually came from because it's self-evident that nothing times nobody can't equal everything. And so he says cosmology is cosmology. The ultimate origins needs its own Darwin. And then he says this in God Delusion. About fell out of my chair when I saw this.

He said, but don't worry, don't worry. We'll figure it out eventually. Do you know what that's called? That's called a blind faith leap.

That's exactly what that's called. I don't know it, but I'm just going to believe it's out there and I'm going to go into the future hoping it is. With compelling reasons for believing in God, you're listening to J.D. Greer and Summit Life. To hear this message again, visit us at jdgreer.com. And while you're there, download the sermon transcript or browse through J.D.

's blog. I'm excited to tell you about the fun new resource we have made available for you this month. One of our big goals here at Summit Life is to set you up for success with teaching and resources that you can share with others. We've packaged together a set of greeting cards and each card has an inspirational Bible verse on the front and is blank inside for you to use for the holidays or really any time throughout the year.

We all know the power of receiving a handwritten note, so give that gift of encouragement to someone you care about right now. For a gift of $35 this month, we'll send you a set of 20 greeting cards. Call 866-335-5220. That's 866-335-5220. Or give online at jdgreer.com. Don't forget to check out the Gospel Partner page as well to learn more about what it looks like to be a part of our monthly giving family.

You can also mail in your donation if that's easier for you. Our address is J.D. Greer Ministries, PO Box 122-93, Durham, North Carolina, 277-09.

I'm Molly Bittovitch. Be sure to listen Thursday when we'll continue our new teaching series called Unknown God on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-26 07:05:00 / 2022-12-26 07:15:54 / 11

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