Today on Summit Life with JD Greer. If God's wisdom is as high above mine as his power is above mine, do I really think that I can immediately perceive every purpose an all wise God might have for everything? We imagine a God of omnipotent power, but with a brain no bigger than ours. Welcome to Summit Life with pastor, author, and theologian, JD Greer.
As always, I'm your host, Molly Vidovitch. Have you ever noticed this, that sometimes atheism is portrayed as the intelligent approach to life, and then faith is presented as just a comforting fairy tale for those who are too weak to embrace a more rational approach? Are we as Christians just living in a fantasy world and ignoring the facts? What does it truly mean to live by faith? Pastor JD answers those questions today on Summit Life as he continues our new teaching series called Unknown God. He argues that our own hearts give evidence of God's existence. How so you ask? Stick around for the answer. Pastor JD titled today's message, what we all know about God.
Let's jump right in. 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. 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. Most nones 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 not that they found atheism all that intellectually attractive, just that they find any kind of organized religion or religious confession unattractive. For today, for today, we're going to go through Romans 1, 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 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, have 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 is they exchanged the truth of God for a lie and they worshiped and served what has been created 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. All right, Paul says, number one, if you're taking notes, what may be known about God is evident. I'm going to give you a few of these ways that God is evident.
Now here's a handful of them. 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.
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. 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. 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 them up a little bit, but what he's saying is pretty clear. Cosmology is waiting on its Darwin. 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, the ultimate origins, needs its own dark. 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. That's called a blind faith leap. I don't know it, but I'm just going to believe it's out there. You add to that what scientists have pointed out about the sheer improbability of the complexities of life forming. Even the most basic molecules or DNA strands are incredibly complex. Enough so that you wonder how could a cosmic accident ever result in the digital elegance of a DNA strand?
It's like thinking an explosion in an ink factory accidentally produced the collected works of Shakespeare. In recent years, scientists have made a really big deal out of how finely tuned our universe seems to be to sustain life. They call it the anthropic principle. I've also heard it referred to as the Goldilocks principle.
Goldilocks, you know, not too warm, not too cold, just right. That our universe is just right or our solar system, our planet is just right because there are multiple factors that are so precise that if any one of these, there's like 200 of them, if any one of them were off by even a hair, life would cease to exist. For example, and this is just one out of, I'll give you just a handful out of many here, the makeup of our atmosphere, the gases in our atmosphere. Then there's the tilt of our planet with 23 and a half degrees.
They say this is a really big deal because if it was kind of unique in how it rotates and if it was off any, then life would be impossible. The water molecule is another one I found fascinating. Do you know the water molecule is the only, the only molecule whose solid form, ice, is less dense than its liquid form. The only molecule.
You say, well, big deal, right? Well, what does that mean? That means that ice floats, which is really good because if ice didn't float, it would go to the bottom of the ocean and gradually freeze it from the bottom up and life would become impossible. The opposite of the blowing up thing. It just turned into an ice cube.
I'll give you one more. Jupiter just happens to shield us from 99% of asteroids. Astronomers say if Jupiter didn't exist and it wasn't in the exact placement and orbit it's in, they predicted there would be 10,000 times the number of asteroid strikes right here on earth, right?
And listen, there are many, many others. Scientists say the odds of a planet like earth existing are so heart-stoppingly astronomical that the notion that it all just happened defies common sense. One said it would be like tossing a coin mathematically every second and having it come up heads for 10 billion years in a row. One of the scientists said the greatest miracle of all time, if you believe in miracles, the greatest miracle of all time without any close seconds is the existence of life on our planet. Just so you know, these are not the conclusions of a bunch of pastors who double as amateur scientists.
Stephen Hawking, I read his book, A Brief History of Time, several years ago. And here's what he said, the laws of science as we know them at present contain many precise ratios. Again, I gave you just a handful of them. Like the size of the electric charge of the electron and the ratio of the masses of the proton and the electron. You say, why didn't you show us those?
Because I don't understand them, all right? The remarkable fact is that the values of these numbers seem to have been very finely adjusted, very finely tuned to make possible the development of life, right? The apostle Paul's way of saying that is what can be known about God is evident among them because God showed it to them. Factors like this have driven many entrenched atheists to conclude that there's just no way to avoid the conclusion that an intelligent creator stands behind life. In his late 70s, Antony Flew, I don't know if you know his name or not, but he was one of the 20th century's most famous agnostics. He stunned the philosophical world by in his mid 70s announcing that he had started to believe in God. Now, if you're not into philosophy that you don't realize what a big deal that is, but that would be like Rush Limbaugh coming out saying he was a Democrat or Mike Krzyzewski saying the whole time he's been a secret Carolina fan.
It's just unheard of. But Flew said, he said, I just can't see any other compelling explanation for the complexities of design and creation. He said, for years, I've tried to make peace with it, but it can't be that the wonderful, beautiful complexity and intelligence of life emerged from a mute chaos.
There had to have been, he said, as Thomas Edison said, there had to have been a captain on the bridge. These things are self-evident. They function like a voice that is constantly speaking to us, pointing us toward the voice of our creator. Listen, hear this. Don't think of them as logical proofs. That's not the category you put them in. Think of them as indicators, as indicators.
Think of it like this. If you heard a voice speaking to you from a behind the door and you couldn't see whoever was speaking, but they called your name and asked you something personal about your life, you would conclude that it's a person behind the door who knew you. And it wasn't just the wind that was blowing through in a special way, making various sounds, even if you couldn't prove it scientifically. That's what these things are, is they're evidence, they're voices that are calling out to us saying, well, of course there's a creator behind all this. This is Summit Life with Pastor J.D. Greer and a message titled What We All Know About God.
Be sure to visit us online at jdgreer.com to take a look at all of our resources. Charles Spurgeon once said, whenever I get a hold of a text, I say to myself, there is a road from here to Jesus Christ. And I mean to keep on his track till I get to him. So our goal is to bring a solid Bible teaching straight to homes and cars everywhere so that no one misses the opportunity to know Jesus personally. When you give to Summit Life, that's the mission you're supporting. You're helping us reach out and bring the gospel message to your neighbors and other fellow listeners. And this month we're inviting you to join our gospel partner program as a monthly giver. You can find all the information about joining our gospel partner family by visiting our website at jdgreer.com.
We look forward to having you join the team. Now let's get back to today's teaching. Here's Pastor J.D. You say, well, if all these things are true and if that should be enough to convince people there's a God behind the voice, then why is it that some people deny it?
Great question. Paul answers it. Number two, our belief problems, he says, our deafness to the voice ultimately goes back to a heart problem. Let's read this passage again and I'll show you where he says that. For God's wrath, he says, is revealed from heaven against all godlessness and unrighteousness of people who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. They don't say they're ignorant, says that they suppress it because see what can be known about God is evident among them.
It's God, he showed it plainly to him. Our problem, Paul says, is not that the evidence for God is insufficient for a normal person to with common sense conclude that it's there. He says the problem is that something is off with our hearts. Our hearts are bent, Paul says, listen to this, our hearts are bent on exalting themselves rather than God, which blinds us to obvious truths about God.
Let me give you a couple of examples where I've seen this. I was once in an audience over at UNC where Dr. Ehrman, Bart Ehrman, who was one of the famous agnostics over there, was in a debate and a student from the floor asked him, is there anything, Dr. Ehrman, that would cause you to regain your faith in God? And in response, he quoted a passage out of his book, God's Problem. And here's the passage that he quoted.
I'll put it up for you. He said, I think that if in fact God Almighty appeared to me and gave me an explanation for all the evil in the world and the explanation was so overpowering that I actually could understand that I would be the first to fall on my knees in humble submission and admiration. Now, let me ask you a question. What is assumed in that statement? There's something assumed.
You see it? The explanation was so overpowering that I could actually understand what is assumed is that if God had a purpose for a situation that Dr. Ehrman would be smart enough to immediately perceive it and that if he can't perceive it, then there's not one there. Let me ask you to consider this, however, and I've asked you this before. Just consider for a minute, how much greater do you think God's wisdom is than yours? Well, let's try to figure that out by comparison.
Let's compare first. How much greater is God's power than your own? Whether you believe in God or not, let's just walk me through this mental exercise. If there really is a God behind the universe, that means that he created everything there is, including the 3000 billion trillion stars, each of which puts out the same energy as a trillion megaton bombs every single second.
He created all that with a word, right? Now I've told you my personal ability to generate energy is not nearly quite as impressive. I bought a rowing machine and I put it downstairs so that sometimes I can row at home. And they have a little setting on there where you can measure your wattage output, which I don't have any idea why they would put that on there. So I turned it on. I thought, I wonder how many watts I can produce for two minutes if I just, I mean, I give it everything I have. How many watts do you think it was? 320. 320.
That's what my wife told me when she revived me. You did 320. Now I want you to compare that, okay? That is 3000 billion trillion stars, each putting out the same energy as a trillion megaton bombs. That's the wattage God puts out in a word, right?
Versus five energy efficient household light bulbs for two minutes. I feel like his edges mine out by just a tad, right? And not only did he create all that power, he sustains it all and he holds all the power in his hands. I can barely lift the corner of my mattress over my head. Have you ever tried that? Like you're trying to flip it to the other side and I try to, you know, I'm like, what is going, you know, I might need to get a back brace and take off the rest of the day because it's just not, and as I'm doing that, I'm thinking here's God holding up the universe and I can't lift my mattress. Now I want you to think about this. Listen, if God's wisdom is as high above mine as his power is above mine, do I really think that I can immediately perceive every purpose an all wise God might have for everything? You know, it's kind of ridiculous when you think about it. We imagine a God of omnipotent power, but with a brain no bigger than ours.
A God with huge universe moving muscles and a teeny tiny head. It's ridiculous. The problem with skeptics like Ehrman is that they have exalted themselves and their wisdom and they have diminished the wisdom of God. Sometimes the suppression is more subconscious than that. It's just that our hearts are disposed to self-glorification and self-rule and so we resist anything that challenges that. Think of it the way that people's biases affect how they interpret evidence. Hey, you ever noticed how Republicans and Democrats can look at the exact same evidence, exact same situation and come up with two totally different interpretations? I mean, it's entertaining.
I just love looking back and forth between MSNBC and CNN and Fox News and just watching, you know, so you got something happens and you got Democrats seeing clear evidence of Republican corruption and Republicans seeing clear evidence of media bias and you're just like, how are they looking at the same thing? It's because how we interpret evidence is usually related to the biases of our heart. Well, again, what Paul says, Romans 1 18 and 19, he says our hearts are inclined to suppress the truth and to rule ourselves and we want to get glory for ourselves so we resist anything that challenges that which makes us blind to clear and compelling evidence for our creator. Tim Keller, a pastor up in New York City says that when he has college students come home after going away to college, college students who grew up in their church and they come home, they say, Oh, I, you know, I stopped believing in God in college. He said, my first question to them is always, um, how long have you been sleeping with your boyfriend or girlfriend? He says, it always kind of throws them off a little bit. He said, but the two almost always go together. He says, what I explained to them is it wasn't that you had an intellectual crisis and quit believing in God. You had a moral crisis and that changed your mind about God so that you could be comfortable with the lifestyle you preferred. Cause it's not that our mind changes our heart. It's that our heart usually changes our mind. Jesus made the same statement on a different front.
I've always thought this was fascinating. You got to write this verse down and just meditate on it for a few weeks. Um, John 5 44, Jesus was talking to a bunch of people who didn't believe. And he said, how can you believe when you receive glory from one another and don't seek the glory that comes from the only God now, what's that got to do with intellectual understanding? You see what he said? He said, the reason you can't believe is because you put value on the wrong things and your love of the praise of people actually keeps you from seeing the truth.
It's not a mind problem. Paul says, and Jesus says as much as it is a heart problem and a clouded heart is going to miss the obvious things about God that he has written into the universe. Number three, the opposite of faith in God, the opposite of faith in God is not atheism. Paul says it's idolatry. Let's go back to verse 25 really, really quickly. Verse 25, they exchange the truth of God for a lie.
They exchange, that's a key word there, underline it. They exchange the truth of God for a lie and they worshiped and served what has been created. Again, maybe their mind, maybe something else instead of the creator who is praised, the one who ought to be praised forever.
No person, Paul says, ever quits believing in God. They just substitute something into God's place. You see, we're created, we're created so that we exalt something in our lives. There is something we will find that we will begin to treat like God, something we will magnify and look to to fulfill us and sustain us. Guys like Dr. Ehrman and Sam Harris replaced the majesty of God's intellect.
They replaced that with the majesty of their own. Others may be less intellectual, neglect God, and they look to money or their power or career or family to provide security and meaning and permanence to them. And if so, what happens, God becomes uninteresting or irrelevant to them. Let me just ask you, has that been happening to you? It's not that there's been this moment where you just said, I quit believing in God. It's just that over the last few years, God becomes increasingly uninteresting and irrelevant because his place in your life has just been pushed out by your love for all these other things. That's what happens to people. It's been happening, I think, to some of you.
But Paul says all these gods are gods or false gods that can either sustain or satisfy you. Money disappoints or money sprouts wings and it flies away. Relationships disappoint you. Your self-image is going to let you down.
You get old and die. Your intellect fails you. But listen, when people are so confident in what academics or science tells them, I always ask, and listen, I want you to hear this.
Please don't misinterpret this. Hear this from somebody who has a PhD. I'm into academics. I love geekery and nerddom, and I love that whole sphere.
And I think we ought to have a lot more people going into it. But let me just, here's a question I ask. I'm like, okay, has there ever been a generation that you know of that looked back on the previous generations and admired them for their sophistication and wisdom? No, you look back at your grandparents and you're embarrassed by some of the things they believe. Can you believe they thought that? Can you believe they thought, can you believe they did this? And so I asked them, I was like, do you really believe, do you really believe that our generation is going to be the first one where everybody from now on looks back at us and says, wow, man, they had it together. Man, they were wise. Man, they had understanding.
I know your grandkids and great grandkids are going to sit around the Thanksgiving table and make fun of you. Aren't they? Can you believe they thought that? Oh, they're such idiots, but we don't say that because we respect them.
That's what they're going to say around the table, right? So, so all I'm saying is I'm not being anti-intellectual. I'm saying a little humility is an order and understanding that our intellect is not always the best way to figure out ultimate things of truth. There is another way and there is another way. And that is a God who is speaking and a God who has never been silent, a God who is there and a God who says, I'm the way, the truth, and the life.
All gods will ultimately disappoint us and fail us because we were created by God, for God, for His glory and His purposes. And when you realize that, see when you realize that, you turn your attention toward God. And what happens is you begin to realize that His voice has always been there. It's been speaking to you.
It's never been quiet. It's always been calling out to you. One of the most riveting movie scenes I've ever seen is from an old 1997 movie called Contact, stars Jodie Foster and Matthew McConaughey. Jodie Foster plays Dr. Ellie Arroway, who is an astronomer. She spent years searching for signs of extraterrestrial life. After years and years and years of endless silence, she turns her sensor toward a dark, unexplored sector of deep space. And then suddenly out of nowhere, she hears it.
The unmistakable sound patterns of communication. The message was focused, it was deliberate, and it was personal. Coming to believe in God is a little bit like that. Not in the I hear the voices of aliens sense, but in the understanding that a personal, intelligent God is speaking and that He is speaking to you. And I'm telling you that realization is a heart stopping, life defining moment.
It changes everything. That's the moment when you realize that God has always been there. And specifically in Jesus, you see that He was coming to earth to rescue you. You're listening to Summit Life, the Bible teaching ministry of pastor, author, and theologian J.D.
Greer. To learn more about Pastor J.D. and this nonprofit ministry, you can visit us online at jdgreer.com. J.D., in your new teaching series, Unknown God, what is it that you hope we'll walk away with by the end? Yeah, Molly, in Unknown God, what I'm going to try to show you is that there are certain truths about God.
Whether you believe in Him or not, there are certain things that the apostle Paul says are undeniable. To be able to talk, I think it'll give you some tools in talking with others about things that they kind of know to be true. If the Bible is true, and obviously believe that it is, what you're doing is you're not convincing somebody to believe in God, you're kind of showing them that they already do.
And that's what we impact in Unknown God from Romans 1 and other places. This month on Summit Life, our aim is to set you up for success with shareable teaching and a resource to help you reach out to others. So we package together a set of greeting cards. Sometimes you got all the good intentions in the world about reaching people, but you're like, I don't, what's the first step?
This is going to help you with the first step. It's got inspirational, you know, kind of verses on theme on the front. They're blank on the inside. And they're the kind of thing you could use at Thanksgiving, Christmas, holidays, to be able to start the conversation. Get your set of 20 inspirational greeting cards today when you support Summit Life with a generous financial gift of $35 or when you become a gospel partner this month. Call 866-335-5220 or give online at jdegreer.com. I'm Molly Vidovich. Be sure to listen tomorrow as Pastor JD helps us address our doubts about God. We'll see you here Friday on Summit Life with JD Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by JD Greer Ministries.
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