God Reveals Truth About Himself: Eleven Things You Need to Know
God cloaks himself in invisibility and leaves the world to guess, hope, and kill over his identity and existence? This is love?
—author C. J. Anderson in No Kingdom Come—
He said to him, “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.”
—Jesus in Luke 16:31, explaining that people who refuse to heed what the Scriptures teach about how to avoid eternal torment also will refuse to believe a person who has returned from the dead—
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
—The Lord in Jeremiah 19:13—
There is a God.
—Rush Limbaugh, in his “35 Undeniable Truths of Life”
View summaries of all the articles in this series here.
We come in our series on absolute truth to consider truths God has revealed about Himself to humanity. Note carefully that these are objective truths, realities that are in place and operative for all people, everywhere, at all times, and in all circumstances—regardless of any and all human opinions or sentiments to the contrary. We call them objective truths because they have truth as their object. Thus, these realities exist outside human opinion or influence.
Truth about God is not subjective, but objective—outside of personal opinions and perspectives. It applies to all people, everywhere, at all times, and in all circumstances.
In what we now know as Psalm 19, David wrote,
1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
3 They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
4 Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
5 It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
6 It rises at one end of the heavens
and makes its circuit to the other;
nothing is deprived of its warmth (Psalm 19:1-6).
The apostle Paul affirmed David’s testimony in Romans 1, and he issued a warning. We must heed what nature tells us. Here’s what Paul said.
18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse (Rom. 1:18-20)
Let’s carefully note several things from these verses.
First, those who deny or suppress the truth about God face His judgment (see v. 18).
Second, people suppress the truth about God “by their wickedness” (see v. 18; also see John 3:16-21).
Third, the truth about God is plain to all, even to those who refuse to believe it and even if they claim evidence for God simply doesn’t exist (see Rom. 1:19). Just how plain is God’s revelation? Another New Testament verse containing the word translated plain will help us understand.
In Acts 4, the Jewish authorities were angry with Peter and John for having healed a man in Jesus’ name and then proclaiming Jesus as the only way to salvation (see Acts 3). Conferring together, the Jews said, “What should we do with these men? For an obvious sign, evident to all who live in Jerusalem, has been done through them, and we cannot deny it” (Acts 4:16, HCSB, emphasis added). In this verse, the Greek word translated obvious is gnostos, which means “well known” or “notable.” It is the adjective form of the word ginosko, which means “to know.” Against this backdrop, the word translated plain in Romans 1:19 also appears. It is translated as evident in Acts 4:16. Just how evident was the miracle? So evident and obvious that the Jews were forced to admit, “We cannot deny it.”
Unlike the Jewish authorities in Acts 4, [many] Americans today are denying the undeniable.
Fourth, it is God who has made truth about Himself plain (see v. 19).
Fifth, God has revealed Himself through His creation (see v. 20). Accidents may happen, but no accident or random force ever could produce the ordered world around us. As human beings, we also are a part of God’s created order, and amazing miracles, at that! (Also go here.)
Sixth, Paul states that God’s “invisible qualities,” specifically His “eternal power and divine nature” have been made evident in and through creation (see v. 20).
Seventh, God’s revealed truth is understood (see v. 20). The word translated understood means “to perceive with the mind,” to “get it.”
Eighth, because of the God-given understanding they have, “people are without excuse” before the Lord (v. 20). They cannot say God didn’t reveal Himself in clear, discernible ways—because He has done just that!
Why Doesn’t God Erase All Doubts About His Existence and What He Is Like?
Sometimes people say, “If God really is real, why doesn’t He simply reveal Himself in ways that make His existence undeniable and undebatable? Why doesn’t He just prove Himself beyond all doubt?” Let’s respond to this objection with three points, all of which are interrelated. These will be the ninth, tenth, and eleventh points on our larger list.
Ninth, if God were to disclose Himself in a way that would “blow us away,” we truly would be blown away!
If God were to disclose Himself in a way that would “blow us away,” we truly would be blown away!
One day God will reveal Himself in this way, but because of His mercy, He hasn’t yet. With proof beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is real, we no longer would be able to choose to love Him. Mark it down! We cannot be free to choose to love God unless we’re also free to reject Him and His overtures of love to us. Consider this insightful parable by Søren Kierkegaard.
Suppose there was a king who loved a humble maiden. The king was like no other king. Every statesman trembled before his power. No one dared breathe a word against him, for he had the strength to crush all opponents. And yet this mighty king was melted by love for a humble maiden. How could he declare his love for her? In an odd sort of way, his kingliness tied his hands. If he brought her to the palace and crowned her head with jewels and clothed her body in royal robes, she would surely not resist—no one dared resist him. But would she love him?
She would say she loved him, of course, but would she truly? If he rode to her forest cottage in his royal carriage…that too would overwhelm her. He did not want a cringing subject. He wanted a lover, an equal…For it is only in love that the unequal can be made equal.
God wants us to have fellowship with Him. No human being ever can be equal to Him, but we must have a way of approaching Him. God provided that way in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ.
Jesus is the ultimate revelation of God Himself. God speaks through nature and His Word, the Bible, but He came to us personally in Jesus. Jesus was God from eternity past, but He lowered Himself to became a human being and to die a terrible death on a cross to pay the penalty for human sin.
When we seriously consider the harsh realities involved in Jesus’ death on our behalf, we have great difficulty claiming God has not revealed Himself sufficiently. Yes, it’s true we haven’t received proof beyond all doubt that God is real, but we do have proof beyond all reasonable doubt. As Christian businessman and layman Robert Laidlaw declared, “Christ has done all. I say it reverently; He can do no more. He has borne the penalty of your sin also; He has been raised by the power of God the Father, and now He presents Himself to you. Will you accept Him as Savior and crown Him as your Lord?”
This is Christ’s invitation to you and to everyone else. Unwilling to strong-arm His way into any person’s life, Jesus offers Himself to all. The Holy Spirit applies Jesus’ life-giving, stain-cleansing blood to the accounts of all who welcome Him into their hearts and lives. Accordingly, we can respond to Jesus’ invitation to us by repenting of our sins and trusting Him to do what He promised and to give us eternal life.
Christ has done all. I say it reverently; He can do no more.
There is a second reason God doesn’t yet disclose Himself in totally irrefutable ways. Because it especially puts the onus on us, this tenth truth should make us quake in our boots. Jesus indicated during His ministry that God reveals Himself increasingly to those who respond with open hearts to the revelations He’s already provided. On the other hand, if a person already has his or her mind made up, that individual cannot blame God for not revealing more. People like this may be brilliant by human standards, but they lack true understanding. They are “always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim. 1:7).
Third (and eleventh on our longer list), God doesn’t want mechanical allegiance, but real love. We can readily understand this, because we desire the same in our own relationships. It’s appropriate, therefore, that the inspired writer of Hebrews declared, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Heb. 11:6). If you’re not put in a position to trust God, you won’t—and you cannot have a meaningful relationship with anyone you do not trust!
You cannot have a meaningful relationship with someone you don’t trust!
Take some time this week and reflect on these eleven absolute truths about God’s revelation of Himself to humanity. Next week we’ll return to Romans 1 and make additional observations.
Paul was just getting started.
image credit: photo of candy cane rose—Susie Clay
Copyright © 2017 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture passages are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
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