Nature’s Testimony Is Only the Beginning

I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in.
—George Washington Carver1

The secret of my success? It is simple. It is found in the Bible, “In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths.” (Prov. 3:6).
—George Washington Carver2

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Part 4 is available here.

In the last four posts3 we have examined evidence from nature regarding humanity and human relationships, including marriage and the family. Nature’s testimony clearly upholds marriage as the lifelong commitment of one man and one woman. Their union forms a family; in fact, in each case it forms the specific family of which they and all the children born to them are a part. The family is the most basic unit society; thus, if the institutions of marriage and the family unravel, so does society. We see this happening today. Nature itself points to these truths, but its testimony is only a start. God has revealed Himself and His intentions for humanity even more fully in the Bible.

Just how do the testimony of nature and what we read in the Bible fit together? Francis Schaeffer offers an illustration that brilliantly answers this question.4 Here’s a summary of his analogy.

Francis-Schaeffer

Suppose we are walking through a forest, and we come upon a two-story cabin. We begin to explore the inside of the cabin, and on the first floor we find a table. On the table we discover the bottom portion of a book that has been ripped in two, leaving about one inch of type on each page. We can read what is printed on the bottom of these pages, but we cannot decipher the entire story, the complete message of the book’s author. Of course, no one among us ever would suggest that what we have has come into being by chance. An intelligent being is the clear source of the section of the book we are examining with great curiosity.

As we continue exploring, we go upstairs and find the top portion of the same book. We now can bring the two sections of the book together and at last can read the entire message of the author. We can understand the complete story he sought to convey when he wrote. Moreover, through the book, we can get to know the author. This is especially true because in the book, the author tells us about himself.

The bottom portion of the book—the section we discovered on the first floor—represents nature, the world around us, the cosmos, and the created order. The top section represents the Scriptures; in them nature is explained. As we read the top and bottom pages together, the bottom pages make much more sense. We note that what the bottom pages tell us coincides perfectly with all we learn from reading the top part of the book. We now understand not just “what,” but “why.” Our questions about life and nature are answered in the Bible—not exhaustively, but adequately. We learn why evil exists in the world. We can understand how nature reflects God’s perfect character, even though the world and even the universe have been marred and damaged by sin and evil. Furthermore, we read of God’s solution to the mess we’re in, and we discover that we can respond to Him in a personal way because He has revealed Himself personally to us. God didn’t just unveil Himself in nature and in the Bible; He also came and lived among us personally in and through His Son, Jesus Christ.

The Sermon on the Mount Carl Bloch, 1890

In Hebrews 1:1-4, the writer of Hebrews declared,

1 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; 3 who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.

These words remind us of what the apostle John said about Jesus in John 1:1,14: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.…And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” Jesus, of course, affirmed the teachings of Scripture in His public ministry (see Matt. 5:17-18). In turn, as the analogy we have cited so clearly illustrates, the Bible explains what nature reveals (see Ps. 19:1-4).


Even without the Bible or a specific knowledge of God’s revelation of Himself in Christ, people know enough about God from nature’s testimony to be “without excuse” (see Rom. 1:20).


Yet, even without the Bible or a specific knowledge of God’s revelation of Himself in Christ, people know enough about God from nature’s testimony to be “without excuse.” Paul wrote, “For since the creation of the world His [God’s] invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they [the unrighteous, but by implication all people] are without excuse” (see Rom. 1:20).

Since nature, the Bible, and Jesus Christ come together to speak a clear and unified message, we do well to heed all they tell us, including what they have said about marriage.

Remember this about marriage: What nature reveals, the Bible explains, and Jesus affirmed.5

It can’t get any more reliable than that.

An epilogue to this series of articles is available here.

 

Copyright © 2015 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All Rights Reserved.

Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture has been taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Notes:

1https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/g/georgewash106884.html

2http://poeministries.org/strength-for-today/the-secret-of-my-success-by-george-washington-carver

3The last four posts are:

4Francis A. Schaeffer, The God Who is There: 30th Anniversary Edition (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press 1998, 1982, 1968), 137-138.

5http://www.wordfoundations.com/2015/08/13/the-high-cost-of-denying-the-obvious-part-3/