HE IS THERE AND HE IS NOT SILENT
It is not very easy to be an atheist these days. Increasingly thinking people in the areas of science and philosophy are coming to the conclusion that behind the obvious evidences of ‘design’ in the universe there must be some kind of intelligence – a mastermind, a designer, even if it is just ‘the force’ of Star Wars fame. But who is he – or she – or it?
Almost 2000 years ago, the apostle Paul walked among the statues and altars of the many gods of the people of Athens and found that people were just as confused. When he came across an altar for ‘The Unknown God’ he used it to introduce the Athenians to the God who, although He is totally beyond our ability to be fully comprehended, can never the less be ‘known’ because He has taken steps to make himself known. As Francis Schaeffer, one of the great Christian thinkers of recent times put it, “He is there and He is not silent”.
Paul spoke of a God who purposefully created planet earth for a reason, who peopled it and continues to sustain it with life and breath. A God who planned that people should know him because, in fact, we are ”his offspring”.
Mind you, one quick glance at the woes of the world in which we now live could make you wonder what kind of ‘offspring’ we have become. Paul was aware of that too. He had read the Genesis account of man’s decision to ‘go it alone’ and saw the awful results of man’s attempts at self rule – doing it ‘my way’ as Frank Sinatra would have put it.
But Paul also knew that this God was not like the Greek gods – fickle and distant from his offspring. That the God of Genesis had stepped into the mess in the form of his Son and had put into play a most amazing rescue plan. And that, after he had carried out the plan, even at the cost of his life, the Son had returned to his Father in preparation for the day when the whole world will be restored to God’s original intention.
Paul spoke of a day that God had appointed when this Son, Jesus, would judge the world as to their attitude to the Father and to the rescue plan, and he therefore encouraged the Athenians to “seek .. Him and find Him.” for, he said, ”He is not far from each one of us”.
You can read the Bible account of Paul’s encounter with the Athenians in the book of Acts chapter 17 verses 22-34
In a day when it is trendy to believe that all faiths are equal and all roads lead to God it is perhaps important that we explain why we have come to the conclusion that Jesus Christ is in fact the only way to make peace and be reconnected to God.
One reason is that he said it himself. While he was talking with his disciples one day he made an amazing statement. He said. “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except by me.”
While many faiths have ‘good teachers’, the Bible records that Jesus did not really come to just be ‘a good teacher’. Rather he came to restore us back to the Father. However, the Bible also teaches us that, because of man’s independence, a great gulf existed between God and his creation. Sin had cut us off from God, bringing a judgment of eternal separation upon us. Jesus primarily came to deal with this judgment of God. Incredibly He did this by taking this penalty upon himself, dying in our place, even dying at our hands. The righteous Son of God died for an unrighteous and rebellious ‘offspring’ who God still loved and cared for.
As a result of his death anyone who accepts Jesus as their ’substitute’ has already had their punishment ‘paid on the nail’ and, regardless of what they have done wrong in this life, finds forgiveness and total acceptance with God. They discover that Jesus is “the Way, the Truth and the Life” and they “come to the Father” through Him. There is no other way. No one else has paid the price.
WHERE DO YOU FIT INTO LIFE’S BIG PICTURE?
Although some evolutionists would possibly say that there is no ‘big picture’, that we are just a product of time and chance, with no ‘Designer’ in our past or future, the Bible says otherwise. Take for instance the Psalmist, who in Psalm 139 wrote things like:
“You created my inmost being;
You knit me together in my mother’s womb;
I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
All the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.”
The Bible is full of that kind of language and reveals a God who has a plan for the life of all of his creation. The only thing that prevents any of us from being a part of his plan is our decision to live independent of him. But trying to live independent from God is like a fish trying to live separate from the sea or a tree uprooting itself from the soil. Both survive for a short while but will eventually die because they weren’t created to live like that. And so will we unless we get reconnected. Which, as we said, is why Jesus came – to reconnect us to the Father. That’s what a Christian is – someone who through Jesus has come home, has got reconnected.
MAKING THE CONNECTION
How can you become a Christian? A Christian is someone who knows, trusts and obeys Jesus Christ as their “rescuer”, their friend and the Lord of their life. Through this relationship the Christian knows that all he or she has ever done wrong is forgiven. He enjoys a confident relationship with God as his Father in Heaven and, helped by the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit, he serves God as part of a local church – Gods family on the earth – until Jesus returns and draws history as we know it to a close. Obviously, then, none of us are born Christians – rather it is something we need to become. The good news is that although we all start off far from God, he wants us all to come home to him. He sent his Son Jesus Christ who is fully God and fully man, to rescue us! Jesus lived the perfect life that we could never live and then died publicly on a cross, taking our punishment in our place! On the third day he rose from the dead – alive for ever- showing that sin (wrong doing and independence from God) and death had been defeated! Jesus promised that whoever came to him personally asking for forgiveness and trusting in him would be forgiven and accepted as a child of God. Jesus said it would be just like being “born again”! How can you do this?
Firstly, ADMIT that you are away from God because you have ignored Him, and that you deserve God’s punishment. You need to tell God that you are sorry for having lived this way and consciously turn away from sin. Left to yourself you have no hope of putting this right – you need Jesus to rescue you.
Secondly, COMMIT yourself to Jesus, trusting in who he is and what he did on the cross. Take his promise of forgiveness and new life personally – thanking him for it and believing it is effective for you now.
Thirdly, SUBMIT your life to Him, day by day. He wants to change you into the person he wants you to be. He has a destiny as part of the church he wants you to fulfill. He will guide you and strengthen you by the Holy Spirit who will come and live in your life. Jesus is the way to God. If you want to know God, then talk to Jesus from your heart, admitting, committing and submitting your life to him. He will not ignore you. Better still, talk and pray it through with an experienced Christian.