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The Heavens Declare the Glory of God

by Joyce Broyles

             "We don't have to argue with anyone to prove God exists because everyone knows deep inside that God does exist."  This may be true, but what about Jesus?  Is not He the only way to the Father?  (This is not a theological treatise, but just what the Lord put on my heart.)

            My dad became a baptized believer soon after he married my mom.  Then, for over fifty years, he prayed every night for his dad's salvation!  Yes, fifty years!  I know, because I heard him.   My grandfather believed in God, but he would not surrender his will to God or confess publicly that Jesus was God's Son. 

            Dad did not give up.  Finally, when Grandpa was 90 years old, he said that he accepted Jesus and was baptized into Christ.  What took him so long?  As a teenager, (you know, when I knew everything), as I heard my dad pray, I wondered why Grandpa would not give his life to Jesus like I had done.  It was obviously the right thing to do!  Could he not see that?

            Through the years, my husband and I hosted a dozen foreign exchange students.   One of our rules was that they attend worship with us.  One student from Japan freely admitted she believed there was a god, a supreme power in charge of the universe; but, in her words,  "Your Jesus is just a fairy tale."

            She knew that the universe is too complex not to have had an intelligent creator, but what about Jesus and the Bible?  Is it just a myth?  Is there any proof to support it? 

            Romans 1:20 reads "Ever since God created the world, His invisible qualities, both his eternal power and His divine nature, have been clearly seen..... So those people have no excuse!"

            And then Psalm 19 says  "The heavens declare the glory of God!  ...Their message goes out to all the world." 

            The creation involved the triune Godhead:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  But just believing in a god does not save us.  No, we need God the Son, Jesus!

            The Old Testament saints believed in God and tried to obey the Mosiac Law, but they failed (Romans 10:16).  Their sins were rolled forward each year until Jesus died and removed them.  Since Jesus came, we have been under Grace.  (Rom. 6:14)    

            Although we have made great strides in mission work, telling people about Jesus, many people today still know nothing about Him.  Can you reject a gospel you have not heard?  In Romans 10:9 Paul says "If you declare with your mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." 

            In verse 17 we find the phrase "faith comes from hearing."  Paul wanted all Jews to believe in Jesus. Yet the verses following (18-21) tell us they were guilty of rejecting God's revelation of Himself. 

            Just having a knowledge of God the Father does not lead to salvation.  James (2:19) tells us the demons believe and tremble, yet they do not show evidence of any faith.  So, although Grandpa and the Japanese student both believed in God, she never would accept Jesus.  Grandpa did, but I'm still praying for her about this.

            Ecclesiastes 3:11 says God has set eternity in the human heart.  It is an innate awareness that there is something more to life than what we can experience in the here and now.  Believers know this world is not our home!

            Paul wrote to the Thessalonians (I Th. 1:4-5) that he knew that God had chosen them to be His own because Paul had taught them to imitate him as he imitated Jesus.  Can we tell people to imitate us?      

            When someone questions God or the Bible, we cannot prove the veracity of the Bible by using the Bible as proof.  That is called internal evidence.  We use historical and archaeological discoveries that prove the Bible as trustworthy, like the writings of Josephus and the Dead Sea Scrolls. 

            The miraculous claims --- the virgin birth, walking on water, rising from the dead, bread feeding thousands --- those break natural laws.  Some people find that difficult or impossible to believe.

            Well, they are miracles!  I believe it is scientifically impossible for a virgin to have a baby --- BUT --- I also believe in the virgin birth of Jesus, not just because the Bible said it happened, but because I believe that the God of the Bible is able to make it happen!  This is the crux of my faith.  I believe something impossible happened because I believe that God, the Creator of the laws of nature, has the power to work outside of those laws if He wishes!

            The God of the Bible is just and righteous and has revealed his divine nature, which includes His wrath.  False teachers are everywhere and we need to be aware.  Both Peter and Jude stressed that.  (2 Pe 2:1f)  Universalism is the belief that, because God is too loving and gracious to send anyone to hell, everyone ultimately will go to heaven. 

            Another false doctrine is conditional immortality, the notion that unbelievers simply cease to exist at death and only believers are immortal.  Both of these doctrines contradict God's Word.  They appeal to mankind because they deny wrath and judgment.  If true, they would give us an excuse for not witnessing about Jesus.  But they are not true!  We need to guard against those who pervert our Christian faith!

            Jesus was God incarnate.  He spoke about judgment and hell more than anyone else in Scripture, especially in his Sermon on the Mount, and when he sent the twelve out to witness. 

            God is not pleased with our works to save ourselves.  Isaiah 64:6 says all our righteous acts are like filthy rags.  In Ezekiel 36:17, the term "filthy rags" is quite strong in the Hebrew.  It is as though God could not think of anything more repugnant! 

            None of us would be accepted by God if the perfect righteousness of Christ were not imputed to us.  (Romans 5:19)  People are judged and will be lost, not because they do not measure up, but because ultimately, they reject Jesus.

            In Jeremiah 29:13 God said "You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart."  Luke gave examples of this in his writings after he carefully investigated them.   

            In Acts 8 the Ethiopian eunuch sincerely sought God, so the Holy Spirit sent Philip to witness to him.   The eunuch had the faith to believe and follow through with obedience.

            In chapter 10, Cornelius was a devout man who feared God, so God sent Peter to him to explain the gospel because Cornelius  wanted to know God personally.   

            God worked in the lives of both Cornelius and Peter.  I think Peter may have been a bit self-righteous because although he was staying with Simon the tanner, he probably felt he was better than Simon as he was not a tanner, touching dead animals, forbidden by the law in Leviticus 11:11.  It took three tries, but eventually Peter realized that he was not under Old Testament dietary laws any more.  He was under Grace, so he preached the gospel, a message of forgiveness of sins through Jesus, and Cornelius believed and obeyed.

            And then in Luke 16, Lydia, a true worshiper, heard Paul teach the gospel, and the Lord opened her heart to pay attention and she responded and obeyed. 

            Those who search with all their hearts find God because He sends someone to them.  Let us be ready to be sent whenever there is an opportunity!

            Sometimes those around us are curious about what we believe.  In his first letter, Peter tells us (3:15) to plan ahead so that we can always be prepared to give an answer to those who ask a reason for our hope.  Like Philip, Peter, and Paul, we have been commissioned to tell how great Jesus is.  We have to be available, ready, and know the gospel.  We are representatives of Jesus, ambassadors, if you would. 

            Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:11, 18-20 that since we know what it is to fear the Lord, we must try to persuade others.  We know of the love of Jesus, who gave us the message of reconciliation, so we are His "witnesses." Acts 1:8

            We have to want to share the good news, maybe get over our prejudices about some things.  We should actively seek lost people every day!  Ask God to use us to respectfully share how God's love is expressed through Jesus.

            Of course, in today's society, being a Christian is sometimes difficult.  In the years of the early church, there were struggles, so much so that some had to move their families, make new friends, learn new jobs.  Suffering can wear us down.

            Peter wrote during terrible persecution, encouraging believers to respond patiently so God could get the glory.  He urged them to grow in grace and keep the Faith because He knew judgment was coming.  Peter knew his death was near (2 Pe 1:14), so he was zealously trying to rescue these people.  We should have that same passion as we try to rescue people from false teachers and religious scams! (2 Pe 2:1f)

            Remember, Moses said in Deut. 6 :7-9 that we must teach our children every day so we do not compromise our faith or sell out.  Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, (John 14:6) and the only way to the Father!

            I John 1:3 reads "We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard."  John was at the last supper with Jesus, the agony in Gethsemane, the  crucifixion, and the resurrection.  He was an eye-witness, so we can trust his writings.  Like Luke, he reports many events that prove Jesus is the Son of God and we can believe them.

            Satan wants to destroy the church.  He has many tough questions people wrestle with as they think about faith in Jesus.  Obviously, not everyone believes the gospel.  That's why we need to pray for them!  When requests are given at worship time, most are for physical healing, and that is okay.  But all of us know people who need spiritual healing, because they are either sick at heart, hurt, wounded, tempted, feeling betrayed, or they are just lost.  Those we need to pray for daily.

             The Holy Spirit can help us be bold enough to tell them about Jesus, and then we let Him convict them.  We can pray about depleted food banks, polluted water sources, drought areas, missionaries learning new languages, homeless shelters, children in slavery, those having their faith tested, and men who are considering careers in the ministry.  All of these requests have to do with spreading the good news about Jesus and His gift of salvation!

            God draws us, that is how we find Him.  (Matt. 7:7-8)  God redeems us, so it is our identity in Christ that counts!  When we believe, we rely on Jesus.  It is more than mental acceptance of church doctrines.  It includes submission and a personal trust that produces obedience.  Jesus must be our Savior, but also our Lord and Master. 

            After we commit our lives to Him and confess that He is the Son of God, we witness by keeping the conversation going with unbelievers, maybe leave them with questions, plant a seed in their minds, and pray they accept Jesus. 

            (Matthew 5:16) Jesus said to let our light shine and to (Colosians 1:10) bear fruit that will bless everyone.  Paul said (2 Tim. 2:3-10) to be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.  This strength in grace is essential for a strong Christian life.  It gives us confidence and boldness we could not have if we were not certain about Jesus.

            At some level, everyone has faith in something.  There is no scientific explanations for LOVE, yet no one would say that science has disproved LOVE.  God is love!  And because of His great love, Jesus gave us the commission in Matthew 28.  It is a Co-Mission,  because Jesus promised He would always go with us and always be with us.  Jesus and me, Jesus and you, together, sharing the good news! 

            So, let us tell the world about Him, beginning with our own little world --- our family, our work, our community.  Then, if we cannot go further, we can pray and perhaps give financially to send others to the ends of the earth. 

            As we grow in Jesus, let us pray that our lives inspire others to hope in Jesus also.  Even if it includes suffering, let us be audacious like Paul who wrote (Romans 8:18) that "the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us!"

            So, while the heavens declare the glory of God the Father, let us declare the glory of God the Son, Jesus!  We have no excuse!                                       

 

                     Joyce Broyles is a retired High School Librarian and resides in Jennings, LA.

 




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That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:10