Every person, both young and old, of every race and color, naturally believes in a god, or in a supreme being of some kind, if he is endowed with a normal mind. We find a longing for God in hearts all over the world. When the man in Africa worships the sun, he’s expressing this longing for God. When the mother in India throws her baby into the sacred river, she’s expressing her longing to please a higher being. The Greeks in Athens worshipped the “unknown god” in Paul’s day, and this was simply an expression of the longing for God in their hearts. Plutarch said that in his day one might travel the world over, and still would not be able to find a city without temples and gods.
It is true that the atheist says there is no God, and the agnostic says he can’t tell whether there’s a God or not, and the materialist says he can get along without God—but, you know, it is actually questionable whether there are any atheists. There are many men who say there is no God, but it’s one thing to talk about disbelief in God, and to argue about it, and to boast about it—but it’s another thing to not really believe in God. Hume (who is famous as a skeptic) is reported to have said to Adam Ferguson, as they looked up into the starry heavens, “Adam, there is a God.” Voltaire (the atheist) at one time prayed to God during a thunderstorm. Ingersoll (when charged with being an atheist) refuted the charge, saying, “I’m not an atheist. I do not say there is no God. I’m an agnostic; I do not know that there’s a God.” And so I say it is questionable whether there are any natural atheists, because men seem to be born with an indwelling sense of God.
The Bible makes no attempt to prove, or to argue for, the existence of God. Everywhere and at all times it is a fact taken for granted. The central affirmation of the Bible is not that “There is a God,” but the great truth of the Bible is this: “God hath spoken,” and of course, if God has spoken, then God must exist.
Moses, in Exodus five, calls Him the “Great I AM” (The Self-Existent One), and John says (in chapter 5:26) that God is the Source of all life. The Bible simply accepts God without any proof.
Because many times, dangers and temptations come our way, and our faith is often put to a test, and the ups and downs of life taunt us and say, “Where is your God now?”—we want to discuss the subject, “The Majesty of God.” We want to look at the existence of God, the nature of God, the attributes of God, and the greatness of God.
1. The Existence of God
Nature itself bears witness to God as a Creator. How can we account for all the things around us that we see and experience—the birds, the rocks, the trees, the stars? There can be no effect without a cause; no book without an author; no creation without a creator; and so there can be no design without a designer. And since this universe on which we live is a great effect, there must of necessity have been an original cause sufficient to produce it. Suppose there was a man walking along the road. He strikes his foot against a watch lying in the dust. He picks it up. He sees that it consists of a metal case, and inside the case a complicated arrangement of wheels and levers and springs. He sees that the whole thing is moving and working in the most orderly way. What then does he say? Does he say, “All these metals and jewels came together from the ends of the earth by chance. The atoms simply danced together from the ends of the earth by chance—and by chance made themselves into wheels and levers and springs—by chance assembled themselves into this complicated mechanism—by chance wound themselves up and set themselves going.” No! He says, “I’ve found a watch,” and he knows that somewhere there must be a watchmaker. If there is a design, there must of necessity be a designer behind that design!
We look at the world about us and we see a vast machine which is in perfect working order. Suns rise and set in an unchanging succession; tides ebb and flow according to a timetable; seasons follow each other in their established order; we look at this complicated universe, and we are bound to say (not “I’ve found a watch, somewhere there must be a watchmaker”), but, “I see this world about me—somewhere there must be a worldmaker!” The fact of the universe drives us to God! The Bible says, “For every house is builded by some man, but He that built all things is God.” (Hebrews 3:4).
Every intelligent person looking at the world above us and around us should boldly say with the writer of the Hebrews, “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God” (Hebrews 11:3).
We have discussed an evidence for the existence of God outside the Bible, but we can never really know God through observing the stars and rocks and the flowers. From these we know that God is all wise and all powerful, and that He loves things beautiful and colorful, but we can never know His name and who He is, just by looking at the stars and the trees. Nature reveals the existence of God, but it tells nothing about His moral character. And remember, it is not enough to simply have a belief in a god, we must come to know the one true and living God—and the one true God (Jehovah, the Self-Existent One) has chosen to reveal Himself in the Holy Scriptures. And so in the Bible we have a full revelation of what God is really like. We need to accept Him by faith, for “without faith it is impossible to please Him; for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).
2. The Nature of God
God is infinite. There is no limit to His Being, and therefore He cannot be compressed into any one definition, but we can put into verbal form our understanding of the Almighty as He has chosen to reveal Himself in the Holy Scriptures.
When I say the word “house,” in your mind’s eye you can see a house. The same is true when I say words like “cat” or “church.” Mental images of these things form in your mind—but what sort of person or being comes into your mind when I say the word “God”? Present day juke-box blasphemies speak of God as “the man upstairs” and “the big fellow in the skies.” We want to see what the Bible says about the God of all the earth.
(1) God is spirit. The fourth chapter of John records the conversation of Jesus with the Samaritan woman. During the course of the conversation, the woman asked (in essence), “Where is God to be found, on Mount Zion or on Mount Gerizim?” And Jesus answered, “God is not confined to any one place, God is a spirit, He’s not restricted to a Samaritan mountain, or to the city of Jerusalem.” Then in Luke 24:39, Jesus says, “A spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye see Me have.” In other words, a spirit has no body, or parts, like human beings, and is not subject to human limitations. Colossians 1:15 speaks of “the image of the invisible God.” The benediction of 1 Timothy says, “Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God . . .” These passages teach that God has nothing of a material or bodily nature, and since sight sees only objects of the material world, God cannot be seen with the material eye.
It is true that God is said to have hands and arms and eyes and ears, but these are anthropomorphic expressions used to bring the infinite within the comprehension of the finite. “Anthropomorphic” is simply attributing human characteristics to God, because there is no other way in which our human minds can grasp the truth about Him.
It is true that God revealed Himself to men in various physical forms. He appeared to Moses in the burning bush, and to Job in the whirlwind, and to Adam and Eve in the cool of the day, but no man has ever seen God in His real essence, for the Bible says, “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him” (John 1:18).
Jesus says “God is spirit.” He’s not a great man sitting on a chair a half mile up in the sky. God is invisible, without body, and therefore free from all limitations. It is difficult for us to understand this because we are trying to understand Him with our finite minds. It’s like trying to explain the surging power and majesty of the ocean to someone who has never seen a body of water greater than a mud puddle! God is not apprehended by the senses, but by the soul. 1 Corinthians 2:6 (and following) intimates that without the teaching of God’s Spirit, we can never know God, because He is not a material Being.
(2) God is person. A spirit can be a person. God is not merely a cloudy vapor, or an influence, or subconsciousness. He is a living Person having knowledge, feeling, love, and all the qualifications that distinguish persons from the animal world. God walked in Eden in the cool of the day. God was a friend to Abraham. God is a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children. God is not a blind unconscious force working in this world. He is a Person in the sense that He thinks, feels, forgives, sympathizes, and has all the other expressions of personality. God is not a hazy, indefinite, blindly operating, omnipotent Force. God is a person.
(3) God is triune. The Bible says, “The Lord our God is one Lord,” and again, “There is none other God but one.” This is in contrast to polytheism, which holds that there are many gods, a god of harvest, a god of love, a god of thunder, etc. And yet, while the Bible teaches that God is one, there is a plurality of persons, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost.
It is a deep mystery. I do not understand it all, and we have no space to discuss it further here, but the Bible teaches that God is one in essence, and yet at the same time He is three in Person. Concerning the nature of God, God is spirit (He has no material body); God is person (He manifests all the expressions of personality); God is triune (He is one in essence, but three in person). For additional information about the Trinity, see Bible Helps booklet No. 273, The Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
3. The Attributes of God
By the attributes of God, we simply mean the characteristics or the qualities which describe His Being.
(1) God is omniscient. He knows all things. Elihu, in Job 37, speaks of “the wondrous works of Him who is perfect in knowledge.” Since God is perfect in knowledge, He knows everything. He knows your name, your address, your telephone number, and even the number of hairs on your head. Solomon says, “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good” (Proverbs 15:3). Not a single thing occurs in any place without His notice. The Arabian proverb says that He can even see “a black ant, on a black night, crawling on a black rock.”
We may have habits hidden from our fellow men, but they are not hidden from God. He knows our thoughts before they are fully developed, and our sentences before they are spoken. “There is not a word in my tongue, but lo, O Lord, Thou knowest it altogether” (Psalms 139:4). If we were a little more conscious of this attribute of God, we wouldn’t be so quick to find an excuse when it comes time to go to prayer-meeting. “The ways of a man are before the eyes of the Lord, and He pondereth all his goings” (Proverbs 5:21). God is omniscient. He knows all things.
(2) God is omnipresent. He is everywhere present. This does not mean that God is everywhere present in the same sense, for there is a sense in which He is in Heaven, His dwelling place, and yet God is everywhere and in every place. You say, “Brother, can you explain that?”—No, but we believe it because Jeremiah was inspired to write, “Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him, saith the Lord? Do not I fill heaven and earth, saith the Lord?” (Jeremiah 23:24).
(3) God is omnipotent. He is all powerful. God’s power has no bounds nor limitations. The Bible says, “Then Job answered the Lord, and said, I know that Thou canst do everything” (Job 42:1). And in Genesis 18:14, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” It is God who holds the stars in their places; it is God who makes the rosebush grow; it is God who keeps the fish swimming in the sea. God is omnipotent. He is all powerful.
(4) God is eternal. He had neither beginning nor ending. He never came into being, He never began to be, He always was! Before the beginning began, God was. The Bible says, “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever Thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting Thou art God” (Psalm 90:2).
(5) God is holy. The Bible declares Him to be the Light in whom there is no darkness at all. God is the one Supreme Being without blemish or flaw. The Psalmist says, “Exalt ye the Lord our God, and worship at His footstool, for He is holy” (Psalm 99:5). God’s eyes are too pure to behold evil, and therefore sin is a detestable thing to God. “But as He which called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation” (1 Peter 1:15).
(6) God is just. Justice is that attribute which leads God always to do right. The Bible says, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” Even in punishing the wicked, God will deal righteously.
(7) God is merciful. Actually, God is both merciful and gracious. There is a difference between mercy and grace. “Grace” is getting from God what we do not deserve. “Mercy” is not getting from God what we do deserve. The Bible says, “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and plenteous in mercy” (Psalm 103:8). Instead of inflicting pain and poverty and death (which are the wages of sin), God has spared our lives, and increased our blessings, and given us eternal life.
(8) God is love. Christianity is the only religion that sets forth the Supreme Being as love. The gods of the heathen are angry, hateful beings and are in constant need of appeasing. But the true God who is revealed in the Bible is Love. He is not only loving, but God is Love. This passion to give others blessing and happiness is the very essence of His Being. It does not mean that God overlooks sin, but it does mean that in spite of the fact that we have sinned, and that His justice demands a death penalty for our sin, yet His love provides a way of salvation, by which sin can be taken away.
These have been the attributes of God. The Bible reveals Him as an all-wise, all-powerful, eternal Being, who is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and yet righteous in all His doings.
4. The Greatness of God
The whole Bible, from the tremendous words of Genesis one to the last verse of the Revelation, gives voice to the infinite greatness and majesty of God. The 147th Psalm says, “Great is our Lord, and (mighty) in power; His understanding is infinite.”
(1) God’s greatness is seen in the universe. The Bible says in Isaiah 45:12, “I have made the earth and created man upon it: I, even my hands have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded.” The vastness of the universe as it has been revealed by the astronomer’s telescope is altogether inconceivable. It staggers the imagination and defies the powers of human understanding. The distance from the earth to the sun is computed at 93 million miles. If you were able to journey to the sun, traveling at the speed of two hundred miles per hour, without any stops, it would take one hundred six years to make the round trip.
The sun is more than a million times as big as the earth. If the earth were as large as the sun, and everything on it were as large in proportion, a man six feet tall here on earth would be an eighth of a mile high on the sun; his arms from shoulder to finger-tip would be one hundred sixty feet long; his eyes would be nine feet in diameter; his nose would be fourteen feet long; and his hair would look like a haystack! And this huge sun is a ball of fire. Its great flames flash 300,000 miles out into space. The sun is so hot that if the earth were thrown into it, it would burn up completely in one minute’s time. Let me ask some questions: How does the sun generate its heat and keep up a temperature of more than twelve thousand degrees year after year, producing a heat that blinds and blisters even at ninety-three million miles? Who keeps shoveling coal into this furnace? Why doesn’t it burn out and cool off? The poet Addison says:
“The unwearied sun, from day to day
Does his Creator’s power display,
And publishes to every land,
The work of a great Almighty Hand.”
And this huge sun about which I was just speaking is only a tiny speck in the vast expanses of the heavens. Our own universe (the Milky Way) is only one of millions of others, and the Milky Way is so big that it would take light (traveling at 186,000 miles per second) one hundred million years to travel from one end to the other. These heavenly bodies are spinning their way through the skies at amazing speeds. Right now we are moving at the dizzy speed of one thousand miles per hour around the sun, and by this time next year we will have traveled more than nine million miles—all without a creak in the machinery, and so smoothly that scarcely anyone will know that we are taking the journey. The timetable of our movement is so accurate that astronomers can state years beforehand exactly when the next eclipse of the sun or of the moon will take place. The earth circles the sun every 365 days 5 hours 48 minutes 48 seconds, and this pattern has been so accurate that it has not varied one single second throughout the past thousand years! Abraham Lincoln used to say, “I can understand how a man could look down at earth and be an infidel, but I could never understand how a man can look up at the night-sky and say `There is no God’.” Surely, the “heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth His handiwork.”
(2) God’s greatness is seen in the world of nature. Perhaps nature’s most breathtaking wonders are the birds. Each year more than ten billion American birds move north and south according to a seasonal schedule. Their habits of migration are fascinating indeed. Some species arrive and depart on the exact day each year. How do these frail and feathered birds find their way over the long stretches of land and sea without a chart or compass? How is it that they can return each summer to the same cluster of trees? Who gave them the instinct or the intelligence to do what seems like the impossible? Is this merely the result of blind chance? When you see a bird flying across the horizon, or building a nest in the tree in your back yard, you should think of God and His great wisdom and power.
(3) God’s greatness is seen in our human bodies. The more we probe the wonders of our bodies, the more we are forced to agree with the Psalmist David, when he said that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” This house of clay which we occupy during our lives here on earth is a miracle of creation in many ways. If you are an adult of about average height and weight, your heart beats 103,689 times every day, with no time to rest, except between contractions.
The human ear is a most outstanding receiving set. The eye is the most remarkable camera in all the world. And look at your hands: every time you look at your hands, you ought to take off your hat, bow your head, and humbly thank God for those amazing tools He attached to your wrists. Someone did some real planning when those hands of yours were designed. Our hands are bound up with all kinds of systems. There’s the heating system of the warm blood, the cooling system by way of the sweat canals, the nerve system to activate the muscles, and the lymph system to lubricate the joints. We never need to worry about oiling our hands, we just chew our meat sandwiches, and the hand automatically lubricates itself. And your hand is self-repairing, too. When you cut your hand or burn your fingers, immediately your hand gets busy repairing the damage. The region first gets sore so you won’t use it too much. Then a protective covering called a scab is hurriedly formed over the sore spot, and underneath that scab, tiny invisible workmen are carting off damaged cells and replacing new ones. What a remarkable system! Can you imagine the riches that would come to a man who could invent a car that would repair its own dented fenders and smashed bumpers in the same way? Surely these hands of ours should lead us to think of God. Hands did not just come to be. God is the great Designer. His hands formed ours.
Augustine’s famous saying, “Our hearts never rest until they rest in God,” is a great truth and it expresses a universal need. Animals are satisfied with plenty. The ox (if it has plenty) will lie down upon the grass and be content. The birds of the air are not troubled with the hopes and fears that possess mankind. The only creature in all the world that is not satisfied, even when he has plenty, is unconverted man—because he has not found rest in God. Our hearts never rest until they rest in God. But you say, “I know there must be a God, but where do I find Him?” I found Him in Jesus Christ, and you can find Him there too. The Bible says, “For God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself” (2 Corinthians 5:19). If you want to know God, you must get acquainted with Jesus Christ. “And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou has sent” (John 17:3). The same God who threw the stars out into their places from the tips of His fingers, is waiting now to change your life, if you will let Him. Let Jesus into your heart today.