Beginning Bible Studies
06. The Story Of God
The Story Of God
Everyone likes a story. Even God likes stories. After all, what do you think the Bible is? It is really the story of God. More than that, it is the story of God and who he is and what he has done. What has he done? Why, he has created the universe and more particularly, he has created us in his own image and in his own likeness. See Genesis1:26. What an incredible thing God has done! What an incredible story the Bible is!
Right here we need to get something straight. It is this: Everything is based upon presuppositions. A presupposition is something that is presumed to be true, upon which everything else is based. The presupposition we are assuming is that God is real; that he is exactly who he says he is; that he has done exactly what he has said he has done and would do; and, that the Bible is the very Word of God.
Have you ever realized that in one sense God has never tried to “prove himself”? In other words, God has never tried to offer formal proofs that he exists. Why should he? (In fact why should he and why should anyone have to prove they exist. Such should be self-evident, don't you think?) In some ways, the very same thing can be said with regard to the Word of God. The truth of the matter is, the Bible everywhere assumes and presumes that it is the very Word of God and that it is the only Word of God all the while assuming that every other book isn't. Now, it's not that we don't have “proofs” for the existence of God and it's not that we can't find any. (It's just that many of the formal proofs for the existence of God come more from the philosophies of men rather than the Word of God.) But, we need to realize that it is rather strange to think that God has to prove anything to man! It would make much more sense that we should have to prove ourselves to him, than he to us. After all, we are not God and he is. (Right here is the real problem! The problem with most men is that they think they are "God" and that God isn't! Men think – no demand – that God prove himself to them. Who do we think that we are?) Just remember, he created us. We did not create him. For any man to think that we created God is rather arrogant, isn't it?
But, let's get behind this just a little. Either God exists, or he does not exist. If God does not exist, then nothing matters – nothing! If God does not exist then there is no “right” and there is no “wrong” – there is nothing! (Don't say that there can be “right” and “wrong” without God. Where in the world would such absolutes come from? From others? From yourself? From science? From nature? Nonsense! The absolutes of “right” and “wrong” can only exist if there is a God. Without God, there are no absolutes. And without absolutes ... well, you don't really want to live in a world without “right” and “wrong” do you? A lot of people apparently do, but surely not you.) Someone once said, “If God does not exist then anything goes ... and eventually everything does.” Maybe that is really what is wrong with the world. Think about it.
If God does not exist, how does anything exist? But, something exists! You exist, don't you? (If you say that everything may just be an illusion. Sorry, but you are only deluding yourself. Go back to sleep and dream on.) We obviously are talking about reality here and the reality of the heavens and the earth and of life is all around us. Isn't it awesome? (And, yes, isn't it sometimes frightening?) So, how did everything get here? How did you get here? It is not enough to say, “Well, it always was and ever will be?” It does not make any sense to say, “It just sort of happened by chance and then evolved to what we see now.” That just sort of goes against everything we can know. Nothing comes from nothing. And, something can only come from a something greater than itself. Yet, some would rather believe in eternal matter, than in The Eternal Mind. So, do you believe in something, or in nothing?
Wouldn't it make much more sense to believe in an eternal God, than in eternal matter? (Hey, I guess if you don't “mind,” then it don't “matter”!) Well, you are going to have to just think about all of this, aren't you? If you believe in “eternal matter” where did “it” come from and how did you get here? Is the Cosmos just a grand accident ... or as some would say, “a joke”? Is that the world view you believe in? Doesn't it make more sense to believe in an eternal God than in eternal matter? Doesn't it make more sense to believe that “in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”? See Genesis 1:1. By now you are probably asking, “But, where did God come from?” The answer is rather simple and obvious. He is the eternal One who is the Creator of all! He is the eternal, self-existent, wholly other One who is Lord God.
Right here let's note that the Bible (and God) presume that Creation is rather self-evident. In fact the Bible assumes that the Creation itself is more than enough “proof” for the existence of God for any right-thinking, honest man or woman. Consider this: “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them. 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 men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal men and birds and animals and reptiles ...” See Romans 1:18-32 cf. Psalm 19:1-14!
Let's try this one more time. There is either a God, or there is no God at all. That God either created the heavens and the earth or he didn't. That God either has revealed himself, or he has not. But, stop and think just a moment. What good is a God who exists if he has never revealed himself? What good is a God who has never spoken or acted in time and space – history? What good is a God that we can't know? What good is a God that does not care about us? Well, the answer to these questions (and many others like them) is basically this: A God who exists but who does not reveal himself is worth about as much as a god who does not exist at all. He may be “real,” but if he does not speak or act or break into our world to reveal himself, then who cares? What good is a “God” like that to us?
But, if that God has chosen to speak and to break into this world, how will we know, unless he somehow tells us? How will we know who he is and what he has really done unless he chooses to reveal himself to us. It is only in the revelation of himself that we can even come to know him. And, we come to know him (as we come to know anyone!) by what they do and say. The fact is, the only book that fully claims and proves to be the Word of God is, The Bible – The Holy Scriptures of God. No other book in the world compares or even comes close to God's Holy Book, the Bible! (The truth of the matter is, many so-called “sacred” books in other world religions do not even specifically claim to be the Word of God. There are very, very few books that make this claim for themselves. And, there is no book that makes this claim for itself like the Bible does ... not the Book of Mormon; not the Koran; not the Hindu Vedas; not the writings of Buddha or Confucius; nor any other “sacred” book of any other world religion. Not any of them! There is no book like the Book that is the Bible, the very Word of God.)
Now, maybe we are ready to go back to the beginning. We asked, “What has God done?” What he has done is reveal himself in words and deeds. The words he spoke have been written down through the ages and preserved for us in the Holy Bible – God's Inspired Book of Scripture. (If you think for one moment that the Bible is not true and complete and inspired; if you think that surely it has been corrupted and lost; if you believe all the nonsense of “The Da Vinci Code” and other works of fiction ... then you need to get something straight: Any God that could create this magnificent universe and hold it together by the Word of his Power can surely keep his story straight and his Book of Scripture together. What kind of God would go to all this trouble and then not be able to get and keep his act together by preserving the Bible down through the ages for all time? If God can't keep his Word intact, then that God is a fool. Is that the kind of God you believe in? Then what does that make you? Of course God knows better than that ... and so do you!) We need to realize that the Bible is the very Word of God, inspired by the Holy Spirit. Consider the following passages:
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God maybe thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (II Timothy3:16-17)
“We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. ... And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (II Peter 1:16,19-21)
Jesus said: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” (Matthew 24:35; Mark 13:31; Luke 21:33) And our Lord also said, “The Scripture cannot be broken!” (John10:35)
The Prophet Isaiah and the Apostle Peter said: “The Word of the Lord stands forever.” (Isaiah 40:8 and I Peter 1:25)
Dear friend, the Bible is not just the Word of God, it is the story of God! It is God's story. It is God's story that tells us not just about who he is, but it also tells us who we are and where we came from and where we are going. It thus basically tells us the “who,” the “what,” the “why,” the “when,” and the “where”! (And yes, sometimes it tells us the “how” too.) The Bible is a story-book that has a beginning, a middle and an end. In fact, it is a book of “history.” But it is a very special book of history – Salvation History. In this book of Salvation History God has told us not only what he has done, but what we have done. What have we done? In a word – sin! What has God done? In a word – salvation! Thus the Book that is the Book of God is a book of “sin and salvation.” More specifically, it is a book of the story of man's sin and God's salvation throughout history. In fact, the Bible is the story about God's breaking into time and space (i.e., history) to become a part of history in order to save us forever!
God did that (in-breaking) at Sinai in the giving of the Old Covenant. See Exodus 19:1-20:21f and consider Jeremiah 31:31-34. And, God did it one more time in the giving of the New Covenant, in the Christ and the Cross event. Consider Matthew, Mark, Luke and John! Actually, the first covenant, according to the Word of God, was to prepare us for the second. All of the Old Testament and its history was a foreshadowing of what was and is ultimately to be realized in the New Covenant of Jesus Christ. (Study the Book of Hebrews!) What is more, in the coming of Christ what we really have is truly the in-breaking of God into the world! The Christ Event is where “God became Man” ... where God gets “real.” Wow! What an incredible thing God did in preparing us for salvation (i.e., the Old Testament) and what an incredible thing God did in making salvation a reality (i.e., the New Covenant in Christ). Thus, the Bible is one incredible Story Book (i.e., a united story in two major parts [the Old Testament and the New Testament] and sixty-six chapter-books) that is held together by a common thread and theme that runs throughout all its pages. It is the story of God's History of Salvation from beginning to end.
So, in one sense, the story of God is the story of Jesus, the Christ (i.e., the Messiah – the Chosen One of God). In fact, the story of Jesus is “writ large” across all the pages of Scripture from Genesis to Revelation. Jesus Christ is the outworking and in-breaking of God into human history and he stands as the ultimate “proof” of the very existence of God and of the truthfulness of the story of God found in the Bible. That Jesus really existed, no one can deny. But, many have a very hard time coming to faith. (For more about “faith” go here!) Many have a very difficult time coming to God. It's not as though God has left himself without witness. The fact is, he has! The evidence is everywhere around us. Consider Acts 14:11-18 and Acts17:16-34! If only we will believe. But the Lord is not going to force faith upon us. He wants us to freely choose to believe and receive the good news of the message of his story – the story of God found in the Bible. Now consider the incredible words of John the Apostle in the Gospel he wrote:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. That light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. ... The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his Name, he gave the right to become children of God – children not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and lived for a while among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. ... From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but God the only Son, who is at the Father's side, has made him known.” (John 1:1-5,9-14,16-18 cf. Hebrews 2:5-18!)
Dear friend, do you know the story of God found in his Word – the Holy Bible? Do you know God as Creator? Do you know who that Creator really is? Do you know that he is Christ Jesus the Lord? See Colossians 1:13-23. Do you know that God has revealed himself? Do you know where and how and in whom he has revealed himself? Do you realize that God has not only spoken through his written Word, but God has ultimately spoken and revealed himself through the Living Word, Jesus the Chosen One of God? Consider Hebrews 1:1-4. Have you ever read the wonderful Story Book that is the Bible, and do you know the story of the God who became Man, who came to this sin fallen world to save us forever to himself? This story has many parts to be sure, but it is (i.e., they are) all the same and this story is written on every single page of the Bible ... if only you will read and study it for yourself ... if only you will receive it and believe in the One that God has Chosen for your very life and salvation ... if only you will let God write his story upon your very heart and life! Consider II Corinthians 3:7-4:6. May the Story of God become your story. After all, everyone has a story. What is your story?