We Believe In God
March 23rd, 1970 @ 12:00 PM
WE BELIEVE IN GOD
Dr. W. A. Criswell
3-23-70 12:00 p.m.
The theme of the messages this week centers around the great centralities of the faith, and they follow the theme “These Things We Believe.” Tomorrow, We Believe in Christ the Lord; Wednesday, We Believe in the Bible, the Word of God, inerrant, infallible, fixed in heaven, enduring forever; and Thursday, We Believe in the Judgment; and Friday, the day the Lord was crucified, We Believe in the Atonement; and today, the first message, We Believe in God.
In the eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews and the verse number 6: “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]. The denial of the existence and being of God today is rampant and blatant on every side. The materialist avows that there is no need for God in this modern world. He states it bluntly and rudely. He says: “If you have tractors to move mountains, you don’t need faith. If you have penicillin, you don’t need prayer. If you have positive thinking, you don’t need salvation. If you have manuals on science, you don’t need the Bible. And if you have an Edison or an Einstein, you don’t need Jesus.”
And even the theologian repeats that dreary refrain. It is he who has announced to the modern world that “God is dead.” Had a blatant blaspheming communist said that, I’d have thought nothing of it. Had an infidel or an atheist said that, I’d have not reviewed it. Had a bum out of the gutter said that, I’d have paid no attention to it. But this is the theological pronouncement of professors in divinity schools and preachers in their pulpits, “God is dead.” And on the streets, the businessman, by tacit approval and indifference of life, gives the impression that God doesn’t live. He thinks and acts as if religion belonged to a fictitious and unreal world. “Now money is real, and business is real, and professions are real, and stocks and bonds are real, and deeds and cattle and land are real; but religion and God move in an unreal world, a world of imaginative fantasy, a world of fable and legend.”
So that leads us to the most relevant and pertinent question that a young man, a youth, a man or woman can ask in this generation: “Where is God? Does He exist? Does He live? Where could I find Him?” I have three answers: one, God can be seen around me, in the world around me, the world outside of me; second, God can be seen within me, I know God in the world in which I live inwardly; and third, I see God in the world above me.
First: I see God in the world around me, beyond me. One of the great cathedrals of the earth is St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. It’s a gift of the genius of one of the world’s great architects, Sir Christopher Wren. He is buried in the church. And if you stand there before that sarcophagus and read the epitaph above his silent form, you’ll read these Latin words, Lector, si monumentum requires, circumspice, “Reader, if you seek a monument, look around you.” And I feel that way about God. Just look all around you, and you’ll see Him. He is everywhere. And the fanciful lacework of His hands are seen in the sky, and in the emerald of the meadows, and in the dawn and the sunset, in the rainbow after the storm, in the resurrection of the springtime. Everywhere is God.
Of course, the pseudoscientist and the materialist avow, “What you see is just an accidental concourse of atoms; it has no meaning, came from nowhere, created itself. Everything that you look upon is just accidentally there.” That taxes credulity beyond what a reasonable man could ever accept. There is a law that scientists use called entropy. It refers to the degree of disorder in a system. And in thermodynamics, there is a principle that, without the guiding hands of intelligence, entropy increases, progresses in a system. For example, your car engine; if it gets out of tune, it will not get back in tune, but as it continues, it will increasingly be out of tune until finally the engine destroys itself.
Apply that law of entropy to a poem. Set up a poem like Tennyson’s “In Memoriam”; set up that poem in type and then shake the type. As you shake the type, it will not create a more beautiful poem, but as you continue to shake it, it will, the law of entropy will continually disorganize the poem. A scientist might say, “Yes, but you don’t take into consideration time, the eons, for there’s no time limit in the creation of the world.” Well, fine, just keep on shaking the type, shake it a thousand years, shake it a million years, shake it five hundred eons; the law of entropy says that you would never get out of that disorganized type a more beautiful poem.
Now the law of entropy works in this universe. It is a mechanism so minute that when a man seeks to go just to our nearest satellite, the moon, it’d be impossible were it not for a thousand computations by computers, so intricate is that mechanism. For untold ages, this earth has swung around that central sun without a second of variation. And the whole planetary system of God’s created universe is just that meticulously balanced. The law of entropy says that if any little thing went wrong the disorder would increase until finally the whole thing would turn into chaos. Without intelligence there could be no order out of accidental matter, never. You might as well avow you could throw up the alphabet and it come down someday in the form of an Aristotelian treatise on Greek drama. I see God’s hand in the whole created universe around me. As the psalmist said, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth His lacework, His handiwork” [Psalm 19:1], His intricate genius.
A haze on the far horizon,
The infinite tender sky,
The rich ripe pit of the corn fields
And the wild geese sailing high,
All over upland and the lowland
The charm of the golden rod,
Some people say, Well that’s autumn;
But some of us say, “That’s God.”
A picket frozen on duty,
And a mother starved for her brood,
Socrates drinking the hemlock,
And Jesus on the rood.
And many who humble and nameless
The straight heart pathway prod,
Some say, “Well that’s consecration”;
But some of us say, “That’s God.”
[W. H. Carruth, “Revolution”]
I see God all around me in the world outside of me. I see God within me, the moral universe of which I am an inextricable and constituent part. The moral equation of life enters into every relationship, inescapable because God made us that way; and this is God in us. And even in the nomenclature we use, we cannot escape those moral equations.
For example, there was a woman who called the First National Bank about some of her securities. So when she asked, the trust officer in the bank asked her, “What denomination are your securities? And are you interested in conversion or redemption?” There was a long pause on the other end of the line, and finally the woman said, “Sir, am I talking to the First National Bank or the First Baptist Church?” You cannot escape those moral equations. Even the semantics of it, even the nomenclature of the language you use; bear’s the heavy moral responsibility of the life in which God has set us.
Morality, ethics is never what man says it is, or what a judge says it is, or what a legislature says it is, or what a court says it is; but morality is grounded in the character and being of Almighty God. And as such, it never changes. Morality is never relevant, but absolute; it is never variable, but unchanging. There is no such thing as modern situation ethics. There is no such thing as contemporary morality. Morality is the same yesterday and today and forever. What was right yesterday is right today and is right tomorrow; for morality is grounded in the character of Almighty God, and God doesn’t change [Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8]. And that sensitivity to what is right and wrong is in your heart, it’s in your life, it’s in your soul; it is woven into the very fabric of your being. It is God’s voice inside of your soul.
David was an Oriental monarch. He could do as he pleased. And he pleased to murder Uriah and to take Bathsheba to be his wife [2 Samuel 11:1-27]. To an Oriental despot, just a peccadillo, an incident of the day; but in the story in God’s Word, when we come to the end of the chapter that describes what David has done, the next chapter begins, But God. But God, and Nathan was sent, the prophet of the Lord, to announce to David that the sword would never leave his house; that’s God [2 Samuel 12:10].
And Samson was taken before the Philistines to make sport before them [Judges 16:25], as they jeered and mocked and laughed. For the Book says that they took Samson, God’s strongest man, who sold his birthright for a mess of pottage [Genesis 25:29], and in the lap of Delilah found his strength ebbing away [Judges 16:19]. And the Book says, “And they took Samson, and they bound him, and they put out his eyes; and he did grind at the prison mill” [Judges 16:21]. For sin blinds, and sin binds, and sin grinds, and it grinds, and it grinds; that’s God; the moral equation in your life, the voice that speaks to you.
I not only find God around me, I not only find God inside of me, but I find God above me: the voice, the call, the upward pull that I feel in my soul heavenward. Somebody scoffingly might say, “There’s no upwardness in this world; give the earth twenty-four hours and what you say up is down.” No, there will always be an up that is up in the soul; and there will always be a down that is down in the soul. And I feel God’s presence in the upwardness of that heavenly call.
In Louisiana, one of those farmers captured a wild mallard duck and staked him out there on the pond with the domestic ducks. And for the winter, they swam around on the farmer’s pond, the great mallard and those domesticated ducks. But in the springtime, those wild ducks down there on the swamps of Louisiana began to turn northward. And as they made their way up in the sky and turned northward in the springtime, they looked down and saw that wild mallard on the pond. And they called to him out of the sky. That great mallard lifted up his head, and spread his mighty wings, and tried to fly upward; and the stake pulled him down. And the next day another great flock of ducks heading northward looked down and called from the sky. That great mallard spread his wings, and with a mighty thrust rose upward, breaking his tie to this world and flew off to the Northland. I feel that; a call. I hear it. I feel it. I did when I was a boy, when I gave my heart to Jesus. I did when I was a boy and gave my life to be a preacher of the gospel of the grace of the Son of God. I hear that call today; upward, upward. God speaks and I hear His voice, and I feel in my soul. That’s God.
In the heart of Africa, I sat by the leader of our far-flung foreign mission enterprise. It was a mission meeting for that country. And there stood up one of the handsomest doctors I ever looked upon; he was giving his annual report. And as I listened to him, the head of the foreign mission board said to me, “Get a good look at him. He was reared in one of the finest, most affluent homes in America, and when he had finished his medical education he was offered a fantastic salary to be a partner in a famous eastern clinic. But he’d found the Lord, and he’d heard the call of God.” And the executive secretary said to me, “Look at him. His salary is a thousand dollars a year, ministering to the benighted, and the superstitious, and the lost in the heart of that dark continent.” That’s God.
I’d walk life’s way with an easy tread,
Had followed where pleasures and comforts led,
Until one day in a quiet place,
I met the Master face to face
With station and wealth and rank for my goal,
Much thought for my body but none for my soul
I had entered to win in life’s mad race,
When I met the Master face to face
I built my castles and reared them high,
Until they touched the blue of the sky
I had sworn to rule with an iron mace,
When I met the Master face to face
I met Him and knew Him and blushed to see,
That His eyes full of sorrow were fixed on me
I faltered and fell at His feet that day,
While my castles melted and vanished away
Melted and vanished and in their place,
Naught could I see but the Master’s face.
I cried aloud, “Oh, make me meet,
To follow the steps of Thy wounded feet.”
I lost my life to find it again
E’er since one day in a quiet place,
I met the Master face to face.
That is God speaking to me and I hear that call upward, heavenward, God-ward, Christ-ward. May we pray?