GOD: THE FIRST UNIVERSAL FACT
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1-25-81 8:15 a.m.
And the Lord bless all of you who are sharing this hour with us on the two radio stations that carry it. And God bless the great throngs that fill this auditorium this worshipful moment. In these long, long days, years, the pastor is delivering a series of messages on the Great Doctrines of the Bible; and this is the second in the series on theology, on God. Next Sunday morning will be the third one; it is entitled What is Wrong with Being an Atheist? And the message this morning is, God: the First Universal Fact, and the Scripture reading is one so familiar to all of us. It is the first verse of the first chapter in the first book in the Bible, “In the beginning God…” [Genesis 1:1]
In the beginning, what? In the beginning a cosmic egg made out of the mud from the Nile River; so said the sages of ancient Egypt. In the beginning, what? In the beginning, the flattened body of Tiamat, slain by Marduk, said the ancient Chaldeans. In the beginning, what? The dissevered limbs of a monstrous giant, says one of the hymns of the Rig Veda, the sacred scriptures of the Hindu. In the beginning, what? Blind, impersonal, accidental chance, says the modern evolutionist. In the beginning, what? A ball of fire-mist exploding and hurtling through space, says the modern secular physicist and humanist. In the beginning, what? God, says the Holy Scriptures [Genesis 1:1]. The idea of God is innate, congenital, intuitive, universal to the human mind. Romans 1:19-20 says that the revelation of God is in every mind, in every heart, in every human being.
It was interesting to me reading of Helen Keller, who for the first many years of her life being blind and deaf and dumb, had no touch with the world except through the feeling in her physical frame. When finally contact was made with her, through the sense of touch, and they spoke to her of God, she said, “I have known Him all the years of my life.”
It is impossible to eradicate the idea of God out of the human mind. It is as all of the other great truths that are self-evident. They cannot be denied, or gainsaid, or avoided. Such as wherever there is an effect there has to be a cause; or the whole is greater than any of its parts; or all of the axioms of mathematics—two plus two equal four; these truths we cannot deny. Neither can we deny that in our world there is law, and design, and intelligence. Nor can we deny that a man has personality and moral sensitivity. When you seek to deny those tremendous facts, for a while you may be able thus to twist and to thwart the mind, but it always comes back to the original position.
It’s like a plumb line. You take the bob and pull the plumb line in a horizontal position, but let the bob go and immediately it’ll be straight up and down again. You can take the human mind and warp it, and twist it into abnormal, and I think absurd, conclusions. But turn it loose and it will go back to its original position. The idea of God is inherent and intuitive to the human mind [Romans 1:19-20]. It’s a part of the basic constitution of our framework. It is fundamental to human life.
Again, there are certain great truths, facts around us that demand an explanation. Here is one: all of us and all mankind possesses a sense of the infinity, of infinitude, of the glory of the heavens and of the earth that is vague and void without the presence and the idea of God, a Creator God. Our sense of infinitude, the glory and the magnificent aura of the whole creation around us, presupposes a Creator God [Psalm 19:1].
It is the same thing exactly: an eye presupposes a light it could see. An ear presupposes a sound it can hear. Our touch presupposes tangible objects. Our affinities and affections for one another presupposes a community and a family. Our thirst presupposes water to drink. Our hunger presupposes bread to eat. Our sense of religious feelings and moral sensitivities presupposes someone, somebody, that is greater, and beside, and different from the material substance of matter around us. Or could I say it like this? Matter calls for a creator, and a creator calls for intelligence, and intelligence calls for personality, and personality calls for a God who could do it.
A second inescapable fact; whoever or whatever created, brought into existence the marvelous world around us is a master workman. It is the product of a master hand; an infinitely glorious somebody or something did it. Always a masterpiece presupposes a master workman. You could not have, without a master workman, Homer’s Iliad, or Virgil’s Aeneid, or Dante’s Divine Comedy, or Shakespeare’s Hamlet, or Milton’s Paradise Lost. Without a master workman you could never have Rafael’s Sistine Madonna or Michelangelo’s The Last Judgment. Without a master workman you could never have Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. Without a glorious master workman you could never have Greek philosophy or modern science. And without a glorious master workman you could have never had the Greek Empire of Alexander the Great. Neither can you have the world of glory around us, without a master workman.
Inescapable facts that demand some kind of an explanation, a third one: there is intelligence in everything that we see. A little boy was at a dinner table and the guest was a physicist, a professor of physics. And the little fellow, awed by the distinguished professor, tried to talk to him the best that he could; and in the conversation, how many things there are in the world. And the little boy said, “I know millions of them myself.” And the professor said, “Son, in all the world there are only about one hundred different things; actually, 103.” And the boy said, “Oh, 103? One hundred? I know a million!” And the professor said, “Well, son, name some of the million.”
And the boy looked on the table and said, “Salt.” And the professor said, “That’s not one thing. That’s two things. That’s one tiny piece of a white metal called sodium, and one tiny piece of a gas called chloride, chlorine gas. Put them together and that makes salt.”
And the little fellow said, “I know, I know, I know one other—I know another, there is water!” And the professor said, “Water is not one thing, water is two things. Water is two little tiny pieces of a gas called hydrogen, and one tiny piece of a gas called oxygen. Put them together and it makes water.”
And the lad tried again, “Uh, air?” And the professor said, “Air is two things. It is seventy-nine little tiny pieces of nitrogen, and twenty-one little tiny pieces of oxygen, and maybe a little tiny piece of carbon dioxide, carbonic acid, and that makes air all over the world.”
There are only 103 different things in the world; but oh, the intelligence of their combination! It is exactly like mathematics. There are but ten factors, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and a 0. And out of those ten factors, just ten—the human mind solves problems of algebra, and geometry, and calculus.
In human speech we have twenty-[six] factors; we call them alphabets, twenty-[six]. But the human mind and intelligence taking those twenty-[six] factors creates the literature of the world, a twenty-third Psalm, a nineteenth Psalm, the Gettysburg Address.
There are on the piano—that’s right, am I correct? Tried to think through that; in an octave you have seven notes and then you start over again. That’s just seven, and then there are two and three, that’s five; there are five black notes. Seven and five, that makes twelve. There are twelve notes over there, is that right, Jeff? There are twelve notes. There are twelve factors, and only twelve, and yet the mind can take those twelve factors and create all of the glorious music of the world. That’s what intelligence can do, and that’s what a divine, omnipotent intelligence has done with this world. It has taken 103 factors and has created in glory everything we see above and around us.
Who is that combiner? And who is that designer? And who is that speller that can work out all of these marvelous things with 103 factors? The atheists, and the evolutionists, and the humanists? They say, “There is no intelligence that does it. It is blind accidental chance that achieves it.”
My good brother, I could believe that and I could accept that when you can take the factors of mathematics, ten of them, and throw them up forever and they come down solving problems of trigonometry or of calculus. I would believe that if you could take the twenty-[six] factors of the alphabet and throw them up and they accidentally fall down into Milton’s Paradise Lost or the Constitution of the United States. I could believe that if you could take the twelve factors, the twelve notes of music, and throw them up in the air and they accidentally fall down in Richard Wagner’s “Bridal Chorus.” I could believe that if in an explosion in a printing plant it, came out an unabridged dictionary. I will believe that when I see 103 factors make themselves out of nothing, arrange themselves into a jet plane and fly away. I will believe that when I see a bridge build itself across a chasm without an engineer. I’ll believe that when I read a book or hear a glorious symphony without an author. I’ll believe that when I can see a simple house dress made without a designer. There are facts in the universe that demand an answer, and the first fact is God!
We see the marvelous, intervening hand of God every day, at all hours, with eyes to see. He moves in every area of human life and in every natural spectrum open to the human mind and the human eye. I see every day the intervention of God around us. It’s the law of physics that when you heat anything it expands, and it expands, and it expands; heat expands. And the same law of physics says that when you cool anything, and cool anything, and cool anything, it contracts and contracts and contracts. I see that in myself. When it’s hot, brother I’m taking it off, but when it’s cold, [inaudible]. That’s a law of physics.
Look at the intervention of God. Water, cooled, contracts and contracts and contracts and contracts until it contracts down to thirty-two degrees Fahrenheit, then the intervention of God: suddenly the cooling expands for no intelligent reason; why? Because if it continued to contract the weight of it would sink to the bottom of the sea and the seas at both poles would be solid ice. And the currents, life-giving, in the oceans would cease to flow and the world would die. God [inaudible] everywhere the world around us.
The rule of biology is, Dr. Arant—and if I say one of these numbers, somebody will come up after church, they have never failed if I ever mention this, and correct me. If I say there are forty-eight chromosomes in the human cell somebody will come up to me and say, “Now pastor, there are forty-six.” Now if I say forty-six chromosomes, somebody will come up to me after it’s over and say, “There are forty-eight.” Now whether, whatever: there are the same number of chromosomes in every cell of the human body.
The miracle of mitosis; when a cell divides, each one of those chromosomes split right down the middle. And the same number on this side, and the same number on this side; forty-[six] over here, forty-[six] over here. Every cell in the human body has those same numbers of chromosomes.
Then the intervention of God: in the male spermatozoon it’s divided into twenty-[three]. And in the female ovum it is divided into, there are twenty-[three]. And when the spermatozoon of the male and the ovum of the female come together, there’s twenty-[three] here, twenty-[three] there. There are forty-[six] again, and God has done it. That’s why when I am down here praying with these babies, I say, “Lord, what a miracle this child, come from Thy hand, the creative hand of God.” Lord all around us.
The Lord God beneath us, beneath us; the rule of pathology, of disease, of medicine: disease spreads, germs multiply. TB, diphtheria, disease, polio myelitis, typhus, typhoid, disease multiplies and spreads. My brother, after these thousands and maybe millions of years, we bury the dead cat, and the dead dog, and the dead rat; we bury it in the earth. Why is the earth not filled with disease so that when you walked on it, it would be lethal? Why is the world beneath us not filled with disease being the place of the dead? Because of the intervention of God; God put penicillin down there in that earth, and we’ve just now discovered it. He put penicillin down there, and all of those germs and bacteria, all of that disease is immediately destroyed so that the earth can be a place habitable for His creatures. That’s God!
The intervention of God is everywhere; I see it within us. It is a rule of psychology and sociology that evil environment produces the jetsam and the flotsam of human life. Out of these ghettos and out of these slums come those sleazy characters that frighten us just to think about it. That’s the rule of psychology and sociology. Then the intervention of God.
Over there in West Dallas lived Raymond and Floyd Hamilton, Clyde Barrow, Bonnie Parker: the outlaws hunted down by the lawmen of this earth, to be killed on sight. And a sweet, wonderful woman, whom I baptized, Hattie Rankin Moore, whose estate blesses us in this church forever; built the Truett Chapel over there in that community. She came to me and she said, “Raymond Hamilton has been executed, electrocuted at Huntsville, in the electric chair. Clyde Barrow is shot down, Bonnie Parker shot down, but Floyd Hamilton is in Alcatraz. Would you write him?” And having written, “Would you go see him?”
And I went to see Floyd Hamilton in Alcatraz, in the island of San Francisco Bay. Shut up behind I don’t know how many steel walls, and steel curtains, and steel doors in the heart of the Alcatraz prison; we knelt and he took my hand, “I give my heart to God. And if I ever live to get out, I’ll come down the aisle of that church, confess my faith in Jesus and be baptized.” Down the aisle in the after years, he came. I baptized him. And from that day to this he’s been going all over this earth telling about Jesus. That is the intervention and the miracle of God.
Now one other: the world above us and beyond us; it is a rule of history that nations rise and fall. They live and die. Where are the Hittites and the Jebusites and the Gergashites and the Amorites? Where are the ancient empires of the Hittite, or the Egyptian, or the Chaldean, or the Babylonian, or the Assyrian? Their glory has passed away. But the intervention of God in human history: God said to Israel, in Ezekiel 37; It is as a valley of dry bones” [Ezekiel 37:1-2], and the Spirit of the Lord shall blow upon them, and they shall rise, a great people and a great nation [Ezekiel 37:9-10]. And Jeremiah 31 says, “As long, thus saith the Lord God, as the sun shines in the sky and the moon shines in the night, just so long will Israel be a nation before Me” [Jeremiah 31:35-36], God’s intervention.
It is a rule of story and of history that organizations flourish for a while and then cease to be, all of them. Their life is just so long then they fade away; they’re memories, they’re part of history. But the Lord Jesus said in Matthew 16:18, “On this rock I shall build My church; and the gates of hell, of Hades, of death, shall not prevail against it” [Matthew 16:18]. And in the great vision of the consummation, “Come,” said the angel to the sainted apostle John, “and I will show thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife” [Revelation 21:9], the church of the living God. “And I saw her beauty, the beauty of a jasper, of a diamond; her walls, her streets, her mansions—where we live—and the throne of God in the midst of it. And out of the throne a water of life and by the path of the river, the tree of life whose leaves were for the healing of the people” [Revelation 21:10-22:2]. That’s God!
The first great, universal fact: in the beginning, God [Genesis 1:1]; in the ending, God. “I am Alpha and Omega and I have the keys of Death and of Hell” [Revelation 1:18]. In God’s book of nature around us, the s-u-n shines in the sky. In God’s Book of Revelation, the S-o-n, Son shines on the pages, and both are for the light of the world. The great first universal fact: God. Now may we stand together?
Our Lord, it is with a deepening sense of awe and wonder that we bow in Thy presence. It is with a sense of infinite gratitude to God that Thou hast revealed Thyself to us in Thy Son, the Lord Jesus [John 1:18]. And it is with abounding thanksgiving that You reach down and touched our souls, and opened our hearts to receive Him whom to love and to know is life eternal [John 10:27-30].
While our people bow in the presence of our Lord, while our people pray for you, a family, a couple, or one somebody you, down one of those stairways, down one of these aisles, “Here I am, pastor. We’ve decided for God” [Romans 10:18-13] And thank Thee, Lord, for the sweet harvest You give us this moment, in Thy saving name, amen. While we sing our song, while we pray and wait, that somebody you, make it now. Come now, and God bless you in the way.