GOD, THE FIRST UNIVERSAL FACT
Dr. W.A. Criswell
2-17-88 7:30 p.m.
And welcome to the throngs of you who share this hour on radio. This is the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, delivering the message entitled God, God, the First Universal Fact, the first universal reality. I could not help but observe, in my own heart and mind and soul, there has never been a study that I have made that has meant more to me than the preparation of this message tonight.
The Bible begins, the Book of Genesis begins, in the first chapter, “In the beginning God” [Genesis 1:1]. In the beginning, what? A cosmic egg, made from the mud of the Nile River, said the sages of Egypt. The beginning was an ooze of the Nile Valley. “The dissevered limbs of the giant monster, Tiamat, slain by Marduk,” said the ancient Chaldeans. In the beginning, what? “The flattened body of a prehistoric, mythological creature,” says one of the Bhagavad-Gita hymns, the sacred book of the Hindus. In the beginning, what? “Blind, impersonal, accidental chance,” says the modern evolutionist. In the beginning, what? “A ball of fire mist exploding and hurling through space,” says the secular humanist and the atheistic physicist. In the beginning, what? “God,” says the Holy Scriptures [Genesis 1:1].
The idea of God is innate; it is intuitive. It is congenital, and it is universal to the human mind. I remember a story about blind Helen Keller, all of her senses lost, except the sense of touch. And when finally a patient friend was able to communicate with her through the sense of touch—she was blind, she was deaf, dumb of course—when the friend was able to communicate with her through the sense of touch, the friend asked her if she knew God. And blind and deaf and dumb, she knew all about Him.
In Romans 1:19: “That which may be known of God is manifest. . .For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead” [Romans 1:19-20]. It is as impossible to eradicate the idea of God from the human mind as it is impossible to eradicate common truth, self-evident truth, from the cognitive makeup of our nature. We are born that way.
For example, there are certain truths that we cannot escape. We cannot avoid. They are self-evident. For example, every effect has a cause. The whole is greater than any of its parts. A straight line is the shortest distance between two points. Two plus two equal four. These truths are innate. They are self-evident, just like the idea of God. Our innate knowledge of these things is universal. It isn’t just we here in Dallas, or we there in Hong Kong, or they in Afghanistan. There are certain things that are self-evident to the whole human race and mind. Here’s one of them. The universe has laws, has design, has intelligence in it. Here’s another, man has personality and a morally sensitive nature.
I remember one of the stories about Charles Darwin, who went on that Beagle around the world. And when he came to the Tierra del Feugans down there at the tip of South America, he wrote saying, “I have found a people, a tribe of people, that are morally insensitive. They’re animals.” A missionary-hearted man read what Charles Darwin said about those people down there, the Tierra del Feugans at the end of the continent of South America. And he went down there and preached the gospel to them. They were marvelously converted and became a model and ideal Christian community. There is no family, there is no tribe, there is no people that is not morally sensitive. God made them that way. We cannot help asking, “Where did these truths come from?” We can deny for a while that they exist, but always that question returns, where did these sensitivities that we feel in our hearts and souls about God and about the universe around us, where do those things come from? They crowd into our minds and hearts from every side and in every direction.
You can take a plumb line, and you can pull it horizontal for just a while, but you let it go, and it’ll reassume its original position of straight up and down. So our reason; it can be brought into an abnormal and absurd conclusion, it can be twisted and reached, but let go, and it will return to its original position. The mind cannot help but seek and search for an answer. We’re made that way. We are surrounded by the fact that moves toward God. We are surrounded by facts that demand an explanation that cannot be explained except in the reality of God. We possess—we’re born with it—we possess a sense of the infinite that is empty, void, until it is filled with the reality of God. Nothing else that we learn or taught can ever take its place.
For example, our sense of infinitude presupposes an infinite creator God; such as, you have an eye, the eye presupposes such a thing as light. You have an ear; your ear presupposes such a thing as sound. You have a sense of touch; the sense of touch presupposes such a thing as something tangible. You have a sense of hunger; the sense of hunger presupposes such a thing as food. You have a sense of thirst; your sense of thirst presupposes such a thing as water. You have a sense of social affinities, of affection, that presupposes such a thing as a family or a community or somebody to be loved. So our moral responses, our aspirations, our religious feelings presuppose something higher than materialities, all of the things inanimate that are around us. Matter calls for a creator, a creator calls for intelligence, intelligence calls for personality, and infinite personality is called God.
Something or somebody has created and designed and wrought the miraculous world around us. Whoever or whatever did it is a master workman. Only a master workman could produce Homer’s Iliad, or Virgil’s Aeneid, or Dante’s Divine Comedy, or Shakespeare’s Hamlet or Milton’s Paradise Lost, or Raphael’s Sistine Madonna, or Michelangelo’s Last Judgment, or Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, or Alexander the Great’s Greek Empire and only an infinitely great master craftsman could produce and create this world.
We’re going to look for just a moment at the marvelous, miraculous, wonder-working intelligence as seen in creation. There was a family dinner, and a little boy was there, and around the table, beside the family and the little boy, was a visiting professor of physics. And being so learned in the world of the physical, they began talking about the world around us.
So the professor asked the little boy, the professor asked the little fellow, and said, “How many things are there? How many things are there? And the little boy replied, “Oh, sir, there are millions and millions and millions of things. And the professor replied, “There are only one hundred and three.” And the little boy [asked] in amazement, “In all of this world, there are only one hundred and three things?”
“Yes,” said the professor.
And he took up the salt shaker, and he said, “This salt, you see this salt, this salt is just two things; it is sodium and chloride.” He picked up his glass of water, and he said, “This water is just two things. It has two pieces of hydrogen and one little piece of oxygen.” And he said, “This air that we breathe is made up of just two things. Seventy-nine pieces of nitrogen, twenty-one pieces of oxygen, and a tiny infinitesimal piece of carbon dioxide.”
All creation, the entire world above us, within us, and around us is spelled out with these few elements. In mathematics, there are ten factors, numerals, and this, plus intelligence, those ten factors, plus intelligence, solves intricate problems in algebra, and geometry, and calculus, and the whole gamut of mathematical, chemical science.
In literature there are twenty-six factors, alphabet. That twenty-six, plus intelligence, has created the marvelous literature of the world. And in music there are [twelve] notes on the scale. And these [twelve] notes, plus intelligence, creates, makes possible, the music of the world. Now, in this created world, who or what is that intelligence? Who is the combiner? Who is the speller-outer? The evolutionist, the secularist, says that there is no combiner, there is no speller, there is no designer, and there is no intelligence. But, how many times would you have to throw ten factors, ten numerals, up into the air and they come down into a problem solved in trigonometry?
Take those ten numerals. Just throw them up forever, and is it inconceivable they’d come down in a solution for a problem of any kind? Or take the twenty-six factors of our alphabet. How many times would you have to throw them up into the air, and they come down an Aristotelian treatise on Greek drama? Or take the twelve factors in your musical notes, throw them up into the air. How many times would you have to throw them up into the air when they came down as Richard Wagner’s Bridal Chorus, or as I say, Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony?
When you take intelligence out of it, you come into the darkness of chaos. How many explosions in a printing plant would it take for there to come out an unabridged dictionary or Encyclopedia Britannica? We can have creation without intelligence, without God, when these one hundred three factors, those one hundred three elements that comprise the world, can first create themselves out of nothing, assemble themselves into, say, a jet airplane, and without a pilot fly away, when those factors can bridge a vast chasm without an engineer, when those factors can write a symphony without a musical author, and when they can make a simple dress without a design or a maker.
May I conclude? The daily, miraculous intervention of God can be seen in every area of human life, human observation. These are not far-out hypotheses. These are facts that are demonstrable every day in your life. I say the daily, miraculous intervention of God Himself can be seen in our lives.
First of all, in the world around us: now you look at God. You look at Him. In the world around us, it is the rule of physics; it is the rule of physics that heat expands. That’s why a steam engine will roar down a track. Water heated expands, expands and will drive that tremendous engine down a track. The adverse of that is cold contracts.
I drove over the big bridge of Arkansas to Memphis, Tennessee. I remembered when they were building that bridge. They put those last beams in the middle of it, in the hot summertime, and the heat had so expanded it that the beam in the center wouldn’t fit. So they had to take ice and ice and ice and ice and cool down those tremendous beams until they had contracted, and the engineer and the contractor could put it into place. That is an universal rule of physics. Heat expands, and cold contracts.
Then you have the intervention of God. Water cools and cools and cools and contracts. Then suddenly at thirty-two degrees, at freezing, it expands. Why? Because if it didn’t expand to float on top of the oceans, if the ice contracted, it would sink to the ocean floor, the currents of the oceans would cease, and this earth would cease to exist. Why does water suddenly expand at thirty-two degrees Fahrenheit? Nobody knows. God did it.
All right, let’s take the rule of biology. In the process of mitosis, the division of cells, in the mitosis, in the mitotic process, there is a chromosome split in every cell, every one of them. And when those chromosomes split—every cell has forty-six chromosomes, every cell in your body. When you wear out a cell and a new one comes in, whenever you are created and made, every cell has forty-six chromosomes. They split right down the middle, and forty-six of them will go this way, and forty-six of them will go that way. Then there’s the intervention of God that made you. In the male spermatozoa there are twenty-three, in the female ovum there are twenty-three, and when they come together and you were born, there are again forty-six; the intervention of God.
Now let’s take the world beneath us. It’s the rule of pathology, of medicine, that disease spreads, that germs multiply everywhere. So the dead, full of disease, are placed in the soil of the earth, and why isn’t the earth filled with dreadful disease? The rule of biology: germs spread, germs multiply, and the dead—you got dead cats, and dead dogs, and dead rats, and dead human beings, and dead everything poured into the soil of the earth. Why isn’t the earth filled with terrible, awesome, attacking, devastating diseases?
You didn’t know it until—and I remember the day I heard about penicillin. Penicillin was in that earth on which Abel and Cain stood [Genesis 4:1-2]; God made it and put it there in the soil in order that the soil would be cleansed. I remember when we first discovered it; but God made it from the beginning in order that we might have a viable home in which to live.
Let’s take the world within us. We spoke of the world above us and the world around us. Let’s look at the world within us, the intervention of God every day. It is the rule of sociology, it is the rule of psychology that evil environment produces the violent criminals of life. It’s where they come from. Then you have the intervention of God. And out of the vilest environment, and the most desperate and violent criminals, will come some of God’s greatest saints. I’ll give you an illustration. While I was here in Dallas, Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker, and Raymond Hamilton, and his brother Floyd were over there in that tragic community of West Dallas.
As you know, and I’m sure most of you were alive through all of this, Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker were killed in an ambush by the police in Louisiana. Raymond Hamilton was executed in an electric chair in Huntsville, and Floyd Hamilton was sentenced to life imprisonment in Alcatraz.
There came into this church a godly woman, the daughter of the pastor of the First Methodist Church. Her name is Hattie Rankin. She married a Mr. Moore, Hattie Rankin Moore. She gave her life over there in West Dallas and came to me, after I baptized her, and said, “Would you go to Alcatraz, and would you visit Floyd Hamilton? I’m praying for him, I’ll pray for you if you’ll go.”
I went to San Francisco, got in touch with the warden. Didn’t know this until a long time afterward. They were amazed when I came across the bay and landed on that little island of Alcatraz—that the warden took me into the center, into the heart of that prison. No visitor had ever been welcomed like that before. Every visitor will stand or sit at a window with a thick, impervious bulletproof glass between you and the prisoner, and you talk to them at the prison through that glass.
Not I. The warden took me inside of the prison. I went through one steel door after another, and finally, in the heart of that Alcatraz prison, I was locked with Floyd Hamilton. First time I’d ever seen him. At the end of that appeal, we knelt, and he gave his heart to the Lord, and his hand to me, and he said, “If I am ever free, I’ll come down that aisle at your church and confess my faith in Jesus. And I’ll be baptized, and I’ll serve the Lord.”
In the goodness and strange providences of God or of the law, he was remanded to Leavenworth. And up there in Leavenworth prison in Kansas, he was pardoned, and the first thing he did, he came down that aisle, and I baptized him in that baptistery. And until he was stricken with cancer, Floyd Hamilton went all over this country speaking to young people, pleading with them to love God and obey the law. He’s spoken here in this pulpit.
Out of some of the most tragic of all of the environmental issues of life, sometimes, in the intervention of God, will come the most marvelous servant of Jesus you ever heard. You could write books on them; great evangelists, converted by the love of God. And that not only is true of the world around us and of the world within us, but it is true in the world beyond us. God lives.
It is a rule of the history that nations rise and fall, all of them. They work, they become affluent, then they become corrupt, such as we see in America today, and finally decay, all of them. Now, there is the intervention of God. Let me read one of them:
Thus saith the Lord, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The Lord of hosts is His name: If those ordinances depart from before Me, saith the Lord, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before Me forever. Thus saith the Lord: If the heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the Lord.
The Jew, God says, is My elect and chosen people, and they will be here until Christ comes again [Matthew 24:34-35]. Well, look around you. You see any Hittites? You see any Amorites? You see any Jebusities? See any Hivites? See any other “ites?” I never saw anybody who ever heard of anybody who ever saw any of those “ites?” But I can show you a Jew anytime you want to look at him, anytime. That’s what God says. All of these nations die, but God said the Jew will be here forever.
Let me take just one other. In Ezekiel 37, that’s the chapter of the dry bones. Let me read just Ezekiel 37:12-14: “Prophesy and say unto those dead bones—that’s Israel—Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, O My people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel” [Ezekiel 37:12]. Ever hear of Israel today? Is there a nation over there called Israel today? Is there? I read about it all the time in the paper: Israel. “I will open your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. And ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up out of your graves. I will put My Spirit in you—that is coming—and ye shall live. I will place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the Lord have spoken it, and performed it, saith the Lord” [Ezekiel 37:13-14].
Israel is in God’s purview and God’s plan, and he is going to be converted, the Bible says, one of these days [Romans 11:26], and is going to evangelize the world [Revelation 7:1-17]. I tell you Dr. McCloud, if you can be alive when that comes, and those one hundred forty-four thousand evangelists [Revelation 7:4], began preaching the gospel of the Son of God, you’re going to shout all over God’s creation.
Just a closing word: God has two great books, two of them. One of them is the creation around us, and the other one is the Book I hold in my hand. And both of them magnify the Lord. Both of them tell about God, and I can see Him and read Him up there in the sky. I can see Him and read Him on the sacred pages of the Book. This is the reality of God, the first great truth of human life.
Now we’re going to sing us a song. And while we sing this song, somebody you, give your heart to the Lord. A family you, come into the fellowship of our dear church. If the Lord has spoken to answer with your life, this is a precious time to come. The Lord bless you in it. If God has spoken to you, stand with us. God bless you. While we sing our song.
GOD: THE FIRST UNIVERSAL FACT
I. Idea of God innate, intuitive, congenital, universal to the human mind
1. Helen Keller
2. Impossible to eradicate God from the human mind – Romans 1:19, 20
II. Surrounded by facts that demand an explanation
1. Sense of the infinite
2. Whoever, whatever brought about the world is a master designer
3. Intelligence in everything we see
4. World is governed by intelligent rules
III. God in the beginning and God in the ending