Archive for August, 2010

Do you believe in anything that you cannot see?[1]

Friday, August 6th, 2010

Last Christmas my two grandchildren, Zeke & Mackenzie, sang a couple of Christmas songs for you. Some of you have met them. I was driving Zeke & Mackenzie to school last week and we had an interesting conversation about the tooth fairy. Mackenzie is 6 and she started talking about her teeth and I said that one day she will lose all of her first teeth except the double teeth. Zeke, age 9, chimed in that he had lost many of his first teeth.

They said that the tooth fairy leaves money for them if they leave the tooth out overnight. I asked if they thought that Mum and Dad might know the tooth fairy. Of course not, they said. Because Mum and Dad go to bed before the tooth fairy comes when they are sleeping.

Do you believe in what you can’t see? Is the tooth fairy real? You know it is not, but my 2 grandchildren think she exists.

Is there anything in life that you can’t see that you believe in? A few things come to my mind:

(1) I can’t see the wind but I see what it does to the trees and the dust. I know the wind exists because I can feel what it does when it blows on me.

(2) When I throw a ball up in the air, why doesn’t it keep going up, up and away? Why does that ball come back down to earth? When a parachutist jumps out of a plane, he or she falls to the ground and doesn’t keep going up and up, because of an unseen force called gravity. I believe in the unseen gravity because I see what it does.[2]

(3) Do you have a conscience that tells you right from wrong? Can you see it? No! Does it exist? Certainly! But it is invisible.

(4) Do you believe in the Equator?[3] The equator is that invisible line that goes around the centre of the world. It’s about 40,000km or 25,000 miles long.[4] Why do you think it’s in the middle of summer (August) now in London, Moscow & New York, when we in Bundaberg, and people in Auckland, Rio de Janeiro, and Capetown are experiencing winter? That’s because London, Moscow, & New York are in the northern hemisphere and Bundaberg, Auckland, Rio de Janeiro and Capetown are in the southern hemisphere. We’re separated by that invisible line called the equator.

“The surface of the Earth at the Equator is mostly ocean”.[5] But it does go through countries such as Indonesia, countries in Africa such as Kenya, Uganda, and the Congo; countries in South America such as Ecuador, Colombia & Brazil. The equator was named by the German mathematician – philosopher Gottlob Frege (1848-1925).[6]

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Road sign marking the Equator near Nanyuki, Kenya[7] Nations that touch the Equator (red) or the Prime Meridian (blue)[8]

Do we believe the wind exists even though we can’t see it? I do.

What about gravity, does it exist? Yes it does, but we can’t see it.

Our consciences exist, even though we can’t see them.

The equator exists, but we can’t see it.

(5) But there’s someone far greater than the wind, gravity conscience and the equator who exists and we cannot see him. He’s the one who made the wind, gravity, conscience and the equator. This is how he is described in the very first verse of the Bible, Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth”.

How would we describe God? Jesus said in John 4:24, “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth”. Since he is Spirit, He is invisible. So can you believe in God even though you can’t see Him?

I like this very short definition of God given by one theologian, Augustus Strong, “God is the infinite and perfect Spirit in whom all things have their source, support and end”.[9] That’s a nice, short description of God: “God is the infinite and perfect Spirit in whom all things have their source, support and end”.

Since God is invisible, how do we know he exists? The Bible tells us at least two ways we know the invisible God exists:

(1) Firstly, Romans 1:20, says, “For [God’s] invisible attributes, namely his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse”.

So, we know that the invisible God exists because we see him in nature and the heavens.

Have you thought about the earth and the speed it orbits around the sun? The earth on which you and I sit and stand travels at the rate of 30 km per second or 108,000 km per hour around the sun.[10] This earth doesn’t fly off into outer space with this phenomenal speed. And we sit and stand here and we don’t become dizzy by this enormous speed. That’s evidence for the existence of God.

Have you thought about the mountains, the valleys and the beautiful flowers that we will soon see in Spring? All these are evidence for the existence of God. Think of the way that a Mum and Dad join together and create a lovely baby. All of this is evidence of God’s existence.

The Bible states in Psalm 19:1, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (ESV).

So the Bible tells us that one of the ways that we know the invisible God exists, is when we look at what God has made in the heavens and earth.

But there’s a second way we can know the invisible God exists.

(2) We know that the invisible God exists, based on what Jesus said to Philip in John 14:9, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (ESV). If you want to know what the invisible God is like, look at Jesus. Take a read of Jesus’ life and actions in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and this is what you will find Jesus is like: Jesus is eternal (John 1:15; 8:58; 17:5, 24); Jesus knows all things, except the time of his second coming (Matt. 24:35; John 16:30; 21:17); Jesus is all-powerful; he says “I am the Almighty” (Rev. 1:8). We know his power from the miracles he performed when on earth. Remember the raising of Lazarus from the dead?

Jesus’ character is that:

  • He is absolutely holy (Acts 2:21);
  • He has genuine love for all people (John 3:16; Eph. 3:19);
  • He is truly humble (Phil. 2:5-8); he is not proud or arrogant; he is modest.
  • He was thoroughly meek and lowly in heart (Matt. 11:29). To be meek is being the opposite of being harsh and argumentative; Jesus is gentle and tender in dealing with others.
  • He was joyful without being light-hearted (John 15:11);
  • He lived a life of prayer (Heb. 5:7);
  • He loved to work as John 9:4 states, “We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work”.
  • When Jesus was on earth he only did what was good; he had compassion and mercy on the unfortunates like Mary Magdalene, the man born blind who was healed.

So we can know the invisible God exists from what we see in creation and in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Conclusion

Do we believe in what you cannot see? Yes, we do! The wind, gravity, our consciences, and the equator. So we should not have any difficulty in believing in the invisible God who made the heavens and the earth. We can see God through what he has made and through the person of Jesus.

The tooth fairy is imaginary and not real, but the invisible God is real and exists.

You might wonder why I have addressed this topic on the existence of God. Some people place God in the same category as the tooth fairy & Santa Clause – fantasy.

People say to me, “I can’t believe anything or anyone I cannot see”. The fact is, all people believe in what they cannot see, so an invisible God should not be any great difficulty when we look at God’s creation and when we look at the nature of Jesus.

Notes:


[1] This was the devotional that I, Spencer Gear, used for the church service for the residents of Kepnock Grove Retirement Village in Bundaberg, Qld, Australia on 3rdAugust 2010.

[2] For an explanation of “gravitation”, see Wikipedia, “Gravitation”, available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gravitation (Accessed 6 August 2010).

[3] This idea is from William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith, Question 94 – Classifying immaterial objects, available at: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=6879 (Accessed 31 July 2010). I highly recommend your receiving the Reasonable Faith newsletters, available from: Newsletters@ReasonableFaith.org.

[4] “The length of earth’s equator is 40,008.629 kilometres (24,860.2 mi)”, Wikipedia, “Equator”, available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equator (Accessed 31 July 2010).

[5] Ibid.

[6] From W. L. Craig’s newsletter, May 2010.

[7] This image is from Wikipedia, “Equator”, ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Augustus Hopkins Strong 1907. Systematic Theology. Philadelphia: The Judson Press, p. 52.

[10] Wikipedia, “Earth orbit”, available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth%27s_orbit (Accessed 31 July 2010).

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