Written by: Edward O. Bragwell, Sr.
The Prophet Isaiah wrote, “Seek the LORD while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near.” (Isaiah 55:6 NKJV)
The writer of the New Testament book of Hebrews tells us that “God exists and that he rewards those who seek after him” (Hebrews 11:6 RSV).
There are many who say they were seeking God and mistakenly think they have found him – while looking for him in the wrong places. He is not going to be found in some “better felt than told” feeling. He is not going to be found in some “transcendental meditation” technique. He is not even going to be found merely by observing his marvelous creation. We can only know God, and what his will is, from the words of divine revelation in the Scriptures.
Theologians are fond of saying that God has revealed himself to man in two ways: biblical revelation and natural revelation. Some take that and run with it and say that one can find God either way.
It is true that nature (all of God’s material creation) bears witness to God:
“… Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men with the same nature as you, and preach to you that you should turn from these useless things to the living God, who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and all things that are in them, who in bygone generations allowed all nations to walk in their own ways. Nevertheless He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good, gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.” (Acts 14:15-17 NKJV) The psalmist wrote, “The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork.” (Psalm 19:1″ NKJV)
The marvelous wonders of God’s creation serves, in legal terms, as corroborating witnesses rather than primary witnesses. The Bible writers give us the primary testimony about God, while the creation serves as corroborating testimony. Without a knowledge of the primary testimony of the biblical writers, the ways of God are past finding out: “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!” (Romans 11:33 NKJV)
Believing scientists and researchers do a great service in corroborating the biblical testimony. They can strengthen one’s faith already gained from a knowledge of the written revelation. But when one begins to let his scientific research to modify the primary testimony of the Scriptures – Houston, we have a problem. For example, some look at the Genesis account of creation and at their scientific data and have concluded that the Genesis testimony at face value must not be accurate and must be modified. The “days” of creation must be modified to reflect “ages” of creation rather than “days” of creation. The longer creation period then lets them buy more time for “theistic” evolution to have occurred.
By studying the natural creation, one can reach a lot of truly logical conclusions. He learns from the strong evidence that the universe is not eternal but had a beginning and a maker. Some refer to that maker as a “first cause” or “creator” or “great designer” or even “god.” But he can not know the God (Jehovah) by gazing into the heavens nor digging into the earth. At best, he can use what he finds, to whet the appetite to look for the source that tells him who the “First Cause” is and what his will is for man.
One only knows God by digging into “treasures of wisdom and knowledge” found in the Scriptures – the words that God spoke to the prophets of old and the New Testament apostles and prophets. These spoke and wrote it for those of their generation with the writings being providentially preserved for all generations to come.
Beginning at Romans 1:18 and going on into chapter 2, Paul speaks of the guilt of the Gentiles as well as that of the Jews as a people to show the justice of God in condemning them both as sinners – of the Gentiles, he says they were “without excuse” and of the Jews they were “inexcusable.” Chapter 1 is often cited as proof that God’s creation alone is sufficient evidence to produce faith and knowledge of God. Especially verse 20, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.” It does say that the Gentiles were inexcusable because they had the “things that are made” to observe and thus should have known and served God.
A close reading of the context shows that Paul is not speaking of initially coming to know God. In the first chapter section, he speaks of the Gentiles who at one time knew God in their past, but no longer knew him. He speaks of a time when “they knew God” as a people, but there came a time when they ceased to glorify him as God. They drifted from knowing, thanking, and glorifying him into their present state of idolatry and immorality. This should never have happened because at sometime in the past God had revealed himself them through primary revelation (tracing their ancestry back to Noah proves this point), also as a people they had the things made to remind them of God. With all of this “back up testimony” they should never have turned from the God they knew to their present pagan ways. They were without excuse, not because they failed to find God through his creation, but because they left God in spite of the revelation they had received in the past and being surrounded by the corroborating evidence in God’s great creation.
My friend, if you a seeking to know God, turn to the Scriptures. They contain the confirmed testimony of the people to whom God chose to directly reveal himself and his will. As one of the writers said, “the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 14:37). After you have come to know God and initially obey him to be saved, continue searching the Scriptures (God’s primary evidence) and let his marvelous creation continually remind you of his eternal power and Godhead as revealed in the Scriptures.