“For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.” Romans 1:19 ESV
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honour Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.” (Romans 1:18-23 NASB)
The whole creation stands witness to the power and glory of the eternal God. To imagine that the complexity, beauty and interdependence found in creation is all the result of a series of fortuitous accidents requires huge amounts of faith. To believe in the existence of God is actually the default position of the thinking person. A child understands it so easily before it begins to acquire certain prejudices. A child sees a toy and has no difficulty believing in a toymaker; it looks at the earth, and sees no reason to doubt in a Maker. What could be more logical?
One of the earliest prejudices we acquire is to trust in our senses as the final arbiter of what can be known. Believing only in what our physical senses can perceive or what our minds can understand, has produced what might have been humorous if they hadn’t been equally catastrophic, consequences in the past. Take for instance, the authorities believing that the earth was flat or doctors believing that hand washing was harmful and laughing at aseptic procedures before the discovery of micro-organisms.
So, a child believes that a toymaker exists. But then the child is -correctly – informed that God is supernatural, possessed of qualities beyond human perception and understanding. At the age when a child stops believing in fairies or Santa Claus, it also begins to question the existence of God. Now to question things is of course evidence of critical thinking, and very desirable for intellectual development. But when we come to the point where we assert that all that can be known may be perceived fully – and only – through our physical senses or intellectual capacities, then we curtail further understanding. We become like the blind person vociferously denying the existence of colours. If a surgical procedure became available to cure his particular type of blindness, what good would it do the blind person, who thinks all this talk of seeing are fanciful stories which weak-minded people tell themselves, and that he himself has no need for a cure to imaginary problems. Intellectual arrogance sets a ceiling beyond which further progress is impossible.
Intellectual arrogance says in effect, “This far I can see, there is nothing beyond; I deny you the right to see any further”, rather than “This far I can see, who knows what lies beyond? Perhaps you see what I do not.” The second -the agnostic position – is a very respectable position, but the first position lacks honesty, it amounts to a suppression of the truth, and finally leads to the suppression of information. When the state holds this position, as we witnessed in Communist China or the former Soviet Union, we see censorship of information, suppression of human rights and persecution of dissenters. Everything that stands in the way of the atheistic belief is ruthlessly eradicated. And Christians – often, the most persistent dissenters – tend to be at the receiving end of their wrath.
According to some translations, what may be known about God has been revealed, or made manifest or plain or obvious to us. It is God who has made the knowledge of Himself available to us. Weymouth NT states this truth very clearly: “What may be known about Him is plain to their inmost consciousness; for He Himself has made it plain to them. For, from the very creation of the world, His invisible perfections—namely His eternal power and divine nature—have been rendered intelligible and clearly visible by His works, so that these men are without excuse.”
So the revelation of God’s character is given to us, both through His creation and within our inmost consciousness. His ‘invisible perfections’ are evident in His works – His infinite wisdom, love, power and might are constantly on display, that it takes a very stubborn heart to reduce the things we see in nature to random accidents. For example, one might view love within families as flowing out of our connection to God, as we mirror His attributes in our own nature, or as something that came about accidentally to facilitate the survival of the species.
The inner awareness that there might be something more than we perceive with our physical senses is like a flicker or spark within, which stirs us to seek Him. It awakens the question within us, “Is there a God?” or “How can I know Him?” When this question arises, we have two choices – one, to humbly and persistently ask the Maker, if He exists, to reveal Himself to us, or two, to let our own limited faculties be the final arbiter of either the existence or the nature of God. When we choose the second option, we are led to suppressing the revelation within, so that it is eventually snuffed out. People, who do this end up either denying the existence of God, or creating a fanciful image of god – to sate their inner desire for the divine – and setting up false religions or philosophies.
A true seeker, on the other hand, will have his inner consciousness awakened to a fuller understanding of the Creator. This is the work of the Holy Spirit upon the consciousness of the seeker – He will guide us into all truth (John 16:13), and convict us about sin, righteousness and judgement (John 16:8). The revelation of Jesus as “the Way, Truth and Life” becomes very real and we begin to understand the personal – as well as eternal – implications of Christ’s death and resurrection.
The personal revelation, when the Spirit bears witness with your spirit, calls for a decision on your part. Once you receive the inward call, you still have the free will to follow Christ and commit your life to a relationship with Him or to turn back. Yet, the Holy Spirit mostly bears witness to those who have arrived at a point in their inward journey, where their hearts and minds are ready to accept Jesus as Lord and Saviour. A positive decision is the most transforming event in a person’s life – he receives a changed heart which is open to the truth of God, and the veil is lifted from his eyes, when the scripture is taught. He no longer questions these things, for the Truth now dwells within him.
Father, thank You for revealing Yourself to us in creation and in our inmost consciousness, and then through Your Holy Spirit bearing witness with our spirits. Help us to choose to serve You today, and everyday of our lives. In Jesus’ name.