Contending for the Faith

The Reality of God

Three Angels Broadcasting Network

Program transcript

Participants: Clifford Goldstein


Series Code: CFTF

Program Code: CFTF000010

00:21 Hi Cliff Goldstein and I want to welcome you to the Program
00:24 Contending for the Faith
00:26 The text in the Word of God I'd like to start with
00:30 are found in the book of Romans
00:32 and I suppose if there were one book in the Bible
00:36 that, perhaps more than any other
00:39 revealed the full scope
00:42 spiritually and theologically
00:45 the human condition, it would be the book of Romans
00:53 so much of the meaning of sacred history
00:57 You know Paul talks about Adam and Abraham, Sarah and Jacob
01:03 Esau, Rebecca, Moses, David the fall, Sinai, Jews, Gentiles
01:09 of law, grace, sin and death
01:12 and first and foremost he talks about Jesus
01:16 and what Jesus has done for us
01:19 I don't think I can exaggerate if I could say that
01:22 over the course of history you could've filled a library
01:26 a small or even a large library
01:29 with the books written on just Romans
01:33 and I don't think we can exaggerate
01:36 the influence of this book on the history of the church
01:39 and certainly on Protestantism
01:43 Now the texts I wanna look at are at the beginning of the book
01:46 and early on they help flesh out what Paul
01:50 or they they lay the groundwork for what Paul fleshes out
01:55 in the ensuing chapters
02:43 Here Paul talks about a crucial theme in the book
02:47 and that's human sinfulness
02:50 I mean the whole premise of the book
02:52 rests on that idea, that of human corruption and how Jesus
02:56 and how Jesus came to solve the problem
03:00 of human corruption and to save us from the destruction
03:05 that this corruption would bring
03:08 That's what the cross was all about
03:12 to solve the problem of sin
03:15 But I want to focus on something else here
03:19 is the claim that he says
03:21 is that the reality and existence of God
03:25 is revealed through what has been made
03:28 that is in the created world
03:31 these people are gonna, that what has been made in the
03:34 created world, in other words he's saying that creation has
03:36 revealed enough about God
03:38 That they will be without excuse
03:43 From the creation alone they can learn enough about
03:47 God. That they can be justly condemned
03:50 on the day of judgment
03:54 Ooh! That's a heavy claim it really is.
03:57 And it's not because these people are stupid
04:01 It's not because they can't understand
04:03 Rather it's that they're sinful, fallen and in their sinfulness
04:08 and fallenness they suppress the truth
04:13 You know I could understand this to myself
04:17 from a personal experience
04:21 I remember many years ago in college
04:25 I wasn't a believer and I remember every now and then
04:30 I'd read, I'd think about things I'd talk to people
04:33 And every now and then the idea would come to me
04:37 I would think Hmm, maybe there really is a God out there
04:43 And maybe there is a creator
04:45 But then as I think about that a little more
04:48 And then I'd think about the way I lived
04:52 And even though I didn't know anything about the law
04:56 anything about these things I sensed
04:59 that if there really was a God out there
05:01 then how I'm livin, I'm in deep, deep trouble
05:06 And so in a sense I pushed the idea out of my mind
05:11 I just rejected the idea
05:13 So I guess in a sense you could say I suppressed the truth
05:20 in unrighteousness and I just kept on truckin, as they say
05:25 Fortunately, as they say 2 years later God did an intervention
05:30 which is why, now thanks to the Gospel,
05:34 thanks to the promise of salvation
05:37 I'm aware of my sinfulness I'm still aware of it
05:41 but I claim the gospel promise
05:43 and that's my assurance
05:45 And thus my eyes have been opened
05:48 And you know, no matter how hokey it might sound
05:54 And I really mean this. I see the reality of God everywhere
06:02 I really do, it's amazing!
06:05 First, that anything exists
06:08 is to me that anything exists whatever it is
06:11 is powerful evidence for a creator.
06:13 I'm sorry but rocks, tea kettles stars, iPhones, quasars, space
06:18 nothing came from itself, nothing created itself
06:22 that's impossible because to create yourself
06:24 you'd have to already exist and if you already existed
06:27 then you were not creating your- self 'coz you were already there
06:31 No, nothing can create itself
06:35 Instead what was created was created by something before it
06:39 and whatever that was, something was created before it
06:44 and something created it and on and on on
06:47 till you get to that which was uncreated
06:51 That which always existed
06:53 and who or what else would that be but the God
06:57 depicted in the Scriptures
07:00 the God depicted in Revelation 4:11
07:04 You are worthy O Lord and God to receive glory
07:09 and honor and power, for you created all things
07:14 and by Your will they were created and have their being
07:19 I'm sorry but the scientific fad and yes, science is very faddish
07:26 The scientific fad which claims the universe arose from nothing
07:30 is mere ad hoc metaphysical speculation
07:34 that comes garbed with all the epistemological privilege
07:38 that science sanctimoniously awards itself
07:42 and what we are saying, and what we are saying is Yes
07:46 that's what they're saying was that the universe was created
07:50 by nothing at all. You know here we are 400 years
07:55 after the beginning of the enlightenment
07:57 and the scientific revolution
08:00 and we are being now told that out of nothing everything
08:03 that exists came from, let me read you a quote.
08:07 Oxford's Peter Atkins summed it up the best. Listen to this
08:30 Sorry, but that's metaphysics, that's not physics
08:34 That's philosophy, that's not science
08:37 Centuries ago a German polymath named Godfrey Wilhelm Liebknecht
08:42 famously asked what's probably the most fundamental
08:46 and basic question that anybody could ask
08:49 I think this gets about as conceptually as far back
08:52 as we can go. Why, he asked. Why is there something
08:58 instead of nothing? And the most logical answer
09:03 remains what has always been
09:05 Because a self existing and eternal God
09:09 created everything that was made
09:12 As John said, "Through Him were all things made"
09:17 Without Him nothing was made that has been made
09:23 This, despite firm declarations of many scientists
09:27 backed up rigorous laboratory experiments
09:31 and a few equations to boot, this, that they are claiming
09:36 that God doesn't exist and that we're here by chance alone
09:40 Nobel prize winning physicist Stephen Hawkings
09:45 expressed it like this:
09:47 Stephen Weinberg rather, not Stephen Hawkings
09:51 He said this: The most extreme hope for science
09:56 is that we will be able to trace the explanation
10:00 for all natural phenomena, to final laws
10:03 and historical accidents. I don't know, to me it's crazy
10:09 2500 years of Western thought climaxes
10:14 with the idea that everything arose from nothing?
10:17 and it did it by accident as well?
10:20 Makes me think of Richard Rorty one of the most famous
10:25 philosophers in the first half of the, last half of the 20th C
10:30 Rorty basically argued that we're never gonna find truth
10:34 It's impossible to find truth
10:36 and that the whole concept of truth is misguided
10:40 and basically he said "instead of trying to understand reality
10:44 and understand these things, he says all we can hope for is to
10:48 learn how to cope with it
10:50 I don't know. Again 2500 years of Western thought
10:55 climaxes with the idea that the universe arose out of nothing,
10:59 by accident, and we can never understand it so all we need
11:03 to do is to try to cope instead
11:06 Somehow folks, somehow I'm not so sure that's much progress
11:13 Next, despite being told from the Intelligentsia
11:18 the opposite. Design in the created world still declares
11:23 a Designer. Some of my favorite texts in
11:27 all the Bible come from Job
11:52 Wow! It's as if Job here is expressing what Paul did
11:57 many years later. You know for centuries now
12:02 people have surrendered the Teleological argument, the
12:06 argument of purpose and design
12:08 To David Humes book called
12:11 The Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion
12:14 You know I read the Dialogues and they've capitulated to a
12:19 Potemkin village and I think a shoddy one at that
12:23 I've read Hume's book, I've read it numerous times
12:26 and he doesn't do what, his argument against the
12:30 existence of God doesn't work
12:33 It doesn't do what even, what these people,
12:34 even some Christians claim that it does
12:37 All Hume shows, all he says is the mere fact that
12:42 if a man finds a watch on the ground, infers a designer
12:46 it does not absolutely prove that God created the world.
12:49 Well duh! It's not absolute proof
12:53 I don't think it was ever meant to be absolute proof
12:55 It's an inference ok. One can move logically
13:00 from the concept of design by humanity
13:03 to the concept of design by creator
13:06 The issue is the reality of purpose and design
13:10 which itself points to a designer
13:13 who created with purpose
13:14 regardless of whether it was a human watchmaker
13:18 or the creator God. An iPhone which looks designed
13:23 acts designed, reveals design in its inwards and its outers
13:27 in outward parts and works only through design
13:31 is of course designed
13:34 But a human being, qualitatively more complex than a smart phone
13:40 A human being which looks designed, acts designed
13:44 reveals design in its inwards and its outwards
13:47 and works only through design
13:49 is of course, we assume, we are assured by the
13:53 best and brightest, it's not design!
13:56 I don't know. Maybe I'm not sophisticated enough
13:59 But who am I to believe?
14:01 Richard Dawkins, Charles Darwin, Christopher Hitchen
14:04 or my own eyes and my own brain
14:07 brain, as well as Moses, Isaiah, John and Paul
14:12 Again, maybe I'm not too sophisticated
14:15 But when I see design in anything
14:18 I see evidence of a designer
14:21 whether it's something manmade or something in nature
14:24 it doesn't matter to me. Design points to a designer
14:28 Whether I happen to know this designer is in Silicon Valley
14:32 someone who I could see face to face
14:34 if need be or whether he's somewhere in the cosmos
14:37 and for now I can't see Him.
14:45 And again because I see the reality of design everywhere
14:51 I see the reality of God everywhere.
14:55 And of course the biggest question and a fair question too
15:01 has to do with the existence about the existence of God
15:04 that is evil. Though that's tough questions for anyone
15:08 to deal with. I don't know if you ever get a chance it's worth
15:11 reading a section in Dostoevsky The Brothers Karmazov
15:15 Two brothers wrestle with the question of the existence of God
15:20 And how an all powerful, all knowing God could exist
15:24 while evil does as well. I want to read you one section where
15:29 1 person symbolizing skepticism, someone asks questions
15:34 "I want to see with my own eyes the hind lie down with the lion
15:39 and the victim rise up and embrace his murderer
15:42 I want to be there when everyone suddenly understands
15:45 what it's all been for. But then there are the children
15:49 What am I to do about them? This is a question I can't answer
15:54 For the 100th time I repeat there are a number of questions
15:58 But I've taken only the children
16:00 because in their case what I mean is so unanswerably clear
16:05 Listen. If all must pay for the eternal harmony
16:09 What have children to do with it
16:12 Please, tell me please."
16:15 Yeah, that's the question is it? That's the question.
16:21 Evil and children suffering in a world created by a good God
16:27 And though I don't have time to get into all that now
16:30 All I can say is this. I know nothing in the premise
16:34 of an all loving, all knowing and all powerful God
16:38 deductively demands the non existence of evil
16:43 It doesn't automatically follow
16:45 It's not a logical condition. It's not a logical contradiction
16:50 It's not as if you're saying A equals not A or the like
16:54 Instead the great controversy forms a powerful template
17:00 and a background that enables me to press on in faith
17:04 despite all the evil that rattles our souls
17:08 I can see the reality of God even with the evil
17:12 because this evil shows me how terribly wrong
17:16 everything has become and that fits so well
17:20 into the great controversy.
17:22 See, yet time and time again I have to fall back on that
17:27 metanarrative because its the only thing that helps me
17:30 make sense of what doesn't seem at times to make sense at all
17:34 You know I once read a powerful article
17:39 about a woman wrote about her time teaching poetry
17:44 and writing to children dying at a cancer center
17:48 And listen to what this woman wrote:
17:51 "The children I write with die. No matter how much I love them
17:57 No matter how creative they are. No matter how many poems
18:01 they have written or how much they want to live"
18:05 Almost every line in this article is a zinger
18:09 And how can it not, considering the topic
18:12 Kids in the context of, in the context of children suffering
18:18 and dying of cancer. But in this context 1 line really caught me.
18:23 and she said this, in this whole context
18:28 I was, like everybody else
18:31 trying to make sense of what is nonsensical. Whoa! Nonsensical?
18:39 That is none of it made sense. It can't be rationally explained
18:44 There's no good reason for it. And yet, is it that better
18:51 y'know, is it that better that evil
18:53 and children dying of cancer is evil
18:56 isn't it better that it be non- sensical and non rational
19:00 or non logical or not explicable?
19:02 Otherwise what? Otherwise what? You have good logical harmonious
19:08 reasons exist why these kids lose limbs, suffer horrific pain
19:13 suffer the trauma of chemo, go through all that,
19:16 sit in the hospital for years and then die?
19:19 Please. If there were good reason, logical reason for that
19:24 I really wouldn't wanna know it.
19:27 However bad these tragedies are it would be worse
19:30 if there were sense to them. That's why its all nonsense.
19:37 And again that's why I go back
19:39 to the larger theme of the great controversy
19:43 The large cosmic theme about the battle between good and evil
19:47 that Jesus won for us at the cross
19:50 That's the only template I use to help me
19:53 If not make sense or fully understand
19:56 what's going on, at least put it in a larger perspective.
19:59 One that gives me hope for a resolution.
20:03 Sure we have a million questions about a million things
20:07 But still this grand theme helps me to keep it altogether now.
20:12 No matter how much remains unanswered
20:15 and perhaps unanswerable.
20:19 Ok sure someone could justly argue that with this template
20:25 I'm working from a priori presuppositions about
20:29 how the world works. And that's true.
20:31 Though trust me they're not a priori
20:34 But again they are pre suppositions
20:37 But so what? Nothing can be believed without presuppositions
20:41 You can't believe in anything without certain assumptions
20:44 Things you can't prove. No these assumptions are things
20:48 that you just accept on faith. They're assumptions.
20:52 The key though is to have the correct ones.
20:55 You know I remember early on
20:58 as a believer in Jesus. When I was a brand new believer
21:03 weeks into this. I remember I asked a friend out there
21:09 With so many faiths and religions out there,
21:13 How do I know that Adventism how do I know that
21:16 this is the truth? And I'll never forget Bernie Molnar
21:21 who just passed away a while back. He was one of my first
21:25 SDA contacts. He instantly answered. He said, well,
21:31 he said it's certainly not unreasonable to think
21:35 that with all those views out there,
21:37 at least one of them is true.
21:39 I thought, wasn't that a great answer?
21:43 Doesn't that make good sense?
21:46 I appreciated that answer back then when I was a brand new
21:50 believer barely knowing anything.
21:53 And here I am today, 34 years later
21:58 and I still fall back on that
22:01 because I believe its built on correct assumptions.
22:06 Yes, I do see the reality of God everywhere, even despite evil
22:15 And I look up in the sky and I see the reality of God
22:21 whether I'm looking at the clouds above, the blue sky
22:25 a sky full of stars at night
22:28 whether I look through a telescope
22:30 or look at the pictures through the Hubble telescope
22:33 I see the reality of God. It's the most logical explanation
22:39 for all that I see. I look at my iPhone
22:44 I look at my iPhone and I see evidence for the reality of God.
22:52 OK, I see it's there, I see design.
22:56 I see powerful design in here.
23:00 It's design and nothing's gonna tell it's not.
23:02 and yet there's nowhere near the design in this thing
23:05 as I see in a single human cell.
23:09 And that's why when I look at this I see evidence
23:13 for the reality of God.
23:16 I look at rocks. I look at a rock and I see evidence
23:21 for the reality of God because that rock
23:24 contrary to the latest and greatest science,
23:27 contrary to what so many noble laureates and physicists
23:32 are telling us that rock did come from nothing
23:37 Something had to create it.
23:40 I look inside my own soul, I look in my own consciousness
23:45 and I can see the reality of God
23:48 Because where could this all have come from?
23:51 I don't believe it rose out of nothing.
23:55 And I don't believe it rose out of chance
23:59 So where else but God?
24:02 I think of Immanuel Kahn's famous saying
24:26 Very interesting. And though I wouldn't quite phrase it
24:31 as he did, the more steadily I reflect on everything.
24:36 That is, houses, butterflies, smart phones.
24:40 It's undeniable to me that a creator would exist.
24:45 And with the grand revelation of Him as revealed in the Bible
24:51 which includes powerful evidence
24:55 for the resurrection of Jesus
24:58 with the confirming ministry of the Spirit of Prophecy
25:02 and my own life changing experience with Jesus
25:06 and the assurance of salvation that comes because
25:09 of His death in my behalf
25:12 and His righteousness covering me
25:14 it's no wonder that I believe in God!
25:17 and no wonder I'm a Seventh Day Adventist
25:21 With those things what else could, could I be?
25:25 I want to return to Paul in Romans.
25:30 Into those same verses we looked at in the beginning.
26:13 Again that's heavy there. Without excuse.
26:17 But notice what he said. For what may be known about God
26:24 is plain, is made plain to them.
26:28 Ok? This implies that there are aspects about God
26:31 that aren't revealed to them.
26:33 Because what may be known is explained to them
26:36 Maybe there are obviously some things that are not known.
26:39 Which of course makes sense. I mean he's a believer
26:43 as someone who knows the Lord, knows the Gospel,
26:47 knows the truth of salvation
26:49 that hardly means I have all the answers.
26:53 What, are you kidding me?
26:54 I mean if I have intellectual nightmares
26:59 maybe somebody could explain this to me.
27:01 I have intellectual nightmares over the fact that -6
27:06 multiplied by -6 gives you a +36
27:10 And yet you could take -6+-6 -6+-6+-6 and you get-36
27:21 I go nuts trying to figure out how you can make sense of that.
27:25 How does that work? You multiply em, two negative numbers
27:29 and you get a positive number.
27:30 You add them together and you get a negative number.
27:34 Now, if I can't make sense out of that
27:39 how am I going to make sense out of the holocaust,
27:44 the Trinity or how am I going to fully understand Daniel 11?
27:50 I can't. But who cares? I don't care.
27:56 I can still see the reality of God in everything.
28:01 Even in all that I don't know and understand about Him
28:06 and in the world, in the world that He had created.
28:12 I can see it even regardless of what I don't understand.


Revised 2015-03-03