The Quest for God
Back in 2005, we shared a series of messages on The Quest for God. The impetus for this series was me hearing a comment from someone that “we don’t hear a lot of preaching about God nowadays”. The comment graded my attention and as I spent some time thinking about it, I had to agree. We have a lot of sermons on relationships, faith, freedom, prayer, evangelism, etc, which are all good – but not a lot of preaching about God. So we took a fresh look at the God who has revealed himself to us – who he is and what he’s really like. We talked about: (1) the fact that God is not dead – he is very alive, (2) how BIG God is, (3) how loving God is, (4) the holiness of God and what that means practically, and (5) where God is when we’re hurting (the question of suffering). [For those who missed this series – a CD pack is available in the bookshop and there are also free mp3s of each one of the messages on our web site]Do You BELIEVE in God?
Walk into any bookshop in your local shopping centre and you’ll find quite a few books speaking out against belief in God and saying that religion is a bad thing, due to the damage it has often caused throughout history. Atheism is seen by some as a better alternative. There are just as many books presenting reasonable arguments the other way, although unfortunately these tend to only be sold in Christian bookshops. I don’t think any of us can come up with absolute proof that God exists. However, I do believe we can say, “I am convinced beyond reasonable doubt that God exists.” There are many reasons for believing in God. Here is a brief summary of the classical arguments for belief in God:
Do You KNOW God?
- The Cosmological Argument. Cosmological = “logos” (reason) and “cosmos” (the world). This argument looks at the reason or explanation for the world. It refers to the law of cause and effect. The world is here (flowers, mountains and rivers). How did it come to be here? Why do these things exist and what is the explanation for them? Something or someone must have caused the created world to come into existence. If nothing existed, it wouldn’t require an explanation. The moment that something (anything) exists, there has to be a reason or a cause.
- The Teleological Argument. Teleological = the design or purpose that we see in the world. Not only does the universe exist, there is an order, beauty, and a sense of harmony and purpose to everything. Who is responsible for this? There simply cannot be a design without a designer. It doesn’t make sense.
- The Moral Argument. The moral argument comes from the observation that in human nature world-wide, there exists a kind of moral code stamped on the hearts of human beings that brings an inner sense of “right and wrong” to the lives of people, as well as a sense of responsibility to adhere to the right and avoid the wrong. Where does this come from? Reasonable people would say that this indicates the existence of a lawgiver and judge who built into mankind this sense of responsibility for doing what’s right.
- Christian Experience. This is far from conclusive, but it is very important. Millions of intelligent people all over the world from all walks of life claim that they have experienced the love or forgiveness of God, the peace of God or the comfort of God. This cannot or should not be taken lightly. Many could testify about the nearness of God (the real unmistakable presence of God) during difficult or traumatic times. This argument asks, “How do we account for this?”
When considering whether God exists, place all these arguments on the scale and watch which way it tips. If you’re reasonable, it’s going to lean in favour of the existence of God. Ultimately, we have to look at the evidence and make a choice as to what we are going to believe. Believing in God requires FAITH (Heb.11:6).
It’s one thing to believe in God. It’s another thing to know God – personally. Thankfully, the God who created us is a relational God. God is love. He doesn’t just have love – He is love. He has revealed Himself to us as a community of persons – the Father, Son and Holy Spirit – so united that you can’t separate them. They exist in perfect harmony, love and friendship.
We are created in God’s image – relational creatures, who long to belong, to love and be loved, to have authentic and meaningful relationships. We are created for friendship – with other people AND with God. The amazing thing is that the God who created and sustains the entire universe reaches out, desiring to have a close relationship with us. We see this from the creation of Adam and Eve, where God walked in the garden in the cool of the day with them, right through to today.
We can know God. In fact, knowing God is the most important thing in life (see Jer.9:23 and Jn.17:3). This is not just knowing about God but knowing him in a personal and intimate way. What an honour and a privilege we have.Are You A FRIEND of God?
Not only can we know God, we can be his friend. We can be close to him.
- Abraham was called the ‘friend of God’ (Is.41:8. Jas.2:23) and those of us who are followers of Christ are now the ‘children of Abraham’, called to follow in his steps of faith (Rom.4:12).
- Jesus called his disciples to not just be his servants but his ‘friends’ (Jn.15:12-16). Jesus revealed God as a ‘Father’ who we could have a close relationship with – ‘Abba’ or ‘Daddy’ God.
- Paul said that his life pursuit was to know God more intimately (Phil.3:8-9).
- James tells us to come close (draw near) to God and He WILL come close to us (Jas.4:8). What a promise!
Like any friendship, friendship with God requires time spent together, conversation (speaking and listening), and learning about each other. Make an effort to know what God is like. Find out what pleases Him and seek to do those things on a regular basis. Find out what annoys Him or makes Him angry and be sure to avoid those things. God is a personal and relational God. He has feelings, thoughts and desires just like you and I do. After all, we were made in his likeness.
God wants us to not just know ‘about’ him but to have a personal and intimate relationship ‘with’ him. We can be as close to God as we want to be. He calls us to come closer. Will you respond? When it’s all said and done, what matters for now and eternity is to know God. Let’s continue to take up the quest – for God!Sample Discussion Questions
- Discuss BELIEF in God.
- Was there a time when you didn’t believe in God? If so, why? What changed your view?
- Do people you mix with believe in God? What influences their perspective?
- Why do you think there is a rise in books against belief in God?
- Discuss KNOWING God.
- What’s the difference between knowing about God and really knowing God personally?
- How do you get to know God? What are some steps to take?
- Discuss FRIENDSHIP with God.
- God wants to be our friend. How can we develop our friendship with God?
- What are some potential obstacles to becoming friends with God?
- Why are we easily distracted by other things that may hinder our friendship with God?
- Some friendships reach a ‘plateau’, even in our relationship with God. How can we move closer?