JOHN 3:16 (Part One)
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall

Believers have long used three arguments to bolster belief in God=s existence. First, the moral argument. All races in all places in every society have a sense of right and wrong. They make moral judgments. We don=t all agree on specifics as to what is right or wrong, but we do make judgments. The only adequate explanation is, a supreme moral being plants moral sensibility in us.

Second, the causal argument. How did the Universe get here? There had to be a First Cause. We believe it is God. Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727) made the first mechanical model of our solar system, using rods, cogwheels, and belts to move planets around the sun. Newton invited to see it an atheist friend, who said, ANewton, it=s exquisite! Who made it for you?@ ANobody,@ Newton replied, Aall these pieces just happened to come together and by accident they started moving in perfect time.@ The visitor got the point. Do we?

Many look at a model and acknowledge someone made it, but refuse to confess Someone made the original. This scenario is dreadfully wrong.

Third, the design argument. The cosmos contains perfect order. A system pervaded by orderly arrangement infers intelligence, and purpose in the system=s cause.

Our Universe is governed by perfect laws of physics and chemistry. Is this an accident? Can an explosion in a print shop produce a dictionary, a bomb in a Chrysler factory produce a Chrysler, a tornado in a clock factory make a grandfather clock? Of course not, yet people believe billions of years ago an explosion occurred, resulting in perfection. Strange thinking indeed!

Arguments or not, people inherently know God exists. The Bible never tries to prove God is. Our mission is not to convince others God is, but to clean up garbled, foggy, incorrect notions about Him. Humans are confused about God.

Atheist Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) was asked, AIf, after you die, you come before God, what will you say to Him?@ Russell replied, AI shall address God and say, Sir, you did not make yourself plain.@ Not true. Russell=s problem was not God. The problem was Russell. People can perceive and know God.

Helen Keller (1880-1968) was blind and deaf from age two. Once she could converse, and was told of God, Miss Keller responded, AI always knew He was there, but I didn=t know His name.@ Helen Keller became a devout Christian.

People can instinctively know about God, but their general knowledge of Him brings neither pleasure nor peace, for their perception is largely guilty knowledge coming through their conscience (Romans 2:15). The human race, as a whole, has a negative concept of God. The ancients universally feared the gods. For people to be content in God, we must learn what God is really like.

To learn about God, shall we let every person be a law unto themselves, or seek a more dependable guide? Our most reliable written source of knowledge about the living God is the Bible. AAll Scripture is God-breathed@ (II Tim. 3:16).

Our most reliable personal source of knowledge about God is Jesus. AGod, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days Son-spoken unto us@ (Hebrews 1:1-2). God spoke most clearly in His Son. Those who best knew Jesus wrote our New Testament.

What kind of living God do Christians serve? The answer is crucial, but not obvious or a given. The three arguments favoring God=s existence can be used for a god of deism or pantheism. What is the living God like? The Bible and Jesus, our only completely perfect revelations of God, provide insights we need.

Revelation 4:8 is one of the Bible=s most comprehensive statements about God. Creatures before God=s throne repeat day and night, AHoly, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.@

The first thing we need to recognize and acknowledge about God is, He is holy. Originally, the word Aholy@ had no ethical connotation. It technically does not mean good or bad, just Aseparate, unique, distinct.@ God is distinguishable from everything and everyone else. This is important for three reasons.

First, people have always been slow to separate the Creator from His Creation. The Old Testament conflict between YHWH and Baal raged around this point. Was God separate like YHWH, or an impersonal Force of Nature like Baal?

Herein lies the Second Commandment=s initial importance. It emphasizes God=s holiness. He cannot be compared with anything or anyone. God said in Isaiah 40:25, ATo whom then will you liken Me that I should be His equal?@

God=s holiness is still controversial. Most Oriental religions, including Transcendental Meditation, advocate pantheism, all that exists is God and His self-expressions. To this the Bible screams ANo!@ Forces, laws, and beauty of Nature point to God, but are not God. He is Holy, separate, distinct.

Second, since God is separate, we can know nothing of Him except what He Himself wants to reveal to us. He=s revealing Himself in a general way to everyone through nature, history, and conscience, but specific knowledge of God can be learned only through channels He has chosen to use in revealing Himself.

As noted, the only perfect messages from God are the Bible and Jesus. The God-chosen conveyors of these messages are people who personally know God. AWe have this treasure in earthen vessels@ (II Cor. 4:7). A. . . Christ in you, the hope of glory@ (Col. 1:27). AGlory@ means revealing God as He is.

God has ordained that prechristians shall learn of Him through Christians. The Ethiopian Eunuch needed Philip; Apollos needed Aquila and Priscilla; Paul needed Ananias. Even people who are converted by reading the Bible or a tract are indebted to Christians who wrote, printed, and distributed it.

God is Holy. We cannot sneak up on Him physically, spiritually, or intuitively. We will meet Him only as we seek Him through His Self-chosen channels. God=s perfect messages, Jesus and the Bible, reach the world through His messengers, the people of God.

Third, God=s holiness distances Him from humans. He is transcendent, unimaginably greater than people. AWhen I consider thy heavens, the works of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; what is man that thou art mindful of him? And the son of man, that thou visitest him?@ (Psalms 8:3-4).

The first response of sinners toward the Holy One must be awed reverence, falling down to say, AI am guilty of sin, unworthy of You. Sin is my fault. I am to blame. I cannot help myself. I need You, forgive me, come live in me, rule over me.@

Sinners are helped only if they bow before God and confess helplessness. AThe fear of the Lord is the beginning of all wisdom@ (Proverbs 1:7).

Fear means not terror, a phobia, or quaking, crippling anxiety, but absolute awe and reverence. We need to revere God, because the fear of the Lord prolongs days (Proverbs 10:27), is strong confidence (Proverbs 14:26), is a fountain of life
(Proverbs 14:27), tends to life (Proverbs 19:23), and results in riches, honor, and life (Proverbs 22:4). Anything yielding these results is worth having.

In practical everyday language, the fear of the Lord is defined in Proverbs 8:13, AThe fear of the Lord is to hate evil.@ People can know the living God and enjoy His fullest benefit only if they hate evil. We show our desire to have God by hating what separates us from Him. Sin causes this separation. AThe Lord=s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: but your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear@ (Isaiah 59:1-2).

Before we can appreciate and appropriate God spiritually we must hate anything which separates Him from us. Many claim to want God, but then are kept from God, because they desire their sins more. We can=t love both.

Jesus dealt with the sin problem, paying our sin debt, covering it with His blood. If we repent of sin, and believe in Him, we will have communion with God.

God is; God is speaking; God is Holy. Holy God is in John 3:16 saying to us, AYou are fallen and sinful, but I want you to know me and return to me.@