Tag: WHICH GOD

WHAT MAKES YOU SO SURE YOUR RELIGION IS THE RIGHT ONE?

Usually people ask this question not in an honest, inquiring way, but rhetorically, cynically, critically. Or perhaps in these more militant days they’ll just tell you straight that you can’t know anything for sure-except, of course, what they believe. They want you to be unsure of your faith, and preferably to abandon it altogether, so that you’re in the same spiritual condition as they are: lost and without hope, and more importantly, without any moral compass to control how they live and how they think.

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Pilate said, cynically, “What is truth?” He was on the wrong side of history.

If you stand for nothing you’ll fall for anything, like rocks turning into humans and men becoming women. If you’re too open-minded your brains will fall out. And remember, it’s those on the narrow path who are on the way to life, while the broad road, which our society wants us all to travel on, is the road to destruction.

It’s time not to shrink to the size of a mouse when someone challenges us with unbelief and lies from the pit of hell, but to stand firm and strong, in the power of the creator and sustainer of all things. There’s plenty of reason to know what we believe and to know what we know. If you want evidence and reason to support your faith you can find it in history and archaeology-if you avoid the revised versions and the atheistic, relativistic rhetoric. You can find evidence in true science, and in nature.

The Western world is sliding rapidly down a slippery slope, not just to irrelevance and confusion and division and social decay, with only a few brave souls working to stop the rot, but to attack from others who are very committed in their own mistaken beliefs, and who are determined to impose them on the rest of us as soon as they are able.

It’s time to stand firm. It’s time to “..be still and know (not ‘hope’) that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). It’s time to put on that spiritual armor, most particularly “the shield of faith” (Ephesians 6:16). And when someone asks you how you know your God is the real God, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15). We spend hours a day entertaining ourselves: why not spend a half hour a day building up our faith?

We don’t have to be militant, or rude, or arrogant or smug: share your faith with gentleness. But we do need to remember all those examples from the past given to us, of people who have stood firm in the face of hatred and rejection of our God. The most important and relevant of those is Jesus himself, who could not and would not deny himself or his Father. He stood firm to the end, and because of his obedience, “God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name above all names” (Philippians 2:9).

(To my regular readers-I’ll be returning to the subject of the rapture soon. Thanks for your time).

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WHY MY GOD IS THE ONLY TRUE GOD

There are many “gods” in the world-perhaps millions. Therefore, says a large segment of our population, no-one should dare claim that their God is the only true god. Is that good logic? Does it follow that just because there are millions of gods in the world, they either have to all be right or all be wrong? Cannot one of them actually be the “right” one? And is it true that if there is a “right” one, there’s no way of knowing which one it is? 

I have no wish to go with the flow of societal fashion, multicultural haze, political correctness or unbelief, and I claim without hesitation that my God is the only true God…

There can only be one supreme being, just as there can only be one president of a successful nation without confusion and strife. That one supreme being cannot have conflicting characteristics as if he/she/it were some cosmic schizophrenic. These practical principles narrow us down to a few claimants to the throne. The Biblical God is one of those few who will not share his throne. The Bible is strewn with statements to that effect:

“I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God” (Isaiah 44:6 NIV).

We are faced, then, with a choice: either we accept the claim or we reject it. While faith and the blessing of knowing God come from the Spirit of God, and not from our own effort to reason things out, it makes sense that truth is reasonable, and there are, in my view, many clear evidences to reason our way to a knowledge of who the Creator is.

CREATION IS CONSISTENT WITH THE GOD OF THE BIBLE

The work of men like Hubble and Einstein showed us that the universe is not eternal but had a beginning. Einstein demonstrated mathematically that space and time are inseparable, and that matter and energy are two sides of the same coin. The first verse of the Bible, written long before Einstein or Hubble, describes, in brief, a beginning to the universe which incorporates inseparably time, space and matter:

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth”.

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Biblical creation also explains the creation of man, and of the nature and intelligence of man. I’ve discussed creation and the lack of evidence for evolution before.

A DIVINE MESSAGE

It’s my conviction that the supreme being is perfectly capable and willing to create and preserve a message to his ultimate creation, mankind. The Bible claims to be a supernatural message from our creator to us. If that’s true, it should be meaningful, profound, relative and vital to the human condition. I believe the Bible fulfills all those characteristics. It isn’t the creation of a bunch of idiots, and any forger would have had nothing to gain from its writing. In fact, most commonly the human conveyors of the message of Scripture were persecuted. The depth and richness of Scripture is far beyond any other writing I have encountered. When this is seen along with its claims of divine origin, its clear that it deserves serious consideration.

The actual volume of manuscript evidence is enormous. Why does the manuscript evidence matter? There are many reasons, among which is the fact that the numerous different human authors of Bible books lived over a very long period of human history. They recorded their experiences and inspirations which, when put together, provide one narrative, one story, and one message-an amazing message of hope and love. That narrative has been preserved through all the many attempts over the centuries to destroy it.

Many think that the Bible was written centuries after the fact and is filled with mistakes, contradictions and fabrications. However, the documentary evidence for the New Testament alone far surpasses any other work of its time. We have over 5000 manuscripts, and many are dated within a few years of their authors’ lives. One example, the Rylands Papyri found in Egypt, contains a fragment of John’s gospel, and dates to A.D. 130. From this fragment we can conclude that John’s gospel was completed well before A.D. 130, because not only did the gospel have to be written, it had to be hand copied and make its way down from Greece to Egypt. Since the vast majority of scholars agree that John is the last gospel written, we can affirm its first century date along with the other three with greater assurance.

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More evidence comes from the Dead Sea Scrolls Cave 7. Jose Callahan discovered a fragment of the Gospel of Mark and dated it to have been written in A.D. 50. He also discovered fragments of Acts and other epistles and dated them to have been written slightly after A.D. 50.

For more information see:

https://bible.org/article/historical-reliability-gospels

There are numerous writings of the Church Fathers quoting sections of Scripture, and the entire New Testament could be constructed from those alone. Millions of man-hours have been spent cross-checking them. Here are a few examples:

Clement of Rome sent a letter to the Corinthian church in A.D. 95. in which he quoted from the Gospels and other portions of the N.T. Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, wrote a letter before his martyrdom in Rome in A.D. 115, quoting all the Gospels and other N.T. letters. Polycarp wrote to the Philippians in A.D. 120 and quoted from the Gospels and N.T. letters. Justin Martyr (A.D. 150) quotes John’s gospel chapter 3. Church fathers of the early second century were familiar with the apostle’s writings and quoted them as inspired Scripture.

The Dead Sea Scrolls prove the accuracy of the transmission of the Bible. In these scrolls discovered at Qumran in 1947, we have Old Testament manuscripts which date to 150 BC, about a thousand years earlier than Old Testament manuscripts previously known. They include a complete scroll of Isaiah. The significance is that when the two sets of manuscripts are compared, it’s clear that they are essentially the same, with very few changes. The 5 percent of variation consists chiefly of obvious slips of the pen and variations in spelling. This indicates the incredible accuracy of the Old Testament manuscripts’ transmission to us. God is able to preserve His message (1).

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Dr. Gary R Habermas, a New Testament historian, received his Ph D from Michigan State University and his DD from Emmanuel College, Oxford. In his book “The Historical Jesus”, Habermas discusses the creed quoted below as found in 1st Corinthians, and writes:

“That this confession is an early Christian, pre-Pauline creed is recognized by virtually all critical scholars across a wide theological spectrum” (3).

This is the gospel that Paul preached in the first century:

“Now brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve.  After that he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time….Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also…” (1 Corinthians 15: 1 – 8).

THE GOSPEL MESSAGE

The gospel of Jesus Christ speaks of a God who loves his creation. In other religions of the world man must prove himself to God and meet some very high standards in order to be accepted. But the gospel of Jesus is all about God reaching out to mankind with willing acceptance and a fervent desire to overlook our failures. Christ paid for our sins: we cannot pay for our own sins. The philosophies of the world such as Buddhism do not attempt to even describe or explain creation or a creator.

ARCHAEOLOGY

The Bible is supported richly by archaeological evidence. Below are just a few of the many finds made in recent decades, followed by a link to information on some of the latest finds.

THE POOL OF SILOAM, where Jesus healed the blind man (John 9:1–11) and which critics had said never existed, was found in 2004 (4).

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THE TEL DAN INSCRIPTION. The existence of King David, from Samuel in the OT, was mocked by secular scholars until The Tel Dan inscription, or “House of David” inscription, was discovered in 1993 at the site of Tel Dan in northern Israel. Few modern Biblical archaeology discoveries have caused as much excitement as the Tel Dan inscription—writing on a ninth-century B.C. stone slab (or stela) that furnished the first historical evidence of King David from the Bible. The inscription makes reference to a military victory and corresponds to the biblical account in 2 Chronicles 22.

 

THE WESTERN WALL

THE PILATE INSCRIPTION

A stone tablet was found in the theater of Caesarea on the Mediterranean coast and bears an inscription mentioning the name of Pontius Pilate the procurator of Judea, and also the Tiberium, which was an edifice built in honor of the Emperor Tiberius by Pilate. There has been much written to discredit the biblical narrative in regard to the existence of Pilate; this tablet clearly says that it was from “Pontius Pilate, Prefect of Judea” and verifies that he was a person that lived during the time of Jesus, exactly as written in the biblical narrative.

http://www.bible-history.com/archaeology/news/

SCIENCE

Militant atheists and anti-Christian groups are on a mission to convince you and your children that science and faith do not mix. They omit to tell you that many of the great scientists of the past, such as Isaac Newton, were believers and attributed the wonders of creation and the orderliness of the universe to a Designer. Some scientists and scientifically trained people today are believers. Faith and true science do mix: faith and unbelief obviously do not. There are many scientists today who are convinced that the God of the Bible created all things. For example, see https://www.icr.org/homepage/

 

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HISTORY

Secular history sources tell us that the first notable civilization was in Mesopotamia, and then came Egypt, Greece and Rome. Biblical accounts agree. Not only so, but the secular time-frame for the rise of civilized society agrees with the Bible.

“Our knowledge of prehistory derives from surviving objects…” (which don’t have dates on). “History, by contrast, is based on documents” (a telling admission). “These various interconnections mean that history, civilization and writing all begin at the same time. That time is about 3100 BC.”

“In about 3200 BC the two earliest civilizations develop….” (9).

Stela_of_Iddi-Sin,_King_of_Simurrum__It_dates_back_to_the_Old-Babylonian_Perdiod__From_Qarachatan_Village,_Sulaymaniyah_Governorate,_Iraqi_Kurdistan__The

That’s interesting, because the Bible agrees, and in fact said it first. The timing perfectly fits Biblical accounts and genealogies.

The Bible has become a significant source book for secular archaeology, helping to identify such ancient figures as Sargon (Isaiah 20:1); Sennacherib (Isaiah 37:37); Horam of Gazer (Joshua 10:33); Hazar (Joshua 15:27); and the nation of the Hittites (Genesis 15:20). The biblical record, unlike other “scriptures,” is historically set, opening itself up for testing and verification.

The names of over 40 different kings of various countries mentioned in the Bible have all been found in contemporary documents and inscriptions outside of the Old Testament, and are always consistent with the times and places associated with them in the Bible. Nothing exists in ancient literature that has been even remotely as well-confirmed in accuracy as has the Bible (10).

The Biblical Flood story is corroborated by dozens of ancient flood legends from around the world, as is the record of unbiased geology (11).

I came upon one such account while reading a secular book called “The Chinese Heritage”, which notes that the Chinese recorded a huge flood which covered the land and the mountains. It also states that originally people in that land believed in one supreme God.

NON_BIBLICAL SOURCES

The New Testament is supportable with many ancient secular documents. For info see:

“The Case for Christ” by Lee Strobel;

“The Historical Jesus” by Gary R. Habermas

Examples:

Tacitus, the most important Roman historian of the first century, mentioned Christ as the reingleader of a sect, and “who suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberias”;

Pliny the Younger tortured and killed Christians. He wrote in AD 111 that he killed them for “belonging to that degenerate sect”. He wrote that they chanted to Christ “as if to a god”.

DIVINE DESIGN

The scriptures contain an inexhaustible supply of encoded evidence to authenticate and confirm its divine design, in other words, evidence that Biblical Scripture is indeed “inspired by God” as it claims, and not by the rantings of ancient man attempting to control someone. One example is typology, which demonstrates that many authors over a long period of time were in fact advancing the same message. The deeper you look, the more encoded evidence you can find. For a fascinating glimpse into the many amazing codes found within the Bible, see Chuck Missler’s articles on the subject, based on his books (12).

https://www.blueletterbible.org/study/larkin/dt/28.cfm

PROPHECY

The Bible foretells future events, many of which have been fulfilled, and others which have yet to be fulfilled. For example, the Old Testament contains hundreds of predictions of the Messiah, some concerning his first coming as recorded in the New Testament, and some concerning his return. Luke’s gospel records an incident in which Jesus read part of the scroll of Isaiah, known to have been written long before the life of Jesus, for all to hear in the synagogue at Nazareth, then he said:

“Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:16-21).

Christ’s birth was foretold, in Isaiah 9:6-7, and his death in Isaiah chapter 53.

In our time a fulfillment of New Testament and Old Testament prophesies about Israel and particularly Jerusalem appear to be in the process of fulfillment. Prophesies relating to contention over Jerusalem in days preceding the return of Christ are particularly amazing. The world is intent on dividing Jerusalem-something it would never want for any other nation’s capital: consider Berlin, for example. The division of Jerusalem is the spark of Armageddon. For me, this alone is enough to convince me that my faith is in the living God. For details please see my post:

https://nickyfisher.com/2014/09/17/why-would-a-christian-want-to-support-israel/

HUMAN NATURE

The Bible is right about human nature. You only have to look around at our world, and in the mirror, to see that.

CHANGED LIVES

Millions of lives have been radically changed for the better by the gospel of Jesus Christ. Notable examples from history include the apostle Paul, a persecutor of Christians until his own conversion, at which point he devoted the rest of his life to spreading the gospel, and John Newton, a slave trader until his conversion. He subsequently wrote the famous hymn “Amazing Grace” (13).

Closer to home, my own life was radically changed for the better when I became “born again”. No-one can take away from me the knowledge of my own changed life. I’m not saying that I suddenly became a wonderful person: I’m saying that the things which had me in bondage no longer have a hold on me, and that I found meaning and purpose in my life and in the universe.

NOTES

1: For more info read Josh McDowell’s books “Evidence that Demands a Verdict” (one of the top 40 biggest-sellers of the 20th Century) and his new “God Breathed”.

http://home.earthlink.net/~ronrhodes/Manuscript.html

http://www.icr.org/bible-manuscripts/

2: Lee Strobel “The Case For Christ” (Pub. By Zondervan, © 1998) p. 230.

3: Gary R Habermas “The Historical Jesus: Ancient Evidence for the Life of Christ” (College Press Publishing Company, Joplin, Missouri, © 1996 Gary Habermas) p 153.

4: http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-sites-places/biblical-archaeology-sites/the-siloam-pool-where-jesus-healed-the-blind-man/http://www.bibleplaces.com/poolofsiloam.htm

5: http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-artifacts/artifacts-and-the-bible/the-tel-dan-inscription-the-first-historical-evidence-of-the-king-david-bible-story/

6: For more info read  “The Popular Handbook of Archaeology and the Bible” by Geisler & Holden, and Logos Bible Software.

“The Stones Cry Out” by Dr. Randall Price

http://www.gotquestions.org/biblical-archaeology.html#ixzz3cPqQK5QD

7: https://answersingenesis.org/answers/books/taking-back-astronomy/the-universe-confirms-the-bible/

8: http://www.icr.org

http://www.answersingenesis.org

9: http://www.historyworld.net/wrldhis/PlainTextHistories.asp?historyid=ab25

10: http://www.icr.org/bible-history

11: https://answersingenesis.org/the-flood/flood-legends/flood-legends/

12: http://www.khouse.org/articles_cat/2015/technical/biblecodes/

13: http://www.anointedlinks.com/amazing_grace.html

HOW MANY GODS?

In the last post of this series about the existence and nature of God, I wrote that there must be a supreme God, or the universe could not function in perfect order as it does. You only have to take one look at our “democracies” in the West to see that when you have several parties and people all attempting to govern, you have discord, lack of direction, division, arguments, corruption, and failures by the day. If there were a thousand presidents at once, we would have even more discord than we have now…

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If there were more than one God, or god, they would have to be in perfect accord to run the universe, in which case they would essentially be One God. The theology of all the different religions tells us otherwise: they are very different in character, personality and intentions. Even if all these gods exist, they cannot all be telling the same “truth”.

There’s a huge effort going on to convince all of us that all “gods” are equal and of equal value, and that they all are leading us essentially in the same direction. The logic goes like this:

“There are many different gods in the world, and many different philosophies, therefore it’s wrong to try to claim that your idea of God or your way to life and enlightenment is the right one or the only one. There are many roads to enlightenment, or to heaven, or to spirituality, or to God, and we are all on our own path to the same destination, whatever that may be”.puzzle

When you really reason that claim through you can only come to the conclusion that it’s nonsense! All the “gods”, isms, philosophies and religions of the world are very different, and can no more be describing the same entity and path to the same destination than can all the political parties in the world be describing the same policies and the same societal outcome. What about the group of 39 people known as “Heaven’s Gate”, who in March of 1997 beamed themselves up to a space ship hiding behind the Hale-Bopp comet by killing themselves: were they on a valid path to life, heaven and enlightenment? And if you attempt to dismiss just that one group, you’re contradicting your own criticism that we mustn’t judge or discriminate.

What about those who murder others brutally in order to receive direct entrance into the presence of their god, with attendant submissive virgins and other abundant blessings- are they on a valid and acceptable path to life, heaven and enlightenment? If they are, I for one don’t want to go to there to be with them.

Reason says that some philosophies must be wrong, because they are mutually contradictory. Some atheists and agnostics have attempted to deny believers the dignity of reason. On the contrary, reason works hand in hand with faith for the true believer, and reason tells us that there cannot be at the same time one god, two gods, ten gods, a million gods, and no gods: only one of those options can be true.

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What is “heaven”? Is it freedom from rebirth and oneness with Brahma, bringing the end of your distinct person-hood, or is it enjoying the company of seventy-two perpetual virgins, or hanging out on some distant planet with hyper-intelligent aliens, or being present and in continual worship of Jehovah, or joining the ranks of battle heroes in Valhalla?

Picture yourself on a road in Japan. You’re on highway 197 going west. You want to go to London England by car and you’re convinced that all roads lead to London. But you’re on an island, and twenty-five miles after passing the city of Yawatahama your car falls into the sea…plop! It doesn’t matter how much you sincerely believed that that road leads to London: it does not. You need to catch a plane or a boat, no matter how averse you are to the thought of flying or sailing. And if God is real, there must be similarly clear-cut lines between what is factual despite your sincerely-held beliefs, and what isn’t.

Getting to the point of this post, the Bible, the divine message I am personally totally convinced by, and which is supported by History, archaeology nature and reason, is very clear on the subject. God through the prophet Isaiah said:

“I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God” (Isaiah 44:6b).

Jesus Christ said:

“I am the way, and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

Peter the apostle, speaking of Jesus said:

“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

And Jesus said:

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).

WHAT IS GOD LIKE?

A couple of weeks ago I discussed very briefly the three main theories humans use to attempt to explain our existence. A fourth, one which I dismissed from consideration, is that we aren’t really here at all-we only think we are. If we don’t exist, you’re not really reading this post, so there’s no point in imagining that you’re reading it, because it doesn’t exist anyway…

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I concluded, based on tangible evidence, that we do exist and that we’re here because God created us. We didn’t get here on this planet because aliens “seeded” us here, and we didn’t develop in some fantastical evolution from nothing. We were created, by a being far above our own abilities and perception. Today I’ll consider what that God must be like.

For such a universe to exist, God must be a sovereign being. There could be no order and consistency if there were many gods vying for supremacy and having different ideas about how things should be. Just look at the mess of our political scene as a contrary example, or at the Greek Pantheon and its constant quarrels and childish actions and reactions. The real God is One, and is supreme.

The farther astronomers look into space, the more they see. The closer researchers look into cells and living systems, the more mind-boggling features, processes and detail they discover. The longer we as individuals live, the more beauty we recognize. There seems to be no end to what we can discover and experience in this incredible world and universe-there’s only a limit and an end to the time we have to explore and enjoy it.

Since the universe is this way, and since things do not create themselves and do not arise and develop from disorder, we must conclude, if we’re honest with our reasoning and logic, that what we see, feel, hear, taste, smell and otherwise spiritually detect with our senses comes from what God has created. The fact that we have the ability to test, enjoy and benefit from the world around us is one evidence that God is gracious, generous, kind and loving to enable us to experience these things, and to interact with our environment and with each other. We would not even know that the universe outside our immediate surroundings existed if we didn’t have the eyes to see, the bodies to move, and the brains to comprehend what’s there.

The creator must be eternal and unlimited by time. He created time along with other things. Einstein concluded that time and space are inseparable, and that you can’t have matter without time and space also. Perhaps unwittingly, he was confirming the first verse of the Bible, which states that “In the beginning (time) God made the heavens (space) and the earth” (matter). The three had to come into existence simultaneously, and of course, secular scientists have had to incorporate the three together in their “big-bang” theory. But the Bible said it first-a long time ago. So to create time, space and matter, God must be outside of it all: apart from it and above it, and not subject to it.

God must be able to control  the universe and all it its constituent parts. That makes him omnipotent-all powerful, and omnipresent-everywhere. And so all the order we see in the universe-the precise order of the planets and their movements in our galaxy, all depending as they do on the order and consistency of the sun’s power, is evidence, as Isaac Newton concluded, that God is unfathomably intelligent, ordered and powerful, and is in fact The master mathematician and The master scientist.

The integrity of God’s design speaks of the integrity of his character. He is faithful, consistent and committed. Just as the universe hasn’t changed in its operations, laws and principles, so God must be unchanging.

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When we look around at our own world, we see beauty which constantly astounds and amazes us. This makes God not only the master of beauty, but beautiful in his nature. Beauty can only be created by beauty.

When we consider the terrible things that man inflicts on his own kind, we see the patience and mercy of God in action, because the all-powerful God, who created what we damage and destroy, endures it all- at least, for now.

As we know, large numbers of people deny the existence of God, or they twist and deny his character as expressed in creation. The apostle Paul wrote about the clear evidence for God all around us. He declared that there’s no excuse for denying His existence and His nature:

“For what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood from His workmanship, so that men are without excuse” (Romans 1:19-20).

The real truth is that God is far above any words we have available to us, and any power of imagining we can conjure up. God is great. Glory to his Name.

There will be a part 2 to this post, coming soon…