Here He Comes – Believe

Here He Comes – Believe

Here He Comes – Believe!

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CHAPTER 7

SUBJECT: "HERE HE COMES" – BELIEVE!

SCRIPTURE: Luke 1:26-28

TEXT: In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you." (Luke 1:26-28)

INTRODUCTION: God meets us in the commonplace events of life most of the time, but there likely will be a few times in our lives when God reveals Himself in rather dramatic and unexpected ways, all for the purpose of deepening our faith in God and increasing our love for God.

PROPOSITION: Here He comes! Jesus is coming! So believe and receive!

I. Divine Initiative – Human Confusion (v. Luke 1:25-29)

A. Divine Initiative (v. Luke 1:26-28)

B. Human Confusion (v. Luke 1:29)

II. Divine Revelation – Human Amazement (v. Luke 1:30-34)

A. Divine Revelation (v. Luke 1:30-33)

B. Human Amazement (v. Luke 1:34)

III. Divine Reassurance – Human Submission (v. Luke 1:35-38)

A. Divine Reassurance (v. Luke 1:35-37)

B. Human Submission (v. Luke 1:38)

CONCLUSION: God takes the initiative to reveal His shockingly wonderful plans to us, causing a human response of confusion or bewilderment. God's plans are challenges to man's ability to trust and believe and obey. In the midst of human bewilderment comes God's reassurance and God's call to submission and trust.

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CHAPTER 7

SUBJECT: "HERE HE COMES" – 'BELIEVE'!

SCRIPTURE: Luke 1:26-28

TEXT: In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you." (Luke 1:26-28)

INTRODUCTION: "Here He Comes" – that is the proclamation of Advent or Christmas. Jesus is the God who comes to mankind! He is the one who makes His abode with mankind.

Have you ever wished that God would come close to you, would reveal Himself to you in intimate and wonderful ways?

"God is constantly seeking to meet us in the common and unexpected moments of life. He does not wait for what we are pleased to call the 'grand moments' but He will make the common place the grand. We walk about blind to the glory that is around us because we do not expect to find it there. We mortgage the joys of the present, the quiet homely joys of humdrum days, to our anticipations of some distant time of overwhelming happiness of a kind that never comes to most people. God has not concealed our happiness in some fabled EL Dorado. It is all around us if we would only learn to see it in common things." (Daily Readings; 185, Sangster)

God meets us in the common things of life. A minister tells of a time when he went to view outdoor fireworks with some friends. While the fireworks went off, the minister was fascinated with a most glorious sunset, and he sought to draw the attention of his friends to the exquisite sight. But the friends were so preoccupied with the view of the man-made fireworks that they did not once turn around to view the God-made sunset. They were so fascinated with man's manufactured beauty that they failed to meet God that night in the commonplace things of life – things like an evening sunset.

Do you wish to meet God and as a result become a man of greater faith, full of belief'? Then meet God in your daily Quiet Time. Meet Him in the routine of mundane duties. Meet Him in the beauties of nature. Meet Him in the struggles of life, common to all men. See Him in a sunrise or a sunset. Hear Him speak to you in a grand sweep of music, or in the chirping of a bird, or in the coo of an infant. God will come to you in the round of daily events and speak to you in the commonplace things of life.

God meets us in the commonplace events of life most of the time, but there likely will be a few times in our lives when God reveals Himself in rather dramatic and unexpected ways, all for the purpose of deepening our faith in God and increasing our love for God.

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God came to a young Jewish woman in a rather dramatic way. Doubtless, God had come to Mary on many occasions during her daily walk with God, but on one special day, unexpectantly, God came to Mary to reveal a special message to her.

In studying the divine-human encounter, as related in our Scripture, there is a clearly discernable pattern, a pattern that is often repeated in Scripture.

There is a divine action, followed by a human response. Here is the pattern as illustrated in Luke 1:26-28.

Divine Action Human Response
1. Divine Initiative (Luke 1:26-28) 1. Human Confusion (Luke 1:29)
2. Divine Revelation ( Luke 1:30-33) 2. Human Amazement (Luke 1:34)
3. Divine Reassurance (Luke 1:35-37) 3. Human Submission (Luke 1:38)

PROPOSITION: Here He comes! Jesus is coming! So believe and receive!

I. Divine Initiative – Human Confusion (Luke 1:26-29)

A. Divine Initiative (Luke 1:26-28)

"God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth." These words reveal the kind of God we serve. God is always the God who acts. God is not passive; He is active. God is not complacent; He is caring. God always takes the first step towards mankind. God always acts according to His divine purpose. God does not simply wind the clock and then let the clock (the world) run on its own. He, the Winder of the clock (the Creator of the world), is intimately involved in the running of the clock (the running of the world).

Look at a few examples of God's initiative.

God's Creative Initiative (Genesis 1:1)

God's call of Abraham (Genesis 12:1) – 'The Lord said to Abram, "Leave your country. '"

God's call of Moses (at the fiery Bush) – Exodus 3:2.

God's call of Gideon (Judges 6:11-12)

God's call of Amos (Amos 7:14-15)

God's call of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1:4-8)

God's call to Paul (Acts 9:3-6)

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It is when you least expect God's call that God's call may come to you – when you are preoccupied with your own affairs and plans, when you feel least qualified to carry out the task God assigns to you.

"This is what the Lord says, he who made earth, the Lord who formed it and established it – the Lord is his name: 'Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great unsearchable things you do not know. '" (Jeremiah 33:2-3)

While you are calling upon the Lord in your prayers, daily and routinely, nothing may seem to be happening. But one day, unexpectedly (like as in the case of Mary), the Lord will come to you in an unusual way to reveal Himself to you, all for the purpose of blessing you and deepening your faith in the living God.

Do you lack faith and belief? Then just keep praying, keep walking in all the 'light' of truth you presently have, and the day will come (like it did to Mary) when the Lord God will reveal Himself wonderfully and surprisingly to you.

B. Human Confusion (Luke 1:29)

When the Lord breaks through to you and speaks to you, your initial response may be like Mary's: "Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be." (Luke 1:29)

Initial confusion is not an unusual human response to God's divine message. I feel sure that Abram was confused at first when God told him to leave his country and people to go to an unknown land. (Genesis 12:1-20) When God called to Moses out of the fiery bush, "Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God." (Exodus 3:6) When God's angel appeared to Gideon and announced to Gideon that the Lord was with him, Gideon responded in great confusion: "But sir, if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our father told us about when they said, 'Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?' But now the Lord has abandoned us and put us into the hand of Midian." (Judges 6:13) When God called Jeremiah to be His prophet, Jeremiah's response was one of reticence, of confusion: "Ah Sovereign Lord, I do not know how to speak; I am only a child." (Jeremiah 1:6)

When God took the initiative to reveal Himself to Saul the Persecutor, Saul was totally 'taken off guard', confused and baffled! "He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, 'Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?' 'Who are you, Lord?' Saul asked." (Acts 9:4-5)

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When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, her response was not unlike the response of many before and after her who have been encountered by the living God: "Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be." (Luke 1:29)

When God comes in unexpected ways and at unexpected times to reveal Himself and His message to you, it will not be surprising if you at first react with confusion, questions, wonderment.

The message which God wants to give you may be so wonderful that you at first shake your head in unbelief!

The Lord is getting you ready for a new revelation in your life which, if you accept it, will result in deepening your faith and belief in the living Christ. Don't allow your initial confusion to keep you from experiencing the full blessing of the new revelation of God to you. Say to yourself, when the Lord comes to you in new and strange ways: "My soul, wait thou only for the Lord, for my salvation cometh from the Lord." (Psalms 62:5)

II. Divine Revelation – Human Amazement (Luke 1:30-34)

A. Divine Revelation (Luke 1:30-33)

It was while Mary was confused and 'greatly troubled' that God's angel spoke to her: "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God." (Luke 1:30)

Amidst human confusion, divine comfort is offered. Human confusion soon gives way to human amazement, at the announcement of the divine message! When God catches your attention dramatically, He has a dramatic message to share with you. Again, let it be emphasized that God, for the most part, reveals Himself to His people in what might be called the regular and routine and commonplace ways. Never minimize these regular revelations to you – revelations through the beauties of nature, through the warm affirmations of a friend, through the moving stanzas of a musical, through the smile of a child, through the exhortations of a sermon, through the inspirational paragraph from a Christian book, through the challenging impact of a Scriptural passage, and on and on. Yes, God reveals Himself to us in so-called commonplace events, but there may be times, as in the case of Mary, when the Lord shall come to us in rather shocking ways. You probably will be just as confused as Mary was when the Lord comes to you in special and unexpected ways.

Just remember: the Lord never comes to you in order to baffle you, but in order to bless you! Your confusion will give way to comfort if you hold steady and listen for God's message!

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Think of the wonderful content of God's message to Mary. "But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever,' his kingdom will never end." (Luke 1:30-33)

"Do not be afraid, Mary." Fear is one of man's paralyzing problems. Often the Lord comes to us and says, "Fear not." When God calls us to a new realm of responsibility, we sometimes are filled with fear – fear of the unknown, fear of failure, or many other fears. It was so with Joshua, the successor of Moses. Joshua had big shoes to fill, and he was afraid when God gave him the task of leading the Hebrew people into the land of Canaan. The Lord told Joshua to 'Fear not': "Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. Be strong and very courageous." (Joshua 1:6-7 a)

"You have found favor with God." God comes to you because He loves you and wants to bless your life, not because you are perfect or sinless. Mary was a devout young Jewish girl, perhaps in her late teens, a girl whose affections were fixed on the living God. Any person, young or old, whose life is centered in God, whose daily devotions are filled with delight, whose desires are godly, is greatly favored of the Lord. Not that we can earn God's favor, but only he whose life is open to God can be filled with God. If you seek God in your daily life consistently, you can expect God to reveal Himself to you someday dramatically.

Someone said that the soul gets on by a series of crises. There is a day-by-day walking with God, sometimes with little feeling and with seemingly slow progress. And then suddenly and unexpectantly a new vision or revelation will come to you from God. A sudden turn of events, or a new miracle, or a new insight into God's Word, or a new decision which has lifetime results, or a new call into Christian service – these are the revelations which come to God's people which show that they "have found favor with God." (Luke 1:30)

"You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end." (Luke 1:31-33)

No woman has been more favored than Mary. She was given the honor of carrying and giving birth to the Son of God! Mary was chosen to become a tool for God's great saving purpose. His name would be 'Jesus', which means

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'Saviour'. He will be the 'Son of the Most High'. He will reign on his father David's throne. The Kingdom of God is the Kingdom of Mary's Son, a Kingdom which shall last forever and composed of all true believers of all ages.

God's special revelations to us are all concerned with God's saving purposes which He desires to accomplish in our world, using us as His instruments to accomplish those redemptive purposes.

So, anyone who claims to have a special revelation from God which is characterized by selfishness can be quickly 'set straight'. God never reveals anything to anyone that is contradictory to his saving purposes, purposes which are clearly outlined in His Holy Word – the Bible!

God may have a special revelation to give to you as He did to Mary, but the content of that revelation will always be the content of salvation – perhaps a special call to take the Gospel to a certain obscure area of the world, or a call to start a Christian Day School, or a call to communicate the Gospel by setting up home Bible studies with unsaved friends, or some other kind of saving purpose.

B. Human Amazement (Luke 1:34)

When God reveals Himself to you in special ways, you may be just as amazed as Mary was. Mary responded, "How will this be, since I am a virgin?" (Luke 1:34) You, too, may respond to God's special call to you: "God, how can this be? Surely your request is impossible for me to fulfill!"

When God told Moses that He was sending Moses to Pharaoh to bring the Israelites out of Egypt, Moses responded with as much amazement as Mary manifested when Gabriel told her she was to give birth to Jesus. Moses responded "Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?" (Exodus 3:11)

The Lord came to Gideon and said, "Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian 's hand. Am I not sending you?" Gideon responded with great amazement: "But Lord, how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family." (Judges 6:15) Amazement mixed with feelings of deep inferiority and inadequacy!

When God reveals the content of His call to you, you can expect to respond with amazement. You will, like Mary, feel overwhelmed and perhaps even say "How can this be? This assignment is humanly unaccomplishable!" Mary, a virgin, could not bear the Son of God without a miraculous conception! You and I cannot fulfill God's call without divine intervention!

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III. Divine Reassurance – Human Submission (Luke 1:35-38)

A. Divine Reassurance (Luke 1:35-37)

When the content of God's special revelation is shown to us, the inevitable human response will be amazement, for we know that the assignment cannot be fulfilled, short of a divine miracle! It was when Mary was filled with amazement and unbelief that God's angel gave reassurance to Mary. "The angel answered, 'The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.'" (Luke 1:35-37)

It is the Holy Spirit who is the source of power to accomplish the otherwise unaccomplishable! Just as the Holy Spirit empowered Mary and overshadowed her, so the Holy Spirit will do the same for us when God calls us to work for Him.

The Holy Spirit accomplishes the miracle, in this case, the miraculous conception of Jesus whose life and ministry would be holy. The miracles that God accomplishes through our obedient cooperation, will also be wonderful. The results will be holy and sacred. The impossible is possible with God! The weak are strong in God's strength! That which is foolish in the eyes of men is wise in the eyes of God!

God is always ready to reassure our hearts, to strengthen our wills, to quiet our fears, to still our doubts.

One way in which God chooses to reassure our hearts when we are tempted to doubt His power or are tempted to center on our inadequacies, is to direct our attention to persons in whose lives He is working similar miracles as the miracle He wishes to accomplish in our own lives. As a part of His reassurance to Mary, God's angel directed Mary's attention to Elizabeth. "And behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible." (Luke 1:36-37)

What a great encouragement it is to us, when we are struggling to believe God for a new and great miracle in our lives, to look at another person who is a living illustration of God's miraculous power in action. The miracle God wishes to accomplish in my life will be unique from that in any other person's life, but to get my eyes on God's miracles in any form gives a great impetus to my ability to believe God for the special miracle He wishes to work in my own life.

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B. Human Submission (Luke 1:38)

Luke 1:38 reveal Mary's submission to God's plan. "I am the Lord's servant. May it be to me as you have said." In spite of the miraculous nature of God's revelation, Mary was convinced of its reality and therefore submitted in humility to God's will "And Mary said, 'Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.'" (Luke 1:38)

Mary believed and so must we when God reveals Himself to us!

Abraham believed God and God rewarded him in amazing ways. Moses reluctantly obeyed God and went to Pharaoh, and, as a result, God used Moses to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt to the Promised Land of Canaan. Gideon was slow to submit to God's will, but God was forbearing and Gideon finally obeyed decisively and became God's instrument for a decisive victory over the Midianites. Mary was quick to submit herself to God, and she became one of God's greatest instruments for His saving purposes.

How are we brought to a new level of belief in our lives? First, by learning to see God in the commonplace things of life and learning to respond to God as He reveals Himself in our devotional life, daily and routinely. Second, by responding obediently to God's special calls and revelations in our lives, as illustrated wonderfully in the submission of Mary to God's special revelation to her.

CONCLUSION: Here is the process: God takes the initiative to reveal His shockingly wonderful plans to us, causing a human response of confusion or bewilderment. God's plans are challenges to man's ability to trust and believe and obey. In the midst of human bewilderment comes God's reassurance and God's call to submission and trust.

When God confronts us with His plans and challenges, we can either harden our hearts in unbelief (like those did in Nazareth who heard Jesus preach, Luke 4:28-30), or we can open our lives in humble submission to God's leadership like Mary did when she was told that she, a virgin, would conceive and bear a Son whose name would be Jesus!

Walk humbly with thy God daily and then someday, perhaps when you least expect it, God will come to you with a special plan or a special miracle or a special blessing – all of which, if you accept them, will result in a deepening of your faith and belief in Jesus!

Experience God's miracles in your life – this will expand your faith and deepen your belief immeasurably! That's what Christmas is all about! Experiencing God in the commonplace daily events of life will someday result in experiencing Him in some unusual way.

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Chapter 7

Questions

  1. Give your personal reactions to the following quotation: "God meets us in the common things of life. Meet Him in your daily Quiet Time. Meet Him in the routine of mundane duties. Meet Him in the beauties of nature. Meet Him in the struggles of life, common to all men. See Him in a sunrise or a sunset. Hear Him speak to you in a grand sweep of music, or in the chirping of a bird, or in the coo of an infant. God will come to you in the round of daily events and speak to you in the commonplace things of life."

  2. How does Luke 1:26 show that God is not passive but active, that He is not complacent but caring, that He is the God who always take the initiative in seeking mankind? Give other examples from Biblical history when God took the initiative to communicate to mankind.

  3. From your own experience, share how the following statement reflects the truth regarding the nature of God's special calls: "It is when you least expect God's call that God's call may come to you – when you are preoccupied with your own affairs and plans, when you feel least qualified to carry out the task God assigns to you."

  4. Give examples from Biblical history that illustrate the typical reaction of one who receives a special call or revelation from God. (Note Luke 1:29; Genesis 12:1-20; Exodus 3:6; Judges 6:13; Jeremiah 1:6; Acts 9:4-5) When God comes to you in new and perhaps 'strange' ways, what (according to Psalms 62:5) should your response be?

  5. How does God comfort His children (and thus alleviate their fears), following the new revelations of Himself to believers? (Note Luke 1:30)

  6. Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "If you (like Mary) seek God in your daily life consistently, you can expect God to reveal Himself to you someday dramatically!"

  7. For what purpose does God give 'special revelations' of Himself to people?

  8. Tell to what extent you personally identify with the following statements: "All of God's revelations are calls to accomplish the humanly unaccomplishable! Mary, a virgin, could not bear the Son of God without a miraculous conception! You and I cannot fulfill God's call without divine intervention!" Give an illustration of a personal call or divinely given assignment, the fulfillment of which was dependent upon divine empowerment.

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  9. Ponder the following statement: "One way in which God chooses to reassure our hearts when we are tempted to doubt His power or are tempted to center on our inadequacies, is to direct our attention to persons in whose lives He is working similar miracles as the miracle He wishes to accomplish in our own lives." (Note Luke 1:36-37) Can you think of friends whose testimonies (regarding God's miracle in their lives) have served as sources of inspiration to you, to enable you to build your own faith in God's power to work miracles for you?

  10. With what attitude should we respond to God when He calls us to special assignments or when He reveals new and amazing plans for our personal lives? (Note Luke 1:38)

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Why Believe in a Personal God?

Why Believe In a Personal God?

Chapter Three

Why Believe In a Personal God?
Intelligent Order Points To Intelligent Creator 32 "The Moral Law Tells The Tune" 39
Universal Mind Behind Universal Order 33 General Moral Agreement 40
One-To-One Correspondence 34 The Personal Superhuman Mind 41
Winder Of The Clock 35 The Argument From Direct Religious Experience 42
Quest For A Personal God! 36 "Consider The Happiness Of The Religious" 43
Universal Moral Obligation 37 Discussion Questions 44
Objective Moral Order 38    

Psalms 19:1-6; Romans 1:18-20

Intelligent Order Points To Intelligent Creator

Thus far in our spiritual quest we have assumed the existence of God. We have not tried to prove God's existence. In the strictest sense, God's existence cannot be proved. The Bible simply declares, "The fool hath said in his heart 'There is no God'. "No attempt is made in the Bible to prove the existence of God. Religion in general and Christianity in particular assumes the existence of God. It is not the task of religion to debate; rather, it is the task of religion to share. Religion says, "Taste and see for yourself that God is, and that God is good."

It is the task of philosophy, not religion, to present evidences for God's existence. Philosophy examines, evaluates, and explains. Says William Temple, "Religious faith begins exactly where the argument leaves off… what are for philosophy the ultimate questions are for religion the primary assurances".

God is a primary assurance to the man of faith, but to the man who is searching, God is the ultimate question!

Philosophical arguments alone cannot create faith in God; they can, however, help destroy some of the intellectual obstacles which undermine faith. Philosophy can help remove the barriers of honest intellectual doubts. Therefore, the disciplines of logic and apologetics have their place.

We must glance at some of the philosophical arguments for the existence of God.

First, the existence of an intelligent order points to an intelligent Creator. In his great commentary on the Gospel of John, William Barclay helps us to see the significance of this basic evidence for God's existence. "When we look at the world we see an amazing order. The planets keep to their appointed times… Clearly there is order in nature, and therefore, equally clearly there must be a mind behind it all. Further, that mind must be greater than any human mind because it achieves results that the human mind can never achieve… Therefore, the mind in nature is far above the human mind in man. If then in the world there is order, there must be mind; and in that order there are things which are beyond the mind of man to do, then the mind behind the order of nature must be a mind above and beyond the mind of man–and straight way we have reached God." (Daily Study Bible, Gospel of John; Volume 1, pg. 36-37)

"Become for me, O God, my primary assurance rather than my ultimate question! I see you in the heavens. Let me experience you in my heart!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: My quest will lead to my discovery, and my questions will be turned into exclamation marks!

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32


Psalms 8:1-9

Universal Mind Behind Universal Order

E. Stanley Jones convincingly argues for the existence of God. A universal order argues for a universal Mind. "How could this universe come by chance into a cosmic orderliness that stretches from the molecule to the outermost star, and controls everything between? And how could this orderliness just happen to stay by chance through millions of years? That would be a stark materialistic miracle–universal chaos by chance gives birth to universal order! The one who believes that must spell his 'chance' with a capital 'c' and mean by it–God. How long do you think it would take for you to throw up a font of type into the air and have it come down by chance into a poem of Browning? I asked a printer that question and he replied, "Both you and the type would wear out first".

"Someone has figured out how many chances to one it would take for the world to have happened by chance, and the figures go round the world 35 times. 'A preposterous figure', says Dr. Millikan, the scientist. Sir James Jeans had figured out that it would take a hundred million years for a hundred thousand monkeys, packing at random a hundred thousand type- writers, to happen by chance upon the plays of Shakespeare. And then, after they had happened upon the arrangement of the letters, they wouldn't know what the letters meant!"

"When I pick up a book and see that there is intelligence in it–that sometimes does happen!–then I know that behind that intelligence is an intelligent mind expressing itself through that intelligence. When I look at the universe, I find that it responds to intelligence–it can be intelligently studied. Intelligence has gone into it–into its very structure. Then the simple conclusion must be that behind that intelligence, which is built into the structure of things, is an intelligent mind, and since that built-in intelligence seems to be universal, I will have to spell it in capitals–a Universal Mind." (Abundant Living, pg. 5)

"The heavens are telling the glory of God; they are a marvelous display of his craftsmanship. Day and Night they keep on telling about God. Without a sound or word, silent in the skies, their message reaches out to all the world." (Psalms 19:1-3, Living Bible)

"It is both saner and easier to believe in the divine miracle of a God- created orderly Universe, than it is to believe that order came from disorder and that Character came from Chance! The orderly universe is driving me to an orderly God. I surrender my personal disorder to your Divine Order. Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: It is reasonable and wise to believe that my mind came from the great Mind of God. I will therefore subject my petty thoughts to His powerful thoughts!

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33


Psalms 50:1-6

One-To-One Correspondence

Perhaps the simplest of all arguments for the existence of God as we have noted is the fact that an intelligent order points to the existence of an intelligent Creator.

Secondly, as convincingly shown by Dr. Elton Trueblood, there is a one- to-one correspondence between internal logic and external laws, which amazingly points to a common source of origin, namely God! There is a one- to-one correspondence between man's mind and the predictable laws of nature, both of which point to a common Source. What man sees and knows best can be figured out because internal logic has external laws as its parallel counterpart. This phenomenal kinship between mind and nature points to One who is the Designer of both. Were it not for this consistency in nature and the ability of man's mind to logically comprehend it, the discipline of Science would be impossible. God has made a comprehensible Universe! Astronomical discoveries serve to demonstrate this truth.

Scientists, with a knowledge of scientific principles and laws, figured out in their minds where a new planet should be found in the solar system. Details of the new planet's orbit, as well as predictions of its future positions in the sky were calculated, even before the actual planet Uranus was located with a telescope. After the planet Uranus was found by 'accident' in 1871, it was calculated that the planet took about 80 years to make on complete revolution around the sun. For about 40 years, predicted calculations proved to be completely accurate, but then discrepancies were noted. It was then that two separate scientists predicted the position of an unknown body in space which was pulling Uranus slightly out of the predicted path of revolution. Separately these scientists' predictions were tested and a faint object, which proved to be the eighth member of the sun's family–Neptune–was discovered!

Thus, this discovery only served further to illustrate that there is a one-to-one correspondence 'between internal logic and external laws, which points to a common source of origin–God! The God who created man's mind created a universe which is subject to man's predictions. Man's ability to predict and to find that his predictions come true, shows that the facts exist independent of man's mind and yet man's mind corresponds with nature's laws, pointing to the fact that internal logic and external laws have the same Designer!

"The outer expanse of the universe and the inner expanse of my mind come from a common source–God! O thou, who dost fill the Universe with Thyself, fill the inner universe of my mind with Thyself! Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Just as there is naturally a one-to-one correspondence between internal logic and external laws, I will seek naturally a fellowship between my spirit and God's spirit!

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34


Acts 17:22-31

Winder Of The Clock

Thirdly, there is a principle in Nature which is well known to every scientist, the principle of entropy. Notes Trueblood, "As the useless energy increases, the useful decreases by the same amount. This ratio of useless to useful energy is called entropy. The law of entropy states that the ratio is constantly increasing. This means that the amount of energy available for the energizing process of the world is ever growing less". (Philosophy of Religion, pg. 103) This principle shows that there will be an ultimate dissipation of all energy, if Nature remains as it is now.

Notes Dr. Inge, as quoted by Trueblood, "If the universe is running down like a clock, the clock must have been wound up at a date which we could name if we knew it. The world, if it is to have an end in time, must have had a beginning in time". (Ibid, 104) But the principle of entropy points not only to a beginning of energy, but logically demands a source of energy. The clock was wound in the beginning, but there had to be a Winder of the clock!

"The universe as we know it, by the aid of modern science, could not have originated without the action of a creative Source of energy outside itself, and it cannot be maintained without it." (Ibid, 105)

This principle may lead to a discussion of Purpose. A may be explained by B, but unless the explanations are pushed to the ul tlmate reason–Z (Z being something which is its own reason), your knowledge is incomplete. Example: If a nail is being driven, we ask 'Why'. Answer: "The nail goes in because the hammer hits it. The hammer head moves because it is moved by the muscles of a man's arm. The arm muscles move because they are directed by nerve impulses". (Ibid,97) But these are secondary causes or reasons why the nail is driven. They are not the real reason. "But the whole enterprise takes place because a man has a reason for driving a nail in a board. Perhaps he wants to build a house for his friend." (Ibid, 97) We ask the question of why energy is lost and someone says because of the principle of entropy. That is a secondary reason. The real reason must be explained in terms of God's creation of the energy and His purpose for creating matter. The principle of entropy shows, not only that energy had a beginning, but that energy must have a source. In talking about causes, one must go to the uncaused Cause who has purpose for all things.

"The more I observe the Universe, the more I am driven to the conclusion that there is a Personable Force who created Energy, that there is a great Designer who produced Beauty, and that there is a great Mind who initiated Purpose. I am beginning to see, O God, that as you began it all, so you will sometime end it all!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: May the God who is 'out there', become the God who is 'in here'–even in my heart!

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Acts 7:30-38

Quest For A Personal God!

Arguments from Science give plausible evidence for God's existence. The existence of an intelligent order points to an intelligent Creator. The one-to-one correspondence between internal logic and external laws points to a common source of origin–God. The constant decrease in the quantity of energy in nature points to an original source of all energy– God. But simply to establish the existence of a Being which is the highest in a series, is not to establish an object worthy of Man's worship, allegiance, or love. It is necessary, not only to be assured of the existence of a Supreme Being, but to know that that Being is Personal and Approachable.

To equate God with 'Beauty', 'Love', 'Power', 'Aspiration', or even with the 'Absolute' is to reduce God to an impersonal essence. Some equate God with 'Ultimate Reality' or with that to which a person will devote his total energy or devotion. To do this would make God a mere subjective experience with no objective reality. God must have an existence independent of a person's own notions, ideas, experience, or awareness.

The true concept of God has been inseparably connected with His Personality. God most convincing1y manifested Himself through His great historic acts. God is the God who acts in human history! In delivering Israel from Egypt, He revealed His love, and in speaking to Israel from Mount Sinai, He displayed His holiness. In conquering their enemies and in controlling nature (miracles), He visibly showed His mighty power. The Creator God lived among mankind for over 30 years, so say the Christians. Further, the God of the Christian reveals, not only Man's wickedness, but He also expresses His love and mercy through His forgiveness and abiding Presence. Christians asset that God is all-wise, all-powerful, and all- knowing, that He is a God of Purpose and that He is a God who is Personal. He gives meaning, not only to human history in general, but to individual history in particular!

The God whose existence is evidenced in Science, is the God who is revealed through Man's conscience and especially through direct religious experience.

There is sufficient evidence that God is not simply an Impersonal Being or Force or Essence. The arguments from Moral Experience and from Religious Experience both point to the existence of a Personal God. We must spend time investigating these two types of experiences.

"Can it be possible that the Infinite is interested in the Finite, that the Universal is concerned with the Particular, that the Force behind the Universe is a Personable Friend in the World? My prayers to you, O God, are affirming such daring faith!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I am a personal being; I must serve a Personable God!

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Romans 2:11-16

Universal Moral Obligation

There is evidence from Man's moral experience that God not only exists, but that God is Personal. In our careful examination of Man's Moral experience, we must first examine the evidence for the independent existence of an Objective Moral Order, which in turn will eventually lead to the conclusion that there is a Personal Moral Lawgiver behind the oral Order.

Prerequisite to a discussion of the meaning of and the evidence for an objective Moral Order, is an appreciation for the Universal sense of moral Obligation. It can be generally said that Universally Man has a consciousness of being under Obligation, regardless of the influence of his particular society, and independent of his own likes or dislikes. Universally, man feels the demands of the moral laws which is no respecter of persons. "That to which all bear testimony is the fact that a man who genuinely says 'I ought' means 'I ought, though the heavens fall'. The command is not conditional, but categorical… It is beyond dispute that the human animal is concerned very largely with what he ought to do. In this enterprise he is, no doubt, frequently confused and baffled, but he goes on asking the question. To describe man without this question would be ridiculous… To say 'I ought to do this' is not the same as to say 'it is to my advantage' or 'it is prudent' or 'it is customary', or it is commanded by the state' or 'I desire it'. In fact, we habitually decide between all of these and what we think we ought to do. Frequently, there is a clash between them." (Philosophy of Religion; Elton Trueblood, pg. 108-110)

This universal sense of moral obligation points to an objective moral order. Those who hold that there is an objective moral order hold that there is a moral order that is real and binding upon all men, independent of man's whims and notions. Such persons are ethical realists. "The case is strictly parallel to that for physical realism. There are the same reasons for believing in a moral order, to which our judgments mayor may not conform, as there are for believing in a physical order to which our scientific judgments mayor may not conform. The moon has a definite size even when men differed about it." (Ibid, pg. 112) In contrast, the ethical relativist believes that nothing is objectively or really right or wrong, but that right and wrong are simply determined according to the situation or circumstance or personal moral opinion or interpretation.

"Is it possible that I may find you, O God, in the inner workings of my conscience, as well as in the outer wonders of the Universe? Does my sense of moral oughtness come from You? My conscience bears witness of your personal existence!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: I 'ought' to do right, even when it is inconvenient or difficult to do right!

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Psalms 2:1-12; Psalms 14:1

Objective Moral Order

We have noted that a universal sense of moral obligation points to an objective moral order. We must look carefully at life to gather the evidence which supports belief in an objective moral order.

First, think of Man's conscience. Although Man's conscience must be morally trained if it is to be a safe and mature moral guide in decision- making, it is interesting that 'instinctively' all persons seem to know that some actions or attitudes are always 'wrong'. But this universal sense of right and wrong points to a universal moral standard. The Conscience can only judge an act or an attitude to be 'wrong', if there is an objective standard, not subject to time or circumstances, by which to judge the act or attitude. "The modern mind has been infected by the poison of subjectivism. Subjectivism is the view that one's own personal outlook is the end of every matter. Therefore, every person is as qualified as any other individual to call something true. If it is true to him, then, no matter how inconsistent it may be with other facts, it is true indeed… By this subjective standard, Christianity is, of course, true, but so is atheism, communism, sexism and the notion that the moon is made of green cheese. All things are true to someone, the modern mind would declare. Nothing is therefore false or true by any of the old definitions… The result is that communication is being lost between people and nations, for no standards of straight-thinking carryover from one to the other. The mind of anyone person therefore becomes a remote island, separated from any other mind by the trackless seas of indefinability ." (Why is Christianity True?; Dave Breese, pg. 3-4)

Second, think of the widespread use of ethical terminology in common conversation. Even atheists use words which mean nothing if their ethical content is extracted. The attitude of the atheist who claims to be 'honest' cannot be explained without acceptance of what he himself rejects –an objective moral order–for there is no such thing as truth or falsehood unless there is an objective standard to determine truth and falsehood. "The practice of the honest atheist frequently denies the conscious import of his words, because he is acting in a way which makes no sense unless his conscious conclusions are untrue." (Philosophy of Religion; Elton Trueblood, pg. 115)

"The 'ethical atheist' is a contradiction in terms, for an atheist denies all objective moral standards, from which ethical statements originate. O God, I see that I cannot have the 'fruits' of moral good without the 'roots' of Moral Objectivity!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: My strong convictions, regarding 'Right' and 'Wrong' are useless convictions, unless they are born out of the Objective Moral Law!

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Proverbs 3:1-6

"The Moral Law Tells The Tune"

We are gathering evidence to support belief in the existence of an Objective Moral Order.

Third, listen to the quarrelling, excuses and defenses of people. Notes C.S. Lewis, "Everyone has heard people quarrelling. Sometimes it sounds funny and sometimes it sounds merely unpleasant; but however it sounds, I believe we can learn something very important from listening to the kinds of things they say. They say things like this: 'How'd you like it if anyone did the same to you?'–'That's my seat, I was there first'– 'Leave him alone, he isn't doing you any harm'–'Why should you shove in first?'–Give me a bite of your orange, I gave you a bite of mine'–'Come on, you promised'. People say things like that every day, educated people as well as uneducated, and children as well as grown-ups. Now what interests me about all these remarks is that the man who makes them is not merely saying that the other man's behaviour does not happen to please him. He is appealing to some kind of standard of behaviour which he expects the other man to know about", (Mere Christianity; C.S. Lewis, pg. 17)

Quarrelling between people is meaningless unless there is objective moral reality. Without an objective moral standard, one cannot prove another person wrong, for each man's judgment is as valid as another! And why make an excuse for personal behaviour if one hasn't felt that he has failed to 'live up' to a certain, real standard for conduct?

Fourth, think of the unselfish moral decisions which persons make. When one makes a moral decision in the presence of two conflicting impulses, he is aware of an overriding guiding principle, which if he obeys, causes him to side with the impulse which results in unselfish action. Notes C.S. Lewis, "Supposing you hear a cry for help from a man in danger. You will probably feel two desires–one, a desire to give help (due to your heart instinct), the other, a desire to keep out of danger (due to the instinct for self-preservation). But you will find inside you, in addition to these two impulses, a third thing which tells you that you ought to follow the impulse to help, and suppress the impulse to run away. Now this thing that judges between two instincts, that decides which should be encouraged, cannot itself be either of them. You might as well say the sheet of music which tells you, at a given moment, to play one note on the piano and not another, is itself one of the notes on the keyboard. The moral law tells us the tune we have to play; our instincts are merely the keys"; (Mere Christianity, pg. 22)

"When I have had to make a moral decision in the presence of two conflicting impulses, I have often sensed the presence of a Guiding Principle. Is that guiding principle You, O God?"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: In making moral decisions today, I will side with my impulses which will result in unselfish actions!

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Romans 2:17-29

General Moral Agreement

We continue to gather evidence to support belief in the existence of an Objective Moral Order.

Fifth, observe the Judgment-making that regularly is exercised among persons–common persons and specialized persons alike. The fact that one makes moral judgments everyday is evidence that there is an objective moral standard. People blame and praise one another, and that with great conviction! People even judge their own actions and motives. One knows what he 'ouqht' to have done even though he often fails in moral performance. Even when one is down morally, he tends to look up to an ongoing aspiration! Not only are personal judgments made, but it is common to hear people pronounce judgments on history or on national moralities or policies. Democracy is declared to be better than totalitarianism. Even historians pronounce moral judgments upon heartless dictators who have committed unspeakable atrocities. It is quickly recognized that certain actions are wrong, even when national policy or majority rule in a nation have allowed certain things. Most, if not all, historians declare that Lincoln's attitudes toward American slavery reflected 'moral reality', even when his views were unpopular. Unless there is an Objective Moral Order, one cannot pass moral judgments, but can only express his own personal opinion, which is really no better than Hitler's opinion!

Sixth, acknowledge the general moral agreement among different cultures. To a remarkable degree, there is general agreement of what is right or wrong, even among people of very different cultures, which is another evidence of a universal moral law. Notes C.S. Lewis, "I know that some people say the idea of a law of nature or a decent behaviour known to all men is unsound, because different civilizations and different ages have had quite different moralities, but these have never amounted to anything like a total difference… Think of a country where people were admired for running away in battle, or where a man felt proud of double-crossing all the people who had been kindest to him. You might just as well try to imagine a country where two and two make five. Men have differed as regards what people you ought to be unselfish to–whether it was only your own family or your fellow countrymen or everyone. But they have always agreed that you ought not to put yourself first. Selfishness has never been admired. Men have differed as to whether you should have one wife or four. But they have always agreed that you must not simply have any woman you liked". (Mere Christianity, pg. 19)

"I am seeing that there is one set of moral standards for all persons, in all ages, in all nations, for all times. Can it be that this abiding moral law reflects the very nature of a loving moral lawgiver?"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Because my nature demands both justice and mercy, it is reasonable to believe that a loving God governs a lawful universe!

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John 1:1-5; Colossians 1:15-20; Hebrews 1:1-3

The Personal Superhuman Mind

There is evidence that there is a personal moral lawgiver behind the moral law! The moral law must have a superhuman origin since it didn't originate in man or in society, both of which obey its demands oftentimes against personal interests or desires. "This means that the only focus of the moral law is a superhuman mind. That it must be a mind is clear when we realize that the law has no meaning except for minds, and that it must be superhuman is clear when we realize that it cannot be ours. Therefore, the recognition of an objective moral law drives us to the belief in God, without whom that law would have no significant being." (Philosophy of Religion; Elton Trueblood, pg. 115)

Further, the superhuman mind behind the moral law must be personal, if an adequate explanation can be given for the feeling of those scientists who think of themselves as materialists, is highly mysterious if the real world they seek to know is unconscious matter or force, for it is the same kind of feeling we know best when there is real communication between two finite minds. The joy that comes in the effort to know the truth and the reverence for it which makes good men spurn the temptation to deceit are not intelligible if the only consciousness is at one end of the transaction, but they are completely intelligible if truth is the meeting of mind with Mind." (Ibid, pg. 115) The person who invests all the powers of his being in obeying the moral law, is acting as if the universe was not governed by impersonal law, but rather by a personal moral lawgiver who cares whether men obey it. The universe must be governed by a Personality, not an impersonal Force.

Further, the nature of human personality demands a Personal God. Just as it is difficult to imagine a stream which runs higher than its source, so it is inconceivable to imagine an impersonal being who is able to create personal creatures. If this were so, the creature would have higher qualities than the Creator Himself! "Did (man's) intelligence come out of the nonintelligent? If so, that is a materialistic miracle. Nature brought forth something she didn't have. Again, you and I have purpose–we choose. Did that purpose come out of a nonpurposive universe? That too would be a materialistic miracle." (Abundant Living; E. Stanley Jones, pg. 6)

"The God of all wisdom has used reason to drive me into the arms of a personal God. The moral lawgiver behind the moral law has turned out to be a personal and personable Mind who seeks communication with my mind! O God, what love you have unveiled!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: God is beginning to unveil His loving personality to me. I am excited to meet that personality!

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Exodus 3:1-6

The Argument From Direct Religious Experience

During the last few days we have looked at the Moral Argument for the existence of a Personal God. Considerable evidence was examined which supports belief in the existence of an Objective Moral Order, which helps explain the sense of universal moral obligation among mankind. Convincing is the evidence further that the moral law originates in a superhuman mind. The greatest discovery, however, is the discovery that this superhuman mind is personal and personable, ever seeking communion with Man's mind!

It seems accurate to say that God has revealed Himself through 'Moral Law', but is it possible to experience God more directly and intimately? Millions throughout history have answered this question affirmatively! Many in all ages have uniformly testified to a personal fellowship with God! Direct testimonies, religious autobiographies, hymns and prayers are the main sources for reporting religious experience.

Millions in all ages have testified to a personal experience of God! One spoke of his personal encounter with God in terms of personal love and joy: "Ah, my Lord God, most faithful lover, when thou comest into my heart, all that is within me doth joy! Thou art my glory and the joy of my heart, my hope and my whole refuge in all my troubles". (Imitation of Christ, written 500 years ago) The amazing thing about this testimony of personal fellowship with God is the fact that millions have testified similarly! Notes Elton Trueblood: "The fact that a great many people, representing a great many civilizations and a great many centuries, and including large numbers of those generally accounted the best and wisest of mankind, have reported direct religious experience is one of the most significant facts about our world". (Philosophy of Religion, pg. 145)

In light of these multiplied reports of direct religious experience, both ancient and modern, what conclusion can we draw? Only one of two conclusions can be drawn. Either these testimonies are true reports and God is real, or these reports are false and God is an illusion! If God is an illusion, then all great men, as well as Jesus himself were victims of self-delusion!

But there is strong evidence to support the conclusion that such testimonies of God's reality are true!

"God, the evidence is convincing that you exist, and that your existence is personal. Is it possible for me to know you personally, to commune with you, as friend with Friend? I leap with joy to think of such a possibility!"

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Because millions in all ages have claimed to know God personally, I will personally seek to establish such an intimate relationship with God!

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Acts 8:4-8

"Consider The Happiness Of The Religious"

Evidence favors the conclusion that reports of personal experience of God are true. Elton Trueblood shares the following evidence.

First, the number of reporters are many. "What is reported by only a very few could be objective, but chances are against such a conclusion." (Philosophy of Religion; Trueblood, pg. 156) In the case of direct religious experience, the reporters compose a vast company!

Second, the character of the reporters is varied but trustworthy. The profession of some reporters has obviously been higher than the character has been exemplary. However, among the vast number of reporters have been some of the most trustworthy and noble characters in history.

Third, the agreement of the reports is not complete but substantial. "Complete agreement is not required for validation. If it were, science would be destroyed. What is required is a substantial core of agreement, with increasing agreement in proportion to developed sensitivity." (Ibid, pg. 157) The agreement of the reports is not agreement in terms of religious information, but in terms of a sense of new life. "What is revealed is not propositions, but a Presence." (Ibid, pg. 153) The saints of all ages have had remarkable agreement in their reports of a divine Presence and Power in their lives.

Fourth, the consequent change in lives is most convincing in the validating process. When lives which claim direct experience of God are similarly changed, this fact alone points to a common Power which produces those changes. "One of the most remarkable features of so much of religious life is its consequent joy in the face of pain and hardship. George John Romanes, the eminent naturalist and associate of Darwin, for whom the Romanes Lectures are named, was turned from agnosticism to theistic conviction, not because of his own personal religious experience, but because of his observation of the lives of others who reported such experience. The crucial consideration. to one who tried to be fully scientific was as follows: 'Consider the happiness of the religious–and chiefly of the highest religious, i.e., Christian belief. It is a matter of fact that besides most intense, it is most enduring, growing and never staled by custom. In short, according to the universal testimony of those who have it, it differs from all other happiness not only in degree but in kind. Those who have it can usually testify to what they used to be without it. It has no relation to intellectual status. It is a thing by itself and supreme'." (Ibid, 158)

"Is it possible that I may experience a happiness that does not depend upon my happenings, a happiness that is different both in degree and in kind from the mere happiness that I have experienced! O God, what you have done for others, you can do for me! Amen."

AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: It is not religious propositions that I will debate, but it is the Living Presence that I will experience!

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Discussion Questions On 'Why Believe In A Personal God'

  1. How does the task of religion and the task of philosophy differ, in regards to the subject of 'God'?

  2. If philosophical arguments cannot create faith in God, what is the purpose of examining arguments for the existence of God from a philosophical viewpoint?

  3. How is the existence of God (from a philosophical viewpoint) further evidenced by the one-to-one correspondence between internal logic and external laws?

  4. Define and illustrate the scientific principle of Entropy and explain how this principle serves to demonstrate the existence of God.

  5. What evidence is there from various dynamic acts in human history that God is a personal Being?

  6. Cite as much evidence as possible for the independent existence of an Objective Moral Order.

  7. What does an "ethical relativist" believe? Why do the beliefs of an ethical relativist make intelligent and meaningful moral dialogue impossible?

  8. From a study of Man's conscience, what evidence can be derived to establish a belief in an objective moral order?

  9. How does the widespread use of ethical terminology point to the existence of an objective moral order?

  10. Why is quarrelling between people so meaningless, unless there is an objective moral order?

  11. During a difficult moral decision, why do people often side with the impulse within them which results in unselfish action?

  12. Do you agree or disagree: "Unless there is an Objective Moral Order one cannot pass moral judgments, but can only express his own personal opinion, which is really no better than Hitler's opinion!" Why/why not?

  13. In the study of various cultures, what evidence is there that there is a general moral agreement regarding most moral actions, and how does such evidence help establish a belief in the existence of an Objective Moral Order?

  14. Why does recognition of an objective moral law inevitably drive one to the belief in God as a superhuman mind?

  15. Why must the superhuman mind (behind the moral law) be personal?

  16. How does the nature of human personality demand the existence of a personal God?

  17. What evidence can you cite from the reality of personal religious experience that points convincingly to the existence of a personal and personable God?

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