Why I Know There Is a God – B.R. Lakin (historic sermon 1901-1984)
“Wherefore remember, that ye being In time past Gentiles In the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which Is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; that at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.” —Eph. 2:11-13
In these words to the Ephesian Christians are two of the most dreaded words-“no hope.” A doctor stands beside the bed of a sick man. Anxiously the family awaits the verdict but he says, “There is no hope.” Those are sad words when speaking of human circumstances. But they are darker still as they are used in this scriptural text. Far better for man to be without anything else in this world than to be without hope for a future life. Without hope, prosperity amounts to very little. Struggle has no meaning or purpose.
We ordinarily use the word “hope” in a very careless way. God always uses it with the greatest of care. No matter how strong, desire is not hope. Mere expectation is not hope. Hope in the Bible is a well-founded expectation for the future. There are three types of people mentioned in the Bible who are without hope. First those who doubt or deny the existence of God stand without hope. Then those who deny the Bible as the Word of God stand without hope. And finally, those who reject Christ as the Son of God stand without any hope.
The first one, the man who doubts or denies the existence of God, stands without any hope. Hope for a future life rests upon the existence of a beneficent, omnipotent God ruling in nature and in the affairs of men. Take that God out of the universe and man stands absolutely helpless and hopeless. There are not many who do not believe in the existence of God. Fifty years ago I met Charles Evan Smith, the president of the League of Atheism from New York City. When I asked him if he believed in theistic evolution, he said he didn’t believe in God at all. I asked him how he accounted for everything that is, and he said everything that is just happened to be. He believed the sun, moon, stars, and all the rest of God’s wonderful creation just fell in place. That would be as likely to happen as taking the intricate mechanisms of a watch, throwing them up in the air, and getting them to fall together in perfect working order. Without a watchmaker, the watch falling together in perfect order is as impossible as the universe falling together without a creator.
Then I asked him if he believed that an evolutionist could also be a Christian. He said it was absolutely impossible. That any man who is an evolutionist and stops short of Atheism is simply a dishonest thinker. I asked why he could not be a Christian. He answered that the Christian says man fell and needs a Savior. The evolutionist says that he climbed down out of the trees and started to walk. He said if man did not fall, man does not need a Savior. Did the monkey sin? Of course not. He reasoned, eliminate the Garden of Eden and there is no need forthe cross of Christ.
So how do I know there is a God? Notice, I did not say I think. You see I’m not an educated man. Therefore I can say why I know. An educated man is not supposed to know anything. He’s supposed to say “perhaps” or “it could have been.” Somebody asked me if I could read Greek. I said, “Man, I can hardly read English let alone Greek.” A fellow was trying to teach me some Greek about baptism. He said it’s baptidzo and rantidzo. I said, “Yeah and its gravo, graveis and gravel, but it was just sop when I was a kid.” Maybe we’re not supposed to be dogmatic, but I’m going to say dogmatically that I know there is a God. I’m positive there is a God.
First of all I know it from the argument of creation. Look at all that you see now. From whence did it come? Life has never been generated from dead matter. From nothing, nothing can come. Suppose I take a bottle and pour out all the air and the water and the germs. I’d cork it up so nothing could get in it. From nothing, nothing could come. How would anything ever be in it? Since life has never been generated from dead matter we must explain from whence it all came.
All of man’s rational thinking and philosophy will never give him a foundation on which he can stand and provide a reason for having any hope. I believe in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The Bible does not say, “In the beginning God.” The Bible says, “In the beginning God created.” Why? Because God didn’t have any beginning. He was the beginning of beginnings. There was a time when God was alone. There were no trees, no grass, no water, no foliage, no nothing, just God. Just God. I believe only He knows what went on back there. He was there and had it put down in this Book. Now a lot of these Atheists and so forth who weren’t there are like the little boy who caught a bumblebee on his way to school. He put it in a bottle and stuffed it in his hip pocket. When he got to school he was wriggling around in his seat and the cork came out of the bottle. Then he really began to squirm about in his seat, and his teacher said, “Johnny, what are you doing?” He said, “There’s something going on back there that you don’t know about!” What I’m saying is, something went on back there that only God knows and only God could tell us.
Now secondly, I know there is a God because of imparted wisdom. The unbeliever doesn’t call it imparted wisdom. He calls it inherited instinct. There is no such thing as instinct. In the fall of the year before the wind roars down over the Rockies and up around the Lakes, the geese and the ducks get together and form in companies. They fly south across Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, and drop into the warm waters of the Gulf to bathe their breasts in warm water until spring. Then they turn and come back again. Who told those geese to go south in the winter and come north in the summer? Who told them to do that? You say that’s instinct. Where’d you get that instinct, old goosey? Those geese had never made that trip before. Yet they take leave from up yonder in Canada and fly all the way to Florida, never missing a feeding ground. Now where did they get their navigating ability?
In California there is a spider about the size of a shoe button. He builds his nest inside an empty clam shell or oyster shell. Before he does that he lifts that shell from 6 to 12 inches above the ground. For that little spider to lift that oyster shell which is many, many times his own weight requires an engineering feat equal to the building of the pyramids of Egypt. How does he do it? He goes up and puts on a thread, comes down and hooks it on the shell, goes up and hooks another, comes down and hooks it on the other side. That thread is moist and when it dries it contracts. And he keeps putting them on until he can finally lift it. Where did he learn how to do that? Some say that’s instinct. He learned it from his mommy and poppy spider. Where did they learn it? Listen old smarty. The first spider that ever did that didn’t have to sit down and figure it out for himself. It’s imparted wisdom. That’s the reason I know that there is a God.
My niece came home from college one day and said to me, “My professor said that Jesus couldn’t have been born of a human mother without a human father. That was a biological impossibility.” I said, “Let me tell you what to do. You tell your little possum-headed professor that your uncle said the first man that ever got in this world got here without either father or mother. If God wanted to send His Son born of a human mother without a human father He could and did do it.” The next day she came back to explain how the first germ came from another planet. I asked, “Where did the germ come from?” Life has never been generated from dead matter. Her professor claimed that the first germ came on a meteor. I said, “Honey, don’t you know a meteor is a blazing ball of fire? How would a germ live in that?” But she said, “The theory of evolution is the only sane explanation.” That’s the most insane thing I’ve ever heard! To be an evolutionist you’d have to switch your brain out of reason and throw it into neutral.
Listen to what they say. Way back yonder sometime, somewhere, somehow, nobody knows when, how, where, or why, nothing got in nothing and nothing formed a some thing. A germ got in the water somehow. Then the water developed it into a tadpole and one day the tadpole swam to another bank and got stuck in the mud and dried there. Wriggling around in the mud, he formed warts on his belly that later became legs. After he developed legs he was climbing through the trees one day when his foot slipped. As he fell he wrapped his tail around a limb. The jar of it broke off his tail. He hit the ground, stood up on his hind feet, walked across the street, bought him a suit of clothes, went to teaching in the university and said, “Thank God I’m a man at last!” They can cram that down the neck of some kids, but let them try the old man once. Everything that is, had to have a beginning, accept God, and He is the beginning of beginnings.
The third reason I know there is a God is because of fulfilled prophecy. Every religion has its bible, but this Bible is the only one that has a word of prophecy in it. Why? Because the authors of all those other books knew that if they inserted a word of prophecy and it failed, their book would be discredited. But God’s Word, with daring boldness, tells us what will happen upon this earth to men, nations, and individuals, sometimes thousands of years in the future. Who could write a Book like that? Only God.
I can take the prophecies concerning Jesus Christ alone and prove to any thinking man that there must be a God. First of all He said He shall be born in Bethlehem of Judea. Not just in Bethlehem, not just in Judea, but Bethlehem of Judea, and thank God He was. He said He shall be born of a virgin. Thank God He was. He said they would gamble upon His garments. They did. He said they would pluck out His beard. They did. He said they would crucify Him and they did. He said He would make His death with the wicked and His burial with the rich. He died between two thieves and He was buried in Joseph’s new tomb. He said you’ll put Me to death but I’ll rise again. That’s right. You can’t kill Me but I’ll give up My life anyway and I’ll rise again on the third day. Don’t let anybody fool you. This is the Book that will stand the test.
There’s another reason I know there is a God. That is, He answers prayer. Have you ever gone into an automaton? That’s a restaurant that looks like a post office. You don’t see waitresses or cooks or anything. One day I went in one in New York. You drop in a quarter-out comes a cup of coffee, or mashed potatoes and gravy. I didn’t see a soul around, but I had sense enough to know that there was somebody back there passing that stuff out. For 60 years I’ve walked up to the open windows of heaven and I’ve asked for things and I’ve had them passed out to me as real as mashed potatoes and gravy. I know there is a God because He answers prayer. “The fool has said in his heart, There is no God” (Ps. 14:1). I’m asking God to let me live a few more years because I believe I have a message for the people who do not believe there is a God.
There is one final reason I know there is a God. All of man’s rational thinking and philosophy will never give him a foundation on which he can stand and provide a reason for having any hope. The only foundation is the revelation God gives of Himself in this Book. It alone stands against the winds of criticism. The man that does not confess the Christ that this Bible presents stands without any hope.
A fellow said, “I don’t know whether to believe Christ was God, because He went to sleep on a boat, like a man would sleep.” Was He merely human because He wept, because He got hungry, because He died? Listen, if He was just human that night out yonder on that little boat when He went to sleep, He was God when He stilled the waves. If He was human when He got hungry, He was God when He took a little boy’s lunch and fed 5,000 people with it. If He was human when He wept, He was God when he burst the grave of Lazarus open like a chestnut burr and caused him to come out alive. If He was human when He died upon a cross, He was declared to be the Son of God with power, by His Resurrection from the dead. You can trust Him, my friend.
My dad and mother pillowed their heads upon that hope and passed peacefully into another world. The man who denies it stands with out any hope in this world and in the world to come. He has no hope of meeting with his loved ones who have gone or who may go. Buried out yonder lies my boy on a little hillside in West Virginia, in a grave, waiting for the resurrection. One day I believe he will come forth from the grave and I’ll see him again. Don’t take that hope away from me, Mr. Modernist or Mr. Evolutionist. God hangs a rainbow of hope around the shimmering shoulders of the storm of my bereavement. He is that hope and without Him there is no hope of pardon in the eternal world.
Why do I believe there is a God, my friend? Because only He makes any sense out of this old world. Only He brings meaning to living, the hope of pardon, and a place in heaven.