Why Be A Christian?
Tobias L. Stockler
We live in a busy and increasingly amoral society. Crime and corruption are on the rise. Infidelity is growing. Humanism is rampant. The New Age movement is prolific. Evolution is considered factual and taken as the norm. Men everywhere look to science, philosophy, psychology, politics, et cetera, as their gods. Few acknowledge the "old-fashioned" God who claims our worship and service as His right. Has the God of the Bible lost His relevance in our modern, "progressive," society? Or is there still good reason to serve Jehovah, the quaint God of religious history?
What does it take to be God? What does Jehovah have that sets Him apart as different from the "gods of this world"?
To begin with, He was first. "Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen; that ye may know and understand that I am He: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me."He existed before man, the god of Humanism; before the universe, the "power" of new age philosophy; and before Darwin and the pantheistic view of God found in evolution. He predates Buddha, Hinduism's pantheon, and the communist state. Before the science of the West and the philosophy of the East was, Jehovah says, "I AM."
Second, the Almighty has a right to our allegiance because of creation. "God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is LORD of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed anything, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; That they should seek the LORD, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us".
It is only natural that as His creatures we should be loyal to our Creator. Even in the 'war-zone' of the marketplace we recognize that the invention belongs to the inventor and protect his ownership by patents and copyrights. Only when the originator, the person who took already existing materials to make something new and useful, chooses to give up the fruit of his labors does the right of possession pass to someone else. How much more, then, do we belong to the Holy One, who formed us from nothing and gave us life by the Word of His mouth. Moreover He has never given us up, and never will unless we persist in rebellion against Him.
The third reason that the Trinity should be God is inequality in ability. For as Isaiah 40:18 says, "To whom then shall ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto him?" Who, in this vast universe, is like God? What creature can create life? What created being is so preposterous as to claim to guide the suns and planets throughout the universe? Who other than God has the wisdom to understand and keep operating all the intricate systems in our own bodies? Who but God is able to plan and organize a harmonious system that keeps our cells working together instead of in constant war? And who is so wisely consistent as to have only one simple but all encompassing law, and maintain that law never changing for a different, nor ever altering the present?
Suppose for a moment that we did not want to serve the LORD of Hosts, what are the other options? Are we to trust our lives to someone who could not create them, and is too ignorant to be able to sustain them? When viewed fairly, to trust life, health, happiness, etc., to anyone less than the living God in heaven is to invite, no, beg sickness, misery, and death.
But there is more. Essential to accepting any being as our God is being able to trust him with our future, whether that means the next few hours and days as with the wandering children of Israel in the desert, who depended on God for their daily food and drink; or whether it is a longer span of time as with the patriarchs, who by faith looked forward to the sacrifice of Christ and the inheritance He left for them and us at His death.
We can trust the future only to one who knows the future. Does Jehovah know the future? Yes. This is made plain by the fulfillment, correct in every detail, of the Bible prophecies from Noah's day to our own. Truly, "Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world." The God of heaven recognizes those who know the future by their own ability as gods; for it is written: "Shew the things that are to come hereafter that we may know that ye are gods". But to no being except Himself has God entrusted that ability and therefore no one but He has the right to be God.
Said the poet:
"Be still my soul: The LORD is on thy side;
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change He faithful will remain.
Be still my soul: Thy best, thy heavenly friend,
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
Be still my soul: Thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still my soul: The waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below.
"Be still my soul: The hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the LORD,
When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love's purest joys restored.
Be still my soul: When change and tears are past,
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last."
So we see that the God of heaven is the only one with the qualifications to be God for three reasons: because of the past, that is, His pre-existence and position as creator; because of the present, that is, His ability to maintain the universe at this moment; and because of the future, that is, His ability to know and plan according to what is yet to come and thus guarantee us a life bright in the knowledge that no matter how dark and dismal our situation may be, life will get better. We need not be overcome but rather will overcome as we live in obedience to the God of Heaven and Earth.
And still this is not all. . . . The fourth reason that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit deserve to be God is character. God is love, and love is long-suffering and kind. It seeks not her own, thinks no evil, is not easily provoked. Rejoices in truth and not iniquity. It knows how to be silent and is full of hope, trust, and patient endurance.
This love has been manifested in every interaction with the Divine in the great controversy between God and all His goodness and the beings who, lacking His unselfish love but thirsting for His power, think to wrest His throne from Him. When the first rebellion began in heaven God did not in vengeance blot the plotters out of existence. Instead He bore long with them, giving them an opportunity to return to their former allegiance. When they alleged that His government was not fair, He gave them opportunity to show what their alternative was like. When the disobedience spread to our planet, instead of immediately commanding death, the ultimate punishment for the wicked, He showed our forefathers a way by which they might be spared. And He put that rescue into practice, though it caused Him untold heartache and the death of His beloved Son.
And here on this earth, the battlefield [testing grounds] of the great controversy, He has left ample evidence of His care for us. In every crimson sunset "God is love" may be seen. In every fragrant flower His infinite love is displayed. Every graceful tree is an exhibition of His abundant love toward us. And every new day bespeaks his tender care and mercy. For of what benefit is a sunset to Him who needs no sun? What does He gain by the profusion of flowers so abundant in meadow and field? Of what use would He find the trees that compose our forests? Of what worth is time to the Infinite?
If He had need of trees, He could plant them in heaven where He resides. If He wants to smell the delicate flowers He only needs to say so and thousands would surround the throne. He who spoke worlds into existence and sees the future as clearly as the past has no need of time. Yet, to us He has given the trees and flowers, and filled our little planet with their beauty. To us He has given each new day, that we may more clearly understand His purposes.
We see His love in His care for His people. Throughout the history of the patriarchs and later of Israel His mercy, long-suffering, and abundant goodness and truth are brought to view. Especially in the record of Israel, in His dealings with apostasy and unbelief, His justice is shown to be tempered with mercy. And His patient goodness is seen in His way dealing with them in their repentance.
This is very consequential. Were He to be merciful and in no way just, God could not exclude sin. Eternity would be filled with the constant contradiction and warring of the wicked against those loyal to their Creator. Consequently, the happiness of the universe would decrease and misery and pain increase; not a very pretty picture. On the other hand, were the triune God to be strictly just with no mercy, there would be no hope for the sinner. Eternal death would be the lot of every transgressor. Again a miserable prospect.
In Christ justice and mercy meet. All those who persist in rebellion against the Light of the world will suffer justice in the second death. But all who acknowledge Christ's death in our stead, which satisfied the claims of justice against us, and accept of the inheritance of righteousness given us at that death, will live forever. "In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world that we might live through Him." "For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life." "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
Not only does God love us, but His love never fails. Jeremiah wrote "It is of the LORD's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness." He adds: "The LORD is good unto them that wait for Him, to the soul that seeketh Him." And the Eternal One says of Himself: "I am the LORD, I change not."
Here is given one of the strongest of reasons as to why the Almighty is worthy to be our God. His preexistence; the fact that He alone can and did create, His ability to uphold the universe and to know the future, are all reasons worthy of consideration. But just as the various peoples of this small world have the right to alter or abolish any government and institute a new government when that government has become destructive of its just end of protecting the rights of its citizens, so we, as creatures and therefore subjects de facto of our God, would have the right to rebel against His government were it not for the certainty of His past, present, and future love toward us. This is why the revelation of the character of He who is full of changeless love is so important. This is why, in the great controversy in which we are presently engaged, His character must be fully revealed, for this is what will make it possible for His throne to stand more sure forever. Amen.
"For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him."
God is love, and He desires only the service of love. When Jesus was here on earth to show us by His example what our Father in heaven is like, it would have been a perfect opportunity to use threats and force, if such was the way of God. But never did He do this. Instead of saying 'Do this or die,' which He had every right to say, He said "If ye love me, keep my commandments." Instead of gloating over our misfortune, He provided a way of escape.
Oh, friend, God loves you, and longs to provide for your every need. He has given ample evidence of His care and of His ability to provide. What more do you need, a personal invitation? He has given that also:
"Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: And ye shall find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light"
Will you choose to serve Him now?