Webb Church, Pastor Gary Flynt

*Can An Intellectual Believe In God?*

Psalm 19, Psalm 19:1-6Psalm 14:1Psalm 19: “The heavens declare the glory of God.”

In order to reach the edge of the known universe, you would have to travel at the speed of light

for ten billion years. Romans 1:19Psalm 19:2Psalm 19:7-11,  12, 13, 14,

Madalyn Murray O’Hair wrote and distributed a pamphlet entitled, An Invitation to the Intellectual Elite. I wonder if you are a part of the intellectual elite. According to this pamphlet you are if you accept the following:
1. God is a myth and humankind’s future is in its own hands.
2. Prayers are what you say to yourself and success in life depends on human effort.
3. Humans are a part of nature and developed in it. Whatever purpose there is in life, humans make.
4. When you die, your life is over forever. Only your ideas can survive.
5. Humankind is responsible for what it does. There are no sins. Crimes cannot be forgiven by religious rites.
6. The time to live is now, the place to live is here, and the way to be happy is to make yourself and others happy.

That leaflet is produced by the American Atheist Association in Austin, Texas. If you believe the things presented in that pamphlet, then according to Mrs. O’Hair, you are a part of the intellectual elite and you are an atheist.

My question to you this morning is this: Can an intellectual believe in God? Take a look at Psalm 19:1-6. “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race. His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.”

Anyone who wants to believe in God can believe in God. If a man doesn’t want to believe in God, it’s not because he has intellectual difficulty; it’s because he has moral difficulty. Unbelief never comes out of the head; unbelief comes out of the heart. Psalm 14:1 says, “The fool hath said in his heart, There is not God.”

Can you believe in God and be an intellectual? Absolutely! Many intellectuals believe in God and many non-intellectuals believe in God. Some intellectuals don’t believe in God and some non-intellectuals don’t believe in God. Your intellect has very little to do with it.

God has spoken in three ways so that you can know without any shadow of doubt that He exists, that He loves you, and that you can have a personal relationship with Him and still call yourself an intellectual.

First, there is the declaration in the skies. The heavens declare the glory of God. When we go back to our farm in Oklahoma and get away from all the light pollution of the city, we can look up at the candelabra of stars in the heavens. In the county you can see those millions of stars and realize what awe David must have felt as a shepherd boy when he would look up to the heavens. That’s why he wrote this line in Psalm 19: “The heavens declare the glory of God.”

Number 2, the heavens speak of the greatness of God. David said, “The firmament showeth his handiwork.” God created it all, and He made it all out of nothing! God’s incredible power is shown in the creation of the universe. But the greatest stumbling block for the atheist is the thought that out of nothing comes everything. If he doesn’t believe in a self-existing God, then he must believe in a self-existing universe. He has to believe that nothing times nobody equals everything. It’s intellectually contradictory not to believe in God.

The Bible never argues the fact of God: the Bible just presents God. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” A very eloquent preacher said, “God stepped from behind the curtain of nowhere, stood on the platform of nothing, and spoke a world into existence.”

Man can’t create anything. All scientists can do is rearrange what God has already created. At the speed of light you can pass the moon in two seconds. At the speed of light it takes four and one half years to pass our closest star. In order to reach the edge of the known universe, you would have to travel at the speed of light for ten billion years! And God made all that.

But not only is there the immensity of creation, there is also the intricacy of creation. The psalmist said in another place, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” There are over 30 billion cells in your body. Yet, Paul Doty of Harvard said, “One cell in your body is more complicated than New York City.”

It is absolute stupidity not to believe in God! Romans 1:19 says, “Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shown it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.”

Of all the professional groups, do you know which group has the highest number of believers in God? It’s the astronomers. Over 90% of the worlds great astronomers believe in God. Why? They have studied the heavens! It’s a sign of intelligence to look into the heavens and say, “Somebody created all this!”

Dr. Moody tells us that in the history of the world there have been 54 great philosophers. In 6,000 years of recorded history, only 54 philosophers can be called great. We’re talking about people like Aristotle, Socrates, Plato, etc.

Out of those 54, 40 of them believed in God. Of the 14 who didn’t, all of them hated their earthly fathers. Isn’t that interesting? Eight of them were preacher’s sons, and their fathers were legalistic preachers.

In the British Museum of Natural History there is a statue of Charles Darwin. That whole museum is one colossal lie. It’s all about evolution which is presented as a fact.

Let me tell you about Charles Darwin. He hated his father. His father was a physician and a monstrous man. He was 6’3” and weighed 345 pounds. When he spoke, it was like the roar of a lion! He had huge, hairy hands. Charles Darwin was scared to death of his father. Here is a direct quote from Charles Darwin: “My father could not stand to be opposed. If opposed, he would roar at me. He had the gift of always making people do just as he wanted them to do.”

Darwin’s mother died when he was a little boy, just 8 years old. Later on he wrote that he couldn’t remember one thing about his mother. He could remember things that happened to him when he was 4, 5, and 6 years of age, but he couldn’t remember a thing about his mother who died when he was 8. He only remembered that when his mother died he had a deep resentment toward his father. Why? It was because his father was a doctor who could heal others, but Darwin said, “He let my mother die.”

Darwin failed in school. His father came in and bullied the teachers until they gave him a passing grade. After Darwin graduated, his father wanted him to go to medical school. He couldn’t hack it in medical school. When they had to work on their first cadaver, he fainted. He flunked medial school. Then his father said, “Maybe you can be a preacher. If you can’t do anything else, maybe you can preach!”

He enrolled Charles in seminary. But while in seminary, Charles met a biologist who became a father figure to him. He became interested in biology because of this man. He dropped out of seminary and began to travel. He went to the Indies, to Brazil, to the Galapagos Islands, etc. He began to take pictures, and to make biological drawings, and to formulate his ideas about evolution.

Darwin didn’t come up with the idea of evolution. Aristotle and others had already toyed with the idea of evolution. But Darwin began to think, “How can I explain all this apart from God?” For 35 years he was sickly, he hated God, he hated his father, and he hated everybody. Finally, he wrote his book: The Descent of Man and the Origin of the Species. In it he tried to explain how you could have creation without a Creator.

There was another man who bought into this. His name was Niche…a philosopher. Fredrick Niche was the son of a dogmatic preacher. Niche hated his father. He hated God and the very idea of God. Niche became a sexual pervert and died insane due to syphilis. He wrote a book called: Man and Super Man. He had the idea that man could become super in that he could achieve all that he wanted to achieve.

A mad man by the name of Adolph Hitler got hold of the works of Darwin and Niche. After thinking about what Darwin and Niche said, Hitler wrote his own book called Mien Kampf. This was his plan to make the Arian race the super race. Hitler had a venomous hatred toward the Jewish people. And in Mein Kampf he said, “I have a right to eliminate an inferior race that breeds like vermin.” He was talking about the Jews.

Every once in a while you will hear people say, “The trouble with religion is that there are so many religious wars. All the wars in the world were caused by religion. So many people died as a result of religion.”

In 6,000 years of recorded history about 3 million people have died in religious wars. That’s regrettable. But Hitler and Stalin alone, who both rejected the idea of God, are responsible for the death of 57 million people. That’s a conservative estimate. Three million in religious wars…fifty seven million by people who say they don’t believe in God. So don’t let anyone tell you that the trouble in the world is because of religious people!

When I said that three million had died in religious wars, I was talking about all religions, including Muslims, Hindus, etc. But if you talk about wars that involved so-called Christians, then the figure drops to 1.8 million. If you’re talking about Bible-believing, evangelical Christians, then the figure drops to less than a quarter of a million.

Niche, Darwin, Hitler, Stalin, Karl Marx……if you’re talking about these cats, 57 million have been slaughtered and the number is still growing.

The great intellectuals have believed in God. When you look at the heavens, they declared God’s glory and greatness. But they also declare God’s goodness. Look at Psalm 19:2. “Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge.”

What does that mean? There is a fixed order in the universe. Day follows night and night follows day. There is beauty, there is order and there is harmony. You can say, “Thank God, His mercies are new every morning.”

The light and the warmth of the sun speak of the warmth of God’s love and God’s grace. To look at those stars is amazing! To see the sun rise is amazing! You have to feel sorry for an atheist who sees a beautiful sunrise and has no one to thank for it!

There is the declaration of the skies….the heavens declare the glory of God. But there is also the revelation of the Scriptures. God’s Word is written in the heavens, but God’s Word is also written in the Bible. Here’s the second way you can know God. Take a look at Psalm 19:7-11. “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.”

You can know the fact of God by studying the heavens, but you can never know the heart and mind of God by looking at the stars. You need more than natural revelation. You need to see, not only what God has wrought, but what God has taught. You need the Word of God.

The Psalmist not only speaks of the declarations of the skies; he speaks about the revelation of Scripture. First, he speaks of the virtue of the Scriptures. In verse 7 he says, “The law of the Lord is perfect…” The only way you can be saved is by the perfect Word of God. The Bible says, “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but incorruptible, by the Word of God.” It’s the Word of God that converts the soul. It’s God’s Word that gives life.

The Psalmist says, “It’s perfect.” This speaks of the inerrancy of the Scriptures. Every sentence, every syllable, every jot, every pen-stroke was put there by the mind and purpose of God. Jesus said, “The scriptures cannot be broken.”

Not only is it perfect (verse 7); “…it is sure, making wise the simple.” Do you want to be a true intellectual? If so, then get into the Word of God. It is sure. That means you have a sure place to stand. You’ve got a solid foundation. You’re not building on Jello.

The Bible says, “God has hidden these things from the wise and the prudent and hath revealed them unto babes.” Verse 7 says, “Making wise the simple.” An ordinary person without a PhD can go to the Word of God and get food for his soul. So clear and so plain is the Word of God that, “A wayfaring man, though a fool, shall not err therein.”

Verse 8 says, “The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eye.” That means that there is no mixture of evil or error. There are over 6,000 promises in the Bible. Every one of them is “Yea and amen in the Lord Jesus.” Not a single one of His promises has ever failed.

Verse 9 says, “The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever.” That means that there are not seeds of corruption in God’s Word. It has been several millenniums since David wrote this. The world will pass away, but the Word of our God endures forever. The Bible is never out of date: it applies to every age. It never needs to be updated or revised. Thank God for the inerrant, infallible, incorruptible Word of God! That’s the virtue of the Scriptures.

Once you see the virtue of the Scriptures, then you can see the value of the Scriptures. Look at verse 10. “More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.”

There is nothing more precious to a true believer than the Word of God. A man can’t love God without loving the Word of God.

But not only is it precious; it’s protective. Verse 11 says, “Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.” Protection is better than cure. The Word of God will keep you from so many hurts if you’ll only bathe your soul in its truths and walk in its light.

It’s precious, it’s protective, and it’s profitable. “In keeping of them there is great reward.” Do you want to be wise and rewarded? Take the Word of God which is pure, and plain, and right and live by it. Only a fool would fail to saturate himself in the Word of God!

So, how has God spoken to us? There is the declaration of the skies, and the revelation of the Scriptures, but we’re not finished yet. You may walk out one night and see the stars and believe and say, “There is a God.” You may hear someone preach this Book and you say, “I believe the Bible is the Word of God.” But you’re not home yet. There’s one more thing you need: the illumination of the Spirit.

The Holy Spirit takes what you see objectively in nature and what you see objectively in the Word of God and subjectively interprets that to you. That’s when you can know God. Let’s see how this Psalm ends. Verse 12 says, “Who can understand his errors? Cleanse thou me from secret faults.” Now David is praying. Verses 13 and 14 say, “Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression. Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.”

This is what I call the illumination of the Spirit. The Spirit takes what we see in nature and what we read in the Bible and begins to apply that to our hearts. If you have the first two without the third, you’re still not there.

Let me show you what the Spirit can do for you today. First, there’s the conviction of the Spirit. “Who can understand his errors?” You can’t do it.

Before we can know God, we have to be clean of sin. Who can convict us of sin? Your old carnal, dirty heart isn’t going to expose your carnal, dirty heart. Verse 12 says, “Who can understand his errors? Cleanse thou me from secret faults.”

You have secret faults you don’t know anything about. If the seismologists hadn’t told you, you wouldn’t know about the faults underneath you in the earth. You can’t see them, but they’re there. One of these days they may cause and earthquake.

Many times people have moral earthquakes because they have secret faults. They don’t know they’re there. If you don’t pray this prayer: “Cleanse me from secret faults,” here’s what may happen to you. Much sin is an undetected weakness, an unexpected temptation, and an unprotected life.

You have an undetected fault in you that you don’t know is there. It’s a secret fault. Then, along comes a temptation that you’ve never been faced with before. You haven’t prayed for God to cleanse you from secret faults. You have an undetected weakness, an unexpected temptation, and an unprotected life, so down you go.

You can have God’s Word in the skies and God’s Word in the Scriptures, but you still fall, unless you have God’s Word in the Spirit who’s speaking to you.

Under the conviction of the Spirit you pray, “God, help me to understand my errors. Help me to understand my ways.” But then you move from the conviction of the Spirit to the cleansing of the Spirit. “Cleanse me from secret faults.” Then God’s Spirit will do subterranean surgery on you. He’ll cleanse you. And there’s no cleansing apart from the blood of Christ. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

For you to know God, there must be the convicting of the Spirit and the cleansing of the Spirit, but that’s not enough. You must then have the control of the Spirit. Verse 13 says, Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me…”

There are those hidden faults, but there are also times when we sin with our eyes wide open. We don’t have the strength to say, “No!” So we have to pray, “Keep me from presumptuous sins and don’t let them have dominion over me.”

Pray that prayer because the control of the Spirit is linked to your prayer life. Every morning when you wake up, pray “Lord, cleanse me from secret faults. Cleanse me from every sin and keep me from presumptuous sin.” Pray this in the morning….not at the end of the day.

When there is the conviction of the Spirit, and the cleansing of the Spirit, and the control of the Spirit; then you’ll know God and have fellowship with Him and walk with Him.

That leads us to the final thing: the communion of the Spirit. Verse 14 says, “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in they sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.”

That’s when God is real to you. You have to feel sorry for the atheist who doesn’t know these things. God has put His Word in the skies, He’s put His Word in the Bible, and He’s sent His Holy Spirit to convict you, to cleanse you, to control you, and to have communion with you.

Can an intellectual believe in God? Absolutely! But you don’t have to come to God because of intellect; you come to God because He first loved you and has revealed Himself to you.

God is speaking to you right now. How will you answer Him?

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