Why do we need to read the Bible? Why do we need to go to church and hear someone teach us from the Bible? Why do we need this formal religion stuff? Can’t we can just go for a walk in the woods and look at nature, or look up at the stars? Isn’t that all we need to do to know about God?
Have you ever thought like that? I mean, after all, churches are messy. Someone said to me recently, “Church would be great if it weren’t for the people.” Half-joking, but half-true. Jesus saves messed up people and transforms them over time. When we turn to Jesus Christ for salvation, he forgives our sins and washes us in his cleansing blood. But he doesn’t make us like himself instantly. He begins a lifetime process of making us into our likeness, teaching us to trust him, to put sin to death, to obey him. We are sons and daughters of God, but we still have many weaknesses and areas we need to change. We’re messy. We need to bear with each other.
We especially need God’s word. It is in Scripture where God reveals who he is, what he is like, his plan for salvation. We cannot know God apart from his word. We cannot know him simply by observing nature. It is true we can know SOME things about God by looking at the creation, as it says in Scripture:
For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. RO 1.19-20
The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Psalm 19.1
We can clearly see some things about God by looking at sequoia trees or gazing into the Grand Canyon, or watching lunar eclipse or looking at Saturn through a telescope. We can see that God is powerful. We can see “his eternal power and divine nature.” We can see there is a divine being who made all this and that he has incredible power. We can see something of his glory as we observe his handiwork. So we are “without excuse” if we deny there is a God.
I can go for a walk in the woods and see God’s glory in the majestic trees. As a red-tailed hawk flies overhead. As a black snake slithers in front of me. But there are so many things about God I cannot see in the woods or on the edge of the ocean.
Here are things 15 things the Bible reveals about God that we could never know by looking at nature:
Revelation #1: God exists as a Trinity
There is no way for us to see that there is one God who exists as 3 persons by observing nature. We only know this from Scripture:
Then God (singular) said, “Let us (plural) make man in our image, after our likeness. Genesis 1:26
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Matthew 28.19
Jesus didn’t say to baptize in the NAMES (plural) of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. But in the NAME (singular). There is one God who exists as 3 persons. The Father is God, Jesus is God and the Spirit is God, yet there are not 3 Gods but only 1.
Revelation #2: There is only one God
We can know there is only one God through the Bible
Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: “I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god. Isaiah 44:6
The galaxies can’t guarantee there is only one God. That’s why the nations created thousands of gods. The only way we can be certain there is one God is because the Bible assures us.
Fear not, nor be afraid; have I not told you from of old and declared it? And you are my witnesses! Is there a God besides me? There is no Rock; I know not any.” Isaiah 44:8
Revelation #3: The Father is God
One God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. Ephesians 4:6
We could never know that God is a Father but for Scripture.
And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Galatians 4:6
Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name…” Matthew 6:9
We cannot know that God is a loving Father who loves to bless his children by looking at a sunset or an oak tree. Only does the Bible reveal him as “Father.”
We can only know this through the word of God.
Revelation #4: Jesus is God
But of the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom. Hebrews 1:8
Waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, Titus 2:13
If you climbed to the top of Mount Everest, as awesome as that would be, you would never know that Jesus is God. Nature cannot reveal what only Scripture can.
Revelation #5: The Spirit is God
3But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? 4While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.” Acts 5:3-4
Ananias lied to the Holy Spirit. He lied not to man but to God.
As Romans says, we can see God’s power through the creation. But we can’t know there is a personal Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, through nature.
Revelation #6: The Good News of Salvation
We could never know all God did to save us by observing the galaxies. We could never know that Jesus Christ, God the Son became a man, lived a sinless life of perfect obedience to the Father, then personally paid for our sins when he was crucified, then rose from the dead and ascended into heaven.
He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, Titus 3:5
A redwood forest can’t tell me I need to have my sins washed away. The Scottish highlands can’t tell me I need to be saved. Only God’s word can reveal this to us.
Revelation #7: God is Faithful
Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations… Deuteronomy 7:9
…great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:23
We could hope that God is faithful, but in itself, the world offers no certainty. We have no way of knowing for sure if we will have good weather or the land will produce crops. The only way to be certain God will provide for us and protect us is through his Word.
Revelation #8: God is Always Completely Truthful
If we have no Scripture, we have no idea that God has ever even said anything, let alone that he is truthful. Yet the Bible is full of promises and guarantees us that God’s word is true.
God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it? Numbers 23.19
Revelation #9: God is Sovereign
How can we know that God is in control of every molecule in the universe? How can we know that there is a God who has plans for our lives and will fulfill them? Only through the Bible. If we look at nature alone, we might assume that God is not in control. How does a Tsunami or a hurricane tell us God is in control of all things? Nature would tell us things are out of anyone’s control.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
Revelation #10: God has good plans for us
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11
What can we see in the world that assures us that God has good plans for us?
Revelation #11: God is Holy
A majestic oak tree can tell us there is a powerful Creator, but it cannot tell us that God is holy in his majesty. That he will not allow sin into his presence. That he will punish sin. A majestic mountain does not tell us of our need for a Savior to save us from the wrath of a holy God and impart his own holiness to us.
“Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.” Leviticus 19:2
Isaiah, the holy prophet of God, had no idea of how holy God was until God pulled back the curtain and showed a glimpse of his holiness to him:
And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” Revelation 4:8
Revelation #12: God is Omniscient or all-knowing
The ocean, filled with amazing creatures and the heavens above, filled with stars and galaxies definitely suggests there must be a God who knows how to create these things. But all the galaxies in the universe can’t demonstrate that God knows every thought of every single person who ever lived, that God knows the beginning from the end of the universe, that God knows every heartbeat and every breath we breathe.
And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:13
Revelation #13: God is omnipresent – God is present everywhere
The universe certainly declares that there is an almighty being. But he might have just created it then left the scene. Creation declares God’s power, but God’s word assures us who believe in Jesus that he is always with us at all times, no matter where we are or what we are going through.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. Isaiah 43.2
Revelation #14: God is Loving
We might assume there is a loving God when we enjoy his blessings in this life. Family, friends, vacations, food on the table. But what do we believe when we get sick or a house burns down or a tornado sweeps through the state? We can only be assured God is loving from his word.
Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:8
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; Lamentations 3:22
Revelation #15: God is good
Just as God’s blessings point to his being loving, so do they point to God’s goodness. But again, when we go through affliction and pain, nature doesn’t say, “God is good.” We can only know that through Scripture:
The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made. Psalm 145.9
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! Psalm 34.8
Revelation #16: God is righteous and Just
When the Bible says God is righteous, it means he always does the right thing. God’s righteousness has to do with how he treats us. He will never mistreat us. How can we know this from looking at Saturn? I can tell God is incredibly creative and powerful to keep those rings rotating around that planet, but what can that tell me about how God will treat me? How he will eventually administer complete justice in the earth? Only God’s word can assure us that God will always do the right thing.
The Lord is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works. Psalm 145.17
God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day. Psalm 7:11
The creation reveals that there is an eternally powerful creator. But God is so infinitely glorious, that the creation itself is incapable of revealing all God’s glory. But God has given us so much knowledge of himself in his Word. That is why we need to take God’s word in, meditate on it, and delight in our God through it.