God reveals Himself to us in the Bible, if we will just understand it. Of the peoples of the Roman Empire, God inspired the apostle Paul to write:
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men who by their wickedness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity [spiritual], has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made [physical]. So they are without excuse; for although they knew [about] God they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools” (Rom. 1:18-22, Revised Standard Version).
The billions now living on earth not only are ignorant of the most important knowledge—who and what God is—they seem not to want to know! They are willingly in ignorance of this most important knowledge and relationship possible in human life! Astonishing—but true!
And why have humans been willingly ignorant of man’s most important relationship? One explanation, only, is possible! All nations have been deceived (Rev. 12:9). And the fact of this universal deception makes certain the fact of a super deceiver!
God UNREAL to the Ancients
The first created man Adam, taking to himself from the forbidden tree the knowledge of good and evil, was at the same time rejecting God as Creator. It is certain that God had revealed somewhat of himself, a certain knowledge to Adam.
Nevertheless Adam had cut himself off from God his Creator. Undoubtedly, some of the knowledge that God had imparted to Adam was successfully imparted from father to son for many generations. Jesus had called Abel, Adam’s second son, “righteous Abel.” He did the right thing in offering a lamb in sacrifice. Later, Enoch “walked with God.” God spoke to Noah and gave him instructions for the building of the ark.
After the Flood certain historic accounts imply that Shem, one of Noah’s three sons, had some knowledge of the true God. But undoubtedly, as generation succeeded generation of humanity, knowledge of God had become greatly distorted.
Nimrod, as recorded in chapter 4 of this book, made a virtual god of himself. Through the succeeding generations and centuries knowledge of the true God faded almost completely. The ancient pagan nations made many different idols out of clay, wood, stone and other materials. Many examples of pagan idol gods have been dug up by archaeologists and may be seen in museums today. As the apostle Paul said, they worshipped the creation rather than the Creator (Rom. 1:25).
First Century A.D. Concept
Coming to the New Testament, we catch a glimpse of the ignorance of any knowledge about God. The scholarly of the world in the first century were the Athenian intellectuals. Some of them encountered the apostle Paul in Athens.
“Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection. And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus [atop Mars Hill], saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is? . . .
“Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions [objects of worship—Revised Standard Version], I found an altar with this inscription, To the unknown God. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth . . . he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; and hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on . . . the earth . . . for in him we live, and move, and have our being . . .” (Acts 17:18-19, 22-26, 28).
And now what of the scholarly of our Western world today? One would think, the most highly educated ought to know who and what God is! Suppose you ask at random 100 university deans, “Do you believe in God?” Perhaps three or four would answer, “Oh, I believe in the existence of God—as a ‘first cause.’” But they cannot tell you who and what God is! They cannot tell you what God is like! God is not real to them. In other words, he is a mystery. Perhaps another six or eight of the hundred will admit they are agnostics—they do not know “for sure” whether God exists.
I have said that education has become a matter of memory instillation. From elementary grades to higher graduate levels of study, our educational systems inject ready-made concepts, ideologies and a mixture of facts and fables into the unsuspecting minds of children, youths and young adults. Students in our school systems are graded according to how well they accept, memorize and can recite or write in tests what has been taught—whether true or false.
Modern education has given universal acceptance to the fable of evolution. Evolution is the agnostic’s or atheist’s attempt to explain the existence of a creation without the preexistence of the Creator. It removes God from the picture. It blinds itself to the mystery by attempting to remove God altogether.
Material Creation Seems Real
The creation is material, visible, and therefore seems real. The system of modern education has become entirely materialistic. The modern scientific concept denies the invisible and the spiritual as having existence. Yet all our seemingly unsolvable problems and the evils in this world are spiritual in nature.
I quoted above from the first chapter of the book of Romans. The 28th verse says, “. . . they did not like to retain God in their knowledge.” Little or nothing is taught about God, but even in the elementary grades the basic concept—the approach to knowledge—is evolution.
Is it any wonder, then, that the scholarly do not know who or what God is? They believe what they have been taught.
As I write I recently returned from my second four-day visit in Beijing (Peking), as the first religious leader from the world of Christianity to be invited by the government to speak before large groups at the Chinese capital. I have met in private conference with the vice chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, Tan Zhen-lin, and now, on this second visit, with Deng Xiaoping, the unquestioned leader of China.
In speaking with China’s leader, I was speaking to the top official now molding the minds and beliefs of over one billion people—almost a fourth of all the people on earth. China, in population, is the world’s largest nation. In very ancient times the religion in China was ancestor worship. Then came Confucianism, rivaled by Taoism. Later Buddhism was introduced from India, then Christianity. Today the nation is communist—atheist.
I found China’s leaders to be a very cordial, friendly and courteous people—but knowing who and what God is most certainly is not what they are now concerned about. I did not try to tell them who and what God is, but I did tell two large and important audiences of leaders what God is very soon going to do—and I announced this forthcoming book, which I am writing now.
India is the second largest nation. What have they known about who and what God is? Nothing!
Russia is third largest in population. They did have Russian Orthodox Christianity, and now atheism.
I am not condemning or judging these people—and I presume they are as well-meaning as any people. God is not judging them now—as I shall explain later. Neither is he condemning them. He loves them and will call them all to eternal salvation in his own time. But they do not know who and what God is.
In ancient Egypt they worshipped the gods Isis and Osiris. The Greeks and Romans anciently had mythological gods such as Jupiter, Hermes, Dionysus, Apollo, Diana and many others. But they did not know, and their peoples do not know today, who and what God is. But WHY?
Why Willingly Ignorant?
Already, in the quotation from the first chapter of Romans, I have given you a reason—they were willingly ignorant of the things of the true God. But WHY? Why willingly ignorant? In Romans 8:7 it is stated plainly that the natural mind of humans is hostile against God. This does not necessarily mean that all unconverted human minds are actively, intentionally, maliciously hostile. Most humans are passively hostile against God. They simply do not normally think about God. If God is mentioned they become embarrassed and often try to change the subject. They probably do not realize, in their own minds, that they have a hostile attitude toward God. Yet that is the very reason, psychologically, why they want to avoid the subject. In other words, the average person has an unrealized passive hostility against God. Without realizing it actively, they want God to “keep his nose out of their business”—except at a time when they are in deep trouble and they cry out for God’s help.
Spiritual things—invisible things—are a mystery to them. They do not understand those things, real though they are, because they cannot see them. They remain a deep mystery so they deny their existence.
There was a cause for this willing ignorance. And the Bible clearly tells us that cause, which is dual: 1) what occurred prehistorically, and 2) what God himself instituted following the original sin of Adam. All this (to be explained in the next two chapters), and the cause of all the escalating evils of today’s world, are clearly revealed by God Almighty in his Word the Holy Bible. This will be made plain as we progress.
But first, what does the Bible reveal about who and what is God? It is only in this inspired book that God reveals himself. But mankind in general has never believed God—that is, what God says! God spoke face to face, personally, to Adam and Eve, the first created humans. Then he allowed Satan to approach them. Satan got to Adam through his wife. Our original parents believed Satan when he said, “Ye shall not surely die,” after God had said, “Thou shalt surely die” upon stealing the forbidden fruit.
When Jesus Christ spoke on earth 4,000 years later, only 120 people believed what he said (Acts 1:15), though he preached his message from God to multiple thousands.
No wonder, then, not one of these religions, sects and denominations, except the small and persecuted Church founded by Jesus Christ (a.d. 31), starting with that 120, believes God, which means these others do not believe what God says in his Word. God’s Word plainly reveals who and what God is! But there is a reason for their ignorance. This will be made clear as we proceed.
Just who and what, then, is God? How does he reveal himself? Already I have quoted the apostle Paul saying to the Athenian intellectuals that God is the Creator, who designed, formed, shaped and created man.
The prophet Isaiah quotes God himself, saying: “To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? . . . Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth” (Isa. 40:25-26).
Read this in the James Moffatt translation in modern English:
“‘To whom will you compare me, then, and equal me?’ asks the Majestic One. Lift high your eyes, look up; who made these stars? he who marshals them in order, summoning each one by name. For fear of him, so mighty and so strong, not one fails to appear.”
Further, God himself says to the skeptics: “Now, the Eternal cries, bring your case forward, now, Jacob’s King cries, state your proofs. Let us hear what happened in the past, that we may ponder it, or show me what is yet to be, that we may watch how it turns out; yes, let us hear what is coming, that we may be sure you are gods; come, do something or other that we may marvel at the sight!—why,” taunts God to the doubter, “you are things of naught, you can do nothing at all!” (Isa. 41:21-24, Moffatt). These scriptures reveal God’s power but not what God is, in a manner to make him real to the reader. Other scriptures must do that.
Source: Mystery Of The Ages: Chapter “Who & What is God”