Lesson 2

God's Two Books: Scripture and Nature

(Romans 1, Psalms 19, Colossians 2, Revelation 21)
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Introduction: Have you ever heard someone say going out in nature is as good as going to church? Maybe you have skipped church one week to "commune" in nature?

I cannot say I completely understand this. Looking at nature I understand. Being in nature is another thing.

Let's review your last "commune" in nature. The first thing you notice is the temperature (normally not optimum). Then the biting, stinging, poking, sucking things notice you. If I am in really deep woods, my mind turns to "food-chain" issues: bigger animals eat smaller animals. So I have a concern about coming across a bigger animal. The only book of the Bible that readily pops to mind is Job! So let's explore the thesis of our lesson that nature is one of God's books!



  1. IS THIS PICTURE CLEAR?


    1. Since I've started you down the path, let's list some things you learn from nature? (Bigger, stronger animals eat smaller animals. Pests abound. Nature is bigger than man. Nature gets out of control sometimes.)


      1. Obviously, I've taken the negative view. You've given me some positive things to put on our list to counter balance the negative. Tell me, would you recommend nature as a way to teach about God?


        1. What do you say about the "negative lessons" in nature?


    2. Let's look at some texts on this. Read Romans 1:18-21. What is Paul arguing here?


      1. According to Paul, would you need to have a Bible to believe in God? (Paul is saying that no one has any excuse for not believing in God based on what they see around them in nature.)


      2. What, specifically, does Paul say we should be able to understand about God from nature? (Verse 20: His eternal power and divine nature.)


      3. Does Paul suggest that nature reveals all of God's qualities? (Paul just suggests two.)


        1. Do you agree that nature shows God's eternal power? (No question.)


        2. Do you agree that nature shows God's divine nature?


          1. Is it part of God's divine nature that bigger or fitter animals eat smaller or less fit animals?


        3. Let's read on. Romans 1:22-23. Is this a comment on the bigger, fitter animals issue? (Yes! Sort of. Paul suggests that nature shows a hierarchy. Given this hierarchy, how does it make any logical sense for man to bow down to birds and reptiles - much less images of them? Why, Paul says, in view of nature, would man look down and not up the chain? This idea is bolstered by the Greek word Paul uses ("theiotes") which is translated "divine nature" and refers to the abstract and relative power of God. Nature shows us there is a power above us.)


      4. Let's look at another text on this. Read Psalms 19:1-4. What does this suggest that nature tells us about God?


        1. Is there any language barrier here?


        2. Why does nature (v.2) speak in the day and display knowledge at night? (One explanation could be that during the day we can observe this great creation. Night shows us this is a "smart creation" in at least two ways. You need sleep to live. Presto, what do you find? A period of time in which your body can sleep and be regenerated. At night you can see all the stars. Their order and movement show a smart creation.)


    3. As you look back at that list that you made of what you learn from nature, how many of the positive things that you listed reflect God's abstract power?


    4. Is nature all we need to know God? Read Colossians 2:8-10.


      1. To what do you think the phrase in verse 8, "basic principles of this world," refers? Could it refer to nature? (Yes. The Greek seems to say "the orderly arrangement of the cosmos." This would clearly point to nature!)


      2. What do we need to have a clear picture of God? (Paul tells us that we can learn certain things about God's power and authority through nature, but we have an incomplete picture without the life of Christ.)


        1. Where would we learn about the life of Christ? (The Bible)


    5. We have seen how someone who communes in nature can come away with an incomplete picture of God. Is the reverse true, does someone who faithfully reads his Bible, but stays away from the mosquitoes, have an incomplete picture of God? (I am not sure the picture is incomplete, but it is missing an important part of the foundation. What makes us think that the Bible is not just a bunch of fairy tales? An old book whose main purpose is to make preachers rich off the gullible? Paul says in Romans you cannot look at nature without concluding that something a lot bigger and smarter than man is running the show.)


  2. WHY THE PICTURE IS OUT OF FOCUS


    1. Read Revelation 21:1-4. What has happened to nature? What has happened to the (v.4) "old order of things?"


      1. Think back to your list of what you learn from nature. How many of the negative things in your list are in the nature of "old order" things that will pass away?


      2. What does this suggest is wrong with the nature picture? (It suggests that sin has marred the picture, caused it to be out of focus. Nature is good to teach us the power and authority of God, but it is not a picture in which God has put all the brush strokes. The devil has been adding his scribbling to this picture and his additions are going to "pass away.")


  3. PUTTING THE PICTURE IN FOCUS


    1. Look next at Psalms 111:10. What do you think the Psalmist means when he says, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom?"


      1. Does nature teach us to "fear" God? (Some of the grandest views of God's power come from nature.)


      2. Will "fear of God" lead to a focused or unfocused picture of Him? (The Hebrew word translated "fear" (yirah) can mean a series of things starting with respect, through awe, to terror. If you start out with the mind set that God is awesome and you are not, you are on the right road to understanding God. So much of the errors that are drawn from nature come from man's arrogant attitudes.)


    2. Are we (are you) a part of nature that can lead us to fear God?


      1. The Psalmist tells us in Psalms 139:14 that we are "fearfully and wonderfully made." What do you think that means?


      2. Let's consider our eyes for a moment. Can man reproduce the eye/optic nerve/brain connection? (No. Man cannot create a substitute eye. Man cannot even create a very good substitute hand. Doesn't that tell you something? If man, with all his knowledge and ability, cannot make a "simple" thing like a hand, what kind of genius thinks we should be looking "down the chain of creation" or at chance to explain what we are today!)


    3. If nature caused you to acknowledge there is a power above you, what would be your next natural or logical step? (To see if this God who created nature and us decided to communicate with His creation.)


      1. Would it be logical to be led to the Bible? (The Bible claims to be a message from God. An explanation of God, our origins and God's desires for our life - to name a few.)


      1. Does the Bible also tell us that a "scribbler," a graffiti artist has been at work after the creation?


        1. Where? (Genesis 3)


        2. Is the placement important? (Right after God tells us how He created the world, nature and man, He plunges immediately into the entry of sin. It seems God is anxious to share with us the story of how man and creation are marred by sin.)


    1. Friends, nature should convince us of a power above ourselves. The primary lesson of the book of nature is to convince us that God exists. God's second book, the Bible, then puts the picture of God into focus.


  1. NEXT WEEK: BUT DID IT REALLY HAPPEN?

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