Have you ever had an epiphany — an “Aha!” moment, a revelation that hit you like a ton of bricks? It’s happened to me after struggling to learn a difficult magic trick. After practicing for what seems like an eternity, my brain and hands suddenly cooperate and voila! I understand the necessary moves.
In January, the church celebrates the biggest epiphany of all — divine revelation. But how has God revealed Himself? More fundamentally, has God revealed Himself to the world? Here are three revelations to consider, a “trinity of epiphany,” if you will:
Psalm 19:1-2 poetically states a truth that most people intrinsically know — the creation implies a Creator:
The heavens declare the glory of God;
the sky displays his handiwork.
Day after day it speaks out;
night after night it reveals his greatness.
Recently, some scientists have speculated that the universe could have popped into existence out of nowhere. In the spring of 2015, a team from China presented the first mathematical “proof” that the Big Bang exploded from nothingness. Their theory rests on the possibility of energy fluctuations occurring spontaneously in a theoretical region where space, time and matter does not exist. These “ripples” usually pop in and out, but, according to this theory, one occurred sufficiently long and under the right conditions for the “Big Bang” to have occurred.
If this quantum fluctuation created the cosmos, it involved energy. Where did this energy originate – and the laws of physics to guide it? Astrophysicist Alex Filippenko of the University of California, Berkeley, admits that the “universe from nothing” hypothesis is “speculative.” He said that “the ‘divine spark’ was whatever produced the laws of physics. And I don’t know what produced that divine spark.”
Theologians have called this “spark” the First Cause and the Bible reveals Who He Is — “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). Is it more reasonable to believe that oceans, galaxies and blue whales came from the creative mind of this First Cause or random energy fluctuations?
MORALS: YOURS, MINE OR OURS?
Atheists are quick to point out that you can have morals without God – and this is true. But most unbelievers will cite the evolutionary process as the source of morality. According to this belief, through natural selection, our apeish ancestors chose certain behavior patterns that allowed the species to survive. An example of this working in the real world is the maternal predisposition to protect offspring and continue the genetic line. As a result, there are more women who are “good” mothers than “bad.”
Follow me on this line of reasoning: You should be unselfish because it is better for the species. But why should I care for the species? Because without the species, your own survival and all that entails — your life, freedom and personal pursuit of happiness — is at risk. So I should be other-directed because, ultimately, it is better for me. But doing what is better for me is selfishness. As author and speaker Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason concludes, “All of this so-called description of where morality comes down to, gets reduced to this ludicrous statement: ‘I morally ought to be unselfish so that I can be more thoroughly selfish.’ That is silly.”
Our genes don’t know right from wrong. Sometimes, even our conscience is an unreliable indicator. Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot justified killing millions. Were they wrong? If you say “yes,” how do you know? They thought they were right. Our sin-clouded minds are excellent at justifying certain actions, even though they may be abhorrent to others.
The fact is, it is impossible to determine right or wrong without an objective standard. The Bible reveals the Lord as the polestar of morality for “he has told you, O man, what is good: and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8).
THE ULTIMATE REVELATION
Jesus Christ is the ultimate revelation of God. Hebrews 1:3 states that Jesus is the radiance of God’s glory and the “exact representation” of God’s nature. “Exact representation” is actually one word in the biblical text: “charakter,” which means an impression made by an object, such as a king’s seal that has been pressed into wax. Jesus was the outward image of the invisible God. The Father of heaven and earth pressed His signet ring into the Manger of Bethlehem, announcing to the world that Jesus carried His nature and authority.
Before I became a Christian, I wouldn’t believe anything just because the Bible said so. If you’re in that boat, consider this: there were scores of wannabe messiahs during the time of Jesus. One such claimant, Athronges, was described as a tall man of great strength by the historian Josephus. Athronges, a shepherd by trade, declared himself messiah and led an army against the Romans and Jewish king. After a protracted struggle, he and his four brothers were defeated.
You’ve heard of Athronges, right? No? How about Theudas, Simon of Peraea or Meanhem ben Judah? These were all would-be messiahs during the early years of the common era. Now: have you heard of Jesus of Nazareth? How did a small-town carpenter’s son rise to such prominence when men like Athronges have been tossed on the ash pile of history?
Jesus spoke compelling words and did remarkable wonders, but what ultimately elevated Him above all saviors and sovereigns was His empty tomb. The women reported it. The disciples verified it. The great apostle, Paul, testified to it. And the enemies of Christ were never able to refute it. Christianity rises and falls on the Resurrection of Jesus Christ: “…if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain” (I Corinthians 15:13-14).
Which epiphany from God is the most meaningful for you? Can you think of others? What does God’s revelations say about those who believe that religion is a matter of “blind faith?”