In our Bible study class on February 16, we discussed an issue that turned out to be more controversial than I expected. We were discussing this lesson: http://ssnet.org/lessons/13a/less07.html
I explained that Nature can’t teach us Biblical truths on its own. Only the Bible can tell us about the Trinity or the fact that Jesus died on the Cross and rose again or that the Red Sea parted for the Israelites. You’d never learn those things by studying trees or birds or corn.
The Class Protests
An interesting thing happened, then. Some of the people in my class protested that people can still go to Heaven even if they don’t know about God or Jesus.
Now, that’s actually true: the apostle Paul explains that people are only judged on what they have heard. And the Holy Spirit speaks to people through whatever is available — Nature alone, for some people — and asks them to make a decision based only on what they know.
But my point wasn’t about salvation. It was simply that “God’s second book,” as Nature is called, can’t explain some of the eternal truths that only the words of the Bible can reveal to us.
The Limitations of Nature
Nature can’t show us a God of eternal, unchanging love. It can show us some amazing things like sunlight and rain falling on the righteous and the wicked. It can show us space, which is extremely large but not infinite. But to know Who creates the sun and the rain and Who contains all of space in His mind, well, only the Bible can explain that.
An interesting concept from my denomination is that if people are focused only on Nature, they forget about God’s majesty and the power of His consistent love and perfect wisdom. If their ideas of truth and good behavior come only from Nature, they can never rise above it.
But worshipping the God Who created (and still creates) Nature inspires us to be more than we are, more than Nature, more like Him.
Why the Bible and Nature are a Teaching Team
Nature alone shows us a confusing picture. There is beauty in Nature, yes — and some generosity among higher animals. But there are also greed, stealing, and animals eating each other alive. Nature can’t explain itself, but the Bible can explain why things are the way they are.
On the other hand, some ideas in the Bible can be abstract and hard to visualize until we hear an illustration that uses Nature — for example, the parable of the seeds falling on different kinds of ground — and then we understand that particular truth better. Then that thing in Nature — the seeds, in this case — is forever after associated with that truth.
So both of God’s books are good, and they work together to teach us and show us truths about Him and His kingdom. It’s all for our benefit, because getting to know Him and being more like Him are what make people truly happy.
(Praise Team Leader at New Horizons SDA Church in Republic, MO)