There’s a reason the Bible begins the way it does. Notice the first verse: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). God is there before anything begins, and He starts it all. Without Him, there would be nothing. The universe and everything in it is His kingdom. He’s the King, and it’s His domain.
The rest of the Bible that follows from that verse is predicated on the idea that there is a God. Every creature is His. Every natural law is His. Every moral truth is His. Without Him, we have no foundation for our theology, ethics, or values. Everything can be traced back to Him.
This has significant implications for what we believe. Nothing makes sense without first acknowledging God exists and has made all things. Remembering that can help us better understand discussions with people who don’t share our religious convictions.
I often find myself talking to skeptics about morality. They are astonished that I would uphold certain sexual ethics, for example. In one sense, I understand their bewilderment. Biblical morality can appear archaic or unnecessarily limiting if it seems to be without just cause. If there’s a God who made us, though, then His moral rules are timeless, relevant, and justified.
This is why it’s often pointless to justify a sexual ethic on its own merit when talking to a skeptic. If you want to show that the ethic is good, you can predicate its reasonableness on the existence of God. That’s because all things come back to God. Let me offer a few examples.
Abortion: Christians believe abortion is a serious moral crime because it kills an innocent human being. Many non-Christians, though, believe abortion is morally permissible. They’re mystified as to the reason we hold our view. If you think about it, though, abortion is wrong because there’s a God who says human life is intrinsically valuable. Therefore, the wrongness of abortion is ultimately grounded in the existence of God. Without Genesis 1:1, there’s no God, no one made in His image, and nothing wrong with killing an innocent human being. As you can see with abortion (or any other bioethical issue), it all comes back to God.
Homosexuality: Christians believe that homosexual behavior is sin. Most people in society, however, vigorously disagree with us. Conversations on the subject can result in a fruitless back and forth: “Homosexuality is wrong,” “No, it’s not,” “Yes, it is,” etc.
This matter, though, also comes back to God. One could ask, “If you believed there was a God who created and designed us, invented sex for men and women, and communicated His plan to humanity, would it matter to you what He said about homosexuality?” If they don’t agree, then no discussion about the morality of homosexual behavior will matter. After all, they don’t even grant that the God who made us (if they even believed in Him) would have the authority to guide their thinking on the subject. If, however, they believe it would matter what God said if He existed, then perhaps a discussion about God would be logically prior to a discussion about what He said about sex and homosexuality.
The point I’m making is that our sexual ethics are ultimately predicated on God’s existence. If there is no God, then there are no morals to tell us how to conduct sexual expression. Again, it all comes back to God.
Is Jesus the only way? The Christian claim that Jesus is the only way to Heaven is offensive to many non-Christians. We’re told it’s arrogant to suggest that other religions aren’t also a legitimate path to God.
The claim that Jesus is the only way, however, is not a man-made claim. Christians didn’t think of it. It was Jesus who boldly proclaimed, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Christians simply follow His teaching.
As you can see, even the exclusivity of Jesus comes back to God. If there is only one God, then He alone determines the terms to enter heaven. If He decides that everyone must be pardoned and the only way to receive a pardon is to become Jesus’ disciple, then that becomes the only way to heaven. If there were another God, then perhaps there would be other terms. But since only one God exists, there’s only one way.
Recognizing that our beliefs and values all come back to God reminds us that He is our foundation. It all starts with the first verse, “In the beginning, God…” and all things follow from there.
There are also practical ramifications. Sometimes we get distracted by the details of our faith when we’re talking to people who don’t share our convictions. We end up debating secondary issues (I don’t mean unimportant ones). Instead, sometimes we need to back up and talk about the more foundational belief that there’s a God and everything is ultimately grounded in Him.