“Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.” (Acts 14:17)
The Bible tells us that God reveals Himself to all humans through nature. For example, God testifies to His existence and power through the existence of the universe and the complexity of all things. God testifies to His goodness by giving people rain and good harvests.
This natural revelation is good, but sinful hearts are not. Natural revelation makes us inclined to acknowledge something transcendent and to worship. What do sinners do with such revelation? They worship idols.
God testifies to His goodness through His temporal gifts, but Adam’s sin brought sickness, natural disasters, and death into the world. Sinful hearts are always skeptical about God. Sinners conclude that God is good to some people, but cruel to others. You’d better get on God’s good side. Natural revelation doesn’t only produce idolatry, but works-righteousness as well.
Paul freely appealed to God’s revelation in nature, but his main message was the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Only God’s self-disclosure in His incarnate Son can produce true fear of God and trust in His grace.
In the crucified Christ we see the Father’s face and come to know Him. All who honor the Son honor the Father. At the Cross we come to know the height, depth, and breadth of God’s love. Since we know that our Lord laid down His life for us that we might live, we can give up all attempts to get on God’s good side.
When you talk to your unbelieving friends, feel free to appeal to God’s revelation in nature. That can be helpful. However, don’t forget to share the Good News about Jesus. Only the Gospel can reconcile sinners to God.
Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!
O my soul, praise Him, for He is your health and salvation!
Let all who hear Now to His temple draw near,
Joining in glad adoration!
(“Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” LSB 790, st. 1)