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Great Book About the Story of Reality February 6, 2017

Posted by roberttalley in Apologetics, Book Reviews, Creation, Death of Christ, Evangelism, God the Father, Jesus, Resurrection, Uncategorized.
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Koukl, Gregory. The Story of Reality: How the World Began, How it Ends, and Everything Important that Happens in Between. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2017.

The length of the subtitle should not be scary. Koukl’s relating of the Story (capitalization his) of reality is a concise, but engaging presentation of the metanarrative of Christiantiy. This books serves as an apology for Christianity, an overview of basic theology, and a passionate evangelistic message. In just less than 200 pages the reader will find a clear and convincing telling of the Story.

The Story is in presented in five parts with an introduction. The idea of story is consistent throughout the book but it is not strictly delivered in a traditional story format. It is more accurate to say that the book is a discussion of the Story. In fact, the device of capitalizing “story” is effective in reminding the reader that even when Koukl dives into apologetic, theological, or philosophical issues, they are all related to the great Christian metanarrative, the Story.

In the “Introduction” the author begins by asking the question “What is Christianity?” He wants the reader to know from the beginning that he is discussing pictures of reality, that is, worldviews. For Koukl each worldview is like a puzzle that people attempt to fit into reality, the better the pieces fit both together and into reality, the more accurate the worldview picture is likely to be. Each worldview is like a map or story but can be misunderstood. Before presenting the Story (the map, the puzzle), Koukl warns that there is a problem that presents itself in the Story to both believers and unbelievers, the problem of evil. Because of that problem, many infer that an important aspect of the Story, God, must not exist, otherwise the problem would not exist.

The five parts of the story are clearly delineated: God, man, Jesus, cross, resurrection. Yet in the presentation of the first part of the Story (God) it becomes clear that there are competing stories: “matter-ism” and “mind-ism”. These two stories are, however, limited. In these two stories the problem of evil cannot exist, that is, there is no place for the existence of evil in the puzzle of reality. This section is an effective apologetic for the Christian worldview against these two competing worldviews for a world with which something is clearly wrong just does not fit into their story and yet everyone seems to recognize that something is clearly wrong with this world. These two stories, however, will not allow it.

When discussing man, Koukl keeps the fact that something is wrong with the world before the reader, but introduces two other ideas: (1) that there is something special about man and (2) that man is broken. Other stories have explanations for this but these explanations fall short. It is at this point that the Story begins to feel like a story rather than an adept apologetic argument. Koukl presents the Fall, though the story of the Fall itself brings up several objections for which another short but deft apologetic section is offered.

This the basic tactic of the book: reveal basic problems that must be addressed before telling some portion of the Story, tell the Story (Jesus, death, resurrection), and answer objections that are raised by the telling of the story. As he nears the end, he reminds his reader of the beginning of the journey to ensure that the reader has not forgotten important aspects of the Story or the answers to significant problems raised by the story that were previously addressed. Koukl weaves effectively what he has told before and how it relates to what he is telling at that moment.

After bringing the Story to a successful conclusion, Koukl tells the story once again through just a few pages in the “Epilogue”, but this time as a passionate evangelistic message. This evangelistic epilogue does an excellent job turning this an apologetic worldview book into an invitation to “accept your pardon now, while you can, and turn and follow Jesus” (page 177). For this reason, this reviewer highly recommends this book as an evangelistic tool though it would certainly be of profit for most Christians as well, especially those who do not understand the real world ramifications of the story. Notes with scripture references are in the back making the book less intimidating for those who might be put off by an “academic” look, however, even Koukl’s notes are often quite engaging. Additionally, his use of stories within the telling of the Story is inviting.

Readers (and users, hopefully) of his 2009 book Tactics will recognize his two part method of asking key questions and revealing false assumptions throughout this newer book. This newest book is highly recommended as a tool for both apologetic and evangelistic purposes.

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Lessons from Creation about the Future (The Answer to Global Warming July 5, 2009

Posted by roberttalley in Creation, Global Warming, Holy Spirit, Religion, Romans, Sermons.
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God’s Answer to Global Warming: What Creation Teaches Us About the Future
(Romans 8:10-25)

INTRODUCTION: One of the hot button issues of our day is global warming. On this fourth of July weekend, this ranks among one of the top political footballs. Some are absolutely convinced using scientific data that our planet is slowly but surely warming to catastrophic levels. Others, also using scientific data, are just as convinced that we are simply experiencing a warmer period during the regular cycle of warming and cooling which the earth has experienced since its existence. It is likely that the reality is that we simply do not know and the best we can do is guess about the future of this planet.

But then God enters the picture. God agrees that the earth is in a mess. In fact, He had a part in this mess. He cursed the earth, making it less fruitful than it could be because of Adam’s sin. God cursed the ground so that Adam must work harder to provide for himself and his family.

So there is a sense, if the earth is warming, it is because God has cursed it and man has added a significant portion of sin and waste and abuse to the equation. If the earth is not warming, however, this earth is still cursed and is still groaning under the consequences of humankind’s sin.

In this passage Paul refers to the burden of sin on creation and takes from creation an important lesson for us to learn that will help us in our personal battles against sin.

That is one of the main purposes of Romans 6-8. To teach us, who have been forgiven of our sin, that it is possible to have victory over sin. We are already freed from the slavery of sin but our sinful bodies are constantly tempted and we need to be equipped to fight against sin.

The Spirit of God enables us in our struggle against our sinful flesh (verses 1-16). This is actually the main point that Paul is trying to make. If we are going to have victory now over sin, we need the power of the Holy Spirit.
Why do we need the Holy Spirit (verses 1-9)? Because our flesh is too weak to keep the law of God. Romans 6 teaches us we are no longer slaves to sin and Romans 7 teaches us we are no longer slaves to law and yet we find we can still fulfill the conditions of the law through the Holy Spirit. There are only two ways of living. In obedience through the Spirit or in rebellion through the flesh. There is no middle ground. The difference maker is not that God has adjusted His standards but rather that He has given us His Spirit.
How does the Holy Spirit enable us to please God (verses 10-13)? By enabling us to put to death the deeds of this sinful body.

Dr. Charles Ryrie once called Romans 8:13 the most important single verse on the spiritual life in the New Testament. He liked it because it contains a beautiful balance. There is God’s part—”if by the Spirit”—and there is our part—”you put to death.” Victory over sin comes when we do our part as we rely upon the Holy Spirit’s enablement. Victory over sin is neither entirely passive (“Let go and let God”) nor entirely active (“I’ve got to do this all by myself”). This verse balances a moment-by-moment dependence upon the Spirit with a tough-minded attitude toward the flesh. Is victory over sin dependent upon God or upon me? The answer is Yes!
I cannot do it without God.
God will not do it without me. (with thanks to Ray Pritchard)

The Holy Spirit’s enablement is a distinguishing mark of a child of God (14-16). How does the Spirit do this?
He leads us in our battle against sin. Verse 14 teaches us that there is a connection with being a Son of God and being led by the Spirit of God to fight our sinful flesh. The Holy Spirit convicts us through the Word of God and says to us this is the way, walk in it, do not pay debts to your sinful flesh (verse 12), you do not owe yourself anything. That is why in Ephesians 6:18, Paul commanded the believers to pray in the Spirit with watchfulness because Satan is out to tempt us to pay debts to our sinful flesh. We need the Spirit of God to lead us in the right ways and to protect us from the ways of evil.
He also assures us of our relationship to God (verses 15-16). Now why does that matter in our fight against sin? 1 John 3:1-3 tells us that confidence in our relationship to God is our motivation to purify ourselves, that is, to put to death the deeds of our body. Further in that same chapter, in verses 19-22, John tells that it is the Holy Spirit who gives us that confidence.
Our glorification with Christ is the purpose for our struggle against our sinful flesh (verses 17-18). Our struggle is pictured in this chapter as suffering. It is true that we are looking forward to the day when we will have new bodies with no pain and suffering but what is in view in this passage is the suffering that Christ endured and which we also endure as a result of our battle against sin. There are several reasons why I think it is specifically referring to our battle against sin.
Romans 7:24 makes it clear that this battle against sin for the believer is a hard battle. That is why Paul wrote Romans 8, to assure us that this battle is reasonable. Romans 6 tells us this battle is winnable, Romans 7 tells us it is a deadly battle, and Romans 8 tells us how to win that battle.
Secondly, the whole concept of being crucified with Christ is a picture of our submission to Christ and our battle against sin. Battles produce pain, suffering, terrible injuries, and death. The battle of sin is no different. It is like the crucifixion of Christ in its pain and suffering if we are willing to enter into that battle.
Finally, the immediate context has to do with the pain and suffering of sin. Our struggle against sin is won, not when we die but rather when we our glorified with Christ at His coming. That is what verses 17-18 teaches. Last Sunday, one of the founding fathers of this church, Dale Avery, passed away after a long and painful battle with cancer. His wife is grieving her loss as one would expect but as often happens, there is a sense that she is comforted because she knows that he is with the Lord and that his pain is over. God, however, is not finished with Dale Avery. When Jesus Christ comes to be glorified in His kingdom, Dale Avery will rise from the grave in Ephrata, Pennsylvania with a glorified body and will take his place as an heir and a joint heir with Jesus Christ. Because He identified Himself with Jesus Christ through faith, he will be exalted with Jesus Christ above the angels to the highest position in the universe under God the Father to rule and to reign through all eternity with the Son of God, Jesus Christ. Although His part of the battle against the suffering of sin is over, his glorification with Christ is still to come and it will be well worth it all, in fact, every struggle against sin and its suffering will seem nothing when he is crowned with the King of kings and the Lord of lords. The good news is this: not just Dale Avery but every believer in Jesus Christ will also be glorified with Christ on that day. But there is more…
Our glorification with Christ is the point in time when creation is finally released from the bondage of sin’s corruption (verses 19-22). For thousands of years the earth has been cursed because of sin and has been in bondage to corruption. When God sent the flood, He reduced the amount of sin from the earth but the earth remained cursed and in bondage to corruption. There is no physical force that can release the earth from this bondage. It is only when we are glorified with Christ in that last day that the earth will finally be delivered from bondage. If there is a global warming coming, then it is certainly because our sin has corrupted this world. It is inevitable.
Verse 20 points out that the earth in its present state is subjected to futility, frailty, vanity, weakness. This is a wonderful world from our point of view but it groans under the weight of sin. Why are we constantly in danger of famine? Because this planet under the bondage of sin cannot reach its potential.
God’s answer is the glorification of Christ and of His children with Christ at His coming. The earth will have new leadership: Christ and His royal family of brothers and sisters who have put their faith in Him will rule over this earth according to verse 22 with glorious liberty. It will be freed to produce as God intended for it to produce. This planet will become the utopia God intended for it to be.
This is described for us in the Old Testament in Isaiah 65:17-25 as well as in other prophets when the millennial kingdom is described and will be extended throughout all eternity through the new heaven and the new earth.
So what? How does this lesson from creation help me? We learn hope and patience. Like creation, we have an expectation in our glorification with Christ and that hope is our motivation to persevere in our struggle against our sinful flesh (verses 23-25).
Verses 23-25 teaches us those who have the first fruits of the Spirit have hope. In fact, our glorification is guaranteed by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. We cannot see that hope yet. We cannot even imagine that hope but it is coming to every believer in Jesus Christ.

We have learned three wonderful lessons from creation. We have learned according to Romans 1 that creation teaches us the power and existence of God. We have also learned from Psalm 8 that we, humankind, is the center of God’s created universe. Today we have learned why. Creation is waiting for our glorification with Christ and the resulting freedom that it will enjoy as a result. For that reason, this battle against sin that we are constantly fighting is worth every moment. The purpose of the battle, the hope of our suffering is our honor and glorification with Christ. When you are weary of fighting against the pain and suffering of sin, be patient, persevere, remember you have the Holy Spirit to help you, to lead you and the future glory that you will have with Christ will be worth it.

Invitation: Commit yourself to killing sin as a believer. If you are an unbeliever, let me invite you to a relationship with Christ to become a son of God.

What does creation teach us about humankind (Psalm 8)? June 28, 2009

Posted by roberttalley in Creation, Hebrews, Jesus, Messiah, Psalms, Religion, Sermons.
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Lessons From Creation: What Is Man?
(Psalm 8)

THEME: Humankind is the Key Created Element in the Eternal Majesty of God

Introduction: This is a psalm of praise. When someone approaches royalty, they might say, “His Excellency” or “Your Majesty.” This is exactly what this psalm does. David prays to God but He does not say, “My Father” but rather in total submission to God bows before God and worships “His Excellency”, “His Majesty”, “the LORD his Lord.”

I. In his praise of the majestic Lord God, David beautifully points out that the key created element of God’s eternal glory is humankind. This psalm asks and answers the question, “How is it majestic Lord, that you are glorified in the weakness of humankind (verses 1-8)?”
A. You are already universally glorious (verse 1).
1. You, that is, your name, is excellent, is majestic in all the world around us (verse 1a). When God separated the waters on the earth from the sky with a word and gathered the waters into oceans so that dry land would appear, He showed His lordship over the earth. When with a word He caused grass and trees, savannahs and rain forests, gardens and prairies, with that one word He showed His excellency in all the earth. When with a word He put fish in the oceans and birds in the trees and animals on the land, God displayed His majesty and glory.
2. Lord, not only are you majestic in all the world around us but you are glorified in the created universe (verse 1b). Your glory, your majesty, your authority, your beauty is above and beyond the heavens. This universe of ours is beyond measuring, beyond comprehension but God is greater than this universe. It is His created domain to rule and to reign over.
B. God created mankind to create greater glory for Himself. This psalm asks the question, “God, do you need humankind to create greater glory for yourself (verses 2-8)?” Let’s think about this. If God had stopped with the creation of land animals on the sixth day of creation, would this universe be glorious? Absolutely! Would He still reign over His domain? Of course, but God’s creation went beyond creative power and glory but rather centered around humankind. Humankind is the focal point of God’s creation.
For example, when God created the sun, moon, and stars on the fourth day of creation, for what purpose were they created? To give light to the earth. This is God’s perspective of the universe. It was all created for this seemingly small and insignificant ball of land and water.
For two hundred years, we have been taught differently. We have been taught that our sun is an insignificant star (“rather ordinary” according to Gary Edward Schnittjer in “The Torah Story”) “located in a remote area of the rather unexceptional Milky Way galaxy, which is one of billions of such galaxies.”# Schnittjer quotes one of the lead characters of the 1997 movie to illustrate this point, “If human beings are the only life in the vast universe, then it sure is a waste of space.” This psalm says just the opposite. It is the existence of human beings that give purpose to this universe in that they enhance the glory of God.
1. Silencing God’s enemies enhances His glory. (verse 2).
a. Strength out of weakness silences His enemies (verse 2a). Jesus quotes this verse on the first Palm Sunday when the learned religious rulers of His day wanted the “Hosannah’s” of the children silenced. In the context, David is speaking of humankind in general and the nation of Israel in particular. God has enemies and His enemies are powerful. Satan controls the rulers of this earth. He is called in Ephesians the prince of the power of the air. He is a mighty force. Now God could easily defeat Him with one word but He chooses instead the words of the weak. That is why Satan hates humankind and desires to deceive humankind, because He understands that God will defeat Him through the praise of our lips.
b. The illustration of ordaining strength from babies (verse 2b). When God cursed Eve for her part in their disobedience, He promised her that through her seed, that is, through a man, that Satan would be defeated. How was Satan’s mouth stopped in the book of Job? Through the integrity of one man. How were the Philistines brought to their knees? Through a young boy with a sling whose strength was not his own but the LORD’s. How were the God-hating Pharaohs and the Nebuchadnezzars of this world shown the glory of God? Through weak men made strong by the everlasting arm of God.
2. This is why God gives priority to humankind over the heavenly bodies (verses 3-8). God enemies are defeated through humankinds weakness. An observer would say that we are insignificant in comparison to the universe. It appears obvious yet God gives priority to us over the sun, moon, and stars. He gives us a glory that is above all creation.
a. Humankind’s earthly glory is the result of God’s care for us (verses 4-8). God does not pay attention to the heavenly bodies nor does He concern Himself with the animals and plants except as they relate to humankind. God could have saved the dinosaurs from extinction but He did not. He could have through His power saved hundreds of species of plants and animals from extinction but has not. Why? Because they are not the focus of His plans. Humankind is the focal point of God’s creation which is why we find Him caring so diligently for humankind and specifically for His people.
i. Is humankind worth remembering (verse 4a)?
ii. Is humankind worth tending to (verse 4b)?
iii. The assumed answer is “No”. “What is man that you remember him?” Mark Twain spoke for the modern man when he answered this question by saying that we are robots who simply go through life doing what we must do because we are in some way programmed to do that thing. Some, like the Mormons, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and New Age adherents try to give us significance by proclaiming us to be gods or godlike in some way. The answer of David is this. When I look at God’s handiwork in the sky, there seems to be no significance in man to justify God’s dealings with him.
b. Humankind’s earthly glory comes from God’s gift to humankind of dominion over creation (verses 5-8).
i. You have made him a little lower than the angels (verse 5a). The angels are higher than us in rank. They are greater than us in power but only we have been given dominion over the earth.
ii. You have crowned him with glory and honor (verse 5b). I suppose it is not bad to be an angel. God created the angels for a great and glorious purpose but without the existence of man, one has to ask one’s self if the angels serve a significant purpose without man. Angels can sin but they will never be forgiven. Angels can do great things but they are never indwelt by the Spirit of God. I think it is likely that even the creation of the angels was directly connected with God’s plans for humankind. They are simply powerful and exalted tools, created as part of God’s redemptive purpose for humankind.
iii. You have given him dominion over your creation (verse 6a). When God created the heavens and the earth, He did not turn it over to an angel or a group of angels but rather to Adam and Eve. Physically and spiritually limited, God gave to them the dominion over the earth and the care of the garden of Eden. An angel was sent to block entrance to the garden and the tree of life to the very people who had been responsible for its welfare. What a glorious privilege they were given.
iv. You have put all animals under his feet (verses 6b-8). God could have named the animals but He gave that job to Adam. God could have tamed the animals but He left that for Adam and his descendants to do. “Under his feet”, however, goes much further than naming and taming animals. First, animals are just one example from creation of those things being subject to man. Secondly, this is the phrase used when one has defeated his enemies and they are submissive to him. Paul quotes this verse in 1 Corinthians 15, speaking of Christ’s victory over death. In the same way that death is submissive to Christ, creation is submissive to mankind.
v. We have not done very well with our responsibility. From Adam and Eve’s sin in the garden to the submission of the heathen to creation; from the unwise uses of our earth to the wicked uses with which man uses creation; in all of these things, we have shown that our sinful nature prevents us from ruling over the earth in wisdom.
II. God’s name is glorified through humankind in the person of Christ (verse 9). One man – Jesus Christ fulfills the expectation of God’s gifts (Hebrews 2:7).
A. His name is glorified despite humankind’s unworthiness. We have proven unworthy but God is worthy. Revelation 5:8-13 describes how the Lamb of God, the seed promised to Eve, the one made a little lower than the angels, when He had by Himself purged us from our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Father, so that all things would be under His feet (See Hebrews 1 and 2 also).
B. His name is glorified despite humankind’s abuse of His gifts. When Jesus was born of a virgin, He became one of those babes and sucklings referred to in verse 2. The world could not realize that the baby born in Bethlehem would be able to fulfill the expectations of God for the human race. Through Him God’s enemies are put to silence. Satan and His demons, death, sin, and hell are all defeated through Jesus Christ. Romans 5 shows us that Jesus Christ is the superior man, much more superior to Adam who gave us death through sin. Jesus, however, gave us righteousness through death, His death.

God created you for His greater glory. Every man, woman, boy, and girl sitting here today was the focal point of God’s creation. He has given us dominion over the earth. We, however, have failed and continue to fail and will continue to fail. There is a man though who descended from heaven to be born of a virgin, to live as a man, to die as a man, to bodily rise from the dead as a man, to ascend into heaven as a man, the Son of Man, the Son of God, God Himself. God’s glory is enhanced through Christ’s redemption of sinful man. He will save you when you put your faith in Him. Do it today!

Lessons from Creation: (Part 1) What does creation teach us about God? June 14, 2009

Posted by roberttalley in Creation, General Revelation, Gospel, Religion, Romans, Sermons.
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LESSONS FROM CREATION:
WHO GOD IS AND WHY DOES IT MATTER?
ROMANS 1:16-25
INTRODUCTION: This is the first in a three part series of lessons from creation. In our VBS this year, we are emphasizing the creation and other wonderful works of God. In connection, I would like for us to look in the Scriptures and find out what creation teaches us about God, about humankind, and about our future. Today, we will, using the Word of God, find out what creation teaches us about God.
Who Is God (Romans 1:16-20a)?
He is the Powerful God (compare verse 16 with verse 20a). If there is anything that creation reveals, it is that there is a mighty power at work in the universe. The creationist, the evolutionist, the New Age adherent, the superstitious animist, the agnostic, all would agree that the power that created this universe and that maintains this universe is a power beyond our ability, a power beyond our knowledge, a power beyond our duplication. The best that man can do is harness that power. We cannot create it. We can extract energy out of oil, from the sun, even from the atom but we cannot create any of those things. That is beyond our power. And that power is eternal. We cannot discover the beginning of it, nor see the end of it. That is why creation reveals the Godhead. We see the power of creation and understand that this could not just happen. There must be a god or gods who brought all this into being.
I understand that evolutionary theory claims that chance brought all of this about but they have yet to show how. They have theories and they have puzzle pieces but they have yet to produce an evolution. It is beyond their ability, it is beyond observable knowledge, and it is beyond duplication. Their very standard, that of observable knowledge does not produce a case of evolution but rather a universe of such immensity and complexity that one must consider that there is some type of intelligent designer.
Yet that is as far as observable phenomena can bring us. We can see God’s power and capability through creation but not His character and purposes. In order to see more than just the eternal power and Godhead, we need the gospel of Christ. The gospel of Christ shows us that God is Righteousness (verse 17). When you look at the universe, there seems to be no righteousness.
This week we watched a relatively recent movie based on the book, “Charlotte’s Web.” The young girl in the film, seeing her father about to put the runty pig out of its misery says, “It’s not fair.” This universe does not appear just. It does not appear right. It does not appear righteous. Runty pigs are born. Stars die. Species die out. The universe does not reveal the righteousness of God. That is only revealed in the gospel of Jesus Christ and only when one believes that gospel (see also Romans 3:21-26; 5:17-21; and 10:1-11).
He is the Judge (verses 18-19). Although the word “judge” is not used in these verses, this is exactly what is being described in these verses. That men are unrighteous is clear. We have fallen short of the righteousness of God and we deserve a just wrath on our own righteousness. The reason this wrath is just is because we have not sinned ignorant of God but rather with our eyes wide open.
You see, humankind has suppressed the truth by our own unrighteousness (verses 18b-20). From the time of creation, the power of God has been observable, the eternal Godhead has been deducible but humankind has suppressed the truth of the power of God and the truth that there is a God who is above anything that we could possibly imagine (See also Deuteronomy 4:19 and Job 31:26-28).
Why Does It Matter (Romans 1:20b-25)?
It matters because our knowledge of God removes any excuse from judgment (Romans 1:20b-21.) Humankind has refused to glorify God and to thank God for His gifts and glory even though we recognize Him in creation (verse 21). When we stand before God, if we have never heard of Him, if we have never heard of Jesus Christ, we cannot say we didn’t know. God will say, “You saw my power in creation, you saw through creation that I am God but you suppressed this truth in your unrighteousness and served yourself and other gods and even your own desires rather than serve me. You are without excuse!” God does not have to reveal Himself to us but when He does, and He does that in creation, it leaves us without excuse. You folks who go hunting and you folks who enjoy the beautiful lake that we have here, when you sit there enjoying the beauty of God’s creation, if you see that beauty and do not recognize God’s eternal power and Godhead through that creation, you will stand before Him without excuse.
It also matters because of the results: thanklessness (verses 21-25).
Through thanklessness, humankind became self-deceived, blind fools (verses 21b-22). Someone one said, “When you look truth in the eye and call it a lie, although it is still truth, you will still deny”. The human race is in denial. Humankind has a permanent case of denial, of self-deception, of purposely living in darkness thinking that they are living in the light.
When I was a kid, we use to play hide-and-seek at night in our house with my dad. Bathrooms and the living area were off limits. There was a long hallway with five bedrooms off of it. My dad would be it. We would all go and hide with all the lights cut off. My dad was great for coming in so quietly that you didn’t know he was there and then by listening he would hear where you were at and slowly quietly make his way to where you were. You would think he would be in the other end of the building when he would reach out and grab you and scare you witless. You thought you knew where he was. You thought you knew how the game was going done but you were just speculating and you were caught. That is what the world is doing spiritually.
Humankind began to serve, that is glorify and thank, the creature rather than the Creator (verses 23 & 25). Certainly this refers to idol worship and the making of gods. Praying to a human, whether living or dead would also be included. The word “serve” in verse 25 is always used in connection with some sort of religious act. It may sacrifices. It may be fasting. Most often it refers to prayer. When you pray to a statute or a person or a shrine or a cross or to a pastor or to a saint or to a ritual or to a church, you have changed the image of God from the creator to what was created. Why do people do this? Because they do not want to glorify God, put Him at the head of the table and they are not thankful, do not appreciate the one who created them. They deceive themselves and turn to worshiping something besides the true and living God.
God allowed their sin to follow its natural course (verse 24). God was not standing around helpless in all this. He allowed them to follow the desires of their hearts. He gave them up. What did He give them up to? Immorality.
Now verse 26 talks about the progression to homosexuality and verses 28-32 list twenty-one sins that characterize those who do not recognize the eternal power and Godhead. We as an evangelical community oppose gay marriage and all forms of homosexuality because God has set strict standards of intimate behavior: one man married to one woman until death do part but we need to recognize that uncleanness is the first major step away from God. Adulterous affairs, pornography, an intimate relationship of any kind outside of marriage, no fault divorce and easy remarriage, lustful thoughts, obsession with immorality in our reading material and in our TV shows, all of these things are included in the first major step away from God.
“Why (are these things) singled out as the first major step away from God? The answer is not hard to find. Sex is closely related to the human spirit. The way you conduct yourself sexually is a good barometer of what’s going on in your heart (Ray Pritchard).” Paul tells us that this is the natural progression of our depraved hearts.
If we were to continue in this passage, which for the sake of time we will not, we would see the progression in verse 26 to open homosexuality and in verses 28-32, twenty-one sins that characterize us at our worst. If you look at that list, you’ll probably find one of your favorite sins listed there.
Finally, It matters who God is because there is good news in the midst of man’s desperate situation (1:16-17).
The good news reveals salvation from wrath (verse 16a). The fact that Jesus came and died for our sins and rose again from the dead, that is the good news, the gospel. When I go to the ATM machine and take out money, I try to always get a receipt. I’m not trying to get economic theory or bank advertising or ideas on how to save money. I get the receipt because I want some documented facts. That is what the good news is, what the gospel is. The documented facts about Jesus Christ.
The good news reveals the power of God (verse 16b). It is wonderful that creation reveals the power of God but so much more wonderful to see the power of God to salvation through faith in the gospel of Christ. Faith that Jesus died for our sins according the Scriptures and that He was buried and rose again according to the Scriptures is a powerful and life-giving faith. Dr. Lee Roberson use to call it “Gospel Dynamite” because the facts are so powerful, so explosive that they can save a person from the slavery of sin, from the condemnation of hell, and from eternal separation from God and all that is good.
The good news reveals that power is unleashed by faith in God’s righteousness (verses 16c-17). If you keep the Ten Commandments, the power of the gospel to save remains unlit. Being self-righteous hinders the power of God but faith in God’s righteousness unleashes that power.
INVITATION: Remember those Indiana Jones’ movies. It seems that someone was always putting their faith in the wrong person in those movies. I suppose that was the way they made those movies interesting. Everyone was suspect, no one was dependable. There are a myriad of options out there in which you can put your faith. God has revealed to us that the answer is by faith in Jesus Christ.
Are you willing to accept the gospel of Christ? If you haven’t received Christ as Savior, if have not put your faith in Him alone for salvation, why don’t you do it today. He died for you, He bore your reproach, your sin, on the cross; He rose from the dead for you to prove that He is both man and God and that He is able to save you for all eternity; He lives for you today also, if you will turn to Him. If you want to trust Christ today or you have questions about how to be saved, will you meet our counselors at the back of the auditorium and they will show you from the Bible how to be saved.

Jesus the Creator October 12, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Colossians, Creation, Hebrews, Jesus, John's Gospel, Religion, Revelation of Jesus Christ.
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Although it is never directly stated in the Old Testament, the New makes it clear that Jesus was and is the creator. The verses below mention this. Naturally, one should look at the context to make sure that I am not just pulling proof texts out to prove my position but that this is actually what the text says.

John 1:3, 10: All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made…He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.

Eph 3:9 and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ;

Col 1:16-17 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.

Heb 1:2-3 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,

Heb 1:10 And: “You, LORD, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands.

Heb 3:3-4 For this One [the context is speaking of Jesus] has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as He who built the house has more honor than the house. For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God.

Re 4:11 “You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created.”

Interesting post on Billy Graham October 6, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Creation, Science.
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The fellows debating young earth/old earth have brought Billy Graham into the fray.

Ways God Reveals Himself (A Sunday Morning Sermon from Psalm 19) July 15, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Bible, Creation, Depravity, General Revelation, Inspiration, Praise, Prayer, Promises of God, Psalms, Repentance, Sermons, Special Revelation, Spiritual Warfare, Temptation, Truth.
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WAYS GOD REVEALS HIMSELF

PSALM 19:1-14

The last few weeks we have looked at the Word of God and in each case we found that the truth of the Word of God was confirmed in some way or another. In 2 Timothy 3 we discovered that the truth of the Word of God is confirmed by those who teach it to us, especially by the way that they live it out before us. In 2 Peter 1 we saw that the transformation that the Word of God makes in our lives confirms the truth of the Word of God as well as the many eyewitness accounts of the New Testament period confirm the truth of the Word of God. This week we are going to look at two ways that God reveals Himself and again. The first, like others that we have seen in previous weeks, will be a confirmation of the truth of the second.

LOOKING AT THE SKY

God reveals Himself through creation (verses 1-6).

No one escapes this revelation. In these six beautiful verses we have a wonderful description of revelation through creation. Those who teach us the Word of God may fail and falter and lose our confidence. Our own lives may become so squandered in sin that we forget that we were forgiven of our own sins. The historians may rewrite history so as to try to discredit the eyewitness accounts of Peter, Paul, James, John and hundreds of other. They cannot, however, blot out the sun.

“During the French revolution Jean Bon St. Andre, the Vendean revolutionist, said to a peasant, ‘I will have all your steeples pulled down, that you may no longer have any object by which you may be reminded of your old superstitions.’ ‘But,’ replied the peasant, ‘you cannot help leaving us the stars.’ John Bate’s ‘Cyclopaedia of Moral and Religious Truths,’ 1865. (found in Spurgeon’s “Treasury of David”)

Those who believe that the universe around us is the result of some cosmic accident cannot deny that it is a glorious and wondrous accident. It is the glory of the heavens and the earth on which we live that helps us to have a foretaste of the glory of God. “The heavens declare the glory of God.”

“When you go out into the woods or on to the beach at look at the beauty of creation, what do you go to see? Do you go to see the glory of God? It is to little purpose to view the beauty of creation, to wonder at the marvels of the universe, if we do not seek, if we do not see not God’s glory there.” (A knock off of a quote from Isaac Watts, D.D., 1674-1748.)

IT HITSYA IN THE FACE!

The message of the heavens is not subtle. Listen to the following translation written by Henry Craik in 1860,

” The heavens are telling the glory of God,

The firmament displaying the work of his hands;

Day unto day wells forth speech,

Night unto night breatheth out knowledge.” (found in Spurgeon’s “Treasury of David)

The message of the heavens is blatantly clear. There is nowhere on earth from which man can escape that message because the heavens are the blackboard from which God instructs men in the knowledge of His glory.

The heavens are also the stage from which we see the wonder of God called the sun. The sun rising in the morning and streaking across the sky is described as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber. This was ancient custom back before chivalry and knighthood became so common. Although the bride was very important and she was also decked out in her finest, she was the one who did the waiting. For the groom there was none of this popping out from the side room and humbly standing to the side and waiting for the main event, the entrance of the beautiful bridegroom. No, she was the one who looked forward to her husband bursting onto the scene in all of his glory and majesty, dazzling the guests with a great feast, and then sweeping her off into a sunset of bliss.

THE SUN IS LIKE A RUNNER. 

David also says that the sun is like a strong man who rejoices in the race. Some of you know Caulin Mortensen. Almost two years ago, Pat Whalen and I took our Sunday School Class and a group of their friends to a corn maze. Caulin is a good example of the joy that a runner feels when running a race. There were six kids so Pat and I divided the kids into two groups and we set out going through the maze looking for the hidden stations that were in the maze. We had agreed to meet up with one another at the halfway station. Pat had Caulin in his group. From the moment we entered the maze Caulin burst ahead of his group and from then on he determined the pace and the path. As the paths of the two groups would cross we would usually hear Caulin running first, then we would see him, and then we would hear Pat calling out for him to wait up. At the half way point, Pat and I traded groups. Caulin was still running. He was still determining the pace and the path. By the end of the day, Pat and I were worn out and some of the kids were dragging also but Caulin was still running. He had a great time. He was rejoicing in the run. Nothing slowed him down. That is the picture of the sun in the heaven.

THE INSUFFICIENCY OF CREATION 

When we look at the heavens we are filled with wonder but our response of wonder is insufficient.

During VBS we told the story of Jackson, a blind Navajo Indian boy, whose parents took him to medical doctors and called medicine men to try to heal him. Nothing worked. One day in despair Jackson stumbled out of the house and walked out into the desert until he could walk no further. As he sat there on a rock he began to think of what he had heard about God from the traveling missionary who had come to his village. He began to pray, asking for God to reveal Himself. At that moment, a loud clap of thunder shook the sky around him. Jackson was thankful that God had answered his prayer. The kids enjoyed the story. We were careful though to make sure that the kids understood that such an event cannot save a person. The power of the storm, the glory of the sun, the beauty of the flower displays the character of God but it is insufficient to cure the sickness of the soul, to calm the fears of the heart, to forgive the sins of our lives. For those answers we must turn to God’s Word.

THE SUFFICIENCY OF GOD’S WORD 

God reveals Himself and reveals us through His Word (verses 7-14). Teachers are important but God’s Word provides life revealing knowledge. Eyewitness accounts of miracles confirm God’s Word but the Word itself makes the difference, not the miracles. Even Satan can produce miracles but only God can produce life revealing and life changing truth. Science can establish that some things are true, logic can prove that some things are true, our feelings and our instincts can sense that some things are true but only God’s Word is in its character, in its essence, in its entirety true and truth and without error.

Because God’s Word is a complete revelation of Him and of ourselves it changes what creation cannot change, the human heart (verses 7-11). “The universe is cursed, [just as we are] and the universe groans under the burden of this curse (Rom 8:19-22)…The earth is longing for something, the apostle Paul tells us, longing for a Man, the Lord Jesus, who unseats the dragon despot of this present darkness. The earth is groaning for us, “for the revealing of the sons of God” (Rom 8:19). That’s why gospel proclamation is the most farsighted form of environmental activism. The earth is [ultimately] delivered when [we] her rulers are raised from the death curse, when all things once again are under {our} feet, in Christ.” (henryinstitute.org, Russell Moore’s commentary “Blood, Gore, and Global Warming” July 9, 2007)

INNER TRANSFORMATION

The change that comes from God’s Word is inward (verses 7-8).

It converts the soul. Only the Word of God can transform a man or a woman who is spiritually dead and make them alive. That is why positive thinking does not work. Dead souls cannot think positively. They are helpless until the Word of God enters their heart and converts, restores, revives them, allows them to pass from death unto life.

It makes wise the simple. Only the Word of God can renew the mind. Even as believers, our minds are influenced by the world of sin but God’s Word can transform the way we think. Without the Word of God, we are incapable of thinking as we should. God’s Word teaches us not just what to believe but how to think.

It rejoices the heart. Only the Word of God can bring true joy. Now there are other things that can bring joy into your life but they are things that do not last. If you want to have joy when trouble is surrounding you, you need the Word of God.

It enlightens the eyes. In this phrase David sums up the revival of the soul, the opening of the mind, and the filling of the heart. With the Word of God one begins to see spiritually, intellectually, and emotionally. That is the inward change that comes from God’s Word.

THE WORLD’S MOST PRICELESS POSSESSION IS NOT YOUR SOUL. IT IS GOD’S WORD. 

The change that comes from God’s Word is of eternal value (verses 9-10). My wife will tell you that I am a recovering addict. 🙂 I was addicted to the morning paper. When we got married and lived in our first apartment and did not have two pennies to rub together, I took out a newspaper subscription. When we were three and a half years on the road raising support to go to Austria, one of the first things I did many mornings was go to the gas station a buy a morning paper. When we moved to Munich, Germany for language school and I could barely read, I had to have my paper, even if it had to be in German. In Austria and in Berlin the morning paper was part of my daily routine. That morning paper though became of the biggest obstacles to having a consistent walk with God as I should. One of the biggest struggles that I eventually had to get over was that what I was investing so much time and money in was not of eternal value. That enjoyment, that pleasure, which I am sure I would still enjoy, which I’m sure would still bring some profit into my life, is of no eternal value. John Piper once said, “It’s like the child who chooses the penny over the dime because it’s bigger.” What is the penny on which you are holding tightly? What is taking your time and energy and perhaps even money and is diverting you from the one book that is of eternal value – God’s Word?

WHEN YOU RESPOND TO GOD’S WORD…

My response of repentance and faith in God’s Word is sufficient (verses 11-14). Remember, repentance is not a listing of my sins. Rather it is viewing my sin as God sees it and turning to Him as the only relief from my sin. David, of course, did not know, did not understand that Christ was going to come and die for his sin but he knew that only in God was there mercy and pardon to be found for sin and protection from the evil of secret and presumptuous sin.

GOD’S WORD WILL MAKE YOU BLAMELESS.

God’s Word keeps us from sin (verses 11-13). Usually we focus on verses 11, 12, and the first part of verse 13 when looking at these verses but I want us to see what happens when through God’s Word we are kept from sin. We become blameless. Over the last year, we have had a lot of conversations about the meaning of this word. Certainly, there are a number of different usages of this word in Scripture, some of which I have preached on recently (See https://roberttalley.wordpress.com/2007/07/15/the-meaning-of-the-word-blameless-in-the-new-testament/). The word here means “to be made complete”. It is clarified in the next phrase “…and I shall be made innocent of great transgression.”

Spurgeon put it this way, “All sins are great sins, but yet some sins are greater than others. Every sin has in it the very venom of rebellion, and is full of the essential marrow of traitorous rejection of God. But there be some sins which have in them a greater development of the essential mischief of rebellion, and which wear upon their faces more of the brazen pride which defies the Most High. It is wrong to suppose that because all sins will condemn us, that therefore one sin is not greater than another. The fact is, that while all transgression is a greatly grievous sinful thing, yet there are some transgressions which have a deeper shade of blackness, and a more double scarlet-dyed hue of criminality than others.” (from “Presumptuous Sins” http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/0135.htm).

That is what David wants to be kept from. The blameless man, the complete man is not one who never commits sin but one who is so immersed in the Word of God that he is kept from those great transgressions that bring shame on himself, on his God, and on his fellow believers.

WHAT PART OF ME IS MOST AFFECTED BY GOD’S WORD? 

God’s Word changes my words and my thoughts (verse 14). There are a number of ways to evaluate whether God’s Word is doing the work it is supposed to do. Two are mentioned in this last verse. When I catch myself being hateful or negative in my language, when I find that my thoughts are consumed with the things of this world, then I know that God’s Word is not having free course in my life, I am not allowing it to have the effect that God intends for it to have.

INVITATION: Believer, it is time you evaluate yourself. Is God’s Word changing you? If not then let the prayer in this psalm be your prayer and turn to the Word of God for food. You say, I do not know how. We can help you. We can show you how to feed yourself from God’s Word.

If you have not trusted Christ as Savior, your soul needs converted. You need to be revived, to pass from death unto life. The Word of God shows you how. The Bible says that through faith in Christ’s death on the cross, your sin debt can be paid and you can be forgiven. You cannot work to be converted. You cannot work to be saved. It is only through faith in Christ. Will you trust Him today?