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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.

Odds and ends July 30, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Atheism, General Revelation, Special Revelation.
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I finally got WordPress to accept an avatar. Two actual pictures of myself failed either to upload or showed a black screen. They may be trying to tell me something. Anyway, my avatar is from one of my son’s school projects. It has something to do with Castelvecchio (I think I spelled that correctly.)

Getting back from vacation, I was shocked to find that the sermon “Ways God Reveals Himself” received 100 hits in two weeks. I’m sure that isn’t all from church members. Obviously, there is a lot of interest in that subject via search engines. Whether it is believers in Christ who are searching or not, I am not sure. Pray that the Lord will work in hearts and lives through that sermon.

I was also pleased to see a link to Tom Dutton’s testimony  “Converted to Christ by an Atheist” on a Dartmouth website. How long it will be there I don’t know. The unpredictability of the Internet never ceases to amaze me.

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?