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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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Review of Qureshi’s No God But One January 12, 2017

Posted by roberttalley in Uncategorized.
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No God But One: Allah or Jesus. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2016.

Nabeel Qureshi’s book, No God but One: Allah or Jesus? is a follow-up to his previous book, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus, his account of how he as a Muslim came to follow Christ. This book is an apology of Christianity and against Islam in which he discusses the differences between the two religions and the implications of those differences, and the strong historical evidence for the claims of Christianity.

Although every section of this book is devoted to answering questions necessary to investigating the differences between and evidence for Islam and Christianity (as indicated in the description on the cover and the title page), all of the questions are designed to answer the overriding question presented in the conclusion, “Is the truth worth dying for?” The book concerns itself in the main with what is true but with his answer, exemplified by the life hand death of a young Saudi Arabian Christian martyr at the hands of her brother, he reminds us that this truly matters. If Christianity is true then it is worth dying for because God in the martyr’s death is glorified and the martyr has a sure hope to be with the Savior throughout eternity. The support for the great worth and certain hope of Christianity is the stuff of which this book consists.

In the first part of the book, Qureshi presents the most significant differences between Islam and Christianity. He does this not for those “who enjoy criticizing Islam [nor for those] Muslims who want to argue but do not want to learn” (page 21) but rather for those who need to know the differences in order to determine which of the two religions is true and thus worth dying for.

Differences between the two are discussed under five categories of doctrinal difference: the two views of salvation, the two views of Deity, the two views of each religion’s respective founder, the two views of the holy writings, and the two views of just war. The first four of these fall clearly into the category of essential doctrine for Christians while the fifth deals with a significant issue upon which Christians are not all in agreement with each other, “What constitutes a justified use of violence/war?” To his credit, Qureshi does not give an easy Christian answer to this question and indicates difficulties that both Christian pacifists and Christian “Crusaders” should take into consideration.

The second part of the book deals with the determination of the truth of Christianity and Islam. For each a positive case is made for the foundational doctrines. For Christianity this is the crucifixion of Jesus, the resurrection of Jesus, and the claims to deity by Jesus. For Islam this is that Muhammed is a prophet of God and that the Quran is the word of God. Qureshi’s discussion of each of these foundational doctrines the truth test is objective evidence. At the end of this section he makes it clear that not only is Christianity objective true and Islam is not objectively true but also that if one or the other is true than the other religion cannot be true.

One highlight of the book for this author was the explanation of what the Quran really is and that it corresponds doctrinally in some ways much more to Jesus in Christianity than to the Christian Bible. Another interesting highlight is Qureshi’s discussion of the nature of the Crusades, which gives perspective to those events without justifying any of the atrocities of those events.

As mentioned, this book is not intended for those who desire simply to fight intellectually but rather is intended for a two audiences. The first group are Muslims who are seeking truth concerning Christianity. The second group is made up of those Christians who want to learn what really matters when it comes to understanding these two religions. Some Christians with this book might learn as much about their own faith as they do about the faith of the Muslim.

This plan of this book is simple to follow and the argumentation in this book is clear. When glancing at the notes one might think that some chapters are better documented than others but a closer look at those chapters lacking notes emphasize referencing Scripture and the Quran, two works that do not necessarily require academic referencing in the notes.

Though an apologetic work, this book still is quite personal in dealing with aspects of Qureshi’s own journey of faith, which evokes empathy for the writer that might not necessarily be possible in a more impersonal approach. This is a strength that makes this book a lively read and likely makes it accessible to a broad audience. For these reasons this book is highly recommended both for learning more about the two faiths and for reaching those of the Islam faith with the gospel.

 

 

Life After Death July 23, 2012

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WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU DIE?

Acts 23

 

Death is a difficult issue to think about. I think that is why the book of Ecclesiastes says that a funeral is better than a party. A funeral brings us back to reality. President Obama has called the nation to reflection and prayer because of death.

 

Perhaps you’ve read about Jessica Ghawi, the young lady who died in the tragedy at Aurora, Colorado. She had escaped a similar tragedy in Toronto just a few weeks back. Those of us who weren’t involved in Toronto had already forgotten about it. We had moved on to other tragedies. That is the way life is lived nowadays. This young woman, however, had written in her blog about escaping the incident, saying, “I saw the victims of a senseless crime. I saw lives change. I was reminded that we don’t know when or where our time on Earth will end. When or where we will breathe our last breath.”

 

Like I said, death is a difficult issue. It is a difficult issue because life is so precious that to lose it is a devastating loss. To deal with it, we make jokes.

 

“Perhaps you’ve heard the story of Bill and George who were both avid baseball players. One day they wondered if people played baseball in heaven. They agreed that whoever died first would find out the answer and try to come back to communicate with the survivor. Eventually Bill died. Several weeks later George was awakened with a vision of his friend Bill. He was delighted to see him and asked, ‘Do they play baseball in heaven?’ Bill said, ‘I’ve got good news and bad news. The good news is, they play baseball all the time in heaven. The bad news is, you’re scheduled to pitch next week’” (from Ray Pritchard).

 

You may have smiled and humor has a very important place in dealing with death but I think we can do better than that. I want us to look at the Bible’s answer to the question, “What happens when you die?”

 

  1. There are two answers, depending on who you are. First of all, for us as believers, being absent from the body means being present with the Lord. This is a quotation from Philippians 1. Paul in prison expressed his longing to be with the Lord. He was certain that death meant immediately to be with Jesus.

 

  1. This was Paul’s view here in Acts. Although he was using cleverly the question as a part of his defense, the question of the resurrection is first and foremost a question about what happens immediately after you die. The Sadducees lack of belief in an angel and in a spirit, that is, in life after death, is much different than Paul’s view. He expounds on it in 2 Corinthians 5:1-9. “For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened–not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.”

 

Paul did not merely believe in life after death. He believed in a new creation. In other places like First Corinthians 15, Paul writes about this new creation, describing it as Christ’s victory over death. N. T. Wright says in his book, Evil and the Justice of God, “When we think of a world unreachable by death, we tend in Western culture to think of a nonphysical world. But the truly remarkable thing Paul is talking about here is an incorruptible, unkillable physical world. New creation is what matters, a new kind of world with a new kind of physicality, which will not need to decay and die.” That is what Paul means by the clause, “…so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.”

 

  1. Paul’s view was consistent with the Pharisee’s view, which was the common view of the Jews in Jesus’ day. In the Old Testament, the witch at Endor was shocked to see a ghost. However, in Jesus’ day and in the book of Acts people believed in ghosts. We use the word spirit because the word ghost is associated with haunting and Halloween. That was not what the Pharisees thought about. They believed that the spirits of those who died were reserved until such time that they would be raised from the dead. This was not talked about much in the Old Testament. Daniel talks about it and this was believed after the time of Daniel but it was not based on long passages in the Old Testament but rather on snippets of truth. It was reserved for the New Testament and especially Paul to talk about our future after death.

 

  1. It was contradictory to the Sadducee, that is, the priestly family’s view. The party of Sadducees was conservative. They lived according to the letter of the law, rejecting the many traditions and rules that the Pharisees had added to the Jewish faith. They were not liberals as you will sometimes hear it said. It is popularly believed that they did not believe in angels. That view is based on a misunderstanding of verses eight and nine. You will find it in many commentaries. In Vermont I had a perceptive young person ask how it could be that the Sadducees did not believe in angels when they obviously believed as priests and strong believers in the Old Testament in the supernatural. N. T. Wright has in the last decade explained what the Sadducees seem to have really believed. Their hope was not that of a resurrection but was that of a good reputation and a moral legacy for the next generation to build on. In other words your “angel” or your “spirit” simply ceases to exist when you die. What a hopeless view of death.

 

John Donne, like a lot of poets, wrote a lot about death. We are most familiar with the line, “Ask not for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee.” He wrote, however, a more hopeful line about death and resurrection, “One short sleep past, we wake eternally; and Death shall be no more; Death, thou shall die.”

 

On the other hand, I should point out that death is not easy for us as believers to handle even though we believe that our angel or our spirit will continue to exist. “Dr. Donald Grey Barnhouse—beloved Bible teacher of another generation—told the following story. While he was still a young man in the ministry, his first wife died. As he was returning from the funeral with his heartbroken children, their car came to a stoplight just as a massive truck pulled up next to them, blocking the light of the sun. Seeing the immense shadow that had overtaken them, Dr. Barnhouse asked his children if they would rather be run over by the truck or by the shadow of the truck. ‘By the shadow,’ the children instantly replied, knowing that a shadow could not hurt them. ‘That’s what has happened to your mother,’ he told them. ‘Death cannot hurt her because the Lord Jesus Christ took her to heaven. It is only the shadow of death that took her from us’” (from Ray Pritchard). That is the reason we have hope because we realize that for the believer death is only a shadow.

 

  1. However, for unbelievers, being absent from the body means being held for judgment in hell. Jesus’ description in Luke 16 is an awful description. There is much I don’t understand about hell. I do know this. I don’t want to go there.

 

This rich man appeared to die well. He died wealthy. But to die and go to hell is not my idea of dying well. If you want to die well, you have to live well and to live well you must know Jesus Christ as your Savior so that you can right now have eternal life.

 

  1. For believers and unbelievers there will be a resurrection which will be followed by evaluation and/or judgment. Hebrews tells us, “It is appointed unto man once to die and after this the judgment.” It matters for all of us how we live because after we die, we will be held accountable.

 

Does our lives here as believers matter? Absolutely, “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil” (2 Corinthians 5:10. That verse was written to believers about the ministry we have of telling others the gospel of Jesus Christ. I do not believe that we will lose our salvation but it will be a terrible thing to give account for what we have done or not done in our bodies.

 

The unbeliever will be judged also, but his judgment is different. The judgment of the believers comes before eternal life. The judgment of the resurrected unbeliever comes with eternal death.

 

     Augustine was preaching to his congregation one day. “Let me address the lover of this present life. What are you doing, why are you in such a hurry, why so full of dread, why taking to your heels, why looking for a hiding place?

     In order to stay alive, he says.

     Really to stay alive? To stay alive in such a way as to be alive always?

     No.

     Then you aren’t going to all this trouble to destroy death, but only to delay it. If you go to such lengths just to die a little later, why not do something in order never to die at all?” (from Sermon 302).

 

Last in Isaiah Series February 21, 2012

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THE BLIND LEAD THE BLIND
Isaiah 56:9-57:21

During the past three weeks we have discussed how that God offers hope to those going through disaster, how that He invites those without hope to come to Him, and that this offer is even for those who are outside of the covenant He has made with His people. In other words, we have hope in the midst of the darkness of disaster by coming to God on His terms.

There is another aspect of bringing spiritual light into darkness that we need to remember today. Jesus once told His disciples, “While I am with you I am the light of the world but I am going away and now you are the light of the world.” Unfortunately, those who actually should be the light of the world are spending much of their time groping in darkness.

A. We are blind leaders when we selfishly leave our sheep exposed to danger (56:9-57:2). We look to get ahead of others and really do not care how our actions might affect them. We are in darkness. We are blind leaders. “If the leaders continue to be self-centered and power hungry, the flock entrusted to them will continue to be overtaken by their spiritual enemies” (Oswalt on verse 9).

1. We are off guard (verse 10). Remember the battle of Chancellorsville. The Union troops were settling down getting ready to eat supper and turn in for the night. Suddenly out of the brush through their camp raced rabbits and deer flushed out of their hiding places. Some soldiers took their caps waved them in the air and cheered the running animals. Their cheers stuck in their throats as they look and realized that they were being charged by Stonewall Jackson’s Confederates. No guard had been set. There was nothing to do but run. The Confederate injuries were largely limited to burns that soldiers received as they tried to grab cooking meat out of the pots and pans of the fleeing Union soldiers. The battle was won because the Union army was caught off guard.

2. We are self-interested (verse 11). We are eaten up with greed. According to Charles Swindoll greed reveals itself in four areas. (1) Greed is an excessive motivation to have more money. (2) Greed is an excessive determination to own more things. “We never quite have enough furniture. Or the right furniture.” There is always something, whether big or small that we want. (3) Greed is also an excessive desire to become more famous, to make a name for self. (4) Greed is finally an excessive need to gain more control.

3. We are unaware of the times (56:12-57:2). “Once people said that cars would never replace the horse and carriage. Others said that the light bulb wasn’t really better than the kerosene lamp. Then there are the naysayers who said that movies could never entertain like vaudeville could. On the heels of that negative attitude came the condemnation of television, which people were sure would never supplant radio as the primary source of entertainment” (from Hans Finzel’s Top Ten Mistakes Leaders Make).

In the same way these leaders were unaware that their nation was becoming wickeder with every righteous person who passed away. They were so involved with themselves that, as long as they were doing okay, there was no problem.

B. We are blind followers when we submit to that in which there is no hope (57:3-13a). Chuck Swindoll tells about a French artist who read the parable of Jesus about the rich farmer. “It’s one of the few paintings painted on both sides of the canvas. On one side there is this rather portly farmer sitting at his desk. In front of him are several bags bulging with money. Through the window behind him you can see crops glistening in the evening sun; they’re starting to lean over, heavy with grain…sitting on a long shelf above the farmer’s head are more bags of money…He’s got that faraway look in his eye like, ‘What will I do with it now.’

The painter read the story again…He frowned at what he had painted. Dissatisfied, he flipped the canvas over and began the same picture on the other side. Same man, same desk, same window and bumper crops, same little bags of money, same shelf above the man’s head. But this time he painted everything covered with a thin layer of dust. And something else has been added, too. The death angel is standing near with his hand on the man’s shoulder and his lips are pursed as if to be saying, ‘Fool.’”

1. We worship idols (verses 3-10a). It is easy for us to read this without seeing ourselves. We don’t worship rocks and trees. We don’t sacrifice our children to idols. Yet our only real desire is to manipulate power to our own advantage (adapted from Oswalt). We worship that which we think will give us hope. Some of you may have even come to church this morning, hoping by your presence that you can manipulate God to give you what you want.

Are you an idolator? Colossians 3:5 and Ephesians 5:5 remind us that “greed” is “idolatry.” If we can have what we desire, we will be happy. Usually it is tied to something or someone we can see, touch, and enjoy physically. The answer, however, is not self-denial but rather in finding our delight in God’s goals, God’s ways, and God’s desires.

2. We take God’s patience to be unconcerned silence (verses 10b-13a). We forget what He has done for us through Jesus Christ.

C. We are aware followers when we humble ourselves before God (57:13b-21). We, however, trust our own ability. “We can do it!” we say to ourselves. When I talk about humbling ourselves, I don’t want to fall into the trap of advising the “New Christian” to think that self-deprecation is the cure-all for the Christian life. Humbling yourself before God is not forbidding people to clap their hands after a musical number. Humbling yourself before God is not saying wiping a smile off our face. Humbling yourself before God is an awareness of our helplessness and living in dependence on Him for everything.

1. Our problem is not our circumstances (verse 14). “Today America is suffering from a failure of evangelical theology. The 1970s and 1980s were widely recognized as the age of the evangelical. The movement was large enough and influential enough to gain the attention of the national media; leading figures in the movement became forces to be reckoned with. Yet, concurrent with that popular recognition was the hastening moral decay of the nation…To a generation that wanted to “feel good” at all costs, we declared a feel-good religion. All one has to do to gain a heaven of bliss and an earthly life of abundance is to say “yes” to Jesus’ wonderful plan for life. This decision has no necessary bearing on a person’s behavior…We expect to continue in sin…” and we do! (Oswalt on Isaiah 57).

2. Our problem is our helplessness without God (verses 15-21). God says, “You need me, not to fill that void you have now in your heart but rather to avoid eternal turmoil and destruction.”

What is the answer? Humble yourself before God. Humble yourself for salvation, for satisfaction, for forgiveness.

2011 in review January 1, 2012

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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 35,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 13 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Last in the Esther Series – The Pride of Haman April 27, 2008

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THE PRIDE OF HAMAN

Esther 6:1-14

 

The main message of the book of Esther is how that God’s providence works in the world. There is, however, a secondary example of pride in the person of Haman that we want to look at today. We want to see the characteristics of his pride and then understand how that we might protect ourselves against the sin of pride.

CHARACTERISTICS OF HAMAN’S PRIDE

 

Haman’s pride was ruthless (compare verse 4 with 3:5-6). We read about Haman and look down are noses at him but he was born just as innocent as you and I. What happened? Haman became successful. We do not know the exact manner in which he rose to power but it is obvious that he came to the place of great success. With great success came pride and this pride made him ruthless. No price was to high to exact to protect his position, his power, his prestige, his sources of pride. Long before Haman was destroyed outwardly, he had rotted on the inside. His very manner of walking must have said, “Look at me! Honor me!” When Mordecai refused to bow before Haman, he recognized in Mordecai a threat. It was not enough though to destroy Mordecai. He chose to conspire to destroy a whole nation in order to save his dignity and his pride (3:7-15).

Haman seems a bit paranoid, does he not? He had nothing to fear from Mordecai. Certainly, he had nothing to fear from the Jewish people. Still his proud anger was such that he felt that nothing short of complete annihilation would satisfy the wrong that Mordecai had committed.

We need to learn a lesson from Haman. Pride leads us down the road that causes us to use people and then discard them when we do not need them anymore. James 4:1-10 is a clear picture of how this looks in the church. It is our pride that causes us to fuss and fight. It is pride that covets what others have. I deserve that. I am just as good and hard working as they are. Why cannot I have what my heart desires. It is pride that pollutes our prayer life and cuts us off from the grace of God.

It causes us to refuse to forgive those who have hurt us. It causes us to gossip behind folk’s back, degrading them with the swords of our tongues. Pride does not care who gets hurt as long as pride is honored. Pride chooses sides and focuses on human leaders and movements and not on God.

James tells us how to deal with pride. Submit ourselves to God. Understand your relationship to the greatness and grace of God. Humble yourself.

PRIDE IS DELUSIONAL!

Haman’s pride was presumptuous (verses 6-7). While Haman’s pride was ruthless because of his paranoia to protect himself from all danger, his pride was also presumptuous because it had deluded him to the reality of his place in the kingdom. He had overrated his own importance.

 

He presumed that he was the one to be honored (verse 6). Can you imagine Haman as he enters into the throne room and hears the request of the king, “No one can stop me now. The king has singled me out for special honor. As soon as I get through telling the king how to honor me, I am going to hang Mordecai high so that all can see that no one, I mean, no one can touch me.” But like the old cowboy once said, “There ain’t no horse that cain’t be rode, and there ain’t no cowboy that cain’t be throwed.”

His presumption caused him to answer foolishly (verse 7). Arrogance makes men think they are invincible. The past governor of New York, Elliot Spitzer, is only one of a number of most recent examples of men of power who thought they were invincible. He termed himself a “steam roller,” threatening all who might stand against him but one he was exposed for who he was, the mighty governor became the laughingstock of the world.

We need in this modern age to understand that we are susceptible to the same pride to which Haman fell. We live in a world that encourages us to think we can do it all that there are no limits on human potential. Ray Pritchard once said it this way, “The next time you feel the need to brag about what you’ve done, pay attention to that faint cracking sound. It’s the thin ice beneath your feet that is about to give way.”

There was a church recorded in the Bible that had this problem. Turn to Revelation 3:14-20. The church of Laodocia proclaimed, “We are rich and have need of nothing,” but they did not realize that they were spiritually bankrupt and blind and were disgusting to God. They were self-satisfied like lukewarm water. We need according to this passage to learn to see ourselves as God sees us and then turn to him to fill our lack, otherwise, we will remain spiritually delusional in our pride.

THE ANTONYM OF PRIDE:  SOBRIETY (THINKING ABOUT YOURSELF REALISTICALLY)

Romans 12:3-5 explains the attitude that we as believers need to have to combat pride. To be sober-minded, that is, not prideful, involves two things. First, to understand that Christ is my head, the authority over me, without Christ I am worthless. Secondly, I as a believer am a member of my fellow believers in Christ, without them I have no function in Christ’s kingdom.

 

This sober-minded attitude is rare but occasionally we see it in others.

“On his way to a reception held in his honor, Ulysses S. Grant got caught in a shower and offered to share his umbrella with a stranger walking in the same direction. The man said he was going to Grant’s reception out of curiosity; he had never seen the general. ‘I have always thought that Grant was a much overrated man,’ he said. ‘That’s my view also,’ Grant replied.”

Quoted in The Little Brown Book of Anecdotes, Reader’s Digest, October, 1994, p. 142

Haman’s pride was insatiable (verses 7-9).

Haman was already the second most powerful man in Shushan under the king himself (3:1-2).

The king had already commanded that everyone pay homage to Haman (3:2-3).

Haman thirsted for more. He had a compulsive drive for power and prestige.

“Pop” psychology tells us this stems from our fear of dependence on someone else. I do not doubt that there is some element of truth to that statement. We want to be the most powerful, the most popular because we only then we can be safe and significant in this world. Is it possible that the pride that drives you and me is the thirst to be safe, the thirst to become someone who needs no one, not even God?

“Human pride is a tricky thing. Ambition is not wrong, competition is not wrong, winning is not wrong, celebrating your victories is not wrong, being the best is not wrong but it is never entirely innocent either. Sin always lurks in the neighborhood somewhere. And usually not too far away. [Why? Because] when you have gotten money or power or prestige or fame or friends in high places, you think you do not need God.” (Ray Pritchard in The Tower That Fell).

PRIDE’S FALL RESULTS IN EITHER HUMILITY OR HUMILIATION.

Haman’s pride led to humiliation and eventually destruction (verses 10-14). Sometimes when God humiliates us, it is for our good. An excellent example is Nebuchadnezzar who thought that he had achieved the pinnacle of earthly power through his own might and wisdom. God, however, revealed to him that for seven years, he would be humiliated. He would driven into the fields to eat grass with the cattle because he would not know who he was. After those seven years God allowed him to come to his senses and we find him honoring and glorifying God as the Almighty One whose power extends even to the throne rooms of the world. Nebuchadnezzar’s humiliation led to a realization of who God is. Haman was not so fortunate.

The Bible makes it clear that pride goes before destruction. History gives us plenty of examples of this also. The scandals we read and see and hear of constantly reveal this to us and yet we find ourselves falling into that same trap as Christians over and over again. We have been looking in our 1 Corinthians in the adult Sunday School classes at how that pride was affecting the church there. Not only were they fighting and fussing with each other but they were ignoring serious sin in the church because they were puffed up with pride. It was affecting every aspect of their lives. Their worship was tainted by pride. In fact, Paul said that some were sick and some were dead because God refused to ignore their prideful behavior.

 

Pride shows itself in so many ways. It shows itself in the shame and depression I feel when a decision I make reveals my weakness. It shows itself when I push to have things my way at all costs. It shows when I refuse to listen to the other side of the argument. It shows when I do not attempt something for fear that I will fall short. It shows when my love of possessions, prestige, popularity, security, significance are greater than my love of Christ. And yet I cannot help it. The pride of life is just as much a part of my natural being as the lust of my flesh. The pride of life is just as much a part of my worldly nature and the lust of my eyes.

 

THE CURE

Harry Ironside tells how as a young man he desired to beat down the pride that naturally lived within him. A friend of him suggested that he put on a sandwich board with Bible verses written on it and go down the streets quoting the Bible verses at the top of his lungs. Ironside did this and when he got back, he took the sandwich board off and thought, “Ironside, only you could do such a thing as this.” Ironside learned that the secret to defeating pride is not self-humiliation or self-deprecation.

 

How then do we win over our pride? The answer is two fold. Know yourself and know Christ. This sermon has primarily dealt with knowing yourself. We all have a lot more of Haman in us than we would like to admit. We must recognize who we really are, sinners. Someone asked me a question about repentance yesterday. In a sense, this is the beginning of repentance, seeing myself as a sinner. If I stop there though, there is no hope for me. I must turn to Christ, the one who deserves my praise, my honor, my glory.

In a real sense the method of dealing with pride is the same as the method of salvation and forgiveness. First, I must recognize who I really am. I am a sinner. Then, if I am to be anything or to become anything of eternal significance, it will be in Jesus Christ alone. Folks, if you do not accept Christ as Savior it will be for one of two reasons. Either you do not recognize who you truly are as a sinner or you do not recognize that only in Christ is eternal life. Only in Christ can you become a child of God.

 

Next Week: Our Thoughts Guided by God’s Word – Psalm 1.