Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Pillars 4: There Is A God, and He is… Creator (Is 45.18-22)

Is. 45:18  For thus says the LORD, who created the heavens (He is the God who formed the earth and made it, He established it and did not create it a waste place, but formed it to be inhabited), “I am the LORD, and there is none else..."

There is a God.  He is eternal and infinite and perfect.  And He wants us to know Him, to enjoy His love and goodness today and forever and reflect that back to Him and to all the families of the earth.  And in sending His Son to die and pay the penalty for everything we’ve ever done wrong, He has accomplished everything necessary in order for us to know Him.  But the FIRST thing He accomplished is creation.  This infinitely good God is the almighty Creator and Sustainer of all things.  The very atoms and elements themselves, everything in the universe, all things owe their origin and their continued existence to Him.  Nehemiah 9:6  “You alone are the LORD. You have made the heavens, the heaven of heavens with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to all of them. Colossians 1:17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.  

God’s Word is abundantly clear: God created all things.  Every-thing, out of no-thing.  Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  Revelation 4:11 “Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.” John 1:3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.  Isaiah 66:2  “For My hand made all these things, Thus all these things came into being,” declares the LORD. Romans 4:17 God… gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist.

For centuries, there have been two schools of thought.  Either there is a Creator, this God Who created everything, or there is not, in which case it’s all random chance.  All this is the outcome of a long series of accidents.  But [accidents] generally do NOT produce something better, they usually make things worse.  Random chance does not produce order.  It does not result in beauty [bedhead].  Random chance typically results in disorder.  Chaos.  It's a defining characteristic of our present universe.  Newton’s Law.  Randomness increases.  Things break down - unless something or [someone intervenes].  And the more time you give it, the more brokennesss you can expect.  Everything breaks down.  They do NOT get better with time.  And yet - when we look around, whether through a telescope, or a microscope, or a zoom lens, what do we see?  In the midst of this encroaching chaos and brokenness, we see beauty to a breathtaking degree.  We see highly complex structures.  We see order of such a magnitude as to render the odds of all these things arising by chance to be so close to zero that it really takes way more faith to believe in The Accident than in the Creator.  Romans 1:19-20 That which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.  For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

The LIE says there is no Creator.  So many people believe in the IMprobable accident because they’re so desperate to remove God from their equation.  Because the reality of a Creator means I'm dependent AND accountable.  No matter how smart or tall or strong or good looking or magnificent I think I am, I do not exist or take another breath apart from His provision.  My life is in the hands of this one true God.  And there IS a part of every person that is fully aware of this truth.  It’s evident.  It’s obvious.  We all know it, deep down.  It’s just that some of us are determined to attempt to suppress the truth [like our stubborn puppy Selah, who often is determined not to do what we ask].  This is the fundamental problem of man:  Romans 1:18b People suppress the truth in unrighteousness… No excuse.

The best known attempt today of course is Darwin’s Theory of Evolution.  And we need to be clear about one thing - this is still just a theory, (which Webster’s defines as) an idea that is suggested as possibly true but that is not proven to be true.  Darwin’s idea is about the origin of species (life?).  He observed that some species of birds can mutate, come out with a different color or a different shape of beak.  Fruit flies can and do develop different colors of eyes.  This is micro-evolution.  But macroevolution?  Nobody has ever seen plankton mutate into a perch, or a lizard mutate into a monkey, much less a tiny protein spring to life.  It’s STILL just a theory.  It assumes that if you have enough time, random accidents eventually will result not only in something completely different, but something viable, AND better.  But it’s only a theory.  And no one can prove Darwin’s Theory true, not scientifically.  We can’t stick it in a lab and make it happen.  Yet, in many places today, this theory is presented as indisputable fact.  And IF you dispute this idea, if you don’t bow down to it, you are disrespected, dismissed.  Literally.  There IS this kind of religious devotion to this idea, whose end goal is to explain away the existence of a Creator.  And that’s what it really is: an idea (one of many) that has been seized upon as part of the concerted attempt to suppress the truth about God.  It’s the religion of rebellion, the age-old rebellion against God, and Darwin’s Theory is today’s standard bearer.  Many have dressed it up in all kinds of flowery robes and tassels, but underneath, it’s all about a [roll of the dice].  An accident.  The LIE says, WE are an accident.  But rebellion is no accident.

Growing up in a family that never went to church or gave much thought to God or religion, I was only ever presented with Darwinism.  The Accident.  On TV.  In public school.  In fact, the notion that there might be a credible alternative to “The Accident” wasn’t even allowed into the classroom.  And I was fully bought-in to The Accident.  But let me share two reasons why I no longer believe in The Accident.  The first is what I call the [spark of life].  Life is a miracle.  The longer I live, and the closer I get to death, the more I realize how life on this [beautiful blue ball] is truly a miracle.  A wonderful impossible.  And once the spark of life is extinguished, there is no power on earth that can bring it back.  Squish a bug.  It ain’t ever coming back.  For all its posturing and theorizing, science has no ability to bring anything back to life once it’s dead.  MUCH LESS produce that initial spark of life.  Life from non-life is the stuff of science fiction.  Just because someone has an idea about how something could have happened doesn’t make it possible, much less probable.  That primordial soup they concoct in the lab trying to recreate the conditions where they so desperately want to believe that the first single-cell creature came to life (by accident)?  They can produce amino acids, building blocks of life, but the precious spark of life that would somehow give rise to even the tiniest, most primitive form of amoeba, they can’t do it.  And they never will.  Highly improbable.  That power/knowhow resides in no finite being.

Which leads to the second reason why I reject the accident, which is again, this whole idea of chance and complexity.  Whenever we see even the lowest degree of complexity, our brains intuitively tell us that there is intelligence behind that.  Somebody did that.  Somebody made that.  [Like when you see a forest full of trees which look random UNTIL you see the trees are all planted in long lines?  Long straight lines of trees are never random - there is intelligence behind the existence of that grove or forest][And how about the amazing complexity of the eye - it takes WAY too much faith to believe that such a level of complexity happened by any series of random mutations].  This truth is as plain as the nose on your face (or the eyes).  All God’s people see it - except those in denial, suppressing the truth in their heart.  And that’s the rub.  Once we allow for a Creator, you and I become contingent.  Entirely dependent.  We become accountable to Someone with all the authority and power in the universe.  We don’t even exist apart from Him.  Acts 17:28 In Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’  And some of us, we don’t want that.  We are seduced by The Accident, The LIE, the prospect of happiness APART from our Creator.  

But here's a truth - just as rebellion is not an accident, lasting love is no accident.  That’s what we really want, and true lasting love only found in a relationship with the God Who made us and loves us… 

There is one God, existing eternally in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  He is breathtakingly good, wholly perfect, and He is the all-powerful Creator and Sustainer of all things.

1Cor. 8:6 For us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him. 

Isaiah 48:13  “Surely My hand founded the earth, and My right hand spread out the heavens; when I call to them, they stand together.”

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Pillars 3: "You Can’t Handle The Truth”

We’re talking about truth.  The pillars of truth that support and secure our faith. [1Tim. 3:15 but in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.]  Paul here calls the church “the household of God”.  It’s the word, oikos.  A house, AND the people who live there.  A family.  And he actually says this family is the pillar and support of the truth.  The way this family conducts itself in accordance with the truth affects said truth is received by the world.  This is (or should be) a sobering responsibility.  And if we’re honest, it’s an audacious claim.  We have the truth.  We know the truth.  Paul warns us that knowledge can make us arrogant [1Cor 8.1].  It puffs people up.  "I know something you don’t know."  Right?  We get to thinking that we’re better than the poor ignorant chap who doesn’t know what we know.  There's a lot of that these days.  Conservogressives.  Calviminianists.  It begs the question - how do WE, how should God’s family handle the truth?  The words that we say, how we say them, the lives that we lead, these all either validate or (can seemingly) invalidate the truth.

Now as we saw last time, truth is eternal.  It is unchanging.  Ps 119:89   Forever, O LORD, Your Word is settled in heaven.  Truth will always be true no matter how someone handles (or mishandles) it. [1+1 will always equal 2, whether my 5yr old understands that or not].  Jesus Himself was convinced of this [Jn 8.32, 14.6, 16.13a, 17.17, Mt 24.35].  But there can be challenges when it comes to relating truth to others.  Truth is NOT easy to handle.  What if I have questions - can I ask them?  Or what if I’m wrestling with doubts - is that ok?  What if I’ve messed up?  Or how do I relate to my friends who don’t believe?  What about areas where science seems to contradict some of these truths?  Or, why should I believe these truths when so many who say they believe fail to practice the truth they profess?

The Barna Research Group has found that roughly 3 out of 5 young people are disconnecting from church life either temporarily or permanently after age 15, many of them citing 1 or more of these issues.  But I wonder - why are young people in particular walking away from this family?  Cuz family is forever.  Or it’s supposed to be.

Sadly, too often, I think for many people, church has NOT been a family.  It’s an institution.  Or it’s a meeting, a show.  You zip in, you zip out, take it or leave it.  Or it’s a place we go to punch our spiritual time card.  I’m supposed to do it.  It’s good for me, like medicine.  Or it’s a building.  But we don’t “go to church”.  We don’t watch church - we ARE the church.  We’re a family.  Only we’re not born into it - we commit to it, to one another.  We need each other.  We journey together, in community.  But in many places the church IS failing to teach and live into this truth.  More on this in a few weeks...

Having said that, there are ways we don’t handle the truth well.  Sometimes we are too defensive (like we don’t feel it’s okay to allow the space to ask questions or even to have doubts).  Sometimes we’re complacent - we accept the truth but then we assume the truth.  Especially in the Bible belt.  Church leaders and teachers and parents take the truth for granted and try to pass it on to the next generation without the whys behind the truth.  We just assume that folks will hold onto what we’ve accepted.  But then the next generation doesn’t know why we believe what we believe - and when the storms of life come, obstacles and opposition, some go through this time of disconnecting, falling away.  Increasingly so.

One way this is playing out:  People who grow up IN the church, they find themselves with a friend who is choosing to live a life that is NOT what God designed, and when push comes to shove, these young people choose to support their friend rather than the institution.  Sometimes shelving their faith altogether (at least temporarily).  Why are they doing that?  Why would someone shelve their faith in favor of a friend?  What would bring someone to the point of saying, these truths I’ve been taught, and this community up in which I’ve been brought - I’m done with it.  “The rise of the dones.”  I’m done with church.  There are different reasons - but I think the church is complicit in how we mishandle the truth, in several ways:

Again, I think much of the time, this person's “church” hasn’t been much of a community.  It’s just been a meeting.  Or like a spiritual country club.  Everyone “has their act together”.  “Nobody struggles”.  Nobody is allowed to ask questions.  “No messy people allowed”.  At some level, the church has failed - to live into the truth that, we are a family, and family is messy.  I’m a mess, and so are you, and that’s ok.  And we (are called to) love each other in spite of our messiness.

Another reason is that perhaps they conclude that the truth just isn’t true.  Again, this can happen when we just assert that something is true but fails to reinforce the why’s.  Mom/Dad/Pastor, why do we believe this, why is this true?  Too often, the answer is, "Well it just is."  When we don’t understand why we believe what we believe, then we can’t pass it on effectively.  And the next generation will not hold on to it.

Bottom line: we can’t handle the truth [In "A Few Good Men" - the young lieutenant didn’t want to face the truth - cuz was messy].  But God’s truth isn’t messy, people are messy.  We’re all messy, so much brokenness.  And God’s family is called to love messy broken people - but the narrative has become that the church is afraid of messy people.  The church hates messy people.  And we protest and say, no we love messy people.  But is there any evidence to prove it?  How do we handle the truth?  How do we bring the Gospel to bear in the lives of people who are messy and broken - just like us?  The truth is, WE can’t.  We CAN’T handle the truth - not on our own.  We’re messy and broken too.  And THAT is what makes the Good News so good - it’s for everyone.  We all need to be forgiven.  None of us is any better than anyone else.  THIS is the starting point: Humility.  Colossians 3:12   So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  God didn’t choose any of us cuz we were cleaner, or better.  We all need Jesus to clean up our mess just as much as that person in that ditch over there.  Humility says, we ALL need grace.  [1Pet 4.10]  And humility fosters gentleness and patience.  2Timothy 2:24-26 The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.

We must handle the Truth, God’s Word, with A LOT of gentleness and patience.  And humility.  But we also need compassion.  We need the heart of Jesus - Mt 9:36 Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd.  And Jesus is the One Who needs to grow His heart in our heart.  We're not able to love messy people in our own strength.  And humility owns that, but then Compassion moves us past ALL the I can’ts.  Lk 7:34 “The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’  Jesus wasn’t participating in their dark deeds.  But He found a way to be their friend.  [Casting Crowns, "Jesus Friend of Sinners"]  And He lives in me…!  

Finding the balance isn’t easy.  We don’t want to compromise on the truth.  AND we don’t want to come up short on love [1Tim 1.5].  We’re called to serve up a heaping helping of both (Truth AND Love).  

“I remember Christian teachers telling me long ago that I must hate a bad man's actions but not hate the bad man: or, as they would say, hate the sin but not the sinner. ...I used to think this a silly, straw-splitting distinction: how could you hate what a man did and not hate the man? But years later it occurred to me that there was one man to whom I had been doing this all my life -- namely myself. However much I might dislike my own cowardice or conceit or greed, I went on loving myself. There had never been the slightest difficulty about it. In fact the very reason why I hated the things was that I loved the man. Just because I loved myself, I was sorry to find that I was the sort of man who did those things.”

― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

It’s attainable - but we can’t handle it.  Not in our own strength.  It’s a super-human calling.  And it’s getting harder.  [2Tim 4.3-4]  It’s hard to love people who don’t believe, who are different.  Who don’t want to be loved.  Who are hard to love.  Humility says, I’m not better.  I can’t do this - but with Christ, all things are possible!  And then humility prays: Lord, help me/us (stay true to You, and give me Your heart, to love the hard2love…)

I love how Casting Crowns puts it:

You love every lost cause; you reach for the outcast

For the leper and the lame; they're the reason that You came

Lord I was that lost cause and I was the outcast

But You died for sinners just like me, a grateful leper at Your feet

Jesus died for sinners.  Just like me, a grateful leper at Your feet.  May the Lord give us grace so that, THAT truth, we can handle...

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Pillars 2: The Stuff of Pillars [Is 40.5-8]

If you noticed for our first Pillar, where we looked at the truth that there is a God, and what this incomprehensible infinite eternal God is like - most of what we discussed was based on the Bible (16 verses last week).  This God speaks [Gen 1.3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.].  All these pillars, these truths we believe, these truths that undergird and support and secure our faith - they are based on, they are embedded in the truths of Scripture, the truth that God’s Word, the Word He has spoken, is entirely true.  It doesn’t only contain truth, but it is totally true.  Completely trustworthy.  I remember, as a brand new believer in Christ, even as I was beginning to understand the life changing truths of the Gospel, these pillars, I remember this awareness that basically EVERYTHING I was learning was based on the Bible.  I knew I needed to understand, how is it that we can trust that the Bible is true?

Earthquakes and barbarians.  Not to mention gravity.  Wind and water and time.  Lightning.  Forces of erosion, corrosion, decay and corruption. Given enough time, these forces are powerful enough to cause mountains to crumble, the sturdiest pillars to slowly wear away, to become entirely irrelevant.  [When we studied through the book of Ephesians, we talked about the great Temple of Artemis - which today is worn away to rubble].  In the end, entropy wins.  Stuff breaks down.  It's the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics.  Where can we find something, or is it even possible to engineer something that will never break down?  Something that will last forever?  That will withstand the sands of time?  Is that humanly possible?  Cuz we sure don’t need any help with the whole breaking down thing.   Everything breaks down - UNLESS acted upon by an external force, but usually BECAUSE it is acted upon by an external force.  That is the observed order of the natural world.  With one HUGE exception - Is. 40:8  The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.  It stands up, remains standing.  Forever.  Unlike all these other manmade pillars.   

Matt. 5:18 “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.

Psa. 119:160  The sum of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting.  

Psa. 119:152  Of old I have known from Your testimonies that You have founded them forever.  

Like the One Who has spoken it, God’s Word is eternal.  Everlasting.  But there’s more to it.  What is this that we hold in our hands?  The Holy Bible.  The word “Bible” means “book”, but this is way more than just another book.  Holy means something set apart.  A book set apart.  Of course, most religions have “holy books”.  What is it that sets this Book, these words, apart from the rest?  What makes this Book so special?  5 points, and a 6th:

The Divine Inspiration [dozens of authors… agreement/unity]

Isaiah 40:5  “Then the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all flesh will see it together; for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” Is. 40:8  The word of our God stands forever.  The Hebrew word there for that which is spoken is davar.  It’s both a verb and a noun.  That which God davars is the davar of God.  The sacred writings of our faith…  2Tim. 3:15-17 From childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.  All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.  God-breathed.  Of course this is an [internal claim]…

The Immaculate Reception [readers recognizing this inspiration]

2Pet. 1:20-21 But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

[The Miraculous Predictions] [of which there are hundreds, and many have been fulfilled]

Is. 7:14 “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel."

The Singular Prescription (not religion/works, unlike all other books - the Bible prescribes Grace)

Eph 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

The Incomparable Provision (Jesus - Who was witnessed by hundreds!)

1Cor. 15:3-6   For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.  After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time.

[The Great (Protestant) coMission-aries] Research shows that the most good for the world has been effected by Bible-believing missionaries who have gone to the ends of the earth not only with the Good News of forgiveness/eternal life by trusting in Jesus, but also bringing with them hospitals and schools and justice that has cured countless physical and social ills.

The grass withers, the flower fades.  To what is the prophet referring there?  People.  Isaiah 40:6-7 All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field.  The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the LORD blows upon it; surely the people are grass.

The things we do, the stuff we make and dream up, the things we say - all our pomp and circumstance, all our lofty ideas and so-called progressiveness, all these pundits.  We are as fading as the grass we walk on.  The irony is that so many people, here today and faded tomorrow, hang that accusation on God’s Word.  God’s Word has faded.  It’s no longer relevant.  You can’t trust it.  The LIE comes in and specifically doubts the Word of God.  Did God really say that?  Gen. 3:1  Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” [Many try to compare the Bible to what results from the old "Telephone game", where the original message gets entirely corrupted.  Sincere seekers don't have to look far to learn that the Bible has in fact been meticulously transcribed and translated by serious scholars.  It's is entirely reliable.]

The real truth is: People want a free pass. We want a [get out of jail free card] - well, we just want to get rid of the jail altogether.  Cuz really, who likes the existence of that jail?  Most of us would just as soon change those rules, so that you don’t have to [not pass go]. We want to collect that $200.  That is why we resist this idea of truth.  Rom. 1:18   For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.  The LIE comes in and says, there is no truth (is that true?).  There is no absolute truth, they insist (but is that true?).  Truth is relative, they say (but is that absolutely true?).  There is no eternal truth, they declare (but is that eternally true?).  You can’t even refute the idea of truth without truth.  All you can do is try to ignore it or dismiss it somehow.  So we suppress the truth.  We hold it down.  We give it the heisman, try to run around it, or run away from it.  Or maybe try to run over it.  Throw some shade on it.

Because the truth is, we just want to get rid of truth we don’t like.  Just because we don’t like it doesn’t make it less true.  But the real question is not, do we like it (or not).  The bigger question is, do we trust the Source?  The One speaking it.

Mom tells us don’t touch the hot stove. There’s truth behind that: the hot stove will burn us.  We need to decide in that moment, and in all the moments to come - do we trust the source?  Do we trust Mom enough to listen to her?  Do we believe that she cares for us enough to tell us what’s true, and that her commands protect/provide for us?

When God tells us to love Him with all our hearts, it’s because He loves us.  He knows that to love anything else more than Him separates us from Him - something NOT good.  He also knows that life is most good when we put Him first.  So the question becomes, do we trust God?  Do we trust that He does care for us? Are we willing to trust that He knows (has told us) what is true? [Jn17.17]

(some verses on The Nature of Truth)

Matt. 7:24   “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and 1acts on them, 2may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 “And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. 26 “Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 “The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell — and great was its fall.”

John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

John 16:13 “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.

John 17:17 “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.

1Cor. 13:6 Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth.

Eph. 4:15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ.


The Bible (the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments) is God’s Word, all of it inspired by the Holy Spirit, inerrant in the original writings, entirely true and trustworthy to this day.  It is the only infallible source of truth and guide for living.

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Pillars 1: There is a God, and He is...

Pillars support some kind of a structure.  They hold it up.  They also secure a structure, when said structure is lashed to the pillars.  Provided that said pillars are good pillars.

There is a great picture of this - a house on Mexico Beach that survived Hurricane Michael, when all the houses around it were destroyed (just google "hurricane house").  It survived because the owner wanted a hurricane (proof) house - and when they built it, construction started with 60 foot-deep pillars.

Our faith, the faith we have and hold in Christ our Savior, is supported by pillars.  The truths we believe undergird/support the trust we put in the Lord, and these pillars of truth not only support us on life’s journey but make it possible for us to weather the hurricanes of life.  In the coming weeks we’re going to take a look at some of these.

[Gen 1.1] [Rom 1.21-23] A.W. Tozer [Knowledge Of The Holy]:

What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us… No people has ever risen above its religion… no religion has ever been greater than its idea of God.

The most revealing thing about the Church IS her idea of God… her most significant message is what she says about Him - or leaves unsaid. For this reason the gravest question before the Church is always God Himself, and the most portentous fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like. 

We tend by a secret law of the soul to move toward our mental image of God. Were we able to extract from the mind of any man a complete answer to the question, “What comes into your mind when you think about God?”, we might predict with certainty the spiritual future of that man… There is scarcely an error in doctrine or a failure in applying [it] that cannot be traced finally to imperfect and ignoble thoughts about God.  Low views of God destroy the Gospel for all who hold them.

Among the sins to which the human heart is prone, hardly any other is more hateful to God than idolatry… The idolatrous heart assumes that God is other than He is…[It] substitutes for the true God”…[something other.] [When we] come to believe that God is different from what He actually is - that is heresy of the most insidious and deadly kind.

But so then - what comes into your mind when you think about God? 

Part of the challenge - which Tozer addresses in the 2nd chapter - is that this God Who we would somehow comprehend is actually rather incomprehensible.  What is God like?  He is not EXACTLY like anything or anyone.  Isaiah 40:18  To whom then will you liken God? Or what likeness will you compare with Him? [The challenge is illustrated by the story about the three blindfolded guys who were trying to describe an elephant, and the one touching the trunk had something entirely different to say than the one who was touching a leg and the one touching the tail had yet another description of the elephant…]

What is God like?  Words will fail us - but let’s consider what Scripture says and take stab at it.  First, we understand that there is one God [Isaiah 46:9  “Remember the former things long past, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me].  There are not many gods, nor any other gods.  This one true God is eternal [Psalm 90:2  Before the mountains were born or You gave birth to the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.].  God has always existed, and always will.  Never outdated, always is.  I AM…  This is not only uncharted territory, it’s an entirely different dimension.  How do we even begin to try and wrap our minds around forever?  We have a difficult enough time just trying to understand the opposite sex.  We could go forward or back a lifetime, and ten thousand more, and we are no closer to forever.  Incomprehensible.  On top of this, somehow God exists eternally in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit [Matthew 28:19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit; mentioned in many other places in Scripture].  One God, and yet three distinct Persons within this Godhead.  The Trinity, this triune God, sets up one of the classic Heavenly Equations: 3=1. It is an antinomy - two possibilities which cannot both be true but somehow must both be true.  In essence, this is what we are facing: that which is ultimately incomprehensible.  [To which the skeptically-minded should consider how unlikely it is that anyone would make this stuff up...]

This one true God is also infinite.  Ps 139:7-10  Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?  If I ascend to heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.  If I take the wings of the dawn, if I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, even there Your hand will lead me, and Your right hand will lay hold of me.  Somehow God is everywhere (and beyond - think Buzz Lightyear!)(so, limitless) and yet nowhere is He any OF the where’s or what’s.  But what He is, every one of His attributes He possesses to an infinite degree.  Limitless.  His power - limitless.  Love - limitless.  Mercy, patience - limitless.  His wisdom - limitless.  He never needs or lacks anything.  And because He is eternally infinite, He never changes.  He never learns (never needs to).  Never forgets.  He never gets tired.  He never stops loving.  Always good.  He always acts in a way that is consistent with Who He is [Heb 13.8].  He never makes mistakes, never messes up.  Thus God is also infinitely perfect - blindingly holy, breathtakingly good, perfectly just.  Incomparable.  Inconceivable.  Incomprehensible.

The LIE comes in and says, there IS no God.  Or if there is a god, then he is what I imagine him to be.  What I create and want Him to be.  Which is always somehow less than, not almighty, not perfect, not infinitely holy and just, but flawed.  Or maybe just not interested, disinvolved.  Effectively neutered.  Because if I’m honest, I don’t want to be accountable.  I want to have the final say in the things that concern me.  I want the remote for my life.  That is the bottom line.  I want to be free, absolutely free, no chains on me, and deep down, if I’m honest, the part of me that resists the truth about God is the part that wants to call the shots, the part that wants to give myself a pass.

Which brings us to one of the classic reasons to believe in the existence of God.  I want to, and I do give myself a pass all the time - when I mess up.  But when somebody else messes with me, then the shoe’s on the other foot.  That’s when we come up against the moral code.  We readily give ourselves a pass when we lie or cheat or steal or hurt, but when someone lies or cheats or steals or hurts us, we want justice, we know - THAT is wrong.  CS Lewis-“It seems, then, we are forced to believe in a real Right and Wrong. People may be sometimes mistaken about them, just as people sometimes get their sums wrong, but they are not a matter of mere taste and opinion any more than the multiplication table.” There is a moral code, a universal standard, which everybody everywhere knows, yet which no one keeps perfectly. And the question comes, since this universal moral code does exist, where did it come from? It suggests a moral code Giver.

We all understand that people ought to behave and treat one another in a certain way, that the world ought to work a certain way.  Sadly, the world often does NOT work this way.  People do NOT treat one another the way they ought.  Which also brings us to the biggest excuse for why some people don’t believe there is a God: The problem of evil.  The world and people are broken - we’ll get to this in a few weeks - and so people use that as a convenient excuse to blame God.  It’s God’s fault - cuz if He did exist He would fix things (maybe He’s doing that?).  But it’s a tragic irony - we use the free will He gave us to first break the moral code He gave us and then to choose not to believe in Him.  Again, CS Lewis: “Why, then, did God give [us] free will? Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having.”

[Ps 46.10 - Be still and know that I am God.]  This is the question before us.  Do you and I know there is a God?  That He is eternally infinite, and powerful and good and patient and just?  CS Lewis: “It is after you have realized that there is a real Moral Law, and a Power behind the law, and that you have broken that law and put yourself wrong with that Power -- it is after all this, and not a moment sooner, that Christianity begins to talk.”

Because Christianity says, this God is also personal [Jn 17.3], AND He is ready to forgive [Ps 86.5].  So, why not SEEK Him…?

Psa. 86:5  For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, 

And abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon You.

Psa. 10:4  The wicked, in the haughtiness of his countenance, does not seek Him. 

All his thoughts are, “There is no God.”

Jer. 29:13 ‘You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.

Is. 65:1    “I permitted Myself to be sought by those who did not ask for Me; 

I permitted Myself to be found by those who did not seek Me. 

I said, ‘Here am I, here am I,’ 

To a nation which did not call on My name.

Matt. 7:7   “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.

Acts 17:26 and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, 27 that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us;

Heb. 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.  

But with this we understand that this eternal infinite God is the sovereign Creator and Sustainer of all things.  The very atoms and elements themselves, all things owe their origin and their continued existence to Him.  Nehemiah 9:6  “You alone are the LORD. You have made the heavens, the heaven of heavens with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to all of them."  Colossians 1:17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.  

And what this means is that you and I are contingent.  No matter how smart or tall or strong or good looking or otherwise magnificent I think I am, I am dependent.  My very existence is tied to and derives from this Being Who gave me the freedom to find Him wanting and to rebel against Him and even to deny His very existence.  Talk about biting the hand that feeds you...

Paul wrote about this: 

Romans 1:19-21 That which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.  For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.  For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

Closing with one more thought from CS Lewis: 

“I remember Christian teachers telling me long ago that I must hate a bad man's actions but not hate the bad man: or, as they would say, hate the sin but not the sinner. ...I used to think this a silly, straw-splitting distinction: how could you hate what a man did and not hate the man? But years later it occurred to me that there was one man to whom I had been doing this all my life -- namely myself. However much I might dislike my own cowardice or conceit or greed, I went on loving myself. There had never been the slightest difficulty about it. In fact the very reason why I hated the things was that I loved the man. Just because I loved myself, I was sorry to find that I was the sort of man who did those things.”

― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Pillar 1: There is one God, existing eternally in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  He is breathtakingly good, wholly perfect, and infinitely powerful, and He is the sovereign Creator and Sustainer of all things.