Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Three Light of Reveatlion

I had the privilege of delivering the following sermon today . The slides I used and the verbage I had planned to use are below. This serves as my kind of "director's cut" for the presentation.

Slide 1
Good Afternoon, Church. There is a lot to cover this afternoon. So I will try to cover it as deeply as possible, given the limited time. What the topics we will be touching on boils down to is, how do we know God? Is it really the Holy Spirit convicting you, comforting you, guiding you or is it indigestion.  Given how limited we are, how can you be sure? I’m going to assume that most people, for the sake of this discussion, want to to know the answer to questions like these because we recognize the importance of such things and the conclusions we draw have an effect on every decision we make. 

Slide 2
Jesus, Himself, tells us that we have everything we need to know to know God. 

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God. – John 3:16-21

Therefore if we wanna know God and what God’s will is we have to be willing to step into the light and that does require admitting and confessing to those evil deeds we are guilty  of because that is only way we can truly see them. The Bible often uses light as a metaphor for  revelation.  Revelation is the only way we can get to know God.  Without God’s revelation we love the darkness and hate God.

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. – Romans 8:5-8 

That describes every single one of us before we came to Christ.\

Slide 3

The Bible describes three ways – three lights – God has revealed Himself to humanity, This is where Romans starts and then builds on this idea for the whole of its 16 chapters.

       Light of Creation
       Light of Conscious
       Light of Christ

We will be discussing each one today. It is deep. You could spend years on either one. Unfortunately, we are going to be to hit some of the high lights.  We are going to be looking at what the Bible reveals and how God has revealed himself even to people who are skeptical of the Bible.

It’s unfortunate that some of our brothers and sisters don’t take this as seriously as we should. The kind of faith that God requires of us does not mean that you should check your brain at the front door. Our faith is big enough that it’s supported by facts.

Slide 4

No one has an excuse for not knowing that there is a God. 

18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

24Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. - Romans 1:18-25

Even the most superficial examination of the created universe has to honestly lead you some knowledge that God exists and some insight into his power and wisdom.  In verse 20, the word translated “excuse”  is “apologea”  and it also means “defense”.  Another way of looking at it is that they are without a defense if they deny that God exists. This is also the word that we get “apologetics” from  which is defending what you believe.  If you deny God’s existence, you have no apologetic. 

Here is a short video on the size of the universe. Just think about how big the things we can see are and how far apart there are.

Slide 5

This video was produced by non-believers. But look at what they recognize: we are not the center of the Universe. But what is missing? They don’t know why?  If you at least accept this much revelation, God will bless you with more. 

Slide 6

Take a moment to think about sheer scale and sizes we have to consider when we think of the stars. Not just the relative sizes of these heavenly bodies but also the distances between them. For example, the sun is 93 million miles away from the earth. All the other planets in our solar system are much further away from the sun,  and without those other planets, moons, and other things orbiting the sun, life on earth would not be possible. The more I learn about the universe, the more I see the hand of God. The more I see God’s divine attributes and His power. God not only created everything but God signed His signature just as sure and an artist signs his completed masterpiece of art. 

Slide 7
The second light in Romans is the Light of Conscious . In this we are talking about the fact that people have moral values and agree that there are things that are truly right and that there are things that are wrong.

12 All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. 14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.) 16 This will take place on the day when God judges people’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares. – Romans 2:12-16

Before I give you two good examples of these requirements that have been written on the hearts and minds of people all around us, consider that these are such a part of us that they have always influenced the fiction and entertainment through out time. Let’s take a modern example.  Let’s look at the moral responsibility we know we have to one another. 

Slide 8

These are two scenes from the very first Spider-Man movie. The moral message here is that every person has abilities and  talents that others don’t and we have the responsibility to use them to help others. The more. The more unique those talents,  the greater the responsibility to use them to help others.  In the most recent film, this ides was restated this way.

 Slide 9

The quote is:

You’re a lot like your father. You really are, Peter, and that’s a good thing. But your father lived by a philosophy, a principle really. He believed that…that if you could do good things for other people, you had a moral obligation to do those things. That’s what at stake here. Not a choice, responsibility.

I’ll leave the question aside of whether we needed another Spider-Man origin movie just 10 years after the first one,  but instead let’s look at this ethic. The world sees and agrees  that we have this responsibility and have an obligation. I think everyone would applaud these idea and agree that this is true. But here is the problem. Where do these talents come from? Why do we have this responsibility?  Who are we responsible to? Jesus gives us that answer.

Slide 10

48 But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. – Luke 12:48

Jesus is clear. And it’s similar to what the statement embedded in the Spider-man mythology has but points out that not only do we have this responsibility but we are accountable to God for what  we have done with those gifts and it was God who gave them to us. This is why God has every right to hold us accountable. 

Slide 11

Here is another example, let’s look at the Golden Rule.  We have a lot of religions from all over the world who enshrine the Golden Rule.  It usually stated in one of two ways.

The Golden Rule or ethic of reciprocity is a maxim,[1] ethical code, or morality[2] that essentially states either of the following:
  • (Positive form of Golden Rule): One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself.[1]
  • (Negative form of Golden Rule): One should not treat others in ways that one would not like to be treated.

The World likes think that they are saying the same thing and one of the things they want to do is ignore Jesus and pretend that what he said wasn’t unique.  But let’s look at what Jesus said.

Two passages in the New Testament quote Jesus of Nazareth speaking the golden rule:

12Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.
31And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.

Jesus used the positive form of the rule and we should recognize that it’s better than the negative one. The reason it is better because it improves society. If I only don’t steal from you because I don’t want you to steal from me it only mean that we won’t steal from one another. If  I do to you the things that I want you to do, not only will I not steal or hurt you but I will be a blessing to you and help you because I would want you to do the same towards me. So yeah, Jesus’ way is the best way.

Slide 12

One last point about Morality. I don’t want to make it sound like nonbelievers have never recognized that  they have a problem for what basis they can base our morality on without God. Many people have tried to come up with a solution.  I recently came across this sign on the internet and I wanted you to see it. IT represents how some people have tried to solve this problem.  It doesn’t and I almost wish I could try to call it a good try, but I’d be lying. Empathy does not give a viable basis for morality.  People don’t do the right thing just because they feel like it. True moral action is doing the right thing even when you don’t feel like doing it. Empathy, while a good thing, isn’t enough. 
Slide 13

Now on to the “third light of revelation” – the light of Christ. This is when God gifts one with the desire to want to turn away from sin and to be with Jesus. It is the kind of understanding that causes you to become “Born-again”.  This is when God takes out your heart of rebellion and replaces it with the desire to love Him and obey Him.  In short this is the Gospel. This what most of the Book of Romans is about. 

21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in[h] Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement,[i] through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

27 Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. Because of what law? The law that requires works? No, because of the law that requires faith. 28 For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, 30 since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. 31 Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law. – Romans 3:21-31

This passage tells us what being born-again looks like. If you accept the gift of God and the forgiveness of your sin – you know you have been born-again. I think we need an example to demonstrate and remind us what an unregenerate mind will come up with not to deal with the reality of Christ.  Here is a verse from the Bible where there are 40 Greek words  that also sum up the Gospel.

Slide 14
Here is an English translation of those words. 

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. – Galatians 2:20

Now I want to show you a video that puts these words against 40 Arabic words from the Qur’an. 

Slide 15

So this is what the point is, Muslims are willing to put aside a clear and undisputed fact of History just because of 40 Arabic words said to have been spoken by a man 600 years after with no connection to the event of Jesus’ Crucifixion. The Gospel literally depends on Jesus’ crucifixion. Denying it, denies everything about Christianity. No crucifixion – No Resurrection. Muslims are not the only ones who deny the truths of Christianity – all people who turn their backs on God do the same.  We must pray for  all people as God sends up out in the mission field to be his witnesses and ambassadors with the message that they do not have to stay trapped in sin. If we walk in the lights of revelation that God has graciously given us, we can be free.

Slide 16

Unfortunately this is how some people think about what the Gospel of Christ is. Indeed think about it. Mary was not impregnated. The wording invokes the wrong understanding. Just stick to what the Bible says what happened. Jesus is God but Mary did not give birth to God. This shows a lot of confusion on what the Trinity is. God did not originally create hell for human beings…and don’t forget that hell itself will be thrown into the lake of fire. There is nothing wrong with the way God has communicated to us. The Bible does not contradict with itself and none of the Bible has anonymous authorship ultimately because it came from God. And one last thing.
About Isaiah 7:14

14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Some argue that this is a mistranslation of Hebrew. using “virgin” but they don’t realize that the Jewish translators who first made the Greek Old Testament used the Greek word for virgin so they thought that it meant virgin and besides that the word translated “sign” is only used for supernatural miracles. I’m giving you this example because it is evidence that the Bible is reliable and if you just push on objections against the Bible they collapse and fold faster than Superman on  laundry.  day. God is speaking to us. He’s not hiding from us and has revealed himself ultimately though Jesus our Lord. Our Savior.  Our God. 

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