About sarhodes

I serve as the Pastor at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, Ohio. I am married to Meagan and we have been married since 2003. We have two children, Mercedes Grace and Abigail Elizabeth. Mercedes was born on September 1, 2011 and Abigail was born on December 4, 2013. I graduated in 2000 from Northmont High School in Clayton, Ohio (just northwest of Dayton). I graduated with a BA in pastoral studies from Cedarville University in 2006 and the an M.Div. from Asbury Theological Seminary in 2010. I enjoy movies, especially action moves like Braveheart, the Patriot and Gladiator. I especially enjoy historical movies. I also enjoy documentaries. I enjoy reading: I love historical books, especially Revolutionary War biographies. I enjoy reading theological books as well. I enjoy spending time with Meagan, Mercedes and Abigail. I also enjoy fishing and watching football.

We Live in a Fallen World, Part 2: the Whole World is Fallen (Romans 1; 8:19-23 and selected Scriptures; Acts 17)

We Live in a Fallen World, Part 2: the Whole World is Fallen (Romans 1; 8:19-23 and selected Scriptures; Acts 17)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church on Sunday, October 28, 2020

When I was a senior in high school I was talking with a friend of mine about my Christian faith and how important Christianity is to me. Her name was Amanda. I don’t really remember the whole conversation, but I will never forget what she said. You know how you can envision the surroundings of an environment when you think of past memories? That is the case from this conversation. I remember, vividly, it was towards the end of the school year. We both had math class right after lunch. We were walking out of math class as she said, “I make up my own religion!” I don’t think I argued with her, but I still must wonder, “Where do people get these ideas?”

Just over a year before that conversation I had another conversation with a girl named Laura. I was working at Jack’s Aquarium and Pets. At this time, I was working at the Jack’s in Englewood, OH, which is just north of Dayton. Like the conversation with Amanda that was to happen a year later, I can remember what I was doing vividly. It seemed to be a wintry day. Our pet shop had not opened yet. I was cleaning the pet’s cages and giving water and food to them, and I was walking back to the stock room. At this time Laura said, “Everybody’s a Christian Steve.”  

More recently, I heard of some people from a past church I served, who don’t believe in hell and demons. The Scripture talks about them.

How do people get the idea that they can make up their view of God?

How do people get the idea that they can believe whatever they want to believe?

How do people get the idea they can cut from the Bible what they don’t like and paste into the Bible things they wish it would say?

Who do we think we are to do this? Are we equal to God?

The answer is the culture we live in. Our culture is what is called a postmodern culture. But the major answer is that we have a problem. Our problem is that we don’t want to submit to God’s Word and God’s authority.

We are in a sermon series about worldview. Everyone has a worldview. We started with the idea that everything was created by God and created good. Last week we talked about how creation fell. Creation is depraved. Today, we are going to take that a step further. Today, I want to look at a passage in Romans that shows how depraved humanity is.

My theme today is:

Creation is totally depraved, Romans 1:18-32 shows the possible extent of our depravity.

My application:

We need Divine intervention.

First, allow me to welcome you to post-modernity:

I asked how people get the idea that they can create their own authority. That is called post-modernity.

Modernity was all about facts and figures and optimism. Modernity began in the renaissance period and ended some time in the twentieth century, when post-modernity took over. Scholars debate when modernity ended and post-modernity began. This is likely true because it is not like it ended all at once.

Some think the first World War is when modernity ended. Others think 1968. Either way, modernity was all about positive developments. The world was getting better. They called the twentieth century the Christian century. But then as we entered the twentieth century. We saw great destruction. We had the first world war with trench warfare and mustard gas. Then we had the holocaust and then the cold war. So, probably gradually, post-modernity took over. This is a way of thinking as well as art and décor.

Here are some quick characteristics of post modernism:

A distrust of authority, somewhat a rebellion

A distrust of truth. There is no truth. They think up their own truth.

We see this with the COVID-19 crisis. Everyone is an authority.

In general, think about it, we go to the doctor and if we do not like their opinion, we do our own research.

There is no one view of the world but a multitude of worldviews.

A pessimistic view that existence is useless (nihilism).

There is a distrust of knowledge. Modernity was all about knowledge.

We think like a Global village.

Everything is a sound-bite. Books are old fashioned.

These are commonalities. None of these are true of everyone.

  1. Dr. Tennent the President of Asbury Theological Seminary shares about this:

Miroslav Volf is a Croatian theologian who now serves as professor of theology at Yale University and formerly, where I first met him, of the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Osijek, Croatia. Volf’s award-winning book Exclusion and Embrace captures the violence of three cities. (1) Sarajevo in the grip of the Bosnian war and the birth of modern-day ethnic cleaning; (2) the Los Angeles race riots in the wake of the beating of Rodney King; and (3) the rise of modern-day neo-Nazis on the streets of Berlin. Those particular conflicts are not in the headlines today, but you could easily substitute them for the conflicts of our day. He argues that today’s cultural conflicts cannot be understood unless we first understand the impact of post-modernity on modern thought. He points out that post-modernity embraces an autonomous self, which turns away from the values and identities that connect us and, instead, focuses on social arrangements rather than people as social agents. Identity politics becomes a new form of tribalism, spawning endless conflicts and power struggles. Volf argues that we tend to shift moral responsibility away from ourselves as moral agents and, instead, shift blame onto socially constructed and managed agencies that allows us to escape from our own moral responsibilities.[1] 


[1] https://timothytennent.com/2020/09/14/my-2020-opening-convocation-address-part-ii-from-privatized-church-to-public-missional-agent-of-healing/

So, that is the dominant thinking of our world.

Why is it this way?

First of all, post-modernity is not all wrong. There are good things. However, our world is fallen. Sin has permeated us and our culture.

The media is fallen.

The news is fallen.

The leaders are fallen.

Even we, in the church, are fallen, though redeemed.

So, let’s look at a passage that shows our potential fallenness, or depravity.

First, a few thoughts. Realize that Paul is pointing people to Jesus.

Paul, and the other inspired writers of the Bible, were not afraid to offend people, and this is because we must be aware of our sin so that we realize that we need a Savior.

Preach the Gospel

I read somewhere: Nobody in hell says, “I’m glad my feelings were never offended.” Preach the gospel.”

Spurgeon said: “I will not believe that you have tasted of the honey of the gospel if you can eat it all by yourself.”

Romans 1:18-32

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 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. 21 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. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.

24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. 25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.

28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; 32 and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.

  1. I recently read someone had said “the difference between God and us is that God never thinks He is us.”
    1. This passage is about pride, pride puts us in the place of God and makes us think we can do whatever we want.
    2. Understand that God has set up a way in which we should live, and we have all broken it. We all have dealt with pride in these ways. But this is no excuse to keep living in them.
    3. This passage is showing our potential in sin.
    4. Once you commit to Christ, live for HIM!
    5. Live for HIM.
    6. This list of sins is not complete.
    7. Additionally, though these lists are pointing us to Jesus this also means that Christ followers must work diligently to let the Holy Spirit reign with us and not live in them.
    8. We have been bought with a price (1 Cor. 6:20).
    9. This passage is about the holiness of God and the wrath of God on sin. These are things that we do not understand, though we must. We must take these seriously.
    10. It seems as though there are many sins in this list which we have tried to excuse and in so doing we are also excusing our need for a Savior. I will repeat that:
    11. It seems as though there are many sins in this list which we have tried to excuse and in so doing we are also excusing our need for a Savior.
    12. This passage talks about how people shut God out and then God gave them over.
    13. Verse 24 says God gave them over…
    14. Verse 26 says, God gave them over…
    15. Verse 28: Gave gave them over…
    16. Notice in verse 18: The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against “all…” God’s wrath is revealed against all sin.
    17. Verses 19-20 are all about general revelation. What is known about God is evident. God made it evident. The passage says that we are without excuse. Isn’t that wonderful! God made Himself known to us! That is powerful.
    18. But then verses 21-23 goes back to how depraved we are: They knew God, but did not honor Him. They did not give thanks. Professing to be wise, they became fools. Wow! This is idolatry at its finest.
    19. That is in our world today. But before we are too critical of the world, that is in us as well. We all have a sin nature and we must lean on Christ.
    20. Verse 23 continues about idolatry.
    21. Verse 24: God gave them over…God gave humanity over to these sins. As we push God out, He eventually says, “Okay, have it your way.”
    22. Look at verse 25: For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
    23. God is to be praised, don’t exchange His Truth for the world’s lie.
    24. Verses 26-27: the passage says that God gave them over again. Why do people want to do things with the human body that are not natural or right? People are depraved and God gave them over. God let them go. I would argue that this is even part of God’s judgment.
    25. Women with women, men with men, these things are not natural. This is not the way creation was meant to be. I am also not saying that some do not have misplaced feelings. What I am saying is that feelings are not always right because we are fallen. We are depraved. We need Divine intervention.
    26. Verses 28-32: Wow, God gave them over to a depraved mind.
    27. This is the extent of fallenness. This is the extent of depravity.
  2. Is this passage talking about everyone?
    1. Now, some could look at this and think “this is not me.”
    2. Yes and no. This passage is showing that we all need Christ. We all need Divine intervention.
    3. This passage also shows our potential in sin.
    4. This passage shows that apart from Christ we cannot trust our thinking. Our mind is depraved. Our nature is depraved. We need born again.
    5. However, in Christ, we are born again and our thinking is renewed.
    6. In Christ we have all the potential that Christ offers.
    7. Our world is fallen, we need Divine intervention.
  3. Let’s apply this:
    1. Recognize that all of the world is fallen. All of the world is depraved.
    2. What makes people shoot police officers and then block the ambulance from getting into the hospital? The world is depraved.
    3. What makes people riot taking a city captive for over 100 days? They are fallen and in fallenness they think they have a better idea at a utopian society. In the meantime, in fallenness they want disorder. They are depraved.
    1. Why does the world want to justify and approve sin? They are fallen. They are depraved. Verse 28 says that God gave them over to a depraved mind.
    2. Without Christ every mind is depraved.
    3. What makes me do the sins I have committed? I was fallen, but I serve a risen Savior today.
    4. Trust in Jesus and point others toward Him as well.
    5. Who are you trusting in for Salvation?
    6. Are you recognizing that you need Jesus?
    7. Do you recognize that others need Jesus?
    8. Point others to Jesus?

Close:

There was an episode of the hit show The West Wing in which a lobbyist comes in to see the President and she is against something on Biblical grounds. The President responds using Old Testament Scriptures for example:

Lev 19:19

“‘Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material.

The problem with this is that then the West Wing is teaching Theology and Bible. But it is not only the West Wing. It is all of the world.

The writers of The West Wing are not Biblicist. They are not Theologians. They apparently don’t understand hermeneutics which is the science of interpretation. In the Old Testament They had civil and ceremonial laws. God was setting up a Jewish Nation state so when something is in the Bible one time in the Old Testament and not repeated it could, just maybe, be something for Israel. The Jewish dietary laws were settled in the New Testament in Acts 15 as was the rite of circumcision.  

These things in the world cause us to question and step away from God’s way, but we must understand where they are coming from. That is the world and the world is the opposite of God’s ways.

God’s ways are right, the world’s ways are not.

Several years ago I was coming outside at night getting ready to leave for work. It was the middle of the night and we were living in the country.  I saw lights in the sky. The lights were slow in coming and that gave me time to think of what the problem could be.

I thought I was going to have a Divine encounter, then a car came up the road. The road had a hill which made the headlights go in the sky.

A few months before that Meagan was on her way home to our house in the country. She saw lights in the sky and got really scared. She called her step dad who told her about a blimp in the area.

We cannot rely on our own wisdom. We must rely on God’s Wisdom and help, which may not help immediately in situations as the ones I just mentioned; however, we can still seek out answers and wisdom and know that God’s Word is ultimate Truth.

God has a standard.

We need Jesus.

Don’t miss that.

Point people to Jesus.

Prayer

The Problem is sin (Genesis 3)

Children are dismissed to Junior Church.

We are going to be reading from Genesis 3 in a minute.

Chuck Colson shares the following:

What does the face of evil look like? A few years ago when I visited a South Carolina women’s prison, I learned that Susan Smith had signed up to hear me speak. Smith is the woman who drowned her two small sons by letting her car slide into a lake with the children still strapped in their car seats. Her reason? She felt that the man she was dating had hinted that the children were obstacles to marrying her.

As I prepared to speak that day, I scanned the audience, wondering what this unnatural mother would look like. I imagined some kind of female Dorian Gray, her face marked by the soul-struggle she had waged with evil. Recalling photos from the newspaper, I searched for her face, but I couldn’t pick her out.

After the meeting, I asked the local Prison Fellowship director whether Smith had even attended.

“Oh, sure,” he replied. “She was in the front row, staring at you the whole time.”

The face of evil is frighteningly ordinary.

In Jonesboro, Arkansas, an eleven- and a thirteen-year-old pull the school fire alarm, assume sniper positions, and then shoot at students and teachers as they file out of the school. They kill four students and one teacher, wounding eleven others.

In Oakland, California, a teenager with a knife chases a woman down the street, while a crowd gathers and chants, “Kill her! Kill her!” like spectators at a sporting event. Someone in the crowd finally trips the frightened woman, giving her assailant a chance to stab her to death.  In Dartmouth, Massachusetts, three boys surround a ninth-grade classmate and stab him to death. Afterward they laugh and trade high fives, like basketball players celebrating after a slam dunk. In New Jersey, Brian Peterson takes his girlfriend, Amy Grossberg, across the state line to a Delaware hotel room, where she gives birth. They kill the newborn and dump him in the trash. Killers with freckled faces. Killers on the playground. Killers who do it for sport.[1]

Chuck Colson is writing about those cases in a section of his book writing about the sin problem. Of course, those are dramatic examples. Do we not see evidence of sin all around us?

What do we think of these cities with riots? What do we think of a police officer who murders someone they are trying to arrest? At the same time, was the victim of the police officer innocent? What is the right response? Do we not need the police?  

Why do we need government? On August 12, 1986 President Reagan said, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the Government, and I’m here to help.”

How much government do we need? What is the primary job of the government? I believe from a Biblical worldview, that means, if we get our worldview, our view of the world, from the Bible, that means the primary job of the government is protecting the people.

We are in a sermon series about having a Biblical worldview. Last week we talked about how God created everything good. Today, and next week, I will talk about how sin has impacted the world creating total depravity, sometimes called fallenness.

  1. I want to submit to you that we need government, police, and the military to keep us safe. We need these groups because of sin.
  2. I also want to submit to you that we cannot fix ourselves. There is no utopian ideal government, or non-profit group that can fix humanity. We need Divine intervention.

People have tried and they continue to think that government, or non-profits, or psychology, or science can fix humanity. They think the problem is the lack of education, or poverty, or men, or something else. But the problem is far deeper. Colson shares:

…the denial of sin and responsibility is couched in therapeutic terms, such as the need to “understand” even the worst crimes as a result of a dysfunctional childhood or other circumstances. Symptoms of family breakdown—such as divorce, adultery, and abortion—are defended as expressions of the individual’s freedom of choice. Social engineering schemes are dressed up as public compassion. But these are all window dressings, for beneath these explanations lies the same false utopian… It is the same worldview that gave rise to modern totalitarianism. As Glenn Tinder writes, “Much of the tragic folly of our times, not only on the part of extremists such as Lenin but also on the part of middle-of-the-road liberals and conservatives, would never have arisen had we not, in our technological and ideological pride, forgotten original sin.”[2]

BLAISE PASCAL shared:

Certainly nothing offends us more rudely than this doctrine [of original sin], and yet without this mystery, the most incomprehensible of all, we are incomprehensible to ourselves.[3]

 The first and most fundamental element of any worldview is the way it answers the questions of origins—where the universe came from and how human life began. The second element is the way it explains the human dilemma. Why is there war and suffering, disease and death?[4]

Let’s Read Genesis 3:17-24 (This is after Adam and Eve sinned)

17 Then to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’;

Cursed is the ground because of you;
In toil you will eat of it
All the days of your life.
18 “Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you;
And you will eat the plants of the field;
19 By the sweat of your face
You will eat bread,
Till you return to the ground,
Because from it you were taken;
For you are dust,
And to dust you shall return.”

20 Now the man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all the living. 21 The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.

22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”— 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken. 24 So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the tree of life.

Now let’s read Romans 8:22:

 For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. 

Today, my theme is:

We live in a fallen world and fallen humans cannot fix the problem.

  1. The world is totally depraved, and we cannot fix ourselves. Look at Genesis 3.
    • In Genesis 3 we see that sin entered the world. Again, in the past this has been called total depravity.
    • In Genesis 3:1-7 Adam and Eve ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
    • We often think, why did God place it there to begin with?
    • Realize that God told them they could eat from any other tree in the garden.
    • Also, realize that God wanted to give us free will. Adam and Eve have free will and they exercised that free will.
    • We all see the effects of sin.
    • We see what God told Adam and Eve in Genesis 3. Adam will work by the sweat of his brow.
    • They are cast out of the Garden of Eden.
    • There has been death, and disease, and murder, and theft, and so much more ever since. I believe the world is actually getting worse not bertter.
    • Yet, we are in a world that denies sin and that is a great problem. We are in a world that thinks we can fix the problems on our own.
    • Colson shares:
    • But if the source of disorder and suffering is not sin, then where do these problems come from? Enlightenment thinkers concluded that they must be the product of the environment: of ignorance, poverty, or other undesirable social conditions; and that all it takes to create an ideal society is to create a better environment: improve education, enhance economic conditions, and reengineer social structures. Given the right conditions, human perfectibility has no limits. And so was born the modern utopian impulse.[5]
    • Someone once quipped that the doctrine of original sin is the only philosophy empirically validated by thirty-five centuries of recorded human history.[6]
    • By contrast, the “enlightened” worldview has proven to be utterly irrational and unlivable. The denial of our sinful nature, and the utopian myth it breeds, leads not to beneficial social experiments but to tyranny.[7]
    • The triumph of the Enlightenment worldview, with its fundamental change in presuppositions about human nature, was in many ways the defining event of the twentieth century, which explains why the history of this era is so tragically written in blood. As William Buckley trenchantly observes: Utopianism “inevitably . . . brings on the death of liberty.”[8]
    • Glenn Tinder writes, if one acknowledges “no great, unconquerable evils in human nature,” then it seems possible to create a heaven right here on earth.[9]
    • So, we as Christians must recognize that the world does not recognize our values. The world does not think the problem is original sin. They may think we sin, but they may not realize that it all goes back to Genesis 3. They think we can fix the problem on our own.
    • REALIZE, I AM NOT SAYING ALL GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS ARE BAD, I AM JUST SAYING THAT WE CANNOT FIX THE PROBLEM ON OUR OWN.
    • These utopian ideas continue.
    • Realize that when we think that humanity can fix the problem, that is humanism. That is thinking we have to make the world a better place for humans and we can do it on our own.
    • This has led to Marxist teaching and socialist teaching. Again, I am not saying these teachings are all wrong. Maybe I believe that, I will keep that opinion to myself. What I am saying is that it does not address the fundamental real problem.
    • Again, Colson shares:
    • The fatal flaw in Marxism’s utopian view of the state is once again the denial of the basic Christian teaching of the Fall. If one is to believe there is such a thing as sin, one must believe there is a God who is the basis of a transcendent and universal standard of goodness. All this Marx denied. For him, religion and morality were nothing but ideologies used to rationalize the economic interests of one class over another. Small wonder that the totalitarian states created by Marxism acknowledged no universal moral principles, no transcendent justice, and no moral limits on their murderous brutality. The party, like the General Will, was always right.[10]
    • So, the problems in humanity all go back to original sin. They all go back to the fall. These sin problems effect all of us. I am going to talk about that more next week. They affect our thinking, which leads to the effect on our media, our government, our schools, our churches, and every other institution or group. Nothing is untouched by sin.
    • Again, Chuck Colson shares:
    • Ideas do not arise from the intellect alone. They reflect our whole personality, our hopes and fears, our longings and regrets. People who follow a particular course of action are inevitably subject to intellectual pressure to find a rationale for it. Theologians call this the “noetic” effect of sin, meaning that sin affects our minds, our thinking processes.[11]
    • The Reformers coined the phrase “total depravity,” meaning that our sinful choices distort all aspects of our being, including our theoretical ideas.[12]
    • As an example of the complete effect of sin on institutions Colson shares:
    • One of the results of this utopian thinking was a shift in education. Classical education had always aimed at the pursuit of truth and the training of moral character. But if human nature was nothing more than a reactive mechanism, then it could be manipulated and shaped by the laws that science discovered. Thus, education became a means of conditioning, with the child being treated as essentially passive rather than as an active moral agent.[13]
    • Again, the problem is original sin and we need Divine intervention, humanity cannot fix the problem.
    • The church is actually unique in a place to fix the problem because Jesus is working in us, so we have the Divine intervention needed. However, things will not be made right until Jesus sets up His reign (Revelation 21-22).
  2. God stepped in to fix us.
    • Utopian ideas won’t fix the problem and we have talked about that.
    • Let’s read Romans 5:12-15:
  3. Romans 5:12-15:
    • Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned— 13 for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.
    • 15 But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many.
    • I am not going to really take apart this passage today. My point is that only Jesus could fix the sin problem and He did.
    • Adam’s sin was passed down through all the generations and now Jesus has reset things, or at least is resetting things. We can be redeemed in Jesus, but the world is not restored yet. We will get to that in a few weeks.
    • So, what is problem? Sin.
    • What is the solution? We need Divine intervention—Jesus.
    • Jesus changes us and then we change society. Without Jesus we have not repaired the heart. We have to be born again (John 3).
    • It is interesting how Christian love confounds the atheist.
    • J.D. Greear: Years ago, I read a book about the famous atheist Christopher Hitchens. During the last years of his life, he toured university campuses, debating a Christian scholar named Larry Taunton, the author of the book. Taunton describes how very few of his intellectual rebuttals made any deep impression on Hitchens. However, during his last months, Hitchens began to question things in his conversations with Taunton, and it was mainly because of Taunton’s decision to adopt his daughter, who is HIV-positive. Taunton said Hitchins kept asking him why he did it and marveled at Taunton’s calmness in the face of death. Taunton doesn’t claim that Hitchens became a believer before he died but that kindness and hope did something in Hitchens’ life that intellectual argument could not.[14]

So, why do we need government?

To review:

  1. I want to submit to you that we need government, police, and the military to keep us safe. We need these groups because of sin.
  2. I also want to submit to you that we cannot fix ourselves. There is no utopian ideal government, or non-profit group that can fix humanity. We need Divine intervention.

We need Jesus. The world needs Jesus. Next week we will continue to talk about how deep the effects of sin are on all of society.

Prayer


[1] Colson, Charles. How Now Shall We Live? (pp. 185-186). Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

[2] Ibid, 168-169

[3] Ibid, 147

[4] Ibid, 147

[5] Ibid, 148-150

[6] Ibid, 150

[7] Ibid, 150

[8] Ibid, 150

[9] Ibid, 167

[10] Ibid, 172.

[11] Ibid, 174

[12] Ibid, 174

[13] Ibid, 177

[14] https://jdgreear.com/how-to-turn-misery-into-ministry/

Creation: Everything was Created Good, part 2 (Genesis chapters 1-2; Psalm 8; 19)

Creation: Everything was Created Good, part 2 (Genesis chapters 1-2; Psalm 8; 19)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church on Sunday, October 11, 2020

Please take a moment to recall the story I began last week’s sermon with:

In Chuck Colson’s book, “How Now Shall We Live” he writes about a father going on a trip to Disney World with his daughter. He planned the trip with his daughter because he was having problems with her. They had found marijuana in her purse. Additionally, she was no longer interested in church. Then, as they walked through Disney World they had time to talk. However, first he noticed something on one particular ride. They were on a ride in which Bill Nye, was talking about how everything developed. But he traced everything back to a naturalistic worldview. Nye talked about how everything simply evolved the way it was. The dad then realized the problem. He then realized that ever since kindergarten his daughter’s education had been against a foundational Biblical teaching. He was questioning what happened with her faith, but ever since kindergarten she had been taught at school that we are merely accidents. She had been taught macro-evolution at school. Macro-evolution means large scale evolution. Macro-evolution means that everything has evolved across species.

I am in a sermon series on having a Biblical worldview. The Bible exhorts us to Examine everything carefully (1 Thess. 5:21). Every form of media is giving us a worldview. Every news source, every movie, every video game, every form of literature, every commercial, really everything that we watch, read, or listen to is giving us a worldview. Certainly, some things are fine. Some commercials, or books, or movies, or news sources are not corrupting our worldview. However, we must test them. This is important for us as well as our children. This is important for the church.

Today, my theme is that everything was created good. Today, the focus will be on an overview of God creating in Genesis 1.

My application is: examine everything carefully.

Let’s read Genesis 1:1, 31:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Verse 31:

God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

  1. God created, let’s walk through creation.
    1. Recall last week I spent a lot of time focusing on the high importance of seeing God as the creator. If you were not here, I highly encourage you to read that message or listen to it. Now, we will talk more about God as creator and then about the creation process.
    2. God created and this also means that God is separate from His creation. God is not the same as His creation. God is separate from His creation.
    3. God created the earth. Now, the first two verses are an overview of the creation of time, space and matter. Starting in verse 3 God gives order to this matter. God arranges His creation so it is not such a mess.
    4. So, the rest of this chapter deals with the details of the earth and its surroundings. God chose to create everything in 6 days.
      1. On day 1, God creates light, this light may not be the sun. Most have believed the light is light emanating from God.  On day 1, God also created the idea of the day and night.
      2. On Day 2, God creates the atmosphere. Notice the waters are already there.
      3. On day 3, God creates land and vegetation.
      4. On day 4, God creates the moon and the stars.
        1. Notice that the Bible doesn’t use the noun “sun,” or “moon.”
        2. If you study the ancient religions of the Middle East you can see that they worshipped the sun and the moon. So, Moses was careful not to use those terms.  In fact, if you really study this text, you can compare it with the other religions of the Middle East. In comparing you can see that Moses is writing this correcting those religions and showing that there is one God and He is supreme.
      5. On Day 5, God creates the creatures of the sea and the air.
      6. On day 6, God creates the land animals and humans. Humans are the only creation specified. Humans are also created in God’s image.
      7. Notice also that it takes male and female to reflect the image of God.
    5. If we read on to Genesis chapter 2, we see more specific detail about the creation of Adam and Eve.
    6. God created everything, seen and unseen.
      1. 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
        And the heavenly host bows down before You
        .
      2. Col. 1:16: For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. 
    7. Scripture affirms the direct creation of Adam and Eve.
    8. Wayne Grudem writes:
    9. The Direct Creation of Adam and Eve. The Bible also teaches that God created Adam and Eve in a special, personal way. “The Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being” (Gen. 2:7). After that, God created Eve from Adam’s body: “So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh; and the rib which the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man” (Gen. 2:21–22). God apparently let Adam know something of what had happened, for Adam said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” (Gen. 2:23)[1]
    10. In Genesis chapter 2 the Bible gives great detail about God creating Adam and Eve.
    11. Now, I know that I am being somewhat simplistic. Today, my goal to teach that God created everything good. That is important to the Biblical worldview. Today, my goal is not to teach on evolution versus creation and the evidence for a young earth creation. I have preached and taught on that before and will again. Today, my focus is that the Bible teaches that God created and He created everything as good.
    12. I don’t think I have to convince you about the importance of creation. I think I have to convince you of the importance to test everything (1 Thess. 5:21). Every form of media is trying to counter the Christian worldview.
  2. Death, pain, and destruction is not how God meant for things to be.
    • If you read through Genesis 1 and 2, we see that God created everything good.
    • There was no death.
    • Listen, we were not created to die. In the Garden of Eden there was the tree of life (Genesis 2:9) and because of the tree of life humans could live forever. Genesis 3:22 shows that the tree of life is what allows us to live forever.
    • Some day God will restore creation and we see in Revelation 2:7; 22:2, 14, and 19 that the tree of life will be part of the new heaven and the new earth.
  3. Apply
    • God created everything, we must worship Him as the creator.
    • God is the creator, this means that He owns everything.
    • God is the author of life, this means that we must submit to Him as the ruler.
    • God is the author and that means that He has a purpose in creating the world and us.
    • If we have a purpose that means we are designed, and life is NOT meaningless.
    • Being that we are not the author of life we do not have the authority to destroy life.
    • Being that we are created this means that life is sacred.
    • We must not insult God by failure to attribute things to Him.
    • We must trust God; why shouldn’t we, if He is powerful enough to create everything we see, then He is trustworthy.
    • God created. All of creation, seen and unseen comes from God.
    • We must NOT worship creation. Worship God.
    • God created, we must not be afraid, He is the creator and He is in charge.
    • When we see beauty, we must worship God who created it.
    • God created the world good, this means that when we see pain and suffering and bad things this is not as it was meant to be.

1 Thess. 5:21 shares that we are to examine everything carefully.

 J. GRESHAM MACHEN shares:

False ideas are the greatest obstacles to the reception of the gospel. We may preach with all the fervor of a reformer and yet succeed only in winning a straggler here or there, if we permit the whole collective thought of a nation or of the world to be controlled by ideas which by the resistless force of logic, prevent Christianity from being regarded as anything more than a harmless delusion.[2]

Where did history come from? God created everything and everything was created good.

My challenge to you is that you go home and test things. This week tests every form of media: movies, music, news, books, and notice what worldview it is teaching. Make sure that you hold true to the Biblical worldview.

Pray


[1] Wayne A. Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; Zondervan Pub. House, 2004), 262–314.

[2] Colson, Charles. How Now Shall We Live? (p. 27). Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

Creation: Everything was Created Good, part 1 (Genesis chapters 1-2; Psalm 8; 19)

Creation: Everything was Created Good, Part 1 (Genesis chapters 1-2; Psalm 8; 19)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church on Sunday, October 4, 2020

In Chuck Colson’s book, “How Now Shall We Live” he writes about a father going on a trip to Disney World with his daughter. He planned the trip with his daughter because he was having problems with her. They had found marijuana in her purse. Additionally, she was no longer interested in church. Then, as they walked through Disney World they had time to talk. However, first he noticed something on one particular ride. They were on a ride in which Bill Nye, was talking about how everything developed. But he traced everything back to a naturalistic worldview. Nye talked about how everything simply evolved the way it was. The dad then realized the problem. He then realized that ever since kindergarten his daughter’s education had been against a foundational Biblical teaching. He was questioning what happened with her faith, but ever since kindergarten she had been taught at school that we are merely accidents. She had been taught macro-evolution at school. Macro-evolution means large scale evolution. Macro-evolution means that everything has evolved across species.

I am in a sermon series on having a Biblical worldview. The Bible exhorts us to Examine everything carefully (1 Thess. 5:21). Every form of media is giving us a worldview. Every news source, every movie, every video game, every form of literature, every commercial, really everything that we watch, read, or listen to is giving us a worldview. Certainly, some things are fine. Some commercials, or books, or movies, or news sources are not corrupting our worldview. However, we must test them. This is important for us as well as our children. This is important for the church.

Everyone has a worldview, but most of us do not think about our worldview. It is under the surface. Ravi Zacharias argued that a coherent worldview must be able to satisfactorily answer four questions: that of origin, meaning of life, morality, and destiny. He said that while every major religion makes exclusive claims about truth, the Christian faith is unique in its ability to answer all four of these questions. Further, Taking it a step further, the three tests for truth must be applied to any worldview: logical consistency, empirical adequacy, and experiential relevance. When submitted to these tests, the Christian message is utterly unique and meets the demand for truth.[1]

So, today, we are dealing with the origin question. Today’s sermon was too long and so I have decided to split it in two parts.

Today, my theme is that everything was created good. Today, the focus will be on God as the creator and next week we will spend more time on Genesis 1.

My application is: examine everything carefully.

Let’s read Genesis 1:1, 31:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Verse 31:

God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

  1. Everything was created good.
    1. A biblical worldview teaches that everything was created good (Genesis 1 and 2); creation is now fallen because of sin (Genesis 3); Jesus has redeemed us (John 3:16); but creation is not restored yet. Creation will be restored eventually (Rev. 21 and 22).
    2. In Genesis chapter 1 we see that God created everything. God created everything and at the end of the week of creation He looked upon His creation and everything was good, but not just good, it was very good.
    3. There was no death, there was no pain, or suffering. We see that does not enter the Biblical narrative until Genesis 3.
    4. Psalm 8 is about how awesome God’s creation of humanity is. Then, we have Psalm 19 also about God’s awesome creation. Then, we have Psalm 139 about how God creates a baby in his mother’s womb.
    5. We are intricately woven together.
    6. We need to notice a few things. We must notice that God created and we must notice that creation was good.
    7. God created.
      1. God created. Things were created by God, not naturalism (the world as we see it). Realize this. Naturalism would say that everything just evolved, totally evolved. Colson writes: Every worldview has to begin somewhere, has to begin with a theory of how the universe began. Naturalism begins with the fundamental assumption that the forces of nature alone are adequate to explain everything that exists. Whereas the Bible says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1), naturalists say that in the beginning were the particles, along with blind, purposeless natural laws. That nature created the universe out of nothing, through a quantum fluctuation. That nature formed our planet, with its unique ability to support life.
      2. That nature drew together the chemicals that formed the first living cell. And naturalism says that nature acted through Darwinian mechanisms to evolve complex life-forms and, finally, human beings, with the marvels of consciousness and intelligence. Naturalistic scientists try to give the impression that they are fair-minded and objective, implying that religious people are subjective and biased in favor of their personal beliefs. But this is a ruse, for naturalism is as much a philosophy, a worldview, a personal belief system as any religion is. Naturalism begins with premises that cannot be tested empirically, such as the assumption that nature is “all that is or ever was or ever will be,” to use a line from the late Carl Sagan’s popular science program Cosmos. This is not a scientific statement, for there is no conceivable way it could be tested. It is a philosophy.[2]
  • Further, Colson writes:
  • In one of his many best-selling books, Sagan mockingly describes the Christian God as “an outsized, light-skinned male with a long white beard, sitting on a throne somewhere up there in the sky, busily tallying the fall of every sparrow.” Sagan regards the cosmos as the only self-existing, eternal being: “A universe that is infinitely old requires no Creator.” On point after point, Sagan offers a naturalistic substitute for traditional religion. While Christianity teaches that we are children of God, Sagan says that “we are, in the most profound sense, children of the Cosmos,” for it is the cosmos that gave us birth and daily sustains us. In a passage that is almost certainly autobiographical, Sagan hints that the astronomer’s urge to explore the cosmos is motivated by a mystical recognition that the chemicals in our bodies were originally forged in space—that outer space is our origin and our true home: “Some part of our being knows this is from where we came. We long to return.” And the astronomer’s “awe” is nothing less than religious worship. “Our ancestors worshiped the Sun, and they were far from foolish.” For if we must worship something, “does it not make sense to revere the Sun and the stars?”[3]
  • One more Colson quote about naturalism: This religion is being taught everywhere in the public square today—even in the books your child reads in school or checks out of the public library. Not long ago, Nancy picked up a Berenstain Bears book for her young son. In the book, the Bear family invites the young reader to join them for a nature walk. We start out on a sunny morning, and after running into a few spiderwebs, we read in capital letters sprawled across a sunrise, glazed with light rays, the words: Nature is “all that IS, or WAS, or EVER WILL BE!”[4]
  • There are many problems with naturalism, but it does give people a worldview without God and that is why I think it is so popular.
  • Chuck Colson’s book, How Now Shall We Live gives great detail of the problems with naturalism. One of which is it is based on macro/ large scale evolution. But there is a quote which I like [Design] is the most empirical of the arguments for God [based on] observational premises about the kind of order we discover in nature (FREDERICK FERRÉ)[5]
  • I want to share a few more things to add to that and these come from Chuck Colson and Nancy Pearsey:

The late Christian evangelist Francis Schaeffer used to offer an argument against evolution that was simple, easy to grasp, and devastating: Suppose a fish evolves lungs. What happens then? Does it move up to the next evolutionary stage? Of course not. It drowns.

Living things cannot simply change piecemeal—a new organ here, a new limb there. An organism is an integrated system, and any isolated change in the system is more likely to be harmful than helpful. If a fish’s gills were to begin mutating into a set of lungs, it would be a disaster, not an advantage. The only way to turn a fish into a land-dwelling animal is to transform it all at once, with a host of interrelated changes happening at the same time—not only lungs but also coadapted changes in the skeleton, the circulatory system, and so on.

The term to describe this kind of interdependent system is irreducible complexity. And the fact that organisms are irreducibly complex is yet another argument that they could not have evolved piecemeal, one step at a time, as Darwin proposed. Darwinian theory states that all living structures evolved in small, gradual steps from simpler structures—feathers from scales, wings from forelegs, blossoms from leaves, and so on. But anything that is irreducibly complex cannot evolve in gradual steps, and thus its very existence refutes Darwin’s theory.

The concept of irreducible complexity was developed by Michael Behe, a Lehigh University professor of biochemistry, in his 1993 book Darwin’s Black Box. Behe’s homey example of irreducible complexity is the mousetrap. A mousetrap cannot be assembled gradually, he points out. You cannot start with a wooden platform and catch a few mice, add a spring and catch a few more mice, add a hammer, and so on, each addition making the mousetrap function better. No, to even start catching mice, all the parts must be assembled from the outset. The mousetrap doesn’t work until all its parts are present and working working together. 

Today we can confidently say that his theory has broken down, for we now know that nature is full of examples of complex organs that could not possibly have been formed by numerous, slight modifications—that is, organs that are irreducibly complex. Take the example of the bat. Evolutionists propose that the bat evolved from a small, mouselike creature whose forelimbs (the “front toes”) developed into wings by gradual steps. But picture the steps: As the “front toes” grow longer and the skin begins to grow between them, the animal can no longer run without stumbling over them; and yet the forelimbs are not long enough to function as wings. And so, during most of its hypothetical transitional stages, the poor creature would have limbs too long for running and too short for flying. It would flop along helplessly and soon become extinct. There is no conceivable pathway for bat wings to be formed in gradual stages. And this conclusion is confirmed by the fossil record, where we find no transitional fossils leading up to bats. The first time bats appear in the fossil record, they are already fully formed and virtually identical to modern bats.[6]

Another example of irreducible complexity is the human eye. It could not develop in stages. My point is that God created, and we will come back to that in a minute, but let’s move on.

  • If God created then, we have a purpose.
  • God created: this is NOT nihilism which means life has no purpose. We have a purpose because God created us. We are created and if we walk through Genesis chapters 1 and 2 we see God giving man and woman a purpose. Man and woman were called to tend the garden of Eden (Genesis 2:15). We are still called by God to steward the planet. We are called to have children, that is still part of our purpose.
  • God created: this is NOT existentialism, which means I must find meaning in my life because my life has no meaning.
  • No, God gives us meaning to our life. God created us.
  • God created: this is NOT hedonism: life has no purpose, have fun, go for it! Funny as it is, those who make life all about their own purpose are the most unhappy.
  • No, life has a purpose and it is not simply about our fun.
  • God created: this is NOT humanism, I must make the world a better place for humans.
  • No, God is the creator. Humanism is closely linked with naturalism, which I already mentioned.
  • God created: this is NOT transcendentalism which is nature is God, not pantheism, not panentheism.
  • God created: this is NOT Pantheism which teaches that all is God. “Pan” means “all” and “theism” means God.
  • God created: this is not panentheism which teaches that everything is in God. “Pan” means “all” and “en” means “in” and “theism” mean God.
  • God created: this IS Theism

Wrap-up:

Do you understand that when we take God out of the picture it does not work. I have shown you a fraction of the evidence against macro-evolution, further, the Bible makes clear that God is the creator and we will talk more about that next week.

Further, understand, when God is taken out of the picture it makes life meaningless, purposeless. When we take God of the picture it leads to what our society is experiencing today. Right now, there is no authority, why is that? It is because they have taken God out of society. There is now no right and wrong because God has been taken out. The Biblical worldview begins with God creating everything good.

1 Thess. 5:21 shares that we are to examine everything carefully.

Test everything with the Biblical worldview.

Ravi Zacharias shares:

Common is the sentiment among recent college graduates that they went in feeling like they knew something, and leave realizing, in fact, how little they know. I remember what this felt like, walking down the aisle to accept my diploma, wondering at the irony. Yet as uncomfortable as that moment of recognition might be, I am convinced that the thought is an important place at which to arrive.

Ravi Zacharias tells of being a graduate student when the new encyclopedia Britannica was released in its fifteenth edition. It was a massive collection that had taken fourteen years to produce, and he remembers being fascinated by the statistics: two hundred advisors, three hundred editors, four thousand contributors, over a hundred thousand entries, thirty-four million dollars, forty-three million words. Even so, in the last pages of that work, one of the editors had the audacity to conclude: “Herein contains the entirety of human knowledge.” The number of outdated encyclopedias lying in thrift stores and recycling bins does not help their point.[7]

 God created everything. Test everything, cling to a Biblical worldview.

Prayer

[1] https://www.rzim.org/read/just-thinking-magazine/think-again-deep-questions

[2] Colson, Charles. How Now Shall We Live? (p. 52). Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

[3] Ibid, 53.

[4] Ibid, 54.

[5] Ibid, 57.

[6] Ibid, pages 87-89.

[7] https://us5.campaign-archive.com/?e=dbeab94ce5&u=45b75085e6ab57e339ea89d67&id=eb5a919869

The Culture War, Be a Culture Warrior (1 Chronicles 12:32; James 4:4; 1 Thess. 5:21-22)

The Culture War, Be a Culture Warrior (1 Chronicles 12:32; James 4:4; 1 Thess. 5:21-22)

We are at war. Whether or not you realize it, we are at war. We are not in a physical war, but a spiritual and cognitive war. We are in a war that has to do with our thinking. Our war has more to do with our worldview. A worldview has to do with where we get our values from. How do we know right from wrong? How do we view the world? Think about it?

  • What is wrong with the world?
  • Why do we need police?
  • Why is stealing wrong? Without the Bible, how do we answer this question?
  • Why do we need order?
  • Why do we need government?
  • What is the purpose of marriage? When was the first marriage?
  • What is the purpose of work? Why do we need to work? Is everyone supposed to work?
  • Why do we have problems and how do we help those in need?
  • What do we do with people who are a drain on society?
  • What is right? What is wrong? Why?

I want to submit to you that we can only find adequate answers to those questions from the Bible. Without the Bible we are lost. I want to talk about a Biblical worldview.

So, my challenge to you today is:

Be a Culture Warrior.

  1. What is a worldview?
    1. A worldview is how one views the world. We all have a worldview.
    2. Most do not recognize their worldview. Our worldview is under the surface, but it is there.
    3. What comes into your mind when you think about something reflects your worldview.
    4. What comes into your mind when you hear the term abortion reflects your worldview.
    5. What comes into your mind when you hear the word “same-sex marriage” reflects your worldview.
    6. How you cope with death reflects your worldview.
    7. What you think about work and worship and church and governance reflects your worldview.
    8. What we see in the Bible is that God created everything good. We see that in Genesis 1 and 2. Then in Genesis 3 sin entered the world.
    9. We live in a fallen world.
    10. In the Gospels we see redemption. Jesus has redeemed us, but the world is still fallen. The world is not restored yet.
    11. A Biblical worldview goes in this order: creation-fall-redemption-restoration. The world is redeemed, but not restored.
  2. Fight the fight.
    1. There is a fight. Acknowledge it. Chuck Colson writes the following:
    2. Philosopher Richard Weaver has it right in the title of his well-known book: Ideas have consequences.[1] It is the great ideas that inform the mind, fire the imagination, move the heart, and shape a culture. History is little more than the recording of the rise and fall of the great ideas—the worldviews—that form our values and move us to act.[2]
    3. The culture war is not just about abortion, homosexual rights, or the decline of public education. These are only the skirmishes. The real war is a cosmic struggle between worldviews—between the Christian worldview and the various secular and spiritual worldviews arrayed against it. This is what we must understand if we are going to be effective both in evangelizing our world today and in transforming it to reflect the wisdom of the Creator.[3]
    4. The world is divided not so much by geographic boundaries as by religious and cultural traditions, by people’s most deeply held beliefs—by worldviews. So argued the distinguished Harvard scholar Samuel Huntington in a celebrated article a few years ago.[4] And Christians would agree. Because we are religious creatures, our lives are defined by our ultimate beliefs more sharply than by any other factor. The drama of history is played out along the frontiers of great belief systems as they ebb and flow.[5]
    5. Huntington predicted a clash between the worldviews of three major traditional civilizations: the Western world, the Islamic world, and the Confucian East. But one of his former students, political scientist James Kurth, took issue with him, contending that the most significant clash would be within Western civilization itself—between those who adhere to a Judeo-Christian framework and those who favor postmodernism and multiculturalism.[6],[7]
    6. We could go deeper with those thoughts and we will in the coming weeks. For today. I urge you, recognize the struggle and fight it.
    7. Understand the dichotomy between the world’s ways and God’s ways (James 4:4).
    8. James 4:4 says this: You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
      1. So, we must recognize that being a friend of the world makes us an enemy with God.
      2. We cannot have both. God’s ways are right, not the world’s ways.
  • Recognize this and fight the tendencies to go the way of the world.
  1. Test everything (1 Thess 5:21).
    1. 1 Thess. 5:21 says this: But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good…
    2. This means we must test, or examine, everything.
    3. We will talk more about this when we get to the applications, but for now, when you have television on, test the message. Don’t just watch a movie and let it feed you messages without them being examined.
    • Realize the affluence portrayed in television can be just as destructive as sexual immorality.
    1. Realize if you teach your children to maintain sexual purity and wait on sex until marriage but allow them to be entertained by media with co-habiting couples and sexual relationships that is teaching them contrary to your teaching.
    2. Realize, if you are teaching your children about God and the spiritual life but their schools and their media are teaching that they are accidents that evolved, that will pull them away from God.
    3. Test/examine everything.
    • We test with the Bible. We test with the Biblical Worldview. Let the Bible be your glasses, your corrective lenses to properly see the world.
    1. Abstain from every form of evil (1 Thess. 5:22).
  1. 1 Thess. 5:22 reads like this: abstain from every form of evil.
    1. This means to abstain from every form of evil. This is not apparent evil, but real evil.
    2. To do this we must test everything first.
    3. To test/examine everything we must know God’s Word.
  2. Study culture (1 Chron. 12:32).
    1. 1 Chron. 12:32 says this: Of the sons of Issachar, men who understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel should do, their chiefs were two hundred; and all their kinsmen were at their command.
    2. This means we cannot ignore things. We should be like the men of Issachar.
    3. Study, test, examine, abstain. Cling to the Biblical worldview.
  • Apply:
    • We must test everything (1 Thess 5:21).
      • This means that we must understand that every article, every movie, every book, every teacher, every institution, every politician, and every other form of entertainment, or influence has a worldview. This worldview needs to be tested. Most of the time this worldview does not line up with the Christian worldview.
        • Think of the worldview of a show on Smithsonian.
        • I have been watching Aerial America with my kids. When they bring up evolutionary content, I must pause it and talk with them about it.
  • But what about more innocent things? What about Christmas programs about Santa Claus? I must pause the program and talk with them about the real meaning of Christmas.
  • Many of our world’s Christmas movies are NOT at all about Jesus. That does not mean we can’t enjoy them, it just means we must recognize that and make our focus on Jesus.
  • We must test everything with the Bible.
  • We must teach our children to test everything too.
  • This means that we must first study the Bible.
  • Secondly, this means that we must study culture. we cannot put our head in the sand.
  • We must test the movies and shows our children watch.
  • We must test the books our children read.
  • We must test the books we read or listen to.
  • We must test the news media that we are listening to, reading, or watching.
  • We must test the politicians that we vote for. We must remember the lesser of two evils is still evil.
  • We must test the music our children listen to.
  • We must test the schools our children are taught at.
  • We must test the teachers influencing our children.
  • We must test the games our children play.
  • We must test everything.
  • We must abstain from every form of evil (1 Thess 5:22).
    • This means real evil, not apparent evil.
    • As we test, we must prayerfully discern when to abstain. When it is black and white evil it must be abstained from.
    • When the purpose of the movie or the book is evil, we must abstain.
    • This requires the test.
    • This requires NOT making excuses.
  • Like the men of Issachar, we must study to understand the times in order to know what to do (1 Chronicles 12:32).
    • This means that we cannot bury our head in the sand.
    • We must offset bad news with the good news of the Gospel.
    • We must rejoice in the Lord (Phil. 4:4).
    • We must remember where our hope is.
  • We must recognize the dichotomy between the world’s ways and God’s ways (James 4:4).
    • This must be first.
    • We must recognize the world’s ways are not right. God’s ways are right.
    • We must NOT be content with the world.

Close:

Here is your challenge: This week live out 1 Thess. 5:21, test everything. Think about every form of media and the message it is telling you. See what you come up with.

But let me come back to the questions which I began with. As I said, we can only find adequate answers from the Bible. Let me give references to these questions. You can look up the references later.

  • What is wrong with the world?
    • In Genesis 3 sin entered the world.
    • A Biblical worldview goes in this order: creation-fall-redemption-restoration. The world is redeemed, but not restored.
  • Why do we need police?
    • In my opinion, we need police because we live in a fallen world.
    • Things were created good, but creation fell in Genesis 3.
    • Because of the fall we need government, we need police, we need the military, and we need law and order.
  • Why is stealing wrong? Without the Bible, how do we answer this question?
    • In my opinion, God gave us morality. God gave us right from wrong. The Ten Commandments put the morality in writing (Exodus 20:15).
    • There is no way to know right from wrong apart from the Bible. We could argue that common sense says that stealing is wrong, and I agree; however, where did we get the common sense? God gave us that morality.
    • God gave us a moral standard and that is written in His Word.
  • Why do we need order?
    • Again, Genesis 3 says that we live in a fallen world.
    • However, even in the Garden of Eden God commanded Adam to tend it (Genesis 2:15).
  • Why do we need government?
    • I answered this above.
    • We live in a fallen world (Genesis 3).
    • It does seem that there will be a type of government in the New Jerusalem, but that will then not be because of sin, but for responsibility and order.
    • Romans 13:1-7 talks of the need for government. Also, Exodus-Deuteronomy is setting up governance for Israel.
  • What is the purpose of marriage? When was the first marriage?
    • The first marriage was in Genesis 2.
    • The purpose of marriage was, and remains, companionship (Gen. 2:18) and reproduction (Gen. 1:28). That is somewhat over-simplifying things, but the point is, from the Bible, there was a purpose in marriage. Man and woman complement one-another for a purpose.
    • Marriage was the first institution. Marriage preceded government. We had one family and marriage was their governance. Then we had many families and we needed common governance.
  • What is the purpose of work? Why do we need to work? Is everyone supposed to work?
    • In Genesis 2:15 God gave Adam purpose prior to the fall.
    • In 2 Thess 3:10 we are told if one does not work they shall not eat.
    • Clearly, the Bible tells us to help those in need. Throughout Deuteronomy and the Old Testament the widows, the orphans, and caring for those in need repeatedly comes up.
    • In Acts 6, Paul instructs them to take care of those in need. 1 Timothy 5 Paul instructs on the care of widows.
  • Why do we have problems and how do we help those in need?
    • Again, we have a sin problem and that has made all of creation fallen (Romans 8:19-22).
    • We are told to love God and love people. We are told to help our enemies (Luke 10; Romans 12:14ff).
  • What do we do with people who are a drain on society?
    • Serve them, help them.
    • If we are all created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27), and if God is the creator (see Psalm 139), we do not have the right to take life.
  • What is right? What is wrong? Why?
    • The metanarrative of Scripture teaches this.
    • The Bible is a metanarrative, this means it is a grand story, made up of smaller stories.
    • The Bible teaches the “why” as well.

Seek the Lord, test everything.

Prayer

[1] Richard M. Weaver, Ideas Have Consequences (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984).

[2] Colson, Charles. How Now Shall We Live? (p. 18). Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

[3] Colson, Charles. How Now Shall We Live? (p. 18). Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

[4] Samuel Huntington, “The Clash of Civilizations,” Journal of Foreign Affairs (summer 1993): 22. Huntington identified the major power blocs as the Western, Islamic, Chinese, Hindu, Orthodox, Japanese, and possibly African regions.

Colson, Charles. How Now Shall We Live? (p. 494). Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

[5] Colson, Charles. How Now Shall We Live? (p. 19). Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

[6] James Kurth, “The Real Clash of Civilization,” Washington Times, 4 October 1994.

[7] Colson, Charles. How Now Shall We Live? (p. 19). Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

Think on These Things (Phil. 4:8)

We have been on a sermon series on Phil. 4:4-8 and today we wrap up that series.

Four weeks ago, we talked about Rejoicing in the Lord Always (Phil 4:4)

Three weeks ago, Let Your Gentle Spirit Be Known to All Men (Phil 4:5)

Two weeks ago: Be Anxious for Nothing, Instead Pray (Phil 4:6)

Last week: How to Have the Peace of God (Phil. 4:7)

Today, Think on These Things (Phil. 4:8)

Think about it, if we could control our thinking we would have a lot of our problems conquered, wouldn’t we?

Whatever gets your attention gets you! Whatever we think about flavors our whole outlook. The human mind always finds an object to fix its attention on. We control the choice of that object. As Paul wrote to the Philippians, he exhorted them to discipline their minds and set their attention on godly things. [1]

Let’s read Phil. 4:4-8:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

  1. Think on these things.
    1. Paul begins with “finally.”
    2. Paul has told them to rejoice in the Lord always.
    3. Paul has told them to let their gentleness be made known to all.
    4. Paul has told them the Lord is near.
    5. Paul has told them to pray about all things instead of being anxious.
    6. Paul has told them to pray with thanksgiving.
    7. Paul has told them then they will have the peace of God that surpasses all understanding.
    8. Paul now tells them what else to fill their minds with.
    9. So, our minds should be filled with rejoicing, praying, and thanksgiving. But in case we are still having problems we can think on the things listed in verse 8.
      1. Think on what is true. Things you can rely on; things that are certain. Examples include the Bible and the truths displayed in God’s creation. Dwelling on false or uncertain things can confuse your perspective and get you off course.
      2. Think on what is honorable. Things that are highly moral; honorable and awe inspiring. Examples include “taking the high road” or “turning the other cheek” when tested. Vengeance, retaliation and resentment make you unworthy.
  • Think on what is right. Things that are proper and just. This includes our high calling to treat each other righteously and with justice. Taking unfair advantage of a person is wrong.
  1. Think on things that are pure. Things that are clean, unstained or free from defects. Examples include sexual innocence or motivations that are untouched by worldly influences. Sordid, shabby or dirty thoughts separate us from God.
  2. Think on things that are lovely. Things that inspire love or are spiritually attractive. Examples include sympathy, patience, forgiveness, and adoration. Hateful or divisive thoughts only destroy.
  3. The rest of the verse is a summary section. Think on anything that is of good repute. Think on anything that is excellent or worthy of praise.
  4. In 2 Cor. 10:5, Paul talked about taking every thought into captivity into obedience to Christ. That is what we must do.
  5. In Col. 3:1, Paul wrote to set our minds on things above. That is what we must do.
  6. We must set apart our thinking.
  7. We do this through thinking on the things listed. We do this through rejoicing instead of grumbling (Phil. 4:4 and 2:14).
  8. We do this through being gentle instead of angry (Phil. 4:5).
  9. We do this through our prayer life and thanksgiving.
  10. We could go further. We do this by living out Romans 12:1-2: making our bodies living sacrifices…
  11. We do this through living out Phil. 2:3-4: consider others more important than yourselves.
  12. We do this by humbly following the Lord.
  13. John Piper shares: the peace of God results in a certain type of thinking and practicing. This does not mean the “peace of God” was not with you before. The peace of God is when He reigns in our hearts and that results in a certain type of thinking.
  14. If we have the peace of God, He changes our thinking.
  15. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus stressed purity of thought. Matt 5:28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
  16. Heart means the intellect, affections and the will. Jesus said adultery (and other sins) begin in the mind before an outward act is performed. If a person mentally decides to do evil, although the act is not done because of lack of opportunity, he or she is still fully responsible for the guilt of that act. Godly thinking helps keep us from sinning.[2]
  17. Applications:[3]
    1. Don’t let a disturbing thought upset you. Give it to God in prayer (Philippians 4:6).
    2. Give thanks for the opportunity to learn and grow in every situation (Philippians 4:6).
    3. Fill your mind with good thoughts. Be proactive in your thought life, rather than reactive (Philippians 4:8-9).
    4. Remove things from your life that tempt you to think wrong thoughts (Philippians 4:9; Matthew 18:8).

Swindoll shares the following:

Thoughts are the thermostat that regulates what we accomplish in life. If I feed my mind upon doubt, disbelief, and discouragement, that is precisely the kind of day my body will experience. If I adjust my thermostat forward to thoughts filled with vision, vitality, and victory, I can count on that kind of day. Thus, you and I become what we think about.

Neither Dale Carnegie nor Norman Vincent Peale originated such a message. God did. “For as [a man] thinks within himself, so he is” (Prov. 23:7). “Therefore, prepare your minds for action” (1 Peter 1:13).

The mind is a “thought factory” producing thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of thoughts each day. Production in your thought factory is under the charge of two foremen. One we shall call Mr. Triumph, the other Mr. Defeat.

Mr. Triumph specializes in producing reasons why you can face life victoriously, why you can handle what comes your way, why you’re more than able to conquer. Mr. Defeat is an expert in the opposite. He develops reasons why you cannot succeed, why you’re inadequate, why you should give up and give in to worry, failure, discouragement, and inferiority.

Give a positive signal, and Mr. Triumph will see to it that one encouraging, edifying thought after another floods your mind. But Mr. Defeat is always standing by, awaiting a negative signal (which he would rather you call “reality” or “common sense!”), and when he gets it, he cranks out discouraging, destructive, demoralizing thoughts that will soon have you convinced you can’t or won’t or shouldn’t.

Thoughts, positive or negative, grow stronger when fertilized with constant repetition. That may explain why so many who are gloomy and gray stay in that mood . . . and why those who are cheery and enthusiastic continue to be so.

What kind of performance would your car deliver if every morning before you left for work you scooped up a handful of dirt and put it in your crankcase? The engine would soon be coughing and sputtering. Ultimately it would refuse to start. The same is true of your life. Thoughts that are narrow, self-destructive, and abrasive produce needless wear and tear on your mental motor. They send you off the road while others drive past.

You need only one foreman in your mental factory: Mr. Triumph is his name. He is eager to assist you and available to all the members of God’s family.

His real name is the Holy Spirit, the Helper.

If Mr. Defeat is busily engaged as the foreman of your factory, fire yours and hire ours! You will be amazed at how smoothly the plant will run under His leadership.

Excerpted from Day by Day with Charles Swindoll, Copyright © 2000 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. (Thomas Nelson Publishers). All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.[4]

Pray

[1] Discipleship Training, Level 2, week 7

[2] I am grateful for Discipleship Training, Level 2, week 7 for these

[3] I am grateful for Discipleship Training, Level 2, week 7 for these

[4] https://www.insight.org/resources/daily-devotional/individual/thoughts1

How to Have the Peace of God (Phil. 4:7)

How many of us desire peace?

Do you have peace? 

Peace is that calm of mind that is not ruffled by adversity, overclouded by a remorseful conscience, or disturbed by fear.

Horatio Spafford, a businessman in Chicago, sent his wife and three daughters to Europe by ship while he remained back in the States, intending to join them later. En route there was a terrible storm and a shipwreck during which their three daughters drowned. Mrs. Spafford made it to safety and wired back saying, “All of our daughters have been lost. Only I have been saved.”

He took the next vessel. As they came near the place where his daughters drowned, the skipper of the ship pointed to the place where the other ship had gone down. It was there on the deck of the ship he wrote these stirring words:

When peace like a river attendeth my way,

When sorrows like sea billows roll;

Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,

“It is well, it is well with my soul.”[1]

I view anxiety and worry the opposite of peace. These past few weeks we have been talking about how to have the peace of God. Today, we will put them together a little bit more.

Three weeks ago we talked about Rejoicing in the Lord Always (Phil 4:4)

Two weeks ago, Let Your Gentle Spirit Be Known to All Men (Phil 4:5)

Last week: Be Anxious for Nothing, Instead Pray (Phil 4:6)

Today: How to Have the Peace of God (Phil. 4:7)

Next week, Think on These Things (Phil. 4:8)

Today, let’s focus on the peace of God.

Let’s read Phil 4:6-7:

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

  • Notice that the peace of God is a result of the previous verse, or even verses.
    • The peace of God is a result of rejoicing in the Lord (Phil. 4:4).
    • The peace of God is a result of your gentleness being known to all (Phil. 4:5).
      • Now, you may say, “How are they connected?” You may think you can understand rejoicing being connected to God’s peace, but not gentleness.
      • Think about it this way. Do you ever regret things you say in an argument? I have. Well, those regrets steal your peace.
  • Gentleness does not steal your peace.
  • At the end of the day if you can think that you have not wronged anyone, you have not lost your temper, you have not cursed anyone, lied to anyone, or cheated anyone you will have more peace.
  • Gentleness does not steal your peace, it adds to your peace.
  • The peace of God is the result of your petitionary prayer with thankfulness.
  • Now, peace of God is also connected to Phil. 4:8: Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.
  • We will talk about that passage next week.
  • When we are anxious, we lose our peace.
  • When we worry, we lose our peace.
  • But when we give those things to God, we receive peace.
  • When we reframe things, and change our perspective to focus on God, we will have more peace.
  • When we worship God, we have peace.
  • Look at this verse about the peace of God.
    • God’s peace surpasses understanding.
    • How could Horatio Spafford write that hymn after his three daughters died? God’s peace was with him.
    • How can Joni Eareckson Tada live serving the Lord as a quadriplegic? The peace of God.
    • How could Annie Johnson Flint write “He Giveth More Grace” when she was an invalid with many health issues? She had the peace of God.
    • God’s peace surpasses understanding.
    • This is not a peace as the world needs. This is not a peace from war. This is an inner peace which we receive spiritually.
    • This peace will guard our hearts and minds. I think by saying that Paul is saying that the peace will guard our whole person.
    • The term used for guard is a military term. This type of guard has to do with a soldier on a wall guarding a city.
    • The peace of God will guard us and the peace of God is guarding us in Christ Jesus.
  • Applications
    1. We need to quit worrying about things we cannot change. Those things are stealing our peace.
    2. We need to quit getting angry about things we cannot change. Those things are stealing our peace.
    3. We need to quit living in fear. Turn those fears over to God. Those fears are stealing our peace.
    4. What is the worst that can happen? You may die of COVID-19. Death is complete healing and perfect paradise in Heaven (Phil 1:23).
    5. We need to pray about everything and trust in the Lord.
    6. We need to pray with the body of Christ.
    7. We will not have the peace that God wants us to have if we are not connected to the body of Christ (Ecc 4:11-12).

You know what robs our peace more than anything? Worry. Where does worry come from? Pride.

Invictus

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
 

William Ernest Henley

We are not the master of our own ship. God is in charge.

Go to Him with prayer. Rejoice in Him. Pray for gentleness. Surrender to Him. You need help. Pray with other believers.

Let’s pray now.

[1] Charles R. Swindoll, The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart and 1501 Other Stories (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2016), 431–432.

Be Anxious for Nothing, Instead Pray (Phil 4:6)

I have never seen a gravestone that reads, “He died of worry.” But some of them ought to read that way. How many illnesses are directly connected with our worries, our anxieties, trying to take the responsibility that was designed for God to handle. If you can’t handle it, why are you trying to handle it? If you can’t change it, why are you worrying about it? But we do, don’t we?

In fact, I have a friend who worries when she doesn’t have something to worry about. She has to have that security. I think she keeps a mental list of those reserved areas, then when she runs out of the conscious ones she draws on the unconscious. And she just brings them on, just like ammunition in a machine gun, just to fire them into her life.

Corrie Ten Boom, for the last two years of her life, spent it in our congregation in Fullerton, California. It was a wonderful experience to have this godly woman in our midst during that extended period of time as we literally watched her die. She said on one occasion, “Worry does not empty tomorrow of sorrows; it empties today of strength.”

A woman worried for forty years that she would die of cancer. She finally died of pneumonia at age seventy. She wasted thirty-three years worrying about the wrong thing.

—John Haggai, How to Win over Worry

As you may recall. I am preaching a short series on Phil. 4:4-8. I am hoping this helps us dealing with the times we are living in. The year 2020 has been tough, no one would argue that. However, maybe during this tough year we can draw nearer to God (James 4:8) like never before.

Two weeks ago we talked about Rejoicing in the Lord Always (Phil 4:4)

Last week, Let Your Gentle Spirit Be Known to All Men (Phil 4:5)

Today: Be Anxious for Nothing, Instead Pray (Phil 4:6)

Next week: How to Have the Peace of God (Phil. 4:7)

September 20, 2020: Think on These Things (Phil. 4:8)

Today, let’s read Phil. 4:6. My theme is to pray instead of being anxious.

Phil. 4:6:

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

  • Paul tells them not be anxious but to pray giving their request to God with thanksgiving.
  • Not to be anxious is difficult.
  • One stressed-out secretary told her boss: “When this rush is over, I’m going to have a nervous breakdown. I earned it, I deserve it, and nobody’s going to take it from me.” —Billy Graham, The Secret of Happiness
  • It doesn’t matter how great the pressure is. What really matters is where the pressure lies, whether it comes between me and God or whether it presses me nearer His heart. —Howard Taylor, Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret
  • But Paul gives an antidote to anxiety and even to the time we are spending being anxious.
  • What is anxiety? It is worry. Instead of worry Paul calls us to prayer.
  • How is that working out for you?
  • Do you find yourself anxious lately, or more anxious? Pray more.
  • C. H. Spurgeon was showing some visitors over the Tabernacle (London). After taking them to the main part of the building, he said, “Come, and I’ll show you the heating apparatus.” Imagine their surprise, when he took them to a room where four hundred were gathered in a prayer meeting. The church with warmth of spirit must have the warmth-producing prayer meeting.
  • The antidote is prayer and Paul tells us how to pray.
  • We pray in everything. Not in some things but in all things. And we pray with supplications, sometimes translated as petitions. This petition means that we have a list of needs that we are giving to God.
  • Please understand, all prayer is not petition. Some prayer is just listening to God, worshipping God, praising God. But in this case Paul says: pray and give your list to God. But Paul also says do this with thanksgiving. Tell God what you are thankful for.
  • A few years ago, I was counseling a student who was somewhat depressed. I had him make a list of things to be thankful for; I think we thought of at least 50 things.
  • We all have clothes, we have food, we have heat, we have a roof over our heads.
  • But you know what? We usually forget the most important. We usually put the physical, felt needs in front of the spiritual.
  • We have salvation in Christ. We have the Holy Spirit as our comforter (John 14). Jesus said not to fear the person who can harm our body but the person who can harm our soul (Matt 10:28).
  • About the year 125 A.D. a Greek by the name of Aristeides was writing to one of his friends about the new religion, Christianity. He was trying to explain the reasons for its extraordinary success. Here is a sentence from one of his letters: “If any righteous man among the Christians passes from this world, they rejoice and offer thanks to God, and they escort his body with songs and thanksgiving as if he were setting out from one place to another nearby.” —J. G. Gilkey[1] 

Having been banished, Cyprian suffered martyrdom in Carthage in 258. When the sentence of death was read to him he said, “I heartily thank Almighty God who is pleased to set me free from the chains of the body.”[2]

We can be thankful for our salvation and we are to give God our needs in prayer with thanksgiving and then God will give us peace which compels us to rejoice and be kind. We will talk about the peace of God next week.

  • Applications: 

Swindoll shares:

Let’s get six words clearly fixed in our minds. These six words form the foundation of God’s therapeutic process for all worrywarts. 

WORRY ABOUT NOTHING,
PRAY ABOUT EVERYTHING

What qualifies as a worry? Anything that drains your tank of joy—something you cannot change, something you are not responsible for, something you are unable to control, something (or someone) that frightens and torments you, agitates you, keeps you awake when you should be asleep.

All of that now needs to be switched from your worry list to your prayer list. Give each worry—one by one—to God . . . .

Tell Him you will no longer keep your anxiety to yourself . . . .

The more you practice giving your mental burdens to the Lord, the more exciting it gets to see how God will handle the things that are impossible for you to do anything about.

Turn your worry list into your prayer list. Give each worry—one by one—to God. 

  1. We are not to be anxious about anything. There is nothing that should make me anxious.
  2. We must pray about everything.
  3. We must pray with a humble petition of needs.
  4. We must give God thanks.
  5. We must depend upon the Lord.
  6. The only way to do this is to meditate and ruminate on this passage.
  7. We must pray this passage.

John Piper shares:

When the mud splatters your windshield and you temporarily lose sight of the road and start to swerve in anxiety, turn on your wipers and squirt your windshield washer.

So my response to the person who has to deal with feelings of anxiety every day is to say: that’s more or less normal. At least it is for me, ever since my teenage years. The issue is: How do we fight them?

The answer to that question is: we fight anxieties by fighting against unbelief and fighting for faith in future grace. And the way you fight this “good fight” (1 Timothy 6:122 Timothy 4:7) is by meditating on God’s assurances of future grace and by asking for the help of his Spirit.

The windshield wipers are the promises of God that clear away the mud of unbelief, and the windshield washer fluid is the help of the Holy Spirit. The battle to be freed from sin — including the sin of anxiety — is fought “by the Spirit and belief in the truth” (2 Thessalonians 2:13).

The work of the Spirit and the word of truth. These are the great faith-builders. Without the softening work of the Holy Spirit, the wipers of the word just scrape over the blinding clumps of unbelief on the windshield.

Both are necessary: the Spirit and the word. We read the promises of God and we pray for the help of his Spirit. And as the windshield clears so that we can see the welfare that God plans for us (Jeremiah 29:11), our faith grows stronger and the swerving of anxiety straightens out.

Gavin Ortlund:

One of my favorite C.S. Lewis quotes comes from a little-known letter. In 1958, Lewis was savoring the remaining time he had with his wife, Joy, who was ill. He wrote to a friend, “my situation is not easy to describe. My heart is breaking and I was never so happy before; at any rate there is more in life than I knew about” (quoted in Alan Jacobs, The Narnian, 285, italics mine).

At the time Lewis wrote these words, his own health was starting to fade. He was five years from his own death. He had lived a very full life, experiencing war, love, a dramatic conversion, and literary fame. His writings up to this point convey a depth of wisdom and insight that most human beings never achieve. Yet here he is, discovering new pathways, finding life fuller and richer than he yet knew.

I often think about these words: there is more in life than I knew about. They remind me that we should never stop growing. Boredom with life is simply inexcusable. If we are bored with life, the problem is with us, not the world. There is always more in life to experience, to learn, to love.

In my mind, this is a function of a Christian worldview: because we live in God’s world, and ultimately before God himself, reality has endless possibility. Anything can be a door to newness and change, because anything can direct us to God. There is always something more out there.

Backpack example: 

I have been convicted by this verse. Further, I have been convicted by the context of these verses. I have been convicted to pray for gentleness. I have been convicted to pray that I will rejoice in the Lord always. I have been convicted that if I can worry I can pray. So, in response, I have prayed these verses. I encourage you to do the same. I encourage you to pray that God will help you to live out this verse. Pray it every day this week. That is your homework.

Pray  

[1]Tan, P. L. (1996, c1979). Encyclopedia of 7700 illustrations : A treasury of illustrations, anecdotes, facts and quotations for pastors, teachers and Christian workers. Garland TX: Bible Communications.

[2]Tan, P. L. (1996, c1979). Encyclopedia of 7700 illustrations : A treasury of illustrations, anecdotes, facts and quotations for pastors, teachers and Christian workers. Garland TX: Bible Communications.

Let Your Gentleness Be Known to All Men (Phil 4:5)

We are going to be going to Philippians 4:5 in just a minute. I want to setup a sermon on gentleness and to do that I want you to think about the opposite. Think about anger.

People today still have murder (anger) in their heart. Take for example this classified ad:

Wedding dress for sale, never worn.

Will trade for .38 caliber pistol.

Preaching magazine, March–April 1993[1]

Thomas Jefferson believed, “When angry count to ten, if very angry count to a hundred.” Mark Twain said, “When angry count to four, if very angry swear.”

Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations[2]

There is a lot of anger going around right now, isn’t there? There is worry, anxiety, frustration, mistrust, violence, and the response is likely anger. But you know what I think is disarming? Gentleness. Gentleness is disarming.

We are in a short sermon series on Phil. 4:4-8:

Last week, we talked about Rejoicing in the Lord Always (Phil 4:4).

Today, Let Your Gentle Spirit Be Known to All Men (Phil 4:5).

September 6, 2020: Be Anxious for Nothing, Instead Pray (Phil 4:6).

September 13, 2020: How to Have the Peace of God (Phil. 4:7).

September 20, 2020: Think on These Things (Phil. 4:8).

Let’s read Phil. 4:5 and talk about being gentle. My application today is that we would seek to be gentle.

Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near.

  1. Seek to have a gentle disposition.
    1. The ESV says “reasonableness,” but it seems that “gentleness” is a better translation (Even John Piper says so).
    2. I must begin by admitting that I am a passionate person. I am generally a passionate person and this is expressed in energy. In this speed I do not do slow very well.
    3. Sometimes this passion is expressed in anything but gentleness. I don’t think that is wrong. But I do think I must be careful that my passion is not perceived as aggressive.
    4. Having said that, I believe that gentleness is disarming.
    5. I don’t want people to feel like they need to walk around on eggshells around me. I want people to know that they can say anything to me and I am not going to fly off the handle.
    6. I think a gentle disposition is something for Christians to seek.
    7. We always want to justify our anger, don’t we?
    8. How many times have I tried to justify my anger saying it was righteous anger.
    9. We may have righteous anger, but it may not be expressed righteously.
    10. Anger, is not healthy. Your blood pressure goes up. Cortisol is released which causes weight gain. We all know that anger is not healthy.
    11. Gentleness is healthy, not only for the individual but for others around him.
    12. The more heated the disagreement, the more our inner steam tank builds to the breaking point; and it is all we can do to keep a level head through the whole explosive episode. This reminds me of the Quaker who owned an ornery cow. Every time he milked her, it was a clash of two wills. This particular morning she was unusually irritable, but he was determined to endure the session without so much as a cross word. As the farmer began to milk her, ol’ Bossy stepped on his foot with all her weight. He struggled silently, groaned a little under his breath, pulled his foot free, then sat back down on the stool. She then swished her tail in his face like a long string whip. He merely leaned away so it wouldn’t be able to reach him. Next she kicked over the bucket, by then half-full of warm milk. He started over, mumbling a few words to himself; but he never lost his cool. Once finished with the ordeal, he breathed a sign of relief, picked up the bucket and stool, and as he was leaving she hauled off and kicked him against the barn wall twelve to fifteen feet away. That did it. He stood to his feet, marched in front of his cow, stared into those big eyes, and as he shook a long bony finger in her face, he shouted, “Thou dost know that I am a Quaker. Thou dost know also that I cannot strike thee back … but I can sell thee to a Presbyterian!” —Clyde Murdock, A Treasury of Humor[3]
    13. Paul calls us to be gentle.
    14. I believe that the more I respond to my children with gentleness now, the better our disagreements will be later.
    15. Don’t get me wrong, I think there is a time to respond with force. Of course, one has to raise their voice to get attention occasionally, or for emphasis, or some other reason. But our pattern should be gentleness.
    16. In Gal. 5:22-23 gentleness is the second from the last of the fruit of the spirit.
    17. This means that a sign of being a Christian is being gentle.
  2. Now, let’s talk more about this passage in context.
    1. Paul tells them to be gentle, or let their gentleness be known to all. Again, Paul doesn’t say let people know you are gentle when things are going well, and people are nice to you. No, let your gentleness be known to all.
    2. This gentleness may be exactly why Paul could be a good witness.
    3. Again, the Philippians have faced persecution, how could he ask them this. Several reasons:
    4. Matthew 5:44: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
    5. Matthew 5:11: Jesus says that we are blessed when persecuted for Him.
    6. Acts 5:41 the people leave after being persecuted rejoicing that they could suffer for Christ.
    7. But I believe Paul gives one of the best reasons at the end of this verse. Paul says the Lord is near. This can mean one of two things or both.
      1. Either the Lord’s second coming is close.
      2. Or, the Lord is near in Spirit.
    8. Jesus is with us always through the church. The Holy Spirit is within us.
    9. If Jesus’ second coming is near that means that judgment is near. This means Paul is saying, “Be kind to them even when they persecute you. Their judgment is near.”
    10. Either way they had hope. The Lord was near to them. They were not alone. The Holy Spirit was with them.
    11. Also, this idea of gentleness fits the rest of the letter of Philippians.
    12. In Phil. 2:3-11, Paul told them to have the attitude of Christ. They were told to consider others more important than themselves. They were to look upon others needs before their own.
    13. In Phil. 2:14, they were exhorted to do all things without grumbling or complaining.
    14. In Phil. 3, Paul talked about giving up all his worldly achievements for Of course, Jesus was known as gentle.
    15. The idea of gentleness is throughout the New Testament: 1 Tim. 3:3; Titus 3:2; James 3:17; 1 Peter 2:18; 2 Cor. 10:1
    16. But I believe their help is in the next two verses. Paul has told them to rejoice always, Paul has told them to be gentle to everyone, but how? Through prayer with thanksgiving. We are going to talk about that in the coming weeks. For now, let’s apply.
  • Apply
    1. To be gentle must mean that I pray about this often.
    2. We must be gentle to all people, even when it is not easy.
    3. If we have issues with anger, and rage, we must get help now.
    4. We must repent when we are not gentle with people.
    5. We must seek to be gentle, not only in volume, but mannerisms and words.
    6. To be gentle may mean that watch for triggers that prevent us from being gentle. Maybe sometimes we overfill our schedule, and we are too rushed, and then when things go wrong we get angry.
    7. To be gentle, we must learn to let go of things that we cannot control.
    8. During this COVID crisis many are worried and angry over things which we cannot control. We must let them go. We must turn them over to the Lord.
    9. To be gentle, we must turn our worries over to God in prayer (next verse).
    10. We must pray about this with our family, friends, and church family. We must link up with the church for help being gentle (Prov 27:17; Ecc 4:12).
    11. We must see this as important.

 

When I was in high school youth group there was a young man a few years behind me. He was a good person. He came from a very strong family. His parents owned a business and sent him to a Christian school. He liked to hunt and planned to go to college to major in forestry. I graduated and we lost touch. However, after a few years I heard about him. He was in college and got in an argument with his girlfriend. He was filled with rage and he stabbed her to death with a pin knife. He was released on parole. My younger brother went fishing with him, he was safe to be around, but he had an anger problem. Eventually, he was sent to prison, where I believe he is right now.

Many of us may not have issues like that, or we think we do not have issues like that, but we all must seek gentleness.

We must get control of our anger before something like that happens. But in order to truly get control of our anger, we may need help. Get help.

All of us should seek gentleness. This is the Word of God.

Prayer

 

[1] Charles R. Swindoll, The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart and 1501 Other Stories (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2016), 33.

[2] Charles R. Swindoll, The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart and 1501 Other Stories (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2016), 33.

[3] Charles R. Swindoll, The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart and 1501 Other Stories (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2016), 33–34.

Rejoice in the Lord Always (Phil 4:4; Col. 3:16-17; Genesis 1:1)

I have a story that will hopefully help us begin this message. I did not write this story.

BLIND AGAINST THE BLIND

One of the most celebrated sports heroes in our state was Charley Boswell. Charley was blinded in World War II while rescuing a buddy from a burning tank. He had always been a great athlete so after the war, he took up golf. While in college I saw him play an exhibition match. Of course, he had a friend line him up and give him a distance, but I can testify that it’s hard to hit that little white ball when you’re looking at it. Boswell won the National Blind Golf Championship 16 times, once shooting a score of 81. In 1958 Charley came to Ft. Worth to receive the coveted Ben Hogan Award.

Mr. Hogan agreed to play a round of golf with Charley. Charley said, “Would you like to play for money?” Hogan said, “That wouldn’t be fair!” Charley said, “C’mon, Mr. Hogan, are you afraid to play a blind golfer?” Hogan was really pretty competitive so he said, “Okay, I’ll play for money. How much?” Boswell said, “$1,000 per hole.” Hogan said, “That’s a lot. How many strokes do you want me to give you?” Boswell said, “No strokes. I’ll play you heads up.” Hogan said, “Charley, I can’t do it. What would people think of me taking advantage of a blind man?” Boswell smiled and said, “Don’t worry, Mr. Hogan, our tee time is tonight at midnight!”[1]

 

Do you ever feel like you are living in a dark world? Do you ever feel blind? Lately, I am sure that many of us have felt that way. I am sure that many of us have felt like we are truly going through strange times. Maybe you feel like you are golfing in the dark. Maybe you feel like there is no light outside. Because of everything still going on I decided to change my sermon plans. I had planned to talk about sharing the Gospel for the next few weeks. Instead, I have decided to talk about Phil 4:4-8 for five sermons. Here is the plan:

Today, we will talk about Rejoicing in the Lord Always (Phil 4:4)

August 30, 2020: Let Your Gentle Spirit Be Known to All Men (Phil 4:5)

September 6, 2020: Be Anxious for Nothing, Instead Pray (Phil 4:6)

September 13, 2020: How to Have the Peace of God (Phil. 4:7)

September 20, 2020: Think on These Things (Phil. 4:8)

Today, my theme is that we have reason to rejoice in the Lord.

Read with me Philippians 4:4:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!

  1. Rejoice in the Lord.
    1. Paul gives a simple statement, doesn’t he? Paul says to rejoice in the Lord.
    2. How often are we to rejoice in the Lord? Always. We are to rejoice in the Lord at all times. Paul tells us just that.
    3. He says to rejoice in some NO! He says to rejoice in all things.
    4. I understand, and I think that Paul would also understand, that sometimes it is hard to rejoice. Have you had times in your life when you felt there was nothing to rejoice about?
    5. Maybe that is right now; maybe right now it is difficult to rejoice. It is, isn’t it?
    6. When Paul was writing this letter, he was under house arrest. There were guards around him. We know there were guards because he says so in chapter 1:13 and following.
    7. Paul is writing this to the Philippians who were persecuted for their faith in Christ.
    8. The city of Philippi was a Roman colony. They were very Roman in culture; they probably even spoke Latin which was a little rarer at this point.
    9. By this point in Paul’s life he had already been shipwrecked, beaten, stoned and so much more (Acts 14; 2 Cor 11).
    10. Yet Paul says to rejoice. Paul even repeats it twice. He might have repeated it twice thinking that they were going to wonder how he could ask them to rejoice in the midst of their troubles.
    11. They must have thought, “how can you tell me to rejoice? Look at the persecution we are going through. Look what you have gone through!”
    12. It is interesting that Philippians is a different type of Paul’s letters. There are no rebukes, or anything like that. Joy in its various forms occurs 16 times in this letter. It is said that Philippians is all about joy. Dr. Rydelnic of Moody Bible Institute says that it is about joy in unity.
    13. In Philippians 1:29, Paul even says that they have suffered for Christ, yet Paul exhorts them to rejoice in the Lord always.
    14. The question is, do we have reason to rejoice?
    15. The question is, did they have reason to rejoice? Apparently, they did have reason to rejoice. Paul tells them to rejoice.
    16. Could it be that rejoicing in the Lord is the ultimate help when we are emotionally burdened? Could it be that when we don’t feel like rejoicing is when we really need to rejoice? Is that possible?
    17. Paul tells them to rejoice, even when he is in prison and they have suffered for Christ, wow!
    18. Paul could have told them to complain to the Lord, but he did not do that. Actually, in Philippians 2:14 Paul tells them not to complain.
    19. Again, do we have reasons to rejoice? I will come back to that.
    20. Of course, Paul modeled this. One person writes: “When his enemies preached Christ out of envy and rivalry, wanting to wound Paul and undermine his ministry (Philippians 1:15–17), he welled up not with anger, bitterness, or resentment, but with joy. ‘What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice’ (Philippians 1:18). It takes more than human courage to rejoice when you’re mistreated, especially when you’re in prison where you can’t defend yourself.”[2]
    21. John Piper says about these verses,
    22. “When we have little and have lost much, Christ comes and reveals himself as more valuable than what we have lost. And when we have much and are overflowing in abundance, Christ comes and he shows that he is far superior to everything we have.”[3]
    23. Actually, in Acts 16:25, Paul and Silas were in prison after being beaten and they are singing hymns. Wow!
    24. Do we have reasons to rejoice? Is Christ everything to us?
    25. Let’s look at another passage.
  2. How do we rejoice?
    1. 3:16-17 helps us with that.
    2. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.
    3. This passage and really, all of the verses we are going to be talking about for the next month, deal with sanctifying our thinking. That means that we set apart our thinking for Jesus.
    4. Instead of focusing on the negative we do this.
    5. Look at that verse: Let the word of Christ RICHLY dwell within you. Teach and ADMONISH one another…
    6. Notice the focus on thankfulness.
    7. Look at verse 17. Give thanks to God the Father in all that you do.
    8. Do you see what Phil. 4:4 and Col. 3:16-17 are having us to do? This is reframing the events of our lives. This is giving us a different perspective. We do everything for King Jesus and we worship Him in all things.
    9. That takes practice but that is our encouragement for today.
  • Think with me about how great God is and rejoice.
    1. We know that God created the Heavens and the earth. Think about God’s awesome creation and let that reflect back on our awesome God.

John MacArthur shares:

Do you know that birds navigate by the stars? Now, how did that ever happen? Do you know that birds raised from eggs inside a building, where they’ve never seen the sky, can instantly orient themselves toward home when shown an artificial sky representing a place their species have never been? How does that work? I don’t have any idea.

There’s a fish called archer fish. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard about archer fish. They shoot drops of water with great accuracy at insects. Because its water, it doesn’t kill the insect. Scientists think they just do it for fun. Now how did they ever develop that?

Mites, little microscopic bugs, live in the ear of a moth. And a moth can fly fine if only one ear is occupied. If two ears are occupied, it can’t fly. And strangely enough, mites don’t get in both ears. How do they know that, those little guys? That if one of their buddies is over there, they shouldn’t be on this side.

There is a thing called the bombardier beetle, it produces chemicals in its body in two separate sacks. And when the enemy comes along, that little beetle has the capability to mix those two little chemical fluids and they come out of the mouth and explode in the face of the enemy. But the explosion never occurs prematurely. Now, you can’t evolve two explosive liquids in a beetle and never blow the beetle up. 

Well I think you’re getting the picture in ways you probably have never thought about it before. Do you know codfish lay nine million eggs? You probably know that.

Do you know the earth is twenty-five thousand miles in circumference, weighs six septillion, 588 sextillion tons, and hangs in empty space? And spins at a thousand miles an hour with perfect precision so that we’re not going like this all the time. Time is kept to the split second. And at the same time it’s spinning at a thousand miles an hour, it’s careening through space, around the sun, in an orbit of 586 million miles, at the speed of a thousand miles a minute.

Do you know that the comets can have tails a million miles long? And travel 350 miles per second? I mean it’s just astonishing stuff. And then these people come along and say, “Well, it just happened.” If you follow the God-given reason of cause and effect, you’re going to have to come back to a great cause, aren’t you? And then you follow conscience, and you’re going to find out that whoever the Great Cause is, He is moral. And He has a law that can’t be violated without consequences. Now that’s not redemptive truth, as Stephen Olford said, but that’s getting you back to the God who can redeem. The redemptive truth then unfolds on the pages of Scripture, doesn’t it?

Listen to what Dr. Donald Gray Barnhouse wrote, “God gave man brains to see things, these things, and the sorrowful answer is that God gave man brains, for example, to smelt iron and make a hammerhead and nails. And God grows a tree and gives man strength to cut it down. And brains to fashion a hammer handle from its wood. And when man has the hammer and the nails, God will put out His hand and let man drive those nails through it, place Him on a cross, in the supreme demonstration that men reject God.” Rejection. God gives the truth and men turn from the truth. And then they become futile, empty in their speculations. Empty, useless, nothingness and they get sucked into darkness where they can’t know God. And the law of God no longer speaks. And conscience no longer reacts. And reason is warped and twisted. And the light goes out.

That reminds me of the guy in the mental institution. He’s lying in bed and he’s saying, “I’m Napoleon. I’m Napoleon.” All day. All day. All week. The guy in the next bed is really getting weary. Finally he says to him, “Shut up. Who told you you’re Napoleon?” He says, “God did.” The guy replies, “Oh, no I didn’t.” Or the lady who went into the psychologist’s office with a duck on a string, said, “You need to help my husband. He thinks he’s a duck.” I mean nobody knows what reality is. Perception is so skewed that they give each other PhDs, and they became fools.[4]

  1. Our God is awesome, amen!
  2. He created this awesome creation and then He became part of His creation to save us.
  3. We have reason to rejoice in the Lord.
  4. Do you know in the previous verse Paul writes about people whose names are written in the book of life.
  5. When we commit to Jesus as Lord and Savior we have a relationship with God, Almighty. The Holy Spirit resides in us.
  6. We are called His children (1 John 3:1).

Remember what I shared about the blind golfer? What did he do? He said he would golf at midnight. He changed things. Do you know what we need to do? We must change the perspective. We must focus on rejoicing in the Lord, and in rejoicing, we will light up the darkness.

So, this week, here is my encouragement, this week rejoice in the Lord always. No matter what happens make it your aim to rejoice in the Lord. Then at the end of each day reflect to see how you have done and pray about it.

Prayer

[1] (From a sermon by David Dykes, Has Jesus Touched Your Eyes? 8/20/2012)

[2] https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/the-only-joy-we-never-lose?utm_campaign=Daily%20Email&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=77642378&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-80WqZw3q0ApL72SpydOpMOewIXPyM3OEWwQqigzvcPKh-RWjwk-hd8bXhyJiMSFtpkg4YP9wBrGW2o2zSZyYvLxKnd9g&_hsmi=77642378

[3] https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/the-only-joy-we-never-lose?utm_campaign=Daily%20Email&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=77642378&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-80WqZw3q0ApL72SpydOpMOewIXPyM3OEWwQqigzvcPKh-RWjwk-hd8bXhyJiMSFtpkg4YP9wBrGW2o2zSZyYvLxKnd9g&_hsmi=77642378

[4] https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/80-184/2719