The Glory of God

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The modern presentation of the Gospel often becomes a man-centered, save yourself, get out of eternal punishment offer. We have watered down the Gospel to make it nothing more than a cosmic fire-escape. But the Gospel is the story of the love of God for Himself. The gospel, though it extends grace to humanity, is ultimately an expression of the desire to fill the whole earth with the Glory of God. Many say that it was love for the sinner that compelled Christ to climb Calvary’s Mount, but in actuality, it is God’s love for Himself which saw Christ endure the crucifixion.

John 12:27 says, “Now is my soul troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father save me from this hour?’ But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.”

The word for “troubled” literally means “deeply stirred and agitated.”

  • Jesus did not walk casually to the cross
  • Jesus did not walk coldly to the cross
  • Jesus did not walk callously to the cross

Love for the Glory of the Father compelled Jesus to walk to the cross. So why was Jesus troubled?

  • Was Jesus troubled about the pain to be endured?
  • Was Jesus troubled about the process to be encountered?
  • Was Jesus troubled about the price to be executed?
NO! Jesus was troubled because the Father was not receiving all the glory He deserved! Hear the words of Henry Blackaby: “The story of the Bible is the story of God’s glory! The mission of God is that all people glorify Him. Glorifying God is God-centered, not people-centered. All the wonderful things you experience–your redemption, your salvation, and your understanding of His love–are for the purpose of glorifying Him” (On Mission with God, 21).
Pastor, theologian, and author John Piper has made famous this concept with a phrase that he coined: “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.” In his work Let the Nations be Glad, Piper expanded upon this idea. “God is glorified precisely when we are satisfied in him–when we delight in his presence, when we like to be around him, when we treasure his fellowship” (27).
In John 12:12, the crowds in Jerusalem shouted to receive an earthly Messiah. But just a few days later, these same people would cry, “Crucify him.” This troubled the heart of Jesus, because He knew they were not glorifying the Father.
In John 12:37, it says, “Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him…” This troubled the heart of Jesus! The soul of Jesus was troubled because He knew that so many would not accept the truth that God deserves to be glorified! That is why we see two bookends around this section of God’s Word. John 12:28 says, “Father, glorify your name,” then in John 12:43 it says, “They loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.”
Christ was on a mission to glorify the Father. “But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father glorify your name!” For Jesus, the glory of the Father was preeminent. For Jesus, the glory of the Father to precedence, and priority! But Jesus was saddened by the selfish choice of so many to glorify themselves.
The Son of God, Jesus, came to make God look great in salvation. When man choses to make God great, man is glad! God is glad when sinners are rescued. God is glorified when sinners are saved. God is grieved when sinners chose their own glory over His.
What about you? What are you glorifying? Yourself, or God? The decision makes all the difference in your destiny! Though your heart may be troubled today, do not forget the troubled heart of Jesus who was willing to die so that the glory of the Father might live in you!

The Advocate

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For those of you who do not know, my ambition in college was to be a lawyer. I earned a Bachelor’s of Arts in Political Science from Messiah College with a Pre-Law emphasis. I used to dream of the day I would stand before the judge as an advocate for someone falsely accused of a crime. And in my mind, through incredible intellectual acumen, shrewd powers of reason, through breath-taking discourse and keen verbal jousting, I would secure a non-guilty verdict for my imaginary client. I decided I would have Perry Mason’s ability to stage a late in the proceedings court-room coup, the folksiness of Matlock, and the ruthless unconventional nature of Jack McCoy. I would always ask the right question at just the right time.

But my calling took a different turn, and I was never able to ask any of those probing questions at just the right time to spring my client free. Perhaps it’s a good thing, because as I looked at some real life questions this week asked by attorneys in a court of law, I realized that perhaps asking the right question is not always as easy as it looks.

Here are my top five questions asked by real lawyers in real courts of law.

  1. “Now doctor, isn’t it true that when a person dies in his sleep, he doesn’t know about it until the next morning?”
  2. “You were there until the time you left, is that true?”
  3. Q: “Can you describe the individual?”
    A: “He was about medium height and had a beard.”
    Q: “Was this a male or female?”
  4. Q: “Doctor, how many autopsies have you performed on dead people?”
    A: “All my autopsies are performed on dead people.”
  5. Q: “Do you recall the time that you examined the body?”
    A: “The autopsy started around 8:30 p.m.”
    Q: “And Mr. Dennington was dead at the time?”
    A: “No, he was sitting on the table wondering why I was doing an autopsy.”

I wonder whose side is some of these lawyers really on! But I’m not here today to go on about earthly lawyers, because there is an Advocate today, standing before the Judge of the Universe, pleading on your behalf.

Jesus the Advocate

John MacArthur wrote,  “People in contemporary society are hooked on courtroom dramas. Television shows and movies dealing with crime and trials hold people spellbound. There are even cable and satellite channels that broadcast such programming full-time. Thousands avidly follow the latest high-profile trials, turning them into the judicial system’s offer of entertainment, pandering to this jaded culture’s appetite” (John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: 1-3 John, p. 43).

But all the legal shenanigans, all the courtroom drama, all the verbal jousting, is utterly meaningless compared to the on-going legal drama that faces the souls of mankind! You see, all of humanity has been arrested and charged with the crime of turning our backs on God by pursuing selfish interests, with violating God’s Holy Law with our sinful actions, and of committing treason against the High Court of Heaven.

Television has made very clear what happens when a person is arrested. They are read some form warning or information regarding their rights as an accused. What happens in the Cosmic Courtroom?

1 John 2:1,2 says, “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have One who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for[a] the sins of the whole world.”

1 John 2:1 begins with a warm greeting. John is no longer addressing the Gnostics, he has turned his attention to the church. “My dear children, I am writing these things so that you do not sin, but if you do sin…know that you have someone who speaks in your defense.”

In our legally savy society, we are programmed to consider the rights of the accused. Perhaps there is no more familiar protection granted to the accused than the Miranda warnings.

The Miranda warnings were mandated by the 1966 United States Supreme Court decision in the case of Miranda v. Arizona as a means of protecting a criminal suspect’s Fifth Amendment right to avoid coercive self-incrimination. (Wikipedia)

Although the Supreme Court did not mandate the exact verbiage, the typical Miranda warning reads like this: You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to have an attorney present during questioning. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you. Do you understand these rights?

I find a certain irony in the Miranda warning. A group of judges put in place protection to guard the interests of the accused. The innocent judge, places a layer of protection for the accused, and then offers aid to the accused. A group of judges opened the door to provide an advocate, which would argue on behalf of the accused.

This one who speaks on behalf of the accused is known as an “advocate.” The word for advocate used here is the Greek word paraklaton. It is often translated in the English as “paraclete.” A literal translation of this word is “one called to the aid of the accused.”  It is a legal term. Who called this attorney to your side? Jesus Christ!

When you were arrested by the Word of God or the Conviction of the Holy Spirit, any excuse you could give, any reason that you could offer, any defense you might conjure up would only be used to condemn you in a court of law. Your one plea is this: Lord have mercy on a sinner like me! You need an attorney. You need someone to step in on your behalf. You need someone to come to your rescue! You need an Advocate to argue in your defense. Friends, you have the right to have Jesus Christ present during your questioning! Jesus Christ is the Defense Attorney. He is the Counsel for the defense. He is your Legal Aid and Advocate. He came to your defense upon the Cross! He will come to your aid again!

The Light of the World

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John 8:12-30

I love campfires. It’s not just the smell of burning wood, or the prospect of s’mores. It’s not just the sound of crackling wood or the blast of warm air against my face in the midst of a crisp evening. It’s the light. It’s captivating. It’s mesmerizing. It’s attractive. It brings a sense of safety in the midst of darkness.

Announcing the Light

Watch now. Verse 12 of John 8 declares, “When Jesus spoke again to the people…” At first this may seem as an unimportant introduction to a passage. But I want you to look with me at an important question. Where was Jesus speaking to the people? Let me show you how the context of this passage can shed light onto our text.

Please skip ahead to verse 20 of John 8 with me. “He spoke these words while teaching in the temple area near the place where the offerings where put.” The Scripture tells you that Jesus was speaking in a portion of the temple that was known as the Treasury. The Treasury was located in a part of the temple known as the Court of Women. This Court contained two enormous menorahs. Menorah is the Jewish word for candle stand. It is said that when these menorahs were lit, there was not a court in the Temple of Jerusalem that was not illuminated. In fact, you could see the light of the temple from any part of the city.

The second important question I would like for you to consider is, “When was Jesus speaking to the people.” Please flip back with me to John 7:2. “But when the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles was near, Jesus’ brothers said to him, ‘You ought to leave here and go to Judea..’” But Jesus responded in verse 6, “The right time for me has not yet come…”

John 7:14 says, “Not until halfway through the Feast did Jesus go up to the temple courts and began to teach.”

Skip ahead to John 8:2. “At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people sat down to teach them.” And this brings us back to 8:12. “When Jesus spoke again to the people…”

  • Where was Jesus teaching? The Treasury in the Court of Women.
  • When was Jesus teaching? At the close of the Feast of Tabernacles.

The Feast of Tabernacles was an annual Jewish celebration. The purpose of the feast was to Celebrate God’s miraculous provision in protecting and guiding the Jewish people through the Wilderness during their Exodus from Egypt. During the Feast, the Jews lit enormous candelabras each evening to remember the brilliant pillar of fire that led the Jews through the wilderness by night. “The great candelabra were close behind Him, fifty cubits [6 feet] high and sumptuously gilded. Every night these lights were lit and shed their soft light all over the city. Here, the people joined in festive dances to the sound of the flutes and other music and the Levites chanted the Songs of Degrees [Pss. 120-134].” (J. W. Shepard, The Christ of the Gospels, (Eerdmans: Grand Rapids: 1939), 352.)

On the last night of the Feast, the candelabras were extinguished. With all this as a background, I believe Jesus stood in this court that had been so brilliantly illuminated for days but now was dark and declared, “I am the Light of the World…” This must have been such shock to the senses of the Jews that were gathered there. The light of the candelabras was still fresh in their memories. The darkness of the night was enveloping them. And Jesus declares, “I am the Light of the World.”

My friends there is a darkness that is enveloping the world around us. Immorality, promiscuity, pornography, homosexuality, and all manner of evil casts its shade over the landscape of our nation. But the light of Jesus Christ shines into the darkness!

The Permanence of the Light     

The Lights of the candelabras were extinguished, but Jesus is the Light that shines for eternity. The pillar of fire was extinguished after the Jews reached the Promised Land; the candelabras were extinguished at the end of the Feast of Lights, but Jesus Christ burns brightly for eternity.

  • His Light will never dim
  • His Light will never darken
  • His Light will never diminish

Satan is seeking to do all that He can to snuff the Light of God. But Satan can’t touch, tarnish, or tamper with the Light of God. The brilliant light of Jesus Christ is greater than light for the temple, or light for a city: it is the light of the world! Jesus shines brightly for eternity. He is shining brightly in the World today. I know that there is violence in the Middle East, fighting in Iraq, troops in the Afghanistan, economic difficulty in American, and drugs in our schools, but the Light of God is still shining!

It is shining brightly and brilliantly in the world today. I’ve seen His light in my life, I’ve seen His light in my marriage, I’ve seen His light in my kids, and I’ve seen His light shine in you!

  • His Light has led some of you out of sin
  • His Light has led some of you through suffering
  • His Light has brought some of you sickness

The Extent of the Light

But notice please, that this Light isn’t just for you and me. Jesus says that He is the “Light of the world.” Jesus is not just a Light to the Jews. He is a light to the African, the Oriental, the Westerner, the Easterner, the Northerner and the Southerner. He’s a light to the privileged, and to the poor. He’s a light to the respected, and to the reviled. He’s a light to old and to the young. My Jesus is a Light to the whole world.

Please look at verse 12 again. “Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Jesus picks up on the symbolism of the people wandering in the wilderness.  Remember, the feast of tabernacles was the celebration of when God brought His people out of wilderness during the great Exodus. Imagine nearly one million people lost in the wilderness, wandering around with no one to guide them, no map to lead them, no cloud to guide them by day and no pillar of fire to guide them by night. They wouldn’t get very far would they. They would have been lost in the wilderness.

Today, it is not 1 million people lost in the wilderness; it is 6 Billion people lost in spiritual wilderness! They are fumbling around aimlessly, hoping to stumble upon a path that will lead them out of the defeat they are experiencing. They are hopeless, hapless, and helpless. Friends, without a light to guide you, you will remain lost in the wilderness. But in the light of God you can have all the guidance and protection that you need. Go and spread His light, for you “are the light of the world!”

#jonahslept

jonah slept

A recent survey found that more people are sleeping less than six hours a night, and sleep difficulties visit 75% of us at least a few nights per week. Every night, nearly every person undergoes a remarkable change: we leave waking consciousness and for hours traverse a landscape of dreams and deep sleep. When we wake, we typically remember little or nothing about the hours that have just passed. Except in rare instances, we never contemplate and appreciate that we are sleeping while we are asleep. Thus, although everyone sleeps, most people would be hard-pressed to precisely define sleep. All organisms exhibit daily patterns of rest and activity that resemble the daily sleep and wakefulness patterns seen in humans. From observing changes in behavior and responsiveness, scientists have noted the following characteristics that accompany and in many ways define sleep:

  • Sleep is a period of reduced activity.
  • Sleep is associated with a typical posture, such as lying down with eyes closed
  • Sleep results in a decreased responsiveness to external stimuli.
  • Sleep is a state that is relatively easy to reverse (this distinguishes sleep from other states of reduced consciousness, such as hibernation and coma).

The Storm’s Might 

Jonah was running from the presence of God, but God was not running away from Jonah. Jonah 1:4 says that the Lord “hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest upon the sea.” This was a mighty storm. But it was not an accidental storm. It was not a coincidental storm. It was a storm that was hurled against Jonah. Jonah was running from God, but God was chasing after Jonah!

The phrase used there is the same phrase for when Saul hurled his spear at David. The Lord literally hurled this great storm at Jonah.

God loves you enough to throw a storm at you to redirect your life back to His purpose and plan for you! And the winds came against the ship. And the waves lapped over the side of the boat. And the ship threatened to break up. The Hebrew says that the boards groaned and where about to break. This was no ordinary storm. The sky was as black as the blackest night. White frothy waves leaped over the side of the ship. The howling gale blew out the lanterns. The crashing water creaking every board, causing them to nearly break.

Jonah had received a call to get up, go up, and speak up. But what did he do? He went down.

  • He went down from his house
  • He went down to Joppa
  • He went down to the docks
  • He went down to the ship
  • He went down into the galley
  • He went down into a deep sleep

Isn’t it interesting that our text says in verse 5 that Jonah was “fast asleep?” What a funny oxymoron, like Jumbo Shrimp or Government Intelligence. Jonah was fast asleep. You cannot be asleep and be fast.

Despite the storm’s might, Jonah simply said “Good night!” This was no ordinary storm. This was a powerful storm, but notice please it was a purposeful storm. The purpose of the storm was not to shake Jonah…It was to wake Jonah! Remember, sleep is a condition that is relatively easy to reverse. But Jonah slept. While the ship was sinking, the man of God was sleeping. While the boards were breaking, the man of God was snoring. Jonah slept.

The Sailors’ Fright 

Notice please, the storm’s might lead to the sailors’ fright. These sailors were expert seamen. When these men get upset, you know it’s a doozy. Verse 5 says “Then the mariners were afraid…” This is the sailors’ fright. These were not novices. These were not inexperienced mariners. These were veteran sailors, but they were afraid!  Notice that the sailors began to pray. Now when pagan men pray, you know there is a major storm afoot. The wind is squalling. The waves are splashing. The sailors are screaming. But Jonah was asleep. The Hebrew says that this was a heavy, deep sleep. Jonah wasn’t snoozing! He was deeply asleep. He’s paid the fare. He doesn’t care.

He laid down in a straw bed, as uncomfortable as uncomfortable can be, but Jonah slept.  His little lamp was violently swinging from side to side, but Jonah slept.  Water was splashing down from topside, but Jonah slept. Seaweed wrapped around his sleeping body, and The luggage and cargo were lurching and sliding from side to side, but Jonah slept. There was bedlam everywhere, but Jonah was in bed. The pagan soldiers were disturbed, but the prophet of God was not even perturbed. The pagan soldiers were shaken, but he prophet of God did not awaken.

While society is coming apart, it is time for the church to come awake. I pray that the Hand of God will come down from heaven and do whatever He needs to do to shake us, quake us, or break us, so that He might awaken us! Verse 6, “So the captain came down and said to him, ‘What do you mean, you sleeper? Arise, call out to your God! Perhaps the God will give a thought to us, that we may not perish!”

It was then the hairy arm of the captain shook Jonah from his slumber and said, “Jonah, wake up. Jonah wake UP! JONAH, WAKE UP!!! Man, this whole thing is going under, if you have a God you’d better pray to him.”

It is a horrible thing when a lost mariner has to awaken the sleeping man of God. The captain knew they were perishing. The mariners knew they were perishing. But the man of God was silent and asleep.  Jonah rubbed the sleep from his eyes. He tries to find his equilibrium, but he cannot. “Maybe your god, oh man of god…Maybe your god can save us!” My friends, our God, the living God, is the only hope of salvation for a world that is rapidly going under. Our God, the living God, is the only One who can save the word from the tempest! But Jonah remained silent. Not a word. Not a testimony. Not a glimmer of hope. Not a message of salvation. NOTHING! The only ones speaking were the LOST!

Verse 7.  And they said to one another, “Come, let us cast lots, that we may know on whose account this evil has come upon us.” So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah. (Jonah 1:7 ESV) The calamity was not caused by the sailors. It was caused by the prophet of God. The lot fell on Jonah. God had rigged the game. He rigged the process. Why? Because you cannot run from the will of God. He has rigged the process. He will get your attention. The cry maybe sharp and shrill in your ear but He will get your attention.

In verse 8, the sailors pepper ol’ Jonah with a bunch of questions. Then they said to him, “Tell us on whose account this evil has come upon us. What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? And of what people are you?” (Jonah 1:8 ESV) Jonah was the only one on the ship who knew the true God, but no one else knew that Jonah knew God.

Isn’t it a shame? Isn’t it a tragedy when lost people have to ask the Christians if they know God? Isn’t it a shame when Christians are so far out of the will of God that the world doesn’t even know that they are Christians? The storm forced a testimony out of Jonah in verse 9. And he said to them, “I am a Hebrew, and I fear the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” Then the men were exceedingly afraid and said to him, “What is this that you have done!” For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the LORD, because he had told them. (Jonah 1:9-10 ESV) Running from God has a price. Running from the will of God will cost you. Running from God will lead you into the heart of the storm.

  1. If you are unwilling to give a voluntary testimony of God, He will bring a storm in your life that will cause you to share a testimony.
  2. The problem today in the world today is not with the pagans, the problem is with the people of God who are unwilling to give a testimony of what God has done for them.
  3. The world is coming apart at the seams, but the people of God are asleep.
  4. What is the answer? Wake up. Get up. Go up. Speak up!

#jonahslept

Encountering God

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“We sometimes encounter people, even perfect strangers, who begin to interest us at first sight, somehow suddenly, all at once, before a word has been spoken.” — Fyodor Dostoevsky

She never saw it coming, but she was about to encounter something powerful. Kim Heil-Smith was talking on her cordless phone one night, when she walked into her garage to get something out of the car. What she found was something few people would ever want to encounter, in their garage, or anywhere else.

A bear.

A black bear.

A black sow bear.

A black sow bear with her cub.

A black sow bear with her cub IN THE GARAGE!

“I opened the door and she was right there, between the car and the side of the house. She didn’t have anywhere to go, so she came at me,” said Heil-Smith, who lives on Devil Track Lake Road north of town.  “I tried to shut the door on her, but she was too strong. She wrapped her arms around me and I fell back.”

The big bear bit her head, shoulder and both thighs.  Heil-Smith suffered multiple puncture wounds and scratches that required many stitches at Cook County North Shore Hospital, said John Shenett, Cook County Sheriff’s Department deputy.

Heil-Smith, 37, who was home alone at the time of the attack, was amazingly calm and upbeat when describing the ordeal.  “I was pretty scared at first, I wasn’t thinking. Then I just got mad at this bear being in my house. I finally was able to get my knee up so she couldn’t bite me, and then I grabbed her nose and yelled, ‘Get out of my house!'” she said. “I think that must have startled her because that’s when she left.” (http://www.bear.org/website/bear-pages/black-bear/bears-a-humans/44-what-if-i-corner-a-black-bear.html, accessed 3/5/12).

What an encounter! An encounter of another kind!

Not many of us will ever have such a powerful encounter with a beast. I am sure that the encounter forever changed Kimberly Heil-Smith. I am sure it was powerful. I am sure it was life-changing.

Since I was a small child, the stories of the Bible have had a central place in my life. The stories of valor and failure, devotion and denial, holiness and sinfulness have captured my imagination. But one thing that has stood out over time, is that every time I read of a Bible character encountering God, it was a life-changing experience. Some were healed, some raised from the dead, others rebuked, forgiven, loved, saved, or called to a mission, but all were profoundly impacted by the encounter.

Now, you might be thinking, “It’s nice that the Bible has all these wonderful ‘stories,’ but is it really possible for me to encounter God? After all, isn’t He busy keeping the planets from colliding with each other, managing the weather and all that? Could He possibly step into my reality?”

I want you to learn to see that God is alive and at work in the world around you! Yes, modern enlightened YOU! He is alive and at work, and he wants to step into the midst of your everyday reality.  My prayer is that your eyes will be opened and that you will encounter God yourself.

From the very beginning, God has interacted with man. But before we launch into an exploration of these encounters, perhaps you have an even more basic question: “Does God even exist?”

The Bible begins with a simple declaration: “In the beginning God…” There are no attempts to justify, rationalize, or explain God’s existence. In Scripture, His existence is assumed, but through the ages, mankind has sought to defend or deny the existence of God through a variety of methods and arguments. But many are still left asking, “Does God Exist?”

But before we delve into that monumental question, let me pose to you another question: “Do you exist?” Are you truly here tonight, or are you simply an illusion? If you affirm that you truly exist, what is the source of your existence? Or perhaps an even more profound question demands to be answered: “Why does anything exist at all?”

Scientific knowledge has exploded over the last 85 years, opening the eyes of the world to things great and small. For example, it is generally accepted that all matter is composed of building blocks known as elementary particles. The Standard Model of particle physics says that everything that exists is comprised of tiny particles named “quarks” and “leptons.” The quark is generally considered to be the smallest of all the observable elementary particles. How small is it? To put it into perspective, Quarks have a mass of about 1/200 to 1/400 the mass of a proton! The Quark is miniscule, yet it is observable, and if it is observable, does it not exist?

But science has not only shed light on the miniature, it has exposed the massive as well. Scientists are continually trying to measure the massive expanse of the Universe. So just how big is the Universe?

“Space,” as Douglas Adams once so aptly wrote, “is big.” To try imagining how big, place a penny down in front of you. If our sun were the size of that penny, the nearest star, Alpha Centauri, would be 350 miles away. Depending on where you live, that’s very likely in the next state (or possibly country) over. Attempting to imagine distances larger than this quickly becomes troublesome. At this scale, the Milky Way galaxy would be 7.5 million miles across, or more than 30 times the distance between the Earth and the moon. As you can see, these are rather inhuman dimensions that are almost impossible to really get a sense of. (Adam Mann, “How to Picture the Size of the Universe,” Wired, December 06, 2011, accessed September 10, 2015, http://www.wired.com/2011/12/universe-size/.)

Some would even argue that the Universe is greater than what we can fully observe, and many believe it is still expanding. Some are seeking to answer the question of whether or not the Universe is infinite. The universe is massive, yet it is observable, and if it is observable, does it not exist?

If the Quark and the Universe do indeed exist, we are left to answer the question, what brought them into existence? Stated otherwise, why is there something instead of nothing? The most reasonable and rational response to this question is that a transcendent cause brought the quark and the Universe into being. How do we arrive at this proposition?

  1. Every part of the universe is dependent.
  2. If every part is dependent, then the whole universe must also be dependent.
  3. Therefore, the whole universe is dependent right now on some independent Being beyond it for its present existence.

Why is it proper to say that “every part of the Universe is dependent?” To understand why the Universe is dependent, it is necessary to understand the principle of infinite regressions. Infinity is a mathematical theory. Infinity cannot truly be measured, it is merely a concept. The absurdity of actual infinity is demonstrated by the child’s question, “What does infinity plus one equal?” “Infinity plus one” is a mathematical absurdity. Nothing can be added to or subtracted from infinity. Infinity exists in theory but not in actuality!

Our existence can be measured by a series of events. Before us there is a series of potential events. Behind us there are actual events. For example, you had breakfast this morning. You went to bed last night. You went to church yesterday morning. All these events can be counted backwards. And these events can be added to all the events in human history, and in fact the history of the Universe counting further and further backwards. But at some point, there must be a First Event since it is logically impossible for there to be an infinite series of regressions. The argument may be stated as such:

  1. An actual infinite cannot exist.
  2. A beginningless series of events in real time is an actual infinite.
  3. Therefore, a beginningless series of events in time cannot exist.

Since the set cannot be infinite, there must be a First Event, and a First Event requires a First Cause. Whatever is the First Cause must be God, for only God is an Independent Being, therefore God must exist! Since the set cannot be infinite, there must be a First Event, and a First Event requires a First Cause. Whatever is the First Cause must be God, for only God is an Independent Being, therefore God must exist!

David Hilbert, perhaps the greatest mathematician of the twentieth century, wrote, “The infinite is nowhere to be found in reality. It neither exists in nature, nor provides a legitimate basis for rational thought. The role that remains for the infinite to play is solely that of an idea.” But that entails that since past events are not just ideas, but are real, the number of past events must be finite. Therefore, the series of past events can’t go back forever. Rather, the universe must have begun to exist. (William Lane Craig, “Does God Exist,” Reasonable Faith, April 4, 2009, http://www.reasonablefaith.org/does-god-exist-craig-vs-hitchens-apr-2009, accessed September 28, 2015.)

Since the Universe began to exist, something, or Someone must have brought it into existence.

Though this argument may be logically sound, it does not prove the existence of the God of the Bible, simply that there is an Independent Being upon which the rest of the Universe depends. Christian Wolff strengthened the argument for the existence of the God of the Bible with a rather lengthy set of propositions. Wolff’s argument has become a pattern for many modern thinkers. Wolff’s progression is as follows:

  1. The human soul exists (i.e., we exist).
  2. Nothing exists without a sufficient reason for existence.
  3. The reason for our existence must be contained either in ourselves or else in another, diverse from ourselves.
  4. The reason for our existence is not in ourselves. Our nonexistence is possible or conceivable.
  5. So the reason for our existence must be outside of ourselves.
  6. One does not arrive at a sufficient reason for existence without reaching a being that has within itself the reason for its one existence. If it did not, then there must be a sufficient reason for its existence beyond itself.
  7. A being that has within itself the reason for its own existence is a Necessary Being.
  8. Therefore, there must be a Necessary Being beyond us that is the sufficient reason for our existence. If there is not a Necessary Being beyond us, we would be Necessary Beings, having the reason for own existence in ourselves.
  9. It is logically impossible for a Necessary Being not to exist. Self-existence or ascetic flows necessarily from the Necessary Being.
  10. Hence, this Necessary Being is identical with the self-existent God of Scripture. (Norman L. Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 1999), 163.)

Let me summarize these complicated progressions with three simple thoughts. I began by asking you, “Do you exist?” If you are in agreement that you do, in fact exist, I asked, “Why does anything exist at all?” The first thought is this, God is the best explanation for your existence, and the best explanation for the origin of the universe. The second thought is if there is no God, then life would be an absurd and meaningless chain of infinite regressions, and so there is a good reason to believe that God exists. Finally, since there is “Something,” does it not logically conclude that there is “Someone?” The abstract does not create the concrete, therefore, it is reasonable, logical, and intelligent to believe that there is a God Who was the First Cause, and the Sustainer of all that does exist.

There must be an explanation as to why there is “something” rather than “nothing,” and the best explanation is that there is “Someone.” This “Someone” has a name: it is God. He created you not to live a meaningless life spent spinning on a rock through an absurd universe. No! He created you so that you might encounter Him!

 

#JONAHRAN

JonahImmediately when someone begins to talk about Jonah, someone else is bound to get all worked up about the great ship, or the great storm or the great fish. The message of Jonah is not about a whale; it is a message about witnessing. The message is not about a devouring humungous fish; it is a message about a devoted heavenly father. The truth of the matter is that Jonah is not so much about a reluctant prophet as it is about a compassionate God. You see the message of Jonah is really about a Great God with a Great Love for a Great Big World!

When you study the book of Jonah, the underlying theme is that God loves all the people of the world. The God who loves the world, wants the whole world to hear the message of the Gospel. But it must be said, that Jonah is a disobedient prophet because he was unwilling to tell the people of Nineveh that there was a loving God that wants to save them.

There are three imperatives (commands) that God gives to Jonah. These underscore the urgency of the call of God. It is a very plain call. It is a very clear call found in Jonah 1:1…

  • Arise
  • Go
  • Cry

Stated another way, God said…

  • Get UP
  • Go UP
  • Speak UP!

But what did Jonah do? Jonah RAN! Jonah 1:3 says, “Jonah rose to FLEE to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went DOWN to Joppa…” Then Jonah 1:5 says, “But Jonah went DOWN to the inner part of the ship and had laid DOWN and was fast asleep…”

Jonah was so reluctant to see the salvation of Nineveh that he arose and fled. He headed for Tarshish. As far as we can determine, Tarshish was on the coast of Spain. It was thought of as the end of the earth. It was more than 2000 miles in the wrong direction. How foolish is it that a man thinks that he can run from God?

The Bible says that Jonah paid the fare to Tarshish! When you run from God you always pay the price! It is a bit remarkable that a prophet had enough money available for a 2000-mile journey. But listen, whenever you run from the will of God, the devil will always provide the transportation and the fare. Any time you want to run from God, the devil will open the door. Whenever you run from the will of God, you will always pay the fare. There is always a price to pay when you get outside the will of God.

Sin take you farther than you want to go. Sin will teach you more than you want to know. Sin will keep you longer than you want to stay. Sin will cost you more than you want to pay. There are no free rides on the devil’s transportation system. You always pay the fare. On the other hand, when you follow the will of God, HE will always pay the fare.

  • He paid the fare for our sin debt
  • He paid the fare for our salvation
  • He paid the fare for death
  • He paid the fare for the grave

If you will go God’s way, He will pay the fare. He will take care of you.

If you have experienced the mercy of a Great God, He has a call on your life: Get UP, Go UP, and Speak UP to those who have yet to experience His mercy. Don’t run from God. Run with Him, to a world desperately in need of the hope and mercy and grace He offers! Jonah ran…don’t make the same mistake, or you may find yourself in a whale of a mess!