Sermon notes and quotes:
I have worn glasses for about a year and a half… frames at COSTCO… couldn’t believe what I’d been missing! See clearly across the store, leaves, street signs… Seeing things you could not previously see makes a huge difference.
We are starting a 5-week sermon series today, Unseen Realities. God – Heaven – Hell – Angels — Satan/demons. My thesis is that, if what is unseen could be seen, it would dramatically affect how we view the seen.
R.C. Sproul, in his book, Unseen Realities… “There is an uncompromising supernaturalism at the heart of the Christian worldview.”
1) Supernaturalism (dominant worldview for thousands of years)
2) Rationalism (the Enlightenment/Age of Reason / Deism)
- 17th century influences: Francis Bacon,René Descartes, John Locke, Baruch Spinoza.
- 18th major figures: Voltaire,Rousseau, David Hume, Adam Smith, Immanuel Kant.
3) Modernism (20th, God removed; two story view
God allowed, but more of Romanticisms god – emph. feeling/emotions/personal experience, de-emph. absolutes/truth/doctrinal propositions—how you feel about God more impt than what you think)— I wonder if the next trend with be a neo-rationalism?
Sometimes I feel like I am there. God is removed from the equation. I feel like I need to be in control. When I’m not, I stress, worry, as if I am an orphan without a heavenly Father. Sometimes God seems so incredibly distant. My prayers get about as high as the ceiling. Eventually, I stop looking up and begin to live like a functional atheist. If you are an atheist, I commend your intellectual integrity.
However, this intellectual integrity leads down a variety of paths: politics (totalitarianism/communism), ethics (moral pragmatism), personal (individual despair, meaninglessness).
If there is a God, we need desperately to see him. So, today’s message is titled: “Seeing the Unseen God.”
The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
3 They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them. [a picture is worth 1,000 words]
4 Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world. [the universality of the religious mind]
Paul says the same thing from a New Testament perspective in Rom.1:19-20: “19 since what may be known about God is plain to them [unbelievers], because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”
Albert Einstein, “The religious inclination lies in the dim consciousness that dwells in humans that all nature, including the humans in it, is in no way an accidental game, but a work of lawfulness that there is a fundamental cause of all existence.”
In an essay entitled, The Religiousness of Science, he stated, “The scientist is possessed by the sense of universal causation… His religious feeling takes the form of a rapturous amazement at the harmony of natural law, which reveals an INTELLIGENCE of such superiority that, compared with it, all the systematic thinking and acting of human beings is an utterly insignificant reflection.”
Einstein understood the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics – matter goes from state of order to disorder, not disorder to order. This week in Las Vegas an older hotel was imploded… controlled demolition… explosives do not create order, but disorder. A hotel is not built w/explosives. Yet what many of us learned in school is that a cosmic explosion, a big bang, caused what Einstein called the evidence of “an intelligence of such superiority.” If there was a big bang, it would have to to be controlled by a superior intelligence.
University of Chicago professor Jerry Coyne, in his book Why Evolution is True, wrote: “If anything is true about nature, it is that plants and animals seem intricately and almost perfectly designed for living their lives.”[ii]
Michael Shermer, in his book Why Darwin Matters, stated: “The design inference comes naturally. The reason people think that a Designer created the world is because it looks”[iii]
Michael Behe, “The conclusion of intelligent design [creationists] flows naturally from the data itself—not from sacred books or sectarian beliefs.”
Even Charles Darwin admitted that his theories could be undone with data. When he published On Origin of the Species by Natural Selection, Darwin wrote this, “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down…. [brilliant & honest] Geology assuredly does not reveal any such finely graduated organic chain; and this, perhaps, is the most obvious and gravest objection which can be urged against my theory. The explanation lies, as I believe, in the extreme imperfection of the geological record.”
Yet the geological record, fossil record, which is largely a product of 20th century research has not revealed a finely graduated organic chain; just the opposite… and the principle of irreducible complexity has “absolutely broken down” the central thesis of Darwin’s evolutionary theories, revealing that there ARE complex organisms that cannot possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications.
Laws of physics. Chemistry. Biochemistry. Mathematics – the universe and all of the sciences consistently declare, proclaim and reveal a Designer.
- This designer has revealed himself as a personal God
- Who invites us to know him
- To know him, he has not only given general revelation, but special revelation (Bible)
- At the center of special revelation is the person of Jesus, where the heart of God is revealed in “the work of his hands”- This has been clearly seen! In Galatians 3:1, “Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified.”
- The cross of Jesus opens the door for us to know God, no longer as a Judge to fear, but as a Father to trust.
So what next? 3 final applications
- I’m free to confess my functional atheism.
- I’m encouraged to bring faith down from the attic to the main floor.
- Be sure to bring down two essentials: truth and grace
- I’m challenged to apply that faith to all of life
- Most of your students will carry a backpack –everywhere
- In biology class…truth of origins, but gracious and patient…
- In moments of stress, anxiety and worry – I don’t have to live as an orphan (truth/Father, grace/he is for me)
- In conflict… truth is that it’s worse than they say it is, but in view of the cross, I’m more forgiven and loved than I think I am. So I can be the bigger sinner in my marriage, as a roommate – confess, forgive à reconciliation
Some of us need to start there this morning. Not reconciliation with a friend, but with God. This is God’s invitation to you in the gospel, which is a declaration, a proclamation and a revealing of grace to guilty sinners, which is a lot like the stars in the sky (100 thousand million)/galaxies (100-200 billion!)… creation illustrates the gospel!
[i] More recently, Walter Truett Anderson described postmodernism as belonging to one of four typological world views, which he identifies as either (a) Postmodern-ironist, which sees truth as socially constructed, (b) Scientific-rational, in which truth is found through methodical, disciplined inquiry, (c) Social-traditional, in which truth is found in the heritage of American and Western civilization, or (d) Neo-romantic, in which truth is found through attaining harmony with nature and/or spiritual exploration of the inner self.
[ii] (2009, p. 1, emp. added).
[iii] (2006, p. 65, ital. in orig.).