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In the Beginning

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
February 4, 2021 12:00 am

In the Beginning

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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February 4, 2021 12:00 am

When introducing pre-Christian people to Jesus Christ, Paul doesn't start at a manger or a cross or an empty tomb; he starts at the very beginning of time. Every question of theology, philosophy, and science begins in Genesis 1.

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The 1800s, Darwin believed the cell, the smallest unit of life, was simply a lump of carbon. Trouble is, his theory was based on what he couldn't see. He wrote, and I quote, If it can be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous successive modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.

That's exactly what happened then with the invention of the electron microscope in 1930, forty-eight years after the death of Charles Darwin. When God created everything that exists, He created a sophisticated, complex, fully functioning universe. From the most distant galaxy to the smallest particle, God created everything. God as the Creator is our theme today here on Wisdom for the Heart. When introducing pre-Christian people to Jesus, Paul didn't start at the manger, or the cross, or the empty tomb. He started at the very beginning of time. Every question of theology, philosophy and science begins in Genesis 1.

Stephen Davey returns to Acts 17 today with this lesson called In the Beginning. Imagine hiking in the Black Hills of South Dakota, and as you round a corner, you come upon a site that stops you in your tracks. In front of you, and stretching up into the sky are four giant faces.

George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. Now how in the world do these faces appear on this mountainside? Maybe over millions of years, they took shape by random accident and earthquakes.

Perhaps over millions of years, wind and rain and erosion and rock slides combined to carve these faces into stone. Let me give you another illustration. This is from Anthony Flew, one of the most noted atheists in the world. He shocked the intellectual community by publishing a book, his own journey, his own battle, and it was published in 2004 and it kind of took the public by surprise.

Where he declared that he changed his mind, he was no longer an atheist, at best a deist, at best a believer and a creator. In his book entitled, There is a God, Flew reflects on the argument underpinning human origin that he had to deal with in his younger days. He writes, and I quote, the argument ran like this, given enough time and chance, life on planet earth could have just happened without any design, certainly from a creator God. He references an experiment, researchers who tried to prove this example of time plus chance equals life. It's a theory and behind it, a well-known experiment.

I'd heard about this. Ravi Zacharias talked about it in one of his articles, but I didn't realize that it had actually taken place in an effort to prove that time plus chance equals something intelligent. The experiment took place in the United Kingdom and it was based on the question, how long would it take an infinite number of monkeys pounding away at an infinite number of typewriters to come up with an intelligible word or a sentence or maybe even a sonnet from Shakespeare. Now if you can believe it, they actually put a bunch of monkeys in a room with typewriters and let them go, six of them in fact, and after one month of hammering away at the keys, the monkeys produced 50 typed pages. And never mind that somebody had to create the typewriter and load it with paper, that aside, but 50 typed pages. Still after one month, they produced, however, not one single word, not one word. He writes, which is amazing considering that the shortest word in English could be a one letter word such as the letter A or I, but a one letter word is only a word if there's a space on either side of it, and that never happened.

Flug pointed out that if one considers that there are 30 keys on a keyboard, the probability of typing at least one one letter word is one in 27,000, not all that much. So if these attempts, he writes, could not even result in one one letter word, what was the possibility that these monkeys could type the first line of one of Shakespeare's sonnets, much less a simple sentence like see Jack run? Yet, he contends, contemporary scientists keep telling us that monkeys can do it with enough time. He wrote, the entire universe, which is infinitely more complex than a Shakespearean sonnet, could not have been designed by allowing enough time plus chance to work.

There had to be a designer, and he said, effectively, my atheism cracked and eventually crumbled away. He joined a host of scientists, by the way, over the years, and I did a little research, and let me give you some quotes of some of them. Nicholas Copernicus wrote in the 16th century, who could live in close contact with the most consummate order and wisdom and not adore the architect. Kepler wrote one of the world's greatest astronomers, wrote a century later in the 17th century, my lord and my creator, I would like to proclaim the magnificence of your works to the extent that my limited intelligence can understand. Isaac Newton, the 18th century, the founder of classical theoretical physics, you know, I didn't have any classical theoretical physics classes in school.

I was more suited for recess. I don't know about you, but that was the extent of my... But anyhow, Newton wrote, and I quote, the arrangement and harmony of the universe could only have come from the plan of an omniscient and omnipotent being. The truth is, we as human beings today have, as it were, suddenly stumbled around a corner, and we're looking up into the face of an incredibly wonderful and complex world and universe.

Everywhere we look are the evidences of forethought, intention, and planning, which equals design. The apostle Paul wrote to the Romans that if you just stop suppressing the truth stamped on your heart about a creator, you'll be drawn to marvel at the attributes of God that are evident in this created universe. That same apostle stood before the Supreme Court of Athens on top of that wind-swept, jutting, mountainous rock known as the Areopagus, and he said to them, there is a creator, and I happen to know who he is. In fact, that's his first line of reasoning in this passage we've been studying, so take your New Testament and go back to Acts chapter 17, and let's go back up that hill with Paul. By the way, while you're turning, mankind has always had origins.

We just happen to be living in a generation of one particular one that seems to have taken root. By 1881, there were 80 theories of origins, and Paul is addressing a world that had their own theory that had sort of taken the Athenian mind. Here is their theory, by the way, of origins, as Paul is going to introduce to them, God. The Athenians believed that the semen of one of their gods, Hephaestus, spilled on the ground in a failed attempt to rape Athena, their patron goddess, and as his semen came in contact with another goddess, the goddess Earth, known as Gaea, she ended up getting pregnant accidentally and ended up thus delivering the human race. That takes no faith to believe at all.

That's so easy to understand. That's how the human race got its origin. Now, the Athenians were not atheists, no god, a theist. They were polytheists, many gods, but they were just as far from the truth in their pantheism as the atheist was.

But they're still asking the same questions. Was the universe put together by accident? Were human beings created to be toyed with, they believed, or maybe tortured, as they also believed? All of the above was believed by Paul's generation.

So in Acts chapter 17, as Paul begins to introduce the unknown god to them, he effectively takes them, as he does with Gentile audiences, and you'll see this happening in the scriptures over and over again, they take the audience all the way back to Genesis chapter 1 and verse 1. In the beginning, God. And what's the first thing you learn about that propositional statement that begins the biblical record? In the beginning, God, what's the next word?

Created. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. In other words, the heavens and the earth are the designed result of God's intention, forethought, and planning. Well, let's go back to Paul's exact words in Acts chapter 17. We'll cover one verse here if we hurry. Look at verse 24. Verse 24.

Here he begins now. The God who made the world and all things in it, since he is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Now, by the way, that last little statement, I can just see Paul gesturing. He's on the Areopagus, on the windswept open courtroom where the Supreme Court sat. He could have easily, in my mind, I imagine him just sort of gesturing around for all of them to see, because Athens is dotted with one temple after another, including the magnificent Parthenon.

They were everywhere. Paul arrives and effectively says, you're right. There is a God you don't know about. And he's going to say a lot about him, by the way, that whittles it down from atheism or polytheism to monotheism. He says there is a God you don't know about. But I want you to notice how Paul informs them that this God doesn't need anything created for him, because he happens to have created all that is.

That's what he says. Notice again, he's the God who created the world and all things in it. Now, the word Paul uses for world in verse 24 is the word cosmos. It refers to the sum total and the arrangement of all that exists. The word cosmos is carefully chosen by Paul, the apologist. He actually uses a word that every Athenian philosopher would have known well to refer to the order and arrangement.

In fact, it was used to the order and arrangement of the political system in Athens. Plato, a famous scholar of ancient Athens, used the word cosmos, in fact, for that which is well ordered and arranged. In fact, we happen to have one rather interesting illustration where Plato used the word cosmos to refer to the order and arrangement in which a woman puts on her makeup.

First this layer and then this layer and then the next layer. I'm sure Mrs. Plato didn't appreciate that illustration, but he used it. I don't know who the philosopher was who said, well, if the barn door needs painting, and the reason we don't know who it is is because his body has never been found, just so you know. All that to say, cosmos gives us the word cosmetics, the arrangement of cosmetics or the arrangement of the face. Now what Paul is implying here is that when you detect the cosmos, the universe, and you notice the arrangement and the order, someone has effectively taken a brush and applied it that way. The beauty and order of life in the cosmos is the cosmetic brushstroke of creator God. For by him, the apostle Paul wrote to the Colossians, all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, all things have been created through him and for him. And Paul clarifies here, did you notice he created the world, now notice, and all things.

That's his way, by the way, of closing every loophole, and all things. That would include aliens seeding the universe, okay. It would include billions of years of enough time plus enough chance and encounters with wind or erosion or ice or meteor or whatever, or billions of years to fashion you and me. No, he created all things, all things. This word all things refers to simply all the world contains. Linguists say it refers to all inanimate objects such as stars, mountains, rivers, seas, and all animate objects such as plants, animals, and angelic beings, and the human race. Now that doesn't mean God didn't set in motion the laws of nature for joining in God's ultimate intention by procreating a child or for plants and animals to produce after their own kind. What it does mean is that everything that exists is the result of God's divine forethought, intention, and plan. Listen to what Nehemiah said in his own journal, you alone are the Lord, you made the heavens, the heaven of heavens with all the starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them.

You give life to everything. Nehemiah 9 verse 6. This is exactly what Paul is saying.

Next he adds the exclamation point. Notice that the creator God is the Lord of heaven and earth. He's not subject to the universe. He's not caught off guard by what happens in the universe.

It isn't too big for him to manage. He is Lord. He is master of heaven and earth. He is the creator behind the cosmos.

I love the story of Charles Boyle who was a devoted Christian several centuries ago. He was fascinated with Kepler's and Newton's discoveries about planetary motion and the intricate design. Boyle hired a watchmaker to design an actual working mechanical model of the solar system that demonstrated the motion of the planets around the sun.

They all moved mechanically according to the pattern of their orbit. It's quite marvelous, an incredible display of skill and precision. On one occasion, Boyle was showing the model to a man he'd been praying for, an atheistic scientist. The atheist was extremely impressed with the clockwork model. The atheist said, this is what Boyle was hoping for, the atheist said, this is an incredible, impressive model. Who made it? And Boyle responded, nobody.

It just appeared. David, the psalmist, praised God by writing, by the word of the Lord the heavens were made and by the breath of his mouth all their host. He gathers the waters of the sea together in a heap.

He lays up the depths and storehouses. Let all the earth fear the Lord. Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.

I love that. For he spoke and it was done. Takes you back to Genesis 1, and he said, and he said, and he said. The plans of his heart, David writes, the plans of his heart from generation to generation, Psalm 33, 6 to 10. You know, David is singing about the forethought and intention and planning of our creator God. And I love the way David adds that little line, when the world comes to understand that, and by faith believe it, all the world stands in awe of God.

Isn't that what you do? When you learn something, when you read some discovery, when the archaeologist turns over his spade, when you see something on your computer screen, when you look at the photograph of the Hubble, who wasn't sent out there by the way to defend Christianity, but when you see those photographs, you stand in awe of God. In the 1800s, Darwin believed the cell, the smallest unit of life, was simply a lump of carbon. Trouble is, his theory was based on what he couldn't see. And he was honest enough to admit it, by the way. He wrote, and I quote, if it can be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous successive modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.

End quote. That's exactly what happened then with the invention of the electron microscope in 1930, 48 years after the death of Charles Darwin. Mankind was finally able to see a demonstration of the complexity within a single living cell, and it was a staggering discovery. Hidden from view all this time, locked inside the nucleus of a cell, was this chemically coiled strand that would later be named DNA, which I'm glad it's called DNA because I cannot pronounce everything that that represents. DNA.

Let me read just one description. This has been in a cell discovery day, I guess, this morning and this evening. But let me just read from one description, something that Darwin didn't know, that we know now. Once the egg and sperm share their inheritance, the DNA chemical ladder splits down the center of every gene like the teeth of a zipper pull apart.

DNA reforms itself each time the cell divides, each cell having the identical DNA. Along the way, cells specialize mysteriously, yet each cell carries the entire instruction manual of 100,000 genes. Your DNA contains instructions that if written out would fill a thousand volumes, each volume 600 pages. And here's what staggers my imagination in their discovery.

All of the information of the entire library are carried within each cell. No evolving, no adapting, but immediately springing into existence containing all the information. The DNA is so compacted that all the genes in your body's cells could fit into an ice cube.

However, if the DNA were unwound and joined together end to end, the strand would stretch from the earth to the sun and back again 400 times. In other words, it has been demonstrated that a complex organ exists which could not possibly have been formed by numerous modifications. So obviously the theory collapsed and they've been rewriting science textbooks over the last few decades. Not hardly.

They have dug in. And you say, as I said to myself and then offer an answer, if Darwin had only had the electron microscope, if only he'd had that, he didn't. But do you know what he had? This sermon by the Apostle Paul delivered to the Areopagus and Charles Darwin would have read this same chapter in the book of Acts as he prepared at one point in his young adult life to be a minister in the church of England. But with what Darwin already knew, he was already troubled by the staggering cosmetic arrangement of the world. Listen to something that is not in those textbooks. He wrote a letter to a close friend which was published after his death and he wrote, and I quote, I am conscious that I am in an utterly hopeless muddle.

I cannot think that the world as we see it is the result of chance. Again I say I am and shall ever remain in a hopeless muddle. Paul effectively warns his generation and ours if you want to muddle along, deny what is as obvious to us as four faces carved into a mountainside. In Athens, in America, the denials are commonplace because of it.

Beloved, here's what we're dealing with in our culture. Mankind not only loses a divine designer, he loses purpose and design for his own life and muddles along. But for the believer, just one expression, just one discovery, the record of scripture is caused to glorify God all the more, right? Don't you want to praise him for his creative handiwork?

Every discovery points to him. I came across this article, yet another reason to stand in awe of our creator and with this I close. You may feel as if you're sitting still right now but it's an illusion of miraculous proportions. Planet Earth is spinning around its axis at a speed of 1,000 miles per hour. Every 24 hours, planet Earth pulls off a celestial 360. We're also hurtling through space at an average velocity of 67,108 miles per hour. That's not just faster than a speeding bullet.

It is 87 times faster than the speed of sound. When was the last time you thanked God for keeping the galaxy in orbit and the earth spinning on course? I'm guessing you've never prayed, Lord, I wasn't sure we'd make the full rotation today but you did it again.

Thank you. And then his application, Mark writes, Mark Batterson writes, if we can trust God to manage our universe and keep it in perfect arrangement according to his will, if we can trust God for these big things, let's trust him for the little things like keeping our own lives on course according to his intention, his forethought, and his plan. The God of the Bible is the Creator of the universe.

Being the Creator implies that he's sovereign over everything, right down to the smallest details of our lives. Here on Wisdom for the Heart, our teacher, Steven Davey, is working through a series called Introducing God. Today's lesson is entitled, In the Beginning. If you'd like to share this sermon with others or listen to it again, it's posted to our website. Simply go to wisdomonline.org and you'll be able to listen and share the link of the message with anyone you think needs to hear it. We also have Steven's manuscript posted there so you can read the word-for-word manuscript he developed when writing this message. One more thing, we've taken this message and turned it into a booklet.

It's a small, easy-to-share resource that you can use to share this truth with others. The booklet is called In the Beginning and you'll find it in our online store. You can also call us today for information. Our number is 866-48-BIBLE. Now today only, the booklet In the Beginning is absolutely free. Just pay the shipping cost. Again, that's wisdomonline.org. Oh, I should also mention that this current series, Living God, also has a video version.

So if you'd like to watch, you can do that as well. Now that's a lot of information, but you can call us for assistance or visit the website. Our number once again is 866-482-4253.

I'm Scott Wiley. Thanks for joining us today. Be with us next time for more wisdom for the heart. Be with us next time for more wisdom for the heart.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-05 15:15:20 / 2023-12-05 15:24:22 / 9

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