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Gods that Never Existed to Begin With

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
October 11, 2022 9:00 am

Gods that Never Existed to Begin With

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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October 11, 2022 9:00 am

For most Americans, statue worship isn’t something we’ve seen or experienced. But in truth, many of us—even Bible believing Christians—are buying into false images of God without even knowing it.

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Summit Life
J.D. Greear

Today on Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. I understand that at the end of the day your will is better than mine because you're a lot smarter than me and so I'm going to tell you what I think I need, but at the end of the day I'm going to trust what you're going to give me what you know that I need. If you feel like you can trust Jesus with your eternal soul, don't you feel like you can trust him with your earthly happiness? If you can give him your sin, don't you think you can give him your future, your finances, your marriage, your kids, and everything else? Welcome to Summit Life with pastor, author, and theologian J.D. Greer.

As always, I'm your host, Molly Vidovitch. When the Bible was written, statue worship was still a common practice, but for the majority of Americans it's not really something that we've seen or experienced. So we think we're totally safe when it comes to the second commandment that says you shall not make for yourself a carved image, but today pastor J.D.

reveals that many of us, even Bible believing Christians, buy into these false images of God without knowing it, and it keeps us from truly knowing him. Pastor J.D. titled today's message, gods that never existed to begin with, and if you've missed any of the previous messages in this unknown God study that we've been in, you can hear them all online at jdgreer.com.

Let's get started right now. Here's Pastor J.D. Exodus chapter 20, if you have your Bible, today is our third and final message of a little series we've done called Unknown God, which is a series in which we've been exploring the question, can we actually know whether God exists?

And if so, what can we know about him? We've been trying to take, I hope, an honest look at some of the difficult questions about the existence of God. During the first week, we looked at how creation points us toward a creator. Creation, the apostle Paul tells us, is like a voice that's constantly calling out to us, suggesting to us that God is there. There are certain people who come up with reasons to ignore that voice, or maybe they reason themselves out of why that's not really the voice of God, but the point was, it's an instinctive response to what we see in creation. We just kind of respond and think, well, there's a God behind that. The second week, we saw how there are really good reasons to believe that the voice of God was speaking in Jesus. Today, I want us to look at certain distortions of God that people reject, thinking they are rejecting the real God, when in fact what they are rejecting is a distortion of God that ought to be rejected.

In fact, that's the irony, the tragedy. In rejecting these false views of God that ought to be rejected, many people miss the real God. The tendency to reshape or reimagine God in a new form has been a major problem for all of human history, which is why, probably why, God addresses it in the second commandment He ever gave to mankind. Second commandment of the Big Ten, number two of the Big Ten reads like this, you shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.

The key word there is image. This is a command not to add any image or any shape in our minds to God that God has not already given to Himself. Now see, we've got to be really careful not to confuse the second commandment with the first commandment.

They look similar, but they're different. The first commandment says this, you shall have no other gods before me. That is a command not to worship other gods besides God. The second command is a command not to worship the right God in the wrong way.

Does that make sense? We violate the second commandment when we add something to God, some image in our minds, some opinion that goes beyond or contrary to what God tells us about Himself and His Word. The fact that this command comes second of all of them shows us that it's something we are likely to break, even though I would say most of us don't think about it that often. This was in fact the command that Israel literally broke before Moses had even returned from the mountain where he received the Ten Commandments. Exodus 32, if you've got your Bible, flip over there.

That's where we'll be for the rest of the time. Moses, if you know this story, had gotten delayed up on the mountain with God where he was receiving the Ten Commandments and the people panicked. They're like, well Moses is not coming back, Moses is dead, God's forgotten about us, God doesn't care, God's not even real. So they took off their jewelry, they melted it down, and they constructed a golden calf to represent God. The promises of an invisible God were not enough for them, not when they had real enemies that wanted to kill them, not when they had real needs that need to be met. So they said we need a God that we can touch, a God that we can see, a God that we can hang on to. Now I want you to notice that the narrator of this story makes clear that with the golden calf, Israel was not worshiping a new God. Watch this, they were simply worshiping the real God in the wrong way. Watch this, when Aaron, he was the guy in charge of all this, saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and he announced, tomorrow there will be a festival to the Lord. Notice Lord is in all caps in your Bible, right? Whenever you see that, that means it's God's covenant name.

It's a name that he only used with Israel. So we're not talking about a different God, this is a festival that they have made to the real God and they celebrated with feasting and drinking and they indulged in pagan revelry. Pagan revelry means open orgy, literally in Hebrew it reads Franklin Street, that's what it says right there at the end of that paragraph. They added an image to God that they thought would work better for them, but that new God was insufficient to save them. I mean think about it, that new God, that golden calf couldn't even speak to them, he couldn't comfort them, they had to dance for him, he couldn't even move himself from place to place, they had to carry him. The true God had promised to supply all their needs, he had promised to protect them from danger, he had promised to feed them when they were hungry, to satisfy them when they were thirsty, one day he would give his life to redeem them. They traded this God for an image of a cow that would serve as a good luck charm made out of leftover jewelry and see here's what would happen, inevitably this image of God would fail them because he wasn't real, it was something they had projected onto God and here's the irony, when that golden calf failed them, when he failed them people would be like see God's not real, but what was not real?

What was not real? The golden calf was not God's idea, it was their idea they projected onto God. Furthermore this image of God corrupted them spiritually, that's why the author points out that their worship led to an orgy. If our hearts are spiritually dark, what scripture tells us that they are, then any God we project out of our hearts is also going to be dark. So rather than transforming our dark hearts, that image of God just ends up reflecting our dark hearts back to us. So let me repeat, make sure you get this, Satan's strategy from the beginning has been to twist our view of God beyond what God has said about himself and then have us reject that distorted view, thinking that we're rejecting the true God.

That's been his strategy from the beginning. It's the ultimate chutzpah, you know chutzpah when you think about it, you know the Jewish rabbis in Jesus's day had a definition for chutzpah, their definition of chutzpah was the kid that kills his mom and dad and then throws himself on the mercy of the court because he's an orphan, that's chutzpah. Satan's chutzpah is he lies to us about God, gives us this false image of God, then lets that image of God let us down and we reject that image of God thinking we're rejecting the real thing. Let me show you a few places he does this in the Bible and then I'm going to show you more places that he does it in our modern culture.

All right, let's go back to the very beginning, you don't need to turn there in your Bible, I'll just kind of walk you through these. Satan's first deception in the Garden of Eden went like this, watch this, now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field and he said to the woman, you will not surely die for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God knowing good and evil. I want you to see what Satan did there, it's really subtle but you can see it, he presents God to Eve as if God is an insecure God and God because he's insecure makes these rules to keep us down so that we won't threaten his position, his rules are arbitrary and oppressive because they come not from wisdom, they come from jealousy. Eve of course recognizes that such a God would not be worthy of worship and so Eve rejects that God.

You see what Satan's doing there? All right, here's another one, many of the Jews in Jesus's day like Thomas were convinced that a God who really loved them would liberate them from Roman oppression immediately. So let's think of this as the instant deliverance God.

So when Jesus doesn't do that, guess what? They said well see God has let us down, he's not trustworthy and they reject him. Job in the Bible, we talked about him the first week, he doubted God because Satan planted in his heart the idea that Job would be immediately able to understand the reasoning and the justice behind whatever God did. Let's call this the immediately understandable God and so when Job couldn't figure out what God was doing he assumed God must not exist. When God finally appeared to Job he basically says, Job why would you assume that you can understand all of my ways? And then he begins to ask Job a series of questions like, hey Job where does the lightning come from?

Hey Job have you made any stars? Job if you don't even know the answers to some of these natural questions, do you really feel like you're going to be in a place to understand my secret counsels? Immediately understandable God is a myth that Satan created and causes many people to doubt God because they assume something about him that's not true.

So one more time Satan's primary strategy has been to spin up distorted conceptions about God and then destroy our faith when they let us down. We'll return to Summit Life with J.D. Greer in just a moment but I wanted to take a moment to tell you about our featured resource. This month we want to equip you to care well for the people in your life whether it's someone who lives in your house or someone you work with or even a long-lost friend. Our newest resource is a pack of encouraging greeting cards.

Next month is Thanksgiving and it's the perfect time to connect with someone, let them know you're thankful for them or it might even be a chance to mend a broken relationship. What greater hope can we share with those that we care about than the beauty of God's word? Take a practical step towards those you love with a handwritten note of encouragement right now. This resource comes with your generous gift to the ministry so give us a call at 866-335-5220 or check it out at jdgreer.com.

Now let's return for the conclusion of today's teaching. Here's Pastor J.D. There are 8747 false images of God in the Bible. So this is Satan's full-time job. I'm not going to walk you through all of them.

What I'm going to do though is today's going to be a little different, let me acknowledge that. I'm just going to give you a few of what I see as the top distortions of God that I see Satan doing this with today. This is a list I've compiled from others as well as a few of my own here.

Ways that Satan lies about God and then gets us to reject the God that's actually a false image of him. You ready? Here we go.

Here's the first one. Goosebumps God. At least that's what I would call him. Goosebumps God. This is the God, the idea that if God is real you'll always be able to feel him.

He'll give you goosebumps. He'll give you feelings of peace, overpowering emotions in your heart and so if you can't feel him well then he must not really be there. But let me ask you, where does your Bible ever say that you will always be able to feel the presence of God? Lots of people in the Bible couldn't feel the presence of God even when he was there. In fact so much of the book of Psalms comes from believers saying, God I can't feel you. One of my favorite and not favorite Psalms, Psalm 88. Right in the middle of the song, right toward the end of the song the psalm writer says this, oh Lord why do you cast my soul away?

Why do you hide your face from me? Darkness is my only friend. That's the last phrase of the verse. Darkness is my only friend. I mean that's one of those Psalms that when you get to it in your quiet time you're like, I'm not really sure what to do with this. Like I don't feel blessed and encouraged.

How do I go throughout the day? Darkness is my only friend. You have distanced yourself from me. This was a worship song. Can you imagine singing this in church? You know the last phrase, darkness is my only friend. God has abandoned me. Okay you guys can be seated and be blessed. That's what that's what they sang because they felt like God wasn't there. They couldn't feel it.

Even Jesus on the cross cried out, God where are you? C.S. Lewis wrote about a time. C.S. Lewis, you know C.S. Lewis is the last author in the canon that came 2000 years after the other Bible writers. The way we quote him you would think that.

But C.S. Lewis himself wrote about a time where he didn't couldn't sense God's presence in his life. It's in a book called A Grief Observed. It was after his his wife had died. He says, I went to God during that time and it seemed like it was a door slammed in my face. Then I heard the sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that silence. There were no lights in the windows. It feels like an empty house.

Why is God so present a commander in our time of prosperity and so very absent of help in our time of trouble? That's C.S. Lewis somehow. That quote never makes it on everybody's Facebook page of favorite C.S. Lewis quotes.

I've yet to see that one. But see it's real. A lot of Christians have been in situations where they could not feel the presence of God. The God of constant goosebumps does not exist.

We made him up. The real God tells us that we are to walk not by feeling but by faith. You see a lot of Christians based their understanding of how God feels about them or their sense of the perception of the presence of God.

They base it on how they feel. Well, I feel like God is absent. I feel like God is mad at me.

I feel like he's distant. Our feelings are not reliable indicators of reality. If I wake up tomorrow morning and I say I don't feel married, I'm not going to tell that to my wife because it doesn't change the fact that I am married.

Right? There's some realities are not based on how we feel. Your feelings.

Let me tell you something that could really change your life if you could get your mind around this. Your feelings don't have brains. Your feelings do not have a mind to think for themselves.

Your mind is supposed to think for your feelings and sometimes tell your feelings that what your feelings are telling you are not really accurate. That's why Psalm writers often find we find them talking to themselves in the Bible. Psalm 103 for example begins like this. Bless the Lord O my soul and all that is within me.

Bless his holy name. You know in the Psalms, sometimes Psalms are written to other people. Sometimes they're written to God. Who is this Psalm written to?

Himself. I'm writing me a song because you know what my soul doesn't feel like right now? It doesn't feel like blessing the Lord and it doesn't even feel like God is real. So I'm going to tell myself what is true about God based on his word and based on what he has done at the cross and resurrection and I'm going to tell my soul your feelings are not reliable indicators of reality. God's word is a reliable indicator of reality. So bless the Lord O my soul. You see in Christianity we don't feel our way into our beliefs.

We believe our way into our feelings. The God of goosebumps does not exist. He is a figment of our imagination and Satan has caused many of us to believe in him and then reject that God when that God fails us but it was never true of God to begin with.

Here's a second one. Smooth sailing God. With smooth sailing God we assume that if God is on our side life will work out great and so when bad things happen to good people what do we assume? Well there must not be a God. This is the God to whom the athlete prays when you know he quotes Philippians 4 13 before he shoots a foul shot.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. If Christ is in me then I know I'll make this foul shot. And you're like where did God promise that? You know I sometimes see two wrestlers both with Philippians 4 13 tattooed to their arm getting ready to wrestle each other and I think well this is an interesting theological problem. I wonder which God versus God who's going to win? You know maybe one of them hasn't memorized in Greek.

I bet he's the one that's going to win or something like that. But where does scripture say that bad unfortunate or unfair things will not happen to good people? You don't get that from the Bible.

I mean think about it. Christianity started with a horrible thing happening to a very good person. The whole Christian movement was built on really good people with really bad things happening to them. So where did you get the idea that smooth sailing was the proof of the presence of God? Simply listen you didn't get that from the Bible. You didn't get that from Christian teaching. If you lost faith in smooth sailing God, good.

Congratulations. He doesn't exist. You should have left him behind. What scripture should have left him behind. What scripture does teach us is that God will never abandon us even in pain and that ultimately he's going to use all pain for our good and his glory. Sometimes God will prosper us financially. Sometimes God will prosper us in sports.

He'll prosper us relationally. Sometimes God will prosper us spiritually even when all those other things are falling apart. You know to go back to Philippians 4 13 specifically where Paul says I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. You should read the verse right before that one which by the way all your favorite verses just make sure you're doing them right so go back and read the verse right before the verse. What Paul says in Philippians 4 is I have learned. Paul writes that by the way when he's bankrupt in prison and all of his friends have abandoned him and he says I have learned how to be joyful when I have everything and when I got nothing. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. The all things he is referring to is not all of his foul shots going in. The all things he is referring to is having nothing or having all of it.

It's smooth sailing or rough seas. I've learned that God can sustain me in both. Closely related to that one is what I would call on-demand God. On-demand God. That's the God we believe will always give us what we ask as long as our requests are fair and thoughtful. If it's reasonable and we're really convinced that we need it then God's going to give it to us just like we expect him to. And so of course when God doesn't deliver on the timetable that we think he should deliver on we assume that he doesn't really exist. Again where did you get this idea of God? Personally I'm glad that God does not exist because if God had given me everything that I had asked for when I was 15 or 16 years old my life would be a wreck. I think about some of the girls that I asked God to make fall in love with me.

I mean dodged a bullet on some of those right. This might be the only place where I agree with Garth Brooks. I thank God for unanswered prayer. When Jesus gave us the model prayer he started Jesus started the model prayer off with three phrases that totally debunk on-demand God. Number one our father who art in heaven. When you approach God you're approaching him the way a child does trustedly with a father. My son asked me for lots of things that I denied to him not in spite of the fact that I love him but because I love him.

My seven-year-old son is convinced he needs his own ipad and he will make a really compelling case just ask him about why he should have his own ipad and it totally makes sense to him and I have denied that request and will continue to for the next several years not in spite of the fact that I love him but because I love him. So I approach God with the same attitude. I'm our father who art in heaven how holy is your name. Your kingdom come. God I realize that at the end of the day that what your agenda is is your kingdom and what's best for me personally may not be best for your kingdom and what's best for your kingdom may not be best for personally so I surrender to that.

Your will be done. I understand that that at the end of the day your will is better than mine because you're a lot smarter than me and so I'm going to tell you what I think I need but at the at the end of the day I'm going to trust what you're going to give me what you know that I need. And so there in those three phrases you protect your heart with celebration and surrender and faith and only then are you in a place where you could ask the other request. On-demand God doesn't exist yet many people walked away from the faith because they assumed that's what the Bible taught about God. You see what we're doing?

Here's another one. Kill joy God. Kill joy God is the God who comes up with endless rules to oppress you control you and just generally he's out to kill your buzz. He hates all pleasure especially sexual pleasure. He hates sexual pleasure. It irritates him to see you have a really good time.

He's like the detention hall teacher who wants to make sure that you don't have any fun in your life on earth. In the words of the great theologian Kanye West how come everything that is supposed to be bad makes me feel so good? So let me ask you the question where did you get the idea of kill joy God? The God of the Bible created joy and laughter and even sex. This is why the psalm writer psalm 16 11 says God in your presence is fullness of joy. It's your right hander pleasures forever more. Fullness means joy that couldn't get any bigger.

Forevermore means pleasure that couldn't last any longer. He says this is where it all comes from you and any rules or guidelines that God has is ultimately to increase our eternal pleasure. Where did you get that idea of God right? Well let me give you a couple reasons I think people come to believe in this distorted view of God. The first is they just they just don't trust God. At the end of the day they just don't think he's a good God who desires the best for his children so they think you know a little religion in your life is good. A little religion helps everybody but don't go too serious with it because if you get too serious with Jesus you're going to have an unhappy life. Let me ask you a question my friend. Listen if you feel like you can trust Jesus with your eternal soul don't you feel like you can trust him with your earthly happiness?

If you can give him your sin don't you think you can give him your future, your finances, your marriage, your kids and everything else? That's one place it just comes from a lack of trust. Sometimes however the idea of kill joy God comes from growing up in an environment where constant rules were put on you in the name of God and walking with God meant keeping all these regulations. Anybody grow up in an environment like that? At one of the schools that I went to growing up they had rules for everything. You know I've told you about some of them before you couldn't drink or dance or chew or mess around with girls who do. Dancing was the worst of all sins right?

You couldn't have premarital sex because it might lead to dancing. That was you know the rule and we could only read the King James Version of the Bible because that's what Jesus read and it was good enough for him it's good enough for you. Right see at all these rules let me tell you where that mentality usually comes from. It comes from thinking that God's acceptance of us is based on how well we conform to some set of laws. Jesus showed up he taught the opposite.

God loves and accepts you because you're his child. That's it. You're listening to Summit Life with Pastor JD Greer and a message from our teaching series called Unknown God. So JD this month we're inviting our listeners to become what we call gospel partners. What does that mean exactly? What is a gospel partner?

Yeah great question. A gospel partner is somebody who believes in the mission that we've embraced here at Summit Life to bring Bible-based gospel-rich teaching to every corner of the world. They commit to give regular monthly support here to Summit Life that enables us to be on the air and enables us to go in especially some of these places where it's let's just say less Christian and so your giving makes it possible for us to do that. So in a sense Summit Life is your ministry.

It's about the great commission. We'd love you to be a part of that so you can learn more about the advantages of becoming a monthly partner some of the special things we do some of the promos we extend to them. We'd like to begin a relationship with you for the long haul. Just go to jdgreer.com and you can find out more.

For your first gift as partner we'll send you a box of 20 inspirational greeting cards to help you encourage some of the people in your life. We thank the Lord continually for our faithful partners because we truly couldn't do this without you. As always you can visit us at jdgreer.com or call us right now at 866-335-5220.

That's 866-335-5220. I'm Molly Vidovitch. Be sure to join us again tomorrow for the conclusion of this study called Unknown God. Listen on Wednesday to Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-18 23:47:42 / 2022-12-18 23:58:38 / 11

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