In the face of death, in the face of stepping into eternity, people want to remember their house and their shingles and their motorcycle. Wow!
How far off track that is. Welcome to the Truth Pulpit with Don Green, founding pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. Hello, I'm Bill Wright, and you know there's no better way to begin today's broadcast than by quoting Psalm 8 verses 3 and 4. When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars which you have ordained, what is man that you take thought of him? So friend, who are you in that context? Don will address that question today as he teaches God's people God's Word in our series titled Key Questions Answered. Over the next couple of programs, you'll get four principles to help you arrive at an edifying answer.
So have your Bible handy and let's join Don now in the Truth Pulpit. Who are you? Really, theologically, we're asking the question, what is man? What is man? What is the human race? Where did we come from and where are we going? And to answer that question, I'd invite you to turn to Psalm 8 as we consider the question, who are you? And what we see as we answer this question biblically, who are you, is this. The answer to that question that gives us significance is not what distinguishes us from everyone else. Rather, what gives us eternal significance is what we share in common as a human race.
Who are you? We need to answer that question. I'm going to give you four principles to help you answer that question. First of all, you must start answering that question from this perspective. Number one, you are a creature.
You are a creature. And beloved, you cannot, no one on the face of the earth can look at their life as it now exists and accurately define who they are. You must start at the question of origin. You can't say who you are unless you know where you came from. If you answer the question of origin incorrectly, everything else is askew.
The whole question of origin defines the human race, and we need to define that question accurately. Psalm 8 does that for us. We have an inspired word from the living God which tells us where we came from. Psalm 8, beginning in verse 1, I'm going to read the first five verses here, says, O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth, who have displayed your splendor above the heavens.
From the mouth of infants and nursing babes you have established strength because of your adversaries to make the enemy and the revengeful cease. When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars which you have ordained, what is man that you take thought of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him, there it is, you have made him, God, you have made man a little lower than God, and you crown him with glory and with majesty. Now, one quick word about Psalm 8 that I'll just mention in passing is that Psalm 8 does not address the fall of man into sin. It is addressing man as he was created to be. It doesn't deny the sinfulness of man, but it is defining man in terms of who God created him to be and thus focuses on the positive presentation of the human race.
But here's what I want you to see, beloved. When we think about our lives, when we think about walking through this world, where we came from and where we are going, what I want you to see is this. Very simple point, but utterly profound and life defining. The Bible defines you in the context of the knowledge of God. Unless we know the God of the Bible, we don't know who we are. That is the whole starting point of defining who man is. And the Bible quickly takes us to an exalted view of God when it contemplates who we are. Look at the verse with me again there in Psalm 8 verse 3.
Notice where David is starting from here. He says, when I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars which you have ordained. He's contemplating God as the creator of the heavens and the earth.
He's looking up at the night sky and from that perspective, seeing the greatness of God on full creative display, he turns and looks at himself and says, I am so small and creaturely by comparison. God, this is how you answer the question, who am I? This is how you think rightly about yourself in the context of the universe. You start by contemplating the one who made the heavens with his fingers and you realize that that same creator made man and you are a subset of the human race. You are a member, maybe that's better stated, of the human race who was created by this God who created the heavens.
That's the starting point. Any other starting point is not only wrong, it is satanically wrong and designed to lead us astray. We don't contemplate our own existence without first contemplating the existence of God, the existence of the God of the Bible. That is the starting point for all human knowledge and that is the starting point for knowing who you are. We don't define ourselves primarily by the job that we do, by the family that we have, by the activities that we enjoy.
That's the mindset that imprints a motorcycle on a tombstone. We're mindful of the fact that we were created by an eternal God. We're mindful of the fact that that has implications and we define ourselves by looking first to the heavens and then reasoning from there.
And the fact that there is a creator means that the fact that the scriptures say God you made man means that you're a creature. You're not independent. You don't have an independent existence.
You don't have an independent prerogative. The fact that you are a creature means that you and I have responsibilities to the one who created us. As soon as you contemplate yourself vertically, you realize that your life cannot be about primarily about you. It's about you living in light of the one who created you. We are creatures. We are the objects of care of a master creator and beloved, here is where that leads us.
What is the spiritual impact upon your life of being a creature? Psalm 8 answers it for us at the beginning and at the end. Look at verse 1 with me again. He says, Oh Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth. Look at verse 9.
Oh Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth. At the beginning and at the end of this psalm, he is worshiping, he is declaring the majesty of God. And that has an interpretive significance to this psalm. The beginning of this psalm is worship. The end of this psalm is worship.
And that means that everything designed in between, everything written in between those two bookends is designed to cause you to worship as well. And so, beloved, when in the midst of that context of worship, David says, look at verse 5 with me again. He says, you have made man a little lower than God.
You crown him with glory and majesty. The premise is that that leads him to worship. He contemplated that God is the creator.
Oh, that means you made man. That means we worship you in the majesty of your name. You see, when you understand that fundamentally you are a creature, that means that God created you. That means that your primary obligation in life is to return worship to the one who gave you life.
That is the defining principle of your self-understanding, your self-image. That my duty first and foremost begins and ends with the worship of the one who made me. God created us, we praise him. God created us, we give him our allegiance. Psalm 139 verse 13.
We won't turn there, but you can just jot this down in your notes if you're taking notes. Psalm 139 verses 13 and 14 says this, and it's a familiar passage. Speaking to God, the psalmist says, you formed my inward parts. You wove me in my mother's womb. I will give thanks to you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works.
Do you see it? There's this recognition that from the very moment of our conception, this God of the Bible, this creator God was intimately involved in forming us into the people that he wanted us to be. And in the context of recognizing that, the psalmist says, I'll give thanks to you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
What is the spiritual impact of being a creature? Your fundamental outlook on life is defined by the recognition that I owe a responsibility. I owe a duty, a glad duty of gratitude and thanksgiving to the one who made me. I did not make myself. There is no such thing as a self-made man. Scripture says if you have something you need to understand, you received it.
What do you have that you did not receive? And so this understanding that we are a creature immediately crushes our sense of pride as if our attainments in life were something that we did by the power of our own hand. And it places upon us, it puts us in a context where we recognize I have a duty of gratitude to the one who gave me life. I have a duty of dependence upon the one who sustains me. I have a duty of worship to my creator. That is the obligation that a creature has to its creator. I must worship the one to whom I owe my existence.
Who are you? You say, I'm a creature. I'm a creature and that means that I owe allegiance and gratitude to the one who made me. That's the starting point of understanding who you are.
Now, as you continue on as we think about these things, there's something wonderful about this. As you consider your origin, you consider your source of where your life came from. If the God of heaven, if the God of creation is the one who made you, point number two becomes very evident. And it's this, is that you have dignity. You have dignity. Scripture teaches that God bestowed on man a special nature that distinguishes him from every other living thing.
Psalm 8, as I said earlier, passes over the fall into sin, the chaos of sin, and it teaches the place that man has in the universe. And we're going to see, as we consider the dignity that we have as created men, I want to show you four sub parts of this, of this dignity that we have. First of all, you have dignity.
When I say you, we're talking about as members of the human race. You have dignity, first of all, in the created order. In the very created order, in the very structure of the universe, there is a particular dignity given to man. Man, we could state it differently, has a distinct place of honor in God's created order.
Look at Psalm 8 with me again, as we pick it up again in verse 5. Yet, you have made him a little lower than God, and you crown him with glory and majesty. He's speaking about the dignity that God has bestowed upon the human race. Verse 6, you make him to rule over the works of your hands.
You have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea, whatever passes through the paths of the sea. God has put man at the pinnacle of his created order, Scripture teaches. In Genesis, you see this, in fact, let's turn there, Genesis chapter 1. Genesis chapter 1, in verse 26, we're talking about the distinct place, the distinct dignity that man has in the created order of God. Genesis 1 verse 26, God said, let us make man in our image, according to our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the sky, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.
Let them rule, let man rule over the rest of creation. Verse 27, God created man in his own image. In the image of God, he created him, male and female, he created him. You say, but pastor, that was before the fall. What about after the fall, what did sin do to that? Well, even after the fall, God reaffirmed man's position in creation. Look at Genesis chapter 9, in verse 1. After that worldwide flood, this is after sin, after the world was judged in the flood, notice this. Genesis 9, 1, God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.
There's a creation mandate there. The fear of you, verse 2, and the terror of you will be on every beast of the earth, and on every bird of the sky, with everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea, into your hand they are given. Every moving thing that is alive shall be food for you.
I give all to you as I gave the green plant. God handing over to man, reaffirming his position in creation, man has a place of dominion in the created order. I like to think about it this way, on this point.
The position of man, the role of man in the created order. We put animals in zoos, not vice versa. There's a reason why it's done that way. It's because man rules over the animal kingdom, not vice versa. And animal rights activists, PETA, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, violate the created order, God's created order when they elevate beasts to our level. I don't know if you saw the story, they're starting to do this more and more.
I saw stories like this in California, and I read about this recently, I think it was in the state of Georgia, where the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals have petitioned the state for permission to establish a monument in memory of a group of chickens that were killed when a chicken truck was overturned in an accident. And they are serious! Now, you say, that's nuts!
And I'm inclined to agree with you. What I want you to see is, the theological problem that underlies that, the worldview that underlies that, while that sounds so crazy to biblically informed ears, what I want you to see is two things. One, and you understand this, this is where the thinking of evolution leads you. The man is knocked off of his place of dignity and creation, and we share a nature with chickens, so that if a group of people die in an accident, you put a monument there. If a group of chickens die, you put them there too.
I think in California, it was a group of fish that were killed that they wanted to do this for. And so, we're reduced to the level of roosters, when this teaching is denied, that we're looking at here today. And what I want you to see is that there's a theological reason behind that. They do not see the distinct dignity that man has in the created order. If there is no God, man is not endowed with unique dignity. If we give memorials to men, we give them to animals as well.
There are practical consequences to this. Now, you also have dignity. You have dignity not only in the created order, but you have dignity because you were created in the image of God in a way that is utterly distinct from animals. How great is the dignity that belongs to the human race?
How great is the dignity that belongs to us as human beings? Man reflects the likeness of the God who created him by divine order, by divine appointment. Man is created on a divine pattern, which gives him the capacity to think with reason, to have personal relationships, and that bestows on him moral responsibility in a way that animals do not share. Man thinks with reason, animals do not. Man has personal relationships, animals do not. Man has ethical accountability, animals do not.
There is a distinction in the human race for being created in the image of God that gives us a proper way to contemplate our place in the universe. There is a dignity to being a man. There is a dignity to being a woman.
There is a dignity to being a member of the human race that animals do not have. We have something that God gave to us that he gave to no other aspect of creation. And so, for people that wonder where their value comes from, here's the value in being a man or a woman. It's the fact that you were created in the image of God. That's what bestows value upon you. And I want to say something here.
I'll probably get into this a little bit later as well. But this is something that is shared in common by the human race. And that means that we have a sense, whether we are meeting a president or whether we are meeting a sharecropper someplace in a poverty-stricken portion of Africa. There is a sense in which we bestow dignity of equal value to each one because of the image of God that is related in them. This destroys the sin of partiality in our thinking and in our interactions when we understand that every human being shares in the image of God. I remember one time walking into a restaurant and I had been thinking about these issues and there was this homeless man that was camped out in the place that I normally want to sit. Normally wanted to sit.
This is far away now. As I was thinking about this and this unpresentable man, so to speak, was there and it occurs to me that man whom I would have been prone to blow off, somehow he represents the image of God. And so I didn't introduce myself.
I just nodded and politely said hello. The significance of that was I was acknowledging, recognizing the image of God in him. That's what this teaching does. It keeps you from having a condescending attitude toward people who are otherwise lower on the social scale. You realize we share the image of God together.
The least I can do is nod in your direction and acknowledge your presence. It was a rebuke to my heart to realize that I wasn't naturally inclined to be that way. The pride in a heart that would blow someone off because of that.
Now, one other aspect about this. When we think about the dignity that we share as being members of the human race. You and I do not have an independent dignity that is based on who we are or our works or our accomplishments. You and I have a conferred dignity. The Creator has conferred dignity upon our human race.
We don't have dignity in and of ourselves. In that sense, you and I are like the moon. The moon has a peculiar brilliance in the night sky. But without the sun, it would just be a big ugly rock in space. It reflects the glory of the sun, but it has no inherent glory of its own.
That's the way we are. We reflect the glory of the one who made us in his image. But we don't have an independent, apart from God, dignity and value and worth. All of our dignity and value is derived from the one who made us.
And so while we recognize the dignity, it completely humbles us at the same time. When you realize that you are a creation of an all-powerful but gracious and loving God, your perspective on yourself, and indeed on mankind in general, changes radically. Pastor Don Green will provide more implications of human dignity as bestowed by God next time. He'll also give you the rest of the principles needed to answer the question, Who are you? Don't miss a moment here on the Truth Pulpit.
Well, right now Don's back here in studio with us. And Don, this radio broadcast is a valuable tool to help increase biblical understanding. But we have other great tools available too, don't we?
That's right, Bill, we do. Friend, we want to do everything we can to help you receive God's word into your life. And so there's a lot of resources available for you to take advantage of on our website. We broadcast our church services Sunday and Tuesday over our live stream. All of my weekly sermons are available for easy access via our podcast. And there are also free study guides for some messages to help you or your church group study God's word on your own. You can find all of those things when you go to the place that Bill's going to point you to right now. Just visit thetruthpulpit.com and follow the links. That's thetruthpulpit.com. I'm Bill Wright, inviting you back next time as Don Green continues to teach God's people God's word from the Truth Pulpit.
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