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The Idol Of Human Power - Part 1

Fellowship in the Word / Bil Gebhardt
The Truth Network Radio
May 25, 2022 8:00 am

The Idol Of Human Power - Part 1

Fellowship in the Word / Bil Gebhardt

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May 25, 2022 8:00 am

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Today on Fellowship in the Word, Pastor Bill Gebhardt challenges you to become a fully functioning follower of Jesus Christ. Think of man. That's what man does.

What is secular humanism? We've got the power. We have the power. We make an idol out of human power. And it's interesting.

Human power is an illusion and ultimately never the answer. Thank you for joining us today on this edition of Fellowship in the Word with Pastor Bill Gebhardt. Fellowship in the Word is the radio ministry of Fellowship Bible Church located in Metairie, Louisiana. Let's join Pastor Bill Gebhardt now as once again he shows us how God's word meets our world. This past week, we all heard the annual State of the Union speech by the president of the United States. And I believe that the American public who listened fell into three groups. One group, those who believed every single word that was uttered. The second group, those who didn't believe a single word. And the third group, those who believed some of the words.

You see, the same three groups listen to every State of the Union speech. Every presidential election becomes the fulfillment of the great line, it was the best of times. It was the worst of times. For some, finally a new beginning. To others, this is the end. There is no hope. I hope you realize that since Andrew Jackson, and that's the earliest I could find.

Since Andrew Jackson, people who voted for the losing candidate have threatened to leave the country. Why are we so wound up in this? Maybe we can gain some insight from the Dutch-Canadian-Christian philosopher, Al Wolters. Wolters says, look, there's only one main problem.

It's sin. There's only one solution. It's the grace of God. He stated that what happens to us so often is we look for an alternative to identify, and we identify something else as the main problem. And something besides God becomes then the main remedy. It's not that we make an idol out of something completely bad, it's that we make an idol out of something that cannot be ultimately good. The idol of human power. Wolters writes this, he says, the great danger is to single out some aspect or phenomena of God's good creation, and identify it, rather than the alien intrusion of sin, as the villain in the drama of human life. This something has been variously identified, the body and its passions, Plato and much of Greek philosophy, culture and distinction from nature, Rousseau, romanticism, institutional authority, especially in the state and family, much of what is called depth psychology, technology and management techniques, Heidegger and Elul.

He said the Bible is unique in its uncompromising rejection of all attempts to identify part of creation as either the villain or the savior. He then says this, this accounts for the constant political cycles of overblown hopes and disillusionment, for the increasingly poisonous political discourse, and for the disproportionate fear and despair when one's political party loses power. There's nothing new about the idol of political or human power. Nazism. The Nazis, when you think about how they rose, they rose in the 1930s and they did so because of the shame of Germany, and the shame the Germans had to feel because of the Treaty of Versailles. And so there's this nationalism, and there was such a rise of nationalism toward Nazism that gave them absolute power.

And the Nazis brought more shame to the German people than anyone had in a thousand years. The ideology of communism, an ideology that finally promised to level the playing field between the haves and the have-nots. But ending in World War II and going from that point all the way to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the beliefs, the ideals of communism came crashing down. And in the wake of the collapse of socialistic communism, capitalism has marched now to the front of the line. Its Bible, Adam Smith, the wealth of nations.

Listen to what he wrote in that book. The market is an invisible hand that, when given free rein, automatically drives human behavior to that which is most beneficial for society, apart from any dependence on God or moral code. But I think that the massive financial meltdown of 2008 and 2009 revealing the systemic greed is casting doubt on deifying capitalism. In fact, Larry Elliott and Dan Atkinson have written a book, and they titled it this, The Gods That Failed, How Blind Faith in the Markets Has Cost Us Our Future.

Now, please understand what I'm saying so far. I think capitalism is a compelling economic model, a good thing. I think leveling the playing field is a very worthy ambition.

I think that the two-party system will be historically admired. But I'm saying this, that in a culture that is where you find God is largely absent, human power always tries to fill the vacuum. In fact, in many ways, human power is an illusion. And ultimately, it's never the answer. And ultimately, it always fails.

It's a hard lesson to learn. There was a man who had to learn it, sixth century B.C. This man was the head of the great Babylonian empire. He replaced Assyria and Egypt with Babylon. He invaded Judah, conquered Jerusalem, and took the best of Judah and carried it back into captivity, into Babylon. The Babylonian empire was led by a great man, a great king, a great general. And his name was Nebuchadnezzar. And he was, at that time, the most powerful man on earth.

But he had trouble sleeping. Open your Bibles to Daniel chapter 2. Daniel chapter 2.

And we drop in on Nebuchadnezzar. Now in the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams. And his spirit was troubled and his sleep left him. He apparently has a recurring dream.

He can't sleep. And then the king gave orders to call the magicians and the conjurers and the sorcerers and the Chaldeans to tell the king his dreams. So they came and they stood before the king and the king said to them, I had a dream and my spirit is anxious to understand the dream. And then the Chaldeans spoke to the king in Aramaic and they said, Oh king, live forever. Tell the dream to your servants and we will declare the interpretation.

They've been here before. They understand this. You just give me the dream and we'll tell you something wonderful about your dream. The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, The command from me is firm. If you do not make known to me the dream and its interpretation, you will be torn limb from limb and your hassles will be made a rubbish heap. But if you declare the dream and its interpretation, you will receive from me gifts and reward and great honor and therefore declare to me the dream and its interpretation.

A fly in the ointment. He says, no, no interpretation this time. Tell me the dream. I mean, you have these magical, incredible powers.

Tell me the dream and then tell me what it means. Well, they're like, come on, there's nobody in the world that can do that type of thing. You just can't do that kind of thing. Well, look down at verse 24. Someone steps on the scene. Therefore, Daniel went in to Arioch, whom the king appointed to destroy the wise men of Babylon, and he went and he spoke to him as follows. Do not destroy the wise men of Babylon. Take me, he says, into the king's presence and I will declare the interpretation to the king. And then Arioch hurriedly brought Daniel into the king's presence and spoke to him as follows. I have found a young man among the exiles from Judah who can make the interpretation known to the king. And the king answered and said to Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, he said, are you able to make known to me the dream which I have seen in its interpretation? And Daniel answered before the king and said, as for the mystery of about which the king has inquired, neither wise men or conjurers, magicians nor diviners are able to declare to the king. However, there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries and he made known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what will take place in the latter days. And this, he says, was your dream and the visions you had in mind while you were on your bed. And so what you find right now is Daniel says, look, no man could do that, but there is a God who could do that.

Now it's kind of interesting that this setup here is kind of, we know the story. We know he has this image of this image in his head, gold and silver and bronze and iron and feet of clay. We know this and we interpret it as soon as we see it in a unique way. Prophecy, this is all about prophecy and it is. He says in the latter days, it's a prophetic book. In fact, you'll never understand the book of Revelation if you don't understand the book of Daniel, especially along with Ezekiel, but you will not.

But I want to ask you a question. How do you think Nebuchadnezzar thought about it? Nebuchadnezzar's not troubled because he's worried that somewhere way down the road something's going to happen. That to him isn't his worry. He, and apparently, by the way, he's very worried. He says in verse three, my spirit is anxious. And by the way, in verse three, he also says, and by the way, if you don't tell me, I'm going to tear you limb from limb.

And that's not a threat. He's going to actually tear them limb from limb. So this tells you something about this guy. He's afraid. He understands something. He sees the crushing of something.

He sees that head and it looks a lot like him to him. And he sees this image being crushed. And so consequently, he's very much afraid.

Reinhold Niebuhr, in his book, The Nature and Destiny of Man, has a chapter called Man is Sinner. And he writes this. He said, man is insecure. He seeks to overcome his insecurity by a will to power.

He said he pretends that he is not limited in his power. That's mankind. We pretend. Mankind, we pretend we have power. That's what we do. And that's exactly what Nebuchadnezzar is doing.

He is pretending. We come by this naturally. You remember Lucifer. I, I will sit on the holy mount. I will ascend. You see, I will be like the Most High.

I mean, there are the statements. I'm going to be, I got power. What do you say to Adam and Eve?

You will be like God. I mean, think of man. That's what man does.

What is secular humanism? We got the power. We have the power. We make an idol out of human power.

And it's interesting. Human power is an illusion. And ultimately, never the answer. Do you realize 95% of what has happened to you in your life is completely out of your control? 95% of who you are right now is completely out of your control. Do you have any control over what century you were born in? Any, any at all?

None. By the way, is it possible you could have been born in the 7 or 800s, right in the middle of the Dark Ages? Is that possible? Sure it is. You don't have anything to do with that. You don't even have anything to do with what country you were born in. You could have been born in Gaul in 800. You see, your ancestors could have been people who died themselves blue and were barbarians.

Could have been easily. That could have been your family tree. It had nothing to do with you. In fact, you had nothing to do with the family you were born into.

You had nothing to do with that. You almost had nothing to do with your childhood. Your childhood was kind of dictated to you. You grew up in a certain environment. You weren't in control.

In fact, think about it this way. You have genetically hardwired talents. They're just a gift to you. You didn't have anything to do with that.

You didn't have anything to do with that at all. Some of you can sing on key. It just comes natural, and then there's the rest of us. But it's true. Your IQ. Some of you are very smart. You didn't have anything to do with that.

You see, you didn't have anything to do with any of that. And yet somehow we believe that somehow it's all up to us. Even the British poet, W.E. Henley, he lost his leg as a teenager and it made him bitter. And so you know the words.

It matters not how straight the gate, how charged with punishments the scroll. I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul. Where do you think you've got that talent? Where do you think the talent for poetry came from? Was that in his control?

Not at all. Did he grow up in an environment that apparently encouraged it and allowed him to express himself poetically? By the way, a sidebar on that is, after he wrote that, his five-year-old little girl died. And it's said he never recovered. You see, God wants all of us, like Nebuchadnezzar, to learn a lesson.

The lesson of our own limitations. Look down at verse 37. He says, You, O king, are the king of kings. And then this statement. To whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power and the strength and the glory.

And don't miss that. Nebuchadnezzar wanted to be always referred to that way. Nebuchadnezzar said, I'm not just a king. I'm the king of kings.

You see, I've replaced Assyria, Egypt. The Babylonians are the power of the world and I am the power of the Babylonians. And notice, out of deference to him, You, O king, are the king of kings.

By the way, To whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, the strength and the glory. So, where do you get your kingdom from? God. Where do you get the power from? God. Where do you get the strength from? God.

Where do you get the glory from? God. That's the fact. You see, now understand, Nebuchadnezzar is a pagan. He has lots of deities he believes.

Daniel says it doesn't even matter. God is sovereign. You see, God is sovereign. In fact, look at verse 44. At the end of the image he says, In the days of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people. It will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it itself will endure forever.

He says, by the way, you're just temporal help. When you think of the river of history, the history of all man, the levees are established by God. That river flows just the way a sovereign God decrees it. And by the way, it flows to the destination that he decrees. And all of these players are just players.

That's all that they are. You see, Nebuchadnezzar was being asked to change his perspective of the power of God and human power. What's amazing, he does. Look at verses 46 and 47. Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell on his face and did homage to Daniel, and he gave orders to present to him an offering and fragrant incense. And the king answered Daniel and said, Surely your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and a revealer of mystery since you have been able to reveal this mystery.

And then the king promoted Daniel and gave him many great gifts, and he made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief prefect over the wise men of Babylon. Wonderful. Isn't that just great?

He does it. And, you know, this is a really hard lesson to learn. It's not only a hard lesson to learn for pagan kings, but it's a hard lesson to learn for believers in Jesus Christ, just like you and me. Hold your place here because we're coming back to 1 Corinthians chapter 3. 1 Corinthians chapter 3.

In verse 18, the apostle Paul talking to the church of Corinth, and as I read on, we'll give you the context. He said, Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you thinks that he is wise in this age, he must become foolish so that he may become wise. He said, For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God. For it is written, He is the one who catches the wise in their craftiness, and again, the Lord knows the reasoning of the wise, that they are useless. So then, let no one boast in men, for all things belong to you. He said, Whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world or life or death, or things present or things to come, all things belong to you and you belong to Christ and Christ belongs to God.

And what is he talking about? Well, what happened is the Corinthians decided that what they wanted to do is they wanted to be followers of particular men. They idolized certain men. And they said, You know, I follow Paul. I like the way Paul teaches, and he's my guy. And the other said, Not me, I follow Apollos.

He is more eloquent. Apollos is amazing, and he is unbelievable in the Old Testament, the way he handles. And the other said, No, I really prefer Peter. I like to be a follower of Peter. Notice that Paul is saying, What are you doing?

Why are you doing this? By the way, doesn't that sound just like us? I hear it all the time. Well, I really follow Charles Stanley. I follow Chuck Swindoll.

By the way, if you want to know, I'm a MacArthurite. Now, those men would almost be embarrassed that you'd say that. You see, we don't make idols of even teachers of the Word of God. You don't make idols of them. And that's what Paul was trying to tell them.

Now watch. He said, Let a man regard us in this manner as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy. He said, But to me it's a very small thing that I be examined by you, or by any human court. In fact, I don't even examine myself, for I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted.

But the one who examines me is the Lord. And therefore do not go on passing judgments before the time, but wait until the Lord comes, who will bring both the light to things hidden in the darkness, and disclose the motive of men's hearts, and take each man's praise will then come from God. Look, I don't care what you think of me. I've got to be honest, I don't care what any of you think. The only thing that's going to matter is what does the Lord think of me?

And that's going to become clear at a certain time in the future. Then he says this, Now these things, brother, and I have figuratively applied to myself on a policy for your sakes, so that in us you may learn not to exceed what is written, so that no one of you will become arrogant in behalf of one against the other. For who regards you as superior?

Why do you think you're superior? What do you have, and here's the question, what do you have that you did not receive? What did you have that you did not receive?

And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it? You see, you don't have to understand, I put myself up by my own bootstraps. You understand, I'm a self-made man. I've made myself what I am today.

Really? I don't think you did. I think a sovereign God allowed that to happen. You see, I think there were so many things out of your control that God orchestrated to put you exactly where you were at exactly that moment. I'm not talking about no absence of human responsibility, I'm talking about the sovereignty of God.

I'm not talking about the sovereignty of God. If you would be interested in hearing today's message in its original format, that is as a sermon that Pastor Bill delivered during a Sunday morning service at Fellowship Bible Church, then you should visit our website, That's F-B-C-N-O-L-A dot O-R-G. At our website you will find hundreds of Pastor Bill's sermons. You can browse through our sermon archives to find the sermon series you are looking for, or you can search by title. Once you find the message you are looking for, you can listen online, or if you prefer, you can download the sermon and listen at your own convenience. And remember, you can do all of this absolutely free of charge. Once again, our website is For Pastor Bill Gebhardt, I'm Jason Gebhardt, thanking you for listening to Fellowship in the Word.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-14 19:15:41 / 2023-04-14 19:25:15 / 10

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