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August 19, 2020 12:01 am
When God declared to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM," He revealed His self-existence and limitless power. Today, R.C. Sproul continues his discussion on God's glorious name.
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Why isn't the entire universe just empty space or black hole with nothing at all in it?
Well, the answer to that question really should be so simple that it should never incite any kind of debate or argument in the beginning. God.
Welcome to Renewing Your Mind on this Wednesday Hively Web, and we are pleased to return to Dr. Arcy Sproul's series, Moses and the Burning Bush there on Mount Horeb. God declared his name to be I am who I am. On the surface, that appears to be a rather peculiar statement, but it points to the fact that everything begins and ends with God.
We're going to continue with our study of the experience of Moses in the midnight wilderness when he encountered God in the burning bush and God revealed himself in an extraordinary way to him. We've already seen some of the implications of what God had revealed to Moses in that brief conversation. But I want to explore further in this session the significance of the name by which God reveals himself when he calls himself simply I am who I am.
So let's look back at that. Portion of the texts were in chapter three of Exodus, verse 13.
Moses said to God, Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, the God of your fathers has sent me to you. And they say to me, What is his name? What shall I say to them? And God said to Moses, I am who I am. And he said that you yourself say to the children of Israel, I am has sent me to you. Moreover, God said to Moses, thus you shall say to the children of Israel, the Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob has sent me to you. This is my name forever.
And this is my memorial name to all generations. Now, some critics, when they read this account and see that Moses asks God to give him his name and God responds in this very strange and mysterious way by saying, I am who I am.
Some of the critics say that what God is doing here is basically refusing to reveal his name, saying is none of your business what my name is, I am who I am, and we're just going to let it go at that.
But I think that the context in which God calls himself I am who I am for bids that critical interpretation, because God makes it clear that he's not refusing to reveal his name, but that he is giving a name, his name to Moses, which name is to be his name forever for all generations. And his memorial name. And we saw early on in our studies of this incident that in Hebrew categories in the Old Testament that the names of people are given to reveal something about who they were. Even Moses was given the name Moses because he was drawn out of the water. We remember that Jacob became Israel because he wrestled with God and struggled. And so throughout the scriptures, we see the names of individuals telling us something significant about their being or their character. And there is nowhere in sacred scripture where that is more profoundly true than here. When God reveals himself in this extraordinary manner by saying I am.
Who I am.
Well, before I look at this any further. Me ask this simple question. Why do you worship God? Why do you give to him of reverence and a sense of adoration that differs from any esteem that you give to anything in the created world?
You know, it's easy for us to love God, to be grateful to God and to worship God because of all of the wonderful things he's done in history and in our own history for ourselves. But I don't think the Christian rises to true worship until the Christian begins to worship God, not for what he has done.
But for who he is?
In his transcendent majesty, when we realize this, the theologians of the past have said that God is the most perfect being.
I quibble a little bit with that definition because really perfection does not admit to degrees. But the church fathers wanted to get our attention with this intentional redundancy to say he's the most perfect being. Lest we underestimate.
The significance of God's perfection, all that he is, all of his attributes, his omniscience, his presence, his eternal city, his simplicity, all of the attributes that attend, our understanding of God are without blemish, without any mixture of imperfection.
So let's ask the question now. That was the oldest question that scientists and philosophers asked in antiquity. It's a most provocative question. And yet, in its expression, it is rather simple. Anyone can grasp it.
The question is this, why is there something? Rather than nothing.
Why does anything exist in this universe? You know, the Psalmist, without understanding the immensity of the galaxies and the billions of stars that we hear about from the astronomers today, just in his naked observation of the world around him, look to the stars and said, I when I look at the stars and the moon and all that you have made.
I'm forced to ask the question, what is man that thou art mindful of him?
Even from the perspective of ancient man, the immensity of the universe seemed to oh for whelm him and made him feel utterly insignificant in the light of the vastness of reality as we perceive it. And of course, when David uttered those words, he hadn't a clue to the extent of the universe, even as we don't really have any grasp of the significance of it. We're forced to ask the question why?
Why this universe? Why is there something rather than nothing? Why isn't the entire universe just empty space or black hole with nothing at all in it?
Well, the answer to that question really is easy. And it should be so simple, so manifest that it should never incite any kind of debate or argument.
And that answer is found in the very first verse of the Bible, where we read in the beginning, God, I mean, just start there in the beginning, God, and then it goes on created the heaven and the earth.
So what's being positive in the opening statement of sacred scripture? The first thing it's telling us is this. There was a beginning.
There was a time when all of these stars, all of the trees, all the fish, all the animals, all of the people didn't exist at all.
Everything in the universe has a beginning.
It starts at a particular moment in space and time. And before that, all that existed in reality. Was God.
Nothing. But God, because it's a very beginning. There was God.
And the beginning came to pass because this God who doesn't have a beginning, this God who is a turno, created everything that is in this world. Now, you hear all the time about the inquiries and the debates, about the origins of the universe. And we hear frequently about the Big Bang Theory of cause marghani, of how the universe came to be. And just a simple recapitulation of it tells us that at one point in time, no pun intended, all matter.
All energy in this vast universe was compressed into this tiny, infinitesimal what's called point of singularity.
And this point of singularity was totally organized in this compressed reality for eternity.
And for eternity, past.
It obeyed methodically the law of inertia and the law of inertia says that those things which are at rest tend to remain at rest until acted upon or unless acted upon by an outside force.
And those things that are in motion tend to remain in motion unless acted upon by an outside force.
But the second arrest at this point says we have a origin of the universe that defies the law of inertia, because for all eternity, this point of singularity stayed in this organized state without.
I have I otha of mutation or change. And then one Thursday afternoon at 315.
Boom. It exploded.
And the repercussions of that explosion are still being searched in the vastness of the universe as the present universe seems to be expanding from that original explosion.
One point I was in conversation with Carl Sagan about this, and he said we can go back to the first nanosecond before the Big Bang all that way back. And I said, why do you stop there?
We don't feel the need to go back before that. I said there's no question that screams louder than that need to go back there. If you're a scientist, for goodness sake, you have to ask the question.
Why the big bang? How the big. Well, before the Big Bang. But what was before the big bang was a manifestation of the verb to be. Our language cannot function without this simple verb to be that verb, which is in the middle of the name of God.
God does not say to Moses, Here's what my name is. My name is. Once upon a time I was. Now I am. And I'm still going to be around tomorrow because I have a future. That's not how he introduces himself.
But he introduces himself in terms of the eternal present.
I am who I am. I am the personification. Of the verb. To be.
Again. In the ancient world, as philosophers tried to figure out how the universe came into being and how the universe could be understood in an intelligible way, Plato wanted to save the phenomena.
That is, you look at all of the experience of things that we see the birds and the trees and the crickets and the daffodils and all those things. How can we make sense of them? How does all of that diversity fit together in any coherent, meaningful whole?
And philosopher Par Menotti's said, fundamentally, the most important thing for us to understand as we tried to examine reality is this whatever is.
What he was saying here is that nothing can exist. Part.
Pure being. Perfect being without any shadow of turning.
He was challenged by Heraclitus, who came on to say, no, no, no, no. Everything that we investigate in the world around us has one thing in common.
Bears differ radically from daffodils.
But the one thing that every bear has in common with every daffodil is that all things in the creature Lee World are in a state of becoming.
Heraclitus said he can't step into the same river twice. Everything's in a state of flux. What does he mean by that? He said while the river is running down its banks and you put one foot in, what, your toes in the river and then you want to put the next toe in.
But the river has moved on. The river has changed. And not only that, but you have changed.
Today, Vester was bringing out all kinds of photographs from the past history of 40 years of Ligonier ministry and a bunch of photographs of me and the naked eye.
And for safe, the radical character of the changes over those 40 years. You know that today.
I'm different from what I was yesterday. If only one day older, one air grayer, one molecule weaker, one step closer to my own demise. And what is true of me at that point is true of you as well.
And the one element.
That everything that is in a state of becoming has with every other thing that is in a state of becoming is one critical word. Change every four years when there's an election for the president, not his state, some candidate runs his campaign on the promise of bringing change. It's time for a change. And the assumption is that any change that comes to pass will be a good one. But that's not the case. We all know that things change in our lives and they don't always change for the better. Sometimes they are for the worse.
So we are defined. As creatures by change. And that's what is the difference between me and God.
You know, we say this distinction that God is the supreme being. And we are human beings. And so we think that the difference between God and us has to do with those adjectives that qualify the concept of being he is supreme. We are human. But you know what? The real differences between God and me.
Has being in and of himself, he alone has a Turnell being any.
Being that I have is transitory and a being that I have is dependent. It's contingent.
It's derived. It's a subset of pure being. That's what Joy Apostle Paul said to the Athenian philosophers. With respect to God in him, we live and move.
And have our being. Let me put it another way. Without him. We couldn't live.
Our existence would be static, inert. We couldn't move. The stars would freeze and their courses. Because their emotion. Is not independent. It started in this vast organization in static inertia. Aristotle understood that for anything to move in this world.
It has to be moved by something.
Other than itself.
So our motion depends on the being of God in him, we live and move.
Let me just say this. We debate all the time about can we prove the existence of God if we define God as an eternal being from whom all things come and upon whom all things are dependent?
I think that that proposition can be proved indubitably and compellingly in about 10 seconds.
We don't have to jump into an abyss of darkness and just embrace God with a leap of faith. Rationally compelling. How can that be?
If anything exists. Anything. These glasses.
Something somewhere, somehow. Must have the power of being.
In himself. Without that, nothing can exist again if there were ever a time. That there were nothing.
Just imagine a vast emptiness in the universe, pure darkness.
Nothing. No stars, no people, no oceans. What could there possibly be now?
We'll look at that more closely, God willing, in our next session.
God's existence, his very being as what allows us to live and breathe. Amazing to think about that, isn't it? And the apostle Paul would echo that when he addressed the men of Athens and asked 17 for. In him. We live and move and have our being. We're glad you joined us today for Renewing Your Mind. As we continue our study of Moses and the burning Bush Arcy sprawl, talk this series with the desire to help us as Christians see the significance of God's revelation to Moses. There are 10 messages in this series and we're happy to send them to you. And a two DVD set for your donation of any amount is, Arcy said today. This account is one of the most profound theology lessons recorded in the Bible. So request them today with your gift. Call us at 800 four three five 43 forty three. Or go online to Renewing Your Mind dot org. And we'll be happy to hear from you if you've downloaded Legionnaires' Free App. Once you've completed your request, you'll be able to view the videos on your phone or tablet. No need to wait for the DVD to arrive. Just look for my learning library in the app and begin viewing right away. Again, our number is 800 four three, five, four, three, four, three. The web address is Renewing Your Mind, dot org. And if you haven't downloaded the app yet, we invite you to search for Ligonier in your favorite app store.
Well, with regard to the creation of the universe, have you ever heard the term spontaneous generation? I hope you'll be with us tomorrow as RC explains the absurdity of that hypothesis. He'll explain that God's self existence is the only logical explanation for the universe. That's on a Thursday edition of Renewing Your Mind. We hope you'll join us.