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The Prophet

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
December 7, 2021 9:00 am

The Prophet

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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December 7, 2021 9:00 am

The Christmas story is familiar and beautiful, but have you ever thought it sounded a little larger than life? Pastor J.D. explains what sets this tale apart from all the others.

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Today on Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. God has left an imprint in your heart for him. And when we excise God out of our lives, there's a heart hunger that will find something to substitute for it. You will find something to worship. You will turn some created thing into an ultimate thing.

It is a hunger in your heart that you cannot turn off. Welcome back to Summit Life with Pastor J.D. Greer. I'm your host, Molly Vidovitch. Okay, let's just acknowledge it. The holiday season is in full swing by now, right? And everyone kind of knows the Christmas story, the baby in the manger, the shepherds being visited by angels. And it's familiar, it's beautiful and even comforting.

But have you ever quietly thought that maybe it all sounded a little larger than life, maybe a little too perfect? Like it's just another fairy tale that's a part of the season? Well, today, Pastor J.D. explains what sets the nativity apart from any of the other stories that we tell at this time of year. We're learning why we can trust the Bible as we kick off a new teaching series called Foretold. Pastor J.D.

begins with a message he titled The Prophet. All right, well, before I start officially this morning, let me give a little spoiler alert about this introduction. If you have young children, as I do, and they are still really into all the stories that we tell at Christmas, so you catching my drift? I want to warn you that there might be a couple of things in this introduction that could challenge those stories a little bit. You follow what I'm saying? It's only going to last for a couple of minutes and then I'll be done. I'm going to try and be very subtle, but still, you got young kids in here, now might be a really good time to take a family bathroom break.

We tracking, all right? I'll just mention this stuff right in the introduction, then after that you'll be totally safe. Okay, all right. So if you have been a Christian for a while, especially if you were raised as a Christian, then there are a lot of things about what we believe as Christians that you probably take for granted. And you don't realize how absurd and how unbelievable they sound until you're explaining them to somebody who doesn't believe the doctrines of Christianity. And then as you're explaining them, you ever caught yourself or you're like, yeah, this is totally crazy what I'm telling you.

It's happened to me recently with my kids as we, you get ready for the Christmas season, you know, we unpack the manger scene and I'm explaining to them what the different pieces are about. I'm like, yeah, this little baby in the manger in the hay, that's God. You know, and you just, yeah, we all believe that. And when he came, millions of angels appeared in the sky to shepherds and they sang to them all night long and nobody else heard them, but we believe they were there. And a woman with no husband claimed that God made her pregnant.

And we all believe her, we all believe her. And you just, you say these things, you're like, what is this gonna sound like to somebody on the outside? Fat guy coming down a chimney, not true. Jesus returning in the clouds on a white horse, that's true. Flying reindeer, be serious.

Flying horsemen of the apocalypse, of course. I mean, you catch what I'm saying, you get outside of this and you're like, so I know that Christianity appears to many on the outside like it's unbelievable. I know many of you here are that way and I'll just tell you sometimes it strikes me that way too. So I want to explain today one of the most important reasons why I believe the Bible is true and why I believe that it is God himself that it speaks to us in the Bible, that the Bible is the very voice of God. So if you have your Bible, and I hope that you do, open it to Deuteronomy chapter 18. Deuteronomy 18, Deuteronomy is the fifth book in the Old Testament. So if you have a Bible and you only know how to use it, then just open the very first page and just keep going right until you hit something, starts with a D, that's Deuteronomy. Now as you're getting there, let me explain to you what's going on in the book of Deuteronomy.

I'll set the context for you a little bit. In Deuteronomy, Moses is giving his farewell speech to the nation of Israel. You see, Moses had had a moral failure as a leader and because of that moral failure, he is not going to be allowed to accompany Israel into the promised land that they're about to go into. And so in chapter 18, he's giving them his farewell address and starting in verse nine, he gives them a very important instruction and then he makes an incredible prediction.

We're going to look at both of those things, right? Begin here in verse nine. He tells them, when you come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who would burn his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens or who read palms or does horoscopes or fortune cookies.

Okay, maybe I made that last one out, but you get the drift. Or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a wizard or Harry Potter or a necromancer. For everyone who does these things is an abomination to the Lord. And because of these abominations, the Lord your God is driving them out before you. No, no, but the Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers, and it is to him that you shall listen.

Now let me explain what just happened. God is explaining to the Israelites that when they go into the land they are not to try and access the divine, the supernatural. They're not supposed to try to communicate with the supernatural the way that the people of the land, the Canaanites, the way that they do. You see, every culture has its ways of connecting with the supernatural.

They certainly did, and he refers to a number of them. I would say that in our culture there are basically four views about how we connect with the supernatural or the divine. And so to apply it to our context, let me outline those four views for you fairly quickly here.

Okay, here's view number one. View number one is that there is no voice of God to be heard in the world. There's no voice of God to be heard in the world, so you don't listen for him.

This view has three main varieties to it. One is atheism, which of course says that there is no God, so obviously there's no point in trying to hear him. Then there is its, you know, stepsister agnosticism, which says that we're not sure if there's a God, and there's no way we can know, so we can't listen to him on earth because he's not really speaking.

And then there's the cousin deism. Deism says that there probably is a God out there, somewhere, but he never gets involved with what's going on on the earth, and so there's no purpose in looking for him or listening for his voice. This view says that we should always look for perfectly natural explanations for whatever happens on earth. Science, it believes, can always eventually explain whatever happens, so we should entertain no hypotheses about God's intervention in science or history. Now let me make clear, I believe science and the historical method are wonderful advancements and things that I would suggest you arise right out of our study of the Bible, but this view can actually become, listen, it can become quite closed-minded. The purest form of the scientific method is that you would follow evidence wherever it leads, right? Even if the evidence contradicts some of your preconceived theories. And so if, from the outset, you just decide that there can be no supernatural appearances on the earth, then that makes you closed-minded. If you are not open to evidences that would contradict the worldview that you have, then at that point you haven't become scientific, you've become a bigot, right?

That's what we call prejudice when you're not open to certain evidence because you have a preconceived theory. Let me give you an example. If we discovered at our church office that somebody was stealing money from our office, and so we called a po-po and they come over and they're doing an investigation, and they said, you know, we're going to make a list of suspects and the detective began to write down suspects, and I looked at the list and I'm like, well, you got guys on that list. He's like, well, yeah, these are the suspects. I'm like, no, I don't want you to put any men down there, only women.

And he was like, well, why? I said, well, I just don't think any of the guys in our office would steal money, and so I only want you to investigate the women. His response to me would be, well, you've got to explain that bias because if you go into this investigation biased, you might miss some of the clear evidence that's right in front of you. You see what I'm getting at? For you to not be open at all to where God might have revealed himself in history is not scientific, it's actually quite prejudiced. All I'm saying is that you should at least be open to wherever the evidence might lead.

That's all I'm pleading for. Now, for those of you that are in science, which I realize in this area is quite a few of you, let me make clear that I'm not talking about simply plugging God into the gaps. You know, wherever we can't come up with a good scientific explanation yet that you just, you know, shrug your shoulders and say it's got to be God. You know, who left the door open? Was it you? No. Was it you? No.

Must be enough. Must be God. I'm not talking about that. I'm just saying that you ought to be open to a supernatural explanation where science is not able to give a satisfactory answer or where science is not equipped to give an answer. For example, when naturalism has to conclude about the universe that nothing times nobody equals everything and you say that doesn't make sense to me, that's not satisfactory. Or when you look at what birthed this incredible movement known as Christianity, that you at least be open to the fact that Jesus really might have been raised from the dead the way that he and his followers and his predecessors all claimed he would be. And I just want you to be willing to investigate the evidence on its own terms.

That's fair, right? Here is view number two. View number one, there's no voice of God to be heard in the world. View number two is like the opposite of that. God is in everything and so we can all access him equally. This has two varieties. One is what we call pantheism, which literally means God is everything.

It's got a cousin. Panentheism, which means God is in everything. God is in you. You just got to get in touch with your inner deity.

The force is strong with you, young Skywalker. And this is Buddhism, this is Star Wars, this is Deepak Chopra, this is the gospel according to Oprah. That all goes into this view right here. View number three in our culture is that there are multiple deities and spirits at work in the world. There are multiple deities and spirits at work in the world. That's what you see here in this passage that he is addressing.

That's got two varieties. One is called polytheism, which is the belief that there are many gods. That's what the Romans and the Greeks and many Hindus believe. Then related to that is a view called spiritism. Spiritism which says there are lots of spirits in the world that we can tap into. The occult, horoscope, superstitions. These are people that read the Twilight series or the Harry Potter series and think this is probably based on a true story.

Okay, that's this view. Now interestingly, there's a lot of Christians who have their own version of spiritism and superstition. If you don't believe me, just go on to Google and type in Virgin Mary appearances and you will be overwhelmed at where poor Mary has been at work here in our world recently. Poor Mary is always showing up in a bowl of soup or a slice of bread somewhere as a way of guiding people who are, you know, like that's not how God speaks.

Or Christians who think that God is always giving them signs everywhere. I didn't know if it was God's will for me to ask around or not, but on the way home I was driving, I saw a billboard. The first letter of the billboard was the first letter of her name. The last two digits of the phone number of the billboard were her age and so I knew that God was telling me to ask her out. That's new, that's not how.

And no, I'm not reporting a real counseling situation where I've changed the identities to keep people safe. Now let me point out, let me point out a real, real quick irony before I go to view number four. View number one was there's no voice of God to be heard. View number two is he's everywhere. View number three is there's multiple spirits speaking.

Here's the irony. People who espouse view one, that there's no voice of God to be heard in the world, end up gravitating toward views two or three. Right toward the end of last century there was a set of very scholarly books that came out called Megatrends that analyzed cultural developments in the 20th century. In the introduction the authors, who were not Christians, explained that one of the things that they found most surprising in this study, one of the most surprising things in the 20th century, was the growth of religion and spiritualism in the western industrialized nations. They had expected that as technology and science was able to explain more and more of the natural world, they expected that the desire for spirituality and religion would go down. But what they found to their surprise was that people at the end of the 20th century were more religious and spiritual than people at the beginning of the 20th century. As science and technology went up, so did religion.

Rodney Stark in his incredible book, which I would commend to you, called What Americans Really Believe, points out that the percentage of atheists in our country has stayed consistent at four percent from 1944 through the end of 2007. And he says, and I quote, despite all the biological and technological advancements, the predicted godless age has never dawned. The reason is because God has created you for interaction with the divine. Sociologist Peter Roszak, again not a Christian, said that trying to cut worship or religion or spirituality out of your life is like trying to put a cork in Old Faithful.

You might be able to stop it once or twice, but eventually it's going to build up so much pressure that it just blows everywhere. If you don't think there is a personal creating God behind creation, you end up turning the creation into God. You will worship something.

As I've explained to you before, you can no more quit worshiping by not being religious than you can turn off your sex drive by remaining single. You will turn something into an ultimate thing and you will give it the weight of divinity. Real quick, this is interesting, I read this article too. Studies show that atheists end up being some of the most superstitious people in the world. There was an article in the Wall Street Journal earlier this year that did a study on what kinds of people were most prone to believe in paranormal activity.

You know paranormal stuff like Bigfoot, goblins, aliens, the Loch Ness Monster, little sadomasochist dolls named Chucky, that that kind of stuff. And the studies showed that people, look at this Wall Street Journal article, people who believed in God were three times less likely to believe in all that paranormal stuff than people who were agnostics or atheists. Guys like Bill Maher, you know who did the movie Religulous and all that, they would end up being the worst ones for superstition.

Bill Maher told David Letterman on the David Letterman show that he ought to quit taking his heart pills because western medicine was all a sham and he should only go with eastern varieties. Look at this, the study showed that the least, I love this, the least likely group to embrace weird paranormal beliefs, born again Christian college students. Okay, so you're sitting right beside many of those least likely. Rodney Stark said this in his book, for those concerned about shielding young people from the prevalent occult and paranormal beliefs in our society, a better solution to sending them to college seems to be to send them also to a conservative Sunday school class. Again, the reason that this happens is because you were created for a closeness with the divine. God has left an imprint in your heart for him and when we excise God out of our lives, there's a heart hunger that will find something to substitute for it. You will find something to worship. You will turn some created thing into an ultimate thing.

It is a hunger in your heart that you cannot turn off. All right, all that to say, God is saying to them, I know, I know when you go into the land you're going to want to hear from me, but don't do it like they do it. Don't try to find it in spiritism. Don't commune with yourself. The Jedi's strength does not flow from the forest.

I'm not going to be found in the horoscope or by staring into your alphabet soup. These are what the Canaanites try and do to hear from God. Verse 14, and he says, I find that abominable. That's a strong word to use when you're God.

I find that abominable. He says that word three times. He says, don't do that. Verse 15, know the Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you from your brothers. Here's your fourth view. God said that he would give us his word through his specially appointed prophets or what we call special revelation. View four, God gives his word through specially appointed prophets, special revelation. And he says, verse 15, it is to him, it is to that specially appointed prophet that you shall listen. I'll speak to you through my appointed prophets and when I do, did you catch this?

You have to listen. You're going to have to be humble enough to listen to what I say about myself because undoubtedly, he says, I will challenge your views of me. Now, I've pointed this out before, but we live in this culture that likes to say, well, we got certain parts of Jesus that we really like. We like what he says about himself here. But these other parts we find offensive. And so we'll take the parts that we like of Jesus and we'll jettison the parts that we don't. And you know, sometimes as a culture, we're arrogant enough and historically naive enough to think that we're the first ones in history to do this.

This has always been the case. Even back then, he knew there were things about himself that he was going to tell them that were going to offend him. That's what people do with Jesus now in our culture. This is a good time of the year for Jesus. Everybody likes Jesus, the Christmas Jesus, you know, eight-pound, six-ounce, newborn, infant Jesus, don't even know a word yet, still omnipotent, all cute and cuddly in your little golden fleece diaper.

Everybody likes that Jesus. Okay. Are you aware that I'm quoting a movie? I just want to make sure you know that I didn't just make that up.

All right. I like to think of Jesus as a figure skater who wears a white outfit and does an interpretive ice dance on my life's journey. I like to think that Jesus is wearing a tuxedo shirt.

He's formal, but he's here to party. Yeah, parts of Jesus everybody likes. Parts of Jesus everybody likes.

The Christmas parts. And so we take the parts of God's revelation that we like and we leave the others as if we are now so enlightened that we can tell God what he ought to be like. God is not a salad bar.

You don't take the parts of him you want and leave the parts you don't. If you want to know God at all, you're going to have to let God speak for himself. I'm not saying let me teach you what God is like. I'm saying you've got to at least be open to let God defining himself even when it offends you and challenges and destroys your categories. This is my prophet. He says, listen to him. What God says to them is your opinions of me, how you think I'm supposed to act.

I mean, they're cute, but they're pretty much irrelevant. You want to be God? Create your own universe. And by the way, you can't use anything that I created in your universe.

You've got to all start from scratch. And when you create that universe, you can be God in whatever way you want. I've explained this before, but some of you your whole life, you just kind of listen to what people said about God, and you've taken little parts of it. You're like, oh, I like that about God. That's going to be part of my God. And then parts that you don't like, you're like, I don't like that part of God. That's not part of my God.

You've kind of hodgepodge this God together. And what I've challenged you before, and I'm totally serious about this, go home. Not right at the moment, but go home this afternoon. Yeah, go, no, no, I'm going to say that. Go home this afternoon and get a sheet of paper.

And just, you're a big boy now, so it's time to quit shooting from the hip. I want you to make a list. I want you to make a list of everything that you think God ought to be like. And if you need more than one page, turn it over right on the back page, and make a list of every possible descriptor you can come up with what God ought to be like.

And then I want you to go back after you're done and read back through that list, and here's what you'll find. You want to be God. And you at least need to recognize that about yourself, that you interpret what God says about himself a lot of times based on what you like and what you don't like. And I'm not saying that I'm right and you're wrong. I'm just saying that you and I both have to be open enough to let God shatter our categories. Because if God is going to give a specially appointed prophet who is going to speak for him, he says you ought to at least be humble enough to listen to him. I mean, listen, I'm not trying to be, you know, over the top or a jerk. I'm just saying if God is God, then he gets to make the rules. We don't get to define him according to our life. It's a good way to start our new teaching series here on Summit Life with Pastor J.D.

Greer. If you enjoyed today's message and you want to share it with a friend, you can do so online free of charge at From the very beginning, God intended for his church to move from person to person, household to household, neighborhood to neighborhood, and nation to nation, to move into areas of brokenness and despair and injustice, bringing God's healing, his hope, and perfect peace. What moves us today is the same thing that moved the earliest disciples 2,000 years ago, the gospel message. The gospel transforms us, empowers us, unites us, and propels us. And because of the gospel, we reach, we disciple, and we send.

That's truly what Summit Life is all about. And that's exactly what our latest Bible study resource is about. It's titled Be the Movement. You can work through this new resource at any pace that you'd like. What a great way to look ahead and what God might have in store for you in 2022. Ask for your copy of the new study when you get in touch with us today. It comes with our thanks when you donate to support this ministry. Your gift of $35 or more helps us stay on your station and expand on a new station so we can reach more people with the gospel message. Join the team that makes Summit Life possible when you give today by calling 866-335-5220 or give online at And remember to ask for your copy of the study titled Be the Movement before it's too late.

Tomorrow is your last chance to reserve your copy. I'm Molly Vidovitch inviting you to join us again tomorrow as we continue this new teaching series called Foretold on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-12 16:02:36 / 2023-07-12 16:12:51 / 10

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