Today on Summit Life with J.D.
Greer. He doesn't accept you because of an outward conformity to a set of laws. He's a father who receives you by grace. And when you realize that, you'll start to love Him and start to love others. And when that happens, when you love God and love others, you're going to obey all of His commands naturally. God doesn't want people who obey Him because that's how they gain His favor.
He wants you to obey Him because you love Him. Welcome back to Summit Life with J.D. Greer. As always, I'm your host, Molly Vidovitch. Today we're wrapping up a powerful teaching series called Unknown God. We've been looking at the evidence for a Creator. And if you've missed any of the previous messages, you'll definitely want to hear them and share them with someone. They're all available at J.D.
Greer dot com. But for now, we're talking about a problem that most of us deal with without even knowing it. Pastor J.D. is arguing that the God most of us believe in isn't really the God of the Bible.
How could that be true? Well, Pastor J.D. has an answer to that question, so let's jump right into the book of Exodus. 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 was in fact the command that Israel literally broke before Moses had even returned from the mountain where he received the Ten Commandments. They took off their jewelry, they melted it down, and they constructed a golden calf to represent God. They were simply worshiping the real God in the wrong way. They added an image to God that they thought would work better for them, but that new God was insufficient to save them. 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.
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. 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. 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? 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 the 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, well what do we assume?
Well there must not be a God. 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.
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. 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. 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. Killjoy God. Killjoy 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.
So let me ask you the question. Where did you get the idea of Killjoy 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 hand that pleasures forever more. Fullness means joy that couldn't get any bigger. Forever more means pleasure that couldn't last any longer.
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 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.
That's one place. It just comes from a lack of trust. Sometimes however the idea of Killjoy God comes from growing up in an environment where constant rules were put on you in the name of God. Anybody grow up in an environment like that?
Right? So you had 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. In Jesus's day there were a group of people that I'm sure you've heard about called the Pharisees who come up with endless amounts of laws and regulations to be pleasing to God. You can trace their existence, the Pharisees existence. You can trace it all the way back to the time of Ezra and Nehemiah.
In Ezra and Nehemiah that was when the children of Israel came back from captivity. They'd been sent into captivity because they rejected God. So after 70 years of captivity God brings them back to the promised land and they, listen to this, they were so afraid that they were going to do something that was going to make them God sent them back into captivity that they developed a thing that they called the hedge around the law. Hedge around the law it was like this. If you imagine disobedience to the law as a pit they didn't want to get anywhere near the pit so they built a hedge around it. And so they came up with for example 65 different laws about the Sabbath that were beyond what God had said. The Mishnah is the book that they used that contained all these laws.
800 pages of extraneous laws that would keep them from breaking the law of God. And Jesus showed up and just railed against him because he said you first of all you don't understand why God accepts you. He doesn't accept you because of an outward conformity to a set of laws.
He's a father who receives you by grace and when you realize that you'll start to love him and start to love others. And when that happens when you love God and love others you're going to obey all of his commands naturally. God doesn't want people who obey him because that's how they gain his favor. He wants you to obey him because you love him.
Right? I mean you know I've told you you don't have to compel me to eat a steak, take a nap, kiss my wife, or buy gifts for my kids. You don't ever have to make laws about that. I love those things. So I do them naturally. And Jesus said that's how God wants you to be with him and that's not going to be produced in you by a set of laws. That's going to be produced in you by an experience of love. And so killjoy God doesn't exist.
Now here's another distortion I see that I think is particularly relevant for the triangle area. Anti-science God. That's a God a lot of people end up thinking is out there. Many people walked away from the faith because they were told faith in God conflicted with the scientific method. And so when they got to college they felt like the undeniable findings of science were in conflict with the unreliable teachings of their faith. And so they left their faith so they could choose the scientific method.
Now I always want to say who told you that? Christians launched the modern science movement. People like Galileo, Isaac Newton, Francis Sir Francis Bacon.
People today like Francis Collins. They believe that because God created the universe certain patterns were observable and identifiable. This scientific method was new with Christianity. It didn't exist in the pagan world because there was no sense trying to do science in a world that was controlled by the whims of the gods. But Christians believed God had given us minds that were able to detect the order he had built into creations.
So where did you get the idea of anti-science God? I will admit Christians are partially to blame for this distortion because they have sometimes lazily used the Bible beyond what it was intended for. Listen, I believe the Bible is God's word.
I believe that it is without error. But I also think you got to know how to read it. Galileo wisely said, he was a very committed believer, God gave us the scriptures to tell us how to go to heaven. Not how that, not explain to us how the heavens go.
That means the authors employed certain kinds of language that took into account their limitations. There are certain statements that the Bible makes that are poetic or metaphorical. That didn't mean they're wrong. Just that they're not designed to be scientific statements.
Let me prove, this is, you do the same thing. Let me give you an example. Your five-year-old says to you, if you're a parent, where do babies come from? What is your answer? You ever seen an inexperienced parent with their first kid who tries to give too much detail?
Right? It doesn't turn out well. So when you were an experienced parent, like for me, my third kid, I'd finally learned this, your answer is simply, they come from mommy's tummy. That's all I'm going to tell you right now. Now that's different than the answer you give to a 15-year-old. It's different than the answer that the professor gives to a medical student, right? Does that mean that you're lying to or misleading your kid?
No, it just means that you are not speaking to them in a scientifically specific way that is designed to communicate that kind of information. We speak like that on that in different ways in other areas. For example, we say the sun rose or the sun set. Well, I mean, you know, the sun didn't actually move, but we're not lying when we say that. It's just that our language there is not designed to convey scientific accuracy. You know, saying what time does the sunrise sounds better than saying what time does the earth slowly orbit until we can glimpse the sun again?
What time is that happening tomorrow? It's just, right? A lot of the Bible is the same way. I believe the Bible.
I believe every word of it is God's word, but I know that it fits hand in hand with the other book that God wrote, which is called Creation. You're listening to Summit Life with J.D. Greer and a message titled, Gods That Never Existed to Begin With. Remember, you can always catch up on teaching that you've missed by visiting us at jdgreer.com. Do you have someone in your life that you want to reach out to, but you're not really sure how to get started? Let me suggest a simple way. You might even call it an old fashioned way. We've packaged together a set of greeting cards with inspirational verses on the front and blank inside for you to use this year around Thanksgiving or any time throughout the year to encourage someone just to let them know that you're thankful for them. It could even be to simply reconnect or to take the first step to mend a broken relationship. For your gift of $35 or more this month, we'll say thanks by sending you this set of 20 cards.
Give us a call at 866-335-5220 or go online to jdgreer.com to reserve this resource today. I am constantly evaluating what is the best way to understand the science and the Bible, knowing that the same author wrote them both. When it seems like there's a conflict, I'm going to keep pressing in on both, knowing that when I understand both properly, they're going to say the same thing. An anti-science God doesn't exist. Closely related to that is what I've heard called the gap God. When I say gap God, I don't mean the God that's in conflict with the American Eagle God or the Abercrombie God. I mean the God who Christians kind of plug into whatever is unexplainable.
In ancient days, whatever was unexplainable, they would just attribute to God. There's an earthquake. Oh, well, it must be that God's stomping his foot. It's raining. God must be crying.
Lightning. God must be throwing somebody out of heaven. That's how they thought about that. Christians still appeal to this God today, sometimes with science or sometimes to explain why they got a parking space at Southpoint Mall, you know, right at the front. Oh, just Jesus knew I was late. Jehovah Jireh, he gave me the parking space. Hallelujah.
Isn't he good? Maybe God gave you the parking space. I don't know. But our entire faith cannot be built on a God who just shows up to explain the unexplainable. Because here's the thing. Listen, the list of physical things that we cannot explain is getting shorter. And personally, I'm glad for that.
I want science to figure out the cure to all diseases that we have. The list of things that we can explain is getting longer. Gaps in our knowledge have more to do with our ignorance than they do with God. Our faith does not depend on God being the plug-in for unexplainable phenomena. You know, if anything, the explainable is a better argument for God than the unexplainable. I mean, take out your phone.
I'll take it out, but you'll be too tempted to do something with it. But look at your phone. If you know how it works, if you understand how the glass and the circuits and all the things working there together and how the Wi-Fi works, you could understand every component. If you understand that, that doesn't convince you that nobody made it. Understanding it convinces you even more that somebody had to have made it. Understanding the beauty of the world points you to the magnificence of the Creator. Richard Dawkins, here's what he says in The God Delusion, one of the truly bad effects of religion is that it teaches us that it's a virtue to be satisfied with not understanding. He's talking about the gap God right there. That God doesn't exist. God never said that about himself. So what you've got to do is reject the idea of the gap God and realize that the true God is fundamentally different.
The guilt God, this is a big one. This is the God who holds your past mistakes over your head and uses them to belittle you, to threaten you and keep you down. Technically, this God may love you, but he doesn't really like you.
You get on his nerves. And so you spend most of your life trying to get away from this God. And when you finally get rid of him, you feel so liberated, right? If you're one of those people that have left behind the guilt God, let me just say to you, congratulations. You should have left the guilt God behind because he never existed in the first place.
The real God says, yes, you have sinned and you've messed things up, but I can transform you into a new creation. The real God cared so much about you that he took your sins upon himself. He doesn't hang your sins over your head. He hung your sins on his head when he went to the cross. Let me encourage you, if you have been captive most of your life to the guilt God and finally shaken him off, let me encourage you to consider the true God.
Because see, here's what happens. When you shake off the idea of God altogether, you don't remove the problem of guilt. One of the best illustrations of this came from an atheist named Arthur Miller, who wrote a play called Death of a Salesman.
Remember back in literature class, you probably had to read that that play. Arthur Miller says, he says, I quit believing in God because I was tired of being hounded by guilt. He said, but after I threw off my belief in God, he said, the strangest thing happened. He said, I couldn't shake the feelings of guilt.
I just transferred. I just transferred the feeling of inadequacy from God to the audiences I was trying to please. I needed to hear you're good and you're worthy and you're not guilty from somebody. So I lived and I died by audience reviews of my film because I desperately needed to hear you are accepted from somebody. He said, I realized that in losing my belief in God, I didn't lose my guilt.
I simply transferred it to a different, a different place. You were designed by God for him. And there is something in your heart that craves that approval. And once you kick God off the throne, you're not going to get rid of that. You're just going to look for it in a new place. You're going to become codependent in marriage. You're going to become desperate for the affirmation of others. You need the real God, get rid of the guilt God, but look to the real God, because that's the one that, that exists, that loves you and has pursued you.
Give you one more, one more really quick. The coexist God. Coexist God. This is a lot of times a reaction to the guilt God. This is the God who accepts everybody and just wants you to be sincere and try your best, right? Three problems with coexist God. It just doesn't work.
And if I could just say it really bluntly, because your heart was designed for the true God. You know, when the iPhone came out, I don't know why I got phones in the brain today, but when the iPhone came out, it was kind of controversial because Steve Jobs had made it where you could not open the iPhone and you couldn't tinker with it and you couldn't add software to it. And that's kind of what they did in the computer.
What they did in the computer world. And he said, no, no, no. The iPhone is such a beautifully and intricately and perfectly designed device that if you try to jam other stuff into it, it's just going to mess it up. Now, whether or not that's true about the iPhone, I don't know, but that is certainly true about the human soul. The human soul is so beautifully and perfectly designed by God that simply jamming in false conceptions of God is only going to mess it up. It's like saying, Augustine said, our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you, because we were designed for you. Here's the other problem with the coexist God is that he doesn't really ever confront you with your problems. The coexist God is just a reflection of your heart and all he does is affirm you. But do you realize that there are parts of you that probably should not be affirmed that really ought to be confronted?
We can see this in previous cultures, right? You got a Viking guy, a young man in his mid-twenties. He's a Viking. Somebody's insulted his honor. What does his heart tell him to do?
Go kill whoever insulted your honor so that you can restore your family name. Now that's what his heart's telling him. How many of you want to look at him and say, just follow your heart because your heart is always going to be a reliable guide to what you should do. No, we say, no, your heart is telling you the wrong thing. Don't follow your heart. Yet in our day, we assume that whatever our heart tells us is true. Why would our heart always lead us correctly? There are parts of you that need to be confronted and coexist God never confronts you.
He just affirms you. He's a cosmic blanket in which you curl up in and find yourself. Some parts of you don't need to be found. They need to be lost because they are lost. So he coexist God can't confront you.
Here's your third problem. Coexist God just doesn't exist. When I see the coexist God thing, I'm like coexist and he doesn't exist to begin with.
He's just a figment of your imagination. It's like somebody writing a biography of you. I think I've explained this before. Imagine somebody came up to you and it's like, hey, I want to write a biography of you.
And you were like, dang, that's awesome. This man wants to write a biography of me. Like, okay, in my biography, you are an astronaut who has failed at relationships. And because you're so bad at relationships, you live with 19 cats, which is the ultimate sign of failure in life, right? So you're like, this is you. And you're like, uh, I'm scared of heights. I am really more of a dog person and I'm actually not bad at relationships. They're like, yeah, but you're so much more interesting the way that I have you.
You would go from being honored about their biography to being insulted, right? Because you're like, that version doesn't exist. What's wrong with the real me? How do you think God feels when we're like, you know, I kind of need you to be like this, and this is how I want you to be, and this is what my Jesus would be like. He's not a build a bear God where you assemble the deity that makes you feel warm at night. He's not a Burger King God where you have him your way. Jesus said, John 14, six, I'm the way, the truth, and the life.
The way, the truth, the life, the life. Nobody comes to God except through me. If you've seen me, you've seen the Father. So see, go back through these gods. Goosebumps God.
He doesn't exist. Smooth sailing God. On-demand God. Killjoy God. Anti-science God. Gap God. Guilt God.
Coexist God. They don't exist. And some of you have walked away from one of these distortions of God.
And I want to say again to you, congratulations on leaving them. They never existed. They're like Cupid or Casper the Friendly Ghost.
They're just figments of somebody's imagination. I want to invite you to consider the real God. The God that's revealed to us by Jesus. The God that Jesus said, if you've seen me, you've seen the Father. That's a God whose promises are better than temporal feelings. A God whose promises were given in scripture and then validated by Jesus' death on the cross and his resurrection. A God who says, yes, I'm not just out to make your life smooth.
I've got bigger purposes for you. I'm conforming you to my glory and I died for you to get rid of your sin and I resurrected and I want you to learn to experience my power in the midst of pain. I'm not an on-demand God who simply gives you what you need as if you know everything. I know more than you and you can trust me because I'm your Father.
And as your Father, you can know that sometimes I give you what you would have asked for if you knew what I knew. I'm not a killjoy God. I'm the God who created joy. I'm the God who cared so much about your joy that when you had put yourself in misery, I came and I rescued you.
I'm not an anti-science God. I'm the God who said that the heavens declare the glory of God and that by studying the heavens, you can actually learn more about my glory. I'm not a God who hangs guilt over your head. I'm a God who took your guilt into myself so that I can liberate you and set you free. I'm not just a coexist God because I don't want to exist with things that are not true. I'm inviting you, God says, to follow me. I'm the way, the truth, and the life. The central Christian confession, listen to this, the central Christian confession has always been that Jesus is who he says he is because he rose from the dead.
Here's the question. Do you believe that Jesus is who he says he is? Because here's what Jesus said. Jesus said that your problem is that you're separated from God.
All your other problems in life come from that one core problem. But God cared so much about you, he didn't want to leave you that way. He came to earth to rescue you. And he says, whosoever will, well, if they receive this, I will restore them to God and I will guide them all the way into eternity.
Have you ever done that? So have you received that offer of salvation? If not, you can learn more about what it means to follow God when you visit us at jdgrier.com.
You're listening to Summit Life and the conclusion of a study called Unknown God. Our goal through teaching the last several weeks has been to help listeners see how the gospel changes every aspect of their life, not just Sunday morning, right, JD? Yeah, I get to see our people on Sunday morning, but I know the majority of their week has lived out the other six days and God is as concerned, if not more concerned, with what it looks like to follow Jesus and know him in those other six days.
God wants to transform not the Sunday part of you, but all of you. That's one of the reasons that we have the Gospel Partner Program, as we're inviting listeners to not just be receivers of the word, but to become channels of blessing. To become a gospel partner means I'm not only being benefited by the word, I want to give to help others be benefited by the word. And we'd invite you to join that ministry team. So you become a participant with us in ministry.
That's why we say gospel partner. We were able to develop a relationship with them, give you some just some special promos, some ways of saying thank you. We'd love to start that relationship with you.
You can learn more at JDGuirre.com. We take seriously our responsibility to be a wise, honorable steward of every financial gift that we receive. And as a growing ministry, we desire more gospel partners to join us in helping others dive deeper into the love of God through the gospel of Jesus Christ. And when you sign up for an ongoing monthly gift of $35 or more, you become part of our gospel partner family.
It's easy to sign up. Just call 866-335-5220, or you can set up monthly donations online at JDGuirre.com. I'm Molly Vidovitch inviting you to join us tomorrow when we're kicking off a brand new series where we'll take a look at all the things that corrode our relationships and destroy our homes. Join us Thursday as we find our hope in Jesus here on Summit Life with JD Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by JD Greer Ministries.
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