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Ship of Fools

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
September 23, 2021 8:00 am

Ship of Fools

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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September 23, 2021 8:00 am

Fools just never seem to learn, do they? In Psalm 14, David is surrounded by fools who say, There is no God. Today on The Bible Study Hour with Dr. James Boice, we’ll listen to what David thinks about such fools and, more importantly, what God thinks of them.

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Fools just never seem to learn today in Psalm 14 David is surrounded by fools who say there is no God today on the Bible study hour with Dr. James Boyce will listen to what David thinks about such fools, and more importantly what God thinks of them are relevant to the Bible study our radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act biblically.

Psalm 14 opens with the statement, the fool says in his heart there is no God.

Listen along with us today to hear what God thinks of foolish man because as Dr. Boyce rightly reminds us it's not man's view of God that matters.

It's God's view of man. If you have your Bible turn to Psalm 14 verses one through seven Bibles a pretty big book by addition. It has 1500 pages are 66 separate parts and so big in some ways that I suspect even in Christian circles, there are lots of Christians who have never read it all. Roger noticed something about the Bible.

Although it's not big and although it is really giving us the same message from beginning to end the message of our need and God's provision for that need in Jesus Christ you think about it. There are very few things in the Bible that are repeated Word for Word more than once or few things that are repeated and when they are.

It's obviously because very important.

There the banner very special attention. One of something is repeated more than once one of its repeated three times work for work that's the case obviously deserves are very very very special attention. Unless the case was Psalm 14 Psalm 14 is a song which is repeated almost Word for Word another time. Even in the Psalter 53rd song almost an identical repetition of Psalm 14 are a few variations but for the most part it's the same and then a most important part of these two Psalms is picked up by the apostle Paul included a very significant place in the early chapters of the book of Romans Romans three verses 10 through 12 anything God says once demands our attention anything he says twice man's are most intense attention says it three times. Those words are obviously demanding our keenest concentration, contemplation, assimilation and even memorization, or use the words of that well-known English collect from the book of common prayer.

They are things we are to read Mark learn and inwardly digest how with that in mind it's somewhat of a surprise to find that what this Psalm is about is atheism. Atheism of a certain kind. Psalm begins by saying the fool says in his heart there is no God in the Hebrew the words there is are not present what the text actually says is the fool says in his heart. No God.

That is no God for me what that means is that this is not only theoretical atheism. That kind of atheism might be expressed by someone in our time, but would sit down and say you know as I think about it reasonable allowed seems to me that the evidence for the existence of a personal God is lacking at Cynthia logical or theoretical atheism. But this is the kind of person who says no God bearer. I'm no God for me. I'm going to live as if there isn't one course at that point we begin to see that the song is speaking about some small subspecies of the human race which is even as we might say foolish enough to deny the existence of a personal Creator God, but actually speaking of humanity in general. Apart from God's saving work in Jesus Christ because apart from God's work in our hearts. All of us in one way or another act like atheists now.

That's why the Psalm is so important in this way it's repeated so often in the Bible. The question to be good with. I think as we turn to the Psalm is this why is the person who has this atheistic philosophy of life turned a fool, why isn't this just a case of a person being quite mistaken. Cf. the person merely looked upon the evidence and said, no doubt wrong way and we would say wrongly from a Christian point of view, I don't see any evidence for God, we would say he's mistaken, but you wouldn't say foolish and say he's just made a mistake or if person is soundly convinced on the basis of the evidence that there really is no God and is courageous enough to say so against the prevailing notions of the human race. We would say not that he is even mistaken or appropriate say perhaps a person like that even courageous. He has courage enough to say what he thinks and he would say well I just don't see the evidence for God, but there may be one, we would say he's at least honest agnostic or skeptic. That is what the text says the text calls him a fool and right reason.

The place to begin is by asking why now he doesn't answer that question in the song order to get the answer for that you have to go to what Paul says in Romans, and I suppose even in that there is some lesson for us. Lesson being I suppose it is the human race has gone on and on through history it is become wiser in the things of God as we might intend that thing but actually more foolish reason I say that is David and think he had to explain it. David lived in the day when people believe that was a got anybody would beef stew, but enough to say there is no God is an obvious fool. You don't have to explain last you see by the time Paul came to write the book of Romans's people didn't understand why that was foolish and so he had to explain that he had to spell it out at some length. Romans one. Paul says this person is a fool because in spite of what he may say he actually knows there is a God, why does he know there's a God. How does he know there is a God. Paul says it's because God is revealed himself in nature revelation to nature's a limited revelation we seen that it's not revelation that tells anything about the mercy of God in the way of salvation or what God is doing to call forth the people to himself, but God is revealed that he exists in the fall. Obviously all that we say came in the being came in the being somehow didn't create itself because for it to create itself had to be there in order to create itself didn't and it was there in order to create itself how to get there in order to do it. Obviously something exists, something like God had to exist prior to that, to bring it into being.

Anybody can see that and so when you look at nature nature itself literally screams out there is God what Paul says in Romans one is that this revelation is a revelation of God's power and his divine nature. When you express that in philosophical terms of the revelation of a supreme being now is another question that comes in at that point in its stance if this revelation of God in nature is so clear that a person is a fool to disregard it or deny it. Why in the world would any sane person do that revelation is clear clear enough for God himself to be able to call a denier of the revelation the height of folly.

Why would anybody do it on answers. Paul explains it in Romans is because of the hidden motives of the one who is deny God's existence. What Paul says areas that we are God bless and wicked. God bless, because were opposed to God we don't like him and wicked because what we perform as our own evil conduct. We want to do what we want to know, and we don't care whether it violates the law of God or not.

So if there is a God, and if the law of God stands there to tell us what we want to do it's wrong, but we try to do is everything in our power to suppress the knowledge about God and one of the easiest ways of doing it is to say God doesn't exist. God is in existence.

Why doesn't exist of his lot is in exist, launder myself and what that means is I can do anything I jolly well please. And basically that's what we all want in our fallen state so that we do. Paul says it very clearly is suppress the knowledge of God in nature or hold it down and that is the point. You see, in which David is speaking as he writes this law fool fool who says in his heart or demonstrated by his conduct that as far as he is concerned there is no God at all, what's a result of that also talks about it in the very first verse. The result is corruption, even though David existing further back in the history of Revelation didn't have to spell out certain things that had to be spelled out.

Later on, it is nevertheless the same theology because what Paul says in Romans one is a when they reject God. God, the source of all good, they inevitably become indeed, they become increasingly corrupt.

So we talked Romans one of the downhill path.

I wouldn't have God so God gave them up to all the three kinds of perversions till the end.

They come to the point where they call that which is good and evil, and that which is evil good. In other words, they get their moral universe turned upside down ice corruption what David says here in the very first verse of the 14th Psalm hundreds and hundreds of years before Paul wrote Romans. Is this they are corrupt, their deeds are vile and there is no one it is good that's a good point to reflect on the word fool you know. In the Hebrew language just like in English are all kinds of words that are associated with ideas of some kind of mental deficiency or moral deficiency.

We have words like simple or simpleton or madman crazy mad foolish all-black in the same thing exists in Hebrew the word that is used here is the word naval is a very special meaning it's only a person who is foolish enough to deny something that is obvious we say person like that is not quite in his or her right mind, but it is a person who in doing that is perversely wicked words or obnoxious people which follows upon the nature of this particular kind of falling. It is significant that in the Bible there is an individual who actually bore this name naval. He was the husband of Abigail was a very good woman and recognize the folly of her husband acted very foolishly toward David and his army.

On one occasion David was going to kill them. Abigail, his wife intervened and got his life spared. She said of her husband. Honestly, in the presence of David, the man is just like his name.

His name is full. That's the way he acts he is personally does of course he was right. David spared because of Abigail's intercession, but God himself judge Mabel, the parish foolishly 10 days or two weeks later months away. It is you see this kind of falling atheistic folly always. As one commentator says bears its fruit in rotten conduct and that's what David is saying how all that is really an introduction that is verse one introduces the theme what you have in verse one and verse one. You have the idea of the full concerning God. Verse one you read what the fool has to say about God and he says there is no God.

Now you come to verses two and three in the second stanza of the poem and what you have there is God's words about the fool I'm going to listen anything. I think it's the latter, I want to hear all sorts of fools can say all sorts of foolish things about God, but it's not man's view of God that matters is God's view of man. That's what we find here is a few things about it significant. I think first of all, Lord looks down from heaven on the sons of men that describes the way in which God actually do it as literally as the Hebrew would allow us to do.

It leans over from heaven bending over is the meaning of the Hebrew word in order to look down and see what these fools on earth are doing. It's a kind of work that carries us back to several things in the Old Testament and commentators think there probably is a direct reflection about you know when the Tower of Babel was being constructed in the 11th chapter of Genesis. It says there God had little conference in heaven and he said let's go down and see what they're doing. I was significant because they were trying to build a tower to reach to heaven they were trying to get up to him.

But when God went to look at it. He actually had to go down to find that puny little thing they were building in the sixth chapter of the book of Genesis, you find the same thing that God came down to see the wickedness of man and what he found in that day was all the thoughts and inclinations of their hearts were only evil all the time. That's what David describes the Lord is doing here the Lord is actually looking down to see what foolish human beings are doing and what they're saying is the second thing you notice about this and this is even more important when you look at verse one.

You read the fool says in his heart there is no God. Your natural instinct is to say, well, yes anybody would say that is foolish. But of course I'm not one of them was atheists right may be foolish. There are many atheists around.

Maybe a lot of people who don't have a very strong faith, but there aren't many end and I am certainly not one, but look you come to these verses you find what God is saying here is that when he looks down upon just the atheists but the sons of man, it's a way of saying humanity lumps them all together and you see if you miss it in terms of that phrase sons of men, you find it there in the all-inclusive terminology that use look to see if there are any who understand any who seek after God.

On the contrary, turned aside, they have all together become corrupt. There is no one who does good, even one any any all altogether non-no one. And so you just can't miss what he saying God looks down from heaven he doesn't say there's a little class of people that are foolish enough to deny my existence. He looks down on the race and he says they all denied it there all together gone out of the way. They are all equally foolish. How can that be all or some of us who at least profess to believe in God's ears a point where we learn something about God's way of thinking that is quite different from our own.

We are so impressed with words because words are what we hear we use words to project images of ourselves. Often images that are false and we use words to cover up we use words to why God C doesn't merely judge by the words he judges by the actions God judges reality what God is saying in these verses. Here is I'm not so concerned whether the human race as I believe in me or not but I'm concerned with is how they what difference does it make whether they deny me and act as if they denied me or say they believe in me, but nevertheless that act as if they deny me at all. The same thing as far as any real relationship to myself is concerned. That's why you see when the apostle Paul begins to develop the same idea in Romans one leading up to that all-inclusive language you find in chapter 3 is not distinguishing them between classes of people, except to the extent that he says all classes of people to matter how you divide up the human race all fall into the same category. They are all trying to suppress the knowledge of God in order that they could go on and do whatever they jolly well please. One other way in which these words are all-inclusive. Not only are they including all people under this judgment of God against humanity.

They are also including all parts of man's makeup there saying human races, not merely atheistic in its intellect or mind is also atheistic in its conduct and in its understanding. That's the way Paul picks it up and puts it in Romans three you see sensors none the do good, no not one. That's a moral conduct or none that understand that the intellect or none that seek after God.

That's the volitional part of our being. Anything you can say about a man that is hostile so far as God concerned that the teaching of the Old Testament and the new blanks by the grace of God.

He breaks in that hostility casting down those walls that we throw up, to keep them out and reveals himself to us in Jesus Christ by the power of the spirit.

That's the only way salvation and right-thinking ever comes to anyone. Now in the first verses I say we have the words of the fool about God in the second stanza, verses two and three we have the words of God about the fool. What you find in the third stanza.

What you find in the third stanza, verses four through six is the way of the fool.

So you've heard what he thinks you seem God's judgment. Now you see the way this man or woman actually lives. What does the psalm say about them first thing verse four is that he never seems to learn say well, given enough time to learn response to that is yes, indeed, he ought to, but time doesn't seem to help people or is foolish today.

In this respect, as they were in the time of the apostle Paul, or the time of David before that or even in the earliest moments of the human race. I came across an interesting illustration of this recently when you may have heard because I heard it on the radio.

Joe leader is the radio pastor of the Christian Reformed Church and he was talking once about changes that are taking place in the Soviet Union. Today we know about them because some of them are reflected even in the secular media he was relating a personal story. He had been in Moscow for a booksellers convention.

I did know they have those in Moscow, but they did and he was therefore meant and he said one of the publishing companies that was invited recently to this great bookselling convention in Moscow was the American Bible Society. They were there and have Bibles they were giving away Bibles and it was a long long line of people at this booksellers convention in the capital of the Soviet Union lined up to receive a free Bible line went on for hundreds of feet out through the display area passing all of the other booths until part of the way down the line it went by the booth that was occupied by Madeline Murray O'Hare one of this country's most famous atheists, and nobody was in her booth and there she was sitting glowering at all. The Russians were going by to get Bibles I need or didn't say what was in her mind you imagine what was in her mind is famous atheists are sitting there angry with these Russian saying to herself, what fools these Russians are to be lined up in that long line to go and get Bibles when what they ought to be doing is buying books of atheism for me who's the fool who was Madeline Murray O'Hare, who is 70 years old, has lived almost as long as the Russian revolution but has not learned a thing in seven decades Russian people who have tried it tried atheism and found wanting and now ready for something else perhaps by the grace of God. It's going to be a time of great spiritual awakening in the Soviet Union, it already is. I believe some of the other Iron Curtain countries is another story is when his sub classical nature Joseph Addison was one of the great SAS English literature in the 18 century and he wrote essays, some of which have been collected and volume called the R rapture, part of it, there would be sort of things and at one point he tells of an experience he had had he been on shipboard. As a passenger traveling to England from another country and there was one board with him a particularly vile marches, passenger got into a storm storm was a rather violent one in this passenger was the only one who was really afraid, but he was terrified of the storm. Apparently you never gone through anything quite like this before and in stead of Terry made his way up onto the deck to find the chaplain before home when he found him, he fell upon his knees and confessed his sins, acknowledging that he had been an outspoken atheist ever since he had come of age. Well, that word got around the ship down below some of the sailors were told that there was an atheist up on the deck. Addison said they did not know what an atheist want some of them and never heard the word.

They thought it was a strange kind of fish and then that eventually someone explained to them that an atheist is a person who doesn't believe in God, it which point they got very concerned and they suggested not really silently that it would be a great favor to the universe if they would just heave the list overboard before they got out anyway. They didn't do that.

They Sailing and pretty soon the ship came in sight of land. And then he got in the harbor and they were protected from the wind.

Now as soon as this atheist discovered that he was not going to perish at sea.

He repented of his repentance and he said to the other passengers now promise that when we got ashore.

You're never going to mention this mention of the law.

I don't want anybody to know what happened to be there in the deck of the ship now alone would prove the point that I make it, namely that atheists never learn. But there's more to the story this man when he got on shorts and went back to his wicked ways and several days later. In one part of the City of London, he bumped into one of the other passengers of the been on the ship passenger was startled, he knew what happened there in the ship repented of his sin confessed that he was wrong about the nine God Harry was living in a byway again. So the passenger began to reprogram from it reminded him of his repentance and atheist didn't want to be reminded of vanity denied it vehemently, and the argument got so intense that they actually had a dual settle at each one calling the other one a liar in the duel. The atheist was run through by his opponents sort, at which point he became want to quote exactly what Addison says he became as good a Christian as he was at sea until he found that his wound was not mortal. At which point he relapsed again in the last Addison heard of him. He had become one of those they called a freethinker and he was writing foolish books about religion you see appointed is exactly what David is saying in the Psalm evil doers.

Never learn to devour my people, as many branded means there materialistically one of God. What else is there but matter is not an afterlife to worry about. Get everything you can hear if there's no soul.

Make as much money as possible what he saying and they do not call on the Lord. They don't pray, obviously there's no one to pray to the only God, they have is themselves.

That's the first thing something else that said here about the way of the atheists is verse five. They are overwhelmed with dread.

That's an interesting way of expressing that the text really doesn't very well assist us with the Hebrew says they're there they are overwhelmed with dread packets is there.

They are as made commentators wonder what that there was referring to their where my what you want to say when I reread a word like that. Where are they overwhelmed with dread. Is this referring to the final judgments on the wrath of God is revealed and as even Jesus said in that day they call upon the hills in the mountains and fall on them and cover them from the wrath of Almighty God is not that there was on the speaking of is that the kind of thing that sometimes comes into our lives when we think were going to die through illness or some such thing.

Is it what happened to the atheist on the ship order when he was run through the sword and he thought his life was over is that there in the final extremity.

I don't think so. I think what this is talking about is a psychological grant and proof of that. When you look at Psalm 53 Psalm 53 is a form I said earlier, is almost an exact duplication of Psalm 14, but at this particular point, or something else that there's an addition that you don't find in the first law, verse five Psalm 53 begins the same. There they were now instead of our slight change, intense, overwhelmed with dread Ursuline. This added where there was nothing to grant course there is the dread of the final judgment, but that's not what it's saying it's saying when you look at their life.

There's nothing visible to cause their dread and yet there are certain moments in their lives, literally trembling with fear. What that must be you see is a psychological fear what's coming. I think that is probably true of everyone who doesn't know the Lord Jesus Christ at some moments in some places sometimes say there are times in our lives when we are able to fill in the such activity that we don't give a thought to God in the final judgment at all in their times. Sometimes unexpected moments when suddenly the realization that this must be a moral universe comes crashing in. This is a moral universe or must be a moral being who stands be hind end and if there is a moral being and stands behind it.

This is one before home.

Someday you and I are going to have to give account. There is going to be something like a final judgment, the judge of all the earth will do right realization surmise the anticipation, the concern about something like that causes people honest quiet moments literally tremble with psychological fear and that's what Solomon is saying God is in the company of the righteous evildoers are frustrating plans of the righteous, particularly the righteous poor they can abuse take advantage of in the press God is going to judge them for it is one person is not trembling. That's almost because when you come to the very end you find as you do in many of the Psalms a response of the writer to what's been said he spoken of the words of the fool about God. He has led us to look in on God's words about the full he has laid out the way of the field before us now at the end he says and what becomes a client so I have confidence in God. All that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion is going to one day I'm anticipating that I'm waiting for it.

God will judge the wicked and the Lord restores the fortune of his people a day is coming, then Jacob rejoice in Israel be glad to say one final thing and that is that kind of quiet trust and confidence is not something that you and I are going to find ourselves. We don't get to this point by getting ourselves off in a corner practicing some kind of mind control, disciplining our thoughts and say look to settle down here.

Things are going to be all right. Follow that gloomy line of reasoning anymore doesn't work these thoughts keep coming back. There's no way of escaping them because is not our world is God's world and God is there. Whether we deny him or not. The only way we come to the sky kind of quiet trust and confidence is when God himself provides and that is what he does is what he did in the Old Testament times as he worked in the hearts of the minds of his people, and as he gave them understanding pointed them forward of the Redeemer.

You should come Jesus Christ. They look forward to their Messiah, though at that time I didn't know his name is what God does with us as he works in our hearts and minds day and causes us to look back we might see him and recognize him as our Savior and our Lord, the one who has become to us salvation. Paul talks about in first Corinthians 1st chapter talking about wisdom there because he is writing to a Greek city and the Greeks were very proud of their wisdom. Using contrast between his wisdom, the wisdom of the cross and the wisdom of the philosophers the wisdom of your Greek world and he says what God has done is made foolish your wisdom because your wisdom is not led to peace or tranquility or blessing or any such thing what God has done is establish what you call foolishness to be the wisdom of the universe that he talks about Jesus and what he says is this is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, that is because of God that you are in him who has become for us wisdom from God. That is to say our righteousness are holiness and our redemption.

Only time any member of the human race.

Ceases to become a fool is when he finds the wisdom of God the only true wisdom in Jesus Christ.

So you see, it doesn't make a lot of difference whether you're a theoretical atheist and say there is no God, or whether you're merely a practical atheist and say there is God, but you act as if there isn't one on the glass is the same. What matters is whether you find salvation in Christ to begin to live for him. You live for yourself what is its foolish mess.

If you live for the moment if you say to yourself, well, you only go around once.

Is that all we can now forget about the future. What is this foolishness you say to yourself. All that matters is money. What is it is foolishness. Jesus said, what does it profit a person that he gains the whole world and lose his soul. If you think you're just a creature of the day. If you're here for so many years after that. It doesn't matter. You are the most foolish of fools by the grace of God.

You understand that your made to last for all eternity that your spirit, you're going to exist in one form or another for ever and ever and ever and ever and you see the path of wisdom is to come. The God in Christ and begin to enter in that new and blessed life that he is provided for those who know him. Jesus our wisdom, we can say all how great the wisdom of our God spray her father's easy for us to redo it all the time to say where wise and others foolish simply because we know something or we have an opinion that they don't share our father if we deny you, whether by words, or merely by our actions. It is we who are fools to buy grace. Disabuse us that folly grant that if there are those here. Is there undoubtedly are living herself rather than for you. Living for the moment rather than for eternity. Show them that wisdom which is in the cross of Jesus Christ so that they might turn from their folly and their sin and become followers. Thank you for listening to this message from the Bible study our listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals. The alliance is a coalition of pastors, scholars and churchmen who hold to the historic creeds and confessions of the reformed faith and who proclaimed biblical doctrine in order to foster a reformed awakening in today's church. To learn more about the alliance visit alliance and while you're there, visit our online store reformed resources.

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