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1696. Beauty Matters to God

The Daily Platform / Bob Jones University
The Truth Network Radio
January 29, 2024 9:20 pm

1696. Beauty Matters to God

The Daily Platform / Bob Jones University

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January 29, 2024 9:20 pm

BJU Division of Music Chairman Dr. Michael Moore continues a series about the doctrine of man called “Fearfully and Wonderfully Made.”

The post 1696. Beauty Matters to God appeared first on THE DAILY PLATFORM.

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Welcome to The Daily Platform from Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina. The school was founded in 1927 by the evangelist Dr. Bob Jones, Sr. His intent was to make a school where Christ would be the center of everything so he established daily chapel services. Today, that tradition continues with fervent biblical preaching from The University Chapel Platform. Today, we're continuing a study of the doctrine of man titled Fearfully and Wonderfully Made.

Today's message will be preached by Dr. Michael Moore, chairman of the Division of Music and also the conductor of the BJU Orchestra. The title of his message is Beauty Matters to God. It is a privilege this morning to address my assigned topic of beauty and the image bearer. Why are we talking about beauty? Beauty matters to God.

We just sang of this. It's embedded in creation. That was Psalm 19 and so many other rich scriptural passages that we just sang and sung. It's embedded in scripture. The Bible itself clearly testifies to the value and importance that God places on beauty. Consider the scriptures from a literary perspective alone.

As Dr. Pettit reminded us on Monday, the Bible is not merely a collection of propositional truth claims. These truths are revealed through the literary vehicles and devices of narrative, poetry, syllogism, metaphor, riddles, jokes, satire and song. And they appeal not only to our reason but also to our imaginative and emotional aspects of our being. Beauty matters to us too. We just tend to be a little confused about it at times. We can recognize beauty on a certain level but we still struggle to define it or make comparative judgments. You like Schubert.

I like Swift. Well, actually I don't but who's to say who's right here? Why do we struggle with questions like this? Well for one, postmodernism has conditioned us to avoid truth claims in general. And when it comes to a concept as slippery as beauty, it is considered the height of arrogance to rank one expression of beauty above another. After all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, right? And we really can't define it so why bother trying? And frankly, there's a lot of schlock out there that we've been told is beautiful and we just don't see it.

Maybe you've been alienated perhaps even intentionally by the elitist or often inhospitable art of modernity or the notion of art for art's sake and you feel like an outsider because you apparently don't have the insight of the connoisseur or the talent of the star. Nonetheless, beauty holds a prominent place in human discourse and as such has been debated for centuries. Is there a single knowable standard, objective standard for beauty or is it merely subjective? Is beauty referential or is it self-existent? Can something be beautiful and not good? If something is true, must it also be beautiful?

These questions belong to the philosophical discipline of aesthetics, the study of the good, the true, and the beautiful. And we ask these questions in part because we're what author Timothy Willard calls beauty chasers in his book by that name. We are all wired to desire. We're affectional beings. Beauty draws us.

We've got to get this right. Therefore, a proper view of beauty is essential if we are to steward the image of God as those who are fearfully and wonderfully made. So we're going to be looking at vision this morning, a beautiful vision, a broken vision, and a better vision. We'll start with a beautiful vision. In creation, Genesis 1, 10, God saw that it was good. The Septuagint translates this word good as kalos, pertains to function and form.

It's not just adequate or efficient. There's a sense of satisfaction communicated here that we've all experienced at some level, imperfect as we are. You know, when everything is just right, it clicks in place.

It's perfect. It's beautiful, whether it's a performance or a shot on the basketball court. It's beautiful, and it feels good. The Greek concept of telos is also relevant here, fulfilling the purpose for which a thing was designed with optimum efficiency and elegance. And all of this God created for an audience of one Himself. And yet He shared it with Adam and Eve. What an incredible thought that God and humankind at one time shared the same perfect vision of His creation and the world.

What a delight. When they shared this vision, what did God and Adam and Eve see? Genesis 1, 1 and 2. In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth, and the earth was without form and void. We see here, embedded in the structure of creation, three aspects of God's glory. When He created the world, He filled it with content. He gave it form and, excuse me, purpose.

Let's call these creational norms. Content, form, and purpose. The basic structures and principles by which God designed the world to function and thereby point to His glory. Our three transcendentals, goodness, truth, and beauty, are rooted in these creational norms and are here in Genesis 1 displayed in perfect unity. Let's call this aesthetic integrity. The perfect interaction and alignment of content, form, and purpose with God's truth, beauty, and goodness. See, beauty doesn't exist in isolation. You can't separate one from the others without doing damage.

In a sense, each encompasses the other two. And if one of these three is off, we fall short of true beauty, and fall we dead. Genesis 3, 4 through 6. And the serpent said unto the woman, You shall not surely die, for God doth know in the day that ye eat thereof. Then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took the fruit thereof and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her, and he did eat.

Notice the sequence here. It didn't start with her sight. Eve's belief was distorted by a lie.

We see content here. Her purpose, her motivation was redirected towards a greater good. Her affection was then drawn toward the forbidden form. Hence, our vision too has fallen and fractured. Her view of the world became disintegrated, fractured. We could call this aesthetic disintegration. The beauty of the tree was divorced in her eye and heart from God's purpose for the tree.

She could no longer see and appreciate the tree for what it was, for anything other than something to be used for her own purposes. And ever since, we've been struggling with our own sinful tendency to disconnect our affections from God's truth and goodness. When our affections are not informed by God's truth and motivated by His purposes, we always end up with a counterfeit version of beauty. Beauty divorced from truth and goodness. When the pursuit of beauty becomes an end in itself, we've exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and we make ourselves idolaters. Romans 1. Truth without love, depicting the harsh realities of life in the name of authenticity, without respect to the hope that is inherent in God's beautiful plan of redemption, is but a half truth that leads to brutalism and despair.

Goodness that is not grounded in truth. Naive sentimentality that may make us feel good in the moment, but ultimately leaves us empty, as does the plastic, mass-produced, so-called art engineered to serve, to sell rather than to serve. The beautiful is not always pretty. We live in a fractured world inundated by half truths, counterfeit beauty, and the profane.

And we struggle with our own sin nature as we endeavor to harmonize these three transcendentals with integrity in our lives and our work. Willard again says, we have replaced our sense of wonder with pragmatic, rational, and empty amusements. We treat beauty as novelty and wonder why despair crouches at our door. Or we think beauty is only for the elite in our society, understood by professors and art critics and pop stars, and wonder why the profane saturates our existence.

But just as truth remains truth after the fall, and goodness continues to be good, so beauty persists as a manifestation of God's glory embedded in creation despite the fall. It's not beauty that's broken, but rather our perception of beauty that's off. How do we push back against this marginalization of beauty and the resulting corruption and ugliness that anesthetizes our souls? We need redeemed eyes.

We need a better vision. Again, since beauty hasn't been broken by the fall, it's not beauty that needs redemption. We are the ones that need to be redeemed. Our capacity to recognize and rightly receive beauty is what must be submitted to God's redemptive, sanctifying work in our lives. We're not going to redeem beauty. The concept is as absurd as redeeming truth or goodness.

In fact, we're incapable of redeeming anything. Dr. Mazak last week reminded us, redemption is God's work of grace accomplished in our lives through the blood of Jesus Christ and given to us through His Holy Spirit. Paul tells us in Ephesians 1, 7 through 9, there is hope for our fragmented, broken vision, hope in Christ alone. In Him, we have redemption through His blood. The forgiveness of our trespasses according to the riches of His grace which He lavished upon us in all wisdom and insight, making known to us the mystery of His will according to His purpose. What's His purpose? He set forth this in Christ as a plan from the fullness of time.

What is it? To unite all things in Him, things in heaven, things on earth. We live in a broken world and God's purpose is to unite that in Christ.

This includes our vision, our fractured, broken vision, the way we see the world. If we're fearfully and wonderfully made, God is not going to abandon us. Philippians, this work is not over. Philippians 6 tells us He is faithful to finish the work that He's begun. Ephesians 2, 10, we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. The word workmanship there is the Greek word poem. Whether or not it means literally poem or some work that's been crafted with artistry, that's not really the point, but this is a thing of beauty that God has lavished His care on.

Why? For good works in Christ. That word good, there it is again, beautiful. He has created us for beautiful works and He's purposed from beforehand. Psalm 139 tells us He's not only formed us but He forms our days. He has a purpose for each of us.

Regardless of what you think of aesthetics or anything else I've said this morning, don't lose sight of this. You are a thing of beauty. You are an object of God's love. You are a poem with a purpose.

Are you living into this potential? Are you pursuing His beauty in His word and in His world? He's crafting you with the care and skill of a master artist for a beautiful purpose. We are fearfully and wonderfully made.

We are fearfully and wonderfully being made. Let's end with some practical considerations for stewarding this aspect of God's image in us, cultivating our affections and vision for true beauty in our worship, in our world, and in our work. First in our worship I turn to Jonathan Edwards and his treatise on religious affections. He says the duty of singing praises to God seems to be given wholly to excite and express religious affections. There is no other reason why we should express ourselves to God in verse rather than prose and with music except that these things have a tendency to move our affections. He goes on to say while it is true that where there is nothing but emotionalism there can be no true religion, likewise there can be no true religion where there is no religious affection. If true religion lies much in the affections then we should do as much as possible to stimulate the affections.

Those kinds of books, types of preaching of the word, and liturgies of worship that help us worship God in prayer and praises are to be encouraged as they help to affect deeply the hearts of those who do these things. Dr. Horn just a few weeks ago in the sermon series reminded us that we are embodied souls. We're emotional beings and as such we must worship God with all of our being. We are more than brains on sticks or vocal mechanisms trapped in dispassionate robots. God expects our worship to engage the full range of our expressive powers, not just our minds but our emotions and even our bodies.

David danced before the Lord with all his might to the point of embarrassing his wife but it wasn't David that was rebuked. That is of course we can say so much more about worship. We're just focusing on the beauty, the aspects of our affections and the beauty and how those interact as we worship.

There's so much more that can be said. We don't have time. In our worship, in our world, 1 Timothy 6.17, God has given us richly all things to enjoy. In creation, we have to desecularize our vision of the Father's world. We have to take time to notice, to look for the glory pointers, Willard says.

Look for the glory pointers. Have you noticed in Genesis 1 how many times God stopped throughout the process of creation to notice beauty? Was it on the seventh day? On the seventh day, God rested.

Well, sure. But go back and look at Genesis 1. It's a refrain.

Every day he stopped. God saw that it was good. And God saw that it was good. It's not something just to do on the weekend, is it? Are you building in time to notice beauty?

Are you building in time to recreate, R-E hyphen recreate in your recreation? Elizabeth Barrett Browning quote here, Earth's crammed with heaven and every common bush of fire with God, but only he who sees takes off his shoes. Our founder, Dr. Bob Jones Sr. said, there's no difference between the secular and the sacred. All ground is holy ground, every bush a burning bush. It's around us everywhere if we'll look. In culture, now culture is the context in which you and I carry out the great commission. Some say we must engage the culture.

I don't know about that. We don't engage the culture. We certainly don't redeem the culture. But we do engage people within culture who need redemption.

I'll say that again. We don't redeem the culture. We don't engage the culture. But we engage people within culture who need redemption. And the visual literary and performing arts are a huge arena for Gospel engagement. Our entertainment, we can interrogate our entertainment through the lens of those creational norms of content, form, and purpose, and how they align with God's truth, beauty, and goodness.

Where does this depart from or distort these? How might I learn from this and engage others in the consideration of these aspects for the glory of God? Or should I turn away from it altogether? This is the turf on which you will engage with other people in the world as you go out from here. Be ready to ask these questions. Start these conversations.

Take those opportunities. We must critique culture, yes, but critique cannot be our only posture towards culture. I believe Jonathan Bowes gives us some good food for thought on culture warring versus culture making. He says, culture war tends to aim for surface level behavioral changes and Christian symbolism. It seeks to raise the Christian flag even if hearts beneath that flag haven't changed.

Essentially it takes the land by force and hands out passports. Ironically then, culture blows up the only bridge to actual transformation. A true love of Christian values flows solely from a true love of Christ. But culture war pushes others away, sacrificing paths for evangelism in favor of comfortable spaces for Christians themselves. Symbolic change or enforced behavior might create a culture that looks Christian, but it won't create a culture that honors Christ. It merely transforms culture into a pristine whitewashed tomb with our neighbors as its occupants.

Heavy stuff. In our worship, in our world, and in our work, see the world needs culture makers more than it needs culture warriors. I'm speaking now especially to those who aspire to a vocation in the arts in obedience to God's command to exercise dominion in his created order. We're called to engage in redemptive artistry submitting to God's redemptive plan for human flourishing in a Romans 12 one and two way. Presenting our bodies a living sacrifice wholly acceptable to God which is his reasonable service. By yielding and wielding our gifts for his glory and the good of others and as we do that, we're not conformed to the world.

We're transformed into the image of Christ. We're participating in God's redemptive plan as makers. Our artistry is not redemptive in the sense that it saves us. Rather our artistry must flow out of God's transforming sanctifying work in our own lives informed by a devotion to his truth and animated by his good purposes. This is the call to probe the problems and potentials of the human condition in and through the arts with aesthetic integrity.

Our eyes fixed on the beautiful one. Our ears tuned to his truth and our hearts confident and courageous in his goodness. As we close, our efforts to work out the counterpoint of goodness, truth, and beauty in perfect harmony will come up short of the sight of glory.

All creation groans for wholeness, for that perfect unity of goodness, truth, and beauty. But someday our pursuit of beauty and aesthetic integrity will be fully achievable and we will know beauty unhindered by the limitations of our fallen world. See aesthetic integrity is ultimately about integrity itself.

Integrity of head, heart, and hands. Acknowledging God's truth, beauty, and goodness and ordering our affections and actions accordingly. Beauty is not in the eye of the beholder, but rather in the eye of the beholder. And as we submit to God's redemptive plan to align our vision with his, we become better at pursuing his beauty and pointing others to it. We become more fully what we were always meant to be.

Capital B, beauty chasers. Father, grant us now the vision to see and savor your beauty in the person and work of your son. May your beauty rest upon us, oh God, and establish the work of our hands as we yield and wield these for your glory and the good of others. In Jesus' name, Amen.

You've been listening to a sermon preached by Dr. Michael Moore, the chairman of the Division of Music at Bob Jones University, which was part of the series called Fearfully and Wonderfully Made. As we continue to meditate on these thoughts of beauty, we wanted to share with you a new hymn written by two Bob Jones University alumni. The words to the first stanza are, oh God, my joy, you reign above in radiant splendor and beauty. Your word has drawn my heart to love, the awesome sight of your glory. Your blazing light and gospel grace shine brightly from my Savior's face. No other wonder would I see than Christ enthroned in his glory.

Let's listen now to the Bob Jones University student body and orchestra performing Oh God, My Joy. Oh God, my joy, reign above in radiant splendor and beauty. Your word has drawn my heart to love, the awesome sight of your glory. Your blazing light and gospel grace shine brightly from my Savior's face. No other wonder would I see than Christ enthroned in his glory. My joy, my joy, reign above in radiant splendor and beauty. Your stunning light and gospel grace shine brightly from my Savior's face. No other wonder would I see than Christ enthroned in his glory. Oh God, my joy, reign above in radiant splendor and beauty. My joy, my joy, reign above in radiant splendor and beauty. Listen again tomorrow as we continue the series, fearfully and wonderfully made, on the radio program from Bob Jones University, The Daily Platform.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-10 04:44:59 / 2024-02-10 04:53:35 / 9

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