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Conscience and God's Existence #1

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green
The Truth Network Radio
February 19, 2024 12:00 am

Conscience and God's Existence #1

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green

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February 19, 2024 12:00 am

https://www.thetruthpulpit.comWelcome to The Truth Pulpit with Don Green, founding pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. Thanks for joining us as we continue teaching God's People God's Word. Don begins a new message today, so let's join him in The Truth Pulpit without further delay.2153Click the icon below to listen.

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The Truth Pulpit
Don Green

Welcome to The Truth Pulpit with Don Green, Founding Pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Hello, I'm Bill Wright. Thanks for joining us as we continue teaching God's people God's Word. Don begins a new message today, so without further delay, let's join him right now in The Truth Pulpit. I invite you to turn in your Bibles to Psalm 19. We've gone through this Psalm over our last two times together, taking it in a verse-by-verse manner and looking at what it has to say to us about the existence of God, because we're in the midst of a series titled How to Know that God Exists, and we are considering that theme as an initial introduction to our long-term goal over these next several months to build a Christian mind, as we will consider many different aspects of fundamental Christian thinking. Some would like to call it a biblical worldview or a life view, as R.C.

Sproul titled it in his book from the 1980s. It's so very important that we are doing this and that you are here for it. I thank God for every one of you being with us in the room and joining us through the Internet, because these are matters of most fundamental importance. As we looked at Psalm 19 our past two times together, we saw that the first six verses showed the existence of God based on creation. In verse 1, we saw the heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. God has imprinted the testimony to himself everywhere in creation. Whether you look to the skies or above or the plants in the ground below, God has made himself known by the order, the beauty, the precision, and the regularity of creation. And if you want a little jot of things to help you remember that and texts to go to, to refresh your own mind and in conversations that you might have as you're sharing these things in the future, we looked at Genesis 1 and Psalm 19 and Romans 1 and Acts 14 and Acts 17.

Genesis 1, Psalm 19, Romans 1, Acts 14, Acts 17. And I emphasize that just so that there is a sense in your mind that there are go-to texts for these things that make these things known and abundantly clear. And you can go to those texts again and again, and you can take other people to the text and say, read it for yourself.

You don't have to take my word for it. It's right there in black and white for you to read. And God uses his word to create faith in hearts. And so we want to continually and consistently point people to the word of God in all of its fullness, all of its majesty, in order to establish these great things.

Because, beloved, the darkness is descending and has descended upon the mind of society and upon the mind of the age in which we live. And we must know not only what we believe, but why we believe it and be able to go to objective things outside of ourselves in order to establish the truth of what we proclaim. It does really no good to tell someone who thinks truth comes from within them. They say, I feel like there is no God for you to say, well, I feel like there is.

That's an impasse that can't be broken if it's just your opinion against someone else's. That's why it's so important for us to point to objective matters that God has appointed by which the knowledge of him may be known. And that is what we see in Psalm 19. The heavens declare the glory of God. The first six verses of Psalm 19 establish the existence of God from creation, something which man can look upon for himself and come to his own conclusions. By the way, there will be a lot of repetition in what I say, because I understand that it's hard to take all of these things in at once.

We need the repetition. That's how we learn and how things come to stay in our minds over time. One of the things that we said is the fact, and this is so very important, one of the things that we said from Matthew 16 is the fact that there are contradictory voices to what we say from Scripture, the fact that there are people that would disagree and contest every word that comes from Scripture on these matters. That is no barrier, beloved, to you having a settled, confident conviction of the truth of the things that God has spoken to. In the days of Jesus, people could not agree, the general population could not agree on who he was. His disciples said, some say you're John the Baptist, others say one of the prophets or someone else. And Jesus just cut through all of that like a hot knife through butter and said, but what do you say?

So that the principle of personal accountability is critical to understand that God established you with your own accountability before him and his revelation, which means that you are accountable for your response, not what everybody else says, and also that it establishes the possibility, it establishes the ability that you have to come to your own conviction and to know the truth for yourself even if the others around you do not go with you. Though none go with me, still I will follow. Though none go with me, still I will follow.

First person singular. Though none go with me, still I will follow. No turning back.

No turning back. That's the kind of conviction that the world in which we live calls for and that the parents have the opportunity to establish their children in. And so we saw the existence of God established by creation around us.

His greatness displayed in the universe that he created. We looked at the second section last time and we're going, you know, these series are joined together Sundays and Tuesdays. We're not doing a separate track on Tuesday. It's one track at Truth Community Church for the next several months to come as we just go through these things. And last time on Tuesday we saw God, the existence of God established from his word in Psalm 19 verse 7.

Look at it with me there. The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.

And on it goes. A half dozen times in those three verses, verses 7 through 9, the proper name of God, the covenant keeping name of God, Yahweh, is used. And it is the law of the Lord. The Lord has spoken in his law, in his testimony, in his precepts, in his commandments, in the fear of the Lord, in the rules of the Lord. What we must understand is that in Scripture, God has given us an independent and also sufficient way in which he has revealed himself and made himself known. We know the existence of God by looking at creation.

That's enough to establish certain aspects of his character and his divine attributes. When we go to the word in which he has revealed himself, we get a whole another realm given to us in which God has made himself known. Personally, I have no sympathy for those who proclaim doubts about the existence of God, who challenge the existence of God, who have never taken the time to read through his word from cover to cover. You know, God has made himself known. God has spoken there.

And to ignore and reject and to refuse up front, out of hand, based on second-hand testimony that Scripture is not worth your time, there is no vindication and there's certainly no nobility or honor in a position like that. The person who truly struggles with a knowledge of the existence of God has a lot of work to do. 1,189 chapters of God revealing himself in the word is plenty to occupy a mind and for God to make himself known in that way. And so we just, you know, as we look at these things from God's perspective, we just see how totally man is without excuse. Every moment of his existence is lived in a realm that testifies to the existence of God. Every opportunity is available through the seventy or eighty years of his lifetime to pick up a Bible, to read it, to say, Lord, make yourself known through your word to me, speak, your servant listens. But when men are not willing to consider the testimony in creation and will not even open up a Bible to read it for themselves, that's not God's fault. It's not a fact that God has not failed to make his existence known in clear and abundant way.

It's simply a testimony to the guilt of mankind not to seek that for which God has, to seek that in which God has made himself known. And look, and I need to say this, you know, I'm speaking kind of outside the church and, you know, in a polemical way outside the walls of our church, but, you know, I assume I, one of the things about, one of the ways that I approach being a pastor, and I make no claims to being any kind of good pastor or anything like that, I just do what God has given me to do and trust him for, you know, the results and his blessing on it. But one of the things that I do as a pastor is I do my best to just assume the best about everybody that, you know, looks to our church for spiritual care and spiritual leadership and teaching. And I kind of have operating in the back of my mind, I just assume that the people, those of you in our room, that you actually make time in your daily life to read the Bible for yourself. I assume that as I interact with people.

I assume that you're doing that. But there's this, that's the optimistic side of me. The realistic side of me knows that that's probably not true.

And I won't try to assign percentages to that. But to those of you for whom that is not true, you have a responsibility. You need to be reading the Word of God. You need to establish a commitment in your heart to be drinking in the Word of God. If you say that Christ has saved you, that God has saved you in the Lord Jesus Christ, then there is a corollary to that that says, and then that means that I need to be reading the Word of the One who intervened in my life and saved my soul. And that's one of the first things that the Holy Spirit teaches a true Christian is to come to this Word.

And so it's wonderful and I'm so grateful that so many people are in the room today, I really am. But I just want you to know that it's a day-to-day ongoing commitment that the Lord is looking for and that the Lord calls you to because it is in His Word that He makes your soul mature and complete. It is in His Word that He makes wise the simple. It's in His precepts that you find joy. And it's in His commandments that your eyes are enlightened to what the will of God is and what the duty is that He has for you and the life that He has given to you. And so we are bound to the 66 books of the Bible like a baby in the womb is bound to his mother through the umbilical cord.

This is where we get our nutrition and we can't be separated from it without the most dire of consequences. And so if you're convicted by your neglect of the Word of God, take the opportunity of today's message to see the grace that is available to you and to confess your indifference, to confess your hard-heartedness, to bring your lack of joy before the Lord and say, restore me through your Word and establish anew and afresh your existence to me from the Word that you have given, the canon of Scripture, the 66 books of the Bible. Now, just coming back and remembering the theme, our theme is to how to know God exists. And before we pivot into the final section of Psalm 19, I just want to remind you that creation standing alone by itself is sufficient to establish the existence of a powerful God who rules over the universe. That by itself is enough without any supporting testimony from the Bible, there is enough testimony from God in creation for every man to be accountable for the knowledge that is made known there.

Separate, independent creation standing alone is enough to establish the point that God exists and that's how we know. And secondly, Scripture standing alone is enough to establish the existence of God so that, and I have at least one, maybe more, dear friends who were born blind, who cannot see creation with their eyes, who cannot look up into the skies and see the testimony of God revealed in creation, but the Word of God is more than sufficient for someone who can't see to establish the existence of God. These are supportive, interlocking testimonies to the existence of God, yet standing alone, each one is sufficient in and of themselves to establish the point. Now thirdly, as we pivot and we finish Psalm 19, we're going to see a third mark, a third evidence of the existence of God as we look at verses 12 through 14, and let's read them together.

It'll be our text for this morning. Psalm 19, verses 12 through 14, David says, after reflecting on creation, reflecting on the canon of Scripture as he had it then, he's looked to the skies, he's looked to the Scriptures. Now in verse 12, he looks inside, as it were. He reflects, he meditates in his heart about the truth that he has considered. These are not truths that are considered abstractly as a matter of outside intellectual interest. These are truths that impact and move at the deepest levels of the human heart. They go to this testimony to the existence of God. This is just, I never see the truth of God in this testimony to the existence of God.

This is just, I never cease to be amazed at this. This testimony to the existence of God goes to the furthest reaches of the infinite universe where it's all disclosed there and made known there, and yet it goes to the deepest innermost part of the human heart as well as we will see. Inside and outside, God has imprinted the knowledge of himself everywhere for man to know so that man is without excuse, who denies this or who refuses to bend the knee.

David shows us this in verses 12 to 14 as he says this, he says, who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults. Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins.

Let them not have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless and innocent of great transgression. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord my rock and my redeemer. What's the third aspect, the third ground upon which we know the existence of God? As we look at it here in this text and expand out into other scriptures, we're going to see this. It's a principle of conscience.

It's a principle of conscience. Creation, canon, conscience. God has made him known in all three of those areas, distinct ways in which the existence of God is to be known. What I want to do here this morning is just kind of go through the text clause by clause, verse by verse and be able to see what David is saying in the context of the psalm and then expand beyond that to see how scripture would help us understand the fullness of the meaning of what is being said in light of our theme for these weeks about the existence of God. David here has reflected on creation, reflected on scripture, and now we find him expressing three different desires as we go into the psalm, each of which has a profound devotional element to it, each which leads us into the most practical of things for our lives. And yet also united together and revealing an underlying principle that is woven into it that is built upon or that is the foundation upon which David speaks. Let's look at the first of his desires in verse 12 where David seeks, here's our first point, he seeks pardon for his past sin.

Pardon for his past sin. You know, you and I, we fall short of the glory of God without even recognizing it. You know, we're far more sinful than we realize and I'm mindful of this, you know, and I'm speaking in the first person here. You know, I'm conscious that I surely don't understand the depth of my own sinfulness.

You know, we just don't get it. We see sin from our perspective, our self-justifying perspective. We're always quick to be the, you know, the defender of our own, you know, reputation and our own righteousness. We're wired to being defensive and rejecting accusations that would convict us.

We're mindful of that. And then we have that awful, awful tendency of judging our sin in comparison to other men, you know, and looking to the worst of people and saying, well, I'm better than them and all of that kind of thinking is unbiblical. That kind of thinking itself is wrong and sinful. What David has done and the reason that he is so convicted as he prays here at the end of the psalm is that he has brought himself into the presence of the Creator. He has brought himself into the writer of the presence of the writer of the Word of God so that he has compared himself to the fixed, holy, immutable character of God, the fixed, holy, immutable word of God, immutable, a word meaning unchanging, and compared to the standard of perfection, he sees how far short he falls and he immediately pleads after having completed his meditation on creation and on Scripture, he comes and he confesses sin and you see it there in verse 12 where he says, who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults.

The idea is God, given in light of the majesty of your greatness, in light of the glory of your goodness revealed in your word, sweeter than honey, I look at all of those things, I see transcendent excellence, I look at my own heart and I say, how could I know the many ways in which I've fallen short of your glory? And so he prays, declare me innocent from hidden faults. Who can discern his errors? Look at the question there in verse 12. Who can discern his errors? It's a rhetorical question.

The question anticipates the answer, no one can do this. Scripture tells us that each one of us, you and I, you and I are not able to rightly adequately to discern the fullness of our errors, our transgressions, our trespasses, our sins against a holy God. Commentator Matthew Henry puts it this way with his usual pithy insight and spiritual wisdom. Commenting on this verse he says, we are guilty of many sins which, through our own carelessness and partiality to ourselves, we are not aware of. Many we have been guilty of, which we have forgotten, so that when we have been ever so particular in the confession of sin, we must conclude God knows a great deal more evil about us than we do of ourselves, end quote.

He says we're biased in favor of our own, in favor of ourselves. We have blind spots to use the modern term. There are things that we don't see because we have spiritual blinders on that keep us from having the proper peripheral vision to bring in the fullness of awareness of our sin. And as we go from day to day, week to week, month to month with a pattern maybe of some spiritual carelessness, some indifference, some neglect of the Word of God, beloved, you and I, we have no idea how much, how much in the way of sinful motives and sinful attitudes and words and actions accumulate in our hearts that we don't confess in particular before the Lord.

And as time goes on, you just forget. You just, you forget what you were like since your last time of earnest confession before the Lord. And so one of the blessed things about Christian salvation is this, is that God parcels out His mercy in a way that goes beyond even our recognition of our need for it. God does not parcel out forgiveness on a one-to-one correspondence. Oh, He confessed this sin. She confessed that sin. I'll forgive those sins.

But until they get around to confessing everything else, still guilty. That's not the manner of the forgiveness of the Lord at all. And so David, David says, says, Lord, declare me innocent from my hidden faults. And what Scripture teaches us is that God in His mercy to His children is abundantly glad. God finds delight in the forgiveness of sin. And He does so generously. He does so abundantly. The pardon in Christ that is available to us is full and complete beyond what we recognize that we even need. And you can see that reflected in the well-known verse in 1 John, which echoes the sentiment that David expresses here in verse 12. The Apostle John says, if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

All unrighteousness. The part that we confess and the part that we're so dull that we don't even recognize. This is the wonder of the mercy and the grace of God that He shows mercy to us beyond what we even know that we need.

Guaranteed it to us. Abundantly showered upon us in the person of Jesus Christ. God having made provision for our lack of righteousness and our sin through the atoning shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. And God having made provision for our need for a perfect righteousness, He gives us and credits us with the fullness of the righteousness of Christ so that our righteousness, our standing with God, our justification rests not on our deeds, not on even our confession of sin, certainly not on our inadequate repentance, but rather on the perfect righteousness, the perfect shed blood of Christ, all freely counted to our benefit by a God who is loving and gracious and merciful to sinners and offered freely to everyone who would repent and come to Christ as Lord and give their lives to Him. David, in response to his meditation, is confessing his past sin, saying, Lord, cleanse me from all of it. If we were so inclined, it would be justifiable, we're not going to do it, but it would be justifiable for us to just stop and take five minutes of quiet, silent confession for each one of us to take the opportunity to do that.

And you can do it in your hearts even as I'm speaking. God, forgive me of my hidden faults. Forgive me of my indifference to Your word. Forgive me of my anger, my lusts, my ingratitude, my unfaithfulness to You and to Your people. God, I can only see it in general, broad outlines.

I can only see it like a man with diminished sight just seeing shadows and forms. I only see it there, but I know it's there, Lord. Cleanse me from all of it in light of Your greatness and Your goodness. Give me grace for the cleansing that I need. As you move on to our second point here this morning, as you move on in the text, you see David praying not only for part and from past sin, he's asking God for protection from future sin. I love this aspect of his prayer, protection from future sin. Having glanced back and said, Lord, forgive me of my hidden faults, he now looks forward to his life as it unfolds from this point forward. Look at verse 13 where he says, Keep back your servant from presumptuous sins. Let them not have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless and innocent of great transgression.

You see the difference in the timeframe? In verse 12, he's saying, Declare me of these faults that I have, that have accumulated, that I have as I pray to you now. Cleanse me from those. Verse 12. Now in verse 13, his desire for righteousness, his desire for godliness is so deep in response to the revelation of God in creation and in scripture that he says, he says, Lord, I devote the energies of my prayer now looking forward to the steps of my life to come. And as I look to the future, I pray that you would, in a sense, so to speak, that you would go with me and that you would establish a guard around me so that I would not transgress against you in my life to come. Keep me back. Everything about this is future.

Keep me back. I shall be blameless. Future tense. He's looking forward to what comes. And so what David is doing here is he is praying proactively in pursuit of holiness. He's not confessing sin out of one side of his mouth while planning future escapades and future sins out of the other side of his mouth. He says, no, no, Lord, I don't want just to have the release and the joy of a clean conscience. I want to be righteous moving forward into the future. And when he speaks about presumptuous sins here, that word presumptuous describes a kind of defiance that says I'll do what I want to do. I'm aware of what your law says, but I'm going to do something different anyway. I'll do what I want to do.

I'll be the master of my own steps now. This, what David's describing here in verse 13, he's describing a spirit that takes liberties with the grace of God. God, and you know, I mean, there are people who teach you to think and live the Christian life in the way that I'm about to describe.

Well, I've been forgiven. Therefore, there's no need for me to confess sin, and I can pretty much live any way that I want to because grace is free and, you know, where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more. The response of the apostle Paul to that mindset is God forbid, under no circumstances, no, no, no, no. And David wants nothing to do with that what's theologically called that antinomian spirit that says the law of God does not apply to me. David says, no, God, keep me away from a defiance to your revealed will. Give me a heart that willingly submits, willingly, lovingly, relationally follows you because you have declared your will and your word.

This is the way that you would have me to live. And the fact that you are gracious, I do not want to use that as an excuse for sinful carnal living. David says the fact that you are gracious, I ask you to use that grace to strengthen me and enable me to better live in the righteousness that you call me to. I can remember days in my early Christian life where I would, you know, I'd think, you know, you'd be tempted by the different sins that have come to a man in his youth. I remember the mindset of which David is writing against, you know, the mindset that says, well, I'll sin and then I'll confess it later.

You know, I'll have my cake and eat it too. And that's profoundly ungodly. And to the extent that that becomes a settled way of thinking about the grace of God in a man or a woman's life, it may be the mark of an unregenerate heart. Someone who's not even genuinely saved, beloved, would think that way consistently to the extent that they even consider the grace of God and the confession of sin. Because what the Spirit of God does when he saves someone is he plants in them a love for the word of God and a love for righteousness, a desire to be holy. And, you know, we come to Christ in order to be delivered from sin, not to continue in it with abandon and with a free pass of perpetual forgiveness. A true, when God does a saving work in the heart of a man, when Christ comes and saves someone, he's coming to save them from sin in its power and in its practice, one day to be delivered completely from its presence. It's a deliverance from sin, not an enablement to continue in it.

That's pretty convicting, isn't it? What David is praying here, to put it another way, is he says, God, so work in my heart that you would keep me from resisting your will. Work in my heart so that I am compliant, content, obedient to you. What David is saying here, what David is saying here is that he understands that his nature could motivate him to sin against God in the future even though he is presently submissive. He doesn't trust himself. In other words, God, I'm here, I'm before you, I submit to you, but I know that sin clings to me in such a way that it remains an ongoing threat and so I pray that you would protect me and deliver me and keep me from that kind of self-assertion against you.

I don't want to become like that, oh God. So David takes advantage of his present desires, his spiritual frame of mind now. To use a phrase, he makes hay while the sun is shining. He says, God, in this righteous frame of mind, I ask you to develop and keep this frame of mind in the future when I might be tempted to stray from it. That's Don Green, founding pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. Thank you so much for listening to The Truth Pulpit. Join us next time for more as we continue teaching God's people God's Word.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-19 04:52:33 / 2024-02-19 05:05:01 / 12

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