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Conscience and God's Existence #2

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green
The Truth Network Radio
February 20, 2024 12:00 am

Conscience and God's Existence #2

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green

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February 20, 2024 12:00 am

https://www.thetruthpulpit.comWelcome to The Truth Pulpit with Don Green, founding pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. It is our joy to continue our commitment to teaching God's People God's Word. Don is continuing with the second part of the message we started last time, so let's open our Bible as we join him in The Truth Pulpit.2154Click the icon below to listen.

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

Hello again, I'm Bill Wright. It is our joy to continue our commitment to teaching God's people God's Word. Today Don is continuing with the second part of a message we started last time.

So let's get right to it. Open your Bible as we join Don now in The Truth Pulpit. Charles Spurgeon says this, he says, this earnest and humble prayer teaches us that saints may fall into the worst of sins and less restrained by grace and therefore they must watch and pray lest they enter into temptation.

End quote. A growing believer, a true Christian wants to be protected from sin. He wants God to direct his steps in a way that lead him in righteousness. And beloved, this aspect of praying which is simply a manifestation of the desires of a redeemed heart, this is exactly what Christ taught us to pray when he spoke in Matthew chapter 6.

You don't need to turn there. You will remember it quickly as I read the words to you. When our Lord said pray in this way, the latter part of that prayer in Matthew 6 says, and forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors. Cleanse me from my past sins.

Pardon my prior iniquities. And then what is the very next line? You know, the very next line that he says that he instructs us to pray in and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. Pardon my past sin and as I look to the future, lead me not into temptation. As I face this day, keep me away from sin and lead me in righteousness.

And I would be responsive to you. See, a growing believer wants protection from sin. And that spirit runs throughout the Bible.

It runs throughout the redeemed heart. So Lord, pardon my past sins. Protect me from future sins. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, amen. O God, there in my inner man, there in my heart, there in my conscience, there in my spirit, establish godliness of an unshakable sort that would please you. Verse 14. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. God's knowledge of everything in the universe is perfect, comprehensive, and exhaustive.

And it always has been. God has never learned anything because he has always known everything. And when we say that God knows everything, included within that general statement is the fact that God knows specifically the thoughts and attitudes of our hearts.

He knows the words of our mouth. David said elsewhere, I believe in Psalm 139, before there is a word on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it all. David's mindful that God knows him thoroughly.

For better and for worse, you might say. And in light of that, what David recognizes and what you and I need to grow in our own sense and understanding of the Christian life, David sees that his inner man is a holy place of worship before God. That his heart, as it were, is an altar.

His heart is a sanctuary. I'm using words that I don't generally like to use to describe Christian life. Just using them as a metaphor that his heart is a place where worship takes place and that without a heart engagement of love and devotion and submission to Christ, all the external matters are irrelevant. Scripture speaks to this often, even in the Old Testament. Why do you bring me sacrifices? God repeatedly condemned Israel for bringing sacrifices in an outward way when their lives were full of sin, iniquity, and disobedience.

He said the outward act means nothing without the inner attitude. Look over at Psalm 51 here to reinforce this point. This great psalm of confession of sin. And as you read and study Scripture over the years, you start to see the deep internal unity to these texts that maybe you missed the first time through because the outward form of the words is different. You have different vocabulary is used, but as you meditate more, you start to realize there's an inner unity, a depth to this that unites these things across the different psalms and across the different portions of Scripture.

That's why it's important for us to compare Scripture with Scripture as we study together and as we study doctrine together as we're doing in these months. In verse 14 of Psalm 51, David says, deliver me from blood guiltiness, O God, O God of my salvation. Forgive my past sins, pardon what I've done in the past. And then going forward, my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.

O Lord, open my lips and my mouth will declare your praise. And then here's the point that we were speaking about a moment ago, the futile nature of outward worship that is not accompanied by an inward change and devotion and submission of the heart. Nothing could be more clear on this point than what David says right here in verse 16. For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it.

You will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The outward form of this doesn't matter, God, in comparison to the inner man. So that he says in verse 17, the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. As we look at the language of verse 14 of Psalm 19, you see David saying it, let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

David's mind has been transformed by his meditation on creation and his meditation on the word of God. He's confessed his past sin. He's asking God for protection from future sin. And now, as it were, he clinches it.

He seals it. He brings it all together. And what he's expressing is that from a truly transformed mind come fitting words of praise toward this God who has made himself known. You've made yourself known everywhere I look. You've made yourself known in your most holy book. And now, Lord, I respond. I yield myself to you.

I am no longer my own. Scripture says you've been bought with a price, therefore glorify God with your body. David says, in light of all that you've done, the grace that you've shown to me, your greatness in creation, your goodness in your word, God, be gracious to me now in my inner man. So that true salvation, true meditation on the things of God, true meditation on where he has made himself known leads inevitably, leads inexorably, leads powerfully to the inner core of who you are as a man, as a woman, as a boy, as a girl and produces inside this desire to please God. God, in light of your glory, in light of your grace, make my inner man a place of worship.

So work inside me that you're pleased with what I think about and what I say. In the book of Hebrews, we read that through Christ then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God. That is the fruit of lips that give thanks to his name. So David is desiring that purity with an expectant trust. He calls God his rock and his redeemer. Rock says that, God, you're reliable. You can be trusted. You are a sure source of strength to me.

Me personally, me individually. David's not going through outward ritual in a mindless way. This text of Psalm 19 is a rebuke to all ritualistic religion that makes no claim on the inner man. It says, you're my rock. I trust you. I know that you have heard my prayer.

I know that you will do this work. And the word redeemer is a reminder of the fact that God uses his power to deliver his people from bondage. David spoke this as a Jew with full awareness of the deliverance of God, of his people from Egypt. He delivered them from Egypt. He redeemed them.

He brought them out of slavery, literally brought them out and deposited them in the promised land so that they could be a unique, distinct nation given to his glory. And David says, David, in the fullness of what he's praying in this section here, as he's mindful of his hidden faults and presumptuous sins and a desire to be blameless, what he's saying is, Lord, oh, listen to this, please. Listen to this, please, and make it your own prayer. God, God, deliver me from the bondage that is inside me. Deliver me from that which clings to me. Deliver me from that inside me which gives forth unholy words, unholy meditations of heart, ingratitude, indifference. God, use your power as my redeemer to deliver me from all of that.

Forgive me, keep me from it, and free my heart to be the altar of worship I want it to be to you so that the fullness of what goes on in my inner man is a delight to you. David is putting sin to death and fueling and watering the soil in which righteousness grows. Beloved, Christ will free you from sin.

Christ will forgive your sin if you turn to him in repentant faith. David's prayer shows the presence of God in his soul. And so creation led to the canon, led to the inner man as David dealt with his conscience before a holy God.

How can we know that God exists? At a macro level, we see him in creation. In the written word, we see him revealed in the canon of Scripture. And what we find in Psalm 19, we'll kind of expand out to some other Scripture in just a moment. Psalm 19 also shows that God has made himself known in the principle of conscience. We know that God exists because there is a principle of conscience that operates in the human race. I'm not simply talking about your individual conscience being a mark of the existence of God.

It is that. But we're talking at a more transcendent level here that throughout humanity, throughout the ages, there is operative in the human heart a principle of right and wrong. Humanity has a broad sense of what is right and what is wrong. And you see the Apostle Paul addressing this in Romans chapter two.

Would you turn there with me and then we'll just make some brief comments about this. In Romans chapter two, we are moving from the principle of the inner man in Psalm 19 to the principle of the inner man as Paul discusses it in his discussion about the doctrines of salvation. And in Romans chapter two, verse 14, the Apostle Paul says this. When Gentiles who do not have the law, they've not received a copy of the written word of God. They do not have the word of God themselves. There were Gentiles like that in Paul's day, as there are in our day in more remote places. Paul says God deals with them on a different principle.

Gentiles who do not have the law, when they by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts. While their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on the day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus. What Paul is saying, and it's a matter of great profound importance in so many different directions, this is really an important, a critical text in Scripture. What Paul is saying is this, is that even people who do not have the written law of God and haven't been exposed to it, there is at work in their hearts a principle of conscience that tells them what is right and what is wrong. And they know that that principle is there because when they violate it, there is something inside them that convicts them of wrong.

It tells them that was wrong, you should not have done that, you are guilty as a result. And that conscience is an inner principle that God placed into humanity. Conscience directs us in the determination of what is right and what is wrong. It condemns our wrongdoing, it affirms our right doing, if you want to put it that way. Conscience is not the voice of God. Conscience is not a perfect instrument like Scripture is perfect because conscience operates according to what the mind informs it with. But even within those limitations, that human faculty of conscience has been implanted by God to help us know right from wrong in a very basic sense. And beloved, that basic sense of right and wrong inside the hearts of men, it transcends culture and it transcends time. It's an enduring faculty in humanity. Where did it come from?

Where did it come from if we're just descended from a primal blob of goo that was left over after a big bang? Where a morally indifferent explosion produced creatures in a realm without God, without any source of true transcendent morality. If that's true, and it's not, if that's true, then where did the principle of conscience come from? Conscience is expressed. You go anywhere in the world and there would be a common revulsion, let's say against mass murders of children, of hypocrisy and spiritual leaders.

Everybody knows those things are wrong. The more darkness descends upon our age, the more narrow that common ground of shared conscience and morality becomes as it's assaulted in the media, assaulted in entertainment and mocked and defied at every level. It's such a grievous thing that we see happening all around us.

But there's still that common core where everyone knows that's wrong. In a different sense, a different manifestation of this, men and women, boys and girls at some level have feelings of guilt over the private wrongs that they commit. And just the flash of regret, maybe following a night of sin, where that, where it bubbles up into your awareness, I shouldn't have done that.

Ah, forget it. No, not everybody does it, it's okay. But there's that persistent, insistent accusation coming up from inside you saying, no, wrong. Where does that universal principle come from? God has written his moral law on human hearts. Conscience testifies to his existence. You say, a couple of things I want to say about this as we just think briefly about Romans chapter 2. You say, is that really, you're going to say that that is sufficient independently to testify to me in a conclusive way that God exists? Absolutely.

Think about it this way. For those who have never had scripture, God is going to use their conscience as the measure by which he judges them. Conscience is enough to render every man guilty before God. Is it enough to know that God exists? You better believe it, because your conscience put there by God is a sufficient grounds for him to judge men eternally. God, regardless of what man thinks about the argument, God says it's enough. And he'll use, he has said, he'll use conscience as a grounds for eternal judgment.

This is an incidental side point that we can address another time. So, how many of you have heard, you don't need to raise your hand, but how often have you heard as people object to the gospel of Jesus Christ, well what about those who have never heard? What about those who have never heard the gospel?

What happens to them? It's not fair for God to judge them, because they never heard the gospel. That's a bogus red herring. That's not a valid objection to anything. The view of God, the view of scripture is, is that no, these people are guilty. Every man, woman, and child, all the world is guilty if we simply judge them by the principle of their own conscience alone, they have this law inside them, and they haven't even kept their law that's inside them themselves. And that's grounds for eternal judgment. The fact that you and I have received the gospel when others haven't, is not a sign of God's injustice to them, because they are guilty no matter what, and deserve judgment no matter what, because of the violation of the law inside them. It's not a sign of injustice from God to them.

If a man's guilty, it's right and just for him to be punished. No, what the gospel says, and the fact that you and I have received the gospel, Christ has been presented to us, the Spirit's worked in our hearts, that's an indication that God has been gracious to us, and humbles us, and makes us grateful, that though we were equally guilty with those who never heard, God somehow in His kindness and His grace, showed mercy to us that we did not deserve, and that not everybody gets. And the proper response to those who have never heard by those who have, one, make sure you've repented and believed in Christ, because there's an even higher standard of judgment applied to those that hear the gospel and reject it. And if God has saved your soul, to metaphorically, if not literally, fall on your face and say, Oh God, thank you for your mercy to me, the sinner. You showed mercy to me that others don't get. You've been kind to me despite my sin and defiance and indifference to you. Oh God, thank you, and far be it from my lips to accuse you of injustice that you and your wisdom have not shown that same grace to everyone who's ever existed. I vindicate you, oh God, in your justice and in your grace.

You have done all things well. It belongs to the God of all the earth to do what is right. Beloved, this is part of building a Christian mind, is to think rightly about these things, not from a man-centered perspective that brings accusation against God, but to see it from God's perspective and say, Yes, you are right, you are just, you are holy and you've been gracious to me.

Unconditional, unqualified submission and worship from my heart belong to you. For knowing the existence of God and why conscience testifies conclusively to his existence, we turn once again to the Puritan Stephen Charnock. I'm going to give you an extended couple of quotations from him because it's so good and it's a privilege to introduce you maybe to some writers that you haven't heard of before.

He's a thick read. It takes some time to work through it, but oh, the insight that he has on this point. I quote, he says, From conscience a man may rationally be instructed that there is a God. I find something within me that directs me contrary to my desires. There must be something above me, therefore, that put this principle into man's nature.

Continuing on, stay with me, beloved, as I read, because this is really powerful and I've never heard it stated this clearly in what I'm about to read to you. Charnock says, These operations of conscience cannot be totally shaken off by man. If there be no God, why do men not silence the clamors of their conscience and scatter those fears that disturb their rest and pleasures?

What man would continue in the punishment of conscience if it were in his power to deliver himself? What Charnock is saying here is that if conscience doesn't come from God, if it's just something under the authority and the power of man, why doesn't he just cast it off? Because conscience disturbs us. It robs us of our sleep. It testifies that we are not righteous, but we are guilty. And where does its persistent prevalence, how does it continue on if it's simply something man-made because man has every motive to get rid of it if he could?

He's motivated to get rid of it because it makes him uncomfortable, it convicts him, says, why would a man continue with that if he had the ability to get rid of it? Charnock goes on to say, Man can as little silence those thunders in his soul as he can silence the thunders in the heavens. Since man cannot throw out the process it makes against him, it is an evidence that some higher power secures its throne and standing in the human heart.

Charnock concludes, This proves the existence of God. If there were no God, conscience would be useless. The operation of it would have no foundation if there were not someone to take notice of conscience and punish or reward the action. In other words, there is no evolutionary reason for conscience to exist in the heart of man. It's so enduring, it's so insistent, it's so contrary to what motivates man, what man would want. But the fact that it's there, testifying to right and wrong, tells the observant man or woman there's a God who put it there and a God who will use it in the final day. Is that sufficient for us to know that God exists?

I repeat myself, but we better, you better. God will use conscience to judge men who did not even hear his law. A man's conscience renders him without excuse because he has not even kept the law that he has inside himself. Now, beloved, I realize that through repeated sin, it's possible for a man to dull his conscience.

I realize that the whole realm of psychology, in large part, exists in order to quench conscience and say, no, you're fine, you're good, you need to have better self-esteem, don't be so hard on yourself, forgive yourself. And all of that, all of that trying to grab conscience by the throat and strangle it and to put it to death. And so, conscience is not as alive and vibrant as it could be.

But when men go down that path, sinning against their conscience, some of you I know have done that, maybe you're in the midst of it now. When psychology trains men to disregard and to quench the testimony within them of their own wrongdoing, beloved, understand that that has happened from a starting point of the testimony of conscience. Conscience testifying to the individual, you shouldn't do this, I'll do it anyway. You shouldn't do this, I'll do it anyway.

You shouldn't do this, I'll do it anyway. Conscience has been silenced, but its testimony was there and it endures. And same thing when, when a man-centered so-called doctor of psychiatry, psychology, tells people to disregard that, conscience, the testimony of conscience was prior, it was preexistent to that. And instead of saying, let's go to the word of God and find out the reality of your guilt, the psychologist with the full assent of his subjects takes a bat and beats conscience down into submission. But that's not a, that doesn't disprove the principle and it does not terminate the accountability of it all. And so we see from creation, we see from the canon, we see from conscience three independent principles at work in the universe, at work in humanity, testifying to us conclusively about the existence of God. And what about you?

As we draw this to a conclusion, I could see where something like this would be quite convicting for someone. Let me take you back, let me take you back to the mercy that we saw in Psalm 19. And rather than silencing and hardening your heart against the things that now convict you, I plead with you to turn to Christ and to ask Him in His mercy and His grace, which He manifested to utter perfection at the cross of Calvary, where He cried out, Father, forgive them, where He now comes to you and offers you the free, full pardon of all of your iniquity and promises eternal life if you turn to Him. Make it your prayer this morning as we close. Verse 12, O Christ, declare me innocent from hidden faults and let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.

Turn your inner man in the fullness of who you are and the fullness of how you best know how to do it to Christ, and you'll find Him as I did long ago, a merciful Savior, ready to forgive, willing to receive all who come to Him. Let's pray together. O Father, let the words of our mouth and the meditation of our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, our rock and our Redeemer.

In light of what we have heard, Father, we pray that your Spirit would advance your purposes in each one, drawing the unsaved to Christ, assuring Christians of pardon even today in the midst of their rebellion of this past week, and affirming and establish those with desires for righteousness, that you hear this prayer, that you answer this prayer. You do enable your people to persevere in the faith until the end. We glorify your name. We reject the opposition of the world against your testimony. We embrace what you have said in creation, in the canon and in conscience.

We recognize your existence. We honor it, and we thank you that you have made yourself known even more in the Lord Jesus Christ. Help us as we go forth to carry forth these things. And Father, for each one here, every man, woman, boy, and girl, build in each one a Christian mind through the power of your Holy Spirit working through your Word, because faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the Word of Christ. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen. That's Don Green, founding pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. Thank you so much, friend, for listening to The Truth Pulpit. Join us again next time as Don begins a new message as we continue teaching God's people God's Word on The Truth Pulpit.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-20 04:48:10 / 2024-02-20 04:59:28 / 11

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