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August 14, 2020 1:00 am
Well, I'm all for what they substantiate in the laboratories, and I'm fascinated to read about it. But thousands of years before the technology came about to be able to look at MTD DNA, the apostle Paul said to a group of polytheists, We all came from the same origin. So God is colorblind. God is race blind. Nobody is up here and somebody is down here. The the ground is level. We all stand before God and will one day on account of what we've done with the ACS. Jesus.
The Bible tells us that it's the simplicity of the gospel message that results in the salvation that people so desperately need in the Book of Acts.
The apostle Paul was talking to a group of people who considered themselves sophisticated thinkers. They were atheists and polytheists and thought that they were very wise. Paul took the time to explain the truth of God, plainly and simply. And you and I have the same opportunity in our culture. This is wisdom for the heart. And today, Stephen Davy returns to his Vintage Wisdom series in the Book of Acts with this lesson called The All Mighty Mover and Shaker.
Has it ever occurred to you that nothing has ever occurred to God?
Have we learned yet that God never learned anything? He has always known everything.
He never woke up one day and he said, I think, oh, I'll do some math problems. No one in his right mind would. But that's beside the point. He never he never said, I think I'll brush up on world history. I'm a little dusty. He is on a mission. That means there is nothing he does not know and has not always known. He is omnipotent, meaning there is nothing he cannot do.
Should he choose to do it, we will never learn beyond a fragment of the nature and the character of God. I think one of the evidences of that is that we will never master the revelation of God.
His word. He'll never read this book enough times to where you can finally shelve it and say, there I I've learned that book.
I know everything about it now.
No. The more you learn, the more you realize you're just beginning to learn. Even though we will never master the study of God. There is nothing more critically needed today than a study of his character and his nature.
When author provoked my thinking with these words, he said, knowing about the nature and character of God is crucially important for the living of our lives, as it would be cruel to an Amazonian tribesman to fly him to London and set him down without explanation and leave him as one who knew nothing about English or England to fend for himself and to make his own way would be cruel. So we are cruel to ourselves if we try to live in this world without knowing about a God whose world it is and who runs it. Disregard and follow these words. The study of God. And you sentence yourself to stumble and blunder through life blindfold, as it were, with no sense of direction and no understanding of what surrounds you. This is the sure way that you can waste your life and lose your soul. The tragedy is, ladies and gentlemen, our generation is stumbling about blindfold because the study of the character of God has basically been removed from the curriculum of even the average evangelical church. Theological propositions and terminology is relegated to the halls of higher learning, certainly not a body of people. Certainly, they wouldn't be interested in discovering the deep things of God. And so, unfortunately, our pulpits have been trivialized and the personality displays and they've been turned into therapeutic lecterns that simply dish out practical one, two, three steps to fix everything from their marriage to your finances, to your automobile, to your health, good nutrition and hygiene and and on and on and on.
All the most important study is neglected.
This book has become a manual, as it were, on How to Live a happy, prosperous life rather than a manual on how to come to know and to worship an awesome God.
I want to read you another quote by somebody that I pick up periodically. He's in my library. I know where he is. And I read a few pages and then walk around a bit. This is not bathtub reading here. And he he will provoke his thinking with his book, The Trivialization of God. Ready?
Visit a church on Sunday morning. Almost any will do and you will likely find a congregation comfortably relating to a deity who fits nicely with its propositions, who conforms to individual spiritual experiences. But you will not find much all or a sense of mystery. The only sweaty palms will be those of the preacher unsure whether the sermon will go over. The only shaking knees will be those of the soloist about to sing at the New Testament warns us offer to God and acceptable worship with reverence and all for indeed our God is a consuming fire.
Today, reverence and all has been replaced by a yawn of familiarity. That consuming fire has been turned into a candle flame with no heat, no blinding light, no power for purification. Why? Because we prefer the illusion of a safer deity. And so we have widdled God down to a more manageable size. Well, I want to propose this morning to you that God cannot be trivialized if you know him. If he becomes an unknown God, he will become a small, insignificant, less than omnipotent God. And for that reason, I have been excited about this passage of scripture that we have been studying now today for a third time. But I want you to turn again to Acts Chapter 17. And I want to invite you to take your study notes out, because we're going to define some theological terms that may be unfamiliar to you and the definitions of some of these are provided. So far, we have uncovered in Paul's sermon two points. The first point is, my God is more than a monument. That is, he is more than some piece of stone or some stump of wood. He is the living and true God, Lord of heaven and earth.
And Paul addressed those Athenian intelligentsia with the news that they were worshiping an unknown God.
I happen to know that I know in God's name he aces and he preach the Aces, Jesus and the resurrection.
And point number two that we looked at last Lord's day could be summarized by saying, my God made it all.
All that we see reveals. Cries out the heavens. Declare the glory of God.
They shout the message, and so Romans will be where Paul picks up that theme and he says all the world will be without excuse for all, the world had general revelation of God's character. That is, they had nature. They had the universe. They had the world that they thought they saw was ordered and logical and magnificent.
And yet they refused to bend their need to a creator. Instead, they worship the stump and the brook and the sun and the moon.
So all will stand before him. And so he goes on here as he talks about, my God is more than a monument and he talks about my God making it all. And now for today, the third point, and that's all we'll have time for. My God is the all mighty mover and shaker.
Now, in order for the for the God of the Apostle Paul, this unknown God to be the mover and shaker of planet Earth and all that, there is a couple of things have to be true. This God, No.
One, he has to be transcendent. He also has to be eminent. You can easily divide these verses along those two theological expressions of the nature and character of God. Now, when we say that God is transcendent, we mean that God is over and above all of creation. We also mean that God is separate from creation. He is a distinct, superior spirit being. There isn't a little piece of God in a tree or an abrupt or an everyone who's ever live, God has a distinct spirit being who created all there is, and he rules over all there is while he is everywhere. He is not in every thing.
And those would put a sense of God, verse 24. Let's pick it up there.
The God who made the world. Therefore, he has to be separate from the world and all things in it, since he is lord of heaven and earth. That is, he is transcendent. Over and above, his master does not dwell in temples made with hands. Neither is he served by human hands. Now, that doesn't mean that we as human beings cannot serve him with our hands. It simply means that God doesn't depend upon our hands for his existence. Can get along without us. That's what we refer to as the self existence of God. He doesn't need you to survive. You need him. You don't. As I observed in Japan and unbelievers homes with their God's shelf, burning incense to the deity is unknown, somehow related to their ancestors. You don't have to satiate him. He isn't asking for the work of our hands. Paul says, in effect, he is demanding the worship of our hearts.
Now notice the next phrase as though he needed anything. That's a little tongue in cheek, a little cryptic comment. As if this powerful God needed anything like the original word needed anything. Plus. Oh, my kid could be rendered or amplified as if he needed anything. In addition to what he had or as if he wanted any. Now we're very unlike God on this point, aren't we? If I asked anybody in this audience, you know, if I got you in a corner somewhere and I said, is there anything you want?
He'd come up with at least one or two things that he might not have gotten last month. If you asked me or my wife, is there anything you want? I know my wife would say a storage space, a closet.
I'd say a book. I've had my eye on a set of books I'd love and come up to me. I'll give you the name of them and then we work something out.
We never say there. We have enough, in fact. Twelve months or so ago, you probably thought, you know, if I made a couple bucks more a week, I'd I'd be there.
So now you make a couple bucks more a week. Now what?
See, we can't use the word Pruss. Oh, my. To ourselves, we cannot talk about our self-sufficiency. We are anything other than that. God is the only one who is able to say, I have it now.
In fact, David wrote of him and some 50 every beast of the forest is mine. The cattle on a thousand hills. He said, I know every bird of the mountains and everything that moves in the field is mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell to you, for the world is mine. And all that it contains.
This transcendent God who rules over all is self-sufficient and self existence.
Now notice the middle part of verse twenty five, since he himself gives to all lies and breasts and all things that we've talked about in the past sessions about Paul's tact and diplomacy. Remember how he approached the Athenians and they had surrounding in fact, Paul, as he spoke, had surrounding him thousands, tens of thousands of statues and gods and goddesses cut into the reliefs of buildings and statues. And the Parthenon was within view.
And and all of that was there. And he got up before them and he said, man, I can tell that you're very religious, which was a nice way of of confronting them and approaching them. Not I can't believe all of these ridiculous idols. And we talked about his tact and diplomacy. Well, it's at this point that Paul begins to fire missiles into the fortress of the Athenian polytheistic belief system. He fires his first one here. He says, the God, my God, the unknown God to you gives to all lies and breath on all things.
Now, to the Greeks, they had Gibbons's the honor of being the divine resource. Life comes from Zus.
In fact, the Greek word for life is Zuway. This gives ZOA would be their chance. Paul says, no, that's not true. My God, the unknown God. He is the one who rose from the dead is the divine resource. He provides all lies.
And so at this point, he begins to kind of rub them a little wrong. But he's going to get the truth in there.
Now, why is it important that we today understand the transcendence of God, that God is separate from his creation, that he is above them and over as sovereign all his creation? Well, for one thing, that is what gives us the proper view of all things, gives us the proper view of of creation. That's sort of hinted at this in the past. But I think this is a good place to say a little bit more. You cannot if you understand the separateness of God, that God is in in everything and in some spirit entity as in everything, you can't then personalize Earth as a as a mother, defying, as it were, or personalizing her, that somehow we as human beings must protect her in order for her to be happy or fulfilled. I see a bumper sticker here and there. This is Love Your Mother Dashwood Earth.
The elevation of creation simply occurs because the creator is divided.
But if we understand that a separate superintending person known as the Tribe in God and the second person of that Godhead Jesus Christ was the divine agent in creating all of that, there is then we do not place undue value at that creation. We place value at his feet. We don't worship nature. We worship the God of nature. We don't give adulation to created things. We give that violation to the creator of all things with me.
The Bible makes it very clear that that God uses nature as sort of a megaphone fact. The Bible says that that the heavens declare the glory of God. There there's sort of a way of delivering general revelation of of God's attributes. Romans Chapter one. And so what is mankind done? Placed his attention on the wrong end. Think of it this way. Wouldn't it be foolish for a guy to be talking to his sweetheart on the telephone, a long distance telephone calls and talk for hours and the bills racked up and many can hear the voice of his sweetheart through that telephone. He foolish for him to fall in love with a telephone. Come on, Mariette.
Oh, well, I heard her voice coming through the telephone and I just became enamored with the telephone. I've asked it to marry. Well, let me kill us. Well, that's exactly what unregenerate man has done. Hearing the voice of God, as it were, speak through nature.
They've fallen in love with the telephone instead of the creator.
God is transcendent overall. But there is more. Ladies and gentlemen, he is also eminent, not eminent. That's a synonym of the fact that he is overall or eminent. That is, he's coming back at any moment. The spelling is correct.
He is imminent. By that we mean that God is those separate from creation. He is. Look at the definition I've given you.
At the same time, act differently involved in human nature and human history that this great and awesome God is also a personal loving. Caring leader who interacts with his creation. And this is another missile into the polytheistic world of the Athenians. They know nothing of a loving, caring God. And neither is the world today. They believe the gods were as lustful and greedy and murderous in the beginning. Father. Heaven slept with Mother Earth. And the result was all of these gods and goddesses of wind and water and rain and and sun and all of that. But they were as conniving and evil as any man or woman.
Paul says, my God is intimately involved with the one he has created.
He is a caring, loving Lord so that you can actually talk of this transcendent God with terms like Father Shepherd brother.
The last part of verse twenty five declares that. God is personally involved in giving to all life and breasts and all things. You remember how Matthew records of the Sermon of Jesus Christ as he's preaching and he is preaching the truth of eminence, although that word isn't found in the text. It's the theological categorical term we could apply to that.
He's talking about God's involvement in sending the sunshine and the rain and the flowers with their beautiful petals that God is ultimately responsible. And the birds of the air. They don't worry about what they're going to have, you know, next month that God instinctively is hell God. God has given them instinctively the ability to to provide. But yet he's even concerned about them. And then he says this very politically incorrect statement. He says you two as human audience are worth much more than they. Can you imagine how he'd be quoted today with that kind of value system you have? He says more value than a bird.
You have more importance to God than a flower, a tree does not have an inherent right to exist.
That's the value system he places. Imagine how he'd be handled today. Why? Because we have so misconstrued the creator, we no longer know how to place value on his creation. First twenty five he gives to all life and breasts and all things. James writes, Every good thing comes down from the father of lights, every good and perfect gift.
He isn't a distance removed, transcendent, awesome God. He is an eminent, transcendent God. Which means he is caring about your life. And my Paul goes on to say how just involved knows. Verse 26.
And he made from one every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation. Here comes another missile. See, the Greeks believe that they were a master race. They believe they were a special class of people. You had Greeks and you and everybody else. They believe that they were supernaturally originally created from the dust by the gods of their past. But on that, they weren't. They were special people. They were the first master race. And Paul says, you're not. This is where he really begins the medal. He says you're no different than the pagan beggar. We're all made out of the same clay. We all go back to the same man, the same origin. Come on. That must have provoked their thinking.
Probably upset a few. But it was. It was a true statement that needed to be made. I found it really fascinating. A while back to come across this article and it talks about the discovery of or the study of two biochemists who are unbelievers.
I assume they they write this interesting article. Most of the DNA and I kind of stay with this data because we'll get to the conclusion that you'll appreciate most of the DNA and human cells is in the cell nucleus in the form of chromosomes. But there is also DNA outside the nucleus in mitochondria called MTD DNA. The interesting thing about MTD DNA is that over generations that changes at a steady known rate of mutation in human beings. Another interesting thing is that MTD DNA is inherited solely through the mother. These biochemists examined MTD DNA from one hundred and forty seven individuals representing five broad geographic geographic regions of the world, differing nations. They were able then to construct a family tree by analyzing the differences in the empty DNA samples.
The data revealed a common ancestral MTD DNA.
They believe as a result of their data that one single female was the ancestor of everyone on earth today. And they've nicknamed her Eve.
What a discovery.
So it isn't Mother Earth, it's mother what, Mother Eves? Well, I'm all for what they substantiate in the laboratories. And I'm fascinated to read about it. But thousands of years before the technology came about to be able to look at MTD DNA, the apostle Paul said to a group of polytheists, We all came from the same mummy and the same daddy. We all have the same origin. So God is colorblind. God is race blind. Nobody is up here and somebody is down here, the the ground is level.
We all stand before God and will one day on account of what we've done with the ACS.
Jesus Christ, where you put your Bibles away. I want to illustrate what I what I'd like to call the preciousness of these theological truths. The transcendence of God, the awesome separate above ness of God, the self existent, self sufficient and yet the imminence of God.
Let me read you from a fellow that was a personal friend of Theodore Roosevelt. Interesting illustration. He used to visit Roosevelt in the White House and he writes this. Roosevelt and I used to play a little game together when I visit after an evening of talk before retiring to our sleeping quarters. We would go out on the lawn and search the skies until we found the faint spot of light mist beyond the lower left hand corner of the great square of Pegasus. Then one or the other of us would recite, quote, That is the spiral galaxy of Andromeda. It is as large as our Milky Way. It is one of a hundred million galaxies. It consists of one billion suns, each larger than our sun than Roosevelt with grin and say to me, Well, I think we're small enough.
Now let's go on to bed. You know, the wonderful thing about studying God's greatness and majesty, that he is transcendent.
He is over above all. The wonderful thing about studying and rediscovering how big he is in the process, we rediscover how small we are.
And that's good. He is great. We are small.
We put him in his proper place and we give him honor and majesty glory. The wonderful thing in addition to that is I can take problems that seemed really big. The main one. So I understand how small I am and how small my life is and even the breath of my life, how tiny it is.
And I have this great, awesome, transcendent God. I can take them to him knowing he can handle billions of problems my size, that one breath without even dry.
Life was good. And so we with our little problems that when refreshed with the truth of his transcendence and then understanding this great transcendent God will work with me. He cares about me. And you can cast all your care on him for he cares for you. Zen and understanding those great truths you can fully to this awesome refuge.
You can hide under the shadow of the almighty. You can arrest for underneath you are everlasting arms.
Thank you for joining us today.
I hope this time, in God's word, has blessed and encouraged you. This is wisdom for the heart. And we've gone back to our Vintage Wisdom Archives to bring you this series from the Book of Acts, a series Stephen Davíð first taught to the church that he pastors back in the 1990s. We wanted to air it again now because we knew it would be encouraging to you. We also want to encourage you with a resource that we have entitled Heart to Heart. Magazine that includes articles and a daily devotional guide. It's a great resource for you to keep near your Bible and use every day. Call us and we can tell you how you can get a copy. Our number is eight six six. Forty eight.
Bible or eight six six four eight. Two four two five three. I hope you're able to worship with your church on Sunday.
But if not, join Stephen online this coming Sunday. It's broadcast live online and you can access that on our Web site, which is Wisdom Online dot org. Have a great weekend. And join us Monday for more wisdom for the heart.