July 22, 2012

Science Proves Evolution True - July 22, 2012

To DOWNLOAD an MP3 of this message, first right click here then choose "save link as" or "save target as". Older audio is removed to conserve server space, but is available by request.


May grace and peace be yours today, from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

For the past few Sundays we've been using our sermon time to examine a few of the lies of Satan. Satan uses these lies in an effort to pry us away from our Savior kill our trust in Him. Today's lie is this: "Science has proven evolution is true."

May the Holy Spirit bless our hearts and minds as we study this lie, and see what the Bible says about it.

One of our own young people was standing in a college hallway after class with some friends. They were discussing the theory of evolution and the evidence for and against it. A professor walking by happened to overhear their conversation and stopped to comment. In a disdainful way the professor explained that if you don't believe in evolution, you might as well not believe in the light of the sun. Not believing in evolution is like not believing in the air you breath. Evolution isn't a theory, he explained, it is an unshakable fact. Essentially, that professor was proclaiming Satan's lie that "Science has proven evolution is true."

Indeed, many people believe that science has done just that. But are they right? That is the question.

In this discussion, let's begin by defining our terms. That's always a good place to start. That way we know that we're talking about the same things, and not just talking past each other.

Science, in it's simplest definition is the acquisition of knowledge. The word "science" comes from a root word meaning just that, "knowledge". But different branches of science have different methods for getting at knowledge. And not every method is as reliable as the next.

To ensure that we're clear about what kind of science we're talking about, some have found it helpful to divide science into two types. Here's a quote from an article I read called, "Science or the Bible?".
"1. Operation science uses the so-called “scientific method” to attempt to discover truth, performing observable, repeatable experiments in a controlled environment to find patterns of recurring behavior in the present physical universe. For example, we can test gravity, study the spread of disease, or observe speciation in the lab or in the wild. Both creationists and evolutionists use this kind of science, which has given rise to computers, space shuttles, and cures for diseases.

2. Origin science attempts to discover truth by examining reliable eyewitness testimony (if available); and circumstantial evidence, such as pottery, fossils, and canyons. Because the past cannot be observed directly, assumptions greatly affect how these scientists interpret what they see.

So, for example, how was the Grand Canyon formed? Was it formed gradually over long periods of time by a little bit of water, or was it formed rapidly by a lot of water? The first interpretation is based on secular assumptions of slow change over millions of years, while the second interpretation is based on biblical assumptions about rapid change during Noah’s Flood" (Science or the Bible? by Ken Ham and Terry Mortenson, Ph.D.).

Keep that distinction in your mind; operation science and origin science.

Next, we have to define "evolution". Evolution in it's simplest definition is "change or growth". We use this sense of the word when we speak of our relationships evolving, or our economy evolving. These things are changing, growing in one direction or another.

But when we talk about the theory of evolution, we're not just talking about ANY change and growth. When we speak of the theory of evolution we're talking about the idea that life arose from non-living things. In a phrase, we're talking about molecules-to-man evolution.

Let me ask you this, when we're talking about molecules-to-man evolution, which type of science are we discussing? Is it operation science which can be tested and proven in the laboratory? Or is it origin science, which seeks to determine what happened in the past using eyewitness testimony and physical evidence? The promoters of evolution may use some lab experiments to support their claims, but molecules-to-man evolution falls squarely in the field of origin science.

This is an important observation to make, because you cannot use Bunsen burners and Erlenmeyer flasks to test the past. The past is the past, and cannot be revisited and tested by the scientific method. We can make educated guesses about the past, but we cannot scientifically prove what cannot be tested.

One of the lies connected to the theory of evolution is that scientists have arrived at that theory by approaching fossils and other evidence with an open and scientific mind. They have come to the evidence, and the evidence has provided clear stepping stones which have led them to a theory which explains the existence of life.

But this just isn't the case. The theory of evolution doesn't offer a single, clear, flowing explanation of how life came to be. There are PLENTY of holes in the chronology of evolution. Holes that have no explanations. Some would argue that there are more holes than there is substance.

For example, proteins are the building blocks of life. You need proteins or you don't have living organisms. Proteins are made up of amino acids. But so far, amino acids don't appear to be naturally occurring in a lifeless world.

So, where did the first amino acids come from? The theory of evolution doesn't have an testable hypothesis to explain how amino acids could have been created on a pre-life earth.

And even if you could create an amino acid by chance in a dead world, you'd still be light years away from life. You'd have to have the right amino acids (and plenty of them) to create the right kinds of proteins, and then those proteins would have to be arranged correctly to create the cellular structures necessary for life to exist. By the way, the simplest living cell is composed of approximately 10,000 different parts.

One scientist has said that it would be impossible to accidentally form a living cell, and says he can prove it. He suggests that we try this experiment. Fill a sterile test tube with the perfect solution for a living cell to thrive in. Then put a living cell into that test tube. Then take a sterile needle and pop that cell so that all the inside parts of the cell leak out into the tube. Once the cell has been punctured, the scientist has all the parts he needs to make life. He doesn't just have a bunch of disorganized amino acids. He doesn't just have a mass of lifeless proteins. He's got all the super complex organic machinery that fills each and every living cell. But no scientist can make that cell alive again. He's got all the pieces, but you can't put humpty-dumpty back together again.

If we can't make a single living cell when we've got all the parts of that cell already constructed, what makes us think that random chance could make one? Without the parts, without the proteins, without the amino acids?

That leads to another major thing that the theory of evolution fails to explain. What is the difference between a living body and a dead one? What exactly is the spark of life which makes all the difference? Evolution has no answer.

Again, the point is, scientists have not arrived at the theory of evolution because they followed the evidence.

If you compare the evolutionary literature from one decade to the evolutionary literature of the previous decade, there are huge differences in what is believed and taught. The theory of evolution itself is constantly evolving. What was considered certain and unshakable evidence explaining the process of evolution in one decade is cast away for more plausible explanations in the next.

But one part of the theory is never cast aside. One part that is fundamental to the heart of the theory of evolution: God can have no part in it. God does not exist. God did not create. God is a myth. That's what the theory of evolution is founded upon, not on real, testable science.

And if you think about it, it's not surprising. Apart from God, evolution is the only explanation for the existence of the universe or the existence of life. Think about it like this. I've got a watch in my hand. If it wasn't created by an intelligent being, how could it get here? What are the other options? There is only one other option. It got there by random chance. It's pieces were formed by accident and random chance put them together to form a functioning machine.

When you abandon the idea of a watch maker, random chance is all you have left . So it is with the universe, if you abandon the idea of a creating God, random chance is all you have left.

So, what exactly does the Bible say about how our universe got here, and how life came to be? Well, you can read all about it in the first few chapters of Genesis. But our sermon reading for today summarizes those events in a single verse. We'll read Exodus 20, verse 8-11. But, verse 11 is the summary verse that I'm eluding to.

Exodus 20:8-11 (ESV)

8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

This is the third commandment in it's entirety. The main point of the verse is that the Israelite people were to take Saturday off to worship God and to rest. They were to model their work week after God's creation week. Six days of work, and rest on the seventh. "Sabbath" means "rest".

Just as a side note, have you ever noted that the ways that we measure time each have a corresponding natural phenomenon? A year is... the earth going around the sun. A month is... based on the cycles of the moon. A day is... the earth rotating on it's axis. But what about a week? There is no corresponding natural phenomenon. We have our week because God created in six days, and rested on the seventh.

Back to the point. The main thing that our sermon text does for our study today is confirm that the six days of creation mentioned in Genesis were indeed six ordinary days.

There are also other proofs of this in Genesis. First of all, when you read Genesis, the simplest understanding of the words is that God created the universe in six ordinary days. This is expressed grammatically when the days are numbered in sequence (first, second, third, etc.). With each successive day the phrase, "evening and morning" is used. And there was evening and morning, the first day. And there was evening and morning, the second day, etc. (the Jews considered evening the beginning of a new day).

Now, some of you may be wondering, why does it even matter if some people believe that God used evolution to create life and other people believe that God just made living creatures by speaking them into being?

Some churches do indeed teach that the theory of evolution and the creation account of Genesis can co-exist. But this is false. The theory of evolution and the Biblical account of creation are fundamentally contradictory because they say opposite things.

For one example, turn to Romans 5, verse 12. There Paul writes...
"...sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—" (Romans 5:12 ESV).
The theory of evolution says that death existed for millions of years before man did. In fact, the theory of evolution says that we owe who we are today - to death. Because death weeded out the less fit to survive, we are here today.

But the Bible says the opposite. The Bible says that mankind existed before death. The Bible says that death is not a good thing at all! The Bible says death is the horrible consequence of man's sinful rebellion against God! It Mankind let death into the world by sinning against God!

Forget the chicken or the egg; which came first, death or man?! Evolution says one thing, the Bible another.

Is death good, or evil? Evolution says one thing, the Bible another.

These two different belief systems stand on different foundations, and cannot exist together. Given enough time, one will eventually swallow the other.

When people try to combine evolution with the Genesis account of creation, things get all mixed up. And this is exactly what Satan wants. Here's his attack strategy: First, convince people that scientists have proven evolution is true. That means the Bible's account must be a figurative fairytale. Next, either lead people to combine evolutionary ideas with Genesis, or better yet, discard Genesis altogether.

If Satan can get us to discard Genesis, then we've discarded the book that explains where sin, death and evil came from. If Satan can get us to discard God's Word in Genesis, then we'll have discarded the book that contains God's first promise to send a Savior to take our sins away and restore us sinners to a right relationship with God. (See Genesis 3:15)

When evolution is accepted, it destroys the need for a Savior and makes God into a liar.

This is why Satan uses this lie. The Bible clearly says God is the Creator of all things. The Bible clearly says that the first two humans sinned and brought death into the world. The theory of molecules-to-man evolution has no place in Bible history.

So... if evolution could be proved true, than the Bible would be proved false. And if the Bible is false, it's promise of life after this one is empty. If the Bible is false, it's insistence that sin is shameful, damaging and damning is not necessarily correct. If the Bible is false, than the idea of a sinless and holy and all-powerful God who threatens to punish sinners but offers forgiveness through His Son is nothing but a fairytale.

This is why Satan uses this lie. If he can get people to believe that science has proven evolution true, that's like dynamite in the foundation of faith.

Now, one thing that I want to make clear is this. The same evidence exists for evolutionists and creationists to examine. But how we interpret this evidence will depend on what we already believe. We interpret information in line with our preconceived world view. There are only two possibilities, a Creator made this, or random chance did.

So what does the evidence point to? I believe that the evidence points to a Creator. Of course, I'm already a Christian, so I'm biased. But so is everyone else. But I'm not alone in my bias. Jesus is with me. When the Pharisees asked Jesus a question about marriage He responded by saying...
"4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ v 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”" (Matthew 19:1-6 NIV).

Jesus considered Genesis authoritative when it came to answering the Pharisees' question about marriage. "Haven't you read", He said, It says it right there in the Bible. At the beginning the Creator made them male and female.

Earlier I said that "origin science" attempts to discover truth by examining reliable eyewitness testimony and circumstantial evidence. When it comes to the origin of our universe and the origin of life, we have an eye-witness who has left us a transcript of what He saw. Jehovah God is that witness, and the Bible is His transcript. Let's hold tightly to HIS trustworthy testimony, and not to the ever changing imaginative opinions of mankind.

We dare not forget what Satan has in his sights when he aims the lie of molecules-to-man evolution. He has the Gospel of forgiveness in his sights. By erasing the Creator, Satan wishes to begin the chain reaction that will erase passages like these...
" all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus" (Romans 3:23-24 NIV).

"... the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23 NIV).

" 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life" (John 5:24 ESV).
If Satan can kick Genesis out from under us, than these passages will fall also. That is his purpose.

Let's not let Satan do this. Instead lets cling to the solid testimony of our Creator. That way we can be sure that in the last day when all eyes see the truth, our eyes will not be filled with terror, but with tears of joy because our final salvation is at hand.

On that final day of judgment, may we all stand in the righteousness of Christ. The righteousness that He offers us through His suffering and death in our place. The righteousness that covers over all our sins, and makes us clean in the sight of God. Forgiven and renewed.

On that final day, the fact that molecules-to-man evolution was a lie will be even more obvious than the rays of the sun, and more obvious than the air that we breath. Amen.

And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

July 15, 2012

That's Just Your Interpretation - July 15, 2012

To DOWNLOAD an MP3 of this message, first right click here then choose "save link as" or "save target as". Older audio is removed to conserve server space, but is available by request.

Service Intro: Sometimes Satan doesn't speak his own lies. Sometimes they come to us clothed in more familiar voices. Perhaps you've heard the lie that we'll study today. It goes like this, "That's just YOUR interpretation."

Sermon Intro: Sometimes Satan doesn't speak his own lies. Sometimes they come to us clothed in more familiar voices. The voices of friends, co-workers, or even family. That's what happened to Jesus in today's Gospel reading.

Jesus had just told His followers that soon they would go with Him to the city of Jerusalem. There He would suffer at the hands of the religious authorities. There He would die. And on the third day He would be raised from the dead.

After Jesus told them these things, Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him saying, "Far be it from you, Lord! This shall NEVER happen to you."

Jesus turned to Peter and said,
"...Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man" (Matthew 16:23 ESV).
How nice it would have been for Jesus to believe what Peter said. That He wouldn't have to suffer and die to take away the sins of the world. But Jesus recognized the sound of Satan's lies when He heard them.

And we need to recognize them too. Especially when those lies are cloaked in the reasonable sounding words of people we know and love.

Maybe you've been in a religious discussion before, with a friend, with a Christian whom you love and respect. And perhaps in this discussion you've heard the lie of Satan that we're going to focus on today, "That's just your interpretation".

Our sermon reading comes from...

2 Peter 1:20-21 (NASB)

20 But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation,
21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

The phrase, "That's just your interpretation", gets used for a lot of different reasons.

What I was going to college I worked at the Menards distribution center. I stood on a line packaging up pallets of stuff to be delivered to various home improvement stores across the country. One day the line was slow, and I got into a conversation with one of my supervisors. We were talking about marriage and living together as a couple when you're not actually married. When I told him that the Bible says it's wrong, he responded by saying, "That's just your interpretation". The implication was clear. I could have my own interpretation, but he didn't have to have the same interpretation of Bible. He could believe it said something different if he wanted to.

For once I had the right Bible passage in mind. I told him about our sermon reading, and how it says that NOTHING in the Bible is open to private interpretation. In the Bible God says what He means, and means what He says.

That made my supervisor pretty upset.

"That's just your interpretation" is such a handy phrase to use when you're feeling guilty. A good tool to use when dodging accountability. "Oh, that's just what you think. That's not how I see it. Your interpretation doesn't have to be mine. I can keep living my way, and that's just fine."

Other times, TJYI is used simply as an escape hatch to avoiding the spiritual exercise of real Bible study."Sure, pastor, what you say sounds like it's what the Bible teaches (especially those passages you just read out the Bible). But I'm sure the pastors from MY church could show me other passages that support our view."

Still other times, TJYI is used as a stiff-arm to guard personal beliefs from close examination and re-evaluation. "I don't really want to think about this right now, so I'm just going to say, 'That's just your interpretation' and cut the conversation short."

Sadly, in our time it appears that many Christians hold to the false idea that multiple, contradicting interpretations of God's Word can be considered equally valid.

This treats the Bible like it isn't that important, and like it's not really all that clear. This attitude treats the Bible like it's an abstract painting. You know, one where the artist really doesn't want to tell you what he intended it to represent. Instead, he just wants everyone to look at it and interpret in their own way. To their own personal enjoyment and enlightenment.

That's fine if you're an artist and if it's your work being viewed. But God didn't inspire the Bible WORD BY WORD so that we can all just say it means whatever we want. God never intended His Holy Word to be open to individual interpretation. That's why the apostle Peter says...
"But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, " (2 Peter 1:20 NASB).
God seeks to communicate to the human race through His Word. He seeks to say specific things about specific situations. He seeks to tell us the truth in a world full of lies.

There are horrible consequences if we don't understand what God is trying to tell us in the Bible. That's why He uses clear and straight forward words.

In the Bible God says that He created everything in the beginning. It was all perfect. God was not evil, so His creation had no evil in it either. Then a spirit being named Satan opposed God and became evil. He Satan tempted mankind into rebelling against God. This brought death and suffering into the world. But God promised to set things right for the human race by removing the punishment for their sins. God the Son would become human, would suffer the penalty for sin in mankind's place. He would die, and then rise again. All who hear this message and trust in God's promised Savior for their own forgiveness, are cleansed. They are released from the destiny of hell. They are forgiven. They are made children of God through faith in the Son of God and will one day enter God's presence to be with God forever because of the Son's sacrifice in their place.

These are straight forward concepts and ideas. The human race incurred a debt they couldn't pay off. So God paid the debt for us. Jesus is that payment. Through faith in Him we stand forgiven. Pretty simple.

This is the MOST IMPORTANT message the Bible communicates. But, this isn't the ONLY thing the Bible teaches. So, some people say, "Sure, I believe Jesus is my Savior. Obviously the Bible teaches that. But all the rest of the teachings of the Bible are open to private interpretation".


It's bizarre what people try to say in order to get around listening to what God says in the Bible (myself included). But words have meaning! You can't just assign whatever meaning you want to them.

In high school we had a joke that the stop signs with white around the edge were optional. That's what we said at the mall when we kinda rolled through those parking lot stop signs, "Ha ha, the ones with the white edges are optional." But the courts of our country don't see it this way. The laws of the United States of America are not a matter of your own interpretation. "Stop" means stop.

It's not like there's no way to figure out what the Bible means. It's not written in code. Sometimes one English translation or another may seem like it, but really it's not.

When it comes to the Bible, we have to remember that the different books of the Bible were WRITTEN AT DIFFERENT TIMES in history. They were written in Greek and Hebrew, language that people understood BACK THEN. They were written in countries that were CULTURALLY DIFFERENT than ours. Of course there's going to be a time gap to bridge! Of course there's going to be a language gap to bridge! Of course there is going to be a culture gap to bridge! But if an English translation does a good job then we have God's Word translated into our own language. Into a language we can understand. Sure, studying about Biblical culture will help us to gain a richer understanding of what the Bible says, but we can still understand what the Bible says from just reading an up to date, faithful translation of the Bible.

Real Bible interpretation is about understanding the words used in the Bible. What they mean. How you can tell when they're figurative or not. It's about understanding grammar and how sentences work. It's about going back to the original Hebrew and Greek when you need too. Real interpretation is about allowing the Bible to explain itself, instead of approaching the Bible with our own beliefs and then holding onto passages that can be used to support our own private beliefs and discarding those passages that can't.

You know, the same general rules that apply when interpreting the Bible apply when interpreting other writings. To understand an article in a Newspaper, you have to understand what the individual words mean. Then you have to understand how sentences work to transmit information. Then you have to consider the whole article and any other articles you've read by that same person. Then you'll probably have a pretty good idea of what is being said in a one particular article.

Let the words, the grammar and the rest of the person's work speak! If I told an evolutionist that Darwin's book, "The Origin of Species" was really an extended parable expressing Darwin's belief that one God created all life in six 24 hour days that person would scream, "That's not fair! You can't just read your own beliefs into someone else's work!" But that's exactly what humans do to God when they insist that the Bible can mean whatever they want it to mean.

By the way, that's what my seventh grade English teacher Mrs. Devries told me. She said that I surely must know that the Bible could be used to support whatever belief one had. Back then I said, "Sure." I realized that everyone CAN have their own opinions, and the Bible is a big book, so you can usually find something that SOUNDS like it supports your opinion, especially if you take it out of context. But you know... that's not really USING the Bible, that's ABUSING the Bible. Misquoting isn't fair and true interpreting. So, I guess today I'd say that no, you really CAN'T use the Bible to support whatever you believe, because when you let God's Word say what it says, God has very specific things to say. Things that are His own, not ours. We have no right to put our own thoughts in God's mouth.

That's what our sermon text says. Look at it again. It says...
"But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God"(2 Peter 1:20-21 NASB).
Since God wrote it, man has no right to explain it. Only God can explain what He wrote properly, and God does that by using the rest of the Bible.

Now, there are some times when Christians can have differing interpretations about God's Word and it's actually okay. Let me explain. These exceptions are called "open questions". Where God's Word doesn't actually tell us the specifics about something, it's an open question. We have to let it be. We can't say, "I think it might mean this..." and then demand that this is what the Word of God says, because we dare not put words in God's mouth.

But you know, most of the time when people say, "That's just your interpretation" they're not talking about open questions. They're talking about obvious teachings of Scripture.

And here's where we see how dangerous Satan's lie really is. We know there are some things that the Bible doesn't tack down with passages. Those are open questions. We know there are other things that the Bible definitely speaks about. Those are the clear teachings of the Bible. What Satan does is this: he tries to puts the "open question" tag on things that God has spoken DIRECTLY about.

And why does Satan do this?

Because Satan knows, once you tag one thing "open" which really isn't according to God, then it's easier to tag the next thing "open". And eventually the message about sin and grace is swallowed up in open questions.

Did God really create everything in six days? Well, that's just your interpretation. Then what about the seventh day when Adam and Eve sinned? Was that real? If not, why is God's universe full of evil?

Does God really intend to keep people who love each other apart, like homosexual couples? Well, that's just your interpretation. Well then what about the passages that say that God's gift of sex is only pure within marriage, between a man and a woman?

Is there really only ONE Savior of the world? Well, that's just your interpretation. Then why does the Bible say...
"...Jesus is
“ ‘the stone you builders rejected,
which has become the cornerstone.’
12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:11-12 NIV).
When Satan uses people to say "That's just your interpretation" often what he really wants us to hear is, "That's an open question".

But most of the time, it's not an open question. We must be on guard against Satan's lie. If we don't hold tightly to God's truth, then we will either swallowing someone else's agenda, or our own. And only God's agenda is safe. For He is our good Creator, our loving Savior and the God who promises to lead us by His Word. For in that Word it says,
"Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path" (Psalm 119:105 NIV).
And from Second Timothy, chapter 3...
"14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed..." (2 Timothy 3:14-16 NIV).
Prayer: Father in heaven, we praise you for giving us the Bible. Through broken and sinful human beings you have caused your thoughts to be written down perfectly for our learning. Through your Holy Word we learn about sin and hell, and how you have rescued us from them. Through your Holy Spirit you unlock the meaning of the Scriptures with the Scriptures. Bless us Lord that we will always have wise people able to translate the Greek and Hebrew into our current language. And give us the desire to dive in and really know your Word. Help us hold onto your teachings in our hearts and minds. Don't let them be forgotten. Forgive us when we disrespect your Word and it's proclamation. Forgive us and renew us through your Son, Jesus Christ, and by your Holy Spirit and your Word, hold us in the faith until we reach your side in heaven. Amen.

July 8, 2012

You Can Always Get Forgiveness... Tomorrow - July 8, 2012

To DOWNLOAD an MP3 of this message, first right click here then choose "save link as" or "save target as". Older audio is removed to conserve server space, but is available by request.

Service Intro:

The Bible describes the Devil as a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. It also calls him the father of lies. Today we begin a sermon series designed to help us recognize Satan's lies.

Sermon Intro:

Jesus was required to become human because mankind messed up. That statement is accurate. Adam and Eve first sinned against God in the garden of Eden when they did what God had specifically told them not to do. When they ate the forbidden fruit, they made it necessary for God's Son to become human, and to die in our place so that we wouldn't have to spend eternity apart from God because of our sins.

But, to place all the blame on our first parents wouldn't really be fair. There was another character in the garden after all. One who played a major role in causing the fall into sin. One who slithered away from that first scene of temptation, satisfied that his lies had made quite a mess of things.

Jesus describes Satan in John 8. He says...
"...He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies" (John 8:44 NIV).
If we were really interested in assigning blame, we could make a pretty good argument that Jesus had to go to the cross because SATAN told a lie.

Lies are powerful things. Powerful to damage and destroy, never to build up and strengthen.

The apostle Peter describes Satan in 1 Peter 5. He says...
"8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world" (1 Peter 5:8-9 NIV).
Adversary. Lion. Devour. Peter isn't just being poetic here. He's warning us to watch out for the devil and his lies. Now, if we are to be on guard against this our greatest enemy, then we have to learn how to recognize the lies that he uses so successfully. That way, when we hear those lies we can reject them, and cling instead to the truth of the Bible.

Today, we're going to start a sermon series designed to help us recognize Satan's lies. It's called, "The Lies of Satan". The first lie we'll study is: "You can always get forgiveness... tomorrow." The text for this study is...

2 Corinthians 6:1-2 (NIV)

6:1 As God’s co-workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. 2 For he says,
“In the time of my favor I heard you,
and in the day of salvation I helped you.”
I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.

Out at Boeing field there's a old train turnstile. I'm not sure when Boeing bought it, but the turnstile itself is super old. It was actually relocated from Deadwood, SD. It's basically a big steel "Lazy Suzan". It's for putting train engines on different tracks. You drive the engine onto the circle, rotate the circle to the next set of tracks and drive the engine off.

Now, Boeing is pretty into using space age materials and technology, right? So why do they still use this ancient chunk of metal to turn engines around?

Because it works.

And that's why Satan still uses lies. They work. And when Satan suggests that we should just go ahead and carry out that plan in our heart to do something that we know is sinful, he throws in the lie that we can always get forgiveness tomorrow.

When our sinner's heart hears this, it adds a few lies of it's own. Our heart says, "Yeah, I can get forgiveness tomorrow because I can just choose to be sorry about this sin then."

Actually, no, no you can't. Repentance is NOT an action you can choose to do. Repentance is a attitude of the heart that a person has to be moved into. We don't have some sort of "repentance" switch that we can flick up or down when we want to.

I can jump on command. (Jump, jump, jump). I can whistle on command. (Whistle, whistle, whistle). But I can't repent on command. We think about repentance like it's an action that we can do, but it's not. When we see something that shows a person is sorry about sin, that's not repentance, it's just the outward sign of the spiritual condition which has already changed inside that person. The point is, we can't repent on cue.
Think about it like this. What if I said that I was going to slap you across the face, but that right after that I was going to be genuinely sorry about it and ask for your forgiveness. Ready? Would you think that kind of "repentance" is real?

If other people wouldn't fall for this, why do we think God will? He knows our hearts better than we do. Even if we fool everyone else, God will know the truth of our impenitence.

When Satan tells us that we can get forgiveness tomorrow, our own sinful heart adds yet another lie. Our heart says, "Yeah, I CAN get forgiveness tomorrow because Judgment Day certainly isn't coming anytime soon. I mean, I know pastor says it could, but come on now, Judgment Day isn't going to be for a long time."

Actually, all the signs that the Bible says have to come before Judgment Day, have happened. And even if Jesus' return doesn't happen for another two thousand years, any of our lives could end at any moment. Did you know that about 36,000 people die from the flu every year? Or that 1,000 people die every year from simply falling down the stairs? And then there are the cases were a brain aneurism, stroke or a heart attack takes someone unexpectedly. And what about car crashes. A friend of mine from college was killed in Wisconsin when another car came all the way across the median of a divided highway and hit his car head on. Sometimes it takes a lot to snuff out a human life. Other times, we get a glimpse of how fragile we really are.

The point is, Jesus could return to judge the world at any time. And any of us could check out at any time. And when we do, the next major scheduled event is our judgment before God's throne.

In 2 Corinthians 5, Paul says...

"...we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad" (2 Corinthians 5:10 NIV).

When Satan whispers that we can always get forgiveness tomorrow, our heart adds still one more lie. Our heart says, "Yeah, that's it! I can get forgiveness TOMORROW. I'll start tomorrow. Rome wasn't built in a day after all. What's the rush?"

Just before reaching for that second or third helping, a friend of mine likes to say, "I'm starting my diet tomorrow." After you hear it about twenty-five times you understand the key word in that phrase is TOMORROW. Because tomorrow is always tomorrow. Tomorrow never comes.

Spiritual procrastination is the most dangerous kind, because when we do it we're lying to ourselves. What makes us think that tomorrow we'll want to abandon the sins we've embraced today?

Okay, let's review.

Satan says, "You can always get forgiveness tomorrow". Our sinner's heart replies, "Yeah, because 1) I can choose to be sorry later about this sinful thing I'm about to do now. 2) Surely Judgment Day isn't coming anytime soon. 3) I'll start being a Christ follower tomorrow."

God help us to resist this type of damning attitude. In our sermon reading Paul says...
"6:1 As God’s co-workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. 2 For he says,
“In the time of my favor I heard you,
and in the day of salvation I helped you.”
I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation" (2 Corinthians 6:1-2 NIV).
We know what God's grace is. Grace is a free gift. Something we don't deserve, can't earn, shouldn't get. But we get it anyway. And the grace that Paul is talking about when he says "God's grace" here is the free gift of forgiveness that we get from Jesus. Because He suffered hell on the cross, we don't have to. Because Jesus had all our sins heaped on Him, they're not on us anymore. And this gift of forgiveness is free!

But it's only a limited time offer. If you get it, it's blessings are eternal, but the offer has time constraints.

That's where we humans can get a little mixed up. We think that since God's grace is meant for everyone, and since it's good enough to cover everyone's sins, the offer has to be unlimited in time too. But that's not right. The Bible says NOW is the day, and if followers of Christ drop the gift of forgiveness in favor of sinful indulgence today, it could be that time's up tomorrow, or even later today.

God's grace is completely free, and it covers all sins, but it is available for a limited time. Don't drop that precious gift by embracing sin on purpose.

Have you ever done this? Have you ever looked ahead and said in your heart of hearts, "I know I shouldn't do this", but then you did it anyway? You rushed knowingly into sin, thinking that you could beat yourself up later by feeling all guilty and bad, and then come to Jesus and tell Him you're sorry"?

I have. Let's be honest. If not with each other, then at least with God today. Because as amazing as it sounds, if we look back in our past and find open sins against God, even those can be forgiven if we are truly sorry. That's how great our Savior is. That's how big his grace truly is. But if our plan is to live our own way now, and ask forgiveness later. Well, Jesus knows your heart. And His warning is stern.

In Matthew 7, verse 21 Jesus says...
"21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’" (Matthew 7:21-23 NKJV).

So, we've talked about the lie. But how do we overcome the lie that we can live in sin today and get forgiveness tomorrow?

Well, first of all, God helps to wake us up with some pretty harsh words in the Bible. Words about what hell will be like. Words about fire that doesn't go out. Worms that don't die, but continually feast. Words about suffering people who are furious at God, gnashing their teeth in anguish and anger forever.

The Godless world around us doesn't like to hear these things. A lot of times we Christians don't want to hear them either. But that doesn't stop God from telling us the truth. He's not trying to scare us into believing. He's just telling us the truth about what's coming. He's not manipulating, He's motivating. Waking us up.

Inside of us God has also given us a conscience that serves to help us overcome Satan's lie. Our conscience says, "This ain't right. You're all messed up. You've got stuff that needs to be made right. Sins that need to be paid for."

So, first of all, let's take those passages about hell to heart. And let's listen to our conscience when it says we need to have a heart to heart talk with Jesus.

Secondly, to help us overcome the lie that we can get forgiveness tomorrow, we should think about the past. Did you know anyone way-back-when that you thought would never turn away from Christ? But they have? Paul did. In First Timothy 1 Paul says...
"... holding on to faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and so have suffered shipwreck with regard to the faith. 20 Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme" (1 Timothy 1:19-20 NIV).

When Satan says, "You can make a change tomorrow" remember the way that Scripture describes hypocrisy. The Bible says that hypocrisy is like yeast. It grows and spreads. We can't expect hypocrisy to fade away if we voluntarily give it a place in our lives.

If your doctor said, "Oh, it's just a little infection. No need to do anything about it now", you'd find a new doctor. Don't treat spiritual infection as if it will fade away. Kill it by bringing that sin to Jesus and tucking it in His wounds.

There's one more thing I haven't mentioned today. When people believe the lie that we can safely dabble in unrepentant sin today and get forgiveness tomorrow, they forget that sin is like acid. It's caustic and destructive. SOMETIMES sin leaves physical consequences, but it ALWAYS leaves spiritual damage.

But God's path is different than the path of sin. Instead of damage, God's path is a path of healing, blessing and enlightenment. Why risk damage for a little temporary joy when we can risk nothing and be guaranteed blessing? Why start tomorrow when we can be free, empowered, walking with God's Son today?

I tell you , now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation.

PRAYER: Father in heaven, you know our inner hearts. You know the sins of our past, and the sins of our today. You know when we have done what we knew was wrong. Forgive us for this horrible insult to your majesty, and to your grace. Forgive us for each and every sinful thought, action and word that we have done. And by the blood of Christ not only cleanse us of the past, but give us courage and strength to live our futures according to you will. As your Word directs us. Lord Jesus, give us your Holy Spirit so that we do not receive your grace in vain. Help us to reject sin and unbelief and live in the joy of your gift of forgiveness. Amen.