August 5, 2012

We Can't Really Know the Truth - Aug 5, 2012

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For the past few weeks we've been using our sermon time to study some of Satan's lies. By examining Satan's lies and what the Bible says to counter those lies, we hope to be ready when it is time to defend our faith. Through God's word, and through the teaching of the Holy Spirit we will be ready.

Today's lie is this: "We can't really know the truth".

Now, with THIS lie, Satan isn't suggesting that truth doesn't exist. He's just suggesting that we can't be SURE what is true and what is not.

Now, this lie is only aimed at big things. Because nobody is stupid enough to believe that nothing is true. Plato, who thought the world was one big illusion, still ate food. He breathed air. He drank water. These things are crucial for life. That can't be argued. The lie that we can't really know the truth isn't aimed at simple truths like these. This lie is aimed at the more important questions.

Does God exist?
Where did the universe comes from?
Does hell exist? Is it eternal?
Is there purpose in human existence?
What happens after death?

To all these questions Satan whispers, "We can't really know the truth". Satan whispers this lie to non-Christians and Christians alike. To the Christians he whispers things like, "We can't really PROVE the truth about the God we believe in". Maybe you've even heard pastors speak in this way, that you can't prove the existence of God. I may have even spoken like this from this very pulpit. I may have said that God's existence can't be proven. That it can only be believed. But listen to how God speaks in our sermon reading for today. It certainly doesn't sound like God would agree that we can't really KNOW the truth for sure.

Romans 1:18-20 (ESV)

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

Like most of Satan's lies, there is a grain of truth in today's lie. We can't really know the truth, UNLESS God teaches it to us.

This week on our Youth Camping Trip, one of our devotions brought us through some passages about fools. The Bible describes the fool as a person who is preoccupied with temporary things. Like the Rich Fool in Jesus' parable who took time to plan out how he would store his huge harvest of grain, only to die that very night having made no preparations to meet his maker.

Here are some other passages about "fools" that we studied.
"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction" (Proverbs 1:7 ESV).

"A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion" (Proverbs 18:2 ESV).

"Let a man meet a she-bear robbed of her cubs
rather than a fool in his folly" (Proverbs 17:12 ESV).

"The way of a fool is right in his own eyes,
but a wise man listens to advice" (Proverbs 12:15 ESV).

"Fools mock at the guilt offering,
but the upright enjoy acceptance" (Proverbs 14:9 ESV).
Now, here's the kicker - in Psalm 14 it says...
"1The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds,
there is none who does good.
2The LORD looks down from heaven on the children of man,
to see if there are any who understand,
who seek after God.
3 They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one" (Psalm 14:1-3 ESV).
In other words, by God's standards we're all fools. Since all humans are born sinful, we're also born stupid. Our inner sinful nature make us dumb when it comes to spiritual things, and dumb when it comes to a lot of other things too.

Just think back to the garden of Eden. Right after Adam and Eve sinned against God, what did they do? They noticed that they were naked, so they covered up. That's sounds smart I guess, but what did they cover up with? They sew fig leaves together. Maybe not the most resilient of clothes. And then they heard God walking through the garden, which led to their next stupid action. They hid from God. From the God who is all knowing and present everywhere. Yes, sinful mankind is truly brilliant.

But we do things today that are just as stupid. We have God's Word which reveals the way to heaven in Christ Jesus, and which reveals the path to true fulfillment and joy in this life also. But we neglect reading it.

We have a God who promises to hear our prayers because Jesus has opened up the way for our prayers to get to God. Not only will he hear, but he will answer in the best way POSSIBLE. But we often use prayer as a last resort, instead of a first response.

We know what God says is the right way to act toward other people. Whether it's respecting our parents, helping those in need, protecting the picked on or simply listening to people when they talk to us. But we can always find a reason why WE are the exception. In THIS case I can do what I want to do instead of what God says is the right way, the way of blessing.

Truly, because we are sinners, we are fools.

Even when God the Son walked the earth in visible, tangible form, human beings responded to His words and actions with foolish unbelief.

After Jesus had done all sorts of open miracles as signs that He was from God, the religious authorities said, "Come on, do a sign to show us you're from God".

After Jesus miraculously raised Lazarus from the dead, those same religious elite didn't discount the miracle, but they also didn't become Jesus' followers either. They decided they really needed to get rid of this miracle worker.

On one occasion, God the Father had spoken from the sky while a crowd of people surrounded Jesus. Some recognized the voice, others said, "Must have been thunder".

Or think of the night before Jesus was crucified, when he was arrested. Peter jumped forward with a sword and slashed a man's ear off. Jesus healed the man's ear right on the spot. MAYBE this was some evidence that Jesus really was the Son of God, and the Savior of the world. MAYBE this was some evidence that they should leave Jesus alone? But no, after the miracle they arrested Him.

Or think of what happened after Jesus was raised from the dead. God sent an angel to roll the stone away from the tomb and show the world that Jesus was gone - alive once more. The soldiers that had been detailed to the tomb saw the angel and fell down like dead men. No doubt in shock. But when they recovered their senses they ran into Jerusalem and made a deal with the religious elite to lie about what they saw.

You see, sinners are dumb. 1 Corinthians 2:12-14 says...
" 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.
14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned" (1 Corinthians 2:12-14 ESV).
Like I said, there is a grain of truth in Satan's lie that we can't know the truth. We can't know the truth APART from the instruction of the Holy Spirit which flows out of the Bible.

But with the Holy Spirit working through the Bible, there is hope for foolish sinners like us. God's word is a text book for making the foolish into the wise. And in this book we find far more than practical day-to-day nuggets of wisdom. Here we find spiritual wisdom that leads to eternal life.
" 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" (2 Timothy 3:14-15 NIV).
Through the Bible we come to know God, the source of all lasting wisdom. Through Christ Jesus we come to know that we have been saved by the cross of Christ. Through Jesus our Savior we are forgiven all our foolish sins. Through Christ we are fools made wise.

1 Corinthians 2:16 says,
" 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ" (1 Corinthians 2:16 ESV).
Through faith in Christ Jesus as our Savior, we are connected to Him. His wisdom then flows into our hearts and minds and lives as we learn from the Bible.
" 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men" (1 Corinthians 1:22-25 ESV).
The people who the apostle Paul preached Jesus to were either Jews, or non-Jews. The Jews wanted to see miracles. The non-Jews wanted to hear messages that appealed to their logic. But Paul had something better than miracles and human wisdom. He had God's wisdom. Something we could never figure out no matter how hard we tried. Paul had the message that in Christ sinners are declared saints. The guilty forgiven. In Christ we are "Fools Made Wise".

Satan whispers that we can't know the truth. But we can, when God reveals it to us.

I've got a hat in my hand. If you were blind you wouldn't know what color it is, and could never find out. You could take the hat in your hands, but you couldn't feel the color. You couldn't smell the color. You couldn't taste the color. There would be no way for you to know what color it was, unless I told you. If I revealed to you what color it was, then you COULD know. That's the way it is with God. We can't know Him, unless he reveals Himself. And He has done just this through the pages of history, and has preserved the record of this revelation in the Bible.

Without the Bible and the Holy Spirit, we couldn't know the truth. But with the Bible and the Holy Spirit, we can, and do.

And you know, this isn't just a matter of "blind faith". Our faith isn't blind. When we look around at the world, we see that it is just like God described it. There are animals made in kinds that reproduce their same kind. That's right from Genesis. There is wonderful potential for beauty in the world, but a horrible darkness and brokenness that runs through it also. This too matches up with a perfect creation gone bad due to sin. What I'm trying to say is, what the Bible says matches up with what we find in the world. When things match up, that's truth.

Or think of what the Bible says about testing prophets. If a prophet made a prophesy that didn't come true, God says, don't fear that prophet. He's a fraud. He's not from Me. But in the Bible we find prophesies that were made long before they were fulfilled. In other words, they match up, although only a supernatural force could make such things match up. Again, when things match up, there we find truth.

Can we really know the truth? You bet we can. It's found in the Bible. Like Jesus said...
" 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth" (John 17:17 NIV).
Through the truth of God's word we have been sanctified - set apart as God's own redeemed sinners. We have been made wise for salvation in Christ Jesus our Savior. That, is the truth.


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

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