God’s Gracious Revelations of Himself Are Plainly Seen Romans 1:20 Charles E. Whisnant, Pastor/Teacher January 17, 2010 “For the invisible things of Him from the creation2937 of the world2889 are clearly seen, being understood3539 by the things that are made, even his eternal126 power and Godhead2305 so that they are without excuse: kjv For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” NASV This section Romans 1:18-21 Paul is describing God’s gracious revelation and man’s greatest rebellion against the clear truth of the Creation. This is why we have spent most of 2009 on God’s Creation. From Creation the Invisible Things of God are Clearly Seen. Romans 1:20
John 1:18; Colossians 1:15; 1Timothy 1:17; 6:16.
FOR: is a subordinating conjunction which introduces the explanation of how God made a knowledge of Him evident to all mankind. In virtue of this revelation, men are inexcusable, irreverent and ungrateful. Creation: refers to bringing something into existence which has not existed before. Hebrews 11:3. God’s creative action.
In 1 Peter 2:13, God has created all the foundations of human society, work, family and the government. Now not only is God its originator, but as to its function or sphere of operation.
Ephesians 2:10, the purpose of this new creation. We are His workmanship created for Him.
Of the world refers to an orderly arrangement and here refers to the order of the universe. Invisible: is that which cannot be seen with physical eyes.
Are those things which are manifested by His works, and are explained by the terms “power and Godhead.”
The visible nature speaks of nature’s invisible God.
The point: anyone who ever looked into the night sky or the sunset has no excuse to not believe in God.
Man, reasoning upon the basis of the law of cause and effect, which law requires an adequate cause for every effect, is forced to the conclusion that such a tremendous effect as the universe, demands a Being of eternal power and divine attributes. His eternal power Romans 16:26, Genesis 21:33, Deut. 33:27, Psalms 90:2
Eternal: means everlasting, having infinite duration, lasting or enduring forever.
Power: Being able, the power or ability to carry out some function. God’s Dunamis has always existed.
Godhead or divine nature: Acts 17:29; Colossians 23:9. The attributes which constitute deity, signifying the sum total of the divine attributes of God.
Paul is declaring how much of God may be known form the revelation of Himself which He has made in nature.
YET it is not the personal God whom any man may learn to know by these aids; He can only be known only by the revelation of Himself in His SON, Jesus Christ.
What is known is His divine attributes and His majesty and glory.
Therefore, through the light of the created universe, unsaved man recognized the fact that there is a Supreme Being, who created it, who has eternal power and divine attributes, a Being to whom worship and obedience is due.
Does God hate Haiti? That is the conclusion reached by many, who point to the earthquake as a sign of God’s direct and observable judgment. God does judge the nations — all of them — and God will judge the nations. His judgment is perfect and his justice is sure. He rules over all the nations and his sovereign will is demonstrated in the rising and falling of nations and empires and peoples. Every molecule of matter obeys his command, and the earthquakes reveal his reign — as do the tides of relief and assistance flowing into Haiti right now. A faithful Christian cannot accept the claim that God is a bystander in world events. The Bible clearly claims the sovereign rule of God over all his creation, all of the time. We have no right to claim that God was surprised by the earthquake in Haiti, or to allow that God could not have prevented it from happening. God’s rule over creation involves both direct and indirect acts, but his rule is constant. The universe, even after the consequences of the Fall, still demonstrates the character of God in all its dimensions, objects, and occurrences. And yet, we have no right to claim that we know why a disaster like the earthquake in Haiti happened at just that place and at just that moment. The arrogance of human presumption is a real and present danger. We can trace the effects of a drunk driver to a car accident, but we cannot trace the effects of voodoo to an earthquake — at least not so directly. Will God judge Haiti for its spiritual darkness? Of course. Is the judgment of God something we can claim to understand in this sense — in the present? No, we are not given that knowledge. Jesus himself warned his disciples against this kind of presumption. Why did no earthquake shake Nazi Germany? Why did no tsunami swallow up the killing fields of Cambodia? Why did Hurricane Katrina destroy far more evangelical churches than casinos? Why do so many murderous dictators live to old age while many missionaries die young? Does God hate Haiti? God hates sin, and will punish both individual sinners and nations. But that means that every individual and every nation will be found guilty when measured by the standard of God’s perfect righteousness. God does hate sin, but if God merely hated Haiti, there would be no missionaries there; there would be no aid streaming to the nation; there would be no rescue efforts — there would be no hope. (emphasis added, read entire post…) “The arrogance of human presumption is a real and present danger.” Yes, we need to let God be God and rule this universe with perfect justice and perfect righteousness (Romans 11:33: “How unsearchable His judgments and untraceable His ways!“, HCSB). The images streaming in from Haiti look like scenes from Dante's Inferno. The scale of the calamity is unprecedented. In many ways, Haiti has almost ceased to exist. The earthquake that will forever change that nation came as subterranean plates shifted about six miles under the surface of the earth, along a fault line that had threatened trouble for centuries. But no one saw a quake of this magnitude coming. The 7.0 quake came like a nightmare, with the city of Port-au-Prince crumbling, entire villages collapsing, bodies flying in the air and crushed under mountains of debris. Orphanages, churches, markets, homes, and government buildings all collapsed. Civil government has virtually ceased to function. Without power, communication has been cut off and rescue efforts are seriously hampered. Bodies are piling up, hope is running out, and help, though on the way, will not arrive in time for many victims. Even as boots are finally hitting the ground and relief efforts are reaching the island, estimates of the death toll range as high as 500,000. Given the mountainous terrain and densely populated villages that had been hanging along the fault line, entire villages may have disappeared. The Western Hemisphere's most impoverished nation has experienced a catastrophe that appears almost apocalyptic. In truth, it is hard not to describe the earthquake as a disaster of biblical proportions. It certainly looks as if the wrath of God has fallen upon the Caribbean nation. Add to this the fact that Haiti is well known for its history of religious syncretism -- mixing elements of various faiths, including occult practices. The nation is known for voodoo, sorcery, and a Catholic tradition that has been greatly influenced by the occult. Haiti's history is a catalog of political disasters, one after the other. In one account of the nation's fight for independence from the French in the late 18th century, representatives of the nation are said to have made a pact with the Devil to throw off the French. According to this account, the Haitians considered the French as Catholics and wanted to side with whomever would oppose the French. Thus, some would use that tradition to explain all that has marked the tragedy of Haitian history -- including now the earthquake of January 12, 2010. Does God hate Haiti? That is the conclusion reached by many, who point to the earthquake as a sign of God's direct and observable judgment. God does judge the nations -- all of them -- and God will judge the nations. His judgment is perfect and his justice is sure. He rules over all the nations and his sovereign will is demonstrated in the rising and falling of nations and empires and peoples. Every molecule of matter obeys his command, and the earthquakes reveal his reign -- as do the tides of relief and assistance flowing into Haiti right now. A faithful Christian cannot accept the claim that God is a bystander in world events. The Bible clearly claims the sovereign rule of God over all his creation, all of the time. We have no right to claim that God was surprised by the earthquake in Haiti, or to allow that God could not have prevented it from happening. God's rule over creation involves both direct and indirect acts, but his rule is constant. The universe, even after the consequences of the Fall, still demonstrates the character of God in all its dimensions, objects, and occurrences. And yet, we have no right to claim that we know why a disaster like the earthquake in Haiti happened at just that place and at just that moment. The arrogance of human presumption is a real and present danger. We can trace the effects of a drunk driver to a car accident, but we cannot trace the effects of voodoo to an earthquake -- at least not so directly. Will God judge Haiti for its spiritual darkness? Of course. Is the judgment of God something we can claim to understand in this sense -- in the present? No, we are not given that knowledge. Jesus himself warned his disciples against this kind of presumption. Why did no earthquake shake Nazi Germany? Why did no tsunami swallow up the killing fields of Cambodia? Why did Hurricane Katrina destroy far more evangelical churches than casinos? Why do so many murderous dictators live to old age while many missionaries die young? Does God hate Haiti? God hates sin, and will punish both individual sinners and nations. But that means that every individual and every nation will be found guilty when measured by the standard of God's perfect righteousness. God does hate sin, but if God merely hated Haiti, there would be no missionaries there; there would be no aid streaming to the nation; there would be no rescue efforts -- there would be no hope. The earthquake in Haiti, like every other earthly disaster, reminds us that creation groans under the weight of sin and the judgment of God. This is true for every cell in our bodies, even as it is for the crust of the earth at every point on the globe. The entire cosmos awaits the revelation of the glory of the coming Lord. Creation cries out for the hope of the New Creation. In other words, the earthquake reminds us that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only real message of hope. The cross of Christ declares that Jesus loves Haiti -- and the Haitian people are the objects of his love. Christ would have us show the Haitian nation his love, and share his Gospel. In the midst of this unspeakable tragedy, Christ would have us rush to aid the suffering people of Haiti, and rush to tell the Haitian people of his love, his cross, and salvation in his name alone. Everything about the tragedy in Haiti points to our need for redemption. This tragedy may lead to a new openness to the Gospel among the Haitian people. That will be to the glory of God. In the meantime, Christ's people must do everything we can to alleviate the suffering, bind up the wounded, and comfort the grieving. If Christ's people are called to do this, how can we say that God hates Haiti? If you have any doubts about this, take your Bible and turn to John 3:16. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. That is God's message to Haiti. The late Peter Drucker once said: "
My ancestors were printers in Amsterdam from 1510 or so until 1750, and during that entire time they didn't have to learn anything new."
That sure wasn't the case in 1972 when I was hired by The Wilson Learning Corporation to be a sales rep and workshop facilitator. On my first day on the job, Larry Wilson - founder and CEO - handed me two things: a Mickey Mouse watch, which was to serve as a constant reminder that work should be fun; and a copy of the book Future Shock by Alvin Toffler. Further, he directed me to a page in the book where Toffler described a Survival Kit for the Future. Toffler said that in order to survive the shattering stress and disorientation that is induced in us by subjecting us to too much change in too short a time, we need to do three things: learn to learn, learn to choose, and learn to relate. He went on to say: "
The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read or write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn."
Hmmm, I thought. I'd better get on that. I think I'll start tomorrow; I've got too much going on to think about doing it today. And, of course, tomorrow came and I was so busy that ... I don't see myself as an exception to the rule here. I think most people view learning much as I do - or at least as I viewed it until a few years ago: as something that can be put off. Why? Because I'm smart; I'm educated; I'm experienced; I've got a job; I'm good at it; I'll get promoted; I'll make it to the top; I'll retire here. Besides that, I'm busy; I've got meetings; I have to answer my email; business is great and we need to get out there and ride the crest; business is in the tank and we've got to spend every waking minute figuring out what's wrong. Want more? I'm already learning. I surf the web; I watch TV; I read the Wall Street Journal; I subscribe to the latest and greatest business magazines; I practically camp out in the business section of the bookstore; I listen to podcasts; I get RSS feeds from my favorite bloggers; I attend industry conferences; etc. If that ain't learning, I don't know what is. Sound convincing? I think so, and if you are doing all those things, you are certainly learning something. But, are you learning the right things? When Richard Pascale appeared at The Masters Forum a few years ago, he said our knowledge can be sorted into three different containers: First there is what we know we know. In this container we can put things where we know both the questions and the answers. Learning here is about finding better answers or fine-tuning. Second there is what we know we don't know. Here we know the questions, but don't have the answers. Learning here is about finding answers to questions or problem-solving. Third is what we don't know we don't know. Learning here is a search for new and relevant questions. He went on to say that successful companies are usually very good at gathering the knowledge they need to do better and better at fine-tuning and problem-solving. Then he issued a warning: "
Nothing fails like success. The more successful you are the more apt you are to confine your learning to the first two containers; you turn inward and focus on making your economic engine run as smoothly as it possibly can. This is most often where trouble begins, because while you are concentrating on fine-tuning and problem-solving, you miss the early signs that the world around you is changing in a fundamental way. And one day you wake up to find that the you are no longer relevant."
Conversation: What percentage of your learning efforts are focused on fine-tuning and problem-solving vs. trying to figure out what you don't know you don't know? How important is finding the new and relevant questions? Timothy Leary said there are three ways to increase your intelligence. First, you should continually expand the scope, source, intensity of the information you receive. Second, you should constantly revise your reality maps, and seek new metaphors about the future to understand what's happening now. Third, you should develop external networks that allow you to spend much of your time with people as smart or smarter than you. Are you purposely doing any of those things now? If not, why not? If so, how is it going for you? Afterwords: "
Life has got a habit of not standing hitched. You got to ride it like you find it. You got to change with it. If a day goes by that don’t change some of your old notions for new ones, that is just about like trying to milk a dead cow."
- Woodie Guthrie "
We are not what we know but what we are willing to learn."
- Mary Catherine Bateson "
Given the fast-changing and ever increasing complex nature of the world, gaining insight into how patterns are forming and structures are developing represents the most powerful way of managing in the new economy"
- Winslow Farrell, How Hits Happen "
It is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be...This, in turn, means that our statesmen, our businessmen, our everyman must take on a science fictional way of thinking. - Isaac Asimov "
Don't confuse the edge of your rut with the horizon."
- Gary Hamel http://conversationkindling.blogspot.com/2008/12/are-you-learning-as-fast-as-world-is.html Yesterday, as an aspect of researching the book I'm working on, I read (re-read, actually) Neil Postman's Amusing Ourselves To Death. The timing was interesting, coming as it did just one day after the horrifying earthquake in Haiti. Postman's book deals with media in an age of entertainment and I found many of the lessons he teaches in the book immediately applicable to the situation in Haiti. Let me summarize some of them. Our television culture grew out of the age of telegraphy. The great idea in the age of the telegraph was "
that transportation and communication could be disengaged from each other, that space was not an inevitable constraint on the movement of information."
While there was a time when only Haitians would have known about the disaster, today, in our rapidly-shrinking world, it is immediately visible from pole-to-pole. But telegraphy did more than make the world much smaller. It unexpectedly "
destroyed the prevailing definition of information, and in doing so gave a new meaning to public discourse."
We now have context-free information; "
that is, the idea that the value of information need not be tied to any function it might serve in social and political decision-making and action, but may attach merely to its novelty, interest, and curiosity. The telegraph made information into a commodity, a 'thing' that could be bought and sold irrespective of its uses or meaning."
And this is exactly what we are seeing today. News of the disaster is a valuable commodity which is why the top reporters from the top networks have all hustled to Haiti to gather information and, even more importantly, to show themselves within the disaster zone. The value of the information being sent to us is not in action but in the information itself. We cannot overrate the importance of the images we are seeing on the screens before us (and truly they are both moving and horrifying). "
In a peculiar way, the photograph was the perfect complement to the flood of telegraphic news-from-nowhere that threatened to submerge readers in a sea of facts from unknown places about strangers with unknown faces. For the photograph gave a concrete reality to the strange-sounding datelines, and attached faces to unknown names. Thus it provided the illusion, at least, that 'the news' had a connection to something within one's sensory experience. It created an apparent context for the 'news of the day.' And the 'news of the day' created a context for the photograph. ... But the sense of the context created by the partnership of photograph and headline was, of course, entirely illusory."
These photographs arouse our sympathy and somehow make us feel like we have more of a context to understand the disaster. It is not just an earthquake now, but a true disaster for the sad and terrified faces we see in photographs. We now feel like we are somehow attached to the information we are receiving, at least in a way we would not be were we only to read about it. Yet what do we really know? "
Telegraphic discourse permitted no time for historical perspectives and gave no priority to the qualitative. To the telegraph, intelligence meant knowing of lots of things, not knowing about them. ... The telegraph introduced a kind of public conversation whose form had startling characteristics: Its language was the language of headlines--sensational, fragmented, impersonal."
Looking at photographs and reading a few headlines is knowledge of but not knowledge about. "
Most of our daily news is inert, consisting of information that gives us something to talk about but cannot lead to any meaningful action. This fact is the principle legacy of the telegraph: By generating an abundance of irrelevant information, it dramatically altered what may be called the 'information-action ratio.'"
In both oral and typographic cultures, information derives its importance from the possibilities of action."
As we moved away from a typographic world into a telegraphic and television world (and now into a digital world), information became separated from action. "
For the first time in human history, people were faced with the problem of information glut, which means that simultaneously they were faced with the problem of a diminished social and political potency."
This is a kind of information glut that makes us unable to react to all the information available to us or to do anything about most of it. Were we to actively respond to every situation and disaster that we learn about, we would be constantly in motion and constantly bankrupt. "
For the first time, we were sent information which answered no question we had asked, and which, in any case, did not permit the right of reply."
We have become impotent to react in a meaningful way to the information we consume. "
We have here a great loop of impotence: The news elicits from you a variety of opinions about which you can do nothing except to offer them as more news, about which you can do nothing."
What do you intend to do about the disaster in Haiti? Three days from now we will have moved on. Maybe it will take four or five. But honestly, after the weekend, few of us will ever think of Haiti again. The next news story will come along and Haiti will be relegated to history. But three days from now and a week from now, the situation in Haiti will be far worse than it is today. The devastation will be more complete. The pain will be greater. The country has been devastated and it will take years to recover. At the end of the year when the best photographs of 2010 are revealed, the photos of Haiti, that make us weep today, will be nearly forgotten. By then they will be old news, eleven and a half months removed from the headlines. We'll think, "
Oh right, I remember that."
And then we will scroll down to the next photo. Postman calls the world brought about and fostered by television a "
where now this event, now that, pops into view for a moment, then vanishes again. It is a world without much coherence or sense; a world that does not ask us, indeed, does not permit us to do anything; a world that is, like the child's game of peek-a-boo, entirely self-contained. But like peek-a-boo, it is also endlessly entertaining."
And isn't that what the Haiti earthquake is for most of us? It is entertainment. That sounds cold but it is exactly the case. If we turn on the television and watch those images and do nothing about it before moving on to the next news item, have we not merely been entertained? In one regard I have to turn from Postman. Postman, though he knew his Bible well, was not a Christian and did not understand the power of prayer. Though we may be impotent to act, to actually go to Haiti and give aid, we can ask God to accomplish his purposes, even through so devastating a situation. We can pray for the nation and its people. We should pray for them, even, and especially for brothers in sisters in Christ who live in that country. We should pray that as people from around the world head to Haiti to feed the hungry and heal the sick, that they would take the gospel with them. And we can consider giving financially to credible organizations that will be involved in relief efforts (such as Compassion). It turns out that we are not entirely impotent in the aftermath of this great disaster. How Do We Know That’s What the Bible Means? Once you ask that question, you should really be quiet and listen to the answers of people who think they know. Otherwise, the question is insincere or you’re in danger of passing off ignorance as a plausible answer. Reading a few things and listening to a few conversations of late, I’m struck by how often in various ways this question is posed, then followed by a rejection of answers given. It’s as though some people think agnosticism about the text provides the meaning of the text, or makes the meaning unknowable. Whatever happened to asking an honest question then carefully considering the answers offered? Top Fifteen Signs Your Sermon Isn’t Going Well 15. Your associate pastor is warming up in the bullpen. 14. The praise band begins playing you off the stage. 13. You are using PowerPoint. 12. When asked to read from the King James Version, you involuntarily blush every time you say the word “ass.” 11. The congregation is filling in the blanks of your outline before you get there. 10. You think the lyrics to a bluegrass song are really connecting with your audience. 9. When you pause for dramatic effect, several people giggle. 8. Your cell phone starts ringing, and you answer it. 7. The person signing for the deaf just pulled on mittens. 6. When the children are dismissed to junior church, most of their parents go, too. 5. Your sermon took shape over a glass of wine and volume three of Left Behind. 4. Your interpreter just rolled his eyes and put your last statement in quotation marks. 3. Desperate mothers are pinching their babies. 2. The ushers are handing out refunds. 1. You began your sermon with “Top 10 signs your sermon isn’t going well.” http://mikewittmer.wordpress.com/2010/01/11/monday-morning-quarterback/ know some people do not agree with me…but I FIRMLY believe that church should not be a boring place…because… The Bible is NOT boring–the teachings of God’s Word are more relevant and exciting that anything on the planet. Jesus was NOT boring – to see His life lived out in the Scriptures AND to see WHO HE IS should inspire AWE, not apathy! Our message is NOT boring – Jesus was DEAD, came BACK TO LIFE and offers us the same opportunity, to cross over from death to life and be reconciled to God–THAT’S FREAKIN AWESOME!!! The Book of Acts is NOT boring – there is NOWHERE in the book of Acts that ritual replaced relationship! If the tomb is empty, Jesus is alive and HOPE is possible then HIS church should reflect that. BUT…if you want to make sure your church is boring, here are Eight Simple Steps… #1 – There has GOT to be apathetic leadership – Seriously, the leaders in the church MUST be obsessed with not rocking the boat and pursuing personal comfort! #2 – There CANNOT be a desire to reach people far from God! Seriously, new birth can bring excitement to a church, which is NOT what people in pursuit of boredom desire. SO…don’t focus on the Gospel…instead teach lots of history lessons and talk about things that very few people actually care about. This will keep people far from God away from your group of people, thus not messing up the chemistry in your holy huddle. WHATEVER you do…DO NOT talk about the Gospel…it changes people!!! #3 – DO NOT call for ANY type of commitment from ANYONE–EVER! People MUST be allowed to come and go as they please…and must NEVER be made to feel uncomfortable under any type of circumstances. If people begin responding to God it will increase the excitement level, which cannot happen in a boring place. #4 – Always be predictable. Do the same songs at the same times, pray the same prayers and make SURE that people can look at their watch at any point in the service and know exactly what’s coming next. #5 – Make excuses when things are done poorly! WHATEVER you do…do NOT address the obvious issues that are right under your nose. In fact, if you will simply criticize any church or ministry that IS seeing success it will take the attention off of your dysfunction and allow you to maintain the current state of your church. #6 – PLEASE make sure not to make ANY type of references to culture in your church services. If you want to have a boring church then you’ve GOT to make people believe that the lives they live Monday through Saturday and then the life they live on Sunday are two separate things. You cannot teach that Scripture speaks to culture…because if people begin making that connection then they will begin to experience what Jesus promised in John 10:10! #7 – You’ve GOT to allow people to pretend that their lives are perfect! Seriously, if someone has a problem then you must either put them out of your church OR tell them to act as if they are perfect. If people begin to bring their junk to your church and Jesus begins to help them work through it and they get delivered from it…your church cannot maintain its boring status. #8 – You MUST focus on the external and NOT the internal. Make the way people dress the MOST important issue…and the way they LIVE a non-issue!!!