The Role of Your LIfe
Thank you. It is a special honor and privilege to address you this afternoon. Congratulations to you graduates, to you Moms and Dads and to this entire homeschool community. High school graduations are special; they mark a major transition in life as one leaves home and steps out into the world. This afternoon, let’s make a few observations about this world that you are entering into and think about the powerful impact you can have in it.
Life is like a play in which we are the actors. We control what we say and how we act; we do not, however, create the “stage” on which we act. Our success will largely be determined by how well we understand this world or “stage” which God has created for us. An excellent way to get a profound understanding of this world is to study the significance of the first three uses of the word “created” in the Bible. (Bruce Waltke, teaching tape, ~1970’s)
The word “created” is translated from the Hebrew word “bara” which means “to create out of nothing.” The first “bara” is found on Day One, verse 1; the second on Day Five, verse 21; the third on Day Six, verse 27. Thus, the questions arise, what did God create out of nothing on the first day, the fifth day, and the sixth day and what is their significance? What He created was, simply stated, “the cosmos”, “the breath of life”, and “the image of God”. Now, let’s see if we can understand their significance.
In the beginning we find God creating the cosmos—the space, mass, time universe—out of nothing. On day two, God separates the waters from the waters; on day three, He lets the dry land appear and the earth bring forth vegetation; on day four, we find God making the sun, moon and stars. On days two, three, and four, God had everything He needed—created out of nothing on the first day—to form, shape and mold what He wanted to accomplish.
On day five, God creates the first creature life—the fish and the birds. But not even God could make a living fish or bird with what He had created out of nothing on the first day; He had to create something brand new—out of nothing—the “breath of life.” Imagine a fish out of the water and flapping around on the shore. When it dies; what does it lose? It loses its “breath of life”. This is why you will never see creature life made in a lab; they can’t create the “breath of life.”
On day six, God has everything He needs from what He has already created on the first and fifth day to make the land creatures. But, to create Adam, He again has to create something else brand new out of nothing—this time—the “image of God.” Note again, God could only make an ape-like creature with what He had created on the first and fifth days. Being “created in the image of God” is what separates man from all the other creatures.
A quick check. According to the bara’s, what is the essential difference between you and a dog? You have the “image of God.” What is the essential difference between you and a tree? You have the “breath of life” and the “image of God.”
To complete our basic understanding of God’s world today, we need to take a look at Genesis 3. Here we discover that man is fallen, that man is a sinner. G. K. Chesterton wrote that this “is the only part of Christian theology which can really be proved.” (Orthodoxy, page 7) There is no way to truly understand human nature without accepting this fact. Ironically, when you understand that man is created in the image of God and fallen, you will have a deeper insight into psychology, sociology, and anthropology than some of those professors who may be teaching you next year. But don’t get too cocky; they do know a lot of fascinating information; you can learn a lot from them.
Our basic understanding of God’s created world is now complete; however, your success in life will also depend on how well you understand your fellow actors. Not everybody shares our worldview; in fact, many aggressively reject it. This is especially true in academia, the media and in the entertainment industry. These influential segments of our society are dominated by the intellectual elite. For example, even the conservative Wall Street Journal Editorial page rarely challenges elite opinion on evolution. They did last Christmas Day and ran a column by Eric Metaxas on Intelligent Design; from the reaction of the elites, you would have thought that the sky had fallen! The media are not only the vanguard of our cultural-war competitors, they are its protectors; they are very powerful and effective.
We must understand the worldview of these elites. Benjamin Wiker in Worshipping the State: How Liberalism Became Our State Religion, (2013, page 184)) asks “What would the world have to be like for the liberal worldview to be true?”
First, their ideology requires a materialistic universe. To get around the idea of a creator, these elites propose that our universe is just one of an infinite number of universes. And, without a shred of evidence, they claim it came into existence from nothing! Amazing! Lawrence Kraus, the author of A Universe from Nothing, actually boasted on the Wall Street Journal’s Editorial page (September 8, 2010) “As a scientist, I have never quite understood the conviction, at the basis of essentially all the world’s religions, that creation requires a creator.” Dr. Kraus, I have never quite understood you and your fellow elite’s conviction that Nothing is something!
Second, for their worldview to be correct, man must be a product of the unguided natural processes of evolution; there can be no “breath of life” or “image of God.” A quick question. Do you think they decided on their materialistic worldview because the scientific evidence for evolution was so overwhelming? Or, do you believe they had already decided in their hearts that they didn’t want to believe in God and then looked for some justification for it from science? For them, which came first? It is important to understand, that despite what they say, their acceptance of evolution came second because it is needed to support their worldview. It can’t be based on the evidence because their so-called evidence is basically non-existent. Again, what they have done is find some supposed science to fit their worldview. They will argue their science all day long; they will tout their scientific consensus to the heavens; but, they are concealing, likely even from themselves, that their real reason for believing in evolution is a materialistic universe without God.
Another quick check. For the materialist, what is the essential difference between them and a dog and a tree? Nothing! They must really love “Nothing.”
Remember, for their worldview to be true, there can be no Creator, no “breath of life” and no “image of God.” Now that the “stage” is set, and the actors are in their place, let us now explore our role in this play.
Paul told Timothy to “continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them…” (2 Timothy 3:14) How can you follow Paul’s advice? Here is one way. They use false science to promote their worldview; let us use real science to promote ours. As you will see, we can use science to strengthen our religious convictions. And then, we can use it to recommend our understanding back to them.
The compatibility of faith and science is one of the hot topics in intellectual circles today. I assume, being as well taught as you have been, that you already know that it is the Christian worldview that has given the world modern science in the first place. Therefore, how can there be a “compatibility” problem? The consensus view of historians of science is that the religious conviction that God created nature led to the development of the natural philosophy of the Middle Ages which then led to the achievement of modern science. (James Hannam, The Genesis of Science: How the Middle Ages Launched the Scientific Revolution, 2009, page 5) The fact that the intellectual elites don’t know this and think that science and faith are incompatible gives us a clue that there’s something wrong with their science or their reasoning. Actually it is both.
What is science? In the opening episode of Cosmos: a Spacetime Odyssey, (2014) atheist, Neil deGrasse Tyson presents an incredibly clear and powerful description of the scientific process. He claims that if you “accept these terms, the Cosmos is yours.” Let’s accept! These terms, Tyson explains, are just a “simple set of rules.
• Test ideas by experiment and observation.
• Build on those ideas that pass the test.
• Reject the ones that fail.
• Follow the evidence wherever it leads, and
• Question everything.”
Since our convictions are “ideas,” they are the subject of scientific investigation. Let us now test them and the modern liberal’s counter-claims by making some “observations.”
We will first test the idea that “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” When we consider that everything that had a beginning is always observed to have a cause and since we now know the universe had a beginning, simple logic tells us that the universe must have had a cause and the cause that fits is God. Our conviction has passed the test.
What about their idea that our universe popped into existence out of “Nothing?” If we use Johnathan Edward’s definition of “Nothing” as “what a sleeping rock dreams of,” then, we know for sure that their idea has failed the test.
Was man “created in the image of God?” Man is unique, but so are other creatures. However, as Chesterton observed “It is customary to insist that man resembles the other creatures. Yes; and that very resemblance he alone can see.” (The Everlasting Man, page 263) Only a strict materialist does not see the obvious—that we are of a completely different quality than all other creatures. Our idea has passed the test.
What about the idea that human consciousness arose from purely naturalistic processes? For this idea, we find no observations. Their idea has failed.
Finally, to prove the idea that man is a sinner so obvious it is hardly worth a comment. Even a 100 years ago, Chesterton observed “Whether or no man could be washed in miraculous waters, there was no doubt at any rate that he wanted washing.” (Orthodoxy, page 7)
Not even the elites believe man is basically good. If they did, they wouldn’t be wanting a big powerful government to fix everything. (Dennis Prager, Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph, 2012, page 327)
Thus, our foundational convictions easily pass Tyson’s test of science while our culture-war competitor’s ideas all fail! Remember, build on those ideas that pass the test and reject the ones that fail.
We have the winning hand; never forget that! And, not only is true science on our side, but so is simple logic. Because our modern liberal friends reject the existence of God, they can’t even think straight. About 25 years ago, a missionary friend of mine stated that the great hope for America was our Christian young people; he said the reason was because they will be the only ones who know how to think.
Our cultural competitors pride themselves on their intellectualism, yet we find that our society’s finest thinkers are the ones who accept the Bible as authoritative. This makes sense. When one’s reasoning is based on what is actually true—about God, his creation and human nature—your thinking has a chance to be sound. But, when you believe there is no truth, it actually becomes impossible. Christian author, Frank Peretti (Forward from Deliver Us From Evil, 1996, by Ravi Zacharias), observed that for them:
“There is no right or wrong, so no one feels ashamed; all opinions are equal, so no one is allowed to think; religious convictions are private, so they are meaningless in any discussion.”
His observation is correct; when all opinions are equal, one finds himself unable to make judgments, to discriminate—that is to think. This is just as the Bible says “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind,” (Romans 1: 28) that is a mind void of judgment—again a mind that can’t think.
Have you ever tried to understand why the political left has such a hard time condemning Islamist violence? It is simply because if they judge other religions or cultures as inferior, they will end up destroying their own worldview. Still, they can’t help themselves and do criticize at least one religion—Christianity. But when they do, their reasoning becomes self-contradictory and all their arguments fall apart.
Even my fourth grade Sunday school class understands the problem of self-contradiction. I presented them the modern liberal’s conviction “There is no such thing as truth” and then asked them if it was true? You should have seen their minds and eyes light up as they realized for themselves that the statement is nonsense. One youth wisely observed “That statement doesn’t work.” He is right, but it is not just that statement that doesn’t work, their complete ability to reason is actually broken.
An old Apologetics.com parody of the opening scene of the movie Patton illustrates the point. They have Patton motivating his young apologists; “Christians—have the finest minds, the best thinkers and the clearest understanding in the world. You know, by God I actually pity those poor pagans we are going up against; by God I do.”
Let us summarize our situation. We have the winning hand; science supports what we believe and rejects what they believe; our reasoning is sound and theirs is self-contradicting. They don’t know it but they need help. The good news is that they are not irretrievably stuck in their position. I know. Like many of us in this room, I used to default to the same materialist views. But, with the help of others and the Holy Spirit, I was “moved” to a Christian worldview. Helping others move is our job—our mission; here is the role we can play on the “stage” God created for us.
Most Christians today think of the Church’s mission in the terms of the Great Commission. Back in 1898, Abraham Kuyper, a Dutch theologian and statesman, stated that the church’s “holy mission” is “recommending to others the superiority of its principles.” (Lectures on Calvinism, SGP, 2001, page 39)
Following Kuyper’s advice is a very powerful way to fulfill the Great Commission. And with what we have already discussed, we are prepared to do it. Remember, we have tested their ideas against ours and have seen that ours are superior. Thus, all we need do is recommend them to others—nicely. Simply state a biblical principle, state the world’s corresponding principle and then ask: “Which is better?” We don’t even need to say ours are superior; their superiority will speak for themselves.
For example, ask someone if they think that our universe just popped into existence out of nothing. Explain that real “Nothing” is “what a sleeping rock dreams of.” Then tell them you find that “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” is a much better explanation. End by simply asking them what they think. No one I have ever talked to has trusted in in a “sleeping rock!”
It is also incredibly easy to tell someone that you have a problem with evolution—that it is hard for you to accept the idea that we are only a bunch of molecules talking to one another. Then, tell them that the idea that we are created in the image of God makes a lot more sense. Now ask them what they think. Again, I have never had anyone agree with the intellectual elite’s position that we are just a bunch of molecules having a conversation. Remember, we have the winning hand.
A Helpful Rubric
Here is another easy way to do some recommending. Use this simple rubric which I have found helpful.
• I believe the Bible.
• The Bible says (here we just put something the Bible says.).
• When I look at the world around me, I find that what I see supports what the Bible says.
Let’s look at another example, this time from Genesis 12. The Bible teaches that the Jews are God’s chosen people. So how would this rubric work?
• I believe the Bible.
• The Bible says that the Jews are God’s Chosen People.
• When I look at the world around me, I find that the survival of the Jewish people over the past 3000 years defies all naturalistic explanations and thus supports what the Bible says.
Don’t forget to use the first statement “I believe the Bible.” When you do, you will feel a level of confidence arise within you that is the result of all “the things you have learned and become convinced of.” God does exists; you are created in His image; the Bible is His Word. What a blessing it is to know that and to have been taught that.
Our cultural competitors ideas are provably false and their reasoning self-contradictory. But remember, they are not the enemy; all they may need is a little help “moving.” Don’t hesitate to give it; they may be sitting with us in our pews next year. This will be the role of your life!
Congratulations again. May the Lord bless you as you make this great transition onto the great stage that God has created for us. Thank you.