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May 20, 2018 Don't Take Other People's Puzzle Pieces

 

 

 

Scripture reading: Genesis 1:1-3; 3:3-6; 16-19; Romans 3:23-25; 2 Peter 3:13-15.

 

During a presentation on the Library of Congress, which is the largest library in the world, Dr. Daniel Boorstin, the Librarian of the esteemed institution, brought out a little blue box from a small closet that once held the library's rarities. The label on the box read: "Contents of the president's pockets on the night of April 14, 1865. Since that was the fateful night Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, every viewer's attention was seized. Boorstin then proceeded to remove the items in the small container and display them on camera, for the presentation was being filmed for a PBS special. There were five things in the box:

 

A handkerchief, embroidered "A. Lincoln"
A country boy's pen knife
A spectacles case repaired with string
A purse containing a $5 bill--Confederate money(!)
Some old and worn newspaper clippings

 

"The clippings," said Boorstin, "were concerned with the great deeds of Abraham Lincoln. And one of them actually reports a speech by John Bright which says that Abraham Lincoln is "one of the greatest men of all times." Today that's common knowledge. The world now knows that British statesman John Bright was right in his assessment of Lincoln, but in 1865 millions shared quite a contrary opinion. The President's critics were fierce and many. His was a lonely agony that reflected the suffering and turmoil of his country ripped to shreds by hatred and a cruel, costly war. There is something touching in the picture of this great leader seeking solace and self-assurance from a few old newspaper clippings as he reads them under the flickering flame of a candle all alone in the Oval Office and even carries them with him in his pocket.

 

You see, our great President needed confidence and he found it is some newspaper clippings. Every Christian should have confidence in what they believe. Jesus had confidence in the things that he knew were true. His apostles after him, likewise, had supreme confidence. And, this is the key to confidence. It is not simply that we believe certain things to be true. We know them to be true. Knowledge brings with it confidence.

 

Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, 2 just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, 3 it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught. [1]

 

Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” 10 Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? 11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony.[2]

 

So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me.[3]

 

31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”[4]

 

24 This is the disciple who is bearing witness about these things, and who has written these things, and we know that his testimony is true. [5]

 

Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” [6]

 

For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.[7]

 

13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life. [8]

 

There are several views of the world, we may call them views of reality, that propose to explain why things are the way they are. These are commonly known as worldviews. It is only the Christian worldview that is true. An even stronger statement than this can be made: The Christian worldview is the only worldview that can be known to be true. Since it can be known to be true, the follower of the Lord Jesus can and should possess supreme confidence.

 

Most Christians I know do have confidence in certain parts of their worldview. For example, most Christians do have confidence that Jesus is the only-begotten Son of God, that he died for their sins, and that he rose from the dead. That is important. Maybe that is the most important part to know because those truths are at the core of the gospel. But Jesus did not merely have confidence in part of the faith that was delivered to him by the Father. He possessed confidence in all of it. And, so must we.

 

One’s worldview even interprets evidence for us. It decides what the facts mean and even what facts are. Let me give you an example. An evolutionist will look at the fossils and observe that fossils of simpler creatures are located deeper in the rock layers in certain parts of the world and fossils of more complex creatures are located in less deep layers. He concludes that millions of years of sediment buried those simpler life forms and only hundreds of thousands of years of sediment buried more complex life forms. He further concludes that the reason there are no complex life-form-fossils deeper is because they hadn’t evolved yet.  The Christian looks at the same evidence and concludes that the Global Flood during Noah’s time was violent and catastrophic, as the Bible describes it, and so the lighter, simpler creatures were carried away and buried first while the heavier and more intelligent animals found ways to survive just a little longer and were buried last. The same evidence, but different interpretations.

 

Consider another example: Comets are mostly made of ice and begin dissolving every time they pass near the sun. As a result, comets only exist for a few thousand years before there is nothing left of them. A biblically informed Christian looks at this evidence and sees it as a confirmation of a young solar system. An evolutionist looks at these facts and postulates a device that creates new comets all the time. He calls it the “Oort Cloud.” However, there is zero observational evidence of any kind for such an “Oort Cloud.” He has to make it up in order to explain comets in his worldview.

 

Scientists who know the universe was created and those who are evolutionists seldom disagree about the facts themselves. They disagree on what the facts mean. The average, everyday working man and women, likewise, do not often disagree on the actual facts. They disagree on what the facts mean.

 

There are not very many worldviews. There are only between five and eight, depending on how you define them. This is because there are only so many ways you can even imagine the world to be. Every worldview, though, seeks to make sense of the world we live in and every worldview answers four questions:

 

  • How did we get here?
  • What went wrong?
  • How is it made right?
  • What will things be like when everything is the way it is supposed to be?

 

In the Christian worldview these questions are answered in divine revelation, the Bible, and we recognize them in their more familiar terms:

 

  • Creation
  • Fall
  • Redemption
  • Glory (a new heavens and a new earth)

 

The verses we read this morning reveal these four answers.

 

Think about two other worldviews that are popular. One is Naturalism. That is the technical term. The average person would just all it Atheism. Naturalism teaches that God does not exist and that natural, physical forces are sufficient to explain everything. How does Naturalism answer these questions?

 

Creation: The universe came from nothing and man is a cosmic accident.

Fall: The misery we see in the world is just part of the natural order and it is not really wrong. However, man makes things worse by his greed.

Redemption: Survival of the fittest will redeem ourselves and all of creation. We will eventually redeem ourselves through scientific breakthroughs.

Glory: Utopia through science

 

Another worldview is Pantheism which teaches that everything is God. Hinduism in the East and the New Age Movement in the West (think of Oprah Winfrey, Deepok Chopra, and “the Secret”) are representative expressions of this worldview.

 

Creation: Everything is part of the eternal divine consciousness and it has always been here.

Fall: We have forgotten that we are divine.

Redemption: Realizing that all distinctions are an illusion and by practicing good deeds (Hinduism) or that we make our own reality by our thoughts (New Age – “the Secret”) so that all we have to do is have good thoughts.

Glory: We become one with the divine (“Moksha” in Hinduism; Nirvana in Buddhism) or we become what we forgot we are: we become God (New Age).

 

Genevieve likes puzzles – the kind with pieces that when you put them all together they make a picture. She has several and she has some where the pieces are kept in bags. The ones in bags are all scenes from the movie Frozen.  What has happened over the past two years is that some pieces from one puzzle have gotten mixed in with the bag of pieces from another puzzle. I can tell you that when you get a piece of one puzzle in your hand that you think goes with the picture that you are trying to make and you just can’t get it to fit anywhere, it can get pretty frustrating.

 

This is the way some Christians are. They take a piece of another worldview and then try to make it fit into the Christian worldview. The ideas within a worldview are like puzzle pieces. If you stick with the ideas found in the Bible then, eventually, you will see the whole picture and it will be beautiful. But, if you take someone else’s puzzle piece and try to make it fit into the biblical worldview you will get frustrated and confused. For example, ape-men are an idea from the evolutionary worldview (Naturalism). Don’t take that puzzle piece. It doesn’t belong to you. It belongs to an adult fairy tale called Naturalism.  Many other examples could be given. Remember that all the answers that you seek are found in God’s word.

 

The question may arise from those who have a different worldview – How do you know that your worldview is true? There is more than one way to answer that question. In fact, there are some powerful ways to prove that the Christian worldview is true and all others, by necessity, are false.[9] The simplest answer though is because Jesus said it was true. That answer takes only five words!

 

Jesus affirmed each of the four major points in the biblical worldview. For example, in Matthew 19 he said:

 

He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female,[10]

 

Jesus can be trusted far more than any other person!

 

You may say to any person you speak with, “Every one trusts someone, even if it is only themselves. Who are you trusting?”

 

But we can ask ourselves that question as well. “Who am I trusting?” If you are really trusting Jesus then believe what he believed. Know what he knew. To do that you must live in this book. It is time to throw away all those other puzzle pieces.

 

You have puzzle pieces. Fit them together.

 

 

 

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Lk 1:1–4). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Jn 3:9–11). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[3] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Jn 8:28). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[4] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Jn 8:31–32). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[5] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Jn 21:24). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[6] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ac 2:36). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[7] The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Eph 5:5). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[8] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (1 Jn 5:13). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[9] One of these proofs is the Transcendental Argument formulated in modern times by Cornelius Van Til and made easy to understand by both Greg Bahnsen and Jason Lisle.

[10] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 19:4). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.