Faith Church

What Do You Believe? – Dan Christopher | Sermon from 2/2/2013

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I.  What do you believe?

A. If you live in CentreCounty, you might be someone who believes in college football.  Here in HappyValley “We are . . . PennState” right?

B. Today on Super Sunday, maybe you believe in the NFL.  I believe in the Pittsburgh Steelers.  Even when the Steelers started this season so badly, once they started winning, I thought “they still have a chance”.  Even up to the last day of the regular season when four things had to happen for them to make the playoffs . . . I’ll still believed.  Three of the four things happened and then San Diego just had to lose at home to Kansas City.  The Steelers still had a chance.  I still believed!  But . . . San Diego didn’t lose and I won’t be watching the Steelers in the Superbowl tonight.

C.  Some people believe in things like Bigfoot and Aliens.  Is that you?  Although there are theories. sightings, and claims of abductions we don’t have verifiable proof that some of these things actually exist. Still, many people firmly believe that such things are real. I enjoy science fiction and SciFi movies, but I personally don’t want to believe that any big-eyed, long fingered, dripping acid-saliva creature exist.  Yiiii!

D. Maybe you are someone who believes in the economy, the stock market, or you believe in money.  I found several quotes about money that indicate the degree to which some believe in money:

1.  Someone once said, “Money isn’t everything, but you need money to buy everything else.

2.  Another person said, “Money isn’t everything…but it ranks right up there with oxygen.”

3.  The last one kinda scares me if there are people that actually believe it:  “Money isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.”

What really is money?  It is little rectangular pieces of paper with ink on it that doesn’t really have any value in and of itself.  Those bills are merely a representation of some value placed on it by our society.

What about the money in your bank account?  Money in your account is really nothing more than several characters of binary computer code stored in a data field linked to another field that contains our account number.  We are only one big power failure away from a society that has no money at all.  In my case going from NEARLY zero to zero won’t be that big of deal, so I think I’ll be fine if that happens.

Do you really want to believe in paper or electronic digits in a computer?  Can you really trust in your money or the economy or Wall Street?  I don’t think so, they’ve left us done before and it can happen again.

E.  Maybe you believe in the stars . . . in astrology.  People have been making major life decisions by the stars for centuries. There isn’t any real proof that the way the planets and stars are aligned will actually do anything. Yet, daily horoscopes and astrological charts have become a guiding tool for many people, who truly think that one’s birth date determines his/her fate and can help him/her make day-to-day decisions.

F.  Do you believe in intuition?  Some people believe that some kind of a sixth sense provides us with silent guidance. Those who believe this say that intuition can tell us when to trust or distrust someone, who we should fall in love with, or whether to avoid a certain street. With no logical explanation, our intuition is supposed to help us make decisions with confidence and allow us to feel like we are making a decision based on something that is bigger than ourselves.

G.  Well if none of the others so far have captured your interest, maybe this is the one for you.  Maybe you believe in . . . yourself.  Some people seem to have an air of self confidence, like they can do anything and nothing and nobody is going to stop them.  I found a website that provides THE SOLUTION to believing in yourself in just 3 simple steps.  Are you ready to believe in yourself?  Here are the 3 simple steps:

1.  Recognize your skills.

2.  Set goals for yourself and meet those goals.

3.  Learn from failure.

I don’t know about you but I feel better already because, I’ve had lots of failures I can learn from.  Only two more steps to go.  Yes!!!

There are lots of things that we can say we believe in.  But when I ask the question, “What do you believe in?”, I’m really asking about belief at a deeper level.

Your belief system is the actual set of principle from which you live your daily life, those which govern your thoughts, words, and actions. Without these principles you could not function.  The answer to the question, “what do you believe” defines who we are and how we act.  Your beliefs affect the things you do, the way you treat not just yourself and other people, and everything around you. Beliefs affect the way you interact or don’t interact with others and most importantly your beliefs affect the reasons behind why you do what you do.

The point of this entire first part of the message is this, if you believe in any of the things I have mentioned so far with the hope that they will get you through life, comfortably and happily, it is likely that you are going to be disappointed with your life.

So what does it mean to really believe in something? According to Merriam Webster’s Online Dictionary, a belief is:

a feeling of being sure that someone or something exists or that something is true

a feeling that something is good, right, or valuable

a feeling of trust in the worth or ability of someone

What is it that you are sure that it exists or is true?  What is it that is good, right, or valuable?  What is it that you can really trust in?  The only thing that I know of that measures up to this definition and in which can believe and not be disappointed or left down, is God.

The Bible declares God’s existence. It does not attempt to prove it. Certain things just ring so true that philosophers call them “properly basic.” They are so true that you can’t properly understand reality without them. From a biblical standpoint, the existence of God falls into that category.

There are several points I’d like to make here:

1.  God Exists

2.  Everyone Knows the Truth About God’s Existence at Some Level

3.  God revealed Himself in His Son Jesus

I. God Exists.

The very first verse of the Bible establishes this truth in these simple words: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). Everything God wants us to know starts right here. This verse is a declaration—not an argument. Once you get it settled in your heart that “God is,” a lot of other issues will be solved as well.  I ran across an article called 20 Arguments for God’s Existence.  One of the arguments I found particularly interesting and I’d like to share some of it with you now.  This would be an argument against the idea that the universe just happened.

Think about a young woman who once she became an adult turned out to be 5’2″ tall.  However, she was not always that height. Take the great oak tree that grew from the tiniest acorn. When something comes to be of a certain state, such as mature size of the woman or the tree, that state cannot bring itself into being. Until it comes to be, it does not exist, and if it does not yet exist, it cannot cause anything.

So then if the child or the acorn are thing that change, although it can be someday what it will become, it is not yet what it will become. It actually exists right now in THIS state (a child or an acorn); and it will actually exist in THAT state (adult women or the large oak tree) someday. But it is not actually in that state now. It only has the potential to become that state.

Now a question: To explain the change, should we consider the changing thing alone, or must other things also be involved? Obviously, other things must be involved. Nothing can give itself what it does not have, and the changing thing cannot have now, already, what it will come to have then. The result of change cannot actually exist before the change. The changing thing begins with only the potential to change, but it needs to be acted on by other things outside if that potential is to be made actual. Otherwise it cannot change.  In the case of the young women, food, water, environment, protection from harm, etc. act on her to allow her growth to become a mature adult.  In the case of the acorn, it must receive nutrients from soil, water, warmth, have access to carbon dioxide, etc. in order to become the huge oak tree.  Nothing changes itself.

Another question: Are the other things outside the changing thing also changing? If so, all of them stand in need right now of being acted on by other things, or else they cannot change. No matter how many things there are in the series, each one needs something outside itself to actualize its potential for change.

The universe is the sum total of all these moving things, however many there are. The whole universe is in the process of change. But we have concluded that change in any being requires an outside force to cause it to change. Therefore, there must be something outside of the universe, that causes it to change. I believe this thing is God.

If there is nothing outside the material universe, then there is nothing that can cause the universe to change. But it does change. Therefore there must be something in addition to the material universe. But the universe is the sum total of all matter, space and time. These three things depend on each other. Therefore if there is something outside of the universe, it is outside of matter, space and time. It is not a changing thing; it is the unchanging source of change.

When I read that my first thought was “Wow that is mind boggling” and then I thought, “I get it and I agree.”  There is something more than the universe and that something is what I call my Heavenly Father.

II. Everyone Know The Truth About God On Some Level.

This fact comes from Romans 1:19-20. “Since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”

Paul uses the word “plain” twice to describe God’s revelation of himself to all mankind. Then in verse 20 he adds that the truth about God is “clearly seen” in nature. We can say it this way: Everyone knows there is a God, and the people who say they do not believe in God are deceiving themselves. God created all that we see around us. He created the sun and the stars and the moon and the planets. He created the comets and the asteroids. He created what has been estimated as around 400 billion stars in the Milky Way Galaxy and He created what they estimate to be more than 100 billion galaxies, each with at least 100 billion stars. Imagine that. In Psalm 147:4 it says  (“He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name”  No wonder the Bible says, “The heavens declare the glory of God and the skies the work of His hands” (Psalm 19:1).

God has left his fingerprints all over the universe. You have to be blind not to see them. Let me try to explain it another way. Suppose you were to visit my house while I was not there. How much could you learn about me and my family just from looking around? You might suspect we had boys from the basketball hoop. You might guess that we like football from the Steeler’s, Penn State, Ohio State, and Michigan paraphernalia around the house.  (It’s a long story so I won’t even bother trying to explain all of those teams.) You might assume that we are of the Christian faith because you’d find various Bibles around the house. In our bedrooms you would find books, electronics and clothes. By counting the beds and seeing how the bedrooms are decorated you would likely figure out that we have several boys and a girl. And if you looked in our closets, you could get an idea of what sizes we all are. There’s a lot more a careful observer could discover about the Christopher family just by rummaging around through our drawers and bookshelves. In the end, you’d know a lot about me although you wouldn’t know me personally. The clues are everywhere for those who care to look.  That was not an invitation to rummage though my house . . . unless . . . I can go through your house too.

This world is God’s house. He’s left clues everywhere about what kind of God he is. When you stand at the top of a mountain or by the Grand Canyon, you can’t help but be overwhelmed at the power of God to create such things.  The depth of the oceans and the variety in life forms that exist there speak to his creativity.  Each snowflake testifies to his uniqueness.

The universe shouts out, “He is there.” The wildflowers sing “He is there.” The rippling brooks join in, “He is there.” The birds sing it, the lions roar it, the fish write it in the oceans with the swish of their tails, “He is there.” God has left his fingerprints all over this world and every rock, every twig, every river and every mountain carry his signature. The earth is marked NOT with “Made in China” or “Made in the USA” but instead it is marked “Made By God” in letters so big that no one should fail to see it.

Everyone knows something about God! No one has ever lived who missed this revelation. It doesn’t matter whether they consciously thought about it or not. The truth was there for all to see, so plainly laid out that no one could miss it. That’s why Paul says in verse 20, “They are without excuse.” He means the whole human race knows about God. No one can say, “I didn’t know.” Everyone knows. Man was made to look for answers outside of himself.  Ecclesiastes 3:11 says that God has put “eternity in the hearts of men,” meaning that the longing for answers comes from God himself. God put that longing inside the human heart to cause mankind to look to him.

III. God revealed Himself in His Son Jesus.

We are not left to ourselves to decide who God is. He revealed himself in nature, and he revealed himself in the human heart. But God also revealed himself in Jesus. If we want to know God, we must come on his terms—through his Son. Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Salvation comes through Jesus Christ and for those who will not come to God through Jesus, there is no other way. If you reject Jesus, God provides no other plan of salvation.

If you already believe in God or if choose to believe in God and His Son Jesus, you will NOT be disappointed or let down.  This belief will guide your thoughts, deeds, and actions and will shape the direction of your life.

 

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