Why do we listen to the "wisdom" of fallen, broken people, when we have perfect wisdom in Christ? Paul has just explained why God alone is enough - now he exhorts us not to forsake or forget what we know to be true. Do not abandon it! Why would you consider anything else?
Don't Let Them Fool You, Just Keep Trusting Him
From Futile Speculation to Futile Regulation: The Foolishness of Life Apart from Christ
Experts Are Everywhere but Can They be Trusted: How to Respond to Philosophy's Challenge
Our Journey to Get the Stain of Spaghetti/Sin Out of Our Lives
Why The Light Has to be Left On
What You Lose If You Leave This Chance To Serve This King
Our Colossal Christ and What You Must Quit When You Know Him
The First Thing We Ought to Pray for and Pursue
Investigating the Colossal Claims and Obligations of the Gospel
There are folks all over telling us, because they are addressed in a certain way and taking a certain posture and telling us they have an intelligence and insight we don't have, that we should act a certain way or fear certain things, believe certain things, and should escape our notice in terms of how it is making us behave.
When we have come to them and we are guarding truth and something to be preserved, if we are not careful to investigate the claims they are making when they throw out at us impressive words to describe to us things we do not know, it can lead us to a position where we are banging our heads against the floor and squealing like pigs instead of living as noble men confident in the truth.
We are at a little section in this little book we're working through called Colossians, where we are going to start to move from Paul's explaining all the richness and greatness that those who have received the message of Christ have inherited to a place where he starts to warn them what they should not abandon it for.
If you have a Bible, turn with me to Colossians 1, and we're going to begin to tear through it. In Colossians 1 all the way through Colossians 2:7 Paul has taken this group of people who have heard this word, this proclamation of truth, and Paul was saying, "This truth you have heard is not just some local esoteric idea invented by a noble thinker of the region."
What he is saying and making a claim for is that this Jesus who they have heard declare…this Jesus who has come…is, in fact, the very God of very God. He is the final authority. He is the head of all things. He is the Creator and Sustainer of all things, and when you live in relationship with him, you lack nothing and are rich in everything pertaining to life and godliness. So you should not abandon it.
I have not mentioned something that almost everybody else who teaches this book mentions the very first week they teach it. The word is Gnosticism. Here we are on our seventh week of Colossians, and I haven't mentioned what most folks think is the primary purpose of this book, which is to come against the primary err that was attacking these young believers. The err was what is called some strain of Gnosticism.
Gnosticism is not a certain and particular belief or idea in term of tenets. Gnosticism, though, gets its root from the word gnosis, the Greek word meaning to know or knowledge. The idea is that you need some special insight, some special teaching, and some continued striving after something which the intelligentsia of the day have that you lack in order to attain to everything it is you want to attain to.
To the people who had expressed confidence in the fact they had been made righteous and they were spiritual and they were converted and they were acceptable to God and pursuing God's intention for man, the Gnostics of the day were saying "You can't be so sure. What makes you believe that you have found ultimate truth when we believe truth is something we need to continually seek, and who are you [often unlearned men] to tell us that you have the corner on wisdom?"
They would say that your Jesus who you have claimed to follow and to find is not enough. Your righteousness is not sure. Your conversion is not certain. Your spirituality is not ultimately defined. Your truth isn't universal and absolute. Up against that, they present other ideas that they want these folks… They're fine with finding some teachings from this person Jesus and Paul, but ultimately, they're saying, "That's not enough. You have to go further, and you have to go more."
Over the last thousand years of human's existence, there have been all sorts of efforts towards understanding what reality and truth is. People have formed their idea and understanding of the nature of man, the destiny of man, the purpose of history, the origin of evil, and the remedy for evil through all sorts of different philosophical wonderings.
What has happened, if you'll go back and chase it from Confucius to Socrates to Plato to Aristotle to Rousseau to Kant to Hegel to Russell to Nietzsche and others throughout our contemporary day, is what one has called a declension (meaning this spiral and this slide). The reason there isn't just one volume on what wisdom is is because no man knows what wisdom is and no man can openly discern what wisdom is.
This is the amazing thing about the claims of Paul as he wrote to these folks who have embraced this person, Jesus. As Paul said, "In him, you have the fullness of all knowledge and wisdom." Another person who wrote about this Jesus said, "In him, you have all pertaining to life and godliness. You are lacking in nothing."
It is said that he is the visible image of the invisible God, that he is the firstborn of all creation, that he is the created himself, that all of creation is held together and sustained by him, that to know him is to know God, and to hear from him is to hear from God.
From chapter 1, verse 1 all the way through chapter 2, verse 7 Paul is saying, "Look, you have found it. Stop being intimidated by lovers of knowledge who will come alongside of you with their empty and deceitful philosophies, and while they say they love wisdom, they suppress the wisdom that has been revealed to them so they might continue in their futile speculations so that they might also pursue the evil desires of the rebellious heart."
What I want to talk about today is simply this. What are you supposed to do when the intelligentsia of our day… The educators, the professors, the psychiatrists, the psychologists and by that, I mean folks who subscribe to Freud, to Skinner, to Jung, to McGraw, to Winfrey, and people who tell you this is how to see… Yeah, you recognized one of those names, didn't you? Nothing like an educated congregation there. I love it. "Did he say Winfrey? As in Oprah?" Yes. He did.
You have individuals who subscribe to their ideals. Being a psychologist, being somebody who studies the soul, which is what psyche comes from (the soul), is a good thing; subscribing to psychology is not. Being a philosopher, one who is a lover (phileo) of wisdom (sophia) is a good thing; subscribing to philosophy and the progressive volumes of the opinions of men is not.
Let me show you an illustration. Muhammad Ali, as you guys know, is probably one of the greatest heavyweights of all time. Muhammad Ali was a brash, arrogant, prideful, and self-reliant individual during his heyday. One of his nicknames was "The Louisville Lip." That brother could talk.
Muhammad Ali was on a plane one time flying to one of his events, and the pilot came on and said, "We're about to face some mild turbulence." Which, those of you who fly a lot know, means if you have religion it's time to practice it. The flight attendant came through and said, "We'd like for everybody to put their seatbelts on." Everybody in the cabin did except Ali.
The flight attendant walked up to Ali and said, "Excuse me, Mr. Ali. You need to put on your seatbelt," and he said, "Superman don't need no seatbelt." To which she said, "Superman don't need no plane. Now put your seatbelt on, boy." People who are lovers of wisdom, who have found wisdom, and who are individuals who can speak authoritatively into your life don't need an abridged edition. They don't need another volume to supplement, to correct, or to increase what they have already revealed to you if what they've revealed to you is the true enlightenment of God.
That is why the highest ideal of a philosopher is to have a sure word from God because then the speculations of men are going to be seen for exactly what they are: empty deception and futility. Why would you listen to finite creatures when an infinite creature would speak? Why would you listen to temporal exegesis when eternal can speak? Why would you listen to fallen, broken, and imperfect people when perfection would speak?
This is one of the great questions people have about the Christian Bible. How can fallible men write an infallible book? How can finite men white about eternal things? The answer, of course, is found in the claims of Scripture itself. It says in one place (2 Peter 1:21), "…for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men…" Pherō is the Greek word. "…moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God." Which is to say that they were like a ship.
The word pherō is used in the book of Acts of a ship that Paul was on that was moved by the wind when the sails were hoisted. That ship had no engine power in and of its own, but this mysterious force that comes from where it wants and goes to where it wants to go drove this ship where it wanted to drive it. That ship was pherō-ed along.
The Scripture says that no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but God, who (if he exists) can do whatever he wants, decided to work inside imperfect creatures to produce a perfect book that he might reveal perfect wisdom, so these men were carried along by the Spirit. Each man was unique in his personality and giftedness, so that's why you have different styles.
That's why, even though you have 40 different authors over 10 different civilizations on 3 different contents from all different sorts of intellectual training and capacity and learning and professions, they write about one idea, one problem, one solution, and this book is tied together because there's one common author.
The claim of this book is that all Scripture is God-breathed or all Scripture is inspired by God. In 2 Timothy 3:16 it says, "All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable or alone is authoritative in your life." That's what this verse literally means. You want to know what should be authoritative in your life? It is not the philosophies of men, people who say they love wisdom. It is the wisdom that God has revealed to us. Reason and enlightenment can never get you what revelation can get you.
Plato… I've quoted him before. I'll say it this time again. We are like a ship (he says a barge) making its way through a storm at sea at night. In other words, clouds are covering the stars. There are no stars to direct you. So we're as a ship making our way through a stormy ocean at night, trusting only in the best opinions of men (like Socrates, like me, and like others who will follow) until we hear a still more sure word from God. The highest ideal of a philosopher was that God would speak.
That is why the claims of this book have to at least be considered. If this book is from God, it ought to be inerrant and perfect. It ought to be authoritative and alone useful to inform us. It alone is profitable for teaching you, for correcting and reproving you, and for training you in righteousness that you might be adequate and equipped for every good work. What I'm not going to do today is give you an apologetic (a reasoned defense) for why Jesus is who he said he was. We've done that before.
There is stuff in the media ministry that is available for you there. Why the Bible can be trusted. Why Christianity is so narrow and that's not a problem. Why there is evil if God is sovereign and loving. And on and on and on. Those questions can be answered. If you want to sit and listen, we can recommend books to you. If you want to discuss in a place that we're going to love you no matter whether you decide to agree with us or not, we welcome that opportunity because if this book and this faith are true, then no amount of scrutiny will affect it.
Today we're not going to give you an apologetic (a reasoned defense) as to why you should stand on this, but Paul is making this simple claim, "If you have heard from God, if this Jesus who you have embraced is, in fact, the visible image of the invisible God, if you have been a recipient of all righteousness, if you've been converted and saved through his completed work for you on the cross, don't abandon it. Why would consider anything else?"
Men will come among you, and they will threaten you, and they will intimidate you, and they will tell you that you are foolish and anti-intellectual and they will tell you that you are anti-rational if you believe in faith. They will tell you that faith is believing in what you know to not be true. The fact that many non-believers believe that is, maybe, a little bit understandable from a distance, but the fact that too many of us believe that is tragic. Faith is not believing what you know not to be true.
"Now faith is the assurance of * things * hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." Pascal is the one who has said we have a faith that does not go against reason but does go beyond reason. It is suprarational. It is substantive, and there is something to base our faith on. You can look at this Jesus and decide if he was just a legend or a myth or if there is historical reason to believe that this figure lived, that he was crucified, that he was buried, and that he was resurrected on the third day, and he wasn't a liar, that he wasn't a lunatic, but that he was who he claimed to be, Lord.
So you can look and study and make a decision. Paul says, "If you have received him as such, as the very presence and person of God, and he has made you complete and has made you perfect in God's eyes, restoring you back from your place of rebellion to your place of righteousness and ransom you from sin and take you out of the kingdom of darkness and thrust you into the kingdom of light that you might be his heirs as sons, why would you leave him and look somewhere else?"
What are you to do when you are confronted with intelligentsia of the day, the philosophers of the day, the people who will tell you that you should listen to them and they should speak authoritatively into your life about what social order should be, what morality is, what the basis of truth is, what the problem with man is, and what sin is and how to remedy it? What do you say to them?
What has happened for way too long is that Christians who meet folks in the public square have hidden their Bibles and run in retreat and said, "How can I stand up against the intellect and authority they bring? They have been trained in ways I haven't been trained, and I can't debate them on their ground." So we run.
What I want to speak into your life today is the fact that that is not necessary. In fact, that you should stand firm. I am telling you that the Christian with his Bible can see further into the heavens then the astronomer with his telescope and can understand more about the nature of man and go deeper into the heart of man than a surgeon can with his scalpel. You should not waiver. David said, "Thy word is my counsel, and I will stand firm in it." That's what he's implying.
Paul's point is simply this. For two chapters in seven verses, he has said, "You have found truth. You should stick to it, and don't let anything push you off of it." Men will come alongside you and tell you that they should be the authority in your life. The worst thing you can do is try and marry your faith and the evidence for it and the philosophias of the world."
Again, being a lover of wisdom is not a problem. Subscribing to philosophy, which is just the highest ideas of men…individuals who will tell you that you should not trust in revelation but turn to reason alone as the means through which you can form reality…is a problem. Immanuel Kant, who is the father of many of the different ideas we see played out in the public square today. John Locke… These are only men who sat and pontificated.
Locke and Herbert of Cherbury sat together in some pub in England over their ale. They sat there and theorized about the origins of reality and nature and the destiny of man and how we should form our belief system. Two Englishmen in a pub have become the basis for which we have been often intimidated to move off this word of God made sure.
Marx, some German who became embittered, sat and wrote letters and thoughts about how religion is the opiate of the masses and can be explained purely in economic terms. Niche, a bitter, angry individual said that God is dead and that he should serve you as the means through which revelation should come.
Kant is the one who ultimately said that we should establish through enlightenment a morality which originates from reason alone. He said by our own reason we can know what is right and by our own will or ability we can do what is right. That is his philosophy; that is his theory on life. He will tell you that you don't need to go to revelation, but we should be left here on our own.
There are ideas that the American church and the church in the world today have adopted that have come not from just bad thinking in seminaries and theological schools but because there has been an unholy union between the wisdom of men and the revelation of God. You have folks who are trying to combine something that cannot be combined.
You cannot take what is perfect and improve it by adding to it the imperfect. If you have perfection, stick with it. You can't improve on it. That is what Paul is making the effort to say in the book of Colossians.
When I was a kid, they finally broke out the fact that the soda fountains would be available to you as self-service. So we all got our little cups, and we went up there, and we got a little Dr Pepper, a little Coke, a little 7UP, mixed in a little bit of Mountain Dew, got a little bit of Pepsi if it was crossing different brands, and we'd mix that all together. What was that called? Suicide. Well weren't we brave?
That is exactly where Paul's going with this today. If you drink from this fountain of living waters, which is the revelation of God, and you take that fountain and well, and you combine it with the well of human reason and enlightenment, it is suicide. You will distort the perfection of life that God has intended for you to have. Don't do it.
What has happened is that these ideas (deism, liberalism, social gospels, neo-orthodoxy) that have developed in this church around the world today have come from an unholy union of the revelation of God and the reason of men. As one man has said very well, we have placed our theology, our faith, on the procrustean bed of philosophy.
Now you go, "What in the world is a procrustean bed?" A procrustean bed is a term that has come from a figure in ancient Roman history; a thief; an evil, dark, depraved, demonic man named Procrustes. He took his victims, and he brought them into his home and placed them on his bed, and then he would cut off any appendage or body part which extended out over the frame.
So it is said whenever you take one idea and put it on something else and cut off all the trimmings in order to make it fit nicely, you are putting something on a procrustean bed. It is your basis of truth and the system through which you will operate. Let me tell you what has happened and why the church has lost its ability to speak confidently into the world.
There are men in positions like mine, believers in seats like yours, who have been intimidated by the intelligentsia of the day because some singer/actress has told you that she has found enlightenment and incitement in ancient Kabbalah-ism, so she speaks with authority for you to adopt, or because some great actor who has made a lot of good movies and even sang and danced fairly well in a few of them would tell you that Scientology and L. Ron Hubbard have insight for you, so you are just some poor simpleton. How can you argue with Travolta or Madonna? Join us and be enlightened.
It reminds me of the story of a great actress. A long time ago she was on a journey across the Atlantic Ocean on a boat. She looked over the table at another guy who was sitting there who looked kind of sickly, and she said, "Are you feeling well?" The gentleman said, "No, I'm not. I have a bit of a head cold."
She said, "Well, let me tell you exactly what you are to do. You need to go back to your room. Take two aspirin. I'd like you to cover yourself with as many blankets as possible, drink all the orange juice that you can, and then I would like you to sweat the cold out. You will feel much better." She went on to basically say, "I know, because I am Billie Burke, the famous actress from Hollywood." The gentleman looked back at her and said, "Thank you very much. If you care, I am Dr. Mayo from the Mayo Clinic."
When somebody looks at you and says, "I know because I have read different philosophers and I myself have dreamt up ideas. You should listen to me because I have actualized to a higher plane. I know what wisdom is," you should say, "Thank you. If you care, I have heard from God. So I don't need the speculations of some man in Upstate New York sitting under a sycamore tree."
There is an effort from Paul to say that there is a war. The ideas and tenets of Jesus Christ and the gospel of God come to man are innately run amuck with and combatting with the philosophical idea that man, through his own reason, can figure things out. As I've already mentioned at different times, when you ask yourself how we got here, the Gnostics will tell you that arrive at a certain place and get to a certain place through progression. You move from one thing to another.
Christianity, on the other hand says, "No, we don't progress from one idea to another to higher enlightenment. We, in fact, are declining, and we are in a spiral of rebellion." The story of the Bible is simply that men have abandoned their Creator who wanted to live in relationship with them. They have formed for themselves their own system of right and wrong. They did not believe that God alone in his loving revelation would be the means to teach them all that they needed to know.
They were challenged by the Enemy who said, "Don't believe in God. Don't believe God cares for you. Don't believe he loves you. Eat of that tree of good and evil. That way you can decide for yourself what is right and what is wrong. Form the basis of your own wisdom and reality. Don't trust the word and goodness of God." That was the very first attack.
The very moment humankind made the decision to not have faith in God and live in humility before him, there became a system of ideas or a system of beliefs that men adopted in order to give them a basis for morality and a basis for living and answer the great questions of life. There has been a constant addendum to the different ideas until finally they start to repeat each other with different changes in the words along the way.
That is why there is not one volume of philosophy, but men must compete with each other on how to see reality and life. That's why there's not just one authoritative word on psychology about how to change and deal with perversion in man. They're constantly amending it because they don't know about the nature of man. They don't know ultimately, apart from God, about the nature of evil. They don't know about how to deal with evil and remedy it. That, my friends, is not an issue of psychology. That is an issue of theology and anthropology, and God has given us those answers.
I have many friends who happen to be learned men called psychologists who do not ultimately make their authority in psychology. You've heard me say many times here, and it just drives me crazy the way when folks in the church are looking for somebody to deal with their soul trouble go to somebody who is looking at broken, defeated men themselves who come up with failed and amended theories in order to give them help instead of looking at the Creator of their soul who will tell them about the nature and character of man, the origin of evil, and the remedy for it.
You have to quit running to your therapist and psychologist who believe in the philosophies of this world and the psychologies of the men in it. It is futile and empty deception. One man has wisely said, "If you marry yourself to the spirit of the age you will be a widow every three or four years." And so you will. "But if you marry yourself to universal, unchanging truth that bears great fruit, you will secure in that covenant relationship and grow in a prosperous, loving way. Truth is always universal. It never changes, and it bears great fruit.
Air is constantly changing according to locale. It is not standing and firm, and it leads to a greater declension and a greater cycle of despair and pain. Do you want to read a good book on this? Read a book by Paul Johnson called Intellectuals.
In this little book he went through a number of different individuals who have claimed to be the intelligentsia of the last number of generations, people who are a part of the Enlightenment and rationalism, the Rousseaus, the Shelleys, the Marxes, the Ibsens, the Tolstoys, the Bertrand Russells, the Sartres of our world, and he measured their philosophy of life, and their love of wisdom against their life. He said, "Let's see the fruit of what their life produced in them."
Now Rousseau who said that he (speaking of himself) was the embodiment of all truth and virtue… Have you ever heard anybody else say that? "I am the way. I am the truth. I am the life." It's interesting. Listen to the comments of those who are not his enemies but his longtime friends as they were around him for years and began to see the declension of his subscription to his ideals.
Voltaire said that Rousseau is a monster of vanity and vileness. Diderot, his closest friend, said after a long acquaintance that he summed him up as a deceitful, vain as Satan, ungrateful, cruel, hypocritical individual who is full of malice. Hume, who once thought him gentle, modest, affectionate and disinterested in poor things and exquisitely sensitive, decided from more extensive experience that he was a monster who saw himself as the only important being in the universe.
One scholar who studied everybody's opinion of Rousseau at the end of his life said, "He was a masochist, exhibitionist, neurasthenic, hypochondriac, onanist, latent homosexual afflicted by the typical urge for repeated displacements, incapable of normal paternal affection, incipient paranoiac, narcissistic introvert rendered unsocial by his illness filled with guilt feelings, pathologically timid, a kleptomaniac, infantilist, irritable and miserly."
This is the one who Kant said had a sensibility of the soul that is unequal in its perfection, who Shelley said is a sublime genius, and who Tolstoy said that Rousseau and the gospel are two great and healthy influences in his life. These are the men (the Kants, the Rousseaus, the Sartre's, the Voltaires) coupled with their compatriots in science (the Darwins and others) who have intimidated Christians to abandon their confidence and put their theology on theprocrustean bed of the day. They have lopped off the truth that God has given them until you can't even recognize its form and its body of knowledge anymore.
So they come up with ideas like deism: God created us, but now he has left us here as a watchmaker who has wound the watch up now to tick its way out on its own. Men like Jefferson, who was the son of the Enlightenment and a rationalist, rejected the God of the Scriptures and cut out all miracles from his Bible because he says, "I believe that God has left us here to think on our own, and we shall establish greatness by our own thinking."
That came from his philosophical beliefs, not from his theological study. He put his Bible over his reading of Kant and John Locke, and he trimmed it up until it became useless to him. Well, what are you doing? Enough about Jefferson. What Paul wants you to understand is if you've been rooted in Jesus Christ and established in him you should be built up in him, and you should be grateful for what he has provided for you so you wouldn't even consider leaving it and that you would bear fruit as evidence that it is true.
Now, look with me at Colossians 2. We'll pick it up right there in verse 8 where he says, " [We should] see to it…" Blepō, which means beware and take great care. "…that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception."
Paul throws it right out. He's about to say, "Those of you who have been delivered the truth of who Jesus Christ is and the fact that he is the visible image of the invisible God, that all spiritual wisdom and understanding is rooted in him and not in Athens, be careful…that having been freed from the declension of human, rationalistic thought…that you are not taken captive again by it. They will come at you and in their Gnosticism (their love of knowledge) will tell you that when you stop wrestling with them to find out more, you are anti-rational and anti-intellectual and small-minded in your faith."
We believe that man cannot meet God left to the apparatus of his own intellect, that if God did not crash down and reveal himself to us we could never attain to him because we are finite while he is infinite, and we are flawed while he is perfect. So we say that philosophy is vain and deceptive. They say we are unintellectual and simpleminded. There is a war.
Way too often, when the experts and professors and educators and pontificators and celebrities of our day speak, we cower before them instead of saying, "Let's talk about that. Let's take a look at what L. Ron Hubbard said. Let's test that. Let's draw that worldview all the way out to its logical end. Let's play Niche's game. Let's see what happens when you ascribe to nihilism and atheism. Let's be consistent with our ideology and see where it takes us. We'll see which one bears fruit and which one, therefore, vindicates itself as wisdom.
Paul says, "You be careful because there is a war going on here and they want to take you prisoner. They want their intimidations to force you to subscribe to their ideas and their systems." He says a little bit further that their philosophy, their so-called love of wisdom, is empty conjecture. It is empty deception that only comes from the traditions of men. They have only sat in the classroom and heard from somebody who's 20 years older than they are or maybe that has been handed down from somebody who's 100 years older than they are.
It is only the tradition of men. You have not heard from men; you've heard from God. That's the claim that Paul makes in Colossians 1, specifically verses 15 through 20 about who this Jesus is. You have to do the work to decide if Jesus is who he claims to be. If he is very God of very God then I ought to pay attention to him. I have a tendency to listen to men who walk on water, still waves, and raise from the dead. I don't like to argue with those guys very much.
So the question becomes…Was that tomb empty? Again, without going there, there are rational answers to that question, and you can have a faith that does not contradict reason. You don't need to commit intellectual suicide to hold to your faith. You need to be learned. Understand all day long what Plato thought, what Kant thought, what Locke thought, what Hagel said, what Hume believes, or what Russell pontificates, but make sure you know what is the word of God so you can respond consistently.
Know your Freud, understand your Skinner, watch the way McGraw works (Dr. Phil is his name), and then take it back and test it with the one who says he made man, that he understands sin, and he can bring about transformation through his means alone. Paul says we shouldn't be taken captive by the tradition of men according to the elementary principles of the world rather than according to Christ.
The elementary principals of the world, the elementary components and makeup of the world, are fire and wind and rain. There are many people who believed for a long time that the primary elements of the world were created by different gods. So you needed to pray to the god of the harvest, you need to pray to the god of the winter, you need to pray to the god of spring, you needed to pray to the god of love, the god of illness, or the god of business success in order to allow them to help you have success in those different areas.
That's what Paul means there. Not just the simple thinking of men. That word elemental can be translated to the elementary ideas that men can come up with compared to the deep truths of an infinite God. More than that, he's saying, "You live in an area where Greek and Roman thinkers will tell you that there are gods who serve every different idea, and you need to make sure you know what god in that locality is sovereign over it so you can seek him."
Paul is saying, "That is nonsense. There are no other gods except the one who created you that all men are accountable to, and you seek and serve that God alone. You seek him first and last, and then when you do that, everything will be added onto you. You stop worrying about these other things because you have found the truth that God has radically revealed to you.
Let me just take a moment here. I want to read to you from a guy name Jeffrey Satinover. Jeffrey Satinover is no dummy. He's a graduate at MIT, Harvard, and University of Texas. He is a fellow in child psychiatry and psychology at Yale University and was a professor of philosophy and religion at Harvard. This is what he said as he studied, specifically, the adaptation in our society of sexual mores.
He saw that individuals who had been given a revelation of God… Satinover does not write as a believer in Jesus Christ. He writes as somebody who understands the futility of philosophy and learnedness of rational beings. This is what he says, specifically.
"Today a minister is just a minister, but a psychiatrist [what he is] is the new tribal high priest whose words come wrapped in the aura of the new high cannon: science. […] Perhaps the seed of this book [he wrote that I pulled this from] was conceived at that moment when I heard 'science' being cited to justify an alteration to morality."
He was stunned when he went to speak some places next to supposed theologians who told him that the reason they adopted their views is because they thought science required them to, and they've put their theology over the procrustean bed of the revelation of science. He said, "For I understood well the distorted science behind these claims [that there was a gay gene, in this particular instance]—as well as the minister's philosophical confusion [specifically that homosexuality was genetic]. But I also knew that the scientific issues surrounding all matters of 'behavior genetics' are difficult and complex, far more complex than I could ever explain in a brief meeting."
He said he wanted to write this book to disentangle the confusion and form solid principles by which to reach reasonable conclusions. It would require effort, but readers who persisted in doing this, whether the politicians, educators, clergies, mental health professionals, or just concern citizens, they would understand how limited are science's answers to questions of right and wrong.
He's saying, "I don't want the procrustean bed of science to form the morality of our world because science is limited." We will find too that when we reach the proper limits of science, we have to leave science behind to proceed further. We must make a choice. Watch what he says.
"Shall we determine good and evil for ourselves…or shall we stand on a word outside ourselves, a word from the one between whose first word of creation and last word of judgment we live our fleeting lives?" What he is saying here is that is a more reliable standard of reality, morality and truth to look at the one who says, "In the beginning," to "Forever and ever, amen," then it is the declension of science, philosophy, and psychology.
Yet we are absolutely neutered as people in the public square because we think we are anti-intellectual and anti-rational because we are people who have a suprafaith, a faith that goes beyond reason, because our God is infinite and we cannot control him and dissect him and put him back together because he's greater than us. But in every way that he can be tested, he is affirmed.
There has never been a single bit of archeological evidence, historical study, scientifically upheld and proven fact, geological truth, biological truth, or truth related to chemistry or physics that contradicts the revelation of God's word. What these rationalists and enlightenists have done very wisely is say, "The Bible you can have as you speak about spiritual matters, but as a standard of creating social ideals and mores, of dealing with the hard sciences of biology and geology, you cannot go there because it's unreliable."
So we have been silenced, specifically through evolutionism and Darwinism, which is the procrustean bed that has built all these ideas about how we should view life inside a woman and how we should view different sexual mores and ideas and how we should view what is ultimate truth and what is not.
These men, themselves, are constantly amending their own intimidating presentations at their own scientific conventions, and that is why you will not find people presenting Darwinism anymore as a system that rational, learned men believe in. Yet for 150 years we were silenced as a church because we had come to believe that our Bible was irresponsible in its creationist ideas.
Now scientists will tell you that it takes more faith to believe in evolution through spontaneous generation than it does to believe in intelligent design, so much so that no real credible people hold to it anymore. Now, evolution as a theory is still very, very strong and alive, but as a science it has been run right out of the fraternity.
Darwin himself knew this, and in the book On the Origins of Species in the sixth edition in the 1800s in the 'Organs of extreme perfection and complication' section, he wrote, "To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree."
He's saying, "This is nuts. That just one complex organ of extreme perfection and complication could've evolved is nuts. But I also remember," he says, "When it was first said the sun stood still and the world turned round, the common sense of mankind declared the doctrine false…" Even though the Bible didn't say that. But man said, "No, no, no. That can't be that way."
"…but the old saying of vox populi, [the voice of the people] vox Dei, [the voice of God], as every philosophers knows, cannot be trusted [in light of our own ability through the apparatus of our study and hard work to discern truth]. In other words, we don't need God. We don't need common sense. We need to learn and progress.
What's interesting is what intimidates us for a while eventually is shown to be crazy and false. I will tell you that you should stand firm on your book. This is another quote by a guy who invented the hydrogen bomb. Suffice it to say, he isn't stupid. This is what he said. "Practically everything that for years we believed to be true has been proven false or incorrect by subsequent discovery." Do you see that?
"In fact, there is only one statement that I would now dare to make positively." Only one he says, and that is this. "There is absolutely nothing faster than the speed of light—maybe." Edward Teller is the inventor of the hydrogen bomb.
Robert Jastrow is the founder of the Goddard Institute down at NASA. In 1978 in his book God and the Astronomers,he is the one who said, "For the scientist who has lived by his faith and the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance, he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries."
This is a self-professed agnostic, and he's saying everything we continue to find out, the deeper we go into space is what the Bible claims from the beginning. Everything we see about the nature and order and design of man the Bible has claimed from the beginning. In all our climbing, they are waiting for us. Men like him have said, "Yet I choose to believe in what I know to not be true, because for me to abandon evolution or life by spontaneous generation causes me to be subject to something that I don't want to be subject to."
Folks, there you see the issue. It is about their will. People ask me all the time, "If Christianity is true, how come so many intelligent people don't believe it?" My answer is, "For the same reason so many unintelligent people don't believe it: they don't want to." People tell you that your faith is a crutch. I tell you that their consistent inability and unwillingness to investigate the faith and to put before them the evidences of our faith is their crutch, so they will hide behind their philosophies.
Here is one of the things that will be true and you need to be aware of. When you argue with philosophers one of the things that will happen again and again is as soon as you pin them down on one of their inconsistencies or errors or the futility of their empty deceptions, they have no problem. They just pull another volume out and go, "Okay. Let's try this one," and there are large libraries full of different ideas, when the reality of the situation is they just don't want to deal with the evidence that screams at them, and it involves an empty tomb and a man whose works validated his words.
Proverbs 30. There's an Old Testament cross-reference to this. The writer says, "Surely I am more stupid than any man, and I do not have the understanding of a man. Neither have I learned wisdom, nor do I have the knowledge of the Holy One." In other words, he's taking a humble position. "I don't have any ability to speak authoritatively.
He goes on to say, "You know who can? Men like you, philosophers." He speaks tongue and cheek. "Men who've ascended into heaven and descended. I want to ask you a question. If you want to speak authoritatively into my life…"
"Who has gathered the wind in His fists? Who has wrapped the waters in His garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth?" In other words, he's saying, "You tell me the basis for your authority. The two most powerful forces on earth: the mighty wind and the crashing waves… If you can stop the hurricane, if you can defend against the tornado, if you can make the foundations of the earth clear in how their established and how we're suspended, and you can make that clear then you can speak authoritatively.
He says, "Maye you know the name of the one who did that. If not him, maybe the second-in-command or somebody close to him. Surely you must know if you're going to be the one who's the origin of all wisdom." He's saying it's not there. On the opposite side of the spectrum, he's saying, "Every word of God is tested." He has been there. "He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him. Do not add to His words or He will reprove you, and you will be proved a liar."
In other words, Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, Confucius, Buddha, Muhammad, Smith, don't add your intellect to God's revelation. You can study it to show yourself approved as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, but God doesn't need your help in forming reality, social order, ethics, and morality. He doesn't need your help in forming a basis for truth. If you want to pontificate to complete perfection, he will one day expose you for what you are: a rebel who doesn't know him.
A number of years ago there was a movie that came out that I saw when I was young. I didn't catch it when I saw it. I went back and watched it again after a friend who's about 15 years older than me made this observation. It was probably the most religious movie ever made and a very subtle description of what's at play right here. It's The Poseidon Adventure.
It's a movie about a group of people who are making their way across an ocean and then out of nowhere a wave comes and smacks the side of the ship and throws the ship upside down. Everything is different than what they supposed it to be, and the world, through some awful catastrophe, is upside down. There is chaos and disorder and everybody is scrambling now to find light and meaning. The ship is about to blow up, and everybody in it is about to move to internal inferno and suffering in the deep.
Then one man stands up who happens to be dressed as a clergyman. He sees the chaos and from a tradition of authority says, "This is how to get out of this. I'm going to lead you through the main passageway of the ship [which is called Broadway], and this is the way to life. I want you to come down to Broadway with me."
There's a rebel figure played by Gene Hackman who stands up. He says, "No! Don't listen to him because the intelligentsia of the day, those that tradition has told you to respect and fear, are taking you down this Broadway. That's the way that leads to destruction. You go with him, and you will die. I will lead you another way. You're going to have to follow me. It's a narrow way, and it's going to be risky, but if you'll take your time to follow me, I will lead to light and safety. I will take you to the top and to where, ultimately, we will find air, and we will not die."
He goes to the bottom of the ballroom which you're looking up at. He sees this entrance way to the stairs. (Look at this metaphor.) He takes a Christmas tree, and he puts it on his back like a Via Dolorosa (the Way of the Cross). He carries it in front of the people. He leans it up, and he climbs up it, and he says, "Come on what I have provided for you on this gift of the season. I will take you to this place."
About six people follow him. They suffer on the way. They are mocked by people. The intelligentsia of the day says, "Don't listen to him. He's a radical." Ultimately, what Gene Hackman says at the last moment that gives him the authority to say you should follow him is he looks back down and says, "People, listen to me. Yesterday I was there. I have been to the bottom of the ship. This is not conjecture on my part; this is not speculation. I know the way to get to where you need to go to have life. I have been there. Come with me."
This Christ figure does some things that don't make him look very messianic. One of the things they mix in there is he says, "God helps those who help themselves," which is a perversion along the way. But this figure leads them along the way. There's even a Peter figure, Ernest Borgnine, who questions him and doubts him and yells at him and is eventually brought to a place of humility and recognizes him for a great leader to be followed.
They get to the end, and they're on their way. An acetylene torch is carving a hole out there in the side of the ship. It's being lifted, and there's a source of light that is rushing in. He's led them to the way, but there's hot steam that is coming up, and the people can't make their way across. Hackman dives out across, and he grabs the valve which is searing hot. He sacrifices his flesh as he turns it and ultimately dies and falls deep down into the abyss himself in order that the steam can be shut off that they might make their way to life.
It's a clear picture. The broad way, which leads to destruction which the intelligentsia and the religious elite and folks who will tell you legalism and asceticism and mysticism and philosophy are the way, leads to death. There's a narrow way that the one who has been there knows. That's exactly what Proverbs 30 says. It's exactly what Paul says in Colossians 2:9. "He is the fullness of God. All the deity of God dwells in him in bodily form."
Don't listen to those who are his creation. He is head and ruler and over all of them, and his authority is final. So don't listen to them. You listen to him. Don't let them shake you off your post because you have the word of God, and you have heard from him. Do not retreat in the public square. There's a lot at stake. If you are bearers of this good news, you must not cower before those who tell you today that you are anti-rational and anti-intellectual. You must debate them and know the truth that you stand on.
Father, thank you for my friends and the chance just to be with them today. We thank you that you are mighty and that you are holy and that we love you and can serve you and that we can be learned men who study but who ultimately don't ever put our confidences in who we are or what we have learned but in what you have done and revealed to us.
Today, we say that our wisdom is limited but yours is not. We thank you that you have crashed through our darkness, and you have delivered us from being captive to our own futile speculations and empty deception and brought us into the light and made us sons. Now may we go out and in love declare to others, ourselves being a guide to the blind and instructors to the immature and a guide to the foolish. Would you use us in that way? Amen.
From a book that is 2,000 years old comes evidence that has been preserved about the greatest truth the world has ever known and how it can transform our lives. The book of Colossians walks through the radical change that happened to some in an ancient east Asian city, revealing the struggles they faced, the resistance they met, and the transformation they found as a result of the hope they had. Join Todd Wagner as he studies the Colossians scene to discern how their journey can reveal truths that can change us.