Are You a Fool for Believing in God?

2018 Messages

Are you a fool if you believe there is a God? Todd teaches us—through the lives, hurt, and pain of Watermark members and from a look at the life of Job —that it is anything but foolish to believe in God and allow Christ’s death, resurrection, and forgiveness to transform your life.

Todd WagnerApr 1, 20181 Corinthians 15:1-2; 1 Timothy 1:3; Job 9:33; Job 38:2-3; Isaiah 55:8-9; Job 42:2-6


Female: I grew up in a home that was centered on Christ.

Male: I was raised to have reverence for God.

Male: I grew up in a non-Christian home down in southeast Texas, and my two parents divorced when I was around 10 years old.

Female: In 2013, I was by myself at home one night. It was a normal night. Everything was fine, and then I heard a crash through a window in my bedroom. A man was breaking into my home, and he ended up sexually assaulting me.

Female: My husband had just retired, and we had big plans. We celebrated our fortieth anniversary, and then suddenly, in a split second, everything changed. He had a massive stroke, and nothing was as it was before.

Male: I started to play football and quickly excelled in that. It quickly became who I was. I was the football player, and I kind of accepted that. I wanted everyone to give me approval in my achievements and things like that.

Male: There was the same-sex struggle. Desire for attention and affection and acceptance and affirmation from another male grew like a silent weed alongside my faith. I came to a point where I was like, "Well, God, you are supposedly this healer who does these incredible things. You make the blind see. You make the lame walk. I have these desires inside me, and you won't take them away." I got to the point where I was just frustrated about that.

Female: During the assault, when it was all happening, I just kept thinking, "Why is this happening? What can I do? How can I break free?" In the middle of so much chaos, I just felt, obviously, a lot of fear.

Female: When Bobby came home from the hospital our home no longer worked for us anymore, nor did our car. Everything had to change. We had to sell the house of 39 years, find a new place, remodel. Well, I was really overwhelmed.

Male: I had a lot of inappropriate relationships and was really diving into alcohol and drugs, still seeking comfort and control in the other things I was indulging in.

Male: I had to choose to either engage my feelings or trust that Jesus was who he said he was.

Male: I proposed to my girlfriend at the time, and I was unfaithful on my bachelor party weekend. That was when I hit my knees, and I just started to ask God for some help.

Female: I started getting to a place where I said, "Okay. I want to forgive, because I know the Lord has forgiven me of so much more." That's what I believed.

Female: My life is very different from my own expectations. The Lord has given me absolutely everything I need for happiness. We celebrated our fiftieth anniversary, rejoicing in the years we almost didn't have.

Male: I started coming to Recovery ministry at Watermark, and that was where I saw what an intimate relationship with Jesus looked like and what it looked like to have authentic relationships with him and other people and how to live in a healthy, biblical way that he calls us to. Later in the process I got to reconnect with my fiancée. I got to make biblical amends with her and ask for forgiveness for all of the things I did.

Female: I said those words, "I forgive you," and it felt like a burden just lifted off my shoulders. It felt like freedom.

Male: He showed me that acceptance and attention and affirmation and all of those things I could find in him and that I didn't have to be this ideal version of myself, which is what I was seeking.

Male: We reconciled. About six months later we got married. We were able to live in a healthy relationship with each other because we had a healthy relationship with God.

Female: We may not dance the way we used to, but we have a dance of joy.

Female: In light of what Christ has done for me, I am not a fool for forgiving my perpetrator.

Male: I'm not a fool, because I tried it on my own and it wasn't working.

Male: I'm not a fool for putting my trust and hope in Christ and not in my own personal desires and performance.

Female: Because of the resurrection I am not a fool for using tragedy for God's glory.

[End of video]

Are you a fool? What are you missing? Are you willing to forgive those who have wronged you? Are you willing to use tragedy for God's glory? Are you willing to acknowledge that the bent and direction of your flesh is not sovereign and doesn't mean what's best for you in your life? I proclaim to you what Paul proclaimed years ago, and that is the gospel in which I stand and which you receive if you know it and by which you can be saved if you hold fast to the word I'm about to preach to you, unless you believe in vain.

Vain belief is when you have an empty belief. That's what it means. It means it's a said faith but not a saving faith. You know the story; you just haven't been somebody who moves forward to act upon the story that you might well embrace. You might reject the story as a myth. You might think it's crazy. The Scripture says, "Things that eye hasn't seen and that ear hasn't heard, things which would not enter into the heart of man…"

That there would be a God who would see you in your condition, who would see you trapped inside a body that is bent toward godlessness, perversion, and immorality that will not lead to blessing for you. In a world that is filled with sorrow, sickness, disease, and disappointment, in a world where you can set your alarm to have it go off so you can wake up and read your Bible and somebody might break through the door of your home and come and sexually assault you, are you a fool if you believe there is a God worth trusting in?

I believe what we celebrate this Easter weekend says you're not, that you're only a fool if you suppress that truth in unrighteousness. That historical, empirically evidenced resurrection that we'll talk about today. If you understand that story, though, it's not because you're more insightful than others. It is a gift. It's because God has allowed you to see with a heart tuned to his grace what all men long for, which is an explanation that will make some sense out of this world we live in.

We know it's not an issue of intellect, because we have illustrations around us of some very intelligent individuals who would rather live in presuppositions and hypothesis than history. Just yesterday, all of England and really much of the world paid attention to the burial of a gentleman who died on March 14, Dr. Stephen Hawking. Dr. Stephen Hawking was the chaired professor of mathematics at Cambridge University. It was the Lucasian chair. It's the same chair Isaac Newton sat in.

Stephen Hawking, who was by all accounts one of the world's greatest physicists, greatest mathematicians, a man who had become quite the pop culture icon… He was on The Big Bang Theory a couple of times. He had made a cartoon appearance several times on The Simpsons. The movie about his life called The Theory of Everything had over $100 million worth of profit at the box office. The book he wrote, A Brief History of Time, sold just a few more than 10 million copies, which is just about 10 million copies more than my book has sold.

This is a guy who was embraced by our popular culture like very few physicists, scientists, and mathematicians are. Why is that? I'm going to make the case that the reason is Stephen Hawking got out of his lane. He didn't just live in the world of applied mathematics, and his unified theory of physics isn't the reason most of us knew who he was. It was because Stephen Hawking dared to step outside of his worldview, which was scientism. Scientism is the idea that only scientific claims are meaningful.

What's interesting about Hawking is he said because the scientific account is complete theology is unnecessary. See, this is what I'm talking about. This is a guy who steps outside of his area of expertise and starts to move over here into the realms of metaphysical questions that cannot be tested by the scientific method. What's the scientific method? By the way, there is nothing wrong with the scientific method. The scientific method is not anti-religious.

Some people think reason is the opposite of faith. That's not the case. The opposite of reason is irrationality. The opposite of faith is non-belief. Stephen Hawking chose to not believe in evidences that were around him, and he became a subscriber to scientism, which, again, is the idea that only scientific claims are meaningful. The scientific method is just basically a simple, well-established methodology for us to be able to verify things that are normative in our human existence.

In other words, what you do is identify a problem or ask a question. Like, "Why is it so?" or "How come this thing goes this way?" Then you gather relevant data. You do background research. You formulate a hypothesis. Hypothesis simply means… Hypo means under. A thesis is a presupposition. "I suppose this might be the explanation for why things are the way they are." That's okay to throw that out there as your suggested reason that things are the way they are, but then you test it with an experiment.

Here's the failure of the scientific method. The scientific method only is meant to be used when an explanation for your question can be tested. Stephen Hawking started to speculate in the realm of philosophy. Philosophers are lovers of wisdom. That's what it literally means. It's okay that Hawking loved wisdom along with being a brilliant mathematician or physicist, but here's the deal. Philosophers have long said, "Until we hear a still more sure word from God, we are going to be obliged to trust in the best opinions of men."

So let's hear from Socrates, Aristotle, and Plato. Let's hear from Hawking if he wants to philosophize. And he did. He stepped out of science and started to answer questions like, "Where did everything come from? Why are we here? What's the meaning of life? Who are we as human beings? What is our ultimate destiny?" Here are some of the things Hawking said, and he said things with such authority our world believed that because he is brilliant in math and physics he must know some things that cannot be tested.

In fact, Hawking said some things that, frankly, have been tested and been proven to not be true. One of those things is simply this. He said, "We're just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star. But we can understand the universe. That makes us something very special." Hawking claimed he could explain the existence of the universe. What was his explanation? If I said this to you, would you go, "Oh wow, man; that's some brilliant insight"?

He said, "Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing." Did you hear that? He said because gravity exists the universe can and will create itself from nothing. We go, "Wow, that's Dr. Hawking. That's the guy who sat in the same chair as Isaac Newton. That must be true." That is a presupposition that can't ultimately be verified by science. It can be verified by science that we are not an advanced breed of monkeys, yet because Hawking said these things, he was embraced.

He said, "I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife…" How does he know that? Can you test that? I actually did a Real Truth. Real Quick. recently (you can get it at if you're a guest) titled Are Near Death Experiences Real? The Bible talks about the number of folks who have been resuscitated from the grave, even the biblical account, but there has only been one resurrection, one mammoth gorilla moment in history we would do well to pay attention to.

Let me just say this to you. The resurrection is a historically reliable event. It's as filled with empirical evidence as any event in ancient history. That's not just my idea. A gentleman by the name of Simon Greenleaf… "Who's Simon Greenleaf?" you ask. Simon Greenleaf is the gentleman who wrote the three-volume set A Treatise on the Law of Evidence. It is considered by many to this day to be the greatest single authority in the entire literature of legal procedure. It's still the book we use in our legal system in America.

The law school at Harvard is named after Simon Greenleaf. Simon Greenleaf decided to test the resurrection to see if it could possibly hold up under the rules of evidentiary law, and he said, "There is no other event in history that is as reliably recorded and attested to as the resurrection of Jesus Christ." He didn't say this as a believer. He said this as an expert in the laws of evidence. But when you get fixated on certain ideas, you can miss the gorilla in your midst.

Scientists at Harvard named Simons and Chabris did a study on this a number of years ago. I thought I would take you through an experiment that was run at Harvard. It's in order to establish something I'll name after I show this video. What I want you to watch in this video… It's something very simple. Some of you have seen this illustration before. If so, don't elbow the person next to you. Just let them go through the experiment.

I'm going to let you watch a video. What you need to do during this video (we're going to have a little contest to see who can win) is see how many times individuals in a white shirt pass a basketball to another individual in a white shirt. There will be three people. There's a pass right there at the beginning, and there's one at the end. I'm going to help you. Don't miss those two.

As soon as the video goes up… White shirts passing to white shirts. Bounce passes, chest passes, whatever it might be. Don't miss it. Count them. There are going to be three other people on the screen in black shirts also passing a basketball. You don't need to worry about those guys. Your job is to count the number of passes made from white shirt to white shirt. Are you ready? Lock in. It's about 20 seconds long. Here we go.


Very good. Let's just do a quick test here. Let's see how many folks got it correct. I'll even give it to you if you're within one. How many of you saw 15 passes? Raise your hand good and high. Be proud. How many saw 14? How many just did something else for those last 30 seconds? How many saw 13? Raise your hand. A bunch of you guys. How many of you saw another number than that? How many saw more than 15? How many saw less than 13? Excellent.

How many people did not see the gorilla? Raise your hand if you didn't see a gorilla. A bunch of you are going, "A gorilla? There was a gorilla in there? I didn't see the gorilla." This is the exact same video. Watch this. It's amazing, isn't it? Psychologists call this inattentional blindness. It's just a stated fact that when you're caught up in this, you have a tendency… It says people fail to notice a seemingly obvious event if they are engaged in another monitoring task.

What's really crazy is they decided to test this again with people who are highly trained, who are experts in the field of observation. True story. A little bit later, some other psychologists took a CAT scan of a lung and put a bunch of images inside that lung. They were asked to find a little nodule on that lung that would help identify certain cancer or precancerous effects. They asked these guys to go through and see how many lung nodules they found. What they didn't know is they placed inside this CAT scan a gorilla that was 48 times larger than a lung nodule.

As these men went through, these highly trained experts, because they were focused on a task they missed the gorilla. Over 60 percent of them did not see the gorilla. What they did is they put eye-tracking software on these guys so as they went through the scans they could see where their eyes went, and again and again their eyes went directly to the gorilla, and they did not say when they were done, "Hey, I don't know if this guy has lung cancer, but he has a gorilla inside of his lung." True story. Go check it out online.

That is called inattentional blindness. It's when you become so focused on something, so certain of yourself, and you become so involved in the task of proving there is no God or wanting to live as if there's no God or not looking at the other evidences that are there because you're trapped in your math, your philosophy, or your physics that you suppress the truth either in unrighteousness or error or you're just inattentive to the gorilla.

We are not to pay attention to myth. The Bible is very clear about this. Again and again the Scripture says, "Don't give yourself over to suppositions." The specific word is mythos. We literally dragged it across from the Greek. It's translated tale, it's translated myth, and it's translated in other forms I want to read to you now. Watch this. This is Paul's exhortation to young Timothy.

He said, "When I left you to go to Macedonia and you were there in Ephesus, I said, 'Don't pay attention to myths,' because they just give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God." A little bit later, toward the end of Timothy's life, he said, "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires…"

Teachers who will tell them there is no need for fear of judgment because there is no God. The idea of heaven and an afterlife, their teacher will tell them, is a fairy tale for people who are afraid of the dark. John Lennox, who's another brilliant mathematician, said, "No, I think atheism is a fairy tale for people who are afraid of the light." Because there is evidence through the historical, empirical method to say, "Yep, this happened."

If you're going to accept any evidence in a historical event being verified you'd better make sure you deal with this one. Now you may want to come up with some other reason why that one tomb is empty, why God pivoted all of human history on the birth, death, and resurrection of this one man, but I'm going to tell you that you should not base your life on supposition and myth.

In 1 Timothy 4:7 Paul says, "But have nothing to do with worldly fables…" That's the same word: mythos. Peter, who himself lived alongside of Christ, said, "For we did not follow cleverly devised tales [myths] when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses [to these things] .""This isn't a story. We were eyewitnesses of these things. We saw these things."

Now here's the thing. When people see God in the Scripture they always have the same response. When Isaiah saw God in Isaiah, chapter 6, it says he dropped to his knees and said, "Woe is me, for I am ruined. I am undone. I am dead. I am lost. I have nothing to say." When Peter understood the glory of Christ, he said, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man."

John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, when he saw Jesus revealed in all of his glory, fell at his feet as though dead. There is a right response to a right understanding of who God is, and if you miss the gorilla of his revelation it will cost you. Let me give you one more illustration. This is done to show people what happens when you don't pay attention to what you're supposed to pay attention to. Check this.


That's an ad by a car company that serves us all well, but the point is not to not text and drive, though you would do well to note that. There's another straight and narrow road you would do well to pay attention to and not get distracted by fleeting things like impressive physicists and mathematicians who make statements the scientific method cannot back up.

You would do well to not find teachers who will say things in accordance with your own desire when they cannot at all in any way be substantiated. They are speculation and myth. You would do well to realize that while we have a faith that goes beyond reason we do not have a faith that contradicts it in any way. The scientific method and scientism fail when it comes to greater things.

I believe Mr. Hawking had a conversation on March 14 that had him feeling a lot like Isaiah, a bit undone with all of his learning. The Bible says we should take no delight in the death of the wicked, and I'm not even saying Stephen Hawking was a wicked man. By all accounts he was a very good man. He was a great father to three kids. He did a lot for other people with disabilities.

But if the Bible defines wickedness as anybody who suppresses the truth or anybody who doesn't deal with the gorilla of the resurrection and crucifixion of Jesus Christ, I think he found himself undone. There are a lot of reasons people are inattentive to that which is most significant in human history, that all of the world pivots on this event.

Sometimes atheism can be a reason. We just don't want to deal with this idea, so because we're afraid of the light of judgment we're just going to come up with ideas that will allow us to not do it. Sometimes pain will do that to you. You'll say things like, "If there is a God and he is there and he is in control and he is good, these things wouldn't happen. These things are happening."

Hawking, when he was 21 years old, was diagnosed with ALS. This is a picture of him in his wheelchair that he spent most of his life in, 50 years. In fact, he lived longer than most people with ALS. You can understand where a guy like that would go, "I don't know if there's a God, but if there is he surely wouldn't give a 21-year-old brilliant mathematician, a physicist, a man who wants to love his wife and children, ALS." It can make you question the goodness of God.

Maybe your pain has made you question the goodness of God. There's somebody else who had a similar story. His name was Job. This is the definition of Job, just like the definition of Rachel. "Rachel, go to bed. Set your alarm to wake up and read your Bible, and while you're in your sleep…" It says the Lord gives to his beloved even in their sleep. A man came in and sexually assaulted her.

Job was righteous and blameless, feared God, and shunned evil. He lost upward of 10 children. All of them. He lost every bit of wealth he ever had; personally afflicted health-wise with immense human suffering; friends who told him that whatever the reason for these things was he had to be the core problem of it; a wife who said, "Don't tell me anymore about your God. Curse God and die."

Job eventually was affected by all of these voices around him, and he demanded that God show up and explain himself. He said, "God, I'm not going to curse you, but you'd better give an account. Let's get you and me together in a hearing, and let's see what somebody would say about you and me."

In Job 9:33 he said, "I wish there was an umpire," or an "arbiter" some translations say. "I wish there was somebody who would come and listen to my case of shunning evil and fearing you and your inaptitude to care for me, that he would lay his hand upon us both and ultimately raise my hand in victory that you have been a bad God to me." That's Job, chapters 1-36.

In chapter 37 another friend shows up and expands a bit of Job's idea, and then in chapter 38 God answers the call. In Job 38, when God shows up, this is what he says to Job. I think it's the same words he said to Hawking on March 14. "Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge?"

"I don't really care if you're in the Lucasian chair of mathematics. Do you really think your little pea brain that I created can tell me where this universe came from? Do you want to tell me there's no need for theology? Who is this who darkens counsel with words without knowledge? Now you gird up your loins with that resurrected body I've given you, and I'm going to ask you a few questions, Mr. Nobel Laureate, and you answer me."

What God did with Job is he didn't explain to Job why all of the things that happened to Job happened. In fact, it should be well observed that sometimes questions are another way of making an announcement. That's really what God does with Job. It's what he does with us. He basically just starts to ask Job, "Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?"

Hawking said, "Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see [about the universe and the wonder that is there]." God says the exact same thing. You ought to look around and wonder. One of the things I would say to Mr. Hawking with all of his learning is, "You believe in the big bang…" The problem with the big bang is that the farther you get out, as you look up in the heavens (as he did so well), you see more and more order.

If this world started with an explosion, the farther you get away… Every scientific experiment that has ever been tested where we have an explosion of an intact object, the farther you get from that initial inertia and explosion, the more chaos there is. The problem with our universe is we see nothing but order and order and order and beauty and order. It would suggest that this didn't start from a big bang. It started another way. Somebody put it here for a reason.

He goes through and asks Job questions about cosmology, about geology, about oceanography, about meteorology, about astrology, about zoology and animal husbandry. He says, "Job, let me ask you a few questions. I know you know a lot. I know you're a wise man." Hawking even wiser. But I think when God asked Hawking a few questions (go read Job 38), Hawking would have responded the way Job ultimately did at the very end of about 70 questions in Job 40.

"Then Job answered the Lord and said, 'Behold, I am insignificant; what can I reply to You? I lay my hand on my mouth. Once I have spoken, and I will not answer; even twice, and I will add nothing more.'" God said, "You're right you're going to add nothing more, but I'm not done teaching you by questioning you."

He tore into Job again with more questions, and the purpose of those questions was to produce in Job a wonder that would give birth to humility. This is something we need to understand. Worship is born from humility before the wonder of God's revelation, not understanding all of God's ways.

God says, "You can't understand my ways. You'll never understand why when I created humankind and put them in paradise and gave them the ability to walk with me and know me and they rebelled against me I didn't ultimately destroy it right away, why I gave them the law to teach them about the righteousness because they had left the Righteous One, why I gave them prophets to remind them if they kept disobeying the laws of right and wrong it was going to be severely expensive to them, why even when they mocked the laws and the prophets I left the infinite comfort of my glory and took on the form of humankind and lived a sinless life, and why, living a sinless life, I let those I created scoff at me, mock me, beat me, betray me, nail me to a cross, and pierce me.

It makes no sense to you that I would die for the sins of those I created who mock me. My ways are not your ways. My love is far beyond anything you can get your arms around. You are no fool if you see the gorilla of my Son intervening in history and the emptiness of that grave and quit numbing yourself, quit being blind and inattentive to the only thing that matters. I know this is a broken world. I tell you why it's broken, and I am the solution."

When you understand the glory of that, you can be stricken with ALS and be in a wheelchair and be sexually assaulted and have your flesh pull you directions that lead to destruction and you can say, "I surrender, and I honor him." Watch a friend of mine who's doing that right now.


Male: I have paraphrased Charles Spurgeon when I've said time and time again that we should not doubt in the dark what we know to be true in the light. I still believe this, but it would be easy to doubt God's goodness as I experience increasing loss of function and paralysis in every voluntary muscle in my body. It gets pretty dark to realize that just two years ago I had a robust lifestyle but now I am confined to a bed or my power chair. I can't walk, talk, or eat, get out of bed, sit up, or stand unassisted.

It has produced a level of helplessness I could never have imagined, yet my mind is crystal clear, full of thoughts, but they are mostly trapped. Trying to dress myself or roll over in bed is like watching a beached whale: all effort and no progress. In the long, dark night when the increasing constraints drive my thoughts to race in panic, I am reminded, "Though the earth gives way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, I will not fear. For God did not give me a spirit of fear but power, love, and self-control."

I simply cannot imagine this fight without the wisdom and truth of Jesus. Having experienced this night after night validates the claim for me and leaves no doubt the Holy Spirit is present and standing a diligent watch over me and my family. Watching prayers answered in the lives of others only goes to confirm God is good. I am often asked how a loving God could allow this disease to corrupt my brain and spinal cord and put my family through this.

My Bible says we will all have affliction and challenges in life. Good heavens. I'm not the first person at Watermark to experience chronic and life-claiming illness. A major difference may be that there is no effective treatment and certainly no cure, leading to a dismal prognosis, but tribulation produces perseverance, character, and hope, and one of my hopes is that the way I am living this out will be an example of the grace I have received through Christ's obedience to the cross and his resurrection.

My illness is a temporary affliction. Jesus promised in John 11 that Lazarus' illness would not result in death. If true for Lazarus, then true for all who claim Christ as the risen Son of God. I am asked if it is important to continue to serve others when going through this trial. Jesus was clear in Mark that he came to serve. I have learned in life there are givers and there are takers. I am made to serve.

Even in my depleted form I can still pray for others and listen to a brother talk through an issue with a pointer to Scripture for an answer. So although I must monitor and measure my energy, there is no excuse for ignoring the opportunity to serve someone, and I love to watch the deer in the headlights stare I get when I pose the inevitable question, "Are you praying with your wife every day? Are you leading her well or do we need to get her over here?"

It has been a joy to watch marriages improve when prayer together was a catalyst. It is clear that Christ is the hero. Roddy and I just want to share the good news that Christ was born, he was crucified, he died a horrible death, and he is resurrected to live in the hearts of those who claim him as Lord and Savior. Sharing that good news takes my eyes off my afflictions and allows me to focus on the only truly important part of my life.

When my mission here is complete and I lay my body down, I am sure Jesus will pick me up. His love has been sufficient for me, and I will understand that even more clearly when I see him. Focusing on Christ's achievement on my behalf certainly taps out any loathing and bitterness, and my heart is filled with God's love through the Holy Spirit. For this reason I am affirmed. I am not a fool.

[End of video]

No, he's not. Job knew he wasn't a fool to begin to worship that God who revealed more of himself to him. At the end of the second series of questions, Job just says, "I know you can do all things and that no purposes of yours can be thwarted." God responds again. "Hey, who is this who hides counsel with words without knowledge?"

Job responds again and just says, "I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; but now my eye sees You; therefore I retract, and I repent in dust and ashes." Folks, when you really see the glory of God and the sufficiency of what he has done by making provision for those who scoffed at him and rebelled against him, who say they know him and live as though they do not, who believe their life could be better without him…

When you see the glory of God that he would pursue them and offer himself as a sacrifice so the eternal perfect wrath of God could be satisfied and the wrath poured out on the eternal perfect Son of God so those who believe in him should not perish but have eternal life, it should make you want to repent. The right response to an awareness of the gorilla of God's majesty is humility and repentance.

It's humility that says, "I'm not going to look down at myself and see sufficiency. I am going to look up to the heavens and see your glory. I'm going to look back to the cross. I'm going to look to the empty grave, and I'm going to say you are there, you are good, and I trust you. Even in a world that you told me is crazy for a reason, even when there are things that don't go the way I want, even when there are still those who don't know you who inflict harm on me, even when this body that is cursed to die moves toward the grave, I will not cease to praise you. I am no fool, because you've shown me where the secret to defeating death is."

You begin to humble yourself under the mighty hand of God, and you walk with him. You don't believe in your attractions and your desires. You believe in your God who tells you why your attractions and desires will lead to death and what he has done about it.

If you're here and you've never done that before, all you have to do is say, "God, if you're there and you're good, I know I have no chance to stand before you, that you're holy and I'm not. I believe the wages of turning away from you, the God of life, is death. I believe the reason our world is filled with darkness is because we reject you as the God of light. I understand, Lord, why we all are broken in our relationships and filled with hatred: because we have left the God of love. But I am overwhelmed to be reminded that the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus."

If you want, the way you reconcile all of that is you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, and you'll be saved. With the mouth, it says, man confesses, resulting in righteousness, and with the heart he believes, resulting in salvation. We are individuals who have come to God and said, "I trust in you. I'm not going to have inattentional blindness, fill myself up with pleasures or suppositions. I'm going to deal with the gorilla of the cross and resurrection that all of human history pivots on, and I'm going to avail myself to you."

Father, I pray if there's somebody in this room who has never done that this would be their moment, that they would humble themselves now so they don't have to go through that same conversation that Job needed to be reminded of your glory, even in his demandingness and his hurt because of pain, or probably even the horror Stephen Hawking went through when his Nobel Laureate mind was seen as insufficient to stand before a holy God and explain your love and your provision for sin.

Lord, I acknowledge I'm a sinner. I acknowledge apart from you I am without hope in this world, and I believe in the death of the Son and the crucifixion and the resurrection, which declared with power that Jesus is the Son of God. Lord, I put my hope in him and I trust in him, not just as a fact of history but as a personal matter of dependence. I need your forgiveness, and I want to live humbly before you. Thank you that I don't have to clean up my life or do anything to come. I just need to come as a sinner and say, "Be my living hope."

Lord, help us to do what all men who truly believe and whose faith is not in vain do, which is to walk in that living hope, to praise the one who set us free, to tell others about our hope, to walk now according to your ways because we see your ways are life and peace, and to be an agent who brings healing and offers grace and forgiveness to others because we have received grace and healing. Would you make us those people?

We thank you for the miracle of forgiveness and redemption that the cross and the resurrection suggest. Help us to pay attention to these things, to be absorbed in them. Help us to sing about them now in a way that will help others hear the glory of our living hope. In Jesus' name, amen.