Calvinism 2: The Love of Darkness
051-00760 John 3:16-21
I. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
A. July 4, 1776 - Congress adopts the Declaration of Independence in the morning of a bright, sunny, but cool Philadelphia day.
1. ? [Show copy of $2 bill] This engraving is taken from a painting commissioned in 1817 for the Rotunda of the Capitol. John Trumbull was the artist and the painting is 12 feet by 18 feet.
2. ? [Show painting] The detail is amazing and was painted from sketches the artist made of the room and of each individual present.
3. ? The man in the chair receiving the Declaration is President of the Continental Congress, John Hancock.
4. ? The five men presenting the document are the members of the committee appointed by the congress on June 11 to draft the document. They are Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Roger Sherman, Robert R. Livingston, and Benjamin Franklin.
5. ? Those in the gallery are the portraits of 42 of the 56 signers.
B. We have the records of three stages in the crafting of the Declaration.
1. To give you a flavor of the transformation process, ? a handwritten draft by John Adams reads: We ? hold these Truths to be self evident; that all Men are created equal and independent; that from that equal Creation they derive Rights inherent and unalienable; among which are the Preservation of Life, and Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness…
2. Jefferson’s changes are represented in his rough draft: ? We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with inherent & inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness…
3. The Official Document adopted and signed is the one most of us know: ? We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…
C. Ultimately, it is this ? Declaration of Independence that is celebrated July 4th year after year.
1. Though the entire document is not commonly read anymore, the lines I have recited this morning are probably the most famous of them all and have become a kind of American mantra used to defend and prove all sorts of behaviors. ?
2. One thing that is often overlooked is that this document is about the establishment of human governments based upon perceived rights of humankind bestowed by an Almighty Creator. Thus our 4th of July celebrations can be viewed as celebrations of God the Creator.
3. But more importantly, the Declaration of Independence, though framed by religious language, is not a theological document. And if it were, we would have to say that it is wrong, at least from a Christian perspective.
a) ? In the first place, there is no biblical support for the premise that all human beings are created equal.
(1) Not only is there no biblical evidence for such a position but to believe this conflicts with all that we know about life.
(2) The Constitution drafted shortly after the Declaration by many of the same men denied equal rights to all humanity, especially slaves and women.
(3) Some argue that the principle is sound even if the application is not. But what about those born with disabilities and those who no fault of their own have become disabled by tragic events.
(4) Our prisons are filled not only with criminals but with those who are mentally disabled without access to mental health care.
(5) Dozens of examples are available both from our experience and from the Bible. And not all of the inequality can be attributed to sin because Jesus said that the man born blind was blinded for the glory of God.
b) ? In the second place, the declaration that every human being has an equal right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is also false.
(1) Life is a gift of God, not a right of humanity.
(2) Liberty is granted to some by God and not to others according to his good will. Paul was in bondage and found this condition to be for the glory of God and his salvation.
(3) The pursuit of happiness is at the root of the sin of our original parents for they chose to pursue happiness on their terms not on God’s. True happiness can only be derived from submission to the Creator.
c) Finally, ? if human governments are for the purpose of ensuring these three inalienable rights, such government also requires the limitation of these rights. But there is no standard agreeable to all humans concerning where the lines and limits are to be drawn.
4. So why has the Declaration failed to produce a peaceful and harmonious land where everyone is treated as equal and everyone is granted equal access to all of the rights inalienably bestowed upon them?
II. Because ? “Light has come into the world, but humans love darkness.”
A. This is the declaration of Christ. ? But in what context?.
1. We all know John 3:16 but we do not often put that verse in the context of Jesus’ entire discussion with Nicodemus.
2. In this part of the conversation, Jesus reveals certain truths that should be self-evident but unfortunately are not.
B. The source of all life is God who gave his Son.
1. God esteems salvation to eternal life so precious that he sacrificed his only begotten Son to attain it.
2. Likewise, the Love of Christ for humankind was so great that he was willing to sacrifice himself in order to save.
C. But implied in all of this, and even stated in the following sentences is that humanity needs salvation. Apart from Christ all are destined to destruction.
1. As John Calvin wrote, ? “…it is very evident that Christ spoke in this manner, in order to draw away men from the contemplation of themselves to look at the mercy of God alone. Nor does he say that God was moved to deliver us, because he perceived in us something that was worthy of so excellent a blessing, but ascribes the glory ? of our deliverance entirely to his love. And this is still more clear from what follows; for he adds, that God gave his Son to men, that they may not perish. Hence it follows that, until Christ bestow his aid in rescuing the lost, all are destined to eternal destruction.”
2. Let us be clear about the issue: ? All humans need salvation. The invitation of Christ to salvation is to all humanity. The effecting of salvation in individual humans occurs only among those who believe, i.e. faith. We will look at this operation more closely next week.
D. Now here is the sum of it: Christ did not come to judge the world because the world had already been judged.
1. ? The judgment of God upon the whole world is required due to human sin.
2. And this judgment was given when our first parents cast us into sin.
3. Jesus said, “…whoever does not believe stands condemned already…”
E. The description of this human condition is ? Total Depravity.
1. Total Depravity does not mean that every human being is as evil as they could be. Total Depravity does not mean that no human being is capable of doing human good.
2. Total Depravity means that as a result of the sin of our first parents, ? all men are now equally under the judgment of God and deserve death.
a) There is no human means of escape.
b) The image of God inherent in human beings is broken to the point where no one can bring glory to God, no one can please God, no one even seeks after God.
c) This condition is not God’s fault. It is not Christ’s fault. It is our fault.
III. ? The Bad News and the Good News.
A. Many consider this judgment to be overly harsh, especially for a God who claims to love us to the degree that he is willing to sacrifice his Son for us.
1. You mean that God will judge women and men to spend eternity in the torments of hell all because they do not believe in Christ? Certainly a loving God cannot do such a thing.
2. Life is promised to all who believe, but we know from our own self-awareness that none of us can believe. How is this fair and loving?
3. But the condemnation is not for unbelief. Rather unbelief is the result of sin. ? “…unbelief is a testimony of a bad conscience; and hence it is evident that it is their own wickedness which hinders unbelievers from approaching to Christ.” Calvin
4. It is not unjust for God to punish sin. Unbelief is the mark of sin.
5. “Men love darkness.” ? “…hatred of the light arises only from a mind that is wicked and conscious of its guilt.” Calvin
B. There is a remedy for the condition of human’s total depravity. ?
1. That remedy is Christ, whom God sent, who took on human flesh without sin, who died for the sins and the condition of men and women which are given to him to save.
2. The invitation to belief in Christ is given to all so that God’s judgment upon those who hate the light is just.
3. Thus, the light is Christ who saves unto eternal life by restoring the image of God in women and men.
4. The darkness is the hatred sinful men have toward Christ because they love their wickedness.
C. So, when we read the Declaration of Independence, we who are in the light read it according to the light and we anticipate the inconsistency of ideals and realities as a matter of the Total Depravity of humankind.
1. Forbid it that I should want to change history by rewriting the Declaration of Independence. ?
2. But if I did, I would write the following: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created to glorify Almighty God, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain blessed gifts, such as life, freedom to live in justice and love, and the desire to serve God with all their heart and soul and mind and strength. Yet no man or woman either fully appreciates these gifts nor do they use them to reflect God’s glory apart from the salvation offered them in Jesus Christ, our Lord. To this end, God has ordained human governments to assure the conditions of justice, mercy, and love in order to restrain the sin within us all and to encourage our belief in the promise of God and the deliverance of Jesus Christ.” ?