Many years ago believe it or not I use to play baseball. I had the privilege of getting drafted by the Atlanta braves as a pitcher. Well I was 16 years old I through about 92 miles an hour and I was well aware that this talent I had was a God given talent. However, as a player there are many elements within the games that made me not see the talent that God had given me, but rather the circumstances within the game. I recall an instance when our team was up by seven runs I had 17 strike outs and only had given up 1 hit the whole game. When I was pitching to the other team I began to get very upset that the other team was fouling the ball off. I took it as a personal attack on my talent. It was very upsetting to me that anyone at all could hit my fastball. In the middle of the game I began to get frustrated, I began to get very emotional, very upset, and it became noticeable on the mound. Well after my demonstrations on the mound my manager came a visited me to calm me down.
He told me that I can’t react on the mound from a place of emotion, and allow feeling to rule my actions. He said it’s important to keep confident the gift God gave me needs boldness in trial as not to be ruled by the things in my fallen nature but maintain a balance in the reality of my situation and the gift God given me. Needless to say I was so caught up in my situation that I didn’t listen. So as time went on I made the same mistakes and what happened to me is I tried to throw harder, and harder, and harder because I let emotions and feeling get the best of me until the day came when I throughout my arm out and could never play again.
Reflecting on this experience now I began to see that as a young person there was a continual struggle within myself. There was the John that was completely aware of God in his life and the talents and passions that he had put into my heart and there was the John that was so emotional, so driven by desires, and feelings he seemed to be lost and unaware of how to handle life and how God fit into it.
It seems to me that there is a war within in each of us that struggles between who God is and who God is in each one of us. While I as a Christian am completely aware of God I find myself unaware of his reality and how I fit it into. Increasingly I become more aware what I feel doesn’t always correspond with how I should act. It tells me that the nature I am apart of, that is within me, struggles with that which what God wants us to be.
This is what I call parallel perspectives the collision of the reality to which we are apart of and the reality in which God wants. I want to talk about this today because I believe it will give us a foundational understanding on how we look at God and how an understanding of his intention relates to our lives in this reality.
Turn with me to Gen 1:1
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
When the bible refers to the beginning it refers to existence in which we know human existence, worldly existence, atmospheric existence, galactic existence such things as physical laws, time, matter, and space. All these things are not the reality which God existed in, but rather things which he created for our existence. God is not bound by such things as matter, physical laws, and time and that is exactly in part what makes him God. Now think about the so called Gods of this world not only now but throughout time. There are Hindu Gods, think of the Gods of Ancient Egypt, and even the ancient Greek Gods. Most are pantheistic in there view which means they equate God with the forces and laws of the universe and are very tolerant of other Gods. Now this may seem confusing. However, ask yourself how you define God. Many supposed Gods of this world seem to take on attributes that human rather then that having attributes of a God.
What makes the God of the Bible (YHWAH) thee only one true God is not that he is tolerant of other Gods, or bound by the physical laws of this universe, but that he created it, and is free from it. In fact it is creation that it bound to him and not the other way around. So by definition these so called ancient religious Gods can’t be Gods but at the most super humans. So when we say we believe in one God it is not only logical but the truth. For the God we believe in has attributes which he reveals rather to man rather then attributes man attaches to God. And this is who we search out and are studying today.
Now Genesis 1:1 introduces to this God. It introduces us to the one who was when everything that we call life was void of it, empty, and in darkness. Before we had a beginning God was there and made a choice to create. It is in this action in which God is about to take, that purpose is placed forth by his power. However, there is something that transpires in this verse between
In the beginning,
God created the heavens and the earth.
If we turn to John 1:1
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning
We see here that God who is outside of the physical laws of the universe, who is not bound by anything such as matter and time or anything we can discover is not alone. In fact, Jesus Christ was with him in the beginning (of our existence) and not only was he with him he was God. That is not to say that he was a different God but he was with God from the beginning. In fact he was not only with God it goes on to say
3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.
So in the beginning we have Jesus Christ with the Father as God. Now if Jesus Christ is the word of God as John 1:1 says, and then when God decided to create and spoke things forth he did so by Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the power of God the word spoken to act. He is that which is supreme, the ultimate authority because he is the word of the Father!
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
Jesus Christ is God, he is the action of the Father, he is that by which all things were created, and he was before that which is the beginning, our beginning. He as God was never bound by the constraints of natural law, or physical law, or time, or matter.
So when we go to the Grand Canyon in Arizona, or we go Mount Everest in Nepal, or Victoria Falls in Zambia, or the Paricutan Volcano in Mexico or to see the Northern Lights, or the Harbor do Rio de Janeiro in brazil, or the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and we stand over these magnificent wonders in our worlds and awe over there beauty we can give thanks to Jesus Christ who is the designer and creator of these wonderful sites we enjoy.
We have been previously (in other lessons) talking about making Jesus Lord in our lives and not just making him your religion. However, before you can accept as Lord we have to see him as God. I, like you, have read the stories of him feeding 4 and 5 thousand, of him walking on water, calming storms, healing the sick, and even raising from the dead. However, have you put it together in your heart and mind that he who thought of every physical Law, every natural Law, who thought of and created things like trees, and canyons, and air, and molecules, and birds, is God and loves you very much.
This bring us back to my story as a baseball player. In this fallen state I have come to realize how skewed my outlook, even as a pastor, is on God. I tend to rely on my fallen state rather then believe in Jesus Christ. I have come to understand that in my fallen state I am vulnerable to some sort of natural selfishness that pulls me away from receiving the revelation of who Jesus Christ really is. More then that, I often fail in myself trying to understand what it is God wants for me.
Blatantly I have come to realize that the churches and Pastors in which I grew up in have failed me. I have fought within my being and within my Spirit a god that was presented to me as legalistic and judgmental and is sorta out there waiting for me to screw up so he can send me to hell.
However, what I have come to understand through reading the scriptures that this is not who God is but rather who we have portrayed him to be. God truly loves you and he shows this love in a mighty way by just coming here to his creation.
Lets look at Philippians 2:6-8
6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!
The Living Bible puts it this way:
6 who, though he was God, did not demand and cling to his rights as God, 7 but laid aside his mighty power and glory, taking the disguise of a slave and becoming like men. 8 And he humbled himself even further, going so far as actually to die a criminal’s death on a cross.
In my mind I cannot grasp God, let alone that he stripped himself of all his Godliness, he laid aside his mighty power and glory and made himself nothing. The humility of such an act, the pure goodness and selflessness of such an act is unfathomable to me. Yet I t was more then that. You can say it like this.
16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
God loves you and as if the cross itself isn’t testimony enough of his Love for you, of his desire for you to be his purpose, an instrument of his love. The fact that he gave everything up to come here to make himself known, subjecting himself to the laws of this universe but never being bound by them should tell you who God truly is and what he is about. I have comes to terms that in my fallen state, that is my flesh, my human nature that I cannot trust my feelings, that they are misguided without the guidance of God, by Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. The ugliness we see on T.V. everyday, the atrocities we as human commit on each other, the harm we cause ourselves, our inability to completely let loose of the hurts we feel inside, our horrible appetites and sensuality, just our pride, our horrible pride confirms doesn’t it the fallen state of mankind. The act of God to come here shows such a loving humility, it shows his desire to share with you the beauty and purpose of creation. God is so Holy and in his Holiness he showed and continues to show the utmost in love to you so that we may not remain contrary in our feelings, our thoughts and our nature to his intentions. He came here to reconcile the entire world back to himself in love because in his Holiness the attitudes, feelings, addictions, and actions of human nature as it stands is contrary to the nature of God from which we failed. This world stands condemned, those who have not said Jesus Christ you are God and have the fruits of there actions to show for it stand condemned in there current state.
John 3:18 puts it this way
18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
See all of us were born into this sin. It is not in our nature to be obedient to God. However, it is in human nature to look to God, to feel that we need to atone for the guilt we carry in us as humans for our pride. From nation after nation, from tribe after tribe down throughout history mankind has always looked to God in some way. Most as we talked about earlier are misguided attempts at God. But here we see man not creating a philosophy about who God is, or creating an idol by our hands and calling it God. We see God himself who in and of himself unknowable choosing to reveal himself to us and not leave us to ourselves and to our sin. The mystery of the cross is that God not only came here to pay the price for our sins, but that through Jesus Christ we can have God dwell within the temple of our hearts by his Spirit.
We can choose to live by the feelings and desires and attitudes of this world all which are tainted by sin. We can choose this and remain in the fallen state in which we were born into or we can choose the love and act of God who desires to make himself known unto you. In closing I want to share with you 1 final biblical story.
Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.”
3 In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”
4 “How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!”
5 Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
9 “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.
10 “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? 11 I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. 12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? 13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.
Some things I want you to see through this verse:
- Nicodemus was a Pharisee, a great religious teacher, went to church every Sunday knew scripture better then anyone in this room yet was blinded to who Jesus was.
- He knew God was “with him (Jesus)” but couldn’t comprehend who Jesus really was.
- Nicodemous in all his wisdom as a priest to Israel didn’t understand the condition of his heart let alone of the world. He didn’t see himself as a sinner.
- Nicodemous is you and me and all of mankind in this verse!
Let’s consider Jesus’ reply and its meaning.
- No one can see the kingdom of heaven unless he is born again.
- I believe he literally means you can’t see it now on earth or in the future in heaven.
- Flesh gives birth to flesh…
- Here is saying those born from the womb are born into sin and are subject to the nature of the flesh
- Spirit gives birth to Spirit…
- That which Jesus offers is no tangible like you can touch it, but it is the renewing of the Spirit which takes us from being subject to the nature of this world to a rebirth into the Kingdom of God
- How can this be?
- In the flesh the Spirit cannot be understood because our nature is contrary to that of God. God is Spirit and must be worshipped in Spirit (John 4: 20-24)
- The testimony meaning the evidence the witness presents is that which Jesus brought from that which he has seen.
- Jesus is saying all that I do and all that I know is that which I have seen and heard and witness his Father, God, do.
- Then he says what we are speaking of today that the Son of man is God.
I hope you see who Jesus is today, the humility and love of his actions. He came to set us free from this fallen state we are in. He came to have a relationship with you and reconcile our relationship to him. So I ask you today will you accept this testimony of him today and humble yourself before him as he did for you