Part 1

The declared purpose of this congregation is "making disciples for Jesus who are eager to serve others." Basically a disciple is the follower of a teacher. A disciple knows and is not ashamed to acknowledge his or her ignorance. Religiously, the objective of a disciple is to destroy his or her ignorance about the purpose of life in order to learn how to live.

The elders have encouraged us to personally adopt five (5) goals as we pursue the purpose of making disciples for Jesus who are eager to serve others. One of those personal goals is this: we proclaim and live by a biblical world view.

What is that? What is a biblical world view? That is a complex, complicated goal. It is a good, godly, worthy goal. However, it is a complicated goal. To simplify that goal without compromising the objective of the goal, I would state it this way: "I am dedicated to learning how to look at everything in life and this world as God looks at it." How does God look at being single? How does God look at marriage? How does God look at being a wife? How does God look at being a husband? How does God look at being a mother? How does God look at being a father? How does good look at having a job? How does God look at love? How does God look at loyalty? How does God look at truthfulness? How does God look at honesty? How does God define godliness? How does God define sin?

When we talk about a biblical world view, we are talking about how God looks at everything that occurs in life in this world--not just about how God looks at "church." Nothing is off limits! We literally are talking about how God looks at each thing that occurs in our lives.

We can respond by saying, "Just read the Bible. It is by knowing the Bible that we will discover and develop a biblical world view." I certainly agree! Yet, I also understand that it is not as simple as that statement makes it sound. The first major challenge we encounter is distinguishing between the times (historically) and the message (God's ways). If you are tempted to think this challenge is real simple, let me give you a couple of examples.

Example one: from Genesis into Acts, the sacrificial system was a prominent part of worship. Cain and Abel offered sacrifices when they worshipped. Noah offered sacrifices when he left the ark. The tabernacle was the site of sacrificial worship. Later, the temple was the site of sacrificial worship. When Jesus was presented as a baby at the temple, sacrifices were offered for him (Luke 2:22-24). When the 3000 were baptized in Acts 2, they went to the temple every day (Acts 2:46). The apostles went to the temple (Acts 3). Paul, at the request of the Jerusalem elders, took four men to the temple to take a vow and paid for the offering of a sacrifice for each one of them (Acts 21:17-26). This same Paul said we were to offer our bodies as a "living and holy sacrifice" (Romans 12:1,2). Jesus is presented to us as our sacrifice (Hebrews 13:11-13). Christians exist to be God's spiritual house (temple) to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:5). What role does the offering of sacrifices serve in Christian existence?

Example two: Matthew 26:30 states they concluded the occasion when the Lord's Supper was instituted by singing a hymn before leaving for the Mount of Olives. Should we accept that as an example of the way to conclude communion? My understanding is this is the way the Passover meal was concluded. Is this the conclusion of the Passover meal, the conclusion of communion, or the conclusion of both? Should we look at it as an example?

Too often people have oversimplified the challenge of separating first century culture from the eternal message of God.

  1. At the core of a biblical world view is the living, creator God.
    1. The Bible begins (Genesis 1) with the living Creator God bringing life in this world into existence.
      1. Immediately scripture declares that if we are to accept a biblical world view, we must look at ourselves as the product of the creator God.
        1. We are not the result of chance or an accident.
        2. We are the result of intelligence using incredible power.
      2. If we are nothing more than the result of accidental happenings, our purpose becomes purely selfish.
        1. If we are the result of chance happenings, we have every reason to be selfish.
        2. If we are the result of nothing more than coincidences, we have no real reason to be moral in conduct or ethical in decisions.
        3. If everything that exists, exists only as a series of opportune accidents, nothing has been lost, and there is nothing to regain.

  2. One of the ancient questions in human existence is this: did humanity make God or did God make humanity?
    1. If you think this is a modern question asked only in the relatively recent past by science and philosophy, consider some readings. The first I call to your attention is found in Isaiah 44:6-20.
      "Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel And his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: 'I am the first and I am the last, And there is no God besides Me. 'Who is like Me? Let him proclaim and declare it; Yes, let him recount it to Me in order, From the time that I established the ancient nation. And let them declare to them the things that are coming And the events that are going to take place. 'Do not tremble and do not be afraid; Have I not long since announced it to you and declared it? And you are My witnesses. Is there any God besides Me, Or is there any other Rock? I know of none.'" Those who fashion a graven image are all of them futile, and their precious things are of no profit; even their own witnesses fail to see or know, so that they will be put to shame. Who has fashioned a god or cast an idol to no profit? Behold, all his companions will be put to shame, for the craftsmen themselves are mere men. Let them all assemble themselves, let them stand up, let them tremble, let them together be put to shame. The man shapes iron into a cutting tool and does his work over the coals, fashioning it with hammers and working it with his strong arm. He also gets hungry and his strength fails; he drinks no water and becomes weary. Another shapes wood, he extends a measuring line; he outlines it with red chalk. He works it with planes and outlines it with a compass, and makes it like the form of a man, like the beauty of man, so that it may sit in a house. Surely he cuts cedars for himself, and takes a cypress or an oak and raises it for himself among the trees of the forest. He plants a fir, and the rain makes it grow. Then it becomes something for a man to burn, so he takes one of them and warms himself; he also makes a fire to bake bread. He also makes a god and worships it; he makes it a graven image and falls down before it. Half of it he burns in the fire; over this half he eats meat as he roasts a roast and is satisfied. He also warms himself and says, "Aha! I am warm, I have seen the fire." But the rest of it he makes into a god, his graven image. He falls down before it and worships; he also prays to it and says, "Deliver me, for you are my god." They do not know, nor do they understand, for He has smeared over their eyes so that they cannot see and their hearts so that they cannot comprehend. No one recalls, nor is there knowledge or understanding to say, "I have burned half of it in the fire and also have baked bread over its coals. I roast meat and eat it. Then I make the rest of it into an abomination, I fall down before a block of wood!" He feeds on ashes; a deceived heart has turned him aside. And he cannot deliver himself, nor say, "Is there not a lie in my right hand?"
      1. Isaiah writing in the voice of God declares that the entire concept of idolatry is too ridiculous to be taken seriously.
      2. If one compares the concept of god in idolatry in contrast to the reality of God the Creator, he or she is struck by how little they have in common.
      3. In the idolatrous concept of god:
        1. Divinity is disinterested in humanity.
        2. Divinity has its own set of diversions that gods pursue, and being interested in human affairs is not one of those diversions.
        3. Humans must get the gods' attention before the gods will get involved in human affairs.
        4. Even when humans succeed in getting the gods' attention, the gods can do more to hurt you than help you.
        5. Thus the concept of worship is humoring the gods to keep them happy.
      4. In the Creator God:
        1. The Creator God is always interested in people because (1) they exist by His decision and action and (2) people originally were made in His image and likeness.
        2. God is never distracted from the realities of human existence.
        3. Humans do not have to get the Creator God's attention, but the creator God seeks to get humans' attention.
        4. The Creator God is a source of help and strength to humans.
        5. The objective of worship is to declare faith in, dependence on, and appreciation of the Creator God.
      5. The idea of taking a piece of wood, making a fire to warm yourself and using the fire to cook your food, and then taking to remainder of the wood to fashion a voiceless, powerless image you call god and call upon it for deliverance is totally foreign to the concept of the living God Who creates.
    2. A second reading I call to your attention is found in Jeremiah 10:1-11.
      Hear the word which the Lord speaks to you, O house of Israel. Thus says the Lord, "Do not learn the way of the nations, And do not be terrified by the signs of the heavens Although the nations are terrified by them; For the customs of the peoples are delusion; Because it is wood cut from the forest, The work of the hands of a craftsman with a cutting tool. "They decorate it with silver and with gold; They fasten it with nails and with hammers So that it will not totter. "Like a scarecrow in a cucumber field are they, And they cannot speak; They must be carried, Because they cannot walk! Do not fear them, For they can do no harm, Nor can they do any good." There is none like You, O Lord; You are great, and great is Your name in might. Who would not fear You, O King of the nations? Indeed it is Your due! For among all the wise men of the nations And in all their kingdoms, There is none like You. But they are altogether stupid and foolish In their discipline of delusion--their idol is wood! Beaten silver is brought from Tarshish, And gold from Uphaz, The work of a craftsman and of the hands of a goldsmith; Violet and purple are their clothing; They are all the work of skilled men. But the Lord is the true God; He is the living God and the everlasting King. At His wrath the earth quakes, And the nations cannot endure His indignation. Thus you shall say to them, "The gods that did not make the heavens and the earth will perish from the earth and from under the heavens."
      1. An enormous problem through the centuries is found in people being afraid of things that are not gods, that do not exist, and that neither hurt nor help people.
      2. Jeremiah observes that idols are just a piece of wood taken out of the forest.
      3. They were made by people who crafted them.
      4. They are clothed and decorated by people.
      5. They are fastened down by people.
      6. They are transported by people.
      7. These gods exist because people made them.
      8. Not so with the Creator God--He exists if no one acknowledges his existence.
    3. Allow me to share one more brief reading with you.
      Joshua 24:2,14-15 Joshua said to all the people, "Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, 'From ancient times your fathers lived beyond the River, namely, Terah, the father of Abraham and the father of Nahor, and they served other gods. Now, therefore, fear the Lord and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."
      1. If anyone ever had reason to place confidence in the Creator God, the people of ancient Israel did--the Creator God delivered them from slavery and brought them into existence as a nation.
      2. Our reading is part of a speech Joshua gave Israel late in his life.
        1. "Your ancestors worshipped idols--the gods beyond the river."
        2. "You face an immediate choice: will you worship idols from your past, or will you worship the Creator God?"
        3. "If your choice is to worship idols, pick any god you choose; it does not matter and will make no real difference."
        4. "But my family has made our choice--we will honor the Creator God who brought us into existence."

  3. A biblical world view includes a correct concept of the Creator God because we can correctly understand ourselves only through a correct understanding of the Creator God.
    1. I call your attention to two facts.
      1. When Paul spoke to a highly idolatrous, elite group in Athens at the Areopagus, Paul began with a correct view of the Creator God.
        Acts 17:23-31 "For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, 'TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.' Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, 'For we also are His children.' Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man. Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead."
      2. The second point is this: the reason as Christians we seek re-creation in Christ is because we were made aware of what we lost in our original creation, and we want to move in the direction of what God made.
    2. However, it is only what the Creator God did for us in Jesus Christ that permits us to be re-created as His people (see Ephesians 4:22-24 and Colossians 3:10, 11).

The accuracy of the way you view the Creator God will determine the role you give Jesus Christ in your life.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Evening Sermon, 10 October 2004
 Link to related sermon: Proclaiming a Biblical Worldview - Part 1 by Chris Benjamin

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