part 5

Romans 1:18-32 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.

This evening you may not agree with me. If you do not, that is okay. This evening my objective is not focused on getting you to agree with me. My objective is focused on making you think.

This evening I would like for you to think about God. The basis of the Christian's worldview is based on the Christian's perspective of God. I am not challenging you to think about Jesus Christ. I am challenging you to think about God the Father, the central character of the Bible.

  1. I want to begin by challenging you to think about the Bible.
    1. The Bible is not about humans.
      1. Humanity, either as persons, individually or collectively, is not the central character(s) of the Bible.
        1. The central focus of the Bible is not on people, not on humanity.
        2. Surely, it talks about a lot of people.
        3. Surely, it has a lot to say about the basic need of humanity.
        4. However, even though that is true, the Bible is not based on the actions of people.
      2. The Bible is a book about God.
        1. Surely it speaks much and repeatedly about the human reaction to God.
        2. Surely humanity's interaction with God is a constant theme in the material.
        3. However, God is the central character of the Bible.
          1. It begins with these words in Genesis 1:1.
            In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
          2. It ends with God and His Lamb enthroned in the heavenly, eternal kingdom in Revelation 22.
        4. Everything between the opening and the ending is in some way related to the great human need--correcting the separation of humanity from God.
        5. The central problem of the Bible is how is God going to address that human need.
        6. The Bible --Old Testament and New-- focuses on God's solution to that human need.

  2. Humanity's separation from God created by human rebellion in accepting evil produced a horrible problem that humans could not resolve of themselves.
    1. The Old Testament's emphasis is not on an "angry" God who had to be appeased.
      1. For certain, God was angry for two reasons.
        1. Something very precious to Him, something that He made and allowed to share His nature, was taken from Him through deceit and rebellion.
        2. As God tried to eliminate the problem, humanity kept resisting His efforts--the harder God tried to provide humanity a solution, the more determined humanity became in its rebellion.
        3. God was far more patient than any of us would be.
      2. However, the patience of God is declared repeatedly.
        1. God was patient with Abraham's descendants.
        2. God was patient with Israel (the nation God formed from Abraham's descendants) in the wilderness.
        3. God was patient with Israel in the period of the judges. (Read the last two stories in the book of Judges.)
        4. God was patient with Israel in the United Kingdom.
        5. God was patient in the Divided Kingdom.
        6. God was patient with the returning remnant.
      3. Though humanity failed repeatedly, God refused to give up.
    2. The typical American Christian of today has virtually no idea of how violent the ancient world was. People's behavior was everything God was not.
      1. Most Americans do not grasp how violent today's world is.
      2. We were once used to being privileged international tourists who can go anywhere and receive exceptional treatment.
      3. We have developed the view that American blood is more precious and valuable than the blood of people in other nations and geographical places; that is our view and not God's.
      4. It has been only in about the past decade and a half that we increasingly look at many other places as unsafe.

  3. God wishes to be at peace with humanity-that is not a new desire!
    1. There is a lot of emphasis in scripture on God's desire for peace with humanity.
      • Acts 10:34-38 Opening his mouth, Peter said: "I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him. The word which He sent to the sons of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ (He is Lord of all)--you yourselves know the thing which took place throughout all Judea, starting from Galilee, after the baptism which John proclaimed. You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him."
        1. "God cares about everybody--I just now understand that, but God always has been that way."
        2. "God wants the persons who reverence Him--no matter what nationality he or she is."
        3. "Jesus Christ is God's message of peace!"
      • Romans 5:1,2 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.
        1. Faith in Jesus Christ is our access to God's peace.
        2. We have access to God's grace through having faith in Jesus Christ.
      • Galatians 5:22,23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
        1. A natural expression of the fruit of the Spirit is peace.
      • Philippians 4:4-7 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
        1. Rejoicing should be a natural expression of being in Jesus Christ.
        2. Those in Christ Jesus have no need to be anxious because the Lord is near.
        3. If we are in Christ Jesus, we are guarded by God's peace--even when we cannot explain it!
      • Hebrews 13:20,21 Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
        1. God is a God of peace!
        2. God is the equipper!
        3. God will use us for His glory!
    2. The fact that we are at peace with God does not mean we will have peace in this physical world.
      1. Do you remember these words spoken by Jesus to the twelve not long before he was betrayed?
        John 14:27 "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful."
        1. In a few hours of that statement Jesus died a horrible death.
        2. In a few hours of that statement the twelve were scattered.
      2. There were times the church Jesus established endured severe persecution.
      3. Tradition says all but one of the twelve died a premature death.
      4. The promise of peace obviously did not include a wonderful existence in this world!
      5. The peace God grants us is peace with God!
        1. We do not have to live in fear!
        2. We do not have to live with guilty consciences!
        3. We do not have to live unforgiven!
        4. We do not have to live without hope!
        5. We can live in the compassion and mercy of God's grace!
        6. The peace that God grants is internal, and that is the form of peace we value the most!
    3. We American Christians are conditioned primarily to think in terms of material and physical peace.
      1. We want to live in a physically safe society in a physically safe world.
        1. It is to be expected if someone living in another nation suffers, but it is not all right if "one of us" suffers.
        2. We do not want to suffer from disease.
        3. We do not want to die prematurely.
        4. We do not want to be in situations that threaten physical life.
      2. We want to define peace as everything being okay right here, right now.
        1. We want that so much that we even define Christianity in terms in which there are no physical threats.
        2. If we are not careful, we decide our covenant with God through Jesus Christ is an agreement that everything will be just fine right now.
        3. As a result, too many Christians lose their faith in God when life does not go just exactly as they want it to go.
        4. In too many Christians' concept, life is all about us right here, right now.

The Christian worldview understands peace is found in God! Not prosperity, not the physically "good" lifestyle, not an insurance policy against disease, not a guarantee that you will not die an early death, but peace!

Peace is not about the physical! Peace is about the internal!

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Evening Sermon, 5 March 2006

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