© Charles A. Clough 2016
Fall and Flood vs. Natural Histories
Keeping Faithful to Our Lord in a Growing Hostile Culture
2016 North Stonington Bible Church Labor Day Conference
Central theme of Scripture: Romans 12:1, 2 (KJV), “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.”
“As we come to the Word of God this morning, let’s pause for a few moments to examine our hearts and to talk to the Lord about His Word: Our Father, we’re so thankful this morning that You have left us with Your Word and have protected It down through the corridors of time; that we can, in the liberty that we have this morning, assemble peacefully around the authority of Scripture; that we can listen to You speak to us through the Word; it’s Your Word, not man’s word; and we thank You, therefore, that You have kept us in alliance and loyalty to your Word, not because of who we are, but because of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We thank you for the salvation that we have, again not grounded at all on any human merit, but only on the perfect merits of the Lord Jesus Christ and His imputed righteousness. We thank you, therefore, for our salvation; and we ask for Your Holy Spirit to illuminate our hearts that we may be sensitive; to be continuing faithfully to You in an increasingly hostile culture. We ask that we would be circumspect; that You would give us a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of You; for we ask this in our Savior’s name, Amen.”
What we’ve been trying to do in this series is to connect the Word of God in a systematic way to what’s going on in the culture around us; and I needn’t say, and we all are aware of the fact that our culture is increasingly anti-Christian and we are going to experience what Christians down through the centuries have experienced and that is more conflict in our society because we are just out of tune with the world system.
We enjoyed 200–300 years in our nation of relative peace and quiet only because the Lord was very gracious in the early generations of our nation to have some Christian influence; we’re not a theocracy by any means, but we did have godly men and godly women who paid a price to make sure that at least fundamental ideas about our culture were shaped from the Word of God.
We’ve gone through two sessions: The first session, you remember, dealt with the issue of the Bible and Romans 12:1–2. So we’ve use that as our starting point and as the theme of the conference; that we are to be living sacrifices; and Paul in Romans 12:1–2 says we can’t do that without having our minds transformed by His renewing, and that process of renewing our minds takes time.
Given the fact that most of us have come to Christ out of a secular background in which we learned every subject we know as though it were taught without God or without His inputs, or He is irrelevant to the subject. So we come to Christ and we hear the gospel and we read sections of the Bible, but the problem is we’ve been surrounded by a mold.
Paul says, “Be not conformed to this world,” and then in that Colossians passage he says [paraphrased], “Don’t be fooled by the world system that is built on the principles of this world,” (Colossians 2:8). He uses the Greek word, stoicheia, there, which was used by the Greek philosophers to refer to fire, water, and so on, solid; the elements of the universe.
He said that’s not our starting point; our starting point is God’s revelation. He cites the greatest example of revelation was the Incarnation. So that’s why in Colossians he says, “… you are complete in Him, who is the Head of all principality and power,” (Colossians 2:10). He also says, “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ” (Colossians 2:8).
So it’s an indictment of the entire world system; that there is a coherent, systemic rejection of the Word of God, and that follows because we are all fallen beings; it’s not saying that individual people are worse than any other people; it’s just saying that culturally we are a fallen creation and so therefore, it’s going to be reflected.
What we said in the second session was that if you start with the great events of the Bible, and this is the framework approach that I’ve used for years, particularly with college students, you have to realize the Bible is a coherent conversation.
I made the point in the last two sessions that when you hold the Bible up as a book, you mentally have to realize you’re not holding a book—you’re holding 66 books; you’re holding a library. Not only are you holding a library, but you’re holding a set of writings by people from various levels in society; from a shepherd; from statesmen; from kings; from people who faced different circumstances; from depression; suffering; death; exultation; you’re reading the writings of people who were priests; so it’s a diverse set of authors for those 66 books and a diverse set of circumstances.
That’s why this book that we hold is a library throughout the whole diversity of life, throughout all different kinds of social positions. That’s why the Bible is so terribly important to us. It’s not just a book written by one person; it’s the Holy Spirit working down through thousands of years in different situations; and the miracle of the Bible is, and there’s nowhere else in world history, there is no other comparison to the Bible, nowhere in world history have you ever seen 66 books, written over 2,000 years, that were coherent; by different people, different situations, and yet the message is all coherent; and that coherence is the evidence that it was Divinely inspired; that God’s conversation with man is coherent because He is a coherent thinker.
Then we said that because of that, and because when we deal with creation, immediately there is tension in the souls of all fallen beings because when we hear the fact that God has spoken and He has told us, “I created you; I created the cosmos; I created all of this;” when we hear that there is an obligation, and all of us have to some degree, a God-consciousness, and that becomes, if we are out of tune with Him, that becomes a threat, because when we hear of creation and our Creator, that puts us in a position of ultimate responsibility; we’re ultimately responsible to Him, and this is too much for us; and we found out, or we will today with Adam and Eve, that once they were fallen, they did not welcome the Word of God; they hid from it.
In our culture, we have to understand how our culture hides from the threat of being held ultimately responsible to the Creator, and we said we generate fictional natural histories; histories of nature that replace the history God has told us about.
We have this use of deep time and we went through that in the second session; not only a fictionalized history of nature and man, but a fictionalized, and this is more important in our culture for the last couple of decades, a fictionalized depiction of our, as men and women, our relationship to the environment around us, and so we had to deal with that.
We have a fictionalized natural history; we have a fictionalized relationship with man, and the net result of all this is it pushes away the consciousness of the attributes of God. So we use deep time as a substitute for His eternality; we use all-powerful nature as a substitute for His omnipotence; we use our own conjectures as a substitute for His omniscience, and so forth.
Last night we had to end because I was running over in time and I was discussing the issue of the environmental movement, the environmentalist movement, and I did not get to the last element that I wanted to cover so I’m going to start with this slide from last night, slide number 20. The Europeans are more candid than Americans when it comes to the real thrust of the environmental movement.
In the lobby there is a paper that I did published by the Cornwall Alliance, www.cornwallalliance.org, this is a large evangelical network of scientists, theologians, and pastors who are very concerned about the green lobby’s attempt to control the evangelical vote; evangelicals constitute 29–30% of the vote in this country; we are a target for the green movement to change our thinking about the environment and to deny the message of Genesis 1 and 2.
Part of that is the fact that there are multiple sources, multiple things going on, and the paper goes into all the details; it gives you the documentation, which I won’t take time to do now, but I want to show you a quote [slide 20]; this is a quote by the fellow who is one of the executors of the United Nations International Panel on Climate Change (UN IPCC). The propaganda is that the present warming of climate, nobody is denying the climate’s warming; it’s been warming for the last 150 years. The question is not the warming; the question is what is causing the warming. The argument the green movement is making is that CO2 is the cause of the warming. The problem with that argument is, and it’s very simple to understand, is the climate warmed before in the Middle Ages before they were CO2 emissions.
The question then is, if the climate warmed before, not due to CO2, how do we know that the present CO2 is the cause? What about those other causes, are they not functioning? The models that they’re using to make public policy assume that CO2 is the lone variable; it’s not the lone variable, there are other unknown variables going on, there had to have been because the climate has always been changing. The climate change today is no different from the climate changes of the past and we just have to get used to that.
Well the UN IPCC is the group internationally that is trying to change environmental policies; they’re the ones that destroyed West Virginia’s economy by destroying the coal mining industry, throwing thousands of families out of work, so this is what’s going on. They are the people who shut down the coal-driven generators in the UK, so last winter we had 30,000–40,000 people in the United Kingdom die because they couldn’t afford the high fuel prices.
These are some of the things that we’re pointing out: they’re talking about we are the ones unethical because we’re not considering the world; they are the ones that are destroying people’s lives.
So here is the truth from this guy in a candid moment; here’s what he said, now just look at this, “One must say clearly that we redistribute de facto the world’s wealth by climate policy ... One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy. This has almost nothing to do with environmental policy anymore.”
This is not some right-wing guy; this is not somebody on Fox News; this is somebody who is controlling the large-scale work in the United Nations; what is he saying? He’s saying this is about wealth redistribution; this is the dream of global socialism. So that’s the political motive going on here, let’s not be naïve and think it’s all about climate change. They’re using climate change for their political goals; that’s the name of the game.
What we want to do now is move to the next great event in the Bible and so let’s turn to Genesis 3. In Genesis 3 we have the Fall; we want to discuss quickly two events in the Bible: one event is the Fall; the other event is the Flood. We’re moving in this conference very rapidly through the Scriptures because you are a well-taught congregation, you’ve been through these texts many times, so we’re going to concentrate more on connecting the text with what’s going on in the outside world.
In Genesis 3:1 we have Satan saying, “Has God said you shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” Now that’s a challenge, and Adam and Eve faced this puzzle. Here’s the puzzle: on the one hand they have a sentence from God that says don’t eat of this tree of the knowledge of good and evil lest you die; that’s God speaking.
We have Satan saying go ahead and eat of it, you will not die. Now they’re faced with two sentences, and you do not have to be a profound thinker to realize these are antithetical; it’s either one or the other; either you eat of the tree and you die or you eat of the tree and you do not die; that’s the test.
Adam and Eve decided they would use the modern idea of doing an experiment to eat of the tree and see whether or not we live or die; that’s putting it to a test. But consider what they’ve done; consider what they’ve just done. We had two statements here did we not? God said something and Satan said the opposite. Are these two authorities equal? They operated as though both authorities were equal and so that’s why they did the experiment. They don’t know for sure whether when they eat the tree they’re going to die or they’re not going to die.
They have two opposite propositions; but the point is that the proposition that when you eat of the tree you’re going to die is God speaking and the other one is a creature speaking. See how the Creator/creature distinction comes up here? It affects your reasoning process; you have to accord the first proposition with higher authority than you accord the second proposition because one comes from the Creator and one comes from the creature, but they didn’t want to do that; they believed in equality; that the Creator is equal to His creation, and so they thus deny Genesis 1:1 in this very process.
Verse 7 of chapter 3: after they did this there were profound consequences; choices in God’s world have consequences, and how each one of us as believers, we learn this over and over, every time we make bad decisions we get bad consequences.
This is the problem parents have with kids; you want to protect your children; you want to protect them from bad consequences, but the problem is if you keep insulating them from the consequences of decisions, they never learn. Because as we all know, we learn a lot better by making bad decisions, and we learn more from our bad decisions, often, than we learn from our good decisions.
But the point is in God’s world, every choice has consequences; He has determined the consequences because He is the one who designed our life; He is the One that designed the world; so He’s the One that controls the consequences. We have choice, yes we do, but we don’t have a way of changing the consequences He ordains; the certain choices.
That’s why the Gospel is a choice; we choose to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation or we choose not to, and the consequences are Heaven and Hell. People don’t want to talk about Hell and Heaven, but those are the consequences; those are consequences of choices.
They knew they were naked and they sewed fig leaves together. There’s the first consequence: shame; and they made coverings and they heard the sound of the Lord walking in the garden and they came up and they shook His hand … What did they do? They fled and tried to hide.
Now isn’t this interesting, how do you hide from an omnipresent Being? See the point? Their theology was changed, wasn’t it? If they are really thinking they can hide from God, they’ve changed their theology of who God is. See how quickly this happens? The theology is changed as a consequence of bad choices and it’s always been this way.
They hid themselves in the presence of God among the trees of the Garden; so now we have, on the one hand, we have shame; psychological damage done. On the other hand, we have guilt; for the first time they feel guilt, and this is true for the rest of history; every fallen being, including ourselves, experience the sense of shame and the sense of guilt; we all do, and this is why as the Lord speaks to us, we come to the gospel for relief; relief from the shame, relief from the guilt.
Then verse 14; so we’ve looked at verses 7 and 8; what are the consequences there? The psychology of man; those are profound changes in the heart of people. Now we come in verses 14–17 for profound changes in the environment, in our physical environment.
So this is, again, we have to pick up and be sensitive to these declarations in the Word of God, if we are to understand where we are in our culture as Christians. [Paraphrased] “Cursed more than every beast of the field, I will multiply your sorrow and your conception.”
He curses the serpent so there is an anatomical change zoologically. [Paraphrased] “I will multiply your sorrow and your conception, in pain you shall bring forth children; your desire to control your husband but he shall rule over you;” so there’s the change in human anatomy; the change in the dynamics of the family; marriage.
Then He says, [paraphrased] “Cursed is the ground for your sake and in toil you will eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; you’ll eat the herb of the field in the sweat of your face;” there’s a change in the physical environment, botanically.
Let’s think about this: the consequences were damage, psychologically; the consequences were damage, botanically to the plant life; the damages were true, zoologically to animal life; and the consequences were to change human anatomy.
Then in chapter 3, verse 20 we go on the gospel; Adam called his wife Eve because she was the mother of all living. That shows you that he trusted in what was known of Christ at the time; that his wife would be the source of life, not him. The woman is elevated; so don’t buy into this stuff you get in some liberal arts university course about the Bible being patriarchal; anti-feminine; excuse me, in chapter 3 it points out the woman is the source of life in history; that is a high job and no man can do this; it’s only the woman.
Adam called his wife Eve because she was the mother of all living. For Adam and for his wife, now we’ve got something else that happens, here’s another consequence, watch the text. “And for Adam and his wife the Lord made tunics of skin and clothed them.” What did God have to have done to make skin for them? He had to kill the first animal; so now we have the animal rights issue, don’t we?
Here’s the first destruction of a living creature, for what? For man’s salvation; it wasn’t destruction of Adam and Eve for the animal, it was the destruction of the animal for Adam and Eve.
Let’s understand the relationship between man and the environment. “So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the Garden of Eden Cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way the tree of life” (Genesis 3:24). So not only do we have the physical death of an innocent animal to sacrifice for man’s sin, but now we have an exclusion of the entire human race from the physical presence of God. This is not restored until the Shekinah Glory comes to the tabernacle in the Old Testament, and even when the Shekinah Glory comes to the tabernacle, the high priest can only go in once a year and no one else.
These are what we call the sacred spaces; God devotes, and even though He’s omnipresent, He has what He calls sacred spaces, where He physically comes to this planet, but because He is holy there are only certain people allowed into that physical space.
I’ll give you an example: Mount Sinai was a physical space; when God called Moses up to the mount, what did He tell Moses to do before coming up here? Take off your shoes; this is My sacred ground.
When the disciples in the New Testament were up on a mountain and they saw Jesus Christ transfigured, that little place in the mountain became a sacred space, so much so that Peter said let’s build the temple here to commemorate this. We would laugh at Peter and yeah there’s a humor in this, but the point was he was responding to the fact there was something sacred about that place and he wanted to commemorate it.
Of course, the real sacred space is Heaven, and again as the cherubim restricted people from God’s sacred space in the Garden, so Heaven is also restricted to those who trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. Why? Is it some exclusivistic religion that’s bigoted and intolerant? No, that’s just the natural relationship of a holy, righteous God; God isn’t being intolerant. He’s just being God and He’s a holy God and we can’t come into His presence without an atonement for our sin and the righteousness of Jesus credited to our account; that’s the Gospel.
That’s some of the damage done, but let’s go to Genesis 4:5. Now we have more damage, now we have more consequences that come out of this and in verses 5 through 7, we have the first psychological counseling case. It’s interesting to see how God counsels a person in deep depression. What kind of approach does He use for this person in depression?
Cain: “Cain was very angry and his countenance fell.” That’s a Hebrew idiom for depression—his face fell. As you know, when somebody’s depressed you can tell by their face. So Cain was angry and he was depressed.
There’s another interesting thing. How often is depression really a manifestation of an inner anger at something; anger at something that I can’t change therefore, I get depressed? So anger and depression tend to be linked.
Cain was very angry; he was depressed; so the Lord said to Cain, now here’s the first counseling of a fallen being that we have record of: “Why are you angry?” You notice God starts the counseling with a question. Why does God start the conversation with a question? He did that to Adam and Eve—“Where are you?” Because when someone asks you or asks me a question, what does that force us to do? To think; to respond.
Think of a tennis court, and a game that the young people are playing out there; the ball goes in your area and you have to respond to it; so that’s what God does with a question. He doesn’t come preaching. He comes questioning. So He says to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why are you depressed?” See, He sees the manifestation—the anger and the depression—so God asks why. The fact that God is asking him why suggests that deep down Cain knows darn well why he’s angry and mad and depressed.
Then God gives him a piece of advice. This is so important because it’s true for all of us. If you do well; e.g., if you do what I ask you to do, will you not be accepted? It starts with the gospel; and in sanctification after we become Christians, it’s the same thing: “If you do what I ask you to do, you will be accepted by Me.” There’s no need to be depressed.
And if you do not do well, and here’s the warning: “If you continue to make bad choices, if you continue to reject My Word, My will for you; I’ll tell you what’s going to happen; sin lies at the door and its desire is to control you, you’re going to have to rule over it.”
That’s the idea that there are spiritual dark powers that take advantage of us when we disobey the Lord. The idea here in the Hebrew is it’s a metaphor of a crouching animal at the door. And what He’s saying to Cain is, “Take care of it son; get right with Me, because if you don’t get right with Me, you’re going to have more trouble because sin lies at the door; a powerful force to take over your soul, and you don’t want that because that makes it worse. You have the original problem but now you’ve compounded it with more sin; now you’re going to have even a harder time overcoming this.”
This is why the man that led me to the Lord always cautioned us guys in the dormitories, “Young men, just understand something: keep short accounts with God.” I’ll never forget that advice because if we don’t keep short accounts and we don’t take care of it, we dig a hole for ourselves and then it’s harder to get out of the hole. So this is the damage that’s done.
Now we go beyond the Fall; we go 1,600 years to the Flood. Genesis 6:5, “The Lord saw the wickedness of man great in the earth.” This is the first civilization. The first civilization over a millennium, almost 2 millennia, was from Adam to Noah. During that time when we don’t know what the earth looked like, we can guess what the earth looked like. We have very few records of what it was—certainly the terrain of the earth was not like it is today; you had rivers—four of them flowing out from the high place of God’s sacred ground. That’s not true in the geography of the planet today.
We had a different kind of earth structure. If you looked at a map of what the planet looked like from Adam to Noah, it’s not like the map that we have today. You have this earth and you had a civilization. People made babies just like they do here, and so you had a population increase. This is another lesson about God and His righteousness and His justice—don’t dismiss the gospel as some nice little religious story. The gospel gets back to the very nature of God Himself.
Now watch what happens: “The Lord saw the wickedness of man great in the earth,” and look at the indictment in verse 5, “… every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” You can’t get more statements of the depravity; this beats Paul; this beats anything Paul would say. “And the Lord was sorry that He made man on the earth, and He was grieved in his heart. So the Lord said I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast.” Notice, both man and the environment. “… man and beast, creeping things, birds of the air; for I am sorry I have made them.”
At this point we have what it looks like when grace runs out. Grace isn’t always going to be there; there are places in history where grace stops because God, by definition, doesn’t owe grace. Grace is unmerited, so God doesn’t have to be gracious. At this point God stops His grace. Now what we have is the fearsome exposure of a righteous angry deity who judges; so this is what it looks like without grace.
So we have the destruction of the planet. In Genesis 6:8 we find “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” The grace was extended in a limited fashion to only some people. Understand this because this is a physical picture of what it looks like when God judges, and He’s going to eventually judge again in history. This is just a preview of coming attractions. The only people that found grace against the flood were Noah and his family, why is that? They were the only ones that trusted in the Word of God that they had heard.
Then in verses 18 and 21 He gives the instructions: “I will establish my contract, or covenant, with you, and you will go into the ark.” There’s no excuse for thinking the ark was the little funny cartoon that you see in kids’ books now. You’ve got a full-size ark now that exists in Kentucky that you can go see in the Answers in Genesis (AIG) Museum. You see how big this ark looks. The parking lot outside that ark has room for 4,000 cars; and you start looking and you get the idea of the size of this ark. This ark is shaped like a barge. Do you know why it was a barge? It wasn’t a boat with a sharp bow on it. The reason it was a barge was because all it had to do was float.
We have Noah then [paraphrased] “… you, your sons, your wife, your son’s wives with you, and every living thing of all flesh. You shall bring two of every sort into the ark to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female. You will take for yourself all food that is eaten; you will gather to yourself and it shall be food for you and for them.”
People, when you look at this passage and you think of an ecological disaster, what do we observe in the ark? Let’s think about this for a minute. This is the greatest ecological rescue operation in history. What is going on here is the salvation of the DNA of the entire air-breathing animal kingdom. It was done with the ark. Gail has done her painting in the room there of the ark and today we can see why this ark had such high capacity; just go look at the thing. There’s one in Hong Kong, if you’re Asian, and there’s one in Europe, if you like to go to Europe.
Now we have three arks on the planet Earth so that there’s no excuse that people don’t know what the ark looks like. The Bible gives the dimensions. The Bible gives you the whole thing. There was never a vessel, a naval vessel or boat built that was bigger than the ark prior to 1860 or 1850. It shows you for many thousands of years the human race never built a boat that big again. How did Noah do it? I wonder if he had a band saw and power tools. How did he cut the lumber for this thing? I mean it’s an enormous structure, but whatever, in terms of today, what you’re seeing in Genesis 6 is an ecological rescue operation of unprecedented dimensions.
The three results we said of rejection; what we’re going to say now is reaction to this story; in reaction to the story we’re going to look at three distortions that go on in our culture. Two of those distortions we already have covered: a fictional narration of natural history and a fictional narration of man’s relationship to the environment.
Those two fictions deepen with the Flood; so we have now the false view of earth history, and what we now have added to that fiction is the idea prevalent throughout, that the physical universe around us is normal. But if you read the Scriptures; we just got through reading Genesis 3. What did you notice about the physical environment? Is it normal or is it cursed? It’s cursed.
So in the biblical view of the environment, we do not live in a normal environment. We live in a cursed environment; an environment in which there is something we call natural evil, just as we have human evil. There are storms, there are tornadoes, there are earthquakes. Those are not normal events. Those are events as a result of God’s cursing the environment.
Well, why did God curse the environment? Because you guys blew it! So this is the consequence that we live with. But we don’t want to admit that that’s a consequence, so we just say, “Oh well, that’s just normal; normal life.” No it isn’t normal life, not if you think scripturally.
Then we come to the relationship between man and nature. You don’t need to turn here, but let me read for you Romans 8 to show you the New Testament is in coherent, logical connection with this.
Paul writes in Romans 8:20–22, “For the creation was subject to futility, not willingly, but because of him who has subjected in hope, because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs until now.”
Does that sound like nature is normal? See, the Bible gives you a completely different view and you’re not going to get it in your secular education courses. The Bible says that the nature has been changed as a result of sin, not as a result of dropping Coke bottles off the side of the road. Nature has been changed because of a sinful set of choices by man. We now have the cursing and it comes into the Bible and so forth.
We want to go now to a slide [slide 21] and we’re looking at the trends again and we’re looking at the fact that we have these cultural ideas that have been prevalent for hundreds of years. It’s not like there’s something new here. We have the idea that the environment has ideas that are suppressing God’s attributes. Today we’re involved in this romanticism that started in the 1800s. We already covered that in the second lecture.
[Slide 22] We have the idea of existentialism in the early 1900s where it was self alone; the existential and postmodern ideas—the social group alone. So now it’s the social group that is the source of identity.
Here’s what’s happening though [slide 23]: if nature is all there is, we obstruct those attributes of God. If we have deep time here as a substitute for God’s eternality, we have an impersonal universe substituting for His omnipresence. We have all-powerful nature substituting for His omnipotence. We have fatalism and hyper-regulatory state substituting for His sovereignty. And we have a sentimental deity and total dependency upon other people’s love for His love.
This is the damage these ideas do to us spiritually and we have to understand that, and that’s why Paul asked for our minds to be transformed by the renewing of the Word of God. We saw this slide [slide 24], the Creator/creature distinction; and this is the idea of the fact that there’s a basic choice involved, either the Creator/creature distinction and what follows from it, or the denial of the Creator/creature distinction and what follows from that
We have a set of quotes that I want to show you that tell you why today the gospel and the Bible are very much resented by the environmental movement. This is slide 25: Here’s Ingrid Newkirk, President of PETA; now before you think about anything, what did we read in Genesis 3 that happened to animals? They were sacrificed. This cuts right across the idea here; notice what she says, “A rat is a pig is a dog is a boy.”
What is she saying? That’s the continuity of being; that there’s no higher valued creatures; we are all equal in value. This is why you can be arrested for destroying some animal on the endangered species list but you can abort a human fetus. Tell me what that tells about value, which is more valuable, an eagle egg or a human fetus? By legislation the eagle egg is more valuable than the human fetus.
These are the consequences; bad ideas have bad consequences. Here’s Peter Singer, Ethics Professor at Princeton. Here’s one of the top ethics professors in our country at the moment, teaching at Princeton University: “The Judeo-Christian religious tradition is our foe.” Singer is very adamant about this. The fact that we respect the value of a human fetus; we respect the idea that a child from the moment of its birth is entitled to full citizenship, responsibilities, and values. He says that a baby isn’t a human until certain times, until he has certain capabilities. So you can kill your baby after it’s born, just like the Romans did, and all the other pagans—dump them in the street, because this is an ethics professor at Princeton University that students are paying thousands of dollars in tuition to learn this stuff from.
Then we have Prince Philip of England, Present Emeritus of the World Wide Fund for Nature. Notice what he says, “In the event I’m reincarnated, I would like to return as a deadly virus, in order to contribute something to solve overpopulation.” What does God say after the Flood to Noah and his family? Be fruitful and multiply. Do you know why these people are saying this? They’re not being funny here. I mean we laugh at it, yes, but they don’t intend this to be a joke.
They are angry that we evangelical Christians are not threatened by supposed overpopulation and we go on having babies. Why do we go on having babies? Because every baby comes with a mouth and a brain; and that means babies will grow up to be adults that can innovate; that can subdue nature; can unleash new natural resources. There are enough resources on this planet until Jesus Christ returns; there is no problem with sustainability. Yes, you have to use wisdom, obviously. Yes, you take care of the environment. But the point is we don’t have some hysterical threat that we’re going to overpopulate the earth.
There are places right now on earth that are overpopulated, not because they have too many people per square mile, but because they have corrupt governments. They have disastrous policies where the poor people in those areas can’t eke out a living to sustain themselves. That’s not a result of overpopulation. It’s a result of corruption that goes on. So let’s put the blame where it belongs.
We have this point from my friend, Mark Musser, who wrote the book Nazi Oaks that we had out there in the library; I’m glad to see that people got them, I’m sorry I only brought five or six copies of it, but Mark worked with the environmentalists. He went to the greenest university in the United States before he got into the Word of God. Mark knows exactly what’s going on here.
[Slide 26] “To the modern environmentalist, the Judeo-Christian worldview is an anti-natural religion. Its emphasis is upon transcendentalism,” that means ethical principles above man, “over holism,” that man in nature; a part of one community like Ralph Waldo Emerson did, “freedom of private property over collective ownership.” What he’s doing here is listing a set of contrasts, so let’s work through these contrasts: Christianity is an anti-natural religion. What does he mean by that? It puts man over nature in value: “It’s emphasis upon transcendentalism over holism, freedom of private property over collective ownership.”
You see I just showed you the UN guy, “shepherding and farm life over wilderness romanticism.” What’s the difference there? What do a shepherd and a farmer do? A shepherd takes care of his animals and he breeds them and he kills them for production. What does a farmer do? He takes care of the land; he changes it.
Alright, contrast: what does wilderness romanticism do? It leaves them alone; it doesn’t touch them. Domesticated animals over wild animals; sacrificial lambs over animal rights; it’s all directly counter to modern environmentalism’s romantic ideals.
I hope that gives you some sort of a fill out of the fictionalized relationship between man made in God’s image, and nature under man. Where the culture today wants this to happen, they want man, even as Prince Philip says, “I want to be a virus to knock off people because man is a cancer on the earth.” Those are their languages. I didn’t create that. That’s the other side saying that.
Now we come to the fictionalized psychology of personal identity that we want to go to, this is another thing that came out of the same thing, this idea that the social group makes my identity.
We started in the first series quoting from the University of Massachusetts; in the Spring, one of Ravi Zacharias’ workers was talking to students and he said that today the students aren’t even asking some of the great apologetic questions about the origin of evil; about the reliability of the biblical text. They’re interested in surviving as people trying to create their own identities.
See, if you’re cut off from the Word of God, you have no source to define who you are. You have to sit there in the power of your own finite, fallen soul to create your identity and this is creating all kinds of problems in our society. So we have this kind of thing happening. We are, as far as the Word of God is concerned, specially created. We are spirit and matter. We have been created in the image of God.
From the moment of creation, the image of God is distributed to men and women. This sexually distinct creation is far more pronounced than our society is willing to take it. When God divided this, God divided us in our souls as well as our bodies. The male-femaleness isn’t like it is in animals; the male-femaleness in human beings goes into the very soul structure. Women think differently than men. Men think differently than women. That is deliberate.
So you come together as one flesh to create an identity, and that’s how you help children. They have to have a mama and they have to have a daddy. Children come wired for that, and to deprive a child from exposure to both a male and a female, is child abuse. It results in damage that’s documented.
Studies have been done in this: kids raised, and God bless the single moms that struggle with this problem of trying to have at least some man, or some man in the youth group, minister to their children, so the child is exposed to both the way a woman thinks and the way a man thinks.
God Himself has a feminine side. Let me give you three quotes from the Bible that show that God has a feminine side to Him—that what we see as femininity is actually rooted in the very character of God. The first verse is Isaiah 49:15; here’s what Isaiah 49:15 says: “Can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely, they may forget, but I will not forget you.”
In that case, God is manifesting Himself as a super-mother; with a mother’s heart. That is part of God’s character so that when He spread out His image for men and women, He wasn’t casually discarding the woman as some sort of an accessory to the man. The woman’s nature expresses part of who God is.
Here’s a second verse to study: Isaiah 66:13: “As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you.” The comforting nature of God is, we would say, is femininity. There’s a feminineness in this.
Now in Matthew 23:37, another verse, the third one. This one is in the New Testament. Matthew 23:37: “O Jerusalem,” Jesus says, “how often I wanted to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wing.” Is that not an expression of a woman’s love; a mother’s love? Of course it is.
Here we have the sexual difference rooted in the very character of God Himself. How do we get our identity? We first listen to the Word of God. It says we are a boy or we are a girl, and we don’t have to apologize to anyone for that. That is part of God’s design and that defines my existence.
Psalm 139:16; here’s another verse to understand: Psalm 139:16 says, “Your eyes God, saw my substance, yet being unformed.” God, in Psalm 139, tells all of us that when we were in the womb of our mothers, when we were being constructed inside our mother, when that was going on, God says, “My eyes saw you.” And in God’s book, all my days were written fashioned for me when yet there was none of them.
Psalm 139 is a delightful psalm. That is a psalm that should be sung. That’s the answer to people craving to know, “Who am I?” Psalm 139 is God telling us who we are. The confusion is so sad, because of psychologists and the false view of our identity. They think they know more about us and human nature than God does.
What does Jeremiah 17:9 say to every psychologist and psychiatrist? Jeremiah 17:9 says “the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked: who can know it?” That is the declaration of the unconscious mind thousands and thousands of years before Sigmund Freud; which now I want to move onto because we want to see the fact that the distortion today has come about over who we are—whether a male or a boy—whether gender differs from anatomy. That’s the big fight today.
We want to go back to the quote that I started the series with [slide 28]: “Our culture,” this is the college worker with college young people at the University of Massachusetts just a few months ago; this is the guy that was talking to students, realizing these kids are hurting. They’re hurting because they’re trying to establish their own identity without the framework. They have no Psalm 139. They have it but they don’t listen to it. They don’t have those verses that tell of God’s nature. They don’t have any of those tools to identify themselves, and so our culture has replaced self-discovery with self-construction.
“Everybody is expected to create and manage his or her own identity. Personal achievement thus becomes the main means of justifying one’s existence. The pressure that this mindset creates is devastating [on young people]. Most students … are desperate to find a purpose beyond their own meager hopes and wishes.”
Do you know what that is? That’s the God-shaped vacuum in the heart that God has placed there. You can try to create your own identity all you want to and I’m telling you you’re not going to fit the God-shaped vacuum in your heart. The only thing that changes the God-shaped vacuum, that satisfies that inner craving, is God speaking to us in his Word.
It might help some of you that are struggling with that. If you are, do not think of the Bible and say, “It says,” a third person pronoun. Why not? When you have a verse in the Scripture say, “He says,” and personalize it, because the Bible is His Word. It’s not just a literature piece by a human being. So instead of saying it says, let’s say, He says.
One of the gifts to the body of Christ today is Rosaria Butterfield. She is a lady who was a leading lesbian activist, who was led to the Lord through a wonderfully skilled pastor. She writes as a PhD literature professor—a former advisor to five gay groups at Syracuse University campus. She has two books out. One is called The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert, and the other, most recent book is Openness Unhindered. Here’s what she says: in her research as a PhD literature professor, she’s gone back to try to figure out where did we get so screwed up. What is going on today?
Here’s what she found [slide 29]: Sigmund Freud; and here’s what she writes about Freud. Notice the dates. See how far back this goes? It’s just taken a couple of generations to bubble up to the surface. Sigmund Freud is one of the founders of psychiatry in the United States. “The concept of sexual orientation,” that’s one of the new buzzwords, sexual orientation or sexual attraction, “The concept of sexual orientation was first used by Freud, and its effect, if not intent, was to radically resituate sexuality from its biblical/creational context to something completely new: the foundational drive that determines and defines human identity …
“By defining humanity according to sexual desires and segregating it according to its gendered object, Freud was—intentionally or not—suppressing the biblical category of being made in God’s image, male and female, and replacing it with the psychoanalytic category of sexual identity.”
You have to read her book to get all the documentation, but if you’re struggling with this, let me recommend that, and read it slowly, and read it carefully. This woman has struggled in her own personal life for years; coming out of a lesbian environment, and she nails it. She’s very clear in her writing, and she is a godly woman. In fact, you can see on YouTube where she interviews college students, and some of them get very angry; some of the gay students get very angry at Dr. Butterfield because she represents the refutation of their whole position.
I give you that reference because this gives you an idea of the fact that if we just paid attention to the Bible, we wouldn’t have an identity crisis right now. We would have adequate tools in the Word of God. God made us. God tells us what our identity is. After we become Christians, we have a new identity in Christ.
I think in your church library you have Chafer’s Systematic Theology. In Chafer’s Systematic Theology he gives us thirty-three blessings of grace that happen to us at the moment of salvation: riches of His grace. This is our identity.
Culminating just a few weeks ago, we have an August 2016 report by two researchers at Johns Hopkins University doing a study entitled: “Sexuality and Gender Findings from the Biological, Psychological, and Social Sciences”. They say this, “The belief that gender identity is an innate fixed human property, independent of biological,” in other words, gender is different from anatomy, “so that a person might be called a man trapped in a woman’s body or a woman trapped in a man’s body, is not supported by any scientific evidence.” And they went through hundreds of studies in the areas of psychology, biology, and social sciences.
So, we conclude this session by pointing out, what have we faced? We faced conformity to our culture—twisted thinking that affects our decision making—or we go back to the Word of God. The mold that tries to impress itself upon us as deep time; low-power processes; impersonal cosmos; adaptation at large; man, a product and servant of nature; and that’s slides 30 and 31; good and evil are normal, the Bible is bad for nature; identity is correctly inferred from feelings.
The choice is whether we believe that, or whether we believe the Bible. If we believe that, you see what it does spiritually; it weakens our sense of God’s attributes. It doesn’t weaken the attributes—they’re not going to touch God. But it weakens our perception. And when we pray, when we think, when we struggle with problems in our life, we need to have an awareness of who God is, His identity.
But you see His identity gets destroyed. It gets distorted. It gets perverted when we look at what’s going on here. And the same thing here:
So that’s our third session and let’s looks to the Lord because our time is up.
“Father we thank You. We thank You for the fact that You’ve given us adequate information. You’ve spoken to us over and over again. There’s no need to invent our own identities—whether it’s professional identity, or whether it’s our gender identity or whatever. There are adequate things in Your Word, adequate truths in Your Word. You’ve made it so clear to us.
Help us, and particularly those of us who are struggling with that, those who are, particularly in a young situation, who are surrounded by a secular education, that quietly raises these questions in the minds of first, second, and third graders about their gender, when they shouldn’t even be worried about their gender.
We pray for wisdom on the part of the parents that have to sit there and listen to this stuff from their kids and deal with it. Give us wisdom Father; for we ask it in our Savior’s name, Amen.”