IS: IT IS WHAT IT IS
Is the Bible the Answer to Life Change?
October 26, 2008
Is the Bible the answer to life change? We live in a broken place when it comes to our fathers. In the beginning God the Father created a perfect world, Adam fell into a trap and the relationship with God the Father went into a cataclysmic revolt and became broken. Ever since the Fall, we all desire to grow up with a father who is caring, strong, tender and tough. Throughout Scripture we see God the Creator, God the Father calling out to us wanting to be our Father. God’s Word is the grand story. It is the narrative of all narratives. It is the story that encompasses all of the smaller stories in your life and in my life. God the Father has revealed Himself through His story to us in His Son, and the Son has shown us the Father heart of God. Join Ben in the final message of this series as he takes a look at the Story through the lens of a Father who is seeking out His children. The Father from the beginning of time has been pursuing us with an unstoppable, unchangeable love…He is the Father we have all been looking for.
For some reason, we live in a time of unprecedented pain, brokenness and disconnect when it comes to the family; especially when it comes to dads and their sons, or dads and their daughters. I think about the comedian, Louis Anderson. He wrote a book called Dear Dad. Basically it contains letters which he wrote to his dad, who is now deceased. Louis grew up in a family of 11 children; his dad was an alcoholic. He had a very, very painful childhood. This book was kind of a sarcastic, funny way of working it out.
One time after one of his comedy bits, a lady came up to Louis Anderson and said, “Louis, I just wanted to tell you how much I love your comedy. I appreciate that you play it clean, that you don’t use dirty humor, and you don’t use the ‘F’ word.” Louis said, “Oh, no, no, no! I did use the ‘F’ word. I used the ‘F’ word several times! You didn’t hear me say Father?” She said, “Oh no, no, no! I didn’t mean that ‘F’ word! I meant…” Louis interrupted her, “No, no, no. Oh, you meant the other ‘F’ word, Family.”
Why do we live in such a broken place when it comes to our fathers? Why is it that most of us desire to grow up with a dad who was there and who cared; a dad who was strong and had both tender and tough love? Instead, we receive the opposite! Absentee dads, alcoholic dads, workaholic dads, and dads who bail! Many times we are left wondering, “Why?”
Perhaps the answer to that question is found in The Book, in God’s Word. We’ve been looking at God’s Word for several weeks now, and we’ve said that it is a blue print. It is an anchor and a compass. God’s Will is found in God’s Word. Last week, we saw that God’s Word is a form of revelation and that it works. I don’t want you to miss this! God’s Word is more than all those things, because God’s Word is also the grand story. It’s the narrative of all narratives. It’s the big story that encompasses all of the smaller stories in your life and in my life.
I didn’t give you notes today because I wanted you to listen to the story. I believe we can listen today and look at the metanarrative, the big picture of Scripture from Genesis all the way to genuine bonded leather, Revelation. We can look at the story through the lens of a Father who is seeking out His children.
In the beginning, of the beginning, of the beginning, there was God the Father living in perfect community with God the Son, and God the Spirit. One in essence; three in Persons. Perfect community, perfect harmony, perfect love, perfect communication, perfect understanding before any universe, any galaxies, and before the blue marble planet earth was ever created. So you have God the Father living in perfect community, living in this harmonious relationship, and He decides to create a world. He decides to create millions of galaxies, and He places inside one special galaxy we call The Milky Way a beautiful little tiny speck, a blue star we call Earth. For some reason, He made earth extra special! He populated earth and put plants, trees, purple mountains majesty, blue sky, sunshine and epic weather in Houston for four days. All these things God placed on this beautiful place called Planet Earth. He made this gorgeous, lush idealistic garden, this paradise that was absolutely perfect! The Father created the world. This is my Father’s world! It was perfect! At the end of His creative acts, the sixth day of Creation; He created your first father, and my first father.
Here’s the story. It’s in Genesis 1:26 and following, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea, and the birds of the air, and over the livestock…” (I love that last word, being a Texan). “Over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’ So God created man and mankind in His own image. In the image of God, He created him, male and female He created them.”
The Father creates this perfect world. He puts our first father, Adam, the father of the human race with Eve. They had this perfect, harmonious relationship. They have a perfect relationship with God. They have a perfect relationship with one another. They are naked, and there’s no shame. They have communication. They know who they are. They know their identity. They know that their work, their life, their meaning has purpose and fulfillment as they listen to God the Father, and as they walk with Him and as He talks with them, and as they follow what He says. God gives them absolute freedom! He says, “You can do whatever you want! You can eat at any restaurant you want except that small one over there. If you eat from that place over there, something disastrous is going to happen.”
Adam, our father, couldn’t take it. It’s like what Oscar Wilde said, “I can resist everything except temptation.” Adam fell into that trap, and he ate the fruit along with Eve. Then something happened there, something that was cosmic and personal. When he did that, this relationship with God the Father, the Maker of everything, and this perfect idealistic situation with nature and mother earth went into a cataclysmic revolt and became broken.
The relationship between Adam and Eve was broken. For the first time they realized they were naked, and they felt shame, guilt, and alienation from one another, and from God the Father. There were results of Adam’s decision to rebel against God and say, “I’m going to do things my way. Maybe that restaurant is not that bad.” The result of Adam’s sin that has been given to us has been cataclysmic. The consequences have been every war, murder, dysfunction, rape, theft, lying and everything we see on the news that makes it the news! All the evil, violence, suffering, innuendos, and the small and big things between us—all of that folks was the result of the Fall. It was the result of our human father, the representative of mankind, Adam, blowing it, and we have inherited that. We’ve inherited his guilt, his shame; we’ve inherited the fall-out of the Fall. It has been passed on from generation, to generation, to generation, and will continue unless someone stops it.
Steve Brown is a great guy who was an atheist for many years. Somehow God revealed Himself to Steve, and Steve came to believe that God was real and that Jesus Christ was real, and that Jesus could bring him back to God. Steve started a relationship with God, and he became this brilliant theologian and apologist. But Steve Brown, who is close to 80 today, is really not known for his theology or his apologetics, though he has written on that. He is known for the guy who talks so much about the freedom, the love, joy, and the grace that we have through knowing God the Father.
If you knew Steve Brown’s story, you would say there was no way that could happen in his life. Steve says, “My grandfather committed suicide. My father was an alcoholic. I had double portions of their stuff, their consequences inside of me. If it were not for the grace and forgiveness of God the Father through Christ; I would have passed on that dysfunction and sickness in my life to the next generation. But by God’s grace, I’ve been able to stop it.”
The impact of the Fall is that everything was broken. We are broken people living in broken places in a broken, yet beautiful world. To quote John Foreman, “It’s a beautiful let down.” It’s the world we live in.
It’s amazing when you look at the Bible, it has close to 1,000 references to fatherhood and that whole concept. The term father is a major archetype in the entire Bible. Yet you can search the Bible and pull out a big, huge magnifying glass, or do a Google search, and you will be hard pressed to find a functional or healthy father in the pages of Scripture! Think about it. David is one of the heroes of our faith, one of the heroes of the Old Testament. He was a man after God’s own heart who wrote most of the Psalms, but look at his family.
You had adultery, multiple wives, murder, incest, and the death of a child. You had all this stuff that followed David around. Look at Noah who was rescued by God in the ark. What happened to Noah when he got out of the ark? He got drunk and naked! Read the Bible!
How about Samson’s dad? I love Samson’s dad, he would actually fit in the year 2008. Samson’s dad was bossed around by Samson. “Dad, I want this! Dad, I want you to get my girl!” “Okay Samson, whatever!” That’s a whole other story.
We have all these bumbling, fumbling, drunken dads in the Bible. It’s just craziness. Yet behind all that, you have this dad, this God the Father speaking from Heaven saying, “I want to be a Father to you.” So what does God do? He calls a guy by the name of Abraham and tells him he’s going to be a father of many nations. God is going to show this nation His forgiveness, His Law, His grace, and His direction. He takes them out of Egypt and brings them into a Promised Land. He gives them His Law. He communicates. He reveals Himself to them and how do these new children and this new family, respond? They respond kind of like we do a little bit today. “That’s great God! We love You!” Then they run and rebel against God! God comes, convicts them and judges them. They go back to God—“We love You, God.” God restores them. They go running back to idols. They go run back to their money. They go run back to their sexual immorality. God convicts them. “Okay God. Forgive…” That’s the whole cycle of God dealing with the children of Israel for centuries and centuries. God continued to send prophets. He continued to send people to speak to them to show them who the Father was and what He is like. At the end of the Old Testament, the 39th Book, the prophet Malachi delivers a Word from God. Then the Father doesn’t speak to His children for 400 years.
What happens between the Old and New Testaments? Silence. Hebrews said God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but for 400 years, and that’s older than this little bitty country we call America, God did not speak. Then out of the blue in the backwoods, some guy gets up, takes his baseball hat and turns it around and says, “Hey, you guys better get ready, because God is going to do something incredible. It’s going to absolutely blow your mind! You better get your life right! I’m trying to straighten the path out, because God is about to do something!” Galatians says it the best. Paul says, “In the fullness of time, God the Father sent His Son.” The infinite, all powerful Creator, God the Father sends the Son into this backwoods place in a province called Judea, in a place called Galilee and Nazareth, and this man, Jesus, is actually God in the flesh. So Jesus reveals the Father, the face of the Father to you and to me! They were waiting and waiting, and they heard about the Father and what He is like. Jesus reveals the Father to us.
I love the conversation Phillip had with Jesus in John 14. They had been with Jesus for a long time, three years, and Jesus was about to die. They had seen Jesus do a lot of things, and they were like, “Man, that’s great! We know that God the Father has done a lot of great things. He parted the Red Sea and did all the miracles and gave Moses these Tablets on Mt. Sinai. Jesus, You’ve done some good things too. We’ve seen You take the Happy Meal and multiply it and feed all kind of people. You’ve walked on the water without a bridge, and You’ve healed the sick and raised the dead. You even raised Lazarus from the dead. We’ve seen you do all those things, Jesus.” But Phillip said, “If you could just do one thing for us. We’ve seen glimpses of Him. Jesus, could You just show us the Father?” Jesus said to Phillip, “Phillip, have I been with you so long? Don’t you know if you’ve seen Me, you’ve seen the Father? I and the Father are One.” Jesus revealed the Father to us.
In Matthew 6, Jesus says “Go to the Father, your Father, this perfect Father with everything you need.” He says, “The Father desires to give you good gifts, and He will.” He says this, this perfect Heavenly Father wants to bring you into His arms and carry you, even if you’ve been off away in the far country, doing your own thing, shaking your teeny little fist in rebellion against God like Adam did eons ago. Even if you’re doing that, if you’ll go back to God, then God the Father will run to you, and He will welcome you home! He will embrace you, and He won’t hold it over your head! Instead, He will throw a party for you! He’ll give you an American Express black card and tell you to max it out and go for it! God wants you to live out the inheritance that He has for you in Christ. Jesus reveals the Father to us.
“Jesus, how should we pray?” “Pray this…” What are His first two words? “Our Father…” Paul goes on to say we can call God the Father: Abba, Father, Daddy, God.
So many times we come to church and hear the word Father. For so many people that has negative connotations; but in allowing the negative connotations, I think in some harsh, grim realities of your past; it allows you to believe and to know subconsciously or intuitively that behind this, there has to be a perfect Father. The shadow proves the sunshine. The craving that we all have had since the beginning of time is for a relationship with this perfect Father; to know His security, His love, to know His acceptance, to know His peace, and to know the direction and the purpose that He has for us as His children.
Jesus, He showed us the Father. I love this about Jesus. He always goes too far! He just pushes it! Have you noticed that? We’re going to look at some of the radical sayings of Jesus. He didn’t go around saying, “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” Jesus said stuff like, “If you want to follow Me, sell everything that you have and follow Me! Have a nice day!” Jesus said, “If you have a problem with lust or with the Internet; pluck out your eye and cut off your hand!” Okay, we’ll look at that in a couple of weeks, but the point of the matter is that Jesus is always pushing it. He’s pushing it calling us to radical commitment, and He pushes us to radical love as well. What did Jesus do? Not only did He reveal the Father, but He revealed the Father heart of God.
Look at I John 4:9-12. It says, “This is how God showed us His love among us: He sent His One and Only Son into the world that we might live through Him.” Man, my life is good when I’m living through Him. Not perfect! Doesn’t mean I don’t have problems and that I don’t experience brokenness and pain, but my life is good when I’m living through Him. God, teaching us.
Here is verse 10. You’ve got to love this, because He says, “This is love.” Show me the love! Here it is, “Not that we loved God…” That person, man, they loved God! Man, that person over there, they’re in the Word! Look at them! They love God. Ben, he loves God. “Not that we love God, but that He loved us!” He is the Father pursuing us, and He sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
Paul takes it to a whole other level in Ephesians 1, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us in the Heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ; for He chose us in Him before the Creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted as sons through Jesus Christ in accordance with His pleasure and will, to the praise of His glorious grace which He has freely given us in the One He loves. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.”
God the Father is not a stingy God! He’s not someone way up there in the distance. He’s not the man way upstairs up there! He’s not the “force be with you.” No! God the Father has revealed Himself to us in His Son, and the Son has shown us the Father heart of God, and He has lavished His love on us! He has given us an inheritance in Christ right now, and in the future that absolutely blows our mind. If we could just tap into a scintilla of it, our lives, and our relationships will be radically transformed!
I John 3:1, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called children of God.” That is what we are. The Father from the beginning of time has been pursuing you with an unstoppable, unchangeable love. He’s the Father that you’ve been looking for.
Dear God, we thank You that You are our Father. God, we thank You that You are so gracious and kind, so tenacious and so powerful that You never let us go; that You pursue us, God! Lord, I know there are some men in here today who need to stop playing games. They need to leave the far country for good and receive You as their Father. They need to see that Your Son can rescue them and can give them a life that they could not have imagined. He can put them on a path that will blow their minds. Lord, I pray for some men here today, some young men who need to stand and come down front and get real with You today.
Lord, I pray for others here who need to do the same thing. They need a relationship with You. They need to know You as a Heavenly Father, not as some vague concept, or some god of nature. They need to know You personally. Lord, today You’ve been speaking to them. May they stand and come down front today.