Truth, Foundation Stones, and a Fixed Point of Reference- Part 2

December 17, 2007 by · Leave a Comment 

We’re looking at Acts 17… Paul is in Athens and he is describing God to a bunch on people who love ideas, debate, thought, and philosophy. To fully appreciate some of the things Paul says, we need to review a couple of thoughts from part 1…

We’re really thinking about the Christian’s fixed point of reference. And for something to be a fixed point of reference, these two things must be true about it:

#1) It has to be separate from you

#2) It can’t move

With a fixed point of reference we can begin to establish a Christian worldview. This is what Paul is doing in Athens. He is presenting foundational principles of the Christian faith—principles that are true for us today.

So far we’ve seen the first two:

1)    God EXISTS and is a PERSON

2)    God is the ORIGIN of all things—he made everything which means he made… us 

But now it gets sticky… Even if you want to agree that God EXISTS and is the source or ORIGEN of all things, here’s where it gets sticky…

Verse 24… 24 “The God who made the world and everything in it…”— here it comes— “is the…”— Ooo—  “is the…”— Whoa— “is the Lord”— LORD— “of heaven and earth…”

That’s one thing that rubs people the wrong way. Whenever you present an authority higher than he is. Paul comes along and says this God who EXISTS and is the ORIGIN of all things is the LORD over all things…

What does that mean?”… It means that God is in charge; it means that what he says, goes; it means that what he says is right—is right; and what he says is wrong—is wrong; it means that he determines what is good and what is bad; it means that we have an ultimate moral standard by which we can measure right and wrong, true and false, good and evil. And we get it from God.

Everybody has an idea about right and wrong—but where does it come from? Paul says it comes from God who CREATED all things and is LORD of all things. He says that God is the MORAL AUTHORITY.

Think about it this way: Without God’s standard how do we understand “good”— how do you measure that? Even someone who doesn’t believe in God— he’ll say, “I’ve always tried to be a good person.” But how do you measure good if there’s no standard by which you can measure “good”? Paul presents this idea that there is a MORAL STANDARD in our universe transcendent and above all of us. And by that fixed moral standard we can determine the right way to live.

Now, again, these are like foundation stones:

#1— God EXISTS and is PERSONAL

#2— God is the ORIGIN of all things

#3— God is the LORD of all things

Now, it’s easy at this point to say, “Yeah, I agree with that— I believe all that!” But I’m trying to point out to you that it is that basic foundational assumption about reality that guides the way you think. It guides the way you work at your job. It definitely guides the way you raise your children.

There’s a lot of kids out there and the question’s going to come up whenever some kind of rule or authority or constraint or moral standard is presented to them— the question is always going to come up: “Oh yeah, who says?!?” You better have an answer… And through the generations we’ve kinda missed that a little. Used to be that a family was raised on godly principles and the kids would see that even mom and dad were subject to a higher authority. Course after a while the kid grows up and he has kids of his own and after a while he says, “You should do whatever I tell ya and you should be good because that’s how I was raised.” So now he’s kinda appealing to some moral value system that’s been torn loose from its moorings… Then those kids grow up and they say to their kids, “Son/daughter, you should do what I tell ya.”… And the kid says, “Oh yeah, who says?”… And they say, “I say… And you have to do what I tell ya.”… And they say, “Well, that’s your truth, I have my own reality.”

It’s real nice if you can say, “Son/daughter, God has placed me in authority over you to raise you according to his standards of moral behavior. And I want to tell you something. The authority chain doesn’t stop here. I have to answer to him as well for how I raise you. So the ultimate authority in the universe has passed that authority down to me— he’s passed his laws and his precepts and his principles down to me— and I have to pass them down to you because you and I are both accountable to him… Now, take out the garbage.”

Let’s move on… We’ve got 3 foundation stones. Let’s move onto the next one… 

Okay… God EXISTS and he’s PERSONAL. God is the ORIGIN of all things—He made the world and everything in it. God is the LORD of heaven and earth—He’s our MORAL AUTHORITY.

And now look at this… Acts 17:24-25 [He] does not live in temples built by hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else.

This God who EXISTS… who is the ORIGIN of all things… who is the LORD or MORAL AUTHORITY over all things… This God is SELF-EXISTENT and SELF-DEFINING. And that’s our fourth foundation stone:

#4—God is SELF-EXISTENT and SELF-DEFINING

In other words, he’s up there, because of himself. He is the great “I AM THAT I AM.” Paul is trying to point this out to these Greeks. See, these Greeks—like a lot of people today—have a way of working from the ground up. “We’re going to create our own God today…” So, they go out and get a big old hunk of rock. They bring it in with a forklift or something. They set it there. And then they decide, “Well, what kind of God do we want?” And someone says, “I want a god that’s real fierce”… so they put big muscles on him. And someone else says, “I want a god who can know all things”… so they put eye balls all over him. Then someone says, “I want a god who is virile and fertile and all that”… so they put sexual organs all over him. Then they stand it up and bow down and worship it and everything.

I got a question for ya… Between the two of them, who created whom?

They created their god.

What does that mean?— Well, who’s really god between the two of them?— They are. So what are they really worshipping?— They are worshipping themselves or a projection of their own personality.

Paul is pointing out that this God— who I serve— doesn’t need you to form him. He doesn’t need you to carve him out and stand him up and wipe the bird poop off every once in a while and take care of him. This God exists in and of himself and he is self-defining and if he wasn’t he wouldn’t be God.

Frank Peretti was asked this question by a lady…“Tell me… What is your definition of God?”

Here’s how Peretti responded:“I’m thinking, oh man… I gotta get all biblical here; I gotta give her the truth; I gotta get all theological… I gotta give her the Word of Life… Let’s see… God is a spirit who fills heaven and earth… He’s a lawgiver, he’s a judge, he’s a savior, he’s the creator… I’m trying to get all these definitions… But I missed the whole point. Sometimes you do that. You kinda respond just to the question, but there’s an issue behind it that you need to address first. And this is how I should have answered her. This is the Bigger answer: Lady, listen to me: You don’t define God, and I don’t define God… it is not up to man to define God… God is not a matter of opinion. He is the great ‘I AM THAT I AM’ he’s not, ‘I AM… what do you want me to be?’”

Here’s the point: God doesn’t ask you for your opinion about him and then change himself all around to match what you believe. He’s not here to please you. He is here to be pleased and worshipped by you because he is worthy of it. And if you want to know God, you have to know him as he is. Your opinion of him don’t amount to diddle squat!

But that’s so important because if that were no so… he wouldn’t be God. And I want to tell you something else very important… If God were not SELF-EXISTENT and SELF-DEFINING he would not serve as a fixed point of reference. Remember, a fixed point of reference has to be separate from you and it can’t move. If God were not SELF-EXISTENT and SELF-DEFINING he would be changing as often as you do… It’s kinda like somebody said: “If you’re looking for truth, don’t search within yourself; you’re the one who’s confused.”

God is SELF-EXISTENT and he is SELF-DEFINING and he doesn’t need you to define him to figure out what he is…  

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