The first of the Ten Commandments is, "You shall have no other gods before Me" (Exodus 20:3). We are designed. We are worshipping creatures. It is built into us; fish swim, birds fly, people worship.
In the beginning God created "each according to its kind." The human kind is a worshipping kind.
This is who we are: air-breathing, spiritual creatures designed to be holy, designed to be godlike.
No, not godlike in the new age way. We are creatures designed to be in communion, in fellowship, with God. We are to be partakers of the divine nature.
And so, at Colossians 1:13-16 Paul writes,
He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.
God our Father has delivered us. Darkness has a power but we are delivered from that power. We can crawl back to it; we can always return to Egypt. But, as God conveyed the Hebrews out of Egypt and delivered them back to His own leadership, so God has conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love.
Jesus is His preferred One--God, come in human flesh--He who made all things.All things were created through Him and for Him. That includes you and me. We are creations, and we were made for a purpose: to live for Him.
It all starts with Jesus. It all ends with Jesus. Being a Christian and being a Seventh-day Adventist means we are not involved in the great controversy in a casual or incidental basis but a personal basis. Song of Solomon 6:3 puts it this way:
I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine.
Jesus designed us as what we are--worshipping creatures. He knows the spiritual and personal element in us intimately.
To need God is not a weakness; it's a feature! It's a special thing; part of our human bragging rights. We are made for Jesus. Top that!
But the world around us is desperate. A few days ago Yakult UK published poll results from 1500 young persons aged 19-26, which showed that 89 percent believe their life is without meaning. Imagine that! Nine out of ten young people in Britain believe that their life is meaningless. Fortyfive percent of those polled felt that reducing financial difficulties was the single most important way they could address their despair.
Meanwhile, other studies show that loneliness is at an epidemic level. Michigan is not Britain but we are all part of the West. Similar factors pertain; how many of us have children or relatives for whom the things I speak are harsh realities? They feel empty, alone, and like their lives have no meaning. In a soulless, materialistic culture they think that--maybe--improved finances would help them feel better.
There are thousands, millions, who need what you and I I pray have--a saving personal connection with Jesus.
Postmodern Brain Salad
We ask ourselves, why do people think this way? Why is the world changing so speedily and strangely? It should be no surprise. Ellen White wrote in 1909 that,
"Great changes are soon to take place in our world, and the final movements will be rapid ones" (Testimonies, vol. 9, p. 11).
People's thinking has changed radically in recent decades. We are in a space called postmodernism. Most of us came to adulthood when people thought that there was nothing that could not be accomplished if only enough blood, sweat, tears, dollars, and science are applied. In the end reason would triumph. Men even travelled to the Moon.
But people no longer trust science. They doubt there even is absolute truth. All that is left is whatever the individual feels is the way things are. Reason is trumped by experience. That is where we are. Even reason doesn't matter. It is what people feel in the moment.
Hard to believe? I understand. So check this one minute video. (Don't be distracted by the issue of MAGA hats or the political back and forth.) Listen to the question of logic and facts and emotion.
She said, "Emotions are the only thing that is real in this world. . . Emotion sis fact. Emotion is real."
This is where many are today.
The theory now is not that we live in a world designed by God but that you and I came into being by chance; that there is no morality but what a group of humans gets together and says is right and wrong; and that even facts are "socially constructed." That is, that reality is what humans decide it is.
In this kind of regime, who is god? There is no personal, moral God; there is no right, no wrong, no righteousness, no sin, no judgment, no final reward, no eternity. There is only the moment, only what is accepted as important and as the preferred thing right now. We are now in a place where reason serves emotion; feeling serves the creature. Experience is ultimate. That is the brain salad where we are and where we are, and if some have their way, where we are going. And our loved ones are growing up in it.
Other Gods Ascendant
So here is the mixture. We are by design, by nature, spiritual, worshipping beings. We are immutably inclined to worship. We live at the end of time. We live when the Christian story, the great controversy, a worldview populated by facts and realities and yes, assertions of moral right and wrong and actual truth, is in competition with what people feel in the moment.
We are now serving Jesus in a space where facts and consistency matter less to people than what they want to feel. It is not that we have passed into a space where there are no gods, but that we are working in a space where there are numerous gods.
We are in a field of dreams where all these gods are in competition for our worship. Whatever fills the moment is supreme and whatever is popular right now is supreme. So we as Christians are working under God's command to win hearts to Jesus but we are competing against other gods.
Which other gods are on the scene right now?
There is Islam. Islam means "submission to God." We all believe in submission to God. But in Islam there is no Savior who dies for you, no atonement, no human freedom. Your part is to hope that you do not offend Allah. If Allah becomes angry with you your fate is grim. You will burn continually. When your skin has burned completely off, Allah gives you a new skin and you burn again. Rinse, lather, repeat, for eternity.
There is pop Christianity. Everything goes. There are few if any behavioral boundaries. In this viewpoint, Christianity means being nice to people and God accepts whatever we want Him to accept. Some versions of this have more, some less boundaries.
And there is the secular vision which has come to mean a godless world of design-your-own reality. We fancy ourselves its gods. We decide right and wrong. Everything is up for grabs. We can adjust everything, from laws to biology. Some even dream of terraforming, turning lifeless worlds into planets that can support human life. In this view human decision uninformed by divine wisdom is ascendant. Laws are made by the hundreds and novel viewpoints imposed over the culture through YouTube, Twitter, and the Supreme Court.
Humans make the poorest of gods.
But now let's put our focus on Jesus. In the field of all these competing dreams, why is Jesus superior? Why are all other dreams nightmare?
Only Jesus Knows You
First of all, only Jesus knows you.
He alone knows your potential, your design, your possibilities, your frailties. He is the Designer of humans. He not only made humanity, He tried humanity on, and damaged humanity at that. Christ took upon Him the infirmities of degenerate humanity. When He healed the sick, Matthew says He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses (Matthew 8:17).
He knows how low you can go but also how high you can go. So the New Testament commands us, "As He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct" (1 Peter 1:15).
You may not see yourself as morally valuable but He sees you as morally valuable. We do not know our own hearts. Jesus knows what is in man. And, knowing what you've been, Jesus still wants you.
All other understandings of God and man utterly fail to understand how damaged man is and how powerful God is. He is ready to save.
Only Jesus Makes Atonement for You
Again, only Jesus makes atonement for you. First John 2:2 says, "He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but for the whole world." Jesus didn't just come for Jews or Arabs or one color or another of man; He is the satisfaction and sacrifice for all men. He is a Savior for every man. There is no atonement in Islam, just Allah's favor or displeasure toward you. But in Christianity there is a standard, God's holy law, the very character of deity, and there is the Presenter of that standard, Jesus.
He came and lived that standard in this flesh. We cannot add to His sacrifice. It is all from God, by God, gifted to man. We are all of us in the same place, sinners who could only be saved by His grace. All of us are needy. None of us can bring to Him our own monogrammed self-righteousness. Any works that man can render to God will be far less than nothingness.
In Islam no one dies to make atonement for sin. There is no holiness standard in pop Christianity. And in the secular vision where we are all gods, there is no atonement either, just the appreciation or hatred of the mob.
Only Jesus Changes You
The Bible tells us the truth. If we belong to Him, then we are "created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10).
If we accept His calling, He has a pathway marked for us. We are called to inhabit His world with good works. A bad tree cannot bring forth good fruit. So God changes bad trees into good trees. So we were sowing to the flesh and reaping corruption, but now we are sowing to the Spirit and reaping everlasting life. We are not saved by good works, but God has to change us so that He can produce good works in us.
And so, Jesus gifts you with power for victory over sin. In a Christianity with no standards, or a situation where we imagine we ourselves are gods, there is no help. But in Christanity there is power and there is hope. People are changed. The unconverted take knowledge that we have been with Jesus.
Only Jesus is a Personal God
In Christianity, God is a personal Being. In Islam, God is an all-powerful despot who claims to be merciful. In pop Christianity, He is an indulgent eternal uncle who doles out sin candy. And if we are gods, then god is as personal as a human mob is.
But God is a personal God. And our worship has to be more than a superficial worship. Consider these lines from Ellen White's remarkable book, The Desire of Ages, pp. 157, 172, and 173:
The worshipers offered their sacrifices without understanding that they were typical of the only perfect Sacrifice. And among them, unrecognized and unhonored, stood the One symbolized by all their service. He had given directions in regard to the offerings. He understood their symbolical value, and He saw that they were now perverted and misunderstood. Spiritual worship was fast disappearing. No link bound the priests and rulers to their God. Christ's work was to establish an altogether different worship.
From 172 and 173:
The Christian's life is not a modification or improvement of the old, but a transformation of nature. There is a death to self and sin, and a new life altogether. This change can be brought about only by the effectual working of the Holy Spirit.
Nicodemus was still perplexed, and Jesus used the wind to illustrate His meaning: 'The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is everyone that is born of the Spirit.'
The wind is heard among the branches of the trees, rustling the leaves and flowers; yet it is invisible, and no man knows whence it comes or whither it goes. So with the work of the Holy Spirit upon the heart. It can no more be explained than can the movements of the wind. A person may not be able to tell the exact time or place, or to trace all the circumstances in the process of conversion; but this does not prove him to be unconverted. By an agency as unseen as the wind, Christ is constantly working upon the heart. Little by little, perhaps unconsciously to the receiver, impressions are made that tend to draw the soul to Christ. These may be received through meditating upon Him, through reading the Scriptures, or through hearing the word from the living preacher. Suddenly, as the Spirit comes with more direct appeal, the soul gladly surrenders itself to Jesus. By many this is called sudden conversion; but it is the result of long wooing by the Spirit of God,--a patient, protracted process.
While the wind is itself invisible, it produces effects that are seen and felt. So the work of the Spirit upon the soul will reveal itself in every act of him who has felt its saving power. When the Spirit of God takes possession of the heart, it transforms the life. Sinful thoughts are put away, evil deeds are renounced; love, humility, and peace take the place of anger, envy, and strife. Joy takes the place of sadness, and the countenance reflects the light of heaven. No one sees the hand that lifts the burden, or beholds the light descend from the courts above. The blessing comes when by faith the soul surrenders itself to God. Then that power which no human eye can see creates a new being in the image of God.
It is impossible for finite minds to comprehend the work of redemption. Its mystery exceeds human knowledge; yet he who passes from death to life realizes that it is a divine reality. The beginning of redemption we may know here through a personal experience.
Here is treasure. Only in Christianity is there a personal Savior.
Only Jesus Enlists Us to Uplift Man
Finally, only Jesus sends you on a mission to uplift man; all other missions comparitively are unimportant. So man will travel to Mars, even give up his life to be the first person to discover Martian bacteria. But God calls us to help men place ther trust in Jesus, to be changed, and receive eternal life. So God sends us with a precise message fine-tuned to help hearts at the last tick of time. We call this message described especially in the last book of scripture, Revelation, the third angel's message.
It is a message no arbitrary Allah could give. No pop Christianity could embrace it because it is too strong for them. And, no secular vision could ever bring anything like it, because there is no room for an actual God among all the prancing little would-be gods.
And so to conclude: God's law commands, "You shall have no other gods before Me." There is only room for one God. There is no one like Jesus. In the field of all dreams Jesus stands alone. He is King of kings and Lord of lords. He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53:5).
He is the one and only. He is the Savior of all men who will let themselves be saved. He has hope for the hopeless, and life for the lonely. He has victory for the feeble and newness for oldness. He gives meaning to our lives as we embrace His life. He has an end-time message to save as many as possible in this hour as we drop at last into bottom of the rabbit hole.
In all this He calls me and He calls you to be His agents. He asks, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" (Isaiah 6:8).
It may seem to some of us like we are near the end of our lives, but I propose by God's grace, He is ready to use us for His glory even now. We are designed for Jesus.
To need God is not a weakness; it's a feature! We are made for Jesus.
Even so, come Lord Jesus.
Fremont MI SDA 2019-08-10
Muskegon MI SDA 2019-08-10