Romans Lesson 22 - The Reign of Mother Nature
The Apostle Paul brings out an interesting truth in Romans 1:25 that specifically applies to our culture. The very world that scientists and scholars are claiming to be "divine" and the "mother of all" is actually pointing us to the true Divinity. In other words, the very thing men today incessantly worship as God is imploring us to worship the true God. How does nature do this? Find out now.
The Reign of Mother Nature
Last Sunday I had the privilege of addressing the graduates of a nearby Christian School. As I prepared for that Baccalaureate speech, which I turned into a sermon, of course (I don’t do speeches), it struck me again how far our country has digressed from the faith of its fathers.
Newsweek Magazine revealed as much in a recent world view article entitled “The Character of our Campuses.” She wrote of her concern about these graduates who are “super-achievers, yet have little interest in developing moral character.” She contrasted this graduating class with the class of the early 20th century and wrote, “Those students were relatively unconcerned with academic achievement but went to great lengths to instill character. We, on the other hand, place enormous emphasis on achievement but are tongue-tied when it comes to what makes a virtuous life.”
The author went on to quote John Hibben, the former President of Princeton University as he addressed the graduating class of 1913. Hibben said to that class, “The world commands you to take your place and fight the fight in the name of honor and of chivalry, against the powers of organized evil and commercialized vice, against the poverty, disease and death which follow fast in the wake of sin . . . against all the innumerable forces which are working to destroy the image of God in man, and unleash the passions of the beast.”
“The Character of our Campuses”; Fareed Zakaria; Newsweek, May 28, 2001, p. 31
Two generations since that speech have brought about the rise and display and approval of those passions of the beast, and the digression of the image of God in man.
The Apostle Paul virtually prophesied in Romans chapter 1 when he said that whenever mankind refuses to honor and thank Creator God (v. 21) they condemn themselves to wandering around in spiritual darkness, filled with speculations that do not satisfy the human heart or give meaning and dignity to human life.
He said in verse 25, “they exchange the truth of God for the lie” We have taken note of several lies that have impacted and influenced our generation. Lies that resemble the very first lie of Satan to Eve that assaulted the character of God and the kindness of God and the authority of God’s word.
Satan said to Eve, in effect, “Did God really speak – and did He really mean what He said that if you eat that fruit you will die!” “Surely Eve, God would never be so restrictive of you desires – if you eat that fruit you will not surely die.”
She was deceived and ate, both she and Adam, and they both began to die.
Jesus Christ said of Satan in John 8:44, “Whenever he speaks the lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
We discussed several lies that dominate our culture today – lies that equally assault the truth of God’s word and dilute His power and authority.
- The lie that truth is a personal creation – that it is relative – whatever you want to believe you can believe and no one should ever tell you you’re wrong, because when it comes to spiritual matters, you’re right and so is everybody else.
Which is spiritual nonsense. Either the Hindu is right in believing in the existence of 300 million gods, or I am right in believing in the existence of only one true God. Either the cow of the Indian is indeed sacred, or the cow isn’t sacred. Both of us cannot be right – one of us is entirely wrong.
Yet, that lie of relative truth is now the sand upon which our culture stands.
- Another popular deception is that salvation is universal.
That is, everybody one is going to heaven. Which is interesting that at least heaven is absolutely believed in, even though truth cannot be absolute. People want to believe anything they want to and behave anyway they want to and yet, in the end, go to some sort of heavenly paradise. So just about everybody that believes in immortality believes they are on their way to heaven.
- Another lie that follows closely behind that one is the lie that judgment is non-existent
Then Jesus Christ was deceived when he said, “Broad is the path that leads to destruction and many there be that find it – and narrow is the path that leads to life and few there be that find it!” (Matthew 7:13)
The Apostle John was deceived by the Lord as he wrote in the Book of Revelation these fearful words, “And if anyone’s name was not found written in the Lamb’s Book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire – or hell.” (Revelation 20:15)
How do you get your name in the Lamb’s Book of Life? By coming in faith and repentance to the Lamb of God who is the Lord Jesus Christ, John’s Gospel informs us.
But if you don’t come to Him in repentance and confession – then you had better hope that Jesus Christ and the Apostle John were both deceived, for they paint a terrible future for you. You can only hope they were wrong.
- Another lie is that man evolved. We’ll address a little later in this sermon.
Finally, we noted the lie that God is uninvolved in His creation.
Yet the Bible tells us that God is intimately involved, having created us and even taken on the form of flesh in order to be related to us and die for us and pay the eternal penalty for our sin and guilt.
You can’t get any more involved than childbirth and crucifixion.
Now, what happens when man believes the lie?
Here are the consequences:
- Mankind rejects a personal, loving forgiving God.
- Mankind replaces God with other objects of worship.
The drug addict and sexual addict longs for that high and that experience because he doesn’t long after God; the materialist doesn’t long after God so he longs after things; the proud person does not long after God so he longs for power and prestige and popularity.
The human heart was created to crave. But if it does not crave after God, it will crave something else.
- Furthermore (third), mankind abandons the only basis for morality.
If you evolved, then you’re just another animal. And if you’re an animal you can do whatever other animals do. Like the lyrics of last years number 17 on the Billboard’s Top 200 album chart. A song that said over and over, “You and me ain’t nothin’ but mammals; so let’s do it like they do on the Discovery Channel.”
I have read that MTV regularly aired the video of the song, which featured band members dressed as monkeys simulating sexual acts with one another. The band said, “It was all a joke.” Maybe so – but the song relied upon the assumption that has become a natural progression of Darwinian evolution, that man is just another animal, and whatever behavior seems natural and normative for animals can be normative for humans as well.
Nobody’s laughing anymore. The brutality of the animal kingdom has become a part of the human experience.
A new paperback for children ages 9-12 is called “The Beast In You.” Which attempts to relate human characteristics back to animal predecessors. Full of catch cartoons, the book gushes that fingernails are proof that they evolved from claws; goose bumps are proof that we once had fur.
Trouble is, even evolutionists are recognizing that their theory undercuts traditional morality. And they are troubled by that loss.
Others, like Robert Wright, thinks its about time we got over human moral tendencies and rid ourselves of any restrictions. He writes in his book, “The Moral Animal” that “there is definitely no reason to assume that existing moral codes reflect some higher truth apprehended via divine inspiration.” Instead, he writes, “morality is merely an idea that evolved in the human mind as a tool for increasing reproductive success; whatever gets our genes into the next generation is morally right.” He goes on to postulate, “both men and women are biologically programmed to be unfaithful to their spouses; wanderlust is an innate part of our minds, [thus] lifelong monogamous devotion just isn’t natural.” Quoted in World Magazine, April 22, 2000, p. 21
Wouldn’t he make a wonderful husband?!
The man every father hopes his daughter marries.
Princeton’s president was right, in 1913 - whenever you abandon the revelation of God Himself and His moral direction within that revelation called the Bible, you unleash the passions of the beast. You lose moral boundaries; you wander into all sorts of perverse and destructive behavior.
- The fourth consequence thus follows: mankind gives away his personal God given nobility.
Now follow this carefully; since God is the one who has told us of our infinite value and since God is the one who defined our special place within creation, when God is rejected, with that rejection follows the loss of everything God has told us about ourselves.
Notice the position of nobility and authority given to mankind by God, the creator: Genesis 1:26-28
Go into island . . . turn and read
According to God’s creative plan, Adam and Eve were King and Queen over the
planet and over all the animals. Adam and Eve were told to “subdue the earth”. The
Hebrew word, “subdue” (kabas) means to tread down and bring into bondage – to
control and to order.
Furthermore, in chapter 2 God gives man the role of “caring” for creation. The word “care” from samar means to keep and to preserve; to cultivate.
God has delegated the care and cultivation of the planet to mankind as well as the rule over all the animal kingdom.
But, when God’s word is rejected, not only does mankind lose his place of dignity and honor: but there’s a fifth consequence.
- Mankind loses the value of human life in favor of animal life.
In other words, man either rules nature or he is ruled by nature. He either exercises sovereignty over the natural world, or he loses his perspective and ultimately becomes just another member of the food chain.
God made him to be ruler, he instead is ruled.
Here’s how it happens. If people are really just animals; then animals are people.
Someone might say, “What’s wrong with that? To believe that human beings are worth more than animals and have a special place in creation is nothing more than arrogance and pride, right?”
Ladies and Gentlemen, apart from God’s word and a belief in what His word teaches about creation, it could be arrogance.
In fact, Peter Singer, the evolutionist at Princeton University calls it “speciesism” and says it’s another form of “racism” to not give animals equal rights with human beings. He was quoted in the National Review, April 2, 2001 saying,
READ NATIONAL REVIEW (#1) turn page
This philosophy, ladies and gentlemen is rampant in our culture today.
Animals are being treated more and more like people all the time.
One of the fastest growing segments of law today is animal or pet law.
A USA Today article I clipped several months ago said this;
USA ARTICLE (#2)
And here’s the logical outgrowth of the evolutionist philosophy that refuses God’s created order – people can treat people like animals, but they must treat animals like people.
In Tennessee, a pet owner, excuse me, guardian, can now sue for up to $4,000 for the wrongful death of a pet. And recently, in Southern California, a judge awarded a woman $27,000 for suffering brought to her dog as a result of botched dental repairs.
Americans are spending more than 11 billion dollars a year on pet health care.
Add to that the fact that in America, there are already 35 vacation resorts for pets and 650 pet cemeteries. Three greeting card companies have even begun marketing sympathy cards for the “loss of animal companions.”
And Boulder Colorado recently changed its legal language so that pet owners are no longer called owners but guardians.
And why not? If animals are worth the same as people, then you should give them chemo-therapy and take them on vacation and bury them in a cemetery lot.
What does the Bible say? God told Adam and Eve to rule the animal kingdom – the Old Testament is filled with references on not treating animals cruelly.
But what about intrinsic value? Is that dog or cat worth the same as a person? Are we guilty of specieism because we think people are worth more than animals?
Jesus Christ said to His audience as He delivered the sermon on the mount, “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?” (Matthew 10:31)
Later in Matthew 12:12 the religious leaders were trying to accuse the Lord of violating the Sabbath rest by healing a man with a crippled hand. The Lord responded to them by saying, in effect, “Listen, why wouldn’t I help this man on the Sabbath – even you would pull one of your sheep out of a ditch on the Sabbath if it fell in. . .” then the Lord said, and I quote, “Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep!”
For those who disregard the words of Christ, there are consequences. Inverted values, the loss of human dignity; the loss of foundational morality as people live like animals and believe that animals should be able to live like people.
One more step downward in this spiral that Paul summarized in Romans 1:25 when he said that rebellious man refuses to worship and serve the Creator and instead worships and serves the creature.
- Number 6 - Mankind becomes bound to meet the needs of nature rather than meeting the needs of mankind.
Think of this issue as a seesaw with two perspectives.
Man is on one side and nature is on the other. If man is elevated and given his noble right by Creator God, nature is down, below man. But as man refuses Creator God, then he lowers himself by virtue of his refusal and nature begins to rise in importance.
Here’s how the seesaw works:
Nature is – enjoyed by man
Nature is – equal with man
Nature is – sovereign over man
As long as you have man ruling over nature, believing God’s created order as truth, you have man enjoying and marveling over and cultivating and caring for nature. But when you reject God’s design, the seesaw begins to tilt, until you have nature ruling over man.
And what we are seeing today, Ladies and Gentlemen is the emerging reign of ‘mother’ nature.
The last 15 years of polling high school graduates have brought the same answer, “If they were in an emergency situation, would they save their dog first or a stranger?” The typical answer is, “I love my dog, I do not love the stranger, so I would save my dog first.” This feeling of love has supplanted the God given moral guide for young people. What is right has now been redefined with what an individual feels. And the life of a dog becomes more valuable than a humans. Thus man has become the dogs best friend.
Dennis Prager in Good News (July/August 1993) Christianity Today, Vol. 37, no. 12
The inversion of values was painfully and tragically illustrated recently to a church in San Diego, California. A church pastored by John Maxwell who, after fighting with town officials eventually left and another pastor came and finished the building project.
The editors of Religion Today reported this incredible story, which, by the way never made national news.
READ RELIGION TODAY STORY OF CHURCH
I mentioned last Sunday something about the cows that wander about India. 200 million head of cattle that the people have placed spiritual value on and so they don’t kill them and eat them – even though the country is starving to death.
And you say, “Those people in India with their cows . . . how ridiculous!”
We’re not too far away. For a congregation of several thousand people to have to virtually deed over the majority of their property to a pair of birds . . . and then only be allowed to build a half a year at a time so as not to disturb the breeding season of two birds . . . we’re not too far away.
Let me summarize with these truths:
- God has created all there is.
John 1:3 “All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.”
- Secondly, God sustains all there is.
Read Psalm 104 sometime and rediscover that God created the seasons and systems on planet earth to sustain life.
Just a few verses – He causes the grass to grow for the cattle, and vegetation for the labor of man – so that he may bring forth food from the earth . . . He sends forth springs in the valleys; they flow between the mountains; they give drink to every beast of the field; the wild donkeys quench their thirst. He waters the mountains from His upper chambers; the earth is satisfied with the fruit of His works.
In other words, you don’t keep planet earth going, my friend. God does.
But the popular theory is that mankind is in a desperate race to keep earth going. You say, “But how do you know the earth is gonna make it?” Just read this Book – it tells you what happens all the way up to the end of time.
The earth will keep going and there will be plenty of resources for billions of people, until that day in the future when he burns earth up and creates a brand new one, along with a new heaven for the believers to enjoy forever and ever. (Revelation 20, 21)
A popular 4th grade ecology program called Earthkeepers teaches this typical new age philosophy, “The only way to save the environment is to have a deep, abiding relationship with the earth.”
I cannot help but think of Romans 1:25 – they refuse a relationship with the Creator and choose to have a relationship with the created thing – earth.
- God grants special authority and dignity to mankind
-creation shows His unique involvement with man
-creation reveal His image imprinted in man
Yes, man can be classified as a mammal. That is, we carry on mammalian kinds of processes; ingestion, digestion, absorption, assimilation, respiration, excretion, secretion, motion, reproduction. We do these things too but what sets ankind uniquely apart is the fact that God made us in His image – Genesis 1 tells us. What does that mean?
Created in the image of God means that:
-man is a spiritual being
-man has immortality – because you are an immortal soul you will live forever; the Bible give two possible eternal homes – heaven or hell.
No fish or bird or dog or cat has been promised a place in the Father’s house in heaven, or warned of a future judgment in hell.
No horse or cow or dolphin has been made a joint heir of Jesus Christ for all of infinity. Only human beings.
-because of that, thirdly, man is not only a spiritual being with immortality, but he enjoys spiritual fellowship
-then again, man has been given the right to exercise sovereignty over creation
You could put it this way; It’s Gods world, but it’s mans job.
- Finally, God not only created all there is; He owns all there is.
In Psalm 50, God the Creator says, “Every beast of the forest is Mine . . the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird of the mountains, and everything that moves in the field is Mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell you; for the world is Mine and all it contains.”
God has created all there is. God sustains all there is. God owns all there is.
And even though the world refuses to acknowledge and worship this wonderful Creator God, the believer does what Paul does at the end of verse 25 – he simply states in pure and lovely worship, “The Creator is blessed forever and ever, Amen.”
The world denies Him but, “He is blessed forever and ever”;
The world dishonors and ignores and shuns and hates Him, but He is blessed forever and ever, Amen.
The world will not worship Him, but we will – our wonderful Creator and Redeemer, for He is blessed forever and ever. Amen.
READ NATIONAL REVIEW (#1)
“Insofar as animals feel pleasure and pain and are capable of enjoyment and suffering, they have legitimate interests that must be given equal weight with those of human beings.”
He also went on to say the “a chimpanzee, dog or pig will have a higher degree of self-awareness and a greater capacity for meaningful relations with others than a severely retarded infant or someone in a state of advanced senility, thus the life of a human infant with irreversible brain
damage is no more valuable than the lives of animals.”
National Review, April 2, 2001 p. 46
USA ARTICLE (#2)
“There is a growing movement that asks courts to abandon centuries of precedent and treat pets not as property or livestock but as something akin to humans. In courts across the United States, there are signs that pet law is awakening. In the past four years, juries in sex states have awarded large judgments to pet owners. 12 law schools, including Georgetown and Harvard, now offer courses in animal law. Perhaps most significantly, courts have begun to allow owners of damaged or destroyed pets to sue not only for the animal'’ cash value, but also for loss of companionship and their own pain and suffering, as if the deceased pet had been their child or spouse.
Like Kay Corvo who won a suit against an animal hospital that had switched the remains of her late poodle with those of a cat. The error was discovered during her pet’s open-casket funeral. She sued for emotional distress and won.
Since medieval times, courts have considered animals to be property or “chattel” in legal terms. Owners whose animals were harmed were limited to recovering only the cost of replacing the animal. Not now.
World Magazine adds these words:
Today, a national network of animal rights lawyers are pushing the envelope until, “We succeed,” Joyce Tischler said, “in presenting a case in which the animal is the plaintiff.” World Magazine, May 27, 2000, p. 16
We’re already getting close my friends. World magazine reported that just this past July, a Lowell Massachusetts judge became the first jurist in that state to allow a dog owner to sue for the emotional distress of the animal. The owner had watched as the dog was roughed up by a neighbor’s dog. World Magazine, May 27, 2000, p. 16
“The envelope is really being pressed,” says Richard Cupp, a professor at Pepperdine University School of Law in Malibu, Calif. “Right now there’s still kind of a giggle factor when you’re talking about emotional distress for pets. He says. “But as more and more cases are filed, we’ll be giggling less and paying more.” USA Today, September 13, 2000 Section 2A
RELIGION TODAY STORY OF CHURCH
The story started in 1981, when pastor John Maxwell announced the need for a new campus. After a long search the church bought a 130 acre mountain on a major freeway. The costly complications emerged immediately. The church was not allowed to build on top of the mountain because it would block the view of nearby residents, so the campus was totally redesigned for the side of the mountain. Then, an endangered bird known as the California Black Tailed Gnat Catcher was the next obstacle. Because a pair of Gnat Catchers was discovered on that mountain, the church was allowed to build only on 25 acres. The other 105 acres belonged to the birds. Furthermore, the church as told that heavy construction could not take place on the mountain during teh Gnat Catcher breeding season, which lasts from midnight February 15 to midnight August 15. Then, while the church project waited until the end of breeding season for the pair of birds, a small bush called the coastal sage was found. Developers were forbidden from building wherever the bush grew or might someday grow. Then the church was required to pay 120,000 for a two acre dig that uncovered a pottery shard and a rock believed to have been blackened by a cooking fire started by Indians. The church paid $10,000 to cover the area with a special mat and a soil cap. Then governmental officials cited “light pollution” from the proposed church parking lot and required the parking lot lights to be lowered from the normal 20 feet to 3 feet, which, the pastor said, “was fine so long as your cars were only 6 inches height.” Officials eventually relented but restricted the church from holding public services between 5 and 7 p.m. on weekdays.
This news release goes on and on and on. The church was delayed more than 10 years because of these issues, and the project cost 18 million dollars more, by the time they finished.
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