Community Group Study Notes
- Read Romans 1:18-21 out loud. In what ways is the truth about God suppressed?
- What does it mean to live like there is no God?
- Based on what you heard in Sunday’s sermon, what is one action step you can take?
"For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse." Romans 1:20
[Announcer] Strength, courage, originality. He's known around the world as a wrestling icon and a Hollywood legend. You may know him as B.A.Baracus. You may know him as Clubber Lang. The world knows him as the one and only Mr. T.
[Mr. T] The name is Mr. T. First name is Mister, the middle name is that period, last name is T.
[Announcer] Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome our special guest today. Mr. T...
That's a ripoff, as you can tell. I pity the fool who comes to church only April Fool's Day. See, some think that celebrating Easter on April Fool's Day is like an odd coincidence. There's other people that think celebrating Easter on April Fool's Day is, I don't know, ironic. There's maybe skeptics who think that celebrating Easter on April Fool's Day is perfectly logical to do, as a skeptic might think. But for me personally, the way that I view celebrating Easter on April Fool's Day is that it provides a perfect opportunity to reference Mr. T. That's what I think; perfect opportunity.
Now here's why, because as I began to think about Easter falling on April Fool's Day, I started thinking to myself that Mr. T's famous catch slogan, "I pity the fool," he might be onto something that maybe we should pay attention to on this day above all days when we are celebrating the resurrection of Jesus on April Fool's Day. In fact, here's something that I would call your attention to because the psalmist actually talks about this idea in Psalm, chapter 14, verse number one.
It says, "The fool says in his heart there is no God." Now when you read that in the Hebrew as you were doing just before you came here today, you find out pretty quickly that the idea there when it says, "The fool says in his heart there is no God," it's not necessarily talking about the atheist, although that's certainly implied. The idea here is that it's actually speaking to someone who lives like there's no God, almost what we would call a practical atheist; someone who may believe that there is a God, but in effect, their lives give evidence of the fact that they don't really live like they believe it's so. They might intellectually think about it that way but don't live like it's so.
Interestingly enough, this passage is not really so much about intellect as it is about heart posture; about whether or not we live in such a way that we believe that there really is a God. Now the reason that I think that the Bible calls that so foolish to live in such a way that even if we intellectually say, "Yeah, theoretically I believe there's a God," but we don't live like that's the case, the reason I think the Bible says that's foolish is because of what the Apostle Paul actually teaches us in the Book of Romans. He gives us the idea that every, single one of us actually know that there's a God, like that's pretty clear to everybody, and that what we do is we suppress that truth by the choices that we make that don't acknowledge God.
In fact, let me show you how the Apostle Paul said it in Romans, chapter one. He said, "The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people who-" listen to this, "-who suppress the truth by their wickedness since what may be known about God is plain to them because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world, God's invisible qualities, His eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made so that people are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile, and their foolish hearts were darkened."
You see, this is a part of the reason that I think the psalmist initially says, "The fool says in his heart there is no God," because ultimately we all kind of know that there is a God because God has revealed himself so forthrightly. In a sense, when we look at the way that God has revealed Himself, we can see specifically the way that Paul said that God has revealed Himself very clearly through creation itself. Almost the idea of hey, have you ever walked outside and figured this out, I didn't do this? That's kind of the idea.
In fact. Look again at what verse 20 says in Romans, chapter one. It says, "For since the creation of the world, God's invisible qualities, His eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen being understood from what has been made so that people are without excuse." The idea is almost like it's God saying to us, "Look around. Really. Look around. This should be reasonably obvious to all of us. This is no accident. Look around."
In fact, I'd ask you if you would for just a moment to use your imagination and kind of journey in your imagination for just a second, and let's think about this together. Let's just say, for instance, that we just looked inside of ourselves, the human body, to see how magnificent creation is. Do you know that inside of the human body, just the normal, regular human body, there are about 37 trillion cells that are working together ... 37 trillion that are working together in this majestic dance so that we can live and breathe and move in everyday life. That's extraordinary.
But what if we actually started thinking about the thing we think with, the brain? One of the odd things about the mind is that we can't, in our minds, wrap our minds around how our mind works. The brain is an extraordinary feature of how we've been made and how we've been created. Do you know that there are 100 billion neurons that are inside of our brain that are receiving information, and factoring information, and understanding and perceiving what's going on around us? And do you know that if you took the blood vessels from just the brain itself and you strung them together in a straight line, they would cover 100,000 miles?
Now some of you are thinking, I'd like to access some of those neurons because I came up short on some of my schoolwork. I understand; I'm with you on that. You see, if we look inside, we can see extraordinary interdependence and creation. But what if we look up? What if we stop looking outside of ourselves and just look above us? I mean, the galaxy that we live in that's called the Milky Way is extraordinarily big, almost unfathomably big. In fact, to measure the diameter of just this galaxy, the Milky Way, you have to measure it in light years. Now a light year is the distance that light can travel in a year. You know how fast light is, right? Really fast. One light year is the rough equivalent of almost six trillion miles. And our Milky Way, if you were measuring it from end to end by diameter, is 100,000 light years in distance. That's just our galaxy.
But if we kind of pan back even further, we realize that we are not the only galaxy in the known universe. We have the benefit now of scientists have the extreme deep Hubble field where they can look beyond our galaxy into a portion of the universe and can see the number of galaxies in that portion of the universe. And scientists have now estimated how many galaxies there are in the known universe by extrapolating from the extreme deep Hubble field. Conservatively, scientists believe conservatively there are 100 billion galaxies in the known universe. 100 billion galaxies. Ladies and gentlemen, if we look in and we look up and around, it's as if God is saying to us, "Look around. This should be obvious. This is no accident."
Now you may be saying to yourself, "So, Jerry, what does any of this have to do with Jesus?" Well, everything. This has everything to do with Jesus. Let me explain why, because the Apostle Paul in another writing after he wrote Romans, he wrote a book call Colossians. And in this letter, listen to what Paul says about the Son of God. "The Son, Jesus, is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in Jesus, all things were created. Things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities, all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Jesus all things hold together."
You see, this is why it's so important for us to understand, because in Jesus everything has been made and in Jesus everything is held together. Now you might be saying to yourself, "Okay, I'm starting to track with you here, Jerry. I get it. I understand what you're saying, but here's where I'm not following you. What does any of this have to do with Easter? What does it have to do with the resurrection of Jesus?" Well again, everything. Everything.
In fact this Apostle Paul who wrote these letters we've just referenced and who, in his missionary journeys, was traveling to different places, ended up in a place called Athens. You probably know it, Athens, Greece. And while he was there, he was reasoning and speaking with a bunch of people who kind of thought in philosophical terms. And I want you to pay very close attention to what Paul said to them about creation and about Jesus and about the resurrection. Notice what he says in Acts 17.
He said, "The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth, and does not live in temples built by human hands. And He is not served by human hands as if He needed anything. Rather, He, Himself, gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From one man He made all the nations that they should inhabit the whole earth, and He marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek Him, and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from any one of us. For in Him, we live and move and have our being. And as some of your own poets have said, we are His offspring. Therefore, since we are God's offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image made by human design and skill. In the past, God overlooked such ignorance. But now, He commands all people everywhere to repent, for He has set a day when He will judge the world with justice by the man He has appointed. And He has given proof of this to everyone by raising Him from the dead."
You see, here's what I'm trying to say to you, and if you're a note taker and you're jotting some of this down, here's kind of the big idea that I'm trying to give to you. It's simply this: that the resurrection of Jesus is God's proof that His agent of creation will also be creation's judge. Let me say it to you again. The resurrection of Jesus is God's proof that His agent of creation will also be creation's judge.
This is why, for us, it would be foolish on our part to suppress the truth that we know and to live maybe in such a way, like even if we intellectually ascribe to the idea of God, that we live like there is no God because ultimately God's agent of creation, Jesus, in Him everything has come to be and He holds everything together; that this agent of creation is God's proof that He is going to judge the world by this one that He has appointed.
Now when we find that out, when we understand that the resurrection means that, then we've got some things to think about. And in fact, it's both sobering and hopeful at the same time. Here's why it's sobering, because the agent of creation, Jesus, is the one who is going to judge creation justly. That's sobering for all of us because those of us who are created beings, and that would encompass all of us, those of us who are created beings, that means that we will stand before, at some point when we die we will stand before the just agent of creation who is also the judge of all creation, Jesus, and we will give an account for our lives.
But here's the downside. The Bible teaches us that there is such a thing called sin. The idea is this, is that sin is missing the mark of God's holiness; that God in His holiness will judge sin because God is holy and sin means everything and anything that is in opposition to the way and nature of God. And the Bible says it this way, that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Do you know that word, all, when you're reading it in the original language of Greek, the original language it was written in; that word, all, do you know what it means? All. Everyone. That every, single person that has ever taken a breath has sinned and come short of the glory of God.
We are born bent towards sin and then we give evidence of that by choosing ways that are in opposition to God. Put me at the front of the line. I have failed God and so have you. But God, in His holiness, must by definition judge sin because He's righteous and He's holy and He's just, and He doesn't just wink at it and sweep it away under a rug somewhere and not pay any attention to it. So the bad news is, ladies and gentlemen, that everyone everywhere is guilty. But the good news is that this judge, the One who judges all of creation, this judge has taken your guilty sentence and put it on Himself.
This is the staggering news, ladies and gentlemen. You see, the reason that there is a resurrection is because there was a death. And the death of the Son of God is the only thing standing in between you and your guilty sentence. That Jesus, the perfect Son of God who lived sinlessly, knew that we were in trouble ourselves, couldn't rescue ourselves, couldn't somehow forgive ourselves, we couldn't save ourselves. And so while we were yet sinners, Christ came, lived and died for us. And through His resurrection, conquered sin and the grave and death on our behalf that now if we put our faith in Him, we can have forgiveness of our sins and we can have life in eternal ways, not only now but in the time to come.
This is because of God's lavish love, His lavish mercy, and His lavish grace to us knowing we could never save ourselves, even though foolishly we try to do that so often in our lives. We need a savior and that's why He came, so that He might be the one to rescue us and forgive us. So our judge makes us sober because we stand before Him and we know we're all guilty, but it also makes us hopeful because the judge has taken on our sentence. He took upon Himself our sin and the wrath of God at the cross, dying in our place and rising from the dead to demonstrate that His sacrifice was sufficient so that we, by faith in Him, could now be reconciled to God and be at peace with God when we used to be an enemy.
You see, ladies and gentlemen, here's what I want to make sure you don't miss: that only the One who made 100 billion galaxies is capable of forgiving 100 billion sins. The One who made 100 billion galaxies is the only One capable of forgiving 100 billion sins. And so if all of creation responds to the resurrected ruler of it all, then why shouldn't we? It would seem to me foolish not to. That's what I want us to remember, that the One who made 100 billion galaxies is the only One who can forgive 100 billion sins. This is the beauty of the story of the resurrection set within creation that Scripture gives to us.
This isn't just some any other day. This is a day to celebrate the One who made it all and the One who can rescue it all, including you. I don't know what brought you here today. For some of you maybe that are people who've been following Jesus for a long time, faithfully doing so, maybe it's a reminder for you today that there are people that are all around us that need to know and to hear and to respond to the beauty of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And we're reminded that the judge of all the earth is going to hold to account every person, and that we have a privilege and a responsibility to share with them and to show them the love and the truth of Jesus Christ.
Maybe you came and you're not used to coming to church, and maybe you've had something going on in your life, and you thought to yourself, "You know what? It's Easter, I need to go to church. I don't know what it is I'm missing." Listen, it's not a what, it's a who. It's Jesus. He is what's missing in your world. Or maybe you kind of came as a favor to friend or family; maybe they half-drugged you here. I don't mean they drugged you, I mean they drug you here. And you came with them because you were like, "I don't want to create any discord in the family and I'm going to come so that lunch is okay." I understand. I want you to know this. We're so glad you came. Thanks for being here.
But here's what I want you to know. It's no accident that you're here. You see, the One who made 100 billion galaxies, He knows your address. He knows your name. If the Bible says He hung the stars and He called them each by name, be reminded that He knows yours, too. You're not forgotten, you're not unloved. God has demonstrated His love for you even when you have not yet seen it in the gift of the Son of God dying in your place and rising from the dead so that you, by faith in Him, could have a relationship with God, have your sins forgiven, have your life be made new.
The old is gone and everything becomes new, not only in this life but in the life to come. The Scripture says actually in First Corinthians 15 that if we only believed in Jesus for this life, we are people of all people that should be pitied. Why? Because it would be foolish to think that the One who made 100 billion galaxies is only subject to this time and space. So why wouldn't you receive Jesus? I can't think of a better place than here and a better time than now, this day, to surrender to Him and receive Him as Lord and savior, have your sins forgiven, your life made new. You'll be transferred in citizenship from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light because God, in His great love, has given His son who died and rose again that you could know Him.
Would you bow your heads with me all over the room for just a moment? As our heads are bowed and our eyes are closed for just a moment, if you're here and you've never before received Jesus as your Lord and savior ... I'm not talking about you've kind of checked into a church before. I'm not talking about any of that. You see, the difference is, is that we don't believe here that this is just some routine ritual that we walk through, where you're just checking a box as if somehow God's now thrilled with you because you checked a box and showed up on Easter. We're concerned about the relationship of human beings to God because that's why God sent his son. This wasn't just about some religious ritual. This was about relationship with the living God in the person of Jesus Christ. And if you've never before turned from your sin and turned from doing life your own way, and humbly by faith received Jesus and the forgiveness and new life that He offers, then why not do that today?
In fact, you can do it right where you are, right where you're seated, if you simply in your heart confess by faith that you need Him. And maybe simply just pray in your heart. You don't have to have magic words, but I'll be glad to help you. My words are just my words, but if you'll make them yours by faith then Jesus can change your life. So right where you are, no matter what's going on around you, I'd ask you to focus in and pray this in your heart if you mean it.
Just silently in your heart, pray Lord Jesus, I know that I've sinned and I've come short of the glory of God. And I can't save myself, I can't forgive my own sins. But I confess to you that I believe in you, not just with my head but with my heart. I believe you alone can save, and that you did, Jesus, in your death and resurrection is my only hope of forgiveness and being at peace with God. So invite you to come in and to take over, and I put my faith in you with all the faith that I have.