How Ancient Philosophies Today Hinder the Knowledge of God (Tom Holland)

If I could do what I’d like to do which I can’t I would just cry gratitude and appreciation my heart is literally overflowing in 65 years I’ve never had an experience like this one today and I’m as grateful to Tim and all of you elders and those who planned this day for me it’s going to be a memory that I will treasure the longest day of my life I’m grateful that you would stay for this part of the worship I want it to be meaningful so if you have a Bible please turn to Acts chapter 17 Acts chapter 17 I want us to see the forces at work today that are ancient forces really that are keeping so many good people from the blessing of knowing God Almighty I think about the books that are being written and sold publicly by atheists like Richard Dawkins The God Delusion fellow and I think about Christopher Hitchens book God is not great and that they just go on and on and these are being sold in the marketplace for public consumption and I feel sorry for these men I really really do they are being denied one of the greatest blessings of life and that is getting to know God to enjoy his mercy to appreciate his grace to be inspired by his love and and to have the soul endowed with a hope that even death cannot destroy if you tried to compare the 21st century world with the first century world of Acts chapter 17 you wouldn’t have a comparison you would have a contrast in fact if you tried to compare the world in which I was born in thirty-one with the world today you would have a contrast but in all of the change God has not changed he still the all-wise Almighty God in heaven in all of the change the Son of God has not changed he still our only hope for salvation from sin and our only security for eternal life in heaven and all of the change the word of the Holy Spirit in reliable translations of Scripture that word has not changed and so we’re looking to that word down because when Paul came to Athens Greece back in the 1st century and so far as I know Athens is still over there this last school term at the nashville school of preaching we had a brother from athens who taught a court course for us in christian evidences he supported by the church at creep hall that also supports the national school of preaching and he taught a course for us and a very interesting and profitable course paul came to athens back in the 1st century he was on a great tour of preaching the Word of God to his then known world he had been in Philip I preached over in Europe for the first time founded a congregation of God’s people in Philippi you’ve got a book in the New Testament to that church initially then left there and came by amplest napaloni l came down to Tesla bacon for three Sabbath days women at the Jewish synagogue and took their old testament scriptures to prove that the Messiah they should have anticipated would be a suffering one and affirmed that Jesus I preached to you is that Messiah he is that Christ he is that anointed of God had to leave there and it came down to Berea had been finally down to Athens and he’s waiting in Athens for his associates Timothy and Silas to join him and he is disturbed because he has found the whole city given to idolatry and here in Acts chapter 17 and verse 18 he encountered certain epicurean and stoic philosophers and they said well this babbler say others say that he seems to be a setter forth of strange gods for he preached to them Jesus and the resurrection those philosophers in the first century needed to hear Jesus preached and they needed to know that there is a resurrection that the totality of man’s existence is not limited to a few brief fleeting years upon this earth we are destined for eternity those people needed to know that now there are two things I will ask you to do if you alone with your mind for just a few minutes I want us first of all to look at these ancient philosophers and then see how up-to-date their philosophy is in our own time how the drug problem in America fits into it how the sensualism that has been preached by Hollywood now for years is the product of it and some other serious problems that we face today they come out of ancient philosophy applied today now let’s start with old xeno the Stoics Zeno taught there in Athens his school out on the store or the painted porch and so his students took the name Stoics from the place where they had been taught Xena taught that the only reality is the material world now if you read much in stoic philosopher I’ve just dabbled a little in it you’ll find them using the name God often with a capital G but when they talk about God they’re not talking about our eternal God whom we worship they’re talking about nature because to them that was the only reality and so Zeno taught his school he lived from about 336 BC to 240 BC and this idea that the only reality is the material reality how current is that well I want to quote a man that a few years ago was quite well known at least in some circles Carl Sagan now Sagan died probably six years ago now he had a cancer and just before he died he was asked what’s your view of death he said a mindless dreamless nothingness this man when he was a young fella every Sabbath day in a synagogue in Brooklyn would quote that great statement thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart soul strength and mind he went away to the University and got himself educated he got himself educated in the area of astronomy and then he concluded there is no God and those were just mouthing words he wrote a book called cosmos in which he argues even if there were a god he wouldn’t have any interest in this earth because it’s just a tiny speck in the hole created universe and I want to quote a statement from Sagan now who said and this is a quote the universe is the only thing there is that ever was or there ever will be y’see no could not have said it better that is an ancient philosophy in a modern dress and that is being taught to people today that the only reality is the material reality I know that many of you have been introduced to the idea of Darwinian evolution Philip Johnson was on the law faculty I’ve University of california-berkeley for many many years had many debates with those people one of his earlier books Darwin on trial and he says in the book I’m not a scientist I’m a lawyer and I know arguments and he just dismantled the arguments of these people and then a little book called opening minds and defeating Darwinism he says you need to know the basic philosophy of the theory are the philosophy constant of evolution and that is that the only reality is material reality material reality quote is the only basis for that particular argument so I think in terms of this ancient philosophy now after World War two there was a man by the name of Albert Camus who had been indoctrinated with the philosophy of an atheistic French person by the name of jean-paul Sartre a who argued that your being is your only reality your being is your only reality and so you have to find what is going to be the purpose for your being guess what happened a lot of people decided they would find the purpose for their being in drugs I remember vividly the drop out Harvard professor that came across the United States teaching people that if you want to find truth you find it in drugs even psychedelic drugs and a lot of people started believing that and then it became fashionable for a lot of people to do drugs then the chemical of the criminal element got involved with it all they could see was dollar signs and the first thing you know we have a serious serious problem in this country and it dates back to an ancient philosophy that was popularized by this man named Camus now all of you have heard about the hippie movement that came out of California in the 60s that movement came out of this ancient philosophy these people so-called hippies were going to find the meaning of their being in sensualism and so it became extremely popular back in those days that little slogan Mike love not war and by love they meant sensualism quite obviously so here you are we have these problems today that are so real and such a burden on our culture now I do not visit these sites on the internet but if what I read is true a high percent of people today spend a lot of time in those pornographic areas in fact the annual dollar output of pornography around the world is a hundred billion dollars a year we had a man that taught a course for us at school of preaching this past term on addictions now addiction is a euphemism for slavery you know to say a person is enslaved to alcohol mmm no he’s just addicted to it to say a person is enslaved to drugs oh uh stone it’s an addiction now this brethren talking to us about that course to the Dean and myself he said studies are showing that in the average congregation and I pray this is not an average congregation he says in an average congregation 50% of the men will visit those sites on the internet pornographic sites 30% of the women where does all this come from your being is your only reality and you have to find the meaning for your being find it in drugs find it in sensualism find it in materialism consumerism find it in sports find it somewhere other than where you would really find it and that is in God the French philosopher mathematician ass cows that every human being has a god hole in the heart that can only be filled with a right relationship with God now the reason for that is Genesis 1:26 God said let us make man in our own image and after our likeness it would be almost humorous if not so sad to see how people try to fill the need for God in their lives I’ll tell you a good book you might want to read on this sometime you’ll find it in the Bible it’s called Ecclesiastes that’s a great book to read to try to see a man that’s going to find some meaning for his life without God he tried pleasure he said it’s like running after the wind he tried materialism consumerism he said it’s vanity and finally he decided he would know more about his world than anyone had ever known he would glory in his wisdom and he said over near the end of the book in chapter 12 verse 12 of the making of many books there is no in and much study is a weariness of the flesh people are still trying to find their lives and the very things that Solomon the wise men said he used to try to find his life and his conclusion was this in the last verses of that great book now let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter fear God and keep his Commandments for this is the whole and the translators put the word duty this is the whole duty or the whole of men for God shall bring into judgment every work with every secret thing whether it be good or bad and so here is an ancient philosophy now I don’t have time to spend more time with old xeno that has been made popular by men like Carl Sagan incidentally I’ve waded through some of his lectures he gave in Scotland in a book and I found them very taxing mentally somewhat boring to the honest truth about it now I’m not trying to reflect on his scholarship nor his science but I got to turn to old Epicurus now he lived in the same general timeframe from about 341 down to about 220 BC and Epicurus had a theory about life life had a chance origin it began simply by chance and so you have to find the meaning for your life and he said you’ll find it in pleasure the thing that gives you the most pleasure and the least pain that is the good life now unfortunately people started applying that and it became hedonistic in its application so other scholars tried to tone it down a little bit would you believe life as a chaste origin is as popular as people today in in some realms of so-called science I was talking to a brother in Christ who also has his doctorate in chemistry from Georgia Tech and I asked him not long ago about how many MDS he’d helped train he said a little were 500 and recently he was talking about a theory that life originated when you had a collection of gases and it was struck by lightning and so life originated from that and he said the chances are that of that are so absolutely remote that it would be ridiculous but this is an old philosophy folks where did life come from did it just spring into existence or is there a God that created it now how did Paul take on those philosophers he took them on with what is called sometimes the Mars Hill discourse there in acts 17 after he’d said you men of Athens as I passed by and beheld your devotions I found an altar with this inscription to the unknown God whom therefore you ignorantly worship Him declare round you watch this one now and Paul is gonna be in actually Genesis one God that made the world and all things therein seeing that he is Lord of Heaven and Earth dwelleth not in temples made with hands neither’s worshipped by men’s hands as though he needed anything seeing he himself give it to all life and breath and all things now hit the pause button for a minute as we look at what has been called the cosmological argument it’s right there in this great Marcil discourse there is a universe here now that is subject to what they might call an empirical verification you can take one of your sin these are more than one of your senses and verify there is a material universe look you could see it and people who have hearts to see it can see as the psalmist declared in the nineteenth some the heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament shows his handiwork day unto day uttereth speech night unto night short knowledge there’s no speech nor language where their voice is not heard their line is going out through all the earth and their words to the ends of the world but you know a lot of folks can look up on a clear Alabama night when that proud prints of the evening is marching across the sky to the applause it seems of a million stars and not see the handiwork of God but those of us who know God we rejoiced to see his beauty those of us who know God have made the climb up Clingmans Dome and we’ve looked out over those majestic manifestations of the power of Almighty God and without trying to put on any kind of show we’ve just quietly saying How Great Thou art and when we sing a song like we just sang a moment ago our God he is alive for the darkest who wrote that song is the band that invented the turn signal for the automobile and one of the great accomplishments of his life is this song because it manifests in words what is true in the minds and hearts and I’d like to think of every person in this audience today our everyone that may be listening to this at a later time so I think in terms the reality of a universe now either it created itself or it was created by non intelligence or God Almighty created it there is too much evidence even in the area of astronomy I mean the the precision out there such precision that trained men can calculate in advance eclipses of the moon and the and all of this just supposedly was created by non intelligence I mean it takes a lot of faith to believe in atheism it really does it takes a lot of faith to believe that non intelligence can create intelligence you know you stand back and you look at that and you see that is incredible if a man in Huntsville who has a an area where he sells computers if I should go in interested in the computer and he tried to tell me that this Apple computer right here was invented because a tornado came through Huntsville several years ago and I remember that tornado and the devastation he said that tornado came through here I had a whole lot of parts electronic parts and you know when that thing was over that tornado had blown all of those together and here is your Apple computer now if he’s got someone working with him I might slip around and say you know this guy out there he needs to go to a doctor let them examine his head there’s something wrong with that guy but people can look at this universe far more complex really in many respects than a computer it just happened non intelligence made it use your intelligence to see non intelligence does not create intelligence it’s the opposite but you know I’ve been laughed at in a class or two in a university because I took a stand against Darwinian evolution and I took a stand against the only reality being the material universe Cosmo but look at this next one he gave us life and breath and all things your life your precious precious gift of God your life and your breath Isaiah said God made the earth to be inhabited and we we have some folks that supposedly are getting ready to make a trip to Mars gonna take them what six months to get there now they’re going to have some very interesting experiences I when they run out of oxygen unless they can get some to them in a bit God made the earth to be inhabited and here we have air to breathe which is 78% nitrogen and the rest mostly oxygen now if you turn those things around if we had 78% oxygen and the other nitrogen you better not light a fire you remember when NASA was experimenting with various ways to get the astronauts out into space and they had at the time of brother Gus Grissom as one of the astronauts with whom they were experimenting putting him in a capsule of total oxygen and there was a little spark some way and it burned him to death immediately God made the earth to be inhabited and the very air we breathe and the water we drink the water we drink is put together exactly right if you take two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen and you put those together you’ve got a life-giving substance called water both of those things seperated are highly combustible put them together and they put out fire it’s incredible God made the earth to be inhabited and so he gave us life and breath and all things and Paul said and made it one blood all nations of men for to dwell on the face of the earth and that determined before the times appointed in the bounds of their habitation if haply they might seek after God and feel after him and find it you have to use your intelligence to find God and when you tie your intelligence with your heart when there is the quest within you to know God then you have a means by which he can be known we seek Him and we seek him with the whole heart he’s made of one blood all nations of men to dwell on the face of this earth he’s determined before the times appointed and the bounds have had their habitation if haply they might seek after the Lord and feel after him and find him though he be not far from any one of us for in him we live and move and have being a certain of your own poets have said we are his offspring for as much then as we are the offspring of God we are not to think that the Godhead or godhood is lacking unto gold silver or stone graven by art and man’s device look at yourself look at your psychology though it look the way your mind works the way your heart works look at your physiology the complexity of this we call the human body the ability of the human body under certain circumstances with medical attention to repair itself I mean it’s absolutely and cry no they’re men and women that spend their lives studying the human body it must be indeed a fascinating study for people we’re fearfully and wonderfully made as David said in the 139 some and that is absolutely the way it is and then after using what they would call the teleological argument the design even in the human body then finally the third argument cosmological teleological and then the moral argument Paul said God hath appointed a day in which he would judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained whereof he hath given assurance unto all men and that he raised him from the dead we have embedded within us a conscience the capacity for self-knowledge and when that conscience is properly educated if I violate it that’s going to be a corresponding reaction of guilt deep within me if I’m living consistent with an educated conscience educated by the Word of God there’s going to be a peace within me there’s going to be a joy within me there’s going to be a hope within me it’s very interesting to me that in men and women today would take off the blind goggles of prejudice and would look with a sincere mind and an open heart at the evidence in the created universe about us within ourselves our own design physiology psychology and then finally to that moral sensitivity we will know yes there’s a God and he is alive an old King on his deathbed call for one of his counselors and said give me two reasons to believe in God and the counselor said the starry sky above and the moral law within don’t be taken in by people that don’t know God they don’t know what you’re talking about let God direct you through his word to knowledge of himself and when you come to know him you’ll love him you won’t obey Him you will obey Him and when he speaks through his son you will know there’s our final spokesperson from God the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and when Jesus says he they believe it then as baptized shall be saved we believe that and we preach that when Jesus says you be faithful you follow me John 15 he says abide in me abide in me and then we know when we’re not abiding in him we’re not being faithful to his churches which is his body and then there’s a sensitivity within us that says this is not right I need to come back and renew my determination to live for the one who died for me he doesn’t deserve unfaithfulness on my party he deserved dedication and consecration of my life which brings me a peace and joy now with a hope of heaven forever and ever Kerry’s going to lead us to sing a song we’re not gonna do this as a tradition we’re gonna do it as an exhortation we’ll take our hearts and voices and try to reach into your good and honest heart and maybe there will be a response to the call of the gospel the invitation of Jesus Christ come unto me he says I’ll give you rest we urge you to seriously consider it and if you need to to respond to the Lord’s invitation while we sing the hurrah thank you brother Holland appreciate that lesson 226 will be our closing song in a moment we’ll do the first and the last stanzas of 226 we really thank you for being with us today for visiting we hope you’ll stay over for our food and fellowship to follow and then maybe stay on for the one o’clock services again if you possibly can have our closing prayer after these two stanzas wait Oh we about me please our God and our Father we are so thankful for this beautiful day that you have given to us for the beauty that surround us each and every day whether rain sleet sunshine it’s a beautiful world that we live in father we’re thankful for this day the opening of our meeting were thankful for our brother Tom Holland coming our way and presenting a lesson so easily understood that we can apply it to our lives and fathers he presents lessons throughout the remainder of this week we hope others he prepares for these lessons that we can prepare ourselves to be back each and every opportunity that we have chance to be here father we’re mindful of those who have been mentioned that are sick we ask that you will continue to be with them we hope other that they will soon regain all their strength and be back with us and we are thankful father for those that have been sick who have had surgery and is back with us we are mindful father of those who have lost loved ones in recent days we hope father that you will continue to be with them and bless them and comfort them father we are thankful for this congregation for each and every member and we hope other that we will continue to do those things that the elders have set before us and we will continue to grow in number as well as in spirit and father we are thankful for those that have come today that are visitors and we ask father that you be with them if they are looking for a church home that they look no further father we ask that you go with us now throughout the remainder of this day and throughout life guide us and protect us these things West in Christ’s name Amen you

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