Surprise! You’re like God.
JANUARY 25, 2023
Surprise! You’re like God. Let’s talk about it, on Key Life.
Key Life is a radio program for struggling believers, sick of phony religion and pious clichés. Our host and teacher is seminary professor Steve Brown. He teaches that radical freedom leads to infectious joy and surprising faithfulness.
Thank you Matthew. If you’re just joining us, we’re looking at some themes in a book that I wrote that just came out. Title is Laughter in Lament, and I learned so much in writing this book that I can hardly wait to share it with you, and that’s what we’re going to do for the next few weeks. It’s Biblical, I didn’t make this stuff up. I discovered it in Scripture. And once we finish, after a few weeks of looking at this, these themes of laughter and lament, we’ll return to the Book of Acts and spend some time in the final chapters of the Book of Acts. Yesterday I referred to my late friend, Jack Miller. He was a professor at Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia, an author, founder of a very large mission agency Surge. And one of the fathers of the grace movement. And I loved him a lot. And you’ve heard me quote this a lot, and I, it’s one of my favorite quotes of all time. Jack used to say that.
The Christian faith could be summed up in two sentences. Cheer up, you’re a lot worse than you think you are. And secondly, cheer up, God’s grace is a lot bigger than you think it is.
Now, I want to play on those words, and I don’t think Jack would mind. Cheer up, the world, you, everybody else are a lot worse and bent than you think they are. Once one gets that lament becomes Biblical, deep, retching, profound, the tears begin to flow. Christians and everybody else have a tendency to run from the dark. One must run to the dark. The tears and the sorrow of lament have to be accepted and as hard as it is, sometimes affirmed. But cheer up, as we’re going to see over the next few weeks. God and his sovereignty, love, mercy, grace, are far bigger than you ever imagine. When Jesus said, after talking about the darkness of the world in John 15.
These things, I have spoken to you that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be full.
He was teaching us about laughter in lament, and then just to make sure we got it, Jesus said, and he continued.
So also you have sorrow now. But I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice and no one will take your joy from you.
Then because he’s such a good teacher. Jesus changes the words and repeats the thought again.
I have said these things to you that in me, you may have peace in the world you will have tribulation, but take heart.
I might add, give a great big old belly laugh. I have overcome the world. What’s the point? You have to go to graveyards, to witness resurrections. And what I’m going to be talking about over the next few weeks, we’ll visit some graveyards, dark and scary places. If you miss the graveyard, you might feel better, but you’ll never know the resurrection. When you stop by the graveyard, cry, appropriate tears, but check out the spider webs in the empty tomb. Only then will you be able to shout and laugh with the freed slave.
Thank God Almighty. I’m free at last.
So, that’s what we’re going to talk about over the next few weeks. Let’s talk about a surprise first, the surprising laughter and lament of the Creator God of the universe. Genesis 1:27 says.
So, God created man in his own image. In the image of God, he created him, male and female, he created them.
After the creation of the world and all that’s in it. God says, let us make man in our image after our likeness. That means that you are like God. That’s a big deal. And the implication of our being created in the image of God are so many those implications and so profound. It’s the reason every person is valuable. It’s the basis of the pro-life movement. It’s the reason Christians are called to respect and affirm people whose worldviews are different than ours even. Even if we find those worldviews offensive and silly, and they cause us to wince, it’s the reason believers feel such sorrow at sin without having to be told. It’s the source and reason for our longings and the explanation for our redemption. As a great number of people move away from any belief or even awareness of our being created in God’s image, it is also the reason for the meaningless, the alienation that permeates our culture. If we’re created in the image of God, that’s good news. If we’re just a vagrant happenstance, listen to me, there is no good news. And so, we’re going to talk about that as we get into this and we talk about the image of God and the implications of that. When you’re going through a tough time and things are dark, and the tears well up in your eyes, you’ll find it helpful. And when you’re at a party and you’re laughing and dancing, you’ll understand why. Laughter and lament are gifts from God. You think about that. Amen.
Thanks Steve. As we’ve said, we’re taking a short pause in our tour of Acts to do this, a brief exploration of themes found in Steve’s latest book, Laughter and Lament. And he doesn’t say this too often, but Steve makes no money from his books. All proceeds benefit this ministry. So, if any of this has you curious, be sure to check out keylife.org/laughterandlament Did you have a favorite scientist growing up? Well, for many it was Mr. Wizard or Bill Nye or Beakman or even Neil deGrasse Tyson. But these days for my money, it’s tough to be this guy.
Hugh Ross: My purpose for writing Design to the Core is to say we see the fine tuned design, not just at the level of the universe as a whole, but at every single cosmic size level. So, I start with the universe and I go into the cosmic web, large scale structure of the universe, the super galaxy clusters, our galaxy cluster, our galaxy group, our galaxy, and then get into the local arm, the local bubble, the local fluff. We look at our star, the planets that accompany it, basically making a point. No matter what size scale you choose, you see overwhelming evidence that has been designed not just to make possible the existence of as human beings, but specifically to make possible the redemption of billions of human beings from their sin and evil. So, my goal is to bring God up close. So close that you can’t ignore him.
After you read your book, there isn’t any wiggle room. Have you had any repentance from friends who didn’t agree with you before?
Hugh Ross: No, I’ve seen that happen repeatedly where I engage scientists and they say, I just didn’t know the extent of this evidence. And when they see it all, then they realize, wow, I need to pay attention to this. And they begin to investigate the Christian faith. That doesn’t happen overnight. You know, when I’m engaging a scientist who has no Christian background and no knowledge of the Bible, it takes at least two years, sometimes three or four or five years before they give their lives to Jesus Christ. But yeah, it has been my pleasure to see a number of atheists attending my skeptics class, and as we just encourage and love them and answer the questions, they do become followers of Jesus Christ.
Years ago we had you on to debate somebody who disagreed with you and that person was angry, upset, making on scene gestures, shouting, and you were kind and gentle and winsome and thoughtful. And you are that way with unbelievers too, aren’t you?
Hugh Ross: Well, I see that as a command. It’s in I Peter 3:15.
Always be prepared to give good reasons for your faith and hope in Jesus Christ, but with gentleness, respect and a clear clear conscience.
Non-Christians pay more attention to your demeanor than they do your good reasons and your words. The two have to go together.
But as you read through your book, man, you are getting down to minor, little details and that points in the right direction, right?
Hugh Ross: Well, it does. And Steve, you’re a theologian. What you see in the Bible is that God begins his works of redemption before he creates anything at all. Now, as a scientist, that implies that everything that God creates is for the purpose of bringing humans into a redemptive relationship with their Creator. So, what I’ve been doing with my secular peers is challenging them, saying, look, I know you’re not a believer, but if you’ll do your scientific research from a Biblical, redemptive perspective, it’ll make you a better scientist. If you assume that everything you study in science has a redemptive purpose, you’ll be more successful than making scientific discoveries. And of course, my real goal is that they’ll say, Hey, there’s got to be some truth to all this. I need to really seriously investigate, what I see in the pages of Scripture. I think you see it in Romans chapter 1 is that they know the truth, but they engage in self-imposed. ignorance, they blind theirselves to the truth that they see out there, or they say, I don’t even wanna look at it. I mean, I run into astronomers that recognize, yeah, the universe is designed, but don’t talk to me about the sun, don’t talk to me about the earth or the moon. They don’t want to see the evidence. And I say, that’s fine, I want to talk to those people who do want to see the evidence.
And of course, that was Dr. Hugh Ross and wow, does he ever have a gift for making all of this big, heady, scientific stuff approachable to the layperson? We would love for you to hear that entire episode, so we went ahead and put it on a CD that we would be happy to ship to you, for free. Just call us right now at 1-800-KEY-LIFE. That’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also e-mail [email protected] to ask for that CD. And if you’d like to mail your request, just go to keylife.org/contact to find our mailing addresses. Just ask for your free copy of the CD featuring Dr. Hugh Ross. And finally, have you ever partnered in the work of Key Life through your giving? Giving is easy. You can charge a gift on your credit card or include a gift in your envelope. Or just pick up your phone and text Key Life to 28950 that’s Key Life, one word, two words. It doesn’t matter. Text that to 28950. Key Life is a member of ECFA in the States and CCCC in Canada. And we are a listener supported production of Key Life Network.