What is Man?

Sermon for Sunday, November 5, 2017

What is Man?

Psalm 8:

[1] Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!  You have set your glory in the heavens.

[2] Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.

[3] When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, [4] what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?

[5] You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor.

[6] You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet: [7] all flocks and herds, and the animals of the wild, [8] the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.

[9] Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Notice that the question occurs in the middle of the Psalm.  Our goal is to look at what leads up to the question and then what flows from it.

Outline of text:

God’s majestic name (1, 9)

God’s dominion (3)

The question (4)

Humankind’s dominion (5-8)

God’s majestic name (9)

1) God’s majestic name (1, 9).

[1] Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!  You have set your glory in the heavens.

[9] Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

This Psalm of David begins and ends with the same phrase, “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth.”

Notice how this frames the content of this Psalm.  It begins and ends with praising the majestic name of God who is called Lord in our English Bibles.

The praiseworthiness and majesty of our creator frames the simple but penetrating question about us in verse 4, “what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?”

2) God’s dominion:

[3] When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place…

Psalm 19:

[1]  The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

Habakkuk 2:

[14] For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.

Isaiah 6:

[3] Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.

The point: God reveals his majestic name in the greatness of his creation and in his grace toward humans.

3) The question:

[4] what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?

Perhaps David is expressing his wonder that God exalt humans to a place of honor by putting them in charge of the created world.

God is indescribably great and humans are insignificant by comparison, yet God is mindful of humans and gives them honor and authority over creation.

Humans have discovered the reality of our own insignificance through the science of astronomy.  The universe is so vast that distance must be measured in light years.

A light year is the distant light travels in a year.  In one second light can go 186,000 miles.  There are 31.5 million seconds in a year, which means light travels about six trillion miles in a single year.  Yet some stars are billions of light years away from the earth.

This means the earth is just a speck of dust in the vast universe.  Our existence on earth is tiny, and yet God is mindful of us.

Humans are created in God’s image.

Genesis 1:

[26] Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”  [27] So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

The image of God means we are to resemble God in some way.

Our text in Psalm 8:5 says, “You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor.”

Note: Instead of humans being “a little higher than animals,” as evolutionists believe, we are “a little lower than the angels” of God.

This cannot be a physical resemblance because of the nature of God.  God is not physical (John 4:24).

The image of God likely refers to the immaterial part of humans that allow us to be like him in various ways.  One way is that we can know good and evil:

Genesis 3:

[22]  And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil.”

Our conscience also indicates this knowledge.

The image of God also means we have the capacity and the desire to have a relationship with him.

James 3:

[9] With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness.

Humans are rational and have a spiritual nature.  This means we have the capacity to have a relationship with God.

Ecclesiastes 3:

[11] He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

Although we live in a world of time, God has put the recognition of eternity in our hearts.  We recognize the concept of eternity but we cannot fully comprehend it.

The point: We just know that there is some kind of life after this life.

Jesus we possess something that cannot be destroyed by death which is our soul.  Your most important possession is your soul:

Matthew 10:

[28] Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

4) Humankind’s dominion:

[5] You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor.

[6] You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet: [7] all flocks and herds, and the animals of the wild, [8] the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.

David expresses amazement that God would exalt weak humans to have responsibility and dominion over creation.  He reflects on humankind’s position that has been given by God.  Humans are to dominate the earth:

Genesis 1:

[28] God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.  Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

Humans have been exalted because of God’s love for them and he desires that we love him.

1) Humans were created to be the object of God’s love (John 3:16).

This is noted in verse 4, “what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?”

Job 7:

[17] What is mankind that you make so much of them, that you give them so much attention, [18] that you examine them every morning and test them every moment?

God gives humans his attention.  The NASB has “You are concerned about him.”

God says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3).

Psalm 144:

[3] Lord, what are human beings that you care for them, mere mortals that you think of them?

Romans 5:

[8] But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:  While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

2) Humans were created to love God.

Not only were we created to be the object of God’s love but God wants humans to love him.

One way we do this is to live a life that God wants us to live, which is to become like what God is.

1 John 4:

[7] Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.  Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.

[8] Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

[9] This is how God showed his love among us:  He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.  [10] This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

[11] Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

Another way we demonstrate love for God is to obey his commands (John 14:15).

Matthew 22:

[37] “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”  [38] This is the first and greatest commandment.

[39] And the second is like it:  “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

[40] All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.

There is a fulfillment of Psalm 8 in Messiah Jesus:

Hebrews 2:

[5] It is not to angels that he has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking.  [6] But there is a place where someone has testified:

“What is mankind that you are mindful of them, a son of man that you care for him? [7] You made them a little lower than the angels; you crowned them with glory and honor [8] and put everything under their feet.”

In putting everything under them, God left nothing that is not subject to them. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to them.

[9] But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

God placed humans in charge of the world he gave instructions to subdue it (Genesis 1:28).  But notice in verse 8 Hebrew writer says there is something humans have not subjected: “Yet at present we do not see everything subject to them” (v. 8).

What is it that has not been subjected?  It is death: “…he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone” (v.9).

Through Jesus Christ, God is now preparing people to live with him in eternity.  This is what the message of the Bible is all about.  Is this your goal in life?

J B Myers
jbmyers1@gmail.com

Books:
Faith and Addiction
Elders and Deacons
Life Choices

Dependence on God

Sermon for Sunday, October 29, 2017

Dependence on God

Jeremiah 17:

[5] This is what the Lord says: “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the Lord.

[6] That person will be like a bush in the wastelands; they will not see prosperity when it comes.  They will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives.

[7] “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.

[8]  They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.   It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green.  It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

Verse 5, “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the Lord.”

Lesson: We trust in things other than God.  The Jews were trusting in the Egyptians rather than God.  Isaiah had already warned the nation about this:

Isaiah 31:

[3] But the Egyptians are mere mortals and not God…

The Jews expected help from the Egyptians when they rebelled against Babylon but God told them not to rebel.  They used their own human wisdom and not God’s advice.

Instead, verse 7 says “the one who trusts in the Lord” will be blessed.

Proverbs 3:

[5]  Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;

[6] in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Those who trust in the Lord are like trees planted by the water.  Look at verse 8:

[8]  They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.   It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green.  It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.

See Psalm 1:1-3.

As a tree is dependent on water, we are dependent on God.

Our dependence on God does not mean we become passive in our relationship with him.  God has a role for us in our dependence.  The point is that we should recognize our dependence.

Regarding the house of Eli, God says:

2 Samuel 2:

[30] Therefore the Lord, the God of Israel, declares: “I promised that members of your family would minister before me forever.”  But now the Lord declares: “Far be it from me!  Those who honor me I will honor, but those who despise me will be disdained.”

1) Dependence means we always trust God.

Proverbs 29:

[25] Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.

Proverbs 3:

[5]  Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;

[6] in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Trusting in God means we depend on him for our competence:

2 Corinthians 3:

[5] Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.

2) Our future is dependent on God.

When I was a senior in high school, I heard a speaker talk about what would happen 20 years from that time.  He missed almost everything.

Yogi Berra said, “predicting is hard, especially when it is about the future.”

We all would like to know what the future holds for us.  The Bible says we should not be too sure about what we think of the future.

Proverbs 27:

[1] Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.

Note the changes that have been made that were not foreseen:

Maps:

GPS devices and MapQuest have eliminated maps.  Asking for directions, carrying around paper maps, and even getting lost are all increasingly obsolete.

Encyclopedias:  Google and Wikipedia.

Landline phones: Who could have foreseen the disappearance of landline phones?  Phonebooks?

Hand-Written Letters: Does anyone still write letters to friends?  Instead of writing a letter, I call or send an email.  A survey of incoming freshmen revealed that few knew how to write in cursive or have ever worn a wristwatch.

We should ask God that we not waste our days and opportunities.

Psalm 90:

[12] Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

The wise person will understand the brevity of life.  This should cause us to consider the limited number of days we have in view of eternity.

The point: We only have a short time to obey the gospel and be useful in the kingdom.

If this were the last sermon you would ever hear, would you leave this meeting saved or lost?  I have often preached the last sermon people have heard before they died.  This weighs heavy on my heart each time I preach.

Luke 12:

[16] And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest.  [17] He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’

[18] “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do.  I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain.  [19] And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years.  Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” ’

[20] “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

[21] “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”

Many in this church who were here in 1999 when I moved here are not here in 2017.  Today’s sermon may be the last sermon you will ever hear, or the last year you ever live.  We cannot presume that we will be alive tomorrow or the next day.

We should ask God that we not waste our days and opportunities.

If this were the last sermon you would ever hear, would you leave this meeting saved or lost?

I have often preached the last sermon people have heard before they died.  This weighs heavy on my heart each time I preach.

3) Beware of self-centered planning.

James 4:

[13] Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.”  [14] Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow.  What is your life?  You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.

[15] Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”  As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes.  All such boasting is evil.

[17] If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.

Note, he thinks he knows the future.  In verse 13, he says, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.”

This man plans a period of time and a place to go.  He also thinks he knows what he will be able to do.  He is going to buy and sell.  He also predicts the profits.  He thinks he will make money.

The lesson: He leaves God out of his plan.  Don’t plan your life as if there is no God.

The proper attitude is found in verse 15: “Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’”

We often pray: “Lord, bless what I am doing.”  Instead, we should pray: “Lord, show me what I should be doing.”

Psalm 119:

[105] Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.

If we do not seek God’s leading in our lives, we will come to the end of life and say:

“My youth was a mistake, my adulthood a struggle, and my old age a regret.”

God has a plan for your life.

James 4:17 warns us of the danger of procrastination: “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.”

Procrastination is a deceptive sin because it is not obvious.

Sins like drunkenness, violence, stealing, and sexual immorality are more obvious.  Even sins of the heart like hate and jealousy are more obvious than procrastination.

It is easy not to think of procrastination as a sin, but the Bible says, “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.”

Good point:  If you are doing what you ought to do, you cannot do what you ought not to do!

Why are people lost today?  Is it because they lie, steal, or commit adultery?  No.  It is because they fail to do what they ought to do.

I once saw a tract titled, “What must I do to be saved?”  Under this heading there were Bible verses telling you what you must do.  On the other side, there was the heading, “What must I do to be lost?”  Under this heading there was nothing.

He wasn’t much for stirring about, it wasn’t his desire, while others worked to build the church he was sitting by the fire.

Same old story day by day, no matter what others did, he was sitting by the fire.

At last he died as all must do, some say he went up higher, but if he is doing what he used to do, he is sitting by the fire.

Many say, “But I haven’t done anything wrong.”  But, “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.”

Obey God now.  Don’t wait until tomorrow.  Remember, the Bible says, “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth” (Proverbs 27:1).

J B Myers
jbmyers1@gmail.com

Books:
Faith and Addiction
Elders and Deacons
Life Choices

Power of My Example

Power of My Example

Introduction:

Years ago I had a meeting with my family at the Cracker Barrel restaurant.  At that meeting, I began to recognize the impact I had on so many people.  For good or bad, I have had an impact on others.  Some would not even be alive if it were not for me, or if I had made other decisions.

The argument is not whether we have had an impact on the lives of other people but what kind of impact.

It is not just limited to dads and moms, but to grandparents.  It also includes anyone you touch in your daily life because people know who you are and are influenced by you to some extent.

For Christians, we are to be examples as Christians.  People know us by our relationship with Christ.  So, one is not a school teacher, but a Christian school teacher, or Christian business person, or Christian doctor, and so on.

If people know of our relationship with Christ, they identify us by that relationship.  People are watching us and some follow our example.

In view of this, we are supposed to be examples of Christ in this world to our children, neighborhood, fellow workers or classmates.

There are no excuses for not being a good example.  Being the right kind of example is a part of being a Christian.

1 Corinthians 4:

[16] Therefore I urge you to imitate (μιμηταί) me.

[17] For this reason I am sending to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord.  He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.

Being an example of Christ today is always rooted in the biblical example of Christ.  Note verse 16 of our text: “Therefore I urge you to imitate (μιμηταί) me.”

Many today ask “What would Jesus do?”

This is well and good as long as we know what Jesus did!  The problem is that many start making stuff up about their own view of Jesus as they perceive him rather than how he is revealed in Scripture.

Edgar Guest was a poet who was active in the first half of the last century.  Toward the end of his career he wrote a poem titled, “Sermons We See.”

I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day;
I’d rather one should walk with me than merely tell the way.
The eye is a better pupil, more willing than the ear;
Fine counsel is confusing, but example is always clear,
And the best of all the preachers are the men who live their creeds,
For to see a good put in action is what everybody needs.

1 Corinthians 11:

[1] Follow my example (μιμηταί), as I follow the example of Christ.

The poet continues:

I can soon learn how to do it if you will let me see it done;
I can watch your hand in action, but your tongue too fast may run.
And the lectures you deliver may be very wise and true,
But I’d rather get my lesson by observing what you do.
For I may misunderstand you and the high advice you give,
But there is no misunderstanding how you act and how you live
.

1 Timothy 4:

[12] Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.

Note also that Timothy’s job is more than just telling people what to do, but showing them what to do by his example.  As Christians, we not only set the standard by what we say and believe but by what we do in living out that truth.

Why do you suppose speech is the first thing on the list?  Perhaps it was the hardest.

James 3:

[6] The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body.  It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

The Bible says, “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones” (Proverbs 16:24).

The Bible also says that “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” (Proverbs 12:18).

Here is the point: This is hard to do!

The Bible says “Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips” (Psalms 141:3).  So, the next time we talk, ask ourselves “What would Jesus say?”

Next, he says set an example “in life.” Not just a life, but a life that is ordered in a particular way.  Perhaps “a way of life” would be better.

Luke 6:

[40] A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.

This is how we set an example for the believers in life.  We become like our teacher who is Christ.  Or, as Paul said in our text, “Follow my example (μιμηταί), as I follow the example of Christ.”

John 13:

[34] A new command I give you: Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.

[35] By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

Notice that Jesus calls this a new command.  Love is not a new command.  What is new is that we are to love as Jesus loved: “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

We should ask, “How did Jesus demonstrate his love?”

Love is often defined by the extent to which one is willing to act in behalf of another.  Note the example of the story of the Good Samaritan.  The good Samaritan was willing to stop and help the one who had been robbed.

Paul also says set an example “in love.”

Philippians 3:

[17] Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you.

Philippians 4:

[9] Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice.

Many of us think we cannot do this because we are imperfect, but we do not have to be perfect to set the right example.

The Christian life is a process toward maturity, which means we are not going to be perfect in the way we always live our Christian life.  But others also need to see what we do as a Christian when we fail or struggle to live the Christian life.

Note that Paul often admitted he was not perfect but at the same time encouraged the brothers to follow his example.

1 Timothy 1:

[15] Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.

[16] But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.

In the same way, we can provide an example to our children and others by working through our imperfections.  So, being imperfect and knowing that does not exclude us from be an example for Christ.

Love is demonstrated when we care for and correct those who stumble in life:

Galatians 6:

[1] Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently.  But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.

[2] Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

When I see a deed of kindness, I am eager to be kind.
When a weaker brother stumbles, and a strong man stands behind
Just to see if he can help him, then the wish grows strong in me
To become as big and thoughtful as I know that friend to be.
And all travelers can witness that the best of guides today
Is not the one who tells them, but the one who shows the way.

Titus 2:

[6] Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled.

[7] In everything set them an example by doing what is good.

In your teaching show integrity, seriousness [8] and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.

One good man teaches many; men believe what they behold;
One deed of kindness noted is worth forty that are told.
Who stands with men of honor learns to hold his honor dear,
For right living speaks a language which to everyone is clear.
Though an able speaker charms me with his eloquence, I say,
I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day
.

J B Myers
jbmyers1@gmail.com

Books:
Faith and Addiction
Elders and Deacons
Life Choices