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It's Revelation. And You're Soaking in It.

We live submerged in an ocean of revelation. Jesus Christ is the source of all knowledge and wisdom. He gives freely to all.

Psalm 19:1-6, Jeremiah 33:19-25, Genesis 1:26-27, John 1:1-3, Hebrews 1:1-4, Genesis 8:22, Job 38:8-11, Job 38:4-7, Psalm 94:8-15, Job 38:36, Colossians 2:1-5, John 1:9

Jun 23, 2013 11:30 AM

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If you knew of a fish who could talk, and you asked him, “Tell me fish; what is it like to be wet?” what would he say? Or you might ask “Fish, I'll bet you have some real insights into the nature and behavior of water. How fast does the water move and what's the water pressure down there at the bottom of the ocean just past the continental shelf where you feed?” Would it be surprising to hear the fish respond, “Water? What is this water you are talking about? All I do all day is swim around, trying to eat those tasty little striped fish—There goes one! I can tell you about the rocks, the seaweed, the jellyfish, the sharks I try to avoid; but what is this 'water,' this 'wetness' of which you speak?”

It is very likely, isn't it, that he might have any idea what you are talking about? Surrounded by water at every moment since he came into this world until this very moment, the properties of water and the feeling of wetness would probably be the last things that he would ever think about.

This fishy story is something that I read years ago. Don't remember for sure who came up with it. Might have been C.S. Lewis. And, as you have probably guessed, it is meant to illustrate a point about the human experience. But fish aren't that intelligent. And they can't talk. Certainly human beings like us are nothing like the fish in this story? Or are we?

Evangelista Torricelli, physicist and mathematician, invented the barometer in 1643. He was hired to ascertain why water pumps commissioned by the Duke of Tuscany could not pump water all the way out of the wells and into the channels that were to take water to where it was needed. The suction pumps that were used could raise the water only so far and no farther. No matter how hard or fast they pumped, the water would rise no higher than a certain level. Why? Torricelli endeavored to find out. To make a long story short, his experimentation lead him to the conclusion that the reason suction pumps work—and people had used such pumps since ancient times without understanding the physical principles underlying them—they worked by harnassing the pressure of the air to draw water up to a higher level. When the pressure of the water drawn up into the pump equalled the pressure of the surrounding air, the water would rise no higher.

Torricelli was not the first to suggest that air exerted pressure on objects. However, this was not the common view. And so, his claim was controversial. It was especially controversial because of the methodology by which Torricelli determined that air exerts pressure. He built an aparatus which balanced a column of mercury in a glass tube between the open air on one end, in which the tube was immersed in a bowl of mercury, and the other end of the tube which was sealed. Torricelli claimed that, as the mercury in the closed end of the tube, which was initially filled with mercury, was allowed to drop and seek its own level, an area of empty space with no air was formed in the tube. A vacuumed had formed.

A vacuum? This cannot be, because Aristotle, the ancient Greek philosopher, had said that “Nature abhors a vacuum.” And Aristotles was considered, till the early modern period, pretty much the first word, the middle word, and the last word on what was called “Natural Philosophy”, or roughly what we refer to today as “Science,” as well as being considered the premier thinker in most all areas of philosophy.

Aristotle's thinking also had a tremendous influence on theology, especially that of the Roman Catholic church in the Middle Ages. In fact, the writings of Toricelli's mentor, Galileo, had dealt the death blow to the Aristotelian physics that the RCC held to. This provides the formal reasoning for Galileo's condemnation by the RCC for heresy. (Although his conviction probably had as much or more to do with a personal slight against the pope as it did with Galileo's views on Science.)

So the ideas that vacuums were possible and that air had pressure were controverial in Torricelli's day. People thought, “OK. When the wind is blowing, the air can knock things over. That's true. Everybody knows that. But when the air is still, it certainly does not exert any pressure on anything; that's silly talk. I don't feel any air pressure.”

But Toricelli concluded, “We live submerged at the bottom of an ocean of air.” He demonstrated this fact. He has been shown through varied and repeated experimentation to have been right.

Keith asked me, in speaking to you today, and again next week, that I address the subject of the inerrancy and infallibility of Scripture. I wanted to begin the discussion by talking about what is known in theology as “General Revelation.” That is, the revelation that we receive from God, through the things that He has created. The Scriptures, that is, the collection of verbally-inspired writings we have received from the Prophets and Apostles of God, and which you have in your hands, printed and bound in a volume entitled, “The Holy Bible,” these have much to say about Natural or General Revelation.

Today, I want to show you, from the Scriptures that we; and by that I mean every man, woman, and child on earth, and not just Christians, but all human beings, live submerged in an ocean of revelation from our Triune Creator God.

The very first paragraph of the 1689 Second London Baptist Confession of Faith—and again, I quote this excellent summary of Christian doctrine, not because I consider it a standard of equal authority with the Bible—I do not.—But because I believe it contains a consice and accurate summary of the teaching of the Bible on this subject, written by learned men of God. The very first paragraph of the 1689 states:

The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience, although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men inexcusable; yet are they not sufficient to give that knowledge of God and his will which is necessary unto salvation. Therefore it pleased the Lord at sundry times and in divers manners to reveal himself, and to declare that his will unto his church; and afterward for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan, and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing; which maketh the Holy Scriptures to be most necessary, those former ways of God's revealing his will unto his people being now ceased.

(That is, the giving of fresh revelation through prophets having ceased.)

This speaks of what are sometimes called “The Two Books” of God. The book of nature, or General Revelation and the book of Scripture, or Special Revelation.

The light of nature, and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God,” declares the confession.

And as Francis Bacon, the father of the scientific method has said,

God has, in fact, written two books, not just one. Of course, we are all familiar with the first book he wrote, namely Scripture. But he has written a second book called creation.”

There are many passages of the Bible that teach this. Perhaps the best known is from Psalm 19:

Psalm 19:1-6 ESV

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.

Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.

There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard.

Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.

In them he has set a tent for the sun, which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.

Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its heat.

The Psalm then transitions to speak of Special Revelation, which I will save for next time.

So, we see the glory and power of God displayed in the Sun, and stars and planets which he has made, and which follow the course He has set for them.

And Scripture appeals to the regularity of the movement of the heavenly bodies as a demonstration that God's word is sure; that His promises will be kept without fail. God, speaking through Jeremiah refers to a covenant He has made with night and day:

Jeremiah 33:19-25 ESV

The word of the LORD came to Jeremiah: “Thus says the LORD: If you can break my covenant with the day and my covenant with the night, so that day and night will not come at their appointed time, then also my covenant with David my servant may be broken, so that he shall not have a son to reign on his throne, and my covenant with the Levitical priests my ministers. As the host of heaven cannot be numbered and the sands of the sea cannot be measured, so I will multiply the offspring of David my servant, and the Levitical priests who minister to me.”

Here we see that the workings and processes of the created realm are bound closely together with the words of God and with the concept of covenant. Indeed, it is by the very words of God spoken that the universe was created and is sustained each moment. This is why we refer to the regularities we observe in the physical world as “Laws of Nature.”

We are all familiar with the first chapter of Genesis, in which the formula “And God said...” is repeated many times as in “And God said let there be light” and there was light. In the same way, God spoke into existance the heavens, the oceans, the earth, and all life upon it. Finally, in

Genesis 1:26-27 ESV

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

And ever since the creation week, God has sustained the Creation by His word. Indeed we learn in the New Testament that it is the Son of God, also known as the Logos, the Word of God who is the One through whom and by whom the Universe was made and who holds it together:

John 1:1-3 ESV

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

Hebrews 1:1-4 ESV

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

All the mighty forces of nature obey His voice:

Genesis 8:22 ESV

While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.

Job 38:8-11 ESV

Or who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb, when I made clouds its garment and thick darkness its swaddling band, and prescribed limits for it and set bars and doors, and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stayed’?

Chapter 38 of Job goes on to speak of God's providential care over a number of different aspect of the natural world, from His ordaining of the arrangements and movements of the stars down to His providing prey for the lions and food for birds.

But, as they say, “You ain't seen nothing yet!”

God intended for His creation to be appreciated. To reveal His glory and magesty and love in it. And, yes, His wrath and judgement as well. Angels and men were both created for this purpose.

Job 38:4-7 ESV

Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?  Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it?  On what were its bases sunk,or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

Man was made to know God and to fellowship with Him. It is for these reasons that God has given man his sense and his rational faculties.

Psalm 94:8-15 ESV

Understand, O dullest of the people!

Fools, when will you be wise?

He who planted the ear, does he not hear?

He who formed the eye, does he not see?

He who disciplines the nations, does he not rebuke?

He who teaches man knowledge—the LORD—knows the thoughts of man, that they are but a breath.

Blessed is the man whom you discipline, O LORD, and whom you teach out of your law, to give him rest from days of trouble, until a pit is dug for the wicked.

For the LORD will not forsake his people; he will not abandon his heritage; for justice will return to the righteous, and all the upright in heart will follow it.

And again in

Job 38:36 ESV

Who has put wisdom in the inward parts or given understanding to the mind?

This is how and why Science and Technology work. God uses man's senses of hearing and sight to bring data about the created world into man's mind and the intellect and wisdom He has given man to make sense of these data.

Scripture reveals that it is our Lord Jesus Christ Himself who is the source of all knowledge and wisdom:

Colossians 2:1-5 ESV

For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God's mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments. For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ.

John 1:9 ESV

The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.

As the father of modern Astronomy, Johann Kepler said,

"I was merely thinking God's thoughts after him. Since we astronomers are priests of the highest God in regard to the book of nature, it benefits us to be thoughtful, not of the glory of our minds, but rather, above all else, of the glory of God."

Tycho Brahe, on whose precise calculations of the positions and movements of the stars, Keplers work was based said,

"Those who study the stars have God for a teacher."

Isacc Newton, the father of modern Physics wrote:

This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being. And if the fixed stars are the centers of other like systems, these, being formed by the like wise counsel, must be all subject to the dominion of One, especially since the light of the fixed stars is of the same nature with the light of the sun and from every system light passes into all the other systems; and lest the systems of the fixed stars should, by their gravity, fall on each other mutually, he hath placed those systems at immense distances from one another.


"This Being governs all things not as the soul of the world, but as Lord over all; and on account of his dominion he is wont to be called "Lord God" . . . And from his true dominion it follows that the true God is a living, intelligent and powerful Being. . .”

In the days that these men I have mentioned: Bacon, Galileo, Torricelli, Brahe, Kepler, Newton, among many others, the founders of modern Science; in they days they lived, it was almost universally believed among them that God had written two books. And that the book of Scripture gives us the incentive and the means and the warrant and the license and the command to investigate the other book, the book of Creation. To learn, by considering the second book, using the senses God gave us to observe His world in conjunction with the intellect He gave us, enabling us to apply the wisdom learned from the the first book, so that we can appreciate the Creation more fully, know and love God more deeply, and benefit men, women, and children by applying what we have learned for their welfare. (As Francis Bacon has said, and it's one of my favorite quotes, “Knowledge is power.”) And all this that God may be glorifed.

That was then.

This is now.

The 19th and 20th centuries saw an increasing secularization of the scientific enterprise. Scientific methodologies, still grounded and rooted in the earlier philosophical and theological ideals that gave birth to them, still “work”, and I put that word in quotes because they do not, nor did they ever work mechanically. There is no formula or methodology whereby, if you follow it consistantly will automatically produce knowledge. Rather, it is our Lord Jesus, the Christ, who is still graciously blessing the scientific and technological enterprises by revealing more of his thoughts to them, by sharing His treasures of knowledge and wisdom.

The first half of the 20th century saw the rise of the philosophical movement known as “Logical Positivism.” At the center of the Positivist's thinking was the so-call Verification Principle. This stated that there are only two kinds of statements that can be made: 1) Statements that can be verified empirically, that is by testing and observation, and 2) Meaningless statements. This means that, if a statement; for example, “Water boils at 100 degrees celcius,” can be tested and shown to be either true or false, then it is a meaningful statement. If however, a statement cannot be tested scientifically the statement has no objective meaning. This means that statements such as “Thats' a lovely tapestry,” or “It's wrong to kill babies,” are simply nonsense. Statements like “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me,” are neither true nor false. They are simply empty words, sounds without associated meanings.

Although it has been over half a century since the Verification Principle was soundly refuted and the Logical Positivist school of philosophy fell into disrepute and its thinktanks disbanded, its ideas still hold sway over many. Today's expression of Positivism is often refered to as “Scientism.”

Well, Logical Positivism, which was the latest expression of Modernist thinking, was followed by Post-Modern thinking, in which there are no objective truths, but only subjective ones. What's true for me may not be true for you. And vice-versa. For you there may be no god. You will simply cease to exist when you die. For me, I will go to be with my God upon my death. My friend Sue will find herself in purgatory. Tolkien is spending some time in Middle Earth. Your beliefs create your reality.

Since largely abandoning the First Book of God, the Bible, and its wisdom, society has seen a “Progression of Ignorance.”

We'll continue by looking at Special Revelation next time.



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