I will give you the treasures of darkness and the hoards in secret places, that you may know that it is I, the LORD, the God of Israel, who call you by your name. 4 For the sake of my servant Jacob, and Israel my chosen, I call you by your name, I name you, though you do not know me. 5 I am the LORD, and there is no other, besides me there is no God; I equip you, though you do not know me, 6 that people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the LORD, and there is no other. 7 I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the LORD, who does all these things. 8 “Shower, O heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain down righteousness; let the earth open, that salvation and righteousness may bear fruit; let the earth cause them both to sprout; I the LORD have created it. 9 “Woe to him who strives with him who formed him, a pot among earthen pots! Does the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’ or ‘Your work has no handles’? 10 Woe to him who says to a father, ‘What are you begetting?’ or to a woman, ‘With what are you in labor?'” 11 Thus says the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and the one who formed him: “Ask me of things to come; will you command me concerning my children and the work of my hands?(1) 12 I made the earth and created man on it; it was my hands that stretched out the heavens, and I commanded all their host. 13 I have stirred him up in righteousness, and I will make all his ways level; he shall build my city and set my exiles free, not for price or reward,” says the LORD of hosts. Isaiah 45:3-13 (ESV)
Early in the message, R.C. referred to a recent statement by Franklin Graham in which he opined that Hurricane Katrina could possibly be the judgment of God upon New Orleans. A news reporter commented with this statement of faith: “I don’t believe in a God who punishes the innocent.” R.C. agrees that God doesn’t punish the innocent. With the exception of Christ’s death on the cross, no innocent person has ever been punished by God. However, there are no innocents! What the reporter really meant was that he could not believe in a God who punishes anyone!
R.C. then recalled the question that he heard often following the attacks on America on 9/11. The question was: “Where was God on 9/11?” The answer: “The same place he was on 9/10 and 9/12, sitting on His throne!” We get so upset about the 3,000 who were killed on 9/11 that our whole lifestyle has been adjusted since then. But what about the 5,000 babies who were killed in their mother’s wombs the week of 9/11 and every other week since then?!?! Nobody seems to care about that! But God cares!
Ever since 9/11, says Sproul, a mantra has been part of America’s vocabulary. It has appeared on bumper stickers and at the end of each of President Bush’s speeches. It is the phrase: “God bless America!” But R.C. asks, if God has the ability to bless America, does He not also have the power to withhold his blessing from America? Does God have the right to judge America?
Human beings have a natural tendency toward idolatry! Sproul says, “We must check ourselves daily to see whether or not the God in whom we are believing and whom we are preaching is the God of the Bible!”
Isaiah 45:7 declares a God who is sovereign over calamities. But not only is this not believed in our world today, it is not proclaimed in our pulpits either! Sproul tells of a woman with a Ph.D. in Physchology who attends a church in California. She confided in R.C. that she is disturbed by her pastor’s preaching. When asked why she replied, “It seems to me that he is trying to the best of his ability to hide the true character of God from the congregation.” What a sad commentary on the pulpits of America!
Following the Reformation of the 16th century, the slogan Post Tenebras Lux (After Darkness, Light). But the slogan of the church today should be Post Lux Tenebras (After Light, Darkness)!
The church has become man-centered. We no longer say, Soli Deo Gloria (To God Alone Be The Glory)! Sproul then discussed the debate between Pelagius and Augustine concerning our moral inability as humans. Pelagius became outraged at Augustine’s prayer: “Lord, grant what thou commandest and command what thou desirest.” Pelagius countered that God would never command man to do something which he lacked the ability to do. Augustine said God always commands man to do things which he lacks the ability to do! Augustine taught that Adam’s sin effected all of humanity with the result of moral inability. Pelagius taught that Adam’s sin only effected him and each person had the moral ability to choose good or evil as a morally neutral individual. But, Jesus said, “No man can come to me!” (John 6:44). And all the crowd went away!
Sproul concluded his message with the following statement:
Every day we must ask ourselves, “How much of what we believe is from the Word of God or from the culture around us?”