Calvary Road Baptist Church

“QUESTIONS”

I have long insisted that the right answers are usually only found by those who are willing to ask the right questions. I found this to be true in my professional career as an engineer, and it is certainly the case with respect to spiritual issues. Because the spiritual realm is so divorced from our physical reality, and the perceptions we derive from our five senses, the proper approach to inquiry about spiritual things must be recognized to be crucial. Of course, what cannot be divorced from our investigation of spiritual things is the clear declaration from God’s Word that all men are dead in trespasses and sins, and that our spiritual deadness profoundly influences our ability to both investigate and to understand spiritual truths. Thus, things related to sin and salvation are very much out of our depth apart from the guidance provided by God’s Word and by God’s Spirit. This is verified by the Apostle Paul’s comment in First Corinthians 2.14, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

Therefore, recognizing the bias in a sinner’s thinking that comes from spiritual deadness and sinfulness, man’s complete inability to be objective, which is evidenced by the tendency to deceive one’s self, as well as the real vulnerability to Satanic deception, I want to address a line of inquiry this morning that is both reasonable and profitable. I would like to set before you several questions that I believe an intellectually honest person will ask if he thinks of them, or will acknowledge as legitimate if they are suggested to him.

Question number 1: Is God real? There are three possible answers to this question: First, yes, God is real. Second, I do not know. Third, no, there is no God. The third response is the response of an atheist, and is patently foolish, since there is no possible way to disprove the existence of God without knowing all things and without searching the known universe. The second answer, I do not know, is called agnosticism, meaning without knowledge. It is the honest assessment of a person who cannot answer in the affirmative. Since such a person has admitted his ignorance concerning the existence of God, he might find it best to simply be quiet when the subject of God’s existence is discussed, though few agnostics are willing to hold off expressing their admittedly ignorant opinions. The first answer to the question, yes, God is real, God does exist, God is, is attested to by evidence. First, there is the evidence of nature. I commend Psalm 19.1-6 to you for consideration at a later time. That passage, as well as others in the Bible, insists that nature gives evidence of a Maker. Though God is invisible, He has left what amounts to fingerprints all over creation. Below you will find an artist’s rendition of microscopic flagellum motors that propel one-celled bacteria. I am sure you will find it interesting. The flagellum motors are extremely small, extraordinarily complex, and impossible to explain by evolution, because unless every single part of the flagellum motor functions properly (which cannot be accounted for by evolutionary processes that supposedly take place gradually over time) the motors simply do not work, with an inoperative motor being a great disadvantage to survival. The legitimate question is who designed the flagellum motors? Where did the genetic information for the organism to build them come from? How did these one-celled critters survive over the millions of years their flagellum motors were evolving but not working? This is only one evidence of the existence of the Creator. After all, when you see a watch you immediately assume the existence of a watch maker. It is quite logical and most reasonable. Ready for another question? How about the immutable law of cause and effect? For every effect there must be a cause, and no scientist would ever knowingly dispute that, not since scientists disavowed what they used to call spontaneous generation. Yet for all the blather we hear from scientists who are engaging in philosophy and not science, very few will admit the obvious; the Big Bang is a theory that is not only not based on science, it is a theory that is based upon the idea that there is an effect without a cause. On any other question the scientific community would howl in protest that someone would suggest an effect without a cause. Yet, when it comes to the question of how the effect of the Big Bang without a cause, scientists are arrogantly dismissive. Let me tell you something: Dismissive arrogance is a cover that conceals weak logic.

I could continue asking questions all morning long, but I must not allow myself to be distracted from my purpose, which is to address more immediately important questions than those frequently skirted by scientists who leave the realm of their expertise and venture into philosophical regions. For those of you who believe God is, that He has revealed Himself to His intelligent creatures, and that He has communicated to us by means of His Word, the Bible, I have other considerations for you this morning. The Bible is the only book in existence that both claims to be authored by God Himself and has been subjected to the harshest scrutiny for 2000 years, surviving unscathed. Contrary to the Koran, God’s Word was written over a span of some 16 centuries by approximately 40 men, yet there exists no factual or doctrinal conflict between the writings of any of these Spirit-inspired authors, from Moses to John. Is the Koran subject to such scrutiny? Not by men who want to live to a ripe old age. Therefore, for you theists who believe God is, for you historians who recognize the singular and unique position of the Bible in all of literature, I set before you more questions.

Three types of questions for your consideration this morning:

First, A QUESTION ASKED BY GOD.

Allow me to establish the context in which the question is asked: God has created the universe and all that herein is in 6 literal 24 hour days. This is covered in Genesis chapters 1 and 2. On the 6th day, God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul. God then placed the man in the Garden of Eden with the responsibility to dress and keep the garden. Because He did not want the man to be alone, He also created for him an help meet for him, who Adam named Eve. All was well in the garden, the man and the woman were sinless, and they had no restrictions placed upon them except the prohibition forbidding them to eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. However, both the woman and the man finally did violate God’s prohibition and sinned. The Bible teaches us that once Adam and Eve sinned against God, and became aware of their own nakedness, they hid themselves from Him. There they are, naked and trembling in fear, hiding in the bushes from the Creator of all things, Who sees all, and Who knows all.

What did they think they were going to accomplish by disobeying God in the first place, and by hiding from God in the second place? This opens for our consideration Adam and Eve’s spiritual state, as well as their state of mind, following their sin against God. I do not speak at present of their thought processes when they sinned against God, but about what happened immediately after they sinned against God. According to Genesis 3.7, “the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.” Obviously, they knew something dramatic had occurred, and their relationships to each other and to God were suddenly changed. They saw what they had never seen before, knew what they had never known before, and immediately set about the business of covering themselves to hide their nakedness. The next verse tells us, “They heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.” What God said we do not know. However, in response Adam and Eve hid themselves among the trees of the garden. Their estimation of their own cleverness to hide themselves, accompanied by their lowered appraisal of God’s abilities, enabled them to fool themselves into thinking they might succeed. What folly. What deception.

We now come to the question asked by God: “Where art thou?” What a pregnant phrase this is, so full of implications. God did not ask this question in order that He might know. He already knew where they were, both geographically and spiritually. He sees all. He knows all. God asked this question for Adam’s benefit, not for His own. Adam and Eve are now estranged from God by their sin. Their relationship with God is now one of offenders versus the One who has been wronged, the lawbreakers versus the law Giver, the creatures who are now ungrateful toward their Creator. Notice some things about this question that God asked Adam. Notice that it was God who sought them out, not they who sought out God. Thus has it ever been. Notice that it was God who queried them, not that they asked anything of God. Notice that it is God who seeks reconciliation, while Adam and Eve’s responses to God’s voice was to hide. So it is with you, my friend. Though Adam and Eve became sinners by sinning, and you and I were born sinners by nature, our responses have ever been the same as theirs. It is only when God takes steps to seek sinners out that there can be any hope of reconciliation with Him. You will never initiate reconciliation with God, and neither have I. Be ever mindful, my friend, that whether by spoken word, or by written Word, or by means of His providential dealings in our lives, it is always God Who asks, “Where art thou?” What should be your answer? What has been your answer? What will be your answer?

Next, A QUESTION ASKED BY THE SAVIOR.

Once more, allow me to establish the context in which the question is asked. In the eternal council chambers of heaven, the eternal God planned for the redemption of some sinful men. To accomplish this, it was decided that the eternal Son of the living God would leave heaven’s glory someday to be born of a virgin named Mary. He would live a sinless life, die a sacrificial death, be buried in a borrowed rich man’s tomb, and rise from the dead on the third day, victorious over sin, death, hell, and the grave. Sometime after His ascension to His Father’s right hand on high, the Lord Jesus Christ poured out the Holy Spirit of God upon His church in Jerusalem, on the Day of Pentecost. That began a heaven-sent revival that saw the Christian faith spread from the Indus River Valley in the East to the British Isles in the West, to Africa in the South and to Europe and Asia in the North, in approximately 75 years. However, before the Christian faith began to spread there was an incubation time in the city of Jerusalem, during which the thousands of Day of Pentecost converts were seasoned and trained by the apostles. When it was time for the believers to go forth, God sent persecution into their midst to scatter them, at which time they took the gospel with them everywhere they went. Unfolding a plan fully known only by God, the greatest enemy of the Christian faith, a man known as Saul of Tarsus, was harassing, persecuting, imprisoning, and even an accessory to the deaths of Christian martyrs, was traveling on the road to Damascus, when he was confronted by the glorified Lord Jesus Christ.

Acts 9.3-4 provides the important details of the encounter:

3      And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:

4      And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?

It is clear from the context of the passage that the speaker is the glorified Lord Jesus Christ. It is also clear as Paul recounted this event on other occasions, that the others in his party at that time, while aware that some great thing had happened, had no idea their traveling companion experienced a visitation from the Son of God or was asked a question by the glorious Lord. Several things can be surmised from this event: First, we see that the Lord Jesus Christ held Saul of Tarsus accountable for persecuting Him when Saul’s hostile activities were directed toward the Lord’s followers. This reveals to us that the Lord Jesus Christ so closely identifies with His own, that to persecute a Christian is seen by Christ as an act of persecution against His Own person. The implications of that reality are rarely pondered by unbelievers. Second, we see that the Lord Jesus Christ is here demonstrating what we saw in the Garden of Eden, that the initiative to seek reconciliation seems not ever to be instigated by the sinner. This same Apostle Paul would later write in Romans 3.11, “there is none that seeketh after God.” Adam did not seek after God. Saul of Tarsus did not seek after God. No sinner seeks after God. Interestingly, the Bible does not record Saul of Tarsus ever answering the question posed by the Lord Jesus Christ, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?”

Why did Saul persecute Christ by persecuting Christians? We know the answer to this question because later in life the Apostle Paul informs us. The reason why he persecuted Christ by persecuting Christians, and the reason why less zealous sinners who do not persecute Christians will nevertheless oppose the Christian faith, oppose the Lord Jesus Christ, and oppose the very person of God Himself, is because every sinner is God’s enemy, Romans 5.10. Adam and Eve betrayed God and became His enemies when they ate the forbidden fruit. Since then, every sinful person has been God’s enemy and has conducted himself as God’s enemy to a greater or lesser degree. Thankfully, the Lord Jesus Christ sought out Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus, appeared to him and spoke to him, which led to his conversion and call to the gospel ministry. While the Lord Jesus Christ has appeared to very few men in history, He does by various means fulfill His declaration that “the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Before His encounter with Saul, the Lord Jesus Christ took upon Himself human flesh, lived a sinless and virtuous life, then took upon Himself our sins and bore them on the cross of Calvary, the Just for the unjust that He might bring us to God. Dying on the cross, rising from the dead, now ascended to His Father’s right hand, the Lord Jesus Christ seeks and saves lost sinners by means of His servants dispatched to carry the gospel message to sinners throughout the world.

Finally, SOME QUESTIONS ASKED BY MEN.

We have considered two questions, one asked by God and the other asked by the Lord Jesus Christ. We will now consider three questions, two by the lost and one by a believer in Jesus Christ:

We begin on the Day of Pentecost, and the Apostle Peter’s Pentecostal sermon used by the Holy Spirit of God to prick the heart of the thousands of men who heard the sermon that day. Keeping in mind that it pleases God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe, First Corinthians 1.21, that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God, Romans 10.17, that when He is come the Holy Spirit will persuade sinners of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment, John 16.8, and that He is the Spirit who gives faith, Second Corinthians 4.13, we should always expect dramatic results when the gospel is preached to the lost. Seven weeks removed from our Lord’s crucifixion, with many visiting the city for the Feast of Pentecost, it is likely the crowd was already uneasy. Then came the signs of a mighty rushing wind, cloven tongues as of fire, and the ability to speak languages those who were obviously Galileans could not possibly have learned under normal circumstances, events that guaranteed an attentive audience as Simon Peter stood to preach the sermon from God’s Word. It is certain we do not have a record of the entire message delivered by Simon Peter, with only the most important features recorded. However, Luke does provide us with the response of the multitudes who witnessed the signs, who heard the sermon, who were accused by the preacher of being complicit in the crucifixion of the eternal Son of the living God, Whose resurrection was asserted, and whose ascension to His Father’s right hand was declared. Weaving together in his message Old Testament prophecy and recent historical events, Peter pointed the finger of accusation at the men who stood before him. The Bible tells us they were pricked in their heart and “said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” The question those men asked that day reveals much to the discerning observer. First, it reveals their guilt. They did not take issue with Peter’s accusation because they knew he was right and they were wrong, they were guilty and did not deny it. That evidences a measure of humility, because the proud man will deny guilt while knowing he is guilty, because the proud man will not admit the obvious. Next, it reveals their concern. Not all who know they are guilty are correspondingly concerned. However, these men knew, because Peter told them, that because they were guilty before God they faced punishment by God. They recognized the seriousness of their dilemma, that the stakes were very high, and that they were treading in unknown territory and need direction. They are blind men who need guidance, therefore they ask what sinners who take sin seriously are willing to ask, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Are you willing to ask that question?

Our next question is asked by a servant of God named Philip. We are told in Acts chapter 8 that he was preaching in Samaria. God then guided Philip to the desert region of Gaza, where he observed an Ethiopian man in a chariot returning to his country after having visited Jerusalem. His appearance and his entourage revealed him to be a man of great authority and wealth, who apparently was seeking the Lord and was observed by Philip to be reading God’s Word, Isaiah chapter 53. Hearing him read the prophet Isaiah, Philip asked the Ethiopian, “Understandest thou what thou readest?” Acts 8.30. Such a question, posed by a discerning evangelist can reveal a great deal about the person spoken to. His answer to the question can reveal two important facts: First, is he truly interested in what he is reading, is he truly seeking the Lord? Second, is he humble or is he proud? This is an important determination, since God resisteth the proud and gives grace to the humble, First Peter 5.5 and James 4.6. His answer to Philip speaks volumes, “And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.” He exhibits humility by admitting his limitations and by seeking Philip’s guidance. It is not surprising that a humble sinner in the hands of an experienced gospel minister would come to faith in Christ and be baptized, as was the case with this man. Do I need to remind you that with the Apostle Peter on the Day of Pentecost and with Philip approaching the Ethiopian, we see the Lord Jesus Christ by the use of means, in the person of His servants, seeking and saving that which was lost? The initiative was His. The initiative is always His.

The final question that we will consider (and we are certainly not looking at all of the important questions found in God’s Word) is another question asked by a lost man. In Acts 16, the Apostle Paul and his colleague Silas are shown to have passed over from the Roman province of Asia into Macedonia, from our modern day continent of Asia to what we know as Europe. They are in the Roman colony city of Philippi. On a Sabbath day, they go to a stream where Jewish people would go to worship in a community with too few Jewish men to form a synagogue, and there a Gentile woman named Lydia, whose heart the Lord opened, became a believer in Jesus Christ. Later, the Apostle Paul cast a demon out of a young slave girl, which enraged her masters. That provocation resulted in Paul and Silas being taken into custody, stripped of their clothes by the magistrates, whereupon they were severely beaten and incarcerated. It was while they were incarcerated, suffering terribly from the beating they had received, that they prayed and sang praises to God. The other prisoners had never heard such a thing. When God brought an earthquake and the cell doors flung open, the jailer supposed his prisoners had escaped and prepared to kill himself. I read Luke’s record, Acts 16.28-30:

28     But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here.

29     Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas,

30     And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?

Precisely what it was that brought this man under terrible conviction, we do not know. Had he previously been witnessed to by someone? Had he seen or heard Paul and Silas preaching in the city? Had he overheard Paul and Silas praying and singing in the dungeon? We simply do not know. However, we do see evidence of the Spirit’s convicting and persuading influence. What we do know is that he asked the right question. He asked the question every sinner needs to ask: “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

As I said before, questions are so very important. God asks questions, but not so that He will learn something He did not already know. God asks questions for our benefit, as with the question He asked Adam in the Garden of Eden. God’s questioning of Adam instigated a conversation which ended in Adam and Eve being clothed with animal skins, implying their salvation by them being covered as a result of the death of an innocent for their benefit.

When the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus, He asked him a question, not to discover truth or to learn anything from Saul, but to reveal to Saul the dire implications of what he was doing by persecuting Christians. Persecute Christians and you persecute the Lord Jesus Christ. Additionally, by asking Saul the question, the Lord Jesus Christ initiated a conversation that led to Saul’s conversion. Once more, that which results in reconciling with God is always initiated by God.

Concerning the three questions asked by men in the book of Acts, on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2, asked by Philip to the Ethiopian in Acts 8, and asked by the Philippian jailer in Acts 16.30, we again see the importance of questions. Sometimes the readiness of a sinner to hear the truth and to respond to guidance is evidenced by his responsiveness to a simple question: “Understandest thou what thou readest?” At other times, the sinner himself will ask a revealing question. On the Day of Pentecost, the question was, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” The question asked by the Philippian jailer was, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” On both occasions, the question admitted ignorance, revealed humility, and indicated a teachable spirit.

You are sinful. You are guilty in the sight of God. You stand before Him condemned. His Son, Jesus Christ, suffered and bled and died on the cross for your sins, rose from the dead on the third day, and is now seated in heaven at the Father’s right hand, ready and willing to save anyone who simply trusts Him. Do you have any questions? If you do, ask them. The stakes are too high not to ask. Perhaps the questions that you should have asked or have intended to ask have been answered in this message from God’s Word. In that case, there is only one thing for you to do, what Peter told the men in Jerusalem to do, and what Paul and Silas told of the jailer to do: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.”


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pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org