1. Four weeks from today is the day we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Itís also a time of frivolity and gaiety for those who are shallow and thoughtless, and for those whose focus in life and whose sense of meaning is fulfilled by materialism and the acquisition of things.
2. I speak not of the children who find this time of year so distracting and exciting. Itís understandable that the inexperienced and the immature would find the glitz and glitter of the Christmas season so exciting. After all, they are so naive and unsophisticated. They donít realize whatís behind most of what we see and hear at Christmastime; greed and avarice, lust and materialism, feeding the hunger for acquisition.
3. No, I speak not of children who donít know any better unless they are taught better by their parents. Iím speaking of adults who ought to know better, who ought to have discovered certain things on their own by now, but who havenít. Such as these are so consumed by consumption that I fear they are consumed by the season, having a mindless preoccupation with things like Santa and Grinch and presents.
4. But not everyone is materialistic. Not everyone stays awake at night anticipating the reception of a new toy, or a new gadget, or a new game. For some the holiday season is a time of sadness, a time of sorrow, and a time of intense depression, as they are forced to confront an aspect of mankindís existence that the shallow and frivolous among us seem to escape.
5. I speak, of course, of those thoughtful and introspective people who ponder, and who think, and who consider. And what do such people ponder and think about and consider at this time of year that renders them sad, discouraged, and depressed? They think about being alone. They are lonely. Alone. Inescapably and undeniably alone.
6. The silly never think about being alone. The silly think that if there are other people in the room itís not possible to be alone. They think that mindless chatter amounts of meaningful conversation, and that laughter is a necessary indication of a sense of humor. But the thoughtful man, the contemplative woman, the introspective young person, is forced during the holidays to face the reality he or she may successfully escape throughout the rest of the year.
7. What is that reality that everyone seeks to deny, races to run away from, that the vapid are more successful at dealing with than are most? The horrible truth is, you are alone. Before you discount what I say, consider for a moment. Isnít what I say true? Is it not true that you, sir, are alone? And are you not alone, dear woman? Doesnít the fact that you are alone, truly alone, terribly alone, weigh down on your soul?
8. Most people can rather successfully deny this reality of being alone throughout most of the year. But there is something about the approaching of Christmastime, there is something about the whole birth of Jesus celebration, even with its cheap and tawdry gaudiness, that forces people to see how very lonely, and isolated, and alone they really are. And this is true even if you are by all appearances happily married, or with a multitude of friends surrounding you, or with brothers and sisters in the house.
9. Itís not good for you to be alone. God doesnít want you to be alone. Let me prove it to you. Turn in your Bible to Genesis 2.18: ďAnd the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.Ē
10. The Bible, of course, is not just a book like other books. The Bible is Godís inspired Word. The Bible is true. And here in Godís wonderful Word we read what God said after He had created the universe and all that herein is, and after He had finished fashioning the crowning achievement of His creative miracles, man.
11. Genesis 2.7 informs us that ďthe LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.Ē Then God planted a garden that He called Eden, and placed the man in the garden to dress and keep it, and gave the man instructions to live by.
12. But for the man it was different than all the other creatures that he saw and gave names to, in what they both had and didnít have. What the animals had was companionship, peers with whom to eat and live and breathe and share existence and experience. Adam did not have what the animals had.
13. But he did have what they did not have. Being made in the image and likeness of God, Adam had a certain capacity the creatures of the earth did not possess. Adam had the capacity for communion, for personal and intimate interaction. But while he had the capacity for such interaction, he had no one with whom to interact as an equal. In short, Adam was alone.
My friends, you and I are a race descended from that first man,
Adam. How God made him is the way he was. And except for the sin that now burdens your soul, how God
made him is the way you are. So
that you and I might better understand ourselves, let me verbalize several
obvious truths derived from the Bible, truths I trust you are familiar
with but will patiently allow me to restate and clarify.
1A. First, IT IS OBVIOUS FROM GODíS WORD THAT MAN IS THE CREATION OF GOD
1B. I know that for some of you the question of the Bible being Godís Word is not settled yet. It may never be a settled matter for you in this lifetime. You may never in this lifetime reckon the Bible to be anything more than a well written compilation of books and letters and poetry. But will you at least grant that the Bible does show man to be the creation of God?
2B. The entire issue of whether the Bible is a book given to mankind by God is a different issue than whether or not the Bible teaches that man is created by God. Let no one quibble about theories of interpretation or speculation about what this or that or the other thing means. Let us just be honest enough to admit that, taken at face value, the Bible teaches that man was created by God.
3B. Is this a sticking point with you? Do you insist on dwelling in your mind on the pretense that man is the consequence of a long evolutionary process? Please. If you are not closed minded on this issue, and if you are willing to rid yourself of the terrible propaganda youíve been subjected to in public school or in college, I can provide many resources for you that provide convincing explanations of how the Bible is compatible with real science, at various levels of sophistication, depending on your own intellectual honesty and your ability to digest technical materials.
I really donít want to conduct a scientific seminar this morning,
so letís just agree that the Bible asserts that man is the creation of
God. Can we all agree on
that, with those of us who believe the Bible to be Godís Word believing
much more than that?
2A. Second, IT IS OBVIOUS THAT MAN IS A CREATURE OF NEEDS
1B. Who among us would deny that we are creatures of needs? Man is a creature in need of food and raiment, in need of shelter and protection from the elements, and in need of many other things. One fellow made quite a name for himself by formulating what he called manís hierarchy of needs.
2B. So, it isnít denied by anyone with half a brain that you and I, and everyone one else in this race we call man, possess needs. We all recognize our need for water. Except for the anorexic among us, we also recognize our need for food. And though we would argue about the best way of meeting the need, even the well housed and the voluntarily homeless are agreed that shelter of some type is needful.
But beyond these more obvious physical needs there is much
disagreement about what our other needs are.
Let me leave you with this basic point of agreement for now:
man is a creature with needs.
You have needs, and I have needs.
And by needs I refer not to those things which we want, but to
those things which we must have, lacks which must be supplied, lest we be
damaged by the deficiency.
3A. Finally, MANíS NEEDS CAN ONLY BE MET BY GOD
Though you may not agree with me that the Bible is Godís Word, you do agree with me that the Bible teaches that man is the creation of God. And Iíve not met anyone who ever denied that man is a creature with needs that, unless met, can cause irreparable damage to his well-being. This third truth is one that you might also challenge. I know for a fact that many who claim to believe the Bible, who profess to be Christians, live as though God does not meet all human needs.
1B. To prove that only God meets your needs and mine I make three appeals: First, I appeal to Godís own self-description as El Shaddai, Genesis 17.1, the all-sufficient one, the Meeter of all needs. As well, did not Jesus teach His disciples to pray to God, ďgive us this day our daily breadĒ? And what is prayer, but an acknowledgment that God supplies to us our needs? So, the way God describes Himself in His Word declares that He is the one who meets our needs.
2B. Second, I appeal to Godís role as the sustainer of our existence as proof that God supplies our needs. When addressing the Athenians, Paul declared to them that God ďgiveth to all life, and breath, and all things,Ē Acts 17.25, and ďin him we live, and move, and have our being,Ē Acts 17.28. To the Corinthians he emphasized another aspect of Godís role as sustainer. In First Corinthians 4.7, he asked, ďwhat hast thou that thou didst not receive?Ē So, whether it be fruit grown with Godís sunlight, using Godís rain in Godís soil, or the intelligence with which you negotiate this maze called life, what you have you received from God. He meets your needs, either directly or indirectly, but undeniably.
Third, I appeal to Godís demand of glory to assert that He meets
your needs. We are told twice
in the book of Isaiah that God will not share His glory with another.
And we are told in First Corinthians 1.29 that no flesh should
glory in His presence. This
being true, would not a man be able to glory before God if he was able to
look after himself, rely on himself, take care of himself?
In fact, man only thinks he is self-sufficient, only thinks he can
meet his own needs, only thinks he doesnít need Godís provision to
meet every need.
1. My sermon, which I will bring after brother Isenberger leads us in a final congregational song this morning, has for its title the word ďAlone.Ē My text is Genesis 2.18, ďIt is not good that the man should be alone.Ē
2. But before my sermon I have set before you three truths that under gird what I will preach about. You are the product of Godís creative work. You are a being with needs. And only God, ultimately God, is the necessary Meeter of your needs.
3. What does all this have to do with Christmas, with being alone? Suffice it to say for now, it does have to do with being alone, with being lonely, with being isolated even in a crowded room.
Now, letís stand as brother Isenberger comes before this
1. I know what itís like to be alone. I know what itís like to feel alone. Itís not good to be alone. Itís not good at all. Some people claim they want to be alone and that itís good to be alone. They point to Jesus leaving His disciples to be alone. But Jesus left His disciples so that He might be alone with the Father.
2. I was a lonely child. Very gregarious. Very sociable. Always laughing and playing and doing my very best to have fun. But inside, in the solitude of my thoughts, in the deep recesses of my heart, I felt I was alone in this world, all alone.
3. The sense of aloneness became more pronounced when I entered school on the Indian reservation at Fort Totten, North Dakota. Of all the kids at school, I alone was not an American Indian. I alone did not live in the school dormitory. I alone was not a Roman Catholic. I alone was not dark skinned with black hair. Others were just as alone as I was, Iím sure, but these things made me feel my aloneness.
4. When we moved to Florida and then to Oregon my sense of aloneness only intensified. I felt distant and different. I had dreams and goals and aspirations from early on that seemed to set me apart from other kids. I played with them, laughed and joked with them, had fun with them, but I always sensed that at the very bottom of me, where it really counted, where it really mattered, I was in this thing called life all alone.
5. If my parents had been asked they would have said that I was a happy and gregarious sort, full of life and energy. But parents do not always see into the hearts and minds of their children. In the mind of this child was the stark realization that I was alone.
6. For a while I groped about, looking for a solution to my problem of aloneness. But I soon realized that being in the company of others, then spending time with a special person, and then isolating myself as completely from others as a person can without becoming a hermit, did nothing to assuage my sense of aloneness.
7. Let me hasten to say that there is a difference, at least in my thinking, between being lonely and having a sense of aloneness, recognizing that you are alone. You can be lonely when no one is around to talk to, to drive around with, to eat a meal with, to chat about the future and about politics and about hobbies with. When someone is around you your loneliness is dispelled.
8. But in a sense that many people simply do not spend time thinking about, there is nothing any human being can do to remove from you your sense of aloneness. My friend, this is why the holiday season is such a desperate time for many. Itís that time of year when the sense of oneís aloneness is pushed to the forefront, when you are made to realize that no amount of fun, no amount of companionship, no amount of pretended intimacy with other people, can remedy the reality of the isolation and the distance that separates every human being from everyone else.
9. Someone famous once wrote, ďNo man is an island.Ē What he meant by that statement is correct, that no man is utterly independent and without the requirement to be helped by others. But he was wrong with respect to our real isolation from others. You can sense your utter aloneness while standing in a room full of people. Perhaps you sense your own aloneness sitting in this room full of people.
As for this aloneness, this isolation from others, this
separateness . . . it is not good. This
morning I want to speak to you about the three ways in which you are
alone, or will be alone, and how being alone in these three ways is not
1A. First, ITíS NOT GOOD TO BE SOCIALLY ALONE
1B. Much is made these days of the physical and sexual needs a man or a woman has, and how itís not good to be alone in that way. And when God provided Eve to be Adamís companion that aspect of meeting Adamís need to not be alone was certainly in view. But I want to speak to you for a moment about a more fundamental need than that, the social need.
2B. There is an old song that says ďpeople who need people are the luckiest people in the world.Ē But people who need people are not lucky. Itís just the way God made us. God created Adam to need Eve, and not just as a sexual partner, but as a human being with whom to share the human experience.
3B. My friend, though there are times when men are called upon to stand alone, those times are brief periods of time, for man is a creature who was not fashioned by God to be alone. God did not fashion Adam to be alone, nor did he fashion Eve to stand alone. He created them one for the other to meet each otherís social needs. And they were fully capable of meeting each otherís social needs, until they sinned against God and fell into the darkness of sin.
4B. How do we know this? We know this because sin brings about death, Romans 6.23, and death is separation. Though not explicitly stated in Scripture, I am convinced Scripture builds a powerful case for believing that whatever competency Adam and Eve had for meeting each otherís social and companionship needs, it was ruined by their fall into sin.
5B. But not everyone gets married, or stays married, so there is a dimension to your social need for companionship and communion and friendship outside the institution of marriage. The fact is, you need a friend. And you need a friend beyond your spouse, if you are married. It is a foolish husband or wife who fails to recognize that partnerís need for friends other than the person you sleep with.
6B. But as wonderful as a friend is to have, as delightful as a companion may be as an alternative to not having a friend or a companion, your real need for a friend, your profound need for a friend, will never be met until you become a Christian. You will never know the deepest sense of friendship, or the profoundest kind of marital communion, unless and until you and that other person are both Christians.
7B. Why is this so? Itís because you will never be a friend, not the kind you ought to be, until you have the friend that sticketh close than a brother, the Lord Jesus Christ, as your savior. Until youíve had a Christian friend youíve not had a real friend. And until youíve been a Christian friend youíve not been a real friend.
8B. How sad it is when friends think they have a great friendship, and when spouses think they have a great marriage, and one or both of them is unsaved. Not possible, my friend. Not possible. Thatís the reason back of the gratitude we here at Calvary Road have for our church family. This is a brotherhood of believers. We are folks who have in common the friend of sinners, the Lord Jesus Christ, who makes all the difference in the world. Amen?
Oh, my friend, itís not good to be socially alone.
And you will never be anything but socially alone so long as you
are lost, because itís only the Lord Jesus Christ who provides the
friendship that really meets that kind of need.
God fills that void in a sinnerís life, and He only fills that
void in a sinnerís life when you come to Christ.
Then you have the friend of sinners as your savior.
Then you can become a friend.
Then you will receive friendship.
2A. Next, ITíS NOT GOOD TO BE SPIRITUALLY ALONE
1B. Generally speaking, itís only under gospel preaching that a man comes to see himself as being spiritually alone. For the strangest and most ridiculous reasons, sinners think that God is with them and that for some reason they are not alone. But donít fool yourself. If you are not a Christian you are spiritually alone.
2B. Listen to what Paul wrote in Ephesians 2.12 to a group of Christians, reminding them what it was like before they were converted, letting you know what itís like for you now: ďThat at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.Ē Did you hear that? Without Christ and without God. In other words, you are alone.
3B. If it doesnít bother you that you are alone and without God and without Christ, then youíre in the dark. You see, there are times when a man or a woman needs more than what other people can offer. We have deeper hurts than people can mend, more profound wounds than human beings can tend to. But if you are not a Christian you are beyond real help.
4B. What do you do when your momma dies? What do you do when your husband dies? What do you do when the doctor gives you word that you are going to die . . . soon? Do you have a loving husband or an adoring wife or a sensitive doctor? No matter how good they are they are of little help when you are staring death in the face, or facing terrible suffering. My friend, there times when you need the solace that only comes from the God of all comfort.
5B. But what do you do when you donít know the God of all comfort? What do you do when youíve not trusted the Comforter, and when you are not indwelt by the precious Holy Spirit, that Other Comforter? You hurt without comfort, thatís what you do. You suffer without consolation, thatís what you do. How very sad. And how needless.
6B. God was speaking about Adamís need for human companionship when He said that itís not good that the man should be alone. But manís need goes farther than that now that he is a sinner. Adam wasnít a sinner when God made Eve. Before Adam sinned he and God walked in the Garden of Eden in the cool of the evening. And Adamís spiritual companionship needs were wonderfully met by God, and he enjoyed sublime communion with his Maker.
7B. But when sin came and man died, his relationship with God ended. You are now without God in the world. And you are without Jesus Christ. No comfort. No consolation. No communion. And the pity of it all is that sin has so distorted your perception, has so warped your sensitivities, that you may be completely unaware of what you desperately need and do not have by the good grace of God.
8B. Oh, if you only knew Christ. For He promised, you see, that He would never leave me nor forsake me. What a consolation that promise is in the dark hours. What a blessing when Iím in the deep and storm-tossed waters of life. As well, I have been promised and do enjoy in my soul the abiding presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit of God.
With God as my help, I can walk through the valley of the shadow of
death and fear no evil, for Thou art with me.
Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
But when you walk through the valley of the shadow of death you are
all alone, and you are fool if youíre without fear.
You see, without Christ you have no comfort from God, no
consolation of the Spirit of God. In
the profoundest sense of the word, you are spiritually alone.
And thatís not good.
3A. BECAUSE IT LEADS, INEVITABLY, TO BEING ETERNALLY ALONE
1B. One of Satanís cruelest hoaxes is the notion that when a man dies and goes to Hell he will be with his friends. That lie of the devil is wrong on two counts:
1C. First, there will be no friends in Hell. Hell is a place of suffering and torment, where every jackal whoís consigned there will gnash on the flesh off every other jackal whoís there. Do you think thereís friendship in a pack of wild dogs, who will turn on each other and rip each other to shreds at the first sign of weakness? Thatís the way it will be in Hell, with each wild unsaved maniac in Hell becoming a complete psychopath, bent on inflicting as much pain and suffering on others as he is experiencing himself. No friends in Hell. Only ghouls and fiends.
2C. As well, the place of suffering for the eternally damned is described by the Lord Jesus Christ in Matthew 8, 22, and 25 as ďouter darkness,Ē where ďthere shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.Ē How terribly alone you who are damned will feel in Hell, in the pitch blackness for ever. Alone, though set upon as if by wild dogs, tearing and being torn throughout the ceaseless ages of eternity. All the while crying for your mother to comfort you in some way.
2B. I am fifty five years old. And I like my periods of solitude and quiet from time to time. But there is a difference between a time when I can get alone with God, or a time when I can get alone to collect my thoughts and sort myself out, and being alone. I need my wife. And I need my daughter. And I need my friends here at the church. God uses these people in my life to meet my social needs in profoundly satisfying and fulfilling ways. Christ as our friend has enabled us to be and to truly have friends.
3B. More importantly, my spiritual needs are met by my heavenly Father, by my Savior, and by my constant companion, the precious Holy Spirit. Are there times when I feel spiritually isolated and alone? Absolutely. But such times are just that, feelings, used by God to accomplish His will in my life. And Iíd much rather feel spiritually alone from time to time than ever go back to the way I was before Christ became my savior, when I most certainly was alone.
But now, because of Christ, this most lonesome of men, this child
who was so very consciously alone for his lifetime before Christ, will
never actually be alone ever again. You
see, my Savior promised that He would prepare a place for me, that where
He is I will be also, John 14. Someday
He will come for me and take me to that place, or I will die a physical
death and be escorted by the angels into His presence.
But whichever way I go, I will never be alone again.
1. I hope you will forgive me this one time for this excessively autobiographical sermon. But I felt a great desire this week to present one aspect of our great salvation which is often overlooked, but which is so very important.
2. I am sure that this message, had my mother or father or brother been here, would have come as a great surprise to them. But there is a side to every person that not even those closest to us are aware of, unless we choose to open up our hearts to them.
3. And this part of my personality was so dark, so well concealed when I was unconverted, that it would hardly have been believed by my family. But I trust God will use this personal testimony as a benefit to you.
4. So much of what a sinner does is a lame attempt to meet a legitimate God-given need in an illegitimate and sinful way. So futile and needless is sin.
5. The fornicator, for example, has been given a legitimate physical need by God. But is he willing to see that need met through the institution of marriage and the beneficial commitment and responsibility that accompanies his fulfillment in marriage? No. The fornicator opts for cheap and easy, ignoring the promise of destruction that accompanies all sin.
6. In like manner we have this matter of being alone. A man is born with an aloneness. Because of sin he has no communion with God, and any relationships established with others can only be ragged and full of deceit and selfishness. So he lives his life socially alone, spiritually alone, and destined for an eternity alone.
7. The Lord Jesus Christ stands ready to meet each of those needs, just as He stands ready to cleanse and forgive sins. But the sinner opts for shortcut approaches to dealing with his aloneness. He either runs with others like a pack dog, doing this and doing that to run with the pack, or he opts for a life of pretended sophisticated intellectualism, where he basically acts like these aloneness needs simply donít exist.
8. Such ploys and self deceit may work most of the time. But for some strange reason at Christmastime you find yourself staring reality in the face. Admit it. You are lonely and you are lost. You need Christ.
9. So that we might jointly testify of the goodness and graciousness of God in Christ our Savior, Iíd like to conclude this service by calling upon each and every one of you to come to church from now on prepared to be a friend to someone. Extend the hand of friendship to someone you donít know. Reach out to greet and to welcome those who are alone, who need a friend, who need the Savior.