Monday, March 26, 2012
You Can’t Google Your Way To Heaven!
“The Christian Church confesses on the one hand that God is the Incomprehensible One, but also on the other hand, that He can be known and that knowledge of Him is an absolute requisite unto salvation.” (Systematic Theology, Louis Berkhof, pg. 29)
The Benefits and Challenges of Technology
Do you remember the days without the Internet and cell phones? Your answer to that question depends on your age. I remember those days well, however, my children don’t even know those days ever existed.
I appreciate the advancements in technology I have experienced and the many ways these inventions have enhanced my life. Easy access to information, social networking, instantaneous communication and online shopping are just a few of the many benefits of modern day technology.
I am not a “technology hater”, and I can’t wait to see the stunning screen with the retinal display on the new I-Pad. In fact, while eating at Cheesecake Factory in Jacksonville, I chose what cheesecake to have for dessert from polling my Facebook Friends on my status update. In case you’re wondering, I chose the Chocolate Coconut Cream Cheesecake. I chose wisely! Refocus Ronnie!
I am constantly amazed at all the information you can acquire on Google. For example, I can Google the pronunciation of just about every word in the Bible. What a convenient feature when preparing for a sermon! This one example is a reminder that there is truly no excuse in today’s world of technology to not be in the know! I wonder what technology will be like in 20 or 30 years? Maybe it will order my cheesecake for me! Come on Ronnie refocus!
One of the challenges we face with this easy access to information is that it gives us a sense of invincibility. Our computers make us think we are omniscient. We know more about things than any generation in history. There is no doubt we are a well-informed people. Since we know so much we also tend to think this makes us omnipotent. We are the gods of Google!
I want to ask some questions for us to ponder: Has technology made us a more ethical society, and has our increased possession of knowledge made us better people?
I would say no! Let me give a personal story of why I answer no. I didn’t grow up with cell phones or computers, but I did have a bike and a basketball. I could ride my bike any place in my neighborhood and beyond, and play basketball without parental supervision. Neither my parents nor I ever worried about someone kidnapping me or doing something harmful to me. Today, we have our computers and cell phones, but we don’t have the peace of mind to let our kids out of our sight.
Revelation is More Important Than Information
Although information is just a Google search away in the 21st century, there is still some knowledge that technology will never be able to give us or do for us, no matter how much the advancements improve.
I agree with Ravi Zacharias when he said, “Our demand for infinite knowledge is insatiable, and to think there is a Being who is beyond our capability of dissecting and studying scientifically is more than some of us can handle”
I’ll prove my point by referencing the conversation between Jesus and Simon Peter in Matthew 16:13-17:
13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”
14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.”
Peter did not receive the revelation that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, from a book, computer, or a person. He received this most pertinent information from God the Father in heaven. You see there is still information and special revelation that can only be attained from God under the illuminating influence of the Holy Spirit.
Once again, Ravi Zacharias sums it up well in his book “Has Christianity Failed You?” He writes: “We in the West simply cannot live with the possibility that God has purposely left himself clothed in mystery until we are able to “recognize” who he truly is.”
I meet many people who know a tremendous amount of information about God, but don’t know that Jesus is the Son of God. To know Jesus is to know salvation and eternal life. John 17:3 says, “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” Knowing who is salvation and eternal life is vital information wouldn’t you say?
Relationship is More Important Than Knowledge
Thomas was a man, like many people today, who was seeking the way to know God. I’m sure he had gained a ton of information that still had not definitively answered the most important question in life: Who is God? In John 14:5-7 Thomas has a conversation with Jesus who informed him about God and the way to Him. Let’s read it!
“5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” 6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” Jesus taught Thomas that knowing him was the key to knowing God!
Think about what Jesus is teaching. It makes perfect sense. Please allow me to explain with the following illustration. The way you enter my house is not by knowing information about me. You get into my house only by knowing me. Similarly, you don’t enter heaven by knowing information about God. You get into heaven by knowing Jesus, the Son of God. In other words, both entrances into my house or God’s heaven are based upon the reality of a relationship. Read Jesus’ own words in Matthew 7:21-23:
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
Christ the Power of God and the Wisdom of God
Apostle Paul taught Timothy that one of the characteristics of people who live in sin is that they are always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth. 2 Timothy 3:6b-8 says, “These people are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, 7 always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth. 8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these men oppose the truth—men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected.”
Jannes and Jambres were wise men, sorcerers and the magicians of Egypt. They had a form of spirituality, but they did not know the one true living God. As I stated earlier, they were like so many today that possess their own form of religion, but don’t know God the Father and His Son.
In 1 Corinthians 1:20 Apostle Paul asks the following questions: Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? He then makes the following statements in 1 Corinthians 1:21-25:
21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.
Advancements in technology have given us greater access to information, but these advancements have not necessarily made us wiser. Wisdom is only gained in knowing Jesus and understanding the power of His work on the cross and how it changes our heart to be like Christ.
God Looks For Those Who Know Christ and Love Him
God doesn’t call people into his service based upon their personal credentials. He is not impressed with our resumes that boast about how much we know and how much we have accomplished. God calls those who will boast in the Lord. Apostle Paul reminded the church at Corinth of this fact in 1 Corinthians 1:26-31. It reads:
26 Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”
Apostle Paul also prayed that the saints at Ephesus would have wisdom and revelation to know God better. In Ephesians 1:17 he writes: “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.” It’s important to note that wisdom is gained more from the quality of information instead of the quantity of information. I have often commented on how I think Christians believe that the way to heaven is by collecting as many Bible study notes as possible.
We might as well face it we’re addicted to information accumulation, but sometimes less is more. Remember Jesus summed up all that was ever written in the law and all that was ever spoken by the prophets in two commandments: “‘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.” Matthew 22:37-40
Google makes it easy to feed this addiction, and far too often this obsession with information collection does not transform us to be like Christ. Like the Pharisees and teachers of the law in Jesus’ day, we nullify the word of God for the sake of our traditions or “collection of information”. A lack of special revelation from the Holy Spirit about Christ and the significance of the cross leads to hypocrisy. As a result, we bring disgrace to God like the Pharisees did by honoring God with our lips, but our hearts our far from him (Matthew 15:6-8).
Consequently, we know about forgiveness, but remain offended when someone hurts us. We know about loving others as ourselves, but remain judgmental and prejudice. We know about the importance of truth, but still live of life of deceit. We know about the sanctity of marriage, but still cheat on our spouse and get divorced. We know about controlling our tongue, but we still gossip about our neighbor. This behavior is unacceptable for a follower of Christ!
Knowledge Without Christ Can Be Dangerous and Destructive
Apostle Paul warned Timothy about the danger of godless chatter and opposing ideas that are false knowledge. Why did he warn Timothy about this false knowledge? The answer is that when people turn away from the truth of Christ they do it to their own peril as they wander from the faith. 1 Timothy 6:20-21 says: “20 Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, 21 which some have professed and in so doing have wandered from the faith.”
Possessing a lack of knowledge, wrong knowledge or using knowledge about God incorrectly does lead to devastating consequences. Hosea 4:6 says, “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also reject you as my priests; because you have ignored the law of your God, I also will ignore your children.” We must gain our knowledge from a Biblical worldview perspective, a value for God’s laws, and a love for Christ.
Daniel J. Boorstin said, “The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance -- it is the illusion of knowledge.”
All throughout history people have made the same mistake of letting knowledge get in the way of the most important discovery of all—knowing God and loving Him! Google has made this more tempting than ever!
1 Corinthians 8:1-3 says, “We know that we all possess knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know. But the man who loves God is known by God.
Knowledge without a love for Christ always manifests in the practice of dead religious traditions, vain philosophies, repetitious recital of creeds, or a wide variety of “spiritual” exercises. Religious ritual is always a substitute for real relationship with God.
Apostle Paul knew that a love for Christ surpasses knowledge of Him, and is the key to being filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Read his prayer for the saints at Ephesus in Ephesians 3:17b-19. It says: I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Information without the truth of Christ ultimately leads people to participate in idolatry. Idolatry is the worship of a person or thing or any image representing a god. I’m concerned that more people seek Google for information instead of seeking God for revelation. Has Google become a modern day idol in our society?
1 Corinthians 8:4b-7 says, “We know that an idol is nothing at all in the world and that there is no God but one. 5 For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), 6 yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live. 7 But not everyone knows this.
Knowledge won’t make our society more ethical and it won’t change your life for the better. Knowing Jesus will!
You can't Google your way to heaven! Do you know this?