#212 (18/12/05)
Christmas: When God Visited Earth Part III

The Message

By: Robert A. Schuller

Special Guest

According to art critics around the world, my guest is one of a few prodigies in decades to capture the art of realism. Akiane Kramarik is ten years old and has already sold numerous paintings for over forty thousand dollars each. She is internationally renowned for her “Prince of Peace” and “Father Forgive Them” pieces. Akiane began painting at the age of four and sold her first painting at seven for ten thousand dollars. She speaks four languages and she aspires to use her God given talents to raise money for the African Aids crisis.

Special Music

" O Come, All Ye Faithful "
" Angels We Have Heard on High "

” For Unto Us a Child is Born ”
CCA CHORUS - "We Three Kings"
CCA CHORUS - "Whatcha Gonna Call That Baby?"
CCA CHORUS - "Hallelujah Chorus"

BRIDGETTE BENTLEY - "Mary Did You Know?"

The Message

I have seen quite a change in the state of religion in my fifty-four years in ministry, with fifty years in this ministry here in California.  When I graduated from seminary, I believed that a majority of scientists were believers in God, but I've seen that number decline over the past fifty years. Until about ten years ago, only twenty percent of the physicists professed belief in God.  And that happened, I believe, because fifty years ago the world's foremost philosopher, Dr. Anthony Flew, in 1950 debated with writer and Christian thinker, C.S. Lewis.  After that religious forum, Dr. Flew wrote a textbook on atheism that has probably been reprinted more than any other book in the scientific community.  So Dr. Flew, more than any other one person, has been responsible for the spread of atheism in the scientific community these past fifty years.

This past week, in Texas, I met a man who knew me and thanked me for our ministry.  Then he said, "Have you heard the news about Dr. Flew?"  "No," I answered.  He said, "I sponsored a symposium at the New York University earlier this year where Dr. Flew dialogued on the issue of atheism with Dr. Schroeder from the M.I.T. Weisman Institute.  Dr. Schroeder is a brilliant Jewish philosopher from Jerusalem."  Then my friend showed me a video of Dr. Flew thirty years ago when he made one of his profound atheistic declarations.  Here is a portion of that lecture.

"I know there is no God.  The second thing which I need to say is that I'm not really offering any reasons for being an atheist.  The two things that I have been saying in my systemic apologetics is that after all the things that are said about this Proposed Being are contradictory, then to say that there is such a Being, thus and thus described, is like saying there is a round square or an unmated husband.  And if this is so, this is rightfully good reason to say that there's no such thing.  It is exactly the sort of reason we have to say that there is no such thing as a mated bachelor and so on."

Now thirty years have passed and this same atheist, Dr. Flew, in a recent dialogue with Dr. Schroeder, from the Weisman Institute, was asked this question:

"Professor Flew, in your view, does modern science indicate the existence of an outside intelligent active force in this universe?"

"Yes, I now think it does almost entirely because of the DNA investigations.  What I think that the DNA material has done is that it has shown almost an unbelievable complexity of the arrangements which lead to produce this Being.  And that intelligence must have been involved in getting these extraordinarily diverse elements to work together.  That's an enormous complexity with the number of elements that work together.  You know, the change of them meeting at the right time is simply too minute.  That is the best I can do for a short explanation.  It is all in my view, a matter of the enormous complexity by which the results are achieved which look to me like the work of Intelligence!"

WOW!  The leading scientists of the universities of the world are now getting the latest news from their hero of atheism. Dr. Flew, at the age of eighty-one, is putting aside atheism and saying, "There has to be an intelligent creator at the beginning." That is phenomenal!  What is that going to mean in the years, decades, and centuries to come?  A belief in the Creator God is going to be fashionable and more importantly, it will be scientific.  That doesn't mean that they will be neither Christians nor theists.  They will probably be deists, but what happened to the God who created this universe?  Science has no answer to that, and we won't find it in DNA except in the complexities of God's handy work.  Now we need to go and search for this God!  What happened to that God?  Merry Christmas!

Yes, Isaiah, the Old Testament prophet prophesied that God would some day come to earth in the form of a human being, and this would be the Messiah.  God would establish Himself in such a way that human beings could relate to Him, not as a mass of eternal creative spirit, but as Someone who loves people.

So it's Christmas and I want to give you this morning four words to describe this God who visited the earth.  This Eternal Creator has not unkindly left us guessing, but has most responsibly drawn open the curtains to let us see what He is like.  Meet Jesus Christ!

When you think of Jesus Christ or hear about Jesus, remember four words:

Jesus Christ

1)     His name

What is His name?  A name is very important.  Shakespeare said, "A name is not very significant," but Shakespeare was wrong.  I have long said that Martin Luther King would not have been what he was if he had been named John Henry.  He was named Martin Luther.  The name shapes the subconscious, which shapes the image, which drives you.  Martin Luther was a reformer, and was martyred for it, so was Martin Luther King.

The angel said to Joseph, "His name shall be called Jesus for He shall save His people from their sins."   (Matthew 1:21)

The word "Jesus" means "Savior."  He was named by heaven, "He shall be called 'Emanuel'" íK "Emanu" means "with us".  "El" means "God."  "God with us." (Matthew 1:23)  Jesus has come to be our Savior, what does that mean?  Every human being on planet earth has had an experience when they were tortured for only a second, or for a long time, with a thing called "guilt."  And how do you get rid of guilt?  I have studied psychology and theology.  You can analyze life from the DNA, but I analyze life, God and faith, from the personality of human beings.  Every human being needs a sense of forgiveness.  Enter a Savior.  And what does Jesus save us from? He saves us from eternal death which means saved to eternal life.  Wherever and whatever heaven is, we have yet to experience it.  It is there.  Don't deny it.  There is a heaven.

Jesus saves us from the ultimate sin, which is lack of belief and lack of faith. That is also lack of faith in yourself. The gospel that we have been preaching for fifty years is that God came to this earth to save us, and how does He save us?  God saves us for a purpose here on earth to do something good and wonderful so that our lives glorify God, and God does this by giving us a vision, a dream, an idea.  I know my dreams came from God.  I didn't invent them.  This is how God continues to reveal Himself.  We need a Savior so that we will believe in ourselves and believe that we can make a difference and believe in Him and in ourselves.

Congratulate the Heisman Trophy winner, Matt Lienart, who lives only a few miles from this Cathedral.  Matt went to the Catholic High School where, as a younger boy, he was teased and mocked because he wore thick glasses and he was overweight.  But he went on to win the Heisman Trophy, the highest honor in football.  What are your problems?

What we need is to believe in ourselves before we can even believe in God. If you don't believe in yourself, you won't dare to believe in God.  And if you don't believe in yourself, you wouldn't believe that you could be saved.  Jesus Christ:  His Name says it all.

Jesus Christ:

2) His Claim

His claim, that is the second word.  What is His claim?  "I have come to seek and save those that are lost."  His claim was, "I am the light of the world.  He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life!"  This Creative Intelligence that Dr. Flew, the icon of atheism now admits exists, has come into the world as a human being.

1)     His name is Jesus.

2)     His claim is íK I can give you life abundant and eternal.  That is the kind of God we believe in.  Wow!

 Jesus Christ:

3)     His Aim

His aim is to connect human beings with that eternal Creative Intelligence who created the world.  His aim is to connect to human beings, who have a brain, eyes, mouth, heart, spirit, soul, imaginative, and creative powers.  You, as a human being, are an awesome creature. You have an imagination, think of that!  You can instantly be half a world away without getting out of your seat.  There is something that travels faster than the speed of light, and that is the human brain and its thought processes.  You are an awesome creature. By nature you are not connected with God, no, by nature we all need to get connected and Jesus can do that.  Jesus does that by coming and whispering to us." No matter what your sin is, it can be forgiven."  I don't know what your sins are and you don't know mine, but we all have some.  We all need a Savior, and we need Him now!  Never before in human history did a beautiful human being come and claim to be God coming to earth to save us. 

Jesus Christ:

(1)    His Name íK (2) His Claim íK (3) His Aim íK (4) His Fame

What was His legacy?  You see it on the tips of church steeples around the world íK it is a cross!  Why a cross?  Because He wanted us all to know that we must always believe in this God of love, even when we see suffering.  Unjust suffering is horrific.  The question people keep asking, "How can you explain that there is a good God when you see the suffering in this world?"  Look at the statement that Jesus left.  It is a symbol.  It is a cross.  We have an imperfect world.  We have a sinful world.  We are an imperfect human race.  There will be suffering íK there will be injustice.  If there is any justice, how can it be dealt with?  Should sin be punished?  We cannot let every bad person off the hook.  That is unethical.  The ultimate contradiction. 

Dr.  Flew speaks of the contradictions, one of his reasons for being an atheist.  In my new book, "Don't Throw Away Tomorrow," which comes out in four weeks, I have an entire chapter on contradictions.

Life is all a matter of contradictions.  Dark and light.  When you see contradictions, you don't reject either side, but you step in the middle and creatively learn to live with both viewpoints.  You find creativity in contradictions.  Jesus is a contradiction; totally human, totally divine.  The Bible is a contradiction;  Old Testament and New Testament.  Yes, look at the contradiction between justice and mercy; God has to be just, but He must also be merciful.  Now that is the ultimate philosophical contradiction and where do you find a solution to that?  You look at the cross and know that God came to earth one time and He would hang on the cross to experience the greatest horrific injustice that any human being could ever experience.  God Himself in a body being crucified, naked with loss of all of His self esteem.  Loss of all of His dignity.  Loss of His consciousness of the Father until He would cry out, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?"  That is the ultimate horror of life.  Jesus intentionally did that so He could earn the right to save anybody.  "Your sins can be forgiven.  Believe me.  I took the rap for you."  Look at the cross!  That is where you will find salvation.

Jesus Christ

(1)    His name - Jesus-Savior

(2)    His claim?  That He is the Son of God and I would rather believe in Him than any doubter or skeptic.

(3)    His aim?  Yes, He came to the end of His earthly life on the cross.  Wowl

(4)    His fame íK His legacy is the cross.

The New Year 2005 will be here in a few days.  I predict that in the next ninety-five years, religion built around the true heart of Jesus, will be the most powerful force in the world.  Yes!  With atheism dying, first in the realm of science and DNA, and people admitting there is a creative intelligence to begin with.  We cannot deny God anymore.  The odds are trillions and trillions plus trillions plus trillions to one in favor of a creative intelligence.  Then what do we do with that belief?  Where do we go?  Let's go to the Bible.  Let's go to a Man who lived, a Man who died and at the foot of the cross, meet this God of love and this God of peace.  It is a decision.  God is alive íK let Him live in you.

Let's pray:  O God, it is a wonderful Christmas.  You are revealing Your power and Your presence, not when I only look at the starry sky, but when I know the complexities of my own personal self in the DNA.  O God, You keep revealing Yourself and when I look at Jesus that is the kind of God I can believe in.  Thank You.  Amen

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