Sermon: Life Question 3 - Who Am I?
Sermon series: Life Questions
- Does God Exist? - Acts 17
- What is Truth? - John 8, 18
- Who Am I? - Psalm 8, Hebrews 2
- Why Am I Here? - Ecclesiastes
- What Happens When I Die? - 1 Corinthians 15
- Are All Religions Equal? - Acts 17
Main Passage: Psalm 8:3-4; Hebrews 2:8
The recent discovery of the remains of a humanoid called "Ardi" has thrown evolutionists into a tail spin about the origins of humanity.
Jamie Shreeve, Science editor of National Geographic magazine, published an article on October 1, 2009, entitled "Oldest skeleton of Human Ancestor Found." It also had an interesting subtitle, "Move over Lucy. And kiss the missing link goodbye." According to the article, the fossil remains of a female humanoid found in Ethiopia in 1994 reveals that everything evolutionists have been telling us about our descent from apes was false. They named the fossil Ardi [meaning "ground floor"]. Shreeve writes:
"The fossil puts to rest the notion, popular since Darwin's time - that a chimpanzee-like missing link-resembling something between humans and today's apes - would eventually be found at the root of the human family tree. Indeed, the new evidence suggests that the study of chimpanzee anatomy and behavior - long used to infer the nature of the earliest human ancestors - is largely irrelevant to understanding our beginnings."
For the Christian, this is just another rush to a number of conclusions that should be categorized as hypotheses. Indeed, while the findings have been published less than a month, the scientists are already questioning many of the dogmatic assertions of the research team.
But for the evolutionist, this discovery is quit a dilemma. For example consider the words of Peter Hess, the Faith Project director at the National Center for Science Education in Oakland, California.
"Because the evidence for evolution is so overwhelming, we must consider it to be a truth about the natural world - the world which we as people of faith believe was created by God, and the world made understandable by the reason and natural senses given to us by God," he recently wrote.- [FoxNews.com 10-28-09]
If "Ardi" is our ancestral forerunner, which is questionable on a number of counts, then our atheist and evolutionary friends are going to have to eat crow on two accounts:  Humans appear to have a more distinct history than previously believed.  And more importantly, everything that the scientific community has held as fact is now, in fact, proven to be false.
It leads us to seriously question the credibility of atheists like biologist Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion. He wrote, "Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist." We will see if he has the intellectual integrity to admit he was wrong.
Beside the question of the origin of man is another important related question about our identity. Who or what are we? Although the theories of human identity have overlapping elements, there are several distinct understandings of human nature. Humans are viewed as:
1. Animals: Some suggest that we are the end result of evolution with no uniqueness from the rest of the animal kingdom, conditioned through biological and chemical processes. We are simply an accident.
2. Machines: This is a spin off of evolutionary thought embraced by communism. It holds that humans only have value for what they do. As such humans are the property of the state.
3. Sensual beings: This was the conclusion of radical Freudianism. Reduced down to our essence, he suggested that we are a bag of hormones seeking gratification. [This must surely be wrong because even when those needs are satisfied, there is still a sense of emptiness and dissatisfaction.]
4. Pawns: Some believe we are the result of blind forces in the universe known as fate. This idea holds that we have little choice or influence in the greater outcomes in the universe.
5. Free spirits: This concept denies the physical realm while extolling self-determination and self-actualization.
But those who have read the truth in Scripture know that humans are far more than a sophisticated bundle of atoms that evolved from a primordial ooze. In fact, we can only understand humanity properly when we see God's perspective and relationship to man. In contrast to the many man-made theories about our origin and meaning, consider the Bible's core teachings regarding our identity. We can summarize those teachings with four words.
I. We are the apex of God's direct creation
In contrast to the whole of the creation, man is unique. Warren Wiersbe observed, "Modern teaching has lowered man to an animal and rejected the image of God...When we dethrone God, we debase humanity" [Be Commentary, 436]. As Christians, we embrace the immediate creation of Adam and Eve as real people that existed in real time. In our text we find three important truths about humanity.
A. God gave man dignity - Genesis 1: 27
"God created man in His own image" [Gen. 1:26, 7, 5:1, 9:6, 1 Cor. 11:7, James 3:9]
Theologian Millard Erickson writes, "The image of God is something we are rather than do or have."  In the least, the image of God means:
- Humans have the ability to relate to God.
- Humans have the ability to choose right from wrong.
- Humans possess intrinsic value.
B. God gave man dominion - Genesis 1:26
"They will rule...all the earth"
We are not just any other animal. The care of the creation has been entrusted to us.
C. God gave man distinction - Genesis 2:7
"And the man became a living being"
Those who hold to the theory of theistic evolution face a hard question here. If God used evolution to create man, at what point in that process did man receive his soul?
II. We are the offspring of a fallen race
According to Romans 5:12 the sin of Adam passed on to all his descendants like a genetic trait. So what were the consequences of sin upon humanity?
A. The immediate loss of intimacy with God - Gen. 3:8
B. The daily struggle with pain, temptation, guilt and sin - Gen. 3:16-17
C. The progressive death of the body - Gen. 5:5
D. The ultimate eternal separation from God - Gen. 3:22
Of all the truths in Scripture, none have more empirical data as proof as to the inherent sinfulness of humanity. This week [Oct 25, 2009] a 15 year old girl in California was sexually assaulted repeatedly while 20 people laughed and snapped pictures of the horrific crime. Our participation and tolerance of sin testifies to our fallen nature.
III. We are the object of God's relentless love
Paul clarified one incredible truth about God's love for us: He loves us despite our sinfulness. As you think of that reality you will appreciate several aspects of God's love.
A. God's longsuffering pursuit of man
Not only does God love us "while we are yet sinners," but He also loves us when we scorn and reject His loving intentions toward us. We call this longsuffering.
B. God's visitation of humanity - the incarnation
Since man could not see God, God came to man in the form of man. Think of the love that Christ had for fallen humanity to lay aside or divest Himself of His exalted place in heaven to come to earth as a child. He lived among us but without sin.
C. God's sacrifice of His Son - the cross
Jesus said, "No greater love has man than this that he lay down his life for his friend." And Christ did just that. He, the innocent, offered His life for us, the guilty. He paid our sin debt to satisfy the Father's holiness and justice.
D. God's offer of grace
Then wonder of wonders, God says to fallen humanity, "Whosoever believeth on Him shall not perish but have everlasting life." And Paul added, "Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved."
Although we have no merit, God loves us anyway. And He offers every person the opportunity to receive forgiveness through the sacrifice of His Son. We call this grace.
IV. We are eternal souls who will face our Maker
Every person has a God-given soul. And while our bodies will perish, the soul is eternal. The Bible teaches that every person will face their Maker.
A. Believers in Christ will appear at the judgment seat of Christ [2 Corinthians 5:10] to give account of the lives they lived once they became children of God.
B. Unbelievers will appear at the great white throne judgment because they rejected Christ - Revelation 20:12-15.
C. Ultimately, "every knee will bow" and acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord - Philippians 2:9-11.
"Legendary British philosopher Antony Flew gave up atheism at the age of eighty-one. A noted critic of God's existence for several decades, Flew wrote books such as The Presumption of Atheism.
"When asked in 2004 what arguments for God's existence he found most persuasive, Flew answered: ‘The most impressive arguments for God's existence are those that are supported by recent scientific discoveries. . . . I think the argument to Intelligent Design is enormously stronger than when I first met it.'" ["My Pilgrimage from Atheism to Theism: A Discussion between Antony Flew and Gary R. Habermas," in Philosophia Christi, Winter 2005]
You can change - if you come to God.