Jack Graham - The Search for Significance
Good morning, and I would invite you to take God's Word and turn Hebrews, chapter 2. This is our series GOING THE DISTANCE, and the title of today's message is "The Search for Significance". Man is on an eternal search for meaning, and those big questions about life and death and earth and eternity. Those existential questions that everyone asks: "Who am I? Why am I? Why am I here? And where am I going"? These are questions on the road, on the search for significance. What is the meaning of life?-that's what this message is about. It is a biblical view of the meaning of man. Humanity, men and women made in the image of God. Who are we? And why are we? And how could God possibly be interested in any of us? That's the question.
Last time we ended with an unanswerable question that simply said, Hebrews 2:3, "How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation"? That's an unanswerable question because there's no escape. There's no hope apart from this great salvation that we have in Jesus Christ. The book of Hebrews is all about hope in Jesus Christ. And so is there hope for mankind? Is there hope for me, for you? That's the question we're going to ask and answer today from God's Word. This is the Word view that comes from God as to who we are and why we're here. Verse 6 says: "It has been testified somewhere, 'What is man, that you are mindful of him, or the son of man, that you care for him? You made him for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor, putting everything in subjection under his feet.'"
Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him (In subjection to mankind). The writer of Hebrews is quoting here. He says "from somewhere". That somewhere is actually Psalm 8. As a shepherd boy David often reflected on the greatness and glory of God and he sang beautiful, and gave us beautiful psalms and hymns of worship to God. And in Psalm 8 he speaks of the majesty and the glory of God, the greatness of God in the heavens. And then David thinks, "How small I am, how insignificant I am. In the midst of all of this majesty and all of this greatness, who am I that God would be mindful of me? That the great God who made the universe would think about me"?
He's feeling insignificant. He's feeling insecure; he's feeling small in the face of the greatness of God and also the length of eternity. Because life is brief, a brief candle, a vapor that appears for a little while and is gone soon. And yet we look into the heavens and we wonder, "Who am I? Why did God make me? Why am I here? What is my purpose? What is my meaning in life"? It's the search for significance. And in that search we first see what I'm going to call "Man's beautiful dignity". Women and men are made by God. In fact, we're told right here in the Scripture, verse 7, "You made him". Man is made by God and man is minded by God. We are in His thoughts.
Jeremiah 29, and verse 11, one of my favorite verses, it speaks of God being mindful of us, and he says, "For I know the plans that I have for you, thoughts of your welfare, your health. Not of disaster or evil, but to give you a future and a hope". It just boggles the mind to think that God, the Creator, we learned who this Creator is. Jesus is the One who framed and founded the universe. He made it all! He's the Christ for the cosmos! The Creator-God and the Sustainer in the universe! We're told in Hebrews 1 that all things hold together because of Him. Everything is in the grip of His grace, and of His power. And so God made us, and when He made us according to the Scriptures at the very dawn of creation He breathed into us the breath of life. And man became a living soul. You are not a body who has a soul; you are a soul who has a body. God breathed into you His life. This makes you different than the animals. His image you bear at the outset, man did, the image of God.
And so we are not the product of someone's evolutionary hypothesis or thesis. We did not ooze out of some primordial swamp. We're going to the swamp, but we didn't come out of the swamp! We're not the first cousin to the apes, a glorified gorilla, a naked ape. "Once I was an amoeba just as beginning to begin. And then I was a tadpole with my tail tucked in. And then I became a monkey in a banyan tree, and now I'm a professor with a PhD"! The Bible says, this is God's view of you, God's view of you. You are handcrafted by God Almighty, even in your mother's womb. Now Adam and Eve were handmade by God in the Garden. But we are born into this life, and life begins in the womb. You say, "How do you know that"? Well, in Jeremiah, chapter 1, and verse 7, Jeremiah 1:7, "Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you"!
Incredible, isn't it! Before you were born God knew you! "And before you were born I consecrated you". God had a plan for your life before your birth. And if you want farther evidence, Psalm 139, verses 13 and 14: "For you formed my inward parts. You knitted me together in mother's womb. I praise you for I am (what?) fearfully and wonderfully made". Made by God! And therefore, life is significant! Life is sacred from the womb to the tomb. This is why we believe. The Bible tells us that the preborn, the unborn and the born are all sacred to God. It's the sanctity of human life. You know, if you begin teaching kids that they come from animals, it's no wonder that they start acting like animals. But if you show children and teenagers and show yourself God's Word that teaches us that you are made in the image of God, by the very hand of God; that God has a plan, God has a purpose for your life then you will understand life from a totally different perspective. God's perspective. And you will see others in a different way.
We're made by God, created and crowned. But something happens in the story in verse 8, when it talks about man being made, the woman being made. But it says, look at the last sentence in verse 8. It says: "At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him". That is, subjection to the Created one. Something happened; something changed, and that something that happened defaced and disfigured the image of God in humanity. Something radical happened to the heart of a human being, and that something, when you look at man today, we're not in control. There's chaos in the world. We don't have dominion. We're dominated and what is it? That something that happens is sin and death. When Adam and Eve chose to rebel against God, and to disobey God said, "If you eat of the fruit of the tree of good and knowledge, you will die".
Satan lied, and they died. First, in their spirits and ultimately in their bodies. And a disease began to spread throughout the sons of Adam and the daughters of Eve. And that disease is deadly! Sin, death and hell! Sin now separates us from God. And I want you to really listen right now because this is the heart of the Christian faith and message. Before there's good news, there's this terrible news of man's sinful, terrible depravity. Now that's not a word you hear much today in social circles unless you're talking about someone who's really done some bad, bad things. That person is depraved. And yet the Bible teaches us that in our sinful state, this condition as a result, the consequence of sin, the sin of choice, our own sin, because of that, we are all totally depraved.
Now, you say, "Well, I'm just not into that. I'm just not that depraved". Learn this lesson about the truth of total depravity. Alright, here's a theological truth. Are you ready for it? Depravity doesn't mean that you're as bad as you could be; although apart from God there's no sin that we would not commit, apart from the grace of God there is a propensity to sin in all of us, and I'm telling you, given the right set of circumstances and temptations in your life, there's no sin, no temptation. You say, "Well, yes there is". Well, no there isn't. But total depravity doesn't mean that you're as bad as you could be but it means that you are, watch this, as bad off as you could be, because in this depravity we are dying.
Now there's three kinds of death mentioned in the Bible. There, of course, is physical death. We understand a little bit about that. But the Bible also talks about spiritual death and that's life without God. If God breathes life into the soul, if there is no life in the soul, if there is no God in me, there's no life in me! We're dead men walking. We are not alive! Romans 6:23, "The wages of sin is death"! according to the Scripture. Ezekiel 18:20, "The soul that sins, it shall surely die". So that's spiritual death. So we know spiritual death, we know physical death; but the Bible talks about the second death and the second death is the result of this depravity, this death that comes eternally; separation from God forever and ever, and that's hell. Jesus spoke of those who die in their sins. The most loving person, Savior and God who walked on the face of the earth, said, "You can die in your sins".
Jesus came so that you would not have to die in your sins. But if you reject the love and the grace of God, you will die in your sins, and that's hell and judgment. You say, "Pastor, are you trying to scare me into heaven"? Well, if I could, I would. But I would rather scare you into heaven than silence you into hell, and not tell you the truth. The Bible says there is a hell and there is a judgment. Hebrews 9:27, "It is appointed unto man once to die", says the book of Hebrews, and after that "the judgment". Now we therefore must prepare to die, prepare to meet our God. There's the reality of death and the brevity of life. We all deal with it. We all have these basic needs. There's emptiness, there's loneliness, there's guilt and there's the fear of death.
You say, "I'm not afraid to die". You're probably lying if you're saying that. We all are born in what the writer of Hebrews later calls the bondage of death. We are slaves to sin and death! And in this bondage we think about it, we worry about it, we fret it. Why would a person be fearful of death? Well, there's the physical act of dying. Some people are afraid of actually dying. It's like one fellow said, "I'm really not afraid of dying; I just don't want to be there when it happens"! Or maybe there is the fear of the unknown. What's on the other side? There's this existential fear regarding death as just the fear of non-being. Believe it or not, I used to think about that as a little boy. Non-being. How could I not be? Some of my fear of death came from a prayer my mother taught me to pray: "Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take".
That put the fear of God in me as a little boy. Put the fear of death in me frankly. So from early ages and stages of life, throughout life and seasons of life people are in this bondage to satan, to sin, to death and hell. And that's the fact. That's reality. Death, because of sin, is a relentless reality. But, thank God, there's more. In our search for significance there's not only this beautiful dignity and this sinful depravity, but there is an eternal destiny, because what man has lost, what Adam-the first man lost, Jesus-the second Adam has regained for us! That's the message of the Gospel! That God became a Man, the perfect Man, the God-Man, and lived among us and that's why verse 9 says... Look at verse 9. It says: "But we see him".
What I always want you to see and hear at Prestonwood, PowerPoint, the ministry of this church, "we see him (namely Jesus! Because Jesus the Man, the Mediator between God and man) made lower than the angels for a little while". Can you imagine that? God in an embryo? God in a crib? He is born that we might never die. "The Son of God became the Son of Man (C.S. Lewis said) that the sons of men could become the sons of God"! So what was lost in the failure, in the fall and the consequences of sin is now regained, for watch what happens: "He's crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone".
Everyone. Don't you ever let somebody tell you that Jesus died just for a select few! Atonement is not limited. The grace of God is for everyone! Jesus died for all! Jesus died for everyone! He tasted death, that means He experienced death. This isn't a sampling of death; this isn't an hors d'oeuvre. He tasted death! I think of the Garden, before Golgotha was the Garden where Jesus surrendered His soul, His life to do the will of the heavenly Father, to go to the cross. He's prayed, He's sweating drops of blood. And He says Matthew 26:39, "Father, if there's any way, let this cup pass from Me". What was in that cup that was so awful, so terrible that even Jesus said, "Lord, not this"!
You know what was in that cup? The sins of mankind. Think of every vile, evil, wicked, foul, insidious, depraved act of humanity. Think of the self-righteousness and the pride and all the rest. All of the sin of humanity is in that cup. I know that it's impossible for the human brain to get around that this side of eternity, but I'm telling you when Christ died, He took on our sin. He tasted death for everyone! And as He surrendered His will to drink that cup, He drank that bitter cup dry, to the dregs! He tasted death for everyone. The Scripture here goes on to say that He took this bondage of death and as the founder of our faith.
In fact, let's take a couple of seconds to look at it. Verse 10 says, "for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering". That means that Christ did not die a normal death, but a suffering and painful death, so it's not a charade! It was death, and a suffering death on the cross! But this salvation's made perfect because of the Founder, and that's an interesting word. I did a word study on that particular word and it does mean founder. It can also mean leader, as it references leading many sons to glory. It can also mean, and I like this, champion, hero. It's the picture of a gladiator.
And later on, verse 14: "So therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through the fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery". So you can now say, if you believe and follow the Lord Jesus Christ who has conquered sin, death and hell and the grave by His cross, by His resurrection. This Savior, this Redeemer who took the sword, the sting of death out of the hand of the devil. He subdued Satan, He destroyed death by His own death on the cross. And therefore, you no longer have to live in the fear of death because if you're a Christian you don't ever need to be afraid to die. You don't!
Now I know death is a big deal when family members leave us early. I've experienced that. Everyone has nearly in this room, beyond. We all know that death is a terrible enemy so I don't want to minimize the hurt and the pain that death causes, but I'm telling you as a believer and follower of Jesus Christ, there's no need for you ever to live in the bondage and the slavery of fear and death! Because we have a Savior, a Founder, a Champion, who is leading many sons to glory! When I die, I'm not walking into glory alone! I'm going hand in hand with Jesus! Amen? I'm walking in with Him! And He leads many sons to glory, because of His death, His cross, His resurrection. That's why we preach Jesus. That's why we teach Jesus. That's why we sing about Jesus. Because of Him and what He has done for us.
Proverbs 18:24, "He's a Friend that sticks closer than a brother". "What a friend we have in Jesus. All our sins and grief to bear. What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer". And we're told in verse 16, 17 and 18 that when we carry it to prayer, He is our Mediator, He is our Interceder. We're going to have a message on that later on, so we're just stop it right there. But you can count on the fact that He is your Mediator. There is one mediator between God and man. He is your high priest. He takes your request, your needs, your hurts and holds you and helps you and gives you hope.