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James Merritt - Axe It

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    James Merritt - Axe It

Who am I and how did I get here? Why am I here? Okay, I'm here but what's my purpose? What is the meaning? Why am I even here to begin with? What is right and wrong and how should I live? Where do I go after I die? Now, there's a lot of places you can turn to to get the answers to those questions but like billions of other people in this world I happen to believe that the best place to find the best answers is this book. I believe this is the only book that gives us, not just a good answer, not even the best answer, I believe, frankly, this is the only book that gives us a truly right answer to those questions and, hopefully, beginning today you will see why I believe that, hopefully why many of us believe that. Because I believe in God's word you find the solutions to some of the most profound, complex, far-reaching questions the human race has ever asked.

When we understand who we are, why we're here, what standards we ought to live by, and where we're going, only then will we no longer be stumped about our past and our present and our future. So today we're going to begin with this fundamental question which is, "Who am I and how did I get here"? Now, even though that's a very, very deep and a very, you might say, "Complex question," here's the good news: There really can only be two simple answers to that question. It's not hard to figure out. There's not three. There's not four. There's not five. There's not ten. There can really only be two answers to that question. Either God purposely made us to be here or we just accidentally made it here. There's no third alternative. Either someone, some intelligent being we call "God", either God placed us here, made us to be here, or we just accidentally made it here.

So, as we ask the question today, first question, the "who" question, "Who am I and how did I get here," I want you to understand we're actually begging a much bigger question. Because when you ask the question, "Well, who am I and how did I get here," what you're really asking is, "How did any of this get here? How did any of us arrive at this place? How did this whole universe come into being"? Because only when you answer that question in the macro do you get the answer in the micro. Now, I want you to consider my viewpoint which really boils down to ten very simple words. And I would just ask you to just think for a moment about these words which are the most famous and probably the most well-known ten words ever uttered in the English language. You know them. They are the very first words found in the very first chapter of the very first book of the bible.

Genesis 1:1, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth". Now, let me just stop and say this: If those words are true, I'm not assuming but if those words are true, even though we don't have the answer to the question yet, you have to agree that statement is powerful enough to move us in the right direction because if you look back over the course of time this is what's really incredible to me. In all of human history the only words ever written down on paper that claim to give us the record of who we are and how we got here is found in this book. It's found in the bible. And you say, "Okay, so what do we find right off the bat in the beginning"? Because I think we've got to go back to the beginning to find out about the beginning. So what does the very beginning of this book tell us about our very beginning? Well, you're going to find this chapter. We're going to learn three things. Number one, we live in a world created by God. That's the first thing you're going to find. We live in a world created by God.

Now, again, let's just think this through. There are only two options about how we got here. Either stuff just happens, right? Stuff just happens or this happened. In the beginning God created. Now, again, I'm not asking you to believe this. I'm just asking you to think with me. If those five words are true: "In the beginning God created". By the way, we can just agree on the how, you know. Young earth. Old earth. Seven literal days or six literal days. Six ages, whatever. I'm not going to get into all that. You have your opinion. I've got mine. Doesn't matter. I'm not talking about the how. We'll let, the devil's in those details. I'll leave that there. I'm just talking about, okay, if in the beginning, however it happened, God created, then that tells us something right off the bat: We're not here by evolutionary chance. We're here by divine choice. So when did all this come about? He said it came about in the beginning. Well, who brought it all about? God. And how did God bring it all about? He created. And then after Genesis 1:1 the rest of the bible tells us why it all came together to begin with.

Now, I realize I'm asking you to bite off a lot and I'm realizing I'm asking you to go against the grain of what you hear in most universities and a lot of our high schools. I get that. So I just want to take a moment and tell you why I believe that scientifically and philosophically that is the best explanation of who we are and how we got here. First of all, science and cosmology now admits that matter's not eternal. There's no scientist in the world that says, "What you see has always been here". Scientists now admit this universe has not always existed. At some finite period of time the universe began. And I'm not asking you to take my word for it. By almost universal consensus, probably the most preeminent scientists in the world today or the most famous scientists is a man we've all heard of. His name is Stephen Hawking. Stephen Hawking is an atheist. He doesn't believe in God. Certainly doesn't believe in the bible. Certainly would not believe what I'm saying, you know, right now. Except he does agree on this point. He said, "All the evidence seems to indicate that the universe has not existed forever but that it had a beginning".

Scientists believe this beginning was what they call "The Big Bang". That doesn't matter. The point is, scientists now agree what you see now has not always been here. There was a point in time when there was nothing and at some point in time there was something. Well, that's a big admission because that leads to another conclusion that they're now having to admit. That is that everything that has a beginning has a cause. If something began, something caused it to begin. And the universe had a beginning. Therefore, the universe had a cause. Again, I'm not asking you to take my word for it. You've heard of a guy named Albert Einstein. Pretty smart dude, right? Albert Einstein said, "The scientist is possessed by a sense of universal causation". In other words, what Dr. Einstein said was, "Any scientist that's honest enough will tell you, 'I know deep down everything has to have a cause. Nothing just happens. There has to be some kind of process or some kind of something or someone that caused something to begin to begin with.'"

Now, let me just be clear. That does not prove that God is the first cause. I'm not trying to make that leap because you can figure that out on your own. That doesn't mean that God is the first cause. All I'm saying is today there's a consensus that the universe had a beginning and there's a consensus that every beginning had a cause. Therefore, the universe had some cause. Now that leads to a third truth that scientists now accept. And that is that, and I love the way they phrase it. Scientists now say there are some unbelievably staggering coincidences. That makes life possible. That even make the universe fit for life. Now let me tell you what I mean. This is kind of incredible. Astrophysicists now know that there are four fundamental values that even make things exist to begin with.

In other words, if you didn't have these four values and they were not in perfect ratio to one another, we wouldn't be having this conversation. They are gravity, the electromagnetic force, strong nuclear forces, and weak nuclear forces. Now here's what scientists are now saying. They're now saying that when The Big Bang took place, whenever that was and however that happened, when The Big Bang took place, that in less than one millionth of a second, all of these forces came together. And they came together in this certain ratio. And they say if you want to alter any one of these values, the universe would not even exist. And here's what they now determined. They said, "If the ratio between gravity and the electronic force and the strong nuclear forces and the weak nuclear forces, if they were off in the beginning by even one part in this number, which is 100 quadrillion, if they were off by one part in 100 quadrillion, no stars would have ever been formed, no planets would have ever come into existence, and there would be no universe and there would be no us".

And they say that's such a staggering coincidence. But there's more. They have now gone from the macro to the micro. They looked at one planet, namely our planet, and they're now telling us that the fine-tuning that is necessary for life to exist on Planet Earth is just incredible. They've now identified 200, listen to this, 200 known parameters that is necessary for a planet to support life. And every single one must be perfectly met or the universe falls apart. So in other words, if you have a planet and you've got a 199 of these parameters but number 200 is missing, no life. No planet. No existence. Now the point is, the odds against there even being a universe, much less a planet, much less a planet with life on it, are just astronomical. Again, don't take my word for it.

I love the way that the noted scientist Francis Collins who discovered DNA, this is what Dr. Collins said. I love the way he puts it. He said, "When you look from the perspective of a scientist at the universe, it looks as if it knew we were coming". Well, that leads to a fourth point scientists now admit. Scientists are now reluctantly being forced to admit that as of today they can find no evidence that life has ever arisen spontaneously by random, natural forces. In other words, they have never yet proven that something comes from nothing, that life comes from non-life. And today they're having to admit, they're doing all these experiments but so far they're saying they can point to no evidence that life can ever come from non-life. Life has all the markings of being created by some intelligent agent, controlling and directing and manipulating the entire process. And, oh, by the way, nothing has given more force to that argument than the discovery of DNA.

Do you understand you are the most complex thing in the universe? And I know some of you guys are saying, "I'm married to her. I get it". Okay. We are the most complex things in this entire universe. And scientists are now saying there's just no evidence of what you and I learned in school is spontaneous generation. There's just, life does not come from non-life. Only life produces life. Now, why do I go into all this detail? 'Cause all I want you to do is just follow the crumbs. When you go all the way back, the universe had a beginning. Every beginning has a cause. The universe has a cause. The cause that brought this about has, all these incredible things that have to fit perfectly together or there would be no universe and there would be no life. You follow the crumbs and, in my opinion, it leads all the way back to Genesis 1. I believe we live in a God-created world. But it gets better. We also find out this. We also find out that we live in a world controlled by God. Not just created by God, controlled by God. Because Genesis 1, when you read it, tells us that not only God created this world, but that God controls this world.

Let me go back and show you how this all came out. And, again, I don't know all the details but we're told in Verse 2 that, "In the beginning the earth was without form and void, darkness was over the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters". In other words, and by the way, scientists believe this is actually what happened. That in the beginning, right after The Big Bang, the earth was kind of like an empty shell. There was no life. There was no light. There was no food, no water, no animals, no plants, no humans. There was no sound. Everything was dark. Everything was silent. Same thing you read in Genesis 1. And then three words changes everything. Three words. "And God said". Nine times you read that in Genesis 1, "And God said". It's amazing what happens every time God opens his mouth. Every time God speaks suns begin to shine. And moons begin to glow. And plants begin to grow. And rivers begin to flow. And stars begin to twinkle. Animals and humanity begin to live.

And here's the point: Nothing happens until God says so. Nothing moves unless God says so. Nothing comes into existence until God says so because he was in complete control. And the rest of the bible, after Genesis 1, tell us he is still in complete control. Now let me tell you why this is so important. Hang with me. You've got two choices. I've already laid 'em out for you. Two choices. Either everything is here by pure chance. Everything is here by the luck of the draw. Everything is here by the roll of the dice. Everything is here by pure chance. Or everything is here by divine choice. In other words, everything is here by what Darwin called "random selection" or everything is here by divine election. And that's why the first ten words of this chapter, in fact, the entire chapter is so important because, again, one of two things have to be true, alright?

We're either here by the Lord or we're here by luck. You don't have to be stumped about who you are. You don't have to be stumped about how you got here. You can know every day of your life, "I am a creation of a sovereign God who has a plan for my life and a purpose for my life and I can find that plan and I can live out that purpose. He's got a plan for this world. He's got a plan for you. He's got a plan for me". So, number one, we live in a world, I believe, created by God. Number two, we live in a world, I believe, controlled by God. But I save the best for last. According to Genesis we live in a world where we can be connected to God. We live in a world where we can be connected to God. Now, there's one last thing we need to consider about this world we live in and those who live in this world. And it's not what God says about the world, okay? We've already kind of left that behind.

The most important thing to me about Genesis 1 is not what God says about the world. The most important thing to me about Genesis 1 is what God says about me. And what God says about you. And what God says about us. Here's what he says in Verse 26: "Then God said, 'Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.'" Let me just stop and let that sink in, okay? He's dealing with us first. "Let us make man in our image and after our likeness". Then he goes lower. "And let them," that's us, "have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth".

I believe the best explanation of not only the world that we live in, but the people that live in it, is found right here in this verse. Let me tell you why. If we evolve from animals, and I know there are some of you in this room no matter what I say, you're going to believe that. That's fine, that's okay. It doesn't bother me. But if you believe or we believe that we evolved from animals and we're nothing more than animals, we're just slightly more complex than every other animal.

If that's what you believe, that's fine. Here's my question: Then why are we, of all the species on the planet, so very vastly different from every other animal? For example, we have a Boston Terrier named Pocky. Okay? I don't know how, if you have a dog in your house, I don't know how it is in your house, okay? Pocky rules my house. She runs my house. Why? 'Cause I want to have a happy marriage, okay? Teresa loves me. She adores Pocky. Okay? So Pocky, okay. Now, I love Pocky. We have a great time and she likes to play and I like to play with her and I love my little Boston Terrier. But there's some things that are just vastly different. The other day, I'm eating a chocolate chip cookie. I dropped the cookie on the floor. Before I could pick it up, she ate it. No guilt. No remorse. No shame. No repentance. No tears. I'm her master. I feed her. I give her a home. And she eats my cookie.

Why do we have a conscience and we feel guilty? Why is it that animals kill and eat other animals with no sense of remorse? Why is it that deep down we know that for a human to kill another human and eat another human is wrong? And, by the way, why are we even asking these questions to begin with? Why do we even wonder about who we are and how we got here? Why do we bother? Why do we possess this ability to think things through? Why is it that there are very small differences in the degrees of intelligence between animals but there's this vast gulf between the intelligence of a human and an animal? And if you... make it real practical, why is it that we train animals but animals don't train us? Why is it you don't go to a circus to see the lion tame the tamer? Why is that? You know, how do you explain that? Why are animals afraid of fire but we use fire? Why is that we love to read books and I can't get Pocky to read a comic book? Why can we write and animals can't?

The scientists will say, "Gee, I don't know. Now give us enough time and the evolutionary process will either bring us up to their level or up to our level or, what we're seeing happening, bring us down to theirs". I've got a better answer. I want to tell you why I believe there's this vast difference between us and every other animal in the world. It's this: We were created in the image of God. There's a god print on my heart. There's a god print on your heart. There is a trademark across your soul that says, "Made by God. Made for God to live with God. To know this God. To worship this God. To serve this God. To obey this God". I don't mean to sound arrogant. I just think that's a lot better answer. I just really think, "You know what? That's the answer that makes sense to me".

We love what God loves. We think because God thinks. We know deep down there's a right and a wrong and why do we know deep down there's a right and a wrong? Because God has told us there's a right and a wrong. God has taught us the standards to live by and it's because we've been created in his image that unlike our dogs and our cats, we can know this God. We can have a personal relationship with this God. We can worship this God and glorify this God and obey this God. And we can be conformed to this God unlike any other animal on Planet Earth. And it's because life did not come from non-life. Life came from life. And Genesis 1 tells us that the God who is eternal life created us with a heart to know Him and a mind to seek Him and a soul to worship Him. And that's why God sent His son, Jesus, to die for us, to give us His life which is eternal life that we could worship Him and know Him forever.

So I just want to wrap all this up. You walk in here and believe whatever you want to believe. Walk out of here and think whatever you want to think. Just understand the choice that you have 'cause there's only two. We just happened to be here or God made us happen to be here. So you may sit there and you may say, "Well, I've just got one last question". Okay "Let's suppose I buy into everything you said up to this point except the Jesus part". Okay. Say you ask the question to me, "So why do you believe that this creator is the God of this book? Why do you believe that"? Here's why. Because not only does creation testify to a creator, but I believe both the world book and the word book testifies to a loving creator. And this is how much he loves us. This is how much he loved me. He loved you and me so much He said:

"I love you so much, tell you what I'm going to do. I'm going to become one of you. I'll take on your skin. I'll take on your blood. I'll take on your muscles and your corpuscles. I'll know what it is to be hungry. I'll know what it is to be thirsty. I'll know what it is to be betrayed. I'll know what it is when people do you wrong. I'll know what it is to be treated unjustly and unfairly. I'll know what it is not to feel physically well. I'll know what it is to go through the most inhumane treatment anybody could ever go through 'cause I want you to know that I love you that much, that I wanted to become one of you, a part of you. And, by the way, I'm doing all of that not just so I can live with you, but so I could die for you. So I could introduce you to a life that will last long after this world is already gone. So I could give you a life that's unspeakable, full of joy. I could give you a life that is life-abundant".

And all I want to close by saying is this: I just know that the certain answer that God gives us about who we are and how we got here, at least for me, sure beats being stumped by the empty answers this world has to offer.
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