Rethinking Your Life | Week 11: Rethinking Faith and Science

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For some, faith and science doesn’t fire you up and it’s a non-issue. But for some, you’d say you cannot be a Christian because of science. You see faith and science as two opposing position where you have to pick a side.

Let’s start off with a just an establishing statement. Everyone has a belief system.

Atheism is a faith system, a belief system. Agnosticism is a belief system. Christianity is a belief system. So are other religions. So is the thing you made up on your own.

Even if you have a scientific worldview there are belief components to it. It’s just the nature of the gap between what we know and what we believe.

You don’t have to be a Christian to believe that life continues after death. Many people who aren’t even religious believe that because of science; the patterns and cycles of nature, ethics, psychology, anthropology, and philosophy give us evidence of life after death.

Einstein, who wasn’t a Christian, he believed consciousness continued after death based on the physics as he understood them. That’s a belief system. Everyone has a belief system.


Widely-Held Misconceptions

When it comes to faith and science, there are some widely-held perceptions, misconceptions about Christianity and science that we can debunk before we get to the main points today.

Many people believe this myth that

  • Christianity is anti-intellectual.

Christians are people. People are all different. Are there some who are anti-intellectual? Some who reject science and logic and study? Sure. They certainly portray that in the media. It seems like every Christian in a sit-com is a fool, completely unaware of their surroundings, very annoying, trying to make people do stuff they don’t want to do.

The media often portrays or highlights Christians who have some completely ulterior motive. But when you get past the surface and those stereotypes, you see there is a very strong, deep resonate well of intellectual thought that is thoroughly Christian.

Here’s some things a lot of people don’t know.

The university is a twelfth-century Christian invention.

Higher learning and faith have been historically linked, not uncoupled. In fact, where Christianity and the church is strong, you find very helpful science. Eyeglasses, clean water, hospitals, vaccines and so many things. Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Dartmouth and Brown all began as Christian institutions.

Some of the smartest people in human history have ended up being people of deep faith. There are very smart people who have rejected faith. There are intellectual Christians, and anti-intellectual Christians because there are intellectual people and anti-intellectual people.

But there is a rich tradition of philosophy and scientific discovery in Christianity. Christians engage their mind.

“Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'”  Matthew 22:37 NIV

Maybe you feel like you can’t engage your mind to follow Jesus, that’s a misconception.

Second widely-held misconception:

  • Science is objective. Faith is subjective

Let’s just look at evolution as a case in a point. Evolution is a theory that attempts to explain observable, but sometimes unrepeatable, data. A lot of what evolution observes, you can’t repeat.

A lot of science is based on repeatable experiments. So there are science experiments that repeat, but you can’t repeat the big bang. You can’t repeat an era. You can’t go back in time or recreate it in a lab. The universe is expanding, but we can’t repeat it. So it’s trying to explain observable, but sometimes unrepeatable, data.

The reality is:

The data is objective. The explanation is subjective.

That’s why scientists disagree. Some say it happened this way, others say it happened this way. So this idea that all science is objective, any scientist worth his or her weight will tell you, we’re workin off interpretation.

Both science and faith have subjective elements.

They aren’t so different from one another here. Both have data and evidence, both have things they discern from that. Both have objective elements. Both have subjective elements.

Third misconception is this:

  • If I believe in science, I can’t believe in God.

Some of you got into a class or college or the internet or read a book or got around a group of friends and and thought, you couldn’t believe in God in that environment.

Science v. Faith – When you see cases, Jones versus Smith, that’s just the way we say it in english. Actually, the latin v does not mean versus. It means and. Jones and Smith not Jones versus Smith.

It’s not science versus faith, it’s science and faith.

Science leads researchers toward faith as much as it leads them away from faith.

You’ll hear atheists say, no one in the scientific community believes in God. That’s not true. If you want to know why that’s not true, look at data science has done for themselves. Look at what a scientific poll discovered about their own community.

American Association for the Advancement of Science showed 51% of scientists believe in some form of deity or higher power.

In the hard sciences like astronomy and biology, it’s higher. In the social sciences, it’s lower. Psychology and so on are getting less religious. In the hard sciences, there’s a much higher belief. The rate is higher for people who are looking at the universe, looking at the evidence.

51% of scientists believe in some form of deity or higher power.

31% believe in a personal God, not just a higher power however you define that.

7% don’t know.

Fact-based science is not perpetually at war with faith-based religion. Maybe science is revealing what God did and does.

Allen Rex Sandage, Astronomer, Successor to Edwin Hubble:

“It is my science that drove me to the conclusion that the world is much more complicated that can be explained by science.”

He didn’t start out in life with a Christian conviction. The deeper he got into astronomy, the deeper he got into the way the universe is created, the more questions got raised. In his fifties he became a Christian. He would say science raised so many questions that led him to faith in Jesus.

Science shouldn’t kill your theological curiosity, it should spark it.

The more you know, the more questions you have. What you discover, is that God has answers.


Four Questions

1. What caused everything that exists?

When you think about the origins of the universe, everyone agrees that everything that begins to exist has to have a cause.

Your kids didn’t just spontaneously appear. You know what happened. If you have a business, where did it come from? You started it. Where did your car come from? A factory. Originally the mind of engineers.

Theists said it was God. Others said it was the universe or the big bang. How do you explain an infinitely complex universe that began out of nothing? The Bible answers this.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1 NIV

This takes this all the way back to the question, where did the first cell come from? Where did the first thing of matter come from? Where did existence come from? How did any of it begin?

This is the question of origin. This is what the Bible addresses. Christianity has an answer for origin. It has an answer for how the first cell began. And how existence began. As we discover more, we discover it must be a Creator.

In the first century, the Apostle Paul, a Jesus Follower, put it this way…

“For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.” Romans 1:20 NLT

2. What caused order?

This is the evidence from design. There’s a world within a world within a world and it’s coded and all works together. The laws explain what we see, but not how they got there. Who or what created the laws of physics? Let’s ascribe to God the worth and worship He is due for his creation.

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. Psalm 19:1-4 NIV

Creation’s voice goes out and the evidence points to a designer. A creator.

3. What caused humanity’s desire for morality and meaning?

The dignity of humanity. We refer to it as human rights. Inherent worth. This idea that every person, just by virtue of being a person, has inherent worth and value can’t be trampled upon and shouldn’t be violated.

This just doesn’t make sense without God. How did we all come to believe, that every person believes humans have worth just by virtue of being human. We think this idea has always been around. Ideas aren’t like that. Ideas have to come from somewhere.

What’s great about this is there’s zero debate. Regardless of what you believe, anyone who has any knowledge of history the idea of human worth and dignity, the idea of worth and dignity came from the Bible.

They’ve tried to find it in another source and it just isn’t there. The basis for human worth is that God made you!

“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27 NIV

This is why there is some science Christianity rejects. We reject when any science becomes the authority over human life. God is the only one who rightfully exercises sovereign control over human life. To attempt to control who lives, who doesn’t, when someone dies, or do things to place ourselves in God’s position. Clearly, man is not to do this.

If we view man as simply another creature and not as the unique creation he is, it is not difficult to see human beings as mere mechanisms needing maintenance and repair.

But we are not just a collection of molecules and chemicals. The Bible teaches that God created each of us and has a specific plan for each of us. Deep down, we all know it.

“Even Gentiles, who do not have God’s written law, show that they know his law when they instinctively obey it, even without having heard it.

They demonstrate that God’s law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right.

And this is the message I proclaim—that the day is coming when God, through Christ Jesus, will judge everyone’s secret life.” Romans 2:14-16 NLT

When we are different from the character of the creator who made us, it’s wrong. When we’re like the character of the creator who made us, it’s right. That’s how you decide what truth is.

These are rational explanations as to why we have morals. The idea that these morals just evolved can’t be. As you study it, you find that God created them. And you have inherent worth because you were created in the image of God.

That’s why the Christian faith, at its core, is not only about believing something, it’s about knowing someone.

“Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth.

He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see—such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him.

He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together. Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body. He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead. So he is first in everything.

For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.” Colossians 1:15-20 NLT

4. How will I respond to Jesus Christ?

If Jesus is the visible image of the invisible God, if he’s done all these things and he’s extending his hand to me, how will we respond? In the gospel of John,

“One of the twelve disciples, Thomas was not with the others when Jesus came. They told him, ‘We have seen the Lord!'”

“But he replied, ‘I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side.’”

He’s got enough evidence to make him a believer, but he’s not.

Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. ‘Peace be with you,’ he said. Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!’”

“’My Lord and my God!’ Thomas exclaimed.”

One of the great statements and confesses in scripture. He didn’t touch. At this moment he believes, he didn’t have to put his hands in there.

The problem is not the evidence. It’s the human heart.

Then Jesus told him, ‘You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.'”

There is a special blessing on those today  who believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus.

The disciples saw Jesus do many other miraculous signs in addition to the ones recorded in this book. But these are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name.” John 20:24-31 NLT

This is written that you might believe that He’s the one who died because of your sins. When you believe, then you’re alive, you’re born again, and have life. Life after death is sweet and wonderful as you are with Jesus.


Check Back

Briefly check back on your discussion from the last week, “Rethinking School and Work.” How was your school and work week? Any areas you recognized where God is working.

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcastGoogle Play Music or Download the Rock Brook Church App

Big Idea

Many believe that science and Christianity are incompatible. Widely-held misconceptions are that Christianity is anti-intellectual; Science is objective, faith is subjective; If I believe in science, I can’t believe in God. However, fact-based science isn’t perpetually at war with faith based religion.

Read John 20:24-31

Discussion & Application

  1. As a kid, were you quick to question things or did you generally believe whatever was presented to you? How has this tendency changed for you as an adult?
  2. What was the attitude toward God in your house growing up?                                         Did you parents lead you toward faith or away from it?
  3. Of the four questions on the outline, which jumps out to you most? (What caused everything that exists? What caused order? What caused humanity’s desire for morality and meaning? How will I respond to Jesus Christ?)
  4. Even if we fully and completely understood the scientific how of science, we would always wonder who and why. In what ways are who and why more significant questions than how?
  5. If morality, cosmology and the design of the universe do not point toward a creator, what do you think they point toward?

Prayer Focus

Ask how you can pray for and support one another this week.

Next Steps

Even as you explore the ‘how’ of science, remember to go beyond that and ask who and why? As you embrace those questions, read biblical accounts like the Gospel of Luke and the Gospel of John to gain a better sense of who God is and why he created us.

Brand New

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“So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:16-17 NIV/NKJV

Those who are in Christ, they believe in Jesus Christ as the way the truth and the life. If you are in Him, you may be in a place of danger and temptation, and may fail in many ways, but the Lord Jesus has redeemed us.

Old things have passed away. Now that we have trusted Christ. We no longer identify with Adam. We are no longer bound to sin. We are no longer people of the world. We were born into a sin nature, that has passed away.

We are a new creation.

Too many people have never approached God with the concept of “new”. Most have resigned themselves that God will just improve their messed up sinful life. The New Year is a reminder for Christians that we are defined by newness.

So this New Years weekend, let’s talk about the new things that we have when we become a Christian, when we are in Christ.


A Christian is Defined by Newness

1. NEW BIRTH

Jesus was having a conversation with a man named Nicodemus. Nicodemus was a deeply religious man. What he was looking for was someone powerful enough to overthrow Rome and build a kingdom.

“Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”  John 3:3 NIV

Jesus interrupts Nicodemus to tell him, you don’t know about the kingdom I’m building. I’m not here to overthrow a government, I’m here to overthrow what’s condemning you. God doesn’t intend to change the old nature. It can’t be changed.

God isn’t in the self-help business. He’s in the new life business.

New birth is necessary because we need a new nature. Why try to patch up an old life when God can give you a new one? Just like you didn’t have anything to do with your physical birth, only God can give you a new birth.

2. NEW HEART

Some of you used to have a hard heart. God doesn’t only soften your heart, he gives you a new heart.

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”  Ezekiel 36:26 NIV

3. NEW LIFE

The hardest thing to give someone is something they don’t know they need. God says, “I want to give you a new life.” We don’t think we need a new life, because we have a life. God says, “I’m saddened that you call that living.”

“We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”  Romans 6:4 NIV

The believers power over sin and the ability to lead a new life, stems from identification with Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. From God’s perspective, Jesus’ death to sin is ours as well. His rising to new life means that we also begin to lead a new life. And in the future our bodies will also be raised.

This is why the New Testament commands to baptize by immersion, to be buried in the water. Baptism symbolizes the death and burial of the old way of life. Coming up out of the water symbolizes resurrection to new life with Christ.

If we think of our old sinful life as dead and buried, we have a powerful motive to flee from sin. We can choose to treat the desires and temptations of the old nature as if they were dead.

4. NEW DESIRES

Isn’t it amazing how after you identify yourself with Christ, just naturally, things that you were okay with, you’re no longer okay with?

“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” Galatians 5:24 NIV

You have new desires. This passage in Galatians talks about walking in the Spirit. We learn to walk by trial and errorPeople want more & more seminars on the Christian life; thinking the more they learn the less they’ll fall. You’re still going to fall. You need to step out and lean on the Spirit of God and fulfill the new desires. Get up and start again.

5. NEW FAMILY

When you give your life to Christ you have a new family. God created everything so he could have a family. Now when I say that, I’m not saying God was lonely. Before God created anything, there was God existing three in one. The trinity. God wasn’t lonely. He had everything He needed. It was so good, He decided to create the Church to share that connection.

Jesus: “Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.” Mark 3:35 NIV

In God’s kingdom, one’s true relatives are determined not by blood, but by a faith relationship. God’s family is accepting and doesn’t exclude anyone. Although Jesus cared for his mother and brothers he also cared for all those who loved him. Jesus did not show partiality; he allowed everyone the privilege of obeying God and becoming part of his family.

6. NEW FOES

When you get close to God, some people will not like it. You might get treated differently or get laughed at. They’ll treat you like Jesus. Some people will not like you. They’re going to say weird comments. They’re going to say offensive things.

Jesus: “Everyone will hate you because of me.”  Luke 21:17 NIV

In this passage, he’s telling his disciples that you’ll even get killed, but in the end not a hair on your head will perish. By standing firm you will win your souls. It echos of David in the Psalms saying, what can man do to me?

“In my distress I prayed to the Lord, and the Lord answered me and set me free. The Lord is for me, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me? Yes, the Lord is for me; he will help me. I will look in triumph at those who hate me. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in people. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.”  Psalm 118:5-9 NLT

7. NEW SERVICE

We serve from a new motivation. Before, under the law, there was no joy. The flesh had no desire to follow the law.

“But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.”  Romans 7:6 NIV

We’re joined to the living Christ. We are to serve Him, not on the motive of we must do this or ought do this, but on the motive of wanting to please Christ. We’re set free and in love we give ourselves to Jesus. We serve him because we love him.

When Jesus talked to Peter, do you love me? Peter said, you know I love you, but you know what a failure I am. Jesus said, you’ll bring forth fruit, feed my sheep. Peter is the man who opened the door to the Gentiles and preached the first sermon at Pentecost.

God has a lost world, what will you do with Jesus who died for you? You can serve Him.

8. NEW STRUGGLE

“For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.”  Galatians 5:17 NIV

Your old nature is going to want to do things. You can’t get rid of your old nature this side of heaven. John says if we have no sin we deceive ourselves. We have two natures. The flesh warring against the Spirit and the Spirit warring against the flesh. They’re in conflict. Have you experienced that? You know that hymn, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing. It says, “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love.” Do you ever feel it?

We’re prone to wander and we’re prone to worship. But praise God for the struggle. Some aren’t struggling today, they’re fine with wandering. They’re fine with doing whatever they want.

Freedom isn’t doing whatever you want. Freedom is being able to do what is right. Freedom is the choice to do what is right.  It is not doing whatever you want, because there is no guarantee that what we want is good.  Freedom is the choice to do what is right. To do what is good.

9. NEW MERCIES

His mercies are new. You can’t outrun, they never tire or become old.

“The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”  Lamentations 3:22-24 NLT

Jeremiah was down when he wrote this, but he saw one ray of hope, the mercy of God. Maybe you are down and you think God’s grace and mercy has run out on you. You can’t exhaust the mercy of God. It’s a new season, it’s a new day.

10. NEW HOPE

God’s not in the escape plan business, He’s in the restoration business. In fact, in the end we don’t escape earth and go to heaven. God is going to purify the earth with fire and bring heaven to earth. The earth will be perfect.

“But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.”  2 Peter 3:13 NIV

What are you looking forward to? We can joyously look forward to the restoration of God’s good world. Whatever limitations you have on your body, you will not have those forever. Whatever sickness you’re fighting, you will not fight that forever. We have a new hope, the return of our king, Jesus Christ.


Grow Your Faith in 2019

In the next couple of days we’ll start making resolutions, goals, plans and budgets for 2019. What’s your plan to grow in your faith? If you want to grow in your faith, Rock Brook has a plan in place to help. 

KNOW GOD  |  WEEKEND SERVICES

Everything begins with a knowing relationship with God. That you Know God. We want you to have a real encounter with a real God. That’s the goal of our weekend services, to help you Know God, and if you already know Him, that you’d know Him better.

FIND FREEDOM  |  SMALL GROUPS

Once you know Him, He wants to help you with areas that hurt so badly. Areas of addiction. Areas, that don’t only disappoint God, but they disappoint you. Areas where you feel trapped and hopeless and the old things haven’t passed away.

Some people have this inverted, they think they need to get it all together before God will ever accept them.

You don’t change your life to get to God, you get to God to change your life. He accepts you just the way you are. Once you know him, the power of God comes in your life to Find Freedom.

This is why we love Small Groups. They’re not mini-bible studies. Not mini-church services. You’ve already had that, it’s an opportunity for you to connect, encourage and grow together. You need people that can help you and you need to help others.

Life change happens in the context of relationships.

DISCOVER PURPOSE  | GROWTH TRACK

You can’t see what your life is about because all you see is the old. Once you settle that, the lights come on and you see the new. Yout can stop looking through the lens of yesterday and start looking through the lens of tomorrow. You begin to realize you’re here to do something.

You’re not an accident, no matter what narrative your parents or someone has put on your life. Growth Track is a great way to help you with this. We can begin to connect the dots of your personality, gifts and passions to find out your purpose here on earth.

MAKE A DIFFERENCE  |  DREAM TEAM

Do something with your life that brings about the new. You can make a difference in Jesus name. Many people want to make a difference, but it only lasts if you do it in Jesus name. One of the most fulfilling things you’ll do is help someone. You cannot do what you do, on your own. That’s why we have the Dream Team, where we serve together.

Here’s the issue:

When I don’t see God’s vision for my life, I’m in danger of settling for an earthly counterfeit.

Everything God does, the devil creates an earthly counterfeit. It makes some promises, but never delivers. The devil will offer you everything and deliver you nothing. He offers you a counterfeit to God’s vision. It looks something like this.

Instead of Know God, I want to Know MeI’m going to make it about me. I just need to find myself. I just need to live my best life.

Instead of Find Freedom, we want to Find Fame. We build our own name. We want to be famous in this building or this company.

Instead of Discover Purpose, we want to Discover a Platform.

Instead of Make a Difference, we want to Make a Dime

It’s a promise that is so empty. We don’t want you fall for the counterfeit. We offer ways for you to take these spiritual steps.

Lean in this year and see where it takes you. See if 2019 is your best year yet.


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week. Do you have any more thoughts, questions or conclusions about the message on Restoring Joy? How did trusting God’s plan, letting go of resentment and following God’s light one step at a time affect your Christmas joy?

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcast or Google Play Music

Hear the Word

Read: 2 Corinthians 5

Too many people have never approached God with the concept of “new”.  Most have resigned themselves that God will just improve their messed up life, but they could never be their best. The New Year is a reminder for Christians that we are defined by newness. A Christian is defined by newness.

  • New Birth (John 3:3)
  • New Heart (Ezekiel 36:26)
  • New Life (Romans 6:4)
  • New Desires (Galatians 5:24)
  • New Family (Mark 3:35)
  • New Foes (Luke 21:17)
  • New Service (Romans 7:6)
  • New Struggle (Galatians 5:17)
  • New Mercies (Lamentations 3:22-24)
  • New Hope (2 Peter 3:13)

Application

  1. Which of these ten things that are new, stood out to you the most?
  2. Have you identified yourself with Jesus Christ through baptism? (For more information about baptism, visit rockbrook.org/connect/baptism)
  3. Do you feel the struggle that Galatians 5:17 describes in your life? How so?
  4. How have the people in your life responded as you’ve started growing closer to God? Have they been supportive? Have they been perplexed or frustrated? Discouraging?
  5. Where is your hope today?

Tell Someone Else

Who can you encourage with hope as a result of this message? Who needs to hear about the new life that Christ offers?

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