by: Robert A. Schuller
Well I have
had a very rewarding summer. It’s been one that
was full of projects and rewarding projects at that. I
finished my manuscript on my new book entitled “Walking
in Your Own Shoes.” And that manuscript will be
out in November, or I should say the book will be out
in November. The manuscript is done. I finished it and
so I spent the month of June working on that manuscript.
And then in
August, I had a wonderful time in August, I tackled a
new project. What I did is I actually went through the
entire Bible, highlighting all of the positive, inspiring,
motivating verses that lift my life and I highlighted
the entire Bible doing that in August. It’s the
first time I’ve sat down and I would call it power
through the Bible because we’re going to have a
Bible available for you this coming summer, entitled,
“The Power for Life Bible.” And so you’ll
be excited to see about all the different ways that the
Bible can be used to ignite the power in your life and
really have an impact of changing your life for good.
And then the
third thing we did this summer was we really examined
and redefined who we are as a church. We would include
the staff and the leaders of this church, met together
numerous hours, hours upon hour upon hour. In fact it’s
a project that started over a year ago and we finally
narrowed it down this summer to three words. And they’re
important words. And they’re words you need to know.
This ministry boils down to these three words: know, love
and serve. Powerful words. Know, Love and Serve. That’s
what it’s all about, know love and serve. Know God,
Love People and Serve the world.
what we’re all about; that’s what we do. And
it’s amazing that it took us so long to come up
with something so real and so beautiful at the same time.
It starts to take light when you start reading the Bible.
You know, at the very beginning I’m reading the
Bible and guess what I read: the very beginning of Genesis
it says that Adam knew Eve. That’s a big word. It
doesn’t say that Adam had sexual intercourse with
Eve. Shallow words. It was a deep word, an intimate word,
a word that expressed who we are through Christ. Adam
knew Eve. When you stop and you look at the word “to
know” one of the things that I remembered as I was
reading through the Bible was St. Paul, in fact St. Paul
wrote about a third of the New Testament. In his travels,
he comes to Athens. He says, “I even found an altar
with the inscription to an unknown God.” Isn’t
that fascinating? Here he is in one of the most beautiful
cities in the entire world and this is a city upon which
the Parthenon rests and overshadows everything. Even to
this day, the Parthenon overshadows the entire city of
Athens. Parthenon was the temple to Athena. And it was
in this city that St. Paul recognized that they even had
a temple set up to the unknown God. Because the Greek
mythology is the beginning of a pantheon of gods. You
have Zeus and Neptune and Athena and Mars and Achilles
and the list goes on and on and on. All you have to do
is go and study your Greek mythology to get a brief description
of all of the different Greek gods.
But then there’s
the God, an unknown God. I look at our society today and
most people have a temple to an unknown god. It’s
a temple in their mind, it’s a temple in their heart,
but it’s a temple to an unknown god. Because what
we know is that in America, 97% of the people in America
believe in God. Only 3% profess to be atheists. And I
can’t tell you how often I’ve met with atheists
and when I talk with them, I find out that they think
they’re atheists, but they’re really agnostics.
Now an agnostic, the difference between an atheist and
an agnostic is an atheist is someone who is convinced,
they are as convinced that God does not exist as I am
convinced that He does. That is an atheist, someone who
is convinced, totally and completely convinced that God
does not exist. An agnostic is someone who’s going
you know, I think He might exist, I’m not sure.
I don’t know if there’s a God or if there
isn’t a God. And most atheists that I have talked
to are really agnostics and they don’t even know
the difference between an atheist and an agnostic. What
we do know is that the human nature of man is really to
believe in a God.
It was the
scholar George Beasley Murray, he was a professor at the
International Baptist Theological Seminary in Switzerland.
He was educated in London, he had several different parishes
throughout the second World War, he was in London helping
people get through that turmoil. And in his teachings,
he says “the deepest yearning of the human race
is to know God.” This is what human kind seeks through
its religions. It seeks to know God. And as a race that
seeks to know God, we have established a temple within
ourselves, within our minds, within our homes, within
our society and our fabric of which we live, a temple
to an unknown God. And it is to this that Paul comes and
addresses the Athenians. Because I want to introduce you
today to the knowledge of God.
a few things that we know. One of the things we know about
is that people believe, and I believe this, that in what’s
called general revelation, that God reveals Himself in
a general way through nature. The Psalms, if you read
through the Psalms, you talk about the heavens declare
the glory of God. And we can look at the beauty of nature,
we can see the handiwork of God within creation, and we
can know that God exists. We can know. But with that can
easily become misperceptions and suddenly we have again
this unknown God. For instance, there isn’t a culture
on planet earth that has ever existed that hasn’t
had a desire to know God. And so they have, throughout
history, looked at nature. And if you look at primitive
tribes who don’t know any better, who haven’t
been taught and don’t understand how things work,
aren’t scientifically trained, they deduce that
every time a child died, that summer they had bumper crops.
And therefore God demands sacrifices. And you have primitive
tribes growing up sacrificing children so that they could
have bumper crops cause nature tells us so. To this day,
clerics who routinely conclude that natural disasters
and death, such as tsunami’s, tornados, earthquakes,
etc., are judgments from an angry, vengeful, wrathful
God. And it’s a misperception of nature revealing
God to us. What nature does is a fabulous job of revealing
the magnitude of God.
But then there
is the next step in coming to know God beyond general
revelation and that’s in the philosophical approach
to know God. We all know about all of our favorite stars
and celebrities. We know about them. You could pick up
any tabloid and you can.. or Sports Illustrated if you’re
a sports fan, and you can go and you can read the articles
about them but you don’t know them. You don’t
know what makes them cry. You don’t know what makes
I want to do
an experiment here. If anyone in here has been married
for five years, you don’t still have to be married,
your husband can or spouse can be dead and buried, but
if any time in your lifetime, you’ve been married
for five years, would you stand up? Wherever you are,
would you stand up. If you’ve been married any time
in your life for a period of five years, or more, just
stand up. Oh man, I don’t want to make anyone feel
bad if you’re still sitting. But yeah, you can stand
too, oh we got a lot of the choir standing, the orchestra
is standing, we’ve got people standing all over
this place. Now here’s the illustration: you remember
the day you got married, I know you do. You know.. don’t
forget that. If you do, you should probably sit down now
before we go any further. Dad, you can stand up, you remember
your wedding. You’re just having fun with me, I
know. Okay, that’s a good one though, I like that.
Now here’s how you get to sit down. You remember
what you knew about your spouse the day you got married,
five years later did you know the person you were married
to better than the day you were married? If so, you may
sit down. There’s always an exception or two. You
may still sit down. The point is this, the illustration
is this: with rare exception, its one thing to know about
an individual, it’s an entirely different thing
to know a person.
How do we know
God? To know God we must know Jesus.
And its that simple. It really is that simple. Jesus
said, “Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father.”
He has said, “The Father and I are one. The Father
is in Me and I am in the Father.” In order to know
God, we must know Jesus. “In the beginning was the
word,” that’s Jesus Christ, “and the
word was with God and the word was God and He was with
God in the beginning. Through Him, all things were made.
Without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him
was life and that life was the light of men. Before
Abraham was, said Jesus, I am.” That’s the
name that God gave to Moses, I am. Only God, we read throughout
the Old Testament, only God could feed the people in the
wilderness. Only God could raise the dead, only God could
control the weather, only God could forgive sins. And
guess what: Jesus did every single one of these things
over and over again. God weeps over the loss of life.
Did you know that? It’s not judgment when bad things
happen. Jesus makes it perfectly clear that its not judgment
when bad things happen. How do I know this? Because all
we have to do is look at the life of Jesus, and when Jesus
lost His friend Lazarus, the Bible reads, “He wept.”
And when God loses one of His precious children, He weeps.
God is moved with compassion at suffering. When He sees
suffering in this world, He is moved to compassion and
how do I know this? I know this because Jesus had pity
on the hungry and the hurting, and the orphaned and the
widowed. God has chosen to make Himself known to us through
Jesus Christ as our Savior and our Lord.
How many people
know the name Tommy Dorsey? The jazz trumpeter, Tommy
Dorsey, right? He died about, I think in the middle 50’s,
’56 about 51 years old. He was a band leader and
stuff. How many people here realize that there’s
another man who was a musician who was considered the
father of gospel, by many, and his name is Tommy Dorsey.
I tell you all this because Tommy Dorsey, in 1932, he
was 32 years old, and he was getting ready to do a gospel
concert in St. Louis. His wife was pregnant, in fact she
was in her 9th month, and they were living in Chicago
in a little apartment. And when he got ready to leave,
he felt really bad, he looked out at his wife sleeping
there and he thought to himself, I should be here with
her. But at the same time, he felt compelled to go to
St. Louis and to do the concert.
Well he went
and did the concert, and as he was there in St. Louis,
somebody handed him a telegram. For those of you under
the age of 30, don’t know what a telegram is, think
of it this way: a telegram is a text message. And the
way you send the text message is you go to a particular
house in the neighborhood and you give them $50 and they
send the text message to the person by courier. Okay that’s
what it is.
in his concert, people are praising God, worshipping God
and he gets this text message, this telegram and on it
are the most grievous words he could possibly hear. Your
wife is dead. And he’s singing and praising God,
and suddenly he’s weeping and in total agony. And
he makes his way back to Chicago in his Model A, and he
finds out that he has a son. But before the night is over,
he loses his son and goes into tremendous depression.
Really questioning is there really such a thing as God?
I thought I knew God, but I’m not so sure anymore.
He came out of the jazz world and he’s thinking
maybe I’ll go back into the jazz world and keep
And he went
and he sat at a piano and his hands just went over the
keys and this melody came out and out of his heart came
these words out of agony and defeat, “Precious Lord,
take my hand. Lead me on, let me stand. I’m tired,
I’m weak, I’m worn. Through the storm, through
the night, lead me on to the light, take my hand precious
Lord, lead me home.” That’s Tommy Dorsey.
And with that we discovered that God reaches out and touches
us when we grieve, as He grieves with us.
And God reaches
out and He rejoices with us when we rejoice. And God reaches
out and He embraces us when we need to feel that touch.
And when it’s time to go He takes us home. Precious
Lord, take me home. Take me home.
Father we want to grow in our knowledge of who You are.
We want to grow with You as You embrace us in Your arms.
And so today we want to stand with You at the altar and
we want to make our vows to You as You have already made
Your vows to us. For You love this world so much that
You gave Your only Son, that whoever believes in Him will
not perish. And so we vow to You oh Lord to follow You
in every way we can, to put aside the idols of the unknown
God. And worship our known God. The God of Love. So touch
our hearts, fill us with Your presence, and guide us in
Your way, and lead us always. We will follow, Amen.