For most people having the security of knowing that we can deal with things at face value is of great importance. Eighteen years ago, Connie promised to love me with all of her heart for the rest of her days. In eighteen years she has held tightly to her promise and her commitment has given me such security as I live my life from day-to-day. Words can’t adequately express the stability and sense of peace that I experience in my relationship with Connie because she has proven her commitment to be true.
When God blesses a mom and dad with a precious little baby they are called to love and support their child throughout his or her days. Kids need the security of knowing that their parents love them even when they mess up and are unlovable. The security and stability that is fostered in a child’s life when he or she knows that their parents will always love them regardless of what takes place is of such great value in the shaping of a child’s life.
When people strike up a friendship one of the greatest characteristics and most valued of gifts is truthfulness and honesty. For us to have friends that we know we can trust, that what they tell us is true, and that they deal with us honestly in all circumstances and situations is of great importance. On the other hand, if we have a friend who has charisma and charm, a great sense of humor and a fun personality, but we can’t trust them, then the friendship will not last.
Truthfulness if priceless and yet “truth” in our society is on the endangered species list. Truth has become relative. Truth, as it is defined today, is whatever we decide is true. If lying, or stretching the truth can benefit me, then most people today feel that truth is expendable.
In one of his Breakpoint commentaries, Chuck Colson reported that this past year the Josephson Institute for Ethics released the “Report Card on the Ethics of American Youth.” The Institute, after studying its results of the survey says the results point to the “shocking levels of moral illiteracy” among American kids. Some of the findings of the survey are:
* 92 % of kids surveyed admitted to lying to their parents.
* 78 % admitted lying to a teacher.
* 70% said that they had cheated on a test, and half of them said that they had done so more than once.
* 25% of those surveyed said that they would lie to get a job.
* One in six said that they had gone to school while drunk-not hung over, mind you, but drunk-at least once in the previous year.
An editorial in the Atlanta Constitution summarized the findings as follows: “America’s next generation [believes that] it’s perfectly acceptable to lie and cheat at home and in the world.”
What is truly amazing about the findings concerning kids willingness to lie and cheat is that now three quarters of all the states in America now mandate that students be taught about “values” like honesty, trustworthiness, respect for others, and the like.
I mentioned to you last week that during my lifetime I have yet to see any of our moral problems solved by throwing money at them or by mandating programs to address them. Why haven’t we seen government or humanitarian efforts succeed in solving our moral dilemma? Professor James Davison Hunter gives his answer in his book, The Death of Character, by saying that most character education in our society is ignorant about why people behave morally. Hunter points out that while these programs tell students that, for instance, honesty is better than dishonesty, they don’t provide a justification for these beliefs.
Our government programs don’t provide a justification because they can’t-not legally. As Hunter points out, character is intimately linked to tradition and communities. The first provides the justification for the moral teachings, and the community reinforces those teachings. Chuck Colson says,
Hunter is, of course, describing religious communities. But religion is the one issue schools can’t mention. The courts have ruled-wrongly, I believe-that government must not only be neutral as between religions-like Christianity and Judaism-but also between religion and irreligion. What’s more, this moral education emphasizes the role of the autonomous individual, operating independently of any group that might hold him accountable. This leaves appeals to personal gratification and fulfillment as the only justification for moral action-with the predictable results the Josephson Institute documents.
Those of us who believe that Jesus is our only hope for changing our behavior need to communicate to those around us that our only hope for living morally upright lives is to submit to God’s Word and allow the Lord to take command of our lives. We can’t point our kids, and those around us, to our leaders because they are willing to lie and deceive to protect themselves.
For the past several weeks we have been hearing about Gary Condit and Chandra Levy. For weeks Mr. Condit said that he didn’t have an affair with the young intern, but eventually God’s Word rang true and we were reminded of Numbers 32:23 – “your sins will find you out.” Mr. Condit was simply practicing what is normative today in our society. Truth is only valued when it will benefit us.
Just a few years ago, President Clinton looked into a television camera and spoke to all of America. He said, “I did not have sex with that woman.” He repeated himself with conviction and passion to assure us that he was telling us the truth. Later we all found out that the man who occupied the highest office in our land was lying to us to protect himself. President Clinton’s skirting the truth reduced him to looking like a total buffoon when he ended up being questioned by authorities and trying to define the meaning of “is.” Once again we learned that truth is expendable when lying will supposedly benefit us.
In a society that is so marred by the lack of truth, how can anyone of us honestly say that we believe anyone? Who can we trust at their word? How do we know that we are hearing the truth? Is there anywhere we can go, anyone we can know, who will be honest with us and stand by their word? Great question. The Bible tells us that it is impossible for God to lie. He is the truth. Once God reveals to us that His promises are true and trustworthy then our lives take on a new meaning, a new purpose, and stability and security become the pillars of our lives. Let’s take a look at our Scripture for today found in Hebrews 6:13-20.
13 When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, 14 saying, “I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.” 15 And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised. 16 Men swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. 17 Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. 18 God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. 19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, 20 where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek. (Hebrews 6:13-20 NIV)
The security that serves as a foundation for any relationship rests upon an even greater foundation – the trustworthiness of Almighty God. In our Scripture for today we are going to take a deep look at God’s character and our need to learn about how we can count on God to be true to His promises. From the very beginning of our Scripture study for today we see God’s magnificence and majesty. We read, 13 “When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself…”
Little kids, when they are trying to get their point across to their friends and emphasize how committed they are to doing whatever it is they have promised to do will often swear by someone greater than themselves. Maybe you’ve heard kids say, or maybe you’ve said yourself, “I swear on my mother’s grave,” or “I swear to God.” They want us to know that they are very serious about the story they are telling and that they are telling us the truth.
When God makes His promise to Abraham, the Scripture tells us that God swore by Himself since there was no one more trustworthy or greater than God. That is a good thought, but for those among us this morning who are so use to dealing with deception and don’t know of the trustworthiness of God and His total commitment to keep His promises, you are probably wondering how we can really know that we can count on Him. That is a fair question since we are surrounded by an abundance of deceit and deception in our country today. John MacArthur writes in his commentary on Hebrews,
In the midst of the confusion and turmoil that lying always brings, people are looking for something they can trust, something they can bank their lives on. Some turn to religion. They may spend an entire life in a particular religious system, devotedly and sacrificially meeting all its requirements and standards, yet never find peace or meaning or satisfaction…Elmer Gantry style evangelists have always been around to take people’s hearts, money, and trust. Not too many years ago in Los Angeles a minister conducted a television campaign ostensibly to raise money for missionary work. After collecting a considerable sum, he simply left town. People go to churches that claim to worship and honor Jesus Christ, but that teach doctrines and ideas utterly contrary to what He taught. They learn nothing about the Jesus Christ of Scripture. False teachers, who are both deceived and deceiving, abound. Preachers with high academic credentials from prestigious seminaries teach philosophies and theologies that are totally unbiblical and heretical. In whom can we trust? In whom can we really believe? Without being pessimistic or cynical, the Christian knows that the only one who can be trusted without reservation is God. (John MacArthur, Hebrews, pg. 160)
If we can’t trust those who claim to walk in the steps of Jesus then how in the world can we begin to trust God? We can trust God because He is not like us. We can place our absolute trust in God because history bears out that God is trustworthy, that He is true to His promises, and that He is Truth. The proof is present for us this morning. God says in Isaiah,
8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. 9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV)
One of the greatest examples of someone trusting God and finding God to be true to His promises is Abraham. God told Abraham, “I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.” When the promise was made Abraham was an old man of 75 who had never had any children. Abraham and his wife, Sarah, had converted their nursery into a study and had given up any hope of ever having children.
You need to know that Abraham, whose original name was, Abram, was raised a pagan. He was a descendant of Shem and grew up in Ur, a Chaldean city in Mesopotamia. His family worshipped false gods, but when God called Abram and told him to leave his past behind and move on to a land that God would show him…Abraham left. We read in Hebrews 11:8,
8By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. (Hebrews 11:8 NIV)
Abraham left Haran and headed out to what he would discover to be God’s place for him. Let’s take a look at the full promise of God to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3.
1 The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. 2 “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:1-3 NIV)
God said that he would make Abraham into a great nation, that He would bless him, make his name great, and that He would make Abraham a blessing. God said that all the peoples of the earth would be blessed through Abraham. Did all of this come to fruition? Absolutely, but not overnight. Abraham was seventy-five when the promises came, but he was one hundred years old when he finally held the child of promise in his arms. Abraham trusted God. He believed that God would fulfill His promise and God did.
Not only was Abraham100 years old when he held his son, Isaac, the gift of God in his arms, but after Isaac was a young man, told him to take Isaac to the altar of sacrifice on Mount Moriah. As Abraham raised the knife to sacrifice his son, the Lord stopped him and provided a ram as the sacrifice. We can read the account of what happened in Genesis 22:11-18.
11But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. 12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” 13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.” 15 The angel of the LORD called to Abraham from heaven a second time 16 and said, “I swear by myself, declares the LORD, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, 18 and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.” (Genesis 22:11-18 NIV)
Did you notice what God did after He stopped Abraham from sacrificing Isaac? God reconfirmed His promise to Abraham. God was going to make Abraham’s name great and all of the nations of the earth would be blessed through his descendants.
Abraham is a great example for us today. We can trust God – even when things look dark and dismal we can trust God. Even when all evidence points in the other direction – we must trust God.
In Hebrews 6:17-18 we read,
17 Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. 18 God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged.
God wanted to make His character very clear to the heirs, that is us. What did God want to make clear to us? God wanted us to have no doubt that His Word is dependable, that He is dependable, and that His truth will never change. God is not effected by a bad day. God is not driven by His emotions. He is driven by His love for His creation and His Word is given to give us the assurance that His will shall be done regardless of what circumstances surface in our lives. Throughout God’s Word He tells His people that He is not like us, He does not change His mind like us. Take a look at these powerful verses from God’s Word.
19 God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill? (Numbers 23:19 NIV)
6″I the LORD do not change… (Malachi 3:6 NIV)
17Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17 NIV)
God does not change. He not only tells the truth, but He is the Truth. Whatever God says we can count on throughout our lives. There is no wondering with God, He has revealed Himself to us through His Son Jesus so that we might know Him and know that He is our only hope. The writer of Hebrews writes in verse 19,
19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, 20 where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.
The anchor of our souls is the trustworthiness of Almighty God. We can count on Him in every way, throughout each and every day, at all times, no matter the circumstance, and He will never be proven a liar.
The writer of Hebrews once again talks about Jesus going behind the curtain in the sanctuary. What is all of that about? I’m so glad you asked. The curtain being talked about was the curtain separating the Holy of Holies from the rest of the sanctuary. Only the High Priest was allowed beyond the curtain and only once a year when he offered a sacrifice on the Day of Atonement for the sins of the people. The writer of Hebrews tells us that Jesus has gone beyond the curtain as our High Priest and even more than going beyond the curtain, He has finished the work of our redemption. The High Priest of the Old Testament had to make the sacrifice for the people every year, but Jesus offered the perfect sacrifice, the Lamb without spot or blemish so that no other sacrifice would ever have to be made. After Jesus offered His very life for your sins and mine, the writer of Hebrews tells us in Hebrews 1:3,
3The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. (Hebrews 1:3 NIV)
Jesus now sits at the right hand of the Father as the guardian of your salvation and mine for those who will trust in Him. Remember, God’s promises are true and God has said,
10He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God-13children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. (John 1:10-13 NIV)
God is true to His Word and this morning God is calling some of us to make our stand. What is the anchor of your soul my friend? Are you holding on with all you’ve got to whatever dreams you may have? Is there someone of great importance to you that gives you strength to make it through the day? A boyfriend? Girlfriend? Mom or dad? I want you to know that no person can anchor you or me in eternity. Only Jesus could have made a promise to “go and prepare a place for you in heaven so that you might one day be where He is now.” Won’t you trust Him this morning as your Lord and Savior?