Sunday Sermons

Sunday Sermons






“Now that I have your attention, let us consider ‘choice’ in its humble and homely meaning before its celebrity as the canonized patron of feminism.  It did belong to us, you know, as in the old hymn, ‘I have decided to follow Jesus’”, or, more authoritatively, in Moses plea, ‘Choose life!’ (Deuteronomy 30:19)” (World Magazine, Jan. 22, 2000, p. 37 Andree Seu).  Miss Seu is right; the phrase “pro-choice” should belong to Christians.  The premise of this lesson is the reality that only in a world that God has created, in which man in created in His image, does any genuine “choice” exist.  I will equally contend that if God does not exist, and if reality only consists of matter, then there can be no such thing as a genuine choice. 


“Choice”: That’s a Biblical Word


Besides Deuteronomy 30:19, the Bible is filled with passages that emphasize human free will, that man can authentically choose good or evil and that such a choice is truly our decision. 


·        “Choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).

·        “They did not choose the fear of the Lord” (Proverbs 1:29).

·        “Choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God, than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin” (Hebrews 11:25).


“Is it really our choice?”


My contention that authentic choice would not exist in a world without God is supported by the fact that as society moves away from God, people tend to argue that they are no longer responsible for their actions.  Instead of free will and the power of gospel being exalted (Romans 1:16), environment, the culture, and genetics are presented as all-powerful forces that determine what we do, and what we believe.  For example:


·        In the Bible drunkenness is viewed a choice, “And do not get drunk with wine” (Ephesians 5:18), while in secular society it is often viewed as a disease.

·        In the Bible homosexual behavior is equally viewed as a deliberate choice, “The men abandoned the natural function of the woman” (Romans 1:27).  (By the way, this verse confirms that all men and women are born being heterosexuals and then make a deliberate choice, backed up by lust, to turn to homosexual behavior).  Yet our society is tending to view this behavior as being a matter of genetics, that is, something over which a person does not have any control.


Although the Bible warns against dangerous influences, such as running with the wrong crowd (1 Corinthians 15:33) and being influenced by an ungodly culture (Romans 12:2), yet environment, friends, and even parental upbringing are not the final determining factors.  In the next two points allow me to prove this claim:


“Ideal Environment: Bad Choices”


·        Judas spent three years with Jesus and was even given miraculous powers (Matthew 10:1), yet decided to live contrary to God’s will.  Although he was surrounded constantly by such rich spiritual blessings, he still had the power to choose another path (Acts 1:18).

·        Pharaoh saw one miraculous display of God’s power after another and was even shown mercy on many occasions, yet he still refused to submit to God.

·        The Pharisees and scribes saw the miracles of Christ and yet they still refused to believe.

·        Demas was a faithful Christian who labored with the apostle Paul, seeing the gospel authenticated by many miracles (Colossians 4:14), yet he went back into the world (2 Timothy 4:10).


“Horrible Environment: Excellent Choices”


·        Abraham broke from the idolatry of his forefathers (Joshua 24:15).

·        Moses refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter (Hebrews 11:25).

·        Joseph overcame the bad example of his brothers and the jealousy and intrigue that existed in his family.

·        King Josiah followed two horrible kings (Manasseh and Amon).

·        Good king Hezekiah was sired by a wicked father (Ahaz).

·        Confirming the truth that a son can overcome and choose not to walk in the sinful example of a bad parent (Ezekiel 18:14 “Behold, he has a son who has observed all his father’s sin which he committed, and observing does not do likewise”).  In like manner, Timothy overcame the opposition of an unbelieving father (Acts 16:3).


Cultural Pressure: A clean break


·        Many Corinthians broke from the sinful culture of Corinth, especially the idolatry, which was everywhere (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

·        Christians to whom Peter wrote broke from the influence of ungodly friends (1 Peter 4:4); this was a matter of choice, “Arm yourselves also with the same purpose” (4:1).

·        The Thessalonians broke from idolatry (1 Thessalonians 1:9).

·        Many Jews (including a number of priests, Acts 6:7) broke from the influence of the Temple and all the attractions of Judaism.


It is my choice


What all these examples tell us is that at the end of the day we make the final choice about whether we choose God or choose self.  No man can say, “I would have been a faithful Christian or a stronger Christian but certain unexpected things beyond my control changed the situation”.  The fact is that people became Christians in the midst of severe persecution and remained strong Christians despite opposition from every quarter.  The Hebrew writer puts it this way:


·        “Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, in order that they might obtain a better resurrection” (Hebrews 11:35).  That is, they choose to endure the torture rather than give up or recant.

·        “For you showed sympathy to the prisoners, and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property” (Hebrews 10:34). Not only did these Christians choose to remain faithful while enduring persecution, they equally choose the attitude with which they would view such events.  We see the same emphasis on choosing a good perspective regarding suffering in James 1:2-4 “Consider it all joy”.

·        Not only do I have a choice regarding how I view hardship and trials, but I have a choice regarding temptation, morality, and what type of person I become (Ephesians 4:25 “Laying aside falsehood”; “4:26 “Be angry yet do not sin”; 4:29 “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth”; Galatians 5:16 “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh”; “Set your mind on things above” (Colossians 3:1).


Opting Out?


I have run into a number of people who have the philosophy that they can pretty much ignore God and yet continue to remain good moral people.  I know we have good moral people in the Bible prior to their conversion, but many of these “good moral people” were (at the same time) desperately trying to find God (Acts 10:1ff).  The truth of the matter is the more time I have spent around the “good people” who are not Christians, the more I see cracks in their goodness. If someone feels that neither God influences them nor the the devil, but rather their choices have purely originated from self, they are living in a fantasy word.  At any given moment we are either walking after the Spirit or we are walking after the flesh (Galatians 5:16).  There is no middle ground.  We do have freedom, but it is the freedom to either follow God or the devil.  There is no opting out and following neither God nor Satan. 


No God—No Real Choice


If God did not exist, we obviously would not be created in His image, and would consist merely of a body of pure matter (nothing but molecules, genes, cells, and reflexes).  We would have no spirit or soul, no free will.   I have a number of questions for people who claim that there is no God; that everything is merely matter:


·        How can they be sure that they are thinking the right thoughts or even making sense?

·        Is their love for wife or children nothing more than just a biological attraction over which they have no control?

·        How can a person be “free” or “choose” or even be considered “intelligent” if we are truly nothing but meat?


What are the Big Choices?


“I know a man who thought he had a big choice to make one day.  It involved a decision regarding employment, and he approached the phone with fear the trembling.  His wife, witnessing the spectacle, offered perspective, ‘You know, this isn’t even the most important choice you’ll make all day’.  Won’t we all be surprised, when on the other side of the Jordan, we wake up to find that the big choices in our lives were really the small ones, and the small ones were really the big ones.  Did I tremble years ago before the prospect of which house to buy, which car was best?  Would that I had trembled a little more over which words and tone I used with my husband, my children” (World Magazine p. 37). 

Mark Dunagan/Beaverton Church of Christ/503-644-9017