Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: If you don’t understand God’s purpose for creating you, nothing else makes sense. Here’s Pastor Alistair Begg.

Alistair Begg: There is not a relationship on the face of God’s earth that can satisfy you with a man. There is not a child that can need you enough. There is not a job that can fulfill you enough. There is not a vacation that can enthrall you enough.

There is nothing that can deal with the deep-seated sense of who you are as you until first you settle the issue of God’s design.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, co-author of True Woman 101, for June 25, 2018.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Well, every so often it’s good to go back to the basics. And that’s something we’ve been doing over the past several months here on Revive Our Hearts as we’ve been reviewing the True Woman Manifesto. And really, what you’ll be hearing today and all this week falls into that same category.

Pastor Alistair Begg is going to help us explore the foundations of what it means to be a woman created in the image of God for His glory.

Now, I’ve had the privilege of knowing Alistair for many years. In fact, I first met him when he was dating his, now wife, Susan, who went to the same high school I did. And, as you’ll be able to detect from his accent, Alistair is originally from Scotland, but he’s been the senior pastor of Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio, since the 1980s.

Alistair has authored a number of books, and he’s the host of the daily program called Truth for Life.

So let’s listen as Alistair Begg helps us understand God’s purposes for creating men and women.

Alistair: Let’s take our Bibles and turn to the book of Psalms. Psalm 139,

Oh, Lord, you have searched me, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, know it completely, O Lord. You hem me in behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,’ even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you (Ps. 139:1–18).

Well, we thank God for His Word, and we look to Him to help us as we study it together.

In the 1940s, a man by the name of Hendrik van Loon, fortunately it didn’t have a “y” on the end of it, but Hendrik van Loon wrote a book entitled The Story of Mankind.

He began his history of the world with these words:

We live under the shadow of a gigantic question mark. Who are we? Where do we come from? Whether are we bound? Slowly, but with persistent courage, we have been pushing this question mark farther and farther towards that distant line beyond the horizon where we hope to find our answer. We have not gone very far.

Now, whether we are male or female today, those ultimate questions are the questions. Are you just a bunch of chemicals in suspension? Do you emerge from plankton soup? Because, if you do, then, frankly, the issues of how well I’m doing in my femininity, how well I’m doing in fulfilling the role of single woman or maternal provider, is marginal at best and probably totally irrelevant.

So you see, until we address this most foundational issue about which the psalmist writes in Psalm 139, about the very nature of our creation and what God has done, then the other questions, which are very important questions, are in need of being left on the side.

Now, you don’t have to look far to find that there is a difference between the revelation of the Bible and the investigation of man. The Tuesday edition of the New York Times in its health and fitness section, actually, in the science times and then the sub-section, health and fitness, had a review entitled, “On Being Male, Female, Neither or Both.”

So I go into Starbucks. I get my New York Times. It’s going to be a great morning. I get the coffee, and I open it up. And there’s a picture here, kind of an androgynous creature with eyeshadow on the one side and a beard on the other side, and so on. Frankly, it’s a very interesting piece of work. And it sat in the Garden of Eden, it would appear. I could read the article or just use it by way of illustration, but I’ll give you one quote from it.

“Until the turn of the century, gender was defined through a binary taxonomy of opposites”—i.e. people were either male or female. Why didn’t you just say that? (laughter.)

But in the late nineteenth century, Sigmund Freud, the German psychiatrist, Richard von Krafft-Ebing and Wilhelm Fliess, a German physician, began putting forth the notion that humans were inherently bi-sexual and that sexuality existed on a continuum between male and female.

In 1910 a Berlin physician, Dr. Magnus Hirchfeld, published a pioneering work on trans-sexuality and articulated a relatively new modern definition of gender. Absolute representatives of their sex are, only abstractions invented extremists.

Okay? So, the idea of sexuality as it is propounded here, and I’m going to show to you in Genesis 1 and 2, and the notion that emerges out of the early days of the twentieth century in German psychiatry and which spills over the Atlantic into contemporary thought, these two notions could not be farther apart. They are not bed-fellows. They do not live together. You cannot merge them. Okay? Which is why I’m saying to you what I’m saying.

Unless you are convinced of the authority of the Bible, then when you take your New York Times on a Tuesday morning and read this, you’re going to be immediately at sea. You’re going to be running down the streets saying, “Who am I? What am I? Where am I on the continuum? Am I male or am I female? What in the world am I?”

But if you have accepted the authority of the Bible, and you believe that God gets the last word on every subject, then you don’t disengage your brain. You interact with the material. You think it out in light of what you know as having been revealed by the Creator God. And there’s all the difference in the world.

In the sequence of thought in Genesis, when it says that “God created man, He made man, and then male and female He created them.” So when the word “man” is used, which is the word “Adam,” it is speaking of the creation of humanity. And the plural defines man as male and female—two components of a single reality.

So you cannot conceive of humanity except that you understand it in a bi-sexual frame of reference. That sounds dangerous, doesn’t it? Don’t go out saying, “Everybody’s bi-sexual. We heard it at the conference.” No. When God made man, when He made humanity, He made man bi-sexual, humanity, bi-sexual. He created man. Male and female, He made them. So that the image of God is revealed, not in a man and then woman tags along, but the image of God is revealed in man—man being male and female.

That is, of course, of vital importance. But in the notion of creation, God has formed with love and with care, and, if you like, with imagination and with dedication. Man doesn’t just happen, but God breathes him into being. And that is the result of the activity of God. There’s no place in our thinking for the idea that we’re just here as a result of the mutation of the gene of some other animal.

Now the lady stands up, you remember, and she asks the question: “Well, in defense of evolutionary thought,” she says, essentially, “aren’t you prepared to accept, Sir, that there is a close genetic affinity between the man and the chimpanzee?”

That’s a good question. I don’t really remember the answer, but I would still think about how good a question it was. And I thought how easy it would be for some of us to say, “Oh, no, no, no, no there isn’t!” And how wrong it would be for us to say that because there is clearly a strong genetic affinity between man—not your husband now (laughter)—man, male and female and the chimpanzee.

You say, “This is even worse than I thought it was going to be. It’s getting worse by the minute.” (laughter)

No, this poses no problem to the Bible’s explanation of things. There is a close anatomical affinity between the man and the ape. And there are close physiological affinities between man and the pig and man and the dog. And you only need to look in your children’s bedrooms to understand that if there was no other indication of it. (laughter) If you don’t think there’s a definite physiological dimension between man and the pig, go back to your teenage son’s room and have another look at it.

But the fact is we would expect there to be affinities, wouldn’t there? We would expect there would be affinities between man and the other creatures. Don’t you think it would be very wise of God to act in such a way as to make possible animal tests that would be relevant and helpful to human medicine? Don’t you think it would be wonderful on the part of God so to constitute the cardiac structure of a pig as to make possible the use of pig bowels in human transplantation?

None of the notions of this great anatomical, physiological comparison between one dimension of living things and the uniqueness of man by creation precludes what the Bible is saying. What the Bible precludes is the idea that man—male and female—exists as a result of evolution, an evolution that has been guided by natural selection, taking place by minute chance occurrences and variations over millions of years.

No, says the Bible. Man—male and female—is the express product of divine activity. And the similarities that we find between ourselves and chimpanzees are not there because man is a development from the chimp, but because God, as Creator, is free to duplicate His systems in more than one form of His creation.

Doesn’t that make sense, that He who created can use a gigantic chunk of the process in putting together a chimpanzee that He used to put you and I together? Because, think about—and this actually is my simplistic analysis of the whole business—I think chimpanzees were put there as something of a divine joke for when you see these things coming down the road. You say, “That looks a tremendous amount like my brother-in-law, Bill. There is an uncanny resemblance there to that character.” (laughter)

And I think that’s exactly it. I think, in part, what God is saying is, “Take a look at them and look at what you would be like if I had not made you in My image.” Frankly, you’re close to that in some of your habits and the way you walk is very similar to that. And, of course, man looks at that, and he says, “Well, it’s obvious that the reason we are where we are is because it just keeps jumping and bumping along.”

No, says the Bible. God did all of that, and yet uniquely, He put you together.

Listen, ladies, you are not the product of some chance happenstance, says the Bible. Your fingerprints are unique. They are not the same as anyone else’s in the room. Your DNA is unique. It is not the same as anyone else’s in the room. Indeed, in the whole world it is unique, as a result of God’s explicit design for you as an individual, and “God don’t make no junk.”

So He has fashioned you intricately in your mother’s womb, forming your unseen substance, putting you together in an awareness of all that that would mean for you as an individual. In the living of your life, in dealing with your physically, in dealing with your sexuality, in dealing with your emotions, in dealing with your rationality, in dealing with your role in life and everything else, God has purposefully organized that.

And until a woman comes to the awareness of this vast and immense notion, then, like a man, you will be left looking at the magazines to try and find out who you are and where you’re from and why you exist, and another twenty-four reasons from Cosmopolitan Magazine to give significance to your life and structure to your marriage and hope to everything else that goes along with it, and if it’s not there, we’ll go to one of the other ones. I don’t mean to be dismissive.

You’re thinking, people. You need to think this out. God said, “Let us make man in our image.” If you like, He said, “Let’s make a look-alike.” In what sense, then, are we made in the image of God? In what way is God’s design patterned in our life? Well, that’s the stuff of systematic theology. You can buy a book through the shop, and you can get all this, but I’ll just give you a start on it.

Our rationality, our ability to think, to reason, to think logically, sets us apart from the animal world. I know somebody immediately puts up their hand and says, “Well, I have a Labrador. It’s a very smart Labrador, a very thoughtful Labrador. I’m not so sure that this rationality thing works.” Well, I have never yet seen a group of Labradors sitting around in Starbucks and discussing the doctrine of the Trinity. (laughter)

Your children are able to perform tasks that your Labrador can’t. You may train your Labrador with little bits of meat and cookies and everything else to perform tasks so you can go on the David Letterman show, but you cannot say to your Labrador, “Go into the garage and bring the small, red, screwdriver.” But your four-year old can go get a small, red screwdriver—able to distinguish color, size, shape, and function. Rationality.

Creativity, art, music, literature, science, technology, morality—an inner sense of right and wrong—immortality—the awareness that we won’t cease to exist, but that we will live forever. And so on.

I admit to you that the differences between ourselves and animals, in some areas, are not absolute differences. They’re differences of very great degree. I know people are saying, they like to dismiss it in this way, and, again, it usually comes back to a Labrador or a Golden Retriever. “Well, I have a Golden Retriever, and you say that emotions are part of it. Well, I have a very emotional Golden Retriever. I mean, if I come home, and I didn’t get home at five as usual, he’s just got a very long face like this. Or if he doesn’t get his food at just the right time, oh, he’s very miserable for the rest of the evening.” And so on.

I fully accept that. I don’t doubt that for one minute. But you’re not going to suggest to me that your Golden Retriever can go through the gamut of psychological interactions such as is represented when you go to hear the Cleveland Orchestra at Severance Hall, and when you sit down, you say to yourself, “Oh goodness gracious, I didn’t realize it was Moldau This is going to be dreadful.” And then the accompanying emotion is, “But that was very nice of him to invite me.” And then the next thought, “How long till I get out of here?” (laughter) And then, “I wonder if we will be able to go for coffee?” And then, starting into the business of the day.

And all of these multiple processes of thought are going on simultaneously, which is, as I suggest to you, a difference of degree between your Golden Retriever feeling a little bit morose because you came home at half past five rather than half past four.

You see how quickly people think? They just throw out the Golden Retriever story. So on the basis of the Golden Retriever getting his lunch, your view of yourself and your dignity and your femininity and everything else is cast out to the breeze. The same people who are driving around with their Golden Retriever in the back of their mini-van are reading this, “On Being Male, Female—whatever they are—Neither or Both.”

“Once you break the links,” said Schaeffer, “between an infinite personal Creator God and His creation, then the door is open to every kind of abuse. And there is a huge difference between the doctrine of creation, Psalm 139, and the theory that man—that is male and female—is the spontaneous result of random variation in organisms in millions of years. And man will think differently, not only about himself, but about everything when we explain our existence in terms of time plus matter plus chance.”

If you think this morning that when you showered and dressed and looked at yourself in the mirror before leaving you were looking at simply a random collection of molecules thrown together as a result of a chance process, cast into the great scheme of time without any meaning whatsoever, then I suggest to you that you will think differently about absolutely everything than if you come to the convinced awareness of what the psalmist is saying here in 139th Psalm.

In one of the X-Files editions, there was a fascinating dialog between Mulder and Scully. Mulder asks, “When science can’t offer an explanation, can we turn to the fantastic?” And Scully, ever the skeptic, replies, “What I find fantastic is any notion that there is anything beyond science.”

When science doesn’t answer, can we turn to the fantastic? I’ll tell you what’s fantastic is the idea that there is anything other and beyond science.

Now, ladies, this is where you’re living your lives. This is basis upon which conversations are taking place concerning human sexuality, femininity, the roles of women. I’m going to show you in the second session how this works itself out, what it actually means in practical terms. That’s why I want to ask you in this first session, when you walk out of here, or you don’t walk out of here, I don’t know what you do next, but whatever you do, you just sit and think for a moment. Do I have a proper view of God’s design in the first place? Am I just worthless junk, readily disposable, essentially irrelevant? Am I just a combination of chemicals in suspension, a bunch of grown-up genes?

Now, again, until you address that question and get a satisfactory answer how to do the woman thing, how to do the mom thing, how to do the wife thing—seven helpful tips for this and nine wonderful tips for that—they will not answer your deepest longings. There is not a relationship on the face of God’s earth that can satisfy you with a man. There is not a child that can need you enough. There is not a job that can fulfill you enough. There is not a vacation that can enthrall you enough.

There is nothing that can deal with the deep-seated sense of who you are as you until first you settle the issue of God’s design.

So, you can go with The New York Times and Freud, or you can go with the Bible, but you can’t go with both of them together. You’re sensible people. Think this out.

Father, I pray that as we consider these things throughout the remainder of this day, that You will guide our thinking. We need Your help so desperately.

It would be very easy for us, Lord, to tackle all of these subjects from a very superficial perspective. Indeed, one of the great dangers as a man coming to address women is that we, because of our own proneness to self-assertiveness, think that somehow or another we should tone it down or change it or put it in less objective form, maybe some more stories, etc. Forgive me and everybody like me for thinking wrongly about that.

We pray that You would help us then to take very seriously the question of God, Your Word, and the implications of what it means for You to be the Designer. For we would expect then, that as in a home where the designer leaves their mark, that in the home of our lives there would be all kinds of evidences of You.

And so we pray then that as we think these issues through, that the Spirit of God may be our teacher, for we pray in Jesus’ name and for His sake, amen.

Nancy: You’re not just a random collection of molecules. You have a unique purpose, and you were created by God to glorify Him. I love that!

Pastor Alistair Begg has been helping us better understand God’s perfect design for men and for women.

Now, it’s possible that’s something as a new concept to you, or perhaps you’re not sure what you think. Or you may be saying, “I’ve been waiting for something like this! Tell me more.”

Well, wherever you’re coming from, I want to encourage you to explore this topic more deeply by going through a study that I’ve written with my friend Mary Kassian. This study is called, True Woman 101: Divine Design.

In the study Mary and I walk you through some fundamental questions, such as: “Why did God create men and women? Where did the battle between the sexes come from?” And, “How do I live out my womanhood in day-to-day life?”

This would be a perfect study to go through by yourself or with a friend or in a small group. We’d love to send you a copy as our gift when you donate any amount to Revive Our Hearts. This is a listener-supported ministry, and we need your prayers and your financial support so that you can keep listening day by day.

When you make a donation of any amount, we’ll send you a copy of True Woman 101. Be sure to ask for it when you call us at 1–800–569–5959, or you can make a donation online at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Now, are girls more likely than boys to play with dolls just because their parents encouraged them to do that? Or are there some distinctions in male and female that run deeper than just the way we’re nurtured? Pastor Alistair Begg will talk about that tomorrow. So please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants to help you live out your divine design. It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the NIV84.

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