IT IS THE PSALM OF THE ATHEIST
WHO SAYS IN HIS HEART
THERE IS NO GOD
BUT WE ALSO SEE, AS THE PSALM PROGRESSES,
THAT WE ARE ALL FOOLS UNTIL HIS LOVE BREAKS THROUGH.
IN KEITH GREEN’S SHORT TIME ON EARTH, HOW I REMEMBER HIM
SELLING HIS RECORDS FOR “WHATEVER PEOPLE COULD PAY”
STIRRING THE LUKEWARM CHURCH WITH HIS PASSION
SINGING FROM HIS TRANSFORMED HEART:
WHAT I AM PRAYING FOR EACH OF US THIS LENT,
IS THAT WE WILL NOT LIVE LIKE FOOLS,
BUT SEEK HIM WITH ALL OUR HEARTS,
FOR AS THIS PSALM PROMISES,
HIS LOVE WILL KEEP BREAKING THROUGH.
FOR GOD IS PRESENT WITH HIS FORGIVEN CHILDREN.
There is justified anger in this psalm against those who lead others astray. I see so much poison coming from the media, but also from pulpits — sheer lies about how the Bible was formed, about the cross, and about our Lord. I remember sitting next to a young man on a plane who was reading Christopher Hitchen’s book: God Is Not Great and trembling at Hitchen’s lack of fear of God. When you pray this psalm, remember Bonhoeffer’s exhortation to hear the voice of Christ in the background — His anger, His pain at the rebellion against God, His compassion for those who are oppressed and neglected, which is the fruit of those who are fools. Their thinking is twisted, therefore, so are their hearts. Hitler tore down the cross in the churches to have his twisted cross put up. Hitler reasoned, “Nature is cruel, therefore we can be as well.” And how inhumane he was. Remembering this, hear the voice of Christ in this psalm.
Psalm 14, like Romans 1, shows the root of unbelief. They want to follow their own will so they refuse to believe. Blaise Pascal (one of the keenest intellects who ever lived) believed that the evidence for Christianity was overwhelming, but that men resist Christ because they resist giving up control of their lives. I know that was true of me. Pascal wrote:
Men despise religion. They hate it and are afraid it may be true. The cure for this is first to show that religion is not contrary to reason, but worthy of reverence and respect. Next make it attractive, make good men wish it were true, and then show that it is.
This is also what we have been hearing from a contemporary intellect: Michael Reeves. We have reduced Christianity to a formula instead of showing people how beautiful Jesus is. I am finding when I show how beautiful Christ is, and the beauty of the gospel, walls come down. One woman said to me recently, “I don’t know why I keep crying when you talk, but something is happening in my heart.” His love, as Keith Green sang, is breaking through.
1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
2. If His love has broken through to you, share one thing you remember about when it did.
Songs to Prepare Your Heart:
In the wonderful sermon you will hear next week, Dick Lucas says a real hymn must reveal something about God. These two do. The Psalm project caught the heart of Psalm 14 — God’s anger against the fool, but also His compassion for the poor, and His knowledge that one day the captive will be set free and there will be a great reversal of fortune. The second song was by one of the first women hymn-writers, and made contemporary by Indelible Grace. This world is hard, and the lies of the fool can make it hard to trust in times of trouble, but as the second part of the Psalm shows, God is a refuge to the oppressed, and one day there will a great reversal.
Monday-Friday Bible Study and Sermon (Pace yourself so you finish — I’ve given a guideline, but do as you feel led.)
3. Read Psalm 14 out loud as an overview.
A. What do you learn about the fool in verse 1?
B. Verses 1-3 shows how fools rebel against the law of God. Derek Kidner says the essence of sin is believing we know better than God.
C. Verses 4 shows the fruit of fools. What metaphor is given? The verb is “devour.” How did HItler devour God’s people?
D. What causes the fool concern, according to verse 5? Can you think of an example from Scripture or life?
E. What promise is there to the poor in verse 6?
F. Describe the end of the story, according to verse 7.
4. Bonhoeffer urges us to hear the voice of Christ in these psalms — His anger, His compassion. How do you hear His voice in Psalm 14?
Tuesday-Wednesday: Some Lies of The Atheist and The Response of a Wise Man
Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. In the wildly popular song by John Lennon, Imagine, see how beautiful people, beautiful settings, and beautiful music are used, like an angel of light. Yoko and John look very serious — as if doing away with God, heaven, and hell would solve our problems and we need to know this. This is what so many of the books from atheists say. It can seem plausible when you realize wars are so often a result of the clash of religious beliefs. But there are huge holes in this argument which Keller skillfully uncovers. In order to dismantle the lie, we must first see what it is, what people are hearing, and what can even penetrate our souls if we are naive:
5. How is the lie set up with beauty? What are the lies that are articulated?
Listen to Tim Keller’s response to these lies in this free sermon (download it first) and share your notes: LINK
6. Share your notes to Keller’s sermon:
Thursday-Friday: Lies Against Christian Missionaries and The Response of Research
I was in a secular book club for twenty years. Though we read many well written books, some very good, we also read several books against Christianity. One that particularly angered me was Poisonwood Bible which told the story of a legalistic missionary who was completely insensitive culturally. Indeed, I know there are missionaries like that, but do they represent the norm? I’d like you to read one of the best articles I think Christianity Today has published in my lifetime and share your notes: Click below:
7. What did you learn from the article?
8. In contrast, what does Psalm 14:3-4 tells us is the fruit of ignoring God?
9. In your own life, when you were cool toward God, what was the fruit? How about when you were passionate?
10. As we will see more next week, though this psalm is about the atheist, it is about all of us, for we can all live like fools. Pray for your own heart, that God will rekindle the flame. Indeed, that is what Lent is all about. Then pray the same for your loved ones.
11. What is your take-a-way and why?