Summary: This sermon examines the Christian worldview so that we can understand what constitutes a Christian mind.
For the past few weeks we have been studying Romans 12:1-2. In Romans 12 the Apostle Paul begins applying the doctrine that he has been teaching for the previous 11 chapters. Now, it is not that he has made no application in the previous 11 chapters; he has. However, as he begins chapter 12 he is, in a sense, saying, “In light of all that I have taught, how should we then live?”
So, let’s carefully examine each phrase in Romans 12:1-2.
Let’s read Romans 12:1-2:
1I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2)
In 1963 Harry Blamires, an Englishman who had been a student of C. S. Lewis, wrote an important book titled, The Christian Mind: How Should a Christian Think? His book’s main thesis, repeated over and over in chapter 1, is that “there is no longer a Christian mind,” meaning that there is no longer a distinctly Christian way of thinking. There is to some extent a Christian ethic and even a somewhat Christian way of life and piety. But there is no distinctly Christian frame of reference, no uniquely Christian worldview, to guide our thinking in distinction from the thought of the culture around us.
Unfortunately, the situation has not improved over the past forty-five years. In fact, it has grown worse. Today, not only is there little or no genuine Christian thinking, there is very little thinking of any kind. The Western world (and perhaps even the world as a whole) is well on its way to becoming what pastor James Montgomery Boice frequently called a “mindlessness.”
The Apostle Paul makes it clear that Christians are called to mind renewal. He says in Romans 12:2a-b, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind. . . .” Mindlessness is being conformed to this world. But Christians are called to be transformed by the renewal of their minds. In other words, Christians are called to develop a “Christian mind.” Or, to use terminology from last week’s message, Christians are called to develop a “Christian worldview.”
Over one hundred years ago (1890-1891), James Orr presented the Kerr Lectures in Edinburgh, Scotland. He titled his lectures, The Christian View of God and the World, and argued forcefully for the proposition that Christianity possesses a “worldview” or “view of the world.” Orr said that a Christian worldview covered nine specific areas. A Christian worldview affirms:
(1) the existence of a personal, ethical, self-revealing God;
(2) the creation of the world by God, involving his holy and wise government of it for moral ends;
(3) the spiritual nature and dignity of man as created in the image of God;
(4) the fall of man into sin;
(5) the historical self-revelation of God to the patriarchs and in the line of Israel;
(6) the incarnation of Jesus Christ as the eternal Son of God, yes, as God manifest in the flesh;
(7) the redemption of the world through the atoning death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ;
(8) the founding of the kingdom of God on earth, which includes the spiritual salvation of individuals and a new order of society; and
(9) that history has a goal, including resurrection, judgment, and separation of the righteous and the wicked, the righteous to eternity with God and the wicked to eternal suffering excluded from his presence.
In today’s lesson, I want to examine the Christian worldview so that we understand what constitutes a Christian mind.
I. A Christian Mind Understands Who God Is
First, a Christian mind understands who God is.
A proper understanding of the doctrine of God helps us to respond to the worldviews of secularism and of atheism. Secularism is best summarized by a statement of Carl Sagan in his television series titled “Cosmos.” Sagan was pictured standing before a spectacular view of the heavens with its many swirling galaxies, saying in a hushed, almost reverential tone of voice, “The cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be.” That is bold-faced secularism. And atheism, of course, asserts that God doesn’t exist.
James Montgomery Boice, in his commentary on Romans 12:2, writes:
"So I ask again, where do we start? How do we begin to think and act as Christians? There is a sense in which we could begin at any point, since truth is a whole and truth in any area will inevitably lead to truth in every other area. But if the dominant philosophy of our day is secularism, which means viewing all of life only in terms of the visible world and in terms of the here and now, then the best of all possible starting places is the doctrine of God, for God alone is above and beyond the world and is eternal. Even more, the doctrine of God is a necessary and inevitable starting place if we are to produce a genuinely Christian response to secularism."