“There’s No Life On Mars”
The idea that life can or even does exist on Mars has a long history. In 1877 the Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli claimed to have seen a planet wide system of channels. A fascination with this planet began and scientists from around the world began to explore the possibility until July of 1965 the Mariner 4 transmitted 22 close-up pictures of Mars. All that was revealed was a surface containing many craters and naturally occurring channels but no evidence of artificial canals or flowing water. Finally, in July and September1976, Viking Landers 1 and 2 touched down on the surface of Mars. The experiments conducted provided no clear evidence for the presence of living microorganisms in the soil near the landing sites. According to mission biologists, Mars is self-sterilizing. They believe that the composition of the soil prevents the formation of living organisms in the Martian soil. In short, there is no life on mars. Mars’ atmosphere can not sustain life. It is self-sterilizing.
We discover in the New Testament that Paul visited Mars, not the planet but the hill. In Acts 17:22 - 23 Paul reveals that, much like the planet, there was no life on the hill. He makes an interesting statement he says to these people, “I observe that you are very religious in every respect.” Yet at the same time Paul also points out that don’t know who they are worshipping. Paul understood that regardless of how religious you are you are dead unless you know the one you are worshipping. Religion is self-sterilizing. Religion minus relationship cannot sustain life. Religion without relationship only produces death. There was no life on Mars. Throughout the Bible we read account after account of people who find themselves in an atmosphere like Mars where there is no life.
II. Example of No Life
A. Exodus 20:18 - We read about a religious people that wanted the things of God, they wanted the works of God, they wanted the show, the lights, the horns, the whistles but the reality is they didn’t want a face to face relationship with God. They didn’t mind the preacher getting the word, they didn’t mind a few signs and wonders, but they didn’t want to come into a personal relationship with God. They wanted to go through someone else. They didn’t know the one they were worshipping. Moses knew God but the people only knew Moses. There is no life there.
B. Samson - Wanted the power and the gifts of God. Wanted the capability to defeat the enemy. Didn’t mind showing off the power of God. Didn’t mind stepping up on stage and demonstrating his gift, but the Bible says that when he finally told his source of strength to Delilah and she cut his hair and called the enemy in Samson stood and shook himself as usual never realizing that the spirit of God had left him. He had the form of Godliness - the Nazarite vow, but not the power. There was no life there.
C. Pharisees - probably the best example. Religious to a fault. Knew every law every ordinance. Knew how to do church. Knew how to play the role. Had it down to an art form, yet Jesus states that there was no life there when He said to the Pharisees “you are nothing more than a bunch of white-washed seplecures. Beautiful on the outside but full of dead men’s bones on the inside.”
III. Our Mars
You may say we would never fall into this state. We are Bible College students we aren’t like the Children of Israel, Samson, or the Pharisees. But we find in Matthew 7:23 in the end that even some of those who had all the bells and whistles working, they prophesied, cast out demons, and even performed miracles but they still hear the words “I never knew you.” They were religious but didn’t know the very one they worshipped.
I wonder if some of us are still trying to find life on Mars? We know the songs, the notes, the facts; we know the act, the game, the charade, and the motions. We know the steps, the statutes, the formulas. We know the history, the definitions, and the origins. But the question is do we know the one we are worshipping? Do we know the one we are studying? Do we know the one we are preaching and teaching about? If we do not, then there is no life.
You must know that you may have personality, performance, pedigree, position, power, procedure, pomp. You have all the “p”’s in place, but unless you have the “p” of presence you are dead.
Our desire is to strengthen the stake of your relationship this year. We want you to learn, we want you to mature, we want you to operate in excellence, and we want you to achieve, but most of all we want you to meet, know and establish an intimate relationship with the one you are worshipping. We want people to say of you what they said about the disciples in Acts 4 - we recognize these people have been with Jesus - not that they have been with pastors, presidents, or professors. We want them to notice your degree on your wall only after they notice the divine on your life. We want you to be come to the place this year that not only can you say yes I know who wrote Acts, I know how to spell, I know how to study but most importantly we want you to be able to say like Paul, “I know in whom I have believed.”
We want you to have life. But life is not just an education - head knowledge and at the same time it is not just hype, feeling, and goose bumps. Life comes through a combination and balance of both.
IV. The Two Elements
The Bible teaches us that we become intimate with God through worship. And then the Word teaches us that to offer God the kind of worship that he will accept we must learn to worship in spirit and in truth. Life is available when we learn to worship in a balance. Most of you arrive on this campus as a new student or as a returning in one of two conditions. Some of you are like the:
A. Scarecrow - You have a heart or spirit but know brain. You know how to shout, dance, run the aisles, throw bobby pins, and operate in the supernatural. But you don’t know why you do what you do. You don’t know the attributes of God, the principles of God’s kingdom. A lot of goose bumps and emotions but no foundation. Fanatical but no facts. We run into you when we get down to test time. No I didn’t do my work cause I was too busy seeking God around the altars. I think Moses preached the Sermon on the Mount but I sure can dance before the Lord. Follow after people who can give you a word but won’t study the Word for yourself. Worship junkies seeking out the best rush. According to Romans 10:2, you have zeal for God but not according to knowledge. To have life you must also learn about Him and establish a foundation of truth in your life.
B. Tin Man - Some of you are on the other side of the spectrum. You have a brain but no heart. You know everything there is to know and where to find chapter and verse. You have learned the facts and figures. You know about God’s characteristics, his names, his methods, his attributes but there is no life anymore, no feeling, no stirring or moving, no wonder, no awe, no passion. Intellect without inspiration breeds death. The letter of the law kills but the spirit brings life. This type of worship rarely generates awe or healing, and never joy.
Each group looks down on the other but the truth of the matter is there is not life in either exclusive of the other. There must be a balance. There must be knowledge and there must be experience. To fall on either side is an extreme that produces a Mars type atmosphere incapable of sustaining life. It takes a balance.
Without knowledge you will leave here like the preverbal chicken with his head cut off - flopping around everywhere, falling on every floor, running every aisle but no direction. Spouting off shouts with no substance.
And without experience and heart relationship you will leave here an extremely smart, dead man capable of spouting off facts but with no fire.
We must pursue not only his hands but his face. Seeking his hands will teach us about how he works and what he does but seeking his face will bring us into relationship with him.
There is no life on Mars. It isn’t just enough to be religious. We must know who we are worshipping and that is accomplished by worshipping him in spirit and truth.
I know some of you are religious in every respect, but do you know Him? I know some of you know all about Him, but do you know Him? I know some of you know how to worship, but do you know who you worship? There is no life on Mars.