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The Powers and Limits of Man

What can we do when we are united?

Genesis 11.1–9 

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • August 18, In the year of our Lord Christ, 2019


  1. How are we able to send space craft 
    1. to other planets? 
      1. What enabled us to send vehicles 
      2. out of the solar system? 
    2. How were we able to put men on the moon? 
    3. When the Space Shuttle is in orbit, 
      1. it moves at 17,500 mph! 
      2. Amazingly, it is able to come back again to be reused. 
    4. On July 21, 1969 man set foot on the moon, 
      1. traveling 24,250 mph to get there! 
      2. Do you remember 
        1. where you were 
        2. when we landed on the moon? 
  2. Medically we can equal 
    1. some of the miracles of Jesus. 
    2. How many people, 
      1. if you lived one hundred years ago, 
      2. would not have survived? 
    3. What makes us able to advance medically? 
  3. Military advances are equally amazing. 
    1. In 1991, 
      1. in the first Gulf War, 
      2. 10% of the bombs were “smart.” 
        1. In the second Persian Gulf war, 
        2. 90% were “smart.” 
    2. From Cain killing his brother 
      1. (that is, one man) 
      2. to nuclear weapons, 
        1. capable of destroying thousands, 
        2. or millions 
        3. with one weapon! 
    3. How has man, 
      1. Americans in particular, 
      2. advanced militarily? 
  4. What shall I say about 
    1. communications, 
    2. travel, and 
    3. other forms of technology? 
      1. I used to hear my grandparents talk with amazement about our advances. 
      2. Then I heard my parents bewildered at our advances. 
      3. Now I am using them to illustrate a sermon. 
    4. There are, of course, many reasons for our advances. 
    5. However, I want to concentrate on one that the Bible highlights. 


  1. Man Is a Powerful Creature 
    1. This is acknowledged by anyone 
      1. who contemplates our accomplishments. 
      2. Even those who say our advances are evil, 
        1. still marvel 
        2. at what man is able to do. 
    2. God recognizes man as a powerful creature
      1. I emphasize “creature,” 
        1. because man is a created being. 
        2. Yet, he does God-like things. 
      2. God recognizes the power of man, because 
        1. He created man. 
        2. He knows our ability 
          1. better than we do. 
          2. Because of that 
            1. He knows the evil we can do and 
            2. puts a limit on what we can do. 
          3. He also shows how to use capabilities for good. 
      3. God created man with power.
        1. Think of the implications from Genesis 1 
        2. that God created man 
          1. to have dominion 
            1. over creation and 
            2. to subdue it. 
          2. How is man going to be able 
            1. to have this dominion and 
            2. to subdue creation? 
          3. How will he get that power?
            26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

            – Gen 1.26–28
            1. Man can subdue the lion and the bear. 
            2. Man can subdue 
              1. water, 
              2. dirt, 
                1. that is, if it is on this earth, 
                2. man can do something with it. 
        3. James 3 substantiates this. 
          1. Although, he used this illustration 
          2. to show that there is something man cannot tame: 
            1. His own tongue.
              7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind.

              – James 3.7
      4. Genesis 11 records the words of God 
        1. that He said whatever man purposes to do, 
        2. he can do it. 
          1. In the confession, 
          2. He revealed what gives man this power.
            6 And the LORD said, “Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them.

            – Gen 11.6
    3. This confession is never made about another creature. 
      1. Therefore, man is the most powerful thing 
      2. God has created 
        1. in the natural universe. 
        2. However, the power spoken of here is not achieved alone. 
  2. Why Was Man Powerful in Genesis 11
    1. Let us read the context of Genesis 11.6 and 
      1. you may be amazed 
      2. by what God says 
      3. was the primary enabling factor.
        1 Now the whole earth had one language and one speech. 2 And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and they dwelt there. 3 Then they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They had brick for stone, and they had asphalt for mortar. 4 And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” 5 But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. 6 And the LORD said, “Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them. 7 Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” 8 So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they ceased building the city. 9 Therefore its name is called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.

        – Gen 11.1–9
        1. They were one people 
          1. with one language 
          2. and one purpose. 
        2. They had unity
          1. Their motive was evil, but 
          2. they were one. 
        3. Therefore, to stop their project the Lord 
          1. confused them, 
          2. scattered them, and 
          3. destroyed their unity. 
    2. America has grown powerful, 
      1. advancing 
        1. scientifically, 
        2. medically, 
        3. militarily, and 
          1. in every other technology, because 
      2. many peoples have become one
        1. Imagine if early man had not 
          1. proposed something evil, 
          2. as in Genesis 11, and 
            1. the whole earth was still one, 
            2. the advances we have made today 
              1. would have been made 
              2. thousands of years ago. 
        2. Where we would be today? 
  3. What Can the Church Do with This Unity? 
    1. Our power in doing God’s work is limitless 
      1. when we follow the teachings of Ephesians 4. 
      2. There Paul gave unity high priority. 
        1. Watch the foundational attitudes 
        2. that are laid down before he says for what reason:
          1 I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, 2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, 3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

          – Eph 4.1–3
          1. Did not Jesus Christ practice the teachings of verse 2 
          2. to bring unity between God and man? 
    2. The New Testament teaches us to be 
      1. one with God and 
      2. one with one another. 
        1. If we do not include God, 
          1. Psalm 127 makes a statement 
          2. about the projects we pursue:

            Unless the LORD builds the house,
            They labor in vain who build it;
            Unless the LORD guards the city,
            The watchman stays awake in vain.

            – Psa 127.1
      3. When we practice Ephesians 4 
        1. we will have the kind of unity 
        2. that hell cannot shake! 
          1. Satan trembles and 
          2. his throne crumbles 
          3. when we are 
            1. one with God and 
            2. one with one another! 
    3. Now see the limitless power of church unity.

      Two are better than one,
      Because they have a good reward for their labor.
      10 For if they fall, one will lift up his companion.
      But woe to him who is alone when he falls,
      For he has no one to help him up.
      11 Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm;
      But how can one be warm alone?
      12 Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him.
      And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

      Ecc 4.9–12

      3 Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?

      – Amos 3.3

      19 “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.”

      – Matthew 18.19

      34 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

      – John 13.34–35
  4. Man Limits Himself When He Leaves These Teachings 
    1. When man uses his unity and power for evil 
      1. God will stop him. 
      2. Remember the Tower of Babel. 
    2. Therefore, Psalm 100 reminds us 
      1. that we are not God. 
      2. We are the creatures.

        Know that the LORD, He is God;
        It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
        We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

        – Psa 100.3
    3. Earlier I read James 3.7. 
      1. I want to read it again, but 
      2. this time I will continue to verse 8, 
        1. which reveals a problem, and 
        2. this problem often destroys unity.
          7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. 8 But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.

          – James 3.7–8


  1. Let us all 
    1. pray for unity and 
    2. work for unity. 
  2. Unity in the church 
    1. will enable us to do things more noteworthy 
    2. than the incredible technological advancements of modern times. 
  3. What can we do to help you 
    1. be united with God and 
    2. the church?