This is the sermon for Sunday October 18th, 2009.
Faith Foundations part 2
Just who is God?
Isaiah 45:5 ESV – I am the LORD, and there is no other, besides me there is no God; I equip you, though you do not know me.
We have come to the second sermon in our series on what should be the foundations of what we believe. Last week we began by examining the Scripture, the single source from which we get all of our doctrine. This week we move into preaching on the subject of God Almighty Himself.
If I were to ask you this morning if you believed in God, I am confident that almost all of you would respond in the affirmative. But if I were to follow that question up by asking you to describe God to me, to give me a list of His attributes or to speak to me of the essential qualities of His nature, the answers would probably be varied. You see, while most people claim to believe in God, they are not really sure Who He is, what He is like and how we can know these things about Him with certainty. The purpose of this morning’s message is to take a closer look at the person and nature of God.
Who God is not.
According to a Fox News poll conducted recently (Friday June 18th, 2004) fully 92 percent of Americans say they believe in God. Though belief in God has remained at about the same level, belief in the devil has increased slightly over the last few years — from 63 percent in 1997 to 71 percent today.
Overall, most Americans think religion plays too small a role in people’s lives today (69 percent), with only 15 percent saying it plays too large a role and 7 percent saying “about right.” And yet, while most Americans think religion plays far too small a role in people’s lives, they are most certainly talking about other people because the same poll found that only a little more than a third of those surveyed (37 percent) say they attend church, synagogue or other place of worship at least once a week, 13 percent almost every week, 12 percent about once a month and 19 percent seldom attend. Three percent attend on holidays and 15 percent never attend. That’s about 40% that rarely or never attend any kind of church.
So you see, not everything is as it seems or appears to be. While most people in our country claim to believe in God, it is clear they do not believe in the God revealed in Scripture. Many well intentioned Christians are simply ignorant of this truth. For example, when the topic of Islam is raised you will hear people say something like, “Well, we all worship the same God, don’t we?” The answer is unequivocally no. The God of scripture is not Allah, worshiped by the Muslims.
Ergun and Emir Caner, in their book, Unveiling Islam, put it this way.“Christians and Muslims do not worship the same God, unless Muslims wish to agree that Jesus is God and Lord. The popular notion that Jews, Christians and Muslims all worship the same God is blasphemous to all three religions and founded only in modern pluralism. Jews do not worship Jesus, nor to the Muslims. For the Christian, not to adhere to the Trinity is not to be Christian at all. Yes, there is one God and He is in control of everything and everyone. Yes, according to the teachings of all three faiths, everyone will stand before Him in judgment. But to say that all worship the same God because we use the same generic (name for Him) is like saying that all references to the name “Mike” must refer to the same person.”
So if we look just a little below the surface we can see that who God is depends on who you ask. How then do we know who our God is and on what authority can we claim to found our beliefs?
This brings us to our second consideration this morning:
Who is God and how can we know Him?
As evangelical Christians our theology does not come from church tradition. It does not come from community, or modernistic pluralism either. Our theology does not come from the fertile imaginations of religious zealots or from some ecclesiastical hierarchy. Fundamental to our faith is the understanding that God is a God of revelation and it is in scripture that He has revealed Himself to humanity. This is an important truth about which each Christian should be clear. If we are not clear about where we get our knowledge of God, then whatever knowledge we have of Him will be suspect. The scripture is the only certain word we have about God and it tells us that we are made in His image.
What then does God reveal to us about Himself in Scripture?
- He is the only true God.
Isaiah 45:5a ESV – I am the LORD, and there is no other, besides me there is no God.
Now before we go any further we need to stop for a moment and consider that while there is only one God, He reveals Himself to us as a triune God, that is, one God in three persons. This doctrine of the Trinity is central to a biblical understanding of Who God is. The word, “Trinity” is a simple term the Church has assigned to speak about things concerning God the Bible asserts as being true. The Doctrine of the Trinity asserts that God is one in being or essence who exists eternally in three distinct coequal persons. We find scriptural references to the triune nature of God both in the Old and the New Testaments.
Genesis 3:22a ESV – Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil.
Isaiah 6:8a ESV – And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?”
Matthew 28:19 ESV – Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
The scripture is filled with this type of teaching and since our theology is a Biblical theology, that is we interpret each verse in light of every verse, we see this element of God’s self revelation throughout the bible.
- God is Sovereign – That is, He is omnipotent, or all powerful and able to do all His holy will.
Jeremiah 32:27 ESV – Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?
God’s sovereignty speaks to His rule or reign over all things. Simply put, God’s sovereignty means that God is able to bring His will to completion, and nothing can hinder His will.
- God is infinite – That is, He is Eternal. He has neither beginning nor end; He has always been and will always be. He is timeless.
2 Peter 3:8 ESV – But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
- God is omnipresent – That is, there is no place He is not. He is everywhere at all times.
Psalm 139:7-12 ESV – 7 Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? 8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! 9If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, 10even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. 11If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” 12 even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.
- God is Omniscient – He knows all things, past, present and future. There is nothing which escapes His knowledge or understanding.
Psalm 139:4 ESV – Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.
Even the thoughts of our hearts are known to Him.
- God is unchanging – He is unchangeable, invariable, and permanent.
Hebrews 1:12b ESV – But you are the same, and your years will have no end.
- God is Merciful – While God is just, He is also gracious and merciful.
Psalm 103:8 ESV – The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
Mercy speaks to God withholding punishment that we do deserve while grace speaks to His giving us good things we do not deserve.
- God is love- This means that God is ever about the business of giving Himself to others.
1 John 4:8 ESV – Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
Throughout the scripture we see the evidence of God’s love, ultimately fulfilled in the giving of His Son Jesus to pay the penalty of our sins.
What difference does it make in our lives?
The answer is that it makes all the difference in the world; not only in this world, but in the world to come.
- Knowing God gives us purpose. It adds reason and rational to our lives. It tells us that there is a God in heaven, that He is on His throne and not only does He care for us but that He created us for a purpose.
- Knowing He is sovereign assures us that there is nothing too hard for Him.
- Knowing He is eternal gives us hope beyond this temporal life.
- Knowing He is Omnipresent assures us that He can keep His word to never leave us nor forsake us.
- Knowing He is omniscient assures us that He has everything under control.
So as you contemplate the majesty and wonder of our God this morning the obvious question is not, what do you know about Him but rather do you know Him? Have you ever come to a point in your life where you’ve placed your trust for forgiveness of sins and eternal life in God the Son, in Jesus Christ? And if not, what would keep you from doing so this morning?