God Is ___
God Is ___
This morning we are starting a sermon series on the attributes of God.
We are going to be here for several weeks.
When I was planning out this years sermons, I knew we were going to go through Ecc.
And that I wanted to do a short Easter Sermon Series, but I didn’t know where to go from there.
Then providentially, I was talking with Lawrence Roome about what he was teaching his Sunday School Class.
And he said he was going through the Attributes of God.
And it hit me.
That’s what we need to look at as a church body.
We need to look at what Scripture says about who God is.
It will benefit our life as we walk with Christ to know who he is.
Now this is different from what I normally do.
I normally go preach through books of the bible verse by verse.
And I believe that this is going to be fruitful.
I believe that one of the characteristics of a Follower of Jesus is that we desire to grow to know him more.
We are going to let Scripture be our guide when it comes to discovering who God is.
B/c it is only through the scriptures that we can truly know who God is.
This first sermon is going to lay a frame work for us.
My purpose and goal here this morning is to establish a foundation on why it’s important that we study who God is.
We are going to ask 3 questions this morning:
Who is God
How Can we know him
And Why study him.
Before we get to there let’s pray.
The first thing we are going to look at is the question who is God?
Well why don’t we start at a safe place and see who God says he is.
14 God replied to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you.”
6 The Lord passed in front of him and proclaimed: The Lord—the Lord is a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and abounding in faithful love and truth, 7 maintaining faithful love to a thousand generations, forgiving iniquity, rebellion, and sin. But he will not leave the guilty unpunished, bringing the consequences of the fathers’ iniquity on the children and grandchildren to the third and fourth generation. 8 Moses immediately knelt low on the ground and worshiped.
Who is God?
Who is God?
In these two examples, we see that God is who he is and we see that he describes himself by his characteristics.
Or his attributes.
We know who someone is by their attributes.
And God is no different.
We can know him by his attributes.
And here’s where we are going to get into the weeds a bit.
God has two types of attributes.
They are his communicable attributes and his incommunicable attributes.
I know that those are some big words so let me break it down so that we are all on the same page.
God’s communicable attributes are those attributes that his creation has in common with him.
Albeit, creation pales in comparison to his perfect attributes we do in a small way share them with him.
These attributes would be like love, justice, mercy, wisdom.
Again we don’t demonstrate them the same way God does but we do have them in common.
Simple enough, b/c we share these types of Attributes with God we can get a feel for who he is or what he is like.
Then God also has what are called incommunicable attributes.
These attributes are those that God alone possesses.
He doesn’t share them at all with any part of creation.
The incommunicable attributes are what are called the omni’s- omnipresence-God is everywhere, omnipotence-God is all powerful, and omniscience-God is all knowing.
In addition God is immutable-meaning he is unchanging.
He is Self-existing, not contingent on anyone or anything else.
These are the two categories that we will use to talk about God’s attributes.
They are part of the framework.
We share some of God’s Attributes, but not all of them.
So we have to know that God is more than simply what he does.
This is how many of those who claim to be Xians view God.
What he does = who he is.
But that’s not how it works.
God is greater than the sum of his actions.
Surely, he does act in the world, but he’s more than his actions.
If he didn’t do anything in our world today, he would still be God.
His actions in our lives flows from his character and attributes.
Additionally, God is the fullness of each and everyone of his attributes and they are all intricately woven into who he is.
There isn’t one attribute that is greater than or lesser than another.
He is fully and completely who he is.
There’s no variation or divination between his attributes.
This can be hard for us to wrap our minds around b/c we are never fully any one of our attributes.
Our characteristics fluctuate depending on our mood, our circumstances, and if we have eaten recently or not.
But God is wholly different from us.
He is fully who he is at all times, in all places, from eternity past into eternity future.
God’s Attributes sing in harmony.
He is his attributes.
He isn’t made up of parts, but he is fully his attributes.
And they are perfect, balanced and beautiful.
Listen to what St. Augustine said, I couldn’t say it any better.
What art Thou then, my God? what, but the Lord God? For who is Lord but the Lord? or who is God save our God? Most high, utterly good, utterly powerful, most omnipotent, most merciful and most just, deeply hidden yet most intimately present, perfection of both beauty and strength, stable and incomprehensible, immutable and yet changing all things, never new, never old, making everything new and leading the proud to be old without their knowledge; always active, always in repose, gathering to yourself, but not in need, supporting and filling and protecting, creating and nurturing and bringing to maturity, searching even though to you nothing is lacking: you love without burning, you are jealous in a way that is free from of anxiety, you “repent” without the pain of regret, you are wrathful and remain tranquil. You will a change without any change in your design. You recover what you find, yet you have never lost. Never in any need, you rejoice in your gains; you are never avaricious(greedy), yet you require interest. We pay you more than you require so as to make you our debtor, yet who has anything which does not belong to you? You pay off debts, though owing nothing to anyone; you canceled debts and incur no loss. But in these words what have I said, my God, my life, my holy sweetness? What has anyone achieved in words when he speaks about you? Woe to those who are silent about you because, though loquacious with verbosity they have nothing to say.
All of who God is works in perfect harmony.
Never changing, never moving.
So we can have confidence in who he says he is.
God also reveals tells us in his word that he is creator, sustainer, and purpose for all creation.
Paul sums it up in Rom 11:36 “36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen.”
Now, here’s something that you may not what to hear.
When it comes to God we need to have a theology of mystery.
What I mean is that we need to be okay knowing that we will not ever know everything there is to know about God.
That’s partly b/c of his incommunicable attributes, there’s no way for us to know him fully when he is completely other than us.
God is fundamentally different from us, and we need to know that no matter how hard we try, and how much effort we put in, there are going to be things about him that are mysterious.
Our God is incomprehensible.
Now I want to be careful with that word.
That word can carry with it the idea that we can know nothing about God.
But what I want us to see is that we can know things about God and even know God himself, but we will never know the full depths of God.
We are limited in what we can know about him.
Ps 145.3 “3 The Lord is great and is highly praised; his greatness is unsearchable.”
Ps 139.6 “6 This wondrous knowledge is beyond me. It is lofty; I am unable to reach it.”
Rom 11:33-35 “33 Oh, the depth of the riches and the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments and untraceable his ways! 34 For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? 35 And who has ever given to God, that he should be repaid?”
Who he is, is a depth so deep that we will never reach the bottom of it.
Even as we live with him in all eternity we will never get to know the fullness of who he is.
Wayne Grudem- “For all eternity we will be able to go on increasing in our knowledge of God and delighting ourselves more and more in him, saying with David as we learn more and more of God’s own thoughts, Ps 139.17-18 “17 God, how precious your thoughts are to me; how vast their sum is! 18 If I counted them, they would outnumber the grains of sand; when I wake up, I am still with you.”
If God is incomprehensible, then there are those, and maybe you’re one of them, who says it seems fruitless to even try.
If I can’t know everything about him, then I don’t want to know anything about him.
I can only trust him if I know everything.
But that’s a naive way to look at knowing God.
We may never be able to plunge the depths, but we can swim the surface.
And each day we can dive deeper and deeper into know him.
The inability to know everything about God doesn’t mean that we can’t know true things about God.
Here’s a beautiful truth, even though God is incomprehensible, he has chosen to make himself known to us.
Just think about that for a moment before we analyze it.
The creator of the universe, who is matchless in every way, has condescended to his creation to give them an opportunity to know him.
And even though they would rebel.
Even though some would curse his name.
Even though many would rather not recognize him, worship him, and submit to him.
Regardless he has revealed himself to us.
So, how has God revealed himself to us?
How Can We Know God
How Can We Know God
There are two primary ways that God has revealed himself to the world.
Two types of revelation that God uses to point us toward him.
The first is Natural Revelation, the second in Divine/Special Revelation.
Let’s break them down.
God has revealed some of his characteristics through the natural world around us.
1 The heavens declare the glory of God, and the expanse proclaims the work of his hands.
19 since what can be known about God is evident among them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, that is, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what he has made. As a result, people are without excuse.
So through natural revelation we can know things about God.
Through this natural revelation we are able to see some proofs about God too.
These are philosophical arguments for the existence of God.
These arguments don’t necessarily get you to the God of Xianity, but they will get you to a theistic creator.
The first argument for the existence of God is called the Cosmological Argument.
There are different streams and veins of this argument, but they essentially boil down to this.
Everything in the universe has a cause, and b/c everything has a cause, if we go back far enough, there needed to be something or someone who caused it.
This is akin to the philosopher Plato’s “Prime Mover” or “first Cause”
Then there’s the Teleological Argument.
This is an argument that evidence of order, beauty, harmony, and design to the universe necessitates a designer.
To go along with the Teleological Argument is the Fine Tuning Argument.
This is the one that stumps many atheists and agnostics.
The Argument states that our world is so specific and so finely tuned to life that if even one molecule would have been out of place during it’s creation our existence would have been impossible.
Lastly, it’s the Moral Argument.
That within mankind there is a desire for justice and that innately we know right from wrong.
For this to be inside of us from birth, it would have to come from somewhere.
There needs to be a source for morality that is outside of ourselves for us to feel the injustices of the world.
There has to be a moral Arbiter who gives us this sense of right and wrong.
These are just a few of the argument philosophically that use natural revelation as a basis for point to a creator outside of ourselves.
You can do more research about these arguments, this is a simple fly by.
Now there are limitations to natural revelation.
One is the fact that it may get us to a theistic creator, but that’s not close to God as he’s revealed in Scripture.
Natural Revelation can show us things about God, but that’s not enough to save us.
Natural revelation is enough for recognition of a creator and guilt before his as described in Rom 1, but that’s as far as it goes.
So we need something more.
Thankfully, God has provided that for us.
Have you ever thought about the fact that God didn’t have to reveal himself to us.
That he could have stayed silent and allowed us all to perish b/c of our sin and rebellion, but God.
The creator and king, revealed to us himself.
And not only that, but he also provided a way for us to be made right with him.
How did God reveal himself to us.
7 The instruction of the Lord is perfect, renewing one’s life; the testimony of the Lord is trustworthy, making the inexperienced wise. 8 The precepts of the Lord are right, making the heart glad; the command of the Lord is radiant, making the eyes light up. 9 The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever; the ordinances of the Lord are reliable and altogether righteous. 10 They are more desirable than gold— than an abundance of pure gold; and sweeter than honey dripping from a honeycomb. 11 In addition, your servant is warned by them, and in keeping them there is an abundant reward.
20 Above all, you know this: No prophecy of Scripture comes from the prophet’s own interpretation, 21 because no prophecy ever came by the will of man; instead, men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
In these three sets of Scripture we see that God has spoken to men about himself.
Whether that be through visions, dreams, inspiration, or appearing before them.
These prophets are those who tell God’s people what God has to say.
And this may cause some to be skeptical.
“Oh, so these men just happened to hear from God and told the people what he said.”
To many this sounds not so dissimilar to Muhammed, Joseph Smith, or any body who claims to have a word from the Lord.
How can these men be trusted?
That’s a good and honest question.
Unlike other religious texts, the bible doesn’t try to deify or exalt any human figure.
They are all deeply flawed.
They “heroes” of the bible are real, raw, and unglorified.
There is no polishing.
There is no glossing over the true brokenness for all humanity.
In addition, what did the writers of these texts seek.
They didn’t seek money, fame, fortune, or influence.
Rather they were simply telling of their life and recounting the acts God had done on their behalf.
When we look at other religious texts, most often they are written in order to give their leader an advantage over the group they’re leading.
This is not so for Christianity.
Specifically when we look at the NT, these men who were writing letters, who were discipling others were doing so at the risk of their own lives.
They were doing so at the risk of being outcasts.
At the risk of being thrown into the Colosseum.
At the risk of being imprisoned.
It wasn’t until around 300 years after Jesus, that it was a somewhat popular and safe time to be a Xian.
These men weren’t in it to conquer the world, they were in it to spread the message of salvation.
The message of the gospel.
They were building a community based around the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
A community that bucked at the traditions of the World around them.
Living radically dangerous lives for the sake of restoring the world around them.
Recovering Eden through redemptive living.
But how is their living this type of radical life God revealing himself to the world.
B/c it was through the teachings of their founder, Jesus of Nazareth, the promised messiah, that any of this was possible.
Jesus was their ultimate prophet, the one who brought he fullness of God’s revelation.
And the reason that was is b/c Jesus was God in the flesh.
1 Long ago God spoke to our ancestors by the prophets at different times and in different ways. 2 In these last days, he has spoken to us by his Son. God has appointed him heir of all things and made the universe through him. 3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact expression of his nature, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For everything was created by him, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities— all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and by him all things hold together.
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
14 The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We observed his glory, the glory as the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
3 This is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and the one you have sent—Jesus Christ.
6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you know me, you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
Ultimately, God revealed himself to us through the person and work of Jesus Christ.
If we want to see the father all we have to do is look at the son.
And it is through knowing and following him that we can know God.
Jesus is the revelation of God.
He is the very person of God who came to dwell among us.
Jesus came to live among us so that we can know him.
He came to die for us so that we can be reunited with him.
He rose again so that we can have a resurrected life.
And we will live with him for all eternity.
But for those things to be true you must trust in him.
You must repent of your sin and turn to Jesus.
You must follow after him.
Lay aside your life.
Follow after him.
Look like him.
Do what he did as revealed in the Scriptures.
Love the unlovable, serve the unservable, and sacrifice your life to live redemptively.
And when you come to the recognition of who he is and what he did.
When you come to serve him, then you may ask, if Jesus is my savior, why should I study him.
He’s already given me salvation, why do I need to know more.
18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity.
9 For this reason also, since the day we heard this, we haven’t stopped praying for you. We are asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, 10 so that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God,
Grow in Knowledge of Him
Grow in Knowledge of Him
Here Peter and Paul tell us that we need to grow in the Grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
That means that we can’t be stagnant in our understanding about who God is and what he’s done.
We can’t advance in our sanctification, that is our growing to be more like Jesus, if we don’t grow in our knowledge of him.
One of the reasons that we grow in our knowledge of Jesus is so that we can reorient our hearts, minds, and lives to him.
37 He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.
Loving Jesus with our mind, heart, and soul is not optional.
And growing in our knowledge of him is loving him with our who selves.
What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.-A.W. pink.
When we think about God what do we think about.
This is a profound understanding of who God is.
If we don’t think rightly about God then we dishonor him.
If we aren’t making an effort to grow in our knowledge of him, then we are disobeying him.
So the question remains, Why does it matter how we think about God?
Why is he so concerned with how we think about him?
Because if our minds aren’t informed by Scripture, his words, about himself, then we will begin to worship and Idol.
We will fall into idolatry.
3 Do not have other gods besides me.
Understanding God is not simply for the theologians or Professors or pastors. Understanding God is for each and every believer. How we think when we think about God determines how we will live practically in the world that we inhabit.
This is why understanding the attributes of god are so important for us.
Many in Xianity have lost their since of understanding who God is.
They don't worship God the way he has revealed himself, rather they worship a god created in their own image.
And if I'm honest, I don't want to worship a god that looks like you or me.
That god is way to small, fragile, and malleable for me to place my faith, hope, and trust in.
In fact when we worship a god made in our own image we are creating idolatry. We are violating God when we believe that we can make him into our own image. Idolatry in the name of worshiping God of the Bible blasphemes his name. It says something about him that is not true.
"The essence of idolatry is the entertainment of thoughts about God that are unworthy of him."
We need to work from the top down.
We need to view God rightly if we are going to view ourselves rightly.
If we don't want to run the risk of idolatry then we need to flip the script and look at God for who he is.
We have to get God right.
We have to understand and see him for who he is if we have any hope of seeing ourselves for who we are.
We have To know him.
To know how to live life as he designed it.
To know how to glorify him.
If we want to know ourselves we must know him.
This is a reason why depression, anxiety, self-deception, purposelessness, meaninglessness, is so rampant in our society today.
If we don't rightly view God we cannot rightly view ourselves.
Our Worldview is affected by how we view God.
It is important to study God b/c he is how we see and understand truth in the world.
But like mentioned above we have to know him rightly.
We have to study him as he has revealed himself.
We have to lay aside a god made in our own image, and pursue the God who made us in his.
What I want you to know is that this isn’t an easy path.
It is much easier for us to worship a god who looks like us.
A god who fits into our idea of who he is.
But our God, the God revealed in scripture is so much bigger.
So much better.
And so much more.
A god any smaller than the God of the bible is not worthy of worship, honor, and praise.
He is impotent not omnipotent.
He is weak, fragile, and dangerous.
Dangerous b/c if we preach, teach, or evangelize about a God smaller than the God of the bible, the is unable to save.
He is unable to transform.
He is unable to keep his promises.
He is untrustworthy.
So as we get into this series in the next few weeks, I want you to lay aside any preconceived notions of who you think God is.
I want you to commit yourselves to seeing the God of the Scriptures.
The God who spoke the universe into existence.
The God who parted the red sea.
The God who put on flesh.
Who lived a perfect life.
Who died in your place.
Who sacrificed himself.
The God who rose from the dead.
To redeem his people.
The God who is still at work today in every believer.
Calling them to be more like christ.
Confronting their sin.
Comforting them when they suffer.
Empowering them to live a bold life for him.
Our God is amazing.
If you don’t know him.
If you haven’t put your trust in him today is the day.
Submit to him. Follow after him.
If you are his follower and you have been lackadaisical in pursuing him, today is the day to remedy that.
Today is the day that you take your relationship with God seriously.
Today is the day when you truly embrace him as the most important aspect of your existence.
Today is the day where you take him at his word.
Where your follow him wholeheartedly.