Hope in Christ Fellowship
November 15, 2020 - Sunday Morning
- Bible Trivia
- God On The Mountain
- Thank You Lord For Your Blessings
- This Is Just What Heaven Means To Me
- Leaving My Troubles
- Is there a God? And if so, what's He like?These are the two most important questions any person has or ever will ask.Last week we covered God's existence and how the Bible doesn't argue for God's existence, it assumes it.We saw how God has revealed himself…Generally, in creation and historyPropositionally, in His inspired written WordPersonally, in Jesus Christ, the Word made fleshSavingly, through the work of his Holy SpiritAnd because He's revealed himself, we can know for sure what He's like.We've said that God is independent, entirely self-sufficient, and self-existent.Next, we saw that God is immutable. He doesn't change. He's entirely consistent, reliable, and faithful.We learned that God is infinite, meaning He has unlimited power over all things. His presence is everywhere.And He's eternal; He's not bound by time; He has no beginning or end.This morning I want us to explore several more attributes of God that He's revealed in His Word because, if you'll allow it, knowing God is the greatest joy of our life.1. The Unity of GodGod is the only Divine Being.He has a total unity of character.In other words, everything He does is entirely consistent with all his attributes; there are no contradictions in His character.Unlike you and me, He doesn't have a "good side" or a "bad side" – He's all good all the time.This is often referred to as God's simplicity, which means that God's attributes aren't separate pieces that you assemble and get God, like parts of a puzzle or a car.Instead, each attribute is entirely true of God and all His character.As he passed in front of Moses, he called out. He said, “I am the Lord, the Lord. I am a God who is tender and kind. I am gracious. I am slow to get angry. I am faithful and full of love. I continue to show my love to thousands of people. I forgive those who do evil. I forgive those who refuse to obey. And I forgive those who sin. But I do not let guilty people go without punishing them. I punish the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren for the sin of their parents.”God is both merciful and just, and though those traits may seem at odds with one another, they're resolved in Jesus, who mercifully died in place of sinners, fulfilling the claims of God's justice.God always is, and still acts, according to His united character.But that's not all… God has revealed himself in three distinct persons.2. God is TriuneWhen we think about, focus on, or discuss the doctrine of the Trinity, it feels like our brains are turning to mush.At times, because of its immeasurable vastness, it feels unrelated to our day-by-day Christian life.But that couldn't be farther from the truth.Yes… God's triune nature stretches and exceeds our understanding... but it makes all the difference in the world, knowing that God is not a lonely, solitary being.It makes a world of difference knowing and understanding He's a trinity in unity, existing in eternal love and fellowship, and extending that harmonious love to us, as undeserving as we are.I'm not overstating this fact when I say that the Trinity makes all the difference between true Christianity and false understandings of God.Let's look at the Trinity by answering three questions.A. What does the doctrine of the Trinity mean?I feel like Wayne Grudem's definition nails it: "God eternally exists as three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and each person is fully God, and there is one God."This means that God is, in essence, one.In the 4th century, theologians argued from Scripture that the Son and Spirit are equal in substance to the Father. That is, there is only one being known as God.Scripture consistently affirms this.Israel, listen to me. The Lord is our God. The Lord is the one and only God.Tell me what will happen. State your case. Talk it over together. Who spoke long ago about what would happen? Who said it a long time ago? I did. I am the Lord. I am the one and only God. I always do what is right. I am the one who saves. There is no God but me.But… God is a unity of three distinct "persons."The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God.But the Father is not the Son, and the Son is not the Spirit, and the Spirit is neither the Father nor the Son.Each person of the Trinity plays a distinct role in the harmonious work of redemption.The Belgic Confession of 1561 put it this way: "The Father is the cause, origin, and source of all things, visible as well as invisible. The Son is the Word, the wisdom, and the image of the Father. The Holy Spirit is the eternal power and might, proceeding from the Father and the Son.Nevertheless, this distinction does not divide God into three, since Scripture teaches us that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit each has a distinct subsistence [which means personhood] distinguished by characteristics—yet in such a way that these three persons are only one God…. These persons, thus distinct, are neither divided nor fused or mixed together."So, the three persons of the Trinity are distinct.These distinctions are not just flavors or modes that God has adopted at different stages in history.They've existed together as one God forever in unconditional love, unity, and delight.So much for a definition, but is it true?B. How does Scripture teach the doctrine of the Trinity?That's a great question… but you won't find the Word, "trinity," anywhere in Scripture.But it's a beneficial word, and it summarizes all that Scripture says concerning the relationship of the triune Godhead.The Bible clearly teaches that there is only one God, as we've already seen in the verses I've mentioned earlier… and yet it also teaches that the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Spirit is God.The belief that the Father is God isn't controversial: Jesus prays, "Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name."But Scripture also teaches that the Son and Spirit are God too.We'll explore all those verses in the coming weeks when we look at the person of Christ and the person of the Holy Spirit.But here's just a brief preview:· Jesus is the Word of God who "is God," according to John 1:1-4· Who is called "Mighty God," according to Isaiah 9:6· Who is called "Our great God and Savior Jesus Christ" in Titus 2:13The Son forgives sins and accepts worship, both of which only God could do.On the other hand…· The Holy Spirit is present everywhere according to Psalm 139· Comprehends and reveals God's thoughts according to 1 Corinthians 2· Creates life and new life according to Genesis 1 and John 3Yet throughout Scripture, such things are only true of God.Finally, there are several vital passages where we see the three persons of the Trinity mentioned together but distinguished from one another.As soon as Jesus was baptized, he came up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened. Jesus saw the Spirit of God coming down on him like a dove. A voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, and I love him. I am very pleased with him.”Here the three persons of the Godhead play distinct roles.God the Father speaks from heaven, God the Son is baptized to fulfill the Father's will, and God the Spirit anoints the Son to empower His ministry.So you must go and make disciples of all nations. Baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.Marvin… notice that Jesus doesn't instruct his disciples to baptize new believers in the "names" of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit, as if we were dealing with three different beings, but in the "name," which is singular.Perhaps the most wondrous place to see the Trinity in Scripture is John chapters 14-17.The pinnacle is chapter 17, where we see the love that's characterized the Trinity for all time: Jesus prays in verse 24…“Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am. I want them to see my glory, the glory you have given me. You gave it to me because you loved me before the world was created.So, the Trinity is a sound biblical doctrine through and through.It's not something we've figured out on our own, and it has no analogy in nature.All the silly analogies you hear about the three phases of water or the three parts of an egg, they all eventually collapse.The truth is the Trinity is beyond our ability to grasp fully, yet it's been revealed as a clear truth.And the fact that it has… should be a great comfort for us, which leads to one final question,C. Why does the Trinity Matter?The Triune nature of God shouldn't cause us to run away from God scratching our heads but instead should cause us to run to Him as our loving Creator, Redeemer, and Giver of Life.The Trinity helps us understand that God isn't lonely... He didn't create the universe because he needed friendship.The Father, Son, and Spirit already enjoyed perfect fellowship.God didn't need to make us in order to be a loving God.Like Allah in Islam, a single-person God could never be eternally loving because he wouldn't have anyone else to love.He would, strangely, need his creation in order to be loving.God as Trinity, however, has always been a fountain of love, and it's only appropriate for the three persons of the Godhead to overflow in self-giving love toward us.As the Trinity, He saves us from our own self-absorbed self-love.That's what we see in Ephesians 1, easily one of the most glorious passages of Scripture: The Father predestines us to be adopted as sons, the Son sheds His blood to redeem us, and the Spirit seals our inheritance.So, we should praise and love our triune God.OK, so the last two topics have been focused on God's being or His essence – let's move on to the attributes that deal more with God's knowledge.3. God's Omniscience – His Perfect KnowledgeOmniscient means "all-knowing."Our hearts may judge us. But God is greater than our hearts. He knows everything.But God not only knows what will happen, but what would happen if we were to have left for church an hour later and not come to worship this morning.He knows the actual and the possible.“How terrible it will be for you, Korazin! How terrible for you, Bethsaida! Suppose the miracles done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon. They would have turned away from their sins long ago. They would have put on black clothes. They would have sat down in ashes.It's one thing to know everything… but to know the actual and the possible outcomes of billions of people who make thousands of decisions each day is mind-boggling.We must understand that God's knowledge isn't like ours. It's not obtained from experience or observation.God knows our every thought before we ever think it… He knows our every action before we act.God knows when you were born because He knit you together in your mother's womb.And he knows when you're going to die because He has numbered your days.This means that nothing surprises him. Surprises shake us to the core, but not God.As pastor Darrell often says… "Has it ever occurred to you that nothing ever occurs to God?"We don't know our future, but God does, which should motivate us to prayerful trust.“So don’t worry. Don’t say, ‘What will we eat?’ Or, ‘What will we drink?’ Or, ‘What will we wear?’ People who are ungodly run after all of those things. Your Father who is in heaven knows that you need them. “But put God’s kingdom first. Do what he wants you to do. Then all of those things will also be given to you.God answers prayer, but our prayers don't provide God with new information.God knows what we need, which means we don't need to panic as if God is somehow out of the loop or unaware of our most basic needs.Instead, our prayers are the humble petitions of weak and needy people to the all-wise, all-powerful, all-knowing God who delights to hear the needs of His children.4. God's TruthfulnessGod is true, and all His knowledge and words are the final standard of truth.This means not only that everything God tells us is accurate but that He'll be faithful to all His promises.Proverbs 30:5 "Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him."Unlike us, God is infinitely dependable.Satan will lie to you whenever he can to get you to distrust God... that's been his way since the garden.By the way, did you know that it's been discovered that Satan and his demons are the now-infamous "social media fact-checkers"???But God will never lie to you… Hebrews 6:18 says it's impossible for God to lie.Politicians, employers, and family members all make promises and then break those promises.God never breaks a promise.When He promises never to leave you nor forsake you, He never will!When he says…“There are many rooms in my Father’s house. If this were not true, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. If I go and do that, I will come back. And I will take you to be with me. Then you will also be where I am.That's what He's doing even now.5. God's WisdomGod is also wise.Wisdom is the practical use of knowledge... its knowledge applied.Therefore, God's wisdom means that God always chooses the best goals and the best means to those goals.We'll talk about this in the coming weeks when we study God's providence.Job says that God's wisdom is profound (Job 9:4) and that counsel and understanding are His (Job 12:13).We can easily see this wisdom in creation.But God used his power to make the earth. His wisdom set the world in place. His understanding spread the heavens out. When he thunders, the waters in the heavens roar. He makes clouds rise from one end of the earth to the other. He sends lightning along with the rain. He brings the wind out from his storerooms.We also see God's wisdom in the plan of redemption.God's wisdom and power are correctly shown in the gospel where we see that…The message of the cross seems foolish to those who are lost and dying. But it is God’s power to us who are being saved.1 Corinthians chapters 1-3 is all about the wisdom of God in the gospel.Wisdom isn't just something elders should have or the super-spiritual should aspire to acquire.The book of Proverbs commends wisdom and calls us to the joy and delight that we can know when we walk according to His wisdom.To finish up, let's look at a few attributes that speak to God's character and moral standards.6. God's HolinessHoliness refers to God's "otherness," or His majesty… the fact that He's not like us.He's transcendent.It's the grand vision of Isaiah 6, where seraphim cover their faces and exclaim, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, the whole earth is full of his glory."Holiness also refers to God's "purity." He's ethically distinct from us, separate from sin.Which is why Isaiah will go on in that vision: " 'woe to me,' I cried, 'for I am a man of unclean lips.'"God is wholly unlike us, totally clean and radiant, without spot or blemish, pure and blameless.And yet, though God in His holiness is unapproachable, He's also irresistibly beautiful.He is unstained by sin, and He's the fountain of light.Jonathan Edwards said that holiness "is as it were the beauty and sweetness of the divine nature."God's holiness is awe-inspiring, like standing before the Grand Canyon or Niagara Falls.It's overwhelming, but you can't look away! And why is His holiness so beautiful?Edwards brings us back to the Trinity – "The holiness of God consists in his love, especially in the perfect and intimate union and love there is between the Father and the Son."That's what's so irresistible and distinct about God: His perfect love.Because He's holy, we too are to be holy.The Pharisees saw holiness as doing the things we're supposed to do and not doing the things we're not supposed to do.Sadly, that's how many people think about holiness… but when we look at the burning bush from Exodus 3, what makes that ground holy is God's presence.It's that He's entered into a relationship with his people... so, holiness isn't first defined by what we do or don't do, but to whom we belong. It's not just separate from something, but devoted to somebody (God).Fundamentally, pursuing holiness – which we do because the Holy Spirit lives in us – is how we get to reveal every day that heaven is our hope. That we live for better desires because we have a better savior.7. God's Justice/RighteousnessBut God isn't only holy, but just and righteous.In everyday English, we think of justice as "public" and righteousness as "private."But not so when it comes to God. Justice and righteousness stem from similar root words in Greek.They refer to strict adherence to a law or standard.God always is right, and He still acts according to what is good, right, and just.God's justice and righteousness are also our assurance that sins and wrongs will one day be dealt with.But God is righteous. He will judge. So, we're not to despair or worry or seek revenge.Romans 12:19 " 'Vengeance is mine, I will repay,' says the Lord."Of course, God's justice applies to all without favoritism – including us.He will deal with us according to our adherence or lack of conformity to his laws.And that's why He sent Christ to be a sacrifice for sinners.God's Son himself received the sentence of justice that we deserved.God gave him as a sacrifice to pay for sins. So he forgives the sins of those who have faith in his blood. God did all of that to prove that he is fair. Because of his mercy he did not punish people for the sins they had committed before Jesus died for them. God did that to prove in our own time that he is fair. He proved that he is right. He also made right with himself those who believe in Jesus.8. God's Goodness/LoveFinally, God is a God of goodness and love.He's perfectly good.He always does what's best and is the source of all that is good.Every good and perfect gift is from God. It comes down from the Father. He created the heavenly lights. He does not change like shadows that move.God's goodness manifests itself in several ways.He's benevolent and cares for his creation in his common grace, as we see in Psalm 147.God's goodness is also demonstrated in his love and grace towards the undeserving.It's shown in his long-suffering; He is slow to anger (Exodus 34:6).By way of application, what does God's goodness mean for us?Think of all the ways that we doubt God's goodness.· When we sin· When we fear for the future· When we fear men more than God· When we worryGod's goodness invites us to cast our cares on Him because He cares for us.It reminds us that He'll always do what's best. He is a good, good Father.When it comes to love, we have a difficult time thinking biblically.Today people aren't surprised when you tell them, "God loves you." But they're furious when you tell them God is a holy and righteous judge.That's because we've separated divine love from the other complementary truths about God.Yes, He's loving, but He always loves in harmony with His righteousness.When Scripture speaks of God's love, it refers to it in at least four different ways.This comes from Don Carson's book, The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God, which is short and easy to read.1. First, there's the unique intra-trinitarian love between the Father, Son, and Spirit.2. Second, God's providential love over all he has made. Genesis 1, He made all of creation good. Matthew 6, He feeds even the sparrows.3. Third is God's salvific stance toward a fallen world. John 3:16 – He showed His love for the world by sending Christ, and He lovingly invites all to repent.4. But fourth, Scripture also highlights God's particular, effective, selecting love toward His elect – in passages like Deuteronomy 7, Ephesians 1, 1 John 4:10, and many more.So, we don't want to absolutize any one of these ways of talking about God's love.God's love isn't sentimental and warm feelings.God's love refers to how He tenderly seeks the good of His creatures.And where can that good be found? Only in God himself.· In His love, He gives himself.· In his love, he draws us away from ourselves and to himself.And as He makes us like himself, we find that we love him and love others, just as Jesus taught:If you love one another, everyone will know you are my disciples.”ConclusionGod's attributes reveal his transcendence and immanence.To a first-century Jew, transcendence was a given: meaning, God is holy, set apart, totally distinct from us.Today, God is mostly thought of as exclusively immanent: He is here, present, comforting us.It's casual. God's our buddy, our friend, someone we hang with.These attributes help us understand that God is both immanent and transcendent.He's immanent in Christ, in the indwelling and loving presence of the Holy Spirit.But God is still God; there is no one like him, pure and righteous and powerful.He invokes awe and wonder… so we must respect God, and yet God invites us into a relationship with him as well.So, before you leave, ask yourself this one question…In light of all this, why would you be tempted to place your affections, your security, your well-being, and your eternity in anyone else than our glorious God?PRAY
1 John 3:20NIV2011
1 Corinthians 1:18NIV2011
- Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus
- Somebody Loves Me
Let us get to know you!
Please take a moment to send us your information so that we may stay connected with you. Your information is carefully managed and protected.
I am a:
How did you hear about us?