How Great is Our God! 1. Why Are We Here?
Jeremiah 24: 7; John 17: 3; Ephesians 1: 17; 2 Thessalonians 1: 8 This sermon series will focus on the person of God the Father. Who is our Heavenly Father and what is he like? Instead of focusing on who we are or what we are to do, we should instead focus on God himself—especially on God’s glory. 1 Corinthians 10: 31 - “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” I believe there are many practical benefits to be had from this emphasis. It certainly should increase our knowledge of who God is and lead us to deeper worship of our Heavenly Father. It will also promote godly living in the congregation by exposing and helping us see our Christian duty in the light of God’s greatness. In preparing these messages I will bring in scriptures from many different parts of the Bible so that we will get a sense of the vastness of biblical truth. With that background, let us consider 4 passages that speak to the vital importance of knowing God: 1. Jeremiah 24: 7 “I will give them a heart to know me …” 2. John 17: 3 “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God.” 3. Ephesians 1: 17 “… So that you may know him better” 4. 2 Thessalonians 1: 8 “Those who do not know God …” From these verses we get several important truths: 1. We were made to know God! That is our privilege, our calling, and our very purpose for existing. 2. Knowing God is the privilege and duty of every believer. It is a privilege afforded to every believer and a duty every Christian must pursue. 3. We can always know God better than we do. That’s precisely the point of Paul’s prayer in Ephesians. No one can ever claim to have arrived at a perfect knowledge of God. 4. Those who do not know God have missed the central truth of the universe. 2 Thessalonians 1 warns us that God will judge those who do not know him. In that great day, no excuses will be accepted and no substitute knowledge will suffice. Since it is possible and necessary to know God, those who do not know him face a terrible future. Knowing God does make a difference and is in fact the defining characteristic of those who follow Jesus Christ. Many know the answer to this question: “What is the chief end of man?” Answer: “To glorify God and enjoy him forever.” This is question 1 from the Westminster Shorter Catechism. God put us here in order that we should know him, and in knowing him, glorify him, and by glorifying him, enjoy him forever. So there is knowledge that leads to a relationship that brings glory that results in unending joy. If you want the joy, you must start by knowing God. That’s what this series is all about. John Piper – “It is not the job of the Christian preacher to give people moral or psychological pep talks about how to get along in the world; someone else can do that. But most of our people have no one in the world to tell them, week in and week out, about the supreme beauty and majesty of God … so I am persuaded that the vision of a great God is the linchpin in the life of the church, both in pastoral care and missionary outreach. Christian preachers, more than all others, should know that people are starving for God … who but preachers will look out over the vast wasteland of secular culture and say, ‘Behold your God!’ Who will tell the people that God is great and greatly to be praised? Who will paint for them the landscape of God’s grandeur? Who will remind them with tales of wonder that God has triumphed over every foe? … if God is not supreme in our preaching, where in this world will the people hear about the supremacy of God? If we do not spread a banquet of God’s beauty on Sundays, will not our people seek in vain to satisfy their inconsolable longing with the cotton candy pleasures of pastimes and religious hype?” Piper was asked how practical it was to preach so much on the greatness of God. He tells of a conversation he had with a couple who found out that their child had been molested by an uncle and they said, “Pastor, if we didn’t know and understand how great and how powerful God was we don’t think we could have made it through!” Practical? Yes! Nothing more practical than God himself as revealed in his Word. 1. Two Warnings A. It is possible to know about God without knowing God intimately. This is the danger of sterile intellectualism. It often happens despite our best efforts. Because we evangelicals love to do theology, it’s very easy for us to slip into the trap of thinking that because we have read the latest book or attended the newest seminar or listened to our favourite preacher, that we therefore have truly developed an intense relationship with God. Knowledge is good and absolutely essential, but knowing God is more than knowing facts about God. It’s like trying to get to know your wife by reading her CV. “It is like having a relationship with the Postmaster General on the basis of one’s ability to lick a stamp. Hardly a life-changing experience.” B. It is possible to know about godliness without knowing God intimately. This is the danger of information overload. This often happens in our “How-to” age. Every Sunday our people come to church and they say, “Make it practical, pastor.” We want to know how to pray, how to fight discouragement, how to witness to Mormons, how to overcome sexual sin, how to be better parents, how to read Greek and so on. All these pursuits are good and worthy in themselves, but they don’t necessarily increase our knowledge of God. As a result, our spiritual state is a km wide and a cm deep. “A little knowledge of God is worth more than a great deal of knowledge about him.” 2. The Benefits of Knowing God Let’s see what will happen to us as we increase in the knowledge of God. A. New Perspective Jeremiah 9: 23, 24 We all like to brag, don’t we? We brag about our degree or about our latest promotion or about how well our children are doing or about our new car, our new house, our new clothes, or how many important people we know. It’s almost as if we have to validate our own existence by bragging about who we are to someone else. Boasting is foolish because it causes us to think that we’re more than we really are. Money is not the measure of life nor is strength or wisdom. All of it is a gift from God. It’s all on loan from him. He gave it to us, he can take it back any time, and in the end, we’ll have to answer to what we did with what the Lord gave us. God says, “If you brag about anything, brag that you know me!” The rest of it doesn’t matter. That brings me back to the fundamental question: Why Are We Here? Knowing God is why we are here! Settle this first. Unless you know who God is, you will never know who you are. B. New Boldness Daniel 11: 32 Here is an amazing verse that speaks about the difficult circumstances in the Last Days. As the world begins to crumble before Christ returns, as the Antichrist rises to world domination, the people of God will come under intense persecution. But those who know God will find the strength to take action in the midst of the most difficult circumstances. If you know God, you won’t just let your testimony slide. You’ll be strong, you’ll speak out, you’ll be bold, you’ll openly identify with Jesus Christ. You won’t fear what man can do to you. C. New Evaluation Philippians 3: 7, 8 For Paul, being a Jew and a Pharisee to boot was great profit, but not compared to knowing Christ. All his vast knowledge meant nothing. It was just rubbish in his mind. In the end he lost “all things” but counted it as nothing that he might gain the knowledge of Jesus Christ. This kind of evaluation comes only from knowing God personally. D. New Contentment Romans 8: 35 - 39 If you know Jesus Christ, you can face the worst life has to offer. Each week I meet folks who are going through great difficulties. Some are destroyed by their troubles, while others find the strength to keep going and even to manage a smile now and then. “God has been good to me.” That’s true biblical contentment. It’s possible only by cultivating a daily relationship with Jesus Christ. E. New Humility Ephesians 3: 14 “…I kneel before the Father” Philippians 2: 10 “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow …” Psalm 95: 6 “Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.” Revelation 4: 9, 10; 5: 6 – 8a; 5:13, 14 Why did Paul say, “I kneel” and why did the Psalmist call for people to bow before the Lord? Why did the 24 elders fall down before the Lamb? The answer is not hard to find. Once you know God, you then can know yourself properly. In heaven we will bow down and worship God. It’s a good thing to start now so it won’t seem strange then. Over the years I have come to understand that there are only 2 theologies in the world - very simply – 1. Big God and Little Me 2. Little God and Big Me. When you come into the knowledge of God, you will have a Big God and a little you. But for most of us, it’s the other way around. Our view of ourselves is so big that God shrinks down to a manageable size. But the Bible has a special name for a god you can manage. It’s called an idol! Men make idols because they want a god that serves their purposes. The God of the Bible is far bigger than we imagine. He cannot be contained in any building or statue made by human hands! The bigger your God, the smaller your view of yourself, and the quicker you will fall down in worship and praise. Why are we here? To Know God. Until you understand that, you have missed the purpose for life itself. If knowing God is that important, I wonder what he’ll have to do to get our attention? Our biggest problem is not that God isn’t speaking, it’s that we’re so busy we can’t (or won’t) slow down long enough to hear his voice. Psalm 34: 8 “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” He is good, but you’ll never know till you open your mouth and taste for yourself! One final word and I am done. You may be wondering where you should begin. “I don’t know the Lord at all. But I want to,” you say. Good! The first requirement for knowing God is to admit you need him. He delights to make himself known to those who want to know him. You can have a relationship with God through his Son the Lord Jesus Christ. He came that you might know God personally. He died on the Cross to open the way to heaven. He paid the price for your sins. Will you now open the door of your heart and trust him as your Lord and Saviour? “Lord Jesus, I welcome you into my heart. I believe you died for my sins and rose on the third day. Here and now I trust you as my Saviour and Lord. Amen.” That’s a simple prayer but it could change your life forever. Cry out to the Saviour and he will come to you. God never says no to a willing heart.