Sun, Sep 02, 2018
What the Bible Says About God
Psalms 103:6-13 by Rodney Brown
Series: What the Bible Says About....

 The  Bible obviously has a LOT to say about God.  But in the suggested sermon topics that the congregation turned in, two had to do with some aspect of God's nature.

I.

The first, concerned the triune nature of God.  That is, how is it that one God can be three persons; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?  And I have to tell you right up front that if I could fully explain it, I would be in great demand as a preacher!  However, I am not in great demand as a preacher. So what does that tell you about my ability to fully explain the trinity?  Many scholars of many nations--men much smarter than I--have wrestled with that very question for generations.

I can tell you that the Bible clearly states that there is but ONE God.

But at the same time, the Bible also indicates that Jesus is God (just in human form).

The complexity of this is illustrated well in the exact wording of the sermon suggestion card that was filled out.  The questioner asks, "Is God and Jesus the same person?  They talk in the Bible like they are two people.  [So] When Jesus prays to God, is he praying to himself?"  Well, yes and no.

Many years ago when I first entered ministry, I was asked if, when I get to heaven, I expected to see one divine being or two?  My answer, based on Revelation chapter 5, where the "Lamb looking as if it had been slain"  takes a scroll sealed with seven seals "from the right hand of him who sat on the throne" (Rev. 5:1-7), is that I expect to see two separate beings.  

Even so, I recognize that Jesus Christ and God the Father are of one mind, totally united in purpose, method, and thought.  In Jn. 17:22-23 Jesus prayed; "I have given them [the disciples] the glory that you gave me that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me."

I further suggest that the title "Son of God" as applied to Jesus is a tool to help our finite minds understand that Jesus is a divine being; co-eternal and co-equal with God!

To complicate matters even further (but without quoting all the pertinent passages), the Holy Spirit is also presented as having the divine attributes of God.  He is eternal (Heb. 9:14), all-knowing (Jn. 16:13; 1 Cor. 2:10-11), and all-powerful (Job 33:4; Ps. 104:30).  He is grouped with the Father and Son in the performance of divine activities (1 Cor. 12:4-6; 1 Pe. 1:2; Mt. 3:16-17; 2 Cor. 13:14; Mt. 28:19; Isa. 48:16), including creation (Gen. 1:2).  

You may remember that in the beginning God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness..." (Ge. 1:26).  And again at Babel, He said, "Come, let us go down and confuse their language..." (Ge. 11:7).  Who was He talking to?  Possibly one or more members of the trinity!

And there are many other Scriptural indications that we serve one God in three persons.  This doctrine is summed up in the terms "Godhead" and "Trinity." Some have tried to illustrate the concept of "three in one" as an egg that has a shell, a yolk, and white part; yet together constitute a singularity.  I prefer a comparison to the chemical designation H2O which in its liquid state is water, but as a solid is ice, and as a gas is water vapor or cloud.  No matter the form, the chemical composition remains the same. Likewise, whether we're talking about God the Father, God the Son, or God the Holy Spirit; there is no essential difference.

When God created humankind, He stated His intention that a man be "united to his wife" so that "they will become one flesh." (Gen. 2:24).  Jesus affirmed that same goal, adding, "So they are no longer two, but one flesh." (Mt. 19:6; Mk. 10:8).  If two mortal persons (man and wife) can become one, then how much more can the eternal, infinite God be tri-personal and yet be one God?

In his book What the Bible Says About Basic Theology, Jeffery Donley says, "One cannot dissect and analyze the teaching of the Godhead.  It is a basic Biblical fact to be believed." (Donley, p. 56).  Or as one of my Bible College professors used to say, "If God says it, I believe it, and that settles it."

There is an old story that Augustine was walking by the sea musing about the mystery of how the Godhead could be Three-in-One and vice versa.  As he walked along he saw a little boy digging a hole in the sand. "What are you going to do with the hole?" asked the great theologian.  "I am going to put the ocean in it," came the little boy's reply.  According to the story, Augustine walked away determined to never again concern himself with trying to fit an Infinite God completely within the confines of his finite mind.

 

II.

The second "God-related" question I was asked to address was about "fear" and particularly the "fear of God."  I found that the NIV Bible uses the word "fear" a total of 336 times.  At least 77 of those uses reference the fear of God.  While most fears are not desirable or helpful, fear of God is always presented as a good or positive quality; an asset.

For example:

Does that mean we should be "afraid" of God; terrified that He might strike us at any moment?  Only if we are not in a right relationship with Him.  Heb. 10:26-27 warns; "If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God," and Heb. 10:31; "It is a dreadful [or fearful] thing to fall into the hands of the living God."  

John Phillips writes, "'The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.' When we get to know him better we love Him, but a healthy fear of the Lord is where it often begins.  That is why the very first work of the Holy Spirit in a human heart is the work of conviction.  ... The heathen fear their false gods. They grovel in abject terror before most of them, and well they might, for grim and gory they are.  The Lord does not want that; He does not want us to grovel. He wants respect born of a conscious knowledge of His wisdom, love, and power." (John Phillips, Exploring the Psalms, Vol. 2, p. 72).

If one is in a right relationship with God (which, by the way, comes through faith in Christ Jesus and obedience to Him), then not only is there no longer any reason to fear God Himself, but neither is there any longer a reason to fear anything else.

The early church "...grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord" (Ac. 9:31), and yet in spite of persecution, they spoke the word of God "courageously and fearlessly" (Phil. 1:14).  That is why the apostle John writes in his first epistle; "There is no fear in love.  But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.  The one who fears is not made perfect in love." (1 Jn. 4:18).  Some clever person put it this way; "No God Know Fear; Know God, No Fear"  That is, if you have "No God," you will "Know" what it is to have "Fear;" but if you "Know God" personally through Jesus, then you will have "No Fear" of anything else.

  In the Revelation of John (chapter 2:10) Jesus told the church in Smyrna, "Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer."  And why not, we might ask.  He answers, because if we are faithful to the point of death, He will give us "the crown of life."

"Where God's love is, there is no fear, because God's perfect love takes away fear." (1 Jn. 4:18 ERV).  The writer of Hebrews tells us that if Jesus is our high priest, and because Jesus is our high priest, we can "...approach the throne of grace with confidence so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." (Heb. 4:16).

Biblically, "fear of God" is reverential respect.  It is to be in awe of Him because He is awesome in power, glory, wisdom; justice, mercy, and righteousness.

There are many examples of godly people who feared God:

Consider some of the benefits of a healthy fear of God:

 

 

I counted nine times in Leviticus & Deuteronomy where God's people are commanded to fear Him and keep His commandments. (Lev. 19:14; 25:17,36,43; Deut. 6:13.24; 10:12,20; 31:13).  Here are just three examples:

In the New Testament, 1 Pe. 2:17 says, "Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king."

Even when it is said that someone did not fear God, it is strongly implied that they should have.

 

Conclusion:

There is a fundamental distinction between God and everything else.  In the beginning God created all that exists. Only God existed until He brought everything else into being.  Thus, God is different from His creation. His essence is beyond, and distinctly different from, the created order.  He alone is immortal. (1 Tim. 6:16).  And He alone is incorruptible. (Ro. 1:23).  God is exalted above everyone and everything!

It therefore should not surprise us that there are aspects of God's nature that we have trouble comprehending.  Knowing an infinite God is beyond the capability of our finite minds. It would be impossible for us to know anything about God if He did not choose to reveal it to us.  And in His mercy He has determined to do just that--to reveal Himself to us.  He has done this through His creation, through His written Word, and through His Incarnate Word (i.e. Jesus Christ).  

What we can know of God from these sources is absolutely and irrefutably true, but it is obviously not all there is to God.  Mankind will likely never completely understand God, not even in heaven.  But it is an exciting privilege that God has made it possible for us to know something of Him.  Today we talked about God's triune nature and what it means to fear Him. But I pray we will continue to study, worship, and experience Him.  Our deepest understanding will only come through a personal relationship with Him through Jesus Christ.

 

Sources for this sermon include: