The God of All Grace-Pt. 1
June 26, 2011 Series: This Grace in Which We Stand
Topic: Grace Passage: Romans 5:1–5:2
This is the second week in our series on Grace titled: THIS GRACE IN WHICH WE STAND, which we took from Romans 5:2. Last week Allen introduced this series. If you weren’t here I would encourage you to go to our web site and listen to it-it will be helpful as a foundation for the rest of this series.
If you ever get a chance to meet the Queen of England it’s important that you know what to do. Because of who she is she demands respect and honor. In 1991 the Queen visited a Washington DC government housing project. The Queen and all of England were not prepared for what was about to happen. [Read article] Alice didn’t know how to act around the Queen or why and that informed the way she thought about and treated the Queen.
As Christians, it’s important that we don’t find ourselves in the same boat as Alice and improvise when it comes to the grace of God. In order to righty understand, apply and enjoy the grace of God, we must first know the God of grace. Calvin wrote that the most important thing about a man is what he thinks about God. So we’re going to start our study of grace in the same place that we should start everything-with God.
If you’re taking notes you can write “The God of All Grace-Pt. 1” at the top of your page. This week and next is going to be a very brief overview of the attributes of God-theology proper-so consider this an introductory message. It’s important that our understanding of the grace of God be founded on a biblical understanding of who God is and that’s not going to be completed today. Because the knowledge of God is so foundational to our walk of faith it’s important that we continue to grow in it. So I want to begin by cautioning you about what I think are 2 of the most common and dangerous distractions for us today.
1. The first is our schedules: we live busy lives packed full of activity, much of which is necessary, and then when we have time in our schedule we tell ourselves that we need a break-and we often fill it with entertainment or leisure. Let me just say this-we’re making choices and at the end of the day we do what we think is most important and we will one day give an account for every minute spent. How much of your schedule is spent growing in your understanding and knowledge of God?
2. The second area of distraction is easy access to the flood of media and information out there primarily through the internet. I don’t hate the internet, many good uses. But we do need to use caution. Used to be that ________ would hear the preached word from scripture that the pastor had studied, wrestled with and prepared for that church at that time and then _______ would go home and discuss it as a family and study it for himself seeking to rightly apply it to his life and family-and many of you do this. But it is very easy today to hear the word Sunday and then through out the week check out Mark Driscoll, John Piper, Matt Chandler, etc., then have a look at your 5 favorite blogs, try to read a little bit in each of the 5 books your trying to finish, and spend the rest of your time on Facebook and twitter letting the world know how much you’ve learned this week-and your personal devotions. All these things are not evil and can be good but they bring with them the danger of producing Christians who are a mile wide and an inch deep. I don’t think I have ever been able to exhaust and perfectly understand and apply to my life 1 sermon, let alone several.
The process of knowing God takes interaction with God; it takes meditation, reflection, thought, pondering and applying; it takes time. Knowledge is not simply to be accumulated, it’s to be applied. And as we study and pray and grow in our understanding of God it will have a drastic effect on our lives: it will humble us; it will make us aware of our need for grace; we’ll be amazed by grace and we will be drawn to worship Him. So let’s get started. Romans 5:1-2. Pray
Note: Using Wayne Grudem’s definitions of these terms. Recommend Bible Doctrine. WARNING-Entering the realm of mystery.
God is independent
God does not need us or the rest of creation for anything, yet we and the rest of creation can glorify Him and bring Him joy.
Acts 17:24-25 – The God who made the world and everything in it, being the Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by man; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all men life and breath and everything.
This means that God is complete in and of Himself. He doesn’t “need” anything from anybody. He is completely perfect in all of His being all by Himself. He doesn’t need you and me to complete His Joy or to satisfy a desire for companionship. God is perfect and complete in Himself.
Contrary to some teachings, God did not create humans because He was lonely or needed companionship. That teaching is man-centered and wrong. God’s motivation in creating us and saving us is purely voluntary-His love, delight, compassion and mercy are not based on His need but rather His character and His Glory. If our understanding of God is man-centered then our god will be man like. This is a set up for disappointment. God is completely independent.
God is Eternal
God has no beginning, end, or succession of moments in His own being, and He sees all time equally vividly, yet God sees events in time and acts in time.
God had no beginning and has no end. Think about that for a moment if your brain can handle it-God has always been. It’s probably easier for us to imagine having no end, because we will have no end. But unlike God, we are finite; we had a beginning. This is a difficult truth to grasp (that’s why they call it faith) but while I can’t agree with Godless theories of creation I can understand the struggle to believe this; we want a birth, big bang, a beginning; something we comprehend. But before creation, God is. He always was.
“I Am” is a name that suggests a continual present existence: God is the eternal “I AM” who eternally exists – Wayne Grudem
God is timeless. God is not limited by time or contained in time. He is above time. He is the Alpha and the Omega – the beginning and the end. He sees the end of history -and the beginning of history -as clearly as He sees today. His relationship to time is entirely different than ours is. One day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day – 2 Peter 3:8
God isn’t just poking around through history, patiently enduring it – a long period of time is as if it just happened, and a short period of time seems to last forever. Because in His own being God is timeless.
Yet He does see events in time and He does act in time. And if fact, all eternity for us will be in time – succession of events forever and ever; from everlasting to everlasting.
How does this affect our lives and our worship? It should inject a hope that cannot be destroyed. Because He is an eternal God-not like us! And although we have a beginning, the Lord through Jesus Christ gives us eternal life and invites us to share in His everlasting kingdom as His people.
God is omniscient
God fully knows Himself and all things actual and possible in one simple and eternal act.
Job 37:16 says God is the One “who is perfect in knowledge.”
Isa. 55:9-For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.
But what does this mean? First, He knows all things at once.
God is always fully aware of everything. If He should wish to tell us the number of grains of sand on the seashore or the number of stars in the sky, He would not have to count them all quickly like some kind of giant computer, nor would He have to call the number to mind because it was something He had not thought about for a time. ~ Wayne Grudem
Second, He never learns and He never forgets. Because God is perfect in His knowledge (as He is perfect in all His attributes) He never improves and He never decreases. He never changes. He is unchanging. He can never learn because He knows all things. He just is.
Third, He knows the future. He planned it. There is a teaching today that God doesn’t know the future. That He is limited to what is happening at any given time. That He can’t foreknow our decisions because we haven’t made them. That is heresy that flies in the face of clear biblical declarations that God foreknew us before we were born:
Isaiah 46:9-10 – “I am God, and there is none like me, 10declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, 'My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose”
Psalm 139:16 – “Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them.”
These and dozens of other passages that predict the future with authority and clarity demonstrate that God foresees the end from the beginning, and is Sovereign over it all.
The best posture we can take in light of God’s omniscience is that of the psalmist when he says in Psalm 139:6 “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain it.” We’re appropriately humbled.
God is omnipresent
God does not have size or spatial dimensions and is present at every point of space with His whole being, yet God acts differently in different places.
When we think of God’s omnipresence, must not think of God being spread out everywhere, as though a part of Him were everywhere. Rather, all of God is everywhere. And God is present in different ways in different places. Some might be troubled to think that God is present in hell. But God is in some places present to punish, present to bless, sometimes neither to punish or bless, but to sustain.
Psalm 139:7-10 – “Where shall I go from your Spirit?Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.”
This should be a comfort to us – We can’t go anywhere the presence of God is not there. This doctrine should also sober us as we realize that nothing goes unnoticed by God. It should encourage us to know that he is with us where ever we go and it should motivate us to fear God walk in the light.
We’re small, He is big. Let’s not be like Alice and improvise in our Christian lives because we don’t know the God that we serve. We can have a tendency to form an image of God that is much smaller than who he really is or that resembles us more than God. As Christians, we need to be careful that we don’t construct ideas about who God is from our own understanding, because we will be dangerously wrong and will end up improvising and struggling in our faith.
Do you battle fear, study the omnipotence of God. Do you find yourself a willing participant in sin when temptation comes, study the holiness of God? Do you struggle with condemnation, study the love and mercy of God? It’s not that we don’t need to look at ourselves. It’s just that we need to look at God first. Until we have seen God accurately, we will never see ourselves accurately; which makes it hard the change.
Remember that our hope is in this God; the independent, eternal, all knowing, ever present God…Who stepped down out of heaven in the form of a helpless infant; leaving His eternal nature and laying down His glory in heaven; He stepped into the confines of time, filling only the flesh of a man, and put himself at the mercy of the Father whom he followed and obeyed to death and motivated by love, was humiliated and died as our substitute as the sacrifice for sin. Through Him we have been redeemed. In Jeremiah 9 the Lord tells his people, “you want to boast in something, you want to glory in something, you want to find your purpose in something? Boast in this, that you know me” and then in Jeremiah 31 God promises a new covenant-He will be written on their heart, they will know Him…how the cross, forgiveness of sins.
Church, be amazed at your God; that He allows us to know Him and survive; that He has revealed Himself through scripture and the flesh in Jesus Christ-the image of the invisible God, and that through Christ He has poured our His favor and blessing in the form of forgiveness and redemption.
Next week: God’s Unity, Love, Justice, Holiness, and Wisdom.