Summary: A personal testimony of how I have experienced God and the things I find most important
A Glimpse of Who God Is to Me
Candidating Sermon ¡V Steve Simala Grant
July 8, 2001
This morning is somewhat unique for me ¡V I¡¦m preaching a ¡§candidating sermon¡¨, or sometimes called ¡§preaching for a call¡¨. The idea is that after hearing me preach you can determine whether you feel that this is the right match for our church right now, and then cast your vote accordingly. Part of what I need to do this morning is communicate a sense of who I am, so that you have something to base your decision on me as an interim pastor. So this sermon has to be a little different from the way I prefer to preach, which is to take a passage of Scripture and work through it methodically, seeking first to understand its meaning and second to understand how it applies to us today. That is how I plan to preach in the weeks and months ahead. But because this morning is unique, I need to preach more topically in order to accomplish the things that need to be accomplished this morning. So what are my two goals for this morning? First, to give you a sense of who I am in Christ, and Second, to talk a bit about how I believe we need to face the challenges ahead of us in the months ahead.
I could spend my time this morning giving you basic biographical information ¡V like the fact that I was raised in the church, which wonderfully filled the unique needs I had in a single-parent family, first came to faith at age nine, had significant experience in ministry and leadership as a teen through my church and through Gull Lake Baptist Camp, and then when I was 19 was hired as ¡§Director of Youth Ministries¡¨ at Laurier Heights Baptist Church in March 1990. But rather than go into detail about that sort of thing, I want instead to share with you my heart and my passions ¡V give you a glimpse of who God is to me and what my convictions are about Him and about the church.
There are three areas I want to share with you:
1. God is Holy; we must live obediently.
2. God¡¦s greatest desire is to save us from sin; both from its eternal consequences but also from its temporary consequences.
3. God calls us to be His people, serving selflessly so that all people can have the opportunity to respond to Christ¡¦s offer of salvation.
1. GOD IS HOLY; WE MUST LIVE OBEDIENTLY.
On a few occasions in the Bible, a prophet was privileged to get a glimpse of God in a vision. In all of these, the characteristic which emerges most strongly is the awesome holiness of God. It is often described symbolically, and when we dig to discover the meaning of the symbols what we find is they reveal to us God as Supremely Holy ¡V Distinct from us ¡V Complete Purity ¡V Awesome, Scary, Beyond our comprehension. Jeff read one of these earlier, from _______. I want to read another:
picture is clear ¡V God is Holy. The symbolism of ________ means ________. The overall sense of the vision intends to communicate how wholly ¡§other¡¨ God is ¡V how separate from us. And it is the power of His moral purity that brings Isaiah to his knees in recognition and confession of his sin.
For me, the holiness of God has been a fairly constant theme in my life. There were a couple of books I read that were very influential here, and as I studied Scripture more this sense of God as Holy seemed constantly reinforced to me, it was what stuck with me and impacted me. Of course, God¡¦s love has been a huge theme also ¡V without God¡¦s love we would simply have a holy God whose character demanded our eternal punishment because of our lack of holiness. Yet even here I find myself focussed on the purity ¡V the holiness ¡V of God¡¦s love, and so the theme is consistent.
Because God is holy, we must be holy also. His holiness demands a response on our part. Isaiah¡¦s response was to fall in repentance and beg for mercy; our response needs to be the same. I think that in general, we don¡¦t really understand sin ¡V we don¡¦t understand what it does to God, to us, or to our ability to witness for Christ in our world ¡V but I¡¦ll say more about that in a moment¡K Suffice it to say for now that any encounter we have with God should result in us contrasting our sinfulness with God¡¦s holiness and thus seeking His forgiveness and power to live obedient lives.
I need to be careful here - motivation to live holy lives ¡V NOT to earn favor/salvation, etc. Some of us respond to an awareness of our lack of holiness by beginning to doubt God¡¦s forgiveness, and thus we try to ¡§be better¡¨ so that God will like us more and find us good enough for heaven. That is not what I am talking about!! Our motivation to live holy lives comes not from a need to earn God¡¦s favor but rather it is our response to God¡¦s character ¡V gratitude for what God has done for us in Christ¡¦s sacrifice becomes our motivation, a desire to reciprocate the love God has shown to us leads us to obedience, and taking seriously God¡¦s commandment for us to represent Him to the world becomes a final reason for our desires to live holy lives. It flows from who we are as God¡¦s children.