Summary: God’s role in our life and faith
God in the Christian Life
Today people speak very freely and easily about belief in God. In fact it actually rare now to come across someone who does not believe in God. Unfortunately when people speak about God they are not all speaking about the same thing. Hence Prince Charles wants to be known as ‘defender of faith’ instead of ‘defender of the faith.’ G K Chesterton has been proved correct when he wrote that when people stop believing in God it is not that they will cease to believe in anything but that they will in fact believe in everything and anything. You see even within the Christian church there is no agreement about God. Hence a few months back we witnessed within the Church of Ireland a dean who did not believe Jesus was the Son of God, nor that we could know God personally. We also here a lot about how we are ‘seekers’ and not ‘sinners.’ We witness people talking about God as if he was there ‘buddy,’ and we sometimes encounter songs and writings which are little short of blasphemous in that they centre totally on how we feel, how we love God and not on the central message of Christianity – namely Jesus atoning death on the cross for us sinners. But why are such distinctions important? They are important because the Ten Commandments tell us clearly that we are to worship God and that we must approach him only in his appointed manner. to
So this morning I thought for a few moments we would look at the subject of God in the Christian life. Can I say right at the beginning we could spend from now until we die studying this and still have only scratched the surface. I want to make a few general points and then to look at the Isaiah passage in detail.
As Christians we believe in God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit – Trinitarian belief is central to our confession of God. We believe that God is three and that he is one – co-equal and co-eternal Godhead. We also believe that God revealed himself uniquely in his Son Jesus Christ who was fully God and fully man – God incarnate. As we confess in the creed each Sunday we believe that Jesus was begotten not made, born of the virgin Mary, was crucified, died, was buried, rose again, ascended into heaven and will one day personally return to this world for his people. Today there is a grave danger that some believe in a ‘A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.’ (Richard Niebuhr.) God has been reduced to a commodity, to someone who is user-friendly, more like us, but less worshipping or entrusting with our eternal destinies. So this morning I want to put some corrective balance back into all our lives and understanding about God, so that we think more biblically about him.
Turn with me to Isaiah chapter 40. This is one of the great passages of the book of Isaiah and this passage stems from Isaiah’s personal encounter with the living God in chapter 6. An encounter which left Isaiah confessing his sinfulness and pleading for God’s forgiveness. There is something we need to reclaim in our relationship with God – a proper and realistic understanding that we are sinners in the presence of a holy God and just how awful that prospect actually is, as Hebrews 10 v 31 says ‘It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.’
In these verses Isaiah paints for us a breathtaking picture of God. Go back to verse 12 and we find that God created the universe. Verses 13 and 14 speak of his infinite wisdom, verses 15 and 17 of his toal sovereignty over the world, verses 18 to 20 speak of the fact that there is nothing and no one comparable to him and verse 16, just in case you thought I had left it out, tells us that he alone is worthy of all the worship that we could bring him. Isaiah says the tress of Lebanon and all the animals are not sufficient to offer sacrifice to the living God. These verses assert the awesomeness of God. In fact they assert what we call the Transcendence of God. That is the very things about him which point to the fact that he is totally other than us, that he is above and beyond us and our understanding. In chapter 55 and verses 8 and 9 God reminds us that he is higher than us and his thoughts are higher than ours. So we learn from verees 12-20 that God is transcendent – totally other than us and this world which he created, sustains and has sovereign power over.