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Who is Your God?
(Isaiah 44:6-8)

Sermon By Christian Temple

Introduction

God is popular these days once again. God is in. God-talk can be heard daily on nearly every radio and TV station across the land. Search for God on the Internet, and one will discover a plethora of sites, discussions and opinions on God. After decades of the removal of the mention of God from schools and businesses, God has returned. Yes, there are still pockets of resistance here and there, but mostly by hard-line liberals who are opposed to anything which does not adhere to rigid humanism and naturalism. But God talk is popular.

Ever since September 11, 2001, God has invaded the consciousness of the American and international psyches. A nation which abandoned God a long time ago, a generation who never gave God a second thought or mentioned his name except possibly in the context of joking or cursing, now asked “Where was God when this tragedy happened?” In answer to that question, a trainload of professional and amateur theologians rushed in with their answers.

Some said they didn’t know. Many others, whose God is only a God of soft, effeminate love said that God could not have a hand in these actions, and he was unable to stop it and could only watch in sadness with wringing hands. Others, (conservative evangelicals) claimed that it was God bringing a deserved judgment on a sinful people who had a long ago turned their back on him and Biblical law, and he was now bringing just retribution upon a country which coddles homosexuality, abortion and all forms of fornication. These individuals, more right than wrong, were immediately condemned by the popular media, and retreated and retracted their statements.

That is not our God, cried many. And while their assessment may have been a bit over harsh and poorly timed, yet somewhat correct, even they confused the cause and effect, failing to realize that the very conditions upon which they lay the blame for the judgment of our country are themselves the judgments of God on a people who no longer relied upon his grace and his mercy. Romans chapter 1 is very clear about that.

Our God in America is one of manageability, productivity and controllability. He is there for us like a permissive father, one who winks at us and turns a blind eye when we come in at 2 am after a night of debauchery, and he forgets it the next morning. He covers for us, would not want us to get in trouble, and would never, ever condemn any of us.

America’s God is Touched by an Angel’s God, whose sole purpose is to help us know that he loves us and has a wonderful plan for our life. Our only problem in getting through this world is not knowing that God up there loves us, regardless of who we are or what we do. He is not judgmental, and would never demand anything as barbarous and invasive to our autonomy as self-examination, confession and repentance for sins.

Apparently, David erred in the Scriptures when he said in Psalm 5:5-6:
[5] The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers.
[6] You destroy those who speak lies; the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.

The modern god is Rosie O’Donnell’s God, who would never ever condemn people and who only wants people to live a life of love and tolerance, never mind the fact that that love may be of the intimate variety with the same gender, or the selfish kind of love that tears families and children’s lives apart, all in the name of self-fulfillment.

Our God is the nebulous, God-in-the-sky-God, one who can be called upon in ecumenical meetings of Jew, Muslim, and Christian and Pagan, who we can invoke in the spirit of humanism and blessed living, who we can call upon in national, post-tragedy prayer meetings for spiritual and material blessings, and whose eternal commandments we can forget about as soon as the crisis passes.

Here are some amazing quotes by individuals about who they believe God is, and what is proper religion:

This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness. H.H. the Dalai Lama

I do not believe in the immortality of the individual, and I consider ethics to be an exclusively human concern without any superhuman authority behind it. Albert Einstein

Today the god hypothesis has ceased to be scientifically tenable ... and its abandonment often brings a deep sense of relief. Many people assert that this abandonment of the god hypothesis means the abandonment of all religion and all moral sanctions. This is simply not true. But it does mean, once our relief at jettisoning an outdated piece of ideological furniture is over, that we must construct some thing to take its place. Sir Julian Huxley (The New Divinity)

In conclusion, there is a marvelous anecdote from the occasion of Russell's ninetieth birthday that best serves to summarize his attitude toward God and religion. A London lady sat next to him at this party, and over the soup she suggested to him that he was not only the world's most famous atheist but, by this time, very probably the world's oldest atheist. "What will you do, Bertie, if it turns out you're wrong?" she asked. "I mean, what if--uh--when the time comes, you should meet Him? What will you say?" Russell was delighted with the question. His bright, birdlike eyes grew even brighter as he contemplated this possible future dialogue, and then he pointed a finger upward and cried, "Why, I should say, 'God, you gave us insufficient evidence.'" Al Seckel, Preface to Bertrand Russell on God and Religion

So the question must go out to this country and the world: Who is your God? Is it true, as Bertrand Russell said that God has given us insufficient evidence of his existence and his character? And within the question of Who is your God? there are three other basic questions to be addressed according to this Isaiah passage:

1. Who does God say he is?
2. Who can challenge who God is
?
3. Who can provide what God can provide
?

The answer to these questions is not inconsequential. It is not a matter of personal preference or opinion. How one answers is a matter of knowing God, and of eternal life, or eternal death.

The Declaration (Verse 6)

In order to answer the question who is your God? We must turn to the pages of Scripture, God’s own self-revelation of who he is given to a dying world. Of course, most of the world would deny that the Bible is the eternal perfect word of God, and in order to know who God is they say one must turn to all the holy writings of religious men throughout human history. But we as professing evangelicals believe the Bible to be perfect and true, and we know that God’s self revelation is contained therein and nowhere else. God speaks through the prophet Isaiah to declare to us who he actually is.

In Isa 44:6, God says:
"Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: "I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god.”

We are immediately struck in this verse by the proclamations of God that shock the sensibilities of today’s secular elite. To the natural man who receives not the things of God, this proclamation sounds like deistic arrogance. Imagine, a God who claims exclusivity! A God who says “I am God the only God - there is no other!” The God of Isaiah does not appear to be like the modern god of the manageability prototype! No, rather the God of Isaiah is a Divine Supreme Person who is completely otherworldly, completely different from fallen and sinful creatures.

First we see that He is Lord - that word is Yahweh or Jehovah. He is the God of Israel. Yet He is also the God of the nations. He is the self-existent One, Creator of all that is. He is the Sovereign Lord; the one who rules and controls all that exists and all that occurs within his creation. In verse 7 he asks “Who is like me?” He does not ask this intending to learn something; no, it is a rhetorical question. The fact is that there is none like the Lord our God.

In Col 1:15-17 it says of Christ:
[15] He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. [16] For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-all things were created through him and for him. [17] And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

The Gentile King Nebuchadnezzar grew to understand this very well. After he had foolishly ignored God and declared that he was the one who built the Babylonian kingdom, and after God punished him for seven years by having him grovel and eat like a filthy animal, he was restored by God, after which Nebuchadnezzar said:

Daniel 4:34-35:
[34] At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever, for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation; [35] all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, "What have you done?"

It took a humbling act of God upon the person of Nebuchadnezzar to open his eyes and to get him to know who God really is. What will it take for our country? For the nations? For the church? America was humbled mighty low on 9/11, but they still did not turn to the God of the Bible. They did not turn to Jesus Christ alone.

Oh yes, God did move people and draw them during this time, and faithful ministers of the gospel were empowered to do some mighty evangelism, but in large part, the nation asked for God to bless America, but most did not bless God and his holy name. And the church did not answer in a uniform voice toward all the scoffers who asked where is God now?

In Rev 15:3 we are told that Christ is Lord and King:
And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying,
"Great and amazing are your deeds,
O Lord God the Almighty!
Just and true are your ways,
O King of the nations!

The Lord Jesus Christ is Lord over all. Christian, Is He recognized as Lord in your life? Lord over your life? He is not one of many assorted deities that we can choose off a shelf, and put away when we don’t like what he says to us; HE IS THE ONLY Lord, the Only God, the Only Savior, the Only Creator, to which every creature is responsible before! Can the world look at you Believer, and know that Christ is your Lord?

Next we see that He is King - He sits alone enthroned in his majesty and sovereignty. He is the King of Israel Isaiah tells us. Despite many kings who sat on the earthly thrones of Israel and Judah, God alone remained supreme King. He cannot be removed from his throne. He will not give it up. He is immovable. And he will not give his glory to another. He is King of kings and Lord of lords. He declares it and it happens.

In America we are so removed from Sovereign Kingship, that the idea is almost obscene to us. To have a king in America is seen as the unforgivable sin. It is an infringement on my rights and on my autonomy. Yet the Bible speaks in one unified voice of the kingdom of God and of Jesus Christ as Sovereign King. Kingship is not a sin; but submission to a false king is no matter who or what that may be.

Christians, have we been faithful subjects of the King, following his word and his will, bringing forth his gospel to all the world, telling a lost an dying world that there is one King and one Lord to whom they are eternally accountable? Or have we sat idly, silently by while the world proffers forth its kings and princes, and its system, and its gospel (there is no eternal Judge) and have we shamed our Prince of Peace and Mighty God by not defending and proclaiming His name?

He is also Redeemer. Were he only holy and righteous and sovereign and Lord and King, we would still be demanded to praise his holy name forever, for he is God Almighty, Amen. But our reverence would stop with holy fear. But He is not only King and Lord, he is Redeemer. His purpose in creation and redemptive history is to create for himself one people of chosen worshippers out of every tribe and tongue and nation, who will praise his name forever for his greatness in redeeming them.

Job said in Job 19:25:
“For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth.”

And 1 Peter 1:18-19:
knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, [19] but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.”

We were bought with a price, and Jesus said he will not leave us as abandoned orphans. The Redeemer returns.

Are we as believers living before a world as expectant adoptees, who are looking for the arrival of their Father to take them home? Or are we living like permanent residents of the orphanage or homeless shelter, consigned to the fact that this is our world, we are stuck in it, and we better get used to it?

He is Lord of hosts - He is the Warrior king. He is Lord over the entire army of heaven, and he will lead them in the destruction of all who have mocked his holy name when he returns in glory.

He is first and is last - There was none before him. There shall be no there gods after him. There was nothing before him, for he is the Creator God.

Again, I repeat what Paul tells of us Christ in Col 1:16-17:
For
by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-all things were created through him and for him. [17] And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

There is not a thing which exists which was not created for him. For his good pleasure. Atheists often mock at the vastness of the universe, the immenseness of it, how billions of stars and galaxies exist throughout billions of light years and say, the earth is so small so insignificant, how can you say God created it. Look at all there is; why is it there? Because God exalts in it because it glorifies his name to all those who believe in him and will believe in him.

Before I was a believer, I used to look at microscopic organisms, and the odd, seemingly unimportant life forms that inhabit the ocean floors, and think, “why do these things exist?” Only after coming to know the Creator could I understand that they exist because the Creator joys in their existence. They are his signature upon creation.

Believer, this world is not out of control. There are no rogue molecules, as R.C. Sproul has said. For if there was one rogue molecule out there somewhere in the universe which went along its own path apart from God’s will, it could be the one molecule that would ruin his entire redemptive plan! But fear not, it does not exist. In him all things hold together.

The Challenge (Verse 7)

In Isaiah 44:7, the Lord issues a challenge:
“You people of the world, who would believe in other gods, you who turn their face from me in favor of created deities of your own sinful imaginations, assemble them and bring them before me. Bring them to me and let them prove their case. Proclaim their greatness in front of my greatness and holiness.”

The idea is sheer absurdity. There is no one who can compare with the incomparable. Who can compare with God Almighty?

The favorite God of our time - the God of love as dominant trait - He cannot stand before the true God, for the true God is not ruled by one characteristic of fallen, human preference, but rather owns all of the perfect character traits which are his: He is love yes, but He is also justice, and holiness and righteousness and mercy and wrathful anger against sin.

If God has one dominant overruling trait in Scripture it is his holiness, not his love. God’s love pours out of his holiness and it is a love first and foremost for God. God was not lonely before he created; he was perfectly, joyously in love with himself, in the company and counsel of his eternal tri-unity.

Jesus tells us in John 17:5; 24-25:
[24] "And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed. “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. [25] O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me.”

God was perfectly satisfied in himself before he ever created us. He did not create us for fellowship for his benefit, but for ours. As the Westminster Catechism asks:

Question 1: What is the chief and highest end of man?
Answer 1:
    Man's chief and highest end is to glorify God, and fully to enjoy him forever.

Man is created to enjoy God and to enjoy him forever. Man’s desire is to ignore God and enjoy himself forever. That is the great divide over which this world struggles. Man’s mind is offended to think that God loves God more than he loves us.

How dare he! Am I not the greatest creation in all the world? Does not God exist to serve me? So man creates a god whose chief and highest end is to stay out of the way of the joys and desires of men to enjoy themselves. And this is blasphemy to a holy and righteous Creator, who has created man in his own image that God may be glorified.

Believer, when the world looks at you, do they know why God has created us? What is your chief and highest end? Are you enjoying God? Glorifying God? Are you praising his name to an unbelieving world, or do they just view your Christianity as an individual lifestyle choice?

The Provision (Verse 8)

Isaiah 44:8:
Fear not, nor be afraid; have I not told you from of old and declared it?
And you are my witnesses! Is there a God besides me? There is no Rock; I know not any."

Well, in verse 8 we have hope. We have love. We have grace. We have provision. The world looks for a God of love, but the world wants to define what love is.

Like the junkie who says if you love me you won’t keep the drugs from me, or the alcoholic who asks the friend to buy the next bottle, or moral-less parent who provides their children with condoms and birth control pills, the world says “God, if you love me you’ll leave me alone and let me do what makes me happy.” In their depravity, they cannot see that the love of God is poured out in his gracious offer of forgiveness of sins and salvation in his beloved Son, Jesus Christ.

The mighty God who has declared who he is in verse 6, and challenged all false gods in verse 7, now gives hope to a hopeless world in verse 8. “Fear not”; what great words which come from the Awesome Warrior of Heaven, who with one breath could eradicate every life form in the universe. The Great Fearsome One says, “Fear not. Fear not, nor be afraid.” By grace and grace alone, God has chosen to provide hope for the hopeless, and salvation for the unworthy.

You; you who have mocked me - you may turn. You who have cursed me - you may repent. You who have neglected my word and ignored my authority - I will forgive you. This is not new news. Israel knew it. “Have I not told you from of old and declared it?” God asks. It was promised to Abraham; a covenant of grace.

Galatians 3:7-9 tells us:
[7] Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. [8] And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, "In you shall all the nations be blessed." [9] So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

The promise of God was given to Abraham that all those who put their faith in Christ would be justified by that faith. And Isaiah tells Israel you are my witnesses; you know the God of grace, and you know that his grace is poured out on you. Does any other God do this? Is there any other God who saves by grace alone, through faith?

God asks the inevitable question: Is there a God besides me? And answers it himself: There is no Rock; I know not any." There is one Rock: Christ Jesus.

Deut. 32:4:
"The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he.

World; what is your rock? Who is your god? Is it marble and steel, and money, and vice, and idolatrous desires, which in a heartbeat come crashing down, destroyed in the dust?

Christian; who is your rock? Are you trusting entirely in Jesus Christ, the one who died for his church, to atone for their sins and redeemed them out of slavery to sin? Is Christ recognized as King and Lord over your life? Does the world recognize that Christ is King and Lord by the witness of your life? And are they drawn to him by the love and grace that is in him and him alone? Are they thirsty for the living water which they see you drink from deeply? Or is it kept in a canteen, handy for refreshment on long hikes, but not relied upon for deep, grace upon grace sustenance?

I do not know if Bertrand Russell had a deathbed conversion before his death. But one thing is certain: he did go on to meet Jesus Christ face to face, and he did not say to him “'God, you gave us insufficient evidence.'" Instead he confessed before men and angels, that Jesus Christ is Lord of all. And the words he most probably heard were “‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”

Who is your God? He is Lord. He is King. He is Redeemer. He is Jesus Christ. There is no other Rock.


Note: All Scripture references from: The English Standard Version. Copyright 2001, Crossway Books.

The above sermon was posted on this Web site April 3, 2002.

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