“I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.” 
Whenever I speak of God, I am fully aware that I am addressing a subject that is greater than my mind can grasp. I cannot possibly define Him or adequately express His character—no one can do so. How can the finite understand the infinite? Had God not chosen to reveal Himself to mankind, how would we know of His existence? Except God informs us of His Person, we are ignorant of Him.
However, God has given a revelation of His Person in His Word. We are able to speak of Him according to the knowledge that He gives of Himself. Thus, we know something of who He is, and we are able to speak of His nature and the attributes He has revealed of Himself. We know that God is a Triune Being; and we speak of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We do not worship a god manifesting himself in three separate persons; we worship God who is Triune. We know that God is self-existent and infinite.
Concerning the attributes of God, we speak of His omnipotence, His omniscience and His omnisapiaence. We say that God is omnipresent and eternal. We are convinced on the authority of the Word that He is immutable. We who are born from above are able to speak knowledgeably of God’s love, His mercy and His grace. Though all mankind should speak of God’s faithfulness, we who are alive in Him speak not only of His faithfulness, but also of His holiness. Because we know these attributes of God, we recognise that we are to reflect these same attributes because having been twice-born we bear the image of the divine.
Writing under the inspiration of the Spirit of God, the Apostle pens a glorious doxology, ascribing to God and to the Christ, attributes that are essential to well-rounded worship. We can perform a liturgy and we will say that we have worshipped. If we will worship truly and well, we will know the One we worship and we will understand what we are doing rather than merely performing a rite. And that is the purpose of our study today—to know Him whom we worship and to lay a solid foundation for worshipping well.
THE CONTROVERSY — “I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will display at the proper time—He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.”
As we saw in a previous study , Paul focuses on the life-sustaining activity of the Lord God. Then, he launches into this beautiful doxology. The doxology turns our attention to what is coming—“the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Though I do want to study this doxology, I dare not ignore what is next on God’s time-table. Therefore, let’s refresh our memories and encourage our hearts by reminding ourselves of what is coming next.
As He prepared to depart this earth, Jesus spoke to His disciples concerning where He was going. “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also” [JOHN 14:1-3].
To be certain, the Risen Saviour would send His Spirit to be with His disciples. During that same time as He prepared His disciples for His exodus, Jesus taught them, “I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you” [JOHN 16:7-15].
Paul will speak of this return as “the Blessed Hope” [see TITUS 2:11-14]; and the anticipation of that return has encouraged saints until this day. I have no doubt that the followers of the Christ who are being dispossessed of all possessions and turned out of their houses, crucified, burned and buried alive, or who are being sold into slavery in Muslim lands even at this hour, find themselves crying out as shall the Tribulation saints to the Son of God, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth” [see REVELATION 6:10]. And though He should delay, yet we are confident in the promise of Christ our Saviour.
Do you remember these comforting words penned by the Apostle to the Gentiles? “We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words” [1 THESSALONIANS 4:13-18].
There is real encouragement in those words! Indeed, the people of God should encourage one another with the words the Apostle has written! We shall be caught up together with all the saints; and the time must surely be near.
When I preached among the black believers in Dallas, we would sing:
Soon and very soon
We are going to see the King
Soon and very soon
We are going to see the King
Soon and very soon
We are going to see the King
We're going to see the king
We don’t know when, but we know that we will soon be called out of this world. This is as it should be, for “Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself” [PHILIPPIANS 3:20, 21].
When he was writing the Corinthian believers, Paul addressed this same vital issue. These are his words, “I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’
‘O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?’
“The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” [1 CORINTHIANS 15:50-58].
Notice the phraseology in the FIFTEENTH VERSE: “I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords” [1 TIMOTHY 6:13-15]. Focus on the third person singular pronoun in that verse—“He.” Does the “He” refer to Christ or to God?
Those who favour the understanding that this pronoun refers to Christ is the fact that He is the one just mentioned in VERSE FOURTEEN. If that is your understanding, you are in good company. Jesus is called “the King of kings and Lord of lords” [see REVELATION 17:14; 19:16]. However, the designation originated as a statement for God. Take note of a couple of instances. “The LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords” [DEUTERONOMY 10:17]. Here is another instance where the Lord God is identified by these designations.
“Give thanks to the Lord of lords,
for his steadfast love endures forever”
As I said, if you believe Paul is referring to Jesus, you stand in some distinguished company; however, I do not believe that is correct. The reasons I say that Paul’s reference is to God Himself is as follows. First, the timing of Jesus’ return is known only to the Father. Do you remember these words that Jesus spoke? “Concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only” [MATTHEW 24:36].  These limitations appear to be rather common knowledge to the angels as well as to the Master. For instance, you may well recall this statement of the angels who spoke to the disciples after Jesus’ ascension. “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority” [ACTS 1:7].
Note the text again. The One of whom Paul is speaking has never been seen. More than that, no one can see Him. Obviously, this cannot be speaking of Jesus since He has been seen. That was the point of the Incarnation—to ensure that Jesus was seen. Moreover, at His return “Every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him” [REVELATION 1:7].
There is yet another point in favour of understanding that Paul is speaking of God. “Eternal dominion” is ascribed to this One of whom the Apostle is speaking. Think about this. There is a point in time “When [Christ the Lord] delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power” [1 CORINTHIANS 15:24]. When “All things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all” [1 CORINTHIANS 15:28].
All things considered, I find the preponderance of evidence is in favour of understanding that Paul is giving praise to the Father. He is calling our attention to the True and Living God. Don’t imagine that the Apostle has neglected giving praise to the Son of God, for throughout the missive he has exclaimed in praise to God the Son. Recall His exclamation of praise in the middle of the letter:
“God was manifested in the flesh,
Justified in the Spirit,
Seen by angels,
Preached among the Gentiles,
Believed on in the world,
Received up in glory.”
[1 TIMOTHY 3:16] 
OUR GOD — “The blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see.” The focus of the doxology is God Himself—the Father. I suspect that we are somewhat fuzzy in our thinking concerning the Father. We are perhaps inclined to think of Him in benign terms, a sort of celestial grandfather who beams on his creation, longing for us to think of Him occasionally. However, Paul compels us to focus on the greatness of God, something that is quite foreign to our experience for the most part.
God is “the blessed and only Sovereign.” The Apostle had previously identified God as blessed when he called Him “the blessed God” [1 TIMOTHY 1:11]. Blessed is one of those words that can be rather fuzzy in our understanding. The Greek term translated “blessed” [makários] conveys a wide range of meanings from “blessed” to “happy” to “fulfilled.”  We can say that God is blessed in that He is self-sufficient—He alone possesses all that is necessary for His complete and uninterrupted happiness. While we may please God, or displease Him, nothing alters His divine contentment. He controls all things to His own joyous ends. That is virtually impossible for mere mortals to grasp; it is a truth accepted by divine revelation. And though we hear the words, we struggle to understand what they mean.
As a young Christian, I heard a black preacher preaching one of the creation sermons that is somewhat expected of those ministering within that community. The sermon began somewhat like one which was published some years ago.
“And God stepped out on space,
And he looked around and said:
I’ll make me a world.” 
There is one major flaw in this sermon from the earliest statement—God is self-sufficient. God never created worlds or mankind out of loneliness; God had no deficit which He needed to address. Before creation, God was self-sufficient and fully satisfied with Himself; He continues in self-sufficiency and self-satisfaction since that time. Man adds nothing to God. All derive whatever blessedness they have from proximity to and relationship to the True and Living God.
Here is the important truth to take from this—God is the source of true blessedness for all people. Though we understand this poorly now, there is a day when all the redeemed will know this truth. John wrote, “I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying,
‘To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!’”
Those who enter into a relationship with the Living God enter into His blessedness. I do not say that we fully comprehend the blessedness immediately; I do say that we are granted His serenity because we are at rest in Him. We are suffused with His joy; and if we but take our eyes off the things of this dying world, we discover fulfilment and contentment in Him. Though it is not always apparent in this life, the state of the believer is to be blessed. Let me walk you through a few portions of the Word that speak of our condition before God.
The testimony of the Psalmist is, “Blessed are all who take refuge in him” [PSALM 2:12b]. And what shall we say of those whom God has chosen?
“Blessed is the one you choose and bring near,
to dwell in your courts!
We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house,
the holiness of your temple!”
Those who know Christ Jesus are blessed. When Peter uttered his great confession of the Christ, Jesus responded, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven” [MATTHEW 16:17]. All who believe the Gospel are blessed. Paul testifies, “Those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith” [GALATIANS 3:9]. Those whose sins are forgiven are blessed.
“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,
and whose sins are covered;
blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”
[ROMANS 4:7, 8]
This passage speaks of the blessing that accrues to all to whom God grants righteousness apart from works [see ROMANS 4:6-9]. Moreover, the individual who obeys the Word of God is blessed. James testifies, “The one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing” [JAMES 1:25].
The child of God has entered into a relationship with God who is blessed. Therefore, regardless of trials or opposition or struggles that child may face, she can be at peace. Her peace is not based on external conditions; her peace is based on the knowledge that God is in control. Believers are blessed because they are in union with God who is blessed.
God is blessed; and He is the only [mónos] one of His kind. Paul declares that God is the “only God” [1 TIMOTHY 1:17] and He “alone has immortality” [1 TIMOTHY 6:16]. In another letter, the Apostle identifies God as the “only wise God” [ROMANS 16:27]. We are taught, “For us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist” [1 CORINTHIANS 8:6a]. This is but a restatement of God’s revelation of His divine nature through Moses. “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one” [DEUTERONOMY 6:4].
God is Sovereign; and the significance of His sovereignty is witnessed in Isaiah’s words.
“To whom then will you compare me,
that I should be like him? says the Holy One.
Lift up your eyes on high and see:
who created these?
He who brings out their host by number,
calling them all by name,
by the greatness of his might,
and because he is strong in power
not one is missing.
“Why do you say, O Jacob,
and speak, O Israel,
‘My way is hidden from the LORD,
and my right is disregarded by my God?’
Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.”
Though modern culture, deliberately or otherwise, endeavours to enthrone others, God is the only Sovereign. That word “Sovereign” is a powerful Greek term; the word is dunástēs. We derive our English word “dynasty” from this Greek root. Unsurprisingly, the word denotes a potentate, a ruler, a sovereign; it means “one who is in a position to command others.”  Ultimately, God alone is in the position of Sovereign—all authorities derive their authority from Him. Therefore, it is only as we submit to His rule that we are able to enter into and enjoy His blessedness.
Paul ensures that we understand the power of the testimony that God is “the only Sovereign” by appending the title, “King of kings and Lord of lords.” As already mentioned, this title is given the Risen Christ in Revelation [see REVELATION 17:14; 19:16]. Since God is the only Sovereign, and since He is King of kings and Lord of lords, the charge that Timothy received in VERSE FOURTEEN is not so difficult to keep after all. The man of God is serving God, and thus His command is not burdensome at all.
Then Paul speaks of other facets of God’s Being. God “alone has immortality.” God “dwells in unapproachable light.” No man has ever seen God; indeed, no man can see God. These facets of His Being must be explored. God “alone has immortality.” The participle is present tense, emphasising that this is a continuing characteristic of the True and Living God. The Greek word that is translated “immortality” is an interesting word. You would expect a lexicographer to say something like that. The term is athanasían is an old word made up of a negation (alpha privative) and the word for “death” [thánatos].  The word athanasían occurs only here in the New Testament, and it conveyed the meaning “a state of not being able to die or degenerate.”  The statement could be expressed, “He is the only one who never dies,” or “He is the only one who always exists.” 
God also “dwells in unapproachable light.” One cannot read this statement without thinking of John’s statement concerning God, “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” [1 JOHN 1:5]. However, there is a difference in what John and Paul have written concerning God. John said “God is light,” and Paul says that God “dwells in unapproachable light.” Again, the participle that Paul uses is present tense, indicating that dwelling in this unapproachable light is God’s continuous, unceasing condition.
It is impossible for God to dwell in darkness. Wherever God is, He dispels the darkness. The Psalmist says of God:
“Bless the LORD, O my soul!
O LORD my God, you are very great!
You are clothed with splendor and majesty,
covering yourself with light as with a garment,
stretching out the heavens like a tent.”
[PSALM 104:1, 2]
I suppose there are all sorts of statements I could make concerning the light, but I believe it sufficient to confess that we cannot truly understand all that is entailed in God being light and in God dwelling in light. Perhaps the best thing that can be done is to point all who listen to our present condition and to our eternal situation. Now, we are identified as “children of light, children of the day” [1 THESSALONIANS 5:5]. We shall spend eternity in light, for darkness shall have been banished. In the New Jerusalem, we are told “there will be no night there” [REVELATION 21:25].
As John describes conditions in which we shall live eternally, he writes: “I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever” [REVELATION 21:22-22:5].
Just why the light in which God dwells is “unapproachable” is not revealed. I can speculate that it has to do with the fact that “Our God is a consuming fire” [HEBREWS 12:29]. Knowing this, I could make an analogy with the sun, which is a physical giver of life to this planet. Nevertheless, anything that comes too close to the sun is destroyed. Perhaps that is the emphasis concerning God—He is the giver and sustainer of life, but should we draw too near we would be destroyed. We do know this: individuals who disobeyed God’s commands, who acted presumptuously, were often struck dead. One need but think of Uzzah [see 1 CHRONICLES 13:5-14].
Then, the Apostle says that no one has ever seen God, nor is it possible for anyone to see Him. You will remember that Moses prayed for God to reveal His glory. God answered His man in these words, “‘I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name “The LORD.” And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. But,’ he said, ‘you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.’ And the LORD said, ‘Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock, and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen’” [EXODUS 33:19-23]. Focus on the TWENTIETH VERSE: “Man shall not see me and live.”
Jesus testified, “No one has ever seen God” [JOHN 1:18a]. Jesus was adamant that God cannot be seen by mortal man. Arguing with the Jews, He said, “Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me— not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father” [JOHN 6:45, 46]. John learned this lesson well, for he would later write, “No one has ever seen God” [1 JOHN 4:12a]. As emphasis, in a few short verse, he would write, “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen” [1 JOHN 4:20].
No man has ever seen God, but the Son of God has explained Him. Look again at what John wrote. “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known” [JOHN 1:18]. Just as we see God when we see Christ [see JOHN 14:9; 12:45], so we shall see God according to His promise.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” [MATTHEW 5:8].
“Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is” [1 JOHN 3:2].
“[The saints in Glory] will see [God’s] face, and his name will be on their foreheads” [REVELATION 22:4].
Truly, it is our hope to see God; however, as mere mortals we will never be able to look completely upon or comprehend the essence of Him who alone is infinite. 
HONOUR AND ETERNAL DOMINION — “To Him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.” Why worship? The focus of our worship is God. And Paul concludes his doxology by confessing what he seeks to do. His exclamation is “Let God always be respected, and may His rule never end.” All that we do is to be focused on God. As we meet, we are to know Who we worship.
It is startlingly easy to become engrossed in the process, forgetting the reason we worship. Early this morning as I reviewed my Emails, there was one missive from a Christian organisation speaking of “Ten Things That Should’ve Never Happened in Church … That Totally Did.“  In many, perhaps even in most of these videos, the viewer is witnessing a disappointing reality—we tend to make worship about us. We draw attention to ourselves, forgetting Who we are to worship, forgetting what we are doing. Worship that draws attention to the worshipper, worship that exalts the action, is worship that is unworthy of God. This truth must never be forgotten.
“To Him—to God—be honour and eternal dominion.” If we understand the greatness of God, worship will be spontaneous and natural. If we understand the character of God, we will worship. If we fail to know Who we worship, it is doubtful that we will worship. To God—invincible, immortal, inaccessible and invisible—be honour and might and glory forever. Amen.
It is fitting to conclude the doxology with this single word, “Amen.” “So be it!” “Amen.”
 Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 Michael Stark, “A Portrait of Obedience,” 7 September 2014, http://newbeginningsbaptist.ca/clientimages/42652/sermonarchieve/1 timothy 6.13-16 until he comes.pdf
 See also MARK 13:32
 New King James Version (Thomas Nelson, Nashville, TN 1982)
 See William Arndt, F. Wilbur Gingrich, Frederick W. Danker and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature: a Translation and Adaption of Walter Bauer’s Griechisch-Deutsches Worterbuch Zu Den Schrift En Des Neuen Testaments Und Der Ubrigen Urchristlichen Literatur (University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL 1979); cf. Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (United Bible Societies, New York, NY 1995)
 James Weldon Johnson, God’s Trombones (The Viking Press, New York, NY 1927) 17
 Timothy Friberg, Barbara Friberg and Neva F. Miller, Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament (Baker’s Greek New Testament Library, Baker Books, Grand Rapids, MI 2000) 121
 A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament (Broadman Press, Nashville, TN 1933)
 James Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Greek (New Testament) (Logos Research Systems, Inc., Oak Harbor, WA 1997)
 Louw and Nida, op. cit.
 See D. Edmond Hiebert, First Timothy, Everyman’s Bible Commentary (Moody Press, Chicago, IL 1957) 119
 Brian Orme, “Ten Things That Should’ve Never Happened in Church … That Totally Did” (compilation), http://www.churchleaders.com/daily-buzz/176225-10-things-that-should-ve-never-happened-in-church-that-totally-did.html?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=clnewsletter&utm_content=CL Daily 20140914