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Three Forgotten Perfections of God

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Three Forgotten Perfections of God

Psalm 113

 

Introduction:  This message will, in all honesty, go against the prevailing wisdom regarding the makeup of a successful sermon today.  If you were to read the fashionable books on powerful preaching, they would tell you to speak to the felt needs of the people.  Today’s message, however, will be about God – not what He has done for us, but Who He is.  Why?

Many writers over the last 100 years or so have identified a chilling trend in the church  Unchecked, it will lead to a church that is savourless salt—what Christ Himself described as worthless. 

A. W. Tozer described the trend this way:

“It is my opinion that the Christian conception of God current in these middle years of the twentieth century is so decadent as to be utterly beneath the dignity of the Most High God and actually to constitute for professed believers something amounting to a moral calamity.  The heaviest obligation lying upon the Christian Church today is to purify and elevate her concept of God until it is once more worthy of Him—and of her.”

* Have you ever been overwhelmed at the idea of Who God is?  He is an overwhelming God.

The trend is a low view of God.  The answer is a proper view of God, arrived at only by studying His self-revelation in the Scriptures.

As Arthur Pink wrote:

“The foundation of all true knowledge of God must be a clear mental apprehension of His perfections as revealed in Holy Scripture. An unknown God can neither be trusted,   served, nor worshipped.”

In this Psalm we have three of the attributes of God presented in beautiful poetic language.

• This is not a dry, cold, technical chapter.  It starts and ends with Hallelujah!

• What are the attributes of God? (Not a list, what is the definition?)

- The Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible defines God’s attributes as:  “Inherent characteristics of God revealed in Scripture and displayed in God’s actions in biblical history.”

- These attributes are, together, the essence of God.  They are “qualities or characteristics inherent in or ascribed to someone or something.”  Another technical term for the attributes of God is His perfections, since He possesses each of these attributes in its perfection or ultimate form.

• Can you list some?  (omnis, immutability, simple, eternal)

- As I said, there are three in this Psalm.  As we look at them, let’s consider what Spurgeon said about this sort of study:

“Nothing will so enlarge the intellect, nothing so magnify the whole soul of man, as a devout, earnest, continued, investigation of the great subject of the Deity. The most excellent study for expanding the soul is the science of Christ and Him crucified and the knowledge of the Godhead in the glorious Trinity.”

I. God is self-existent  113:1-3

• These verses exhort us to praise the name of the Lord. 

- Now, that statement means so much more for the Hebrew than it would for us.  For them a name was not simply a convenient way to identify another individual; it was often a summary of that person’s defining characteristics.  A name was not a title; it was a total.

- The name was so important that often when God called a person for a special purpose He gave them a new name.

- When Solomon built the temple, he built “an house to the name of the LORD my God”.

- So, what is the name of the Lord that we are to praise? 

Ex. 3:13-14; Ex. 6:2-3, Ps. 68:4; Ps. 83:18, Isa. 42:8

• His name is Yahweh -- "the unchanging, eternal, self-existent God."  It is the name that proclaims that God is the Self-Existent One.

- Theologians call this God’s aseity.  The term comes from the Latin a se, meaning “from Himself”.  In other words, God’s existence comes only and entirely “from Himself”.

- As we talk about this, remember that many Christian theologians and philosophers consider this to be God’s “primary attribute”.

• This means that God has the ground of His existence in Himself, and unlike man, does not depend on anything outside of Himself. He is utterly independent in His Being, in His virtues, and in His actions; and causes all His creatures to depend on Him. The idea is embodied in the name Jehovah.

Acts 17:24-28, Rom. 11:33-36, Ps. 90:2, Col. 1:17, Rev. 4:11

J. I. Packer puts it this way:

“Our Maker exists in an eternal, self-sustaining, necessary way—necessary, that is, in the sense that God does not have it in Him to go out of existence, just as we do not have it in us to live forever. We necessarily age and die, because it is our present nature to do that; God necessarily continues forever unchanged, because it is His eternal nature to do that. This is one of many contrasts between creature and Creator.”

• As we consider this, the implications are glorious!

     A. God has no potential. 

- He is literally “all He could be”.  Pure actuality.  He will never improve, because He cannot be improved upon.  He will never increase in power because He has all power already.  He will never learn, because He has all knowledge. 

- He will never be surprised, disappointed, deceived, worried or tired.

- All that He ever was, He is and always will be!  Our God is exactly the same God who created the universe, who parted the Red Sea, who thundered from Sinai, who walked on water, who paid the penalty for all sins for all time!  He hasn’t aged a second, He hasn’t diminished in strength, He hasn’t changed!!

     B. God has no needs.

- Think of the incredible size and complexity of the universe.  Think of the planets orbiting around suns which are themselves orbiting through galaxies, which are themselves orbiting through the universe, which may well be only one of countless universes . . . all of this added NOTHING to God!!!

     C. God has no possibility of nonexistence.

- As One Who possesses within Himself the power of existence, He is a necessary being.  That is, it is impossible for Him NOT to exist.  He cannot not be!  We can rely on Him fully, for He always IS!

     D. God has no cause.

• Here is a completely unanswerable argument against evolution [hold up an ink pen].  If there is something now, there can never be a time when there was nothing.  Something had to exist which has the power of being in itself.

- That’s not man.  There could be a universe in which we do not exist.  It is possible for us not to exist.  Only God has the power of being – of existence – within Himself!

• “Who created God?”  Is He self-created?  No! He is uncaused!

• When we consider that existence itself is an attribute of our God, the only appropriate response is what the Psalmist suggests:  PRAISE HIS NAME!!

            - Who is to praise God?  All His people.  (v. 1)

            - When?  Forever.  (v. 2)

            - Where?  Everywhere.  (v. 3)

            - Why?  Because of Who He is.  (v. 3b)

* But, wait!  There’s more!  The Psalmist continues:

II. God is supreme113:4-6

• The Bible declares over and over that God is exalted high above His creation. 

1 Chron. 29:11-13, 2 Chron. 20:5-6, Ps. 8:1; Ps. 11:4; Ps. 97:9

Hab. 2:20  “But the LORD is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him.”

- This is the picture of God that we need to recapture in our churches today! 

• Theologians call this the transcendence of God.  Think of what it means to be transcendent:

“absolute, beyond grasp, boundless, consummate, eternal, exceeding, extraordinary, ideal, incomparable, infinite, matchless, otherworldly, peerless, perfect, pre-eminent, sublime, superior, supernatural, supreme, surpassing, towering, transcending, transmundane, ultimate, unequalable, unequalled, unique, unparalleled, unrivalled”

John Gill wrote:

“He is the most High in all the earth; he is higher than the highest; he is King of kings and Lord of lords: all nations are made by him, and are under his government and dominion; he is the Governor among the nations; they are in comparison of him as the drop of a bucket, as the small dust of the balance; as nothing, yea, less than nothing, and vanity.”

• Do you remember reading Percy Shelley’s Ozymandias in school? 

I met a traveler from an antique land

Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone

Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,

Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,

And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,

Tell that its sculptor well those passions read,

Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,

The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed,

And on the pedestal these words appear:

"My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:

Look upon my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay

Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare

The lone and level sands stretch far away.

• All of the greatest works of the greatest men will decay and fade into obscurity; but our God reigns eternally!

* But, wait!  There is even more!  Verse 6 is a perfect transition into the third attribute that we see in this Psalm:

III. God is sympathetic113:7-9

• Theologians refer to this as the immanence of God.  For, though He is transcendent far above all that is not-God, yet He chooses to draw near to us in love.  Spurgeon calls this “His gracious stoop of love”.

Illus:  Think about this:  It would sure be nice to have friends in high places, wouldn’t it?  To be able to call on Bill Gates when you needed money; to call on the President when you needed help.  But we can’t, because in this world powerful people are deliberately inaccessible—they work at being unreachable.  But God is not that way!

Ps. 34:18; Ps. 73:22-28; Ps. 145:18, Heb. 10:19-22, James 4:8, 1 Pet. 3:18

• And this Psalm doesn’t tell us that God just stoops down for great people or holy people.  He stoops down for the lowly.  (v. 7) – the “dunghill” refers to a heap of ashes where the outcast dwelt.  By day, he would sit on the ash heap and beg; and by night he would dig into the ashes that had been warmed by the sun, to stay warm.

- That’s the man God stoops down to.  The lowly.  Matt. 5:3

C. H. Spurgeon wrote:

“He dwells so far on high that even to observe heavenly things he must humble himself. He must stoop to view the skies, and bow to see what angels do. What, then, must be his condescension, seeing that he observes the humblest of his servants upon earth, and makes them sing for joy like Mary when she said, "Thou hast regarded the low estate of thine handmaiden." . . . we have a God who is high above all gods, and yet who is our Father, knowing what we have need of before we ask him; our Shepherd, who supplies our needs; our Guardian, who counts the hairs of our heads; our tender and considerate Friend, who sympathizes in all our griefs. Truly the name of our condescending God should be praised wherever it is known”  (Treasury of David)

- In one of his lesser-known hymns Isaac Watts wrote:

“Father, how wide thy glories shine!

How high Thy wonders rise!

Known through the earth by thousand signs,

By thousand through the skies.

But when we view Thy strange design

To save rebellious worms,

Our souls are filled with awe divine

To see what God performs.

When sinners break the Father’s laws,

The dying Son atones;

O the dear mysteries of His cross,

The triumph of his groans.

Here the whole Deity is known,

Nor dares a creature guess

Which of the glories brightest shone,

The justice, or the grace.

Now the full glories of the Lamb

Adorn the heavenly plains;

Sweet cherubs learn Immanuel’s Name,

And try their choicest strains.

O may I bear some humble part

In that immortal song!

Wonder and joy shall tune my heart,

And love command my tongue”

• Think about how mighty, holy & powerful the angels are.  Yet God is so great He would humble Himself just to look at them.  He would humble Himself to look at the massive planets, let alone pay attention to one single planet, let alone the wicked, sinful men who crawl across its face, let alone a single person like you or me.  But He DOES!!

- Not only does He look at us – He helps us!  (vs. 7-9)

- How do we know He helps?  He’s done it before!  (v. 9) Just ask Sarah, Hannah, the Shunnamite, Elizabeth . . .

1 Sam. 1:1-2, 6-7, 19-20, 1 Sam. 2:8, Ps. 68:4-6

• Of course, the greatest example of this was Christ.  He came to earth to redeem us.

- Not just to set a good example, or buy us more time to pay for our sins ourselves.  He came “to seek and to save that which was lost”!

- He didn’t just lower a ladder into the pit and show us how to climb!  Ps. 40:1-2, Col. 2:8-14

• Notice in v. 9 of our text, “He maketh the barren woman to keep house.”  God even cares about our earthly desires and longings! 

- How long has it been since you sensed the nearness of God?   Do you desire the nearness of God as your greatest good?  Consider:

     A. The nearness of God will deliver you in temptation.

     B. The nearness of God will comfort you in trials.

     C. The nearness of God will inspire and embolden you to

          great deeds.

     D. The nearness of God will kindle your love for Him

• It has been said that for a Christian prosperity is not the absence of pain, but the presence of God. 

 

Conclusion:  Consider this: the all-powerful, unchanging Creator-God who is almighty above all, for Whom it is humiliating to even look upon creation, actually does humble Himself to behold not just the mighty angels, the grandeur of planets, the glory of the stars, but . . . to behold you

Psalm 113 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)

1 Hallelujah!  Give praise, servants of the LORD; praise the name of the LORD.

2 Let the name of the LORD be praised both now and forever.

3 From the rising of the sun to its setting, let the name of the LORD be praised.

4 The LORD is exalted above all the nations, His glory above the heavens.

5 Who is like the LORD our God—the One enthroned on high,

6 who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth?

7 He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the garbage pile

8 in order to seat them with nobles—with the nobles of His people.

9 He gives the childless woman a household, [making her] the joyful mother of children.  Hallelujah!

What a great God!  The only appropriate response – the only way to end this message – is the way the Psalmist ended his message:  “Hallelujah!”

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