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Author:Dr. Wes Bredenhof
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Congregation:Free Reformed Church of Launceston, Tasmania
 Tasmania, Australia
 
Preached At:Providence Canadian Reformed Church
 Hamilton, Ontario
 
Title:The gospel promises that the powerful Creator is my loving Father
Text:LD 9 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Revelation of the Gospel
 
Preached:2014
Added:2015-12-02
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Note:  all songs from the 2014 Book of Praise

Psalm 33:1,2

Psalm 45:1,4,5

Hymn 72

Hymn 1

Psalm 33:6

Scripture reading: Isaiah 40

Catechism lesson:  Lord's Day 9

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Dr. Wes Bredenhof, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Beloved congregation of Christ,

Imagine that you could magnify a cell something like a billion times.  Biochemist Michael Denton describes what you would see if a cell were magnified until it was twenty kilometres in diameter:

What we would then see would be an object of unparalleled complexity and adaptive design.  On the surface of the cell we would see millions of openings, like the portholes of a vast space ship, opening and closing to allow a continual stream of materials to flow in and out.  If we were to enter one of these openings we would find ourselves in a world of supreme technology and bewildering complexity.  We would see endless highly organized corridors and conduits branching in every direction away from the perimeter of the cell, some leading to the central memory bank in the nucleus and others to assembly plants and processing units.  The nucleus itself would be a vast spherical chamber more than a kilometre in diameter, resembling a geodesic dome inside of which we would see, all neatly stacked together in ordered arrays, the miles of coiled chains of the DNA molecules.  A huge range of products and raw materials would shuffle along all the manifold conduits in a highly ordered fashion to and from all the various assembly plants in the outer regions of the cell.

Amazing, isn’t it?  Cells are simply amazing.  When we talk about creation, we sometimes think only of the impressive big stuff that we can see:  animals, galaxies, mountains, human beings, and so on.  But even below the microscopic level in creation, there is so much complexity and beauty.  It all testifies to the majesty, power, and might of the One who created it all. 

We confess that just like everything else, the cell has a powerful Creator.  We believe what the Bible plainly tells us in the first chapters of Genesis.  Simply by his Word, our mighty God called everything into existence, including tiny cells.  All of their complexity and design were his doing, not the product of chance doing its thing over billions of years.

Isaiah 40:26 directs the reader to look up at the stars.  Isaiah asks, “Who created these?”  The answer is obvious.  It’s the LORD, it’s Yahweh, the true God.  He not only created the billions of stars, but he keeps tabs on every single one.  Verse 28 says that he is the “Creator of the ends of the earth.”  Every single thing is his handiwork. 

As we turn to Lord’s Day 9 of the Catechism and what we confess in the first article of the Apostles’ Creed, we find that these truths are given not just to impress us.  These truths are in Scripture not just to make our jaws drop in awe.  These fundamental teachings of the Christian faith do those things, but they’re meant to do far more.  The doctrine of God the Creator is included under the heading of the promises of the gospel.  QA 22 asks, “What, then, must a Christian believe?”  The answer is, “All that is promised us in the gospel, which the articles of our catholic and undoubted Christian faith teach us in a summary.”  The Apostles’ Creed is all about what the gospel promises and this first article is no exception.  With that in mind, this afternoon we’ll learn about how the gospel promises that the powerful Creator is my loving Father

We’ll look at:

  1. Christ, the basis of this promise
  2. The content of this promise
  3. The comfort of this promise

Anytime we’re speaking about what the gospel promises, we’re automatically going to be talking about Jesus Christ.  Remember what the word “gospel” means.  It means “good news.”  At the root of the good news of the Bible is always our Saviour Jesus.  He is the only reason there is any good news for sinners like us. 

The good news is all about a relationship.  You have to realize that everyone has a relationship to the Creator.  Sometimes you’ll hear people do evangelism in a way that fails to recognize this.  Sometimes you’ll hear people say, “Jesus will get you into a relationship with God.”  This is not quite true.  Everyone is already in a relationship with the One who created them.  Every single person has a relationship with God.  The big question is:  what kind of relationship?  After all, there are different kinds of relationships, aren’t there?  You see it in family life sometimes.  Sometimes fathers or mothers have good and healthy relationships with their children.  Sometimes things are not the way they should be.  I’ve seen situations where children haven’t talked to their parents in years.  There’s so much bitterness and hurt.  There’s still a relationship, but it’s not functioning properly.  It’s dysfunctional, broken.  Similarly, without Jesus Christ, we can have nothing but a dysfunctional relationship with our Creator.  Without Jesus Christ, there can only be a relationship of enmity.  In the end, without Jesus in the picture, the powerful Creator only relates to the created as a just Judge. 

The good news promises not a relationship with the Creator, but a changed relationship.  The gospel promises a relationship of fellowship.  The gospel promises a warm family bond.  I’ll go into this more in a few moments.  The key thing we want to look at right now is how this change can take place.  On what basis can we count on a change in our relationship with our Creator? 

The answer of Scripture is that the only basis can be Christ.  If you need proof of that, then look no further than Galatians 4:4-5, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.”  Our adoption as sons is because God sent his Son to take on human flesh.  The direct cause of our changed relationship with God is what he did through Jesus Christ.

Our Catechism echoes the teaching of Scripture on this.  You see it in Lord’s Day 9 when we confess that the Creator is my God and my Father, “for the sake of Christ his Son.”  Are we clear about what that means?  If I were to ask you, what does it mean when something is “for the sake of,” could you explain it to me?  What about you boys and girls, younger brothers and sisters?  I’m sure you end your prayer sometimes with “for Jesus’ sake, AMEN.”  But do you know what it means?  It’s never good to say words without knowing what they mean.  Here in the Catechism too, it’s important that we be clear about what we’re confessing and what we’re being taught.  “For the sake of Christ his Son” simply means “because of Christ his Son.”  Because Christ is our Saviour.  He alone is the basis of the gospel promise that the powerful Creator is my loving Father.

Therefore, I must look to him in faith and continue looking to him in faith.  I need to continue fixing my eyes on Jesus, because without him my relationship with the Creator is in trouble.  I need to constantly hold on to Christ in faith, and doing that, I can be assured that my relationship with my Creator is going to be a good one.

Now let’s move on to look closer at what that improved relationship looks like.  If we put it briefly, when we have Christ as our Saviour, we have the powerful Creator as our God and Father.  And that’s not just true for other believers.  He is my almighty God and my faithful and loving Father.  The personal language of our Catechism is noteworthy here.  Our Catechism sometimes speaks in terms of us and ours, third person plural.  But at certain key points, it speaks in the language of I, me, my, first person singular.  It does that here in Lord’s Day 9 as well.  Through Christ alone, I am in a relationship of fellowship with my Creator.  He is my God and my Father.

Let’s unpack that a little bit more.  First, he is my God.  That speaks of his power, his capability.  It speaks of that particularly in his reconciled relationship with his people.  Isaiah 40 opens with those familiar words, “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.”  Notice there that Yahweh is their God.  Throughout the chapter, the power of this God for his people is emphasized.  Look at verses 10 and 11 [read].  God is pictured here as the one who is almighty, but he uses his might like a strong shepherd would for his sheep.  When you have Christ as your Saviour, you have a Creator God in heaven who is like a mighty shepherd for you.  You can say with David in Psalm 23, “The LORD is my Shepherd; I shall not be in want.”

The other aspect here is that I am promised that he is “my Father.”  So much is included in those two words.  But let’s just hone in one element:  the love of the Father for his children.  When you have Christ as your Saviour, you have a Creator God in heaven who is your loving Father.  In several places Scripture expresses that love.

For example, in Zechariah 2:8, God says that his people are the apple of his eye.  We still sometimes speak like that.  “She’s the apple of his eye.”  The expression comes into English from the Bible.  The apple of your eye is your pupil.  It’s a sensitive spot.  If someone tries to touch the apple of your eye, your pupil, you react and defend yourself.  You are the apple of your heavenly Father’s eye.  If anyone messes with you, they’re going to have to deal with him. 

In Isaiah 49:16, God says that he has engraved his people on the palms of his hands.  That’s an amazing picture.  He’s saying, “Look at my open hands.  I have written your name there so I will never forget you.”  Your Father who created you will never abandon you. 

Similarly, Psalm 33:18 says that “the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love.”  God’s eye is never off of you.  In that Psalm, that’s a reference to God’s eye of love and blessing.  The gaze he has on his children is one of compassion. 

Moreover, all the Father’s people are near and dear to him.  Psalm 148:14 says that his people are close to his heart (NIV).  And because of that, he loves to be with them.  Matthew 18 says that wherever two or three are gathered together in Christ’s name, God will be with them.  God delights to be with his people gathered in public worship.  God is here in our presence this afternoon and he is not here grudgingly or against his will.  He is here because he loves to be here with us.  He loves to be with us to bless us and encourage us.

Do you want more of his encouragement?  Think about this:  our loving Father gives us beautiful robes of righteousness.  We sang Psalm 45 right before the sermon.  Psalm 45 is a royal wedding psalm.  In Hebrews 1, we’re told that this Psalm is ultimately about Jesus Christ.  The bride in this Psalm is described as having beautiful wedding clothes.  Psalm 45:13 says that she has robes “interwoven with gold.”  Verse 14 adds that she has “many-colored robes.”  This speaks prophetically of God’s people.  Where do God’s people get these beautiful robes?  Who has dressed them so beautifully for the marriage feast of the Lamb?  It’s our loving Father.  He is the one who has given us the robes of Christ’s righteousness so that we will not be refused entry to the feast.

Another gospel encouragement:  our loving Father promises to give us the best.  In Matthew 7, Jesus says that our heavenly Father will give good things to those who ask him.  We could think of Isaiah 25, where God promises to make a feast of rich food for all his children.  It will be a “feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.”  This feast will celebrate the swallowing up of death forever.  That points again to the marriage feast of the Lamb in the age to come.  At that feast, we will enjoy the best that God has to offer. 

Let me mention one last thing.  Our loving Father has put a hedge around us to protect us from ultimate danger, from anything that would harm us in the eternal sense.  He has appointed angels to constantly surround and protect us.  The Puritan Thomas Watson once wrote, “No prince goes so well guarded as God’s child, for he has a guard of angels about him.”  Watson goes on and reminds us of the army of angels that surrounded Elijah and his servant in 2 Kings 6.  In faith Elijah knew that these angels were surrounding them.  His servant couldn’t see it until God opened his eyes.  Then he saw the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire.  Loved ones, our Father still has his heavenly armies in this world, even if you can’t see them.  They are there to protect us from harm.

Can you begin to see why this is part of what the gospel promises?  This is all good news that you’re hearing this afternoon.  We have a powerful Creator who is a loving Father.  That’s encouraging, isn’t it?  And how should we respond to that? 

Brothers and sisters, simply respond with faith.  You have heard what God has revealed to us in his Word.  You have heard what the gospel promises.  Acknowledge it all as being indubitably true.  Say with me in your heart, “Yes, this is the Word of God and I believe it to be the truth.”  But we can’t leave it there.  We have to go further.  You should also say in your heart, “I believe that this is true for me personally.  I believe that because of Christ I have a powerful Creator who is my God and my loving Father.  I believe that I am the apple of his eye, I am engraved on his hands.  His eyes are always on me and I am close to his heart.  Through Jesus, I have been clothed with the most beautiful robes, robes that will let me enjoy the wedding feast of Lamb.  My loving Father is going to give me the best in the end, and while I’m here he promises to keep me safe – I believe that promise and all of them.”              

When we do respond with faith, there is so much comfort for us.  There is so much encouragement for us as we live in this broken and messed up world.  Think of Isaiah 40 again.  God reveals himself there as the one who created all things, but also still upholds and governs them.  According to Isaiah 40:23, he “brings princes to nothing, and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness.”  In the next verse, he blows on them and they wither.  Earthly royalty might look intimidating, but they have no power before the almighty Creator.

This Creator is a Father to his people and he uses his power for their good.  With the Creator as your Father, there is hope for renewing your strength.  There is hope for mounting up with wings like eagles.  There is the hope of running and not being weary, walking and not fainting.  When you have this powerful Creator as your loving Father, you have the comfort of strength that comes from above.  That strength will get you through the tough times. 

As the Catechism says, when we trust in our loving Father, we have the comfort of knowing that he will provide us everything we truly need.  Of course, that doesn’t mean he always gives us what we want.  A lot of times what we want is not what we need.  He knows what we truly need at any given moment, what we need both for our bodies and souls.  We have to learn to trust him more. 

That becomes especially hard when his plan for our lives involves adversity or hardship.  Imagine if you had a child who died in a tragic accident.  Let’s say he or she was fatally injured in a car crash.  How can a Christian family come to terms with that?

They could respond by getting angry and bitter with God.  People sometimes do that.  They could shake their fists at heaven and finally turn their backs on the Christian faith.  Would you do that?  I pray not.  Yes, I’m sure you would wrestle with understanding how God could turn such a tragedy to your good, or to anyone’s good.  How could something so tragic as the loss of your child turn to good? 

But good could come from it and has in these sorts of situations in the past.  For one thing, when these sorts of things happen people young and old are often forced to re-examine their lives in the light of eternity.  Our lives are frail and in just a moment we could be gone.  Where will you go?  Are you sure of your final destination?  Having people ask those vital questions and finding the right answers in Scripture and in the gospel would certainly ensure that such a loss was not meaningless.

So, brothers and sisters, do not doubt that God will turn to your good whatever adversity he might send you in this life of sorrow.  Sometimes it’s hard to see how it could ever happen.  I’ve been there and many of you have too.  I needed to learn to trust his Word on it.  You need to trust his Word on it.  He promises it and his Word is faithful and true.  You can trust him on the little things, and you can trust him on the big things.  You can trust him on absolutely everything.

As we conclude, think about this with me for a moment.  The doctrine of creation is not an abstract piece of teaching.  It’s not abstract because there was a Someone involved with it.  That Someone is not long dead, ancient history.  That Someone is still around and he has a relationship with you.  Through Christ, he is your loving Father.  The Creator of the cell knows you personally and loves you intimately.  The Creator of the galaxies knows your name and has compassion on you.  The Creator of everything has a special place in his heart just for you.  This is truly amazing, isn’t it?  The Creator loves you and relates to you as a Father.  What a God!  AMEN. 

Prayer:

O God in heaven, our Father

Thank you for the promise of the gospel, that you, our Creator, you promise to be our God and our Father for the sake of Christ your Son.  We are so grateful to know you as our powerful Creator and as our loving Father.  We praise you as the one who holds all our days in your hand, who has us engraved on the palms of your hand.  Please help us never to have any doubts about your provision; help us with your Spirit so that we would always trust your love and care.  Where you will, please show us how the adversity in our lives turns to our good.  Where you won’t, please give us more abundant grace so that we learn to trust you like little children trusting their Father.                    




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Dr. Wes Bredenhof, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

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