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Author:Rev. Sjirk Bajema
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Congregation:Reformed Church of Mangere
 South Auckland, New Zealand
 
Title:God Makes Himself Known!
Text:BC 2 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Unclassified
 
Preached:2007-09-30
Added:2009-04-30
Updated:2009-05-21
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Sjirk Bajema, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


BELGIC CONFESSION OF FAITH II

(Reading: Psalm 19:1-14)

 

God Makes Himself Known!

 

 

Congregation in our Lord Jesus Christ...

 

     The first Article of the Belgic Confession of Faith is a succinct and clear declaration of who God is.

          We confessed there to the uniqueness of God and His many attributes.

 

     But, you know, these most wonderful facts would still not be known by us if something completely outside of our control hadn’t happened!

          Because you could not have come to know that on your own.

              Indeed, unless God Himself had made Himself known to us we would still be totally lost.

 

     So when Article II begins by stating that we know God by two means they are not ways that are naturally in us.

          Quite the opposite!

              The source of our knowledge of God is God Himself.

     From that source the knowledge of Him comes in two ways.

           Two ways which are not innate ideas or inborn knowledge of God.

              Nor do we come to know God in the mystical way of becoming totally wrapped up in ourselves!

 

     For what is “revelation” but that which has been revealed?

          The Bible tells us so.

              There it’s clear that there is a personal God who actively communicates knowledge.

     That knowledge consists of facts and truths, events and their evaluation which man cannot know by himself.

          And yet man has been created in such a way that he’s able to receive the speaking of God which comes to him.

 

     That way, dear believer, is what has come to you by faith in Jesus Christ.

          It’s God’s Spirit changing you on the inside that makes you see a lot more on the outside.

              In fact, the difference is even more profound.

                   As John Newton wrote in his famous hymn, ‘Amazing Grace,’ “I once was lost, but now am found, Was blind, but now I see.”

 

     Faith are the glasses through which we see God’s two ways of revelation.

          Faith is what God has given us to give Him the honour and the glory that’s rightfully His.

              Faith opens up the revelation of God in nature and history because we have the key of Holy Scripture.

 

     One evangelist showed this very well.

          He was talking with a number of liberal theologians.

              Liberal theologians who were debating as to which words in the Gospels Jesus actually spoke.

     Well, that evangelist put it all in a completely different light altogether.

          He said to them, “But I know no word of Christ outside of Scripture!”

 

     Would they understood him?

          Quite unlikely.

              But you do, don’t you?

                   There’s nothing else but God’s Word which reveals to you who God is and what God does but this book!

    

     So let’s turn then to the first of these ways of God revealing Himself.

          In the words of Article II, this is way of knowing God is “by the creation, preservation, and government of the universe.”

              This aspect tells us that THE REVELATION IS WHAT GOD DOES.

 

     Guido de Bres used the picture of an elegant book where all the characters are clearly involved in telling the story that we can understand.

          John Calvin used the picture of the whole world being a theatre of the glory of God.

             

     So through the world around us and what we are like ourselves we do know that there’s a divine being.

          The apostle Paul uses this as a point of reference in speaking with the Athenians who had so many gods.

              He quotes a Greek poet in Acts 17 verse 28 as a witness that humans were divinely created.

 

     It is especially in Romans 1, though, that the apostle brings this point home.

          He says there, in the verses 19 till 21, in connection with the pagans, that “what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.

              “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”

 

     This confirms what we read in Psalm 19.

          There David sang in verse 1, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”

 

     The trouble is, they don’t see Him.

          Not properly, anyway.

              It’s like they are cross-eyed and, while they are seeing some things, they can’t put it in the right order.

     They need those glasses of faith.

          That’s why Paul goes on in Romans 1 verse 21 about the unbelievers, “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God not gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.”

              Only in the light of the revelation of the Word do you see God’s greatness, power, and wisdom.

     Only through opening our eyes does God’s goodness and justice in His creation, preservation and government of all things, become clearly evident to us.

          No wonder that the Word must be preached throughout the world!

 

     But that doesn’t mean that anyone could have an excuse not to believe.

          The tricky question of many a Catechism class doesn’t hold up here at all!

 

     For that question asks, “If you need to hear the gospel to believe, sir, what about all those who never get to hear the gospel in their lifetime.

          “How about those primitive tribesmen cut off from all of civilisation in the jungles of New Guinea?”

 

     What about them?

          They have God’s witness in His general revelation all around them?

              Creation testifies to them.

     And if you were to then say, “But none of them gets saved!” how do you know?

          What about Job or Melchizedek?

              If God’s plan is for them to be part of His people He will call them.

                   He will work it so that they receive the special revelation.

 

     John Calvin said that every one has a sense of the divine inside them.

          As Paul says in Romans 2 verses 14 and 15, “when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law unto themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts.”

              He illustrates this by pointing out that their consciences bear witness and their thoughts accuse or defend them, as the case may be.

 

     But however believing those pagans may sound in their writings and their actions, unless they hear the story of Christ’s doing and dying it all matters for nothing.

          Indeed, if they are genuine in believing in God their response to the Gospel will show it.

 

     For Christians general revelation becomes equally a witness to God as His special revelation in the Word does.

          It will be His Word that you need to see that, though.

              Once your eyes are opened, however, you’ll rejoice in the world God has made.

     That’s why we don’t dismiss science and art, history and culture.

          Since “This is my Father’s world,” to quote the hymn, we rejoice in all He’s made.

             

     The Word lights up that path.

          Because we put it all in God’s light.

              In the words of P.Y. de Jong, “We trace the hand of God in nature; we behold his footsteps in history.

                   “For us nature and grace, creation and redemption, this present world and the kingdom of God are most intimately related.”

 

     And so we come to the second aspect in connection with Article II.

          This says that THE REVELATION COMES THROUGH GOD’S WORD.

 

     Now, when you hear the phrase “God’s Word,” what do you think of?

          Ah, the Bible!

              The Scriptures are God’s Word.

 

     Indeed, they are.

          But that limits God somewhat.

              God’s Word already came to man before anything was written in the Scriptures.

 

     You only need to think about the communication Adam would have had with the Lord.

          Before the fall his knowledge of God would have been much purer than us because his heart was pure.

             

     But then didn’t that change after the fall?

          Then the Word which Adam had concerning God’s love was the promise in Genesis 3:15 about the seed of the woman.

              In comparison with that we have it so much richer.

                   For we have the privilege of knowing the completed work of the crucified and risen Christ.

 

     But that is still a limited knowledge for us.

          Scripture itself acknowledges that its message is redemptive.

    

     So this is not a handbook for all knowledge.

          Article II confesses God declares in His Word what is “necessary for us to know in this life, to His glory and for our salvation.”

              This is supported by the words of Jesus in John 20 verse 31.

                   He there says that what was written was for the express purpose of bringing you to “believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

 

     Congregation, this is enough for what we need.

          It is all we need too.

              Because we should not forget the time this Confession was written.

     A time when the established Church, the Church of Rome, placed something else on the same level as God’s Word.

          And it wasn’t God’s general revelation either!

 

     Instead, the Church then placed the traditions of men are equally important to Scripture.

          They even said then, and still say it today, that only the Church can tell you what Scripture means.

              So they take away any private interpretation altogether!

 

     Rome also added that man could come to faith without God’s special revelation.

          They called this ‘natural theology.”

              In one of their councils they decreed, “The holy Mother Church holds and teaches that God, the beginning and end of all things, may be certainly known by the natural light of human reason, by means of created things.”

 

     It’s no surprise that the Pope can dialogue quite readily with other religions.

          Why, they can have insight too.

              “There are many ways to heaven,” to quote a very popular phrase.

 

     How sad.

          Scripture itself is clear how wrong this is.

              Jesus was quite emphatic in John 14 verse 6 when He declared, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.

                   “No one comes to the Father except through me.”

 

     It is the sufficiency of Scripture only that the Reformation came back to.

          It is one of the ‘sola’s.’

              Together with Grace alone, Faith alone, and Christ alone, it needed to stated at that time.

 

     And it needs to be said today also.

          For Rome is still as active as ever.

             

     And, as well, you have the error of the Anabaptists.

          They speak of an inner light which can bypass Scripture altogether.

              Then all you need is an experience.

                   And if you’re feeling a bit down, have another experience!

 

     One of their modern day preachers even claimed that soon people wouldn’t need to be converted through the words he preached to them – he’d just need to look at them!

          That too is a low view of Scripture.

              Is it any surprise that in so many churches the last thing you need to bring today is our Bible!

 

     What a change that is from those believers who are suffering so much for the faith.

          Like this story that came from the underground church in Russia during the communist regime.

              A time when the Bible was completely banned in that country.

                   Anyone found with a copy faced certain imprisonment.

 

     A believer had found out that a friend had a copy of the Bible.

          So he asked him if he could borrow it.

 

     His friend, though, read the precious book every evening until 10 p.m..

          So each night for 8 months, from 10 p.m. till 2 a.m., that dedicated believer laboriously copied his friend’s Bible.

              Eventually, when some fellow Christians visited him with bibles, he exchanged his hand-written labour of love for several copies.

 

     Imagine what it would be like to not have access to a Bible?

          What price would you pay to get one?

 

     We can take this example even further.

          When the teachings of Jesus began to “offend” those who were following Him, many chose to leave.

              You can read of that in John 6, the verses 60 till 66.

     So Jesus asked His disciples, “You don’t want to leave too, do you?”

          Peter replied, “Lord, to whom shall we go?

              “You have the words of eternal life.”

 

     Peter knew that Jesus was the living Word – God revealed in the flesh.

          He was willing to give up everything in this life to follow the One who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

 

     Friend, do you have that commitment?

          Do you have the devotion of the Russian believer?

              What price would you pay for the book?

                   And how much would you sacrifice for the Lord?

 

     Think about it.

          And you will be reminded about it.

              For the Belgic Confession is about to spend another five articles on aspects related to God’s Word.

     That shows how important it is.

          You need to hear it.

              And you need to speak it!

                   Amen.

 

 

PRAYER:

Let’s pray…

     O Living Word, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ…

          How much don’t we need to look to You through Your Word, the Holy Scriptures.

              We so much need to take this book and keep it right in the middle of our hearts and lives.

     May Your Spirit so stir that in us.

          Convict us of the wrong we do against Your Word.

              And turn us to honour and glorify You alone.

     Because then we would be proclaiming You as the Word.

          In Your precious Name, we pray, Amen.

         

 

             

 

 

 




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Sjirk Bajema, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
The source for this sermon was: www.rcnz.org.nz

(c) Copyright 2007, Rev. Sjirk Bajema

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