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Author:Rev. Sjirk Bajema
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Congregation:Reformed Church of Mangere
 South Auckland, New Zealand
 
Title:Why We're Here!
Text:BC 12 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:God and our Creation
 
Preached:2008-01-13
Added:2009-05-02
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 XII

(Reading: Psalm 8; Revelation 22:1-11)

 

Why We’re Here!

 

 

Congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ...

 

     We come to a new section in the Belgic Confession of Faith.

          This is what we see when we look at what we’ve covered so far.

             

     For the first Article made it clear that this whole Confession of Faith is about doing exactly that – confessing faith in God.

          Then Articles 2 till 7 declared the way by which we know Him in his Word.

              And, following that, Articles 8 till 11 spoke of God Himself in His tri-unity.

 

     Now we move to seeing where we realise God’s works.

          This is what is external – on the outside.

              So having confessed God’s self-revelation, our Confession immediately tells of God’s great works – His creation and His providence.

         

     Mind you, here we are not following the precise order of salvation.

          If we were to do that then God’s eternal decrees – His counsel and election – would come in here.

              But this is the way that God’s eternal decrees make the most sense.

     Because it’s through creation that we see so clearly what God is working out!

          Rather than speculating on what happened a way out there way back then, we start with what is most definitely here!

 

     And haven’t people certainly wondered about that!

          Hasn’t man right throughout the ages and across the face of this earth asked about this world?

              Many are the theories and legends about where this world came from!

     Because it’s right here, isn’t it?

          It stares you straight in the face!

 

     How relevant it is, then, that Article 12 deals next with creation.

          In the words of the first aspect to Article 12 this is about THE DECLARED PURPOSE FOR CREATION.   

 

     Congregation, look at the first paragraph to this Article.

          When you read through that what is the point that really stands out to you?

              For which reason did God create this world?

 

     In fact, just so you get this point it’s repeated twice.

          For the word “serve” makes it plain why this world is where it is.

              God created it so that it would please Him.

 

     The Bible is clear about this.

          And so the reformational confessions confirm the same.

              Isn’t this the way the Westminster Shorter Catechism describes the chief purpose of man in its very first Answer?

                   In the answer which echoes down nearly four hundred years since and has gone throughout the word, it says, “The chief purpose for which man is made is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.”

 

     Those of us who are artists and craftsmen know that the reason they make something is first of all so that they are pleased with it.

          Anything substandard or un-liked goes the way of the rubbish bin!

 

     In the same way what God created was perfectly good, because He is perfection itself.

          In fact, His perfection shows in the power he has to be able to be make this world out of nothing.

              In the words of Genesis 1 He spoke and it appeared.

     At least nine times in that chapter that phrase is used.

          And each time a different part of creation came into being the expression is used – “And God saw that it was good.”

              Seven times He says that!

 

     You see, it was what pleased Him.

          And because He is the over-flowing source of all good He knew when something was good.

              For He took pleasure in it!

 

     So as this world was originally created it simply sang out in every being, shape, form, and function, the glory of God.

          It praised Him!

             

     Now, you may well say that things have changed since then!

          It’s not singing God’s song now.

              But you would be quite wrong!

     For since God created it the creation will always have to witness to Him.

          Even in its brokenness it’s a reflection of Him.

 

     Some could call this intelligent design.

          But John Calvin puts a lot more clearer than that.

              In speaking of mankind he said that we have the ‘sensus divinitatis’ – the sense of the divine.

                  

     And we will not find our true purpose in this life until we find it in Him!

          That’s why the Gospel must be preached.

              It is only God’s Spirit, through His Word, who can return us again to Him.

 

     There is a further proof for God, though.

          As Article 12 goes on in describing creation, “He also still upholds and governs them by His eternal providence and infinite power for the service of mankind, to the end that man may serve his God.”

 

     This is something which will be taken up in more detail in the next Article.

          Yet it’s an integral part of this Article because you cannot separate God’s creating away from His sustaining.

              That means He’s still creating!

 

     So here we strongly disagree with the deists.

          Because they are those, who, while claiming to believe in God, teach that He’s not interested in the details.

              They compare Him to someone who has wound up a clock and just let it go.

 

     Now, while we believe creation is distinct from the Creator, it is not for one moment apart from Him.

          Nothing at all can even move without God’s will.

              As Jesus said in Matthew 10 verse 29 and 30, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?

     “Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.

          “And even the very hairs on your head are numbered.”

 

     It’s clear also the place man has in this scheme of things.

          While the first use of the expression regarding serving God applies to all creation - heaven and earth - the end of the first paragraph definitely names man as the central focus of creation.

              Psalm 8 rings out here.

     As the verses 3 till 5 there declare, “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?

          “You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honour.”

 

     This is a good point to turn to those heavenly creatures, as Article 12 does in the beginning of its second paragraph.

          We read there, “He also created the angels good, to be his messengers and to serve His elect.”

             

     Now, at the time of the reformation there was much false teaching about angels.

          There was a lot of superstition about.

              In fact, not that much different than how it is in our day.

     For who of you haven’t seen those car bumper stickers about guardian angels?

          And what about those luring adverts promising to be able to help you connect with the spirit realm?

 

     So let’s first understand here what angels are.

          They are spirits, as Hebrews 1:14 says.

              They are not ethereal - so they’re not light, fluffy things – but they’re immortal beings.

     They are not powers, yet they’re powerful persons.

          The Bible shows them as being self-aware in Luke 1:19, having desires in 1 Peter 1:12, worshipping in Hebrews 1:6, able to rejoice in Luke 15:10, and able to speak in 1st Corinthians 13:1.

             

     God created heaps of them – thousands  upon thousands!

          They have not come from each other – you aren’t born one.

              They don’t have relationships like we have them.

     And there are different types - cherubim and seraphim, dominions, principalities and powers.

          Just look up Isaiah 6:2, Colossians 1:16, and Hebrews 9:5 to see this.

 

     So there are differences in their world.

          They are not all the same or do the same.

              But beyond that we don’t know any more about them, except that their work is to praise God!

 

     This is a work they also do by being His messengers in the work of revelation.

          They are sent to serve those inheriting salvation.

              And they’ll be there assisting Christ on the Last Day in the final separation of the righteous from the unrighteous.

 

     It is especially the help these angels give to the elect that’s spoken of here.

          But then, sadly, there are many who are determined to do quite the opposite.

              And it’s here we come to the second aspect in connection with Article 12.

                   For here we see THE ATTEMPTED DISTORTION IN CREATION.

 

     You see, while the second paragraph began encouragingly enough, speaking of the work of God’s angels to help the elect, it also has to be honest about those angels that have fallen from that position.

          With the words “some of whom are fallen” we are hearing Scriptures’ teaching about the many who are now opposed to God.

             

     From what we can know, this seems to have happened after the seventh day of creation in Genesis 2:4 and before the fall of mankind in Genesis 3.

          One division of the angels rebelled against God while another division chose to stay on His side.

             

     1st Timothy 3:6 tells us that their sin was pride.

          And Jude 6 confirms this as they no longer wanted to have the positions God appointed them to.

 

     The evil angels are further clarified in Article 12 as being “devils and evil spirits.”

          And it’s not a pretty picture the second paragraph concludes about them.

              Listen to this: “they are so depraved that they are enemies of God and every good thing; to the utmost of their power as murderers watching to ruin the Church and every member thereof, and by their wicked stratagems to destroy all…”.

    

     They are angels quite the opposite to the one the apostle John met in Revelation 22.

          Because of the great things that angel had been telling him, John fell down to worship the angel.

              But he was having none of that.

     He said to John in verse 9, “Don’t do it!

          “I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets of all who keep the words of this book.

              “Worship God!”

 

     He was one of the Lord’s angels.

          But the evil angels would love it if you bowed down to worship them.

              Wasn’t that what their leader, Satan, tried to tempt Jesus into doing after He fasted 40 days in the wilderness?    

     In Matthew 4 verses 8 and 9 we read, “the devil took Jesus to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour.

          “‘All this I will give you,’ he said, ‘if you will bow down and worship me.’”

    

     You see, their constant work is to distract the saints.

          They will do whatever they can to keep you from doing the Lord’s work.

              Martin Luther threw his inkpot at the devil – he could feel him so close and so attacking!

 

     ‘Now, we don’t throw things at the devil today!

          ‘Luther was still too affected by the superstition of the middle ages.’

             

     Oh, dear friend, you don’t do well to think and say that!

          Every genuine believer has experienced how tricky and quick and strong the devil can be.

              And he always comes upon you at your weakest.

     That’s why the expression “wicked stratagems” is so apt.

          He knows all about your past, where you’ve been, and what you’ve seen.        

              He knows exactly what it is that trips you up time and time and time again!

 

     Because of Christ’s ascension into heaven, however, Satan is bound.

          He could no longer go on his way freely.

              He cannot deceive the nations anymore.

                   In the final words of the second paragraph, “by their own wickedness” they will be “adjudged to eternal damnation, daily expecting their horrible torments.”

                  

     That’s what we have to believe.

          It’s what we’ve just confessed.

             

     Dear friend, make a covenant with your thoughts and your eyes and your tongue and your hands and your feet.

          When you’re tempted remind yourself of that promise to go God’s way.

              Let your all be focused on the Lord of the covenant who conquered all those sins.

                   For now in His strength you can defeat them too!

 

     This is how the Lord answered the devil’s ultimate temptation.

          In Matthew 4 verse 10 He said to him, “Away from me, Satan!

              “For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”

                   And then Satan left Him.

 

     It’s in this way we come to the third aspect to Article 12 this afternoon.

          This is about THE CONTINUAL IMPORTANCE OF CREATION.

 

     Now, in a way we’ve touched into this already.

          Because Article 12 began telling us how much creation covers.

              Not only is there what is here below there is also heaven above!

 

     You see, the heaven in Genesis 1 verse 1 is not the firmament.

          It’s not describing there the sky or universes surrounding the earth.

              God created those on the second and fourth days.

 

     Actually, what Genesis 1:1 describes is the heaven far above and beyond all these.

          This is where God lives with His holy angels.

              This is a place.

 

     Jesus went to this place through His ascension in Acts 1.

          He reigns from there over all things right now.

             

     While we don’t know where this heaven is we do know that it’s a much better place than this earth.

          Indeed, it’s where our spirits go when physically we die on this earth.

 

     So this creation is not totally lost.

          To a large part it revolted against its Creator.

              But that isn’t going to stop the Creator from continuing to work out His will through this creation.

                   He is keeping this present world until all those elected will have come to salvation.

    

     That’s why the Lord preserves and blesses His Church.

          He’s protecting His remnant through the ages from being completely overwhelmed by Satan and his legion of evil angels.

              Indeed, He’s now blessing His Church to complete the Great Commission of bringing His Gospel everywhere.

 

     It’s keeping this in mind that we turn to the last paragraph.

          For when we first heard the names of Sadducees and the Manchees, we may have thought it was simply an interesting historical detail.

              But these groups actually serve to illustrate the two key dangers which have confronted believers through the ages.

 

     The error of the Sadducees tempts us by making us think and live as if such spirits didn’t exist.

          Remember, the Sadducees were those Luke 20 verse 27 tells us didn’t believe in a resurrection.

              So when you were buried they said that was it!

     But we must not diminish the other side in creation.

          It tells us of that heaven above where God a Spirit reign with His angels – the good spirits.

              And it warns us of what lies unseen in this world below, because Satan and his host are constantly assaulting believers everyday and in every possible way.

 

     The error of the Manichees is that they say Satan and the evil angels have an independent origin.

          So next to the idea of a good God who was always there, there is a bad god who’s always been there.

              You could almost describe it as the dark side which you just cannot get away from!

     For the evil would forever stand beside God and not under Him.

          There would be no true hope.

              And certainly no victory over Satan, as has now already been won!

    

     Yet, the devil has come undone.

          Christ defeated Satan and all the hosts of evil.

              In the words of Colossians 3 verse 15, “have disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”

           

     So while those evil forces may continue their warfare against Christ and His heavenly kingdom, their doom is sealed.

          In the words of John Calvin, now “they drag their chains with them wherever they go.”

              Amen.

 

 

PRAYER:

Let’s pray…

     O Lord Jesus, how much don’t we thank and praise You for Your doing and dying.

          Your work secured the triumph.

              And now we know that while the devil is yet dangerous he cannot win.

     Help us by Your Spirit to live out of that victory.

          Then we can begin to reclaim every square inch of this world for He to whom it truly belongs!

              You, Lord!

                   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 2008, Rev. Sjirk Bajema

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