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Author:Dr. Wes Bredenhof
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Congregation:Free Reformed Church of Launceston, Tasmania
 Tasmania, Australia
 
Title:Make much of God!
Text:Psalms 96:2 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Our Calling
 
Preached:2021
Added:2021-12-23
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Hymn 66

Psalm 25:1-3 (after the law)

Psalm 95:1-3

Psalm 96:1,2

Hymn 81

Scripture reading:  1 Peter 2:1-12

Text: Psalm 96:2 (but read the entire psalm)

* 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,

When you really care about someone, you want to see them recognized when they accomplish something great.  For example, if your son or daughter gets an important award or a scholarship, you want the world to know.  Because you love your child, you want everyone else to see what you see in him or her.  You’re hoping they’ll get the praise and recognition they deserve for their accomplishments.  You want to make much of this child you love so dearly.  That’s normal and there’s nothing wrong with that. 

What’s normal and quite common with parents and children is rare when it comes to creatures and their Creator.  Human beings were created to make much of God, to exalt him, to glorify him.  But soon after Adam and Eve were created in the book of Genesis, they chose a different way.  God said, “Make much of me and it’ll be for your good, for your blessing.”  But Adam and Eve listened to Satan.  Satan said, “God doesn’t have your best interests at heart when he tells you to make much of him.”  What Satan said seemed to make more sense to the first human couple.  So Adam and Eve rebelled and human beings have been following in their footsteps ever since.  Human beings have chosen the way of sin.  And one of the big problems with sin is that it always has “I” in the middle of it.  I want my way, I want my will to be done, I want me to be made much of. 

Scripture speaks to this human problem.  Psalm 96 speaks to it.  This Psalm is addressed to people who love God, to people who’ve experienced his salvation in their lives.  Here the Holy Spirit reminds us that if you care about God, you ought to make sure that everyone knows how impressive and awesome he is.  As we look at Psalm 96:2, we’ll see how it calls us to make much of God.

We’ll consider:

  1. Why
  2. How
  3. When

We have to spend a moment looking at the origins of this Psalm.  The origins will help us understand what’s behind the call here to make much of God.  Psalm 96 is actually found elsewhere in the Bible.  It first appears in 1 Chronicles 16.  There King David was celebrating the entrance of the ark into Jerusalem.  This “ark” was a special ceremonial box built during the time of the Exodus from Egypt.  It was like God’s throne amongst his people.  In 1 Chronicles 16, David was bringing the ark into the royal city of Jerusalem.  The Great King, God, was going to have his dwelling place in the royal city.  It was a time of celebration.  David wrote the words we have here in Psalm 96 for this joyful occasion.        

The second part of verse 2 says, “…tell of his salvation from day to day.”  “His salvation” is a big reason why people who love God should want to make much of him.  Now you have to remember that these words were originally written by a Jew living in the Old Testament.  They were first read and sung by Jews hundreds of years before Christ.  What did they understand by “his salvation”?   King David and other Jewish believers would have thought of things like the Exodus from Egypt.  That was the main salvation event of the Old Testament.  The Israelites had been enslaved by Pharaoh.  God heard their cries and delivered them from slavery.  God led them out of Egypt and eventually brought them to the Promised Land of Canaan.  You can’t underestimate how important that was.  That was a big deal.  David and other Jewish believers were still celebrating it hundreds of years after it happened.  When David wrote, “tell of his salvation from day to day,” he meant, “tell of God’s mighty deeds of deliverance in the past.”

But the Holy Spirit was also pointing ahead to God’s mightiest deed of deliverance.  Every salvation event in the Old Testament was pointing ahead to the greatest one.  God would fulfill all his promises and send his Son to be the Saviour.  Jesus would come and be the ultimate rescue – not from an earthly oppressor like Pharaoh, but from our sin and the consequences we deserve for it.  He would rescue us from the hell we have earned by our rebellion against God.  Jesus did that on the cross by taking the wrath of God in our place.

All of us have a different story, a different spiritual journey.  For some of you, you were raised in a Christian home and may not really be able to recall a time when you didn’t love God and want to follow Christ as your Lord and Saviour.  If someone were to ask you, “When were you saved?” you might not be able to give a definite answer.  That’s okay.  But with some of you it’s different.  You know there was a time in your life when you definitely weren’t a Christian.  But God came and he rescued you.  The Holy Spirit came into your heart and he gave you the gift of faith.  There was a time you didn’t believe in Jesus, but now you do.  But for all of you, there really is a common answer to the question, “When were you saved?”  It doesn’t matter what your story is, because you were saved at the cross.  You were saved in the atoning death of Jesus Christ in your place on Golgotha.  He secured the forgiveness of all your sins on that cross.  He paid for them all so you’ll never have to.  That’s true for all who believe.

What greater reason could there be then to love God and want to make much of him?  He’s the God who hasn’t given us what we deserved.  Instead, he’s given us the opposite.  We deserve eternal wrath and punishment.  But in Jesus we get the opposite:  we get eternal life and acceptance into God’s family.  This is what we call grace.  Grace is when God gives you the opposite of what you deserve.  It’s God’s grace in Jesus, his salvation, which leads us to want to lift up his name in exuberant praise.  The cross is what captivates the heart of a Christian; “when I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of Glory died” I can’t help but stand in awe and amazement.  At the cross, God made a way for a hateful rebel like me to become his beloved child.  At the cross, God took me off the highway to hell and put me on the narrow road to the celestial city.  At the cross, God forgave my every instance of wanting to make much of me, he wiped it all away with the blood of his Son.  Loved ones, this is why we make much of God.  His salvation, his grace, his cross, this is why we want everyone everywhere to see how impressive God really is.

So given that compelling reason to make much of God, how do we do that?  There are three action words, three verbs in verse 2.  These are all commands. 

The first one is “Sing.”  It already appears twice in verse 1.  But then for a third time, David says, “Sing to the LORD…”  Singing is the most intense way of speaking.  When we sing, our emotions get expressed in our communication.  I mean, why do people write love songs?  It’s intense, emotion-filled communication, one of the best ways to express how we feel.  Christians sing praises to God because they intensely love him.  Singing praises to God is one way we make much of him.

Closely paralleling that is blessing his name.  If you stop and think about it, you might think it odd that we’re called to bless God’s name -- which is really the same thing as calling us to bless God, after all, God’s name is who he is.  Doesn’t God bless us?  How can we bless God?  But here the word “bless” doesn’t mean “give good things to someone.”  Instead, it means the same thing as “praise.”  Praise his name, praise God.  We use our words to make much of him.

Then last of all, we’re to make much of God by telling of his salvation.  The Hebrew word for “telling” speaks of the work of a herald.  In the ancient world, a herald would announce good news, oftentimes the good news of a military victory.  There’s an ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament called the Septuagint.  In verse 2 for “tell,” the Septuagint uses the Greek word euangelizo, this is the word from which we get our English word “evangelize.”  Literally, it says, “Evangelize his salvation from day to day.”  Tell the good news of God’s salvation.

That call reverberates into the New Testament in places like 1 Peter 2.  There Christians have been saved so that they may proclaim the excellencies of God, the one who called them out of darkness and into his marvelous light.  You see, our calling is proclaim excellencies, to make much of God by telling of his salvation.  We’re to be God’s gospel witnesses in this dark world.

Now there’s something I want you to notice about all three of these ways we make much of God in verse 2 of Psalm 96.  They all have to do with words.  They all have to do with intelligible sounds coming out of your mouth.  You don’t sing without opening your mouth.  You don’t bless God’s name or tell of his salvation by keeping your mouth shut.  There have to be words.  Maybe you’ve heard of that quote, “Preach the gospel at all times and if necessary use words.”  It’s usually attributed to Francis of Assisi, but there’s no proof he ever said it.  Regardless, that quote flies in the face of what the Bible actually says.  It’s like saying, “Feed the poor at all times and if necessary use food.”  Bringing the gospel by its very nature involves words.  Sing, bless, tell – use words to make much of God in a dark world which needs his salvation.  To be clear, also strive to live a consistent Christian life which doesn’t undermine the words you speak.  But the two go together and one can never be a substitute for the other. 

So I want to encourage all of you to do exactly what the Holy Spirit says here.  Make much of God, proclaim his excellencies by using your words.  God calls you to use words to show how impressive he is, especially in his saving work in Jesus Christ.  He wants you to keep sharing the gospel with whomever you can.  He wants you to be his instruments to continue to draw in more people who see how awesome he is in view of the good news of our salvation.        

Finally, I want to briefly look at the question of when.  When are we supposed to make much of God?  Well, look at what it says at the end of verse 2:  “from day to day.”  That’s it. 

I have an acquaintance who told me how a friend of his took verse 2 of Psalm 96 literally.  “Tell of his salvation from day to day” – he understood that to mean that there should never be a day when he doesn’t share the gospel with someone.  So he does that.  Every day he tells someone about Jesus.  I admire that eagerness and I think you should too.    

But that said, Psalm 96 is poetry.  Poetry uses language differently.  Language is often used symbolically or metaphorically.  It’s not always to be taken literally.  “From day to day,” means regularly, habitually, as much as you can.  Should you feel guilty if there’s a day where you haven’t told of God’s salvation in Jesus Christ?  Is it a sin if a day passes by where you haven’t shared the gospel with someone?  No.  But should you feel sad if you haven’t had the opportunity to tell someone the greatest news the world has ever heard?  Should you desire opportunities every day to tell people about Christ?  Yes, absolutely!  That’s where this passage is leading us.  It’s leading us to be disciples of Christ.

Disciples follow their master.  Jesus is our Master.  Follow him.  In his earthly ministry, our Master Jesus told of God’s salvation from day to day, regularly, habitually, anywhere and everywhere he could.  And we’re to walk in his footsteps.  And just as our Lord Jesus made much of God, we will too.  We’ll make it known that our God is impressive, that he’s worthy of worship and adoration.

That’s really what it comes down to.  What is God worthy of?  What does he deserve?  Because he’s the great God of our salvation, he deserves everyone’s admiration.  We don’t deserve anything except judgment.  But God, he is someone to make much of, someone awesome and extraordinary.  And if we love him, we’ll make it our aim to help others to see it too.  AMEN. 

PRAYER:

O God of our salvation,

You are worthy of our songs of adoration.  We bless your name O God, because you are so awesome and impressive.  All of this is because of your salvation in Jesus Christ.  Thank you for delivering us from the slavery of sin, from the tyranny of death, from the power of Satan, from the wrath our sins deserve.  Thank you for the gospel of our Lord Jesus.  Thank you for the wondrous cross.  We want to tell of your salvation from day to day and so we pray for the help of your Holy Spirit to do that.  Help us all to make much of you, especially with words of gospel witness. 




* 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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