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Author:Dr. Wes Bredenhof
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Congregation:Free Reformed Church of Launceston, Tasmania
 Tasmania, Australia
 
Title:The almighty God is my faithful Father and he gives everything its meaning
Text:LD 9 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:God and our Creation
 
Preached:2023
Added:2023-02-26
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Psalm 19:1-3

Psalm 95:1-3

Hymn 72

Hymn 1

Psalm 136:1-4

Scripture readings: Genesis 1, Revelation 4

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,

Stephen Jay Gould is a smart man.  He’s written extensively on the natural world and science.  He’s also reflected on the big important questions of life.  Here’s what he wrote in one place on why we’re here and the meaning of our lives:

We are here because one odd group of fishes had a peculiar fin anatomy that could transform into legs for terrestrial creatures; because comets struck the earth and wiped out dinosaurs, thereby giving mammals a chance not otherwise available….We may yearn for a ‘higher’ answer – but none exists.  This explanation, though superficially troubling, if not terrifying, is ultimately liberating and exhilarating.  We cannot read the meaning of life passively in the facts of nature.  We must construct these answers for ourselves.

It should be obvious from that quote that Stephen Jay Gould is not a Christian.  Rather than believing what the Bible says about the origin of the world, Gould holds to the theory of evolution.  He believes that human beings have a common ancestry with primates and fish and so on.  But more than that, he also believes there is no meaning to human life apart from the meaning we make for ourselves.  Sadly, this is a common way of thinking. 

Nevertheless, it forces us to think about these questions for ourselves.  Why are we here?  What does give our lives meaning and purpose?  Do we construct our own meaning?  These are questions we need to reflect on with an open Bible.  God’s Word gives us the authoritative answers to these questions.  In the Bible, we don’t find theories, we find objective truth.  In the Bible we find the revelation of who our God is. 

The Bible reveals to us that God is almighty.  This almighty God is also our faithful Father through Jesus Christ.  When we understand those biblical teachings, then we also more clearly understand how our lives have direction, meaning and purpose.  Our lives, and indeed the lives of all humans who’ve ever lived and ever will live, take on significant significance when viewed through the lens of these truths.  So, this afternoon I preach to you God’s Word with this theme:

The almighty God is my faithful Father and he gives everything its meaning

We’ll learn about how this connects to the:

  1. Past
  2. Present
  3. Future

When referring to God, the word “Father” in the Bible can have several different meanings or connotations.  One of those has to do with God’s work of creation at the very beginning.  In Isaiah 64:8, for instance:  “But now, O LORD, you are our Father;  we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.”  Especially in creating man from the dust of the earth, God is referred to here as Father.  Not only humanity, but every created thing owes its existence to God and thus he is the Father of creation.  That’s why James 1:17 refers to him as the “Father of lights.”  When God is called the “Father of lights” that’s referring to the fact that he created the sun, moon, and stars.   And in Job 38:28, God says that he is the Father of the rain and the drops of dew.  So, the idea of God as Father is often associated with his work of creation.

In that work of creation at the beginning, we find God revealed in his almighty power.  In Genesis 1, everything is created by the Word of God.  God says, “Let there be light” and there is light.  He did that not only with the light, but with everything.  He calls into being the things that are not with his words.  Revelation 4 says it as well:  all things were created by the will of God.  He creates something from nothing by his will and Word.  That’s awesome power.  Who else can speak and make things exist just like that?  Only God!

Moreover, God did all of this incredible work of creation in only six days.  When Scripture speaks in this way, we have no reason to believe that these days were anything other than ordinary days.  Whenever the Hebrew word for day is used in connection with a number in the Old Testament, it always refers to a normal day.  In Exodus 20, in the fourth commandment too, God speaks of having created the world in six days and there’s nothing to indicate this is anything other than six ordinary days.  When we believe that, it only heightens our sense of awe at God’s almighty power.  Everything that exists was called into being in a span of six days.  Our God is mighty and powerful!     

The mighty creative work of the Father at the beginning ties directly into the meaning and purpose of everything.  In Isaiah 43:7, God speaks of his sons and daughters who have been scattered over the face of the earth.  He says they were created for his glory.  Proverbs 16:4 says something similar, “The LORD has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.”  When we speak about the meaning and purpose of every created thing, then the first and highest purpose is always the glory of God, and that even includes people who turn their backs on God. 

I remember once speaking with a friend whose son had been brought up in the faith.  However, as he grew older, he rebelled against his parents and turned his back on Christ and the gospel.  He wanted to live life his own way and do his own thing.   I asked my friend how he and his wife coped with this.  It grieved them deeply.  But they said they prayed all the time for their son.  At the same time, however, he told me how he knew God has his hand in everything and that even the unrepentant have been created for God’s glory.  He then told the story of a friend who had a son in a similar situation, but then the son died in a horrible traffic accident.  There was no evidence this son had repented and was believing the gospel when he died.  He loved his son, but he loved God more and he said he knew that even his son’s life had not been purposeless and meaningless.  His son had been created and put on this earth for a reason, if only to glorify God’s justice. 

In Romans 9, Paul says the same thing.  He says that there are those who are objects of God’s wrath, who have been “prepared for destruction.”  And he says in verse 21 of Romans 9, “Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honourable use and another for dishonourable use?”  The point is that God has a purpose for everything he has created.  All those purposes come together to somehow magnify his glory and worth.  God has created nothing meaninglessly or purposelessly.  While we know it all results in his glory, we don’t always understand the details of how that works.  If we did, we’d be on our way to comprehending God fully and God would no longer be God.  So many times, we have to content ourselves with the knowledge that our Father knows best.  In faith we trust him.  We believe that in his wisdom he has created everything with a good purpose and meaning. 

Loved ones, that naturally includes you and me.  We never have to doubt for a minute that there’s a reason why God formed us in our mother’s womb and brought us into this world.  There’s a meaning, there’s a purpose and it all points upward to our faithful Father.       

That of course brings us into the present day.  If God created everything in ages past with a good purpose and meaning, we can be confident that in the present he’ll still be faithful to what he has made.  God’s faithfulness to his creation in general is a theme we find in many places in Scripture.  Think of Genesis 9 after the flood in the days of Noah.  God made his covenant, not only with Noah, but with every living creature on the earth.  That’s why this administration of the covenant is sometimes called the covenant of or with creation.  There God affirms his faithfulness to what he has made.  

This is a theme in the last five psalms as well.  Psalm 145:9, “The LORD is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.” Psalm 146:6 tells us that God is the maker of heaven and earth and he remains faithful forever.  He does that by giving food to the hungry, lifting up those who are bowed down, taking care of the disenfranchised.  In Psalm 147, God is the one who determined the number of the stars, he covers the skies with clouds, and gives food to cattle and ravens.  In Psalm 148, the highest heavens and the waters above the skies came into being at God’s command.  All created things are supported by God and are called to praise him.  In Psalm 149, Israel is called to praise their Creator who takes delight in them and who crowns them with salvation.  Psalm 150 is the climax of it all and there God’s people are told to pull out all the stops and praise God for his wonderful acts of power and surpassing greatness.  You see, God not only created all things, he also continues to uphold and govern them.  God is involved with his creation, not only at the beginning but at every single moment, and also right now.  That holds true in general, and it’s equally true for his relationship with his people, the apple of his eye, those who’ve been bought with the blood of Christ.  God is near and involved with us.     

A few years back a sociologist did a study of American teenagers and their religious beliefs.  Christian Smith reported that the beliefs of most teenagers can be characterized as moralistic, therapeutic deism.  According to that view, God is primarily concerned with making people happy, bailing them out when they get in trouble, and providing them with the necessary goods to enjoy life.  But otherwise God is uninvolved in the world and with people.  We call that view deism – although it’s always been around in some form, we usually associate it with the old idea of God as a clockmaker.  God made the world, like a clockmaker would make a clock.  He then wound it up and let it run and then backed away to do whatever a divine figure might want to do apart from taking care of the universe.  That’s deism and according to Christian Smith and others it’s still around.

But what about with us?  What about you younger brothers and sisters?  Do you believe God is involved with your life and all its intimate details?  Does God care about what courses you’re going to take and how much effort you put into them?  The friends you have?  The boy or girl you might be interested in?  What does the Bible say about God and his involvement in your life?  Let me encourage every one of us to believe what our Lord Jesus says about this in Matthew 10:29-31, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?  And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.  But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.  Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”  Aren’t those beautiful words?  Jesus tells us that even the smallest things that we don’t think of as important, like the hairs on our head, even those are in God’s plan.  God is no clock-maker, but a Father who hovers over us, constantly watching us in care and love.  He not only watches, but also governs and guides.  His power extends to every moment, every square inch, every single cell, every single thing.  Our God is sovereign. 

So also when we speak about the present and our almighty God, we need to remember that there’s meaning, purpose and direction.  If God were the clock-maker of the deists, we’d be adrift in a sea of chance.  If God were someone other than the One revealed in Scripture, we could be left wondering and doubting about the meaning of life and the reason we’re here.  But Scripture reveals a God who is there and who does get right down into the nitty-gritty dirt and messiness of our lives.  Scripture also reveals that as God does this in the lives of his people, he’s working for their good at the present moment.  He provides all that is needed for body and soul and he also works everything for good.  All of that is because of God’s gospel grace – the grace demonstrated most beautifully in what Christ has done for us.  God is our Father who loves us – we see it in how Christ paid the price for us and Christ offers his perfect righteousness for us.  God is our Father who loves us – we see it in how Christ has conquered sin and death.  The good news includes the love of a heavenly Father!

His love is certain as we look back into the past, as we look at the present, and also as we look ahead into the future.  Our Catechism directs us to this future aspect when it says, “He will provide me with all things necessary for body and soul, and will also turn to my good whatever adversity he sends me in this life of sorrow.”  Faith looks to all that is promised us in the gospel and this is part of it, a promise for the future.

From a human perspective, the future is uncertain in so many ways.  Who knows whether you’ll have good health tomorrow or next week or next month?  Who knows what might happen to the husband or wife you love so dearly?  Who knows about your children and whether they’ll always believe the gospel and show the fruit of it?  Who knows...we could go on and on.  There are all these uncertainties and you could drive yourself mad thinking about them all. 

That’s where the character of faith as ‘trusting’ and ‘resting’ comes in.  We trust God so completely that we don’t doubt his love for us at any point, not in the past, not in the present and not for the future.  Faith says, “He is my God and my Father who will never abandon me.”  We trust God.  We also rest in God’s promises.  Rather than getting agitated and worked up, faith leads us to say, “My Father has promised me that he upholds and governs all things, my Father has promised that he will make everything work out – I’m going to rest in that.  I look at the cross and I see the proof of his love.  He gave his Son for me, so I’m going to believe him and trust him, even if I can’t understand how it’s all going to work out.”

Loved ones, faith leads us away from meditating and mulling over uncertainties to meditating and mulling over what is certain and real.  What is certain is that your Father is in control.  What is real is that God is on his throne.  The Lord of the gentle breeze is the Lord of the rough and tumble.  Your Father will never throw you out on your own.  He promises.

Many of you are familiar with that famous poem “Footprints.”  You know how it goes.  A man has a dream in which he sees all the scenes of his life and there are footprints in the sand to go with each scene.  In most of the scenes, there are two sets, his and the Lord’s.  But when there were hard times, then there was only one set of footprints.  The man wondered why – he thought he’d been abandoned.  Then God told him that it was then that he carried the man.  It’s a nice poem, but unfortunately it gives the impression that God only carries us during the really hard times and then for the rest we’re left to walk on our own beside him, a sort of “God is my co-pilot” idea.  Listen:  the gospel is way better than that.  What is promised us in the gospel in the first article of the Apostles’ Creed tells us that God always carries us.  He’s done so in the past, he does in the present, and he will do so in the future. 

Think of what Scripture says in Psalm 121:7-8, “The LORD will keep you from all evil – he will keep your life.  The LORD will keep your going out and your coming from this time forth and forevermore.”  “Going and coming” -- that’s not just the hard times, that’s all the time, 24/7, 365 days a year.  “From this time forth and forevermore”!  Your Father is always on duty, always on top of things.  He will always give your life its meaning, purpose and direction.  You can count on it. 

Loved ones, the gospel is a rich blessing for those who believe it.  Through this good news, we not only have hope for the future, we also have a proper perspective on the past and the present.  Through God’s promises, we can have peace of mind and we can live a life of joy, love, and praise for our Creator and for our Father.  And in the future, whenever that glorious day will come, someday we will be there in the presence of God, singing the song of the twenty-four elders:  “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”  AMEN.

Prayer:

Our Father, almighty God, Creator of heaven and earth,

We praise you for your power in creating all things in times past.  We praise you for the meaning and purpose you’ve given to every single thing.  Father, we’re glad you created us too, and that our lives have meaning and direction.  Please help us with your Spirit to see that more clearly.  Help us to self-consciously live for your praise and glory in everything.  We also pray that you would always provide for us in the present, help us to see your fingerprints in our lives and trust your care for us.  We pray that we would always know that you are near and that you are leading, guiding and caring for us, even in the most mundane details.  And Father, we pray that you would also help us to have an attitude of faith towards the future, that we would meditate on your Word and cling to what is certain.  Help us with your Word and Spirit so we always trust your promises of who you will be for us and what you will do for us.  We pray, Father, that you would surely bring each one of us into your presence to sing your praises with all the saints.    




* 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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