Psalm 37:4                           This Is How God Operates                                   2/24/2013     

 

Š      Three Immutable Principles (Isa 46:9-11, Rom 3:10-12, Eph 2:3, 1Sam 2:8, Eph 2:9, 1:5)

 

 

 

 

#1.      Delight Thyself in the Lord (Psalm 37:1-6, Rom 3:11)

 

 

 

 

Š      The Way of Salvation (Eph 1:1-7, 2:1-3)

 

 

 

 

#2.      The Sovereignty of God (Isa 45:7, 46:9-11)

 

 

 

 

Š      All Through the Redemption Process (Acts 4:24-28)

 

 

 

 

#3.      What Do We Really Desire? (Rom 8:2, 6:23, John 11:26, 14:15, Gal 3:10, 3:13, Rom 10:4)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please open your Bibles to Psalm 37:1 (2X). I want to take you in a broad sweep throughout the Bible and I want you to see how God operates. Therefore the sermon for today is titled, This Is How God Operates.” This is not a philosophizing sermon. As you know, that is not my style. We will cover many passages where it will be abundantly clear how God operates in His creation, and why He does it this way. Before I start this sermon touching on the doctrines embedded in our theology, we need to review certain established principles. We want to make sure that we remain faithful, and thus if we want to be faithful to all of God’s messages we must keep three principles in view:

Š      Three Immutable Principles (Isa 46:9-11, Rom 3:10-12, Eph 2:3, 1Sam 2:8, Eph 2:9, 1:5)

First, the sovereignty of God must be maintained, for God’s sovereignty is from everlasting past into everlasting future and it must stand forever. (Isa 46:9-11). Everything God does serves to give Him the honor and the glory. Before the foundation of the world the Triune God was already absolutely sovereign and infinitely glorious. Nothing He created could damage His honor and glory. And therefore in all our theology we must keep His sovereignty intact, and give Him all the glory.

Secondly, the righteousness of God must be maintained absolutely, for God is a righteous, or a just, Judge, and everything He does is absolutely righteous and just. After man sinned in the Garden of Eden God would have been perfectly righteous if He would have cast the whole human race into hell. (Rom 3:10-12, Eph 2:3). In addition, when Christ paid for our sins in our place, the vicarious payment of Christ must be a true substitution for our payment, which means that it must be equivalent to the payment we would have to pay if we were on our own paying the penalty for the sins we have committed; this is what a righteous Judge demands. The guilt of every sin must be paid.

Thirdly, God’s gifts are freely given. There is nothing that we could bring as payment, or as compensation for the gifts of God, for we are bankrupt sinners who have nothing to offer that is free from sin. We are beggars on the dunghill, begging for God’s favors upon us, and begging for God’s forgiveness of our sins. (1Sam 2:8). And because God’s gifts are freely given they cannot be earned or deserved based on the good works that we do. (Eph 2:9). Therefore God will distribute His gifts entirely according to His good pleasure, and not according to our measure of righteousness, and not according to our good works, and not according to any other of our qualifications. (Eph 1:5).

But we are not robots. God admonishes us to do those things that are pleasing in His sight. And if we truly love the Lord we will do those things that are pleasing in His sight. And so we read in Ps 37,

#1.      Delight Thyself in the Lord (Psalm 37:1-6, Rom 3:11)

Ps 37:1-6  « A Psalm of David. » 1 ¶  « A Psalm of David. » Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity.

2  For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.

3  Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.

4  Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

5  Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.

6  And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday.

Look again at verse 4, “Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” God admonishes us to delight ourselves in the Lord Jesus Christ. Is this something we can do by ourselves? O no, not at all! God says in Rom 3:11, “There is NONE that seeketh after God.” On our own we have absolutely no desire to delight ourselves in the Lord. But since God commands us to do this, is it then not obvious that God the Holy Spirit must prompt us to delight ourselves in the Lord, for He will give us the desire to do this? This is one of the gifts from God which is bestowed upon us totally by grace. Not everyone in the world will have this desire; only those who have been endowed with the grace of God. So it is God who will give us the desire to delight in Him. This is a gift from God. But it is not the only gift. God follows up this gift with another one, for we read in verse 4, “He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” First God will give us the desire to delight in Him, and then He will fill those desires we have. For example, God the Holy Spirit will prompt us to pick up the Bible and search for those things that are pleasing in His sight, and then He will fill our desires by giving us wonderful insights in His Word, such as “The Pillar on Rachel’s Grave.”

Can you see an extension of the third principle that I stated earlier? Can you see how God operates in this instance? First God gives the gift to whom He will, and then He rewards us by honoring us for having the gift. This is amazing. God praises us and rewards us for something that He has given to us in the first place. Is this something that occurs in the Bible more often? Let us look again at the way God saves anyone.

Š      The Way of Salvation (Eph 1:1-7, 2:1-3)

Please turn in your Bibles to the Epistle to the Ephesians, Eph 1:1 (2X). To whom is this epistle addressed? We have to know this, for it is not addressed to everyone in the world. God says here:

Eph 1:1-7  1 ¶  Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:

2  Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

3 ¶  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:

4  According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:

5  Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,

6  To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

7  In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;

This passage tells us that before the foundation of the world God intended to bring the Lord Jesus Christ into the world to suffer on the cross for the sins of mankind, for verse 7 speaks about our redemption through His blood. This means then that sin has to enter into the world. It means that the sin of Adam and Eve had to take place. This was God’s plan. It was also God’s plan to bless us by choosing us to be in Christ before the foundation of the world, according to the good pleasure of His will. And who are the ones whom God has elected to be in Christ? Verse 1 says they are the saints at Ephesus and all those in the world who are faithful in Christ Jesus. But notice that these saints and these faithful have not always been saints, for Eph 2:1-3 says that we all were dead in trespasses and sins, and we all were by nature the children of wrath, even as others who are never going to be saved. In other words, at a certain point in our life God has to give us the gift of becoming saved, or becoming saints; sinners are transformed into saints as a free gift. After we have become saved we are no longer called sinners, but saints. It means that now we have received eternal life, which includes the hope of eternal life with Christ in the New Heaven and the New Earth. This is our reward for becoming saints. But our sainthood was a free gift from God. So here we see the same principle again that God gives the gift of salvation by providing the Lord Jesus Christ who will atone for our sins, and then God rewards us for our sainthood by giving us a glorious existence in the New Heaven and the New Earth together with Christ. And God gives these gifts only to those whom He elected before the foundation of the world. Does this process bring glory to God? Most definitely it does, for all the saints that God brings into the New Heaven and the New Earth are free from sin.

We can go through every event in the Bible, and we will see that the gifts from God are always free gifts, and the rewards He brings are always the result of God’s free gifts in the first place. So this is the way God works out His plan, His counsel, also called His decree that He established before time began. And what was His plan? He determined that the sovereignty of God must prevail. God determined that He will pour His grace upon those whom He favored in the first place.

#2.      The Sovereignty of God (Isa 45:7, 46:9-11, Rom 13:1, 8:28, 9:11-13))

Please turn in your Bibles to the prophecy of Isaiah, Isa 45:7 (2X). What do we understand by the sovereignty of God? God declares His sovereignty in the plainest language in Isa 45:7, where He said

“I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.” To say that God is sovereign means to say that He is an absolute potentate. But God does not create the evil that is sin, for God cannot sin, neither does He tempt anyone to sin. We get a good hold of God’s sovereignty when we look at what He wrote in the next chapter. Please turn to chapter 46 in this prophecy of Isaiah, Isa 46:9-11, and there we read:

Isa 46:9-11, 9  Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me,

10  Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:

11  Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.

God says that He is declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times God declares the things that are not yet done. How is God going to do it? Does God have a crystal ball in which He can see what is coming? No. God is not waiting for events to fall into place. Instead He says, “I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.” It is not God’s omniscience by which He can declare the future, but He will bring it to pass because He will do it. God does not take His hands off in the course of history. God causes world history to unfold the way He wants it to unfold. And so, if we happen to elect a president of the country who turned out to be antireligious or who promotes the homosexual agenda, or who promotes abortion, be aware that it was God who caused him to be elected, for there is no power but of God; the powers that be are ordained by God. (Rom 13:1). It does not mean that God caused the abortions, for God cannot sin, and the sins are the sins of the wicked. But God was in control of the elections that caused these sinners to be placed in authority. God’s purposes are beyond the reach of our understanding. We need to be satisfied with God’s promise that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” (Rom 8:28). God is absolutely sovereign and righteous in all that He does, and God has a purpose for directing world history as He does. For example, when God says, “Jacob have I loved and Esau have I hated, before the children were born, before they could have done any good or evil,” (Rom 9:11-13) God declares His sovereignty, and God declares whom He elected before the foundation of the world, and God declares that He will pour His grace upon His special people whom He chose according to the good pleasure of His will.

God will reward the wicked for all the sins they commit on the Last Day, but the wicked are wicked because they do not believe that God is the Avenger and the Protector of the righteous. But these are the principles that God will apply all through creation and redemption.

Š      All Through the Redemption Process (Acts 4:24-28)

Please turn in your Bible to the Acts of the Apostles, Acts 4:24 (2X). For example, at the right time God elected Pontius Pilate to be the governor of Judaea, and God elected Annas and Caiaphas to be the high priests at the same time, which were all wicked people. The result was that the Lord Jesus Christ was nailed to a cruel cross, and there He died. But God ordained that Christ would atone for the sins of all His elect, and so God’s purpose was completely satisfied. Now we read in Acts 4:24-28,

Acts 4:24-28, 24  And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is:

25  Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things?

26  The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ.

27  For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together,

28  For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.

What did God do? God gave His only begotten Son to His people, the elect of God, for a sin- offering. This was a tremendous gift. And when He was offered on the cross for a sin-offering God gave all His elect the forgiveness of all their sins. That was a second great gift. And through the intercession of Christ God adopted every one of His elect as the Bride of Christ and adopted every one as sons of God. That was the third great gift. And through our lifetime our Advocate in heaven Christ) and our Advocate on earth (The Holy Spirit) will make sure that we are not going astray. That is the fourth great gift. And on the Last Day God will give every one of His elect the New Heaven and the New Earth, and the honor to sit in the throne of Christ. That is going to be the fifth great gift. I may have missed a few. Can you see the principle of how God operates? Each gift is followed by another, and in the end the honor of sitting in the throne of Christ is totally determined by God choosing His elect from before the foundation of the world. The initial free gift of God leads to a final honor and glory which is beyond any imagination. None of it is earned or deserved by doing good works. Every one of these gifts is according to God’s good pleasure.

#3.      What Do We Really Desire? (Rom 8:2, 6:23, John 11:26, 14:15, Gal 3:10, 3:13, Rom 10:4)

Please turn in your Bibles to the Epistle to the Romans, Rom 8:2 (2X). Now that we know how God works out His plan, what should be our response to all of this? Do we appreciate what God has done? How can we tell if we belong to that favorite group of people who are called God’s elect? The answer is: Examine yourselves. Examine your life and see if the love of God has been shed abroad in your hearts by the Holy Spirit. Has the Spirit of God touched your heart?

What are your thoughts when you wake up in the morning? God says in Rom 8:2,

“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.”

There are two laws mentioned in this verse. Certainly it must have entered your mind the question what the difference is between “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” and “the law of sin and death.” Two laws, one is giving eternal life, and the other is giving eternal death. What is the law of sin and death? I will tell you what it is. It is the law of God that says in Rom 6:23, “The wages of sin is death,” and the death that God has in view is not physical death, for everyone dies, both saved as well as unsaved people die the physical death. Remember that the Lord Jesus said in John 11:26,

John 11:26, “And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?”

But all the saints did die a physical death, and thus physical death was not the meaning the Lord Jesus meant in John 11:26. What then did He refer to? The Lord Jesus referred to the second death in the Lake of Fire. This is also the death referred to in Rom 6:23, “the wages of sin is death.” This is the law of God. Everyone who sins has the penalty of the Lake of Fire waiting for him. By this the law of sin and death is shown very plainly: If you sin you will die the second death in the Lake of Fire for an eternity. Most of the laws in the Bible refer to this principle: The law of sin and death. God laid down the law, and all those people who attempt to obey those laws literally believe that their law-keeping will earn them the favor of God. Does God indeed look favorably upon these efforts from people to keep the law? He might, but only if you keep the law perfectly, for if you do not keep it perfectly then You are mixing your obedience with sin, and remember that the wages of sin is death. For example, the Ten Commandments are that way. And when God says “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved,” that is also a law which must be obeyed perfectly. What if I am not sincere enough? Then it becomes the law of sin and death. Please turn in your Bibles to the Epistle to the Galatians, Gal 3:10 (2X). And when God writes in John 14:15, “If ye love Me, keep My commandments,” that is also a law which must be kept perfectly. And what if I do not love Him enough that it may be called a perfect love? Well then it becomes the law of sin and death, for then I am mixing obedience with sin. Unfortunately, this is how human nature is. There is nothing that we do done perfectly. All our efforts are then under the curse of God. That is why God wrote in Gal 3:10 (2X)

Gal 3:10  “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.”

Therefore God provided the remedy for the law of sin and death, as He wrote in Gal 3:13 (2X),

Gal 3:13, “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.” Please turn back to Rom 8:2. What then is “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus”? This must be the essence of the Good News in the Gospel message. The key must be related to Rom 10:4, for this verse is similar to Gal 3:13,

Rom 10:4, “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.”

And so, the end goal of searching for the difference between “the law of sin and death” and “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” must be that the love of Christ is the overriding factor for everyone who is saved. Has that love of God indeed been “shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost”? That is why I asked the question, “What are our thoughts when we wake up in the morning?” Are the things of Christ in the forefront of our mind? Have we received this gift from God the Holy Spirit? Is our life now different from what it was a year ago? This is a serious question, for it reflects what our level of gratitude is for what Christ has done for us. Gratitude is such a big word. But it is a characteristic that every saint has. It is a gift from God. We should not be so puffed up in pride to think that we generated that out of our own sinful mind. We must be grateful for the love of Christ with which He surrounds us from the cradle to the grave, and for the love of Christ when He atoned for our sins on the cruel cross. Do we think often about His pain and suffering during His crucifixion? Do we imagine His horrendous pain when the nails were driven into His hands and His feet? Can we imagine the pain when after He was crucified the soldiers dropped the cross into the hole that was intended for it at Calvary? And yet all this was nothing compared to the suffering in His soul where He had to endure the equivalent of an eternity in hell for our sins.

The unbelieving world does not see this. All they see is the man hanging on a cross. They do not want to see the righteousness of God, for then their own judgment on the Last Day is portrayed before their eyes. And so, people in the world turn their eyes away from the crucified Christ. It troubles them if they will even consider that it has any spiritual meaning.

But what do the saints of God desire? The saints desire that they will be shown the full measure of the crucifixion of Christ; all His suffering and all the spiritual meaning. Yes, when we wake up in the morning we see Christ on the cross, and we ask ourselves what we can do to show Him our gratitude in that day. Do not seek very far, for if we even sweep the floor we are doing a service for the Lord. And so, let us fill our hearts with gratitude, for whatever we will be able to do that day it was a gift from God, and He will shower us with more gifts. And later He will say, “Well done thou good and faithful servant,” for we have done those good works which God has before ordained that we should walk in them. Truly, “it is God which worketh in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure.”

AMEN.                  Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.