Background – Who is God?
God is the Creator and Lord of the universe.
- The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. (Isaiah 40:28b)
- Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth—everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” (Isaiah 43:6-7)
- We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heavens and the earth and the sea and everything in them. (Acts 14:15)
- the Lord Most High is awesome, the great King over all the earth. (Psalm 47:2)
- Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let them say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!” (1 Chronicles 16:31)
The mystery of the Trinity is that God is one being, and yet within the Godhead there are three persons – the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit.
- May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. (2 Corinthians 13:14)
- There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:4-6)
The Father, Son and Holy Spirit have always been together in a perfect bond of love and peace, and they delight in one another.
- Jesus said, “Father…you loved me before the creation of the world.” (John 17:24)
- As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:16-17)
The reason we talk about them as the ‘Father’ and the ‘Son’ is not because the Father made the Son, but because they have the same nature and character – “like father, like son.”
- The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created…all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together…For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him… (Colossians 1:15-19)
- The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being. (Hebrews 1:3a)
1. Goal – What is God’s plan for this world?
God’s desire is for us to know and love him forever.
- You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water…Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you….I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods… (Psalm 63:1-5)
- Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:25-26)
- the Lord delights in those…who put their hope in his unfailing love (Psalm 147:11)
The Father sent Jesus into the world to become one of us, so that we may know who he is and what he is like – when we see Jesus, we see the beauty of the God who is love.
- The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
- For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6)
One day we will gather around the throne of Christ and we will see him in the fullness of his glory and rejoice in him.
- “Well done, good and faithful servant! …Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:21, 23)
- For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully… (1 Corinthians 13:12)
- After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb…And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:9-10)
We were made to find our deepest joy in God and get swept up in the loving fellowship within the Trinity. The Father loves the Son and longs for everyone to know him and give him the glory for who he is. The Son loves the Father and wants the world to see what he is like. And the Spirit is always at work to help us see the glory of both the Son and the Father.
- “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth…He will glorify me…” (John 16:13-14)
2. Problem – What is the obstacle that prevents us from coming to God?
We have all failed to glorify God as we should. Instead of trusting and treasuring God the way we should, we have sought our satisfaction in other things, and treated them as being more valuable than God. This is the essence of sin – to prefer other lesser things to Christ.
- But my people have exchanged their glorious God for worthless idols. Be appalled at this, you heavens, and shudder with great horror,” declares the Lord. “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” (Jeremiah 2:11-13)
- For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him…(they) exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images…” (Romans 1:21, 23)
- for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23)
We do this because we are lost in darkness. Left to ourselves, we can’t see spiritual beauty for what it is, and we’re trapped in a state of sin and rebellion against God.
- As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. (Ephesians 2:1-3)
- The god of this age (Satan) has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2 Corinthians 4:4)
God is bound by his own righteous character to uphold the worth of his glory by pouring out his wrath on sinners who despise that glory. There will come a day when God will judge the world and bring an end to all sin. If we hold the glory of God in contempt through ingratitude and distrust and disobedience, the consequence is that we will be excluded from the enjoyment of that glory forever.
- For the wages of sin is death… (Romans 6:23)
- They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. (2 Thessalonians 1:9-10)
3. Solution – How does God open the way so we can come to him?
Jesus Christ came into this world to save sinners by dying in our place and rising bodily from the dead. The good news is that Jesus died for sinners like us. And he rose physically from the dead to demonstrate the saving power of his death and to open the gates of eternal life and joy.
- For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)
- For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)
- Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. (1 Corinthians 15:20)
- Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15a)
At the cross, God’s wrath is poured out on Jesus, instead of us. God lays our sin on Jesus and abandons him to the shame and slaughter of the cross. Since Jesus has now paid the price for our sins, God can acquit guilty sinners and still be just.
- God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
- For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. (1 Peter 3:18a)
- God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement…to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:25-26)
The death and resurrection of Christ also means that the power of sin and darkness has been broken. We can be born again with a new heart that enables us to see and delight in the majesty of Christ.
- Jesus said: “I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” (John 12:46)
- For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins…For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. (Colossians 1:13-14, 19-20)
4. Response – How should we respond to the good news of the gospel?
What must I do to be saved? Repent of your sin and believe in Jesus. To ‘repent’ means to turn away from the deceitful promises of sin. To ‘believe in Jesus’ means to trust in Christ alone for your salvation.
- Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord. (Acts 3:19)
- Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved. (Acts 16:31)
If we truly believe in Jesus, knowing who he is and what he has done for us, then we will see and savour him as the one who is supremely glorious, and devote ourselves to showing his glory in this world.
(1) Seeing – we behold Christ as glorious. Christian faith is the spiritual awakening of our souls to the glory of God in Christ.
- Jesus said, “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory…” (John 17:24)
(2) Savouring – if we see Christ as glorious, we will love and delight in him more than anything in this world. This is what it really means to have faith in Jesus. We don’t just receive him as our Lord and Saviour, but as our Treasure. We don’t just know who Jesus is – we love and delight in him.
- Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35)
- I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ… (Philippians 3:8)
(3) Showing – if we savour Christ above all, we will devote ourselves to reflecting his glory to those around us. There is nothing we can do to make Jesus more glorious, but we are called to acknowledge his glory, to value it above all things and to make it known in all the world.
- Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. (Psalm 63:3)
- …whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31)
The greatest gift God can give us is the gift of himself to know and enjoy forever. So God’s love for you is seen not in making much of you, but in enabling you to enjoy making much of him. The more we desire and delight in Christ, the more it glorifies him. He gets the glory, and we get the joy.
- Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4)
(Special thanks to John Piper, whose writings and sermons faithfully articulate the gospel in a way that captivates the heart and soul – much of the above material can be traced to him).