We are involved in a series of messages entitled, The Holy One of Israel. But before we go on this morning and talk about our next attribute of God, number 11, I want to tell you that this is the final message in the series.
And so before we actually dig into that attribute, I'd kind of like to make a few summary comments, if I may, about the whole series. You know, Jeremiah chapter 9 says, verse 23, Thus says the Lord, Let not the wise men boast of the Lord. Now, that's what this series of messages has attempted to be all about. That is, namely, we haven't been focusing on this series so much on what God does. We've really been trying to look at and learn who God is. Because, and don't forget, God is the Lord. Don't miss this, my friends, because everything that God does is a direct and a linear consequence of who God is.
Let me repeat that. Everything that God does is a direct and linear consequence of who God is. Or to put it another way, God always acts in complete consistency with who God is. And therefore, as followers of Christ, as we begin to understand who God really is, as we begin to understand God's character, we begin to understand better why God does what he does. And I'd like to go a step beyond that and even say, as we really begin to understand who God is, we can even reach the place where we can begin to anticipate we can begin to almost predict, if you will, what God is going to do in a given situation. Because we know who God is. You say, Lon, that sounds a little strange to me.
No, it isn't. There are people you know in this world so well, your husband, your wife, your children, your parents, some friend, you know them so well that if someone tells you what kind of situation that person is going to be thrust into with almost perfect accuracy, you can tell me what that person's going to say and how that person's going to react. And how do you know this?
Because you know that person. And they're going to act in consistency with who they are. Now you may never have thought about it, but you and I can actually reach the place where we can begin to do this with Almighty God. We can begin to know God deep enough that we, after walking with God for years, after learning who God is for years, after watching him in action for years, we can begin to anticipate what God's going to do.
Now we never get it right perfectly. God is far too complex for us to be able to figure out exactly what he's going to do. His ways are not our ways.
And they're above our ways. But in broad strokes, we can often get a really good idea what God's going to say, do, and react in a given situation if we know him well. You know, I knew that I was coming here to McLean Bible Church as your senior pastor.
Ten months before it actually happened in time and in space, there were a series of events going on over a five-year period in my life on a number of fronts that I had been praying about and thinking about and trying to figure out what in the world God was up to and saying, God, what are you doing? And finally, in 1979, in prayer one day, it all fit together. And I said, oh, my gosh, I see where God's going now. And I went to Brenda and I said to her, in the fall of 1970, in 1979, I said, Brenda, we are going to McLean Bible Church one day. And I said, is the senior pastor? And she said, really?
She said, well, what do you think the man who's there now is the senior pastor might say about that? And I said, look, I don't know exactly how God's going to do it. I said, but, Brenda, I know God.
And I'm watching all that God is doing. And I can smell, this is what I said to her, I can smell where God's going with this because I know God. Yes, Brenda, I didn't say that to her.
Six months later, the pastor here at McLean Bible Church resigned unexpectedly. Now, I had nothing to do with that. I swear, I had absolutely nothing to do with it. I wasn't even working here then. I had nothing to do with it. But as soon as I heard it at work one day over when I was teaching at the seminary over in Maryland, I came home that afternoon, I said to Brenda, Brenda, I want you to go up to Giant Food, I want you to get some boxes, and I want you to start packing because we're going to Northern Virginia.
Six months later, in August of 1980, we were here. And you see, you say, LaLan, you see now, here you go, here you go. You're starting to sound like one of those wacky TV preachers now, you know, saying that we can know what God's going to do. You know, this is crazy. No, it isn't.
No, it isn't. The apostle Paul says this very thing. Listen, he says, 1 Corinthians 2.10, the Holy Spirit fathoms all things, Paul says, even the deep things of God.
Watch verse 12. As followers of Christ, he says, we have received the Spirit who is from God in order that we too may understand the deep things of God. For verse 16, we have the mind of Christ, the Holy Spirit living right inside of us. The apostle Paul says here that with the Holy Spirit's help, we can go deep into God. We can go deep into God, into his character, into his spirit.
We can go deep into God, into his value system, into the way he ticks, so much so that we can start to begin to understand the ways of God, the reason he does, why he does. And you know, this is what the Bible says, Psalm 103, verse 7, about Moses. It said God made known his acts to the children of Israel, but his ways he made known to Moses. In other words, the Israelites got to see what God did, but Moses got to know God. He got to know God so well that he began to understand why God did what God did. And this is why at the Red Sea, Moses was able to stand there, calm as a cucumber, watching the chariots of Pharaoh sweep down on him and the Israelites without breaking a sweat. And you know why? He didn't know for sure God was going to open the Red Sea, but he knew God was going to do something to deliver those Israelites.
Why? Because Moses knew God was faithful, and God had made a promise to Abraham and Isaac and Jacob that God could not break without stopping to be God. And God had told him in the burning bush, I'm going to lead you out and take you back to the land of Canaan, and God had not lied. And so Moses said, because God is faithful and can't break those promises, he's got to do something.
I'm not worried about those chariots. I think of Jonah, who because he knew God so well, he knew God was merciful, and he knew God was faithful. He knew if the Ninevites repented, he knew God was going to spare the city. He didn't want him to, but he knew God was going to do it.
And then I think of Mordecai. Mordecai knew God so well that when he saw what Haman was up to because he understood that God was sovereign, he immediately understood why his niece, Esther, was now the queen of Persia, and he understood exactly what she had to do. Friends, because each of these men understood God through the level that they did, they were able to look at the situation in front of them and anticipate what God was going to do because they knew God. Now, this is my goal for every one of you here at McLean Bible Church. My goal is that just like Moses and just like Jonah and just like Mordecai and many others through the ages, that you will get to know God so deeply and so intimately and so thoroughly that by the study of the Word of God each and every day, by your time in the world, you'll be in prayer with him each and every day asking him to reveal himself to you that you will get to know God so well that you will be able not only to understand why God does the things he does sometimes, but you'll even be able sometimes to predict what he's going to do because you know him.
And that's what this series has been all about. I hope it's been at least a small help in getting us to the place we really know God. Now, this is deep talking to deep, as the Bible says.
What I'm saying here is that God is going to be able to help you. I'm not saying to you here, but I believe you guys are following me. Are you following me?
Yeah? All right. You're with me. You understand.
Well, three of you are. That's wonderful. Okay. Now, today what we want to do now is we want to go on and we want to look at attribute number 11 in this list. We've looked at the fact that God is eternal and God is holy and that God is omnipotent and God is merciful and God is sovereign and God is faithful and others.
If you missed a message, pick up the tape or the CD or download it off the Internet. But today we want to talk about number 11 and I saved this on purpose till last. We want to talk about the preeminence of God. So what does the Bible say about this? Well, you remember Exodus chapter three. Moses was 80 years old. He was out in the desert tending Jethro sheep on the backside of the desert and he passes this bush one day and the bush is on fire, but it's not burning up. And so Moses goes over to check it out and God speaks to him from the bush. Remember?
Here you go. Verse six, Exodus three. And God said to Moses, I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. And I've seen the misery of my people in Egypt and I've come down to bring them out of Egypt into a good and spacious land. So now, Moses, go. I'm sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people Israel out of Egypt.
So far, so good. And then Moses said to God, well, suppose I go to the Israelites and I go to the I say to them, the God of your fathers has sent me to you. And they asked me, well, what's his name?
What am I supposed to tell them that you need to understand in Hebrew culture? A name was more than just a place hanger. A name was meant to indicate something about the very character of a person.
That's why they named Jacob supplanter because you know what he did to his brother. It was a very appropriate name. Well, when Moses asked God, what is your name? He's not asking God what is the nice term they use to refer to you? He's asking him, what is your character, God? Who are you really?
What do you really like? And God said to Moses, I am who I am. Moses, this is what you're to say to the Israelites.
You tell them I am has sent me to you here and saying that I am. What is God really saying about himself? Well, the verb here that's translated I am means to have existence. And so what God is saying is Moses, I am the being in this world. I am the being in this universe who has existence in and of himself.
I am the being in this universe who exists and has life in me in and of myself. Here in Exodus three, God presents himself as the one and only self existent, independent being in the entire universe. And the rest of the Bible echoes this Psalm 90. Moses said before the mountains were born and before you ever brought forth the earth and the world from everlasting. To everlasting, you are God. In Isaiah 43, God says before me, no God existed and there will be none after me. I am the first and I am the last. I am he. In Revelation chapter one, God says, I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the one who is and was and is to come, which is why in 1 Timothy six, Paul says he is the king of kings and the Lord of Lords who alone.
Possesses immortality. You know, when I was a younger dad, my son Jamie came to me once, just a little boy, and he said they asked me a string of questions. He said, Daddy, he said, Where do trees come from? And I said, Well, I got an answer for that. God made him. He said, Well, where do the stars come from?
And I had an answer for that. I said, God made him and he went through all of his questions and I had an answer for him all. And then he said, Daddy, where does God come from? Well, suddenly I'm out of answers, friends.
There's no answer to that question. I said to him, Jamie, God doesn't come from anywhere. God is, and he always has been, and he always will be. Now, Jamie had found that really hard to grasp, but not nearly as hard as I find that to grasp as an adult, because saying that makes me realize and it makes you realize that we are dealing here with a being that is preeminent above any other being in the entire cosmos. So this is God, the one and only God.
The one and only self-existent, independent, unbounded, preeminent being in the cosmos. God is accountable to no one but himself. God is responsible to no one but himself. God is limited by no one but himself. God is restrained by no one but himself. And God is answerable to no one. But himself, he is the I Am of this universe, the eternally self-existent one beyond whom we cannot think and beyond whom there's nothing to think about anyway.
He is God, preeminent in this universe. Now, that's as far as we want to go in our theological treatment of this, because now we want to stop and we want to ask our most important question. So here we go. Let's gear up for this. Here we go. Ready, ready, ready?
One, two, three. Oh, yeah. You say, Lon, so what? Say, you know, that's good. And I understand what you're saying. And God's preeminent. And that's great. But what difference does this make to me tomorrow morning?
Huh? Well, let's talk about that. And let's go back for a moment to the burning bush, shall we? Let's remember at the burning bush what God said to Moses. God said, Moses, you want to know who I really am? Okay, well, I am the one in the universe who exists.
Who has existence in and of myself. I am the one and only being in this universe, he said to Moses, who has life intrinsically in myself. And this is what the Bible says throughout.
The Bible reverberates with this truth. John chapter one, verse four said the Bible says in him, that is, God is life. John five, verse 26 says the father has life in himself. In First John, chapter one, verse six, Timothy chapter six.
Remember what Paul said? Paul said, God alone possesses immortality. And just a verse or two before that, he said, God gives life to all things. God is the one who gives life.
This explains Genesis two, where the Bible says the Lord God breathed into man's nostrils, the breath of life, and man became a living soul. See, folks, as human beings, we are alive. But the life that we're living is not inherently our life. The life that we're living was breathed into us.
It was a gift from the one who has life in himself, Almighty God. This is not our life we're living out. It's life that he gave us as a gift. As human beings, we are dependent on God for every moment of our existence. Every breath we take is at the pleasure of God. Every ounce of life we live is at the pleasure of God. The point that I want you to get is that there is an utter dependency about all of this that you and I must grasp if we are going to relate properly to the living God of the universe.
And conversely, it is our failure to grasp this dependency that lies at the heart of all sin in this universe, all sin in our world, and all sin in our life. I think of Lucifer. You remember the angel before he became Satan? The Bible says, Isaiah Chapter 14, that at some point, Lucifer said, As an angel, I will ascend into heaven. I will exalt my throne. I will make myself like God. In other words, I will act independent of God.
I'm going to run my own destiny. And what did God say to him in this chapter? He said, Lucifer, you have sinned. This was the first sin in the universe. Adam didn't commit the first sin in the universe.
Lucifer did. But Adam walked in his footsteps. You remember in the garden what Adam did?
You say, Yeah, I remember what he did. He ate an apple. No, first of all, we don't know it was an apple. And second of all, that wasn't really the problem. He could have eaten a persimmon or an apricot.
The fruit wasn't the problem. The problem was Adam made up his mind, just like Lucifer did, that he was going to live independent of God. He was going to be the captain of his own fate. And he brought a curse on the entire human race because of that. Lucifer and Adam both made the same mistake.
They began to act like independent beings instead of the dependent beings that they were. They rejected God's preeminence over their life in favor of their own preeminence over their life. And friends, sin may have many outworkings, but there's only one essence to sin. Isaiah 53, verse 6.
Here it is. All of us like sheep have gone astray. Each of us has turned, here it is, to his own way. There in a nutshell, is the essence of all human sin. The essence of sin is when any created being decides to take over and sit on the throne of their own life and to declare, I'm going my way.
There you got it. That's sin. And may I say that if you're here today and you've never trusted Jesus Christ as your personal savior, that this is really important for you to understand and think about. And the essence of sin towards God comes when that person realizes that they are a usurper, that they are sitting on a stolen throne. You see, God made every one of us, my friends, and God breathes into every one of us the breath of life every second of every day, and he considers the throne of our life to belong to him because of that. Not us, it's his throne.
We are the dependent beings, and when we finally realize that and become willing to abdicate our throne, we are the dependent beings. and repent of having taken it and give it back to God where it belongs and use the blood of Christ to be able to Come to God and do that. That's when people begin to get ready to do business with God You remember the Ayatollah Khomeini remember him overthrew the Shah of Iran. Sure you do Well, what if a year later the Ayatollah had had a pang of conscience and decided he felt bad about what he had done and Decided to send the Shah of Iran a bunch of nice presents to apologize. Would that have fixed the problem?
Well, no, it wouldn't have fixed the problem because the Shah of Iran didn't want all of Ayatollah Khomeini's presence. What did he want? He wanted his throne back the one that had been stolen from him That's what he wanted and friends if you're here and you've never trusted Christ. They want you to listen to me That's why all the religious activity and presence that you're trying to give God are never going to work God doesn't want your presence He wants his throne back the one you usurped the one in your life that belongs to him And it's only when we become ready to give the throne of our life back to God that we are ready to come to Christ And do business with God. I love what AW tozer said He said the Lord will not save those whom he cannot command. He will not divide his offices meaning Lord and Savior He won't divide them. You cannot believe on half of Christ He goes on to say we must take Christ for what he is. He is the Savior who's risen But he's also the Lord who is King of Kings and Lord of Lords if you're here today And you're tired of running your own life and let me just say sooner or later You got to get tired because none of us can do a very good job I mean I ran my life for 21 years and made an absolute disaster of it And one of the things that convinced me to come to Christ is when the street preacher that talked to me He said you've run your life for 21 years.
What makes you think if you take 21 more you'll do any better Well, that's a good point. I'd made a complete disaster of it and I've done the best I knew how 21 more years I knew I'd be dead and I knew I needed somebody else to come in and run my life because I had run it and done a pretty lousy job of It and it was that decision that opened the door for me to turn and repent and come to Christ and friend if you're here And you're tired of running your life Then I'm here to tell you there's somebody else offering to do it and he's the one who can really run it Right and make it worth getting up for in the morning I hope you'll think about Advocating be the best decision you ever make in your life to get off the throne and let the Lord Jesus get on the throne Of your life. I love the bumper sticker that I read one time. It said God is my co-pilot.
You remember that? I think the bumper sticker ought to say I'm out of the cockpit altogether Because that's really what God's looking for. He don't want you in the left seat the right seat or the back seat He wants you out of the cockpit and he'll take it from there Well, let me go on though and say if you're here today, and you've already trusted Christ Listen, this is still very applicable to us because the lordship of Christ in our life is not just an issue for non-believers Friends the lordship of Jesus Christ as a follower of Christ is the very linchpin of the Christian life Listen to what Paul said Romans 12 1 I urge you he says as followers of Christ to present your bodies to God as living Sacrifices which is your reasonable service as a living sacrifice. God is not asking you and me to kill ourselves Literally he's asking us to be as dead as a sacrifice at the temple was when they slit its throat as dead is that when it comes to running our own life and Instead to let God do it and you know, this is how the Lord Jesus lived here on earth He lived under the lordship of God when he was here on earth He said John 4 34 my food is to do the will of him who sent me. He said John 8 28 I do nothing on my own initiative, but I speak only those things which the Father tells me to do He said John 6 38 I have come down from heaven not to do my own will But to do the will of him who sent me and he said in the garden against him and he not my will But thine be done here the Lord Jesus while he was on earth Was a man that lived under the authority of God and the authority of his written word He didn't run his own life even as the second person of the Godhead.
He didn't and you know folks That's exactly how he tells us to live. I Love what AW tozer said he said man is willing to share himself Sometimes even to sacrifice himself for a desired end but never to dethrone himself very interesting, huh, and you know Matthew 28 19 says go ye into all the world the Great Commission and make church members Uh-uh. Nope. Nope. Nope.
Nope. Nope go ye in all the world and make professing Christians Nope, nope, nope, nope, nope go ye in all the world and make churchgoers No doesn't say that go ye in all the world and make what? Disciples and you know what sets a disciple apart from a churchgoer or church member or or or professing Christian I'll tell you what it is a Disciple is a person who has dethroned dethroned himself a disciple is a person who has dethroned herself a disciple is a person who has restored the throne of their life to its rightful owner a disciple is a person for whom submission to God is not just a buzz phrase a Disciple is a person for whom obedience to God is not just a buzzword but these two words and phrases obedience to God and submission to God these form the very warp and woof of how a disciple lives a Disciple understands that they don't live the way they want to live.
They don't live the way they feel like they should live They don't live the way their friends tell them to live They live the way God tells them to live in the written Word of God The authority for their life is not what they feel like or what they want or what their friends tell them to do It's what God says in the Word of God period end of discussion. That's a disciple now. Do we always get it, right? No, do we sometimes fall short? Yes, but friends we never lower the bar If you're a disciple you may come to God and confess you fell short But you don't change the bar The bar is the written Word of God is the authority for life and that's how you live and you know If we're gonna reach Washington DC for Christ, we believe that's our mission is to make an impact on every life in this city for Christ I'm here to tell you something. It's not gonna happen With a bunch of churchgoers.
Mm-hmm. Not gonna happen with a bunch of Professing Christians, uh-uh, not gonna happen because a bunch of church members decide to do this only a bunch of disciples Only a bunch of disciples can God use to blow a city apart for Christ. You look at the early church They weren't churchgoers church members or professing Christians They were disciples and that's what we have to be and you know being a disciples and all-or-nothing deal my friends I love what Hudson Taylor the great missionary to China said he said that Jesus is either Lord of all or He's not Lord at all.
I love that. I don't know how you say it any simpler than that And friends in your life and in my life. Jesus is either Lord of all or he's not Lord at all So let me just ask you as we get ready to close as a follower of Christ today I need to ask you this when it comes to your sex life and the movies you watch and the magazines you read and the things you let into your home and watch on television when it comes to how you love your wife or how you Respect your husband or how you treat your children or how you honor your parents who's on the throne of your life. My friend you or Jesus Christ when it comes to how you serve your boss or how you speak about your fellow man or how you forgive people that have hurt you or how you handle your money or how you You keep your word or how you fill out your 1040s ouch or how you seek to live with integrity in every part of your Life who is preeminent in your life you or the Lord Jesus Christ can't be both Can't be both. He's either Lord of all or he's not Lord at all. It can't be both and You can't have half of Christ. He's either Lord or he isn't so who is it? Well, I can't answer that question for you But I can tell you the answer to that question is the deciding factor on whether you're a disciple or not Really?
It's the deciding factor. I believe in many cases whether you're even a true follower of Christ or not This idea that you can come to believe in Jesus as your Savior And then you can reject him as your Lord and go on living any way you want to live That is not a biblical concept my friend He is the Lord Jesus Christ Paul said believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and it's true we grow in our surrender to his lordship over the years, but we've never start There's no place to start the Christian life saying well, I'm wonderfully happy He's my Savior and I'll make up my mind later if I'm gonna do what he says Sorry No, God doesn't take people on that basis friend. If that's the basis you came I think there's serious reason to examine whether you really belong to Christ because he doesn't take people on that basis And so I want to give you a chance this morning to answer the question who's really on the throne of your life and if you've usurped some of the throne of your life as A follower of Christ if you're out there kind of living under your own authority in this area or that area I have a challenge for you And that is we need to make him Lord of everything the whole thing and I can't do that for you I can only do that for me But I'm challenging you you want to be a disciple Then this is how a disciple lives and these are the people's lives. God blesses and God honors I want him to honor your life I want him to bless your life and I'm telling you how to do it and I hope you'll listen not to me But I hope you'll listen to him. Let's pray together Lord Jesus, thank you for reminding us today as we wind down this series That if everything we have learned and studied about you is true and it is That you are omnipotent that you are eternal that you are holy and righteous and faithful and merciful and loving and preeminent And Lord there is no choice who needs to rule our lives It's a no-brainer and yet Lord we're so human and Sin is such an endemic part of our flesh That sometimes even without even trying we push you right off the throne and say Lord I'm taking this one over forgive us father and give us the heart and The lifestyle of a disciple who puts you on the throne and keeps you there Lord Jesus we do fall short of living up to what you ask us to every day But help that never change our understanding of where the authority is in our life Help us never dilute that just because we can't always live up to it May you be Lord May you be preeminent over every part of our life and if there's some things we need to go change In order to restore you to the throne Then Lord Jesus you give us the courage to go change them by your grace Lord help us get to know you well enough That we understand your ways and help us get to know you well enough that we fear you for what you are to the degree That we won't lay hands on the ark that we won't touch the throne. It's yours So change our lives because we were here today Because we've been here for this series And we pray these things in Jesus name And God's people said amen
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