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God Is Everywhere (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
June 30, 2023 4:00 am

God Is Everywhere (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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June 30, 2023 4:00 am

You’ve probably seen a toddler attempt to hide by covering his face with his hands. He’s in full view but thinks he’s well-hidden because he can’t see you. On Truth For Life, Alistair Begg points out why our attempts to hide from God are even more ridiculous.



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You've probably seen a toddler who tries to hide himself by putting his hands over his face. He stands there in full view, thinking he's well hidden because he can't see you. Well, today on Truth for Life, we'll find out why attempting to hide from God is neither cute nor silly.

It's ridiculous. Alistair Begg is teaching from Psalm 139. We're picking up our study in verse 8.

Shale, the abode of the dead, is described throughout the Old Testament in various ways. And when we read these things, we have to recognize that the language is evocative language, it is poetic language, it is not definitive language. So that a cry, for example, as here in the fifth verse of Psalm 6, is a cry from the heart. The psalmist is saying what everybody recognizes, and that is that life is all too short, that death is implacable and decisive, and it has ramifications.

But at the same time, although it is a cry, a cry of sadness, it is not a denial of God's sovereignty beyond the grave. Now, you know that when we read our Bibles, we say to one another it is helpful to read them backwards. Because we are able to do what the psalmist was unable to do. The psalmist, as an Israelite, is writing according to his own understanding of God's revelation of himself, but the psalmist writes without the benefit of the knowledge that we enjoy, since Christ has not only come but Christ has also triumphed over sin and death and the grave.

So we have to read these things in light of the ultimate reality. So, for example, to help us in that regard, when Peter preaches on the day of Pentecost, one of the things that is so remarkable about that sermon is the way in which Peter is able, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, clearly to marshal all of this information, to encapsulate it in a way that is so clear. This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, for it was not possible for him to be held by it. You go down to verse 31. David foresaw these things and spoke about the resurrection of Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption.

This Jesus God raised up. For us as New Testament believers, Sheol has become paradise. When the man on the cross says to Jesus, Will you remember me when you come into your kingdom? Jesus does not say, Yeah, today you will be with me in Sheol. He says, Today you will be with me in paradise. In your presence there is fullness of joy. Psalm 16 11.

At your right hand there are pleasures forevermore. And David here is making an amazing statement, isn't he? I found that I could easily get sidetracked by this, and I sense, looking at some of your faces, you might want to do the same.

But a good commentary will help you. It helps me. And Wilcock on the Psalms has a very helpful passage in this, referencing what we've just said. He says, You know, the word about remembrance there in that fifth verse of Psalm 6 has to do not with memories but with memorials—that is, commemorations. David certainly believes that after this life he will still belong to God.

Verse 5 is not there for the cry of a despairing sinner. We New Testament people are much more fully informed now that Christ Jesus has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. We know that though this present life is full of good things and is God's perfect plan for us for the time being, the next life will be even better—indeed, infinitely better. But for all his limited view, the psalmist has a lesson for us. When he at least wanted to leave behind in this world, he has by now discovered that he has not lost it after all—namely, the opportunity to serve and praise God.

He had his priorities right. He says, Does that mean that there will be no memorials? No, he says to himself, No. God's got that covered as well, whether it's there or there. Richard Baxter in the seventeenth century was an effective minister, and one of the hymns that he wrote has been helpful to many of us. It begins, Lord, it belongs not to my care whether I live or die. What he means by that is not, I don't care whether I live or die. What he means by that is, whether I live or whether I die is under your jurisdiction. Therefore, I can rest in that fact. As he goes on in the hymn to speak about the unfolding drama of God's purpose beyond time, he finally concludes—and I'm sure you've got this, because I will have quoted it to you before, I quote it to myself all the time—"My knowledge of that life is small. The eye of faith is dim. It is enough that Christ knows all, and I shall be with him." Not only do you know me, but you are with me. Secondly, he says, if I were to take the wings of the morning—which is a wonderful picture, isn't it?

Poetry's good. If I travel at the speed of light, he says, and I go as far east as I can possibly go, or if I go to the other side, if I go to the west, into the depths of the sea. For the Israelite, the Mediterranean Sea was the point. To the west.

He says, so whether I go to the farthest east or to the farthest west, you'll be with me there. Israelites were not sailors. They were fishermen, some of them, but they weren't sailors. The fact that the disciples got so upset on the boat is an indication of the fact that they were not, like, wonderful seafaring people. They weren't.

They didn't live in that kind of context. In some ways, they would have thought that if you get eventually to the end of the ocean on the west, it might be like an infinity pool. Maybe he could just fall off the end of it into who knows what.

David's got no concept of it, really, beyond what he can see. He's saying to himself, you know, if I was going all that way, if I went all that way, you're there. You are absolutely everywhere.

No distance from the farthest east to the farthest west can separate me from your presence. Because there, he says, your hand shall lead me. Your right hand shall hold me. It's a picture of God's power. It's a picture of God's presence.

It's a picture of God's overarching jurisdiction. Guide me, O thou great Jehovah, pilgrim through this barren land. I am weak, but thou art mighty.

Guide me with thy powerful hand. I actually had a chorus in mind during all of this week. I could actually hear my father attempting to sing it. My father was no better at singing than I am, which is pathetic, but it didn't stop him from singing in the car. We found it very funny as children, and we never really gave him much encouragement at all.

I feel bad now as I think about it. But I don't know what he thought he was or who he thought he was when he would launch into one of these. And he used to sing this chorus that goes, I trust in God. I know he cares for me.

On mountains steep or on the rolling sea. Though billows roll, he keeps my soul. My heavenly Father watches over me. And I don't know whether he'd been listening to Caruso or some great singer, but I can still hear his little voice going, Though billows roll.

I'm like, Oh, cut it out, Dad. He keeps my soul. But of course, I would never be able to tell you about that song if I didn't have a dad who, despite his inability, sang truth to me and to my sisters in our childhood. So I know that my dad believed that his Lord knew everything about him, and his Lord was everywhere he could ever go. And I learned that from him.

The songs we sing with and to our children really matter. Thirdly, what then if I decide that darkness will be able to hide me? See, darkness, of course, is able to hide us from other people, but can't hide us from God.

It's an interesting thought, isn't it? If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night. If the whole thing closes down, the eye of God pierces the gloom. Even the darkness isn't dark to you. The night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.

He's basically saying, This is a fantastic thing, God. There's no place I can go. I can't hide in a closet. I can't hide in the trees. I can't hide in my car.

I can't cover myself with darkness, because you know me entirely. Again, I guess the Christianized version of it is, Oh, be careful little eyes what you see. Oh, be careful little hands what you touch. Oh, be careful little feet where you go, for there's a Father up above, and he's looking down in love.

So be careful little feet where you go. That's what David is saying. This is a wonderful thing. It's not a restrictive thing. It's a liberating thing. It's a dynamic thing.

It's a wonderful thing. He's not looking for an out. He is comforting himself by the fact that there is no out. There is no escape. If I were to go there, I went there.

I went as far that way or as far that way. If I said I can hide under the cover of darkness, even there you watch over me. You provide for me. Isn't that what we said as children? And when we finally—especially if you're staying in somebody's house that you hadn't been in and the person comes to put you to sleep—what do you always say? You say, Would you leave a light on? Would you leave a light on?

Anybody want to give me a hand? There, his hand is with me. Would you leave a light on?

Of course I leave a light on. Now, let me say one word or two before I wrap this up, because it is clear that what David is saying is that there is no corner of the universe that is hidden from God. That's really what he's saying.

He's just using these pictures. No corner of the universe is hidden from God. God is everywhere, but God is not everything. God is everywhere, but God is not everything. Now, I say that because the environment in which we are living, if you take what we're discovering this morning out onto the street, as it were, many of your work colleagues will interpret what you're saying—unless you distinguish between truth and error—they will interpret what you're saying along the lines of contemporary views of spirituality. And those contemporary views—a combination of New Age and Buddhism and Hinduism and many things that are all wrapped into many of the books that you will find in Barnes and Noble and elsewhere—all of these various spiritual notions, irrespective of their background, in some way or another, say this. That nature includes and is unfolding the sacred so that whatever there is of God, whatever there is of spirit, is enclosed and is contained in the sacred. The sacred is in there.

How does it find expression? Well, for example, in contemporary preoccupations with planet Earth. This is also represented on a daily basis, especially in the British press, as the great discoveries of science and the great concerns of science. It is ultimately not science. It is religion.

It is an ideology that is grounded in an idea, and the idea is that somehow or another, God is everything. The sacred is in nature. The sacred is contained in nature.

We are part of nature. Therefore, if you remember when we thought it was so funny when that lady was out on a short limb—what was her name again? You know what I mean? Who? Shirley MacLaine. That's it. Very good. See, people still alert out here. This is fantastic.

This is not… We've moved into the realm of interaction. But, yeah, Shirley MacLaine, we thought, Oh, that's so funny. You know, she's a crazy lady. She was just ahead of her time.

It's mainstream now. Everybody's out on a short limb. There we have it. And so, as Christians, when we say these things, God knows everything, God is everywhere, unless we're very clear to say, God is everywhere, but God is not everything, then our friends will interpret it as they choose.

David Wells has helped me with this more than anybody else. He says, as Christians, we affirm that God is one in his being—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God is one in his being, but he is not one with nature.

That's why, again, we sing the hymn like, for example, Before the hills in order stood or earth received its frame, from everlasting thou art God to endless years the same. Spiritualities, he says, abound, teaching that the way we make contact with God is by finding him within ourselves. So much contemporary psychology is based on that. Now, you just need to look in and find yourself. If you find yourself and you find your true self, you're actually making contact with the sacred, with the divine.

The fact is, when you and I find our true selves, we discover that we're sinful, that we're lost, we're rebellious, we're confused, and we're in deep trouble. Therefore, we don't really want to make that discovery. That's why Wells says so helpfully, there is an invisible boundary between God and ourselves, both with his being and with respect to what we know. We cannot cross the boundary to know him savingly. He is not found in our deepest self. He is—this is such a great line—he is outside the range of our intuitive radar. Outside the range of our intuitive radar, we are in fact alienated from him. And so we cannot access him on our own time or on our own terms. It is he who must cross the boundary if we are to know him. And that is what he has done in Jesus. He crossed the boundary.

So when your friends say, Well, I don't know about God. I don't know if he exists. I don't know if he took the phone off the hook. I don't know where I can find him. I looped in, but no. You're looking in the wrong place. In fact, deep down you're not even looking, but God is looking. God knows you. He made you. He made you for himself. This is the story that we have to tell. This is how the Gospels begin, isn't it, Matthew?

And his name will be called Immanuel, because he is God with us. This has been a bad week for me for songs, as you can tell. But I had another one from the sixties that wouldn't leave me alone.

At least I think I can remember the lyric this time before I start. But it was written by Ralph Carmichael. I met him once when I went to preach in Phoenix. He's gone to glory now.

I was so excited to meet him, because we'd been singing at our youth group at least one of his songs that began, if you remember, In the Stars Is Handy Work I See. On the wind he speaks with majesty. Though he ruleth over land and sea, what's that to me?

I will celebrate nativity, for it has a place in history. Though he came to set his people free, what is that to me? Till by faith I met him face to face. Then I found the wonder of his grace. Then I knew that he was more than just a God who didn't care who lived a way up there.

Which is what I thought. He's just a God. Whoever he is, wherever he is, I don't know.

I don't care. Now he walks beside me day by day. Watching o'er me, lest I stray, Helping me along the narrow way, Because he's everything to me. Oh, that wee guy, he thought he was hiding up a tree.

Jesus says, Hey, let's have tea. You hiding up a tree somewhere, metaphorically? The lady, she wasn't hiding from God, she was just hiding from other ladies. That's why she went to the well at that time in the middle of the day. Nobody goes in the middle of the day. It's so hot.

Maybe she thought she could hide. Jesus says, Any chance of a drink of water? He knows. And that's why we have been given the mandate to go and make disciples of all the nations. That's why we're praying for North Africa. That's why we're excited to see all that God is doing in northern India.

That's why our friends are in Japan. That's why our hearts are with the world. That's why we believe in Bible translation. That's why we want the gospel to be as widely distributed as we possibly can. Because we know what David knows, and we're able to say, God, you know me, and God, you're with me, and I trust you. Those are comforting assurances for us to keep in mind as we go through our day.

You're listening to Alistair beg on Truth for Life, and Alistair returns in just a minute. Here at Truth for Life, we are deeply grateful for the Truth Partner team that so faithfully supports this ministry and has done so for three decades as we have been proclaiming the gospel. It's their consistent month-by-month support that has enabled this ministry to bring the message of salvation through Jesus to a worldwide audience. In fact, we heard recently from Samson who wrote to say, I'm blessed to hear your teaching each day here in Kenya.

Thank you. Well, if you've been encouraged and strengthened through the teaching you here on this program, would you add your name to our Truth Partner team? Your ongoing monthly donations provide the financial stability to bring God's word to your fellow listeners, not just those listening in your own community, but those listening all around the world, people like Samson. Perhaps today will be the day when you'll move from listening to partnering. I want to encourage you to do that.

You can sign up online at truthforlife.org slash truth partner, or call us at 888-588-7884. And when you become a Truth Partner, in addition to inviting you to request a book called Confronting Jesus, we'll also welcome you by sending you a package that includes Alistair's one-year devotional book titled Truth for Life, 365 Daily Devotions. It's a hardcover book that enables you to reflect on the truth of God's Word each day by drawing on the same insights you hear on Truth for Life.

Now here is Alistair. Father, I thank you that in the mix of all of this we might hear your voice, that every distracting influence may be lost sight of, and that that which is clearly from yourself may become that which we lay hold of. We pray for our friends and family members who have all kinds of different views. We pray that you'll give to us a spirit of gentleness, of grace, that we might live our lives in a way that they come to ask us questions rather than that we go to tell them stuff.

Lord, thank you that you have crossed the boundary. Otherwise, we'd never sing these songs, we would never trust in Jesus, we would never really have any idea what we're doing in this pilgrimage of life. What a wonder your kindness and goodness is to us. And we want to affirm that we want to learn to trust you more, to take you at your word. So help us to that end we pray for Christ's sake.

Amen. I'm Bob Lapine. Each of us has been allotted a certain number of years on earth, but where were we before we were born and what happens after we die? On Monday we'll hear the answers. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life. Where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-30 05:05:30 / 2023-06-30 05:13:53 / 8

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