October 18, 2015
When an elderly person dies we sometimes say, “She lived a full life.” In one sense, everyone who lives a long life lives a full life because so much happens to us as we live our lives. But living a full life is not necessarily the same as living life to the full. A person who lives life to the full is a person whose life is infused with purpose, meaning and joy.
3. How does one enter into this kind of life? Well this morning I would like to continue the message from last week. Last week noted that, to live life to the full we must begin with God.
I. GOD IS – And because God Is, our response is one of worship
II. GOD IS THE CREATER OF ALL THINGS – We belong to Him and obey Him
III. GOD IS THE SUSTAINER OF ALL THINGS.
What is it that holds the universe together? I googled that question, and was very interested in what I read. Physicists says that there are four fundamental forces in nature: gravity, electromagnetism, the weak force and the strong force. According to livescience.com, “As its name implies, the strong force is the “strongest” force of the four. It is responsible for binding together the fundamental particles of matter to form larger particles.” I went on to read about quarks, hadrons, baryons and mesons, along with protons and neutrons. I also read about gluons, not to be confused with Clingons. Listen to this statement. “The strong force is carried by a type of boson called a "gluon," so named because these particles function as the "glue" that holds the nucleus and its constituent baryons together.”
I don’t really understand this, but I am fascinated at the way physicists have been able to identify these various building blocks of the universe. One wonders where it will all end. Well, I want to suggest that it will all end exactly where it all began. Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
But not only did God create the heavens and the earth. We believe that this good God is the One who sustains the universe and our lives. Listen to these verses. In Neh.9:6 we read, “You are the LORD, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you.” Even more specific, in Col.1 Paul is describing Jesus Christ and in v.17 he writes, “And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Add to this, Heb.1:3 which says, “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” This universe and our lives are held together, sustained by God in the person of his Son, Jesus Christ.
Who knows how deep the Physicists will be able to penetrate into the foundational building blocks of the universe? According to the Scriptures the ultimate and final gluon is Jesus Christ. I’ll never forget my reaction when Col.1:17 first registered with me. It hit me, “Wow, it’s not as if God holds things together like a rubber band might hold a stack of cards together. Rather, all things are holding together in Jesus Christ. Christ is at the center of it all. Everything adheres together in Christ.
The implication of this is that our good God is the one who is sustaining your life and my life at this very moment. We are dependent on him for life. And if we are dependent on him for life, then we are dependent on him for living, for God is more than just a life source. So what is involved in sustaining the universe and our lives?
Well, in order to sustain something adequate provisions must be supplied. Proper environments must be maintained to support all that has been created in the universe and on earth. In Ps.145:15-16 we read, “The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing.” In Ps.73:10 it says, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” But not only is the Lord’s provision necessary for sustaining our lives, we need the Lord’s guidance. Consider Ps.23. Quote it with me, “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” Prov.3:5-6 says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Throughout the Scripture we see that God is deeply invested and involved in the lives of people like you and me. 2Pt.1:3 says, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence.”
The question is, do we live in dependence upon God? Because this God exists we are called to worship him. Because this God is our creator, we are called to obey him. Because this God sustains all things, we are wise to depend upon him.
In Mt.6:31-33 Jesus says, “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
In these verses the gentiles refer to unbelievers, those who do not know God through faith in Christ. We might say that unbelievers are left to themselves. That is not completely true because the Bible teaches that God is so gracious that he even sustains the lives of those who do not acknowledge him as God. But as far as unbelievers are concerned, they must secure their own lives. This is why they are so concerned about having enough. When you are concerned about having enough of anything, you never seem to have enough.
For some reason, as my grandfather grew older he was very concerned about having enough underwear. After he died my dad and uncle found all sorts of brand new underwear, never used. Well, he was concerned about that and just needed more.
Men and women it is not just unbelievers who are anxious about their lives. To me this matter of trusting God is one of the most difficult lessons for us to learn as Christians. Do we really believe that God has our back and will provide what we need as we seek first his kingdom, his rule in our lives? Israel of old was plagued by the sin of unbelief. They were constantly doubting God’s promise to care and provide for them. Because of this they were constantly guilty of idolatry as they fixed their eyes on the nations around them and not on God. Our culture is obsessed with material wealth and possessions, and many in the church have their eyes fixed on what can be had in this world. What are you leaning on to make it through life? What are you trusting in? Are you leaning on your own understanding or are you trusting in God for your life and needs?
IV. GOD IS THE SAVIOR OF ALL.
Any discussion about God must include the truth that God is the Savior of all. And it is hard to even know where to begin because so much of the Bible highlights the saving grace of God.
Early on Adam and Eve got into trouble because they disobeyed the command of God to not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God said that in the day they ate of that tree they would surely die. Of course they did eat from that tree and they immediately experienced a spiritual death which eventually brought physical death. Through Adam and Eve sin entered into the world. Sin is found in the hearts of all men and women and sin has deeply affected the earth. In fact, God put a curse on the earth, and on Adam and Eve, and on the serpent used by Satan. There is nothing in this world that has not been ruined by the destructive presence of sin.
And for today, let me emphasize that every person who has ever walked this earth, with the exception of Jesus Christ, is a sinner. We are not just sinners because we commit sin. We are born as sinful people. In Rom.5:17-19 Paul is contrasting the effects that Adam’s sin and Christ’s life has on people. Paul writes, “For if, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous.” There is a sense in which all mankind participated in the sin of Adam and as a result every person is born with the sin nature of Adam. This sin nature is readily apparent in each of us. It is seen in the fact that no one has to teach us to be disobedient or to desire and scheme to have our own way. We are all by nature selfish, manipulative, rebellious, defensive and violent. Our hearts and bodies are riddled with sin. Our deepest thoughts and desires are laced with the selfish poison of sin. Sin is natural to us. We don’t even have to think about it.
One more thing: Because sin is rooted in self-centered idolatry, we live in a state of rebellion and disobedience to God our Creator. In Is.59:2 it says, “but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.” We are alienated, separated from God and the eternal kind of life that God always intended for us to have because of sin.
Throughout the Bible we see many examples of how God intervened to bring deliverance, salvation to mankind and especially to his people, Israel. God is a saving God. The greatest expression of salvation is seen in the person of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. In sending Christ to this earth in the form of man, God was providing the only means whereby our sins against God and others can be forgiven. In Rm.6:23 Paul writes, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
What did Jesus do? Well he came to this earth in the form of a man and showed us in his life, teachings, and miracles how wonderful it is to live in the kingdom of God. He died on the cross bearing the guilt and penalty of our sin. He took our punishment. In Jn.3:16 it says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” Not only did Jesus die for our sins, he also rose from the dead to eternal living. The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus is God’s provision of salvation to all who will turn from their sin and embrace Jesus by faith as their Savior, Lord and King.
And let me add that this salvation brought about through Jesus Christ is for all creation. The Apostle John calls Jesus the Savior of the world. And in Rm.8 Paul reminds us that all creation is groaning, waiting to be set free from its bondage to corruption. In fact the Scripture teaches that there is going to be a new heaven and a new earth. God is the Savior of all.
Unfortunately not all are interested in this salvation. Many refuse to embrace Jesus because they prefer to live their lives apart from God. They do not want God interfering in their lives. And the stakes are very high, for to enter eternity without Christ as one’s Savior, Lord and King is to choose an eternity in what the Bible calls Hell. It is existence completely void of God and his goodness. Whatever love, joy, and goodness you find in life now, will not be found in Hell. There is no fulfillment in Hell. You need to embrace Christ
Because of God’s common grace that he bestows on everyone, men and women are able to experience much that is good in this world. But sin has brought great hurt, pain and sadness to our lives on earth. In fact there is so much more that God has for us. In Jn.10:10, “Jesus said, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” Fullness of life is found in knowing God through Christ the Savior, trusting in God’s sustaining hand, obeying God who created us, and worshipping God who alone is God. Have you entered into this fullness of life in the kingdom of God through faith in Jesus Christ? Amen