Preaching and Worship Resources about God
The proper object of Christian faith and worship, the triune God is king of the universe.
"In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth . . . God said, `Let there be light'; and there was light" (Gen. 1:1, 3).
"I will establish my covenant between me and you, and your offspring after you throughout their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you" (Gen. 17:7).
"The Lord your God is God, the faithful God who maintains covenant loyalty with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations" (Deut. 7:9).
"I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go" (Josh. 1:9).
"You are great, O Lord God; for there is no one like you, and there is no God besides you" (2 Sam. 7:22).
"Fools say in their hearts, `There is no God'" (Ps. 14:1).
"O taste and see that the Lord is good; happy are those who take refuge in him" (Ps. 34:8).
"Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises. For God is the king of all the earth" (Ps. 47:6 - 7).
"On God rests my deliverance and my honor; my mighty rock, my refuge is in God" (Ps. 62:7).
"The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all" (Ps. 103:19).
"Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; his greatness is unsearchable. The might of your awesome deeds shall be proclaimed, and I will declare your greatness. The Lord upholds all who are falling, and raises up all who are bowed down" (Ps. 145:3, 6, 14).
"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight" (Prov. 9:10).
"O Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you, I will praise your name; for you have done wonderful things, plans formed of old, faithful and sure" (Isa. 25:1).
"When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. The more I called them, the more they went from me; they kept sacrificing to the Baals, and offering incense to idols. Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk, I took them up in my arms; but they did not know that I healed them. I led them with cords of human kindness, with bands of love. I was to them like those who lift infants to their cheeks. I bent down to them and fed them" (Hos. 11:1 - 4).
"I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous" (Matt. 5:44 - 45).
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (John 1:1).
"God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life" (John 3:16).
"God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth" (John 4:24).
"God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us" (Rom. 5:8).
"We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose" (Rom. 8:28).
"O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!" (Rom. 11:33).
"And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, `See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes'" (Rev. 21:3 - 4).
Points to Ponder
A short essay on God will of course be entirely inadequate. So at this site please also consult treatments on Trinity, God's Threeness, God's Oneness, God's Attributes, God's Sovereignty.
"God is King" or "Our God Reigns" is probably the main theme of Scripture. Much of what Scripture has to say about God centers on God's mighty acts in creation, redemption, and final restoration of the cosmos to shalom. God administers the history of redemption through covenants and principally through the covenant of grace with Abraham, renewed in Jesus Christ. God is preeminently a promise maker and keeper. All of this happens inside God's kingdom. "God is King" or "Our God Reigns" is probably the main theme of Scripture. If "king" and "kingdom" sound like obsolete political terms, think instead of fantasy literature in which a righteous king battles the forces of evil for the sake of safety, prosperity, and peace. As C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien believed, the story of how in earth's history the righteous king has landed in the person of Jesus Christ to fight for the restoration of the kingdom is the one fairy tale that is actually true.
God cherishes the created world Classic Christian theology teaches that while God is distinct from his creation, God cherishes the created world. In some marvelous chapters of the book of Job (38 - 41) God walks in the depths of the sea, cuts water channels through deserts, and leads bear cubs out of their dens. God fathers the rain and mothers the ice. God makes a pet of the mysterious Leviathan, likely a sea creature. These chapters are less about science and more about love. God is enthusiastic about the good creation.
God's goal of redemption and restoration But the created world, including its human inhabitants, has fallen from its pristine state, and now groans for redemption. Much of Scripture tells the story of how a loving God has set about to redeem the fallen creation, including a fallen humanity, and to restore things toward their wholeness and beauty. The process is slow and painful even for God. What it appears to require is the incarnation of the second person of the Holy Trinity to grapple with the world's powers and to bring God's righteous kingdom even closer to the world than it had been before. That this project requires great anguish within God before it culminates in the immensely promising and revealing resurrection from the dead of the Son of God constitutes one of the sacred mysteries of the Christian story.
The redeeming God is patient, slow to anger, willing to suffer, willing to be ignored This story plus many side stories incorporating themes from the Great Story reveal that the redeeming God is patient, slow to anger, willing to suffer, willing to be ignored. (One of God's poignant claims about his chosen people, the Israelites, the instrument of redemption for all the peoples of the earth, is that "they have turned their backs on me"). At times the redeeming God seems slow or even silent within his program of restoration. The story is far from one of unmitigated triumph. Though majestic beyond all telling, God makes himself vulnerable to his creatures and they take terrible advantage of the opportunity to cause God distress. But then, when all appears stalled or even lost, a judge appears, or a prophet with a word from the Lord, or, in the fullness of time, God's own Son, Jesus Christ, Savior and Lord.
A Scripture such as Psalm 145 cannot decide whether God's greatness consists especially in God's power shown through mighty acts or, on the other hand, in God's goodness, shown in lifting up the fallen. It's safe to say, though, that the king of the universe, though immensely powerful, is especially loved for his goodness to creatures and most especially for his grace to sinners, who deserve punishment but receive forgiveness instead. In fact, one way of stating the uber-message of Scripture is that "sinners do not receive what they deserve."
Of course, the Scriptural story loses all its power and beauty if God is thought to be merely a force, or a principle, or an event, or a symbol, or "being-itself beyond essence and existence." The Scriptures tell instead of a God who is infinitely more alive, more personal, and more capable of sorrow and joy than even the most robust of his human creatures.
Popular piety tends to domesticate God, suggesting that meeting God would be like meeting a favorite uncle. But the Scriptures, while emphasizing God's love, also present God as high, holy, and terrifyingly "other" — the kind of being from whom mere humans naturally shrink. The expression "God-fearing," as in "she was a God-fearing woman," catches part of the reality. Perhaps meeting God would be initially less like having coffee with a friend and more like being electrocuted. Luther confessed that in the presence of God he felt stricken.
Hunger and thirst for God And yet. Believers from psalmists through Augustine through the medieval mystics to the present have spoken of their hunger and thirst for God, of how God is their "beauty, so old, so new," and of the sheer warmth and comfort they experience in the presence of God. Psalmists speak longingly of their hunger and thirst for God. The mystery of God's simultaneous electrifying holiness and enveloping love is one of the underreported mysteries of the Christian religion. C. S. Lewis invoked it in his Chronicles of Narnia by making the God-figure lion Aslan good, but not safe. Aslan is loveable — but not safe.
The Bible's story of the kingdom of God climaxes in John's vision of the future in Revelation 21. The text appears to teach not only that there shall be a new heaven and earth, but also that it shall be this earth, renewed. In Revelation 21 the city of God descends to us. We do not go to heaven; heaven comes to us. In a vision lovely enough to break a person's heart, John shows us what God showed him: that up ahead of us, after centuries of tribal feuds and racial arrogance, after centuries of xenophobic snapping at each other, after we human beings have silted history full with the debris of all our antagonisms — after all that, the city of God will descend to us, and God will dwell with us, and, once more, God will make all things new.
Frederick Buechner: "We might say God is like the great physician with a cure for every ill. He is like the good president whose Oval Office is always open to even the humblest citizen. But Jesus says something quite different. He says God is like a man who, when his friend comes knocking at his door at midnight, says, `You'll wake the children. Drop dead,' and who only after his friend goes on leaning on the doorbell finally staggers downstairs with his hair in his eyes and his bathrobe on inside out and gives him what he wants just to be rid of him. Jesus says God is like the crooked lawyer with the book he is writing about his involvement with Watergate so much on his mind that he couldn't care less whether the woman wins her suit against the power company but finally tells her secretary to show her in anyway just so she won't keep bugging him."
|Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.|