This morning we are going begin a series that will run over the next several weeks, on things that last forever. As much as we may want certain things to last and last, we know that basically everything we see around us does not. Summer turns to fall, fall to winter, grass withers, flowers fade, mountains erode, buildings as good as we build them, fall. Just look in the mirror and you can see even the thing many of us spend the most time on trying to make last –ourselves, does not. As much as I may want to be the same as I was when I was 30 or 40, I am not. Las night we had some guests over and they were looking at some pictures we had when we were in Cameroon 18 years ago. “Look at all that hair,” one guest said. “And I am not talking about Jodi!” Yes, my hair has shall we say, fade away.
There are some thing, however that do last forever. The verse on the wall to your right, my left, says, “From everlasting to everlasting, You are God.” God is eternal, forever, from everlasting to everlasting. We read in scripture that there are some other things that last forever –the word of God, heaven and yes, hell, the love of God, and several other things. We are going to touch on some of these in the coming weeks, but this morning we are going to look at what I believe is the most important one.
The eternity of God and all that it entails, is foundational for all the other eternal things we see in scripture. If we do not grasp the eternity of God and what that means, then we will struggle with most, if not all of the other things in scripture that are forever.
It basically rests on the statement “God is.” No comma, no dot-dot-dot to imply there is a continuation of the statement, simply “God is.”
In order to understand the eternal things things, we need to have a proper understanding of God. The whole of Scripture begins with this basic and essential premise –God is. God is the one who created all things. God is the one who has no beginning and no end.
God is the eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise one. He was before the beginning of time as we know it and will continue beyond time as we perceive it. He has really no beginning or end. He is God. He is.
This eternalness of God speaks to his being supreme and sovereign in all things, for from him all things came to being. In the very opening of the bible we read in the beginning God. One of the questions skeptics ask, “If God made everything, who made God?” is answerable only in this –God is. He always was, always will be. Our small, limited minds have a very hard time conceiving such because everything we experience tells us that everything around us has a beginning and even an end. But God does not. He always was and is and will be.
CS Lewis tried to explain it this way. If you take a sheet of paper infinitely extended in all directions and took a pencil and made a one inch line on it, that would be time. When you start to make the line that is the beginning of time and when you lift the pencil that is the end. Now, all around in every direction in every dimension, that is God.
AW Tozer says, if there was a place where God stopped, then God would not be perfect. God would not be God. For example, is God knew almost everything, but not quite, he would not have perfect knowledge. His understanding would not be infinite (Psalm 147:5)
And this extends to all the other things we see about God. His power, his goodness, his love, his mercy, and so on. If God was not forever, if God was not infinite, if God was not eternal in who he is and what he is, then he would not be God.
Tozer continues, If God knew everything except one percent of all that could be know, or had all the power except some small fraction that was hoarded and he could not get at, or all the love except 1/10th of 1% then God would not be God. God, to be God must be infinite in all he is. He must have no stopping place, no point beyond which he can’t go.
And this eternity, this foreverness of God is foundational in our understanding of God and everything else with regards to forever things. Because God is infinite in who he is, because he is forever in himself, because “God is,” His ways are not our ways, his thoughts not our thoughts. Isaiah 55:9-11 states this and more.
In our seeking to understand things like eternity, heaven, hell, salvation, sin, love, suffering, and such, God’s ways and thoughts are not ours –they are beyond what we can know. His reasons and his purposes are his reasons and his purposes. He gives us glimpses, shadows, fleeting sparks of understanding. However, they are like a flicker of a candle compared to the brightness of the noonday sun.
Because “God is,” his ways, his thoughts, his mind is infinite. Because God is infinite, he can be totally trusted to be absolutely true in all he says and faithful in all he promises, and perfect in all he does. Isaiah 55:11. “My word comes from my mouth and will not return to me void.”
What God speaks, happens, what god does happens. Because “God is,” He is faithful in all he does and can be trusted in all he says. Isaiah 25:1 says, “O Lord, you are my God, I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done marvelous things, things planned long ago (ie before time).”
There were no surprises –there are no surprises for God. One of the things that I have been asked many times is, “Did God know Adam and Eve would sin? And if he did, why did he not stop it? We are going to come back to this in the next few weeks as we look at humanity, Jesus and salvation. But bottom line is, yes, God knew. Yes, God allowed it. Why? His plan, his purpose. And yes, even his solution.
Even before creation, God had planned out the perfect solution to our sin –His son Jesus Christ being the full payment, the perfect substitute, the ransom for us. I want to read a bit of a lengthy passage which covers so much of what I have been saying –Ephesians 1:3-14. WOW! Note the eternal aspects of this passage, God’s faithfulness, his promises his plan, his purpose. Back to Isaiah 55.
Verse 11, “It will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” And then Psalm 115:3 “Our God is in heaven, he does whatever pleases Him.” God, in his infiniteness, in his foreverness, in his everlastingness, will do as he wills and he wants for his purpose, his pleasure, his glory. His purposes and pleasure will be done –because He is!
Francis Chan says, in his book Erasing Hell,
Whether or not you end up agreeing with what is said about hell, you must agree with Psalm 115:3. Because at the end of the day, our feelings and wants and heartaches and desires are not ultimate –only God is ultimate. God tells us plainly that his ways are not ours and his thoughts are infinitely higher than ours. Expect then that scripture will say things that don’t agree with your natural way of thinking.
God will do what God will do because God is. God as the creator, as the eternal one, as sovereign has every right to do what pleases him. This is foundational because it sets God up here (place hand high). And it places us down here (place other hand low) way down here. In fact, just as the illustration with the paper, our place of understanding is so far from God that we cannot begin to approach his thoughts.
And there are two serious results that we, and I emphasize we, have made of this. Both resulting from an incident that happened at the beginning in the garden. The result of the fall (which we will look at in a few weeks) was that man lost his high view of God and gained an inflated view of himself. You will be like God, was the promise of Satan, in knowing good and evil.
The first result of the fall is that man thinks more highly of himself than he should. We lift ourselves up to be equal, if not greater than God. We question the existence of God, the actions of God, the thoughts of God, the motives of God. If God says this is the way, we look for another way. If God says something we don’t like, we turn our back. If God does something we disagree with we question his motive, his plan, his purpose. What we do is we move from here to here (place hands at equal level) or even here (raise man-hand higher than God-hand).
-God says, I created all in 6 days. No, that can’t be right –science and human reasoning say not possible must be billions of years.
-God says, there is only one way to heaven and that is through faith in my son Jesus. No, that can’t be right, there have to be many ways.
-God says, man is sinful and separate from me and destined for hell. No, that can’t be right, I don’t believe in hell and besides God would never do that.
-God says, I am the Lord, the one true God. Worship me alone “I AM.” No, I won’t submit to a god like that, there must be others.
The second aspect of this is that we not only lift ourselves up but we bring God down. AW Tozer, again, says we have made God cheep.
This cheep little God we’ve made in one you can pal around with, the man upstairs, the fellow who helps you win baseball games.
Just the other night Jodi and I were watching a show that had a contestant doing a task to win a huge amount of money. You could see the mother in the audience, hands clasped, eyes closed, lips moving “please God please God please God!” Paul Little over 60 years ago, wrote a book aptly titled, Your God is too Small. IN it he describes how we have shaped and squeezed and boxed in the infinite, perfect, all-knowing, all loving, perfect boundless God into something manageable, tolerable, acceptable. We have brought God down into our image, only maybe slightly better.
We have shaved away the roughness of his judgement, softened the toughness of his wrath, chipped away his holiness, deleted his sovereignty, neglected his honor and made him into a something far less than the infinite God of the Bible who is the great “I AM.” We have made the God “who is” into the God who is not. He is not the perfect one.
And with this we lose sight of all the other eternal things, the forever things. His ways are NOT our ways. His Thoughts are NOT our thoughts. He does as He pleases and what he does is perfect. We are not god, we are not equal to or even slightly lower than God. God is.
From everlasting to everlasting, He is God. This is the foundation for all else we will be looking at over the next few weeks. I would like to close this morning with two scripture passages. First is to look back at Isaiah 55. And let us go back to the verse that precede the verses on the thoughts of God being higher than our. 6-7.
God and God alone, the one who was and is and ever more shall be, offers us a way to find him –to come into a relationship with him. God, Who is, does have compassion and freely offers salvation and forgiveness. IN the Gospel of John and later in Romans we read, all who believe in the Son, Jesus Christ, and confess him as Lord, become the children of God. The One Who is, offers life to us through His son Jesus Chirst.
Second Psalm 103:8-17.
Pray. God, who is the infinite I AM, You who are the creator and sustainer of all, we come in humble acknowledgement that you ARE. Forgive us Lord for the low view we so often have of you and the high view we have of ourselves. You promise that Your Holy Spirit will guide us into all truth. I pray Lord that He will now. Lord, that we will not be deceived by others or ourselves. Lord, that we will see only Your truth. You are. Fill us with a high and exalted view of You, your glory, your excellency, your majesty, your worth, your infiniteness of being. We are a vapor, you are eternal, love everlasting, God before time. From everlasting to everlasting, You are God.