Lesson 3: The Greatness of God and the Christian Life | Biblical Foundations for Living

Lesson 3: The Greatness of God and the Christian Life

Lesson Two described three of the attributes, or character qualities, of God’s greatness. God is great because He is infinite , or without external limitations. Mankind, however, is completely limited and, thus, finite . Theologians call this fundamental difference between God and man the Creator / creature distinction.

[God’s only limitations are his own character and will. He won’t do anything inconsistent with Himself.]


God’s character determines the relationship between Himself and man. This lesson describes that relationship from the perspective of the three attributes of God’s greatness discussed in Lesson Two (omnipotence, omniscience, and sovereignty). [Review these terms.]

[So this lesson looks at how these facts matter to us practically speaking. ]

I. God’s Omnipotence and the Christian Life

A. The significance of God’s omnipotence to mankind in general

The omnipotence of God renders mankind totally dependent on Him.

God is the ultimate source of everything needed by both believer and unbeliever. He has structured the specific details of our lives so that we must rely on Him for all things. This is true whether one admits it or not.

1. Mankind is dependent on God’s power for the preservation of the physical universe .

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.   Hebrews 1:3

He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. – Colossians 1:17

[The universe exists and is kept working by God’s power. If God withdrew His power, all things would immediately fly apart. C.f. Col 1.17.]

2. Mankind is dependent on God’s power for the preservation of his life .

If it were his intention and he withdrew his Spirit and breath, all mankind would perish together and man would return to the dust.   Job 34:14 15

3. Mankind is dependent on God’s power for provision of daily needs.

He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.   Matthew 5:45

Give us today our daily bread. – Matthew 6:11

B. The significance of God’s omnipotence to the Christian in particular

  1. The Christian is dependent on God’s power for the preservation of his

salvation .

The security of the believer depends upon God’s power, not his own. This is why it is impossible for one to lose his salvation.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade  kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.   1 Peter 1:3 5

[God is the one who keeps the Christian saved. C.f. John 10:28-29. Good works do not keep you saved.]

2. The Christian is dependent on God’s power for the strength to face the circumstances of life.

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.   Isaiah 40:29 31

[“Those who hope in the LORD” are believers. C.f. also 1 Cor 10:13]

3. The Christian is dependent on God’s power for the ability to do right .

Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.   Philippians 2:12 13

[Both salvation and sanctification are by grace. Both are gifts from God.]

II. God’s Omniscience and the Christian Life

A. The significance of God’s omniscience to mankind in general

The omniscience of God renders mankind totally accountable to Him.

Accountability means giving an answer for one’s actions. The Bible teaches that all men will one day give an account to God.

1. Believers will give an account of their actions at the Judgment Seat of Christ .

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.   2 Corinthians 5:10

2. Unbelievers will give an account of their actions at the Great White Throne Judgment .

And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened . . . . The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.   Revelation 20:12

The fact of our accountability to God assumes He has complete knowledge of all of our actions.

But they do not realize that I remember all their evil deeds. Their sins engulf them; they are always before me.   Hosea 7:2

O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD.   Psalm 139:1 4

[C.f. also Heb 4:13 — all things are “naked and open” to God.]

B. The significance of God’s omniscience to the Christian in particular

The Christian’s understanding of his accountability to the omniscient God serves as a motivation to forsake sinful living and to pursue righteous living .

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.   Psalm 139:23 24

III. God’s Sovereignty and the Christian Life

A. The significance of God’s sovereignty to mankind in general

The sovereignty of God renders mankind totally responsible to Him.

Lesson Two established the fact that God has absolute authority over all things. God’s exercise of this authority is called His sovereignty. Many resist this doctrine because it makes mankind’s responsibility to God unquestionable.

Mankind’s responsibility to God means that he is obligated to think and act in a certain way. This obligation cannot be separated from his accountability discussed above. It is precisely because a person is required to live a certain way that he will be called upon to account for his actions.

[So man is accountable because he is responsible. God has told us to do certain things in a certain way. Therefore, we are accountable to do so. E.g., you are given the responsibility to take out the trash and are held accountable for if you do it, how well you do it, etc.]

1. Mankind is responsible to God because God has established

standards of behavior .

When God gave the Ten Commandments, He began by identifying Himself as “the LORD your God” (Exodus 20:2). He did this to emphasize the fact that He is the source of all standards of right and wrong.

[Today, most people accept the philosophy called relativism: there are no absolutes, no true right or wrong. Right and wrong depends on the individual and the circumstance, not on a standard or a law. What consequence does this have? Changing standards of right and wrong, total independence of “ethical” behavior. Further, if there is no God, there can be no true standard/law of right or wrong.]

2. Mankind is responsible to God because God has sovereignly planned all of man’s free choices .

The LORD said to Moses, “When you return to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders I have given you the power to do. But I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go.”   Exodus 4:21

But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the LORD had said.   Exodus 8:15

For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”   Romans 9:17

[Note that in the first verse, God hardens Pharaoh’s heart. In the next verse, Pharaoh hardens his own heart, and the last verse shows that God is in control of Pharaoh’s actions. Pharaoh did what he wanted to do, and what he wanted was God’s plan. To Pharaoh, it seemed as if he was acting freely, but in reality, he was doing what God planned for him to do. It’s similar for us. From our perspective, our choices are free, but in reality, God has planned our activities and is in control of what we do.]

Although God never forces us to choose contrary to our will, He has planned the circumstances in which we exercise our will. Therefore, God has determined that individuals will exercise their wills at a particular place and at a particular time for a particular purpose. See also Genesis 50:20.

[God renders it certain that we will always “freely” choose that which he has previously ordained. This is part of the mystery/paradox between divine sovereignty and human freedom.]

B. The significance of God’s sovereignty to the Christian in particular

1. The Christian’s understanding that he is responsible to the sovereign God gives him a God centered purpose in life.

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.   1 Corinthians 10:31

This means that in every situation in life, whether large or small, the believer will ask, “What would God want me to do?”

2. The Christian’s understanding that God is sovereign gives him peace and confidence .

a. The believer can serve God without worry , knowing that everything is under God’s control.

b. The believer can be confident, knowing that God has planned every situation he faces for his good .

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.   Romans 8:28

Recap & Review

In this lesson, we have learned:

  1. Because God is omnipotent, we are dependent on Him for everything.

  1. Because God is omniscient, we are accountable to Him for our actions.

  1. Because God is sovereign, we are responsible to Him for our actions.

Learning to Live It

Read the following excerpt from a sermon by Charles H. Spurgeon:

“There is no attribute more comforting to His children than that of God’s Sovereignty. Under the most adverse circumstances, in the most severe trials, they believe that Sovereignty has ordained their afflictions, that Sovereignty overrules them, and that Sovereignty will sanctify them all. There is nothing for which the children ought more earnestly to contend than the doctrine of their Master over all creation  the Kingship of God over all the works of His own hands  the Throne of God and His right to sit upon that Throne. On the other hand, there is no doctrine more hated by worldlings . . . [than] the Sovereignty of the infinite Jehovah. Men will allow God to be everywhere except on His throne. They will allow Him to be in His workshop to fashion worlds and make stars. They will allow Him to be in His [money house] to dispense His alms and bestow His bounties. They will allow Him to sustain the earth and bear up the pillars thereof, or light the lamps of heaven, or rule the waves of the ever moving ocean; but when God ascends His throne, His creatures then gnash their teeth. And we proclaim an enthroned God, and His right to do as He wills with His own, to dispose of His creatures as He thinks well, without consulting them in the matter; then it is that . . . men turn a deaf ear to us, for God on His throne is not the God they love.”

Why do you think the doctrine of God’s sovereignty is so comforting to believers?

because they know that nothing ever has or ever will happen which is outside of God’s control. It means that there is a meaning/purpose to life, and that God is in control.

Why should believers uphold this doctrine?

because God would cease to be God without it; because the Bible teaches it

Why do you think people so hate this doctrine?

because it puts God on the throne, not man. Even some believers hate the logical conclusion of God’s Sovereignty. Some people (Arminians) think that man has a totally (or at least mostly) free will, and can either choose God or not. We would disagree with them. People also hate it because it seems to limit or take away man’s freedom or choice. Further, at times it doesn’t seem to be true experientially. That is, it often seems that occurrences (like storms and disasters) are random and pointless, that our choices are indeed free, etc. It’s also hard to understand how God can be sovereign and still hold man accountable.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Lesson 3: The Greatness of God and the Christian Life […]

Speak Your Mind

*

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.