Who Is Like God?

 

In Psalm 40:12-28, we read,

“Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, measured heaven with a span and calculated the dust of the earth in a measure? Weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance? Who has directed the Spirit of the LORD, or as His counselor has taught Him? With whom did He take counsel, and who instructed Him, and taught Him in the path of justice? Who taught Him knowledge, and showed Him the way of understanding? Behold, the nations are as a drop in a bucket, and are counted as the small dust on the scales; look, He lifts up the isles as a very little thing. And Lebanon is not sufficient to burn, nor its beasts sufficient for a burnt offering.

“All nations before Him are as nothing, and they are counted by Him less than nothing and worthless. To whom then will you liken God? Or what likeness will you compare to Him? The workman molds an image, the goldsmith overspreads it with gold, and the silversmith casts silver chains. Whoever is too impoverished for such a contribution chooses a tree that will not rot; He seeks for himself a skillful workman to prepare a carved image that will not totter. Have you not known? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?

It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them out like a tent to dwell in. He brings the princes to nothing; He makes the judges of the earth useless. Scarcely shall they be planted, scarcely shall they be sown, scarcely shall their stock take root in the earth, when He will also blow on them, and they will wither, and the whirlwind will take them away like stubble. ‘To whom then will you liken Me, or to whom shall I be equal?’ says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high, and see who has created these things, who brings out their host by number; He calls them all by name, by the greatness of His might and the strength of His power; not one is missing. 

Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel: ‘My way is hidden from the LORD, and my just claim is passed over by my God’? Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable.

The question: who is like God? The answer: no one! God is transcendent.

In his classic work Knowing God, J.I. Packer writes about the incomparable nature of God,

Image result for knowing god“Look at the tasks I have done, he says. Could you do them? Could any man do them? ‘Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basked, or weighed the mountain on the scales and the hills in a balance’ (vs. 12). Are you wise enough, and mighty enough, to do things like that? But I am, or I could not have made this world at all. Behold your God!

“Look now at the nations, the prophet continues: the great national powers, at whose mercy you feel yourselves to be. Assyria, Egypt, Babylon – you stand in awe of them, and feel afraid of them, so vastly do their armies and resources exceed yours. But now consider how God stands related to those mighty forces which you rear so much. ‘Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; … Before him all the nations are as nothing: they are regarding by him as worthless and less than nothing’ (Isa 40:15, 17). You tremble before the nations, because you are much weaker than they; but God is so much greater that the nations that they are nothing to him. Behold your God!

“Look next at the world. Consider the size of it, the variety and complexity of it; think of the nearly five thousand millions who populate it, and of the vast sky above it. What puny figures you and I are, by comparison with the whole planet on which we live! Yet what is the entire mighty planet by comparison with God? ‘He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a net to live in’ (Isa 40:22). The world dwarfs us all, but God dwarfs the world. The world is his footstool, above which he sits secure. He is greater that the world and all that is in it, so that all the feverish activity of its bustling millions does no more to affect him that the chirping and jumping of grasshoppers in the summer sun does to affect us. Behold your God!

“Look, fourthly, at the world’s great ones – the governors whose laws and policies determine the welfare of millions; the would-be world rulers, the dictators and empire builders, who have it in their power to plunge the globe into war, think of Sennacherib and Nebuchadnezzar; think of Alexander, Napoleon, Hitler. Think, today, of Clinton and Saddam Hussein. Do you suppose that it is really these top men who determine which way the world shall go? Think again, for God is greater that the world’s great men. ‘He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing’ (Isa 40:23). He is, as the prayer book says, ‘the only ruler of princes.’ Behold your God.

“But we have not finished yet. Look, lastly at the stars. The most universally awesome experience that mankind knows is to stand alone on a clear night and look at the stars. Nothing gives a greater sense of remoteness and distance; nothing makes on feel more strongly one’s own littleness and insignificance. And we who live in the space age can supplement this universal experience with our scientific knowledge of the actual factors involved—millions of the stars in number, billions of light years in distance. Our minds reel our imagination cannot grasp it; when we try to conceive of unfathomable depths of outer space, we are left mentally numb and dizzy.

“But what is this to God? ‘Lift you eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing’ (Isa 40:26). It is God who brings out the stars; it was God who first set them in space; his is their Maker and Master—the are all in his hands and subject to his will. Such are his power and his majesty. Behold your God!” (Knowing God, pgs. 86-88)

Don’t Envy Violence

“Do not envy a man of violence and do not choose any of his ways.” (Prov 3:31)

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When I read this verse, my first question is, “Who wants to be like a violent man, anyway? What does he have that is so enviable?”

And then when I am honest with my heart and fleshly tendencies within it, I thought about one of my temptations when I drive. I have said often that if I didn’t have the Holy Spirit living within me that I might be in prison for road rage. I too often want to act out outwardly towards those who drive erratically or don’t drive like I want them to drive. Instead of doing something outwardly, I think violent thoughts.

Now, before you get overly worried about my last few sentences, those thoughts are NOT, “I wish that guy would die” or “I hope he gets in a car wreck.” But I will admit that often I do think, “I hope he gets punished for what he just did to me! He needs to get what comes to come!” And then I might even think, “How come he gets away with that?”

So, in short, I am envying a violent man. Solomon says, “Don’t do that!”

But why?

A violent man gets what he wants. He gets his way. A violent man seeks to control others through various forms of violence – physical, emotional, psychological, verbal, etc. As long as there is a violent man, he will have someone or some people he abuses. And as long as he has that, he will have power and control.

A righteous man should not covet control or power which leads a man to violence. He should not give glory to those who manipulate, bully or abuse.

When A Sinner Is Saved

We have two black cats – Luke and Leia. By and large, our cats are calm, social, and low-maintenance.

Well, there is one exception to the calmness: when they are ready to eat and we are not ready to feed them. When Luke and Leia think that meal time has come, they will let you know it. Their incessant meowing and whatever else you call that noise will not cease until food has been placed in their bowls. You cannot calm or silence them in any other way until you feed them.

Image result for nineveh revivalNow imagine for a moment what the city of Nineveh was like after the ¾ of a million people responded in salvation to Jonah’s message and the ruler of the city proclaimed a city-wide for the people…and the animals (Jonah 3:6-8)!

The animals would have no idea why they weren’t being fed. And when they got hungry, they would let you know.

Imagine walking through the city of Nineveh and hearing the meows, moos, barks and tweets (that’s birds, not Twitter) of every animal who was being deprived of food. What a loud event this must have been!

The ruler of Nineveh wanted everyone in the city – from the noblest king to the lowest animal – to properly place themselves under the merciful and gracious God. He wanted every creature you saw in the city to have a visible reminder of the great work of God in salvation.

When God intervenes in our faith for salvation, we ought to shout it from the rooftops. If the angels in heaven are throwing their own party (Luke 15:10), shouldn’t we find a way to display the riches of God’s grace that have been shown to even one sinner?

I am praying for such an opportunity in my life.

In my sphere of influence, I want to see someone come to Christ. I want to rejoice with them; I want to celebrate their deliverance from darkness into light.

Maybe I will even celebrate my proclaiming a household fast and keep those cats meowing for a while.

 

 

Happy Father’s Day

When I think of my parents and Annie’s parents, I know I am blessed. It is not often that a married couple like us can boast and thank the Lord for giving us godly parents that love the Lord.

So, when I see and read God referring to Himself as the Father, I am aware that my own Dad and Annie’s dad are not perfect examples of what God is like, but they aren’t inadequate either. They both give me glimpse of my Creator.

The passage that comes to my mind when I think of my Dad is Deuteronomy 6:6-9 – “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” My Dad bleeds the Bible. His ability to recall and integrate Scripture into life is unparalleled. He loves God’s Word more than man’s word. His relentless pursuit of knowing God inspires all who he shepherds as a pastor, befriends, and reaches out to. I am happy to have him as a Dad.

The verse that comes to my mind when I think of my father-in-law is Proverbs 20:7 – “The righteous who walks in his integrity – blessed are his children after him.” My father-in-law could be summed up with the word integrity. It suits him well as a man above reproach who serves as an elder at his church. He served in law enforcement for decades and kept his faith and testimony in the recurring challenges and temptations of evil. Both of these men are role models for all young men.

They are worthy of our admiration and a “Happy Father’s Day!”

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Just In Case You Missed It – June 12-15, 2017

  1. Ten Things You Should Know About Jonathan Edwards” by Sam Storms\
  2. A Time to Weep, and a Time to Laugh” by Kevin DeYoung (The Gospel Coalition). Read as DeYoung moves from his church in East Lansing, MI to his new ministry In Matthews, NC. He is “leaving well.”
  3. Twenty Relics of Church Past” by Thom Rainer. At WBC, we don’t have any of these.
  4. The Great Exchanges of Romans” by Sinclair Ferguson. This blogger meditates on the word “reconciliation” in Paul’s letter to the Roman church.
  5. TGC Welcomes H.B. Charles as New Council Member” by Ben Peays. This is a great addition for this network of churches.

 

Q/A Friday: How Does Suffering Benefit Me?

I Peter 3:14 says that suffering can be for the sake of righteousness. Let me give you a list of blessings for those who “suffer for righteousness sake.”

Suffering can be a blessing because suffering can strengthen the inner man. “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you” (I Peter 5:10). Sufferers gain the strength they need from an omnipotent God. Without this promise, suffering would destroy all of us.

Suffering can be a blessing because it brings about endurance. “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness” (James 1:2-3). Sufferers learn to cherish the reality of surviving the trial by the grace of God.

Suffering can be a blessing because it deepens one’s appreciation for eternity. “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (II Corinthians 4:17-18). How many of us have been in the middle of suffering and been only able to focus on one truth? In eternity, this will all be gone.

Suffering can be a blessing because God is on our side. “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). When God is with you, as John Knox likes to say, you are always in the majority. You are always on the winning side. Suffering will not be the end of you.

Suffering can be a blessing because God’s grace is sufficient. “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (II Corinthians 12:9-10). In every suffering, God gives us the exact dosage of grace we need.

Suffering can be a blessing because the church is with you. “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together” (I Corinthians 12:26). The body of Christ becomes so important to us when we face a trial. Without the church, we are very much alone.

Suffering can be a blessing because it can be a testimony to others. Remember the blind man in John 9? Jesus said he suffered in order for God’s works to be displayed in Him (John 9:3). As a result of God’s healing of him, he would be a walking, talking, seeing witness for the Gospel to everyone around him.

Suffering can be a blessing because it purifies. “So that the tested genuineness of your faith – more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire – may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (I Peter 1:7). Sin is purged during suffering, worldly pleasures are pushed aside, priorities are set, lessons are learned, etc.

Suffering can be a blessing because it identifies with Christ. “Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God” (II Timothy 1:8). To live as Christ is to suffer as Christ.

Suffering can be a blessing because it can comfort other sufferers. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (II Corinthians 1:3-4). People who suffer can approach others suffering and say “I know how you feel. I have been in your shoes. Let me help you.”

You could add to the list these blessings of suffering: to strengthen our commitment to God, to produce discernment, to help us be more empathetic, to discipline our thinking, to show us true wisdom, to deepen our relationship with Christ, to lead us to repent of sin, to teach us to be more thankful, and to increase our faith. The blessings of suffering are life-changing.

If you have a question you would like to submit to our blog to be answered in the future, please it to charlesheck@cox.net or pose your question in the comments section of this post.

A Conference Worth Streaming

My favorite conference this year, even though I didn’t get to attend it, was the G3 Conference and their treatment of the 500-year anniversary of the Reformation. I would encourage you to go to youtube.com and search for the below messages that will feed you, instruct you, convict you, and inspire you.

  • Session 1 – Josh Buice – “Doctrines Worthy of Death and Scripture Worship of Preaching”
  • Session 2 – Tim Challies – “Let the Gospel Give You Your Song”
  • Session 3 – David Miller – “Preaching Justification Expositionally”
  • Session 4 – D.A. Carson – “Laying the Foundation”
  • Session 5 – Steve Lawson – “Justification by Faith Alone”
  • Session 6 – Paul Washer – “The Sufficiency of Scripture: God’s Church God’s Way”
  • Session 7 – James White – “The Atonement: The Strongest Refutation of Rome’s Eucharistic Errors”
  • Session 8 – D.A. Carson – “Soli Deo Gloria”
  • Session 9 – Phil Johnson – “Love Not the World”
  • Session 10 – Conrad Mbewe – “Biblical Reformation Requires Courageous Preachers of God’s Word”
  • Session 11 – Voddie Baucham – “The Need for Reformation in Evangelical Ecclesiology”
  • Session 12 – Steve Lawson – “The Reformation Was a Recovery of the Gospel”
  • Session 13 – Conrad Mbewe – “Satan Has Asked to Sift You”
  • Session 14 – Paul Washer – “The Ever-Present Danger of Apostasy”
  • Session 15 – Voddie Baucham – “The Need for Reformation in Worship”

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