As a pastor, I have noticed many churchgoers today do not seem to have a proper understanding of God’s nature. This often leads to many viewing God like “Darth Vader” instead of a Perfect Being! These incoherent ideas about God lead to a weak faith and Christians not living as Christians ought to.
William Lane Craig has a fantastic series of books for children entitled: “What is God Like?” I have found these books are not just great for little kids, but that most adults can actually learn how to think correctly about God after reading them to their kids. This past Father’s Day I gave a sermon inspired by this series. I encourage you to get these books for your family!
Sermon Notes 6-19-16
Good morning! I want to wish everyone a happy Father’s Day! Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there today and also to everyone who has a dad. I think that’s about everyone! 🙂
Now, although everyone here has someone who has contributed their DNA to your existence, not everyone here has had a real “dad” in their life. However, if you are a Christian, you have a Father in Heaven. In fact, God is not just your Father — He wants to be your “Daddy!”
A few years ago some of the youth group kids bought me a T-shirt with Darth Vader on the front. They knew I was a big Star Wars fan! (Can I get an amen?) The shirt had Darth Vader saying, “Who’s your daddy?”
So, whenever I would wear this shirt, people thought it was funny to ask me the same question. I would typically respond and say, “Russ Stratton of Holdrege Nebraska,” or the appropriate Sunday school answer: “My Father in Heaven!”
I have been so blessed to have the best and coolest parents in the world! My dad happens to be here this morning. Dad, I want thank you for how you raised me. I honestly don’t think you could have done a better job and I am honored to be your son. Happy Father’s Day to you, dad!
With that said, my dad will be the first to tell you that our Heavenly Father is the ultimate Dad! In fact, the Aramaic word, for God, “Abba,” is best translated as “Daddy!” God is not just our King, but he is our Father — He is our Daddy!
Here’s a question to ponder: If your Father is the King, what does that make you?
On this Father’s Day, we need to understand not just that the Creator of the universe is your Daddy and that you are created in His image — we need to understand who exactly our Father is. That is to say, what makes God, God?
Theologians refer to these properties of God as “divine attributes.” God possesses several qualities, that if He did not possess, then He would not be worthy of worship. If the creator of the universe is not worthy of worship, then, although we would have a very powerful cosmic being, He would not be God (with a “big G”).
So, let’s get to know our Daddy! Everyone can grow in knowledge of their Heavenly Father by understanding several key divine attributes:
The first attribute of God that is vital to comprehend is called omnipotence. This is referring to the power of God. Now, if you don’t like the word “omnipotence,” you can simply say, “All Powerful!”
What do we mean when we say that God is all-powerful? Does this mean that God can do anything and everything?
Many people in the church today think that is the case, but they are wrong. In fact, it wasn’t until just a few years ago that I realized that although God is omnipotent, God cannot do ALL things! Here’s what I mean: Can God create a married bachelor? Can God create a triangle with four corners? Can God create a stone that is so big that even He cannot lift it? Can God create something that is not contingent upon Him?
Can God sin? The Bible says God cannot lie in Titus 1:2.
What about this: Can God force someone to freely choose to love Him? Of course not — that is logically impossible!
So, if there are clearly things that God cannot do, then why do we say He is all-powerful or omnipotent? Let me give you a good definition of omnipotence:
God can do all things that are logically possible.
So, if a being can do all things that are logically possible, that would include many things that are scientifically impossible – like creating a universe from nothing and raising a man from the dead. These are called miracles!
The Bible teaches that God is All-Mighty. It says,
“Oh, Lord God, it is you who made the heavens and the Earth by Your great power! Nothing is too hard for You” (Jeremiah 32:17).
The Bible is clear that “nothing is too hard for God.” But when you think about it, things like, “triangles with four corners,” and, “married bachelors” are not really things at all. They are nothing but an inconsistent combination of words.
So, when thinking about it that way, God can do ALL things, but if it helps, just remember that God can do all things that are logically possible.
Do you know what’s exciting about realizing the omnipotence of God? If you have a personal love relationship with God, and you are filled with the Holy Spirit, then the omnipotence of God lives within you too! Think about that, this means you’ve practically got super-powers! With God’s power working in you and through you, you can do “all things” (Philippians 4:13)!
Now, this is only in regards to the things that God wants you to accomplish. For example, you cannot use God’s power to rob the bank, but if God desired you to walk on water or to simply love an unlovable neighbor (or enemy) then God’s power is available for you, and He wants you to use it!
After considering the all-powerful nature of God, the next divine attribute we need to understand is that of God’s omniscience. This big word simply means that God is all-knowing! Philosophers clarify exactly what this means: For every statement that could be uttered or thought of, God knows whether any and all statements are true or false and He is never wrong.
God also knows what COULD happen, what WOULD happen if something else were to occur (even if He knows it won’t), and what WILL happen with perfect certainty. God does not make probability judgments.
The weatherman might say that there is a 30% chance of rain tomorrow, but God knows with 100% certainty if it will rain tomorrow or not.
Moreover, it is impossible to keep a secret from God. Let’s see what Scripture has to say on this matter:
“Oh Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I get up . . . and know all about what I do. Even before I say a word, oh Lord, You know all about it” (Psalm 139:1-4).
God even knows what we will freely choose to do!
For example, God knows with 100% certainty what you will freely choose to drink the next time you are at a restaurant. When the waiter offers you Pepsi, Mountain Dew, or Dr. Pepper, even if you aren’t sure what you want to drink and you need to think about it a little bit longer, God knows with absolute certainty what you will eventually – and freely – choose to drink! Even if you change your mind at the last possible moment, God knew you would freely choose Mountain Dew over Pepsi at the last second.
God simply knows.
Many people think that since God perfectly knows what we are going to freely choose to do, then we do not really have free choices at all. Jumping to this hasty conclusion is a terrible mistake and a logical blunder!
Here’s a helpful illustration to make my point: Since I talked about the weatherman earlier, let’s think about the primary tool of the weatherman called a weather barometer. Weather barometers help the weatherman predict the weather of the near future with high degrees of certainty. They are obviously not infallible and are sometimes wrong. But let’s imagine an infallible weather barometer – one that is never wrong! Let’s imagine that we could type in the date and coordinates into this infallible weather barometer for any place and time into the infinite future and it will always give us a perfect weather forecast.
Let’s suppose we asked the infallible weather barometer what the weather in Spain was going to be like ten years from now and it told us that ten years from today, it will rain in Spain. Now let’s fast forward ten years from today, and low and behold, there is rain in Spain!
Now here’s the question: Just because the infallible weather barometer knew that it was going to rain in Spain with perfect certainty, did the infallible weather barometer CAUSE the rain to fall in Spain? Of course not!
You see, knowledge does not stand in causal relation. Just because God knows what will happen, it does not necessarily mean that God caused it or forced it to happen. This includes our free choices! God knows with absolute certainty what you will freely choose to do, and this is why you are held responsible for your actions.
God Knows the truth to all things and this includes all that has happened in the past, all that is occurring right now, and all that will happen in the future. God knows all that could, would, and will happen. God knows everything – including what you are thinking right now!
This is why we can pray to God in our minds without using our voice boxes!
God knows all things. This means it is impossible for God to learn things the way humans do. God does not have to “think things through” to come to conclusions. He simply knows the truth perfectly.
In fact, God had perfect knowledge of what WOULD occur in this universe – including how humans would freely choose – logically before He created this universe and laid the foundations of this world (Ephesians 1:4)!
Isn’t it cool to have a “Daddy” that knows everything about everything! Because our Father has perfect knowledge, we have access to the most intelligent being (a perfectly intelligent being)! This is why Christians should be the most intelligent, reasonable, and logical thinkers on the planet!
My website is devoted to helping Christians be the most reasonable thinkers! freethinkingministries.com
The Bible even tells us to go to the Ultimate Intelligence (GOD) to ask for wisdom:
“Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5)
This is emphasized when Paul makes it clear:
“[God] desires all people to be saved and to possess knowledge of the truth…” (1 Timothy 2:4).
Your Father wants to teach you about reality! The question is this: Are you willing to learn from Him?
The final divine attribute that I want to speak of today is something called God’s Omnibenevolence. This simply means that God is all-good and all-loving.
Now, if God were simply all-powerful and all-knowing, but He was not all-good and all-loving, then we would have reason to be frightened. In fact, this is how Muslims view Allah. According to Islam, God is not all-loving, and whatever Allah does is called “good,” even if it is really hateful (This is why Muslims have no assurance of salvation).
Some Christians fall into this trap and incorrectly think of God this way. This is a horrible mistake that leads to a weak faith. For example, some Christians think that God forces everyone’s thoughts and beliefs upon them all the time. Well, if this is the case, then God forces most people to believe lies. If God forces some to believe truth and others to believe lies, then how can we be certain that God is not forcing us to believe some false things too? This ultimately leads to many in the church doubting their salvation. The problem is that their presupposition of God was incorrect in the first place.
Let’s talk about the perfect goodness of God: Because God is perfectly good He always does what is right. When one always does what is right, he is perfectly holy! When we freely choose to do good things, then we approximate to the perfect standard of God, and we do holy things! Worshipping God is holy. Loving your neighbor is holy. Loving your enemy is holy!
We are not perfectly holy, but we should make every effort to approximate to the One who is!
The Bible says this:
“And the Lord said, you shall be holy; for I the Lord your God am holy” (Leviticus19: 1-2).
God is the standard of goodness and therefore, we can always trust the commands he has given us to be perfectly good. Moreover, since God is perfectly intelligent, then His commands are always the most intelligent thing to do! Therefore, it is just plain stupid and wrong not to obey the commands of God!
How do we know God’s commands? Through Jesus (and this is validated by His resurrection)! Jesus summed it all up (Matthew 5:44; 22:37-39):
1- Love God first!
2- Everybody love everybody (from your neighbors to your enemies)!
Therefore, Christians ought to be the most loving people on the face of the planet! Let’s talk about the perfect love of God and what it means to be all-loving (which is part of omnibenevolence):
The Bible makes it clear:
“God is love” (1 John 4:16).
So, if God is love, then God’s very nature is loving. “He is loving as He is holy. And God’s love is a very special kind of love; He doesn’t love you because you’re good. His love is unconditional!”
This is a perfect Daddy, right? I am not a perfect dad by any means, but I do not require my son, Ethan, to be perfect. In fact, I know he will make mistakes, he will sin, he will disappoint me, and he will be anything other than perfect. But even though I know these things about Ethan, it doesn’t mean that I don’t love him with all of my heart! I am still willing to die for my imperfect son!
If that is how imperfect dads are, imagine what a perfectly good, intelligent, and loving Heavenly Father is like! God does not love you based on your actions – He just loves you and desires you to love Him in return!
But He won’t force you to be in a relationship with Him; you must make the choice to enter that love relationship or not.
In fact, that is what a saving relationship is: when a human freely chooses to love God in return, then a true love marriage occurs – a saving relationship with God! Because God first loved us, when we respond to His love and freely choose to love God back, we are saved!
This is demonstrated by Jesus when he tells the Parable of the Prodigal Son. Let’s read it together:
Luke 15:11-32 (ESV)
11 And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. 14 And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to[a] one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.
17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’[b] 22 But the father said to his servants,[c] ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.
25 “Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ 28 But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, 29 but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came,who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ 31 And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”
Jesus is telling this fictional story of a dad – a great dad – who is loving his son the way God loves all humans (John 3:16; 1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9). Jesus is telling this story of a great and loving father so that those listening to this story will begin to understand the way God loves all humans.
You see, the father’s love was always available to his son. The father’s love never went anywhere. This dad never stopped loving his son with all of his heart. However, the son made some choices – free choices – which separated him from the perfect love of his father. It was not until the son made the choice – the free choice – to come back to his father’s love and to love his father in return, that their relationship was restored.
If the son would have never made the free choice to return to his father, then their relationship would have never been restored.
This is representative of God’s love for YOU. God loves you unconditionally, just as the father in the parable, and His love is always there for you. With that said, however, you and I are responsible for our own decisions, and we can make horrible, bad, wrong, evil, and stupid choices that separate us from God’s perfect love.
Some people freely choose to separate themselves from God for eternity (this is called hell)! Remember one of the logically impossible things I mentioned earlier was that God cannot force a person to freely choose to love Him. That is on the same incoherent level as married bachelors or triangles with four corners.
Jesus did all the work for you, but now the ball is in your court. You are now responsible for your eternity!
Do you want perfect love with your Creator? It is available through the atoning power of Jesus Christ. You have a perfect Father – a Daddy – who loves you with his entire essence! You are worth more than the entire universe to Him! He desires a true love relationship with YOU.
You might feel like the prodigal son today. You might be in a place right now that you know you are not supposed to be in. The prodigal son had to make a choice – a free choice – and swallow his pride and come back to his father. If you are in a place that is far from God right now, then I encourage you to make the same choice – swallow your pride and come back to your Daddy. He is a perfect Father and His love is waiting for you!
How awesome is it, that our Father – our Heavenly Father – is all powerful, all-knowing, all-good, and all-loving? Unlike Muslims, we can trust God. That is to say, the Islamic idea of Allah is that he is all-powerful, but he is not all-good or all-loving, and therefore, he cannot be trusted. This is a false concept of God.
Our God is PERFECT in every way! There is nothing (logically possible) that He cannot do; there is nothing he does not know, and there is no one that He does not love! Knowing this about your Father should bring you great joy and peace! In fact, knowing that the King of kings is your Father, and that He loves you more than you can possibly imagine should strengthen your faith — it has for me!
Now that you know a little more about your Father, let this phrase have extra significance today:
Happy Father’s Day!
Let’s pray . . .