Date: July 10, 2009
Bible Text: Genesis 1 | Roger Voegtlin
Series: Transcribed Sermons
The last few weeks we’ve been talking about the attributes of God. We looked at His holiness, the fact that He’s just, that He’s all-seeing, all-knowing. Last week we looked at the fatherhood of God, and this morning I’d like to continue the study, looking at the attribute of His omnipotence. It is a blessing to know that God knows all, is all-powerful, and can bring anything to pass so that whatever comes in our lives, we can take it in stride if we’re Christians.
God is the Creator of the heavens and earth. Genesis 1 reads, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.” As we look through the Bible, we see an all-powerful God. In the Old Testament, not only did He create the world and create man, but we see His power as He parts the sea and people walk across on dry land. We see His man pray, and fire falls from heaven. We see Him destroy His enemies with fire. We could go down through the phenomena of God’s power in the Old Testament. We see that He makes the sun stand still. Science would say that couldn’t happen, but what does science know about God’s universe? We see an all-powerful God.
As we go into the New Testament, we see Him walking on water. We see Him calming the sea. We see Him feeding 5,000 men with a couple of fish and some bread. We see the demons cast out. We see the sick healed and the dead raised. We serve an all-powerful God. In this power-hungry day, I praise God that we serve that all-powerful God. Not that long ago we were satisfied with the power of some animal, some oxen, some horse. But today, we’ve split the atom. Today we can blow up whole cities. Today we have developed the thrust force to hurl huge missiles out into space. We’re living in a day of power struggle. Most of us grew up during or have lived through what was called the Cold War struggle. Many of us can remember when Krushchev beat his shoe on the podium in the United States and said, “We will bury you.” We can remember when we had the stand-off in Cuba, and President Kennedy sent in our forces. I can remember exactly where I was at that time. I was studying at Iowa State, and I remember being scared to death. I thought, “This is it. It’s over.”
We could talk about many different scary eras of history, of modern history, but I’m just saying that we have lived in an era of a power struggle. And we’re living in one now. You could say America won the Cold War. We withstood the Soviet Union, and they have disintegrated into their former countries. But for some, that is scarier yet because now people who are even more irresponsible have the little “button.” In fact, sometimes we wonder, “Who has the button, and how many buttons are there? And for what reason would they press those buttons?” People have said that the missiles are still pointed at our cities here in the United States of America. And even scarier than that, the nuclear physicists and the scientists are out of work in Russia, so they’re selling their goods to crazy people in Iran and Iraq. Who knows? Maybe Castro would like to buy some.
We have grown up in an age when, if you listen to the news or read the newspapers, fear is struck in the hearts of people. In fact, when we started having children, it was common for people to come to Sharon or me and say, “You’re not going to have children, are you?” We’re talking about 1970, just after the ‘60s. People would say, “You wouldn’t bring some little life into this wicked world, would you?” And I remember preaching on the fact that we should bring little lives into this wicked world to raise them for God. But I remember when Krushchev was beating his shoe on the podium, a lady saying, “I don’t clean my house anymore because I know the communists are going to take us over. And if they get my house, they’re going to get a dirty house.” It’s kind of comical, but we have lived through decade after decade of people theorizing the power of man. But, as a Christian, I know that man is not in charge of the power of this earth. Nine times in Revelation alone, God is called omnipotent. He is all-powerful. Job saw that. In Job 42:2 he said, “I know that thou canst do every thing….”
Yet although the Bible clearly teaches and emphasizes that an all-powerful God created and keeps the world and controls the affairs of men and nations, many people will point out, “Well, if He is all-powerful, He cannot be a good God.” Or, “There cannot be a God in charge of this world because of the injustices that we see, because of the suffering that we see, because of the crime that we see—the violence.” “Either there is no God,” they say, “or if He is God, He could not be omnipotent to allow this to go on.” You’ve heard that said. Somebody’s loved one is dying of cancer, and they say, “He can’t be in charge. A good God wouldn’t allow this to happen.” Starvation in India? “A good God wouldn’t allow this to happen.” A little mind and wicked men in the mideast go around blowing things up, and people say, “A good God wouldn’t allow this to happen.” Well, let me point out that we serve an all-powerful and very good God, an all-good God. God did not force sin upon man. Man brought it upon himself. Adam brought sin into this world, and yet we can’t blame Adam for everything because there’s not a soul on the face of this planet who hasn’t chosen to sin himself.
We tend to look at God and say, “If there is a good God, there would be response to sin. There would be no results of sin.” We have to remember that God is never the author of sin, and neither has He ever caused anyone to sin. He could have made us perfect like angels, like robots. He could have just wound us up and said, “Now here is man. I’m going to put within him only the ability to love me and never to sin.” But He chose not to, and I can understand why He chose not to. Who would like a wife who was a robot? Who would really want a wife who, if you wound her up, would say like a computerized robot, “I love you. You are the greatest. You are the most handsome. You are the smartest.” These boys are smiling. They kind of like that. No, in reality, they would rather earn it. They would rather have it come from the heart of their wife. And wives, of course, would rather have it come from the heart of their husbands. You see, God didn’t want to create some animal, some robot, in whom it meant nothing for him to love Him. He created man for fellowship. You can see that in the Bible very easily. He wanted us to choose to love Him and to choose to obey Him.
God knew that when Adam and Eve sinned it would bring calamity to all the succeeding generations. But don’t blame God for the results of sin. God is not only a loving God, He’s not only an omnipotent God, but He’s a just God and a holy God. We cannot take those characteristics and shove them aside. You have to realize that as a just and holy God, He must judge sin. I think we’re living in a day when we’re seeing the judgment of sin in the form of AIDS. Now, secular educators and the news media hate for somebody to say that. They laugh at people who would say that. But nobody could convince me that AIDS is not a judgment from God. The first people who were infected by it brought it upon themselves. I feel so much for someone who has contracted AIDS through a blood transfusion or as a baby, but nobody could convince me that AIDS is not a judgment from God upon homosexuals and drug users and people who are perverted in their sex lives. We can understand that, can’t we? But I’m sure there’s not a Christian in this room who hasn’t at some time in his life said, “How can God allow this to continue?” Sometimes He just brings judgment upon us right here on this earth. God could have prohibited evil, but He allowed it so that His eternal good might come. As Paul said in Romans 9:20, “Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God?”
We can’t say why people are caught up in sin exactly, but it’s not because God doesn’t love them. The Bible tells us how much God loves us repeatedly in His Word, and then He showed His love with that ultimate gift of His only begotten Son. But it is man who chooses to sin; and because God is a just God, man must reap what he sows. Turn over to Psalm 81:11. Here we have an example of mankind choosing to sin and because of God being just, men must reap. “But my people would not hearken to my voice; and Israel would none of me. So I gave them up unto their own hearts’ lust: and they walked in their own counsels. Oh that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my ways! I should soon have subdued their enemies, and turned my hand against their adversaries.” He was saying, “I would have taken care of them, but they didn’t allow Me to because of their sin.” Many times God will let man do what he wants. Many times God will allow man to even wallow in his sin. But one thing that is comforting to me is to know that He is an all-powerful God and He’s still in control. He’s still on His throne, and He has promised to take care of His own.
Many times the wickedness of man is used to accomplish His good. I think the longest account in the Bible has to do with Joseph. If you will, turn back to Genesis 37. What a wonderful account, and what a wonderful story! Of course, we can’t go into all of it, but what a wonderful illustration of how God takes care of His own. In Genesis 37 beginning at verse 24 we pick up in the middle of the account, “And they took him, and cast him into a pit: and the pit was empty, there was no water in it. And they sat down to eat bread: and they lifted up their eyes and looked, and, behold, a company of Ishmeelites came from Gilead with their camels bearing spicery and balm and myrrh, going to carry it down to Egypt. And Judah said unto his brethren, What profit is it if we slay our brother, and conceal his blood? Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmeelites, and let not our hand be upon him; for he is our brother and our flesh. And his brethren were content. Then there passed by Midianites merchantmen; and they drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmeelites for twenty pieces of silver: and they brought Joseph into Egypt.”
There is no doubt his brothers just wanted to get back at him, probably because they didn’t like his godly example. All they knew was that they were getting back at their brother. But praise God, He says in Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” We as Christians serve an all-powerful God Who wrote, “…we know that all things work together for good…” This is one of the best reasons in the world to stay right with God. Many people think they can do this or that, but you mess up all the works when you do that. Then God has to judge you as a holy God. God has to “spank” you as a holy God. And then when problems come into your world, you don’t know what’s happening. You don’t know whether He is judging you, whether He is spanking you, or what is happening. I say again, one of the best reasons in the world to stay right with God is so that when problems come in your life, you can say, “All things work together for good. I know that all this is coming from God and for the right reason.”
We can weather the storm knowing that God is on our side. Joseph knew this, even though his own flesh betrayed him, even though his own flesh sold him as a slave to a heathen land. I always think of Potiphar’s wife. How many of you think you could handle that? Here he was, being what God would have him to be, serving his master in the right way, and his master’s wife comes to him and entices him. He runs and leaves her, and she then goes to her husband. Joseph did right, but her husband has him cast into prison. How many would take that? We know that all things work together for good, but in times like that we have to ask ourselves, “Am I right with God?” If we can say, “Yes, I’m right with God. God is not dealing with some sin in my life. God is not trying to get me to let go of that sin,” then we can grit our teeth and say, “Okay, all things work together for good. I’m going to do what is right, I’m going to continue, and I’m not going to worry about this problem.”
Of course, Joseph did that and he became second ruler in all the land. And in the twentieth verse of chapter 50, he says, “But as for you [speaking to his brothers after he was used to save their lives and to save that civilization from starvation], ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.” Praise God. That’s why we shouldn’t be moved around with the things of the world. It always bothers me when people lose their jobs and say, “Well, I guess God is moving me on.” What do you mean? Or, “I’ve got some kind of physical ailment. I guess God doesn’t….” What do you mean? Why don’t you just find God’s will, and why don’t you just do it? Why don’t you just trust God, trust that all-mighty, all-powerful God?
The same idea could be illustrated by the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. His enemies unwittingly carried out God’s plan that He should be the “…Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” The psalmist declared, “Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee.” The old devil was dancing and saying, “We won! We got him! He’s dead!” The soldiers and the people in the government who hated him, sealed that tomb, and put a rock on it were saying, “We won!” No, they didn’t win. They were used. “Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee.” We should not worry when things don’t go exactly our way. We get a little persecution, and the main thing we should think about is, “Am I right with God? Is God dealing with sin in my life? If He’s not dealing with sin in my life, then I’m going to set my sail, and I’m going to go full speed ahead.”
It is also reassuring to know that Satan and evil people cannot go past certain limits. Isn’t that good? The story of Job is the best illustration of that. Satan charged that Job was only into Christianity or godliness for what he could get out of it. In other words, he was paid too well. It would be foolish for him to do anything else. Sometimes people think, “Why is it that when we get saved, we don’t just get taken to heaven?” Or, “Why is it that we as Christians have so many problems?” One reason is that we need to develop ourselves. But also, if we were made perfect, if all of a sudden we were given the blessings that we’ll have in heaven someday, people would be “accepting Christ” for the wrong reasons. They would be accepting Christ for the palaces.
They would be accepting Christ because they wouldn’t get sick. If we didn’t have the problems, people would be accepting Christ for the visible, the immediate wealth and gain, rather than accepting Him as their living God and Savior of their sins.
But again, in the book of Job chapter 1 verse 12, we read, “And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD.” Now again, Satan was talking to God in the same way he does about us. “Let me at him. The only reason he serves you is that you just take good care of him. Just let me at him, and I’ll show you what kind of Christian he is.” God had been bragging on His servant Job. He said, “Look at Job. Look at what a good man of God he is.”
Christian, wouldn’t it be a blessing if God said, “Look at him.” I think He does that just as much as we as parents do when our children are right. Just as much as I do as your pastor when the devil attacks and attacks. When he’s attacking and people are falling, I think to myself, “Don’t just look at the bleak; look at him and look at her. Look at the blessing.” That’s what God was doing. He was saying, “Hey, Satan, you don’t have them all. Look at Job.” Satan said, “Let me at him, and he will not serve you. Let me take his wealth away. Let me take his health away. Let me take his family away.” And again, the Lord said unto Satan, “… all that he hath is in thy power…” But notice, “…only upon himself put not forth thine hand.” He set limits. That’s the whole idea I’m trying to get across. He set limits. Job lost his wealth, everything. Job lost his children—all ten of them, dead. Job lost everything but his health. Satan could not touch him. And Job said in the first chapter, verses 21-22, “…Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed is the name of the LORD.”
We need to learn that in America today. In this materialistic world we need to learn it. We brought nothing into this world, and we’re not going to bring anything out. What was Job saying? “Thanks, God. Thanks for the good things. They’re not going to do me much good in heaven anyway.
Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Later God permitted Satan to afflict him physically, but again He put a limit on him in chapter 2 verse 6 where we read, “And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life.” God knew how much Job could take. And I say to you this morning, Christians, God knows how much you and I can take. Never accuse God of going past your limits. There are people who will sin, they’ll lust, they’ll rob God, they’ll steal, they’ll do these things and then say, “I couldn’t help but do anything else.” You’re a liar. God knows what you can or cannot take. Don’t blame God for temptation.
We have a precious promise in I Corinthians 10:13, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man….” When people start faltering, so many times they believe the lie of Satan that they are tempted more than anybody else. “If others were tempted as I’m tempted, then they would fall, too.” What does the Bible say? “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man.” I don’t care what Satan says. You say, “Well, my temptation is unique.” I’ll tell you as a Bible believer and as pastor of this church, there are dozens of people in here, if not hundreds, who are tempted in exactly the same way. “…but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” God knows you. He knows me. He knows our limits. At times, days become dark and dreary, but God’s grace is always sufficient. And before it gets too rough, God says, “Enough.”
I can say as the pastor that it seems as though the devil’s flood gates are open. In fact, it’s been that way lately for me. It seems like the dogs are at my heels. The German shepherds, the little things that get you around the neck, the pit bulls. “Get away from me!” But I think that’s the way Satan works. It seems like a little Chihuahua comes and gets you by the heels, and then one of those sissy dogs comes and gets you. Then the pit bulls start coming as you’re messing with these over here. It just seems like you are going to go under, doesn’t it? That’s the way Satan works. He wants you to say, “I can’t take it.” You can, too.
“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man.” There is no temptation taken you or me that God doesn’t give you a way or path of escape. There is none. Don’t call God a liar. You have to set sail, you grit your teeth, whatever you want to call it, you just say, “Okay, I’m doing right. The devil is not going to win.” You try to smile, you try not to wear your problems on your sleeve, and you just keep time like some human earthly king. Someday after all of us on going. You know, after a while, God says, “Enough.” Do Christians are removed from this earth, He’ll judge those you ever notice that? The clouds are pushed away, the dogs Christ-rejecters in a way unknown before. He’ll destroy the back off. Then you look around and say, “Everything’s great. devil and his followers. Isn’t God good!” In this troubled, sinful, mixed-up world, it’s great to have faith in Almighty God. There is much we fail to understand and questions we can’t answer, but we can have an unshakable confidence that all is in control. All is in the hand of an all-powerful God, and He’s working out His plans for eternal good.
When I was a young man, the popular saying was, “God is dead.” No, God is not dead. He holds the universe together by His mighty power. He permits evil men as rulers to have their day, but don’t think for one moment that He’s lost His power. He hasn’t lost His power. These puny creatures run to and fro and blaspheme, “Get prayer out of the schools! We’re going to take God out of our nation. We’re going to push Him out of the home. We’re going to do this, we’re going to do that.” The psalmist declares in Psalm 2:1-5, “Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.” They can do whatever they want. I’m old enough to see it doesn’t matter who they are. It doesn’t matter how powerful they are. In fact, to me part of the fun of being a Christian is for them to attack.
Do you ever wonder why many don’t like us here? It is because we’ve been here for 31 years, and we’ve set sail and stayed on course, and they can’t do anything about it.
They hate it. You just keep on for righteousness, just keep on for family, just keep on for God, just keep on holding the banner up. You keep on going, and you keep on going—and they hate it. The Bible says God will laugh. God doesn’t need to hurry. We want to have it like that. We want to see His hand of judgment immediately. But He’s not rushed for time like some human earthly king. Someday after all of us Christians are removed from this earth, He’ll judge those Christ-rejecters in a way unknown before. He’ll destroy the devil and his followers.
Again, Psalm 2:10-12, “Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.” Did you hear that? “Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.” There are people sitting in this room who are saying, “What’s wrong with God?” In reality you ought to be saying, “What’s wrong with me?” The problem is we didn’t put our trust in God—whether it’s trust in raising our family, trust in our marital relationship, trust concerning our finances. Trust. “Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.” Do you want to be blessed? I didn’t ask if you wanted an easy life, did I? God never says that. Do you want to be blessed by God? Trust Him. He’s almighty. He’s omnipotent. He’s all-powerful. Isn’t that wonderful? Put your trust in Him.