Your God Is Too Small
By Franklin L. Kirksey, Pastor, First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort, Alabama, and author of Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice.
These expositions by Dr. Kirksey are offered to suggest sermon or Bible study ideas for pastors and other church leaders, both from the exposition and from the illustrative material, or simply for personal devotion.
Your God Is Too Small written by “[Dr.] J. B. [John Bertram] Phillips [1906-1982] explains that the trouble facing many of us today is that we have not found a God big enough for our [post] modern needs.” Please note, I added the prefix “post” because Phillips wrote it in the modern era (1952). This book has relevance in our day. Also from the book description we read, “In a world where our experience of life has grown in myriad directions, and our mental horizons have been expanded to the point of bewilderment by world events and scientific discoveries, our ideas of God have remained largely static. It is nearly impossible, Phillips argues, for an adult to worship the conception of God that exists in the mind of a child of Sunday-school age, the ‘God-in-a-box’ notion, limiting God to such inadequate conceptions as ‘Resident Policeman,’ ‘Grand Old Man,’ ‘Meek-and-Mild,’ and ‘Managing Director.’ As a result of these insufficient ideas of God, many people live with an inner dissatisfaction, without any faith at all.”
God asks, “‘To whom then will you liken Me, / Or to whom shall I be equal?’ says the Holy One” (Isaiah 40:25). Dr. J. I. Packer comments, “This question rebukes wrong thoughts about God. ‘Your thoughts of God are too human,’ said Luther to Erasmus. Dr. Packer adds, “This is where most of us go astray. Our thoughts of God are not great enough; we fail to reckon with the reality of His limitless wisdom and power. Because we are limited and weak, we imagine that at some points God is too. We think of God as too much like what we are. Put this mistake right, says God; learn to acknowledge the full majesty of your incomparable God and Savior.”
Recently, I read, “Dr. Donald Grey Barnhouse writes:
I learned the idea of a great God and a little god from my old professor, Robert Dick Wilson, at Princeton Theological Seminary. After I had been away from the seminary for about twelve years, I was invited back to preach to the students.
Old Dr. Wilson came into Miller Chapel and stood near the front. At the close of the meeting, he came up to me, cocked his head on one side in his characteristic way, extended his hand, and said: “If you come back again, I will not come to hear you preach. I only come once. I am glad that you are a big-godder. When my boys come back, I come to see if they are big-godders or little-godders, and then I know what their ministry will be.’
I asked him to explain, and he replied:
‘Well, some men have a little god and they are always in trouble with him. He can’t do any miracles. He can’t take care of the inspiration and transmission of the Scripture to us. He doesn’t intervene on behalf of his people.
‘Then there are those who have a great God. He speaks and it is done. He commands and it stands fast. He knows how to show Himself strong on behalf of them that fear Him.’
He paused a moment, smiled, said, ‘God bless you,’ and walked out.
Are we ‘Big-Godders’ when it comes to asking and receiving from God?”
Psalm 145 had the designation of “The Crown Jewel of Praise”, here we read, “I will extol You, my God, O King; And I will bless Your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless You, / And I will praise Your name forever and ever. Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; And His greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall praise Your works to another, / And shall declare Your mighty acts. I will meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty, / And on Your wondrous works. Men shall speak of the might of Your awesome acts, / And I will declare Your greatness. They shall utter the memory of Your great goodness, / And shall sing of Your righteousness. The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, / Slow to anger and great in mercy. The Lord is good to all, / And His tender mercies are over all His works. All Your works shall praise You, O Lord, / And Your saints shall bless You. They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom, / And talk of Your power, / To make known to the sons of men His mighty acts, / And the glorious majesty of His kingdom. Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, / And Your dominion endures throughout all generations. The Lord upholds all who fall, / And raises up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look expectantly to You, / And You give them their food in due season. You open Your hand / And satisfy the desire of every living thing. The Lord is righteous in all His ways, / Gracious in all His works. The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, / To all who call upon Him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He also will hear their cry and save them. The Lord preserves all who love Him, / But all the wicked He will destroy. My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord, / And all flesh shall bless His holy name / Forever and ever.”
Allow me to share three things about God from our passage.
I. We see God’s dominion over man through His majestic administration of Lordship.
From Psalm 145:1, 5a, and 11-13 we read, “I will extol You, my God, O King;
And I will bless Your name forever and ever. . . . I will meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty . . . . They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom, / And talk of Your power, / To make known to the sons of men His mighty acts, / And the glorious majesty of His kingdom. Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, / And Your dominion endures throughout all generations.”
Dr. J. I. Packer explains, “Our word ‘majesty’ comes from the Latin; it means greatness. ‘Majesty’ is a word which the Bible uses to express the thought of the greatness of God, our Maker and our Lord. ‘The Lord reigneth, he is clothed with majesty. . . Thy throne is established of old’ (Ps. 93:1 f.). ‘I will speak of the glorious honor of thy majesty, and of thy wondrous works’ (Ps. 145:5). . . Today, vast stress is laid on the thought that God is personal, but this truth is so stated as to leave the impression that God is a person of the same sort as we are weak, inadequate, ineffective, a little pathetic.
But this is not the God of the Bible! In all its constant stress on the reality of God’s personal concern for His people, and on the gentleness, tenderness, sympathy, patience, and yearning compassion that He shows toward them, the Bible never lets us lose sight of His majesty and His unlimited dominion over all His creatures.”
As he preached in Cornelius’ house, we read in Acts 10:34-36, “Then Peter opened his mouth and said: ‘In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him. The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ—He is Lord of all.’” From Revelation 19:16b we read that Jesus Christ is “KING OF KINGS AND
LORD OF LORDS.”
May we sing, “Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!”
II. We see God’s disposition toward man through His mighty acts of love.
From Psalm 145:4 and 6 we read, “One generation shall praise Your works to another, / And shall declare Your mighty acts. . . . Men shall speak of the might of Your awesome acts, / And I will declare Your greatness.”
Jesus explains God’s disposition to man as recorded in John 3:16-18, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. ‘He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.’”
In the last stanza of his great hymn Reginald Heber shares this grateful declaration: “Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty! All Thy works shall praise Thy Name, in earth, and sky, and sea; Holy, holy, holy; merciful and mighty! God in three Persons, blessèd Trinity!”
III. We see God’s deliverance of man through His merciful agenda of lowliness.
From Psalm 145:8-9, 14-21 we read, “The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, / Slow to anger and great in mercy. The Lord is good to all, / And His tender mercies are over all His works. . . . The Lord upholds all who fall, / And raises up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look expectantly to You, / And You give them their food in due season. You open Your hand / And satisfy the desire of every living thing. The Lord is righteous in all His ways, / Gracious in all His works. The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, / To all who call upon Him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him;
He also will hear their cry and save them. The Lord preserves all who love Him, / But all the wicked He will destroy. My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord, / And all flesh shall bless His holy name / Forever and ever.”
We read about the ultimate expression of our God’s merciful agenda of lowliness in Philippians 2:5-8. Here we read, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.”
God, do you love Him or hate Him? If you hate God, you have a problem with Him. However, please remember that just because you say you love God does not mean that you do. In John 14:15, 19-24 Jesus says, “If you love Me, keep My commandments. . . . A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.’ Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, ‘Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.’”
No wonder Jude writes, “But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life” (Jude 20-21). Here Jude exhorts believers to maintain their life with God in terms of fellowship. They already have an eternal relationship with God. The Book of Jude concludes with the following, “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, / And to present you faultless / Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, / To God our Savior, / Who alone is wise, / Be glory and majesty, / Dominion and power, / Both now and forever. Amen” (Jude 24-25).
Every time God delivers man, He condescends. It humbles the pride of man to receive God’s deliverance. This is precisely the reason man often refuses to take God’s deliverance.
Dr. John R. W. Stott (1921-2011) explains, “The Gospel is good news of mercy to the undeserving. The symbol of the religion of Jesus is the cross, not the scales.”
God and man have a relational rift. Some people are like the man who heard for the first time there is a problem between God and man. He said, “I don’t have a problem with God.” Millions of people feel this way. God has a problem with mankind. There is a deep chasm between God and man caused by sin. Our purpose is to focus on God and His desire to have a personal relationship with each one of us. Please note that David’s relationship with God was more than a friendship.
Regardless of what men might think or feel, only through Jesus Christ can there be a proper relationship between God and man.
Beware lest your God is too small.
Available from: http://www.amazon.com/Your-God-Too-Small-Believers/dp/0743255097 Accessed: 04/03/12
J. I. Packer, “The Majesty of God”, Sermon Notes , Psalm 145:5
Dr. Paul Lee Tan, Encyclopedia of 15,000 Illustrations: Signs of the Times, # 4283, “Big-Godders Or Little-Godder”, (Dallas, TX: Bible Communications, Inc,1998), Database © 2004 WORDsearch
J. I. Packer, “The Majesty of God”, Sermon Notes , Psalm 145:5
Reginald Heber, “Holy, Holy, Holy” (1826)
Reginald Heber, “Holy, Holy, Holy” (1826)
John Stott, Christian Mission in the Modern World (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1975, 2008), p. 78
By Dr. Franklin L. Kirksey, pastor First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort 30775 Jay Drive Spanish Fort, Alabama 36527
Author of Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice Available on Amazon.com and WORDsearchbible.com
© November 18, 2012 All Rights Reserved