The text of a message for Akron Alliance Fellowship Church, Akron OH, Sunday, November 20, 2022.
For the “Live in Church” audio of this message, click here.
Sunday mornings are not the only days that we sit in church and learn more about God. I don’t think anyone here sincerely believes this, but I’ll just put it out there that every day that you live, within the body of Christ, is a day of learning about God.
I must mention this because there was a time in your life where you did not live your life every day for the Lord. I’m referring to that time of your life when you were an unbeliever. An unbeliever has no innate desire to learn about living a life for God. I did not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ until I was twenty-six years old. I can tell you, without a doubt in my mind, that it was not on my own effort that I made it to age twenty-six to come to that place where I knew I needed Jesus. Jesus had to carry me to a time and place in June of 1986 to realize that I needed Him as Lord and Savior.
I had to come out of a place of foolishness and utter lostness to a place where I knew it was time to grow up. And that is the same truth for all of us when we knew it was time to acknowledge that Jesus was Lord.
I use the words “foolishness” and “lostness” with intent, because as a non-believer, I was living for myself and only myself. It was much like living as a child and behaving in a childish manner. I still had a lot to learn.
1 Corinthians 13:11 CSB
When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put aside childish things.
It was up to me and me alone to decide to become more like a man—like an adult. Sometimes we make jokes today about “#adulting” these days, which essentially means making important decisions in the present and future that are necessary to carry out in order to live and function within mainstream civilized society.1 Adulting is a modern way to do the things that you need to do, for example, to keep a roof over your head and keep the lights and the heat on…go to work…get a car to get to work, and (dare I say it) pay your taxes.
Others have associated “legal age” to adulting, but to that I say not so fast. There are plenty of people who are legal age but are far from adulting. In fact, adulting for those who are legal age can be non-existent within one’s personality. When I was 18 years old, I can assure you that my idea of being an adult was strictly related to doing what I wanted to do. Even though I thought I was an adult, I was still acting like a child and doing childish things.
I’m using myself as the illustration to tell you that, if all of us are being honest with ourselves, we all can point to those moments in life where we were immature. We even have those moments when we become believers in Jesus, too. (Don’t we?) The body of Christ is made up of different personalities that have different levels of maturity when it comes to our faith. Even as this is true, we all must continue to grow and mature in our relationship with Jesus.
Do you know Jesus?
Do you want to know more about Jesus?
Our maturation in Christ must begin with us. We need to know more about who we are to grow in our relationship with Him. We need to be honest about who we are. We need to have a very good handle on our own personal attributes.
In the same manner, a way to learn more about God is to learn about His attributes. The God that we read about in Scripture has character traits that help us to begin to know more about who He is. We will cover some of these today, but we should note that these attributes are just a start in learning about the character of God. These are not all-inclusive, but hopefully they will inspire you to go to God’s Word and learn more as you study Him for yourself.
A good place to start is a passage that describes characteristics of Jesus in the present and future. In the present, He is the risen King of Kings who overcame death for us (Revelation 19:16), and in the future, He is our Lord forever and ever (Revelation 22:13).
Isaiah 9:6 KJV
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”
Each of these names of Jesus call for the mature believer to give Him his due. He is the One who gave of Himself for those who believe in Him to have eternal life. It is because of His deep love for us that we are compelled to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12b CSB).” In this effort, we truly can learn more about ourselves, and how we truly can’t do anything without Him. He doesn’t want us to live a life without purpose. He wants us to live with purpose:
Philippians 2:13-16 CSB
13 For it is God who is working in you both to will and to work according to his good purpose. 14 Do everything without grumbling and arguing, 15 so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine like stars in the world, 16 by holding firm to the word of life. Then I can boast in the day of Christ that I didn’t run or labor for nothing.
We are to learn more about the character of God as we hold onto His Word.
Let’s look at the attributes of the Person of God, shall we?
God is all-knowing, all-present and all-powerful. The first sixteen verses of Psalm 139 describe His omniscience (knowledge of everything), His omnipresence (He is everywhere) and His omnipotence (almighty power). We will cover verses 13 through 16:
Psalm 139:13-16 CSB
13 For it was you who created my inward parts;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I will praise you
because I have been remarkably and wondrously made.
Your works are wondrous,
and I know this very well.
15 My bones were not hidden from you
when I was made in secret,
when I was formed in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw me when I was formless;
all my days were written in your book and planned
before a single one of them began.
Some people may try to convince you that with everything bad that goes on in the world, God is absent or, at one point in time—if you were to watch television commercials in the late 60s, many people thought that God was dead. If you remember this time, there was a lot of turmoil in the world. The Vietnam War was always in the headlines and often report weekly American casualties. Rioting in major cities like Cleveland and Los Angeles took place from 1965 to 1968. John F. Kennedy, President of the United States, was assassinated. Malcolm X was assassinated. Robert Kennedy, a rising candidate for President of the United States, was assassinated. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. Actress Judy Garland died of a drug overdose. Actress Sharon Tate was murdered by Charles Manson and his cult members.
We, in our human nature, try to process these tragic events with the logic that God was absent or indifferent as to their occurrence. As we study Him and His Word, we learn that this is not true. Satan wants you to believe that God is detached, uninvolved and far away, and that He is not all that His Word claims that He is.
God is aware of everything happening, and He wants us to seek Him for wisdom, guidance and, of course, comfort in our moments of uncertainty. He hates sin and sinful acts because they are the very antithesis of His nature.2
Psalm 5:4 ESV
“For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness; no evil dwells with You.”
These that follow are in the category of “God is” statements:
God is Spirit.
John 4:24 CSB
“God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and in truth.”
God is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29).
God is light.
1 John 1:5 CSB
This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light, and there is absolutely no darkness in him.
God is love.
1 John 4:8, 16 CSB
8 The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
16 And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us.
God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him.
If you get nothing else out of this message, always default your thinking about who God is by remembering that He is a God of love. Your very existence is proof of how much He loves you.
You may not be experiencing love from others, but the One who created you loved you from the very beginning. In a world where love is absent, God wants us to live in such a manner that we are replicating the love of Christ in our comings and goings. God is love.
We covered this earlier with the description of Jesus in Isaiah 9:6—God is eternal.
Psalm 90:1-2 CSB
1 Lord, you have been our refuge
in every generation.
2 Before the mountains were born,
before you gave birth to the earth and the world,
from eternity to eternity, you are God.
Did you know that God is not limited by time and space as we are? As we mature in our faith, we can be like Paul with the expectation that we will be with the Lord for all eternity. Our soul, upon death, leaves the body and will reside with the Lord. Death is not to be feared unless you don’t have a saving knowledge of Jesus. Note that the deaths of Lazarus and the rich man describe a relatively immediate transition of their souls from their earthly existences to the afterlife (Luke 16:22-24).
With the knowledge that God is eternal, we are to live in confidence of the victory that Jesus has over death and that through His salvation, our souls will be with Him one day.
Romans 8:24-25 NLT
24 We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. 25 But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.)
Our God is a jealous God (because He has said so). He is also avenging and wrathful. He is slow to anger and great in power, and He is good.
Nahum 1:2-3, 7 CSB
2 The Lord is a jealous and avenging God;
the Lord takes vengeance
and is fierce in wrath.
The Lord takes vengeance against his foes;
he is furious with his enemies.
3 The Lord is slow to anger but great in power;
the Lord will never leave the guilty unpunished.
His path is in the whirlwind and storm,
and clouds are the dust beneath his feet.
7 The Lord is good,
a stronghold in a day of distress;
he cares for those who take refuge in him.
For this exercise, we will conclude that our God is holy.
1 Peter 1:15-16 CSB
15 But as the one who called you is holy, you also are to be holy in all your conduct; 16 for it is written, Be holy, because I am holy.
Where else is this written in Scripture?
Leviticus 11:44-45 CSB
44 For I am the Lord your God, so you must consecrate yourselves and be holy because I am holy. Do not defile yourselves by any swarming creature that crawls on the ground. 45 For I am the Lord, who brought you up from the land of Egypt to be your God, so you must be holy because I am holy.
Leviticus 20:7 CSB
Consecrate yourselves and be holy, for I am the Lord your God.
As you continue your spiritual journey, let the Lord speak to you as to His own character and may you see Him, as you grow in Christ, with greater praise and reverence for who He is.
We are no longer to act like immature children, but to live as children of God. He will know you by your fruits.
1 John 3:1-3 CSB
1 See what great love the Father has given us that we should be called God’s children—and we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it didn’t know him. 2 Dear friends, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that when he appears, we will be like him because we will see him as he is. 3 And everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself just as he is pure.
Copyright © 2022 Melvin Gaines
1 Wikipedia contributors. (2022, August 27). Adulting. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 18:21, November 16, 2022, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Adulting&oldid=1107000068
2 “Why does God hate sin?” (n.d.). Retrieved November 16, 2022, from https://www.gotquestions.org/God-hate-sin.html