Sunday, September 10, 2023

Romans 11:33, Part 3; The Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost; September 10, 2023;

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! (Romans 11:33, ESV)
Grace and Peace to you from Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Over the past weeks we been talking about God’s attributes, specifically three: His riches, which are not money but mainly seen in his mercy, (that is not giving us what we deserve, eternal wrath and punishment). He gives salvation through Jesus Christ, graciously. Scripture tells us that God is rich in mercy (Eph 2:4). Last week it was God’s Wisdom. He is wise above all things. His wisdom extends into our everyday lives. He provides all we need to support this body and life. He provides Jesus to be our savior. His death on the cross is God’s wisdom showing.

An aside. Last week I said that I disagreed with God about my divorce. I didn’t mean to imply that it was God’s doing. The fault lies with me, and my x-wife. The sin is entirely ours. The consequences come from that. However, God could have intervened. He didn’t. He allowed it to happen. I accept his wisdom in this matter, I don’t like it, but I accept it.

Today is about God’s knowledge. As we have said before, God’s attributes are the most, best of all. He knows more about everything that humans will ever attain. In speaking about God’s knowledge, Jesus said,
Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:29–31, ESV)
Sparrows were sold in the market for a snack. God knows intimately about each one of them. They are of little value to human beings. But to God they are everything. Even something as insignificant as the hairs on your head, God knows how many exactly you have. Just think, though, if God cares enough about you to know the number of hairs on your head, that is a great deal of knowledge. It isn’t hyperbole either. Somewhere in God’s mind he has that number. He knows everything about you, every single detail. His memory is as unfathomable as his knowledge. I can’t remember what I had for breakfast. God’s knowledge extends to every part of every meal you have ever eaten. He knows all your thoughts. He knows all your struggles. He knows all your pain. He knows all your feelings. In detail.

And he even knows your sin. He sees the blackness in your heart when you think poorly about your neighbor. God knows when you want to not do the right thing regarding your taxes. God knows when you think impure thoughts about the girl or boy next door. He knows when you refuse to apply his word to your life. Every detail about everything you have ever done, or thought is open to him. He knows more about your sin than you do.

Does it make him angry? Sin always angers God. He is perfectly holy. He can’t tolerate sin in any way. The bible says God’s anger burns against sin. This is not Good News. You can see why the author of Hebrews says,
“The Lord will judge his people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Hebrews 10:30b–31, ESV)
When we understand the depth of the knowledge of God, we see our predicament and it is much worse than it seems. God knows everything. Nothing and no one escape his judgment. There is quote that I have put in the bulletin,
“Objects in the mirror are more sinful than they appear.”
And there is something more God, in is infinite knowledge, knows. You are buried so deep in your sin, that you can’t dig your way out. For you the situation is futile and hopeless.

The more you see your sin, considering God’s knowledge of it, the more you see how rich God is in mercy. There is no hiding anything from him since he sees everything. It makes his wonderful gift of salvation through Christ even more amazing. Despite your sin, God sent his only Son to be your savior. In fact, through Holy Baptism, your connection to Jesus, God adopted you. Since Jesus set aside your sin by taking it to the cross, you have become a son (or daughter) of God through Word and water. This changes everything for you.
For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:3–7, ESV)
It is God’s knowledge of you (everything actually) that brings this about. He knows you intimately, and his love is such that he is not content to see you perish and suffer forever in hell. Instead, Jesus becomes your punishment. Displayed on the cross is God’s anger against sin, yours included. Jesus bears it. Since you are adopted by God, when he looks at you, he no longer sees your sin. Instead, he sees Jesus. Jesus’ life lived in the perfect will of God, the Father. Jesus always loving his neighbor and his enemies, even at the expense of his life. Jesus giving to the government appropriate obedience. Jesus not lusting after the women in his life. Jesus conforming himself to God’s Word, perfectly. All this, that God knows you are unable to do, is his gift for you, through faith in Jesus. And even that faith is his gift of love for you.
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
So, we have looked at these three attributes of God. We could talk about all his attributes in the same way. Every one of them is infinite. That is God’s nature.

Maybe you have noticed one peculiar thing. When we talk about God’s attributes, we always end up talking about Jesus. It isn’t forced. Jesus, himself, says in John’s Gospel:
I and the Father are one.”” (John 10:30, ESV)
If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”” (John 14:7, ESV)
Jesus and the Father are one (also the Holy Spirit). He says that if you know me you know the Father. Everything about God, is seen in Jesus.
[Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.” (Colossians 1:15–20, ESV)
You can’t separate Jesus from God. He is God. Everything that is true about God is true about Jesus. Creator, preserver, savior, sanctifier, he is all these. And more, he has all the riches, wisdom, and knowledge of God. Plus, he is fully human. God and man together, God in human form. To see Jesus is to see God. This is God’s knowledge at work. In his mercy, he sends Jesus as a visible sign of what he is. As Jesus walks, preaches, heals on the dusty roads of Israel he is God, himself, at work. God in his knowledge knows what people need, a physically present God. God that can be interacted with. God that can be seen.

That is exactly what we have in Jesus. He was born into history. He left his marks on it. No one in history has had a more profound effect. It is proof that God became man. When such a being appears in history, it is exactly what you would expect.

But, you may say, he is not physically here with us now. Well, that is God in his riches, wisdom, and knowledge also. While the people of old had Jesus’ present with them, we also have him present. He is present through his word and promises. He is present through the Holy Spirit given at Baptism. He is physically present in his Holy Supper. He is present in his church.
For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”” (Matthew 18:20, ESV)
Is it the same? Not quite. It is in fact better. Instead of Jesus in a single place, where he can be seen by just a few, he is everywhere, especially with all who have faith in him. We see him every Sunday in this place. We hear his words preached into our ears. We see him in our brothers and sisters in Christ sitting about us. You could say that the Church is firstly about Jesus being present.

This is why it is so important for Christians to gather in worship and fellowship, to see Jesus, to hear Jesus, to see and know God.

So, the church is an outpost of God’s presence in the world. And you are his ambassadors. You being a Christian, bring God’s presence to the place where God has placed you. His riches, his wisdom, and his knowledge. In your vocation, you show God’s love to your neighbor by faithful service. You show his wisdom through your godly actions. And you show God’s knowledge whenever you speak the truth in love. Amen.

The peace of God that passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

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