A sermon (with outline) by Bruce Ware, professor of theology at Southern Seminary and the author of Big Truths for Young Hearts: Teaching and Learning the Greatness of God (Crossway, 2009). HT: Andy Naselli via Justin Taylor
Q. Are there more gods than one? No. There is only one true God.
This is one of the most comprehensive claims of Scripture. Exodus 8:10—“there is no one like the LORD our God.” Exodus 15:11—“Who is like you?” Deuteronomy 4:35, 39—“There is no other besides him.” 2 Samuel 7:22—“There is none like You, and there is no God besides You.” Psalm 86:8-10—“There is no one like You among the gods, O Lord, nor are there any works like yours.” Jeremiah 10:6-7—“There is none like You.” Isaiah 40:18:25—“To whom will you liken me?” Isaiah 43:10-11—“Before me there was no God formed and there will be none after me.” Isaiah 44:6-8—“Who is like Me? Is there any other Rock?” Isaiah 45:5-7—“From the rising to the setting of the sun… there is no one besides Me.” Isaiah 45:18-19—“I am the LORD, and there is none else.” Isaiah 45:21-22—“There is none except Me.” Isaiah 46:5—“To whom would you liken Me?” Isaiah 46:9-10—“I am God, and there is no other.”
3 Themes at the heart of the Scriptures and their declaration of God’s exclusivity and incomparability. (1) God is exclusively God, and God is incomparably God as He is the Creator of the Earth… Isaiah 40:18-26 God is independent of all. What does it mean to say that God is the creator? As the creator of all, God is independent of all that he has made. God is apart from the world. The world cannot add anything to God. It cannot contribute to God. God contributes to it. God needs nothing from this world. God is not lonely. He has existed eternally in community.
Isaiah 40:12—“Who has measured the waters in the palm of his hand?” Think of the difference between how big we are and how big He is.
Isaiah 40:17—“All the nations are regarded as less than nothing and meaningless.” This does not mean that God does not love the nations (see John 3:16). Rather, it means that humanity—the collective totality of the nations—can add nothing to God. He is the giver. We are the receivers. He is the provider. We are the needy recipients. God is God apart from us.
God is the rightful owner of all. God has absolute rights over everything we are and everything that we have. We don’t have rights to anything that is ours. Our family—as precious as they are—belong to the Lord. To create is to own, and to own is to have priority of rule.
What then should be our response to God? We must come before God with a deep sense of humility and dependence upon him. 1 Corinthians 4:7—“What do you have that you have not received? And if you have received it, why do you boast as if you have not received it?”
(2) God is exclusively and incomparably God as He is redeemer of his chosen people.
Dr. Ware read Isaiah 43: 1-13
Because God redeems his people, He is their rightful owner, verses 1-2. God is the rightful owner of what he is bought. As Christians, we are twice owned people. We are owned as his creation and his redemption. Just as he creates the heaven and the earth, he creates his people. He formed his people. They are his making. To call us by name means that he owns us. God names us. God tells us where we go. Our parents do not control our destiny. We belong to him.
Because God redeems his people, He demonstrates his selecting and particular love for us, verses 3-4. The Exodus shows us God’s love and care for his people. It also shows His intended divine judgment against others. The places his love for Israel side by side against his wrath against those who are not His. This is clear in the final plague. God did not tell the same things to the Egyptians. This was by divine intention. God judged others in the place of those he favored. The favor shown to Israel in the Exodus was not owing to their righteousness. He simply poured out his grace toward the ones He chose. What then should be our response to God? We must respond with confidence and trust in God. This should elicit absolute trust from us in him. Our duty to follow him should also be our greatest delight—flowing from a thankful heart.
(3) God is exclusively and incomparably God as He is sovereign ruler over good and evil
Dr. Ware read Isaiah 44:24-45:7
As sovereign ruler, God reigns over nature (verses 24, 27) and nations (verses 25-26). God not only makes everything, but he controls what they do. God is incomplete control over all things that happen in nature. God controls the results of elections. He announced Cyrus reign 150 years before he was born.
As sovereign ruler, God has absolute control over both good and evil (Isaiah 45:7; cf. Psalm 5:4; 1 Jon 1:5).
What should be our response? This gives us hope and strength. The suffering and sickness we experience can be faced with hope and strength. Even though we may not understand the reasons, we know Who is behind these things and we can trust his character.
More Resources from the Desiring God blog
David Kidd and I are headed out tomorrow to the Children's Desiring God National Conference. Please pray for us as we go and learn about children's ministy. Check back here for live blogs (or summaries--depending on WiFi access) of the sessions. This is the theme of the conference: As we understand all of life as it relates to God at the center, we will be more equipped to orient children to the centrality of God. Plenary speakers include John Piper, Paul David Tripp, Bruce Ware and David Michael. In addition, a number of diverse and experienced seminar leaders will provide practical help and encouragement for parents, teachers, leaders, and all who are invested in ministry to children and youth. I'm particularly excited about hanging out with Tim Jones (who is leading a seminar on family ministry) and Catherine McKenzie (who works for our friends at Christian Focus publishing).
"A theologically rich resource to aid parents in training their children. Anyone who wants to help children grow in their love for Jesus and understanding of the Bible needs this book." Mark Driscoll, Pastor, Mars Hill Church, Seattle; President of Acts 29 and The Resurgence
"Imagine a respected theologian devoting himself to training a new generation of pastors and scholars in the seminary classroom. Now imagine him driving home at night to teach that profound theology in simple terms to his children at their bedsides. Now imagine this father compling those bedside conversations into a book available to all pastors, parents, and children alike. Imagine no more. My frind Dr. Bruce Ware has done it." C. J. Mahaney, Sovereign Grace Ministries
"I cannot help but see the gift this is to Christian parents and dads in particular who are charged with the spiritual instruction of their children. Take this beautifully written, Bible-saturated, God-centered, theologically comprehensive summary of the truth and teach it diligently to your children, and until your children leave your home talk of it when you sit in your house and whn you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up." David Michael, Pastor for Parenting and Family Discipleship, Bethlehem Baptist, Minneapolis