Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode · 6 years ago

Standing on the Shore of God (Romans 11:33-36)

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Rev. Christopher Chelpka

If you're able to remain standing, please do and let's hear God's word from Romans, Romans, chapter eleven, versus thirty three, through thirty six, Romans Eleven, verse thirty three. Oh the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God. How unsearchable are his judgments, how inscrutable his ways? For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid for? From him and through him and to him are all things? To him be the glory forever. Amen, please be seated. It was somewhat tempting to procrastinate preparing this sermon because when you read these words, how unsearchable are his judgments, how inscrutable are his ways, initially begin thinking that is going to be somewhat difficult to prepare a sermon. How can I bring before you the mind of the Lord when it is uns Urchabal? How can I talk to you and reveal the results of my reflections on the being of God when he is unsearchable? Where do you begin thinking about these kinds of things? But I'll remind you, even as I had to remind myself that what we're given here is not the infinite depth of God's riches and knowledge, but the truth of the depth of the riches of God's knowledge we are Hivin and in addition to that, we are given a degree of experience with them, participation in them. Maybe I can illustrate it in this way. Growing up in Arizona, I never made it to the beach until I was, I think, in high school. Was the first time I saw the ocean. It was a youth group trip to California, and this thing that you read about in books and you hear about in stories was more exhilarating and salty and cold and frightening than I could have ever imagined. The sound of the waves, the power of the undertow pulling even just a few feed in to the water. It was easy to be very excited and and even a little bit scared. And as you're standing there on the shore, you're thinking too about how...

...big it is. You can't see its end and you also know from all the things that you've read that underneath those waters you might be able to see a thing of seaweed passed by or some rocks, but you know that there are depths that you can only imagine, animals that you have never seen, mountain ranges, volcanoes, entire worlds. And so you're standing there on the ocean and you have this experience of the ocean in a sense, and yet in another sense it's entirely something else. Our experience with the riches of God's wisdom and knowledge is something like that. We hear of their depth, we experience it a little bit. that a sense of power, it's wonder, it's goodness, it's beauty is God reveals them these things to us, but this limited experience only confirms how far or how much. We don't know how far down it goes, how deep it really is. So while we know in part the wisdom and knowledge of God and we know that it is rich indeed, at the same time it is unsearchable, it is unknowable, it is something you can't really grasp. Now God, of course, grasps these things, not only the ocean and everything in it, but even himself. He knows all his ways, he knows himself in a way that we can never know him. What great things there must be in God that we will never know, what awesome possibilities and powers that are even beyond our imagination. And so, when we think about this, it's really impossible to explore these in any kind of complete way, much more impossible to master them and to act. As Paul suggests, that we might be God's counselor verse Thirty Four. Who has known the mind of the Lord Er? Who has been his counselor but the truth of these things, the truth of the nature of God, are in a way made very plain to us. Though we can't search the infinite depths of God, yet we know that it is true that he is infinitely deep, though deep, oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God. And so this morning, for the good of our souls and for the praise and glory of God, let's give our attention to him. Let's spend some time beholding God. First, the depth of...

God's riches. The depth of God's riches refers to his inexhaustible wealth and resources. Perhaps the easiest way to understand this is to compare the wealth of God, the riches of God, to human wealth. You can imagine. Try to think of the person, the wealthiest person you know, the richest person you know. This is someone who can probably cover any expense, any bill that comes up. A car repair, they could buy a new car, nothing's a big deal. If they need to buy a house, they buy a house. There are resources that are constantly available, and yet even the richest person that I can imagine, the richest person that you can imagine, still has limits. As much as they have available to them, there is still an end to it. There's a number at the bottom that can be counted, it can be tallied. Not so with God, because he owns everything. Everything. It's hard to even wrap your mind around that. Psalm for the de tend says every beast of the forest is mine. The cattle on a thousand hills is mine. Between US humans we partition them off. We say these cattle with these brands are mine, and these cattle over here with these brands are mine, and God says all the cattle with brands and with no brands, they're all mine. Hagu I to eight, the silver is mine and the Gold is mine, says the Lord. Psalm twenty four one. The Earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof the world and they that dwell therein and not just material things but immaterial things as well, eekyl eighteen, for behold, all souls are mine. This is why we pray to God for our daily bread. He owns it, it's his, it's his to give, it's his to share. God, this is why we pray for our souls. They're his, and we a would ask that he would save us, bless US and comfort us. God's wealth, his riches, his reeses, sources are inexhaustible. When we think about that, there are a thousand ways to apply this to our own heart. I'll ask you do that homework. Think about how how it is that the depth of God's riches and that thought, that truth, needs to apply to your own...

...life. Are there ways in which you're selling him short? Are there ways in which you don't quite think he has all that? Or is that capable? We all do and something worth meditating on. Well, Paul not only speaks about the depth of the riches of God, but also the wisdom. God's wisdom refers to his understanding of all things, how he connects the means to the ends. My favorite example of this, you know it's my favorite because I've shared it with you before, but is the butterfly effect. For you, science fiction fans, you know what this is about. This is time travel. Right. When you travel back in time, you don't want a step on a butterfly. Why? Because, as we know from science fiction, when you affect one little thing in the past, it has repercussions, and science fiction writers have a lot of fun with this. A person goes back in time to save their spouse from death, but along the way they, you know, brush a stranger right and and bump into them. But that has an effect because the stranger was on their way somewhere and they didn't quite make it in time, and then that has an effect and that has an effect. The point that these artists like to explore, if we can call them that, is that the world is connected. There are causes and defects. One thing leads to another. As I was writing this up and thinking about this portion of my sermon, daisy are cat walked into the study and now I'm telling you about it. That wouldn't have happened if she hadn't walked in. There are causes and effects for all of these things. It's amazing and mind boggling when we consider how interconnected and how totally uncontrol of any of that we really are. We try really hard to do the best things so that but other things can happen, but there's so many things that are outside of our control. And yet there's the Lord God, according to the depths of his wisdom, saying things like and a virgin shall conceive and then, all this time later, she does. We just went through a large portion of Romans where he's talking about God's intimate plans with the Jews and the gentiles and all of the these things that he's doing throughout history to bind them up all together for this perfect plan of salvation. How would you even begin to do something like that? How would you even plan for it? How many pieces of paper on your dining room table would it take to plan for the salvation of the choose in the gentiles? Can you imagine? Not...

...to mention it's not just a plan that God comes up with, a perfect plan where means and ends are all wisely and perfectly fitted together, but he executes it. He executes it with this marvelous perfection, having control over the past and the present and the future, not being bound by time. We can marvel at the depth of his wisdom when we consider the very shallow pool of our own. You think about people that work, parents, for example, who try a million different things to get so and so to clear their spot at the table or clean their room or stop doing such and such a thing. They just can't figure it out. Dorothy Parker, writer, says I can't write five words, but that I change seven. The revision process is a big part of writing. Over and over and over and over again, graphic designers create revised trash. Create revised trash, focus group it, create revised this is our lives. We're constantly, constantly trying to make it work, and God just does it well, the depths of the wisdom of God. Now consider God's inexhaustible knowledge. If God's wisdom is his perfect ability to decide, plan and act in a way that's not partial or reactive or carried out or bound by time, consider his knowledge. His knowledge is similar. It's like our knowledge and that it is aware and understands things. But unlike our knowledge, God's knowledge is completely comprehensive and holy true. Moreover, God knows not only what is but also what is possible. He knows what was and what will be, and it extends beyond creation itself, that is to say. God knows himself. God knows his holy will down to the most tiniest of details. So that means what? While you couldn't find your keys this morning, God knew the exact location of every single humming bird on the entire planet for all of history. When you and I can't remember why, we decided to buy this particular cell phone, God knows every single word and conversation and almost word and half formed thought that went out over that phone. Every hidden thing is known to God. But let's keep it very personal...

...here. God's word from Psalm one hundred and thirty nine. Oh Lord, you have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up. You discern my thoughts from afar, you search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways even before a word is on my tongue. Behold, oh Lord, you know it all together. You had me in behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me. It is high. I cannot attain it. When David beholds the knowledge of God and sees how far it goes, how deep it goes, he says it's too wonderful for him. It's too much, it's too grand. It's like the Israelites when the glory of the Lord Shone on Moses's face and they looked away. They said, cover it up, Moses. David here looks at the glory of God in his knowledge and says this is too wonderful for me, it is too high, I cannot attain it. When you hear words like these, when you behold the god of the universe, consider him any the depth of his riches and the depth of his wisdom, in the depth of his knowledge, I ask You, do these words comfort you or do they terrify you? To know that the Lord God who made you knows every single thought of yours, to know that he discerns them from afar, that he knows the words you speak before they're on your tongue, that he sees every action, sitting down, rising up and everything in between. Does that terrify you or does it comfort you? God is not like a sunset that you can look at and say wow, that's amazing and remains somewhat distance from you. Can behold a sunset, but the sunset never beholds you. The sunset never looks...

...back and says, I know you. God does, though. When we behold the all GNAWLIGIBLE, all wise, all powerful God and know who he is, we also know that he knows us. The David's not terrified. As you go on and read the Psalm, he talks in most intimate and wonderful ways. I'll read a little more to you. For you formed my inward parts. You knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works. My soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance. In your book were written every one of them. The days were formed for me as when, as yet, there was none of them. How precious to me are your thoughts? Oh God, how vast is the sum of them? If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake and I am still with you. David is humbled, he is comforted, but I know for some of you that to be known means to be discovered. To be known is to be exposed to be known is to be embarrassed and shamed. To be known by God means that there's no more hiding, there's no more pretending. To be known by God means that he's seeing you and that has he has found you and has brought you very low. The all powerful, all wise, all knowing God can be very terrifying. Why is David not terrified? Why is he humbled and filled with awe and yet also comforted? Why is it for David that to be known is to be loved, to be seen, to be cherished, to be cared for? The truth is is that God relates to people in both ways. It's not like I'm presenting before you two versions of God, one version of God versus another version of God. God does both those things. God looks at us in a way that discovers and exposes and shames, and God also looks at some and it's hot. It's a loving, a cherishing look. What makes the difference and how can you find God's love and avoid is wrath? How can you find comfort in being...

...known and not terror? The answer and the difference lies with the one whom Paul has been writing about throughout the book of Romans, the difference lies in Jesus Christ, because in Jesus God has made the riches, the depth of his riches and wisdom and knowledge known. He is given to us a cup from this ocean which is enough to quench our thirst forever and ever. He offers us a way in Jesus out from shame and embarrassment and wrath into the joys and love of eternal life. Now, I can't explain to you why God has done that. I can't say why he has taken some of us and who are dirty and shameful and exposed, and has clothed us with the righteousness of Jesus and has lifted us up into the highest of places. Why God has seen fit to offer US mercy and tenderness and comfort when we only deserve hatred and brokenness. But though I can't explain it and search it out and dissect it and master it, I can preach it. And there it is, nevertheless, God's grace, fully on display, fully given to you, his son, dying on a cross to bear up all of our sins, God's son raising from the dead to give us victory, a new life, God's spirit, that we might be joined to him and his love for all eternity. We're all sinners together, broken and deserving of his wrath, deserving to have this all wise, all powerful, all knowing God come down on us like a ton of bricks or mountains or worse. But won't you join me in believing in the son whom the father has sent? Because he has sent him, he has given us all of these things, all of these deep things, in love. God has come to us in and of himself, not a different God, not a less powerful God, a majestic, Almighty, all glorious God, but in Jesus, he comes to us in love. It's not as though the wisdom and knowledge and riches of God are only expressed in his terror or in his terrifying power and judgment. All of them are equally expressed in the grace and power of his love. You...

...remember how Paul started out Romans. The Gospel is the power of God, und salvation for all who believe. So again I ask, won't you join me in believing? Believing in the inestimable, inexhaustible riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God, not that we might control him, but that we might enjoy him and glorify him forever. Let us pray.

In-Stream Audio Search

NEW

Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (653)