Charles Stanley - Your Convictions About God
When you think of God what do you think? Is He some big grandfather upstairs as people would say waiting to bless you? Or some judge sitting on a throne ready to in some way torment you? What's your image of God? I can hear you now. You say, "I don't believe in God". Yes, you do. You may not be willing to admit it and the reason you don't want to admit it is because you don't like the idea of how you think you'd have to live if you believed in God.
So, I want you to turn if you will to Romans chapter one for a moment, and I want us to listen to what God said concerning His presence and what is true of all mankind no matter who they are. And so, when people tell you I don't believe in God, in fact it's interesting that I've had two mothers tell me in the last six weeks that their sons said, "Mom, I don't believe in God anymore". I said, "What did you tell him"? "Well I didn't know what to tell him". Well, I said, "Well, you need to tell him to read Romans chapter one". Because you see people decide they don't believe in God because they don't like the way you have to live if you're going to live a life of obedience. What they don't realize is what they're doing to themselves is disastrous.
Now, look in verse eighteen of Romans chapter one. Very important. "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness," they hold it down, "because that which is known about God," look at this, "that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His characteristics, His eternal power, and divine nature, have been clearly seen," all that's evident, clearly seen, "being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse". You can tell God you don't believe in Him, but you're without excuse. You can tell other people you don't believe in Him, but you don't have an excuse in God's eyes. For listen, "For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools". And on, the scripture goes.
So, now, when you think about God what do you think about? So, the whole purpose of this message is we're talking about the idea of convictions. What convictions do you have? We've talked about the idea of convictions and the convictions you have about the Bible. See, if you have convictions about the Bible you don't have a problem with having convictions about God. This message about your convictions concerning God, so I want you to listen very carefully because I'm going to give you a description of God by the scriptures that God gives us that you have to make up your mind. "Well is this the God I know or is this a God much greater than I know"?
And so, I have some scriptures I want to give you in a few moments. But I want to give you the definition of conviction again so you'll remember what we're talking about. Having a conviction is being so thoroughly convinced that something is absolutely true that you will take a stand for it regardless of the consequences. This isn't something you might believe. This is something you are willing to stand for thoroughly convinced that it's true. What I want us to talk about is what you believe about God. What you believe in God so that be sure that you've got that part right.
Now, first of all, God is an uncreated being. He was never created. And when you read the Bible and the Bible says, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth". And what sometimes tickles me is here these scientists say, "Yes, but out there in space somewhere something happened". Well okay. Well, where did the something come from? And, watch this, let's say this is God. You can't get behind God. God has always been. He has never had a beginning. He will not have an end. And there is no explanation for life except there is an endless, eternal God. Man and all of his wisdom, and all of the science, and all they claim to believe and know, in the beginning God. In the beginning of what? In the beginning of everything and you can't get behind that, because there's nothing behind it.
And so, the scripture says, for example, in also in Psalms ninety verse two, "Before the mountains were born or You gave birth to the earth and the world, even from everlasting, You are God". So, the first thing we have to settle is the fact there is a God and He is an eternal God. He wasn't made. He wasn't created. He's always been here. You say, "Well, that's beyond my imagination, my comprehension". If you'll hold that right there, I'm coming to a verse that answers your question. The second thing, I want you to notice about Him is He's omnipresent. God is everywhere present. We don't have to find Him. That whole hundred and thirty-ninth Psalm that speaks of that where about God. "Where can I go from Your Spirit? Where can I go from Your presence? Nowhere".
Think about this. The idea that I'm going to do something to get away from God is absolutely ridiculous. Where you going? Because everywhere is the presence of God. Oh, we say, "God's here, and God's there, and God's over yonder". No. Everywhere is in the presence of God, because all of humanity and all of the universe, and everything that God's created is in His presence. Thank God you can't get out of His presence. Amen? And so, that's who He is. He's omnipresent. Not over here, and over there, and over yonder, but everything is in His presence. For example, Jesus said in Matthew nineteen twenty-six, "With God, all things are possible". Which means He's, what? Omnipotent. That He can do anything and everything. God has all power but He cannot do anything that's inconsistent with who He is, because He is the ultimate, the perfection of all that can possibly be beyond our comprehension. And He's not going to act any other way, because He's God.
So, when we say He can do all things, He can do all things except contradict His own character. And the scripture says in Titus, "He can't lie". And He certainly cannot be tempted with evil because He is the ultimate of absolute goodness and perfection and truth. And there's nothing beyond that can describe Him. Somebody says, "Well you know, I don't know that I can get all that". If you could fully comprehend who God is, you'd get Him down on your level. We'll never be able to fully grasp all that He is, but it's interesting that the Bible tells me everything I need to know about God. And so, He's omnipotent, He has all power. Can't be tempted with evil, can't be tempted to lie. And He's omniscient, and that is He knows all, listen, He knows all things, about all things. Knows all things that exist and all things that happened and no surprises.
Now, every once in a while, somebody will say, "Well, I've got a question. What about this? If God was God, what about this"? So, I want you to turn to Deuteronomy twenty-nine twenty-nine. Are you listening? Say, "Amen". "The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this the law". What is he saying? There's some things God's not going to tell us. You say, "Well, before I believe God I've got to know everything". Then forget it. Because God's not going to tell us some things.
Now think about this for a moment. Why is it that God wouldn't tell us some things? Because He knows we don't have a mind to comprehend the vastness of Almighty God, and all that He has going on, and is doing that we can't even conceive of all that. So, he said the secret things belong to the Lord our God. So, you say, "Well I'm not going to believe in God until..." Until what? Until He satisfies some curiosity that you have? "Well I've got some questions". Well either get in the Bible and see if you can find them, and if you've got a question that the Bible doesn't answer, which would be strange, then you just have to leave it to God.
The scripture says there are some things God's not going to tell us. Now, why wouldn't He tell us some things? Because He's infinite and we're finite, and we couldn't even understand some things. Let me ask you a question. Since He's God doesn't He have the right to have secrets? He certainly does. And the Bible tells us that He does. Then, of course, when I think about all the things that God knows and all that He is, in John one eighteen the scripture says, "No one has ever seen God at any time". You say what about Jesus? Jesus was God in the person of a human being, a divine human being Jesus. And in the first Timothy six, fifteen, "The only Sovereign, the King of kings, the Lord of lords," and listen to this, "who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light".
So, that no one can see Him. We're talking about a God who is so far beyond anything we can possibly conceive of. Listen to that, "He dwells in unapproachable light". We couldn't stand that light. But this is the same God who is a God of love, and all the power, and all of His position, and all the rest, the scripture says that God is love. That is, that's one of His attributes, one of His characteristics, that's who He is. God is love. This is the same God that we'll see in a few moments, who's a God of justice and judgment, and hates sin. He's a God of love, and His greatest expression of that is when He sent Jesus into the world.
The scripture says in John three sixteen, "For God," listen to this, "He so loved the world, He so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life". That is the ultimate in love that God gave His son. So, which means, whoever you are, you say, "Well God could never love me". Why not? You can't pour God into some mold. Or God can do this and God can't do that. God can love the most wicked, vile sinner. And He can love the sweetest little baby. With God, love is love, and He loves you no matter who you are, no matter what you're going through.
Do you remember how you lived before you were saved? He looked down upon us when we were sinners. And Paul describes it in His epistles. We were living in sin and God in His grace and mercy reached down and saved us. Why? Because He is a God of absolute love. Then of course, here's another part, and that is God's holy. Now what does that mean? The fact that God is holy means He is separated from all sin. He's called the Holy One of Israel. God's holiness provides the pattern for us to imitate. In other words, holy means I want to live a life without sin. You say, "Well now nobody can live without sin". I didn't say you could. I said, "I want to". Yes, I want to live a holy life. I want to be what God wants me to be. And when I make mistakes, or if I sin, I mean, I want to deal with it immediately. And then of course, God is righteous.
Now what do we mean by the fact that God is righteous? Listen carefully. It means, it means that He always acts in accordance with what is right. That is, God is righteous. He always acts in accordance with what is right. And He Himself is the final standard of what is right. "What is right about this"? Or somebody says, "Well, I don't know what to do in this situation". God'll show you what to do if you want to know what to do. And God never acts other than what is absolutely right. And, watch this. He set the Holy Spirit to live within us because He knew we couldn't do it. And He said to those disciples, "I want you to sit down and wait in the city of Jerusalem until you be endued with power from on high, because you're not going to be able to live what you're going to, what you're going to face. You're going to face persecution and death". He already warned them. And you're not going to be able to live that life apart from the Holy Spirit.
And so, when we talk about living a righteous life, it's living a life that is what? Doing what is right in the power of the Holy Spirit of God. A righteous life and a holy life are sort of combined there. Then of course, God is a God of wrath. We don't like this part. God is a God of wrath. All those other things we've said are all absolutely true. He's a God of wrath. Now what does that mean? It means that He hates everything that is opposed to His moral character. You say, "Well now wait a minute. You said, 'God is love.'" He is love. God hates anything and everything that is, that brings His children to naught. He hates everything that's sinful in a person's life.
In fact, if you ask, "What's a definition of wrath"? The definition of wrath is this God intensely, intensely hates sin, because sin is what destroys the people He loves. He laid down His life for us. He died for us. And sin is our greatest enemy. God hates sin in every form. And so, He says, for example, in John chapter three, thirty-six. In that third chapter John, people say, "Oh I love that chapter, John three sixteen". Well, look at the last verse. "He who believes in the Son has eternal life". Look at that, "He who believes in the Son has eternal life, but he who does not obey or believe the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him".
Now, the fact that God is a God of wrath ought to motivate us to want to win some people to Jesus. The wrath of God will not come upon a child of God. The love of God will. So, the wrath of God is limited to those who are unbelievers and who defy Almighty God. So, let's think about this for a moment. God is also our judge. Now we love all that part about love and this, that and the other. He's likewise our judge. He says in Second Corinthians five, "We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due for the things he's done while in the body, whether good or bad".
Now we're talking about believers, we're not talking about the lost, that's a different judgment. All of us who are Christians one day, We will stand before the Lord Jesus Christ and give account of our life, watch this. That's not the wrath of God. But we will be judged by the way we've lived. What have we done with the goodness and love and kindness and opportunities that God has given us? We will not suffer wrath, but what I want you to see here is that He is our judge. And that means that I give account for the life that I've lived. Now watch this. And we could take a whole message on this, but God will judge us on the basis of, watch this now, of how much truth I've heard; how much opportunity I've had. And what have I done with that truth? What have I done with that opportunity? What have I done with what God has placed in my disposal?
So, He's going to judge us accordingly. But it's not a judgment of unkindness and a judgment of wrath. It's a judgment of rewards. We're coming to it. In other words, we will be judged about the way we've lived and we will be rewarded accordingly. And so, this is not the judgment of the wicked, judgment of wrath. This is the judgment where we'll be rewarded. So, when somebody says, "Well I, you know, I don't know what God's going to do with me in the judgment". I'll tell you what He's going to do: He's going to love you and going to reward you according to how you lived.
And when somebody says, "Well I've been saved and that's all that matters, just so I get there". That's not all that matters. That's not all that matters at all. Because let's come to the next point. And that is God is a rewarder. And so, I want you to turn to First Corinthians and spend a moment or two here. First Corinthians chapter three, because this is a good explanation of what we're talking about. Let's begin with verse ten. "According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it". He's talking about preaching the gospel and somebody coming along and helping. "But each man must be careful how he builds on it. For no man or a woman can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man or woman builds on the foundation with gold, silver, and precious stones, wood, hay, stubble, each person's work will become evident for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire".
That's God's great awesome wisdom, "And the fire itself will test the quality of each person's work," this is Paul's way of describing a judgment, "If any person's work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss". Watch this. Are you listening? Say, "Amen". "But he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire". So, here's what he's saying. That all of us are going to be judged according to the way we live our life.
Some people have great opportunities; some people have less. Some people are just born with opportunities and gifts and talents; other people don't. Some people are born in this part of the world; some people are born in that part of the world. So, all these differences, at the judgment seat of Christ, God knows everything about us that needs to be known. And, watch this, He's going to reward us according to the truth that we know, the opportunity we have and what we did with it. Not according to who has this, that and the other; but how much opportunity did I have.
What were my possibilities? How much talent did God give me? In other words, we can, and I love this verse because he says, "If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire," or through the judgment. "Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you"? So, we're children of God. And even in the judgment, the grace of God will be there and we will be judged. Not all going to be judged alike.
When I think about the fact, and I was thinking about that yesterday. For over fifty years I've had the privilege to study the Word of God for over fifty years, primarily, number one thing in my life. Is God going to judge somebody else who never had the privilege to go to school? Maybe didn't get saved till late in life and just never had heard it before then. You think God's going to put us on the same level? No, He's not. God is a righteous God, holy God, perfect God, loving God, just God.
Now somebody says, "What about fair"? There's not a thing in the world about God being fair. God's not fair. He's holy, righteous, always does the right thing. And so, back to our attributes of God, and that, the last one is God is to be worshipped. And in Colossians chapter three, verse sixteen, listen to this, "Let the word of Christ richly dwell in you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God". That's what worship's all about.
Now I've just given you a little theological discourse so that if somebody says, "Well what do you believe about God"? You ought to be able to tell them. And you can go right down the list, now watch this, you ought to get this in your mind. This is not just a sermon you put on a sheet of paper and put it somewhere. You should get this in your mind. We're talking about how you think about holy God about the God of this universe, the God who's in control of everything. This is how you think about Him.
And you should be willing, very courageously, boldly, gallantly, joyfully say to anybody, anywhere, anytime, "Yes, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Yes, I believe what the Bible says. Yes, I'm serving Him. No, I can't do that because I want to live a godly life". It's time we stopped being embarrassed for being a Christian and say, "No, that doesn't fit my lifestyle". "Oh, what is your lifestyle"? "Well I want to live a holy life". "Where did you get that from"? "From the Word of God," and that will be the end of the conversation. That'll be the end of it. Now you can live like the world and get by or you can live godly and have the best.
Father, we love You and praise You for Your patience, Your kindness, Your goodness, Your forgiveness. For the awesome truth that You give us in Your Word. And I pray that every person who hears this message would be honest enough to look at themselves and look at themselves in light of what You teach in Your precious Word and make a wise decision to trust Christ as their Savior. We love You, we bless You, we praise You in Jesus' name, amen.