Charles Stanley - The Great I AM
Who is the Great I AM? If somebody asked you that, what would you say? Don't raise your hand, but how many of you have no idea what that, who that is? Well, one person's honest. I understand. Well, the setting is in Exodus chapter three, so I want you to turn there, if you will. Exodus chapter three, and I'll give you a little background. You'll recall that Pharaoh is making sure that all the Hebrew children were killed, and so this mother decided she wasn't going to let her child be killed. So she made a basket, put it in the bull rushes of the Nile River, and had her daughter watching.
And so, Pharaoh's daughter happens to discover this little basket and she opened it up and she said, "It's one of the Hebrew children". Why would she know that? Probably because he was a little boy and he'd been circumcised. And so, she said, "I think I'm going to call him Moses because we drew him out of the water". So Moses grew up in the awesome home of Pharaoh with everything imaginable and everything possible. He had everything going his way. And one day he killed an Egyptian. And naturally, that word got out and so he had to run. And he left all that behind him and ended up close to Mount Horeb, which is called the Mountain of God, and ended up with another family.
He married the daughter whose father was a priest, and with all that in mind, let's begin reading in verse ten of the third chapter of Exodus, "'Therefore, come now, and I will send you to Pharaoh,'" God speaking, "'so that you may bring My people the sons of Israel, out of Egypt.' But Moses said to God, 'Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?' And He said, 'Certainly I will be with you, and this shall be the sign to you that if I who have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God in this mountain.' Then Moses said to God, 'Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and will say to them, "The God of your fathers has sent me to you".
Now they may say to me, "What's His name"? What shall I say to them?'" That is, who is this God? How will I identify this God who has sent me to give you victory? So, the Scripture says, "God said to Moses, 'I AM WHO I AM,' and He said, 'Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, "I AM has sent me to you".'" Which means that the name of the God of Israel is I AM. And you can imagine how confusing that must have been to him. "God, furthermore, said to Moses, 'Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, "The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob has sent me to you". This is My name forever, and this is My memorial-name to all generations.'" Which was His way of saying, "This is what I want all of creation to understand, that the God of Israel is best described and named I AM. Not I was, not I used to be, not I will be, but I AM".
And when you look at that phrase, I AM, you'd think, "Well, what would they have thought about that"? I think in myself, somebody says, "I am". Well, I say, "Well, there you are. So what"? No. When God spoke through Moses, they knew that something very important was happening. And if you'll think about this, this is the only place in the entire Old Testament that God explains His name. You know God, God, God, God, but here He explains His name. And so he says, "I AM WHO I AM has sent me to you". Well, what in the world could I AM mean? "I AM WHO I AM has sent me to you". And so, the word is in the Hebrew YAHWEH, or so we know it as Jehovah. Over five thousand times His name is mentioned in the Old Testament.
Can you imagine that? Five thousand times, God's name Jehovah is mentioned in the Bible. And it means self-existent, which says He wasn't created. He wasn't created, He has no beginning, He has no end. The great I AM. Why is He the great I AM? Because there is nothing, no one, never has been, will not be, no one like Him. And Jesus came to give us a living example of who the great I AM is. So, if somebody should ask you, "Well, who is God? Well, forgetting what you just heard, if they said, "Who is God"? What would you have said? Most people would say, "He's the creator". What else? "Well, He's this, that, and the other". God said this name is so important, never to be forgotten, He said this is My name forever and this is My memorial name to all generations. That is, He wants all generations to know Him as the I AM. And when you say I AM, you have described all the fullness of God. What do you add to I AM? Not I was, not I will be, not I have, in other words, I AM.
Only God could be so wise to give us a name that's inexplainable. No, wasn't created, has no end. You can explain many things about Him, but no one will be able to ever fully, fully understand all that God is. If we could, we would have some equality with Him, but we do not. We have a God that is beyond understanding ultimately. He has no limitations. He's absolutely perfect. Has no beginning and no end. Has all power and is a God of awesome love. And so, what more could we ask? Now, there are three basic names in the Old Testament for God. For example, if you said, "In the," for example, Genesis 1:1 "In the beginning God," that name is Elohim. That's the name in the beginning: Elohim. A second Hebrew word is Adonai, which simply means Master and Lord. But the third one is YAHWEH or Jehovah when He's addressed as the God of His people. And it is considered the most precious, sacred name for God among His people.
And so, when they said, "You mean the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob"? Yes, His name is I AM. Now, the Scripture says that on one occasion, Jesus was trying to convince some of the religious leaders that He was the Christ, and turn to chapter eight of John and look at this verse. Chapter eight, and go all the way down to the fifty-eighth verse, "Jesus said to them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you,'" watch this, "'before Abraham was born,'" what's the next two words? "I Am". Jesus said, "Before Abraham was born, I am". And so, He placed Himself in what? In equality with God. Because He is what? He is the living Son of God. And you talk about getting the Jews stirred up, when Jesus said, "I AM," that was like profanity to them that no one could possibly say that. And if Jesus were not divine, it would be profane. But Jesus was simply saying I AM. The God that you know, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, that's who Jesus is. That's who He claimed to be. And you can imagine how infuriated they became when He said I AM because those Jews knew I AM could only be God.
So that's the way He identified Himself. And so, all that the Old Testament teaches us is sacred and holy because this is the basis of everything we believe. And so, when you talk about God, who is He? If somebody says to you, "Well, they're lots of gods, which one do you believe in"? You tell them, "I believe in the God who is I AM". "Well, who is He"? That gives you an opportunity to say, "He's the God of Scripture; He's the God who is the creator; He has no beginning and no end; He has all power and no limitations. He's the God who loves us and He's the God who loves us enough to save us. And He's the God who sent His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to die on the Cross for our sins".
Now, it's wonderful that you and I have the Old Testament as a background for all this, but there came a time when God said, for example, turn to Galatians chapter four, which is a very familiar passage that we would read in, especially around Christmastime. Galatians chapter four and that fourth verse. A wonderful verse, and I've preached on it several times, probably many times. If you'll look at the fourth chapter and the fourth verse. Look at verse one, "Now, I say, as long as the heir is a child, he shall not differ at all from a slave although he is owner of everything". But he's under guardians and so forth. "So also we, while we were children, were held in bondage under the elemental things of the world. But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law," speaking of Jesus, "so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption of sons".
Jesus Christ is the full revelation of Almighty God. Turn to John fourteen for a moment, and I want you to look at a verse here. John fourteen, and let's look at verse nine, first of all. Listen to what he says. Let's start with verse eight, "Philip said to Him, 'Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.' Jesus said to him, 'Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has,'" watch this, '"He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, "Show me the Father"?'" That was Jesus claiming to be one with Almighty God. "If you've seen Me, you've seen the Father". And then He said, "Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the father abiding in Me does His works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves. Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works," not greater in nature, "greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father".
Somebody says, "Well, that's impossible". What did He mean? For example, you just think about today, with all the electronics and things that we have and people can speak about Jesus and we can get the gospel all over the world. He couldn't do that in those days, alive as a man. He says there are things that are going to happen that you can't even understand. When He said, "If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father". You either have got to believe that Jesus Christ is one with God, He's God in human flesh, or you do not believe the Bible or you've got to believe that Jesus is an imposter and that He lied and that He's not God; that He's just another prophet. And the way Jesus said it; He says, "If you've seen Me, you've seen the Father," period. It doesn't get any shorter, stronger, more real, more exacting, than that. You want to see God, Jesus said, "Look at Me". He didn't say that proudly. He was simply answering a question for them.
And turn to John chapter ten for a moment. Look at what he says in this tenth chapter, in this thirtieth verse. He says, it's a short verse, "I and the Father are one". He's either a liar, an imposter, claiming to be something He's not, or He is God in the flesh walking among men. "I and the Father are one". He says, "If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father". And so, I can imagine, I can imagine how absolutely infuriated they were. And then when He says, for example, in the eighth chapter, and look at this verse again, in fifty-eight, "I say to you, before Abraham was born," before he was born, He says, "I am". I can just imagine they were going to pick up stones, just kill this man who's claiming to be before Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
So, think about this. What could you add to that that would make it more expressive? I am old, I am young, I'm good looking, I'm ugly, I'm powerful, I can do this, I can do that, uh-uh, I AM. I am what? When I think about that, I just want to shout. I AM because God in His wisdom defines Himself in the most incomprehensible way. I AM. I'm what? And so, I looked it up in the Hebrew and the Greek and all that stuff. I AM. That's it. And if somebody says, "Well, what do you believe about God"? Well, just say, "I believe this: I believe He said I AM and that's what I believe about Him". "Well, I am what"? Then you could just go in every direction because there is no answer greater than... think, just think about how wise God is. He said, "You tell 'em I AM sent you". And then I think about all the things that Jesus said.
Now, Look in John chapter one, and John has the greatest explanation about who Jesus is of all the disciples. He had outlived them all, and look at this passage. A lot of people don't recognize what this means, but beginning in John 1:1, listen, watch this, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God". This is John declaring who Jesus is. Listen, "He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend Him". Here's John, introducing Jesus as no other one introduced Him.
So, He's the Word. Secondly, you might think about Him, Jesus said, "I am the Bread," and that's sixth chapter. "I'm the Bread of life". And what was He saying? I'll meet all your needs. He says I'm sufficient. He says in the tenth chapter, for example, He said, "I'm the door. I'm the door into life. You step through that door, you have eternal life". In the tenth chapter He also says, "I'm the good shepherd". And that's His way of saying I'll take care of you, provide for you, protect you, in other words, all the things that a shepherd needs to do, Jesus said, "I am the good shepherd". Then He said in the fifteenth chapter of John, "I'm the vine. I'm the vine, you're the branch. And the branch abides in the vine". The vine, listen, through the vine comes the sap of the Holy Spirit. Into the branch, which is our life, comes the Holy Spirit, and so, we have life. He said, Jesus said, "I'm the vine, but you're the branch". He says, "I'm the Light of the world," in that John 8:12. And He said on one occasion, He says, "I'm the light of the world". He says, "As long as I'm here, I'm the light". But when He's gone, you're the light.
So the truth is every single one of us according to Scripture who has Jesus Christ living within us, is a light in this world to those who are walking in darkness. Then He said, for example, He was the Son of God. That just turned them upside down. And then He said in the fourteenth chapter, look at that fourteenth chapter. I love this chapter and I'm grateful to God He put it in the Bible because it says so much about Jesus and it says it in such a short few verses. The fourteenth chapter of John, look what He says. He says, "Do not let your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me". Because we're the same. "In My Father's house are many mansions, dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; I'm going to prepare a place for you. And If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also".
Watch this, He says I'm going to prepare a place for you. Here's what I'm going to do, "And you know the way where I'm going". Thomas said to Him, "Lord, we don't know where You are going, how do we know"? And then Jesus gave us His wonderful verse. Jesus said, "I am the way, I am the truth, and I am the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me".
I AM, I AM, I AM, I AM. Think about this. See if you could think about this for a moment. How could you improve on that name that would comprehend so much? You can't. And so, when Moses said, "What am I going to tell them"? He said, "Just tell them I AM that I AM sent you". Well, how do you add to that? I AM. I AM what? Well, Jesus comes along and explains it to us. All there are many more of those. And then, for example, if you'll turn to the last book of the Bible, in the Book of Revelation. If you will notice here in this first chapter, and the eighth verse. He said, "'I am the Alpha and the Omega,'" that's the beginning and the end, "says the Lord God, 'Who is, who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.'"
I mean, when you think about who God is, I just want to get on my knees and say, "Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, Jesus, that You explained Yourself so briefly". I mean think about this, can you improve on that name? You cannot. I AM. He said you just tell them I AM sent you. And it worked. And the Hebrews were liberated and there's the history in the Old Testament. Then came Jesus in living human form to say, "If you've seen Me, you've seen the Father". I, listen, He says, "I know all about Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Before they were, I AM". Not a will be, not a have been, I AM.
I want you to sink those two words in your heart. The Great I AM is Almighty God in human, living expression. It's the person of Jesus Christ. We ought to acknowledge His name in a holy fashion. I AM. Don't ever forget this sermon. I AM. This is who we serve. I AM. You can't add to it, you can't subtract from it, there's no beginning, no end and no full description. And that's why we love Jesus because He is the Great I AM. If you've never trusted Jesus as your Savior, more than likely you've never heard that in your life. Let me say this: God the Father sent Jesus to die on the Cross, He died in order to atone for our sins, to pay for sins, so that the Great I AM, through His Son, Jesus Christ, could live within you and me so we could live a holy, godly life, fulfilling His will and purpose for our life.
Now, if you live your life apart from the Great I AM, it will be apart in your mind, but you'll never get out of His presence. And you will live eternally, not in His presence, but separated from Him. God is certainly not happy over people who die without Him. He came to the Cross and died on the Cross that you and I might be saved. And let me just say this: if you just listen to this one sermon, there's only one way to be saved, there's only one way to die with any hope whatsoever, that is believing the Great I AM who came in the person of Jesus Christ, has paid your sin debt in full and the Bible says believe on the Lord, Jesus Christ, thou shalt be saved. Amen?
Father, we thank You that You're beyond our comprehension in so many ways, but You've given us enough truth to know that we live and walk in Your presence. We just say to You this morning, Father, bless You, bless You, bless You, praise You. We do not have the words to tell You how awesome we think You are. In Jesus' name, Amen.