The Knowledge of God and the Crossroads of Life

Rob Green July 28, 2007 Psalms 139:1

 

When you hear the question:  Would you like to go shopping this evening? What goes through your mind?

  • For some … “Yes!  Count me in and we are going to shop till we drop!”
  • For others… “Do we have to?  I am going to be bored out of my mind.

These reactions are often generated from two different approaches to shopping. 

  • One says I need to pick up something (a pair of pants, or a shirt, or some groceries) so I go to the store, find it and leave. 
  • The other approach is I have $75 to spend and I want to go to the mall and see what they have. 

Here is where it gets interesting… when one person has one approach and the other person takes the other approach.  I think it would be fair to say that our family has individuals in both categories.  My sons and I are the go in, get it, lets go do something fun crowd and the girls in our family are the lets go see what they have crowd. 

So…when we go to the mall I will, from time to time, hand my boys a buck or so and turn them loose to the candy shop.  They can buy whatever they want under two conditions (1) they have to share it and (2) they have to agree on what to get.

  • They can get a $1 worth of fudge, but that usually buys them about a two crumbs each
  • So they normally go for things like gummy bears or Swedish fish or something that will give them some quantity.

Now if the truth were told, they would be quite happy if I gave them $2, $5 or even more.  In fact, if I asked them how much would they like I am likely to hear something like “Well… how much do you have?”  If I get the option then I would like it all!

I don’t tell you that story so you can laugh at our family dynamics – although I hope you can laugh about it – because we do.  I tell you that story to help us think about a very important spiritual concept – how much of God do you really want? 

You see, one of our fears, is that people coming to church this morning would have an entirely different appetite for the God of the Bible then they would have for the proverbial candy shop. 

We believe there are a lot of Christians who want a dollar’s worth of God.

  • They want enough to know that they are forgiven, but not enough to forgive others. 
  • They want enough of God to know he is there when they need him, but not enough to ever be the instrument that he uses to minister his love to someone else. 
  • They want enough of God to know he will always provide for them, but they get frustrated when the church talks about the importance of generosity with the church and with those in need around them.
  • They want enough of God to know that they will enjoy heaven with him someday, but not enough to passionately, courageously live for him right now.
  • They want enough of God to know that Jesus died for you, but not so much that they are compelled to share Christ with others.
  • Husbands want enough of God to know that Jesus loves them (a part of the church) like crazy, but not enough to love their wives in the same way.
  • Wives want to enough of God to know that Jesus willingly submitted to the Father (without that he would not have died) despite being equal, but not enough to submit to their husband.

In other words, many Christians want enough to God to enjoy the benefits without a willingness to allow their relationship with God to impact every aspect of their being.

I want to ask you, “How much of God do you really want?”  How much of God do you really want?” 

That is one of the reasons we are doing the series this summer, Reaching New Heights in the Knowledge of God.

There are a lot of exciting things happening these days. 

  • Pastor Gray and his family are here and ready to serve. 
  • Our seminary interns have moved in and the official orientation is this Thursday! 
  • The community center is open and running smoothly. 
  • The VOH construction is moving along quite well and the first residents are expected in just 5 more months.

We understand that in order to be properly ready for these ministry opportunities we need to have a better personal relationship with Lord than ever before. 

  • The focus moves from the Community Center as a building to the people who walk around in it. 
  • It moves from a skatepark to a person with a board and a helmet. 
  • It moves from a VOH building to a young lady with a name and a changed life.

We need to be a church made of people who say, “Lord, I want as much of you as I can get.  I want to be impacted like I never have been before.”  “I want you to grow me, to challenge me, and make me more like your son” so that we might be in a position to live out Matthew 5:16:   “Let your light shine among men that they may see your good works and glorify your father who is in heaven.”

Today, we are going to consider “the Knowledge of God and the Crossroads of your life.”  In other words, we are going to think together where the doctrine of God’s knowledge intersects your personal daily life.

With that in mind please turn in your Bibles to Psalm 139:1.  That is located on page 453 of the back section in the Bible in the chair in front of you.

As you are turning there I want to begin by giving a Definition of the Knowledge of God – there is nothing that has ever happened that God did not know would happen (picture of the Holocaust, a big party in NY, and the cross of Calvary), there is nothing that is happening that God did not know would happen (Iraq, lovely day at the lake), and there is nothing that ever will happen that God does not know will happen (return of Christ, ?).

Lets begin in Psalm 139 to see not only how this definition is derived, but also what our response should be.

I.  You should Praise and Follow the Lord because he Knows Everything

Read vv. 1-6, 13-18, 23-24

Lets begin by getting the facts contained in this text; facts about God’s knowledge that are deeply personal.

A.  Four Facts of God’s Knowledge of Us

1.  God knows all that you do

God knew when you honored him this week. 

  • He knew when you showed mercy to another person this week,
  • he knew it when you returned good for someone else’s evil,
  • he knew when you were loving another person. 
  • He knew when you treated your co-workers with grace.
  • He knew when you were following him in your family.

Of course it works the other way too in that God also knew

  • when you failed to communicate biblically,
  • he knew when you lashed out in anger,
  • he knew the bitterness that was in your heart.

This is totally amazing because it is not uncommon for us to forget what we do!  Am I the only one in that camp?  Did I actually take my medicine today?  Did I really promise to take the kids to chuck-e-cheese?  Did I take care of the task that my boss wanted me to do?

Even this week I got an email asking if we had responded to a request that came in to our counseling ministry from someone in TX, or ID.  I wrote back that I knew nothing about it and I send the original email!  Talk about ignorant!!

Yet, this passage reminds us that God knows everything you do.

2.  God knows every thought that you think

This may be the most intimatidating claim of all.  We are often glad that our thoughts are not broadcast on powerpoint screens.  We would probably be disgusted by some of the thoughts that we think. 

  • In fact, if all my thoughts were on the screen you would have never allowed me to be one of your pastors
  • If all your thoughts were on the screen I would not have wanted to be one of your pastors!

Not knowing everything protects us all from the gross sinfulness that we sometimes exhibit.  Yet, God knows every single thought.  He knows the thoughts that we do not act upon, he knows the thoughts that we do.

In a very interesting passage in John 2:23-25 - Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name, observing His signs which He was doing.  24 But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men25 and because He did not need anyone to testify concerning man, for He Himself knew what was in man.

Jesus knew what was really going on in the heart of those men who were professing Jesus.  One of the distinguishing features of God’s character is that he knows even our thoughts.

3.  God knows every word that I say

You don’t even know what you said.  That is why you can have conversations with your spouse and both of you can be completely convinced about two different stories (We talked about it two days ago….this is the first I have heard about it).  It is not like you are trying to be mean or difficult.  You really think that is the way it happened!

In fact, conflict can often arise because you think something was said when the other person is completely convinced it was not.  The point is this:  God is not confused, he is not confident about the wrong version of the story, God knows exactly what you said and when you said it.

I think it is pretty obvious that this point that God’s knowledge far exceeds our own, but the psalmist goes further…

4.  God knows my future

We plan for our future, but we do not know what it holds.  We have dreams and goals of things to accomplish, but we do not know whether we will have the strength, the health, or the time to accomplish them.  Yet, God knew the number of our days before we were even born.

Let’s compare notes for a minute. 

  • Identify the person that you know better than any other person in this world.  Do you know everything that they have done?  What about every thought that they think?  What about every word that they say?  What about their future? 
  • Is it fair to say that your knowledge of the person you know the best pales in comparison to the God who knows it all?

When the psalmist reflects on this he stands in awe and praises the fact that he serves a God like this.  Everyone serves a god --- to some it is a dead ancestor, to others it is the bottle or the needle, to others it their career, still others serve a dream that will never come true.  But the psalmist serves a God

  • that knows his actions
  • knows his thoughts
  • knows his word
  • knows his future

How big is your God?  Maybe you are here this morning and you do not even know this God.  You are here this morning because you wanted to see what was going on around here.  We are glad you came, but we also want to introduce you to this God.

  • The God who knows you better than anyone else
  • The God who knows the past, present, and the future all at the same time

This God sent his son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for your sins. 

  • Rom 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” 
  • You see you have a sin problem that you need to acknowledge.  It separates you from God both now and in the future.  But God sent his son to die on the cross for your sin and to bring you to a point of confession.
  • Eph 2:8-9 - For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;  9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
  • Explain the importance of trust.

For those of us here this morning who know this God, we are expected to respond like the psalmist does

B.  Praise and Amazement that God would know you in that way

As the psalmist reflects on who God is, he says (vv. 6, 17).  He stands in amazement that the God of the Universe takes thought of him. 

It reminds me of Psalm 8:3-4 - When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained;  4 What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him?

I talked with someone quite some time ago that had met President Bush.  He was thrilled that the President shook his hand and the 2-3 second encounter seemed to be the highlight of his year and even one of the most exciting and noteworthy events of his life.  Yet, if we were to ask President Bush if he knew the identity of the man what do you think he would say?  He doesn’t know his thoughts, his dreams, his future, his past, or even his name!

The president of the US might not know this guy, and frankly we understand why he doesn’t.  He is a busy man with an important job, with much to juggle.  But the God of the Universe knows him – and he has a big job too! 

We should be amazed and priviledged to serve a God like this. 

  • Let me ask you:  When is the last time you got on your knees and thanked the Lord for paying attention to you like he does.  For knowing your thoughts, your dreams, your future, and even your sins.

The psalmist not only responds with praise, but also with a wholehearted commitment.

C.  Wholehearted Commitment to use God’s knowledge

Lets go back to vv. 23-24.  The writer asks the Lord to search him, to know him, and to see if there are hurtful ways.

  • How many of you wake up each morning asking the Lord to make the day difficult for you?  What about asking if you could suffer today?
  • The psalmist understands something very important.  He understands that left to himself he will make wrong choices, bad decisions, and not live honoring God because his heart is deceitful!
  • According to Jeremiah the heart is deceitful and desparately wicked, who can know it?

Not only does the psalmist ask God to search him and to understand the results, but also to Lead him.  It is almost as if he believes that the best possible place he can be is holding the hand of the Lord through life!  He knows the future!

When we are walking through a busy parking lot one of my sons still takes our hand.

  • He understands that there are potential dangers around him and that he is not properly equipped to handle at this point on his own. 
  • So he reaches out for daddy’s hand knowing that there is some safety and security.  Daddy does not know the future, he does know a little about cars and drivers that could potentially be dangerous to him. 
  • How much better is the Lord!

Let me shift analogies a minute:  Do you believe everything others tell you?  Of course not because Prov. 18:17 says, “The first to plead his case seems right, Until another comes and examines him.”  Yet God already knows all sides, he even knows what will happen. 

  • So who friends can you rely on that would be better than the person who knows the future?

Friends, are you like the psalmist in that you are asking the Lord to search you, to reveal to you areas of danger, and to lead you.  To reach out for his hand knowing that you cannot handle life on your own.  Do you appreciate what he has given you in the pages of his Word?

As the writer of Psalm 139 reflects on the knowledge of God (the ways that God knows him personally and intimately) he praises the Lord and he recognizes

  • That there is no place so safe,
  • No place so secure, as the time when the Lord is leading you
  • Because he knows it all.

I want to ask you this morning

  • Does God’s knowledge of you encourage you to praise him?  Does the fact that God would know your actions, your thoughts, your dreams, your future, cause you to praise him?
  • Does God’s knowledge of the past, present, and future encourage you to seek him, so that your heart can be exposed by the one who really knows what is there?
  • Does God’s knowledge encourage you to follow him, to understand his commandments in his Word, and to develop a powerful and meaningful relationship with this God?

I have a few suggestions to help you this fall:

  1. VOH – have you prayed about your participation and asked the Lord to search your heart and help you understand what he would want you to give. 
  2. FCI – begins August 22 – which class will help you cultivate a meaning relationship with God the most right now.  Does God want you to get some teaching on marriage, parenting, finances, computers, or does he want you to serve on Wednesday night reaching out to others.
  3. Weekly studies on areas you need to take a step of growth (Counselor’s Scripture Reference).

Friends, are you interested in a $1 worth of God or do you want all of him?  Not only should you praise and follow the Lord because of his knowledge, but you …

II.  You Should Trust the Lord Because there is no one like Him

I would like you to turn to Isaiah 41... page 515 in the Bible in the chair in front of you.  

There are a series of passages in Isaiah 40-48 which discuss the knowledge of God and the expected reaction from it.  We can organize these thoughts with the following headings…

            A.  God Can Explain the Past and Predict the Future

                        1.  God’s Challenge to Explain the future (41:21-24)

In this passage, God challenges anyone to explain what is coming.  Demonstrate that you are a god by telling us what will happen.  The obvious argument is that if you cannot tell the future then you are not God!

In fact, anyone who trusts in anything that cannot foretell the future is an abomination – it is rebellion against the Great God – the Incomparable God!

                        2.  God explains that he can predict the future (42:8-9)

Stand back everyone – I will give the answer!  According to v. 5 he is the creator God, v. 6 he is the covenant making God, in v. 7 he is a rescuing God, in v. 8 he is the incomparable God, and in v. 9 he is the predicting God.

Once all the phonies have finished with their claims, God sets the record straight. 

                        3.  God explains the past things fulfilled (43:8-11)

In this passage, again God calls for witnesses to explain how they explained what has happened.  Were they able to tell 100 years ago what would happen today?  Where they able to accurately explain what happened in the past?

The obvious answer to that question is absolutely not. 

Not only can God explain the past and future…

B.  God accomplishes him plans by limiting human freedom

Again we have several passages in Isaiah that make this point very clear.

1.  No one can thwart the plan of God (43:12-13)

Earlier we saw that this passage shows that only God could go back and make accurate accounts of the past, but as the text continues we notice something very important ---

  • No one can deliver a person from the hand of God; No one can reverse the plans of God.

We can see that God’s knowledge intersects with his sovereignty here.  Notice that if God does not have sovereign control then we do not serve a God who can predict the future.

  • If God cannot predict the future how do I know there is a heaven
  • How do I know that I will be there?
  • How do I know that Jesus will return?
  • How do I know that the Lamb’s book of life will be accurate?

2.  Pagan kings are tools in the hand of God (45:1-6)

How much say does Cyrus get in all this?  Cyrus has many choices in life that he gets to make, but many years before he is born Cyrus is appointed for a special task to free God’s people from exile. 

  • The fact is this:  Cyrus’ had a lot of choices to make in his life but those choices could not mess up, or change God’s plan.
  • This point is exactly why God could say 200 years before it happened that Cyrus would deliver Israel.

3.  Creation cannot thwart the plan of God (46:8-11)

Again the point of the text is still the same.  God can tell you what will happen in the future because he has a plan that cannot be changed.

I hope you would respond by saying praise the Lord! 

  • Praise God that nothing can separate me from the Love of God in Christ Jesus. 
  • Praise God there is a home being prepared in heaven for me. 
  • Praise God that he will reward those who faithfully seek him.
  • Praise God that he can actually keep a promise

However, we have two objections that we need to deal with:

Objection #1:  If God knows it all, why does he allow bad things to happen?

At this point we have an obvious question.  If God knows all about you, even your future, and that his plans cannot be thwarted by human beings, then how do I explain it when bad things happen to me?

  • I am getting a divorce that I don’t want
  • I want children but for some reason am not able to
  • I lost my job and I have been a good employee
  • My children are not living for the Lord like I want them to
  • I am struggling financially
  • There are a lot of things in life that do not seem fair [why did my son die in Iraq? Why did my husband die of cancer? Why did my child have a birth defect?]

I realize that there are many here going through deep waters today.  But Scripture makes the point that God’s knowledge allows him to see with bigger lenses than we can. 

  • It allows him to see the end results while we are stuck living in the present. 
  • That may be one of the reasons God tells us

Rom 8:28-29 --- And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.  29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;

God’s knowledge allows him to see the fruit over the long term.  It allows him to exercise his sovereignty with exact precision so that the end result is you are conformed to the image of His son.  He knows each one of us so well that he tailors the challenges and the blessings to us individually.

In addition, we have to remember that when we experience consequences of the sin of others we must also remember that because God knows the beginning from the end he is able to make all things right! 

  • The rewards will be given for those that live for him and loss will the be the future for those that did not. 
  • The God with the perfect knowledge is the God that can be the perfect judge!

That leads us to a second objection:

Objection #2:  If God can accurately predict the future than am I just a robot?

The Bible does not teach that human beings are robots, but it does teach that humans are not free without boundaries.   Human freedom is always limited by soverign hand of the Lord. 

  • We should be grateful that every unbeliever does not end up like Adolf Hitler.
  • We should be grateful that no human being is able to derail God’s plan
  • We should be thankful that we do not serve a God who is limited by his own creation!

If we have a God who knows the past and future, if he is able to limit his creation so that his plan is still accomplished and if we have properly (even if briefly) handled a few objections then we can certainly…

            C.  We can trust that God is working his glorious plan

Isaiah says that there is no one like God.  He is incomparable.  That knowledge exercised in perfect sovereignty should give us absolute certainty to trust him.

Psalm 139:24 – lead me in the everlasting way.

The writer of proverbs says that same thing with these words:

Proverbs 3:5-6  5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding.  6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.

Isaiah says it this way in chapter 48 – I am the Lord your God…who leads you in the way you should go.

We serve an incomparable God who knows the beginning from end, who can direct paths in ways of righteousness, who promises to love us, who promises a home and an inheritance for us, who promises to make it all right and our job is to trust him.

Summary:

This morning is not just some intellectual exercise.  I believe the knowledge of God intersects several crossroads of our life

  1. It begs the question of whether we plan to use his knowledge or whether we plan to live life on our own.
  2. God’s knowledge helps us trust him and to be led by him whether we experience incredible blessing or hardship through suffering.
  3. God’s knowledge of us should encourage us to praise such a great and wonderful God.Let me ask you for the last time this morning: 
  • Do you want a $1 worth of God or do want as much as you can get? 
  • Do want a genie God, or do you want a God worth loving, worth trusting, worth serving because he is the Lord and there is no one like him!

Rob Green

B.S. - Engineering Physics, Ohio State University
M.Div. - Baptist Bible Seminary
Ph.D. - New Testament, Baptist Bible Seminary

Pastor Rob Green and his wife, Stephanie, joined the Faith staff in August, 2005.  Rob’s responsibilities include oversight of the Faith Biblical Counseling Ministry and teaching New Testament at the Faith Bible Seminary. He serves on the council board of the Biblical Counseling Coalition and as a fellow at the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors.

Read Rob Green's Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Green to Faith Church.