Reading Sermons

Praise to God Our Savior

THE REFORMED WITNESS HOUR

Message theme: Praise to God Our Savior
Broadcast date: Jan.17, 2016 (No. 3811)
Radio speaker: Rev. Wilbur Bruinsma

Dear Radio Friends,

Introduction

        Today we conclude our series of sermons on the letter of Jude.  The last two verses of his letter, verses 24 and 25, comprise a doxology of praise to God.  We read, “Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever.  Amen.” 

        A doxology is an expression of personal experience that arises out of the events of one’s life.  Such events have led that person to contemplate God and what He has done for him.  Such praise to God comes to expression when we announce to others what we think about God.  This is what Jude does now at the end of his letter to the church.  He is overwhelmed with the truth that God is the one who preserves His people and keeps them from falling.  God presents us faultless before His glorious presence—we who deserve nothing from His hand.  Now, what is his response?  To God be all glory, majesty, dominion, and power!

        Yes, objectively this is true.  These virtues, and more, do characterize God.  But Jude raises this doxology because this is his experience in life.  His heart soars with an overwhelming knowledge of who God is and what God does for him and His church.

        This same doxology ought to be found on the lips of all of God’s people.  This God of whom Jude speaks is our God.  He is our Savior.  He keeps us from falling.  He presents us spotless.  What then is our response to what God has done for us?  We with Jude lift up this doxology of praise to Him.  What a fitting way to conclude our study of this letter!

        Again, we must understand the verses we consider in light of what we have just learned.  We need to keep ourselves in the love of God.  We must do this by building up ourselves on the Word of God and by prayer.  In our great love for God and the church we must even be willing to have compassion on those fellow saints who stumble.  But through all of this we also remember—we cannot help but remember when we consider our own weaknesses and failures—that after all is said and done, God preserves His church.  He saves her, He builds her up in love, and He keeps us from falling.  That truth is on the foreground here in the Word of God we consider.

 

PRAISE TO GOD OUR SAVIOR

I.    God Our Savior

        How overwhelmed are you by the God whom we serve?  How much are you taken in by the magnificent presence of the God before whom we stand?  He has created all things.  There is not one creature in this world that escapes His rule.  He is in control of everything.  The God whom we serve is therefore God alone.  There is no God beside Him.  There is none above Him, none His equal.  There are no gods who are even subservient to Him.  He is God—alone, the only God who must be served and obeyed.  He is the one God before whom every man stands, and with whom all men have to do.  He is not like the mythological gods of the ancient Greeks, who were many, weak, and characterized by the sins of men.  He is not the gods of the pagan peoples of our world today, whose gods are powerless.  Jehovah is the God.  Our God alone is Creator, the One who sits in heaven and directs all the affairs of this world according to His good pleasure.  Everything exists by His hand, everything is under His control, and everything therefore fulfills His sovereign will.  How often do you look upon Jehovah God in adoration and fear and consider who He is?

        Furthermore, the one only God whom we serve is called in Scripture and in this doxology of Jude, our Savior!  That cannot be said about any of the gods of man’s foolish imagination.  The one true God is the God who saves His people from their sins in order to make possible their place in heaven.  It is so easy for us to overlook this truth concerning the God whom we serve.  We like to think only of Jesus Christ as our Savior.  God is this angry God who desires to cast us all into the abyss of hell.  He desires to punish every one of us for offending His most high majesty.  Then Christ comes along and dies the ultimate death, paying the price for our sins and reconciling us to God. For Christ’s sake, then, God is no longer angry and we have a place in heaven.

        Although all this is true concerning Jesus Christ, we, with Jude, praise the one God who is our Savior.  He saves us!  Christ was sent into the world according to God’s will and purpose.  Christ died on the cross because God desired the salvation of His people.  God provided for you and me our Savior in the person of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.  Although it is true that the triune God did not suffer and die on the cross, nevertheless the divine Son of God, the second person of the Trinity was nailed to the tree on our behalf.  God is our Savior.  He has chosen us and loved us from eternity.  He willed our salvation.  He made it possible.  He sought us out to reconcile us unto Himself.  The God whom we serve is the only God, who is our Savior.

        Jude is overwhelmed with this truth concerning God by means of his own personal experience and by means of what he sees God doing for His church.  He states in verse 24, “Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy.”  God is the one who is able to keep us from falling!  Think of the blessed truth this Word of God sets forth for us here.  One commentator writes this about this phrase:  “There is no lack with God.  Only by willfully turning from his enabling grace can anyone be lost.”  Sound good?  It certainly is meant to.  But this man denies the truth that God preserves His people and keeps them from falling away from salvation.  He says:  If those whom God has powerfully saved willfully turn away, they will go lost.  He does not say:  Those whom God powerfully saves, God will keep from falling away from faith.  He denies the truth of the preservation of the saints.  If that is true, and it is not, then salvation does not depend on God alone, but in part depends on us.  We must preserve ourselves and then God will preserve us.

        But that is not what brings to the lips of Jude this doxology of praise.  He praises God his Savior because this God saves!  He that begins a good work in us will be faithful to complete that work.  When God saves, then, as Jesus says in John 10, we are held in His hand.  And no one and nothing will be able to pluck us out of that hand of our God.  The work Christ has performed for us on the cross is all powerful.  Christ’s Spirit sent to work in our hearts cannot be resisted!

        Those whom Christ saves cannot go lost!  Neither ought we to overlook what the Word of God here in verse 24 teaches us about God:  God is able to keep us from falling!  God has the ability, the power against all odds, to keep us from falling away from Him.  The knowledge of that is so, so comforting to the believer.  Look at the odds from a human point of view that the saints in the church of Jude’s day had to face.  Look at the odds we have to face!  The temptations of this world press in upon us from every direction.  The church world of today itself places upon us an extreme amount of pressure to turn from the old paths.  How true are the words of the psalmist in Psalm 124:  “Now Israel may say and that in truth, if that the Lord had not our right maintained, if that the Lord had not with us remained, when cruel men against us rose to strive, we surely had been swallowed up alive!” 

        We experience that in our lives, do we not?  The preserving grace of God?  When we fall and stumble along life’s pathway (and who listening is so proud to think he has not stumbled?) then God preserves us.  He does not preserve us in order that we might feel comfortable while walking in our sin.  He does not make the believer happy when walking in sin.  The believer does not reason:  “I need not worry that I am sinning.  God forgives me anyway and will not let me fall away.”  God makes the believer miserable in his sin.  He is not happy when he walks in sin.  In this way God brings His children to their knees in sorrow and repentance over sin.  But He does preserve.  He does so in His great power and in His love and grace.

        The last phrase of verse 24 speaks also of God as Savior:  God is able to present us faultless before the presence of His glory.  Someday every man is going to stand in the presence of God’s glory.  This will take place at the time of judgment.  Every eye shall see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.  God will judge us through His Son.  At that time we too will stand in the presence of God’s glory.  But when we do, we will do it without fear and terror.  We will do it with joy.  Why?  Because God Himself will present us faultless before Him. 

        Take note:  Jude does not say that Christ will present us faultless before God in the day of judgment.  That surely is true!  Christ has paid the price of our sins on the cross.  He has died to take away our guilt.  In that day of judgment we are going to be clothed with the garments of Christ’s righteousness.  That means we will appear there innocent, righteous, without any fault or sin because we will be covered in Christ’s blood.  But that is not what Jude says.  He says that God will present us to Himself faultless, without sin.  God does that!  That is why we can call God our Savior.  He presents us before Himself faultless in the Day of Judgment because He in His great love for us sent Christ to accomplish His purpose in our salvation.  Christ did the work God sent Him to do.  God gave us to Christ to be saved.  Christ performed this work on behalf of God.  And now, those who are God’s people, the sheep of His pasture, the people He loves and cherishes in Christ, God takes before Himself and sees them as faultless.  When we stand in the presence of His glory in the day of judgment we will do that with exceeding joy!

 

II.  His Praise

        It is on the basis of this experience that Jude, and we with him, give praise to God!  How we give praise is by extolling God for who He is.  It is to look upon His glory and majesty with awe and adoration.  It is to sing the praises of His dominion and power.  This Jude does in verse 25:  “To the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever.  Amen.” 

        God’s is the glory.  Whether men glorify God in their praise or not, God’s is the glory.  God’s is the glory even when men reject Him and scorn Him.  We pray that too, “for thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory.”  You see, God’s glory is the shining forth of all the virtues of God, especially that of His holiness.  The people of Israel could not look on the face of Moses because God’s glory was reflected in his face.  The shepherds were sore afraid because they beheld God’s glory in the presence of the angels.  God is a God of infinite virtues.  He is sovereign, eternal, immutable.  He is righteous, just, and holy.  All of these virtues are one in Him, and God shines, so to speak, with these virtues—so pure, so transcendent is He in His virtues.  His holiness itself is a light or perfection that shines forth in God.  God glorifies Himself in the works of creation, even in the raising up of men to destroy them.  Even when the heathen rage upon Him, God is glorifying Himself.  His is the glory.

        Hand in hand with this stands God’s majesty.  We more often use the word sovereignty, but the idea is the same.  God rules over all in His dread majesty.  The word “majesty” means “highly exalted.”  The term speaks of that one who is of preeminence and of great importance.  The person who is majestic is of highest worth and excellence and authority.  Such is our God.  He is excellent in all the earth.  He is so, of course, exactly because He is God.  He sits in the heavens.  They are His throne and the earth where man dwells is merely His footstool.  There is not one creature that can be compared to God in glory or in majesty.  God alone is crowned with honor.  We can take the man most feared and honored in the earth and he is nothing but vapor before the sight of the all-glorious God of heaven and earth.  God alone is to be feared and obeyed.  All men ought to stand before His excellence with trembling.  So high above all creatures stands our God.

        God’s is also the dominion and the power.  The term “dominion” refers to the extreme might and strength of God.  It refers to His ability to do everything that He seeks to accomplish.  When we at times desire to do something, our own weakness stands in the way of accomplishing it.  If I wanted to pick up my car and put it somewhere else, I could not do so because I do not have the strength.  If I want to change events that are transpiring in this world (as I so much would love to do), I cannot do it because I do not have the power to do it.  Well, the events of this world are controlled by God to fulfill His own sovereign will and good pleasure. (I guess I would not want to change what is transpiring in this world.)  God sends wars and He cause them to cease.  God sends tornadoes, but those tornadoes are in God’s hand to begin and to stop.  Man’s heart is in the hand of God and He moves it in the way that He wills.  God is all-powerful to do everything that He pleases.  That is God.  Such dominion or strength belongs to no man.  In fact, the very strength that does belong to man is given to him by God. God’s is the glory, the majesty, and the dominion.

        And His is the power too.  Now, this term speaks of God’s sovereignty.  Power in our text literally refers to the right and the authority to do what God wants.  God reigns over all.  It is His right by virtue of the fact that God has planned it all, has made it all, and executes His plan over all.  He is King and no one can question His authority or challenge His right to do what He does.  Man does not set the standard of what is right and wrong.  God does.  Man is not at liberty to critique God or say God is not fair according to man’s standard.  Who are you, O man, that replies against God?  Shall the thing made say to him that made it, why have you made me thus? Whatever God does is right, even if we do not understand His ways and His judgments in the earth.  God is sovereign.  He always fulfills what He chooses, and because His is the power and rule no one can stand in the way of His executing what He wills.  God’s is the glory, the majesty, the dominion, and the sovereign power!  That is what we see when we look on the presence of God.

 

III. Our Joy

        When the wicked and unbelieving behold our God, they do so with dread, loathing, and scorn.  Man chafes under the sovereign rule of God.  Man seeks his own glory.  He thinks he is highly exalted.  He refuses to bow before the living God.  Wicked man spurns God’s commandments and walks in His own ways rather than listening to God.  And because God’s judgment on unbelieving men is delayed, they actually think they rule and God does not exist.  They think they will escape judgment.  But God is in the heavens and He laughs at men who imagine they have broken away His rule.  He holds these men in derision and will destroy them in His just wrath.  Unbelievers will not escape!  But we, God’s children, who are held in His hand, rejoice in this knowledge of God.  This God is our God, and if He is for us, then who can be against us.  All things work together for our good.  Nothing will ever separate us from God’s love.  We are held in His bosom never to be plucked away from Him.  That is our experience.  What joy this gives us—an exceeding joy.

        That joy is now.  We have the joy of our salvation now.  But that joy will fully come when we enter into the presence of God faultless in the day of days.  This joy is ours now and forever because God’s is the glory, the majesty, the dominion, and the power both now and forever.  Unto all eternity God is God and we are His.  Both now and forever we abide with Him and taste of His glory and majesty.  As we conclude our study of Jude, let us say it together:  to God be the glory now and forever.  Amen.  So let it be!

Bruinsma, Wilbur

Rev. Wilbur G. Bruinsma (Wife: Mary)

Ordained: October 1978

Pastorates: Faith, Jenison, MI - 1978; Missionary to Jamaica - 1984; First, Holland, MI - 1989; Kalamazoo, MI - 1996; Eastern Home Missionary - 2006; Pittsburgh PRC - 2016.

Website: www.prcpittsburgh.org/

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