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Sermon #2263 — Miscellaneous Sermons
Title: What Is Important To God?
Text: Luke 16:15
Subject: Things That Matter To God
Date: Tuesday Evening — February 16, 2016
Readings: Cody Henson and David Burge
1 Corinthians 1:17-2:2
I believe the Lord has given me a very important message for you, a very practical, useful message that will be, if he is pleased to make it so, beneficial to each of you. I want to answer this question in your hearing and answer it from the Word of God. — What Is Important To God? — That is my subject. — What Is Important To God? — What is really important to God? My text will be Luke 16:15. But I want to begin my message by reading a portion of 1st Corinthians 1 and 2.
(1 Corinthians 1:17-31) “Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. (18) For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. (19) For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. (20) Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? (21) For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. (22) For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: (23) But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; (24) But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. (25) Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. (26) For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: (27) But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; (28) And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: (29) That no flesh should glory in his presence. (30) But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: (31) That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”
(1 Corinthians 2:1-2) “And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. (2) For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”
Now, turn to Isaiah 66, Isaiah 66:1-2, and hear the word of the Lord.
(Isaiah 66:1-2) “Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? And where is the place of my rest? (2) For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.”
As I observe all that is done in the name of God, all the money that is raised and spent, all the buildings built, all the works performed, all the programs and activities maintained, all the rituals and ceremonies endured by men, all the creeds, confessions, and laws which are imposed upon men and women in the name of God, I cannot help asking myself this question. I think the question is worth asking and considering. — WHAT IS REALLY IMPORTANT TO GOD?
Let’s turn now to our text — Luke 16:15. When I think about God, I cry out with Paul, — “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God? How unsearchable are his judgments and his ways past finding out! Who hath known the mind of the Lord; or who hath been his counsellor?” I am fully aware that God’s infinite, holy Being is indescribably above me. My puny, pigmy mind cannot fathom the Almighty! — “No man hath seen God at any time!” Zophar asked Job, — “Canst thou by searching find out God?” Our greatest, deepest, broadest knowledge of the infinite, eternal, incomprehensible, omnipresent, omnipotent God is very, very limited. Yet, our Lord Jesus Christ declares, — “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father.” And I have seen Christ by faith. After spending nearly 50 years studying his Word and preaching his gospel, I think I can shed some light on this question — What Is Important To God? This much is certain — That which impresses us does not impress him. In Luke 16:15 our Lord Jesus said to the religious leaders of his day, and I say with regard to the religion and religious leaders of our day…
(Luke 16:15) “And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.”
I know this: Almighty God is not impressed with church buildings, ornate cathedrals, and so called “houses of worship.” He says, “The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me?” Paul told the Athenians that God, who made the heavens, does not dwell in temples made with hands (Acts 17:24).
(Acts 17:24) “God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands.”
Crosses, altars, stained glass, crystal cathedrals, lavish, ornate church buildings, and gaudy religious attire impress foolish men; but those things mean absolutely nothing to the infinite, omnipresent, eternal God.
God is not at all impressed with the tithes, offerings, and sacrifices men bring to him (Isaiah 1:11).
(Isaiah 1:11) “To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the LORD: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats.”
Preachers bow and scrape before men, like beggars on the street. They compromise the gospel and sell their souls to get people to give a little money. They even promise rewards from God in this life and in the life to come to entice people to give an occasional tip to God, as though grace is something God sells! But the God who owns the cattle on a thousand hills and all the gold and diamonds of the deep mines of the earth is not impressed with the gifts men bring to him.
Š Which of us ever made a sacrifice worthy of God’s notice?
Š God has no need of our paltry gifts.
Š It is a blessing of grace that he allows us to give, stoops to receive our gifts, and condescends to use them!
Š But the almighty, self-sufficient God does not need and is not impressed by a puny man’s gifts.
God is not impressed with our rituals, ceremonies, holy days, and sabbath keepings (Isaiah 1:13-14; Colossians 2:16).
Illustrations: Sabbath Day Observance Society
“Do you believe in keeping the
“The Christian Sabbath”
(Isaiah 1:13-14) “Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. (14) Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them.”
(Colossians 2:16) “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days.”
The Lord God certainly is not impressed with long, fancy, often repeated, wordy prayers (Isaiah 1:15).
(Isaiah 1:15) “And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.”
True prayer is more than words. It is the voice of the heart seeking God’s mercy, God’s will, God’s glory, and God’s Son.
God cares nothing for works of righteousness performed by men (Matthew 5:20). Our righteousnesses are as filthy rags in God’s sight. God calls them “dead works” to be repented of and forsaken. The Son of God declares…
(Matthew 5:20) “I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
God is not impressed by strictly observed legal religion. Legalism impresses, allures, and snares blind, spiritually ignorant men and women; but legalism, in any shape, or form is an utter abomination to God. Those who would impose upon God’s saints the yoke and bondage of Moses’ law pervert both the law and the gospel. — “By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified.” God declares, in speech that is unmistakably clear that we are entirely free from and dead to the law (Romans 6:14, 15; 7:4).
(Romans 10:4) “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth.”
There is absolutely no sense in which righteousness comes to us by our obedience to the law. Either we are under the whole law to do it all, or we are not under the law at all! And the laws, customs, traditions, and rules of religion invented and imposed by men are utterly contemptible to God! — “Touch not, taste not, handle not…To the satisfying of the flesh!”
Š Dietary Laws
Š Dress Laws
Š Do Laws
Š Don’t Laws
God almighty, who made Adam and Eve naked in the garden and gave them everything he had made to use and enjoy as they saw fit, is not impressed by what the fallen sons and daughters of Adam wear or do not wear, eat or do not eat, drink or do not drink.
I will tell you something else. God is not impressed with preachers (Matthew 7:22). Orators impress men and pulpiteers impress themselves; but God is not impressed.
(Matthew 7:22) “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works?”
If these things do not impress God, if he has no regard for our buildings, our sacrifices, our prayers, our ceremonies, our righteousness, or our preaching, what does he regard? What does God treasure? What is really important to God?
Divisions: I have searched the Scriptures and found six things which really are important to God. These six things God treasures above all other things. I am going to give you these six things in a specific order; but you could really put them in any order you might choose, because these six things are of equal importance to the Lord our God. Really, they are so intimately connected and interwoven that they cannot be distinguished or separated.
1. His Word
2. His Will
3. His Grace
4. His Son
5. His People
6. His Glory
What is really important to God? Number one — his Word. — Listen, again, to what the Lord God says in in Isaiah 66:2, which we read together a few minutes ago. — “To this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my Word.” In Psalm 138:2 the psalmists makes a statement which, at first glance, seems almost out of place.
(Psalms 138:2) “I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.”
What an utterly astounding statement! God’s name represents all his attributes and all his works. His name represents the totality of his infinite Being. Yet, the psalmist declares that he has magnified his Word above all his name.
Men may poke fun and make light of it until God casts them into hell, but this blessed Book is God’s Holy Word. It may not be important to you, but you better believe it is important to God! — “Forever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven” (Psalm 119:89). — “The word of our God shall stand forever” (Isaiah 40:8). — “Let God be true, and every man a liar!” God says, “My word shall not return to me void” (Isaiah 55:11). All God’s works are by his Word: His Living Word, His Decreed Word, His Oral Word, His Written Word, or His Preached Word.
Š The world was created by the Word of God.
Š Heaven and earth are preserved and held in tact by the word of God.
Š Christ is revealed by the Word of God.
Š Men and women are convinced of sin by the Word of God.
Š Faith is given by the Word of God.
Š Comfort is administered by the Word of God.
Š Saints are motivated, edified, protected, and ruled by the Word of God.
No wonder then that John wrote, “Blessed is he that readeth, and they hat hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein” (Revelation 1:3).
Let me tell you five things about the Word of God, the written Word of God, which you hold in your hand.
1. The Word of God is the seed of spiritual life by which chosen, redeemed sinners are born again (Hebrews 4:12; James 1:18 1 Peter 1:23-25).
Illustration: “A sower went forth to sow…The seed is the Word of God.”
(James 1:18) “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.”
2. The solitary basis of our faith is the Word of God (Romans 4:3, 20-22). — This Book is our only rule of faith and practice, our only creed, our only confession of faith.
(Romans 4:3) “For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.”
Faith is belief in action. Abraham believed God’s Word of promise. He believed God’s Word and acted upon it.
3. The Word of God is the foundation of our hope (Psalm 119:49, 81, 114).
(Psalm 119:49) “Remember the word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope.”
(Psalms 119:81) “My soul fainteth for thy salvation: but I hope in thy word.”
4. The Word of God will be the basis of judgment at the bar of God in the last day (John 12:47-50). In that great and terrible day God almighty will judge all men by the light of this blessed Book.
(John 12:48) “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.”
5. The Word of our God shall stand forever (Matthew 5:18; Numbers 23:19; Isaiah 46:9-11). — “The Word of our God shall stand forever” (Isaiah 40:8).
(Matthew 5:18) “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.”
(Numbers 23:19) “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent. —Hath he said, and shall he not do it? Or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?”
God almighty will do all his Word. God is as good as his Word. It will all be fulfilled!
Š His Word of Predestination.
Š His Word of Promise — (Of Grace).
Š His Word of Judgment.
What is really important to God? His Word. That is the first thing.
The second thing that is important to God is his will. —— It is a clearly revealed fact that the Lord our God has purposed, decreed, and predestinated all things that have ever come to pass and all things that ever shall come to pass, without exception (Psalms 115:3; 135:6; Isaiah 46:10; Daniel 4:35; Acts 2:23; 4:27-28; 13:48; Romans 8:28-30; 9:15-18; 11:33-36; 1 Corinthians 5:18; Ephesians 1:11).
Š “All things are of God!”
Š “Of him, through him, and to him are all things!”
(Isaiah 46:9-11) “Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, (10) Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: (11) Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.”
We know that our heavenly Father, the God of the Bible, the only true and living God is God “who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will” (Ephesians 1:11). And all who know him delight for him to do his will in all things. And we delight to do his will in all things. Nothing is more important to my God than his will; and nothing should be more important to me. Our heart’s prayer is, “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:9-10). God the Holy Ghost teaches every believer in the world to pray with Christ, “Thy will be done.”
Understand the teaching of this Book. —Everything that is, has been, and shall be is the will of God. God is absolutely sovereign in directing the affairs of the universe. His will of purpose includes all things, evil as well as good, sin as well as salvation, error as well as truth. And God’s will of purpose is always, perfectly accomplished in and by all things. — God’s will is his purpose; and his purpose is his will. His will is never at odds with his purpose; and his purpose is never at odds with his will.
With regard to God’s will of purpose we must understand that God wills whatever he does in providence. — “What his soul desireth, even that he doeth” (Job 23:13). — He “worketh all things after the counsel of his own will” (Ephesians 1:11). In other words, — God does in providence whatever he willed to do from eternity, only what he willed to do from eternity, and all that he willed to do in eternity (Acts 15:18). — He who is God cannot will, desire, or purpose to do anything that he fails to accomplish in time!
The will of God, his eternal purpose of predestination, is in every way consistent with the whole character of his Being.
Š It is his eternal will.
Š It is his immutable will.
Š It is his sovereign will.
Š It is his unconditional will.
Š It is his effectual will.
Š It is his wise and holy will.
Now, let me tell you again what the will of God is. — It is the everlasting salvation of his elect in Christ by which he shall be forever glorified as God!
Š Romans 8:28-31
Š Ephesians 1:3-14
Š Revelation 5:1-14
When we hear God say regarding all things, “I will do all my pleasure,” we rejoice to bow before him and say, “Thy will be done,” “I delight to do thy will, O God.”
“Thy will, not mine, O Lord,
However dark it be;
O lead me by Thine own right hand,
Choose out my path for me.
I dare not choose my lot;
I would not if I might;
Choose Thou for me, O Lord my God,
So shall I walk aright.
Take Thou my cup, and it
With joy or sorrow fill;
As ever best to Thee may seem,
Choose Thou my good and ill.
Not mine, not mine the choice
In things both great and small;
Be Thou my Guide, my Guard, my Strength,
My Wisdom, and my All!”
— Horatius Bonar
The third thing that is important to God is his grace. Turn with me to Exodus 33:13-19. Notice this fourfold request which Moses made to the Lord.
(Exodus 33:13-19) “Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, show me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that this nation is thy people. (14) And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest. (15) And he said unto him, If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence. (16) For wherein shall it be known here that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight? Is it not in that thou goest with us? So shall we be separated, I and thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth. (17) And the LORD said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name. (18) And he said, I beseech thee, Show me thy glory. (19) And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.”
When God saw the wickedness of the world and destroyed it in the flood of his wrath, what saved Noah? — “Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.” — “The law came by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”
Sinners are saved by grace alone; and that grace is bestowed upon chosen sinners only through the mediation of our Lord Jesus Christ. Nothing is more important to God than his grace. He says, “My grace is sufficient for thee!”
(Ephesians 2:8-9) “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: (9) Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
Š His grace established and made for us the covenant of grace.
Š His grace chose us in Christ.
Š His grace sent Christ into the world to redeem and save his chosen, covenant people.
Š His grace called us from death to life.
Š His grace keeps us.
Š His grace shall finish (Philippians 1:6) and complete what his grace began “to the praise of the glory of his grace.”
Illustration: No Sound of Hammer, Saw, Axe, or Tool of Any Kind in the Temple 1 Kings 6:7) — The Altar of Unhewn Stone (Exodus 20:25)
(Exodus 20:25) “And if thou wilt make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stone: for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it.”
What is important to God? His Word! — His Will! — His Grace!
Fourth, his Son is important to him. God has given his Son all pre-eminence. The triune God has put all fulness in the Lord Jesus Christ, God the Son, as our Savior, Mediator, and Covenant Surety.
(Colossians 1:18-19) “And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. (19) For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell.”
(Colossians 2:9-10) “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. (10) And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power.”
God has turned everything over to his Son. He is like Joseph in Egypt. He holds the keys to everything.
Illustration: Go to Joseph! — Go to Christ!
In the New Testament, God the Father spoke audibly to men only twice: once at our Lord’s baptism and again at his transfiguration. His message was the same both times. — “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
Š All grace is in the Son (Ephesians 1:3-7).
Š Conversion is in the Son (Galatians 1:15-16).
Š Life is in the Son (John 11:25).
Š Salvation is in the Son (1 John 5:11-13).
(1 John 5:11-13) “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. (12) He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. (13) These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.”
“What think ye of Christ?” — “Christ is All!”
Š In The Purpose of God.
Š In The Works of God (Creation — Providence — Redemption — Judgment)
Š In The Book of God.
Š In The Church of God.
Until we have learned this, we are not in union and harmony with God. — “Christ is All!”
What is really important to God? — His Word! — His Will! — Grace! — His Son!
Here is the fifth thing that is important to God — His People.
(Deuteronomy 32:9-10) “For the LORD’S portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance. (10) He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye.”
(Zechariah 2:8) “For thus saith the LORD of hosts; After the glory hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye.”
How important are God’s elect to him? Is it really true that we are equally as important to him as his Word, his will, his grace, and his Son? Indeed, we are!
Š God created all things for us (1 Corinthians 3:21-23).
Š He sent his Son to die for us (Isaiah 53:8).
Š He sacrifices people and nations of people for us (Isaiah 43:1-5).
Š He rules all things for us (John 17:2).
Š He upholds and preserves the world for us (2 Peter 3:9).
Š He will judge the world for us.
Š He will bestow all the glory of heaven upon us.
Š God the Father loves us as he loves his own dear Son, our Savior and Redeemer (John 17:20-24).
I have shown you five things which are of utmost importance to God: —His Word — His Will — His Grace — His Son, and — His People.
Now the last, but by no means the least, thing which is of utmost importance to God is his glory. — How can a mortal, sinful man talk about the glory of God? God’s goal and delight in all things is his glory. His glory is…
The heavens declare the glory of God. The angels sing, “Glory to God in the highest!” The Son said to the Father, “Glorify thy Son that thy Son also may glorify thee.” The Holy Spirit has come to glorify Christ for the glory of the triune God. All the redeemed in heaven sing, “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory, and honor, and power.” — “Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power be unto him that sitteth upon the throne!” — Read Romans 16:25-27 and Ephesians 1:6, 12, 14.
(Romans 16:25-27) “Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, (26) But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith: (27) To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.”
(Ephesians 1:6) “To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.”
(Ephesians 1:12) “That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.”
(Ephesians 1:14) “Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.”
If you and I would be in harmony with God’s creation, the holy angels, the Son of God, his Holy Spirit, the redeemed in heaven, and the purpose of God himself, if we hope to be accepted of and honored by God, whatever we do in word or in deed must be done for his glory (1 Corinthians 10:31; 6:19-20).
(1 Corinthians 10:31) “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”
(1 Corinthians 6:19-20) “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? (20) For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
This I know: — We will, every one of us, sooner or later, glorify God. Ultimately, we will glorify him, either in his mercy, love, and grace, or in his justice, truth, and wrath. But glorify him we will!
(1 Corinthians 15:24-28) “Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. (25) For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. (26) The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. (27) For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. (28) And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.”
Illustration: Criswell’s Story — “Where was the Lord…….? He was in his glory!”
What is really important to God? These six things…
1. His Word
2. His Will
3. His Grace
4. His Son
5. His People
6. His Glory
Now, I want you to answer one question — What is really important to you? — What is really important to me?
1. His Word?
2. His Will?
3. His Grace?
4. His Son?
5. His People?
6. His Glory?