************ Sermon on Belgic Confession Article 1e ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on March 24, 2019
Belgic Confession Article 1e
"God is Infinite"
God is infinite. Many people confuse the infinity of God with the eternity of God. God is eternal. This means He is beyond the limitations of time; He has no beginning or end. But God is also infinite. This means He is beyond the limitations of space; He is more than space and He is everywhere present. God knows no limits, no bounds and no end. What God is, He is without boundaries. All that God is, He is without bounds or limits.
God is infinite and infinity cannot be measured. We measure all sorts of things: weight, distance, size, depth, height, mass, luminosity, IQ, shoe size, ring size, temperature, rainfall, snow pack. But God is boundless and infinite; He can’t be weighed or measured; you can’t apply distance or time or space to Him.
Sometimes we mistakenly apply the concept of infinity to man and the things of man. For instance, you hear talk about unlimited wealth, but there’s no such thing; you can count it. Or, you watch your grandkids and talk about boundless energy but there is no such thing; you can measure a child's energy. We say an artist takes infinite pains with his painting but he doesn’t take infinite pains; he just does the best he can. You know what we are doing when we use such language? We are misusing words like "unlimited, boundless, and infinite." These words describe God -- they don’t describe anything but God. They do not describe man or the things of man.
We believe in our hearts and confess with our mouths that God is infinite. To say this is to say two things:
1. God is immense.
2. God is omnipresent.
I God is Immense
A People love to put God in a box -- their box! The words "God with us" were stamped on the belt buckles of German soldiers during World War II. During the same war some claimed God was British. At other times throughout history people have claimed God is Dutch, or American, or Reformed, or white. God in a box.
Pantheism is the same way. It puts God in a box -- a big box. Pantheism identifies God with His creation. God is all and all is God. The Creator is confused with His creation. According to Pantheism, God is the orange tree in my backyard, the broccoli in my fridge, the geese flying overhead, the stars in the sky above. According to Pantheism, God is me and I am God or at least a part of God. God in a box.
Israel fooled herself into thinking of God in a box. Remember the time Israel was defeated in battle against the Philistines? When the soldiers returned to camp, the elders of Israel asked,
(1 Sam 4:3) "Why did the LORD bring defeat upon us today before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the Lord's covenant from Shiloh, so that it may go with us and save us from the hand of our enemies." When Eli's two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, appeared at the camp of Israel with the ark, with God in a box, the army of Israel let out a mighty shout. And the Philistines, when they heard that Israel had the ark of the LORD with them, they were afraid.
(1 Sam 4:7-8) "A god has come into the camp," they said. "We're in trouble! Nothing like this has happened before. (8) Woe to us! Who will deliver us from the hand of these mighty gods? They are the gods who struck the Egyptians with all kinds of plagues in the desert."Yet, in the battle that followed Israel was defeated; 30,000 Israelite soldiers were slaughtered; and the ark of God was captured. Israel learned God cannot be put in a box.
God in a box. Do you know the problem with this? It denies the infinity/immensity of God.
B God is infinite; He is immense. What does this mean? King Solomon tells us. This King realized God cannot be put in a box, however big that box may be. King Solomon, if you remember, made a beautiful temple for the LORD. At its dedication he is forced to admit,
(1 Ki 8:27) But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!
God is infinite; He is immense. This means that heaven and earth cannot contain Him. God is greater than all that He has made. God is more than all that He has made. God transcends all that He has made. It is Genesis 1:1 which shows most clearly the distinction between God and all that He has made. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." The Creator is not the creation, and the creation is not the Creator.
Can I put God in a box? No! God cannot be limited or bound by anything. God cannot be put in a box, whether that box be German, British, Dutch, American, Reformed, white, or the ark of the covenant. God is infinite; God is immense. He is above all and over all and beyond all. Often, we don't want to remember this. It is so easy to tie God just to us and our concerns. But we can't do this, for then we forget and even deny that He is infinite, that He is immense.
II God is Omnipresent
A Our second point: If God is infinite, He is present everywhere. Which means man cannot escape from the presence of God. King David talks of this in our Bible reading. He asks,
(Ps 139:7) Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?The answer: nowhere, no place.
In the verses that follow, David explores different places and avenues of escape:
(Ps 139:8) If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. Stars, 15 billion or more light years away, are not beyond the presence of God. Ocean depths, 5 miles or more down, are not beyond the presence of God. The deepest ravines, the Grand Canyons of our world, are not beyond the presence of God either.
David wonders if he can fly away from God's presence by going to some remote island on the other side of the world. The answer is no.
(Ps 139:9-10) If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, (10) even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.
What about the pitch-black darkness of nighttime. Can he crawl away from God's presence under the cover of darkness? This won't work either.
(Ps 139:12) even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.
B Why can't we ever escape God's presence? We can't escape from God, my brothers and sisters, because God is infinite; He is omnipresent. We can never escape from His presence because He fills heaven and earth with His presence. God fills all space. The universe is full of His divine presence.
Not only is God present everywhere, He is fully present everywhere. Believers in New York can enjoy the fullness of the presence of God. At the same time, believers in Visalia and Los Angeles also enjoy the fullness of the presence of God. God is everywhere and He is fully present everywhere. God is not more present in one place than another. God is present in China, Russia, South Africa, Syria, and Iraq as much as He is present in the U.S.A.
God is fully present everywhere. However, this does not mean God is present in the same way in all places or in all of His creatures. God does not dwell on earth as He does in heaven nor in the church as He does in Christ.
C Where is God? He is right here. Right now. How come, then, most people do not see and are not aware of God's presence? When it comes to God many people have the ostrich syndrome. When an ostrich sees an enemy approaching it sticks its head in the sand. What it can't see no longer exists. How dumb! Man can stick his head in the sand, but that doesn't mean God no longer exists. God is real. He is here. He is present everywhere. He is here whether we see Him or not.
God is here, fully here. Right now. Neither space nor time separates us from Him. There is, however, a kind of dimensional barrier between Him and us. If we could only step through that dimension we would see Him. I think of Elisha and his servant living in the city of Dothan. The Syrian king surrounds the city with horses and chariots and intends to capture or kill Elisha. When Elisha's servant sees the Syrian army he is filled with fear. Elisha answered, "Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them."
This gave Elisha's servant a conflict of faith. Should he believe what his eyes were telling him or what his master was telling him? When Elisha told him that those who were with him outnumbered the mighty army of the Syrians, the servant must have thought Elisha insane. It was only when Elisha prayed, "Lord, ... open his eyes that he may see" that he saw the horses and chariots of Jehovah all around (cf 2 Kings 6:8-23). It was only when God gave him a peek into another dimension of reality, that the servant saw the presence of God.
D Can I hide from God? Absolutely not! God is infinite; He is omnipresent. Single adults can leave home, they can leave the church, they can leave their parents, they can go to Los Angeles or San Francisco but they can never get away from God. Young people can fail to profess their faith, but they can never escape the presence of God. Men and women can go to Mexico or the Caribbean, they can sneak off to Las Vegas for a weekend, they can cover up adulterous relationships, but they cannot hide from God.
E God is infinite; He is omnipresent. We can never escape God's presence. Or, to put it another way, God's presence is always and forever with us. I think of the promise of Jesus just before He ascended into heaven:
(Mat 28:20) And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.I think too of that beautiful passage in Romans:
(Rom 8:38-39) For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, (39) neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.Or, think of David's words in Psalm 23:
(Ps 23:4) Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
God is infinite; God is omnipresent. God promises you and me His presence. I may doubt His presence. I may not see Him or feel Him. I may question His Word. Yet, He is still there.
Many things about this world are frightening: being maimed in a car accident; suffering cancer, heart disease, or blocked arteries; losing one's job or business; the death of a child or spouse; the end of a marriage; the rape of a daughter; the covenantal disobedience of a loved one; drug or alcohol addiction. No normal person would ever want to experience any of these troubles. Yet, in all of these troubles we are comforted from the knowledge that God is infinite, that He is omnipresent, that He never leaves us or forsakes us.
God is infinite; He is omnipresent. God is able to be present with you and me. He, and this is simply marvelous, also wants to be present with you and me.
Can I hide from God? No! But why would I want to? For in the presence of God there is life and hope and comfort and security and without God there is nothing.
F One last thing, there is also a downside to the omnipresence of God. For you and me and all those who know and love God, His infinity is ever so sweet. But for those who remain hostile and estranged from God, His omnipresence is bad news, bad news indeed! There is nothing a fugitive wants to hear less than that his pursuer is everywhere. There is no place to hide from an infinite spirit. His eye is on the sparrow when it falls. His eye is on the thief when he steals. And, His eye is also on the sinner who does not repent. This reminds me of the cry of the wicked and unbelieving in Revelation 6:
(Rev 6:16) They called to the mountains and the rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!"But they can't hide.
God is infinite; He is omnipresent. So I say, "Sinner, repent. For there is no escape from God. Sinner, repent. For you cannot get away from Him."
As I prepare for worship every week, one of the things I do is spend a couple of hours picking out songs. This past week I was looking for songs that use the word "infinite." You know what I noticed? Most of the songs that use "infinite" celebrate the infinity of God's love, God's mercy, God's grace. Meaning what? Meaning that like God Himself, His love and His mercy and His grace cannot be measured or weighed.
Thank God for that. Thank God because this means His grace is always greater than my sin, His mercy is always greater than my fallenness, His love is always greater than my hate. God loves us in Christ with an infinite love, a love that cannot be contained, a love that His elect can never hide from, a love that makes us safe and secure forever.
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