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A GREAT GOD – MIGHTY AND TERRIBLE!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Morning, January 11, 2015

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine...” (II Timothy 3:16).


When we open the Bible we read the self-revelation of God. I am paraphrasing Dr. W. A. Criswell (1909-2002) – There are many things we can learn by study and observation. We can learn about the soil and the seeds, the trees and the fruit, water and minerals, fish and cattle, the force of gravity and the motion of the stars. By study and observation we can learn many things in the world of nature. But what is behind reality? What is the reality beyond what we can study and observe in the physical world? What is the meaning and purpose of life? These are things we can never learn by study and observation. Who is it who made the world and the stars and the universe? Reason and observation and study can only go so far. But we cannot go beyond what is outward and physical. The meaning that lies beyond what we see and feel and smell and hear – this we cannot learn.

We can look at the stars forever and come to the conclusion that whoever made them was great and all-powerful. But what is His name? What is He like? Does He know us? Could He call us by name? We can study the stars forever and never know Him.

We can study the beauty of a sunset, the beautiful trees in a park, the flowers that grow out of the ground. We can study all the beauties of nature. We can come to the conclusion that whoever created them loved beauty and harmony and color. But who is He? What is He like? We could study the rainbow and the clouds, and the shades of color in the Grand Canyon and the dazzling beauty of an Arizona sunset. We could study it all forever and never know Him.

We can look at ourselves. We can study the cultures of the world. Studying sociology and morality, we can come to the conclusion that whoever created the human race had a sense of order and morality. But who is He and what is His name? Does He know us? How is it that God has made us this way? These things are absolutely hidden from man. These things can only be known by the self-disclosure and the self-revelation of God. If God does not reveal Himself, then we can never know Him (adapted from “The Self-Revelation of God” by W. A. Criswell, Ph.D.).

But God has revealed Himself to us through the Bible. The Bible is the self-revelation of God to a lost world. As the Apostle Peter put it, the Bible is “a light that shineth in a dark place” (II Peter 1:19). I have studied religion for more than half a century. We are told that there are about 600 religions in the world. Which one is true? How can we know? We could study the religions of the world forever and still not know Him. God had to reveal Himself to us. And that is what He did. God revealed Himself to man in the Bible, which is “given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine...” (II Timothy 3:16). The Bible is the only reliable source of knowledge about God. Without the Bible, we would not know God. We would not know that God is a Trinity. We would not know the attributes of God – His omnipresence, His omniscience, His omnipotence, His immutability, His holiness, His righteousness, His justice, His goodness, His truth. These are things we could never know about God if He had not revealed them to us in the Bible. Everything we know about the real God is from the Bible because,

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine...” (II Timothy 3:16).

What shall we say, then, about the God who punishes sin? Dr. George Buttrick, the Bible-rejecting editor of The Interpreter’s Bible, said, “That God is my devil.” He said that the God of the Bible was the “devil.” Robert Ingersoll called the God of the Bible, “this fiendish God,” and said, “I hate him.” Hatred of a God who punishes sin is often heard by students from their professors in college. But George Buttrick had no basis for rejecting God’s judgment but his own prejudice. Ingersoll had no basis for calling God “fiendish” but his own prejudice. And your college professor has no basis for rejecting the God who judges sin but his own prejudice.

How do we know they are wrong? And how do we know more than they do about God? The answer is in our text,

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine...” (II Timothy 3:16).

All the Hebrew and Greek words of the Bible are given by theopneustos (inspired, ‘God-breathed’) and are profitable (ōphĕlímos – useful) for doctrine (didaskalian – instruction, doctrine). The German scholar Dr. Fritz Rienecker said, “The writing [of Scripture is] God breathed...The rabbinical teaching was that the Spirit of God rested on and in the prophets and spoke through them so that their words did not come from themselves, but from the mouth of God and they spoke and wrote by the Holy Spirit. The early church was in entire [complete] agreement with this view” (Fritz Rienecker, Ph.D., A Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament, translated from the German by Cleon L. Rogers, Jr.; note on II Timothy 3:16).

Thus the Bible is a perfect treasure of the verbally inspired words of God; every Hebrew and Greek word came “from the mouth of God” Himself! Whatever we want to know about God must come from the Bible, and nowhere else. As Luther put it, “sola scriptura” – the Bible alone is the source of our beliefs and doctrines. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said, “There are only two ultimate positions; either we regard the Bible as authoritative, or else we trust to human ideas...the whole case of the Bible is that this is the unique revelation of God” (Fellowship with God, Crossway Books, 1993, p. 104). So when people say, “That’s your opinion” – I answer, “No, that’s not my opinion, that’s the opinion of the Bible, the plain doctrinal teaching of God’s Word.” Then they say, “But how do you interpret it?” I say, “The same way I interpret the newspaper – it means what it says.”

Lost people don’t like that. Do you know why? It’s because they are listening to the Devil. The Devil got our first mother confused by telling her that God didn’t really mean what He said (Genesis 3:1-5). The idea that you can’t trust the Word of God is what brought about the Fall of Man, and the destruction of the human race! God help us! Everything we know about the real God comes from the Bible alone. Notice I said, “Everything we know about the real God...” comes from the Bible alone. Not from the Koran. Not from the Book of Mormon. Not from Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health, not from the mutilated, deliberately mistranslated, Jehovah’s Witness Bible. Everything we know about the real God comes only from the Bible. Now, what does the Bible say about God? What the Bible says about God is very different from what people say about Him today. The average man on the street thinks one of two things about God. Either he thinks,


1.  That God does not exist, or

2.  That God is only a God of love, and would never punish sin.


But neither of those ideas is from the Bible. Both are ideas from man, and do not explain the real God.

Yes, the Bible teaches that He is a God of love (I John 4:16). But God is also a God of judgment. The wrath and judgment of God are mentioned in the Bible far more often than His love. Dr. Lloyd-Jones said, “If you take this idea of judgment out of the Bible you have very little left” (The Heart of the Gospel, Crossway Books, 1991, p. 98). In another place, Dr. Lloyd-Jones said, “The ultimate trouble with people who do not believe in the doctrine of the wrath of God is that they do not believe the Biblical revelation of God. They have got a God of their own creating” (God’s Sovereign Purpose (Romans 9), The Banner of Truth Trust, 1991, p. 212).

The wrath of God, and the judgment of God are doctrines which appear throughout the Bible, in both the Old and New Testament. Last week I read of God’s judgment in the Great Flood.

“And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth” (Genesis 6:7).

“And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth” (Genesis 6:13).

“And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven; and they were destroyed from the earth: and Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark” (Genesis 7:23).

That is the God of judgment! Also I read about the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah,

“Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven; And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground” (Genesis 19:24-25).

That is the God of judgment! Then I read about the terrible judgment of God upon the Egyptians – how God judged them for refusing to let the Hebrew people go free,

“And it came to pass, that at midnight the Lord smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle. And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead” (Exodus 12:29-30).

That is the God of judgment! Then I read about the judgment of Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron,

“And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the Lord, which he commanded them not. And there went out fire from the Lord, and devoured them, and they died before the Lord” (Leviticus 10:1-2).

That is the God of judgment! Then I read about a man who violated the law by picking up sticks on the Sabbath,

“And the Lord said unto Moses, The man shall be surely put to death: all the congregation shall stone him with stones without the camp. And all the congregation brought him without the camp, and stoned him with stones, and he died; as the Lord commanded Moses” (Numbers 15:35-36).

That is the God of judgment! Then I read about Korah, and those who followed him in rebellion against Moses,

“And it came to pass, as he had made an end of speaking all these words, that the ground clave asunder that was under them: And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods. They, and all that appertained to them, went down alive into the pit, and the earth closed upon them: and they perished from among the congregation. And all Israel that were round about them fled at the cry of them: for they said, Lest the earth swallow us up also. And there came out a fire from the Lord, and consumed the two hundred and fifty men that offered incense” (Numbers 16:31-35).

That is the God of judgment! Then in the Book of Deuteronomy I read,

“For the Lord your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward” (Deuteronomy 10:17).

And then it says,

“Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God; him shalt thou serve”
       (Deuteronomy 10:20).

That too is the God of judgment.

All of those were given in the Pentateuch, the five books of Moses. Those were just a few of the judgments of God in the first five books of Scripture! There He is called “God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible...” (Deuteronomy 10:17).

Then God said through the prophet Isaiah, “I will tread down the people in mine anger” (Isaiah 63:3). The prophet Nehemiah called Him, “The great and terrible God” (Nehemiah 1:5). The prophet Daniel called Him, “The great and dreadful God” (Daniel 9:4).

But someone may say, “That is the God of the Old Testament. I believe in the God of the New Testament.” That shows that you are ignorant of the New Testament! In the New Testament we read, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31). In II Corinthians 5, the Apostle Paul said, “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.” And the Lord Jesus Christ spoke about judgment and Hell more than anyone else in the Bible. Christ said,

“These shall go away into everlasting punishment” (Matthew 25:46).

Christ said,

“And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire” (Matthew 18:9).

Christ said,

“The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 13:41-42).

Christ said that an unsaved rich man went to Hell,

“And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame” (Luke 16:23-24).

And the last book of the New Testament says,

“The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night...” (Revelation 14:10-11).

No, you cannot take refuge in the New Testament! All through the Bible, from one end to the other, God is presented as “a great God, a mighty, and a terrible” (Deuteronomy 10:17).

The only hope you have is to trust the Lord Jesus Christ. God sent Him to die on the Cross – to pay for your sins, and to cleanse your sins with His Blood. There is no other way to escape from the wrath and judgment of God! The Apostle Paul said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31). The Bible says, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart” (Proverbs 3:5). And the Lord Jesus Christ said,

“He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:16).

Mr. Griffith, please sing the first and second stanzas and choruses of “When I See the Blood.”

Christ our Redeemer died on the cross,
   Died for the sinner, paid all his due.
Sprinkle your soul with the blood of the Lamb,
   And I will pass, will pass over you.
When I see the blood, when I see the blood,
   When I see the blood, I will pass, I will pass over you.

Chiefest of sinners, Jesus will save;
   All He has promised, that He will do;
Wash in the fountain opened for sin,
   And I will pass, will pass over you.
When I see the blood, when I see the blood,
   When I see the blood, I will pass, I will pass over you.
(“When I See the Blood” by John G. Foote, 19th century).

Dr. Chan, please lead us in prayer. Amen.

(END OF SERMON)
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: Revelation 14:9-11.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“When I See the Blood” (by John G. Foote, 19th century).