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DO YOU BELIEVE IN GOD?

by Dr. C. L. Cagan

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, March 3, 2019

“The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty” (Exodus 34:6, 7).


Most of you here today know me pretty well. You know what I look like. You know I like numbers. You could tell other people about me. You know what I’m like as a person. You could tell people about that too – because you know me.

Suppose someone said, “I know Dr. Cagan. Dr. Cagan is close to me all the time. He’s 18 years old and he’s six and a half feet tall.” But I’m 65 years old and I’m not six feet tall. Would you say that person really knows me? Of course not! There is no such Dr. Cagan. Whoever he has in mind, it’s not me! You’d say, “He doesn’t know Dr. Cagan at all.”

You’d say that about me. But what about God? You see, everyone says they know God. When it comes to God, everyone is an expert. If you talk to someone at school, or at work, or even in the street, they’ll tell you all about Him. They’ve never studied religion, but they’ve all got something to say – and they’re sure they’re right. They say something like, “God is a spirit who lives everywhere. He lives in my heart. God is good. He’s with me all the time. God understands me. He doesn’t judge me. I know He’ll let me into Heaven.” But are they right? Do they know the real God? Or do they not have God at all? Do you have God?

What I just told you about is the “easy god” of today. That “god” is just a copy of the world you live in. It’s what you see on television, in the movies, and on the computer. It’s what you hear in school and from your friends. What do people say? “Have it your way. What’s right for me may not be right for you. You’re basically a good person. So am I. Whatever happens, we’re good. Do what your heart tells you. Follow your feelings. Your thoughts are good. Feel good about yourself. Don’t judge me. I won’t judge you. We’re all good.” That’s what your “easy god” says. Your “god” is just a copy of what you hear – nothing more, nothing less. Your “god” is not the real God. Really you don’t believe in God. You don’t have God at all.

How can you know about God? The only place you can know the truth about God is in the Bible. Jesus said, “The scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35). Christ said, “It is easier for heaven and earth to pass [away], than one tittle [one comma, one letter] of the law to fail” (Luke 16:17). The Bible is where we find the truth.

Today I’ll tell you what the Bible says about God. The things we can know about God, His characteristics, are called his attributes. God has many attributes. Our text gives some of them: It says,

“The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty” (Exodus 34:6, 7).

These two verses tell us that God is:


1. Merciful

2. Gracious

3. Longsuffering

4. Abundant in goodness and truth

5. Keeping mercy for thousands

6. Forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin

7. He will by no means clear the guilty.


These two verses tell us seven things about God. The last two seem contradictory. How can God be “forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin” and at the same time “by no means clear the guilty”? I’ll tell you the answer at the end of this sermon. But first you’ll have to know more about God. Today I’m going to tell you four things about the real God.

I. First, the real God is omnipotent. He is all-powerful. He can do anything.

The easy god of today doesn’t do much. He just sits there and watches you go on with your life. Once in a while he tells you that you’re good. But he doesn’t stop you from doing anything. He doesn’t do anything himself. Really he can’t.

But the God of the Bible is omnipotent. That means He is all-powerful. The real God said to Abraham, “I am the almighty God” (Genesis 17:1). Christ said, “With God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).

The real God “created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). The real God made heaven and earth in six days. The Bible says,

“Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made” (Genesis 2:1, 2).

He could have made it all in six minutes, or six seconds, or the blink of an eye! God is Almighty! That’s why the prophet Jeremiah said,

“Ah Lord God! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee” (Jeremiah 32:17).

And the real God said,

“Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?” (Jeremiah 32:27).

The real God made the earth, and the sun, and the moon, and the plants and the animals, the first man and the first woman, in six days. The real God covered the earth with a flood and killed the entire human race except for eight people in the Ark. The real God divided the Red Sea in the time of Moses. The real God took Elijah up into Heaven without dying. And the real God will destroy the earth and the universe, and make “a new heaven and a new earth” (Revelation 21:1).

That’s the only God who exists! The god you believe in can’t help you. You don’t believe in the real God. But you need Him. He’s the God who can answer your prayers. He’s the God who can give you “grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). He’s the God who sent His Son Jesus to save your soul!

II. Second, the real God is omniscient. He knows everything.
He sees everything.

God sees everything you do. He hears everything you say. He knows everything you think. The Bible says,

“The eyes of the Lord are in every place” (Proverbs 15:3).

God said to Jeremiah,

“Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar off? Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the Lord” (Jeremiah 23:23, 24).

There is no place to hide from the real God.

You may say, “God might be interested in the big wide universe. He might think about the course of history. But he won’t look at the little things in my life.” Oh, yes, He does! Christ said,

“Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father” (Matthew 10:29).

God knows about every bird who lives or dies. And God knows and counts every hair on your head. Jesus said, “The very hairs of your head are all numbered” (Matthew 10:30).

The real God knows everything you ever did. He knows every word you say. He knows the selfish thoughts of your heart. You can think of things you wouldn’t want God to know about. But He does know! Are you ready to meet Him? What will happen when you do?

III. Third, the real God is holy. He hates and judges sin.

The easy god you believe in doesn’t hate anything. He doesn’t mind if you sin. And he will certainly never judge you. “Judging” is a bad word today. He’d never do anything to you. But that “god” can’t do anything anyway. He’s weak. And he isn’t there. He doesn’t exist.

What about the real God – the God you will have to face? He’s a God to be afraid of! The prophet Nehemiah called Him,

“O Lord God of heaven, the great and terrible God”
       (Nehemiah 1:5).

In the psychology of today, you’re not supposed to be afraid. But the real God is someone to be afraid of. Is it right to be afraid of Him? Yes! The Bible says,

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”
       (Proverbs 9:10).

It’s right to be afraid of God. You’ve got a lot of reasons to be afraid of Him. Every sin is another reason to fear God! God will judge and punish you for your every sin. Our text says that He “will by no means clear the guilty” (Exodus 34:7). The easy god doesn’t mind what you do, but he’s not there anyway. But the real God cares about right and wrong. He will judge you. The Bible says,

“God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing” (Ecclesiastes 12:14).

All your secrets will be judged. You will be judged for every word you say, even in casual conversation. Christ said,

“That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment” (Matthew 12:36).

God even knows your heart, and He will judge you for it. The Bible says, “I the Lord search the heart” (Jeremiah 17:10).

God will look at your actions, your words, your thoughts, and your heart. And He will judge you. The Bible says,

“I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened...and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works” (Revelation 20:12).

That’s the real God. Some of you don’t believe in that God. But He is the only God there is! You should be afraid of Him. And will he not judge you? Are you ready to be judged? The Bible says, “Prepare to meet thy God” (Amos 4:12). Are you prepared? Can you prepare to meet God? Or will you crumble down before Him? This brings me to the last point.

IV. Fourth, the real God is a God of love. He loves sinners. He loves you.

Our text says,

“The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin...” (Exodus 34:6, 7).

And the New Testament says, “God is love” (I John 4:8). The real God is merciful, gracious, longsuffering, abundant in goodness and truth, keeps mercy for thousands, and forgives iniquity and transgression and sin – and love. But how can this be? The easy god will let everything go. But I’m not talking about that. The real God is a God of judgment. In the very same verse it says that God will “by no means clear the guilty” (Exodus 34:7).

How can this be? How can both be true? How can God be forgiving and punish sin? How can both of these be true of the same God? This is the contradiction I told you about.

The answer is the deepest and most sacred truth that is, or was, or ever will be: In Christ, only in Christ. Yes, God must punish your sin. He must punish it with His holy wrath and judgment. In Christ, only in Christ. You can avoid the punishment if you have a substitute – someone to take your place. In Christ, only in Christ. That person must not have any sin of His own, else He could suffer only for Himself and not for you. That person is Jesus Christ, only Christ.

Two thousand years ago, on a mount called Calvary, Jesus faced the seeming contradiction between God’s justice and God’s love. He lived out the contradiction – no, it is better to say that He died out the contradiction, He bled out the contradiction, for He bled out His life on the Cross to pay for your sin and wash it away forever in the sight of God. On that same Cross, on that same day, the same Christ who cried out “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46) also prayed “Father, forgive them” (Luke 23:34). This is not the cheap love of the easy god. This is the costly love of the true God, whose justice is so strict that it demands the bloody death-payment of God’s own Son for you to be forgiven. In Christ the love of God met the justice of God – for you. Jesus is the only way for you to be forgiven. Jesus is the only way for you to be saved. Trust Jesus and your sins are washed away by His Blood. Trust Jesus and you are forgiven forever.

I pray that you will trust Jesus. If you would like to talk and pray about trusting Jesus, please come and sit in the first two rows. Amen.


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(END OF SERMON)
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Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Jack Ngann:
      “Holy, Holy, Holy” (by Reginald Heber, 1783-1826; stanzas 1 and 3).


THE OUTLINE OF

DO YOU BELIEVE IN GOD?

by Dr. C. L. Cagan

“The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty” (Exodus 34:6, 7).

(John 10:35; Luke 16:17)

I.    First, the real God is omnipotent. He is all-powerful. He can do
anything, Genesis 17:1; Matthew 19:26; Genesis 1:1; 2:1, 2;
Jeremiah 32:17, 27; Revelation 21:1; Hebrews 4:16.

II.   Second, the real God is omniscient. He knows everything.
He sees everything, Proverbs 15:3; Jeremiah 21:23, 24;
Matthew 10:29, 30.

III.  Third, the real God is holy. He hates and judges sin, Nehemiah 1:5;
Proverbs 9:10; Ecclesiastes 12:14; Matthew 12:36;
Jeremiah 17:10; Revelation 20:12; Amos 4:12.

IV.  Fourth, the real God is a God of love. He loves sinners. He loves
you, I John 4:8; Matthew 27:46; Luke 23:34.