Trinity Fourteen — We All Believe in One True God — Psalm 135:13-18
Sermon for Trinity Fourteen – Sunday September 22, 2019
Calvary/Marquette ● Soli Deo Gloria
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, 13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory. Ephesians 1:3-4, 13-14 (NKJV)
Psalm 135:13-18 (NKJV)
13 Your name, O Lord, endures forever, Your fame, O Lord, throughout all generations. 14 For the Lord will judge His people, And He will have compassion on His servants. 15 The idols of the nations are silver and gold, The work of men’s hands. 16 They have mouths, but they do not speak; Eyes they have, but they do not see; 17 They have ears, but they do not hear; Nor is there any breath in their mouths. 18 Those who make them are like them; So is everyone who trusts in them.
In the Name of Jesus Christ,
Dear Fellow Redeemed in His Blood –
It’s right in here, in our church constitution.
It says that we:
“…accept all the books of the Old and New Testaments as the verbally inspired Word of God and as the only divine standard of faith and life…”
“…accept the written confession of the Evangelical Lutheran Church (as found in the Book of Concord) as the true and genuine exposition of the doctrines of the Bible.” The Book of Concord includes the following:
- 3 Creeds, the Apostolic, Nicene and Athanasian;
- The Unaltered Augsburg Confession;
- The Apology of the Augsburg Confession;
- The Smalcald Articles;
- Luther’s Catechisms, Large and Small;
- The Formula of Concord.
Now, that said, how many of you are familiar with these documents?
How many of you have read or studied them? Does it make you nervous that you haven’t read them? Clearly, the founding fathers of this congregation considered these documents to be very important and valuable when they required that all future teaching be in agreement with them because they are a true and genuine exposition of God’s Word.
What would we find if we studied these documents? Do you think we would find new and extreme teachings?
How about if we look at an example?
The first article of the Augsburg Confession concerns the nature of God. It states that we believe and teach in agreement with the Nicene Creed that there is ‘one divine essence’ (one God) ‘and that there are three persons in this one divine essence, equal in power and alike eternal, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.”
This is the God in whom we believe. This is the God of mercy and love called the LORD (Jehovah) and who is described and compared to the idols of this world in the Word of God before us this morning. We consider these words under the theme: “We all believe in One True God.” While idols are creations of human imagination; the LORD is the Creator of this world. While idols are forgettable and forgotten; the LORD’s name and fame endures because of His Judgment and His mercy.
May the God we worship and serve grant us an extra measure of the Holy Spirit so that we may carefully meditate upon these words in a godly way and grow in our faith through them. Amen.
When was the last time you witnessed gross, public idolatry? Have you ever watched someone fall down and worship a carved stone or wooden image? It seems to me that people in our country prefer secret idolatry.
When the Apostle Paul came to Ephesus, mid-first century, He witnessed gross public idolatry. The book of Acts tells us that Paul used the city as a base of operations for two years (Acts 19:10ff) and during that time the Gospel of Christ was proclaimed throughout Asia Minor. The Spirit of God worked through the Gospel and people threw away their idols and false teaching books, and came to believe in Jesus.
As a result of the Message of the Cross, the local economy in Ephesus took a hit, specifically those artisans who made silver images of the local idol, “Diana of the Ephesians.” When a local silversmith named Demetrius noticed that his silver idols were no longer a ‘hot item’ he incited a riot against the Way (against Christians who said Jesus was the Way, the Truth and the Life).
It was no calm debate or religious discussion. No, they promoted their cause by simply crying out for 2 hours (Acts 19:34):
“Great is Diana of the Ephesians!”
We really don’t see much of this kind of thing in the United States today, do we? I’m sure there are religious shops that sell statues and religious artifacts, but most of the time they are not meant to be worshipped themselves. Frankly, the false god most popular in our country today is – “The Almighty Dollar.”
In the Word of God before us this morning, the Psalmist, contrasts the idols of men with the True God who reveals Himself in the Bible. He begins by comparing their natures. While True God is a spirit --
15 The idols of the nations are silver and gold, The work of men’s hands.
Idols are the work of men’s hands (regarding the foolishness of worshipping idols, cf. also Isaiah 44:9-20). We may think primarily of idols as little images, statues and the like… but properly idols are false gods, whether cast, carved or imagined. False gods are the creation of human hands and intellects. They have names given by men and act like men.
While Idols are the work of men’s hands, the Scripture reveals that the God of the Bible, the LORD is the CREATOR of Humankind. The LORD God created humankind to worship and serve Him, and yet people down through the ages have used their minds and imaginations to create idols to worship and praise for what they have been given!
Does this mean that the GOD is responsible for the creation of idols? NO! In the very beginning, God created human beings with free will and the ability to reason. But when sin entered the world and humankind became corrupt, the freedom of the human will was bound to evil, it became impossible for human beings to choose the right God.
Human beings choose sin…choose to make idols…God is not at fault.
While unbelievers and liberals may suggest that the LORD is no different than any other god…the truth is they couldn’t be more different. The idols of men are created; the LORD is not a creation of man, but the creator of humankind.
Moreover, this isn’t the only way in which He differs from them.
16 They have mouths, but they do not speak; Eyes they have, but they do not see;
When carved from wood or stone Idols are given mouths, but they can’t speak. There is no message to be heard from an idol. Even as their mouths are fashioned by those who make them, so their words are also given them by those who fashion them.
Diana of the Ephesians couldn’t speak…Demetrius and those who made her silver idols had to speak for her…she was a nothing.
In contrast to this, the LORD Jehovah has spoken in time past and his words were heard by human ears. He appeared to and spoke to Moses. He spoke through the Old Testament Prophets and guaranteed their words by working miracles through them.
He still speaks in the Scriptures, and the often-repeated words, “Thus says the LORD” draw our attention to the fact that GOD speaks in His Word.
It is also true that Idols are made with eyes…but they do not, cannot and will not see. They cannot see any more than those presidents carved in stone upon Mount Rushmore. People may say that their gods ‘look down on us’…but the fact is that they cannot see.
BUT….the Lord is able to see. In fact, the LORD not only sees the outward appearance of human beings…He sees the heart and knows the true motive of each. The Psalmist says of the LORD in Psalm 14:2 (cf. also Psalm 33:13):
2 The Lord looks down from heaven upon the children of men,
To see if there are any who understand, who seek God.
Human beings may think that the darkness hides their evil deeds…but they are wrong. We may think that only we know the thoughts of our hearts, but we are mistaken. The LORD is well acquainted with our hearts and minds (cf. Psalm 139:1-4). He knows our sins and evil deeds.
Nothing is hidden from His sight. Idols, on the other hand….
17 They have ears, but they do not hear; Nor is there any breath in their mouths.
Idols have ears…but they do not hear…not now, not ever.
- Adherents of Shintoism continue to ring bells in hope of waking their gods…but they will not hear, for they do not exist.
- The Prophets of Baal were convinced that their god existed. They danced and cried out around their sacrifice, even cutting themselves with knives in an effort to draw a response…but he did not hear, there was no answer (cf. 1 Kings 18:26-29). Baal was an idol, a nothing. He does not hear.
BUT the LORD does hear.
- He heard when the Israelites cried out to Him as slaves in Egypt (Exodus 2:23-25).
- He hears the prayers of those who call upon Him in Faith (cf. Psalm 34:17, 69:33).
So why is it that the gods of the nations do not speak, see or hear? The answer is given right here --
It is because there is no breath in their mouths. Go ahead; put your ear over the mouth of the idol, there is no breath because they are not alive. They aren’t just dead, they never lived. They do not exist except in the minds of men. They are literally -- nothings.
BUT…The LORD lives. He is the living God, whose very name means, “I AM.” The LORD lives and so did his prophets speak, saying -- “As the LORD lives…” (cf. 2 Samuel 22:47; Psalm 18:46…and 39 other places). The One True God, who gives life to all…is the Living God.
Those who trust in the LORD, relying upon the living and dying of Christ Jesus the Son of God have spiritual and eternal life. The fact that you understand what I’m talking about is for you personal proof that you have been given life by the Holy Spirit.
On the other hand, those who fashion and worship idols –
18 Those who make them are like them; So is everyone who trusts in them.
Idols…are unable to speak, much less speak the Truth; are unable to see; cannot hear and perceive; and are without life. They are dead and those who trust in them are also spiritually dead, without truth, spiritual sight, understanding or spiritual life (cf. Ephesians 2:12).
Why are we told these things, so that we laugh, gloat and point? Is it so that we are filled with self-satisfied pride? NO, a thousand times, no. Rather, we ought to give thanks to God that He has revealed Himself to us. For you see, the truth is that the True God reveals and defines Himself in His Word…we do not make or define Him. We ought to give thanks every day that He has revealed Himself to us. We ought to search His Word every day that we may be sure that our perceptions of Him line up with His revelation.
Because…people still make idols today. People, in our own country refuse to accept God’s own divinely inspired definition and revelation of Himself. They reject His Word and boldly define their own gods, saying: “Well, my god is bigger than that.”
Their gods will die with them, for they are nothings.
Why doesn’t Christianity die out? Why do people still remember and worship the Lord Jesus? What is it that is so different about Him? Let me direct you to the first two verses….
13 Your name, O Lord, endures forever, Your fame, O Lord, throughout all generations.
14 For the Lord will judge His people, And He will have compassion on His servants.
Why does the LORD’s name endure forever? Why His fame from generation to generation. It’s not because His name is etched in stone or found in among hieroglyphs in caves. There are two reasons why the LORD’s name will not be forgotten and His fame endures from generation to generation, and they are given in verse 14 --
The LORD will judge His people…
Now that doesn’t really sound like a reason to remember the LORD at first glance, does it? When we hear the word judge we think condemn. It’s a natural thought because of the fact that we are sinners who have sinned. Our own consciences tell us that we deserve death.
But the word translated ‘judge’ here means to vindicate, to plead for.
The Lord will vindicate His people. In fact, He already has vindicated His people. He sent His own son to take our sin and guilt upon Himself and to be judged and condemned in our place. By faith in His atonement we are justified, declared not guilty by the Judge…before we ever stand before the Judge.
The Lord’s Name and Fame endures because He has vindicated, justified His people…and because He will have compassion, pity, mercy on His servants.
The LORD has had mercy on us. He didn’t give us what we deserved…He gave it to Jesus. God has had mercy on us in Christ.
This is why His Name endures and why His fame endures from generation to generation. This is the One True God in whom we trust.
May He keep us in faith, in His name, through life and death as He did our fathers before us.