Dear Father in heaven: how glorious and majestic is Your name! And how thankful we are to know You as our Lord, our Creator, our Savior in the person of Jesus Christ, and the Bestower of our faith in the person of the Holy Spirit. May we never attempt to define or create Your goodness or will in our image. May we never become so perverse that we ignore the eternal truths that You reveal to us about Yourself in the Bible. Because if we do, we’ll end up worshipping our faith instead of honoring You. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM GOD THE FATHER, GOD THE SON, AND GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT!
TEXT: Exodus 20: 2-6: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of their fathers to the 3rd and 4th generation of those who hate me, but showing love to thousands who love me and keep my commandments.”
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
Why is the first commandment first? Why did God see fit to place it in the most prominent position of all the other commandments? You know the answer. Without knowing exactly Who God really is, what He has done for us, and what He expects of us all the rest of the commandments become suggestions dependent upon our whims. Without the majestic, over-arching holy power of God behind them, they are emptied of any sacred meaning.
Recently one of our members visited an area Lutheran church belonging to the liberal synod, the ELCA. He came back from that visit a little shaken. It seems in the Lord’s Prayer they have adopted the modern feminist language of inclusion which begins that prayer: “Our father mother who is in heaven.” When he told me about this, I replied: “That blasphemy.” He agreed. And it spawned this sermon in which I need to remind you that:
GOD’S NAME IS NOT OPEN TO DEBATE
All people are born with the natural knowledge that there really is a God. Paul makes that very clear in the opening chapters of Romans and it is reiterated throughout the Bible in many other areas. However, that natural knowledge doesn’t tell us Who God really is or what He has planned or done for us. It doesn’t tell us that He is kind, loving, forgiving, generous, or what He has done to save us. Natural knowledge doesn’t define God. We don’t define God—otherwise we’d be god, wouldn’t we? No, God defines Himself. And He does that throughout the Bible. And in every instance He is never the “mother” of creation, He is the Father. This is unique to Christianity. For in all those other heathen cultures and religions the “mother earth” feminization of God is seen.
Now we know that God is sexless in that He is a Spiritual Being. But that doesn’t mean He is genderless. If He was, won’t He refer to Himself as an “it”? Likewise, when taking on our flesh to save us, God didn’t come as a little girl. He took on maleness because it reflected His essential nature. Additionally, when He created the first human being, He made Adam, a man, in order reflect His image whereas Eve was made from man—that is literally what “woman” means.
Is your name important to you? Is your gender important to you? Of course it is! It defines you. Surely if the “Boston Globe” started referring to Patricia Ireland, the head or former head of the National Organization of Women, NOW, as “he” Ms. Ireland would be incensed. So would any of our women here if that happened to them. That’s because it would be a false identification. The reverse is true of any men here, as well. And if a major news organization labeled you an “it,” well, that would denigrate you, too. Proper identification of God is important. It is vital. For to define Him in our image according to our whims of social/political correctness mocks Him, just as it would each of you.
Listen to a few passages: Jeremiah 10:10: “The Lord is true God; he is the living God, the eternal King.” Matthew 28:19: “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Psalm 115: 3-4: “Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him. But their idols are silver and gold, made by the hands of men.” Or how about when Christ says in John 10:30: “I and the Father am One.” Or when Jesus prays for us on the cross and says: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”?
You might wonder right now: well, what about women in the Bible? Doesn’t Scripture use the term: “mother, or she, or her” to define holy relationships? Yes, it does! In fact, those terms are applied to us, regardless of gender, who are members of the Holy Christian Church. The Church is Christ’s Bride. She is special to Him. So special and beloved that He laid down His life to save her. She is His beloved wife that He has adorned with the fruits of the Holy Spirit. She, we, have an intimate union with Him born not of sex but of faith and holiness which give birth to the Spirit’s gifts. So even in that example, we see that God dare not be defined as a “she” because to do so makes our marriage to Him homosexual in nature which is against His will.
Dr. Luther addresses this modern, pagan view of the Lord’s Prayer (father/mother) in his explanation to the 1st commandment when he asks: “Of what do people make false gods?” His answer is: “People make idols of themselves, other persons and other created things.” Trying to define God in terms of our sin-tainted, limited human reason is really creating an idol. If we define God in terms we find more appealing that’s an idol. It’s a “mind idol” instead of a golden one, but an idol nonetheless. And having faith in our man-made idea of God is really nothing more than having faith in our own faith—another idol. And yes, I believe many people today end up worshiping their own conception of God and thus themselves instead of honoring the blessed Trinity.
My friends, don’t be sucked into that hellish vacuum! Don’t take God’s holy name and turn it into something it is not. Don’t spit in His face by telling Him that you know better than He does when it comes to His holy name. We need to take God’s name seriously. After all, doesn’t the Psalmist say: “How majestic is your name in all the earth?” Doesn’t the psalmist say: “Sing to God, sing praise to his name?” And doesn’t David write in Ps. 23: 3: “He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake?” His name’s sake is Jesus Christ. It is love and forgiveness in action. It is salvation won for us on a bloody cross. To pray to or honor Him by any other name is idolatry and blasphemy. To offer sacrifices to any other name is hellish. As Paul writes in I Cor. 10:20: “The sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons and not to God.” Let us pray that misguided people may have their minds opened and realize that God’s Name is not open to debate. And let us rejoice in having a loving Father, a forgiving Son, and a comforting Holy Spirit Who all combine their work to both make us holy and keep us holy! Amen