What God is like

Andrew Fountain
Sun, 2019-05-12
  • Can these both be true? and if so then how can we really be close to him?
  • Some parts of the Bible show God as really scary and other parts gentle and comforting.

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Sermon Outline - What God is like

Key points

  1. How God is different to us
  2. Qualities we share with God
  3. Our experience of God
  • First the Old Testatment, then the New

1. How God is different

  • All knowing
  • All powerful
  • Outside of time
  • Outside of space
  • Unchanging
  • Has no needs outside of himself

1. Old Testament

  • An Encounter with God in Ex 19–20

Exodus 19 & 20

  1. On the morning of the third day there were thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp trembled.
  2. Then Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they took their stand at the foot of the mountain.
  3. Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke because the LORD had descended on it in fire. The smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain trembled greatly.
  4. And as the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him in thunder.
  5. The LORD came down on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain. And the LORD called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up.

Exodus 20

  1. Now when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off
  2. and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die.
  3. Moses said to the people, “Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin.”
  4. The people stood far off, while Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was.


2. Qualities we share with God

  • Emotional
  • Knowable. Loving and Attaching
  • Faithful and trustworthy
  • Self-giving
  • Compassionate
  • Creative: loves beauty and artistry
  • Passionate about truth
  • Passionate about justice
  • Look at how there can be fear and love at the same time

Daniel 10

  1. On the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was standing on the bank of the great river (that is, the Tigris)
  2. I lifted up my eyes and looked, and behold, a man clothed in linen, with a belt of fine gold from Uphaz around his waist.
  3. His body was like beryl, his face like the appearance of lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and the sound of his words like the sound of a multitude.
  4. And I, Daniel, alone saw the vision, for the men who were with me did not see the vision, but a great trembling fell upon them, and they fled to hide themselves.
  5. So I was left alone and saw this great vision, and no strength was left in me. My radiant appearance was fearfully changed, and I retained no strength.
  6. Then I heard the sound of his words, and as I heard the sound of his words, I fell on my face in deep sleep with my face to the ground.
  7. And behold, a hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees.
  8. And he said to me, “O Daniel, man greatly loved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for now I have been sent to you.” And when he had spoken this word to me, I stood up trembling.


  • God is scary. Often today a tame God is preached.

Is God Safe?

  1. “Aslan is a lion—the Lion, the great Lion.”
  2. “Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”...
  3. “Safe?” said Mr Beaver ...“Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe.
  4. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
  5. —C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
  • How do we experience these two qualities at the same time—this is what I am interested in this morning
    • Do we destroy one at the expense of the other?
  • Hannah’s story

Hannah’s prayer: 1 Sam 2:1–8

  1. “There is none holy like the LORD; there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God.…
  2. Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.
  3. The bows of warriors are shattered, but those who stumble find their strength reinforced.
  4. The LORD makes poor and makes rich; he brings low and he exalts.
  5. He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honour…

2. New Testament

  • The Book of Hebrews starts by telling us something very interesting

Hebrews 1

  1. Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets,
  2. but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, [lit. in a Son-way] whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.
  3. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.
  • Jesus exemplified this compassion:

Jesus’ compassion

  • When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Matt 9:36
  • When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick. Matt 14:14
  • Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion on the crowd because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And I am unwilling to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.” Matt 15:32
  • Compassion not for people who were committed to him but to people in general.

Matthew 20

  1. And behold, there were two blind men sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was passing by, they cried out, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!”
  2. The crowd rebuked them, telling them to be silent, but they cried out all the more, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!”
  3. And stopping, Jesus called them and said, “What do you want me to do for you?”
  4. They said to him, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.”
  5. And Jesus in compassion touched their eyes, and immediately they recovered their sight and followed him.
  • One of Jesus’s main roles was to reveal to us the essential character of God

Luke 7

  1. As he drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and a considerable crowd from the town was with her.
  2. And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.”
  3. Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.”
  4. And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother.

3. Our experience of God

  • Awe and wonder
  • Fear
  • Comfort
  • Excitement and joy
  • Hope
  • Love and security

Jesus: Matthew 11

  1. Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
  2. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
  3. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
  • How should you respond to this?
    • Be aware of how awesome and scary God is
    • But somehow manage to hold this other quality of God in your mind
    • If you really get them both, then you won’t hesitate
    • Story of Augustus Toplady, 250 years ago
  • Jesus offers to be your shelter from the storm—run to him before it’s too late



Image source: NOAA

Rock of Ages

When I draw this fleeting breath
When my eyelids close in death
When I soar to worlds unknown
See thee on thy judgement throne
Rock of ages, cleft for me
Let me hide myself in thee

  • All of us should learn to hold these thing at the same time in our minds:

3. Our experience of God

  • Awe and wonder
  • Fear
  • Comfort
  • Excitement and joy
  • Hope
  • Love and security

Updated on 2019-05-12 by Andrew Fountain