Seeing God

Scripture: Isaiah 6:1, John 1:4-14, John 3:14-16
Date: 10/31/2013 
There are several steps in the process or formula of salvation. This first presentation of the series is about step number one which is to see God.
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Well, I'd like to welcome everybody to this special presentation we're doing called, "formula 4 faith." We're gonna be doing our best to understand the science of salvation. If you have your Bibles, invite you to turn to the book of Isaiah, and Isaiah is one of the best places to find the gospel in the old testament. Now, the conversion of Isaiah, who was this mighty prophet, ends up being a perfect template for how a person is saved. So if you turn to Isaiah chapter 6, it says in Isaiah 6, verse 1, "in the year that king uzziah died, I saw the Lord, "sitting on a throne, high and lifted up; "and the train of his robe filled the temple. "Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: "with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, "and with two he flew.

"And one cried to another and said: 'holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!' "And the posts of the door were shaken "by the voice of him who cried out, "and the house was filled with smoke. "Then I said: 'woe is me, for I am undone! 'Because I am a man of unclean lips, 'and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.' "Then one of the seraphim flew to me, 'having in his hand a live coal "that he had taken with tongs from the altar. "And he touched my mouth with it, and he said: 'behold, this has touched your lips; your iniquity is taken away, and your sin is purged.' "Also, I heard the voice of the Lord saying: 'whom shall I send, and who will go for us?' "Then I said, 'here am i! Send me.' And he said, 'go, tell this people.'" These passages summarize the whole sequence of salvation. You have a person who really begins with seeing God. They then see themselves.

They repent, they confess, they receive, and then they end up going for God. There are seven steps in the process or in the formula of salvation. Step number one is to see God, and that's our presentation for today. You know, typically when I ask a person, "what is the first thing you need to do to be saved?" Typical answers are-- what do you think? "Believe. You gotta see the problem.

You come to God," and they're all good answers, but there's a sequence, and the first step is they need to see God. What was the first thing that happened in Isaiah's conversion? He says, "in the year that king uzziah died, I saw the Lord." Seeing is one of your most important senses. I forget what it is, maybe 85%, 90% of what comes into your brain every day is coming through your sense of sight. Pictures are really a good way for us to learn. Jesus often taught with pictures, you know? He said, "a sower went forth to sow," or he said, "there was a man and he had two sons," and as he tells these stories, pictures crop up in your mind.

Am I the only one that you've got an ongoing picture screen in your head, and you're seeing things all the time as a person? Try not, right now, try not to think of a purple monkey with yellow polka dots climbing up a barber pole. Don't think of that, whatever you do. Now, how many of you still managed to think of a purple monkey in your mind? You saw it in your mind. What color were the polka dots? See, you're not supposed to see that. You saw it.

And he was climbing up a barber pole. What color was that? Do you know I never said red, white, and blue, did i? You filled in the colors. You saw that in your mind, 'cause the typical barber pole is red, white, and blue. And see, so we think in pictures, and sight is very important. One of the first steps in being saved is we need to see God.

You need to repent, but the Bible says the goodness of God leads us to repentance. And so before you even know what to repent of, you need to see God. You know, Jesus came to show us what God is like. He said, "if you've seen me, you've seen The Father." There's a lot of misunderstanding about what God is like. You know how often I have a person ask, "why is there such a difference "between the God of the old testament "and the God of the new testament? "It seems like Jesus is so loving and merciful and kind, "and the God of the old testament is vindictive and cruel, and there's so much violence.

" Have you ever heard this before? Really, that's a misunderstanding, because some of the best pictures of God's grace are in the old testament. In my Bible-reading this morning, I was reading where Elisha the prophet captured an entire army, and the King said, "shall I kill 'em now?" And Elisha said, "no, feed 'em. Give 'em something to drink. Let 'em go." What grace, you capture your enemy's army and you just feed 'em. Doesn't the Bible say you overcome evil with good? And then some of the most severe pictures of judgment are the seven last plagues, which are where, new or old testament? They're in the new testament.

And even in the new testament, you've got ananias and sapphira being struck dead because of their dishonesty. I mean, so this idea that the God of the old testament was somehow mean, but the God of the new testament is loving, it's the same God. It's the same Bible. Well, you know, Jesus came to show us that God is on your side. God, he loves you, and the first step in salvation is not just seeing God, it's seeing the love of God and it's seeing the glory of God.

Notice the context of how Isaiah says that he saw the Lord. He saw the Lord high and lifted up. He saw him in his glory. He saw him on his throne, surrounded with glory. He's wearing these billowing, glorious robes of light, and on his right and his left, you've got these majestic, powerful, angelic creatures called seraphim, and they're chanting, "holy, holy, holy.

" Why do you think they said "holy" three times? Probably for the threefold persons of the Godhead, God The Father, holy for The Father, holy for The Son, holy for the Holy Spirit. He sees God in his holiness, and by contrast, then he sees himself in his sinfulness. Isaiah was a great guy we'd probably all want to be part of our church, but after he saw God, he said, "woe is me. I am undone." In yiddish, the translation for that would be, "oy vey." You ever heard this before? You ever heard someone Jewish say, "oy vey ist mir"? It's like, "woe is me." So that's really what Isaiah says. But he doesn't see his badness until he gets a picture of God's goodness, 'cause it's the goodness of God that leads us to repentance.

You're gonna hear me repeat that. That's why it's so important to see God and to see him in the context of his holiness, to see him in his purity, to see him in his majesty. So much so, what are the angels doing? Are they gazing carelessly on God, or are they veiling their faces? These are holy angels that don't even dare to look upon God. Think about how big God is and how powerful God is and how expansive space is. Think that he not only made everything in our world, he made our solar system, he made our sun, but our sun is just one of millions of suns in the milky way galaxy, which is one little pinwheel galaxy out there in the billions of galaxies, most of which you can't see, even with a telescope.

I mean, space is limitless. They figure there are about as many galaxies out there as there are grains of sand on the beach. Think about how massive it is. And if you travel 186,000 miles per second, it takes you 4 years to get to the nearest sun in our one little galaxy. Think about how big space is.

God made all that, and the one who made all that became a man to save us. And you think about how holy he is, and then he tells us his will and we sin against his will? It should give us an idea of why we need to really get our lives in order. Carlos, you have a question? Isaiah chapter 6, as you referred, and also in Ezekiel 1, Daniel 7, and Revelation, it talks about these men of God seeing the throne of God and actually seeing God. What were they actually looking at, because it doesn't really go into a lot of details? You're right. In Isaiah 6, it talks about the Lord on his throne.

It talks about the train of his robe. Probably what Isaiah saw was something like the description of Jesus that you see in Revelation chapter 1, and I believe you also see a description in Daniel chapter 7. It talks about God, with his hair was like wool, his eyes were like a flame of fire, this glorious being that they struggled to describe. So I think he saw something like what the other prophets saw, but he really emphasized, you know, just the majesty and the light and the voice of God, and the angels, and the posts shaking. So I think he's just really talking about the awesomeness of it all.

But all of these prophets, when they saw God, said they felt like they died, you know? John cowered and the angel had to touch him, and Daniel fell down as though he was dead, or they become breathless, and so just being overwhelmed with the complete majesty of God. But I think he saw the form that they saw in Revelation 1. Now, as you look in the Bible, you're gonna see a number of examples of the importance of sight. The Bible says, "thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path." It gives us light, which is visual, right? It helps you see. Light helps you see.

The word helps you see. Matter of fact, I did a little study. Turn to John, the gospel of John, John chapter 1. I think I found there are about 30 references to light and sight in the first chapter. I'm just gonna jump through them quickly to illustrate how important seeing God is.

Verse 4, I'm in John chapter 1, verse 4, "in him was life, and the life was the light of men." Verse 5, "and the light shines in the darkness." Verse 7, "this man came to bear witness of the light." If you go to verse 8, "he was not that light, but he was sent to bear witness of the light." Go to verse 9, "he was the true light that gives light to every man that comes into the world." Jump to verse 14, "and the word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld," that's another visual term. You can go to verse 18, "no one has seen God at any time." Go to verse 29, "the next day John saw Jesus, and he said, 'behold! The lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world!'" What are you being asked to do when someone says behold something? Saying, "look at it." Why is he saying, "behold the lamb"? Because there is a conversion power in seeing God. All right, not done. Go down to verse 32, "I saw the Spirit descending." Verse 33, "whom you see." Verse 34, "I have seen." You go to verse 36, "and looking at Jesus, he said again, 'behold the lamb of God.'" Go to verse 39, "he said, 'come and see,'" is what Jesus said. "'Come and see.

' And they came and saw." Verse 42, "Jesus looked at them." And you can see, verse 46, "come and see." Verse 37, "Jesus saw," and it says, "'behold, an Israelite.'" Verse 48, "I saw you." And again, verse 50, "I saw you. You will see." And then again verse 51, "you will see heaven open, "and angels of God ascending and descending on The Son of man." Look at all these references to the visual side of our characters. Now, can we find some other examples of this in the Bible? When you look at the story of Peter walking on the water with Jesus--how many of you remember that story? The disciples are out rowing across the sea one night. Jesus had sent them across the sea. A big wind comes up.

The wind is against them. They're out in the middle of the sea of Galilee, it's dark, the water's coming in, they're not making any progress, and then they look out across the water, and I don't know if there was moonlight or a lightning flash, but they see this apparition. And they cry out in terror, and they scream. And then they hear a voice speak to 'em and say, "don't be afraid. It's me.

" And they recognized Jesus' voice. Peter said, "lord, if that's you, invite me to come to you on the water." And Jesus said, "come." And so Peter, you know, the boat's rocking and the wind is howling, and he says, "boy, you know, I'd like to walk on water. That would be really something." So he steps out of the boat and got his eyes fixed on Jesus, and he steps out of the boat and feels something firm under his feet. Takes the other foot out of the boat and thinks, "wow, this is something." And so he's got his eyes fixed on Jesus. He begins to walk towards Jesus, and somewhere halfway to Jesus, he thinks, "I wonder if my buddies are videotaping this.

"No one's gonna believe this. I want to make sure they're taking this in." And so he looks back to say, "hey, guys, you see this?" But as soon as he takes his eyes off Jesus, what happens? Takes his eyes off Jesus, and he stops seeing Jesus, who is the answer, now he starts seeing the wind and the waves, and Peter had been around the water all his life. He knows that you're out in the middle of a water without floaties, you're gonna sink. As he's just about to go down, he utters the shortest prayer in the Bible, which is, "lord, save me." I told you salvation can be simple. "Lord, save me," and what does Jesus do? Comes over.

He reaches out, I mean, Peter's head probably just gone under, you know? Jesus gets a hold of his hand and as soon as Jesus' hand touched him, it's like an elevator caught ahold of Peter's feet and lifted him back up out of the water again, and they walked back to the boat together. And he said, "why did you doubt?" When did Peter begin to sink? When he took his eyes off of Jesus. The key to conversion and the key to victorious living is to fix your eyes on Jesus. You've gotta have your eyes on the goal. It's all about seeing God.

What brought about the conversion of Paul? Acts chapter 9. How's Paul converted? He was Saul back then. He later became the apostle Paul. He had a vision of what? He saw this light and he heard Jesus' voice, and later he learned that light was Jesus. And that was the beginning.

Seeing Jesus was the beginning of his conversion. You remember the little guy who climbed the tree? What was his name? Zacchaeus. What brought about his conversion? Why did he climb the tree? He wanted to see Jesus. And is Jesus God? By the way, was zacchaeus converted that day? It began with seeing Jesus. The thief on the cross.

You know, there's two thieves, one on the right and one on the left. We think the one on the right is the one who said, "lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom." And was he saved? Did Jesus promise him, "verily I say to you today, you will be with me in paradise," so he's gonna be saved. What began his conversion? He saw Christ, didn't he? He not only saw Jesus, he saw Jesus lifted up, and that brought about his conversion. You know what the most famous verse is in the Bible? You're saying John 3:16. That is the most famous verse among Christians, but you know the most famous verse worldwide? "Judge not.

" Everyone says it, "do not judge," and they usually say that when you're gonna criticize 'em or something. But you're right, the most famous verse is John 3:16. Most people don't know John 3:14 and 15. And it says here in verse 14, John 3:14, "as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, "even so must The Son of man be lifted up, "that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life." So when he says, "as Moses lifted up the serpent," what's he referring to? Some of you remember the experience that you find in the book of Numbers. Children of Israel are going through the wilderness, and they get tired of eating bread all the time.

They're getting manna, and the manna was good. It said it tasted like angel food, but you eat it, you know, they had manna cereal in the morning, and they had manna sandwiches for lunch, and they had, you know, manna burgers at night. I mean, I don't know, they were saying, "manna, manna, manna," and they got so tired of the manna and they said, you know, "wish we were back in Egypt. "Wish we could have some of the onions and the fish by the river," and they began to complain. And so the Bible says the Lord removed his protection and a plague of serpents went in among the children of Israel.

And I don't know, it may have turned out this was the season. You know, there's a time in the spring where snakes, certain types of snakes actually hatch out and swarm, and they had got warm and they all swarmed out of their pits, and these were venomous serpents, and they were going up among the children of Israel and they were getting bit and they were dying. They went to Moses and they said, "save us," you know? Obviously something's gone wrong. And you notice that when you complain about God's manna, the serpents come in? This is the bread. When people stop being satisfied with the bread of life and they start going after other bread, the bread of Egypt, the serpents come in.

Anyway, so God told Moses, "take a serpent, put it on a pole, "make it of bronze, and lift it up above the people. "And whenever people look and believe, they will be healed from the venom of the serpent." And so he did that. He made a bronze serpent. He put it on a pole. He lifted it up.

When they were told to look at this serpent on a pole, it represented to them the serpent is defeated. And when Jesus hung upon the cross, what does that represent? The serpent--the venom of the serpent will be neutralized. Because if they're bit by one of these venomous serpents, they were gonna die unless they looked at this bronze serpent that had been lifted up. That's why Jesus said, "as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, "so The Son of man will be lifted up, "that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life." Jesus says that part twice, you know. And so this is why Jesus died.

But you notice the visual part of it? "Lifted up," why lifted up? Why do we raise a flag? So people can see it. So it's in a position of visibility. When you exalt something, you put it up where it's in a position of visibility. And so Christ needed to be lifted up. It says that Isaiah saw the Lord high and lifted up.

You notice it says that he saw the Lord in the year that king uzziah died. For Christians, who is your king? Who is the Lord of lords and the King of Kings? Who has that written on their thigh in Revelation when they come? It's Jesus, right? And so we need to see the Lord in the year that our king died. So it's not just seeing the life of Jesus. The greatest power is seeing Christ lifted up. And when was Jesus lifted up? At the cross.

Where do we best see the love of God? Isn't it at the cross? Where do you best see how terrible sin is? When you see how much was paid for it. It's at the cross. You not only at the cross see the power of Christ's love, at the cross you see the devil's love for power. At the cross, you hear the mob shouting, "crucify him, crucify him," and you hear Jesus saying, "father, forgive them." And it's at the cross we see what he's doing for you and me. So in seeing the Lord in his holiness and seeing him also in his humiliation, "in the year that our king died, I saw the Lord, high and lifted up.

" You know, there's this verse in the Bible, 2 Corinthians 3:18, "but we all, with unveiled face, "beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, "are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord." You become like what you look at. Our souls-- God made us so that our souls are something of a photographic plate. It's how we learn. We're impressed with the things that we learn. We're also impressed by the people that we meet.

My mother was quite a character. She was an actress, as well as a songwriter. Whenever she got on the phone-- she had friends all over the country--she began-- we always knew who she was talking to by what happened to her voice when she picked up the phone. I don't know if she did it subconsciously or consciously just for her own entertainment, but she would mimic the voice and the nuances of whoever she was talking to. So if she got a call from one of her friends in england, all of a sudden my mother had an english accent.

Or if she got a call from one of her friends down, that had a southern accent from Alabama or Mississippi, all of a sudden, mom was a southern belle. And as soon as she picked up the phone, my brother and I'd look at each other and say, "ah, she's talking to casey. Ah, she's talking to this person," because she just took on whoever she was talking to. We're all kind of that way a little bit. You ever seen one of these stories where a baby duck is born, or a goose, and its mother's not around, but the farm dog is there? And the little gosling begins to follow around the dog, and it thinks that the dog's its mother? They call it imprinting.

There's a few key hours after it comes out of the egg. It's peeping and it looks around and it's going, "what is my purpose in life? Who am i?" And it looks around, and if it sees a person, it'll start following the person around. Now, we're a little like that in that our souls become impressed with what we look at. We become like what we look at. We begin to reflect what we look at.

Now, if that's true, how important is it that we don't watch the wrong thing? That's why king David said, "I will set no evil thing before my eyes." And we're changed by what we behold. "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will," what? "They will see God." And if we're gonna see God, the Lord wants us to have that purity of heart. It's so important that we keep Jesus before us because we will become like what we look at. That's why idolatry is such a dangerous thing and there's a commandment against it. Because when we make these, you know, nasty idols of the frogs and cows and stuff, and people worship that stuff, you become like what you worship.

And if we worship Jesus, we become like Jesus. Think we have another question over here. Yes, Pastor Doug, how do we see God today? Good question. The way that we see the Lord is--there's a number of ways. One is through the things that he made.

You know, God can be seen in creation. And when we look at the world around us, even though it's somewhat tainted by the curse of sin, there's so much beauty and there's so much glory in the creation that it just tells us something about the goodness of God and the love of God and the provision of God. The Bible tells us that when we look at the heavens and the things that he has made, and even ourselves, we think, you know, "what is man that God is mindful of him, or The Son of man that you visit him?" So we see God through creation. We see God through His Word. the Lord reveals himself through His Word.

That's why Jesus said, "if any man has seen me, he's seen The Father." When we look at Christ, the life of Christ, how Jesus interacted with other people, The Father's revealing himself and we can really see God in the face of Jesus. We also see God, and God speaks to us, through providence. Have you ever had something happen in your life, and you say, "that was a God thing." You just say, "that could not have been an accident." So we see God in the providential happenings. Sometimes it's in his protection. Sometimes it's in the way he provides for us miraculously at the right moment.

So we see God that way, and sometimes we see God in other people. When you see a person and they are totally lost and sold out to the devil, and all of a sudden they go through a dramatic conversion, and now they're on fire, their lives are holy, they've given up their addictions, they're living for God, you say, "wow, I can see God now in that person." So there's a number of ways we see God. Principally we see God through His Word, and that's really through Jesus. The word became flesh and came to reveal The Father. Good question.

You know, there's another very important thing, a verse we already alluded to. It tells us in John 1:26, the disciples came to Jesus and they said, "lord, where are you staying?" He said, "come and see. Come and see." When you come to Jesus, that's the first step also, really, in seeing him. And then even in the ongoing Christian life, it's like Peter. If we take our eyes off Jesus, we start to sink.

The only way that we can really live that victorious life is we've gotta keep our eyes fixed upon Jesus. So we're gonna be talking about the formula for faith, and what are the steps to salvation. What must I do to be saved? Today we've talked about step number one. What is that? Seeing God. How many of you want to say, "lord, by your help, I want to see Jesus"? Is that your prayer? I hope that's the desire and the prayer of those who are watching as well.

Thank you very much.

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