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Sermon 5/23/10
1 Kings 8:27 - Uncontainable

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Sermon 5/23/10 – 1 Kings 8:27 – Uncontainable

Uncontainable

"But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built!” (1 Kings 8:27)

King Solomon, for all his God-given wisdom, made a lot of mistakes, but he did some things quite well. He built a beautiful temple as led by the Lord, and today’s Scripture is taken from the lengthy, wonderful prayer he uttered when that temple was dedicated. In his prayer he asked the question: "But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain You; how much less this house that I have built!” (1 Kings 8:27). He saw that the temple in Jerusalem, which came to be regarded by some as one of the “seven wonders of the world,” was actually just a building made by human hands. The Lord directed it to be built, but it’s time for us to understand that God is greater than any building, any thought, any human action. He is God and He is not limited in any way.

Have you thought about the religious arguments that God’s people have with one another? They’ve been at it for centuries, millennia, and it’s still happening. In Jesus’ last recorded time of prayer, He asked “that they (God’s people) might be ONE as We are” (John 17:11). And He continued in Verse 21 of that Chapter, “that they all may be ONE, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.” Do you see it? One reason that many in the world do not believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, is because we in the Church try to contain Him with our words and then argue about it, just like religions all over the world. We divide with other Christians on the basis of doctrine, theology, feelings, convictions, differences about baptism and communion, and more. God is unlimited in all His abilities and ways, but we are not. What we really need to do is receive His "agape," unlimited love through TRUSTING in God's Son.

Please note this: We cannot contain God within our ideas about Him. He is greater than our doctrinal understanding of His Holy Word. He is larger, more beautiful and more wonderful than our minds can conceive. He is Almighty God. As it is stated within a popular Christian song, He is “Uncontainable,” or you might say He is “Unlimited.” He is greater than any philosophy of life we might devise. He is far beyond any theological ideas about Him. He is God and He proved it by His victory over sin and death.

Here’s a quote mentioned before by Henry Van Dyke, a professor of literature at Princeton University, and later a U.S. ambassador to the Netherlands and Luxembourg: “I am standing upon the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength. I stand and watch her until at length she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other. Then, someone at my side says; 'There, she is gone!' 'Gone where?' Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side and she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port. Her diminished size is in me, not in her. And just at the moment when someone at my side says, 'There, she is gone!' There are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices ready to take up the glad shout; 'Here she comes!' And that is dying.” Because of God's victory, what we call “death” is merely a relocation from one place to another.

God is ministering to us right now in ways too great for us to understand. Trust in Him, for He is the Victor, even over death, even over our sins. Death could not contain the uncontainable Son of God and it cannot hold those who trust in Him. Weep because of your loss, weep because of sin, but also rejoice because Jesus has brought life out of death and pardon for those who have done wrongs both great and small.

A while ago, my daughter sent me a present. It was a leather-bound copy of an English Bible translation I did not previously have – “The Reformation Study Bible,” with R. C. Sproul as the General Editor. This Bible is special – not only because it’s from my daughter and she imprinted my name on it, but it also contains some wonderful study notes by Dr. Sproul. Within 1st Chronicles Chapter 29 is a section called “The Greatness of God,” which is right on point for today’s sermon. He observed: “God is great… greater than we can grasp. Theology states this truth by describing Him as ‘incomprehensible’ – not that He is irrational or illogical, so as to prevent us from following His thoughts at all, but that our minds cannot contain Him, because He is infinite and we are finite… our Creator is above us, and it is beyond our power to take His measure.” His word, “incomprehensible,” is not unlike “uncontainable,” today’s sermon title.

Dr. Sproul continued, “… By analogy, the form and substance of a parent’s baby-talk bears no comparison with the full contents of the parent’s mind, which might be expressed in conversation with another adult; but still the child receives true information about the parent from the baby-talk, and responds with growing love and trust. This is why the Creator presents Himself to us anthropomorphically, as having a face… ears… and eyes… or as having feet… sitting on a throne… flying on the wind… These are not descriptions of what God is in Himself but of what He is to us: the transcendent Lord who relates to His people as Father and Friend. God comes to us in this way to draw us out in love and trust, even though in a way we are always like little children who understand only in part (1 Corinthians 13:12).

There’s a Scripture in Isaiah Chapter 55, mentioned in previous sermons. It reads like this: “’My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts’” (Isaiah 55:8-9). During my years as a younger man when I ran from the love of God in Christ Jesus, I was seeking a “philosophy” of life. I wanted to BE something and I did not yet understand that in order for any of us to become what we should be in life, we need the Lord. We can only become whole when the infinite Lord is in us and we are in Him.

There is a certain COMPLETION for those who have a truly good marriage, and yes, such marriages do exist. The feeling is that you are somehow, inexplicably but wonderfully COMPLETE because the two are “one.” You can see God’s original intention and promise for marriage in places like Genesis 2:24 and Matthew 19:5 – “A man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” It is indeed possible, especially if both of the spouses have the Lord in their hearts and let Him into their marriage as well. His love in us will enable such a marriage to exist because we become willing to be complete in Him, in our uncontainable Lord.

King Solomon, as reflected in today’s verse, built many beautiful buildings, though the greatest was the Temple he was dedicating to the Lord, as seen in today’s Scripture. Solomon, for all of his flaws, realized that God cannot be contained in a building, anymore than He can be captured by our ideas. He is greater than our theology, our thoughts about Him. His salvation in Christ Jesus is greater than our failures. He is more magnificent than any “work” we might do, and He has triumphed over our sin and shame. He has the victory, even over death. Will you place your trust in Him? Your life is not “gone” as reflected upon by Henry Van Dyke. You need new life. You need the Lord who cares for you with His infinite love.

Father, I confess that I have tried far too often to live this life in my own strength instead of trusting in Your Son. Forgive me, Lord. I trust in You now. In Jesus Name. Amen.

 

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