The sermon


I have some thoughts to get down, and this is just revision in writing about God, to dust off my keyboard and take a break in the afternoon to talk about sovereignty, the one key grain running through my whole life.

This is the article I have put off writing for years, because it is so important to me I desperately want to get it right. This is the idea at the core of one of the few sermons I desperately wish I could preach, one of the burning long-term passions I long to have opportunity and skill to tell the world in its fullest form. Realistically, I’ll be rewriting this constantly through my whole life, so I may as well make a first iteration now. Treat this like I treat my jottings, conversations, and emails older than yesterday: cringe-makingly puerile and underdeveloped, left undestroyed for their single merit of genuinely chronicling my childhood.

For me, this is not just some sermon, but the sermon, the quintessential sermon, the only sermon. What is it to know Jesus as Lord?

God is mighty, above everything else. He has no bounds, nor is bound by any standard other than his own excellence. The Father’s purposes are pure and perfect, infallible and infrustrable, altogether wholesome and righteous. His knowledge is clean and fresh, and the source of wisdom, his Word which has made the round world and all that is in, goes out before him and approves what is holy. His very own Son and exact representation of his glory is indeed the king most high, ruling on his throne, yet glorifies his Father who purposed that these things should always be. His own Spirit is blameless, active, loving, and quickens every place and instant with movement and meaning. There is no corner where there is not the presence and knowledge and power of the Spirit of the Lord.

God is mighty, and owns us. Our hearts, wills, voluntarity; our knowledge, perceptions, judgements; our loves, sorrows, and circumstances are bound up in his hand. There is no seclusion of our mind or inwardness of our sensibilities where his rule does not extend, nor factor, force, or contingency where we slip through the powerful grasp of his arm.

We dream of pasts which never happened, and worlds which were never created, setting ourselves above his all-sufficient and comfortable decrees. We desire what is not ours, nor ours to desire, placing our tastes and flirtatious whims above his noble wishes. We seek to own and rule knowledge, arbitrating what is right and wrong, pure and degrading, true or false, when his word, more sound than any logic or rhetoric of our own devising, is to ground our every distraction and endeavour. In concupiscence, we enact what is gross, immoral, and degrading, in all of these things.

Yet God in his love did not leave us without hope. In his self-giving love he sent his very own Son to bear the punishment for these our sins of waywardness of life and action, of heart and desire, of will and judgement. If today you do not harden your hearts, as at Massah and Meribah in the wilderness, then it is ours to call him Lord. Today, his call is on every nation to turn to him in repentance. Today, we are to commit for the first time or anew our lives to his rule, knowing that God’s just wrath was satisfied on the cross and the mighty God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel may allow even us into his presence.

Know Jesus as Lord, because every moment of life depends on it. There is only one doctrine of Christianity, only one act of faith, and only one supreme worship which is ours to offer, which we find by laying down our lives as no longer ours, but his, because he has bought us and fashions us to turn to his brightness as our centre and focus. That doctrine is the purpose of the Father in creation and redemption, the sovereignty of the Lord, and the joyful orientation of our hearts to him by his Spirit. That act of faith is the dislocation of the core of our being from our control to his only-sufficient ownership. That act of worship is the commitment of our all to his rule.

There is no knowledge which we can so cherish as to keep its foundation in our grasp, and which is not made more rich and true by subversion to Jesus’ authority. No grasp of history, of truth, of morality; nor conception of beauty, of what is wholesome, of what is good; nothing at all in our minds does not find its place in the riches of his understanding, and that part of which he has revealed in his word and declared to be sufficient for our needs and abundantly complete.

There is no affection or desire, no hope which we hold of the past, present, and future which is not made right by dedication to him. Our instinct is to cling to grievances and paint a picture of the past as we want it to have been; our impulse is to claim as our right the conduct of the world towards us today; our longing is to place our hope in the future as we deem it right to unfold. The Lord though gives and takes away, submits us to suffering. “Yet only if you will” is the heart of our peace as we lose our insufficient self-sufficiency in his all-sufficient sovereignty. No disappointment of death, of loneliness, of rejection which grows stifling hopes for what is not ours to hope, no pain at all, is not healed by the gut-wrenching act of faith, the moment calm or tearful when we name him Lord in trust of the Father’s purposes, the Lord’s death to bring us before the outpouring of God’s love, and the Spirit’s effectuality to quicken each still-diseased and dead limb.

Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God the Father and rules on high, in the power of the Spirit. Today, if we do harden our hearts, we may enjoy the full blessing of inviting him to seize every share and portion of our lives over which the pretender of our flesh stakes a claim.