The Goodness of God — Part One
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The Goodness of God — Part One

Nehemiah 9:6–15  (ID: 1739)

Faced with the difficult proposition of reconciling the goodness of God with terrible circumstances, our culture reasons that God is either not powerful enough to exert His goodness or not good enough to exert His power. Alistair Begg realigns our perception by showing that God’s Word demonstrates God’s goodness through creation and election. God’s goodness rightly understood stimulates our humble love for God and others.

Series Containing This Sermon

A Study in Nehemiah, Volume 2

God’s Word for Our Good Nehemiah 8:1–9:37 Series ID: 11602

Encore 2010

Selected Scriptures Series ID: 25901

Sermon Transcript: Print

I invite you to take your Bibles once again, and let’s turn back to Nehemiah and to the ninth chapter.

With your Bibles open on your laps, let’s seek God’s help as we come to study these verses:

As we have sought to give you praise, our Lord and God, so we now seek to hear your voice. Your voice alone we seek to hear. And so we pray that you will take this written Word and make it alive to us. Open our hearts to receive it. Take our minds, and help us to be alert and attentive. Take my words, and grant that they may be your voice in these moments. For your name’s sake we ask it. Amen.

In coming to these verses in Nehemiah chapter 9, we’re back at the material that we had begun to study three weeks ago. And as you have perhaps read it in preparation or certainly have listened to these particular verses being read moments ago, one of the questions which may come to your mind is simply this: Why would we ever decide that it might be profitable to take time in reviewing what is essentially a substantial chunk of the history of ancient Israel? Because that’s largely what we’re dealing with throughout the whole of chapter 9. Why would we ever determine to take the time… After all, we’re dwellers in the late twentieth century. We have plans and ambitions, places to go and people to meet. Why would it ever be profitable to stop and engage in what is essentially a history lesson?

Because after all, many of us hated history at school to begin with, and we were very, very glad when that chapter of our lives closed and we were able to move on. It seems that that was particularly so of men. I don’t know why that would be. And if you’re not one of those men, then that’s okay. Neither am I. But many men tell me they hated history at school, largely because, I think, we were convinced of the kind of cynical notion that history teaches us that history teaches us nothing and that there is really very little purpose in spending time stumbling and bumbling around, as it were, in the past. And the fact that it’s biblical history does not immediately change our view in relationship to that.

Now, the question is not simply a rhetorical question; it is a realistic question: Why would we ever do this? After all, you may have come by invitation this morning, not knowing exactly what to expect. And you have gone through this first part, you heard the reading, and upon the immediate response to it, it is to say, “Whatever this means, it presumably doesn’t mean very much to me.” And Charles Haddon Spurgeon recalls in his biography that when he was a young man, he was subjected to a series of studies in the epistle of the Hebrews, which he said, presumably meant something to the Hebrews, because it sadly bored one poor gentle lad called Charles—namely himself.[1]

Now, the answer to the question is simply this: that a knowledge of this particular history gives us a framework of theology. “Oh, goodness gracious!” says somebody. “That doesn’t take me very far! From history, which I don’t really like, to theology, which I don’t really know anything about.”

Well, theology—we need to demythologize theology and just explain what we’re talking about when we use the word. Theology is essentially an understanding of the relationship between God and man and the universe. So it’s the kind of issues that we are constantly confronted with as we live our lives. Theology addresses and answers the questions “Who am I, where did I come from, where am I going, and does it matter?” Theology addresses the issues of “Where did this universe come from, why does it exist, and is there any purpose in the future for it?”

Now, any thoughtful person addresses themselves to these issues, sometimes in a formal way in a class of moral philosophy, but more often than not simply in the ebb and flow of our lives. We have occasion when we drive past a cemetery as we’re driving in the car on our own, and we look at all of those tombstones, and it triggers thoughts in our minds that have to do with “Why do I exist, where am I going, does it matter?” and so on. And so a knowledge of this history will allow us, then, to establish a theology.

“Ah, but,” says somebody, “that really doesn’t take me much further. Because what possible relevance is there in theology? After all, shouldn’t we be more concerned in spending our time with the practicalities of life?” Of course, that presupposes that any knowledge of the things of God and how it relates to our lives and to the universe is somehow impractical information, when in point of fact, I want to show you that it is the most practical of information. Indeed, for individuals to take the kind of approach to life which is to say, “Don’t confuse me with any thoughts about design or plan or theology; let me just get on with my days,” is akin to inviting somebody to come into your home and do some remodeling work without them producing any kind of schematic design or plan. They just show up one morning with the hammers and saws and chisels and various implements of destruction, and you say to them, “Choose a section of the house and go at it!” Now, it’s just a ridiculous notion! And yet, you see, this is the same kind of naivete that is attached to the thinking of people when they say, “I don’t want to be bothered with learning all of this teaching and this theology and these things. Just give me the practical things and let me on with life.”

I want you to understand, loved ones, that if you don’t have a theology which is biblical, you have no scheme of reckoning by which to understand yourselves, make sense of your family, constrain your marriage, teach your children, go about your days. It all hinges or is founded upon the right kind of knowledge of God.

Theology is essentially an understanding of the relationship between God and man and the universe.

Those of you who have read the book by J. I. Packer—which is arguably going to be his best-known and best-loved, the book entitled Knowing God, which begins with those immense words in the introduction, “As [all] clowns yearn to play Hamlet, so I have [longed] to write a treatise on God.”[2] What a first sentence in a book, huh? And it just gets better and better. Now, if you’ve read the book, you may recall that in his introduction, he establishes the reason for his writing. If you haven’t, you would do well to purchase this book and to set it as a task throughout the remainder of 1994 as something of an exercise that will be most profitable. But in his introduction, he says, “The conviction behind this book is that ignorance of God—ignorance both of his ways and of the practice of communion with him—lies at the root of much of the church’s weakness today.”[3] The absence, if you like, of muscle within the church, the absence of vibrancy and fluidity of movement, Packer says, can be traced to the fact that there is a generation growing up without a knowledge of God.

And certainly, the people who are the most dangerous are those who are the most clueless. I mean, you walk along the beach, the Atlantic shore, with some of those characters with those fishing rods, and you’re starting to get them in your gaze 40, 50, 150 yards before you reach them, if you’re sensible. Because many of them are down there for the one occasion in the year—in certain cases, the one occasion in their lives—where they’re going to do this offshore fishing rigmarole. Now, the seasoned and the able you need have no concern with. But the clueless? Those things go fleeing all over the place, with the hooks are going… And you need to be making a wide berth around these characters, ’cause they’re clueless! The fact that they want to fish and that they have the equipment to fish does not mean that they know how to fish. Some of them don’t know what to do with the thing if it ever jumps up and bites the jolly little thing. ’Cause then again you need to avoid them; the thing is flapping all around, all over the place. So they got maybe a book on fishing, they got a fishing rod, they got a desire to fish, they got a place to fish, and they set out to fish, and they’re clueless, and it is chaos. You got the people, they say, “Well, I want to be religious. I got a book about religion. I want to try and be religious. I want to do some religious things. I want to get involved in the thing.” And they’re totally clueless.

Packer, he says,

The modern way … is to set [God] at a distance, if not to deny him altogether; and the irony is that modern Christians, preoccupied with maintaining religious practices in an irreligious world, have [allowed themselves] … to become remote [from God].[4]

Now, that may seem like a lot of verbiage. Let me just distill it for you. He’s saying this: that men and women have become preoccupied with maintaining religious practices in a world that is irreligious while personally being remote from God.

Now, let’s put that in the most concrete of terms. Who are these people? They are the people who come regularly to church on a Sunday, and it means absolutely zero in terms of practice, implication, knowledge of the Scriptures, witnessing for the next six days. Their neighbors and their friends never hear from them about Christ. Their neighbors and their friends never discover from them what it is that makes them tick. All that our neighbors and friends know is that somehow or another, we’re involved with a group of people that is consumed, preoccupied, with maintaining religious practices in a world that is irreligious. But we do not personally know God. That seems to me to be the most facile and futile of all ways in which to spend one’s life.

So, all of that by way of introduction to this chapter, which I want to suggest to you is vital. It’s not all cherries and whipped cream, but you know your mother told you that you can’t have cherries and whipped cream all the time. You remember she told you, “Eat your broccoli,” “Eat your vegetables,” “You must have your greens,” and all those kind of little statements. Why?

“Well, I hate them.”

“Yes, but I want you to grow up strong. Drink your milk.”


“So your bones won’t fade away.”


Now, my task, you see, in opening up the Scriptures—and I like to remind myself of this with frequency—is not to come up here and talk about things that will ring your bells, wind your clocks, float your boats. My responsibility is to come up here and, having studied the Bible, explain the Bible—a lot of vegetables, a varied diet, not all immediately attractive, not all immediately beneficial, not all immediately responded to with grace and with kindness, but all absolutely necessary.

Because you see, dear ones, I want you to grow up strong. I want to know, as Peter says, “that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things.”[5] You will be grounded and stabilized in the knowledge of Scripture so that in a world of changing values and shifting shadows, you may stand when others stumble.

Now, it is with that in mind that we come, then, this morning to what is essentially a description, a great panorama, of God’s goodness—the goodness of God. And we’re going to be considering the goodness of God over these next couple of weeks or so. I had a beginning thought that maybe we would go zipping through chapter 9, and then it was like walking through, and now we’re starting to crawl through, it would seem—but hopefully profitably.

I was interested to discover that when I went back and looked at 1983, when, in coming to what was then the Chapel, I preached through the book of Nehemiah, when I got to chapter 9, I never even touched it. There’s not a sermon exists on chapter 9. We moved directly to 10! Presumably, at that point, when I asked the question, “What profitable benefit might there be from studying this great chunk of ancient history?” I said, “Not a lot,” and moved on. Mercifully, I’ve grown up a wee bit, and hopefully we’ve all grown together.

The goodness of God, then, is the issue. You can go out, the youngest or the oldest, the brightest or the dimmest, and someone can ask you in the afternoon, “Did you go to church?” “Yes.” “And what was the message about?”—or the sermon, or the address, or whatever they call it. And you can answer, in one phrase, “We discovered that God is good.” “We discovered that God is good.”

Now, the goodness of God is an immense subject. Steven Charnock, who wrote two volumes on the existence and attributes of God, gives 145 pages to the theme of God’s goodness. And we’re not talking pages that have pictures in them! We’re talking tiny, tiny print. In many books today, it would run to 250 pages or more. A hundred and forty-five pages on the goodness of God! Now, to grasp something of the wonder of that, imagine taking a plain sheet of paper, writing across the top “The Goodness of God,” and then, underneath, write down everything that has occurred to you concerning what it means to say that God is good. And probably, and sadly, many of us would be scribbling little diagrams before we were down into the second half of the page. But not Charnock.

Let me give you a little taste of Charnock, in case you would like to track him down and buy these volumes. They’re not for the fainthearted. “All the acts of God,” he says, “are nothing else but the effluxes of his goodness.” That “effluxes” word sent me to the dictionary to begin with. It essentially means effulgence—which sends most of us to the dictionary as well—and it means “the outpourings of.” And all these acts, he says, are the outpourings of his goodness, “distinguished by several names, according to the objects it is exercised about.” And then he expands on that:

All are streams from this … fountain; [God] could be none of this were he not first good. When it confers happiness without merit, it is grace; when it bestows happiness against merit, it is mercy; when he bears with provoking rebels, it is long-suffering; when he performs his promise, it is truth; when [he] meets with a person to whom it is not obliged, it is grace; … when it commiserates a distressed person, it is pity; when it supplies an indigent person, it is bounty; when it succours an innocent person, it is righteousness; and when it pardons a penitent person, it is mercy,—all summed up in this one name of goodness.[6]

God is good.

Now, if Packer is right that an absence of an intimate, progressive knowledge God lies at the weakness of the church, perhaps it is equally true to say that a distrust of the goodness of God is at the root of many of our problems. Many of our problems may actually be traced to the fact that when push comes to shove, we do not, we have not come to a conviction deep in our hearts that God is actually good.

For example, if we believe that God is all good and wants only the best for his children even when we wander and when we err, then why is it that we grumble and complain? For my grumbling and my complaining is simply an evidence of the fact that I question God’s goodness. Because we do not have what we expect, we slight his goodness in what we enjoy. When he takes something from us or someone from us, there is actually, when we begin to think properly, more cause to be thankful that we have enjoyed it or them so long than to murmur because we possess it no longer, for it was only on account of his wonderful goodness that he gave us that individual or he gave us that provision, and he will not remove it or him or her from us except within the framework still of his goodness. When we distrust the way in which he has provided for us, we condemn his goodness, and we end up sitting conceiving of God to be either without the goodness to exert his power or somehow devoid of the power to display his goodness.

So let us then take this history lesson as it is given to us here, an unfolding of the goodness of God, learning from the past so that we might live in the present.

I have one main heading this morning. It’s the first of four which will follow as the weeks wend their way, and it is simply this: God’s goodness is revealed in all that he has done. God’s goodness is revealed in all that he has done. And this is expressed very clearly between verse 6 and verse 15.

Well then, in what way has God revealed his goodness in his dealings with man? First of all, we’re told in verse 6, in the act of creation: “You alone are the Lord. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.” God, you see, is self-existent. God is self-sufficient. God did not need a universe, nor did God need creatures. God is perfectly at one within the framework of the Trinity.

So then, why a universe? Answer: because God is good. And it is only his goodness which explains the fact that the whole of creation was brought out of the womb and the darkness of nothingness. It is, says the writer here, God who set the stars in place and structured the heavens. It is God who has set up his lampstands, if you like, or his lampposts, to direct our motion and to regulate our seasons. The activities of our world, of the solar system, are directly under the control and the care and the creative power of Almighty God. He has created the earth, we’re told, and he has regulated the seas, both in terms of their tidal movements and also in terms of the content of them. God has provided for us all that we need. And it is he who, on account of his goodness, has done it.

Every time we sit at a meal table, we have tangible evidence that God is good. Every time that we’re able to go into our closets and take out clothing to adorn ourselves and to cover our imperfections, it is a testimony that God is good. Every picture that we hang on the walls to beautify our homes, every little piece of artistic, creative design that those who we love are able to manifest, says to us, “God is good.” The psalmist says, “How many are your works, O Lord! In wisdom you made them all.”[7] He didn’t simply give us a variety of senses, but he provided us with a whole host of objects to gratify the senses he had given us.

The activities of our world, of the solar system, are directly under the control and the care and the creative power of Almighty God.

You see, loved ones, when we begin to think about the universe and the act of creation in terms of a personal God, it is a wonderful thing. God didn’t simply give us the ability to see but provided for us lots of beauty that we might behold. He granted to us light for our eyes, and he granted to us colors—wonderful immensities of color! And every time that we look from an aircraft at the manifold provision and development of color scheme on the earth, we ought to say, at least in our hearts if not out loud, “Truly, God is good!” He didn’t simply give us ears, but he has provided for us the most wonderful sounds, so that that which he has given as a sense, he made it provide for us as a benefit; so that to wake in the morning to the sound of the birds, to lie in the afternoon and to hear the great creaking and groaning of creation and hearing the trees move in the breeze, the whole creation cries out, “God is good!” He didn’t just give us noses and nostrils, but he gave us the beauty of perfume and the wonder of flowers and the magnificence of all that would be within our gardens, so that we might take it in, as it were, and say, “Truly, God is good!” He didn’t just give us palates and taste buds, but he gave us the choicest of foods, and the most unbelievable creation of fruit produce, and the immensity of vegetables, and the great harmony of his creative purpose, so that we who are mere mortals might take all of this and say, “God, you are so good!”

’Cause he could have made us simply to be lumps of stone. Of course, we would have never known, because we would have just been lumps of stone. But he could have made us just to be lumps of stone. He could have made us simply creatures. He could have made us just part of the animal kingdom. Why didn’t he? Because God is good, and he wanted to grant to us the privilege of knowing him and enjoying him forever. He took what was essentially a little clod of earth and dust, and he ennobled it. He poured into it life and riches and fullness so that he might, out of the lips of even the tiniest child, ordain strength and proclaim the immensity of his being.[8]

Beyond that, we’re told he gave to man dominion over all that he had made. All that is else in creation exists to serve man. Are you listening, young people? It’s going to be very important for you that you have this burned into your tiny, young, formative minds. For so much that will be told you from other sources denies this from the absolute beginning—denies the existence of a personal God, denies the existence of his interest in creation, denies the fact that all creation testifies to his goodness. And you need—you need—to sit down underneath this instruction and ask God to burn it into your mind so that you may live differently and with conviction in a world that has no notion of it.

Psalm 8 is as perfect a statement of it as any in the Psalms, where we have that wonderful question: “When I consider your heavens”—Psalm 8:3—

 the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
 which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
 the son of man that you care for him?
You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
  [you] crowned him with glory and honor.

You made him ruler over the works of your hands;
 you put everything under his feet:
all flocks and herds,
 and … beasts of the field,
the birds of the air,
 … the fish of the sea,
  [and] all that swim the paths of the seas.

O Lord, our Lord,
 how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Packer says the weakness of the church can be traced to an absence of a knowledge of God. Think about how weak the church is in magnifying God’s goodness in the realm of creation. Think of all our backpedaling and our stumbling and our bumbling to accommodate an evolutionary hypothesis. How pathetic we all are because we want to be thought bright, because we want to be thought intellectual, because we are unprepared to take the simple truth of God’s Word, which begins, “In the beginning God…”[9] The creator God manifested his goodness in establishing all as is. We are not simply turbocharged monkeys. You can believe that if you choose, but you will limp through life.

The implications of this theology are clear. You have a couple of options. You can believe as is taught in contemporary philosophy, certainly in the spirit of existentialism, magnified in the film starring Robin Williams, Dead Poets Society. You remember when he takes those boys out into the corridor, and he shows them all the pictures of the men that have been there in the past—all the cricket teams and the rugby teams and so on—and he says to them, “Boys, you’ll be like this one day. You will simply be a memory in a case.”[10] Now, what he is saying is not simply “You’ve got a lot of life, therefore, use it.” He is saying more than that. He is saying, “There is nothing more to life than this. Your only chance is now, before the shadows fall upon you. These are your only moments of opportunity. Therefore, carpe diem! Seize the day. Make it all happen now.”

Well then, let’s watch as Kurt Cobain of Nirvana—whose picture I cannot get from my mind—as Kurt Cobain essentially grows up under that instruction; grows up believing that you’re born without reason, you preserve your life by chance, and you die and go into oblivion. Did it then matter for him that he had, as it were, a teenage universe that worshipped at his shrine? Could it meet the deepest longings of his life that he was a multimillionaire? That he could go where he chose, when he chose, with whom he chose? That he had a whole universe, as it were, at his command? No, it didn’t matter a rap for him in the end. Why? Because somewhere along the line, somebody had never told this young man, “You want to know something, Kurt? God is good. God loves you. God can give meaning to your existence, transform your grunge with grace.”

You see, the great challenge to those of us who are believers this morning is simply this: that when we sit and listen to this on a Sunday morning, we know that by Monday morning at the latest, we are going back into a great warfare concerning these things—that our neighbors and our friends largely have a worldview which conceives of God either as some kind of impersonal cosmic principle or thinks of him in very personal terms and likes to say, “Well, you know, I believe in God, and God is whatever I want him to be.” What are we going to say to that? Well, we’re going to say no. We’re living at the end of four centuries of God-shrinking. No longer do men and women commonly believe that God is the source and the sustainer and the end of all things. Late twentieth-century man is filled with big thoughts of man and small thoughts of God.

How ’bout you? Do you know God? Do you know God like this? Or are you just somebody that is interested in preserving religious exercises in an irreligious world? I’m going to tell you something: that if that was what I was about, you would never see me again. Never. If somehow or another the exercise of religion was some arm’s-length, remote configuration of the possibility and the maybe of some divine source of being who might be, could be, possibly is, and so on into the rambling labyrinth of nonsense, then why would any of us waste our time? There’s good coffee to be drunk. There is good golf courses to be played. There are good books to be read. There’s a wonderful lake on which to sail.

Now, let me just take one step further, and then I will conclude. God has revealed his goodness in all that he has done. What has he done? Well, he’s created. Secondly, he has elected. Look at verse 7: “You are the Lord God, who chose Abram and brought him [up] out of Ur of the Chaldeans and named him Abraham.”

Now, before we’re tempted just to jump over that, I want to say in conclusion this morning that this is a wonderful verse, and the little statement which follows is quite incredible.

God elected Abraham. That’s the kind of technical, theological word which both the Old Testament and the New Testament proclaims.

God displays his goodness in election. He purposes to have a people who are his very own.

You see, when God called Abraham, or Abram, who knew him? Well, his mom knew him, his dad knew him, brothers and sisters knew him, and a few people in the town knew him. But nobody else knew him. Nobody would have picked him out from the crowd. Abraham wasn’t born in some special way with a big sign hanging over his head. No, Abraham was just one of a vast number of Semitic people that were roaming that area of the Middle East. Indeed, his dad and his grandpa were idol worshippers. When he grew up in his home, instead of there being this knowledge of the creator God—the God of great creative power, the God who had brought the events to bear surrounding Noah, etc.—Abraham didn’t grow up with that. Abraham grew up with a worship of idols. Abraham had nothing in his life that was peculiarly beneficial that would commend him to God. There was nothing in his life that he could point to as merit. There was nothing in his ancestry that would say, “Hey, God! I’m over here. You like me? I’m Abraham.” Then God came, knocked at the door of Abraham’s life, called him out. You can read it in Genesis 12—said, “Hey, Abram, I want you to go somewhere.”

Why? How? Well, isn’t that what God has done in the lives of those who have come to faith? Did you grow up, were you born, with a halo over the house? Did you manifest in your tender years some insatiable appetite for the Word of God? Were you, as a teenage boy or girl, somehow seeking and longing and looking for God? Or were you not, like most of us, running away to hide? Did your marriage begin with a great honoring of God for his goodness? Or were you just married, and did you go on your way? Did there not come a point in your life where somehow, miraculously, there came a knock at your door, and it was God who called your name?

And indeed, I want to say to you this morning: there are some of you in this building for worship, and you can’t honestly rationally explain what you’re doing here. If someone had even told you three months ago that you would be in here, you’d say, “You got rocks in your head!” But you’re here. Why? Because God displays his goodness in election. He purposes to have a people who are his very own, and he comes and he calls by name, and he brings us out of a miry pit and slimy clay, and he puts our feet upon a rock, and he establishes our going, and he puts a song in our hearts, even a song of praise to our God.[11] Why? Because God is good.

May I ask you: Have you heard his voice? Have you heard his knocking? And if so, would you not come and trust in him?

You see, loved ones, when we begin to understand that God’s goodness is manifested in this way, a number of things will happen. Number one, it will shut up any boastfulness that there is in our lives about our believing in Jesus. We will not be a nuisance in our office. We will not be arrogant in our office. We will not make our non-Christian friends and neighbors feel as though if they would only get smart in the way in which we got smart, then their lives would be a whole lot better. No. What we will manifest before our neighbors and our friends is the fact that we have discovered the goodness of God. Because we’ll be able to tell them,

I heard the voice of Jesus say,
“Come unto me and rest;
Lay down, O weary one, lay down
Your head upon my breast.”

“‘I came to Jesus,’” we’ll be able to say, “‘as I was’—and man was I messed up!—‘weary … worn and sad,’ and ‘I found in him a resting place, and he has made me glad.’”[12]

When we understand God’s goodness in his redeeming of a people for himself, it eliminates our boasting; it stimulates our love for God. If you really love your wife, men, and you really look at yourself in the mirror—physically, emotionally, mentally, in every way—you’ve got to be humble enough to say, “Why would she ever love me? How could she ever love me?” To a far greater degree, when we look at our lives as we are and we hear the choir sing, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believe[s] in him should not perish, but have everlasting life,”[13] it draws from his people a great love.

And when we understand these things, it stimulates us in evangelism. Because now we’ve come to understand that in the same way that God called Abram’s name and he heard, God has purposed through all of time to call out names. And he never effectually calls a name but that the person hears. What does that mean? It means this: that I can look around your gaze this morning to every one of you and say this with confidence: I invite you to hear God’s welcome voice as he calls. And I don’t feel any pressure whatsoever to be coercive, manipulative. Good! All I want to be is faithful, believing this: that “faith come[s] by hearing, and hearing by the word of God,”[14] so that even today, May 1, ’94, in a passage of ancient history concerning a specific of biblical theology, there will be those in a group like this who hear God’s voice and who must respond. “Today, if you hear [God’s] voice, do not harden your hearts.”[15]

[1] C. H. Spurgeon’s Autobiography, vol. 1, 1834–1854 (London: Passmore and Alabaster, 1897), 73.

[2] J. I. Packer, Knowing God (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1973), 5.

[3] Packer, 6.

[4] Packer, 6.

[5] 2 Peter 1:15 (NIV 1984).

[6] Discourse on the Existence and Attributes of God, in Complete Works of Stephen Charnock (Edinburgh: John Nichol, 1864), 2:284.

[7] Psalm 104:24 (NIV 1984).

[8] See Psalm 8:2.

[9] Genesis 1:1 (NIV 1984).

[10] Dead Poets Society, directed by Peter Weir, written by Tom Schulman (Warner Bros., 1989).

[11] See Psalm 40:2–3.

[12] Horatius Bonar, “I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say” (1846).

[13] John 3:16 (KJV).

[14] Romans 10:17 (KJV).

[15] Psalm 95:7–8; Hebrews 3:7–8, 15; 4:7 (NIV 1984).

Copyright © 2024, Alistair Begg. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations for sermons preached on or after November 6, 2011 are taken from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

For sermons preached before November 6, 2011, unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® (NIV®), copyright © 1973 1978 1984 by Biblica, Inc.TM Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Alistair Begg
Alistair Begg is Senior Pastor at Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Bible teacher on Truth For Life, which is heard on the radio and online around the world.