Does This Please God? Pt 3: How Does God Communicate?

by Reagan McClenny


Scripture: Eph 3:3 Aug 13, 2023

God communicates his will to us through commands, examples, statements, and implications in Scripture so that we can understand what pleases Him; we need faith that God's communication accomplishes His purposes, even when it seems unclear; if we love God and submit to His authority, we can know His will, do what pleases Him, and receive His grace.


Thank you for being here this morning and thank you for the way that you have worshiped. I was sitting there in the pew and it was just an encouragement to me to be surrounded, enveloped by the voices of those who love God and desire to please God. And I saw some people smiling while they worshiped.

Isn't that the way it's supposed to be? As we know that we are in God's presence, he is here with us. And our hope and aim and prayer is that he's pleased with the things that we've done today. If you have your Bible with you, would you take it out please and turn to Ephesians chapter three. Ephesians chapter three, and we'll begin reading in verse three.

Ephesians chapter three and verse three here in just a moment. We will have some announcements here in just a second after I'm finished with my lesson and, and so forth. But I have one announcement that I'd like to just share right now. While it's fresh in my mind and I didn't get it to mark on Saturday, August 26th.

That's the Saturday before our gospel meeting. Stephanie and I want to invite the high school and junior high to a devotional that afternoon, evening. We'll give you more details on that as that approaches. Here in just a couple of weeks. But if you'll clear your schedule for that, for the high school and junior high.

And Sean Bain, who is the visiting preacher, will be leading us in that devo. So Saturday, August 26th that afternoon. Over the last few months we've had a couple of lessons about this question. Does this please God? And, and the things surrounding what our attitude, what the steps should be in trying to answer that question.

And our first lesson about that question was all about love. If we love God with all of our heart and soul and mind and strength, surely we want to please God more than anything else. And a good verse to sum up that idea is in Colossians chapter one and verse 10, that you may walk worthy of the Lord fully pleasing to him.

That's our goal, to be fully pleasing to God in our walk, and if the point of our lives is to please and glorify God out of a love for him. And when it comes to what we think, what we say, what we do, we should ask the question, does this please God? Because I love him and I wanna please him. That is the question in regard to my attitude and actions.

But it's not just a matter of our love for God and God's love for us. And so our second lesson that we talked about in regard to this question is that it is also a matter of the authority that God rightfully has. And the submission that Christ rightly deserves from those who love him. In Matthew chapter 28 in verse 18, Jesus says that all authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth.

And what does Jesus then do with that authority? He commands, he commands his apostles specifically to go and make disciples and these disciples, these followers of his authority. Well baptizing them in the name of the Father, son, and Holy Spirit. That's how you become one and teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you, that you have to follow after me.

You have to follow after my authority to be my disciple. And so as disciples of Jesus, we strive, as Paul says in Colossians chapter three and verse 17, we make it our aim where whatever we do in word or deed, We strive to do all in the name of the Lord Jesus. And if someone has an issue with something that I do, I should be able to say, take it up with the Lord.

I'm doing it by his authority. And here is the scripture that gives me that, right? And so we seek his authority, submit to his authority, and should be able to show his authority, not assume it, show it from the scriptures. And again, the question is, Does this, please God? And our second lesson, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, which brings us to our lesson today.

How do I know? How do I know what actually does Please God, if that's the question that I'm asking. Does this please God? Well, that's a, a question of communication. And so our lesson this morning is how does God communicate? Let's, let's think about God's communication with us. How does he do it? And then how do we interpret the things that God communicates?

And I would say, first of all, that God does expect us to know His will from his word, God communicates to us, and he is not just sending that out unto the ether. He expects us to hear, to reason and to understand. As we think about God's communication, our first point this morning is this, God intends and expects us to understand correctly the things that He communicates to us.

Are you there in Ephesians chapter three, chapters one and two of Ephesians talk about all of the great things that God has done that he prepared from before the foundation of the world to bring about our salvation. And, and not just the salvation of the Jews, the salvation of all people, including us Gentiles bringing us into his church.

And this was a mystery. People didn't understand it. They didn't see it because God hadn't communicated it. But in Ephesians chapter three and verse three, the apostle Paul speaks to that and he says, how that by Revelation, he Christ has made known to me the mystery, as I have briefly written already, chapters one and two.

By which notice when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ. In the context Paul is writing here in verses one through seven of Ephesians chapter three, he is writing to say that this mystery has been revealed to us by God. And by the writing of the inspired apostles and prophets.

And later in this same epistle in chapter five and verse seven, he goes on to explicitly, emphatically, say, therefore chapter five and verse 17. Therefore, do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. We read God's word and we understand God's will I I cannot express. Powerfully enough how important this concept is that the God of heaven and earth has revealed himself to us and he wants us to know, and he desires that we understand the things that he has communicated to us.

Do you see that? Do you appreciate what God has done in revealing himself to us? That does not mean that there aren't things that are hard for us to comprehend. In fact, Peter speaks about the writings of Paul and he says in second Peter chapter three, verses 14 and 16, he says that some of those things that Paul wrote down that were revealed by God.

In fact, Peter calls them the scriptures. He says, some of those things are hard to understand and there are gonna be people who are foolish and untrained who twist those things to their own destruction. He acknowledges that that happens. But in saying that, some things are hard to understand what goes along with that.

That means that these things can be understood and even more that there are a lot of things in here that aren't hard to understand, that are easy for us to see and do, and our responsibility. To seek to understand and then seek to do. Secondly, God has commanded his will to us in his word, and when God did this, he didn't invent some new kind of communication in order to do that.

God is the creator of heaven and earth, and it makes sense that the God who created us, who created us says. Cognizant human beings, autonomous beings with mind and reasoning that God created us and God created communication. It just stands to reason that God would communicate to us in the way that He has created even more.

And, and this is the way I would express it. Number two, that God, the creator of communication and us knows how to best. Communicate with us. God created all things, and when we think about communication, God is the creator of that as well. And so when God communicates to us, we might say, well, I wish he had done it a different way, but isn't it God who created those things and don't we believe that he knows best the way to communicate to us?

Indulge me please. Humor me, I think is what we said in our class here just a moment ago. Humor me for a few minutes with a simple physical example of this, a parable, if you will, from which we can draw some spiritual applications. Let's imagine for a moment that Stephanie comes home from school next week and she's, you know, worked all day long and, and she comes in and, and what's in her heart, her desire, her will.

Is for the girls to clean their room. That's, that's what's in her heart. That's her desire. You can imagine that, right? I don't know why, for some reason I'm imagining she comes in and she's got a bunch of bags all over her and she looks on the couch and there are Madison and Brooklyn sitting there, and she knows what shape the room is in.

And so she thinks to herself, my will, my desire is for them to clean their room. Can she communicate that desire that will to those girls in a way that they can understand? Everybody's just staring at me. Can she do that? Yes. Yeah, absolutely. She can do that. How, how would she communicate that to them in such a way that they can understand it?

Communicate her desire? Well, she might just directly command them, order them, tell them what it is she wants them to do. She looks at 'em and she says, clean your rooms. And it might be that general of a command. Now they know what they're supposed to do, but she isn't explicit about when they're supposed to do it or how they're supposed to do it.

They probably know that, don't they? They probably know her expectation, but she hasn't been explicit, so maybe she could be more specific about that. Clean your rooms before Friday. Now they have a deadline and so they're given a certain amount of authority from that that they can clean that room anytime between now, whatever that day was and Friday.

They can do that, right? This more specific commands means that, that, okay, I've got a deadline. But Stephanie could be even more specific than that. She could say, clean your rooms right now. That even more specific command means that they, they need to do what? They need to get up, they need to go in there and they need to do it right then if, if they want to be pleasing to her.

That's simple. What pleases Stephanie cleaning their rooms right now? But maybe, and I know this to be true, maybe Stephanie as, as a good mother, she doesn't always want just rote obedience from our daughters. Maybe she wants to work on their hearts and work on their habits a little bit. And so instead of just the direct command, go clean your rooms right now.

Maybe she could try to show them by her example, what she wants from them, what her desire is. And so Stephanie starts to clean and the girls, they're on the couch. There are a hundred, a hundred things that they could be doing in that moment, but if they ask themselves the question, what, what would please God?

What would please Stephanie? Right now, if they ask that question and they see her cleaning, I think they can probably get the answer to that. The answer is clear. I know one thing for sure that pleases mom right now cleaning because I see her doing that. Maybe even one of them. One of them gets it and gets up and starts cleaning with Stephanie, and Stephanie says, thank you.

Let's say Brooklyn. Thank you Brooklyn for cleaning your room. Now, it isn't just an example, it's an approved example, right? Maddie knows with absolute certainty that Stephanie approves of them cleaning their room, and if she chooses then to go shoot baskets instead, well, who is she really trying to please?

Stephanie or herself? Maybe it isn't so direct and obvious. Maybe Stephanie comes in and just makes a statement. Maybe she appeals to their love for her, it would mean the world to me if you cleaned your room. She hasn't commanded them to do anything, but do they know what pleases her? Maybe because she's their mother and she has the authority and she is displeased with the state of the room.

Maybe she says something like, nobody is having supper until those rooms are clean. That implies something to us, doesn't it? Well, first of all, we know Stephanie doesn't play. I mean, she doesn't make empty threats if she says nobody is eating supper until those rooms are clean, that means nobody's eating supper.

And in this scenario I was going through this exercise in my mind earlier this week and I thought, well, if I'm in the kitchen and I hear her say that, that implies some things to me too, right? I'm included in nobody. I'm gonna get up and go help too. 'cause I want supper. Right? And so there's no one way that Stephanie might communicate this concept, her desire and the different ways that she might communicate that, or maybe working on the girls in different ways, but ultimately through all of that communication, they can understand correctly what Stephanie's desire is, what pleases her.

So here's my sincere question. This is the parable, right? And then we'll make some spiritual application. In fact, I'm gonna go this far. If you answer yes to this question, thumbs up right here. Nobody else has to see thumbs up right here. If you say no, thumbs down. Okay. Could the girls understand what pleases Stephanie?

She communicated her will in any of those ways that I described. Could the girls understand what please is Stephanie, Stephanie did this, so, yeah. Right. However, Stephanie chose to communicate that. Would that communication carry any less authority? Based on the type of communication she chooses, would it be any more or any less?

Her will if she says a direct command or if she just uses her example or she just makes a statement. Of course not. The authority comes from who she is, their mother, not how she chooses to communicate that. So when we think about all of the things that I've described there, statements and commands and examples and implications from, and of those statements, commands and examples, all of those things are just the, the building blocks of communication.

Again, God created both us and communication. Surely he would communicate his will in the most effective way to accomplish his purposes, and maybe God's purposes, and we'll come back to that here in just a second. Maybe God's purposes are just a little bit different from ours. Maybe our purpose is what we would desire from God's communication is just tell me what to do.

But maybe God's purposes are greater and higher and no blur than that. Maybe what God desires from us is a heart that loves him with everything that we are. That asks what pleases God and God and His infinite wisdom and knowledge knows exactly the way to communicate to us to try and discern that heart from us.

This is communication in conversation, in writing, in English literature. These ideas are on the seventh grade teaks for the state of Texas. Talk about these things with the constitution and law, you have commands, you have laws, you have examples, precedent, and our court system and the implications of those two things.

To work out what, what somebody should do and shouldn't do. And the same thing applies with God and his communication in his word in the Bible. Now someone, I don't know who, and I don't know exactly when, but someone among churches of Christ at some point organized that process of communication into an acronym, and maybe you've heard this acronym, cini, sometimes with a C, sometimes it has an SS in front of it, you know, statements, commands, and necessary inference.

And so that's an acronym that organizes that kind of communication that we all use. There's a, a, a preacher named Doy Moyer in more recent. Days in the 21st century who simplified that. If you wanna communicate to somebody, you either have to tell them or show them or imply that to them in some way.

For me, personally, I, I would express it this way. If we're gonna communicate some something to someone, we can make a statement. We can give them a command. There are approved examples. The idea of not just an example, but hey, I approve of this example. That means you ought to do the same thing. And then in regard to God's communication, there's what I call divine implication.

This idea of necessary inference. The ni there that puts it on us, right? That I have to understand this, I have to, I have to have the inference based on what is implied, but any truly necessary inference, Comes from something that God has divinely implied. That there are implications to the things that God has said and the things that God has revealed and the things that God has preserved in regard to the examples we find in our Bible.

And I'm not worried about this specific terminology, but these concepts are fundamental. But there's a big problem that I, I'd like to address. Is that someone, someone else at some point said that this idea of sin, or however you want to explain it, was a hermeneutic a, a hermeneutic is just a fancy word for a method of interpretation.

That this is how we interpret our Bibles in my judgment, and let me say this as clearly as I know how, this is not a method of interpretation. This is a description of communication. Maybe you don't know this about me, but I taught speech. I have a background in communication. I did speech and debate.

This has always been super fascinating to me. The way we communicate with one another as human beings and barriers to that communication. This is not a Church of Christ thing. It's not a hermeneutic of an interpretation. This is just communication. This is how God or anyone communicates their will. This is where we as receivers of a message, this is how we get our information, how we compile that information so that then we can strive to interpret and understand it correctly.

It is then up to us as people with good hearts. To take that information, what is commanded and what isn't, what is stated and what isn't, what examples there are and aren't, and everything that is implied by all of those things. And seek to understand correctly what God desires to ask the question, what pleases God?

Now if you ask me, well, okay, Reagan, that's not your method of interpretation, your hermeneutics. So what is. Well, there would be some specific biblical things I might say. You know that the New Testament claims for itself, verbal inspiration. That's what the New Testament claims, that we should interpret the complex in light of the simple and the uncertain in light of the certain that there are certain overwhelming truths in Christianity where we should drive a stake in the ground and say, I need to understand everything else in light of this truth.

That the New Testament provides an authoritative pattern for work and worship. And, and, and if I follow that pattern, I know that I can be approved by God that while the Old Testament is provided for our learning, we are no longer subject to its laws or commands. That the Bible can only be properly understood in its in its context and more, there are more things that I could say these are are solid found fundamental things regarding interpretation.

But I would, I would summarize all of that. My, my hermeneutic, I'm, I try to make this as simple as possible. I would summarize it using Psalm one 19 in verse one 60. The sum of your word is truth. For any matter of life or doctrine, we need to take all of the passages in the Bible that speak to that, that question.

That's those statements and commands and examples and implications. Take all of those things. Read and study all of them. Draw a line under 'em, add 'em all up, and whatever we're left with, that's what we need to do. There are lots of little things to which we could apply this, some of greater importance, weightier matters than others.

But let me apply it to a big thing this morning, God's communication on baptism. I want you to see that we have commands and examples and statements and implications from those in regard to baptism. Look first, if you would, to a command in Acts chapter two and verse 38. Acts chapter two and verse 38.

Here in the first Gospel sermon, maybe you're familiar with this passage, Peter is preaching this sermon to, to the Jews gathered on the day of Pentecost, and many of them were there at the crucifixion of Jesus. And so when he convinces some of those people who were cut to the heart when he convinces them that Jesus is Lord and Christ.

Verse 37. When they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said to them, this is a command. Repent and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are far off. As many as the Lord our God will call. We don't just have a command in regard to that. We also have some examples, right? And, and again, this is just a sampling of these things, but in Acts chapter eight, we have an example where Philip comes to this Ethiopian in his chariot on the way back to Ethiopia from Jerusalem there in the wilderness, and Philip is sent by the Holy Spirit, and he catches up to this man who's reading from the prophet Isaiah.

In verse 34, the eunuch answered Philip and said, I ask you of whom does the prophet say this of himself or of some other man? Then Philip opened his mouth and beginning at this scripture preached Jesus to him. Now, as they went down the road, here's the example, they came to some water and the euch said, see here is water.

What hinders me from being B baptized? And Philip said, if you believe with all your heart, you may. He answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God. So he commanded the chariot to stand still, and both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and he baptized him. Now, when they had come up out of the water, the spirit of the Lord caught Philip away so that the eunuch saw him no more, and he went on his way rejoicing.

And we have many other examples of people being baptized into Christ. And then we have again what I would just call some statements, even statements from Jesus, mark 1616. He who believes and is baptized will be saved, but he who does not believe will be condemned. That's not a command, that's just a statement.

This is the reality. This is the way things are. Peter says something similar in one Peter three in verse 21. There is also an anti type, which now saves us baptism. Not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Again, those aren't commands, but what is implied by these statements?

What is the, the force conclusion? Are there any implications from these things that we should draw? Well, I think there is the implication that I need to believe and be baptized. Baptism through the resurrection of Jesus Christ saves me, not because it cleans off the filth of my physical flesh, but because I answer God's call with a good conscience.

And there are implications even in the command, in the example from Acts two and Acts eight and Acts two, that command was specifically to whom? It was to those Jews who were assembled on the day of Pentecost. But, but Peter goes on to say that. That the promise is to you and to your children and all who are far off.

And now I can raise my hand and say I'm a far off. And the implication is this command applies to me too. There are implications in Acts chapter eight as well. Philip preached what to the Ethiopian. He preached Jesus to him. And the forced conclusion that I have to draw from that passage is, well, that must have included baptism.

Because the Euch says, see here is B. See here is water. What hinders me from being baptized? Now there are all sorts of other conclusions that I could draw that aren't in the text and aren't forced from the text. One is that some people take that text in Acts chapter eight and they say, well, what that implies is the Ethiopian was a eunuch and many eunuchs were homosexuals.

Therefore, God is okay with homosexuality. Well, We can make that inference, but is that forced in the text? Is it found in the text? Is it divinely implied? I don't think so.

Maybe. Maybe I should have picked something different than baptism. Maybe I should have picked something that is less controversial in the Christian world, but I wanted to pick something that's important where we have tons and tons and tons of information. We have all of these commands. I. None of which are specifically to us, but we can see by implication, yes, this applies to us.

We have all of these statements, we have all of these examples, and what's our job as people who love God as people who are striving to submit to the authority of God? It's to take all of those commands and examples and statements and say, what are the implications of these things to me in my life? What, what pleases God and have I done?

Pleases him. That makes us uncomfortable. Makes me uncomfortable sometimes. You know, I'm the preacher. I'm supposed to be up here with all the answers. I'll tell you right now, I don't have all the answers to everything. I know where to find the answers. But if, but if Peter said, Paul said some things that were hard to understand, I've got a long way to go to be anything close to Peter.

There are some things that I don't understand that are hard to understand and I think it bothers us that we, that we have to do some interpreting that there is hermeneutic work, a method of interpretation that we have to go through with all of this. Could I misunderstand commands from God? Yeah. Could I misapply examples that we find in our New Testament?

Yeah. Could I draw the wrong inferences from the implications that God puts in the text? Yes, that could happen, and I need to remember that God is ultimately the judge of all things, and I need to be careful about my attitude in regard to my conclusions, lest I become arrogant or self-righteous, but in humility, I need to continue to study, to grow and to ask the question over and over again.

Does this, please God.

But I also need to have faith. I need to have faith in God's means of communicating and of his means of communicating with us. Why did God do it this way? Why did he compile a book that's filled with letters and stories and sometimes. Fantastic, fabulous things like what we see in the book of Revelation, apocalyptic literature.

Why? Why did God do it this way? Why didn't God just say, do this, don't do this, and make a long list for all of us. Why two was Jesus so seemingly cryptic in some of the things that he said? Well, his apostles had the same questions. I want you to look in Matthew chapter 13. In Matthew chapter 13. Jesus is told a couple of parables.

Well, at this point, he's told one parable, the parable of the sower, which coincidentally is about our hearts in receiving the message from God. And in verse 10, his disciples come to him and say, why do you speak to them in parables? Why do you tell these stories instead of just telling people what they're supposed to do?

And he answered and said to them, because it has been given to you, you who have good hearts, who are seeking. To know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them, those who are hardhearted and don't wanna know, it has not been given for whoever has to him moral be given, and he will have abundance, but whoever does not have even what he has, will be taken away from him.

Therefore, I speak to them in parables because seeing they do not see and hearing, they do not hear, nor do they understand. And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says, hearing you will hear and you shall not understand and seeing you will see and will not perceive. For the hearts of this, people have grown dull.

Their eyes are hard of hearing. Their ears are hard of hearing their eyes. They have closed lest they should see what their eyes and hear what their ears lest they should understand with their hearts and turns so that I should heal them. But blessed are your eyes for they see. Your ears for they hear.

For assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desire to see what you see and did not see it. To hear what you hear, but did not hear it. We're blessed that we get to see the whole story, everything that God has communicated, and Jesus says that the purpose of these parables, well, it's to move somebody from the.

The known to the unknown, in short to imply certain things for the heroes to infer. And Jesus says, I'm teaching this way because I wanna divide hearts, the hard hearts and the soft hearts. And Jesus wasn't trying to hide truth, but that's what it did for those with hard hearts. Jesus was trying to get the truth through to people, to to get their understanding to be opened.

If one was going to appreciate and understand the parables, they had to listen carefully, but even more, they had to have a heart that wanted to hear, and if they had such a heart, the parables were gonna reveal that. And the New Testament as a whole works amazingly in exactly the same way young people.

Will you listen to me for just a second? Listen to me here. God covers every situation in scripture, whether specifically or in principle. Think about that for a moment, that a book that was written completed 2000 years ago. In that book, we have principles that govern every situation in all times past and present.

You wanna know how you deal with social media. You can go to your Bible written 2000 years ago to figure out how to do that. You wanna know how to deal with. With an addiction to internet pornography, you can go to your Bible and and figure out how to do that and, and whatever your country you're in, whether you're in a democracy or a dictatorship, whether you're poor or whether you're rich, whether you're slave or free Jew or gentile male or females, this book tells you what you can do in your life and what God desires of you.

It's incredible.

In this book, there are principles that do more than just govern our actions. It governs our motives and our intent and our attitude. It motivates us. It stimulates us to greater love and growth. It gives us comfort in times of need. It provides peace and joy. It uplifts us, or it humbles us as needed. And it is no wonder that the Hebrew writer says what he does.

In Hebrews chapter four, verses 12 and 13, for the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit of joints and marrow, and discerns. Listen, the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him.

To whom we must give an account a list of things, do these things, don't do these things. Could never accomplish that. And there are some things that God just says to us plainly and explicitly, but there are other things he saw. Best not to. We as believers need to have faith in his word that it will not return void in his wisdom that he chose to communicate to us the same way we communicate to one another, and that all of the actions of God will accomplish what he intends in the hearts and minds of people.

If, well, if we love God with all of our heart and soul and mind and strength. If we submit to his authority and seek to do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, and if we ask the question of all we do and all we practice does this, please God, then may God bless us to know his will, to do His will as best we understand it to not become arrogant and look down on others.

But have confidence that I can know what God has revealed. I can do what pleases him. And through the grace of Jesus Christ, I can be with him in heaven someday. And if you're here this morning and you know what you need to do to please God and you've not done it, there's nothing, it would make us happier than to help you to accomplish that.

All you have to do is come now together, we stand, and while we sing.