Salvation Prayer : I Say YOU SHALL NOT FEAR OF DEATH ANYMORE. 2019 is a year of Salvation of the Prayer for the Masses and Deliverance

Salvation Prayer 2019

The Prayer of Salvation 2019-2098 | Real Salvation Prayer | Known as the Sinner’s Prayer

Intercessors are praying for 1000’s of Saved ones and for those in darkness and renewed their relationship with Jesus Christ the Nazareth.

Today Is YOUR DAY. THIS IS YOUR DAY TO SHALL NOT FEAR ANYMORE. IF YOU ARE IN A WORST PLACE I PRAY FOR YOU. JESUS SHALL DELIVER YOU: SAVE YOU: ACCEPT JESUS AND BE BLESSED BY THE BLESSING OF ABRAHAM. NOONE SHALL HURT YOU ANYMORE IF YOU PRAY

If you would like to pray the most important prayer in your life for the year 2019 – the Prayer of Salvation – known as the Sinner’s Prayer or Commitment to Jesus. You can pray or renew your relationship with Jesus and enter two prayer requests. You have never prayed this before. Or you want to renew your relationship with Father, Jesus and Holy Spirit. This Prayer of Salvation has been made in progressive revelation directly from the Lord and the Holy Bible.

Salvation by Grace, not of human merit and works.Mercy and Grace are the Love and Compassion of God towards us. In our trespasses God Love you so much that he sent His Son into this world to die on the Cross. And finish the work for what He came into the world – Save the humanity. Through Him the Grace and Truth came into the world. Jesus is Grace and Truth and the Salvation is possible only by Faith in Jesus. You are burning in the God’s Heart today to receive Jesus or renew your relationship with Him. Receive His Love, His Grace and His Holy Spirit. That is Real Salvation.

Salvation through Jesus – Believe in Jesus

If you believe in Jesus you have inheritance in heaven and you receive God’s Promise – The Eternal Life. Jesus is a door to Eternal Life without Him you perish forever. Jesus Himself said „I am the Resurrection and Life whosoever believeth in Me shall never taste death“. Please listen carefully: That is your way to Eternal Life: Faith in Jesus. Just Believe and pray.


Enter the Prayer of Salvation with your heart.
Bible declares you are saved. This is a confirmation from the written word. If you start to speak in tongues. Be sure you have been baptised with the Holy Ghost. If there are no tongues. Bible declares still that you are saved and born again. They come later for confirmation of Baptism.

Personal Prayer of Salvation


Almighty God,I come before You in the name of Jesus Christ.

Jesus I believe You are the Son of God and the only way to God. That You died on the Cross for my Sins and rose again from the dead. I confess that my life has been sinful separated from You ( Rom 3:23 ). Forgive my sins. Jesus I believe You shed Your precious Blood on the Cross for my justification. I thank You for Loving me.

Jesus I turn to You. Heal my body and soul. Heal my body, …heal my life. Come into my heart. Fill my soul. Change me. Mold me. Use me. Heal me. Deliver me. Transform my life and never let me be the same again. Cleanse me with your Holy blood and make me Whole.

Jesus – in You I have the Eternal life. And this is Eternal Life, that I may know You, the only True God and Jesus Christ whom You have sent ( John 17:1-5 ). Let me know You deeply through Holy Spirit Father. Reveal Your Will to me according to my calling.

Heavenly Father fill me with the Holy Spirit and Baptize me with the Holy Ghost and Fire. That I may have part of the First Resurrection ( Rev 20:5-6). I receive Your Spirit and the Spiritual Gifts as Holy Spirit gives me according to His Will. I desire for Spiritual Gifts.

Jesus. Give me a new mind and new heart and a new spirit. Transform my life as I surrender to Your Divine Calling. I surrender to Your will. I surrender to receive the Power!

Jesus is Alive and hears my prayer right now!

I give myself fully to You Jesus. I give myself fully to You Holy Spirit.
I receive Your Power!
I receive Your Anointing!
I receive the Anointing of the Holy Ghost right now!

The presence of God is over my life!

And now I proclaim : “God Almighty is my Father. Jesus Christ is my Saviour. Holy Spirit is my Comforter ( John 16:7-15 ). I am Born Again of the water and of the Spirit ( John 3:5-6 ). I have inherited an Eternal Life. I am now part of the Body of Christ ( Rom 12:5 ).”

In Jesus Mighty and Holy name and in the Blood of Everlasting Covenant (Hebrews 13:20-21),

I Pray and give You the Glory,
Amen


Holy Bible assurance

John 1:12 – KJV, 1978

12. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
Rejoice! Welcome to God’s family. You are a New Creation with the Holy Spirit. Born again and in the Kingdom of God. All former things have passed away.

Put your hand on your heart and start to speak and utter, if the tongues of the Holy Spirit come…Be sure of your Baptism with the Holy Ghost! There can be in the beginning only few words. If there are no tongues. Bible declares still that you are saved and born again. They come later for confirmation of Baptism.

Next Important steps after Salvation

  1. Start praying to Father and Jesus.
  2. Get baptized, if you haven’t done it yet, as commanded by Christ.
  3. Tell someone else that you received Jesus and your new faith and Love in Jesus.
  4. Spend time with God each day. It does not have to be a long period of time. Start reading the Bible from the beginning of Gospel of John
  5. Seek fellowship with other followers of Jesus. Develop a group of believing friends to answer your questions and support you.
  6. Find a local church where you can worship God and Grow.
  7. Continue in what you have received from beginning from Jesus by Grace

Intercessors are praying for 1000’s of Saved ones and for those in darkness and renewed their relationship with Jesus Christ the Nazareth.

For YOU! THERE IS NO FEAR OF DEATH ANYMORE. YOU ARE IN THE KINGDOM OF GOD: SAVED, DELIVERED AND BAPTISED BY THE HOLY GHOST

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The Warfare Prayer – Engaging the Battle – Deliverance Prayer through Warfare

The Warfare Prayer - Engaging the Battle - Deliverance Prayer through Warfare

“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the victor’s crown, the life God has promised to those who love him.” – James 1:12

Engaging in the Battle

We need tools in spiritual warfare as well. It has been the underlying purpose of this book to provide practical, usable information and insight into the waging of a winning warfare.

The world, the flesh, and the devil will be continuously defeated if we use the weapons of our warfare. The Lord has provided all the tools we need. The Lord Jesus Christ has provided all of our victory. He used the same tools He has provided us in winning the battle. His victory is our victory.

It remains our responsibility to use these weapons so graciously provided in His grace. Every time you use them you’ll thank God for the tools of victory He has provided. Just as I think with fond remembrance of the man who gave me the tool box when I use my carpenter’s tools, so your heart will reach out in an ever deepening gratitude to your Lord.

In previous chapters, importance of doctrinal truth and doctrinal praying was intended to be lifted high. Doctrine, God’s unchanging truth, is mighty in defeating our enemies. This truth must get deep into our souls. This can only come about as we gain understanding of the Holy Word of God and then use that Word aggressively in our lives.

With the permission and approval of Dr. Victor Matthews, professor of theology at the Grand Rapids Baptist Bible College and Seminary, I include here some very fine helps in keeping doctrinal truth in the forefront of your warfare.

“The Daily Affirmation of Faith” was written by Dr. Matthews to provide a concise, clear statement of the truth of the Word of God as it applies to our victory. I commend this affirmation for daily reading aloud on the part of those who are experiencing intense warfare. It will do much to build spiritual foundation into your soul. It will keep the ground of your victory aggressively in action against your enemies. Study the texts of Scripture for your own enlightenment and edification.

The Daily Affirmation of Faith

“Today I deliberately choose to submit myself fully to God as He has made Himself known to me through the Holy Scripture which I honestly accept as the only inspired, infallible, authoritative standard for all life and practice. In this day I will not judge God, His work, myself, or others on the basis of feelings or circumstances.

  1. I recognize by faith that the triune God is worthy of all honor, praise, and worship as the Creator, Sustainer, and End of all things. I confess that God, as my Creator, made me for Himself. In this day I therefore choose to live for Him (Rev 5:9,10; Is 43:1,7,21; Rev 4:11).

  2. I recognize by faith that God loved me and chose me in Jesus Christ before time began (Eph 1:1-7).

  3. I recognize by faith that God has proven His love to me in sending His Son to die in my place, in whom every provision has already been made for my past, present, and future needs through His representative work, and that I have been quickened, raised, seated with Jesus Christ in the heavenlies, and anointed with the Holy Spirit (Ro 5:6-11; 8:28; Phil 1:6; 4:6,7,13,19; Eph 1:3; 2:5,6; Ac 2:1-4,33).

  4. I recognize by faith that God has accepted me, since I have received Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior (Jn 1:12; Eph 1:6); that He has forgiven me (Eph 1:7); adopted me into His family, assuming every responsibility for me (Jn 17:11,17; Eph 1:5; Phil 1:6); given me eternal life (Jn 3:36; I Jn 5:9-13); applied the perfect righteousness of Christ to me so that I am now justified (Ro 5:1; 8:3,4; 10:4); made me complete in Christ (Col 2:10); and offers Himself to me as my daily sufficiency through prayer and the decisions of faith (I Co 1:30; Col 1:27; Gal 2:20; Jn 14:13,14; Mt 21:22; Ro 6:1-19; Heb 4:1-3,11).

  5. I recognize by faith that the Holy Spirit has baptized me into the Body of Christ (I Co 12:13); sealed me (Eph 1:13,14); anointed me for life and service (Ac 1:8; Jn 7:37-39); seeks to lead me into a deeper walk with Jesus Christ (Jn 14:16-18; 15:26,27; 16:13-15; Ro 8:11-16); and to fill my life with Himself (Eph 5:18).

  6. I recognize by faith that only God can deal with sin and only God can produce holiness of life. I confess that in my salvation my part was only to receive Him and that He dealt with my sin and saved me. Now I confess that in order to live a holy life, I can only surrender to His will and receive Him as my sanctification; trusting Him to do whatever may be necessary in my life, without and within, so I may be enabled to live today in purity, freedom, rest and power for His glory (Jn 1:12; I Co 1:30; II Co 9:8; Gal 2:20; Heb 4:9; I Jn 5:4; Jude 24).

Having confessed that God is worthy of all praise, that the Scriptures are the only authoritative standard, that only God can deal with sin and produce holiness of life, I again recognize my total dependence upon Him and submission to Him. I accept the truth that praying in faith is absolutely necessary for the realization of the will and grace of God in my daily life.

Recognizing that faith is a total response to God by which the daily provisions the Lord has furnished in Himself are appropriated, I therefore make the following decisions of faith:

  1. For this day (Heb 3:6,13,15; 4:7) I make the decision of faith to surrender wholly to the authority of God as He has revealed Himself in the Scripture to obey Him. I confess my sin, face the sinful reality of my old nature, and deliberately choose to walk in the light, in step with Christ, throughout the hours of this day (Ro 6:16-20; Phil 2:12,13; I Jn 1:7,9).

  2. For this day I make the decision of faith to surrender wholly to the authority of God as revealed in the Scripture–to believe Him. I accept only His Word as final authority. I now believe that since I have confessed my sin He has forgiven and cleansed me (I Jn 1:9). I accept at full value His Word of promise to be my sufficiency and rest, and will conduct myself accordingly (Ex 33:1; I Co 1:30; II Co 9:8; Phil 4:19).

  3. For this day I make the decision of faith to recognize that God has made every provision so that I may fulfill His will and calling. Therefore, I will not make any excuse for my sin and failure (I Th 5:24).

  4. For this day I make the decision of faith deliberately to receive from God that provision which He has made for me. I renounce all self-effort to live the Christian life and to perform God’s service; renounce all sinful praying which asks God to change circumstances and people so that I may be more spiritual; renounce all drawing back from the work of the Holy Spirit within and the call of God without; and renounce all nonbiblical motives, goals, and activities which serve my sinful pride.

— I now sincerely receive Jesus Christ as my sanctification, particularly as my cleansing from the old nature, and ask the Holy Spirit to apply to me the work of Christ accomplished for me in the crucifixion. In cooperation with and dependence upon Him, I obey the command to “put off the old man” (Ro 6:1-14; I Co 1:30; Gal 6:14; Eph 4:22).

— I now sincerely receive Jesus Christ as my sanctification, particularly as my enablement moment by moment to live above sin, and ask the Holy Spirit to apply to me the work of the resurrection so that I may walk in newness of life. I confess that only God can deal with my sin and only God can produce holiness and the fruit of the Spirit in my life. In cooperation with and dependence upon Him, I obey the command to “put on the new man” (Ro 6:1-4; Eph 4:24).

— I now sincerely receive Jesus Christ as my deliverance from Satan and take my position with Him in the heavenlies, asking the Holy Spirit to apply to me the work of the ascension. In His Name I submit myself to God and stand against all of Satan’s influence and subtlety. In cooperation with and dependence upon God, I obey the command to “resist the devil” (Eph 1:20- 23; 2:5; 4:27; 6:10-18; Col 1:13; Ja 4:7; I Pe 3:22; 5:89).

— I now sincerely receive the Holy Spirit as my anointing for every aspect of life and service for today. I fully open my life to Him to fill me afresh in obedience to the command to “be filled with the Holy Spirit” (Eph 5:18; Jn 7:37-39; 14:16,17; 15:26,27; 16:7-15; Ac 1:8).

“Having made this confession and these decisions of faith, I now receive God’s promised rest for this day (Heb 4:1-13). Therefore, I relax in the trust of faith, knowing that in the moment of temptation, trial, or need, the Lord Himself will be there as my strength and sufficiency (I Co 10:13).”

The Warfare Prayer

Another doctrinal tool that has proved of great benefit to me and to many others is the “Warfare Prayer” composed by Dr. Matthews. As a theologian, his unique and thorough way of including sound doctrine in this prayer is most helpful. I would urge anyone facing obvious spiritual warfare to use this prayer daily. It is good to read it aloud as a prayer unto the Lord. Eventually one will be able to incorporate the doctrinal truths expressed into his own prayer life without reading it.

The devil hates this prayer. Usually before working with anyone who has deep demonic affliction, I will request that we read this prayer in unison. Many times the oppressed one can read only with great difficulty. Sometimes sight problems, voice problems, or mind confusion become so intense that the afflicted person can continue only with great effort.

It is the truth of God that Satan cannot resist, and he vigorously fights it being applied against him. Those serious about warfare should daily use a prayer of this type along with other prayer examples shared in this book.


THE WARFARE PRAYER

Heavenly Father, I bow in worship and praise before You. I cover myself with the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ as my protection during this time of prayer. I surrender myself completely and unreservedly in every area of my life to Yourself. I do take a stand against all the workings of Satan that would hinder me in this time of prayer, and I address myself only to the true and living God and refuse any involvement of Satan in my prayer.

[Satan, I command you, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, to leave my presence with all your demons, and I bring the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ between us.]

Heavenly Father, I worship You, and I give You praise. I recognize that You are worthy to receive all glory and honor and praise. I renew my allegiance to You and pray that the blessed Holy Spirit would enable me in this time of prayer.

I am thankful, heavenly Father, that You have loved me from past eternity, that You sent the Lord Jesus Christ into the world to die as my substitute that I would be redeemed. I am thankful that the Lord Jesus Christ came as my representative, and that through Him You have completely forgiven me; You have given me eternal life; You have given me the perfect righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ so I am now justified. I am thankful that in Him You have made me complete, and that You have offered Yourself to me to be my daily help and strength.

Heavenly Father, come and open my eyes that I might see how great You are and how complete Your provision is for this new day. I do, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, take my place with Christ in the heavenlies with all principalities and powers (powers of darkness and wicked spirits) under my feet.

I am thankful that the victory the Lord Jesus Christ won for me on the cross and in His resurrection has been given to me and that I am seated with the Lord Jesus Christ in the heavenlies; therefore, I declare that all principalities and powers and all wicked spirits are subject to me in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

I am thankful for the armor You have provided, and I put on the girdle of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the sandals of peace, the helmet of salvation. I lift up the shield of faith against all the fiery darts of the enemy, and take in my hand the sword of the spirit, the Word of God, and use Your Word against all the forces of evil in my life; and I put on this armor and live and pray in complete dependence upon You, blessed Holy Spirit.

I am grateful, heavenly Father, that the Lord Jesus Christ spoiled all principalities and powers and made a show of them openly and triumphed over them in Himself. I claim all that victory for my life today. I reject out of my life all the insinuations, the accusations, and the temptations of Satan.

I affirm that the Word of God is true, and I choose to live today in the light of God’s Word. I choose, heavenly Father, to live in obedience to You and in fellowship with Yourself. Open my eyes and show me the areas of my life that would not please You. Work in my life that there be no ground to give Satan a foothold against me.

Show me any area of weakness. Show me any area of my life that I must deal with so that I would please You. I do in every way today stand for You and the ministry of the Holy Spirit in my life.

By faith and in dependence upon You, I put off the old man and stand into all the victory of the crucifixion where the Lord Jesus Christ provided cleansing from the old nature. I put on the new man and stand into all the victory of the resurrection and the provision He has made for me there to live above sin.

Therefore, in this day, I put off the old nature with its selfishness, and I put on the new nature with its love. I put off the old nature with its fear and I put on the new nature with its courage. I put off the old nature with its weakness and I put on the new nature with its strength. I put off today the old nature with all its deceitful lusts and I put on the new nature with all its righteousness and purity.

I do in every way stand into the victory of the ascension and the glorification of the Son of God where all principalities and powers were made subject to Him, and I claim my place in Christ victorious with Him over all the enemies of my soul. Blessed Holy Spirit, I pray that You would fill me. Come into my life, break down every idol and cast out every foe.

I am thankful, heavenly Father, for the expression of Your will for my daily life as You have shown me in Your Word. I therefore claim all the will of God for today.

I am thankful that You have blessed me with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. I am thankful that You have begotten me unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. I am thankful that You have made a provision so that today I can live filled with the Spirit of God with love and joy and self-control in my life. And I recognize that this is Your will for me, and I therefore reject and resist all the endeavors of Satan and of his demons to rob me of the will of God.

I refuse in this day to believe my feelings, and I hold up the shield of faith against all the accusations and against all the insinuations that Satan would put in my mind. I claim the fullness of the will of God for today.

I do, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, completely surrender myself to You, heavenly Father, as a living sacrifice. I choose not to be conformed to this world. I choose to be transformed by the renewing of my mind, and I pray that You would show me Your will and enable me to walk in all the fullness of the will of God today.

I am thankful, heavenly Father, that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds, to the casting down of imaginations and every high thing that exalted itself against the knowledge of God, and to bring every thought into obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore in my own life today I tear down the strongholds of Satan, and I smash the plans of Satan that have been formed against me. I tear down the strongholds of Satan against my mind, and I surrender my mind to You, blessed Holy Spirit.

I affirm, heavenly Father, that You have not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. I break and smash the strongholds of Satan formed against my emotions today, and I give my emotions to You. I smash the strongholds of Satan formed against my will today, and I give my will to You, and choose to make the right decisions of faith. I smash the strongholds of Satan formed against my body today, and I give my body to You, recognizing that I am Your temple; and I rejoice in Your mercy and Your goodness.

Heavenly Father, I pray that now through this day You would quicken me; show me the way that Satan is hindering and tempting and lying and counterfeiting and distorting the truth in my life. Enable me to be the kind of person that would please You. Enable me to be aggressive in prayer. Enable me to be aggressive mentally and to think Your thoughts after You, and to give You Your rightful place in my life.

Again, I now cover myself with the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ and pray that You, blessed Holy Spirit, would bring all the work of the crucifixion, all the work of the resurrection, all the work of the glorification, and all the work of Pentecost into my life today. I surrender myself to You.

I refuse to be discouraged. You are the God of all hope. You have proven Your power by resurrecting Jesus Christ from the dead, and I claim in every way Your victory over all satanic forces active in my life, and I reject these forces; and I pray in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ with thanksgiving. Amen.

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The Nature of God – What do you mean by God’s nature – Bible Study – FATHER ,JESUS – often referred to as the Son or “the Word of God” -THE HOLY SPIRIT

The Nature of God - What do you mean by God's nature - Bible Study - FATHER ,JESUS - often referred to as the Son or "the Word of God" -THE HOLY SPIRIT

“What do you mean by God’s ‘nature’?”

God’s ‘nature’ means His characteristics, His attributes, His qualities.
 

“I read somewhere that man can’t really know anything about the nature of God.”

Among others, Smith, George H. Atheism: The Case Against God. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books 1989 correctly points out that man can never truly understand the essential nature of a god.  However, we can have an approximate understanding of God’s nature, a “working definition”, and that is all we really need.  God tells us about Himself in the Bible and He came in person and showed us what He is like in the person of Jesus Christ.
 

“What is the nature of the God Christians believe in?  What are His characteristics, His attributes, His qualities?  What is He like?”

Christianity claims that the God of all things is unique in that He alone has the following divine characteristics (in no particular order):

  1. SUPREMACY  The God of Judaism and Christianity is the Supreme Being.  He is not merely a different type of being or a superior being but the Supreme Being.

  2. UNIQUENESS  God is unique.  The Bible describes Him in Greek as monogenesis, i.e., “one of a kind”, “having a unique nature.”

  3. ETERNALNESS He always has existed and always will exist.  He had no beginning and will never cease to exist.  (Also see IMMORTAL below.)

  4. OMNISCIENCE He knows all things.

  5. OMNIPOTENCE He is all powerful.

  6. OMNIPRESENCE He is everywhere at the same time.

  7. SELF-EXISTENT God is the only thing that had no beginning, that was not created by something else.

  8. HOLINESS  Holy means pure, undefiled.

  9. TRIUNE NATURE The one God is a single “trinity” consisting of three distinct “persons”:

    1. FATHER
    2. JESUS – often referred to as the Son or “the Word of God”
    3. THE HOLY SPIRIT

    Don’t get hung up on the “how can one be three?” issue! Remember–we are imperfect, natural human beings with physical bodies trying to understand a perfect, supernatural spiritual being that does not have a physical body. (Jesus’ physical body was created; He did not always have a physical body.) The best we can possibly hope for is just a “working definition”. Trying to understand the “triune” nature of God intellectually is like trying to understand intellectually why some things smell nice and some things don’t, without actually smelling anything.

    Also see Another Look at the Trinity at http://www.carm.org/doctrine/trinitylook.htm

  10. THEISTIC  Deistic and theistic are adjectives from the field of comparative religion. They describe the relationship between a god and that which it creates.  A deistic god is one that would distance itself from that which it creates, one the would not get involved in the activities of the things it created.  A deistic god would essentially be an “absentee father” god — it would create a universe and then sit back and says “I made you, but I don’t want to get involved.  You’re on your own!”  The God of the Bible is theistic. He does not distance Himself from that which He creates. He gets actively involved in the activities of the things He created.  In fact, the God of the Bible ‘micromanages’ things.

  11. TRANSCENDENT  God transcends that which He created, i.e., He “goes beyond” that which He created, He is not limited to, He is not bound by that which He created.  For example, in the physical universe it is impossible for a single being to consist of three distinct persons, but God is not limited by physical laws, so He can be one God and yet consist of three distinct persons.

 
Christianity claims that, in addition, this unique God shares the following characteristics with certain other things:

  1. ALIVE The one God is a living being.

  2. PERSONAL God is a living person with thoughts, reactions, etc., not an impersonal thing.

  3. SPIRIT  A spirit is a living being that is incorporeal, i.e., it does not possess a physical body. Note that Jesus took on a physical human body.  It is not an inherent part of His nature. By comparison, our bodies are part of our human nature but we put on clothes.

  4. INTELLIGENCE
  5. SENTIENCE  A sentient being has intelligence, and also is aware of its own existence, and aware that there is a ‘big picture’.  For instance, cats, dogs, and horses have intelligence but probably are not sentient.

  6. IMMORTAL  God is a being that will live forever.

    Note the technical difference between eternalness and immortality: God is eternal because had He had no beginning.  He also is immortal because He will live forever. Humans, angels, demons, etc., are immortal because we will never cease to exist, but not eternal because we did not always exist.

    It is important to realize that in practice eternal and immortal are often used interchangeably and the technical difference is not always maintained.

  7. SEPARATE  God is separate from that which He created.  The universe itself is not God. (The opposite is pantheism.  Some “nature” religions believe that the universe itself is god.)

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Nature of God – How to Pass God’s Tests (Genesis 22) – Bible Scriptures – Existence of God – Trinity

Nature of God - How to Pass God’s Tests (Genesis 22) - Bible Scriptures - Existence of God - TrinityGod is Love God is Wrathful God is Immutable God is Omniscient God is Omnipotent God is Holy God is Sovereign1

Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.” Early the next morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.” Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?” “Yes, my son?” Abraham replied. “The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together. When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide… (Genesis 22)

Interpretation Question: What is the difference between a test (or a trial) and a temptation?

What are characteristics of God’s tests and how can we faithfully pass them?

As we study Abraham’s life, it is clear God brought him through many tests. In Genesis 12, he was called to leave his home and family to go to a land that God would show him. He was challenged with the family test. For many of us, leaving our family to do what God has called us to do, or doing what God has called us to do in spite of family is a difficult test.

Abraham arrived at the promised land only to find a famine. He lacked resources and had to decide whether to trust God or not. He had the famine test. In Genesis 13, Abraham’s herdsmen and Lot’s herdsmen had a conflict in the promised land. There he encountered the conflict test. In Genesis 14, he went to fight against the four armies of the east with his 300 men and a few alliances. Abraham had the warfare test.

While Abraham followed God, he faced many tests, and we will as well. James 1:2–3 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.”

God takes us through tests to try our faith and discern its composition. Is it genuine or false? Is it weak or strong? Furthermore, since God has great plans for each of his children, tests are preparation for greater works, just as tests in school. Believers go through tests to build and strengthen their faith. Without believing in God, nothing is possible. Therefore, tests are the lot of God’s children because they must be prepared for the things God desires them to accomplish.

In this narrative, Abraham encountered a very difficult test primarily because of the great call on his life. Abraham was called to be a great nation and through his seed all nations would be blessed. Essentially, the gospel was to come through Abraham and his family. In order to fulfill this, Abraham needed to be tested and built up, and so do we.

How do we pass God’s tests? In considering this, let’s clarify that God never tempts believers to sin. James 1:13–14 says,

When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.

God does not tempt anyone because he is holy and perfect; however, he does test believers. God tests his children to make their faith strong, and Satan tempts them to make it weak. In fact, I would add that whenever God tests believers, Satan always comes behind to tempt them. God tested Adam and Eve in the garden. He said, “Do not eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and if you do, you will surely die.” Then Satan came and tempted them to fail the test.

In every trial God brings, we can be sure that Satan comes behind to tempt us with our own natural desires (cf. James 1:14). Maybe, he tempts us with our desire for safety, for pleasure, or to be known and esteemed. But, he tempts us to fail God’s tests by using our natural desires within us.

How can we pass God’s tests? In Genesis 22, we learn a great deal from Abraham about passing God’s tests.

Big Question: What can we learn about passing God’s tests from the Genesis 22 narrative?

To Pass God’s Tests, We Must Expect Them

Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.” When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. (Genesis 22:1–3)

After God told Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Abraham did not question God or respond with shock or anger, he just went to bed and the next day obeyed. In contrast with previous narratives, Abraham often dialogued with God.

In Genesis 15:1, God showed up to Abraham and said, “I am your shield, your very great reward.” Abraham replied, “‘O Sovereign LORD, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?’ … ‘You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir’” (v. 2–3). This is not a man who is afraid to converse with God, especially when he doesn’t understand or agree.

In Genesis 17:18, when God told Abraham that he was going to have a son in his old age with Sarah, he responded by requesting a blessing over Ishmael. He said, “If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!” Abraham essentially said, “What about Ishmael?”

In Genesis 18, when God told Abraham he was about to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, where Lot lived, Abraham immediately responded by questioning and petitioning God. Genesis 18:23–25 says,

Then Abraham approached him and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?”

The word “approached” in Genesis 18:23 was used of a lawyer about to plead his case. Abraham went before God and pleaded Sodom and Gomorrah’s case. He, in humility, challenged the Lord’s righteousness. He essentially said, “Lord, you are righteous, you will not do such a thing.” However, when God called Abraham to sacrifice his own son, he said nothing.

I think he had learned to expect tests from God and also to trust him. Since Abraham began following God, he experienced many tests and for each one God showed himself faithful, even when Abraham wasn’t faithful. When Abraham lied to Pharaoh and Abimelech about his wife, each time God protected him and his wife. Abraham knew God was faithful, and he had learned to trust him.

With that said, one of things that we must learn if we are going to pass God’s tests is to expect them. As a general rule, if we take a test without knowing about it, we typically fail.

And, to be honest, many believers fail God’s tests, in part, by not expecting them. They get mad at God. They are shocked by the difficulty they encountered. Some even fall away from God when tests come.

In Matthew 13:20–21, the Parable of the Sower, Jesus describes people who receive the Word of God on stony ground. They receive it with joy, but when trouble or persecution comes they quickly fall away. The implication is that these people weren’t expecting it and, therefore, weren’t prepared.

Peter said this to Christians suffering for their faith in the Roman Empire: “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you” (1 Pet 4:12). He said don’t be surprised and don’t think it’s strange. Essentially, he says, “Expect it.”

James 1:2 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds.” James doesn’t say “if” you face trials of many kinds but “whenever” you face trials of many kinds. We should expect them.

The Christian life is a series of trials and tests because these reveal and strengthen our faith. If we are going to pass God’s tests, we must expect them. They are part of life.

Application Question: What is your typical response to a trial? How can you respond better?

To Pass God’s Tests, We Must Understand God Already Prepared Us

Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.” (Genesis 22:1–2)

The next thing we must understand about passing God’s test is that God has already prepared us. Now, as we read this narrative on Abraham, we cannot but notice the similarity to what happened in the previous chapter. In Genesis 21, Isaac was a toddler, and the family celebrated his weaning. During this celebration, Abraham’s other son, Ishmael, stood at a distance and mocked Isaac. In Galatians 4:29, Paul actually says he “persecuted” him.

When Sarah saw this, she became angry and told Abraham to throw Hagar and Ishmael out, for the son of the slave woman would not share the inheritance of her son, Isaac. The text said this greatly distressed Abraham (Gen 21:11). He loved his son. However, God spoke to Abraham and comforted him. He told Abraham to let him go, that God’s presence would be with Ishmael, and that Ishmael would become a nation (v. 12–13). Therefore, Abraham let his son go.

Now only a chapter later, God asks for Abraham’s other son. With Ishmael, Abraham could send him away because he knew that God was faithful and that he would provide for him. And now, in this narrative, probably well over ten years later, Abraham had watched God’s faithfulness with his son Ishmael. He married and God was prospering him, which only further confirmed Abraham’s faith. Abraham had been trained, not only because of that test, but because of many previous tests.

This is true for us, as well. God never takes us through a test that he has not prepared us for. That wouldn’t be fair. Why give his children tests they couldn’t pass? He only gives what we can handle by his grace. Consider 1 Corinthians 10:13,

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

God is faithful; he will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear and with the temptation he always provides away to “stand up” or bear it. I cannot but think of the disciples right before Christ went to the cross. John 18:7–9 describes the events:

Again he asked them, “Who is it you want?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” “I told you that I am he,” Jesus answered. “If you are looking for me, then let these men go.” This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: “I have not lost one of those you gave me.” (John 18:7–9)

Why did Christ ask the soldiers who they wanted? It was because he was protecting his disciples. They were not yet ready to be martyrs, and he was making sure none of them would ultimately turn away from him. He was keeping their faith.

God does the same with us. He only puts us into trials he has prepared us for. Now, we still have to make use of that preparation. We must use the resources God gave us in the church—godly counsel and mentors. We must continually discipline ourselves unto godliness by studying Scripture, prayer, and serving (cf. 1 Tim 4:7). We must also flee from all appearance of evil as he has taught us (1 Thess 5:22). In doing this, we put on the armor of God to stand against spiritual attacks (Eph 6:10–13). If we fail the test, it is not for lack of preparation or resources. God has given us everything needed for life and godliness (cf. 2 Pet 1:3).

The trial may seem like too much, but if we look back over previous tests encountered and teachings received, he has prepared us to faithfully stand. We must take comfort in this, as we go through tests. He is a loving father who never allows us to encounter something we are unprepared for.

Application Question: As you consider the various tests you’ve encountered, how can you see God’s faithful preparation for these tests?

To Pass God’s Tests, We Must Understand They Will Often Seem Illogical

Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.” (Genesis 22:1–2)

As we consider the Lord’s command, it must have seemed illogical to Abraham, as it may to us. God promised Abraham that Isaac would become a great nation and all nations would be blessed through him (cf. Gen 12:1–3, 21:12). How could this happen if Abraham sacrificed Isaac?

Interestingly, “to an ancient Middle Easterner, ‘burnt offering’ suggested a process: first cutting the offering’s throat, then dismemberment, and then a sacrifice by fire in which the body parts were completely consumed on the altar.”1 How could Abraham even bare this image? And, how could this fit with the Lord’s previous promises? It must have clearly sounded illogical to Abraham.

No doubt, many times in our lives, the tests God allowed us to go through, at least at first, didn’t make any sense. We asked ourselves these types of questions, “Why would God allow me to go through this?” “Why did this happen to my friend or my family member?” God’s tests often are confusing.

For Abraham, sacrificing one’s son to a deity was not foreign to his worldview. This was common to the Canaanite religions. The people sacrificed children to appease their gods (cf. Lev 18:21, 24). Maybe, Abraham reasoned to himself, “If the pagan gods are worthy of such affection, then most certainly it must be true of my God.” We can only speculate.

Abraham did not have the benefit of the progressive revelation that God has given us in Scripture. In the Mosaic law, human sacrifice was clearly forbidden. Again, this must have been very confusing and difficult for Abraham, as it is for us to understand. I’m not sure one can give a fully satisfying answer to the morality of God’s command. However, with that said, we can say that God is all wise and all just. Therefore, his will is always perfect. Secondly, we can also, unequivocally, say that this is nothing God would ever require today. It is clearly forbidden throughout Scripture.

But the point remains the same; many times God’s tests will be a logical struggle for us. We must take comfort in the fact that God is infinite and that we are finite. He knows all things and our insight is limited at best. Consider what God said in Isaiah 55:8–10:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

God’s ways are not our ways and his thoughts are not our thoughts. His thoughts and ways are higher than ours, and we must take great comfort in this. And for that reason, we must, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5).

We must trust him with all our heart because our understanding is flawed and there is no better guide or leader than him. Unless we do that, God’s tests and trials will lead us to bitterness, anger, frustration, and confusion, instead of a deeper trust in his faithfulness. Lord, we trust you.

Application Question: Have you ever experienced or witnessed a test that seemed illogical, at least at first? How can we trust God at those times?

To Pass God’s Tests, We Must Understand They Often Involve Our Greatest Treasures

Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.” (Genesis 22:1–2)

Next, we must notice that God’s test potentially involved Abraham’s greatest treasure—his only son. As a father, I can say that the most sensitive and vulnerable area in my life is my daughter. I remember when she was a toddler, I would often go to bed at night praying over her feet, toes, and head. I wanted God to protect every part of her body. I got scared when seeing doors. Just the reality that her finger could get caught in a door frightened me. It is very common for children to take this special place in a parent’s heart.

In fact, I cannot but wonder if Abraham’s affection for his son took a dangerous place in his heart. He wanted a child with Sarah, probably, ever since he was married. His previous name, Abram, meant “exalted father.” As he started to age, the snickers around him probably increased. His name meant exalted father, but he had no children. And for a time, after God named him “Abraham,” meaning “father of a nation,” at ninety-nine years old, maybe the snickers turned into roars. People probably said, “You’re changing your name to what? Why? Sarah, your wife is barren!”

Therefore, when God gave him a miracle child at the age of 100, maybe his affection grew too deep, bordering on idolatry. And the depth of his affection, no doubt, grew as he dealt with the pain of Ishmael’s leaving. Quite possibly, he dealt with his hurt by loving Isaac even more.

This is the reason that when we start following Christ, he calls us to hate our father, mother, wife, children, brother, sister, and even our own life to be his disciple (Luke 14:26). Our love for anything else, including family, must look like hate in comparison to our love for God. The greatest command is to love God with all our heart, mind, and soul. God will not have any rivals for our love.

Perhaps, this is why God asked for his son. Maybe, his love progressed to the brink of idolatry. But, we must hear and understand that this is common for God’s test. God often tests us where our affections are strongest.

Do you find your identity in work, studies, hobbies, friends, family, or a significant other? Then have no doubt that is where God will test you. Where ever our heart is, God will test us.

When God tests our most vulnerable areas, the tests are meant to help loosen our grip on these things and make our hearts cling more to God.

Application Question: How should we respond to this reality of God testing us in the areas of our greatest treasures?

  1. It should deliver us from surprise when encountering such tests.
  2. It should warn us against idolizing anything.
  3. It should challenge us to make God our focus.

Are you guarding and protecting your heart (Prov 4:23)? God must always be first.

Application Question: What areas of your life are you most prone to idolize? How have you experienced God’s tests in your most sensitive areas, your treasures? How can we protect our hearts from loving gifts over the Giver?

To Pass God’s Tests, We Must Practice Immediate Obedience

Early the next morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. (Genesis 22:3)

Interpretation Question: What can we discern from the fact that in the morning Abraham got up, saddled the donkey, took two servants and Isaac, cut the wood, and then set out for the place God called him to?

After God spoke to Abraham, presumably at night, the narrator tells us that the next morning Abraham saddled the donkey, gathered two servants and Isaac, cut the wood, and set out for the place God called him to go. He immediately obeyed.

Now certainly this wasn’t easy. In fact, some commentators have noted the fact that Abraham saddled his donkey before he cut the wood, which doesn’t make any sense.2 Normally, one would cut the wood and then saddle the donkey. Maybe, he was a little disoriented after a night without sleep. However, he still immediately obeyed God. This must be true of us as well. We must practice immediate obedience when we encounter God’s tests.

Application Question: What happens if we practice delayed obedience or rebellion in response to God’s test?

When we do not practice immediate obedience, it opens the door for the enemy to tempt us. He will try to draw us into questioning God. He will lead us to depression, discouragement, and ultimately sin. To sin in God’s test only leads to repeating the test. Like Israel, we end up spending years going around the same mountain in the wilderness. To practice disobedience, only brings God’s discipline and a repetition of the test. In addition, the repeated test only gets harder because our hearts become even more attached to whatever sin we struggle with.

Application Question: What happens when we practice immediate obedience?

When practicing immediate obedience to God’s tests, instead of receiving his discipline, we experience God’s blessing. James 1:25 says, “But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.”

The doer of God’s Word receives his blessings. God’s blessing may manifest as joy in the trial. While being disobedient in God’s tests, we often experience discouragement and depression (cf. Ps 32), but while being faithful, God enables us to find joy even in hard times. God’s blessing also gives us strength to persevere and be faithful. No doubt, Abraham experienced many of these blessings as he immediately obeyed God. If he had stayed at home and delayed obedience, the enemy of our souls and his would have tempted and tormented him.

Are you practicing immediate obedience in your trial? Or are you practicing procrastination and disobedience?

Application Question: Why is immediate obedience in trials so important? What are some of the consequences of delayed obedience or disobedience to God in trials?

To Pass God’s Tests, We Must Have the Right Attitude

On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.” (Genesis 22:4–5)

The trip took about three days to get to the region of Moriah (v. 4), which is where Jerusalem is today.3 Many believe Abraham, his servants, and his son ascended Golgotha, the same mountain Christ was crucified on, outside the gate of Jerusalem.

When they saw the place in the distance, Abraham told his servants to stay while he and the boy went up the mountain to “worship.” What stands out about this is Abraham’s view of this test. He called the sacrifice of his son worship to God.

I don’t think Abraham was lying or being deceptive. It was indeed worship to God. He was on his way to sacrifice to the Lord, and he saw it as worship.

This must be true of us as well when going through God’s tests. We must see them as our reasonable worship. Romans 12:1 says: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.”

Paul said that we should offer our bodies as living sacrifices to God, as an act of worship. Sacrifice is never easy. Sacrifice has the connotation of pain, and pain is not enjoyable. However, sacrifice can be worship to God if offered and given with the right attitude. And that is how Abraham saw his life and sacrifice, as worship to God.

The very reason many of us get angry at God, when going through trials, is because we see our life as worship to us. If a trial brings pain or discomfort, we get upset, because our lives are often more about ourselves than God. Our lives are about our success and happiness and anything that hinders those goals creates anger or animosity in us.

However, when we see our lives as sacrificial worship to God, it will change our response to tests and trials. Romans 5:3–4 says, “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”

We rejoice in trials because they ultimately lead us to hope in God. Trials take our hopes off our jobs, hobbies, family, friends, and dreams, and help us place our hopes, where they belong—with God. That is why going through tests and trials can cause rejoicing. It can only cause rejoicing when the purpose of our life is really God. We rejoice because trials help us ultimately know and trust God more.

Our attitude is very important in trials. If we have the wrong attitude, if we are complainers and whiners, then we will fail the test and bring God’s discipline on our lives. Philippians 2:14 says, “Do all things without complaining and arguing.” First Thessalonians 5:18 says, “give thanks in all circumstances because this is God’s will for our lives.”

When Israel complained while being tested in the wilderness, God disciplined them (1 Cor 10:10). The wilderness was not worship to them, because it took away their comfort. But if their true desire was to know and trust God more, the wilderness could have become their greatest joy.

Paul said this in 2 Corinthians 12:9–10:

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Paul’s trials became the subject of his boast because it was when he was weak that Christ’s power rested on him. For Paul the tests were worship, as it was with Abraham. Tests drew them both closer to God which was their ultimate desire. This should be true for us as well.

What is your attitude while going through tests?

Application Question: What is your typical attitude when God’s tests you? How can we learn to be thankful instead of bitter in our tests?

To Pass God’s Tests, We Must Have Faith

On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.” Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?” “Yes, my son?” Abraham replied. “The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together. (Genesis 22:4–8)

Interpretation Question: Why did Abraham tell his servants that he and Isaac would go up the mountain and then come back? What was his reasoning?

We also must notice how Abraham not only shares that he and his son were going to worship but also that he said, “we will come back to you.” Now, was Abraham lying? We know Abraham had a tendency to stretch the truth. However, it seems Abraham was responding in faith. Hebrews 11:17–19 says:

By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death.

The author of Hebrews says the reason Abraham offered his son was because he reasoned that God could raise the dead. When Abraham said, “we will come back to you,” it was because he believed that if he sacrificed his son, God would raise him from the dead. This was great faith, especially since up to this point in biblical history there were no previous resurrections.

Abraham throughout his journey learned that God was trustworthy and that he could not tell a lie. If God said it was through Isaac that his offspring would be reckoned, then it made sense that God would indeed raise him from the dead.

We also see his faith in how he responded to Isaac when asked about the lamb. Abraham responded, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son” (v. 8). Abraham didn’t exactly know how, but he knew that God would provide.

This must be true of us as well, when going through God’s test. We must have faith. Hebrews 11:6 says, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” In order to please God in a test, we must believe in him. We must believe in his goodness and his faithfulness to his people. We may not fully understand why or how, but we must trust him. The writer of Hebrews says that God rewards those who come to him with faith.

Are you trusting God in your trial? Faith is necessary to please God and to pass the test.

Application Question: Why should we trust God when going through trials? How can we increase our faith as we go through them?

To Pass God’s Tests, We Must Depend on Others

When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. (Genesis 22:9–10)

When they reached the place God told Abraham to go, Abraham built an altar, arranged the wood on it, and then bound Isaac and placed him on the altar. The narrator mentions nothing about a struggle. Abraham was probably at least 116 years old at this time. We can guess this by the fact that the same Hebrew word for “boy” used of Isaac in this text was used of Ishmael in Genesis 21, who was sixteen at the time.4 Abraham was an old man. Isaac was stronger and faster at sixteen years old, and therefore, it would have been very difficult for Abraham to bind and place him on the altar without his cooperation.

The implication is that Isaac cooperated with Abraham. Maybe, while on top of the mountain, Abraham shared God’s command to sacrifice him and, at the same time, assured him of God’s faithfulness. No doubt, Abraham taught Isaac many times that a great nation would come through him, and that all the nations of the earth would be blessed through him. It is clear that not only did Abraham have great faith, but so did his son.

With that said, one of the principles we can learn from this about passing God’s tests is that we will also commonly need the cooperation and support of other believers to pass God’s tests. The Christian life was never meant to be walked alone. We need brothers and sisters supporting us and helping us get through.

In fact, if God calls us to any great work or to go through any great test, one of the right answers to the test will be, “Phone a friend”—get help. Scripture teaches that as Christians we are part of the body of Christ. One person is the hand, another is an eye, another is the liver, and another is a leg. In order for me to accomplish anything with my body, I need the cooperation of other parts. My leg cannot function without my hip, knees, and muscles doing their part.

Is it any surprise that this reality also applies to us when going through tests? We need the wisdom, the insight, the prayers, and support of others to be faithful in tests. Consider what Paul said about him being a prisoner in Rome and his eventual deliverance in Philippians 1:19: “for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.”

Paul was convinced that the prayers of a tiny congregation in Philippi were enough to thwart the plans of the Roman Empire. That is how confident he was in their prayers. It also showed his dependence upon them to receive deliverance.

What are you seeking deliverance from? Is it unforgiveness, anger, discord, depression, or some other sin? You can be confident that much of the grace of God needed to pass that test will come through the body of Christ. If you neglect the body of Christ, if you are not integrated into the life of a church, you will find yourself spiritually impoverished and failing most tests you go through.

We need one another. In order for Abraham to offer his son in obedience to God, he needed his son’s cooperation and faith as well.

Application Question: In what ways have you received grace through God’s body to pass tests or trials? How has God revealed your need to depend on brothers and sisters in Christ?

To Pass God’s Tests, We Must Understand His Purpose of Revealing What Is in Our Hearts

Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” (Genesis 22:11–12)

As Abraham was about to slay his son, the angel of the Lord commanded him to not lay a hand on the boy. The angel of the Lord was a theophany—a temporary appearance of God in order to reveal himself to his people. Many believe this was a pre-incarnate appearance of Christ. The angel of the Lord said, “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son” (v. 12).

We can discern from the angel’s words one of God’s purposes in Abraham’s trial. It revealed what was in Abraham’s heart. He said, “Now I know that you fear God.” The test revealed that Abraham feared God even more than losing his son. He truly did hate his mother, father, wife, children, brother, sister and even his own life for the Lord’s sake (cf. Luke 14:26–27), as we each are called to do.

In the same way, one of God’s purposes in trials is to reveal what is in our hearts. Consider what Peter said to the Christians suffering in the Roman Empire in 1 Peter 1:6–7:

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

Peter said the trials these Christians were encountering were to prove their faith genuine. The Greek word for “proved” was used of a metallurgist purifying or testing a metal to see if it was genuine.

Now the reality is that God doesn’t need to know what is in our hearts; we need to know what is in our hearts. God already knows everything.

For some professing Christians, trials essentially prove if God is their Lord at all. Remember in Matthew 13:21, the stony ground received the seed of the Word of God, but when trials came, the plant withered because it lacked deep roots. For many going through various trials with church, work, or family instead of drawing them to God, the trials push them away—never to return. They fall away proving that their faith was shallow and not genuine, as Christ taught. Maybe, it was more centered on the church rather than God, and therefore when the church failed them, they fell away. Or, following Christ was more focused on their prosperity, and therefore, when they experienced sickness or difficulty, they left God.

Trials come to reveal what is in our hearts. God said this to the Israelites while they were in the wilderness in Deuteronomy 8:2: “Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.”

God took them through the desert (or the wilderness) to test them and see what was in their hearts. As you know, while the Israelites were in the wilderness, trials revealed complaining, idol worship, sexual immorality, and rebellion. It revealed that “Egypt” was still in their hearts.

This is how many Christians are. When God brings them into a trial, it reveals that the world really rules their hearts. They complain, get drunk, commit sexual immorality, and rebel against authority, just like the Israelites did.

Sometimes people blame their actions on a certain situation or relationship; however, the blame is misdirected. They may say, “I only act this way when I’m around this person.” They say this to relieve blame from themselves. However, the situation or difficult person is really like a fire that brings all the impurities to the surface. It brings anger, lust, bitterness, and lack of faith; it shows what is already in the heart. The person or situation is not the cause—our heart is. The person or situation only revealed the sin already in our heart, which needed to be removed.

I remember stepping down from my pastoral ministry in Chicago and moving back to Texas with my parents, as I applied for new ministry positions. While waiting, I started struggling with my identity. I stepped down from my job in December and wasn’t hired to a new position until June. During that time, I realized that at some point while in ministry, I stopped seeing myself as, “God’s child.” I had become, “Pastor Greg, God’s child.” My identity started to come from my ministry position and not simply my identity in Christ. The trial of waiting revealed what was in my heart.

During that season of waiting, I really drew near God by being in his Word and prayer—to restore my identity as his child. Trials reveal what is in our hearts. That is part of the reason God allows them.

Again, for Abraham, the trial revealed that he feared God, even more than the loss of his son. What do your trials and tests reveal about your heart? Does it reveal anger, pride, lack of faith, or worldliness? Does “Egypt” come out of your heart, as it did with the Israelites while in the wilderness?

One of the reasons God allows tests and trials is to help us know our hearts, so we can repent and be transformed. In the midst of a test, it is good to pray, “Lord, what are you trying to show me about my heart, and how can I change?”

Application Question: What has God revealed about your heart through tests and trials? How has God called you to work on those issues?

To Pass God’s Tests, We Must Depend on God

Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.” (Genesis 22:13–14)

After the Lord stopped Abraham from sacrificing his son, God provided a ram to sacrifice instead. In response to this, Abraham named the place, “The LORD Will Provide,” Jehovah Jireh. Literally, it can be translated, “The Lord Will See to It.”5

To pass God’s tests not only do we need others’ cooperation and support, but we need God’s. God is the one who provides us with grace to make it through trials or to escape them. Remember 1 Corinthians 10:13 says,

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

With every trial or temptation, God always provides a way out or the ability to persevere through the trial.

It is for this reason that we must draw near God in trials (James 4:8). God provides wisdom, strength, and endurance for us to be faithful in it. James said that in every trial we should ask God for wisdom since he provides liberally (James 1:5). Again, Paul said this in Philippians 1:19, “for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.”

Not only was Paul confident of deliverance because of the saint’s prayers but the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ. Paul knew Christ was faithful. He would carry him through. And, Christ will do the same for us during trials. In fact, it is during trials that we will find his grace abundant. Paul said in his weakness, God’s power was made perfect (cf. 2 Cor 12:9).

One of the ways we depend on God and experience his grace in the trials is by abiding in him. Jesus said: “‘I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Whatever fruit needed to pass God’s test grows as we make our home in him. We abide in him through worship, prayer, time in the Word, and fellowship with saints. It was in the midst of Abraham’s worship that God provided a ram, and he will often do the same for us as well.

Are you bearing God’s fruit through abiding in him during trials? God is Jehovah Jireh—our Provider.

He will see to it. He will make sure we have everything needed.

Application Question: In what ways have you seen God miraculously meet your needs or provide grace for you in a trial? What do we have to do in order to receive his grace and provisions?

To Pass God’s Tests, We Must Understand His Purpose of Revealing More of Himself to Us

So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.” (Genesis 22:14)

Not only must we notice that God met Abraham’s needs, but also that Abraham came to know God in a new and deeper way. This is the first time Abraham called God, Jehovah Jireh. As we walked through Abraham’s story, we saw God reveal himself in special ways through each test or trial. When God called Abraham to leave his family and home, he was YAHWEH the covenant God, in Genesis 12:1. When God empowered Abraham to defeat the four armies from the east, God revealed himself as his shield—his very great reward—in Genesis 15:1. In Genesis 17:1, when God told Abraham he was going to have a child in his old age through Sarah, he revealed himself as God Almighty, El Shaddai.

In each trial, we get to know God’s character and person more deeply. In many ways, it is like any close relationship. Our deepest and most intimate relationships typically are formed by going through hard times together. It is in those hard times, we learn to trust them more, and we learn more about their character. That is just what God desires to do with us through trials. He wants to reveal himself in a deeper and more intimate way.

How has God revealed himself to you in the past? Has he shown himself as YAHWEH—the God you are in covenant with? Has he revealed himself as El Shaddai—the God who does miracles? Has he revealed himself as Jehovah Jireh—the one who provides all your needs?

God has many names/character traits he wants to reveal to you. He wants to reveal that he is Jehovah Sabaoth, “The LORD of Hosts.” He is the Lord of the armies of heaven who fights your battles. He wants to reveal that he is Jehovah Rapha, the God who heals you. He wants to reveal that he is Jehovah Roi, the Shepherd who leads you. He wants to reveal that he is Jehovah Shalom, the Lord who gives you peace, even in the midst of storms.

That is one of the greatest things that God does in our lives through tests. He reveals more of who he is to us. Lord, make yourself known. We want to see your glory.

Application Question: What characteristic of God is he revealing to you at this stage of your life?

To Pass God’s Tests, We Must Focus on God’s Reward

The angel of the LORD called to Abraham from heaven a second time and said, “I swear by myself, declares the LORD, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.” (Genesis 22:15–18)

Observation Question: What blessings did God give Abraham after he passed the test?

After God provided the ram for Abraham to sacrifice, he pronounced a blessing on Abraham. He reassured Abraham of his promise to make his descendants like the stars in the sky and the sand of the seashore. But he also gave a further promise of the messiah coming through Abraham’s lineage. He said, “through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me” (v. 18). In Galatians 3:16, Paul teaches that the word “offspring” is singular—referring to Christ.

The reward for being faithful in the test was reassurance and the privilege of the messiah coming through his lineage. It is no different for us. Faithfully navigating the trials of life opens the door for greater rewards from God. Understanding this, helps encourage us to be faithful.

After Job faithfully persevered through his trials, God rewarded him with a double blessing. Paul said this in 2 Corinthians 1:3–4 about the trials God allowed him and his associates to go through:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.

God comforted them in their trials so that they could comfort those in “any trouble” with the comfort they received. When God comforts a believer in a trial, he enables them to comfort others going through various trials, not just the same one. Through trials God equips believers for ministry and expands their outreach.

Have you experienced this before? Sometimes God equips and expands our ministry through trials by giving us not only comfort but compassion. This happened to me. Before going through a battle with depression in college, I had problems crying. I had been hardened by life. But when God took me through a season of struggle, I began to weep—not only for myself, but for others. I began to develop empathy—I could feel the pain of others. He prepared me for ministry through struggle. He enabled me not just to feel but to comfort others with the comfort he gave me.

One of the greatest encouragements to pass God’s test is looking at his reward. James 1:12 says, “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” There is reward on earth, as God matures us and opens doors for further ministry, but there is also great reward in heaven (cf. 2 Cor 4:17–18).

Application Question: In what ways have you experienced God’s reward by faithfully going through his tests? In what ways has he expanded your ministry and your ability to minister?

To Pass God’s Tests, We Must Seek to Magnify Christ

Observation Question: How does Isaac resemble Christ in this text?

As we consider this text, it is almost impossible to miss Isaac’s resemblance to Christ. We see this in many ways:

  1. Like Isaac, Jesus was the only begotten of the Father, whom the Father loved.
  2. Like Isaac, Jesus carried his cross up the hill to the place he would be sacrificed.
  3. Like Isaac, Jesus offered himself willingly. He said, “Father, take this cup from me, nevertheless your will be done.”
  4. Like Isaac, Jesus was crucified on a hill in Jerusalem.
  5. Like Isaac, Jesus was delivered from death on the third day.

The parallels are impossible to miss.

But the reality is this is God’s purpose in every trial and circumstance we encounter in life. Romans 8:28–29 says,

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

God works everything for the purpose of conforming us to Christ’s image and that includes both blessings and trials. They all are for the purpose of making us like Jesus. Therefore, our primary purpose in trials must be becoming like Christ. If we had this mindset in the midst of difficulty, instead of primarily seeking to lessen pain or embarrassment, then we would pass our tests.

It’s a lot easier to pass an exam or a paper if we know what the professor is looking for. God’s purpose in trials is to make us look just like himself. In this text, Abraham looks just like God the Father, and Isaac looks like Jesus the Son. Paul said this about his imprisonment and possible death sentence in Rome:

I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. (Philippians 1:20–21)

What was his expectation, his hope in his trial? It wasn’t to be delivered from death. That was not Paul’s focus. His focus was Christ being exalted in his body whether by life or death. If he lived, he wanted Christ exalted, and if he died, he wanted Christ exalted. That was all that mattered.

The word “exalted” can also be translated “magnified.” He wanted to display the magnificence of Christ in his trial. In the midst of his test, he wanted his body to be a theater where all could clearly see Christ.

Is that your desire when going through a trial or test? Is it that Christ be magnified, both so you could see him more clearly and others as well? Or is it simply to escape the trial? Resembling and glorifying Christ must be our goal in every aspect of life, including our trials.

And for that reason, while going through tests, we must ask ourselves and God, “How can I glorify Christ best?” This is something we must ask because that question leads us to the right answers to pass God’s test.

Application Question: How can we develop a mindset of seeking to glorify Christ in every test or trial? Why is this mindset so difficult to maintain?

Conclusion

How can we pass God’s tests?

  1. To Pass God’s Tests, We Must Expect Them
  2. To Pass God’s Tests, We Must Understand God Already Prepared Us
  3. To Pass God’s Tests, We Must Understand They Often Seem Illogical
  4. To Pass God’s Tests, We Must Understand They Often Involve Our Greatest Treasures
  5. To Pass God’s Tests, We Must Practice Immediate Obedience
  6. To Pass God’s Tests, We Must Have the Right Attitude
  7. To Pass God’s Tests, We Must Have Faith
  8. To Pass God’s Tests, We Must Depend on Others
  9. To Pass God’s Tests, We Must Understand His Purpose of Revealing What Is in Our Hearts
  10. To Pass God’s Tests, We Must Depend on God
  11. To Pass God’s Tests, We Must Understand His Purpose of Revealing More of Himself to Us
  12. To Pass God’s Tests, We Must Focus on God’s Reward
  13. To Pass God’s Tests, We Must Seek to Magnify Christ

Copyright © 2017 Gregory Brown

The primary Scriptures used are New International Version (1984) unless otherwise noted. Other versions include English Standard Version, New Living Translation, New American Standard Bible, and King James Version.

Holy Bible, New International Version ®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®) Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, Copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (NASB) are taken from the New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, and 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Scripture quotations marked (KJV) are from the King James Version of the Bible.

All emphases in Scripture quotations have been added.


1 Hughes, R. K. (2004). Genesis: Beginning and Blessing (p. 301). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

2 Hughes, R. K. (2004). Genesis: Beginning and Blessing (p. 302). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

3 Guzik, David (2012-12-08). Genesis (Kindle Locations 3563–3564). Enduring Word Media. Kindle Edition.

4 Hughes, R. K. (2004). Genesis: Beginning and Blessing (p. 301). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

5 Wiersbe, W. W. (1991). Be Obedient (p. 110). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

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The Nature of God – The Absolute God – God is Love – God is Wrathful – God is Immutable – God is Omniscient – God is Omnipotent – God is Holy – God is Sovereign

God is Love God is Wrathful God is Immutable God is Omniscient God is Omnipotent God is Holy God is Sovereign

The Nature of God

 

The Absolute God

In writing this chapter, I stand on the shoulders of giants indeed. I gratefully acknowledge the tremendous help and influence that the writings of A. W. Pink, J. I. Packer, and Stephen Charnock have been over the years in helping me come to know and understand the Absolute God.

The deacon shifted uneasily in his seat–this interview was not going well at all. He eyed the gentle, but (as far as the deacon was concerned) obstinate middle-aged man seated across from him. He’d been all for Reverend Dodd coming here as pastor two years ago, and the church had nearly doubled in size since his arrival, but he could not stand the preacher’s teachings about the nature of God. Bro. Dodd’s version of God was even a bit scary to Deacon Smith! “Now look here, Reverend, I just can’t believe what you are saying! You are telling me that God’s plans cannot be thwarted, and that He controls all of the events of human history for His own purposes–is that fair? I’ve always thought of God as a gentleman, the kind of fellow that presents His case to you, and lets you work things out. He lets human beings work out the world their own way, except when He decides to intervene in some special case.”

The preacher removed his glasses, rubbed his eyes, and sighed deeply. “Where do you find that in the Bible, Smitty? God never claims to be fair–only just. Fairness is a human standard that changes as often as our perceptions change–God never changes, and His decrees are never altered. God is not, and cannot be, judged by any standard manufactured by men!” The preacher opened his Bible and read several verses out loud that spoke of God’s ruling the affairs of nations, and of His plan for redemption through the sacrifice of the Cross. “Smitty, was it fair for God to send His Son to die for us? Did God ever promise anywhere to take our thoughts, whims, and petty human pride into account in His eternal councils? No! Smitty, God is either absolute, or He is not God!”

The deacon closed his own Bible nervously. “Reverend, I’ve got to go. I, uh, have a business appointment across town.” Without any hesitation, before the pastor could suggest they pray, Deacon Smith got up to leave. At the door, he hesitated, turned, and said, “I’ll say this–you and I don’t worship the same God.” Pastor Dodd never saw Deacon Smith in church again; Smith would not return his calls. He heard some time later that the Smiths had moved their membership to a liberal Protestant church across town.

The story above is true, though the characters are composites. Some of the circumstances, and of course the names, have been changed, but that interview really happened to a preacher in the southern United States in the late 1970s. A prominent layman in an evangelical Baptist church, who had been in the church for many years, had a concept of God which was far removed from the Bible’s picture of Him. This man thought of God as a kind of cosmic grandfather, a good Joe, a fair businessman who minded his own affairs unless some extraordinary circumstance came along. Why, “Smitty’s” God would have felt right at home at the businessman’s luncheon club and on the links at Smitty’s country club. In short, Smitty’s God was a lot like Smitty!

Psalm 50:16-23 But to the wicked, God says: “What right have you to recite my laws or take my covenant on your lips? You hate my instruction and cast my words behind you. When you see a thief, you join with him; you throw in your lot with adulterers. You use your mouth for evil and harness your tongue to deceit. You speak continually against your brother and slander your own mother’s son. These things you have done and I kept silent; you thought I was altogether like you. But I will rebuke you and accuse you to your face. “Consider this, you who forget God, or I will tear you to pieces, with none to rescue: He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God.” (NIV) (Emphasis Added)

What kind of God do you worship? Are you like “Smitty” in our story? Are you like Israel in the passage in Psalms–do you think God is like you? Do you think of God as an errand boy, a cosmic, doddering doting old Grandpa, a gentleman who wouldn’t hurt a flea. Does your God dismiss sin? Is your God at the mercy of Man or Nature? Is your God too small? Is he “Itsy-bitsy, teensy-weensy?”

Or do you worship the God of the Bible? Is your God the God of Joseph, Who turns the evil intent of wicked men to His own use? (Gen. 50:20) Do you worship the God of Job, Whose greatness caused that patriarch to abhor himself and be silent? (Job 42:1-6) Do you fall down in worship of the Holy, Holy, Holy, God of Isaiah? (Isa. 6:1-5) Do you realize that your life is ruled by the Sovereign Ruler and Omniscient God of Daniel? (Dan. 2:20-23, 27-28; 4:34-35) Do you trust in the God of the Psalms, who does as He pleases? (Psa 115:3; 135:6) Do you pray to the God of Abraham, who calls those things that are not as though they were? (Rom 4:17) Have you met the God of Paul, who is King of Kings and Lord of Lords? (1 Tim. 6:14-16).

In this chapter, we look briefly at seven of the many attributes of God. They are certainly not His only attributes, but they are the ones this decadent age disregards the most. Not only are these attributes of God ignored in this era, they are hated and despised by many because of the vaunted independence and self-worship of modern man. The attributes of Sovereignty, Holiness, Omnipotence, Omniscience, and Immutability, Wrath, and Love, set God apart from the false Gods of pagans, and from the false Gods of “Christians” who as A.W. Pink has said, make up their own God out of their imaginations.

Attribute #1–God is Sovereign

God is Sovereign, that is, He is THE BOSS, period. God is subject to no one–no one can tell God what to do or judge His actions. (Rom 9:1-25; Psa 115:3; 135:6) The concept of a sovereign, that is, a ruler with absolute authority who answers to no one, is unfamiliar to most Americans. We may hear of a dictator or “strongman” who has sovereign-like powers, but that is a far cry from the classic definition of a sovereign. In history, a sovereign was a ruler who had absolute authority and who had the right to that authority, usually by heredity or conquest, but even the true sovereigns of history were only a pale reflection of the Sovereign Lord God.

A knife, a bullet, poison, a fever, or at last, time, unseated every sovereign that ever lived–except the eternal Sovereign who lives forever. Omnipotence, which we look at a few pages later, talks about God’s Power and Ability–Sovereignty expresses His authority by right. If we study in detail passages such as Isaiah 40 and Job 38-42, we find that God claims the right to rule based on His creatorship, His eternality, and His solitariness–there is no one like Him.

God defines what is right. If we do not like an action by God, or if we think God is not “fair,” that is irrelevant–whatever God says is right, is right–”Let God be true and every man a liar . . .” (Rom 3:4). Whatever God does, is, by definition, right. We do not have any basis upon which to challenge any action of His, because His is the only viewpoint that counts (Rom 9:11-21; Dan. 4:34-35).

God’s rulership is universal. It is not confined by time or place. God sovereignly rules the affairs of nations. He is not waiting to see what the latest political developments are going to be–he is arranging the circumstances of the universe to fit His purposes. He does not cause the sinful actions of men and nations in this, nor does He make people act like robots. Just how He rules is mysterious, but we know that He does it by intervention in history (Acts 17:26-27; Isa 46:9-11).

Psalm 115:3 Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him. (NIV)

Psalm 135:6 The LORD does whatever pleases him, in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths. (NIV)

Attribute #2–God is Holy

Holy is a Bible term that means “set apart.” God is separate from all other things, and is 100% pure in everything. He is set apart because of who He is. His very nature and attributes set Him apart as unique from all else, and Holiness is, in a sense, His central attribute. Like the hub of a giant wheel, His Holiness defines the infinite degree of His other perfections. Is God sovereign? Yes, and He is perfectly so, infinitely so–He is set apart in the perfection of His sovereignty. Is God loving? Yes, and His love is perfect and completely surpasses any other love by any other creature. Is God omnipotent and omniscient? Yes, and His power and knowledge are infinite, again, setting Him apart from all His creatures. Revelation 15:4 says of God “. . . You alone are Holy.” Moses, in his song says “. . . Who among the ‘gods’ is like you, O LORD. . . majestic in Holiness.” Eternity will be a joyous celebration of the Holy God. We get a glimpse of the scene in heaven by the visions of Isaiah and the aged apostle John, as well as those of the book of Psalms:

Revelation 4:8 Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. Day and night they never stop saying: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.” (NIV)

Isaiah 6:1-3 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. (Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” (NIV)

Psalm 99:9 Exalt the LORD our God and worship at his holy mountain, for the LORD our God is holy. (NIV)

Psalm 33:21 In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. (NIV)

Psalm 77:13 Your ways, O God, are holy. What god is so great as our God? (NIV)

Psalm 89:18 Indeed, our shield belongs to the LORD, our king to the Holy One of Israel. (NIV)

Psalm 105:3 Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice. (NIV)

Psalm 145:21 My mouth will speak in praise of the LORD. Let every creature praise his holy name for ever and ever. (NIV)

Attribute #3–God is Omnipotent

God is all-powerful. The wags and lovers of arguments have much fun with this one, asking ridiculous questions like “If God is Omnipotent, can he make a mountain so big that He can’t lift it? If He can, then He isn’t all powerful, because He can’t lift it, and if He can’t, then He isn’t all-powerful because He can’t make the mountain so big He can’t lift it.” Of course, the answer is that the all-powerful God is infinite, and there is no limit to His infinity! The armchair “philosopher’s” question tries to impose on God a set of circumstances based on human logic and reason, like the false human standard of “fairness.” The fact is, whatever God wants to accomplish, He can accomplish! There is no limit to His might! Divine Sovereignty expresses God’s RIGHT to do whatever He pleases, Omnipotence expresses His ABILITY.

Isaiah 43:13 Yes, and from ancient days I am he. No one can deliver out of my hand. When I act, who can reverse it?” (NIV)

Job 42:2 I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted. (NIV)

Attribute #4–God is Omniscient

God knows everything. Again, our little minds have difficulty even fathoming the breadth and depth of that statement. God knows things that we cannot even conceive–He knows our thoughts, our sins, our innermost desires (Heb 4:13), and He knows our destiny. God is, says the Psalmist, of “infinite understanding” (Psalm 147:4-5) Nothing can be hidden from Him (Job 34:21-23).

God also has foreknowledge, which is a concept with two aspects, prescience and preaquaintanceship. Prescience refers to God’s knowledge of events, situations, and persons in general, before they happen or come into being.

Isaiah 42:9 See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare; before they spring into being I announce them to you. (NIV)

Daniel 2:19-23, 27-28 During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven and said: “Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him. I thank and praise you, O God of my fathers: You have given me wisdom and power, you have made known to me what we asked of you, you have made known to us the dream of the king.”

Daniel replied, “No wise man, enchanter, magician or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about, but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries. He has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in days to come. (NIV)

Preacquaintanceship refers to God’s personal foreknowledge of His People. He knows them in an intimate, personal sense–He does not just know about them He knows them.

Jeremiah 1:5 Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations. (NIV)

Romans 8:29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. (NIV)

Romans 11:2-5 God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don’t you know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah– how he appealed to God against Israel: “Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me”? And what was God’s answer to him? “I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. (NIV)

1 Peter 1:1-2 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance. (NIV)

Attribute #5–God is Immutable

It is a constant with life–things change, people change. A man leaves the woman who has been his companion for many years–”people change,” he says. An executive who has worked faithfully for a company for 20 years is let go for no apparent reason, “times have changed,” says the person who fires her. Fashion changes, music changes, politics change–everything and everyone changes, except God. God does not change. He may differentiate His manifestations to men; He may reveal mysteries previously concealed (Eph 3:7-11); He may even speak anthropomorphically (that $100-dollar word means, “as if He were human,” when He speaks anthropomorphically, God uses human terms in order to be understood), but God does not change in His essence–He is eternally the same.

This also applies to the Son of God, the God-man Christ Jesus, and to the Spirit as well. But what about Christ becoming a man (see chapter 5)? Is this not a change? Not in the way that God defines a change (and His definition is the only one that counts). He did not change in His essence, only in the way He manifested Himself to mankind–He was the “lamb slain from the foundation of the world,” Job called God “my Redeemer,” many years before His incarnation (coming in the flesh).

Malachi 3:6 “I the LORD do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. (NIV)

James 1:17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (NIV)

Hebrews 1:10-12 He also says, “In the beginning, O Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will roll them up like a robe; like a garment they will be changed. But you remain the same, and your years will never end.” (NIV)

Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (NIV)

Deuteronomy 33:27 The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. He will drive out your enemy before you, saying, `Destroy him!’ (NIV)

Attribute #6–God is Wrathful

This is a solemn topic for discussion, but one which we cannot avoid. The idea of an all-powerful Being Who gets mad is scary. We know that we are fallible; we know that we do things that are contrary to righteousness. The notion that we may have to answer for those faults, and worse, for specific sins, to a God Who possesses wrath is the stuff of which nightmares are made. On this topic, the author can think of no better commentary on the Wrath of God than that written by A. W. Pink:

“. . . that the wrath of God is a Divine perfection is plainly demonstrated by what we read in Psa 95:11 ‘unto whom I swear in My wrath.’ There are two occasions of God’s ‘swearing’: in making promises (Gen 22:16); and in pronouncing judgments (Deut 1:34 ff.) In the former, He swears in mercy to His children; in the latter, He swears to deprive a wicked generation of its murmuring and unbelief. An oath is for solemn confirmation (Heb 6:16). In Gen 22:16, God says, ‘By myself have I sworn. . . .’ In Psa 89:35, He declares, ‘Once have I sworn by my holiness.’ While in Psa 95:11, He affirms ‘I swear in my wrath.” Thus the great Jehovah Himself appeals to His ‘wrath’ as a perfection equal to His ‘holiness’; He swears by the one as much as by the other! Again, as in Christ ‘dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily’ (Col. 2:9), and as all the Divine perfections are illustriously displayed by Him (John 1:18), therefore do we read of ‘the wrath of the Lamb.’ (Rev 6:19).” (The Attributes of God)

The people who populate Modern Western civilization hate the concept of a God who possesses wrath. All people want to know about God (if, indeed they want to know anything at all) is about His love. Men create in their minds the concept of a God who is all love and nothing else–they make an idol in their heads. The Bible, however, is absolute about the fact that God is a God of wrath. As we will see in chapters 4 and 6, God’s wrath is the reason for the necessity of the Gospel (Rom 1:16-18)–atonement and salvation by grace are required because of God’s righteous wrath against sin. For the believer, deliverance from wrath is our great hope (1 Thess. 1:10), and God’s wrath is turned aside (propitiated) for believers by the Blood of Christ (Rom 3:25-26; 5:8-9). God’s wrath against sin and sinners is so great that He sent His Son to die in the place of those who were to be redeemed–no lesser sacrifice would do. If we deny wrath, we essentially deny the gospel.

Attribute #7–God is Love

Having just written that God is a God of wrath, we turn to the other side of the coin, and speak of His love. For many, it is contradictory to speak of God being wrathful and yet being a God of love, but the Bible is full of both concepts about Him. Again, A.W. Pink:

There are many today who talk about the love of God, who are total strangers to the God of love. The Divine love is commonly regarded as a species of amiable weakness, a sort of good-natured indulgence; it is reduced to a mere sickly sentiment, patterned after human emotion. Now the truth is that on this, as on everything else, our thoughts need to be formed and regulated by what is revealed thereon in Holy Scripture. (The Attributes of God)

The love of God is really more than just an attribute; it is part of His essence. In a general sense, God loves everyone (and everything) He has created. In John 3:16 “for God so loved the world,” the word for “world” is the Greek word, kosmos, which in a general sense, refers to the whole universe. For instance, God sends His rain upon the just and the unjust (Matt 5:45). Some measure of caring and protection extends to the race, except where God chooses not to mollify and restrain the natural effects of our sin and rebellion. But there is a distinction between His universal care for all creation and His special love for His People.

1 Timothy 4:10 (and for this we labor and strive), that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe. (NIV)

Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad–in order that God’s purpose in election might stand, not by works but by him who calls–she was told,

Romans 9:11-13 “The older will serve the younger.” Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” (NIV)

We do not deserve the love of God–it is unmerited and “uninfluenced”(Pink)–we cannot earn it. God exercises the expression of His love according to His sovereign will, not according to our actions, for as members of a rebel race, we really deserve nothing.

Deuteronomy 7:7-8 The LORD did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the LORD loved you and kept the oath he swore to your forefathers that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. (NIV)

1 John 4:19 We love because he first loved us. (NIV)

The love of God is Eternal, like His immutability, it never wavers, changes, or dies. The supreme act of God’s great love was in sending His own Son to die in the place of condemned sinners. We cannot imagine the horror of Christ, the Son of God and God the Son, as He faced the cross–not the physical sufferings so much as the fact that He, the perfect, Holy, unblemished Son of God, would take the guilt of our sins upon His own shoulders and face the wrath of His own Father. Such love is unspeakable (see Chapter 5). Given this great sacrifice, this great love, this great condescension, nothing can separate a redeemed person from the love of God.

Jeremiah 31:3 The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with lovingkindness. (NIV)

Ephesians 1:4-5 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will– (NIV)

This is the doctrine of God’s Love–but there is more to it. I am not, by nature, an emotional man, but there is something about the love of God that raises passions from deep within my soul that defy description. I cannot conceive of One so loving that He would leave the glories of heaven, walk in my shoes for 30 years, and then die for me. I cannot imagine a Being so merciful that He would as the song says, “look beyond my fault and see my need.” The love of God is not some sickly sentimental thing that is like the cotton-candy love humans express to one another–it is not here today and gone tomorrow. If you grasp the scope and power of God’s Love, and know the eternal significance of His grace and mercy through the Cross (see Chapters 5 and 6), there is no force on earth, no tragedy of human life, and no sin in your own past that can take away the sweetness of His love or the joy of His fellowship. The love of God is a treasure beyond price for those who know Him. Many years ago, as a young believer, I wrote a lyric which describes the eternal, powerful Love of God;

Before the world was made, Jesus loved me.
Before creation’s day, He cared.
He knew my sin, He knew it all,
He knew that I would reject His call,
But He loved me, He saved me, He cared.

When I was lost in Sin, Jesus loved me.
When I profaned His name, He cared.
He bore my sin, He took my blame,
Wicked men brought him to shame (including me),
He loved me, He saved me, He cared.

When I refused to hear, Jesus loved me.
When I closed my ear, He cared.
He gently broke my wicked will,
His Spirit strove with me until
He found me He saved me, He cared.

These sentiments still pale beside the burning, passionate Light of His Presence–when the world has dealt us a blow, when all seems dark and we can see no light, it is then that the Lord Himself will impress on our minds and hearts the depth of His love. It is when we feel the utter joy of knowing that we are a soul set free by His sacrifice, and that nothing can keep us from His love that we can understand the utter awesome power of the words of Paul.

Romans 8:35-39 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (NIV)

Summary

This is the Absolute God of the Bible–He does as He pleases, he accomplishes what He sets out to do, no plan of His is thwarted by the whims and decisions of mankind. He is wrathful against our rebellion, yet loving beyond our imagination. In one of the most concise and profound statements ever written on the subject of The Absolute God, A W. Pink said:

“The ‘god’ of this twentieth century no more resembles the Supreme Sovereign of Holy Writ than does the dim flickering of a candle the glory of the midday sun. The ‘god’ who is now talked about in the average pulpit, spoken of in the ordinary Sunday School, mentioned in much of the religious literature of the day, and preached in most of the so-called Bible conferences, is the figment of human imagination, an invention of maudlin sentimentality. The heathen outside of the pale of Christendom form ‘gods’ out of wood and stone, while the millions of heathen inside Christendom manufacture a ‘god’ out of their own carnal mind. In reality, they are but atheists, for there is no other possible alternative between an absolutely supreme God, and no God at all. a ‘god’ whose will is resisted, whose designs are frustrated, whose purpose is checkmated, possesses no title to Deity, and so far from being a fit object of worship, merits naught but contempt.” (Attributes of God)

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The Limitless Nature of God’s Grace – God’s grace is limitless and sufficient for all things.

Perhaps the hardest word in the entire New Testament to wrap our minds around is the infinitely wide one-syllable word grace. Defining it is not the problem. Succinctly put, grace is unmerited favor. Confining it is where we get into trouble. The truth is, we who are in Christ Jesus do not have a single challenge, need, temptation, desire, craving, conflict, sacrifice, gifting, relationship, or task where grace is limited. Further, there is no opportunity, opposition, action, or occupation where grace is ineffective. No category exists where grace is ill fit. No tank is big enough to leave grace in short supply. 
 
Grace is the divine means by which God makes Himself everything we need to utterly abound (2 Cor. 9:8). It is the medicine that heals our bitterness (Hebrews 12:15). It is the floor where fallen people can come to their feet and stand (Rom. 5:2). It is substance. It is sufficiency. It is joy and felicity. And here, in 2 Timothy 2:1, grace is strength. 
 
Paul used a vigorous word to express his command. To “be strong,” a present passive imperative, implies that Timothy was to keep on being empowered by God (2 Timothy 4:17; Eph 6:10; Phil 4:13; 1 Tim 1:12, where the same Greek word is used). The command demanded Timothy’s continuous active cooperation with God.
 
The quarry from which Timothy was to mine such strength was God’s grace made available in Christ Jesus.

Our tendency is to treat grace like an antibiotic. The moment we feel better, we twist the cap on tight and close the medicine cabinet on the divine supply. Soon we’re just getting by instead of abounding, and soon after that we’re drowning.

Our tendency is to treat grace like an antibiotic. The moment we feel better, we twist the cap on tight and close the medicine cabinet on the divine supply. Soon we’re just getting by instead of abounding, and soon after that we’re drowning. We can’t live like overcomers if we act under-graced. God’s astonishing favor is meant to run like a river through every artery of our lives, but, by His sovereign plan, His unhindered access requires a cooperative process. Life is hard. Trying to be strong apart from the grace that is in Christ Jesus can be as great a tragedy as the catalyst of our need. 
 
God specializes in granting strength in that exact area of weakness. Pause long enough to ask Him for a gush of grace from the endless spring of His provision. You have a provider who wants you to be more than a survivor. You’ve been entrusted with inexhaustible truth and supernatural gifting but all within the confines of borrowed time. Our days are short. Our lists are long. We need divine supply.

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What Does Christianity Say About the Nature of God? Two Important Truths

The first year I decided to take a group of students to Utah to share the Gospel with Mormons, a parent of one of the students asked me why I would take such a trip: “Why would you want to strip someone of their faith in God and Jesus?” This question came at a pivotal time for me as a pastor. It caused me to ask myself the question: What is the difference between the Mormon God and the Christian God? Is the difference significant? Does it separate who is a Christian from who isn’t? As it turns out, the nature of Jesus, God the Father and Salvation are the core essentials distinguishing Christianity from other theistic faith systems. If you want to call yourself a Christian, you’ll need to embrace the definitions offered by Christianity. If you don’t you may still be a theist, but you won’t be a Christian theist.

While early Christians may have sometimes struggled to understand exactly what the scriptures taught about the nature of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, they eventually recognized something distinctive about the God described in the New Testament. The God of Christianity has a triune nature, and His character is reflected in His creation. The Bible teaches two truths: there is only one God, and God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are all that same God:

1. There Is Only One God
Both the New and Old Testament declare there is only one God. Not just one God for this universe, or many gods united in one purpose, but one God. Both Judaism and Christianity are clearly monotheistic.

Deuteronomy 6:4-5
Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

Isaiah 43:10
“You are My witnesses,” declares the LORD, “And My servant whom I have chosen, In order that you may know and believe Me, And understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, And there will be none after Me.”

James 2:19
You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.

1 Corinthians 8:4, 6
Therefore concerning the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that there is no such thing as an idol in the world, and that there is no God but one…yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things, and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.

1 Timothy 2:5-6
For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony borne at the proper time.

From these few verses, it is clear there is only one God according to Jewish and Christian theology. This is our starting point; this is where we begin. God is ONE.

2. Yet the Father, Son and Holy Ghost Are All God
But there is something else we see in the Scripture. The Bible teaches God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are all God. In fact, the Bible teaches all three of these divine persons are equally Divine. Let’s look at some of the ways the three persons share the exact same nature:

All Three Are the All-Powerful Creator (Omnipotent)
The first characteristic of deity (omnipotence) is possessed by the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. All three are described in the Bible as being the all-powerful Creator:

Father:
But now, O LORD, Thou art our Father, We are the clay, and Thou our potter; And all of us are the work of Thy hand. (Isaiah 64:8)

Son:
All things came into being by Him (Jesus, the Word), and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. (John 1:3)

Holy Spirit:
“The Spirit of God has made me, And the breath of the Almighty gives me life.” (Job 33:4)

All Three Are All-Knowing (Omniscient)
In addition to possessing the power to create, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all observed to be all-knowing according to Bible:

Father:
…in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. (1 John 3:20)

Son:
“Now we know that You (Jesus) know all things, and have no need for anyone to question You; by this we believe that You came from God.” (John 16:30)

Holy Spirit:
For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. (1 Corinthians 2:10)

All Three Are All-Present (Omnipresent)
While we assume this of the Father and the Holy Spirit, most people don’t realize the Scripture also describes the Son as having the ability to be everywhere at the same time (omnipresence):

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

Son:
“…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthews 28:20)

Holy Spirit:
Where can I go from Thy Spirit? Or where can I flee from Thy presence? If I ascend to heaven, Thou art there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, Thou art there. If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, Even there Thy hand will lead me, And Thy right hand will lay hold of me. (Psalm 139:7-10)

All Three Are All-Loving (Omnibenevolent)
Another aspect of Godhood, the all-encompassing love of God, is also demonstrated equally by the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit:

Father:
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

Son:
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her (Ephesians 5:25)

Holy Spirit:
Now I urge you, brethren, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God for me… (Romans 15:30-31)

All Three Are Called “God”
Now you are starting to see why we must conclude God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are all God. In fact, the Bible explicitly calls all three of them God:

Father:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:2)

Son:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1)

Holy Spirit:
But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit, and to keep back some of the price of the land? “While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not under your control? Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men, but to God.” (Acts 5:3-4)

To Deny the Trinity is to Deny Christianity
Even the earliest believers understood the importance of this truth (and apparent tension) in the nature of God. There is one God, and the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are all God. This is clear in the Scripture, and while it may be mysterious to us, it is the objective claim of the Bible. The first Christians understood the importance of retaining this truth about God in order to retain the true identity of Jesus. When early Christians tried to maintain the oneness of God without regard to the Divine description of Jesus and the Holy Spirit as we’ve just described, they usually redefined (and mischaracterized) Jesus as a human, limited, or finite creature. But, if Jesus is not God in every sense of the word (as the Bible claims), then He does not have the power to save us on the Cross. If Jesus is not God Incarnate, then he simply cannot take our place and bestow upon us the righteousness of God. For this reason, the earliest leaders were very careful to describe the triune nature of God as seen in the Bible. They eventually described God as one in substance, essence or nature, while being distinctly but undividedly three in person. This was reflected in the early creeds, including the Athanasian Creed of the 4th Century:

“…we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; Neither confounding the persons nor dividing the substance. For there is one person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Spirit. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit is all one, the glory equal, the majesty coeternal… And in this Trinity none is afore or after another; none is greater or less than another. But the whole three persons are coeternal, and coequal. So that in all things, as aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped. He therefore that will be saved must thus think of the Trinity.”

It’s interesting this creed (widely accepted and used in Western Christianity) affirms that without a proper understanding of the nature of the Trinity, one cannot even be saved. Augustine (the well respected and influential philosopher and theologian who became bishop of the North African City of Hippo Regius) agreed a proper understanding of the Trinity was critical to understanding Christianity and grasping the power and Salvation of God:

“And I would make this pious and safe agreement, in the presence of our Lord God, with all who read my writings, as well in all other cases as, above all, in the case of those which inquire into the unity of the Trinity, of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit; because in no other subject is error more dangerous, or inquiry more laborious, or the discovery of truth more profitable.”(Augustine, On the Trinity 1:3:5)

Why is a proper understanding of the Trinity so important? Because all deviations from historical Trinitarianism have compromised the eternal, divine nature of Jesus. It’s that simple. Over the course of history, several groups have mischaracterized the Trinity and, therefore, mischaracterized the true nature of Jesus. The Early Church Councils corrected the errors of Adoptionism (2nd Century), Docetism (2nd Century), Monarchianism (2nd and 3rd Century), Sabellianism (3rd Century), Arianism (4th Century), and Socinianism (16th and 17th Century). In addition to these historic mischaracterizations of the triune nature of God, there are several current mischaracterizations, including the polytheism of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and the denial of the Trinity present in many Unitarian groups, including the Christadelphians.

Christianity emphatically claims that God is TRIUNE in nature. Not polytheistic, but triune. It’s not about three gods (1+1+1=3); it’s about three distinct persons within the Godhead (1x1x1=1). Once someone moves from this description of God (one in substance but three in person, distinct but undivided), he or she has simply moved away from Orthodox Christianity. This belief may find a home in some other worldview, but is no longer a reflection of the Christian Worldview.

Is The Triune Nature of God Reflected In His Creation?
The concept of the Trinity is incredibly difficult to grasp. In large part, it is completely mysterious and impossible for us to understand or communicate thoroughly. But would you really expect anything less? Would you really think  God could be so easily grasped or described? Is it reasonable to expect limited creatures such as humans to be able to completely understand and render the nature of an incredibly vast and powerful Being? Perhaps this is why the triune nature of God is difficult to understand and a challenge to communicate to others. Many metaphors have been attempted over the years, but most are simply a poor reflection of the truth of God’s nature.

But there is some evidence for the triune nature of God in the world around us. If we look at the nature of our universe and our own bodies, we do see the fingerprints of a triune God. And that really should come as no surprise to us, given the fact God is the creator of everything, and His creation reflects His Nature:

Genesis 1:1
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Genesis 1:27
And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

If God’s creation reflects His nature, we might expect to see this in the nature of the universe and the nature of human beings:

The Triune Nature of the Universe
Science tells us the universe in which we live is finite and had a single point of origin. Science continues to confirm the fact there was a point of Cosmological Singularity (often called the “Big Bang”). Scientists describe this event as the beginning of all space, time and matter. Science continues to divide and describe the physical universe in this triune manner. Is this simply evidence of the triune nature of its Creator? It’s interesting to note that each of these three properties of the universe are also triune within their own natures:

Space
Dimensions in space are typically measured in degrees of height, width and depth (spacially three dimensional)

Time
Time is typically understood as it relates to the past, present or the future (temporally three dimensional)

Matter
Matter is typically measured and divided into categories of solid, liquid and gas (categorically three dimensional)

The Triune Nature of Human Beings
In addition to God’s creation of space, time and manner, we need look no further than our own lives to see the nature of the Triune God evident within us. Each of us is comprised of a body, spirit and soul:

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24
Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 4:12-13
For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Even though the concept of the Trinity is difficult to grasp in relationship to the Divine Nature of God, it appears to be clearly evident in the nature of God’s creation.

All worldviews have distinctive beliefs characterizing and distinguishing them from other ways of viewing the world. Christianity is no different. When it comes to the nature of God, trinitarianism is a Christian distinctive. It has been affirmed by believers over the centuries, not as a random construct, but as a true reflection of the Biblical teaching. The best and most reasonable way to interpret what the Bible teaches about the nature of God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit is to conclude that God is one in essence and three in persons. As mysterious as this may be, it is the claim of Scripture. As exclusive as this claim may seem, it is the defining and distinctive teaching of the Bible. To reject the Trinity is to reject the clear teaching of the Scriptures. To deny the triune nature of God is to deny the claim of Christianity and to redefine oneself as something other than Christian.

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What Is God’s Name in the Old Testament?

God was known by several names in the Old Testament. Which one is accurate?

Bodie Hodge, AiG–U.S., examines many of the different names referring to God in the Old Testament.

I am sometimes surprised at how easy it is to answer some alleged Bible contradictions. And this one is rather easy. Imagine if someone came up to me and said, “What is your name? Is it Bodie or Mr. Hodge?” Well the answer is simple: it is both.

Should we assume that God has only one name and all others are contradictions in Scripture? That would be absurd. God often gave new names to people, such as Jacob becoming Israel or Abram becoming Abraham and so on. The names have meaning too. For example, Abram means “exalted father” and Abraham means “the father of a multitude.” The latter name obviously reflected the promise God made to Abraham about having countless offspring. So having more than one name is no contradiction at all.

God often revealed things by the name He gave for Himself. For example, Jehovah-Jireh means “the Lord provides.” In fact, the name Jehovah is derived from YHWH, the name God revealed to Moses. It is from a root word translated as “I AM” in the title “I AM WHO I AM” (Exodus 3:14). This helps us understand that God is the ultimate authority in all matters at all times and existence is predicated upon Him. In fact, there are a number of names that God reveals to us in Scripture. Here are some from the Old Testament:

Some Old Testament Names of God (Not exhaustive)1

Name Brief meaning Reference
Elohim God (Majestic plural yet used with singular verbs for God) Genesis 1:1
El God (singular) Genesis 7:1
El Shaddai God is sufficient/almighty Genesis 17:1
El Elyon God Most High Deuteronomy 26:19
El Roi God sees Genesis 16:13
El Olam God everlasting Genesis 21:33
El Gibbor Mighty God Isaiah 9:6
Jehovah “I AM WHO I AM” or Yahweh or “to be”; In English Bibles translated as “Lord Genesis 2:4 (Jehovah Elohim specifically here)
Jehovah-Magen The Lord my shield Psalm 3:3
Jehovah-Tsaddiq The Lord is righteous 2 Chronicles 12:6
Jehovah-Jireh The Lord provides or the Lord sees Genesis 22:14
Jehovah-Rapha The Lord heals Exodus 15:26
Jehovah-Nissi The Lord is our banner Exodus 17:15
Jehovah-M’Kaddesh The Lord sanctifies Leviticus 20:7
Jehovah-Shalom The Lord is our peace Judges 6:24
Jehovah-Rohi The Lord is our shepherd Psalm 23:1
Jehovah-Shammah The Lord is there Ezekiel 48:35
Jehovah-Sabaoth Lord of hosts Isaiah 1:24
Jehovah-Tsidkenu The Lord is our righteousness Jeremiah 23:5
Jehovah-Hoseenu (Asah) The Lord our Maker Psalm 95:6
Judge (Shaphat) The Judge Genesis 18:25
Mighty One (Abir) Mighty One Genesis 49:24
Branch (Tsemach) The Branch Jeremiah 23:5
Holy One (Kadosh) Holy One 2 Kings 19:22
Jealous (Kanna) Jealous Exodus 34:14
Deliverer (Palet) or (Rhuomai Greek) Deliverer 2 Samuel 22:2 and Romans 11:26
Savior (Yeshua) Savior Isaiah 43:3
Redeemer (Ga’al) Redeemer Job 19:25
Shepherd (Ra’ah) The Shepherd, overseer Genesis 49:24
Stone (Eben) of Israel Stone Genesis 49:24
Strength (Eyaluwth) Strength Psalm 22:19
Adonai Master or Lord (as plural); in English Bibles translated as “Lord” Genesis 15:2
Rock (Tsur) of Israel Rock Isaiah 30:29
King (Melekh) King Isaiah 41:21 [of Israel]; Psalm 74:12
Father (Ab) or (Abba Greek) Father Malachi 1:6 and Galatians 4:6
First (Ri’shon) and Last (Acharon) or (Protos and Eschatos in Greek) First and Last Isaiah 48:12 and Revelation 1:11
Immanuel God with us Isaiah 7:14
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Is There a God? Does God exist?

Does God exist? Here are six straightforward reasons to believe that God is really there.

Just once wouldn’t you love for someone to simply show you the evidence for God’s existence? No arm-twisting. No statements of, “You just have to believe.” Well, here is an attempt to candidly offer some of the reasons which suggest that God exists.

But first consider this. When it comes to the possibility of God’s existence, the Bible says that there are people who have seen sufficient evidence, but they have suppressed the truth about God.1 On the other hand, for those who want to know God if he is there, he says, “You will seek me and find me; when you seek me with all your heart, I will be found by you.”2 Before you look at the facts surrounding God’s existence, ask yourself, If God does exist, would I want to know him? Here then, are some reasons to consider…

1. Does God exist? The complexity of our planet points to a deliberate Designer who not only created our universe, but sustains it today.

Many examples showing God’s design could be given, possibly with no end. But here are a few:

The Earth…its size is perfect. The Earth’s size and corresponding gravity holds a thin layer of mostly nitrogen and oxygen gases, only extending about 50 miles above the Earth’s surface. If Earth were smaller, an atmosphere would be impossible, like the planet Mercury. If Earth were larger, its atmosphere would contain free hydrogen, like Jupiter.3 Earth is the only known planet equipped with an atmosphere of the right mixture of gases to sustain plant, animal and human life.

The Earth is located the right distance from the sun. Consider the temperature swings we encounter, roughly -30 degrees to +120 degrees. If the Earth were any further away from the sun, we would all freeze. Any closer and we would burn up. Even a fractional variance in the Earth’s position to the sun would make life on Earth impossible. The Earth remains this perfect distance from the sun while it rotates around the sun at a speed of nearly 67,000 mph. It is also rotating on its axis, allowing the entire surface of the Earth to be properly warmed and cooled every day.

And our moon is the perfect size and distance from the Earth for its gravitational pull. The moon creates important ocean tides and movement so ocean waters do not stagnate, and yet our massive oceans are restrained from spilling over across the continents.4

Water…colorless, odorless and without taste, and yet no living thing can survive without it. Plants, animals and human beings consist mostly of water (about two-thirds of the human body is water). You’ll see why the characteristics of water are uniquely suited to life:

It has wide margin between its boiling point and freezing point. Water allows us to live in an environment of fluctuating temperature changes, while keeping our bodies a steady 98.6 degrees.

Water is a universal solvent. This property of water means that various chemicals, minerals and nutrients can be carried throughout our bodies and into the smallest blood vessels.5

Water is also chemically neutral. Without affecting the makeup of the substances it carries, water enables food, medicines and minerals to be absorbed and used by the body.

Water has a unique surface tension. Water in plants can therefore flow upward against gravity, bringing life-giving water and nutrients to the top of even the tallest trees.

Water freezes from the top down and floats, so fish can live in the winter.

Ninety-seven percent of the Earth’s water is in the oceans. But on our Earth, there is a system designed which removes salt from the water and then distributes that water throughout the globe. Evaporation takes the ocean waters, leaving the salt, and forms clouds which are easily moved by the wind to disperse water over the land, for vegetation, animals and people. It is a system of purification and supply that sustains life on this planet, a system of recycled and reused water.6

The human brain…simultaneously processes an amazing amount of information. Your brain takes in all the colors and objects you see, the temperature around you, the pressure of your feet against the floor, the sounds around you, the dryness of your mouth, even the texture of your keyboard. Your brain holds and processes all your emotions, thoughts and memories. At the same time your brain keeps track of the ongoing functions of your body like your breathing pattern, eyelid movement, hunger and movement of the muscles in your hands.

The human brain processes more than a million messages a second.7 Your brain weighs the importance of all this data, filtering out the relatively unimportant. This screening function is what allows you to focus and operate effectively in your world. The brain functions differently than other organs. There is an intelligence to it, the ability to reason, to produce feelings, to dream and plan, to take action, and relate to other people.

The eye…can distinguish among seven million colors. It has automatic focusing and handles an astounding 1.5 million messages — simultaneously.8 Evolution focuses on mutations and changes from and within existing organisms. Yet evolution alone does not fully explain the initial source of the eye or the brain — the start of living organisms from nonliving matter.

2. Does God exist? The universe had a start – what caused it?

Scientists are convinced that our universe began with one enormous explosion of energy and light, which we now call the Big Bang. This was the singular start to everything that exists: the beginning of the universe, the start of space, and even the initial start of time itself.

Astrophysicist Robert Jastrow, a self-described agnostic, stated, “The seed of everything that has happened in the Universe was planted in that first instant; every star, every planet and every living creature in the Universe came into being as a result of events that were set in motion in the moment of the cosmic explosion…The Universe flashed into being, and we cannot find out what caused that to happen.”9

Steven Weinberg, a Nobel laureate in Physics, said at the moment of this explosion, “the universe was about a hundred thousands million degrees Centigrade…and the universe was filled with light.”10

The universe has not always existed. It had a start…what caused that? Scientists have no explanation for the sudden explosion of light and matter.

3. Does God exist? The universe operates by uniform laws of nature. Why does it?

Much of life may seem uncertain, but look at what we can count on day after day: gravity remains consistent, a hot cup of coffee left on a counter will get cold, the earth rotates in the same 24 hours, and the speed of light doesn’t change — on earth or in galaxies far from us.

How is it that we can identify laws of nature that never change? Why is the universe so orderly, so reliable?

“The greatest scientists have been struck by how strange this is. There is no logical necessity for a universe that obeys rules, let alone one that abides by the rules of mathematics. This astonishment springs from the recognition that the universe doesn’t have to behave this way. It is easy to imagine a universe in which conditions change unpredictably from instant to instant, or even a universe in which things pop in and out of existence.”11

Richard Feynman, a Nobel Prize winner for quantum electrodynamics, said, “Why nature is mathematical is a mystery…The fact that there are rules at all is a kind of miracle.”12

4. Does God exist? The DNA code informs, programs a cell’s behavior.

All instruction, all teaching, all training comes with intent. Someone who writes an instruction manual does so with purpose. Did you know that in every cell of our bodies there exists a very detailed instruction code, much like a miniature computer program? As you may know, a computer program is made up of ones and zeros, like this: 110010101011000. The way they are arranged tell the computer program what to do. The DNA code in each of our cells is very similar. It’s made up of four chemicals that scientists abbreviate as A, T, G, and C. These are arranged in the human cell like this: CGTGTGACTCGCTCCTGAT and so on. There are three billion of these letters in every human cell!!

Well, just like you can program your phone to beep for specific reasons, DNA instructs the cell. DNA is a three-billion-lettered program telling the cell to act in a certain way. It is a full instruction manual.13

Why is this so amazing? One has to ask….how did this information program wind up in each human cell? These are not just chemicals. These are chemicals that instruct, that code in a very detailed way exactly how the person’s body should develop.

Natural, biological causes are completely lacking as an explanation when programmed information is involved. You cannot find instruction, precise information like this, without someone intentionally constructing it.

5. Does God exist? We know God exists because he pursues us. He is constantly initiating and seeking for us to come to him.

I was an atheist at one time. And like many atheists, the issue of people believing in God bothered me greatly. What is it about atheists that we would spend so much time, attention, and energy refuting something that we don’t believe even exists?! What causes us to do that? When I was an atheist, I attributed my intentions as caring for those poor, delusional people…to help them realize their hope was completely ill-founded. To be honest, I also had another motive. As I challenged those who believed in God, I was deeply curious to see if they could convince me otherwise. Part of my quest was to become free from the question of God. If I could conclusively prove to believers that they were wrong, then the issue is off the table, and I would be free to go about my life.

I didn’t realize that the reason the topic of God weighed so heavily on my mind, was because God was pressing the issue. I have come to find out that God wants to be known. He created us with the intention that we would know him. He has surrounded us with evidence of himself and he keeps the question of his existence squarely before us. It was as if I couldn’t escape thinking about the possibility of God. In fact, the day I chose to acknowledge God’s existence, my prayer began with, “Ok, you win…” It might be that the underlying reason atheists are bothered by people believing in God is because God is actively pursuing them.

I am not the only one who has experienced this. Malcolm Muggeridge, socialist and philosophical author, wrote, “I had a notion that somehow, besides questing, I was being pursued.” C.S. Lewis said he remembered, “…night after night, feeling whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all of England.”

Lewis went on to write a book titled, “Surprised by Joy” as a result of knowing God. I too had no expectations other than rightfully admitting God’s existence. Yet over the following several months, I became amazed by his love for me.

6. Does God exist? Unlike any other revelation of God, Jesus Christ is the clearest, most specific picture of God revealing himself to us.

Why Jesus? Look throughout the major world religions and you’ll find that Buddha, Muhammad, Confucius and Moses all identified themselves as teachers or prophets. None of them ever claimed to be equal to God. Surprisingly, Jesus did. That is what sets Jesus apart from all the others. He said God exists and you’re looking at him. Though he talked about his Father in heaven, it was not from the position of separation, but of very close union, unique to all humankind. Jesus said that anyone who had seen Him had seen the Father, anyone who believed in him, believed in the Father.

He said, “I am the light of the world, he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”14 He claimed attributes belonging only to God: to be able to forgive people of their sin, free them from habits of sin, give people a more abundant life and give them eternal life in heaven. Unlike other teachers who focused people on their words, Jesus pointed people to himself. He did not say, “follow my words and you will find truth.” He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father but through me.”15

What proof did Jesus give for claiming to be divine? He did what people can’t do. Jesus performed miracles. He healed people…blind, crippled, deaf, even raised a couple of people from the dead. He had power over objects…created food out of thin air, enough to feed crowds of several thousand people. He performed miracles over nature…walked on top of a lake, commanding a raging storm to stop for some friends. People everywhere followed Jesus, because he constantly met their needs, doing the miraculous. He said if you do not want to believe what I’m telling you, you should at least believe in me based on the miracles you’re seeing.16

Jesus Christ showed God to be gentle, loving, aware of our self-centeredness and shortcomings, yet deeply wanting a relationship with us. Jesus revealed that although God views us as sinners, worthy of his punishment, his love for us ruled and God came up with a different plan. God himself took on the form of man and accepted the punishment for our sin on our behalf. Sounds ludicrous? Perhaps, but many loving fathers would gladly trade places with their child in a cancer ward if they could. The Bible says that the reason we would love God is because he first loved us.

Jesus died in our place so we could be forgiven. Of all the religions known to humanity, only through Jesus will you see God reaching toward humanity, providing a way for us to have a relationship with him. Jesus proves a divine heart of love, meeting our needs, drawing us to himself. Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, he offers us a new life today. We can be forgiven, fully accepted by God and genuinely loved by God. He says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love, therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.”17 This is God, in action.

Does God exist? If you want to know, investigate Jesus Christ. We’re told that “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”18

God does not force us to believe in him, though he could. Instead, he has provided sufficient proof of his existence for us to willingly respond to him. The earth’s perfect distance from the sun, the unique chemical properties of water, the human brain, DNA, the number of people who attest to knowing God, the gnawing in our hearts and minds to determine if God is there, the willingness for God to be known through Jesus Christ. If you need to know more about Jesus and reasons to believe in him, please see: Beyond Blind Faith.

If you want to begin a relationship with God now, you can.

This is your decision, no coercion here. But if you want to be forgiven by God and come into a relationship with him, you can do so right now by asking him to forgive you and come into your life. Jesus said, “Behold, I stand at the door [of your heart] and knock. He who hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him [or her].”19 If you want to do this, but aren’t sure how to put it into words, this may help: “Jesus, thank you for dying for my sins. You know my life and that I need to be forgiven. I ask you to forgive me right now and come into my life. I want to know you in a real way. Come into my life now. Thank you that you wanted a relationship with me. Amen.”

God views your relationship with him as permanent. Referring to all those who believe in him, Jesus Christ said of us, “I know them, and they follow me; and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand.”20

Looking at all these facts, one can conclude that a loving God does exist and can be known in an intimate, personal way.

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God’s Patience

by  Caleb Colley, Ph.D.

Some people picture God as akin to a miserly dictator Who is eager to find a cause to crush the vile human race He created. Is that the way the Bible portrays God? Romans 2:4 reads: “Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?” Romans 15:5 emphasizes God’s patience: “Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be likeminded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus.” Peter wrote: “the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation” (2 Peter 3:15).

God is patient because He does not want anyone to be eternally lost. “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). One meaning of “patience,” according to the Illustrated Oxford Dictionary, is “the capacity for calm, self-possessed waiting.” God has promised that there will be a day when sinners will receive their final condemnation (2 Peter 2:9; 3:7), but God is waiting in order that more sinners might accept and obey the Gospel. Wayne Jackson noted biblical examples of this patience:

The Lord’s wrath is not inflicted impulsively. Rather, history repeatedly has demonstrated that God exercises “much long-suffering” toward those deserving of punishment (Romans 9:22). His patience was demonstrated to the generation of Noah’s day (Genesis 6:3). He longed to spare corrupt Sodom (Genesis 18:26ff). Jehovah revealed himself to Moses as a God who is “slow to anger” (Exodus 34:6; cf. Psalms 103:8). The Lord was even long-suffering with a wretch as vile as Ahab (1 Kings 21:29). For centuries He was tolerant with the arrogant and stiff-necked nation of Israel (Nehemiah 9:17) [2000].

We desperately need God’s patience, just as the apostle Paul did. Paul was given the opportunity to be saved, despite the fact that he was “the chief ” of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15-16; see Nicks, 1981, p. 190). Potential for salvation rests in God’s patience. Rather than instantly destroying people when they sin, He providentially gives people opportunities and encouragement that should lead to repentance (Titus 2:11). God expects us to request His continued patience as we make mistakes (1 John 1:9; Luke 11:4), and He shows His patience by continually forgiving us of our sins when we do (based on the sacrifice of Christ’s blood and our sincere obedience to His will; see 1 John 1:7).

We should emulate the patience of God. Romans 2:6-7 emphasizes the necessity of patience in the lives of Christians: “[God] will render to each one according to his deeds: eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality” (emp. added). Paul instructed Christians to be patient: “Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all” (1 Thessalonians 5:14, emp. added; cf. Christ’s parable of the impatient servant in Matthew 18:23-35). People cannot be saved unless they have patience, because without patience, the Christian’s work is impossible (see Ecclesiastes 7:8; Ephesians 4:2; 2 Timothy 2:24; James 1:4). Patience also is necessary because other essential Christian virtues, including faith, hope, and joy, are dependent on it (James 1:2-4; Romans 5:3; 15:4; Colossians 1:11; see Nicks, 1981, pp. 191-192). William Barclay observed:

If God had been a man, He would have taken His hand and wiped out this world long ago; but God has that patience which bears with all our sinning and which will not cast us off. In our lives, in our attitude to and dealings with our fellow men, we must reproduce this loving, forbearing, forgiving, patient attitude of God toward ourselves (1958, p. 56).

God’s patience is balanced by His perfect justice. Unforgiven sin will be punished, but God’s patience allows time for repentance (Matthew 25:41; 2 Peter 2:9; see Colley, 2004). Isaiah 30:18 makes it clear: “Therefore the Lord will wait, that He may be gracious to you; and therefore He will be exalted that He may have mercy on you. For the Lord is God of justice; blessed are those who wait for Him.” God’s generous patience should motivate us to obey Him.

REFERENCES

Barclay, William (1958), The Daily Study Bible: Letters to Galatians and Ephesians (Philadelphia, PA: Westminster).

Colley, Caleb (2004), “God’s Mercy and Justice,” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/1860.

Illustrated Oxford Dictionary (2003), (New York: Oxford), revised edition.

Jackson, Wayne (2000), “The Righteousness of God Revealed,” [On-line], URL: http://www.christiancourier.com/feature/february2000.htm.

Nicks, Bill (1981), “Patience,” Continuing in the Doctrine, ed. Bill Nicks, M.H. Tucker, John Waddey (Knoxville, TN: East Tennessee School of Preaching and Missions).

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Does the Holy Spirit Know When Jesus Will Return?

by  Eric Lyons, M.Min.

One question that various individuals have submitted to Apologetics Press in recent years involves the Second Coming of Christ and the omniscience of the Holy Spirit. If the Holy Spirit is God (Acts 5:3-4) and thus omniscient (Psalm 139), why did Jesus say about His return, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Mark 13:32, emp. added)? Why would the “Father alone” (Matthew 24:36, NASB) be aware of the time of Jesus’ Second Coming? Does this awareness exclude the Holy Spirit?

When Jesus came to Earth in the flesh, He willingly “made Himself of no reputation” (Philippians 2:7; He “emptied Himself”—NASB). He moved from the spiritual realm to put on flesh (John 1:14) and voluntarily became subject to such burdens as hunger, thirst, weariness, and pain. Our omnipotent, omniscient, holy God chose to come into this world as a helpless babe Who, for the first time in His eternal existence, “increased in wisdom” (Luke 2:52). While on Earth in the flesh, Jesus was voluntarily in a subordinate position to the Father (cf. Jackson, 1995).

It has been suggested that, similar to how Jesus chose not to know certain information while on Earth, including the date of His return, perhaps the Holy Spirit also willingly restricted Himself to some degree during the first century (see Holding, 2012). Perhaps the special role of the Holy Spirit in the first century in regards to spiritual and miraculous gifts (Acts 2:38; 1 Corinthians 12:7), special revelation (John 14:26; 16:13), divine inspiration (2 Timothy 3:16), intercession (Romans 8:26), etc., is somewhat similar to the role that Christ played. That is, could it be that both God the Son and God the Spirit voluntarily restricted their knowledge on Earth in the first century? And thus, could that be why Jesus said, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Mark 13:32, emp. added)? Considering that a number of Christians and scholars believe that even God the Father may freely choose to limit His own knowledge of certain things (cf. Brents, 1874, pp. 74-87; Camp, n.d.), many would likely explain Mark 13:32 and Matthew 24:36 by contending that the Holy Spirit freely limited His knowledge for a time regarding Christ’s return.

Given especially the indisputable fact that the Son of God voluntarily chose not to know certain things for a time, it may be possible that the Holy Spirit could choose the same. However, the Holy Spirit Himself revealed through the apostle Paul that He, the Spirit, “searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:10-11). Furthermore, there are no explicit statements in Scripture about the Holy Spirit’s willful unawareness of certain things as there are about Jesus (Mark 13:32; cf. Luke 2:52). All one can cite is Jesus’ statement about “only the Father” knowing the date of the Son’s return and conclude that this declaration implies the Spirit of God was unaware of that day. What’s more, in context, Jesus placed much more emphasis on the words “no one knows” than the qualifying statements “not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son.” Jesus wanted His hearers to understand that just as those in Noah’s day “did not know” the day of the Flood (Matthew 24:39, emp. added) and just as the servants in the parable of the servants “do not know when the master of the house is coming” (Mark 13:35, emp. added; Matthew 24:50), so “you do not know what hour the Lord is coming” (Matthew 24:42, emp. added; Mark 13:33). Thus, Jesus taught the all-important central message in these chapters of “watching” and being “ready” for the unknown time of Christ’s return (Matthew 24:36-25:46; Mark 13:32-37). Even though we may learn something of the Messiah’s voluntary, self-imposed emptying of some of His omniscience (Mark 13:32), Jesus’ “purpose was not to define the limits of his theological knowledge, but to indicate that vigilance, not calculation, is required” (Lane, 1974, p. 482)—a lesson that all “end-of-time” false prophets need to learn.

Rather than quickly dismiss the omniscience of the Holy Spirit during a particular period of time in human history, a better explanation exists: expressions such as “no one,” “only,” “except,” “all,” etc. are oftentimes used in a limited sense. Consider what Paul revealed in Romans 3: “Jews and Greeks…are all under sin. As it is written: ‘There is none righteous, no, not one…. They have all turned aside… there is none who does good, no, not one” (vss. 9,10,12, emp. added). In this passage, Paul was stressing the fact that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), but he was using these inclusive and exclusive terms (e.g., “all,” “none”) in a somewhat limited sense. Paul was obviously not including Jesus in this passage, as elsewhere he wrote that Jesus “knew no sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21; cf. Hebrews 4:15; 1 Peter 1:19). Neither was he including infants (see Butt, 2003), the mentally challenged, or angels. Who then has sinned? All humans of an accountable mind and age (see Miller, 2003), with the obvious exception being the sinless Son of God.

In John 17:3, Jesus prayed to the Father, saying, “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3, emp. added). Are we to believe, as some do (cf. “Is There Only…?” 2009), that Jesus was implying neither He nor the Holy Spirit is divine? Not at all. Rather, when the Bible reveals that there is only one God, one Savior, one Lord, one Creator (Isaiah 44:24; John 1:3), etc., reason and revelation demand that we understand the inspired writers to be excluding everyone and everything—other than the members of the Godhead (see Lyons, 2008). Throughout the Gospel of John, the writer repeatedly referred to Jesus’ deity (1:1,3,23; 4:25; 9:38; 10:30-33; 20:28)—Jesus most certainly was not denying it in John 17:3. Unless the biblical text specifically mentions what a member of the Godhead does not know or do, we should be careful alleging ignorance, limited power, etc.

In Matthew 11:27, Jesus stated: “All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him” (emp. added). Are we to believe that the Spirit of God does not fully comprehend the Son of God or God the Father? After all, Jesus said, “[N]o one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son.” Once again, the terms “no one,” “anyone,” and “except” must be understood in a limited sense. Jesus was in no way suggesting that the Spirit of God, Who “searches all things, yes, the deep things of God” (1 Corinthians 2:10), does not fully understand the Father as Jesus does. The Son of God was revealing that aside from the “one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him” (Matthew 11:27), “no man or angel clearly and fully comprehends the character of the infinite God…. None but God fully knows Him” (Barnes, 1997, emp. in orig.). Once again, Jesus was alluding to His deity. Mere humans cannot truthfully speak in this manner. “The full comprehension and acknowledgment of the Godhead, and the mystery of the Trinity, belong to God alone” (Clarke, 1996). Jesus was and is God. We should no more exclude the Holy Spirit from Jesus’ statement about Himself and God the Father in Matthew 11:27 than we should exclude the Father or the Son from Paul’s statement about the Spirit in 1 Corinthians 2:10-11.

CONCLUSION

It is unnecessary to conclude that the Holy Spirit must at one time have given up some of His omniscience because Jesus stated of His return. “[N]o one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” In light of the way in which God and the Bible writers oftentimes used exclusive terms in limited senses, especially as those terms relate to the Godhead, it cannot be proven that Jesus was excluding the Spirit of God in this statement. If we should not exclude Jesus and the Holy Spirit from the God that Jesus praised in John 17:3, and we should not exclude the Holy Spirit from the Divine that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 11:27, it seems entirely unnecessary to infer that in Mark 13:32 and Matthew 24:36 Christ was implying that the Holy Spirit was unaware of the day of His return.

REFERENCES

Barnes, Albert (1997), Barnes’ Notes (Electronic Database: Biblesoft).

Brents, T.W. (1874), The Gospel Plan of Salvation (Bowling Green, KY: Guardian of Truth Foundation, 1987 reprint).

Butt, Kyle (2003), “Do Babies Go to Hell When They Die?” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=13&article=1201.

Camp, Franklin (no date) “1 Peter 1:1-2,” Redemption Through the Bible (Adamsville, AL: Brother’s).

Clarke, Adam (1996), Adam Clarke’s Commentary (Electronic Database: Biblesoft).

Holding, James (2012), “Mark 13:32 and the Holy Spirit,” Tekton, http://www.tektonics.org/lp/mk1332.html.

“Is There Only One True God?” (2009), Jehovah’s Witnesses Official Web Site, http://www.watchtower.org/e/200602b/article_01.htm.

Jackson, Wayne (1995), “Did Jesus Exist in the Form of God While on Earth?” Reason & Revelation, 15[3]:21-22, March, http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=10&article=354.

Lane, William (1974), The Gospel of Mark (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).

Lyons, Eric (2008), “The Only True God,” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=10&article=983#.

Miller, Dave (2003), “The Age of Accountability,” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=1202.

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The Trinity – Father Son and Holy Spirit – Water Blood and Word of God

by  Kyle Butt, M.Div.
Throughout the centuries, the nature of God has been at the center of many heated debates. Entire counsels have assembled to discuss whether God is composed of three personalities having one nature, whether Jesus is a part of the Godhead, how the Holy Spirit factors into the equation, and a host of similar questions. The answers to these questions can have far reaching theological and practical consequences. It is the purpose of this article to prove the thesis that the Bible teaches that the Godhead is three personalities—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—in one nature.

Definitions

As in all discussions dealing with a proper understanding of truth, an agreed upon and acceptable, sufficiently precise definition of the major terms must be set out in the beginning.

  • Godhead or Divinity: A description of the totality, both of nature and personality, of the supernatural Creator of the world (see Lenski, 1961, p. 98).
  • Nature: “The inherent character or basic constitution of a person or thing; essence” (“Nature,” 2015).
  • Personality: A recognizable, distinct entity that has mind and desire. As described by Merriam-Webster: “The complex of characteristics that distinguishes an individual….The totality of an individual’s behavioral and emotional characteristics; a set of distinctive traits and characteristics” (“Personality,” 2015).

While most words that will be discussed concerning the Trinity, such as “personality,” “nature,” and even “divinity” or “Godhead,” are fairly easy to define, that does not mean the aspects of God that they describe are easy to understand. In fact, the Godhead is so complex and beyond human capability to fully understand, that any attempt to discuss God quickly reveals the limitations of the human mind. We can never fully understand the Godhead. As the apostle Paul so eloquently wrote about God’s revelation of the Gospel: “Oh, the depth and the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out” (Romans 11:33). We should not conclude, however, that nothing can be known of God. Were that the case, to have any discussion about Him, say His name, or even to identify the concept of God, would be impossible for us. On the contrary, while we may not be able to understand fully all that the term “nature” of God entails, and while we may not be able to define the concept of a “personality” so that we comprehend everything about it, we can know enough about the terms “Godhead,” “nature,” and “personality” to say that the Godhead is three personalities in one nature.

The Basic Argument For The Trinity

The basic argument for the Trinity proceeds as follows:

  • Premise one: the Bible teaches that the Godhead is one in nature.
  • Premise two: the Bible teaches that God the Father is one personality of the Godhead.
  • Premise three: the Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit is one personality of the Godhead.
  • Premise four: the Bible teaches that Jesus the Son is one personality of the Godhead.
  • Conclusion: Therefore, God is composed of three personalities in one nature.

The Godhead is One in Nature

Various Scriptures demonstrate that the Godhead is one in nature. One of the most well-known passages that relates this truth is Deuteronomy 6:4, which states: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one!” A similar passage is found in Ephesians 4:4-6, which reads, “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” In addition, Malachi 2:10 says, “Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us?” The fact that God is one is clearly stated in the Bible.

The clear statements of God’s oneness lead some to deny that God is composed of three personalities. They suggest that if God is one, then He cannot be three in any way; so His oneness excludes the possibility that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all God. As M. Davies wrote: “We have seen how that, throughout the Bible God is only described as being one being…. So it is to the Bible we must turn, and when we do, we do not find any evidence to suggest that God is made up of three beings” (2009). Thus, the critics of the doctrine of the Trinity do not differentiate between the concept of nature and that of personality. This idea will be expanded upon in the section dealing with common objections. It is included here simply to set up the argument for God’s oneness being in nature, and not personality.

The Bible says that “one God” created us (Malachi 2:10). A closer look, however, at the Creation of man shows that some type of multiplicity was involved. Genesis 1:26-27 states, “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.… So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” The Hebrew language used in this passage cannot be definitively used to prove a multiplicity, but it is written in such a way that certainly allows for the one God to have some aspect of multiplicity or plurality. A better understanding of this plurality is gained by looking at the verses in the Bible that discuss the Creation. John 1:1 explains, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” Later in the first chapter of John we learn that the Word “became flesh and dwelt among us.” Thus, the Word refers to Jesus, who was with God and was God and created all things along with the Father (John 1:14). We can see, then, that the oneness of the Creator must allow for at least some aspect of God to have a multiplicity of something.

In logical form, we could arrange the argument as follows. There is one God who created man. The concept of oneness either means that nothing about God can have any type of plurality, or that some aspect of God is completely unified but at least one other aspect of God can have multiplicity to it. It cannot be the case that nothing about God can have any multiplicity since the Bible gives at least one aspect of God (the Father and the Son) that has multiplicity. Therefore, some aspect of God is completely unified, but at least one aspect of God can have, and has, multiplicity.

Once we determine logically that at least one aspect of God has to be “one” and completely unified without multiplicity, we need to identify what that concept is. We see several ideas that are applied to God in His entirety. God is eternal, from everlasting to everlasting (Psalm 90:2; Deuteronomy 33:27). God’s eternality applies to the Father, as well as to God the Son, as is evidenced from the fact that Isaiah 9:6 describes the Messiah (Who is recognized in the New Testament as Jesus) as being called “Everlasting Father.” The concept of eternality equally applies to the Spirit, as the Hebrews writer stated, “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God” (Hebrews 9:14, emp. added). Since the concept of eternality equally applies to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, then we have successfully determined at least one aspect of God that is completely unified and applies equally to every aspect of God. Such qualities compose the nature or essence of the being of God. And while it is true that we cannot know or understand all of the aspects of God’s essence, we can compile a list of ideas or attributes that make-up this unified whole that applies equally to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

  • God’s essence is immutable, or unchangeable (Psalm 103:17; Hebrews 13:8).
  • God’s essence is morally perfect (Habakkuk 1:13; 1 Peter 2:22).
  • God’s essence is founded on justice (Psalm 89:14; Matthew 23:23).
  • God’s essence is love (1 John 4:8).
  • God’s essence is eternal (Psalm 90:2; Deuteronomy 33:27; Isaiah 9:6).

The Bible provides a much more exhaustive list of the attributes of God’s nature or essence. This short list is provided to make the point that all three personalities of God (i.e., the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), share one unified nature that applies equally to all of them.

The three personalities of God

Having established the fact that God is one in essence or nature, we can now move to dealing with the idea that God is three personalities. The burden of this portion of the article will be to establish that the three personalities of God are God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

God the Father

The premise that one personality of the Godhead is the Father is one of the least disputed and easily proven concepts in this discussion. In fact, many people and religious groups consider the Father to be the only personality of God (which we will show is not the case), but very few who accept the Bible as the Word of God argue that God the Father is not God. This is the case because there are so many verses in the Bible that identify God in the personality of the Father. Let us examine a few of those. In 2 Peter 1:17, the text states that Jesus “received from God the Father honor and glory.” Jude 1 is written to those “who are called, sanctified by God the Father.” When Jesus was instructing His disciples to pray, He taught them to say, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name” (Matthew 6:9). Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, “Now may our God and Father Himself, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way to you” (1 Thessalonians 3:11). As with other aspects of the argument, a much longer list could be compiled showing that the Bible refers to God the Father as being part of the Godhead. Thus, as our argument proceeds, we have now established that the Godhead has one unified nature, and has at least one personality, namely, God the Father.

God the Holy Spirit

Because of the way many people view the term “spirit,” it has often been the case that the Holy Spirit is misidentified. He is often referred to as an “it,” and some do not recognize the fact that He is a personality of the Godhead. The Scriptures, however, are clear that the Holy Spirit is a personality of the Godhead in the same way as the Father and the Son. First, recall that the Bible explains that the Spirit is eternal (Hebrews 9:14). That means that He is not a created being, but has always existed. In argument form we would say, God is the only being that is eternal. The Holy Spirit is eternal. Therefore, the Holy Spirit is God. In addition, we read that just as God knows all things, the Spirit does as well. First Corinthians 2:10-11 states, “But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God…. Even so, no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.”

The book of Acts contains a memorable story about two early Christians named Ananias and Sapphira. These two sold a piece of property, gave the money to the church, but lied about the price of the land. When the apostle Peter rebuked them for their sin, he said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit…. You have not lied to men but to God” (Acts 5:3-4). Notice that Peter stated that by lying to the Holy Spirit, Ananias had lied to God, equating God and the Holy Spirit. In addition, 1 Peter 1:2 says that the Christians there had participated in the “sanctification of the Spirit.” In 2 Thessalonians 5:23, the Bible says, “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely.” Again, we see that the work of sanctifying the Christian is accomplished by God, but is attributed to the Holy Spirit. This line of reasoning can be extended to other aspects of God’s action. In 2 Timothy, Paul states that “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God” (3:16). Peter explains that the Scriptures were produced when “holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21). We then can reason that God inspired the Scriptures, and the Holy Spirit inspired the Scriptures, thus the Holy Spirit is God.

Once we establish that the Holy Spirit is God, we next need to show that He is a person, not simply a nebulous force. We have defined the word “person” as a recognizable, distinct entity that has mind and desire. The Bible paints a consistent picture that the Holy Spirit, like the Father, is a person. First, the Scriptures state that the Holy Spirit can, and has, talked to people using language that those people can understand. In Acts 8:29, we read that “the Spirit said to Philip, ‘Go near and overtake this chariot.’” This was not a nebulous, impersonal force, but a recognizable voice used by a person to communicate His desire to a man named Philip. The apostle Paul explained that “the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith” (1 Timothy 4:1). Once again, the Spirit speaks in understandable language. In Revelation, the text says that “the Spirit and the bride say ‘Come!’” (22:17). Only a person with a will and identity could offer such an invitation. In addition, consider that the Holy Spirit can be blasphemed (Matthew 12:31-32), lied to (Acts 5:3), insulted or despised (Hebrews 10:29), and grieved (Ephesians 4:30) (Olbright, 1999, p. 25). The Holy Spirit is God, and has all the traits of a person. We therefore conclude that the Father is one personality of God, and the Holy Spirit is another personality of God, proving that the one God has a multiplicity of personalities.

God the Son

In addition to the Father and the Holy Spirit, the Bible mentions another person Who composes the Godhead—Jesus Christ the Son. In fact, the Bible mentions these three together. Matthew 28:19 quotes Jesus as saying that His followers should baptize disciples in the name of the “Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Peter wrote that Christians were “elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus” (1 Peter 1:2). A straightforward reading of these passages seems to put the three on equal footing. Some have contended, however, that even though Jesus is the Son of God (which the Scriptures teach in numerous places; see Matthew 14:33; 16:16; Mark 1:1; Luke 8:28; John 3:16-18; 2 Corinthians 1:19), that does not mean He was equal to God or had/has the same nature as God. Fred Pearce, who denies that Jesus is God, wrote: “But he is God’s Son, because he has been ‘begotten.’ The ruler is not God; he is the Son of God; and he began to exist on the day he was ‘begotten.’ Like all sons, he is preceded by his Father” (n.d.). Some have contended that God created Jesus first, and then Jesus created everything else. Thus, they would argue that Jesus is not God, but only the Son of God, a creation of God, or an elevated angel. Others would argue that Jesus was only a man and never claimed to be God or even an angel. The Bible, however, denies both of these positions, and presents a thorough and consistent picture of Jesus Christ the Son of God as God in nature and as a third personality of the Godhead. Consider the following three affirmations:

I. Jesus the Son is Referred to as God

The prophet Isaiah predicted that the Messiah would come in the form of a Child. That Messiah was going to be known as “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). Notice specifically that the coming Child would be called Mighty God. In the New Testament, we see that Jesus was that Child, the anointed Messiah, the Son of David described in Isaiah 9:6. In John 4:25, the woman with whom Jesus talked at the well stated, “I know the Messiah is coming” to which Jesus responded, “I who speak to you am He” (John 4:26). When we put the premises together, the argument looks like this: The Messiah is Mighty God. Jesus Christ the Son of God is the Messiah. Therefore, Jesus Christ is Mighty God.

In the first chapter of John, the text says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). Again, notice that the Word is called God. Just a few verses later, the text explains that the “Word became flesh and dwelt among us” and that John “testified of Him” (John 1:14-15). In John 3:22-36, the person John testified about is Jesus Christ the Son of God. Putting the pieces together, we arrive at the following argument: The Word is God. Jesus Christ the Son is the Word. Therefore, Jesus Christ the Son is God. The apostle Thomas added his voice to this conclusion when he saw the wounds in Jesus’ body and proclaimed to Jesus, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28).

II. Jesus the Son is Worthy of and Accepted Worship

Matthew wrote a detailed account of Jesus being tempted by the devil in the wilderness. During that temptation, the devil enticed Jesus to fall down and worship him. Jesus responded by saying, “It is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve’” (Matthew 4:1). Jesus’ argument went as follows: All people are morally bound to worship only one being, that is, God. The devil is not God. Therefore, no one should ever worship the devil. From this line of reasoning, it is clear that anyone who is faithful to God will not encourage the worship of any being other than God. We see this truth played out in a number of episodes in the Bible. In Acts 14, Paul and Barnabas were in the city of Lystra when they healed a crippled man. The residents of the city were so enamored with the two, they began to worship them. Paul and Barnabas rushed in among the crowd and tried to stop their worship, crying out, “Men, why are you doing these things? We are also men with the same nature as you” (Acts 14:15). Their argument was similar to the one Jesus made. All people are morally bound to worship only one Being, that is, God. Paul and Barnabas are not God. Therefore, no people should ever worship Paul and Barnabas. The same thought process is used in Revelation 22:6-9. In that passage, the apostle John is introduced to an angel. The apostle “fell down to worship before the feet of the angel” (Revelation 22:8), but the angel said to him, “See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servant…. Worship God” (Revelation 22:9). The angel’s argument can be laid out in the following way. God is the only Being any person should worship. I, an angel, am not God. Therefore, no person should ever worship me.

When we consider how Jesus responded to being worshiped, we can see that He readily accepted it as a proper response to His personality and power.  On numerous occasions, the Bible records that people worshiped Jesus Christ. Matthew 14:33 says that his disciples “came and worshiped Him, saying, ‘Truly You are the Son of God.’” Jesus accepted the worship and did not rebuke them. In John 9:38, Jesus healed a man who had been born blind. Jesus then instructed the man to believe in the Son of God. The man responded by saying, “Lord, I believe!” then the text says, “And he worshiped Him” (see also Matthew 2:11; 28:9; John 20:28). As we analyze this argument, we see that Jesus said all people are morally bound to worship only God, and Jesus accepted worship as the proper attitude of people toward Him. Either Jesus violated Scripture and accepted worship contrary to the Bible’s teaching, or Jesus is God. Jesus never violated Scripture (Hebrews 4:15; John 8:46). Therefore, Jesus is God.

III. Jesus the Son is Equated with Jehovah

In the Hebrew Bible the special name for God is called the Tetragrammaton. It is composed of four Hebrew letters and is transliterated Jehovah or Yahweh. The actual pronunciation of the name has been lost since the original Hebrew did not have vowels. This name is used only to describe the eternal Creator God of the Universe. In Isaiah 6, the prophet records a time when he saw God in a vision. The angelic beings who stood around God’s throne addressed God as “Jehovah” of hosts in Isaiah 6:3 and used the same name (the Tetragrammaton) in verse five. There is no doubt that Isaiah was describing a vision of the eternal God. When we turn to the New Testament, we see the apostle John describing this scene from Isaiah. John writes that although He (Jesus) “had done so many signs before them, they did not believe” (John 12:38). He then references Isaiah 6:9-10, and says, “These things Isaiah said when he saw His glory and spoke of Him” (John 12:41). The fact that the pronoun “Him” in verse 41 is referring to Jesus is verified by the use of the pronoun to describe Jesus in verse 37 and verse 42. Thus, the argument can then be made as follows: Isaiah saw the glory of Jehovah God in Isaiah 6. John says that Isaiah saw the glory of Jesus and references the episode in Isaiah 6. Thus, John equates Jesus with Jehovah.

Additionally, other passages reference Jesus as being Jehovah. Isaiah 40:3 explains that a messenger would be sent as the forerunner of the Messiah. This messenger would be “the voice of one crying in the wilderness” who would “prepare the way of the Lord (Jehovah); make straight in the desert a highway for our God” (Isaiah 40:3). The New Testament applies this prophecy to John the Baptizer (John 1:11) and declares that John prepared the way for Jesus, thus equating Jesus with Jehovah. Again, the argument is as follows: Isaiah said the messenger would prepare the way for Jehovah. John was the messenger Isaiah predicted. He prepared the way for Jesus. Thus, Jesus is equated with Jehovah.

From these passages and the arguments they present, the Bible student is drawn to a concrete conclusion about Jesus the Son. Not only is Jesus directly called God, He accepted worship that is reserved only for God, and the holy name of Jehovah is applied to Jesus; thus Jesus is God. The idea that Jesus is a person who has a personality is undisputed. Therefore, Jesus is one personality of the Godhead [NOTE: For more information on the deity of Christ, see Miller, 2005 and the entire section of the Apologetics Press Web site dedicated to that topic under the heading “Deity of Christ” at http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=10.] We have now established that the Father, the Holy Spirit, and the Son are three personalities of the Godhead, and they are composed of one nature. Let us turn to some common objections to this conclusion.

Objections Considered

As with any subject pertaining to God and the Bible, an exhaustive list of objections and responses to them would be so extensive it would take hundreds or thousands of pages to complete. With that in mind, we will have to content ourselves with responses to a few of the more common objections to the thesis we have presented.

Objection 1:
       The Word Trinity is Not in the Bible

The concept that the Godhead is three personalities—the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—in one nature is often summarized as presenting a triune God. The term triune denotes a trinity of personalities in one unified nature. The noun form of the adjective is Trinity. The term Trinity is used by the vast majority of Christians, and others who accept the thesis of this article, to describe the nature and personalities of God. One primary objection to the use of this word, and the conclusion that it is used to describe, is that the term is not even used in the Bible. For example, one critic of the idea of the Trinity wrote:

But did you realize that, even though it is a common assumption among many sincere religious people, the word Trinity does not appear anywhere in the Bible? In fact, the word Trinity did not come into common use as a religious term until centuries after the last books of the Bible were completed—long after the apostles of Christ were gone from the scene! (“Is the Trinity…?” 2011, italics in orig.).

Supposedly, because the Bible does not use the term Trinity to describe God, then the idea of a Trinity is an extrabiblical idea that was forced into the text.

In truth, the objection that the term Trinity is not used in the Bible can be refuted by showing that there certainly are words used today that describe concepts in the Bible, but those words or terms are not in the text. For instance, the Bible never uses the term “atheist” or “atheism.” Can we argue from that fact that the Bible does not deal with the concept of a person who does not believe in God? No, since we can see that Psalm 14:1 states, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” Our modern term “atheism” accurately describes a person who says, “There is no God,” even though the term is not used in the text. In addition, the Bible never uses the word “Sunday,” yet we use that word today to accurately describe the day the Bible calls “the first day of the week,” which came after the Sabbath. Incidentally, we use the word “Saturday” to describe the Sabbath, even though “Saturday” is never used in the Bible. These examples show the logical inconsistency of claiming that a concept is not taught in the Bible if the word we currently use to describe the concept is not in the Bible.

Objection 2:
       If God is One, He Cannot Be Three

Another often heard objection to the thesis is the idea that if God is one, there is no way that He can be three. Those who use this argument quote verses such as Deuteronomy 6:4, “The Lord our God, the Lord is one!” and Ephesians 4:6 which says there is “one God and Father of all.” They argue that if God is one, as these verses say, then He cannot be three at the same time, because this would be a violation of the law of logic known as the Law of Contradiction.

In responding to this argument, it is helpful to review what the Law of Contradiction actually says. Warren states the law as: “Nothing can both have and not have a given characteristic (or property) in precisely the same respect” (1982, p. 23). Another way to state the law is that nothing can both be something, and not be that same thing at the same time, in the same way. The pertinent aspect of the Law of Contradiction as it relates to the Trinity discussion is the idea of a person or thing having a certain characteristic “in precisely the same respect” or “in the same way.” For instance, we could say that a person named Bob is very rich and very poor. While it seems contradictory at first, we could mean that he is physically and financially prosperous, but he is very shallow and spiritually poor. So, in one sense he is rich (monetarily) and in another sense he is poor (spiritually). Therefore, it can be true that he is both rich and poor at one and the same time. In the same way, God can both be one and be three at the same time precisely because the terms “one” and “three” apply to different aspects of God. When we use the word “one” we are discussing God’s eternal nature or essence. When we use the word “three” we are describing the personalities of God, not His nature. Thus, it is important to understand that the Godhead is three personalities in one nature. This statement does not violate the Law of Contradiction and accords with what the Bible says.

Objection 3:
       Jesus Denied That He is God

Some who argue against the Trinity claim that Jesus did not view Himself as God, and on several occasions denied His deity. One of the passages most often used to bolster this claim is Mark 10:17. In this passage, a wealthy young man ran to see Jesus and asked Him, “Good teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” Jesus responded by saying, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.” According to the skeptical view, Jesus is denying that He is God. But a closer look at Jesus’ comment reveals just the opposite to be the case. Notice that Jesus never denies that He is the “good teacher.” He simply makes the comment that there is only one Who is truly good, and that is God. Thus, if the young man’s statement is true that Jesus is the “good teacher” (and it is), and there is only one Who is “good,” and that is God, then Jesus is acknowledging His deity, not denying it. As with all discussion of Scripture, it is important to look at what the text actually says and not what other people claim the text says [NOTE: For a more complete list of answers to objections to Christ’s deity see Lyons, 2006; in addition, for a thorough case for the deity of Christ, see Butt and Lyons, 2006.]

Conclusion

A discussion of the nature and personalities of God is important for several reasons. First, if God includes information about Him in the Bible, then He must want humans to study and learn that information. Second, a misunderstanding of God’s personalities could result in a spiritually catastrophic conclusion that is at odds with God’s Word. If a person misunderstands that Jesus is the eternal God on par with the Father and Spirit, that person may never grasp the significance of the fact that God in the flesh came to Earth to die for his or her sins. Such a misunderstanding may also cause that person to fail to honor Christ as the Bible commands. Jesus stated “that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him” (John 5:23). Only if a person understands that the Son is God just as the Father is God can that person honor the Son “just as” he or she honors the Father. Thus, a discussion of the Trinity is necessary to sound Christian doctrine and practice.

If a person approaches the sum of Scripture motivated by an earnest desire to know the truth about the Godhead, that person can, with complete confidence, infer from the biblical premises and implications that the Godhead is three personalities—the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—in one nature.

References

Butt, Kyle and Eric Lyons (2006), Behold! The Lamb of God (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).

Davies, Matt (2009), “God—A Single Entity and Not a Trinity,” The Gospel Truth, http://www.the-gospel-truth.info/bible-teachings/god-unity-or-trinity/.

“Is the Trinity Biblical?” (2011), United Church of God, http://www.ucg.org/bible-study-tools/booklets/is-god-a-trinity/is-the-trinity-biblical.

Lenski, R.C.H. (1961 reprint), The Interpretation of St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg).

Lyons, Eric (2006), “Answering Christ’s Critics,” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=6&article=578&topic=71.

Miller, Dave (2005), “Jesus’ Claims to Deity,” Apologetics Press, https://apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=10&article=2465.

“Nature” (2015), Merriam-Webster,  http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/nature.

Olbright, Owen (1999), The Holy Spirit: Person and Work (Delight, AR: Gospel Light).

Pearce, Fred (no date),“Jesus: God the Son or the Son of God? Does the Bible Teach the Trinity?” http://www.christadelphia.org/pamphlet/jesus.htm.

“Personality” (2015), Merriam-Webster, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/personality.

Warren, Thomas B. (1982), Logic and the Bible (Ramer, TN: National Christian Press).

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God’s Love – Love of God

by  Caleb Colley, Ph.D.

French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte once said, “Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and myself have founded empires, but upon what do these creations of our genius depend? Upon force. Jesus alone founded His empire upon love: and to this very day millions would die for Him” (as quoted in Ankerberg and Weldon, 1997, p. 29). If every one of God’s characteristics was to be summarized in a single English word, only one word could suffice: love. Of course, the idea of love does not encompass all of God’s characteristics, but it is a fitting summation of God’s personality. In fact, John wrote simply that “God is love” (1 John 4:8-9,16)—perhaps the most powerful statement ever made about God’s love (we do not, as some do, charge that God’s justice is inconsistent with his love and mercy [see Colley, 2004a]).

When Paul listed the fruits of the Spirit—characteristics that appear in the lives of Christ’s followers (Galatians 5:22-23)—the first fruit he mentioned was love. Jesus said that all the law and the prophets hang upon love (Matthew 22:40; Mark 12:28). God is not merely a loving God, but God is love, and love defines His very essence. Every action of God has been carried out, ultimately, because of His magnificent love.

God loves His Son. The relationship between God the Father and Jesus Christ is one of great love. God’s eternal love has an eternal object, and that eternal object is Christ. Consider a sampling of the passages that bear the special relationship the Father and Son share:

  • Isaiah 42:1: “Behold! My Servant whom I uphold, my Elect One in whom My soul delights! I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles. He will not cry out, nor raise His voice.”
  • Matthew 3:17: “And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased’ ” (cf. Matthew 17:5).
  • John 1:18: “No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.”
  • John 5:20: “For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does” (cf. John 3:30).
  • John 17:24: “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me.”

God loves His Son’s followers. Paul wrote to the Christians at Rome: “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:5). The Greek verb translated “poured out” in Romans 5:5, ekcheo, is the same verb used to describe the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:17ff.). This suggests that, through Christ, God has blessed His spiritual children with an abundant amount of love. The tense of the verb is perfect, indicating a settled state or a completed action. The idea, then, is that the love of God has filled our hearts, and, like a valley remains full of flood water, our hearts remain full of Christ’s love (see Packer, 1975, pp. 129-130). Those who are in Christ (Romans 6:3-4; Galatians 3:27) are in a covenant relationship with God, a relationship in which both God and the Christian are pledged to each other.

Again, Paul wrote: “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39). Although Christians can (and, sadly, sometimes do) cease to love Christ (Acts 8:12-13; Galatians 5:4; James 5:19-20; see Jackson, 2003), Christ will never cease to love them, for God is unchanging (James 1:17; see Colley, 2004b). Packer wrote concerning the unchanging quality of God’s love:

…[T]his does not mean that He is unfeeling (impassive), or that there is nothing in Him that corresponds to emotions and affections in us, but that whereas human passions—specifically the painful ones, fear, grief, regret, despair—are in a sense passive and involuntary, being called forth and constrained by circumstances not under our control, the corresponding attitudes in God have the nature of deliberate voluntary choices, and therefore are not of the same order as human passions at all. So the love of the God who is spirit is no fitful, fluctuating thing, as the love of man is, nor is it a mere impotent longing for things that may never be…. There are no inconstancies or vicissitudes in the love of the almighty God who is spirit (1975, pp. 133-134, parenthetical item in orig.).

God loves the world. That is, God cares even for people who disregard Him. Paul wrote: “But God demonstrates His own love toward use, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8, emp. added). The Greek word translated love in Romans 5:8 is agape, which appears abundantly (82 times) in the Greek New Testament. Agape is a selfless love that motivates one to sacrifice on the behalf of others, so it has come to be known by many as “Christian” love. This purest form of love is the agape under consideration when Paul wrote: “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13). It was that love that made Christ willing to “taste death for everyone” (Hebrews 2:9).

God despises sin, but loves sinners. He does not approve or overlook sin; rather, He wants each sinner to repent of his wrongdoing and change his life (Acts 17:30). Peter wrote: “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9, emp. added). God delays the Second Coming of Christ, not because He is undependable or incapable of fulfilling the promise of judgment (1 Peter 4:17; 2 Peter 3:7-9; 1 John 4:17; Jude 6,15; Revelation 14:7), but because His love motivates Him to give sinners more opportunities to repent. Instead of admiring or imitating the wrong actions of sinners, we should abhor sin (Romans 12:9), and share God’s concern for lost souls—a concern that should motivate us to share the Gospel (Mark 16:15-16; John 14:6).

Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (John 13:34, emp. added). In stating that the commandment was new, Jesus obviously intended to draw a distinction between His commandment and everything else that would have been familiar to His disciples concerning the topic they were discussing. Though the command to love one’s neighbor was not new (Leviticus 19:18), Christ’s command was new in that it demanded that we love, not as we love ourselves, but as God loves us. This would be the sign to non-Christians that the first-century disciples really were followers of Christ (John 13:35; see Pack, 1977, 5:54-55), and it serves the same purpose today.

William Evans wrote: “As love is the highest expression of God and His relation to mankind, so it must be the highest expression of man’s relation to his Maker and to his fellow-man” (1994, 3:1932). God’s love should motivate us to express our love for Him by obeying His commands. Jesus could not have put it any clearer than He did when He said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). Let us pray that as we obey Christ, we will be able to “comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height” of His love, which “passes knowledge” (Ephesians 3:18-19).

REFERENCES

Ankerberg, John, and John Weldon (1997), Ready With an Answer (Eugene, OR: Harvest House).

Colley, Caleb (2004a), “God’s Mercy and Justice,” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/1860.

Colley, Caleb (2004b), “The Immutability of God,” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2567.

Evans, William (1994), The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, ed. James Orr (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson).

Jackson, Wayne (2003), “Galatians 5:4—Fallen from Grace,” [On-line], URL: http://www.christiancourier.com/notes/fallenFromGrace.htm.

Pack, Frank (1977), The Living Word Commentary, ed. Everett Ferguson (Austin, TX: Sweet).

Packer, J.I. (1975), Knowing God (London: Hodder and Stoughton), second edition.

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God with us in our pain

A very thoughtful sermon this morning from David Whillis who began a summer series on the Old Testament Book of Job which raises fundamental questions about why bad things happen to good people, and how faith responds to tragedy.

David began with a wee bit of background. He reminded us that Job is one of the books of ‘Wisdom literature’ in the Bible, books which probe the meaning of human existence. Unlike literature of other cultures of their time, the thinking of the Wisdom books is centred on God.

The book of Job was probably written down about 500BC, but it is set much earlier – possibly around 2,000 BC, the time of Abraham. We deduce this from Job’s circumstances, and from the fact that he offers sacrifices which was forbidden in the law given to Moses. We assume the story was passed down orally from generation to generation until it was finally written down.

The book begins with 2 chapters in prose, describing Job’s situation and the problems he faced. The bulk of the book is in poetry, with many chapters is which Job dialogues with friends, and ultimately meets God. The final section, describing Job’s ‘after story’ reverts to prose.

The question for us, David said is

‘What is God saying to us through this ancient book?’

David talked us through today’s passage.

A good man enjoying the good life

Job is described as ‘blameless and upright’, a mean who ‘feared God and shunned evil.’ (v1) No one else in the Old Testament, said David, is described in such positive terms.

We’re told that Job’s life was complete and fulfilled, as v2 demonstrates what David called Job’s ‘family shalom.’ The numbers – 7 sons and 3 daughters; 7000 sheep and 3000 camels – are numbers which, in Jewish tradition, signified ‘completeness’.

Job’s life, said David, was ‘the good life.’

And so the stage is set to demonstrate that, as David put it, ‘the man who has everything has everything to lose.’ And the book raises the fundamental question: Does Job believe only because of what belief brings him? If all he has is taken away, will his faith remain?

Job’s motives (and ours) questioned

The scene changes in v6 – as this fundamental question is raised by ‘The Accuser’ (which is what ‘Satan’ means here), the one who questions human motives. This accuser puts the book’s fundamental question in these words:

‘Does Job fear God for nothing?’ (v9)

The book of Job asks what is the basis of our relationship with God. Is God inherently worthy of our worship, or does God as it were buy our allegiance by the stuff God gives us?

So the book of Job is not about one man – it’s about all of us.

And it challenges each of us. Is my faith focused on God for God’s sake, or is it conditional on what I receive from God?

And when calamities strike – how does our faith respond?

A tsunami of catastrophe

Job’s life is disrupted by dreadful tragedy (vv13-19) But his response to it in this chapter is one of worship (v20-21)  As the book goes on, and Job’s troubles increase he will react differently, but for the moment all we see is this astonishing profession of faith (v21):

The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.

How true to life this book is! The innocent suffer.

It begs the question ‘Why do bad things happen to good people?’

But the book of Job doesn’t answer this questions.

Instead it focuses on what our faith means to us when bad stuff happens. How do we react when our faith is tested?

The suffering of Job – and the suffering of Jesus

David shared his conviction that the book of Job makes no sense apart from the cross of Christ, which it anticipates in a couple of ways.

Firstly, Job never doubts throughout the book that he will have a personal encounter with God as he does in its closing chapters. Old Testament believers considered this wasn’t possible – to catch a glimpse of God was to die. Christians, blessed with God’s further revelation, believe that God came among us in Jesus; that in Jesus we meet God face to face – and live.

Secondly, David pointed out that Job had a glimpse of the reality of life after death. Most Old Testament believers thought only of Sheol, the shadowy place of the dead. In contrast Job saw in moments of clarity that his relationship with God will survive death – and this is precisely our conviction as Christians, that beyond death, we will live.

And there’s more, David said.

Job suffered – but so did Jesus.  And because of, and through the suffering of Jesus we, in our times of suffering, can find hope for the future. Jesus who died for us, who suffered on our behalf brings us comfort strength and healing.

God – present in our pain

Job is a sad story of suffering. And yet God remains present with Job throughout his long days of pain.

Being Christian does not protect us from bad stuff. But God is with us, and we can therefore be strong and courageous, for God holds us safe, wrapped in God’s everlasting love.

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