|From the Pastors Desk||†|
|Redemption||Essence of God||Lesson 20|
Manchaca Bible Fellowship
|10 April 2005||Bible Lessons
To have even a surface understand of Godís redemption, we must understand the person of God. The ONLY place we can access the information needed to gain such an understanding is in the Word of God.
Isaiah 55:8 "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways," says the LORD. 9 "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.
It matters not how long you think and contemplate about who God is and what God had done, if those actions are from your own wisdom apart from the Bible, you wonít even be close. It matters not how sincere your intentions or how factually accurate your presumptions, IF they are anything other than the facts from the Word of God, you will be far off base in your conclusions. We can learn a great deal about God by observing His creation in connection with, but not apart from the Word of God.
Mankind has a great capacity for intricate contemplation and magnificent conclusions from such thoughts. There are very few physical problems that are unsolvable by mankind, if given enough data and time. However, mankind cannot control or improve the moral condition of the human race.
If mankind can fantasize it, somehow, somewhere, sometime mankind will probably make it a reality -- if there is enough money in it. Yet, with all that collective mental power, including the best of computers, mankind is helpless to rationalize who God is and what God does.
As a matter of fact, it is Spiritually dangerous to even attempt to understand God and His actions by human reasoning, apart from the simple truths of the Word of God. Many cults, and some of the worst have been spawned because someone tried to grasp the person of God apart from the truths of the Word of God.
For those who participated in the series on the Cults, Iím sure you can think of several cults that started because some person bypassed the information of the Word of God or added to the facts presented in the Word, and by human contemplation "built" themselves a god that fit within the boundaries of their finite understanding. Even the best intentioned Believer stands in the same danger when contemplating the person of God apart from the Word of God.
We can look at the physical creation of material substance or animal life and through that observation, we can learn a great deal about God. Even so, as stated before, the knowledge derived from creation must be tempered by the truth of Godís Word. This fact is clearly seen inÖ
Psalms 19:1 The heavens declare the gloryof God; And the firmament shows His handiwork. 2 Day unto day utters speech, And night unto night reveals knowledge. 3 There is no speech nor language Where their voice is not heard.
The information about God, obtained from creation, transcends all human boundaries and vocabularies.
Psalms 19:4 Their line has gone out through all the earth, And their words to the end of the world. In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun, 5 Which is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, And rejoices like a strong man to run its race. 6 Its rising is from one end of heaven, And its circuit to the other end; And there is nothing hidden from its heat.
We can learn a great deal about Godís glory and greatness by observing creation. This fact is emphasized again inÖ
Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead (deity), so that they are without excuse,
The information gained about God from creation should evoke within our hearts an attitude of awe about God, thankfulness to God and a glorification of God. Instead of allowing the things of creation to produce a reverence for God, mankind often uses the facts of creation to either:
Using only the facts of the natural creation to prove there is a God or to prove there is not a God, will often lead to one of two conclusion or some degree of these:
Weíll be back to Psalm 19 in a little while, but look further in Romans one to see the Divine commentary of this subject.
Romans 1:20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead (deity), so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, (as a result of the emptiness of thought) and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man - and birds and four-footed beasts and creeping things.
When we use what we can see from the natural creation to form our opinions about God OR to understand who God is, we demonstrate the total emptiness of the human mind to understand and from that "emptiness", we draw conclusions about the infinite God.
When we do so, whether we build an actual physical idol or not, we have changed the GLORY of the incorruptible God into a concoction devised only by corruptible humanity. Therefore, we must either redirect our thinking of God as something of creation, OR we must deny there is a God who deserves glory and praise. The first leads to Cultism and the second leads to some form of Atheism.
Romans 1:24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions.
Christianity, as a whole, has tried to adapt their concept of God so that their presentation of God would not be in conflict with a rational world. Over the past 50 to 100 years, we have seen a decline in morality, in direct relationship to the churchís presentation of a rational God that can be understood by finite mankind.
We donít come to an understanding of who God is to become a Christian. We become a Christian because we have accepted, by faith, Godís Son, the Lord Jesus Christ Ė even though we do not understand who God is.
Romans 1:26- For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. 28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, 30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; 32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.
With that in mind, look back atÖ
Psalms 19:1 The heavens declare the gloryof God; And the firmament shows His handiwork. 2 Day unto day utters speech, And night unto night reveals knowledge. 3 There is no speech nor language Where their voice is not heard. 4 Their line has gone out through all the earth, And their words to the end of the world. In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun, 5 Which is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, And rejoices like a strong man to run its race. 6 Its rising is from one end of heaven, And its circuit to the other end; And there is nothing hidden from its heat.
There is much we can learn about God from observing what He has done, and by observing the natural laws that are a result of what He has done.
However, IF we want Spiritual value, that value MUST come from the Word of God, NOT the works of God.
This truth is seen in Psalms 19:7-14
Psalms 19:7 The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; 8 The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; 9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. 10 More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. 11 Moreover by them Your servant is warned, And in keeping them there is great reward. 12 Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults. 13 Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; Let them not have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless, And I shall be innocent of great transgression. 14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my redeemer.
In personality God is three, in essence He is one. To study that essence we are going to look at 11 aspects of Godís essence. However, there are many, MANY other terms we could add to the description of Godís person.
God in His essence is:
(8) Eternal Life
I know, Iím repeating myself! But please remember, there are not enough words in the English language to adequately describe God and His work. These "11" are descriptive terms to be used as handles so that we can more easily grasp the un-fathomless Spiritual truths of Godís person.
To have a clear understanding of Godís "Love", we must have a firm grip on His "JUSTICE". Too many people have the idea that love is getting what they want, and justice is changing everyone to be like themselves.
Surely, God is not vindictive. Is He?
- Such infliction, when it proceeds from malice or mere resentment, and not necessary for the purposes of justice, is revenge, and a most heinous crime.
- When such infliction proceeds from a mere love of justice, and the necessity of punishing offenders for the support of the laws, it is vengeance, and is warrantable and just.
- In this case, vengeance is a just retribution, recompense or punishment. In this latter sense, the word is used in Scripture and frequently applied to the punishments inflicted by God on sinners.
God would certainly NEVER carry out vengeance! Not if He is a loving God. Right?!??
When mankind, from their "empty" or futile thinking, draws conclusions about God, based on how they think they would like God to act, they are ALWAYS wrong. Look at a couple of passages dealing with this matter.
Romans 12:18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place (get out of the way) to wrath; for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord.
It is not our job to carry out "vengeance", thatís Godís job. Therefore, we should not try to do Godís job. Instead, we are to give place (get out of the way) to wrath. God will take care of it!
If we are standing in the way when God deals out vengeance, some of that wrath might just hit us. For this study, we need to see that God is a God vengeance. However, please remember..,
God does not always act in the manner humans think He should. Nor does God act according to the rules set up through the best of human contemplation.
2 Peter 3:9 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.
Anytime Godís actions are in conflict with mankindís ideas, guess who is wrong???? There are some Biblical directives for us to carry out vengeance, under certain circumstances. We will see some of those as we study the soul and the authority and responsibility God has given to mankind.
Galatians 6:1 Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. 2 Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. 5 For each one shall bear his own load. 6 Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches. 7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. 9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.
God is not just because He acts justly. God IS Justice!! Therefore, all His actions are just. God IS Love Therefore, all His actions are loving.
If we are to see and understand Godís love, we must establish what is meant by love. In the old Testament, the main Hebrew word translated to English as "love" isÖ
There are two main Greek words in the New Testament translated to the English word "love". There are several different structures of these two Greek words, but the base meaning is the same.
This base Greek word is used in other forms such asÖ
Of course, there is the Greek word we are all familiar with. It is the standard bearer of Biblical love. That Greek word isÖ
As we look at the Greek definition of "agape" or "agapao" it seems to be a little wimpy, when compared to our concept of Godís love.
It must be remembered that the Holy Spirit uses common words, and by the Biblical use and actions connected with those words, a far greater and deeper meaning, than their common use in human language, is established.
Therefore, to have an understanding of Divine Love, we must establish a definition based on the actions of God, throughout the entire Word of God. The Holy Spirit uses agape to express ideas previously unknown. IllustrationÖ
John 13:34"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."
How could this be a "new commandment"? In the Old Testament there was the command to love God and your neighbor. The "new" part is that we are to "love as Christ loved us". And believe you me, that was a brand new concept.
As we look at Godís love as expressed in the Bible, we will see a love that is different and much deeper than the love expressed and expected by humans.
Review quickly some of the ways the Greek word for love is use in the New Testament. Agape and agapao are used in the NT to:
(1) Describe the attitude of God toward--
(2) Convey His will to His children concerning their attitude--
(3) Express the essential nature of God -- 1 John 4:8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
We can only know what Divine love is by observing the actions it prompts. God's love is seen in the gift of His son. This was obviously not a love spawned from some emotional feelings or from a desire for self-satisfaction. This was not a love awaken because of some quality of excellence in the ones (us) to whom that love was directed.
Romans 5:8But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Divine love was an action of God, spawned by a deliberate choice. This choice of God to love was made without any condition of proper response from the ones who were loved (God so loved the world). This divine love was not motivated by some benefit God might receive, but simply because it is Godís nature to love.
Self-centeredness is the negation of our love for God and the negation of the expression of Godís love through us to others. Refresh your thinking about that first human sin, and their response to Godís Justice, even back when mankind was fresh from the creative hand of God.
Genesis 3:11And He (God) said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?" 12 Then the man said, "The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate." 13 And the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?" And the woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate."
Both Adam and Eve acted on the basis of their volition given by God, BUT God did not coerce, force or even influence them to act in this manner. They acted contrary to the direct command of God, therefore God must act in justice.
In Genesis 3:11 , God asked a simple question. "Who told you?" Adam did not answer properly, he answer as humans normally do. Adam tried to deflect the results of justice, for the action of his sin, to the messenger who pointed out the failing.
We have a problem here. Adam acted contrary to Godís command. Adam knew full well the consequence for his actions. However, IF he had never been warned by God of the consequence, he would still have been guilty.
Therefore, IF God is a just God, He MUST carry out appropriate vengeance. BUT it doesnít seem that God carried out any vengeance. Oh, yea! Adam was thrown out of the Garden. That was certainly a punishment. But the prescribed punishment was "DEATH".
Genesis 3:14So the LORD God said to the serpent: "Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; on your belly you shall go, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life. 15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel." 16 To the woman He said: "I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; in pain you shall bring forth children; Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you." 17 Then to Adam He said, "Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, 'You shall not eat of it': "Cursed is the ground for your sake; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life.
The phrase "cursedÖfor you sake" is very important for our understanding of the present subject and many to follow. Some would say that "for your sake" meant that the curse was the fault of Adam and was a direct result of his sin AND a punishment for it.
However, I donít believe that is what this phrase means. First of all, cursing the earth was never mentioned as part of the punishment for sin. The punishment for sin or the results of sin was death. Pure and simple Ė "Death"ónothing more or nothing less.
The phrase "for your sake" could mean that God was giving the curse for the good or benefit of Adam. Not only could it mean such, I believe we will see that Scripture bears out that it is what it means. Look at how the phrase is used in other Scripture passages.
Isaiah 54:15Indeed they shall surely assemble, but not because of Me. Whoever assembles against you shall fall for your sake.
These who were assembled werenít going to fall as a result of Israelís actions or because of the fault of Israel. No! They were going to fall for the benefit of Israel. It was for their sake.
John 12:30Jesus answered and said, "This voice did not come because of Me, but for your sake.
This "voice" did not come because of something that the people who were standing around did. It was not the fault of these people. No! This voice came as a benefit for these people. It was for their sake.
Romans 11:28Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers.
As you recall, this is in reference to the Jews being set aside for a time, and here they are referred as enemies of the gospel. They did not become enemies because of anything the New Testament Believers did. Nor was it the fault of the Believers that they became enemies. NO!! They became enemies for the benefit of we who are Believers. It was for our sake.
We could look at other passages, but this gives a good cross section of the use of this phrase in Scripture. Certainly, the "curse" is looked upon as a hardship and therefore something of a "punishment".
BUT if there was no "curse", being fallen sinners as we are, we would have little desire to leave this earth in its perfect condition. As a matter of fact, we often fall in love with this world even though it has been cursed.
However, because of the curse, we have a great hope of things to come.
Romans 8:16The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs - heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. 19 For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; 21 because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
Yes, the curse was given by God so that we (and creation) would have hope. Often, we do not respond to many things God says and as a result we loose many blessings.
Revelation 13:8And all who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
It was only because of the reality of Godís determination, before the foundation of the world, that Christ would bring redemption THAT God could give the curse in HOPE!!!
Love always pays a price. Love always costs something. Love is expensive. When you love, Benefits enhances anotherís account. My love is for you, not for me. Love gives, it doesnít grab.
|© Clyde White, Austin TX, 2005|