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Month: April 2007

[CSF] Public Service Announcement: God is FOR You

I need to take a short break from two series that I’m currenty post on this list (the one on election and After the Resurrection) to insert this very important public service announcement:

28And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

31What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died–more than that, who was raised–who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

– Romans 8:28-39

One of the greatest passages of scripture ever written, yet people so pick it apart instead of treating it as one train of thought that the apostle Paul develops that it’s robbed of its’ true power to change the life and heart of a believer.  I’m going to give you a little preview – just a taste – of the riches of God’s power to change a life packed into these verses.

The Holy Trinity: How Should We Rightly Think About God ? Episode 2

Our previous lesson tackled several preliminary issues dealing with the doctrine of the Trinity. We talked about a definition of the Trinity – that God is one in essence, three in Person, existing eternally and simultaneously as Father, Son and Holy Spirit – and our approach to scripture. We also warned the believer or anyone discussing the doctrine to stay away from dubious illustrations of the Trinity which are, in fact, unbiblical and could give someone a false concept of God.

With the preliminaries out of the way, let’s dig into this topic some more.

In discussing the doctrine of the Trinity, we need to distinguish our talking about God ontologically (in terms of nature and essence) and talking about Him economically (in terms of function and action).

In other words, we’re distinguishing between Who God is and what God does.

This distinction is important – simply because after we define the doctrine of the Trinity, you’ll notice that the different members of the Godhead don’t all do the exact same thing. This is where many cults like Mormons, JW’s and false religions like Islam slip up. They expect that if Jesus is God, He will do the same things that God the Father does and when they come to passages like John 14:28, they say ‘Aha! See ? The Father is greater than Jesus! So He is not God!’

Of course, anyone paying attention to the above objection knows that the term ‘greater’ is not an ontological statement (nature, essence and being), but a statement of position, authority and rank (economic statement). The president of the United States, by nature of His office, is greater than me. But as a man, he is not better than me. In terms of humanity, he and I are equally human beings on this planet.

Looking at John 14, if Jesus had said ‘the Father is better than me’, then we’d have a problem. But He didn’t, and we don’t, so let’s move on.

This portion of the lesson will basically focus on the Who and What God is.

What makes God….God ?

Isaiah 40-49 ring with proclamation after proclamation from the Almighty – I am God, there is no other (Isaiah 46:9), who can declare as I do ? (44:6-7), I will do as I please and my purpose shall stand (46:9-11). Statements like these give us some great insight into this great God of the universe.

First of all:

He’s powerful. No human can say ‘I do as I please’ and really mean it. We see that this ‘powerful’ God we serve is really powerful just by looking at the created order around us. In Isaiah 45:11-12, we see that God says:

Thus says the LORD,the Holy One of Israel, and the one who formed him:
“Ask me of things to come;will you command me concerning my children and the work of my hands? I made the earth and created man on it; it was my hands that stretched out the heavens, and I commanded all their host.”

That’s a strong statement. This God, whom we serve, has created both the heavens (all we see above us into space) and the earth and commanded all of their host. In other words, He has complete control over all of the created order. Since there are only two classes of things in existence – God and creation – He, having created all that is, must be all-powerful. We call this God’s omnipotence.

He can’t be ‘muted’. The television has an agenda – those broadcasting through it will use it to get their message across to you. You have the ability to stop them – with the mute button. Or the power button. Likewise, the words and works of men do not always accomplish what they set out to do.

God does not have this problem. God is immutable. His words and purposes cannot be stopped, foiled or thwarted by actions outside of Himself.