Category: Who is the LORD

YHWH Shua (Jesus): Savior, Healer, Sanctifier, and Coming King

YHWH Shua (Jesus): Savior, Healer, Sanctifier, and Coming King

SAVIOR

The Name of Jesus has impacted lives around the world for more than 2,000 years. He is a universal Savior, promising “whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

  • Jesus is an exclusive Savior. “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name in heaven given to men by which we must be saved” Acts 4:12. Contrary to what contemporary culture tells us, there are not multiple paths to God. There is only one—Jesus Christ

 

Jesus’ death and resurrection ensures His followers an endless list of promises from God’s Word. When we yield our lives Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, His promises are for us, including peace with God today and hope of eternity with Him.

Promises relating to the Atonement

Because Jesus is our Savior, Scripture tells us that:

 

  • we are forgiven of sin (Acts 2:38)
  • our guilt is taken away (Romans 8:1)
  • we have peace with God (Romans 5:1)
  • God’s wrath is satisfied (1 John 2:2)
  • we have been justified (Romans 5:1)
  • Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us (Romans 4:24)
  • we are “new creations” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
  • we have eternal life which can never be taken away (John 3:16-21 and John 10:28-29)
  • we have been adopted by God and are now joint heirs with Christ (John 1:12, Romans 8:17)
  • the Holy Spirit lives in us (Romans 8:11)
  • Jesus is our advocate (1 John 2:1)
  • nothing can separate us from God’s love (Romans 8:38-39)
  • death has no more sting (1 Corinthians 15:54)
  • we have an inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade (1 Peter 1:4)

 

Because Christ died for us, all of these are ours when we surrender our life to Him as Lord (1st) and Savior.

 

 

 

The Tenses of Salvation

As we consider Christ’s death on the cross, I think it’s important to look at the three “tenses” of salvation.

 

  • Past: First, we have been saved. We have been justified or made righteous in God’s eyes. (Romans 5:1, Ephesians 2:8-9)

 

  • Present: Second, we are being saved. We are in the process of being sanctified or made more like Christ through the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 1:18;2 Corinthians 2:15)

 

  • Future: And we will be saved. When Christ returns, we will be glorified or made like Him. We have an eternal inheritance. (Romans 5:9)

 

 

Four other things are important to consider about Jesus as our Savior:

  • He is a universal Savior (Representatives of all mankind will be saved from their sin). John 3:16 tells us that “whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” All who come to Him with repentant hearts, sorry for their sins, and believe that He is who He says He is, will receive His salvation. Revelation 7:9 Tells us that there will be a great multitude in Heaven from every tongue and tribe on Earth.

 

  • Jesus Christ is an exclusive Savior. Acts 4:12 tells us that “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name in heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” Contrary to what contemporary culture tells us, there are not multiple paths to God. There is only one: Jesus Christ. I have said before that the idea that all roads lead to God is semi-true. Any path that is not following Jesus, as He Himself commands, will lead to an appointment at the Great White Throne Judgment.

 

  • He is a comprehensive Savior. Romans 8:29-30 make it clear that our salvation, predestined from before the foundation of the world includes not only justification and forgiveness of sins but also God’s commitment to reform us into the very image of His Son and that one day, when that process is complete, we will be glorified.

 

And He is an all-powerful Savior. Nothing can separate us from God’s love. Christ’s work on the cross sealed our salvation forever. As Romans 8:38–39 tells 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. Further, John 10:28-29 tells us “ 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all[a]; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.”

 

 

Jesus is our Savior. Nothing can separate us from His great work on the cross, from His love.

 

SANCTIFIER (Baptizer with the Holy Spirit

 

Many Christians understand God’s promise of salvation but do not experience the ongoing vigor of the life of the Holy Spirit within us. For those who neither understand nor allow the Holy Spirit’s control in their lives, the results have a profound effect.

Unsuccessful struggle against sin and a lack of power in life and ministry frustrate those who have asked Jesus to be their Savior but not their Sanctifier, resulting in a lack of joy in their walk with Christ. At the point when we are born again, we become members of God’s family. We believe He paid the price for our sin, and we are positionally sanctified, or set apart from those who are not born again, and are seen as holy because of what Christ has done.

 

 

“But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” (1 Corinthians 1:30) NKJV

 

We saw earlier that the Bible teaches three tenses of salvation:

  • I have been saved: Justification
  • I am being saved: Sanctification
  • I will be saved: Glorification

 

Sanctification means separation

  • Separation from sin: “But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’” 1 Peter 1:15-16.
  • Separation to God: “(He) has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve His God and Father…” Revelation 1:6.

 

We read in John 1:29, 33 that Jesus is

  • “the one who is taking away the sin of the world…”
  • “the one who is baptizing with the Holy Spirit”

 

Two realities—two experiences. All Christians understand the first promise. But many Christians do not understand the experience of the second. It is the experience of Christ’s sanctifying work in a believer’s life. For those who neither understand nor allow for the Spirit’s control in their lives, the results will have profound effect. Ongoing and unsuccessful struggle against sin and a lack of power in life and ministry frustrates the believer. Doubts creep in about the assurance of salvation; there is a lack of joy in the walk with Christ.

 

Pneumatology “101”

In the context of the following Scriptures, the Greek word for Spirit is pneuma.

  • Every Christian is indwelt by the Holy Spirit. “If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.” (Romans 8:9).
  • Many Christians do not realize they have filled with the Holy Spirit. and baptized into Christ (Romans 6:3, Galatians 3:27)

 

With the decision to submit to Christ as Lord, the One who was sacrificed for the sin of the world, the believer is immediately indwelt by the Holy Spirit. The believer who forsakes the flesh, allowing the Spirit’s infilling, experiences victory and deliverance not only from the penalty of sin because Christ’s righteousness is imputed to him. The Christian who is filled with the Christ’s Spirit knows deliverance from the power of sin as Christ’s righteousness is imparted to him.

 

Not only does the follower of Christ experience freedom from eternal death because Jesus lives in him but also freedom to live an abundant life in the present because Jesus lives through him. With the indwelling of the Holy Spirit he is equipped to fight the temptations of the future.

 

A Sad Reality

  • Most American Christians show little evidence in their lives that they have been separated from sin.
  • Most American Christians behave in ways that make it difficult to believe that they have been “set apart” for the service of God.

 

Part Two

According to John 1:29-33, Jesus is:

  • the one who is taking away the sin of the world
  • the one who is baptizing with the Holy Spirit

 

Through the power of the Holy Spirit we experience

  • Deliverance from penalty of sin
  • Deliverance from the power of sin
  • Freedom from death
  • Freedom to live
  • Release from the guilt of the past
  • Equips for the temptations of the future
  • Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us
  • Christ’s righteousness is manifest in us
  • Jesus lives in us
  • Jesus lives through us

 

True or False Christians?

According to the New Testament, there are two kinds of Christians.

  • I Corinthians 3:1-4 — spiritual and worldly (carnal/false)
  • Romans 7 and Romans 8 — self-propelled and Spirit driven
  • Ephesians 5:18 — filled and not filled

 

What does the fruit of a true Christians life look like?

 

  • “It’s all about purity.”
  • “It’s all about power.”
  • “It’s all about joy.”

 

Jesus tells us in John 15 that He is the Vine and we are the branches and because of our relationship with Jesus, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit:

 

  • “we will bear much fruit…” — PURITY
  • “we can ask whatever we want that is in harmony with His will…” — POWER
  • “our joy will be complete” — JOY

 

How to have a Spirit Filled Life

  • You cannot make yourself holy any more than you can make yourself saved! (Rom. 6:11; Rom. 12:1-2)
  • Christ is your Sanctifier in the same way that He is your Savior! (Col. 2:6; Gal. 2:20)
  • Maintain a continuous relationship with Jesus through obedience to his Word. (John 15:1-11)

 

Abiding and the Word of God

  • John 17:17 — “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.”
  • John 15:3 — “You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.”
  • John 15:7 — “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be given you.”.

 

 

Why do so few Christians experience the reality of sanctification and a life in communion with both the Sanctifier (Jesus) and the Agent of our Sanctification (the Holy Spirit)?

 

  • Ignorance — Acts 19:3
  • Sin — Ephesians 4:30
  • Fear — I Thessalonians 5:19
  • Lack of Desire — Matthew 5:6

 

Is there a difference between the baptism and filling?

The major problem here is that the New Testament does not clearly distinguish between several different words used to describe the dealings of the Holy Spirit with God’s people. Some of these words are listed below.

  • “baptized”
  • “filled”
  • “anointed”
  • “sealed”
  • “earnest”

 

While the language the Bible uses to describe the experience may be ambiguous, the possibility of living a spirit-filled life is a Clear Reality

 

Is this a one time experience?

While the initial filling of the Holy Spirit usually comes as an experience subsequent to conversion, it is important to understand that:

  • Sanctification is also a “progressive” experience. Philippians 2:12–13; Philippians 3:12–14; Colossians 2:6
  • It is also important to recognize that we need to be filled again and again because we leak!

 

Two Great Errors when pursuing a sanctified life:

  • Avoiding the Holy Spirit out of fear: Many Christians run from God because of sin or preconceived notions of inability or worthiness. When we remember to live Jesus’ words from John 15, “Apart from Me you can do nothing,” we realize that our daily sanctification is dependent on our willingness to surrender to Him.
  • Seeking an experience or feeling as the evidence that we have been filled: Experiences are temporary and feelings are fleeting. God’s Word is true and everlasting. We cannot put our faith in experience or feeling but only in His eternal Word.

 

 

HEALER

 

A great portion of Christ’s time was dedicated to healing the sick. He healed all kinds of people: the blind, the paralyzed, the lame, the deaf, lepers, those who had fevers, and many with chronic illnesses.

 

 

“Jesus Is Still the Healer”

We find no record in the gospels of Jesus turning away anyone who came to him for healing, nor do we find that any disease was too difficult for him to heal. He even raised the dead. Miraculous healings still occur today—evidence that Christ is still our Healer.

The Purpose of Divine Healing is to Glorify Jesus. In the Book of Acts, we find three important truths we need to grasp: Jesus is still the Healer, Healing comes from Jesus alone, and the purpose of divine healing is always to glorify Him.

 

Now, I need to point something out: Jesus does provide physical healing in accordance with the good pleasure of the Father’s will BUT THIS IS NOT THE HEALING PROVIDED FOR IN THE ATONEMENT.  The healing provided for in the Atonement is the healing of our sin sick soul and healing our relationship with God.

 

Why did grant physical attention to so many people?

 

  • To facilitate His message: Jesus knew that by meeting a physical need, healing, the door would be open to speak about Jesus’ greater mission—to bring salvation to souls. We see the same pattern throughout Jesus’ ministry. Whenever Jesus made an intangible claim, He backed it up with a tangible act. Jesus said He was the bread of life and fed 5,000 people with a few loaves of bread.

 

  • To prove He could forgive sin: How do you prove such an intangible thing? First, Jesus lived in a culture where the assumption was that sickness was a result of sin. Second, based on the same assumption, healing comes with forgiveness of sin. To prove that He had the power to forgive sins, Jesus said to the man who was lowered down through roof on a mat, “Friend, your sins are forgiven…take your mat and go home” (Luke 5:20).

 

  • To prove He was God: Jesus healed to prove He was the Messiah. Only One has authority to forgive sin—God alone—a charge the Pharisees made when Jesus healed sickness and at the same time forgave sins. He was claiming authority to be God.

 

  • To show His compassion: Jesus healed because he cared. There is no record of Jesus turning anyone away who asked for his help.

 

  • To show that He is the Lord of all of life: Jesus is the Lord of compassion—not just Lord of our souls but of our bodies as well.

 

  • To show that salvation starts now: Jesus’ wonderful, compassionate willingness to reach out and touch our physical needs demonstrates that it’s not just future tense but present tense. Salvation starts now. He heals in this life, in this moment, in anticipation of something much more complete as eternity rolls on.

 

Why Isn’t Everyone Healed?

Why do people get sick in the first place? The Bible gives a theology of sickness and suffering as well as a theology of healing. There are a number of reasons for sickness. The first is sin. The Pharisees were right that some get sick because of sin but wrong that all get sick because of sin. In 1 Corinthians, we are warned about abusing the table of the Lord. “That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you sleep.”

Sometimes God allows the enemy to make us sick. Sickness definitely is related to the curse, the fall, and the work of Satan. There is no better example than Job. In the testing, our faithfulness can be perfect. God allows sickness or disabilities to teach us lessons that would not be learned any other.

 

Healing also can be God’s way of taking us home, the moment of eschatological healing that ultimately comes when we are made perfect. No more glasses, no more insulin, no more antibiotics.

 

How Do We Respond?

Our prayers for healing tend to be, “Jesus heal me because I want to serve you more, I don’t want pain, or I want to be a testimony of your faithfulness. See how much more faith I have now.”

 

The only possible right response is: “What ever brings You glory, Lord. I believe you can. With the absence of a firm word to the contrary, then I believe that you will. But the only reason I want to be healed is because I want to bring You glory. If something else brings You more glory, that’s ok with me. It’s not about me. It’s all about Jesus.”

 

 

 

COMING KING

 

For the remainder of our time together, we will look at YHWH Shua as the King who is coming…

 

It is nearly impossible to look at the world without noticing that it has spun out of control and that’s the bad news. The good news is this: the world is right on schedule to meet its appointed culmination. How will this happen? Well if you will pardon the pop culture reference, it will happen with the return of the King.

The Lord of All the earth is about to make His return and to restore a paradise that has been lost. Officially, we call this “Our blessed hope” and it can be articulated this way: “The Imminent Return of the Lord Jesus Christ in the clouds of glory to gather His Church unto Him, is the Blessed Hope of the church.” Following that event, will be the Tribulation, the days of wrath, which will then culminate in the Millennial Kingdom.

Our text, for the remainder of our time, is Revelation 1:10-18

10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet,

If you look back to Exodus Chapter 19, when the Lord made His visitation Sinai, His visitation was preceded by the sound of a trumpet, and it is interesting to note, that in most of human history, the blast of a trumpet announced the arrival of a coming King. In 1 Thessalonians 4:17, we see that, at the Rapture, the arrival of the King to gather His people to Himself into the clouds is accompanied by the sound of a trumpet. So we have two possible things in play here: 1. John heard the sound of a trumpet heralding the arrival of the King of the Universe. 2. The voice John heard was as loud, distinctive, and piercing as a trumpet blast. I tend to think that number 2 is the more likely scenario although 1st is a possibility.

11 saying, “Write in a book what you see, and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.”

We are about to be treated to a glimpse into the Eternal Throne Room. Not only that, but we are about to receive a privilege unmatched anywhere in Scripture. Ever the teacher, the Lord Himself is about to give us the definitive exposition on the Scripture. We are going to see, in the imagery He uses, the Lord of all the Earth in resplendent glory and majesty.

We need understanding with verse 12-16 This vision is absolutely not a physical description of Christ in His Glory; we are not yet at the point where we will be able to behold Him as He now is. Instead, this is the lesson: Christ gives us a composite of Old Testament symbols representing the Lord of All:

 

10 Noteworthy Items

  1. One like the Son of Man

First, we need to note that this was not some otherworldly creature. The person that John saw was human in form. Over 80 times in the Gospels, Jesus refers to Himself or is referred to as the Son of Man. This term does not simply identify the humanity of Jesus; His use of it to refer to Himself shows that He identifies with us. The One who is God above all gods, whose own precious blood redeemed the church, has humbled Himself to the point of being able to identify with the Bride. Since she can never be God, like the groom is, He has brought Himself to her and came in her likeness, as a Son of Man.

  1. “Clothed” in a garment down to the feet

By being clothed in a garment down to the feet, Christ shows Himself in His High Priestly role. (Hebrews 2:17 and 3:1) From the Ascension until this point in Redemptive History, Jesus has filled the Office of ha Cohen Gadol, the High Priest continually offering intercession for His saints before the Throne of God the Father. His shed blood at Calvary was the final atoning sacrifice which then left the role of the High Priest to be intercessor before God.

  1. Girded about the chest with a golden band

In Matthew 28:18, Jesus tells us that all authority in Heaven and on Earth has been committed to the Son. In the Ancient World, a gold band was a symbol of power and authority. Kings, Satraps, Governors, etc. wore these bands around the waist as a sign of their authority.

  1. His head and hair were white like wool

This identifies Christ with the Ancient of Days (Daniel 7:9-14). Not to be confused with the “white hair of old age,” this is a blazing white that speaks of righteousness. White is, perhaps, an insufficient adjective. This is absolute, superlative, holiness; a holiness so bright that leaves no room for any shadow. The white is Shekinah, the personal divine holy presence of God Himself.

  1. His eyes were like a flame of fire

In Greek, this phrase literally says “eyes shot fire.” Two things are in play here: first, this phraseology indicates indignance at the apostasy of the churches since the Church not being what she should be would certainly arouse the indignance of Christ. Secondly, eyes like a flame of fire speaks of the omniscience of Christ. Every thought and motive must pass through this gaze and all that is impure will be burned away.

  1. Feet like fine brass, refined in a furnace

If we look back to the Tabernacle for a moment, the altar of burnt offering was covered with brass and its utensils were made of the same material (Exodus 38:1-7). Glowing hot, brass feet are a clear reference to divine judgment. Jesus Christ with feet of judgment is moving through His church to exercise His chastening authority upon sin.

  1. Voice like many waters

When you stand near a waterfall, every other sound is drowned out by the thunderous roar of the waters. This is a picture of Jesus on the Day of Judgment; every voice, every sound will be brought to stillness before His authority. That is to say, when Christ calls His Judgment Court to session, the entire cosmos will come together and be convened.

  1. In his right had He held seven stars

Many times in Scripture, we see that stars and angels are used interchangeably and since the word angelos means messenger, it is clear that these would be messengers to the 7 Churches. What is not clear is whether Christ is referring to 7 actual angels or to the pastors of the 7 churches that He was sending His messages to. That Christ holds them in His hand shows Him as absolute Lord over all things, including the Church.

  1. Out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12)

A two-edged sword speaks of judgment and portends to judgment on those who would attack Christ or His Church. The Standard of Judgment that Christ uses is none other than Sacred Scripture, His Word. What will determine your salvation and your righteousness? Nothing more or less than the standard laid out in the Bible.

  1. His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength

Think back to Matthew 17:12 on the Mount of Transfiguration. His countenance (face) is blazing in unmistakable resplendent glory.

Looking down to verse 17…

17 When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. And He placed His right hand on me, saying, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last,

It is possible that John simply passed out, but it is also possible that the shock of seeing Christ in His glory caused John’s aged heart to fail and, as He did so often in the Gospels, the Lord healed John with a touch.

“Do not be afraid”; when one is approaching the Sovereign Lord in His majesty, there is a measure of fear but that is not all that is alluded to here: The Lord, in His all-consuming holiness could have struck John dead for any sin, at all, that he had. Jesus, though, has an excellent memory, and knowing John as the Disciple Whom Jesus loved, he reached out in His grace and mercy and strengthened him.

18 and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.

I know Baptists don’t do this, but every time I read this verse it makes me want to jump and shout. I don’t think most people get this verse. The Living One who was dead and it alive forever more!! Stop and get that. The Source of Life, who was murdered by His creation is alive forevermore! No one will ever again take His life from Him and the life that He gives to His Church can never be taken to her either!

YHWH Shua: Kinsman Redeemer and Avenger of Blood

YHWH Shua: Kinsman Redeemer and Avenger of Blood

Last week we began our look at the God who saves with a look at the doctrine of sin and salvation. This week we are expanding our study of the God who saves by looking at YHWH Shua as goel, the Kinsman Redeemer and the Blood Avenger.

 

Kinsman-Redeemer

The kinsman-redeemer is a male relative who, according to various laws of the Pentateuch, had the privilege or responsibility to act on behalf of a relative who was in trouble, danger, or need. The Hebrew term (go el) for kinsman-redeemer designates one who delivers or rescues (Genesis 48:16Exodus 6:6) or redeems property or person (Leviticus 27:9–2525:47–55). The kinsman who redeems or vindicates a relative is illustrated most clearly in the book of Ruth, where the kinsman-redeemer is Boaz.
Avenger of blood

(Heb. goel, from verb gaal, “to be near of kin,” “to redeem”), the nearest relative of a murdered person. It was his right and duty to slay the murderer ( 2 Samuel 14:7  2 Samuel 14:11 ) if he found him outside of a city of refuge. In order that this law might be guarded against abuse, Moses appointed six cities of refuge ( Exodus 21:13 ;  Numbers 35:13 ;  Deuteronomy 19:1  Deuteronomy 19:9 ). These were in different parts of the country, and every facility was afforded the manslayer that he might flee to the city that lay nearest him for safety. Into the city of refuge the avenger durst not follow him. This arrangement applied only to cases where the death was not premeditated. The case had to be investigated by the authorities of the city, and the wilful murderer was on no account to be spared. He was regarded as an impure and polluted person, and was delivered up to the goel ( Deuteronomy 19:11-13 ). If the offence was merely manslaughter, then the fugitive must remain within the city till the death of the high priest ( Numbers 35:25 ).

 

Jesus as the Believer’s Refuge

 

The New Testament reveals there is still today a place of refuge, one unique way, and but one and only one plan of salvation, enter into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as Lord and experience as a result, regeneration, spiritual rebirth, (John 3).

 

By faith, as a result of trusting in Jesus, the believer then experiences the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit, and of Christ, and of God the Father. By means of spiritual baptism the individual is then taken out of the world-system (and his or her identification with the fallen-world) and is placed into the Body of Christ. The true church, the Body of Christ is a living organism. (Romans 6)

 

Jesus has been raised from the dead and has ascended into heaven. Joined to Christ, the believer has positionally been taken to heaven also, (Ephesians 2).

 

 

What is Jesus our refuge from? To a certain degree, Jesus is our refuge from Himself. As Christians, we love to talk about Jesus as the one who saves us from our sins, which we call redemption. On the other side of that coin is a fact that we generally attempt to avoid discussing: In His second coming, Jesus is coming to kill all of His enemies. He is coming as Goel, the Avenger of Blood.

 

The Avenger of Blood, in ancient Israel, was the nearest male relative, was responsible for protecting the property, liberty, and posterity of his next of kin, in addition to protecting their lives through the “avenging of blood.” This Old Testament Type of the Avenger of Blood is also fulfilled, as might be expected, by Jesus Christ the Lord.

…God deems it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant rest with us to you who are afflicted, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance upon those who do not know God and upon those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They shall suffer the punishment of eternal destruction and exclusion from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at in all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed. (2 Thessalonians 2:6-10)

As might be expected for a “next of kin,” the coming Judge, the Jew named Jesus, will be especially zealous for the maltreatment of His own people, the Jews, down through history,

I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat, and I will enter into judgment with them there, on account of my people and my heritage Israel, because they have scattered them among the nations, and have divided up my land, and have cast lots for my people, and have given a boy for a harlot, and have sold a girl for wine, and have drunk it.

 

“What are you to me, O Tyre and Sidon, and all the regions of Philistia? Are you paying me back for something? If you are paying me back, I will requite your deed upon your own head swiftly and speedily. For you have taken my silver and my gold, and have carried my rich treasures into your temples. You have sold the people of Judah and Jerusalem to the Greeks, removing them far from their own border. But now I will stir them up from the place to which you have sold them, and I will requite your deed upon your own head. I will sell your sons and your daughters into the hand of the sons of Judah, and they will sell them to the Sabeans, to a nation far off; for the LORD has spoken.”

 

Proclaim this among the nations: Prepare war, stir up the mighty men. Let all the men of war draw near, let them come up. Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning hooks into spears; let the weak say, “I am a warrior.” Hasten and come, all you nations round about, gather yourselves there.

 

Bring down thy warriors, O LORD.

 

Let the nations bestir themselves, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat; for there I will sit to judge all the nations round about. Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Go in, tread, for the wine press is full. The vats overflow, for their wickedness is great. Multitudes, multitudes, in the valley of decision! For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision. The sun and the moon are darkened, and the stars withdraw their shining. And the LORD roars from Zion, and utters his voice from Jerusalem, and the heavens and the earth shake.

 

But the LORD is a refuge to his people, a stronghold to the people of Israel. (Joel 3:3-16)

 

If Jesus is the Avenger of Blood on behalf of millions of Jews who have suffered at the hands of Gentile oppressors and anti-semites, He is also the Judge of all the world.

The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears my word and believes him who sent me, has eternal life; he does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. “Truly, truly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself, and has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of man. Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment. (John 5:22-29)

 

A final question remains in considering Jesus as the Avenger of Blood for all mankind. Who avenges the innocent blood shed by the Savior of the World Himself? Who is Jesus’ next-of-kin responsible for Jesus’ own vindication and for just retribution against the guilty on His behalf? Surely it must be the heavenly Father of Jesus, the God of heaven and earth who gave His only-begotten, dearly-beloved son to make it possible for any one, or all, of us to be saved?

 

In the book of the Revelation both Jesus and God the Father are characterized as turning loose their great wrath against an unbelieving world,

When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale; the sky vanished like a scroll that is rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the generals and the rich and the strong, and every one, slave and free, hid in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand before it?” (Revelation 6:12-17)

 

We have already seen in the typology of the Cities of Refuge and the Kinsman-Redeemer that all sinners, Jew or Gentile, who seek the forgiveness of God, based on the substitutionary death of Jesus, our Great High Priest—all these persons are released forever from all guilt for all their sins. So the final issue is, who among the unforgiven sinners of the world must face the final Avenger of Blood who will personally deal with the enormous problem of the bloodguilt of the shed blood of the innocent Lamb of God?

 

Responsibility for the death of Christ is clearly distributed throughout the world. All of us are guilty—all of us are responsible. But when Jesus stood in trial before Pilate…

…the chief priests and the elders persuaded the people to ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. The governor again said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said, “Let him be crucified.” And he said, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified.” So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.” And all the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!” (Matthew 27:20-25)

Accountability for sin in the eyes of God is measured in proportion to light received and the amount of revelation given. Deliberate sin is more serious than inadvertent transgression.

 

Furthermore Israel was instructed by Moses about the defilement of the land which shed blood would bring, especially innocent blood.

You shall not thus pollute the land in which you live; for blood pollutes the land, and no expiation can be made for the land, for the blood that is shed in it, except by the blood of him who shed it. You shall not defile the land in which you live, in the midst of which I dwell; for I the LORD dwell in the midst of the people of Israel.” (Numbers 35:33-34)

God’s judgment on the whole world is inevitable and soon to fall on everyone. The Bible describes the final conflagration as including the most terrible of all world wars as being centered in the land of Israel. For the Jews it will be “The Time of Jacob’s Trouble” spoken of by their prophets. Believing Jews will find salvation, safety and refuge (see The Coming Exile of Israel in Edom). The majority of Jews, the Bible predicts, will be destroyed in a terrible blood bath described in Revelation Chapter 14. (Most of the rest of mankind will not survive World War III either).

 

I looked, and there before me was a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was one

“like a son of man” with a crown of gold on his head and a sharp sickle in his

hand. Then another angel came out of the temple and called in a loud voice to him

who was sitting on the cloud, “Take your sickle and reap, because the time to reap

has come, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.” So he that was seated on the cloud

swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was harvested.

Ray C. Stedman gives a vivid exposition and commentary on these terrible time,

We have to ask, who is this one seated on the cloud “like a son of man,” wearing a victor’s crown and holding a sickle in his hand? There can hardly be any doubt, can there? It is the Lord Jesus. He himself had told his disciples in Matthew 13, in the parable of the wheat and the weeds, when the disciples in the parable asked the Lord, “Shall we pull up these weeds?” He said to them, “No, let both grow together until the harvest, and then I will tell the harvester, ‘First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned, and then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.'” Then he

interpreted that parable to the disciples, saying, “The harvest is the end of the age (the seven-year period to which we have come in this book), and the harvesters are the angels.” This agrees exactly with what we have here. The angels announce that the time of harvest has come, and the words of Jesus then in Matthew 13 will be literally fulfilled. Let me read them to you:

“The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.”

These are very clear words from the lips of Jesus himself. Now there is still another scene of harvest. Verse 17:

Another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle. Still another angel, who had charge of the fire, came from the altar and called in a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, “Take your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of grapes from the earth’s vine, because its grapes are ripe.” The angel swung his sickle on the earth, gathered its grapes and threw them into the great

winepress of God’s wrath. They were trampled in the winepress outside the city, and blood flowed out of the press, rising as high as the horses’ bridles for a distance of 1,600 stadia [which is about180 miles].

Is this the same story of harvest twice-told? No. You will notice the first harvest is a harvest of wheat. It is cut with a sickle, and it is a separation of the true wheat from the false-looking wheat, the “darnel” is literally the word, the tares of the field. It looks like wheat, but it is not. The angels will separate the two. But this is clearly a grape harvest, a vintage harvest, and the vine in Scripture is always a symbol of Israel. ** The prophet Isaiah uses this symbol of Israel being brought as a vine out of Egypt and planted in a beautifully cared-for land by God himself. Psalm 80 refers to the same thing–Israel is described as a vine. At the Last Supper the Lord himself said, “I am the true vine and you are the branches,” speaking of his Jewish disciples.

 

This is the symbol of Israel, and it is referring to the judgment of apostate Israel. Strangely enough, most of the nation of the Jews today do not believe their own Scriptures. Many of them are atheists. Many of them have denied the Word of God and the Old Testament, or that it applies to them as a special people at all. This therefore is the judgment of apostate Israel. It is called in Jeremiah 30, “the time of Jacob’s trouble.” Many scriptures describe it. It will be a time of warfare once again against Israel, the time of the invasion of the nation by great armies from the north.

Palestine is overrun. This is when the woman (who is true Israel) that we saw in chapter 12 flees and hides in the desert. But apostate Israel is destroyed, and Jerusalem is sacked and partially destroyed. You can read that in Zechariah 12 through 14.

 

The prophet Joel describes it in vivid language. Let me give you these words from his third chapter:

Let the nations be roused; let them advance into the Valley of Jehoshaphat [which means “God judges”], for there will I sit to judge all the nations on every side. Swing the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, trample the grapes, for the winepress is full and the vats overflow–so great is their wickedness.”

Obviously this is the same scene as we have here.

 

Notice, by the way, in verse 20, the change from a symbol to the literal meaning. Grapes are thrown into the winepress (that is a symbol), but blood pours out–that is the literal meaning of wine; that is when wine symbolizes. When we take the Lord’s Supper, wine symbolizes the blood of Christ for us. Blood covers the land for 180 miles, the length of Israel, in a terrible scene of judgment…

 

The Go-el, or Kinsman Redeemer

 

The Book of Ruth (see Ruth: The Romance of Redemption) is a beautiful love story found in the Old Testament in which a foreign, (gentile) woman of Moab finds a home, an inheritance, a husband—and a place in the ancestral lineage leading to Jesus the Messiah. It also tells us in practical language the role of the Kinsman Redeemer in ancient Israel. The role of this relative was to redeem lost land and property and to protect the person and inheritance of the party in need of help. (For details see also the Reference Notes)

 

The Hebrew go-el gives us another magnificent type of Christ as our Redeemer, for He saves us totally, whether we are Jew or Gentile.

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace which he lavished upon us. For he has made known to us in all wisdom and insight the mystery of his will, according to his purpose which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In him, according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to the counsel of his will, we who first hoped in Christ have been destined and appointed to live for the praise of his glory. In him you also, who have heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and have believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, which is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:8-14)

 

Peter the Apostle reminds us,

You know that you were ransomed (redeemed) from the futile ways inherited from your fathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was destined before the foundation of the world but was made manifest at the end of the times for your sake. Through him you have confidence in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. (I Peter 1:18-21)

YHWH Shua: the God who Saves

YHWH Shua: the God who Saves

YHWH Shua: the God Who Saves

Matthew 1:21

And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

Luke 1:31

And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.

Matthew 1:23

Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

 

Jesus of Nazareth is the God who saves…

What is sin and why do we need a Savior?

Sin is described in the Bible as transgression of the law of God (1 John 3:4) and rebellion against God (Deuteronomy 9:7; Joshua 1:18). Sin had its beginning with Lucifer, probably the most beautiful and powerful of the angels. Not content with his position, he desired to be higher than God, and that was his downfall, the beginning of sin (Isaiah 14:12-15). Renamed Satan, he brought sin to the human race in the Garden of Eden, where he tempted Adam and Eve with the same enticement, “you shall be like God.” Genesis 3 describes Adam and Eve’s rebellion against God and against His command. Since that time, sin has been passed down through all the generations of mankind and we, Adam’s descendants, have inherited sin from him. Romans 5:12 tells us that through Adam sin entered the world, and so death was passed on to all men because “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).

 

As a result of sin, the natural state of man is total depravity; that is man’s nature is crippled by sin, so much so that he is incapable of seeking God. This is a topic that is not accepted by many, especially by those who have embraced a works based righteousness and, most especially, those who insist that they will be granted access to Heaven because they are “basically good people” reject it. We are going to discuss what John MacArthur calls the Doctrine of Absolute Inability or more commonly called Total Depravity.

Let’s start with the obvious question, what is Total Depravity? Total depravity is a phrase that is used to summarize what the Bible teaches about the natural spiritual condition of fallen man (By that I mean the spiritual condition we are born in because of Original Sin). It’s the “T” in the acronym TULIP, which is commonly used to enumerate the five points of Calvinism and the “T” that is used in FACTS to enumerate the 5 points of Classical Evangelical Arminianism.

This isn’t a comfortable topic; it certainly isn’t something that we discuss at parties in “polite society” and it certainly isn’t some niggling little detail that can be overlooked. It entails what may well be the most taboo word in our morally relativistic society, sin. You are a sinner and so am I (yes I really did just go there) and we are all in big trouble because of it.

Let’s detour for a moment and discuss sin a little…

Through Adam, the inherent inclination to sin entered the human race, and human beings became sinners by nature. When Adam sinned, his inner nature was transformed by his sin of rebellion, bringing to him spiritual death and depravity which would be passed on to all who came after him. We are sinners not because we sin; rather, we sin because we are sinners. This passed-on depravity is known as inherited sin. Just as we inherit physical characteristics from our parents, we inherit our sinful natures from Adam. King David lamented this condition of fallen human nature in Psalm 51:5: “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.”

Another type of sin is known as imputed sin. Used in both financial and legal settings, the Greek word translated “imputed” means “to take something that belongs to someone and credit it to another’s account.” Before the Law of Moses was given, sin was not imputed to man, although men were still sinners because of inherited sin. After the Law was given, sins committed in violation of the Law were imputed (accounted) to them (Romans 5:13). Even before transgressions of the law were imputed to men, the ultimate penalty for sin (death) continued to reign (Romans 5:14). All humans, from Adam to Moses, were subject to death, not because of their sinful acts against the Mosaic Law (which they did not have), but because of their own inherited sinful nature. After Moses, humans were subject to death both because of inherited sin from Adam and imputed sin from violating the laws of God.

God used the principle of imputation to benefit mankind when He imputed the sin of believers to the account of Jesus Christ, who paid the penalty for that sin—death—on the cross. Imputing our sin to Jesus, God treated Him as if He were a sinner, though He was not, and had Him die for the sins of the entire world (1 John 2:2). It is important to understand that sin was imputed to Him, but He did not inherit it from Adam. He bore the penalty for sin, but He never became a sinner. His pure and perfect nature was untouched by sin. He was treated as though He were guilty of all the sins ever committed by the human race, even though He committed none. In exchange, God imputed the righteousness of Christ to believers and credited our accounts with His righteousness, just as He had credited our sins to Christ’s account (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Before we move forward, let’s revisit to reinforce… The terms “original sin” and “imputed sin” refer to the two main effects that Adam’s sin had on the human race.

First, as a result of Adam’s sin we all enter the world with a fallen nature. This is original sin–the sinful tendencies, desires, and dispositions in our hearts with which we are all born. Thus, original sin is something inherent in us–it is a morally ruined character. The original sin that we are all born with manifests itself throughout our lives in actual sins–the actions, thoughts, and feelings we have that violate God’s moral commands. So our sinful hearts (original sin) cause us to make sinful choices, think sinful thoughts, and feel sinful feelings (actual sins). We are not sinners because we sin; rather, we sin because we are sinners. We are all born totally imprisoned in original sin. There is no island of goodness left in us.

 

Second, the guilt of Adam’s sin is credited not just to Adam himself, but to us all. We are regarded as having sinned in Adam, and hence as deserving of the same punishment. This is imputed sin. Thus, we not only receive polluted and sinful natures because of Adam’s sin (original sin), but we are also regarded as having sinned in Adam such that we are guilty of his act as well (imputed sin). Imputed sin is the ruin of our standing before God and is thus not an internal quality but an objective reckoning of guilt, whereas original sin is the ruin of our character and thus is a reference to internal qualities. Both original sin and imputed sin place us under the judgment of God.

 

 

A third type of sin is personal sin, that which is committed every day by every human being. Because we have inherited a sin nature from Adam, we commit individual, personal sins, everything from seemingly innocent untruths to murder. Those who have not placed their faith in Jesus Christ must pay the penalty for these personal sins, as well as inherited and imputed sin. However, believers have been freed from the eternal penalty of sin—hell and spiritual death—but now we also have the power to resist sinning. Now we can choose whether or not to commit personal sins because we have the power to resist sin through the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, sanctifying and convicting us of our sins when we do commit them (Romans 8:9-11). Once we confess our personal sins to God and ask forgiveness for them, we are restored to perfect fellowship and communion with Him. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

 

Returning to our depravity problem, Total Depravity, though often misunderstood, acknowledges that the Bible teaches that every part of man—the mind, will, emotions, and flesh are corrupted by sin. This is a result of the sin in Genesis 3:6. This is to say that sin affects all of our being—who we are and what we do. Sin has so penetrated us, going to the core of our being, so that everything is polluted by sin. Any good deeds that we do, any righteousness that we bring to God is like filthy rags. (Isaiah 64:6) To give you an idea of how disgusting sin is to God, how utterly repugnant it is, I will share with you what the Hebrew literally says; filthy rags is the cleaned up version for church. Literally, in the Hebrew, it says our righteousness is as a menstrual cloth. I realize that what I just said is shocking and it should be. We don’t take sin seriously enough; you don’t and I don’t and that’s just reality. None of us lives in constant awareness of just how awful our sin really is. Let’s move on…

In the bullet points below, we have summarized the Doctrine of Total Depravity

  • The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9)
  • We are born dead in our transgressions and sins (Psalm 51:5Psalm 58:3 and Ephesians 2:1-5)
  • We are held captive to a love for sin (John 3:19 and John 8:34)
  • There is no one who seeks for God (Romans 3:10-11)
  • Man loves the darkness (John 3:19)
  • Men do not understand the things of God (1 Corinthians 2:14)
  • As a result, men suppress the Truth of God in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18) and continue to live in sin.
  • Because of the totally depraved nature of man, he continues to live in sin and this sinful life actually seems right to him (Proverbs 14:12)
  • Depravity is so pervasive that, by nature, we reject the Message of the Gospel as foolish (1 Corinthians 1:18) and our minds, naturally do not submit to God because it is unable to do so. (Romans 8:7)

Paul summarizes Total Depravity this way (Romans 3:9-18)

  • No one is without sin
  • No one seeks after God
  • There is no one is good
  • Our speech is corrupted by sin
  • Man’s actions are corrupted by sin
  • And above all, man has no fear of God

The summary verse of the Doctrine of Total Depravity is Romans 3:12 which tells us that there is no one who does good, not a single one.

Totally depravity does not mean that man is as sinful or wicked as is possible to be (Utter Depravity) and it also does not mean that we are totally without a sense of right and wrong. It doesn’t even mean we cannot do things that would be considered good by human standards. It does, however, mean that we are incapable, on our own, of pleasing God.

We are not without hope: prior to the cross, God made a way for us to deal with the pollutions of sin through Faith and Obedience combined with the Levitical Sacrifices. After the cross, we are justified by faith and empowered unto holiness by the indwelling Holy Spirit, Himself being God, who is the seal of our redemption and the guarantee of our eternal home in Heaven.

How did we become totally depraved?

In Adam’s sin of disobedience to the revealed will and Word of God, man lost his innocence; incurred the penalty of spiritual and physical death; became subject to the wrath of God; and became inherently corrupt and utterly incapable of choosing or doing that which is acceptable to God apart from divine grace. With no recuperative powers to enable him to recover himself, man is hopelessly lost. Man’s salvation is thereby wholly of God’s grace through the redemptive work of our Lord Jesus Christ (Ge 2:16, 173:1-19Jn 3:36Ro 3:236:231Co 2:14Eph 2:1-31Ti 2:13, 141Jn 1:8).

Because all men were in Adam, a nature corrupted by Adam’s sin has been transmitted to all men of all ages, Jesus Christ being the only exception. All men are thus sinners by nature, by choice, and by divine declaration (Ps 14:1-3Jer 17:9Ro 3:9-18235:10-12). We referred to this, earlier, as Inherited Sin.

Who gets to be saved? (Unconditional Election)

Unconditional election is a phrase that is used to summarize what the Bible teaches about the predestination—or the election—of people for salvation. It represents the second letter of the acronym TULIP, which is commonly used to enumerate the five points of Calvinism, also known as the Doctrines of Grace. Other terms for the same doctrine include “unmerited favor,” “sovereign election” or “adopted by God.” All these terms are good names for this doctrine because each reveals some aspect of the doctrine of election. However, more important than the term we use to describe the doctrine is how accurately the doctrine summarizes what the Bible teaches about election and predestination.

 

In other words, Unconditional election is God’s free choice before creation, not based on foreseen faith, to which traitors he will grant faith and repentance, pardoning them and adopting them into his everlasting family of joy.

 

God, before the foundation of the world, chose to make certain individuals the objects of His unmerited favor or special grace (Mark 13:20; Ephesians 1:4-5; Revelation 13:8; Revelation 17:8). These individuals from every tribe, tongue and nation were chosen by God for adoption, not because of anything they would do but because of His sovereign will (Romans 9:11-13; Romans 9:16; Romans 10:20; 1 Corinthians 1:27-29; 2 Timothy 1:9). God could have chosen to save all men (He certainly has the power and authority to do so), and He could have chosen to save no one (He is under no obligation to save anyone). He instead chose to save some and leave others to the consequences of their sin (Exodus 33:19; Deuteronomy 7:6-7; Romans 9:10-24; Acts 13:48; 1 Peter 2:8).

There are many verses in both the Old and New Testaments that speak of election, and, when one looks at all the Bible teaches about election and predestination, it becomes obvious that God’s choice was not based on any foreseen act or response, but was based solely on God’s own good pleasure and sovereign will. Properly understood, God’s unconditional election is one link in the unbreakable chain of salvation seen in Romans 8:28-29: “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.” All those who are predestined will be saved (John 6:39; Romans 8:30) because they are the ones that God the Father gives to Jesus Christ (John 6:37) who will raise them up on the last day (John 6:39; John 17:2). They are Christ’s sheep (John 10:1-30) who hear His voice and for whom He died (John 10:15) in order to give them eternal life and make them secure forever in the hand of God (John 10:26-30).

There are several common misconceptions about unconditional election. First, it is important to understand that the doctrine does not teach that God’s choice is capricious or arbitrary. It is not random or made without reason. What it does teach is that God elects someone to salvation not because of something worthy God finds in that individual but because of His inscrutable, mysterious will. He makes the choice as to who will be saved for His own reasons, according to His own perfect will and for His own good pleasure (Ephesians 1:5). And while some object to the doctrine of election as being unfair, it is nevertheless based upon God’s will and it pleases God; therefore, it must be good and perfectly just.

Another misconception is that unconditional election precludes and stifles evangelism, but the reality is just the opposite—it empowers and confirms it. When one correctly understands that God has not only elected certain individuals to salvation but also has ordained the means of salvation—the preaching of the gospel (Romans 1:16; Romans 10:14-17)—it empowers the spreading of the gospel message and the call to evangelism. We see this very thing in Paul’s writing to Timothy in the midst of deep persecution. “I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ…” (2 Timothy 2:10). A proper understanding of the doctrine of election encourages evangelism and guarantees its success. It overcomes the fear of failure when sharing the gospel and empowers people to remain faithful to the message in times of great persecution. They know that the power lies in the gospel message and in God’s sovereign election and not in their own feeble presentation. A biblical understanding of election helps one share the gospel freely with all people, knowing that any one of them could be Christ’s sheep whom He is calling into His fold (John 10:16). It is not up to us to determine if someone is elect or non-elect, and there is always the promise of salvation for anyone who will repent and believe in Christ. The gospel message should be preached to all people in the knowledge that God will use it to draw His sheep to Himself.

Unconditional election also does not mean that there will be people in heaven who do not want to be there, nor will there be people in hell who wanted to be saved but could not be because they were not elect. Unconditional election properly recognizes that, apart from God’s supernatural work in the life of a sinner, men will always choose to reject God and rebel against Him (see the article on Total Depravity for more information on this subject). What unconditional election does correctly recognize is that God intervenes in the lives of the elect and works in their lives through the Holy Spirit so that they willingly respond in faith to Him. Because they are “his sheep…they hear his voice and follow him” (John 10:1-30). As for the non-elect, God is still gracious to them, but because of their sin they are not thankful for that grace, nor do they acknowledge Him as God (Romans 1:18-20). Consequently, they receive the just punishment due them. Those whom God elects are beneficiaries of His sovereign grace and mercy, and those whom He does not elect receive the justice they have earned. While the elect receive God’s perfect grace, the non-elect receive God’s perfect justice.

Those who argue against unconditional election often use verses like 1 Timothy 2:4 and John 3:16. How can we reconcile election with a verse like I Timothy 2:4, that says that God “desires all men to be saved,” or John 3:16, that says God “so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life”? The answer lies in correctly understanding the will of God and the love of God. God’s passive will needs to be understood in contrast to His decreed will (those things He foreordains to happen). The passive will of God includes the things He might desire in a sense but does not foreordain or bring to pass. Certainly, if God is sovereign and all-powerful, as the Bible declares Him to be, then He could bring about the salvation of all men, if that was His decreed or pre-determined will. Reconciling this verse and others with the many that teach election is an unconditional choice of God is no more difficult that recognizing that there are things God might desire but does not decree to happen. It could be said that God does not desire men to sin but as part of his predetermined plan He allows them to sin. So while there is a real sense in which God does not take pleasure in the destruction of the wicked and desires that all be saved, His pre-determined plan allows for the fact that some will go to hell.

In a similar way, concerning John 3:16 and God’s love, the difference lies in God’s general love for all creation and all humanity versus His specific love for His children, the elect. The difference is that God’s love for His elect is an intensive love that has Him actually doing something about their lost condition instead of simply sitting by wishing that they would in turn love Him, a picture so often conjured up by those who believe themselves to be in control of their own eternal destiny. In a generic sense, God desires all to be saved and He loves all of humanity, but that is completely different from the specific love He has for His elect and His desire and provision for their salvation.

 

The Doctrine of Irresistible Grace (http://theopedia.com)

“Those who obtain the new birth do so, not because they wanted to obtain it, but because of the sovereign discriminating grace of God. That is, men are overcome by grace, not finally because their consciences were more tender or their faith more tenacious than that of other men. Rather, the willingness and ability to do God’s will are evidence of God’s own faithfulness to save men from the power and the penalty of sin, and since man is so corrupt that he will not decide and cannot be wooed to follow after God, sovereign efficacious grace is required to convert him. This is done by the regeneration of the Holy Spirit whereby a fallen man who has heard the gospel is made willing and necessarily turns to Christ in God-given faith.”

Major Scriptures related to the Doctrine of Irresistible Grace:

  • John 6:3739 (ESV): “All that the Father gives me will come to me…. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.”
  • John 6:44-45 (ESV): “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him…. Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me.”
  • John 6:65 (ESV): “No one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”
  • Romans 8:2830 (ESV) “Those whom [God] predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified”.

All that the Father gives will come…what does this mean? It means, as John MacArthur points out, that in eternity past the Father determined to give, to the Son, a redeemed humanity as a love gift and every person that the LORD God has sovereignly elected unto salvation will come to the feet of the Son, the Lord of Glory, Jesus Christ. On a certain level, this is a mystery for we are not clearly told, in Scripture, how this comes to pass, yet the Scripture does in fact teach that it will happen.

One thing that we want to point out is a particular Greek word in John 6:44 and that word is ἕλκω, helkô and the word, generally has the connotation of dragging (John. 18:1021:621:11Acts 16:1921:30James. 2:6). As a consequence, we can assume that it means that this drawing cannot be resisted. This is not to say that God’s grace can never be resisted under any circumstances. Rather, as Dr. Sproul teaches us, “The idea is that God’s grace is so powerful that it has the capacity to overcome our natural resistance to it. It is not that the Holy Spirit drags people kicking and screaming to Christ against their wills. The Holy Spirit changes the inclination and disposition of our wills, so that whereas we were previously unwilling to embrace Christ, now we are willing, and more than willing.”

We learned, in the section on Total Depravity/Total Inability, that man is, of his own accord, not only unwilling but also unable to come to Christ. Thankfully, on the other side of that coin is the fact that God, the Father, changes the desires of our hearts; He creates a new heart where the old obstinately disinterested one used to be and we are now capable of seeing the beauty of the Glorious Prince of Heaven and and are so desirous of the Redeemer that we willingly come and bow at the Throne of Grace.

Some would object to this doctrine, yet I will answer their objection with the words of Paul, “Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, “Why hast thou made me thus?” (Romans 9:20) or, perhaps, the words of Isaiah, “Who hath directed the Spirit of the LORD, or being his counseller hath taught him?”

I suspect that many of the objections to this doctrine come from those who do not really understand it. Let us turn then, to our friends from Got Questions Ministries for some wise instruction:

“The reason this doctrine is called “irresistible” grace is that it always results in the intended outcome, the salvation of the person it is given to. It is important to realize that the act of being regenerated or “born again” cannot be separated from the act of believing the gospel. Ephesians 2:1-10 makes this clear. There is a connection between the act of being made alive by God (Ephesians 2:15) and the result of being saved by grace. (Ephesians 2:58). This is because everything pertaining to salvation, including the faith to believe, is an act of God’s grace. The reason God’s grace is irresistible and efficacious (always bringing forth the desired result) is that God “has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into” His kingdom (Colossians 1:13). Or, as Psalm 3:8 puts it, “Salvation belongs to the Lord.”

To understand the doctrine of “irresistible grace,” it is important to recognize that this is a special grace given only to those God has chosen for salvation (His elect) and is different from what is known as “common grace” which God bestows on both believer and unbeliever. While there are many aspects of common grace, including life and all that is necessary to sustain it, common grace is what is often referred to as the “outward call of God.” This is God’s revelation of Himself given to all men through the light of creation and their consciences. It also includes the general call of the gospel that goes out anytime the gospel message is preached. This call can be resisted and rejected by those that receive it. (Matthew 22:14Romans 1:18-32). However, God also gives an “inward call” which always results in salvation. This is the call of God that Jesus spoke of in John 6:37-47. The certainty of this inward call is seen in John 6:37: “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.” John 6:44 confirms this: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him and I will raise him up at the last day.”

To summarize, Irresistible (or efficacious) Grace is the consequence of the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. To borrow from the popular culture, it is, in a sense, when God makes you an offer you can’t refuse; it is that gift of grace which allows us to become the Bride, without spot or wrinkle, who is suitable for the Bridegroom, the Crown Prince of Heaven

Particular Redemption: For whom did Yeshua die?

Our thanks to 3rd Millenium Ministries for the below…

 In Reformed theology we affirm the doctrine of definite atonement, which is sometimes called particular redemption, effective atonement or limited atonement (“limited” is not in reference to the power or value of Jesus’ death, but in reference to the number of people for whom Christ purchased salvation). Definite atonement is to be distinguished from two other prominent views of the atonement: universalism and general ransom. All three views, including definite atonement, affirm that Christ’s sacrifice is of infinite worth. General ransom and definite atonement both affirm that the free offer of the gospel comes genuinely from God to all those who hear the Good News of Christ. Universalism insists that everyone is saved, regardless of whether or not he or she responds positively to the gospel.

These three views can be most easily distinguished by looking at two different aspects of the atonement: (1) Jesus’ work on the cross by which he obtained salvation and (2) the Holy Spirit’s application of salvation to individuals. Universalism claims that Christ obtained salvation for everyone in the world and that the Holy Spirit applies salvation to everyone in the world so that all are saved. General ransom holds that although Christ obtained salvation for everyone in the world, the Holy Spirit applies salvation only to those who come to faith so that only these are actually saved. Definite atonement holds that Christ obtained salvation only for the elect and that the Holy Spirit applies salvation only to the elect.

According to general ransom, while Christ’s death made salvation possible for everyone in the world (both the elect and the reprobate), it did not make anyone’s salvation certain. Definite atonement, however, insists that the Holy Spirit will necessarily apply salvation to everyone for whom Christ died so that all for whom Christ died must eventually be saved.

Scripture speaks of God as having chosen for salvation a great number from the fallen human race (these are the “elect”) and as having sent Christ into the world to save them (John 6:37-40; 10:27-29; 11:51-52; Romans 8:28-39; Ephesians 1:3-14; 1Pe 1:20). Christ is regularly said to have died for particular groups or persons, with the clear implication that his death fully secured their salvation (John 10:15-18,27-29; Ro 5:8-10; 8:32; Galatians 2:20; 3:13-14; 4:4-5; 1John 4:9-10; Revelation 1:4-6; 5:9-10). Facing his suffering on the cross, Jesus prayed only for those whom the Father had given him, not for the “world” (i.e., the rest of humanity; John 17:9,20).

Nevertheless, it is also important to affirm the free offer of Jesus Christ in the gospel alongside the doctrine of definite atonement. It is a certain truth that whoever comes to Christ in faith will find mercy (John 6:35,47-51,54-57; Romans 1:16; 10:8-13). Those whom God has chosen hear Christ’s offer, and through hearing it, they are effectually called by the Holy Spirit. Both the invitation and the effectual calling flow from Christ’s sin-bearing death. Those who reject the offer of Christ do so because they choose to (Matthew 22:1-7; John 3:18), so their final perishing is their own fault. Those who receive Jesus learn to thank him for the fact that his blood fully cleansed them from all unrighteousness, for they know that without this working of his grace, all hope would have been lost.

 

Enduring Faith: The Security of the Believer

All true believers endure to the end. Those whom God has accepted in Christ, and sanctified by His Spirit, will never fall away from the state of grace, but shall persevere to the end. Believers may fall into sin through neglect and temptation, whereby they grieve the Spirit, impair their graces and comforts, and bring reproach on the cause of Christ and temporal judgments on themselves; yet they shall be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.

Ephesians 4:30 tells us that believers are “sealed for the day of redemption.” If believers did not have eternal security, the sealing could not truly be unto the day of redemption, but only to the day of sinning, apostasy, or disbelief. John 3:15-16 tells us that whoever believes in Jesus Christ will “have eternal life.” If a person were to be promised eternal life, but then have it taken away, it was never “eternal” to begin with. If eternal security is not true, the promises of eternal life in the Bible would be in error.

The most powerful argument for eternal security is Romans 8:38-39, “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.” Our eternal security is based on God’s love for those whom He has redeemed. Our eternal security is purchased by Christ, promised by the Father, and sealed by the Holy Spirit.

This Doctrine is formally called the Perseverance of the Saints but it is frequently referred to as Eternal Security or Once Saved Always Saved.

Eternal security is the teaching that a Christian cannot lose his salvation because he is “eternally secure” in the work of Christ. Unfortunately, this teaching is sometimes a source of problems within Christian circles. Some Christians believe that if you hold to eternal security, you are purposely promoting a license to sin. On the other hand, some Christians believe that if you don’t believe in eternal security, you have to keep your salvation by works. Both sides often misrepresent the other, and instead of being gracious on this debatable issue (as we are commanded to be in Romans 14:1-12), people accuse each other of being unbiblical.

Eternal Security is not a license to sin

Please understand that eternal security is not a license to sin. The Christian is regenerated. He is changed from within and is made a new creature (2 Cor. 5:17). Those who were indwelt by the Holy Spirit will war with their sin and not seek to abide in it. Those who declare that they are eternally secure and then go out and sin on purpose in any manner they so choose are probably not saved to begin with since this is contradictory to what Scripture teaches. 1 John 2:4 says, “The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”

This does not, in any way, imply that we will never again sin; we can be certain that we will sin again because we are under the Federal Headship of Adam and will have a fallen nature until we are restored in the Kingdom. I want to give you 3 passages of Scripture regarding the Security of the Believer.

John 6:37-40
“All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. 38 “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 “And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. 40 “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him, may have eternal life; and I Myself will raise him up on the last day,”

John 10:27-28
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand,”

1 John 2:19
“They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, in order that it might be shown that they all are not of us.”

I need to emphasize, with as much vigor as possible, that this does not mean that you can simply live however you like and still go to Heaven when you die. There will always be a struggle with sin and you will fail; so will I. As you mature in your discipleship, you will become more like Christ and so will hate your sin more and more. Some areas will be easier to resist sin and in other areas, it will feel like World War III. The comfort is that we are assured of a final victory.

3 Things the Doctrine of Eternal Security does not teach:

1) Since we are ‘saved’, we can do what we want. It doesn’t matter what kind of sin we commit. We are still going to go to heaven.” This is a gross perversion of Eternal Security. ALL TRUE BELIEVERS will endure to the end. In Jude’s epistle the Apostle advises that we contend vigorously for the faith and the word he uses is agonizomai. It is from this word that we derive agonize, and it is fitting because “Take up your cross and follow Me” is a death sentence and the flesh will not be overcome easily.

2) We do not need to worry about helping our brothers and sisters remain faithful. “Hey, if they are saved, they will remain saved. We do not need to be our brother’s keeper”. If this were true, there would be no need for corporate worship or the preaching of the word.

3) We can ignore all the Scriptures warning us to persevere to the very end. We don’t need to persevere because if we are saved, we will remain saved.” I cannot imagine that anyone seriously thinks that Eternal Security means this but I have heard it from some. Sanctification is both instantaneous and a process. We are admonished to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12) for a reason. The Holy Spirit does sanctify us but that does not leave us with no responsibility to work.

 

 

 

We are all three times condemned due to inherited sin, imputed sin, and personal sin. The only just penalty for this sin is death (Romans 6:23), not just physical death but eternal death (Revelation 20:11-15). Thankfully, inherited sin, imputed sin, and personal sin have all been crucified on the cross of Jesus, and now by faith in Jesus Christ as the Savior “we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7).

 

How can I be saved? How will I know I am elect?  Let me use the words of Spurgeon to help you.

 

Many persons want to know their election before they look to Christ, but that is not possible; it is only to be discovered by “looking to Jesus.” (Hebrews 12:2) If you desire to ascertain your own election, after the following manner shall you assure your heart before God.

 

Do you feel yourself to be a lost, guilty sinner? Go straight to the cross of Christ, and tell Jesus so, and tell Him that you have read in the Bible, “Whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” (John 6:37) Tell Him that it is written), “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” (1 Timothy 1:15) Look to Jesus and believe on Him, and you shall make proof of your election directly, for as surely as you believe, you are elect.

 

If you will give yourself wholly up to Christ and trust Him, then you are one of God’s chosen ones; but if you stop and say, “I want to know first whether I am elect,” you do not know what you are asking. Go to Jesus, just as you are, in all your guilt. Leave all curious inquiry about election alone. Go straight to Christ, and hide in His wounds, and you shall know your election. The assurance of the Holy Spirit shall be given to you, so that you shall be able to say, “I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me.” (2 Timothy 1:12)

 

Christ was at the everlasting council-He can tell you whether you were chosen or not; but you cannot find it out in any other way. Go and put your trust in Him, and His answer will be, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.” (Jeremiah 31:3) There will be no doubt about His having chosen you when you have chosen Him. Sons we are through God’s election, who in Jesus Christ believe.

 

How to be saved from your sin:

  1. Repent- Change your mind about who you are and who Christ is. We are sinners and He is the Holy God.
    2. Confess that Christ is Lord (Romans 10:9), that He was crucified, buried, and resurrected as our substitute to pay the penalty for our sin.
    3. Get involved in a Local Church and learn about Christ and how to glorify Him. (Church membership does not save you but it does help you grow in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus and how to glorify Him.)

 

My Name is I AM: God reveals His Personal Name

My Name is I AM: God reveals His Personal Name

Exodus 3:13-15

13 Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”

14 God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’”

15 God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’

“This is my name forever; the name you shall call me from generation to generation.

Moses has asked God for His Personal Name. It is important for us to remember that in the Semitic Culture, a name is closely linked to the person or something related to the person. For example, Isaac means laughter and was so named because his mother laughed when she heard that she would have a son at 90 years of age. Previous to this conversation, God had been known as El Shaddai. Now El Shaddai, like El or Elohim, is a title, not a name and so Moses asks a legitimate question. (I will phrase it in a parlance we can relate to.) “Ok, so you’re God; what’s your name?”

To ask God to identify Himself by something other than a title is a perfectly legitimate question. You don’t want to just worship any god; you want to make sure that you worship the right god. Also, you must think about the claim to deity. If a person is God, then He must be worshipped and if you are going to properly worship a deity, you must know who that deity is and how he expects to be worshipped.

God, because He always acts justly, answers the question and He answers it in the most curious way possible. He answers with the statement, Ehyeh Aser Ehyeh which most English Bibles translate as “I AM who I AM.”

Rendered into English, Ehyeh is I AM. This is God’s personal Name. How do I get that? Permit me to quote KJ Cronin

“The word asher, it is described in the Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon as a “sign of relation” (BDB, p.81), which is its precise function in Ehyeh asher Ehyeh. Its presence signals the existence of an unspecified relationship between the two Ehyeh of Ehyeh asher Ehyeh. Without the asher, the two Ehyeh would appear to stand alone as merely independent declarations of the name Ehyeh. It is presumably for this reason that the asher is required between Self-address and name in Ehyeh asher Ehyeh, and for this reason that the Divine Self-identification Ehyeh asher Ehyeh does not conform to the normal construction of self-identification that comprises only self-address and name.

Because it is generic, the asher has no exactly corresponding word in English (BDB, p.83), and so we must search instead for an English translation of the asher that fits the context. Having undertaken such a search, I can identify only one translation that when emplaced in “I AM asher I AM” makes of it a recognizable Divine Self-identification. That translation is “is who”, yielding the words “I AM is who I AM”. However, this is a completely unattested translation of asher and, moreover, it does not preserve the purity of the idem-per-idem form of Ehyeh asher Ehyeh. I therefore do not accept this as the translation we seek and conclude that the nuance of meaning in the asher of Exodus 3:14a is untranslatable into English.

Which brings me to the translation of Ehyeh asher Ehyeh, and first to the literal translation. Because the asher is untranslatable, it makes most sense to retain it in the literal English translation of Exodus 3:14, where it will mean the same to the Hebrew reader as to the Hebrew non-reader who knows the grammatical purpose that it serves. I would therefore propose that Ehyeh asher Ehyeh should read as follows in literal English translation: “I AM asher I AM”. Alternatively, if Ehyeh asher Ehyeh is to be represented in paraphrase, then the simplest and most accurate such paraphrase is “I am I AM””

Take notice of the fact that in answering Moses’ question, God does not remove one iota of the mystery surrounding His Name or His Person. Being totally apart from the creation, there is a certain level of mystery included in God’s personhood, especially since He is infinite and we are not. The answer “I AM” leaves something to be desired and that it quite by design; God is both answering the question and leaving room for additional revelation later.

A distinction is necessary before we can move on. Ehyeh is God’s Personal Name but He also has a Proper Name and that name is YHWH. This Name requires equal care and reverence with Ehyeh.

How can YHWH be a name since it is only 4 letters?

The ancient Hebrew language that the Old Testament was written in did not have vowels in its alphabet. In written form, ancient Hebrew was a consonant-only language. In the original Hebrew, God’s name transliterates to YHWH (sometimes written in the older style as YHVH). This is known as the tetragrammaton (meaning “four letters”). Because of the lack of vowels, Bible scholars debate how the tetragrammaton YHWH was pronounced.

Isn’t God’s Name Jehovah?

Jehovah is a possibility though fairly unlikely. Here is why…Most Protestant Theology was originally written in German. In German, the letter “J” is pronounced the same as the letter “Y” in English and the letter “V” is pronounced the same way as the letter “W” in English thus rendering Jehovah as unlikely. It could, possibly, be phonetically said as “Ye-ho-wah” and yet that is also unlikely.

Due to a fear of accidentally taking God’s name in vain (Leviticus 24:16), the Jews basically quit saying it out loud altogether. Instead, when reading Scripture aloud, the Jews substituted the tetragrammaton YHWH with the word Adonai (“Lord”). Even in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament), the translators substituted Kurios (“Lord”) for the Divine Name. Eventually, the vowels from Adonai (“Lord”) or Elohim (“God”) found their way in between the consonants of YHWH, thus forming what we commonly know as YaHWeH. But this interpolation of vowels does not mean that was how God’s name was originally pronounced. In fact, we aren’t entirely sure if YHWH should have two syllables or three.

Any number of vowel sounds can be inserted within YHWH, and Jewish scholars are as uncertain of the real pronunciation as Christian scholars are. Jehovah is actually a much later (probably 16th-century) variant. The word Jehovah comes from a three-syllable version of YHWHYeHoWeH. The Y was replaced with a J (although Hebrew does not even have a J sound) and the W with a V, plus the extra vowel in the middle, resulting in JeHoVaH. These vowels are the abbreviated forms of the imperfect tense, the participial form, and the perfect tense of the Hebrew being verb (English is)—thus the meaning of Jehovah could be understood as “He who will be, is, and has been.”

So, what is God’s Name, and what does it mean? The most likely choice for how the tetragrammaton was pronounced is “YAH-way,” “YAH-weh,” or something similar. The name Yahweh refers to God’s self-existence. Yahweh is linked to how God described Himself in Exodus 3:14, “God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: “I AM has sent me to you.”’” God’s name is a reflection of His being. God is the only self-existent or self-sufficient Being. Only God has life in and of Himself. That is the essential meaning of the tetragrammaton, YHWH.

 The tetragrammaton consists of four Hebrew letters: yodh, he, waw, and then he repeated. Some versions of the Bible translate the tetragrammaton as “Yahweh” or “Jehovah”; most translate it as “LORD” (all capital letters).

Some have said that YHWH is in the 2nd or 3rd person and this is partly correct. In fact, there are some articles that claim that Yahweh is simply a third person form of Hayah (to be). The first form is Ehyeh. Just like the word “be” in English is rarely used and become am, are, and is if the subject is first, second, or third person, so is the word hayah in Hebrew, according to those articles.

According to these articles, God doesn’t really have a name. Yahweh simply means “He is”.

Is this true? No. If Yahweh, simply means “He is” what’s the point of hiding the sacred name given that I am sure everyone must have been saying it all the time in natural conversation like “He is cooking. He is swimming. He is running” etc.

The articles’ claim is incorrect. YHWH is the causative form of the word for being, thus the referent meaning is ”causes to be”. The name of God is not the third person form of ”being”, it is the third person form of ”causing to be” or ”causing to exist”. It is much more powerful than ”he is” essentially it means ”He causes existence to exist”.

Further The root of the name seems to be the same as the verb “to be”, but it doesn’t match any Hebrew conjugation pattern. Really, it seems to be a combination of the 3rd person future, present, and past tenses. This kind of describes God as eternal (as in “being” applies to him in the future, present, and past).

In either case, God’s Personal Name or His Proper Name, there exists a quality of infinity and makes the direct statement of fact that God exists; God declares Himself to be saying, “I AM is My Name.”

The natural response to such and answer would be to ask the question, “You are what/whom?”

Well, Jesus answered that with 7 Statements in the Gospel According to John and two more in Revelation.

Jesus declares, I AM…

  1. The Bread of Life

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. (John 6:35)

  1. The Light of the World

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

  1. The Gate

I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. (John 10:9)

  1. The Good Shepherd

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11)

  1. The Resurrection and The Life

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” (John 11:25-26)

  1. The Way, The Truth, And The Life

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

  1. The Vine

“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)

  • Statement 1 tells us that Jesus is the One who spiritually sustains us.
  • In statement 2 we learn that through Him we gain spiritual understanding and wisdom for living.
  • Statement 3 explains that He has given us free and unlimited access to His Kingdom.
  • Statement 4 shows how He did this by paying our entrance fee with His life
  • In statement 5 we learn that whether we die before the rapture or are taken live in it, He has guaranteed our eternal life with God.
  • Statement 6 explains that He is the only one who can do this for us, and
  • Statement 7 reveals that for the balance of our life on Earth, the things we do in His strength, out of gratitude for what He’s done for us, are the only things that matter.

In Revelation He declares

I AM…

Alpha and Omega

Revelation 1:8

I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.

The first and the last and He that liveth and was dead

Revelation 1:17-18

17 And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: 18 I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.

As we endeavor to understand God better, I want to look a little deeper at some of these I AM Statements

 

I am the bread of life

John 6:35 (NIV)

35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

What on earth does Jesus mean? What kind of bread are we talking about here? Rye? Wheat? Whole Grain? White? It is good that our minds go in that direction since bread is a staple, that is to say it is an essential for life. In fact, bread is so common that in some cases we use it as a synonym for food in general. If we are “breaking bread” with someone we are sharing a meal with them. Keep the idea of food and sustenance in your mind as we go through this lesson.

  1. Jesus, as the Bread of Life, is the source and sustainer of life. John 10:28tells us that Jesus gives life and those to whom He gives it will never perish. 1 Timothy 6:13 contains an admonishment from Paul in the sight of God who gives life to everything and we saw at the beginning of this series that Jesus is, in fact, the I AM of the Old Testament and therefore, He is the God who gives life to everything that has it.
  2. Bread played an integral role in the Passover and in the history of the Children of Israel in the wilderness. The Jews were to eat unleavened bread during the Passover feast and then for seven days following as a celebration of the exodus from Egypt. Finally, when the Jews were wandering in the desert for 40 years, God rained down “bread from heaven” to sustain the nation (Exodus 16:4).
  3. Jesus was responding to the obtuseness of the crowd who did not get who He was. The statement that He is the Bread of Life is staggering!! By equating Himself with bread, Jesus is saying he is essentialfor life. Now, the life Jesus is referring to is not physical life, but eternal life. Jesus is trying to get the Jews’ thinking off of the physical realm and into the spiritual realm. He is contrasting what He brings as their Messiah with the bread He miraculously created the day before. That was physical bread that perishes. He is spiritual bread that brings eternal life.
  4. Jesus is not talking about physical hunger and thirst. Think back; in His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. (Matthew 5:6)” When Jesus says those who come to Him will never hunger and those who believe in Him will never thirst, He is saying He will satisfy our hunger and thirst to be made righteous in the sight of God.

 

Our deepest need is for a relationship with God. Jesus is the satisfaction of that need. When we come to Him, He gives us eternal life and then sustains that life so that we never again are in a famine for relationship with God.

I AM Alpha and Omega

Revelation 1:8 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.

  1. Why does Jesus use Alpha and Omega?
    A. Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet implying that Jesus is the first and last, the cause of everything. (Colossians 1:16). Alpha and Omega shows Jesus as the cause of all history, the Creator God, and the culmination of all history as all history is moving toward His full and final glory.
  2. What is the significance of the phrase, “which is, and which was, and which is to come?
  3. When God told Moses, “I Am Who I Am” it was a statement that is a present continuous, which essentially means that what is said is always that way. God always is, that is to say that He transcends time.
  4. God is not bound by the physical laws and limitations of our time and space (Isaiah 57:15)
  5. God is a spirit (John 4:24) and so is unbound by these laws 2. God is timeless (Psalm 90:4) and His perspective on time is different from ours (2 Peter 3:8,Psalm 102:12,Psalm 102:24-27)
  6. In short, there has never been a time when God was not and will never be a time when He is not.

III. What is the significance of “the Almighty”
A. God Almighty was a name well known to the Jews

  1. Six times in Genesis, God is called Almighty (Genesis 17:1Genesis 28:3Genesis 35:11Genesis 43:14 Genesis 48:3 Genesis 49:25)
    2. God tells Moses that He was known to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as God Almighty but not buy His Covenant Name, YHWH (Exodus 6:3)
  2. The name, God Almighty is used more than 12 times in the Old Testament. By appropriating this Name unto Himself, Jesus is declaring, in absolutely direct terms that He is, in fact, the One, God Almighty.

 

Are Jesus and YHWH (I AM) the same?

Philippians 2:9-11

For this reason, God highly exalted Him and gave Him the Name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow—of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth—and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

I have heard this passage quoted countless times and rightfully so; the Name Jesus is worthy to be bowed down to, worthy to be adored, to be exalted in exuberant song. It is the very best name there is. Or is it? Does Jesus actually have a better name than Jesus? IF He does, what is that name and why will we bow to it?

As it happens, there is a different name that all men will bow down before. It is a name that has belonged to Jesus since before time began. It was His name before His incarnation; before He condescended to come to this earth and allow Himself to be sacrificed for our sins, this name crowned Him in glory and this name arrayed Jesus in every superlative of majesty that you could ever possibly imagine if you had 1000 lifetimes and no limitations to the capacity of your mind. This name, that Jesus has had for all eternity, is the one before whom every knee will bow and it is the name that will cause every tongue to confess; this name is YHWH (Jehovah). Dear children, it is not simply that every knee bows before Jesus, nor is it the confession of lordship that glorifies the Father but it is instead the confession of the Name that glorifies the Father. Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess, (don’t miss this) Jesus IS YHWH!

Isaiah 42:8 (ASV)” I am Jehovah, that is my name; and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise unto graven images.”

Isaiah 43:11 (ASV) “I, even I, am Jehovah; and besides me there is no savior.”

YHWH (Jehovah) in the Old Testament declares that He will never share His glory and that He alone is the savior. But in Acts, the Apostle Peter tells us that it is the name Jesus that salvation is found in. Is there a contradiction here? Does Peter contradict Isaiah? Nope. The Greek Iesus is the same as the Hebrew Y’shua and it is in that name that salvation is found. You might ask how on earth I figure that Y’shua is the name in which salvation is found. Well, Y’shua is the shortened form of Yehoshu’a (Joshua) and Yehoshu’a literally means YHWH is Savior. Isn’t that beautiful?

It is YHWH which is Christ’s most glorious Name. The very God who was blasphemed by our sin has put aside the offense and has redeemed us unto Himself. Stop for a minute and think about what this means because it means so much more than you don’t have to go to hell for eternity and it means so much more than you get to go to heaven. You get to be with YHWH and you get to be like Him, unable to die, unable to be diminished. Your eternity with YHWH will be in perfect communion; you will behold the One who loved you more than life and gave His to redeem yours. Standing face to face you will see YHWH on His glorious throne. Eyes that have never seen will behold the Lamb, ears that have never heard will behold the majesty of heaven’s symphony of praise, lips that have never spoken will resound the anthem of Christ’s amazing grace, and feet that have never walked will dance before the throne with all their might just as David did in the Old Testament. In that moment, when all who have ever lived see Jesus in all of the resplendent majesty of His person, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is YHWH and the whole world will glorify YHWH, some in judgment and some from an undeserved spot in heaven but we will all give Him glory forever and ever.

I have listened to Desiring God for a number of years and I have the following in my notes:

There are at least 10 things the name Yahweh, “I AM,” says about God:

  1. He never had a beginning. God simply is. And always was. No beginning.”
  2. God will never end. If there was never a time when God was not, then there will not ever be a time when He will not be.
  3. God is absolute reality. There is no reality before him. There is no reality outside of him unless he wills it and makes it. He is all that was eternally. No space, no universe, no emptiness. Only God.
  4. God is utterly independent. He depends on nothing to bring him into being or support him or counsel him or make him what he is.
  5. Everything that is not God depends totally on God. The entire universe is utterly secondary. It came into being by God and stays in being moment by moment on God’s decision to keep it in being.
  6. All the universe is by comparison to God as nothing. Contingent, dependent reality is to absolute, independent reality as a shadow to substance. As an echo to a thunderclap. All that we are amazed by in the world and in the galaxies, is, compared to God, as nothing.
  7. God is constant. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He cannot be improved. He is not becoming anything. He is who he is.
  8. God is the absolute standard of truth and goodness and beauty. There is no law-book to which he looks to know what is right. No almanac to establish facts. No guild to determine what is excellent or beautiful. He himself is the standard of what is right, what is true, what is beautiful.
  9. God does whatever he pleases and it is always right and always beautiful and always in accord with truth. All reality that is outside of him he created and designed and governs as the absolute reality. So he is utterly free from any constraints that don’t originate from the counsel of his own will.
  10. God is the most important and most valuable reality and person in the universe. He is more worthy of interest and attention and admiration and enjoyment than all other realities, including the entire universe.

What else does the Bible teach us about YHWH

YHWH is exclusive

Isaiah 42:8 (NIV)

 “I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not yield my glory to another or my praise to idols.

Isaiah 43:10-11 (NIV)

10 Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me. 11 I, even I, am the Lord, and apart from me there is no savior

Exodus 20:2-6 (NIV)

2I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. “You shall have no other gods before me. “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

YHWH is mercifuland gracious

Exodus 34:6-7 (KJV)

And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,

Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.

 

No one can see YHWH’s face/behold His glory and live

Exodus 33:20 (NIV)

20 But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”

 

Though He leaves His Name shrouded in mystery, God as shown us a personal and relational aspect to His Name. By not putting a qualifier after His Name, God essentially says, “I AM all that you need.”

  • For our need of redemption, He is YHWH Shua, the LORD who saves
  • To answer the disease of sin, He is YHWH Rophe, the LORD who heals
  • For our need of being made righteous, He is YHWH T’sidkenu, the LORD who imputes righteousness
  • For our need to be made holy, He is YHWH Mekoddishkem, the LORD who sanctifies
  • For our need of providential care, He is YHWH Raah, the LORD our Shepherd

 

Final Thoughts

  1. God is relational (a Trinity) and we, through His grace, can have a relationship with Him.
  2. God is superlatively holy which, to a degree leaves Him shrouded in mystery because of His apartness
  3. Everything we need for life and salvation is found in/comes from God
  4. God, alone, is worthy of our praise. Everything has been created for His glory and good pleasure.
El Shaddai: God the Father Almighty

El Shaddai: God the Father Almighty

El Shaddai: God Almighty/The All Sufficient God/The Breasted God

In our current series, “Who is the LORD?” we are looking and names of God and our current portion is dealing with the Trinity. This week we are looking at El Shaddai: God the Father Almighty

The 3 Creeds that we affirm, at Abounding Grace Baptist Church, all declare a belief in the Holy Trinity and 2 directly begin with an affirmation of belief in God the Father Almighty.

Apostle’s Creed- I believe in God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

Nicene Creed- We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

The Athanasian Creed goes more into depth than the other two and will be provided at the end of the lesson.

In all 3 instances, God the Father Almighty refers to El Shaddai, the name of God that we are studying this week. (It refers to all His other Names, too, but for our purposes, we are looking at El Shaddai)

The first occurrence of the name is in Genesis 17:1, “And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am El Shaddai; walk before me, and be thou perfect.” Similarly, in Genesis 35:11 God says to Jacob, “I am El Shaddai: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall be of thee, and kings shall come out of thy loins”. According to Exodus 6:2–3, Shaddai was the name by which God was known to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Shaddai thus being associated in tradition with Abraham, the inclusion of the Abraham stories into the Hebrew Bible may have brought the northern name with them, according to the Documentary hypothesis of the origins of the Hebrew Bible.

 

Potential Meanings:

El is a common Semitic name for God, in General. It appears that it could be a shortened form of Elohim.

From the Israel Institute of Biblical Studies:

“El ShaDai (אֵל שָׁדַּי) is just one of the many names of God in Hebrew. El means “God.” The rest, however, is slightly more complicated.

In our Bibles, אֵל שָׁדַּי “El Shadai” is most often (mistakenly) translated as “God Almighty”. The main reason for this stems from an opinion that Hebrew word שָׂדַּי ShaDai is connected with the verb לְשְׁדוד liShDoD, which means “to destroy” or “overpower”.

For example, Hebrew word for “bandit” has the same root –שׁודֵד ShoDeD.

El Shadai אֵל שָׁדַּי does have another meaning though. The word שָׁד ShaD has a much closer grammatical connection to ShaDai and it means – “breast.” Moreover, when a word ends with an “i”or “ai” it is almost always means “my”. So, literally, “El Shadai” could very well mean “God (is) my Breast/s”.

If we consider this intriguing imagery as interpretive possibility we may see that the breast is one of the key symbols of sustenance and parental love passed on from God, the parent, to humanity, God’s child. So instead of “God Almighty”, El Shadai could also be translated as “God All-sufficient” instead.”

Ultimately, we will look at the name, El Shaddai, as God Almighty.

 

Question: “What does it mean that God is Almighty?” (Got Questions Ministry)

In Hebrew, the title “God Almighty” is written as El Shaddai and probably means “God, the All-powerful One” or “The Mighty One of Jacob” (Genesis 49:24; Psalm 132:2,5), although there is a question among most Bible scholars as to its precise meaning. The title speaks to God’s ultimate power over all. He has all might and power. We are first introduced to this name in Genesis 17:1, when God appeared to Abram and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless.”

God has many names and attributes. He is the Almighty (Genesis 49:25), the Creator of heaven and earth (Genesis 14:19), Builder of everything (Hebrews 3:4), the King of heaven (Daniel 4:37), God of all mankind (Jeremiah 32:27), and the Eternal King. (Jeremiah 10:10). He is the only God (Jude 1:25), the Eternal God (Genesis 21:33), the Everlasting God (Isaiah 40:28), and Maker of all things (Ecclesiastes 11:5). He is able to do more things than we can ask or even imagine (Ephesians 3:20). He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed and miracles that cannot be counted (Job 9:10). God’s power is unlimited. He can do anything He wants, whenever He wants (Psalm 115:3). He spoke the Universe into existence (Genesis 1:3). Furthermore, He answers to no one as to His plans and purposes: “All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: ‘What have you done?’” (Daniel 4:35).

When we see God as the Almighty, we are struck by His power and by the fact that He is indeed a great, mighty, and awesome God (Deuteronomy 10:17). The identity of God as Almighty serves to establish the sense of awe and wonder we have toward Him and the realization that He is God above all things without limitation. This is important in view of how He is described next in the Bible. In Exodus 6:2-3, God said to Moses, “I am the LORD. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD I did not make myself known to them.” How is this significant? It is significant because God, whom we previously knew only as God Almighty, has now given a new, more personal and intimate name to Moses (and Israel). This desire on God’s part for a more personal relationship with mankind would culminate later when God Almighty sent His only Son to earth–God in flesh–to die on the cross so that a way for forgiveness of our sins could be provided. The fact that God Almighty would humble Himself in this way for us makes His name all the more remarkable.

Almighty is synonymous with omnipotence.

 

Question: “What does it mean that God is omnipotent?”

The word omnipotent comes from omni- meaning “all” and potent meaning “power.” As with the attributes of omniscience and omnipresence, it follows that, if God is infinite, and if He is sovereign, which we know He is, then He must also be omnipotent. He has all power over all things at all times and in all ways.

Job spoke of God’s power in Job 42:2: “I know that you can do all things and that no plan of yours can be thwarted.” Job was acknowledging God’s omnipotence in carrying out His plans. Moses, too, was reminded by God that He had all power to complete His purposes regarding the Israelites: “The LORD answered Moses, ‘Is the LORD’s arm too short? You will now see whether or not what I say will come true for you.’”

Nowhere is God’s omnipotence seen more clearly than in creation. God said, “Let there be…” and it was so (Genesis 1:3, 6, 9, etc.). Man needs tools and materials to create; God simply spoke, and by the power of His word, everything was created from nothing. “By the word of the LORD were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth” (Psalm 33:6).

God’s power is also seen in the preservation of His creation. All life on earth would perish were it not for God’s continual provision of everything we need for food, clothing and shelter, all from renewable resources sustained by His power as the preserver of man and beast (Psalm 36:6). The seas which cover most of the earth, and over which we are powerless, would overwhelm us if God did not proscribe their limits (Job 38:8-11).

God’s omnipotence extends to governments and leaders (Daniel 2:21), as He restrains them or lets them go their way according to His plans and purposes. His power is unlimited in regard to Satan and his demons. Satan’s attack on Job was limited to only certain actions. He was restrained by God’s unlimited power (Job 1:12; 2:6). Jesus reminded Pilate that he had no power over Him unless it had been granted to him by the God of all power (John 19:11).

As God incarnate, Jesus Christ is omnipotent. His power is seen in the miracles He performed—His numerous healings, the feeding of the five thousand (Mark 6:30-44), calming the storm (Mark 4:37-41), and the ultimate display of power, raising Lazarus and Jairus’s daughter from the dead (John 11:38-44; Mark 5:35-43), an example of His control over life and death. Death is the ultimate reason that Jesus came—to destroy it (1 Corinthians 15:22; Hebrews 2:14) and to bring sinners into a right relationship with God. The Lord Jesus stated clearly that He had power to lay down His life and power to take it up again, a fact that He allegorized when speaking about the temple (John 2:19). He had power to call upon twelve legions of angels to rescue Him during His trial, if needed (Matthew 26:53), yet He offered Himself in humility in place of others (Philippians 2:1-11).

The great mystery is that this power can be shared by believers who are united to God in Jesus Christ. Paul says, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Corinthians 12:9b). God’s power is exalted in us most when our weaknesses are greatest because He “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20). It is God’s power that continues to hold us in a state of grace despite our sin (2 Timothy 1:12), and by His power we are kept from falling (Jude 24). His power will be proclaimed by all the host of heaven for all eternity (Revelation 19:1). May that be our endless prayer!

Almighty implies Infinite

 

Question: “What does it mean that God is infinite?”

Answer: The infinite nature of God simply means that God exists outside of and is not limited by time or space. Infinite simply means “without limits.” When we refer to God as “infinite,” we generally refer to Him with terms like omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence.

Omniscience means that God is all-knowing or that He has unlimited knowledge. His infinite knowledge is what qualifies Him as sovereign ruler and judge over all things. Not only does God know everything that will happen, but He also knows all things that could have possibly happened. Nothing takes God by surprise, and no one can hide sin from Him. There are many verses in the Bible where God reveals this aspect of His nature. One such verse is 1 John 3:20: “…God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.”

Omnipotence means that God is all-powerful or that He has unlimited power. Having all power is significant because it establishes God’s ability to carry out His sovereign will. Because God is omnipotent and has infinite power, nothing can stop His decreed will from happening, and nothing can thwart or stop His divine purposes from being fulfilled. There are many verses in the Bible where God reveals this aspect of His nature. One such verse is Psalm 115:3: “But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.” Or when answering His disciples’ question “Then who can be saved?” (Matthew 19:25), Jesus says, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).

Omnipresence means that God is always present. There is no place that you could go to escape God’s presence. God is not limited by time or space. He is present at every point of time and space. God’s infinite presence is significant because it establishes that God is eternal. God has always existed and will always exist. Before time began, God was. Before the world or even matter itself was created, God was. He has no beginning or end, and there was never a time He did not exist, nor will there ever be a time when He ceases to exist. Again, many verses in the Bible reveal this aspect of God’s nature to us, and one of them is Psalm 139:7-10: “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.”

Because God is infinite, He is also said to be transcendent, which simply means that God is exceedingly far above creation and is both greater than creation and independent of it. What this means is that God is so infinitely above and beyond us and our ability to fully comprehend that, had He not revealed Himself, we would not know or understand what He is like. But, thankfully, God has not left us ignorant about Himself. Instead, He has revealed Himself to us through both general revelation (creation and our conscience) and special revelation (the written Word of God, the Bible, and the living Word of God, Jesus Christ). Therefore, we can know God, and we can know how to be reconciled to Him and how to live according to His will. Despite the fact that we are finite and God is infinite, we can know and understand God as He has revealed Himself to us.

God’s power and His sovereignty are linked

Question: “What does it mean that God is sovereign?”

God’s sovereignty is one of the most important principles in Christian theology, as well as one of its most hotly debated. Whether or not God is actually sovereign is usually not a topic of debate; all mainstream Christian sects agree that God is preeminent in power and authority. God’s sovereignty is a natural consequence of His omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence. What’s subject to disagreement is to what extent God applies His sovereignty—specifically, how much control He exerts over the wills of men. When we speak of the sovereignty of God, we mean He rules the universe, but then the debate begins over when and where His control is direct and when it is indirect.

God is described in the Bible as all-powerful and all-knowing (Psalm 147:5), outside of time (Exodus 3:14; Psalm 90:2), and responsible for the creation of everything (Genesis 1:1; John 1:1). These divine traits set the minimum boundary for God’s sovereign control in the universe, which is to say that nothing in the universe occurs without God’s permission. God has the power and knowledge to prevent anything He chooses to prevent, so anything that does happen must, at the very least, be “allowed” by God.

At the same time, the Bible describes God as offering humanity choices (Deuteronomy 30:15–19), holding them personally responsible for their sins (Exodus 20:5), and being unhappy with some of their actions (Numbers 25:3). The fact that sin exists at all proves that not all things that occur are the direct actions of God, who is holy. The reality of human volition (and human accountability) sets the maximum boundary for God’s sovereign control over the universe, which is to say there is a point at which God chooses to allow things that He does not directly cause.

The fact that God is sovereign essentially means that He has the power, wisdom, and authority to do anything He chooses within His creation. Whether or not He actually exerts that level of control in any given circumstance is actually a completely different question. Often, the concept of divine sovereignty is oversimplified. We tend to assume that, if God is not directly, overtly, purposefully driving some event, then He is somehow not sovereign. The cartoon version of sovereignty depicts a God who must do anything that He can do, or else He is not truly sovereign.

Of course, such a cartoonish view of God’s sovereignty is logically false. If a man were to put an ant in a bowl, the “sovereignty” of the man over the ant is not in doubt. The ant may try to crawl out, and the man may not want this to happen. But the man is not forced to crush the ant, drown it, or pick it up. The man, for reasons of his own, may choose to let the ant crawl away, but the man is still in control. There is a difference between allowing the ant to leave the bowl and helplessly watching as it escapes. The cartoon version of God’s sovereignty implies that, if the man is not actively holding the ant inside the bowl, then he must be unable to keep it in there at all.

The illustration of the man and the ant is at least a vague parallel to God’s sovereignty over mankind. God has the ability to do anything, to take action and intervene in any situation, but He often chooses to act indirectly or to allow certain things for reasons of His own. His will is furthered in any case. God’s “sovereignty” means that He is absolute in authority and unrestricted in His supremacy. Everything that happens is, at the very least, the result of God’s permissive will. This holds true even if certain specific things are not what He would prefer. The right of God to allow mankind’s free choices is just as necessary for true sovereignty as His ability to enact His will, wherever and however He chooses.

Is there anything that God Almighty cannot do?

The only thing that God cannot do is act contrary to His own character and nature; He cannot, by definition, be inconsistent in any way with His divine nature. For example, Titus 1:2 states that He cannot lie. Because He is holy (Isaiah 6:3; 1 Peter 1:16), He cannot sin. Because He is just, He cannot merely overlook sin. This would normally pose a conundrum but because Christ paid the penalty for sin, He is now able to forgive those who will turn to Christ (Isaiah 53:1-12; Romans 3:26).

A common question that I hear, and I view it as a slanderous question, is the question of whether or not God could create a rock so large that He could not lift it? The answer is no. God cannot do anything logically implausible and/or inconsistent with His nature. Questions like this are not only irrelevant, they are absurd.

Implications of God being Almighty

  1. He Cannot Be Stopped from Accomplishing His Purposes

First, the omnipotence of God implies that he cannot be stopped from doing what he purposes to do. Daniel 4:35 says, “The Most High does according to his will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand.” If God purposes with all his heart to do a thing, it simply cannot be stopped by any power in the universe.

This is directly tied to the Sovereignty of God Almighty. Since no one can prevent God’s purpose (will) from coming to pass, it is certain that all of His Decrees will be carried out. What that looks like in any given situation is unclear because we are not privy to all of the details of all of God’s decrees. This, in turn, begs the question of evil. We know God is neither the author of sin or evil but both exist in the world. To what end or purpose do sin and evil exist? They are part of God’s purpose to redeem a people unto Himself. We won’t go any further than that because not all of God’s decrees are clearly spelled out in the Scripture and I do not want to speculate where the Bible has not spoken.

  1. He Does Whatever He Pleases

Second, the omnipotence of God implies that he does whatever he pleases. Psalm 115:3, says “Our God is in the heavens; he does whatever he pleases.” In Isaiah 46:9–10 God says, “I am God and there is none like me . . . saying ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose’.”  He can do whatever he pleases. Ultimately the only thing that determines what God will accomplish and what he won’t is his own will. This is what it means to be almighty or omnipotent.

Numbers 23:19 (KJV)

19 God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?

  1. His Power Is Superior to All other Powers

Daniel 4:35, speaking of God, says “No one can hold back his hand or say to him: “What have you done?”

Essentially, there is none who can challenge God and prevail. In the accounts of the fall of Lucifer in Isaiah 7 and Ezekiel 23, we see the end result of even an angel, who would be infinitely stronger than a human, challenging God’s authority; it does not come to pass. In short, though it may sound cliché, we can confidently state that God is on His throne and we need not fear because He cannot be overcome.

  1. Reverence

The most important response is reverence. In Job 40:2 the Lord said to Job, “Shall a faultfinder contend with the ALMIGHTY?” The fact that God is almighty means that we may not contend with him. He may perplex us and we may question him in lowliness for understanding, but not for indictment. We may not accuse our Maker. We must always remember that we do not sit in judgment of God Almighty, it is the other way around. Writing to the brethren in Rome the Apostle Paul says, “Shall what is molded say to its molder, ‘Why have you made me thus?’ Has the potter no right over the clay to do with it as he pleases?” (Romans 9:20–21). He further asks “Who has known the mind of the Lord or who has become His counsellor? (Romans 11:34)

But reverence is foreign to us. Most people do not have any experience of reverence. Wherever God is considered a pal or a sidekick or a grandfather or the religious drug of the uneducated, he cannot be revered. There are many affections you can feel for a little God, but reverence is not one of them. Reverence goes beyond awe or fear; it is a mixture of both. We are in awe and holy fear of God’s limitless holiness and power (Isaiah 6)

Isaiah says, “The lord of hosts . . . let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.” (8:13). Reverence is the combination of admiration and fear, awe and dread, wonder and terror. It’s an emotion that we were made to experience. And in its absence we create activities that attempt to fill the void.

Frequently you will hear someone blurt out God’s title as some form of expressive or expletive. I have been guilty of this before as have some of you. Because of grace, we can now approach the Throne but sometimes we confuse that grace with license to be casual. We need to be careful of that. We may be considered to be friends of God because of grace but we must never fall into the error of assuming that God is not to be reverenced. He will vindicate His holiness and if you do not believe me, read Revelation again.

  1. Recompense

Next, the omnipotence of God means recompense—a recompense of wrath upon those who do not believe the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Thessalonians 1:8). John describes a scene in the book of Revelation of a white horse with a rider who is called Faithful and True. His eyes are like a flame of fire, he is clad in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is the Word of God. The armies of heaven are in his train. “From his mouth issues a sharp sword with which to smite the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron; he will tread the wine press of the fury of the wrath of God the ALMIGHTY” (Revelation 19:15).

If God is almighty, one thing is for sure—no one who resists him can succeed. The arrogant and the unbelieving may seem for a while to prosper. But, as Psalm 73 discovers, there comes a speedy end: “Truly thou dost set them in slippery places; thou dost make them fall to ruin. How they are destroyed in a moment, swept away utterly by terrors.” It is utter folly and madness to disobey the Almighty. He cannot be tricked, thwarted, or defeated. And he has appointed a day when his Son will tread the wine press of the fury of his wrath, because he is GOD ALMIGHTY.

  1. Refuge

Lastly, the omnipotence of God means refuge. The opposite of recompense for those who have refused the terms of God’s treaty is refuge for those who have accepted. Psalm 91:1–2, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, who abides in the shadow of the ALMIGHTY, will say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust’.”

Has it ever hit home to you what it means to say, “My God, who loves me and gave himself for me, is almighty”? It means that if you take your place under the shadow of the ALMIGHTY, you are protected by omnipotence. There is infinite and unending security in the almightiness of God. This security portends also to the Security of the Believer in terms of our salvation. Because there is nothing stronger than God, there is also nothing that can remove us from our position as the redeemed.

Further, when thinking about this security, I am reminded of the words of the old hymn:

“The Lord’s our rock, in Him we hide; a shelter in the time of storm.”

The trials and tribulations in our life do not come as a surprise to God. Indeed, while we cannot always see His guidance in the here and now, we can always, when looking back, see the hand of God Almighty superintending our situation in order to prepare us for His purposes and because He is infinitely good, we need not fear the storm.

Athanasian Creed

 Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith; Which faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly. And the catholic faith is this:

That 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.

Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Spirit. The Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, and the Holy Spirit uncreated. The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Spirit incomprehensible.

The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Spirit eternal. And yet they are not three eternals but one eternal. As also there are not three uncreated nor three incomprehensible, but one uncreated and one incomprehensible. So likewise the Father is almighty, the Son almighty, and the Holy Spirit almighty. And yet they are not three almighties, but one almighty. So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God; And yet they are not three Gods, but one God. So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Spirit Lord; And yet they are not three Lords but one Lord.

For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge every Person by himself to be God and Lord; So are we forbidden by the catholic religion to say; There are three Gods or three Lords. The Father is made of none, neither created nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone; not made nor created, but begotten. The Holy Spirit is of the Father and of the Son; neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding. So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Spirit, not three Holy Spirits. 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.

Furthermore it is necessary to everlasting salvation that he also believe rightly the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the right faith is that we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and man. God of the substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and man of substance of His mother, born in the world. Perfect God and perfect man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting. Equal to the Father as touching His Godhead, and inferior to the Father as touching His manhood. Who, although He is God and man, yet He is not two, but one Christ. One, not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh, but by taking of that manhood into God. One altogether, not by confusion of substance, but by unity of person. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man, so God and man is one Christ; Who suffered for our salvation, descended into hell, rose again the third day from the dead; He ascended into heaven, He sits on the right hand of the Father, God, Almighty; From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead. At whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies; and shall give account of their own works.

And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting and they that have done evil into everlasting fire.

This is the catholic faith, which except a man believe faithfully he cannot be saved.

 

 

Elohim Part 2: God in Three Persons

Elohim Part 2: God in Three Persons

Isaiah 6:1-5

In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.

Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.

And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.

And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.

Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.

 

 

This week, we are talking about what is perhaps the most difficult concept in all of the Christian Faith, the Trinity, and it is so difficult to understand because it remains shrouded in mystery. Theologians have been expounding upon this doctrine for nearly 2000 years and we are no closer to understanding it than we have ever been.

To tell you the truth, I don’t think God allows a complete understanding of His triune nature; it is part of His Infiniteness. The material we are going to cover this week will, in all candor, light the room so to speak so that we can see the veil that stands between us and the unmitigated glory of God.

 

 

Apostles Creed

I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit
and born of the virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to hell. The third day he rose again from the dead. He ascended to heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty. From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic* church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

 

 

* the global church of Jesus Christ in all generations

Let me say, and I will say this several times and in different ways: There is one God (Deuteronomy 6:4; 1 Corinthians 8:4; Galatians 3:20; 1 Timothy 2:5). We do believe a trinity but we deny the idea that a trinity implies 3 gods.

 

Our main text is Matthew 3:13-17

 

The doctrine of the Trinity has been a divisive issue throughout the entire history of the Christian church. While the core aspects of the Trinity are clearly presented in God’s Word, some of the side issues are not as explicitly clear. The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God—but there is only one God. That is the biblical doctrine of the Trinity. Beyond that, the issues are, to a certain extent, debatable and non-essential. Rather than attempting to fully define the Trinity with our finite human minds, we would be better served by focusing on the fact of God’s greatness and His infinitely higher nature.

 

The Doctrine of the Trinity with Scriptures (from the Baptist Faith & Message 1925)

There is one and only one living and true God, an intelligent, spiritual, and personal Being, the Creator, Preserver, and Ruler of the universe, infinite in holiness and all other perfections, to whom we owe the highest love, reverence, and obedience. He is revealed to us as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, each with distinct personal attributes, but without division of nature, essence, or being.

Genesis 1:1; 1 Corinthians 8:4-6; Deuteronomy 6:4; Jeremiah 10:10; Isaiah 48:12; Deuteronomy 5:7; Exodus 3:14; Hebrews 11:6; John 5:26; 1 Timothy 1:17; John 1:14-18; John 15:26; Galatians 4:6; Matthew 28:19.

 

Defining our Terms
The terms “Trinity” and “persons” as related to the Godhead, while not found in the Scriptures, are words in harmony with Scripture, whereby we may convey to others our immediate understanding of the doctrine of Christ respecting the Being of God, as distinguished from “gods many and lords many.” We therefore may speak with propriety of the Lord our God who is One Lord, as a trinity or as one Being of three persons, and still be absolutely scriptural

Matthew 28:19 2 Corinthians 13:14 John 14:16-17

The “Oneness Problem”

In Deuteronomy 6:4, the Shema, we see an interesting word for one, the word echad.  “Hear, O Israel! Yahweh is our God, Yahweh is one [Echad]!” There are a few words in Hebrew that the Holy Spirit could have used a word the has one exclusive meaning: the numeric, solitary oneness of God (“yachid”) Instead the Holy Spirit chose to use the Hebrew word, “echad” which is used most often as a unified or compund one, and sometimes as numeric oneness. For example, when God said in Genesis 2:24 “the two shall become one [echad] flesh (a compound unity)” it is the same word for “one” that was used in Deuteronomy 6:4. This is most troubling for Jews and Anti-Trinitarians since the word yachid, the main Hebrew word for solitary oneness, is never used in reference to God.

Yachid vs Echad First, we need to realize that yachid and echad are very closely related; they are from the same root family. Typically, in Hebrew usage, yachid would be rendered “only” and this is appropriate to apply to God since He is the one and only true God.

Echad, on the other hand is a compound oneness. In our earlier example, we used the man and his wife. The husband is always a unique individual having his own personality, will, and emotions. Likewise, the wife is always a unique individual with her own personality, will, and emotions. Together, though, they become echad, one, a single unit.

Distinction and Relationship in the Godhead
Christ taught a distinction of Persons in the Godhead which He expressed in specific terms of relationship, as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, but that this distinction and relationship, as to its mode is inscrutable and incomprehensible, because unexplained.

Luke 1:35 1 Corinthians 1:24 Matthew 11:25-27 Matthew 28:19 2 Corinthians 13:14 1 John 1:3-4

The Trinity consists of three Persons (Genesis 1:1, 26; 3:22; 11:7; Isaiah 6:8, 48:16, 61:1; Matthew 3:16-17, 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14). In Genesis 1:1, the Hebrew plural noun “Elohim” is used. In Genesis 1:26, 3:22, 11:7 and Isaiah 6:8, the plural pronoun for “us” is used. The word “Elohim” and the pronoun “us” are plural forms, definitely referring in the Hebrew language to more than two. While this is not an explicit argument for the Trinity, it does denote the aspect of plurality in God. The Hebrew word for “God,” “Elohim,” definitely allows for the Trinity.

In Isaiah 48:16 and 61:1, the Son is speaking while making reference to the Father and the Holy Spirit. Compare Isaiah 61:1 to Luke 4:14-19 to see that it is the Son speaking. Matthew 3:16-17 describes the event of Jesus’ baptism. Seen in this passage is God the Holy Spirit descending on God the Son while God the Father proclaims His pleasure in the Son. Matthew 28:19 and 2 Corinthians 13:14 are examples of three distinct Persons in the Trinity.

 

God the Father

God the Father reigns with providential care over His universe, His creatures, and the flow of the stream of human history according to the purposes of His grace. He is all powerful, all knowing, all loving, and all wise. God is Father in truth to those who become children of God through faith in Jesus Christ. He is fatherly in His attitude toward all men.

Genesis 1:12:7Exodus 3:146:2-315:11ff.; 20:1ff.; Leviticus 22:2Deuteronomy 6:432:61 Chronicles 29:10Psalm 19:1-3Isaiah 43:3,1564:8Jeremiah 10:1017:13Matthew 6:9ff.; 7:1123:928:19Mark 1:9-11John 4:245:2614:6-1317:1-8Acts 1:7Romans 8:14-151 Corinthians 8:6Galatians 4:6Ephesians 4:6Colossians 1:151 Timothy 1:17Hebrews 11:612:91 Peter 1:171 John 5:7

God the Son

Christ is the eternal Son of God. In His incarnation as Jesus Christ He was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. Jesus perfectly revealed and did the will of God, taking upon Himself human nature with its demands and necessities and identifying Himself completely with mankind yet without sin. He honored the divine law by His personal obedience, and in His substitutionary death on the cross He made provision for the redemption of men from sin. He was raised from the dead with a glorified body and appeared to His disciples as the person who was with them before His crucifixion. He ascended into heaven and is now exalted at the right hand of God where He is the One Mediator, fully God, fully man, in whose Person is effected the reconciliation between God and man. He will return in power and glory to judge the world and to consummate His redemptive mission. He now dwells in all believers as the living and ever present Lord.

Genesis 18:1ff.; Psalms 2:7ff.; 110:1ff.; Isaiah 7:14Isaiah 53:1-12Matthew 1:18-233:178:2911:2714:3316:16,2717:52728:1-6,19Mark 1:13:11Luke 1:354:4122:7024:46John 1:1-18,2910:30,3811:25-2712:44-5014:7-1116:15-16,2817:1-521-2220:1-20,28Acts 1:92:22-247:55-569:4-5,20Romans 1:3-43:23-265:6-218:1-3,3410:41 Corinthians 1:302:28:615:1-8,24-282 Corinthians 5:19-218:9Galatians 4:4-5Ephesians 1:203:114:7-10Philippians 2:5-11Colossians 1:13-222:91 Thessalonians 4:14-181 Timothy 2:5-63:16Titus 2:13-14Hebrews 1:1-34:14-157:14-289:12-15,24-2812:213:81 Peter 2:21-253:221 John 1:7-93:24:14-155:92 John 7-9Revelation 1:13-165:9-1412:10-1113:819:16.

 

John 1:1

Word Study: the Word

(Gk. ho logos) (1:1; 1 John 1:1; Rev. 19:13) Strong’s #3056: This Greek word was used to speak of the principle of the universe, even the creative energy that generated the universe. The term logos may also have some connection with the OT presentation of Wisdom as a personification or attribute of God (see Prov. 8). In both the Jewish conception and the Greek, the Logos was associated with the idea of beginnings—the world began through the origination and instrumentality of the Word (Gen. 1:3). John may have had these ideas in mind, but more likely he used this word in a new way to identify the Son of God as divine. He is the image of the invisible God (Col. 1:15), the express image of God’s substance (Heb. 1:3). In the Godhead, the Son functions as the Revealer of God and is God in reality.

the Word was with God.This suggests a face-to-face relationship. In the ancient world, it was important that persons of equal station be on the same level when seated across from one another.

The WordNot simply a spoken word (like God’s words of creation in Gen 1), but the Logos, in Greek thought, was the divine principle of reason that gives order to the universe and links the human mind to the mind of God. Jewish traditions about divine Wisdom (Prov 8.22) lie behind this image. The first-century Jewish philosopher Philo identified divine Wisdom and Word, evoking both biblical and Greek traditions. With God . . . was God succinctly expresses the sense of unity and distinction of divine Persons that undergirds classical expressions of Christian theism.

  1. F. Bruce notes, “The term logos was familiar in some Greek philosophical schools,” and “constituted a bridge-word by which people brought up in Greek philosophy…found their way into Johannine Christianity.” At the same time, “The true background to John’s thought and language is found not in Greek philosophy but in Hebrew revelation” (Bruce, The Gospel of John 29). John’s use of logos is rooted in the creation account of Genesis and parallel Jewish discussions of personified wisdom (Pr. 8:22ff.) and of the Aramaic term memra or word. Another example is John’s frequent use of stark contrast, as between light and darkness (1:5ff.; 3:19–21; 12:35–36) or above and below (8:23). As with logos, this usage has been explained in terms of Greek philosophy, which was dualistic, but it actually reflects streams of Second Temple Jewish thought, in particular, the Dead Sea Scrolls.

 

The Word Was God

John 1:1 is probably the strongest passage in the NT for declaring the deity of Jesus Christ. Because of this, many who deny this biblical doctrine, especially cultists, have attempted to undercut it by arguing that this passage only teaches that Jesus is “a god” and so not fully Deity. This confused position falls on at least two grounds. Such a view is polytheistic, the belief in more than one god. Second, it betrays a misunderstanding of Greek grammar. Verse 1 of the first chapter of John reads, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” The last portion of v. 1 is the major point of contention. It reads in the Greek theos en ho logos, or literally, “the Word was God.” God, or theos, occurs in this verse without the Greek article ho, so that some have contended that the lack of the article in the Greek text should cause the statement to be translated “the Word was a god.” The best understanding for the translation, however, as recognized by Greek scholars, is that since theos is a predicate and precedes the noun logos and a verb, it is natural for it to occur here without the article. Greek scholars are agreed that the verse should be translated as it regularly is in modern and ancient translations, clearly affirming that Jesus is indeed God.

 

Answering Common Objection: Jesus never claimed to be God Got Questions Ministries offers an excellent answer to this objection and I will quote them at length:

Five key observations can be made concerning this passage. First, Jesus claimed to be one with God in the sense of being equal to Him. Jesus did not claim to be merely a messenger or prophet of God, but of equal power with God.

Second, His audience understood that Jesus was claiming equality with God the Father. In verse 31, “The Jews picked up stones again to stone him.” Why? Blasphemy was a crime punishable by death according to the Jewish Law. When Jesus asked why they were planning to kill Him, they answered, “For blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God” (John 10:33). If Jesus had been lying or deceived, His statement would have been blasphemous. In fact, the only way His words were not blasphemy is if Jesus was telling the truth about His equality with God.

Third, Jesus referred to Himself as God’s Son and to God as His Father (John 10:36–37). He used Psalm 82:6 to show that the Messiah has the right to claim the title “Son of God.”

Fourth, Jesus claimed that that Father sent Him: “the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world” (John 10:36). In this statement, Jesus claimed preexistence in the Father’s presence. No biblical prophet had ever made such a claim before; yet Jesus claimed to exist before Abraham (John 8:58).

Fifth, Jesus only stated that the Jews did not believe Him; He never said they misunderstood His claim to be God. John 10:38 notes, “Even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.” Jesus was not correcting a misunderstanding. They understood what He said perfectly. He was correcting their willful rejection of Him.

Colossians 1:16–17 affirms Jesus’ same teaching: “In him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” John 1:1 explicitly notes that Jesus was both with God in the beginning and was God.

 

Neither the Person of Christ, nor His Sonship, came into being at a point in time. Rather, the Father and the Son have always been in loving fellowship with one another.

 

God the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, fully divine. He inspired holy men of old to write the Scriptures. Through illumination He enables men to understand truth. He exalts Christ. He convicts men of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. He calls men to the Saviour, and effects regeneration. At the moment of regeneration He baptizes every believer into the Body of Christ. He cultivates Christian character, comforts believers, and bestows the spiritual gifts by which they serve God through His church. He seals the believer unto the day of final redemption. His presence in the Christian is the guarantee that God will bring the believer into the fullness of the stature of Christ. He enlightens and empowers the believer and the church in worship, evangelism, and service.

Genesis 1:2Judges 14:6Job 26:13Psalms 51:11139:7ff.; Isaiah 61:1-3Joel 2:28-32Matthew 1:183:164:112:28-3228:19Mark 1:10,12Luke 1:354:1,18-1911:1312:1224:49John 4:2414:16-17,2615:2616:7-14Acts 1:82:1-4,384:315:36:37:558:17,3910:4413:215:2816:619:1-6Romans 8:9-11,14-16,26-271 Corinthians 2:10-143:1612:3-11,13Galatians 4:6Ephesians 1:13-144:305:181 Thessalonians 5:191 Timothy 3:164:12 Timothy 1:143:16Hebrews 9:8,142 Peter 1:211 John 4:135:6-7Revelation 1:1022:17.

There is a role that the Holy Spirit plays which is deserving of special attention, that of Allos Parakletos (Another Helper). Allos is a Greek work which means “another” and parakletos means helper. There is another Greek word that can also be translated “another.” That word is heteros. It is telling that Jesus chose allos instead of heteros in describing the Holy Spirit as a comforter.

Heteros means “another of a different kind” while allos means “another of the same kind” By calling the Holy Spirit allos Jesus was saying that the Holy Spirit was exactly like him. Indeed, that was the reason why the disciples were comforted—they knew that even though their comforter, master, and friend Jesus was leaving, another one who was exactly like him was going to take his place to comfort, counsel, help, intercede for, advocate for, strengthen, and be a stand-by support for them.

 

Unity of the One Being of Father, Son and Holy Spirit
There is that in the Father which constitutes him the Father and not the Son; there is that in the Son which constitutes Him the Son and not the Father; and there is that in the Holy Spirit which constitutes Him the Holy Spirit and not either the Father or the Son. Wherefore the Father is the Begetter, the Son is the Begotten, and the Holy Spirit is the one proceeding from the Father and the Son. Therefore, because these three persons in the Godhead are in a state of unity, there is but one Lord God Almighty and His name one.

John 1:18 John 15:26 John 17:11 John 17:21 Zechariah 14:9
The members of the Trinity are distinguished one from another in various passages. In the Old Testament, “LORD” is distinguished from “Lord” (Genesis 19:24; Hosea 1:4). The LORD has a Son (Psalm 2:7, 12; Proverbs 30:2-4). The Spirit is distinguished from the “LORD” (Numbers 27:18) and from “God” (Psalm 51:10-12). God the Son is distinguished from God the Father (Psalm 45:6-7; Hebrews 1:8-9). In the New Testament, Jesus speaks to the Father about sending a Helper, the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-17). This shows that Jesus did not consider Himself to be the Father or the Holy Spirit. Consider also all the other times in the Gospels where Jesus speaks to the Father. Was He speaking to Himself? No. He spoke to another Person in the Trinity—the Father.

Each member of the Trinity is God. The Father is God (John 6:27; Romans 1:7; 1 Peter 1:2). The Son is God (John 1:1, 14; Romans 9:5; Colossians 2:9; Hebrews 1:8; 1 John 5:20). The Holy Spirit is God (Acts 5:3-4; 1 Corinthians 3:16).
Identity and Cooperation in the Godhead
The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are never identical as to Person; nor confused as to relation; nor divided in respect to the Godhead; nor opposed as to cooperation. The Son is in the Father and the Father is in the Son as to relationship. The Son is with the Father and the Father is with the Son, as to fellowship. The Father is not from the Son, but the Son is from the Father, as to authority. The Holy Spirit is from the Father and the Son proceeding, as to nature, relationship, cooperation and authority. Hence, neither Person in the Godhead either exists or works separately or independently of the others.

John 5:17-30 John 5:32 John 5:37 John 8:17,18

There is subordination within the Trinity. Scripture shows that the Holy Spirit is subordinate to the Father and the Son, and the Son is subordinate to the Father. This is an internal relationship and does not deny the deity of any Person of the Trinity. This is simply an area which our finite minds cannot understand concerning the infinite God. Concerning the Son see Luke 22:42, John 5:36, John 20:21, and 1 John 4:14. Concerning the Holy Spirit see John 14:16, 14:26, 15:26, 16:7, and especially John 16:13-14.

The individual members of the Trinity have different tasks. The Father is the ultimate source or cause of the universe (1 Corinthians 8:6; Revelation 4:11); divine revelation (Revelation 1:1); salvation (John 3:16-17); and Jesus’ human works (John 5:17; 14:10). The Father initiates all of these things.

The Son is the agent through whom the Father does the following works: the creation and maintenance of the universe (1 Corinthians 8:6; John 1:3; Colossians 1:16-17); divine revelation (John 1:1, 16:12-15; Matthew 11:27; Revelation 1:1); and salvation (2 Corinthians 5:19; Matthew 1:21; John 4:42). The Father does all these things through the Son, who functions as His agent.

The Holy Spirit is the means by whom the Father does the following works: creation and maintenance of the universe (Genesis 1:2; Job 26:13; Psalm 104:30); divine revelation (John 16:12-15; Ephesians 3:5; 2 Peter 1:21); salvation (John 3:6; Titus 3:5; 1 Peter 1:2); and Jesus’ works (Isaiah 61:1; Acts 10:38). Thus, the Father does all these things by the power of the Holy Spirit.

There have been many attempts to develop illustrations of the Trinity. However, none of the popular illustrations are completely accurate. The egg (or apple) fails in that the shell, white, and yolk are parts of the egg, not the egg in themselves, just as the skin, flesh, and seeds of the apple are parts of it, not the apple itself. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not parts of God; each of them is God. The water illustration is somewhat better, but it still fails to adequately describe the Trinity. Liquid, vapor, and ice are forms of water. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not forms of God, each of them is God. So, while these illustrations may give us a picture of the Trinity, the picture is not entirely accurate. An infinite God cannot be fully described by a finite illustration.

 

Elohim: Part One-God the Creator

Elohim: Part One-God the Creator

Several thousand years ago, the Pharaoh of Egypt asked Moses the question, “Who is the Lord that I should obey Him?” (Exodus 5:2). It is a question that has followed mankind for centuries. Some, like Pharaoh, ask it in a sarcastic manner so that they might throw off authority while others genuinely want answers to their questions: “Who is God? Does God have personhood? Can I really know Him?” We will spend the summer answering that question by way of understanding who God is through the names He is called by in the Bible.

 

I want to begin by giving you 3 passages of Scripture that illustrate the difficulty of what we will attempt today.

 

Romans 11:33

33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!

 

Isaiah 40:13 Who hath directed the Spirit of the LORD, or being his counsellor hath taught him?

 

1 Corinthians 2:16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him?

 

To describe the God is nearly impossible and, in fact, the Bible does not really attempt to describe Him. Rather it declares that He is and it shares His names and attributes. Hebrews 1:3, in talking about what happened after the Ascension, gives us what is most probably the best description of God in the whole of the Bible, simply referring to Him as the Majesty on High. Even Isaiah 6 and and Revelation 5, where we get the clearest pictures of the person of God, leave us wanting. Who is this Majesty on High? Can I know Him? Does He care about me?

 

Genesis 1:1 (JPS TaNaKh Translation)

1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

In the original Hebrew, we are not able to go more than three words into the text before we are confronted with the word elohim, which is translated God. The word elohim is closely paired with another word, bara, which means to create. The very first information we have revealed to us about God is that there is one, and this God is the creator of our world.

 

In the beginning… No information is given to us about what happened before the creation of the physical universe, though John 1:1 alludes to this time as does Psalm 90, especially the second verse. It is very possible that the rise, rebellion, and judgment of Satan transpired before the events of this chapter but important to know that we do not have that information given to us anywhere in Scripture.

 

God. This standard Hebrew term for deity is Elohim, occurring 2500 times being surpassed only by YHWH which occurs 5410 times, and it is in a form called the plural of majesty or plural of intensity. In contrast to the ordinary plural, gods, this plural means “the fullness of deity” or “God — very God.” Further, the use of the plural allows for the later revelation of the Trinity (Matthew 28:19; John 1:1 – 3).

 

The basic meaning behind the name Elohim is one of strength or power of effect. Elohim is the infinite, all-powerful God who shows by His works that He is the creator, sustainer, and supreme judge of the world. “Bring to an end the violence of the wicked and make the righteous secure—you, the righteous [Elohim] who probes minds and hearts” (Psalm 7:9).

Sometimes the word Elohim is shortened to El and used as part of a longer name. El Shaddai, for example, means “God Almighty” (Genesis 49:24); El Elyon means “God Most High” (Deuteronomy 26:19); and El Roi means “God Who Sees” (Genesis 16:13). Personal names of people can include the name of God: Daniel (“El Is My Judge”), Nathanael (“Gift of El”), Samuel (“Heard by El”), Elijah (“El Is Yahweh”), and Ariel (“Lioness of El”) are examples. Place names, too, can contain the shortened form of Elohim: Bethel (“House of El”), Jezreel (“El Will Sow”), and, of course, Israel (“Prince of El”) are examples.

When Jesus cried out from the cross, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (Mark 15:34), He addressed the Father with a form of Elohim (a personally possessive pronoun)Eloi. Mark translates Jesus’ statement for us: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Making understanding Elohim more complex is the fact that Elohim has other usages in the Old Testament besides referring to the One True God. In some contexts, elohim refers to human rulers or judges (see Psalm 82:6 and John 10:34)—the idea is that such people are to act as God’s representatives on earth, exercising authority wisely and ensuring justice. The warning of Psalm 82 is that the human elohim must answer to the Supreme Elohim some day. Elsewhere, elohim is used to refer to false gods (e.g., Deuteronomy 4:28). “They have forsaken me and worshiped Ashtoreth the [elohe] of the Sidonians, Chemosh the [elohe] of the Moabites, and Molek the [elohe] of the Ammonites” (1 Kings 11:33). Note that elohe is a form of elohim used with qualifying words or phrases and translated “god of.”

Interestingly, the word Elohim is grammatically plural rather than singular (the -im suffix in Hebrew indicates the plural form). The singular form of Elohim is probably Eloah. What are we to make of the plural? Does the plural form of Elohim imply polytheism? No, the Torah makes clear that God is one (Deuteronomy 6:4). Polytheism is expressly forbidden in the Old Testament.

What about Trinitarianism? Does the fact that Elohim is plural suggest the triune nature of God? It is best to understand the word construction as a plural of majesty; that is, writing “Elohim” is a stylistic way of emphasizing greatness, power, and prestige. With that said, and in light of the overall teaching of the Bible, the plural form of Elohim certainly allows for the further revelation of God’s triune nature; the Old Testament hints at the Trinity in order to prepare people for the Messiah who would be much more than a human prophet. When Jesus appeared, He more fully revealed mysteries hinted at in the Old Testament. At Jesus’ baptism we have all three Persons of Elohim present: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:16–17).

Our God is great and mighty. His power is on display every day and night in the universe He has made. “Ah, Sovereign LORD, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you” (Jeremiah 32:17). This great power that no one can restrain is the characteristic of God basic to His name Elohim.

 

We now come to a fairly obvious question: Is there evidence for the existence of God outside of the Bible? Romans 1 points out that creation declares the glory of God. We also have the conscience, a moral compass so to speak that is built into every person. Additionally, there are the arguments from, Teleology, Cosmology, and Logic, all of which we will cover in our next chapter, the Lesson on God the Father.

Arguments for God

  • Argument from Cosmology – How could there be anything if there wasn’t a Cause (God) who was Uncaused (Romans 1:20)? Quoting Dr. Sproul, “IF THERE EVER WAS A TIME WHEN ABSOLUTELY NOTHING EXISTED, ALL THERE COULD POSSIBLY BE NOW IS NOTHING.”
  • Argument from Teleology – The mathematical precision and obvious intelligence in Nature demands a designer of infinitely superior intellect. (God – Psalm 19:1-6)?
  • Moral argument –If there is no one to give a Law, who then is the arbiter of right and wrong? (God – Romans 2:14,15; James 4:12)?
  • Ontological argument – Where do people get the idea of a Perfect Being/Deity (God) except from God Himself (Act 17:27; Romans 1:19)?

 

Can we describe or explain Elohim? How do we do so? God has many perfect characteristics (attributes). Attributes are the characteristics that define the essence of the Godhead

Incommunicable attributes (characteristics belonging only to God).

  • Creator: Genesis 1, Genesis 2, John 1:1-3
  • Self-existence (Exodus 3:14, John 5:26).
  • Immutability (Psalm 102:25-27; Ex.3:14; James 1:17) – God does not change His essence or plan. He can never be wiser, more holy, more just, more merciful, more truthful. Neither can God be any less of any of those as any change would make Him less than God. His plans and His purposes never change (Ps 33:11)
  • Infinity (Psalm 147:5, 1 Kings 8:27, Psalm 145:3, Ephesians 3:8, Revelation 19:6, Psalm 113:4-6, Revelation 1:8, Isaiah 40:28, Jeremiah 23:24, 2 Chronicles 2:6, 2 Chronicles 6:18, 1 Timothy 6:16, Romans 11:33
  • Eternality – Infinite in time (Psalm 90:2)
  • Omnipresence – Infinite in space (Ps.139:7-11) Present everywhere at once (Jeremiah 23:23-24) Yet transcends His creation and as such He is always able to help us, His creatures (Ps 46:1, Matt 28:20) He is inescapable (Ps 139:7-10, 17)
  • Holiness – The absence of evil and presence of purity (Lev.11:44; John 17:11; 1 John 1:5)
  • Holy: God is separate from and exalted above all of His creatures God is free from all defilement, absolutely pure) Isaiah 6:3. Holiness is the foremost attribute of God – the attribute by which He especially wants to be known. God’s Throne is established upon His holiness, thereby regulating His love, power, and will

 

Elohim has communicable attributes (characteristics found in a limited degree in man). Elohim’s communicable attributes are:

  • Intellectual Attributes
  • Omniscience – God knows all things actual and potential. The Bible does not explain this but does assume it as fact (Ps.139:16; Matt. 11:21).
  • All-wise – God acts upon His knowledge to always do what is infinitely best (Rom.11:33-36).
  • Wisdom and knowledge are imparted to man though nowhere close to the level found in God.

Attributes of Emotion

  • God is Love – God is incomprehensibly active for our good (1 John 4:8).
  • Mercy – concern, compassion (James 5:11)
  • Long suffering – self-restrained when provoked (2 Peter 3:9,15)
  • God is just – God is perfectly righteous and exact in His dealings with man (Ps.19:9).

 

Additional Communicable Attributes of God

  • Will/Volition (John 4:34, John 6:38)
  • Omnipotence (Job 42:2) God is able to do anything He wills. He will not do anything against His nature (sin) and He cannot do anything that is logically self-contradictory. Because God can only do what is in harmony with His nature, He cannot
  • lie (Titus 1:2)
  • repent from evil (Numbers 23:19)
  • deny Himself (2 Tim 2:13)
  • be tempted to sin (James 1:13)

In other words, in congruence with His nature, God can do anything that is logically possible and cannot do anything that is logically impossible, such as those mentioned above.

Sovereignty (2 Chronicles 29:11,12) As the only absolute and omnipotent ruler in the universe, He is sovereign in creation, providence, and redemption (Psalm 103:19; Romans 11:36). He has decreed for His own glory all things that come to pass (Ephesians 1:11). He continually upholds, directs, and governs all creatures and events (1Chronicles 29:11). In His sovereignty, He is neither author nor approver of sin (Habakkuk 1:13), nor does He abridge the accountability of moral, intelligent creatures (1 Peter 1:17). He has graciously chosen from eternity past those whom He would have as His own (Ephesians 1:4-6) and in that choosing has sovereignly decreed their salvation.

 

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