Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Nature of God According to the Bible

All scripture references, unless otherwise noted, are from the King James Version of the Holy Bible. The Hebrew and Greek meaning of the words mentioned are from Strong's Hebrew Greek Dictionary.
The Lord Jesus, in John 4:24, told the Samaritan woman at the well that "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." One will never find a more descriptive term for God that that. I am made to think of that old chorus;
     If Jesus said it I believe it, His Word cannot lie,
     If it's written in the Bible, I'll believe it til I die.
     Though the mountains be removed and cast into the sea,
     God's Word shall live forever, throughout eternity.
"God is a spirit..." That is His basic nature, according to the Bible. The Bible says in Luke 24:36-39 when the Lord, after His resurrection, "stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you," the disciples "...were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit." You and I would probably have reacted in much the same way. But the Lord, to put their minds at rest, "...said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have." Jesus said in these verses that "a spirit hath not flesh and bones." I remember from Bible college days the term, "incorporeal," which, according to http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/incorporeal, the definition is "in·cor·po·re·al ... adjective \ˌin-(ˌ)kr-ˈpr-ē-əl\ : having no physical body or form." So if God is a spirit, (if Jesus said it I believe it), then He has no "physical body or form," at least according to the Mirriam Webster dictionary and what was taught at Conqueror's Bible College.

God asked in Isaiah 40:25,  "To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One." And again in Isaiah 46:5 "To whom will ye liken me, and make me equal, and compare me, that we may be like?" Is He like what is described in the next two verses? Isaiah said in Isaiah 46:6-7, "They lavish gold out of the bag, and weigh silver in the balance, and hire a goldsmith; and he maketh it a god: they fall down, yea, they worship. They bear him upon the shoulder, they carry him, and set him in his place, and he standeth; from his place shall he not remove: yea, one shall cry unto him, yet can he not answer, nor save him out of his trouble." I think not!  There is nothing you or I can liken Him to. God's nature is a Spirit. God is incomprehensible.

When Moses was on "the backside of the desert," tending his father-in-law's flocks, the Bible says in Exodus 3:2, "...the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed." That got Moses' attention as it probably would have gotten ours. After Moses turned aside to investigate why the bush was not consumed, God spoke out of the burning bush saying to Moses in Exodus 3:5, "...Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground." After God told Moses of the purpose of the visitation, after some equivocation by Moses, he asked God, when the people ask me what your name is what shall I tell them? In Exodus 3:14-15, God gave this answer, "And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you...The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations." 

According to the late Dr. James Strong, in his Hebrew, Greek dictionary, the term, "I Am That I Am," has the meaning, "I Exist That I Exist." Or one could say that the name God answered Moses' question could be, "I Exist as the Eternal Self Existent One." However that may be, the Lord told Moses, "Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you." Again, according to Strong's Hebrew, Greek Dictionary the term "I Am" in the latter part of the verse has the meaning, "I Exist." The Bible says in Numbers 23:19  "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?" So where does Jesus, the Son of God come in? The term "son of man" is used extensively in the Bible. In the entire Bible it is found in 197 verses. In the New Testament, the term "son of man" is found in 85 verses of which the Lord Jesus used that term to describe Himself in 81 of those verses. Previously in Numbers 23:19, God, speaking through Balaam, said that He was not "man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent." So if the nature of God is Spirit and the Bible declares that He is not man nor the son of man, where does Jesus come in?

One of the problems the Jews found with Jesus is described in John 10:30-33 when the Lord Jesus said, "I and my Father are one." The Bible says, "Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God." That sounds pretty reasonable if Jesus were just a man who was making Himself God. What the Jews of Jesus' day didn't realize was that Jesus wasn't just just a man who was making Himself God, but God, Who is a Spirit, made Himself man!

How could God give Himself at Calvary as a Spirit? The basic nature of God is that "God is a Spirit," as Jesus said in John 4:24. The Bible gives the answer in Hebrews 10:5-7, "Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God." How could God, if His nature is Spirit, give Himself at Calvary? It was in the body of His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Thus the Apostle Paul said in 2nd Corinthians 5:18-19, "And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation." God wants us to know that He, God Who is a Spirit, was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself.

So what of the doctrine of the Trinity? I have read, over the years, the statements of faith of various Christian denominations. (If you are reading this you should read the statement of faith of your church. If they profess to believe in an eternal God the Son, I would encourage you to find a church that believes in the absolute diety of Jesus Christ). I have also spoken to people who are apparently Greek scholars. Almost without exception, when the Lord Jesus is referred to as to the nature of God, He is called, "God, the Son!" (The Holy Ghost is likewise referred to as "God the Holy Ghost," but that is a subject for another time). If the nature of God is, "God is a Spirit," is the Spirit that is God  divisible? The basic doctrine of the Trinity, as I understand it, says that the Father is God without being the Son or the Holy Spirit, The Son is God without being the Father or the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is God without being the Father or the Son, (I think I got that right). If this is so, there are a few questions that I have. 

If God the Father is the Father of the Son of God, why does the Bible say in Matthew 1:18, (See verse 20 also) "Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost." If God the Father is the Father of Jesus the Son of God, why does the Bible say that Mary, "was found with child of the Holy Ghost." Then in Luke 1:34-35 the Bible says, "Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." Again, the Bible seems to attribute the Holy Ghost to be responsible for the conception of the Lord in Mary's womb. (Adam Clarke"s comments on Luke 1:35 is an interesting read. You ought to find it and read it!)

So what of and Who was the Lord Jesus? Isaiah 9:6 says, "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." His name? Whose name? The name of the Son that was to be given, the name of the child that was to be born! What was that name to be called? "Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." If ever there was, in the mind of God, the need to establish the doctrine of an eternal son of God this would be an ideal place. But the name of the child to be born and of the son to be given was not the everlasting son. His name was to be called "...the Mighty God and the Everlasting Father." In the so-called Christmas story, in Luke 1:35, the angel told Mary, "that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." If ever it was in the mind of God to establish the eternal Sonship of the Lord Jesus, this would have also been an Ideal place to have Him called the eternal son of God.

Much, much more could be said about the nature of God but this is getting to be a long posting. In 1st John 4:2-3 John wrote, "Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world." To deny Jesus, the Son of God, was God manifested in the flesh, (That the God Who is a Spirit was come in the flesh. see 1st Timothy 3:16) is (of) "that spirit of antichrist." The Apostle John also wrote in 1st John 2:23, "Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: (but) he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also." Suffice it to say that when asked by Philip in John 14:8-11, "...Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake." 

While this doesn't begin to cover this important subject, Colossians 2:8-10a says, "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him,..." Outside of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God in Whom the Spirit of God dwelt doing the work of reconciliation, We need nothing. For you who have read this rather lengthy dissertation, may the Lord Jesus, the only Saviour of men save you in the day of His coming is my prayer.

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