What the Bible teaches us about … Creation

What the Bible teaches us about … Creation

INTRODUCTION.

I don’t expect to deal in detail with this nor do I expect to cover all aspects. I certainly don’t have answers to all the complex scientific or even theological questions that arise.

Creation has been a particularly hot issue for the past 140 years since the publication of Charles Darwin’s “The origins of species by means of natural selection” in 1859.

A dilemma bible-believing Christians face is reconciling what the bible teaches about creation and about what science teaches about the origin of the universe and life itself. Our society has been brought up on the view that says science is in the realm of fact while the bible is just religious narrative but not really scientifically true! However while it may be true to say that the bible is not a science textbook it is not true to say that it is unscientific.

ILLUS.: Simply because we do not use scientific language doesn’t mean we are unscientific. For example, we all talk about sunrise / sunset but we know that the sun is not moving around the earth but that the earth revolves on its own axis and around the sun!!

We are jumping ahead of ourselves.

There are many questions! How did God create the universe? Did he create every different plant and animal directly or did he use some kind of evolutionary process? What about Adam and Eve; are they actual individual people or just representatives? Etc……..

Amongst bible-believing Christians there is agreement on some of these issues and an array of views on some of the others. We can’t possibly deal with all the issues in half an hour. At best we can scratch the surface on one or two.

1. Where does the physical universe come from?

 

Does it really matter where it all came from?

Let’s look and the bible to see what it says – does it give us a clue as to why this is an important issue?

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

Psalm 33:6+9

6  By the word of the LORD were the heavens made,

their starry host by the breath of his mouth. …….

9  For he spoke, and it came to be;

he commanded, and it stood firm. (NIV)

John 1:3 3 Through him {The Word – Jesus}  all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. (NIV)

The implication of these verses [and many others] is that there is nothing that exists in the entire universe that God did not make / create.

We often talk about people as being creative. In some way or other we all have creative ability. Whether it is painting a masterpiece or cooking a meal or writing a poem / letter, etc., we are all creative.

Is this what we mean when we say God is Creator?

Hebrews 11:3

3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. (NIV)

What the writer is trying to emphasise is that God did not use previously existing matter to make the heavens and the earth.

We see a similar implication in Romans 4:17  ….. the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were. (NIV)

{… calls into being that which does not exist … NASB}

{Lit. calls the things that do not exist as existing}

God speaks and things that were non-existent exist at his command!

This would fit with Genesis 1:

3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

…..        6 And God said, “Let there be an expanse ……And it was so.

8 God called the expanse “sky”. ….

9 And God said, ………. And it was so. …………..

When we are creative we use existing material – BUT when God creates there was nothing to begin with and he makes something!

This means that before God began to create the universe, nothing else existed except God himself.

Psalm 90:2             2  Before the mountains were born

or you brought forth the earth and the world,

from everlasting to everlasting you are God. (NIV)

Why is it important whether God created out of nothing or not?

  • If we say God didn’t create ‘out of nothing’ we would need to say that some matter has always existed and is eternal like God. This would challenge God’s independence and sovereignty, and that he alone is to be worshipped.
  • If matter pre-existed apart from God what right would he have to rule over it or use it for his glory?
  • What confidence could we have in a God who didn’t have sovereign, creator power over everything?

That God did create the universe out of nothing gives it meaning and purpose.

[Come back to this in a moment!]

2. What about the Spirit world?

The verses we have already read imply that God not only created the earth but also the heavens with all that is in them.

Nehemiah 9:6

6 You alone are the LORD. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their [starry – not in original] host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes [hosts] of heaven worship you. (NIV)

‘Hosts’ usually refers to angels!

In the NT the creation of invisible heavenly beings is affirmed – Colossians 1:16

16 For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. (NIV)

3. What about people?

What is different about the way God created Adam and Eve to the way he created everything else?

With everything else in Genesis 1 we read “and God said, … and it was so.”

But look at Genesis 2:7   7 the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. (NIV)

God creates Adam in a very personal way.

After that God creates Eve Genesis 2:21-22            21 So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh.             22 Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. (NIV)

It seems apparent from what follows that God must have let Adam know something about what had happened to him Genesis 2:23

23 The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh;

she shall be called ‘woman’, for she was taken out of man.” (NIV)

Many sincere Christians hold quiet differing views about the process of creation in regard to animal and plant life. And to what extent, if any, there is evolutionary process in the development of more and more complex organisms.

Were the Six days of Genesis 1 literal 24-hour days or epochs of time or simply a literary device used by the author?

I am sure we would have many differing views in this room!

In my view, when it come to the creation of man I find it hard to accept that we can hold to the truthfulness of scripture and also hold that human beings were the result of a long evolutionary process.

Genesis 2:7 specifically says that “God formed man out of the dust of the ground” – it doesn’t seem possible to understand that this could have taken place by random evolutionary process over millions of years.

It is even more difficult to see how we could explain Eve’s creation by evolutionary process when she was created directly from Adam’s rib while he slept!

The NT reaffirms the history of the creation account – 1 Corinthians 11:8

8 For man did not come from woman, but woman from man;

The special creation of Adam and Eve shows us that while we may have some physical similarities to the animal world we are very different!

WHY? – We are created “in God’s image” – We were created in some way to mirror what God is like!

How does that fact that people are created in God’s image affect our view of humanity?

Every person is significant – everyone is of value {A future study on the essential nature of man}

4. What about Time?

If God created everything and existed before anything was created what does that tell us about time and God’s relationship to it?

God lives in eternity – he has a different kind of existence – he exists outside the passage of time. A kind of existence that is difficult for us to imagine.

Job 36:26     26  How great is God — beyond our understanding!

The number of his years is past finding out. (NIV)

Psalm 90:2+4 2  Before the mountains were born

or you brought forth the earth and the world,

from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

4  For a thousand years in your sight

are like a day that has just gone by,

or like a watch in the night. (NIV)

Revelation 1:8 8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” (NIV)

God is Lord of Time – What implications should that have for our lives?

We have an obligation before God to use his gift of time wisely and for his glory.

5. Creation is distinct from God yet always dependent on God.

 

There are two words that are used in respect to God’s relationship to creation – What are they?

Transcendence – meaning? – God is far ‘above’ [not physically] creation in the sense that he is greater than the creation and independent of it.

Immanent – meaning? – God is involved in his creation – it continually depends on him for its existence and functioning

The story of the bible is the story of God’s involvement with creation and esp. its people.

Every created thing depends on God for its existence – Job 12:10 10  In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind. (NIV)

Acts 17:25-28 25 And he [GOD] is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else.

26 From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.

27 God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.

28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ (NIV)

This shows a God who is very much involved with his creation.

What are the ways we can get the relationship of God to his creation skewed?

Materialism – a common philosophy today – the material world in all there is – the existence of God is denied altogether.

The Universe

If Christians focus almost their entire effort on earning more money and acquiring more possessions they become “Practical” materialists in their activity since their lives would not be much different if they did not believe in God.

Pantheism – the whole universe is God or is Part of God.

Implications? God can change because the universe can change – because evil is part of the universe it is therefore part of God.

Dualism – God and the universe have eternally existed side by side.

No guaranteed that God will triumph over evil.

God is not Lord over Creation.

Implies that evil is part of creation while Genesis says that God created everything GOOD.

Much New Age religion is dualistic – God is just the spiritual aspect to the universe – Satan is delighted that people think there is an evil force perhaps equal to God.

Deism – That God is distinct from Creation [transcendent] – BUT he is not involved with creation [immanent]

Deism removes the possibility of a day by day relationship with God.

6. Why did God create the universe and everything in it?

 

Revelation 4:11

11  “You are worthy, our Lord and God,

to receive glory and honour and power,

for you created all things,

and by your will they were created

and have their being.” (NIV)

Isaiah 43:7

7  everyone who is called by my name,

whom I created for my glory,

whom I formed and made.” (NIV)

7. Why is a belief in creation important for Christians?

  • Makes us realise the material universe is good in itself because God made it so and wants us to use it in ways pleasing to him. Christians should be good environmentalists – while not worshipping nature.
  • We should enjoy creation and all the good things God has given –
  • It should encourage some Christians to do scientific and technological research – through this we discover how wise and powerful and skilful is our creator Psalm 111:2        2  Great are the works of the LORD;

they are pondered by all who delight in them. (NIV)

  • It reminds us that God is sovereign over everything – we can have complete confidence that he will ultimately defeat all his enemies and show his Lordship forever.
  • God has given us creative ability – we can wholeheartedly enjoy creative activities – art, music, sport, handcrafts, literature, etc – and rejoice that our creator God enables us to imitate him in our own creativity

ILLUS.: Woodpeckers hammer an average of 15-16 times a second. That’s nearly twice as fast as a sub-machine gun fires.  That’s incredible.  The bird’s head, when it’s doing this, is travelling at more than twice the speed of a bullet.  The force, as it comes and hits the tree, the force of the woodpecker’s head is moving at 1000 times the force of gravity when it hits.  That’s like if you’re setting in one of those Apollo moon rockets, ready to go somewhere, go up in the space shuttle, it’s 250 times the force they feel.  Question:  What keeps the woodpecker from beating its brains out?  God does.  God did it!  First of all, He made the woodpecker with a really hard head.  He gave them a chisel tipped beak so he could be more efficient.  He also put on the woodpecker, unlike other birds.  You know how you use a chain saw, the stuff flies over?  The same thing happens in a smaller way with a woodpecker so over his nostrils he’s got feathers, sort of a little filtering system like I have a filter on my chain saw so that he doesn’t breathe in all the stuff.  Between the beak and the brain of a woodpecker, unlike any other bird, there’s a shock absorber, a tissue that God has put there that’s literally a shock absorber.  Scientists look at it and agree that it’s better than any shock absorber they’ve come up with.  In fact, God has also made the woodpecker so that it has different neck muscles than other birds.  The neck muscles are able to lock in.  If you’re going that fast and accidentally turned your head, it could really hurt!  So God made this incredible creation.  The woodpecker’s tongue is a whole other sermon!  How did that evolve?  How many woodpeckers would have had to beat their brains out before they developed a shock absorber?  Does this make sense?

Advertisements

What the Bible teaches us about … Sacrifice

What the Bible teaches us about … Sacrifice

 

INTRODUCTION.

 

The idea of sacrifice is not unique to the bible – Almost all religions in the world have some sacrificial practice.

We read about sacrifices and offerings from the time of Cain and Abel – Noah – Abraham – Isaac and Jacob ……

It was not only the Jews who sacrificed – it was part or pagan ritual as well – most of the sacrifices had an element of atoning for sin and appeasing the gods.

The idea of animals symbolically covering sin goes back to Genesis 3 were God gave Adam and Eve skins to cover themselves after their feeble attempt cover themselves with leaves. An animal had to die for those skin coverings to be given.

A Brief Look at OT Sacrifices ……

1. The burnt offering.  Lev.1. (Voluntary)

  • commonest — daily by priests, morning and evening. The whole animal burnt [except skin] in others parts were eaten by priests or worshippers or both.
  • It was to be male without defect – only best for God
  • Quality of animal important – not because God needed them BUT show attitude of worshipper.   [Malachi 1v6-14 God complains about attitude – rather no sacrifice than one with wrong attitude]
  • Could be bull – sheep/goat – bird –depended on wealth of person
  • worshipper lay hands on animal’s head – identification [imagine noise and activity] AND substitution [this animal in my place]
  • the offerer had task of killing, skinning, chopping up and washing so priests were not defiled by any dirt or excrement —
  • The priest threw the blood against the sides of the altar – symbolic of offering the life to God — life is in the blood —

then pieces taken by priest and laid on altar where consumed by fire.

As you read through Lev. the phrase  “ … an aroma pleasing to the lord….”

The idea of the smell going up to heaven – speaking of God in human terms – when it was offered with the right attitude to God it pleases him. And achieves its purpose — to make atonement. –  [Special place on the Day of Atonement]

NT – BURNT OFFERING – atonement sacrifice   Mark 10:45 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (NIV)

Romans 3:25 25 God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished (NIV)

Ephesians 5:2 2 and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (NIV)

Believers in Christ have no need to bring sacrifices related to atonement for Christ has offered the final sacrifice of himself on the cross.

2. The sin offering. Lev.4. (Compulsory)

  • The purpose of this offering was not so much to deal with the sin itself BUT with the effects of the sin – the BURNT OFFERING was the offering for atonement and the averting of God’s anger. This was primarily a purification offering so that God could continue to live amongst his people.
  • Word for sin  – ‘missing the mark’  — unintentional sin – an acknowledgement that we do not live up to God’s standards.
  • Even sins of neglect, carelessness and ignorance needed to be confessed and sacrifice made   –

–**What a privilege we have this side of the cross – that we don’t have to go through an earthly priesthood.**

NT – SIN OFFERING – cleansing of dirt and pollution for God’s dwelling place.

NT stresses the cleansing power of Christ’s blood

Hebrews 10:19-23             19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. (NIV)

1 John 1:6-2:2 …… if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

…… If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

The blood of Christ is applied regularly to our lives through confession.

3. The guilt offering .  Lev.5. (Compulsory)

  • all blood sacrifices were related to the removal of guilt
  • the difference with this one is that it has added restitution  — thus sometimes called the restitution offering
  • concerned not only with vertical relationship with God BUT also horizontal relationship with people

Restitution was value of thing stolen – PLUS 20%

NT – GUILT OFFERING – wrongs done to others must be put right by appropriate restitution as part of the process of being put right with God.

“Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors”

There is accountability linked to wrongdoing – there must be payment and restitution.

The idea of payment and ransom is very much linked to the death of Christ –

The idea of suffering and dying in the place of others is clearly portrayed in Isa.53 – the suffering servant is dying for others / in their place..

Isaiah 53:5-7 5  But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. 6  We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7  He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. (NIV) cf. Matthew 8:17

1 Peter 2:24-25 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. (NIV)

4. The fellowship offering . Lev. 3 (Voluntary)

  • Sometimes called the peace offering.
  • Any kind of animal from flock or herd.
  • A freewill offering.
  •  A variety of reason for bringing it — thanksgiving – fulfilment of a vow – the making or renewal of a covenant
  • Often a time of fellowship, celebration and joy.
  • Similar to burnt offering except -# male or female animal -# only the fatty parts to be burnt e.g. fat, kidneys, fatty part around liver, fat on the sheep’s tail ..
  • The priest got the breast and the right thigh – the worshipper got the rest for a shared meal.

Prohibition of fat – usually rich man’s food and implication that the best should be for God  ——- some today might argued that there was a health risk in eating the fat !?!?

NT – FELLOWSHIP OFFERING – offering that lead to a shared meal – embodies vertical and horizontal relationship

similar to the central meal of the new covenant – the Lord’s supper.

5. The grain offering. Lev 2. (Voluntary)

  • usually offered with other offerings
  • only as a first-fruits offering was it presented whole – otherwise it was worked in some way – as flour or even cooked.
  • the offering was a combination of what God had first given and what man had worked and offered back to God.
  • only a portion of the grain was actually burned on the altar – the remainder belonged to the priests – either as flour or cooked in some way – remember that the priests did not own land

This was a voluntary offering recognising God’s faithfulness to his creation. [Sometimes included a drink offering – wine / oil]

NT – GRAIN OFFERING – represented the consecration of God’s gifts and human work – in the NT while the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross is final and sufficient. There is the element of our sacrifice of ourselves to God in Worship — our bodies – our minds – our praises – our material goods are all appropriate sacrifices to offer to him.

Philippians 4:18 18 I have received full payment and even more; I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. (NIV)

Hebrews 13:15-16

15 Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise — the fruit of lips that confess his name. 16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. (NIV)

 

Romans 12:1-2

1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual act of worship.

2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will. (NIV)

 

Worship – accepted.

 

Paul talks about two aspects of worship in this passage: Our Bodies and Our Minds.

BODIES>

Romans 12:1     ……. offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual act of worship. (NIV)

The language Paul is using is plainly that of sacrifice — in the OT sacrificial system would have been clearly understood by Paul’s readers

God doesn’t want burnt animals – he wants us – living sacrifices // ‘living’ and ‘sacrifices’ sound contradictory put together [like saying a “giant midget”]  The whole point of a sacrifice is that it is dead – so how can you have living dead? If you are living you are not sacrificed; if you are sacrificed you are not living. Better to think of sacrificial lifestyle – not isolation /withdrawal from the mainstream BUT godly sacrificial living/lifestyle ///

– he wants our love, our service, he wants us to live lives that are in accordance with his pattern // his will – so that we begin to live unselfishly, sacrificially, spiritually — this is our spiritual act of worship.

spiritual – can equally be translated ‘reasonable’ or ‘rational’ this ties in with the renewal of mind in the next verse –

Worshipping and serving God is not a purely emotional exercise – [emotions are involved BUT so too is the mind – when we worship we are to use our minds – offering ourselves to God is not a mindless exercise but an act of intelligent worship. It is what ALL humans should do.

This spiritual worship that God requires of us is not offered in a Temple Court or a Cathedral BUT in our home life, school/college life, our work life, …

We talk of giving our hearts to Christ – he wants all of us!!

Worship that is purely inward and abstract and mystical – if that is all it is then it is not true worship — it must express itself in concrete acts of service performed by our bodies.

There was a view in NT times that taught that the body was not important – only the soul – this led to all kinds of immorality – NO says Paul the body is important so don’t abuse them –  we are to care for our bodies [not worship them] and use them in the service of others for God’s sake.

Romans 6:13-19 13 Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. ……

Not instruments of wickedness but instruments of righteousness so that our feet will walk God’s way, our lips will speak his truth, our hands will lift those who have fallen, and perform the mundane tasks of cooking, cleaning, washing-up and mending -[even spring-cleaning the Church building and cutting the Church grass and hedge!!! — going to Broadwater Lodge and singing hymns with the old Folks some of whom don’t know whether its Christmas or August], our arms will embrace the lonely and the unloved, our ears will listen to the cries of the distressed [and go to Sudan to do something about it – or across the street].

MINDS>

Romans 12:2 … be transformed by the renewing of your mind. .

This is not simply a fleeting whim – a brief bright idea and then back to the old ways – this is Metamorphosis – it is a process – but it is permanent – it is a revolutionary change brought about by the work of God’s Spirit and the Word of God.

God wants to change us – he wants to change the way we think – ‘Thinking right always proceeds acting and speaking right’.

“You are not what you think you are BUT what you think, you are!”

We make a big mistake if we think God will be satisfied with second best – he wants ALL that we are!! We can’t doff our caps to God on Sundays and live the rest of the week as we please!

We have this strange notion sometimes that if we give ourselves to God – body and mind – then somehow we are loosing out//we will miss something ///    “What plans do you have for the rest of your life?” “Is God tagged on the end OR is He at the centre!”

Young People – as you think about your future – University, marriage partner, career are you considering how this all fits with God’s purposes/kingdom –

Why should we be living sacrifices to God???

Why – Answered.

 

Romans 12:1     1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, ..

ILLUS. Stuart Briscoe in one of his books tells how while staying with an elderly widow on one of his preaching tours she told him that she was not inclined to be a living sacrifice.  He suggested that she read through Romans 1-11 and makes a list of all God’s mercies to her. Next morning she accused him of being the cause of her sleepless night but confessed to being willing to give herself unreservedly to God in view of his mercies to her.

If you have difficulty with ‘sacrificial lifestyle’ I suggest you read ch.1-11!!

If Christ suffered and die for me – gave everything/his life for me — surely it is not too much that I should serve him wholeheartedly!!  Not grudgingly but eagerly.

God may not ask you to go Abroad BUT he does ask you to follow a sacrificial lifestyle!!

NB Paul says 1 Therefore, I urge you, … to offer ….  God wants us to love him and serve him willingly.

ILLUS.: A little girl was given 10 bright new pennies. Instantly she began to part with them. “This one is for Jesus. This one is for you, Mummy. This one is for Daddy, ..” and so on until she only had one penny left. “And this one is for Jesus.” she said again. “But you have already given one to Jesus” said the mother. Yes, Mummy, but the first one belonged to Jesus. This one is a present!”

Old Testament Sacrifices / Offerings New Testament

 
BURNT
Voluntary (blood)
Atonement for unintentional sin in general; expression of complete devotion to God
Christ is Sacrifice of atonement – Rom.3v25; 1John 2v1
 
SIN
Mandatory (blood or grain
Atonement for specific unintentional sins; confession of sin; forgiveness of sins; cleansing from defilement.
Christ’s blood cleanses from sin – Heb.10v19-23;
1 John 1v6-2v2
 
GUILT
Mandatory (blood)
Atonement for unintentional sins requiring restitution; cleansing from defilement; make restitution; 20% fine
Christ pays our debt – Isa.53;
we too must forgive – Matt.6v12
 
FELLOWSHIP
(peace)
Voluntary (blood or grain)
Thanksgiving and fellowship – including communal meal
Communion / fellowship with God and each other – 1John 1v3,6-7
 
GRAIN
 (drink)
Voluntary (grain or oil / wine)
Recognising God’s goodness and provision;
devotion to God
Offer all our gifts / praise / resources to God – Rom.12v1-2; Heb13v15-16

What the Bible teaches us about … Where God is

          What the Bible teaches us about … Where God is.

 

INTRODUCTION.

 

ILLUS.: Friends of ours have two sons – David and George. On their first trip in an aeroplane, George the younger one, peered out of the window when the plane levelled off above the clouds at about 30,000 feet and announced “I can’t see him!” “What was that George?” asked a surprised Dad. “I can’t see him!”

“Who can’t you see?”

“Jesus, you said he was up here!”

 

We grow up with the perception – often confirmed by what we learn from SS / parents – that heaven it up there G- and hell it down there H- And God lives in heaven, therefore God is up there. Wherever up there happens to be!!

 

We also learn in time that God has no beginning and no ending – God is infinite / unlimited. This does, however, refer only to time but to every aspect of God being. God’s love is infinite. God’s power is infinite. As the song goes “… his goodness and grace has no limit!”

 

This infinity is also true of God when we speak of space.

One of the first things we learn about God as we open our bibles is that he is Lord of space – Genesis 1:1   1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

God created every planets, star and galaxy.

Moses reminded the people of Israel of God’s Lordship over the universe in Deuteronomy 10:14  To the LORD your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it.

 

In theological jargon we talk about God as being omnipresent – ‘omni’ meaning all – God is all-present.

 

One of the characteristics of God’s nature is that he is everywhere.

 

  1. 1.     GOD IS EVERYWHERE.

 

We can’t measure God – he doesn’t fit into a particular space no matter how big that space may be. What we can say is that God is present at every point in space AND all-of-God is present at every place.

 

ILLUS.: If I had a bucket of red chalk dust and blew it all over the room we could say the chalk dust is everywhere. BUT it has been dissipated.

 

We can’t think of God in that way. God doesn’t spread himself thin around creation. He is everywhere completely.

 

In the book of Jeremiah we have God rebuking the prophets who think that their words or thoughts can be hidden from God. Jeremiah 23:24

24  Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him?”

declares the LORD.

“Do not I fill heaven and earth?” declares the LORD.

 

David beautifully expresses this in Psalm 139:7-10

7  Where can I go from your Spirit?

Where can I flee from your presence?

8  If I go up to the heavens, you are there;

if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

9  If I rise on the wings of the dawn,

if I settle on the far side of the sea,

10  even there your hand will guide me,

your right hand will hold me fast. (NIV)

 

There is no where in the entire universe where God’s is not present.

We must never think that it is simply part of God in one place and part of him in another. God is present with his whole being in every place and so Paul says in Acts 17:28  ‘For in him we live and move and have our being……

Or Speaking of Christ in Colossians 1:17  He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

 

  1. 2.     GOD IS EVERYWHERE AND MORE.

 

It is necessary that we speak about God being everywhere – there is no where that God isn’t.

BUT we need to stress that God is more – God cannot be contained by any space

 

After King Solomon had built a magnificent temple in Jerusalem he dedicated it to God and said this in his prayer of dedication: 1 Kings 8:27

27 “But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built! (NIV)

 

No matter how big space is, it is always too small to contain God!

 

The fact that God is everywhere should be of great encouragement to us – we can come to God in prayer at any time and in any place.

We don’t have to go to a particular place or perform a religious ritual. Wherever we are, God is there, and we can pray to him. This should be of great comfort to us.

 

When we say God is everywhere and more does that mean that however big space is, God is just that much bigger?

 

We must avoid thinking that God extends infinitely in all directions – it is not that God is somehow simply bigger than the space of the universe. In fact we shouldn’t really think of God in spatial terms. God is without size or dimension as we know it.

 

If we think of God simply in terms of inhabiting created space we have a major problem!  What problem?

Where did God live before he created space?

God exists in a realm that is so different and so much greater than anything we can imagine!

 

In saying that God is everywhere there is a danger that we must avoid.

It is the belief that God is equivalent to part or all of creation. It is that ancient belief of Pantheism – Everything is God and God is everything!

Except maybe it is not so ancient after all!!

Where do we see this kind of belief today?  In much of the New Age movement. So we have Shirley MacLean – the goddess of New Age, saying “I am god”

Because God is everywhere and in everything God is therefore in me and so I am god!!

 

God is present in his creation BUT is distinct from it and in no way dependent on it!

ILLUS.: Water in a sponge – it is everywhere in the sponge yet distinct from it – [Limited illustration but may help!]

 

  1. 3.     GOD IS EVERYWHERE IN DIFFERENT WAYS.

 

This teaching that God is everywhere trouble some people greatly – even Christians. In what respect do you think?

 

How can God be present in hell? Isn’t hell the opposite of the presence of God? Isn’t hell being cut off from the presence of God?

 

It is not a major difficulty when we realise that God is present in different way in different places.

 

a)     God is present to punish.

 

The bible often portrays God as being present in judgement.

There is a terrifyingly vivid passage in Amos 9 where God is warning wayward and rebellious Israel of impending judgement:

Amos 9:1-4

1 I saw the Lord standing by the altar, and he said:

“Strike the tops of the pillars

so that the thresholds shake.

Bring them down on the heads of all the people;

those who are left I will kill with the sword.

Not one will get away,

none will escape.

2  Though they dig down to the depths of the grave, [Sheol = Hell]

from there my hand will take them.

Though they climb up to heaven,

from there I will bring them down.

3  Though they hide themselves on the top of Carmel,

there I will hunt them down and seize them.

Though they hide from me at the bottom of the sea,

there I will command the serpent to bite them.

4  Though they are driven into exile by their enemies,

there I will command the sword to slay them.

I will fix my eyes upon them

for evil and not for good.” (NIV)

 

It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of an angry God. Just as we are unable to fathom the loveliness of God’s love so too we are unable to fathom the fearfulness of his anger.

 

b)    God is present to sustain.

 

Put another way, the universe keeps on existing and keeps on functioning because God is keeping it going!

Every breath we take is not just automatic – our hearts keep on beating and we keep on breathing because God is sustaining us.

Paul speaking of Jesus Christ – who is, of course, fully God says this: Colossians 1:17  He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

In Hebrews we read : Hebrews 1:3   3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. ……

 

God didn’t wind up the universe and then go on holiday. If God removed his sustaining presence for the universe it would all fall apart.

 

C) God is present to bless.

 

Most of the time when the bible speaks about God’s presence it is a reference to God blessing us.

 

This idea of God present to bless is clearly seen in the OT –

–         The Cloud by day and pillar of fire by night was evidence to the

Israelites of God’s presence with them

–         God was perceived to be present in the Tabernacle/Temple.

Exodus 25:22  There, above the cover between the two cherubim that are

over the ark of the Testimony, I will meet with you and give you all my

commands for the Israelites. (NIV)  God speaking to Moses.

 

1 Samuel 4:4 … the ark of the covenant of the LORD Almighty, who is  enthroned between the cherubim. …..

 

It was not that God was not present anywhere else – or that he was less present anywhere else. Rather he made his people aware of his presence.

 

In the NT age in which we now live God has not chosen to show his presence in a geographical place – as we saw this morning talking about worship.

Jesus speaking to the Samaritan woman in John 4:19-24

19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet.

20 Our fathers worshipped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”

21 Jesus declared, “Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.

22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews.

23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks.

24 God is spirit, and his worshippers must worship in spirit and in truth.”

 

 

Do you think it is true to say that God is more present in heaven?

Not strictly speaking.

Do you think it is true to say that evidence of God’s presence and glory is more evident in heaven?

In the light of – Revelation 21:3, probably –

3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. (NIV)

 

It is not that God is ‘more present’ in heaven but rather that he shows his presence more fully in heaven And we will experience it more fully when we get to heaven!

 

How can we now experience the blessing of God’s presence?

In Christ is all the fulness of God. Colossians 2:9

9 For in Christ all the fulness of the Deity lives in bodily form, (NIV)

 

When a person becomes a Christian the bible talks about us being ‘in Christ’ and Christ being ‘in us’.

In this sense therefore God is clearly with believers in a way that he is not with unbelievers.

A believer is one who has the Spirit of God dwelling within while an unbeliever does not have the Spirit.

 

So usually when the bible speaks about God being present it usually refers to present to bless.

Thus when we meet together as believers it is probably incorrect – although we usually know what we mean – to ask God to be with us. God is with us what we need is an awareness of his presence.

 

Some examples of how the bible speaks about God’s presence to bless?

2 Corinthians 3:17             17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

Romans 8:9-10      9 You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.

10 But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. (NIV)

John 14:23

23 Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. . and so on.

 

Opposite to God being with us and near us – the bible usually uses expressions of ‘God being far away’ as a sign that he is not present to bless.

Isaiah 59:2

2  But your iniquities have separated

you from your God;

your sins have hidden his face from you,

so that he will not hear. (NIV)

Proverbs 15:29

29  The LORD is far from the wicked

but he hears the prayer of the righteous. (NIV)

 

And so God is everywhere – we need to be aware that we live in the presence of God. This is a very sobering thought that God is everywhere – there is nowhere in all creation where we can be outside God’s presence – surely an incentive to know God better.

 

It is also a great comfort for us to know that God is everywhere.

There is no where that we can go as God’s children that he is not there.

Nothing that can happen to us that he doesn’t know about.

Nothing that can be said that he does not hear.

 

 

What the Bible teaches us about … The Trinity

What the Bible teaches us about … The Trinity

Introduction.

 More than half the world’s population believes in One God – Jews, Christians and Muslims. If we add all those who believe in a Supreme Being or force the number rises even higher.

Q> If we all believe in One God what is one of the things that makes Christianity distinctive – in regard to the being of God?

Among other things, our belief in the Trinity.

The Next question is –

Q> Where in the Bible do we read about the Trinity? In Which text do we find the word Trinity?

The answer is that the word ‘Trinity’ does not appear in any text in the Bible.

How then do we arrive at this Christian belief in the Trinity?

It seems to me that it is so unique, so profound and difficult to explain that no human mind could have thought it up. Yet if we are going to be true to what the Bible teaches we have to accept the following statements about the being of God:-

There is one God.

God is three ‘persons’.

Each ‘person’ is God.

Q> How is it possible to say that the Father, the Son, the Spirit IS one?

It is like saying 1+1+1=1.

It is difficult, if not impossible, for our limited, finite minds to understand. It is trying to explain the inexplicable.

Ever tried to explain the Trinity to an unbeliever?

Q> If it is so difficult to understand and explain how can we be sure that it is true?

The knowledge of One God who is at the same time three persons could hardly have been a human invention – it could only have come through the revelation of scripture.

The ONE GOD is not a simple unity, but a complex unity of Father, Son and Spirit.

  1. 1.     ONE GOD – A COMPLEX UNITY

Both the OT and NT are adamant the there is only one true God.

Deuteronomy 6:4

4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. (NIV)

Look at Isaiah 45 – scan through and read out any verses that assert God’s oneness.

The worship of others creatures, beings, idols etc. is condemned in scripture.

In the NT – 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 9 for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead — Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath. (NIV)

1 Timothy 2:5 5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, (NIV)

Romans 3:30 30 since there is only one God, ………

1 Corinthians 8:6 6 yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; ………

There is no difficulty believing that God is one – we have no difficulty agreeing this with Jews and Muslims.

We have difficulty when we claim that God is ‘Three In Unity’

  1. 2.     GOD IS THREE ‘PERSONS’

In the OT.

There are strong hints of this Tri-unity within the OT. These are not sufficient for us to understand the teaching about the Trinity but they do point in that direction.

There are occasions in the OT where God refers to himself in the plural.

Q> Can anyone give references to this?

Genesis 1:26 26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, ….

Genesis 3:22 22 And the LORD God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. …. (NIV)

Genesis 11:7 7 Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.” (NIV)

Isaiah 6:8

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”             And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” (NIV)

There are reference to the Angel of the Lord – not an angel messenger but some who is identified with God and yet distinct from him.

Exodus 3:2-6 2 There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. 3 So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight — why the bush does not burn up.”

4 When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!”

And Moses said, “Here I am.”

5 “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” 6 Then he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God. (NIV)

[Also Judges 13:2-22 – the angel of the Lord appears to Samson’s parents to tell them of his birth – in v.22 he is identified as God]

The Spirit of God is referred to as God’s personal agent..

Genesis 1:2 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. (NIV)

Nehemiah 9:20 20 You gave your good Spirit to instruct them. You did not withhold your manna from their mouths, and you gave them water for their thirst. (NIV)

Isaiah 63:10-14

10 Yet they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit.

So he turned and became their enemy and he himself fought against them.

11 Then his people recalled the days of old, the days of Moses and his people —

where is he who brought them through the sea, with the shepherd of his flock?

Where is he who set his Holy Spirit among them,

12 who sent his glorious arm of power to be at Moses’ right hand,

who divided the waters before them, to gain for himself everlasting renown,

13 who led them through the depths?

Like a horse in open country, they did not stumble;

14 like cattle that go down to the plain, they were given rest by the Spirit of the LORD.

This is how you guided your people to make for yourself a glorious name.

The wisdom of God – is personified esp. in Proverbs 8. In the NT we see Christ identified as the wisdom of God.

The coming of the Messiah who was seen as distinct from the Lord God is identified as divine

Isaiah 9:6

6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given,

and the government will be on his shoulders.

And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God,

Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (NIV)

We can’t built a doctrine of the trinity from these passages in the OT but there are clear hints which are more fully expressed in the NT.

In the NT.

The early disciples were faced with the claims of Jesus – his teaching, his claims about himself, his character, his miracles and more than anything his resurrection.

The activity of the Holy Spirit and the reality of his power in their lives showed that God was present with them. And also Jesus’ teaching about the Holy Spirit, and what he would do after Jesus had gone away into heaven.

 

There are a number of NT passages that show God as a Trinity.

Matthew 3:16-17

16 As soon as Jesus was baptised, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (NIV)

Matthew 28:19 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name [singular] of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

John 14:15-31 – Father, Son, Spirit.

Ephesians 1:3-14

Ephesians 3:16-19 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge — that you may be filled to the measure of all the fulness of God.

2 Corinthians 13:14

14 May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. (NIV)

  1. 3.     EACH ‘PERSON’ IS GOD.

 

The Father is God. Matthew 6:8f; Galatians 1:1.

The Son is God. John 1:1-14;

Romans 9:5 5 Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, for ever praised! Amen. (NIV)

Col.2:9; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 1:8-10.

The Spirit is God.

John 15:26   26 “When the Counsellor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me. (NIV)

2 Corinthians 3:17 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. (NIV)

We could spend a lot of time talking about each of these and there are many more references.

4. DIFFICULTIES WITH UNDERSTANDING AND EXPLANATION.

The problem of language.

Q> Why is language a problem when it comes to understanding the Trinity?

We know that there are three – but three what?

The word ‘person’ we use to describe the three members of the Trinity is really a very inadequate term. But we are unable to find a better one.

Person to us means an individual – however we do not mean that God is three separate individuals.

He is three but he is a unity.

Our great problem is the poverty of human speech.

The Problem of analogy.

  • The three leaf clover – fails because each leaf is only part of the clover and cannot be said to be the whole.
  • The tree with roots, trunk, branches – fails for the same reason with the added problem that the parts are completely different unlike the clover leaves which are the same.
  • Water in its three states of steam, water, ice – no quantity of water can ever be in all three states at once.
  • Human analogies also fail – a lady who is a teacher, mother, wife – but here we have one person fulfilling three roles. There isn’t an interpersonal relationship between the roles as she is one person YET God is one and there is an interpersonal relationship between F, S, Sp.

There are other analogies – some may be helpful in one or two respects but ALL are inadequate and misleading in some way.

  1. ERRONEOUS TEACHINGS THROUGHOUT CHURCH HISTORY.

There have been many false teachings about the Trinity all through Church History.

They either deny God is three-in-one or in some way lessen or restrict the deity of the Son and the Spirit.

These go right back to the early days of the Church.

Q> But we still have them with us today – In what form?

JW’s – Mormans. Muslims…..

  1. THE IMPORTANCE OF THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY.

 

Q> Why is a belief in the Trinity so important?

Is it really essential for Christians / the Church to hold to the full deity of the Son and the Spirit?

The doctrine of the Trinity has implications for the very heart of the Christian faith.

1)    The Atonement. If Jesus is just a created Being and not fully God it is hard to see how a creature could bear the full / infinite wrath of God against all our sin. Could any creature no matter how great really save us? If Jesus is not God then my sin should have nothing to do with him – What separates me from God is my sin and in the end it is the offending sinner having to have dealing with the offended God. Only God can forgive sin – if Jesus deals with my sin he must be God.

2)    Justification by faith alone is threatened if we deny that Jesus is fully God.  (this is seen in the JW teaching that salvation is by faith + works) If Jesus is not God could we really trust him fully to save us completely.

3)    If Jesus is not fully divine should we pray to him and worship him. Who but an infinite, all-knowing, all-powerful God can hear and respond to the prayers of millions of Christians around the world? Who but God is worthy of worship? If Jesus is just a creature and not God then by worshipping him we are guilty of idolatry. Yet the NT commands us to worship him. (Phil 2:9-11 Rev.5:12-14)

4)    If Jesus is just a created being and we teach that he saves us then we are crediting our salvation to a creature and not to God. We would then be exalting the creature rather than the creator and scripture never allows us to do that.

5)    If there is no Trinity then God as a self-sustaining, self-sufficient Being is at stake. Without the interpersonal relationships within the Godhead it is difficult to see how God could be genuinely personal without a NEED for a creature to relate to.

6)    If the Holy Spirit is not God how can he impart to us the life and power and love of God.

There are other implications but these are some of the important ones.

The entire fabric of our Christian Faith and experience depends wholly on the three-in-oneness of God. The Trinity is as important as that.

Our time for now is gone but we can and must continue in our quest to understand in an ever-deeper way who God is and what he is like.

To quote Charles Spurgeon:- “Nothing will so enlarge the intellect and magnify the soul of man as a devout, earnest, continued investigation of the whole subject of the Trinity”

Thomas Watson :- “Our narrow thoughts can no more comprehend the Trinity in Unity than a nutshell can hold all the water of the sea”

A W Tozer “Love and faith are at home in the mystery of the Godhead. Let reason kneel in reverence outside”

John Calvin was right when he said “The end of theology is not knowledge but worship”

God’s Being is not divided into three equal parts belonging to the three members of the Trinity

There are three distinct ‘Persons’, and the being of each ‘person’ is equal to the whole being of God

The Persons of the Trinity are not just three ways of looking at the one being of God

The personal distinctions in the Trinity are not something added on to God’s real being

What the Bible teaches us about … Knowing God

What the Bible teaches us about .. Knowing God

Can we really know God?

INTRODUCTION.

Q> How can we know anything about God?

Q> How can we know God?

Q> How much can we know about / or know God?

ILLUS.: On a human level my knowledge of another person depends far more on him/her than on me. I meet Harry and my part is to show interest and goodwill and give him my attention. From that point on it is up to him as to how well I will get to know him. I will only know him to the extent that he chooses to reveal himself to me.

I can learn a few facts about him from others but that doesn’t help me to know him really!

The illustration is limited but it helps us to see that when it comes to our knowledge of God we are even more dependent on him to reveal himself than I would on Harry

  1. 1.     THE ONLY KNOWLEDGE WE CAN HAVE OF GOD IS WHAT HE CHOOSES TO REVEAL TO US.

Unless God tells us about himself we can’t know anything about him.

Q> What about what we can see in creation?

Creation only reveals something about God because God chooses to reveal something about himself.

Paul in Romans 1:19 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them [people], because God has made it plain to them. (NIV)

Created things don’t tell us anything about God in themselves – we only learn about God through created things because God chooses to use them to show us about himself.

Q> What about when it comes to knowing God through salvation?

The Bible is equally explicit {and more frequently} on this point. Matthew 11:27

27 “……. No-one knows the Son except the Father, and no-one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. (NIV)

The kind of knowledge and understanding that we need in order to know God is not acquired through human effort and wisdom.

1 Corinthians 2:14 14 The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. (NIV)

1 Corinthians 1:21 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, ….. (NIV)

Without God’s direct revelation, which for us is recorded in scripture, we misinterpret even what is shown in nature. This is born out by the fact that there are so many false religions and that human thinking, without God’s help is inadequate.

Romans 1:18-25

18 … suppress the truth by their wickedness, ..

21 .. but their thinking became futile …

25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, …

We depend upon God’s revelation in scripture for a true knowledge of God.

  1. 2.     WE CAN NEVER KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT GOD.

 

ILLUS.: Karl Barth was a very famous Swiss-German theologian from the first half of this century. At a seminar in the USA he was asked by student, “Dr Barth, what is the most profound thing you have ever learned in your study of theology?”

Barth thought for a moment and then replied; “Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so.”

At first the students laughed at his simplistic answer and then realised that he was serious.

His answer was simple but profound: –

1)    The simplest Christian belief is so profound that is can occupy the minds of the most brilliant scholars for a lifetime – “Jesus loves me”

2)    No matter how learned we think we become in matters of theology and the Bible we never rise above a child’s level of understanding the depths and riches of the character of God.

Q> Why are we not able to fully understand God?

We are finite and God is infinite. That which is finite cannot comprehend infinity.

In theological jargon this is called the incomprehensibility of God.

It is easy to misunderstand this concept.

We are not say that we are unable to understand anything about God.

We are saying that we are unable to fully understand everything about God.

Psalm 145:3

3 Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise;

his greatness no-one can fathom. (NIV)

God is too great ever to be fully known.

Psalm 147:5

5 Great is our Lord and mighty in power;

his understanding has no limit. (NIV)

David expresses this thought in Psalm 139:6

6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,

too lofty for me to attain. (NIV)

In the NT at the end of Romans 11 Paul at the ends of a long discourse on God’s great plan of salvation history says this Romans 11:33

33 Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!

How unsearchable his judgments,

and his paths beyond tracing out! (NIV)

In each of these verses the writer is speaking about an aspect of God’s character – greatness – power – knowledge – wisdom – judgements –

Not only are we unable to fully understand God. We are also not able to fully understand one aspect of his character. ALL aspects of God’s character are beyond our ability to understand them fully.

Isaiah 55:8-9

8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,

neither are your ways my ways,”

declares the LORD.

9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,

so are my ways higher than your ways

and my thoughts than your thoughts. (NIV)

Q> Given the fact that sin, in this present life, dulls our ability to understand, does that mean that when we get to heaven and sin is no more that we will then fully understand?

NO!  – Q> Why not?

Even though in heaven we will be free from the presence of sin we will still not be able to fully understand God or even one thing about him.

The primary reason why we are unable to fully understand God is due to his infinite greatness rather than our sin, although certainly our sinfulness is a hindrance.

Because we are finite and he is infinite we are unable to understand him fully. This has wonderful implications for our lives both now and for eternity. It means we will never be able to know “too much” about God – we will never run out of things to learn – there will always be something new to discover about God and his greatness.

Don’t the words of Amazing Grace come to life a bit here –?

When we’ve been there ten thousand years

          Bright shining as the sun,

We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise

Than when we first begun

For all eternity there will be something new for us to learn as God reveals more to us.

However, we do not have to wait for eternity to being to know God and his ways – we can begin now and as we daily come to Him and to his Word we discover new things about him and his creation and his will and his ways.

The more we learn and the more we realise there is to learn the greater should be our expectation and excitement at the prospect of a lifetime of Bible Study and prayer.

  1. 3.     YET WE CAN GENUINELY KNOW GOD.

 

We can’t know everything about God BUT we can have true knowledge of God.

In fact, everything the Bible tells us about God is true. God is Love, God is Light, God is Spirit, God is Just and Righteous, etc.

We do not have to know everything about God to know him.

ILLUS.: It is true to say that I know my children BUT I do not know everything about them. I don’t know everything about myself – my knowledge about how heart, or liver or immune system works is limited.

What is most significant is not simply that we can know facts about God but that we can know him personally.

This is not only significant it is THE most important thing in life.

Q> What are we made for?

To know God.

Q> What should be our goal in life?

To know God.

Q> What is the eternal life that Jesus promises?

Knowing God.

John 17:3 3 Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. (NIV)

Q> What in life can bring us more joy, happiness and contentment than any other thing?

Knowing God

Jeremiah 9:23-24

23 This is what the LORD says: “Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, 24  but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the LORD. (NIV)

Q> When God looks into our lives what is the one thing that brings him the most pleasure?

God says in Hosea 6:6 6  For I desire ….. knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.

Q> The Bible uses a number of analogies / pictures which illustrate the way we can know God and in which he knows us. What are some of these ways?

  • A child knowing a father
  • A wife knowing a husband
  • A subject knowing a king
  • A sheep knowing a shepherd

All point to a relationship in which the knower ‘looks up’ to the one known. And where the father / husband / king / shepherd takes responsibility for the care and welfare of the knower.

This is a the way God relates to us – as we know him, or rather as he allows us to know him, he loves and cares for us.

Q> What is the only way we can come to know God like this?

Through Jesus Christ, who is, of course, God in human form.

John 14:9, 6.

8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”

9 Jesus …: “Don’t you know me, Philip, ….? Anyone who has seen me has    seen the Father.

6 … No-one comes to the Father except through me.

Jesus also used the illustration of himself as Shepherd and his followers as sheep.

He said in John 10 – John 10:27 27 My sheep hear to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. (NIV)

The first disciples heard Jesus call and followed him, walked with him, learned from him – they became increasingly devoted to him.

They realised that he was their God, that he had found them, that he had called them to himself, he took them into his confidence, he commissioned them as his agents to declare to the world the kingdom of God.

They had a deep personal relationship and commitment to Jesus – to the point of being willing to die for his cause, which many of them did.

Knowing Jesus today is still as much a relationship of personal discipleship as it was for his first followers.

He is the same Jesus who calls us to walk with him.

Q> What does it mean to ‘hear his voice’?

His voice  = is his CLAIM –

John 6:35     35 .. “I am the bread of life.

John 10:7     7..,… I am the gate  [door] for the sheep. (NIV)

John 10:14   14 “I am the good shepherd;

John 11:25   25 “I am the resurrection and the life.

His PROMISE –

John 5:23-24 23 that all may honour the Son just as they honour the Father. He who does not honour the Son does not honour the Father, who sent him.

24 “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life …

His CALL –

Matthew 11:28-29

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, … and you will find rest …

We hear Jesus’ voice when we acknowledge his claims, when we trust his promise, when we answer his call.

Then we know him as Shepherd and he knows us as his own sheep –

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

To know God we must know Jesus – to know Jesus is to know God!

It is amazing that in spite of the fact that God is so great and awesome – that we will never fully comprehend God – YET we can know personally.

We can speak to him in prayer. He speaks to us through his word. We can sing his praise. We can be aware the he personally dwells among us and within us.

Surely this is the greatest blessing of all – that we can know God (Father, Son and Spirit) personally.

There is so much more we could say – let’s praise him now in song.

“O Lord my God …. How great thou art.”

 We are finite and God is infinite.

The finite cannot contain the infinite.

What the Bible teaches us about … The Bible

What the Bible teaches us about … the Bible

 

INTRODUCTION.

 We looked last time at “the Word of God” and the different ways in which God speaks. In his speaking God tells us about who he is, what he has done / will do and what he expects of us.

We saw how through the centuries God’s Word has come in different forms –

Q> Can you recall them?

Another way of saying ‘God speaks to us’ is to use the word REVELATION.

God reveals himself to us – or if you like God’s self-disclosure. The point being that we only know what we know about God because he has told us. We can not know about God unless he chooses to reveal that knowledge to us.

As we saw this morning in David’s words to Solomon >1 Chronicles 28:9

9 ….. If you seek him, he will be found by you; ….

Jeremiah 29:13-14 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, ….

  1. 1.     REVELATION.

Traditionally the concept of revelation has been divided into two types – general and special.

GENERAL REVELATION.

READ Romans 1:18-20

Paul is arguing that there is enough of a witness in the created order to show that there is a God and tell us something about him so that if any reject God they are without excuse when God judges them.

READ Psalm 19:1-4

1 .. The heavens declare the glory of God;

the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

2 Day after day they pour forth speech;

night after night they display knowledge.

3 There is no speech or language

where their voice is not heard.

4 Their voice goes out into all the earth,

their words to the ends of the world.

The presence of God is all around us. Nature shows us the glory of God. Nature is not divine but it does reveal something of God’s glory if we have eyes to see.

Q> What other way does God reveal himself generally to all people?

Directly to the human mind.

To use the words of the Bile God’s laws are written on human hearts and consciences.

Romans 2:14-15 14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, 15 since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.) (NIV)

There is an in-built, moral conscience in every person.

Traditionally cultures everywhere have some kind of religious activity that acknowledges the existence of some kind of deity of greater force.

This can be suppressed and distorted – that is what sin has done – but it is still there. Ecclesiastes 3:11 11 … He [God] has also set eternity in the hearts of men; ..

Deep within our souls we know that God exists and he has given his law to us. We try to suppress this knowledge in order to escape God’s commands but no matter how hard we try we cannot silence this inner voice. We can muffle it but not destroy it.

OHP1 General Revelation

SPECIAL REVELATION.

I don’t want to repeat what we looked at last time. We saw the different ways God speaks. All of which are in addition to the way he speaks in creation and conscience.

The two primary forms of special revelation we have today are Jesus, the Living Word and the Bible, the written Word.

Q> What about when Christians witness or preach? Is this revelation?

Some think that Preaching / teaching and witnessing of Christians is a third form of special revelation. We need to be careful!! Yes God can and does speak through Christians to others BUT this can only serve as revelation when it is faithfully expressing the truth of God’s Word, Written and Living. However, all we know about the Living Word is recorded in the written word.

Q> What are some of the dangers if we broaden the concept of revelation to include things other than the Bible?

Basically anything goes then. It becomes very subjective. We end up with lots of claims to truth but no standard of truth.

ILLUS.: A CD album by Manic Street Preachers is entitled “This is my truth tell me yours”

This is the danger of subjectivism that we will come back to a little later when we talk about interpretation.

2. INSPIRATION.

Q> What is it that makes the Bible different from other books?

Or put another way

Q> Since the production of the Bible involved human effort how can it be regarded as the Word of God?

The Bible teaches and Christians {and Jews regarding the OT} have always believed that the human writers were not merely expressing their own opinions but that their words were inspired by God.

Q> What key verses teach us about inspiration?

2 Timothy 3:16 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, (NIV)

2 Peter 1:20-21 20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (NIV)

God-breathed – can also be translated “inspired by God” – lit. breathed out by God.

carried along by the Holy Spirit

The prophets didn’t concoct what they wrote. This term carried along is used in Acts 27:15 with reference to a ship being carried along by the wind.

We must be careful not to read too much into the imagery but it clearly asserts  that there was divine activity in the production of Scripture.

If we say God inspired >>

Q> What do mean? Do we mean that he dictated and that the humans were simply keyboards or Dictaphones through whom he communicated?

Q> Do we mean that God simply accommodates himself to the writers’ limitations and that his truth is therefore somehow filtered by the human element?

Supervision is the best term available. God used and supervised the culture, personality, and language of the writer to communicate his truth. God is the ultimate author of the Bible and it is therefore both true and authoritative.

  1. 2.     CANON.

 

This is a complicated subject and I don’t want to spend time here!

We tend sometimes to think of the Bible as one large book. It is a library of 66 books. Together they are called the canon – which means, “measuring rod”, “standard” or “norm”.

We can accept the OT reasonably easily as we know that it was completed by the time of Jesus and he referred to it as ‘The Scripture’ giving it his divine approval.

There is a dispute between Roman Catholics and Protestants in that the Catholic Church accepts the Apocrypha as part of the OT. This was not part of the Jewsih Scripture in its Palestinian version, which is what Jesus would have had. Further more, the Alexandrian Canon [a Greek translation] used by Jews living in Egypt did have it, although there is even some doubt about that.

This canonising of the books of the Bible took place over many years as they were recognised as authoritative.

What of the NT books? Initially the teaching of the Church was by oral tradition as the Apostles taught what they had learned from Jesus.

Eventually these things began to be written down in the gospels and Acts and letters were written.

As the Church grew and became more formalised and as it encountered false teaching there was a need to recognised the writings that were authoritative and standardise {canonised} what was genuinely of God.

Q> How did the early Church recognise NT books and scripture?

[The final NT list of 27 books at the Council of Carthage in 397 AD]

1)    Apostolic authority – not necessarily penned by an apostle but given their approval.

2)    External evidence – the consensus of opinion among the churches as to the authenticity and authority of the books – there was surprising unanimity.

3)    Internal evidence – the books  ‘made a spiritual impression of their readers as being not of men but of God – i.e. the witness of the Spirit. [Didn’t Jesus say that he would lead his followers into all truth]

NB Peter’s comment about Paul’s writings – 2 Peter 3:16 16 He {Paul} writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction. (NIV)

  1. 3.     INTERPRETATION.

Q> How are we to interpret the Bible?

1) Literally – [not to be confused with literalistically] Q> What is the difference? EXAMPLES?

Strictly speaking it means that we must interpret the Bible as it was written!

Kind of Literature>

In other words, poetry as poetry. Historical accounts as history. Narratives as narrative. Parables as parables.

The original meaning> as far as that is possible.

Try to discover the original setting and meaning before we we try to relate it to ourselves. For example Head coverings in 1 Corinthians.

The context> don’t take bits of passages / verses in isolation to what is around it.

{Example – Deuteronomy 22:8

8 When you build a new house, make a parapet around your roof so that you may not bring the guilt of bloodshed on your house if someone falls from the roof. (NIV)

Now you must all go home and built parapets around your roofs}

NB> The Bible was not written in chapters and verses. We need to look beyond artificial divisions. Example > Ephesians 5:22-23

22 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Saviour. (NIV)

This can be and has been / still is sometimes grossly misinterpreted unless seen in the context of verse 21 {and the whole letter} Ephesians 5:21

21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. (NIV)

2) Scripture must be interpreted by scripture>

Example > Hebrews is difficult to understand without the Jewish laws and practices of the OT. Likewise the Jewish laws are understood better in the light of the NT.

3)    Scripture must be interpreted by the holy Spirit>

Psalm 119:18

18 Open my eyes that I may see

wonderful things in your law. (NIV)

John 16:13-14 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. (NIV)

4) Scripture must be interpreted dynamically>

The Bible is not a dead book it is living. We don’t simply want to know what it means but also what it teaches us today in our own situation.

Briscoe >    What?

So what?

Now What?

What the Bible teaches us about … The Word of God

What the Bible teaches us about  …  The Word of God

The Word of God is a phrase we often use but what exactly do we mean by it?

Why is it important to know what the Word of God is and what the phrase  means? Is it not enough to claim that as Christians we have the Holy Spirit and he will guide us and show us what we need to do? In an age where many think that everyone’s opinion is of equal value can we really claim to know absolute truth?

These are just a few of the issues that arise out of a study of The Word of God.

So what does the Bible teach us about the Word of God.

  1. 1.     The Word of God as a Person: Jesus Christ.

This is a fairly well known title for Jesus among Christians primarily from John’s gospel.

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

It is quite clear from this passage that John is speaking about the Son of God because he says in John 1:14 14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, [the glory of the only Son] who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (NIV)

If we are in any doubt that it is Jesus who is being referred to then the same John writes in Revelation, talking about the risen Lord Jesus in Heaven; Revelation 19:13 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God.

Perhaps 1 John 1:1 refers to this as well – 1 John 1:1

1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched — this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. (NIV)

Jesus being referred to as the Word of God is not a common occurrence in the NT but is quite clear. It indicates that within the Trinity {Father, Son, Spirit} it is especially God the Son who in his person as well as his words communicates God’s character and God’s will to us.

As interesting aside is that the Muslim’s Qur’an also refers to Jesus [Isa] as the word of / from God]. This makes a very good discussion point with Muslim people.

  1. 2.     The Word of God as God’s ‘speaking’.

It is true that the pinnacle of God’s communication to the world is through God the Son, Jesus Christ. [Hebrews 1:1-2    1 In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe.]

God didn’t only begin to communicate to his world when Jesus came. He did so before Christ came and after.

So what different forms does God’s ‘speaking’ take?

2.1.         God’s ‘speaking’ by decrees.

 

What do we mean by decrees?

When God’s words are powerful [in a sense all God’s words are powerful] and cause things to happen or even come into being.

Genesis 1:3 3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. (NIV)

God created the entire animal world in this way too Genesis 1:24 24 And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. (NIV)

And God said …. And it was so  – we read these words a number of times through Genesis 1.

The Psalmist declares this truth in praise to God in Psalm 33:6 6  By the word of the LORD were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth.

So these powerful. Creative words of God are called decrees. Therefore a decree of God is a word of God that causes something to happen.

This is not limited to the events of the original creation but also includes the ongoing maintenance of the created order. Hebrews 1:3 3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. …. (NIV)

2.2.         God’s ‘speaking’ directly and personally.

 

Examples of this are found throughout the Bible.

In the Garden of Eden God speaks to Adam – Genesis 2:16-17 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” (NIV)

Even after Adam and Eve sinned God still spoke to them. [Gen.3:16-19]

Another key example of God speaking directly is in the giving of the 10 commandments – Exodus 20:1-3 1 And God spoke all these words: 2  “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 3  “You shall have no other gods before me. ….(NIV)

Q> Can you think of a NT example of God speaking in this way?

At Jesus baptism – Matthew 3:17 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (NIV)

On the Mount of Transfiguration – Matthew 17:5            5 While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” (NIV)

Paul on the Damascus road;

John on the Isle of Patmos.

These are occasions where God speaks to individuals / groups of people and God’s actual words are heard. They are hearing God’s voice which, of course, comes with absolute divine authority. To disbelieve or disobey would therefore be sin.

While God ‘speaking’ in this way is the actual words of God, these words are also human in that they are spoken in ordinary human language and are understandable to those who hear.

The fact that these words are human language does not for a second reduce their divine authority. Neither is the truthfulness of what is said limited in any way.

God’s ‘speaking always places an absolute obligation on the hearers to believe and to obey. To disbelieve and to disobey is to disbelieve and disobey God himself.

HOWEVER, you will probably say, “I have never heard God speak to me in an audible voice”.

So how else does God speak?

2.3.         God’s ‘speaking’ through human lips.

Frequently we are told in the Bible that God spoke through humans – usually prophets, but not always.

We have a very clear statement from God to Moses about how this works – Deuteronomy 18:18-20 18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him. 19 If anyone does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name, I myself will call him to account. 20 But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded him to say, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, must be put to death.” (NIV)

We have God saying a similar thing to Jeremiah – Jeremiah 1:9

9 Then the LORD reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “Now, I have put my words in your mouth. (NIV)

There are many passages that say similar things. {Jer.1v7; Ex.4v12;1 Sam.15v3; Isa.30v12-14}

There is also a very strong warning and threat of servere punishment for those who claim to speak for God when they have received no such message. {Ez.13v1-7; Deut.18v18-20}

Simply because these are humans using human language, ordinary words it in no way diminishes the authority and truthfulness of those words.

ILLUS.: When I was a child, when my father told me to do something, if I knew what was good for me, I did it. If, as sometimes happened, his instructions were delivered to me via my brother or sisters, that in no way lessen my responsibility to do as I was told. The consequences of disobedience were no less because the instructions had come indirectly.

 

A similar principle applies to God’s word to us. There is no diminishing of the authority of those words when spoken through human lips. To disbelieve and to disobey any of these words is to disbelieve and disobey God himself.

2.4.         God’s ‘speaking’ in written form (The Bible).

We also find instructions for God’s words to be put into written form.

The 10 commandments that God gave to Moses he wrote himself – Exodus 31:18

18 When the LORD finished speaking to Moses on Mount Sinai, he gave him the two tablets of the Testimony, the tablets of stone inscribed by the finger of God. (NIV)

Exodus 34:1 1 The LORD said to Moses, “Chisel out two stone tablets like the first ones, and I will write on them the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke. (NIV) [also Ex.32v16; 34v28]

The rest of the Law and narrative of the begins and history of Israel was written by Moses.

Deuteronomy 31:9-12

9 So Moses wrote down this law and gave it to the priests, the sons of Levi, who carried the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD, and to all the elders of Israel. 10 Then Moses commanded them: “At the end of every seven years……., you shall read this law before them in their hearing. 12 Assemble the people — ….. — so that they can listen and learn to fear the Lord your God and follow carefully all the words of this law.

As time went by further additions were made to this Book of God’s Words.

Joshua – Joshua 24:26 26 And Joshua recorded [wrote] these things in the

Book of the Law of God. …..

Isaiah – God commanded him – Isaiah 30:8 8  Go now, write it on a tablet

for them, inscribe it on a scroll, that for the days to come it may be an

everlasting witness. (NIV)

Jeremiah – Jeremiah 30:2 2 “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel,

says: ‘Write in a book all the words I have spoken to you. (NIV)

36:2-4 2 “Take a scroll and write on it all the words I have spoken to you concerning Israel, Judah and all the other nations ….

4 So Jeremiah called Baruch son of Neriah, and while Jeremiah dictated all the words the LORD had spoken to him, Baruch wrote them on the scroll. (NIV)

There are many others similar references to other prophets / writers of the OT

What of the NT?

What did Jesus promise his disciples would happen after he was gone – concerning all that he had told them? John 14:26 26 But the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. (NIV)

John 16:12-13 12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. (NIV)

When Paul writes to the Church in Corinth he says that what he writes is a “command of the lord” [1 Cor.14v37; cf. 2 Peter 3v2]

What is important to note is that these written words are still considered to be God’s own words. This is so, despite the fact that they are written down almost entirely by human beings and always in human language.

What are the benefits to God’s Word being written down?

  • More accurate preservation – although oral tradition can be amazingly accurate, the written form is more so.
  • Makes possible the repeated and in depth inspection and study of the written form.
  • It is accessible to many more people in written form than would be the case if only preserved by oral tradition.

IMPLICATIONS.

Q> Bearing in mind the different forms of God’s ‘speaking’, do you think we would pay more attention if we heard an audible voice from heaven or heard from prophets like Moses, Isaiah or Paul?   Do you think we would believe and obey these forms of speaking more than we do scripture?

  • All forms of God’s ‘speaking’ are equally authoritative.
  • Our belief and obedience to the written word should be the same as if God spoke to us directly / personally.

Q> How does / or how should this view of the Bible affect our attitude to it?

  • To study more diligently.
  • To obey more readily.

Q> When we consider the ways God communicates with his creatures what does that tell us about him and about what pleases him?

  • God is not trying to hide from us or make it unnecessarily difficult for us to know him.
  • It brings him great please when we respond to his reaching out.

The Bible is the primary source of God’s Word to us. It tells us about Jesus, The Word of God. Thus it is the Word (written) about the Word (a person).

It is for our good that we are to study The Bible. In fact, God instructs us / commands us to study it.

OT – Psalm 1:1-2             1 Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. 2  But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. (NIV)

Joshua 1:8 8 Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. (NIV)

NT – 2 Timothy 3:16 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, (NIV)

 

What The Bible Teaches Us About …

 

THE WORD OF GOD…

                                         (The different forms it takes)

 

As a Person: Jesus Christ.

     John 1:1; Revelation 19:13; 1 John 1:1.

 

As God ‘speaking’ …

 

     By decrees.

           in creation – Genesis 1; Psalm 33:6

            in maintaining the universe – Hebrews 1:3

 

     Personally and directly.

            Old Testament

                  Adam & Eve – Genesis 2-3

                  Nation of Israel – Exodus 20:1-3…

                  Numerous prophets …..

 

            New Testament

                  At Jesus’ baptism – Matthew 3:17

                  On Mount Transfiguration      – Matthew 17:5

                  Paul on the Road to Damascus – Acts 9:3-6

                  John on the Isle of Patmos – Revelation 1

 

     Through human lips

Mainly the Prophets – Deuteronomy 18:18-20;Jeremiah 1:9; Exodus 4:12;1 Samuel 15:3; Isaiah 30:12-14; ….

      Sometimes through Angels.

            Hagar – Genesis 16.

            Abraham – Genesis 22.

            Jacob – Genesis 31.

            Birth of Jesus – Matthew 1-2; Luke 1-2.

 

In written form (the Bible).

     By God himself – Exodus 31:18; 34:1.

      By humans –

            Old Testament

                  Moses – Deuteronomy 31:9-12.

                  Joshua – Joshua 24:26.

                  Isaiah – Isaiah 30:8

                  Jeremiah – Jeremiah 30;2 ……

            New Testament

                  Apostles mainly – John 14:26; 16:13; 1 Corinthians 14:37 ……

 

****************************************************************

Q> Bearing in mind the different forms of God’s ‘speaking’, do you think we would pay more attention if we heard an audible voice from heaven or heard from prophets / apostles like Moses, Isaiah or Paul?   Do you think we would believe and obey these forms of speaking more than we do scripture?

 

Q> How does / or how should this view of the Bible (i.e. God ‘speaking’) affect our attitude to it?

 

Q> When we consider the ways God communicates with his creatures what does that tell us about him and about what pleases him?

2 Timothy 3:16-17

16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

 

Psalm 19:7-11

7 The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul.

The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple.

8 The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart.

The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes.

9 The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring for ever.

The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous.

10 They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold;

        they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb.

11 By them is your servant warned;

in keeping them there is great reward.

 

Hebrews 4:12

12 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

 

John 20:31

 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Psalm 119:105

 105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.