The One True God II

Part 1

Monday, MArch 1, 2021

In the Church of Rome to whom Paul wrote, an outburst of criticism and judgment had begun. Paul wrote them to say, “Get off each other’s backs! Cut the criticism! It is not your opinion of someone that counts, nor their opinion of you; you both belong to Jesus—and Jesus is Lord!” Jesus is called “Lord” no less than 747 times in the New Testament.

 

So here are two questions we should be asking ourselves: “Do I recognize His Lordship?” and, “Will I submit to it?”   

Just a short time ago the comedian, Robin Williams, committed suicide. I’m not going to make a statement about whether or not he went to heaven, but I will say that no matter how he lived his life on earth, no matter how independent of his God he may have lived, whether he claimed that Jesus was his Lord or not, as soon as he left this life he became subject to the Lordship of Christ and was either rewarded or condemned.

 

Immediately after his death, his knee bowed, and acknowledged that Jesus is Lord. The same is true of every man, woman, boy or girl who passes from this life to the next. Can you imagine the look of surprise on the face of the terrorist who martyrs himself in the name of Allah, and, just moments later, finds himself bowing his knee and acknowledging that Jesus is Lord? 

In the book of Romans, we read about some unnamed men from Cyprus and Cyrene went to Antioch to plant a church. Acts 11:21 “The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.”

I’m going to share a paragraph from a devotional. “The great church in Antioch was begun, by some unknown and unnamed men. So what was the real secret of its wonderful birth? I believe this one simple phrase tells it all: “The Lord’s hand was with them.” Just think of what they did with no New Testament yet written, surrounded by hostile Jews and Romans, with no benefit from a legalized religion or ‘formal’ church buildings, with no apparent source of income, with no printed materials or sound systems or choirs or seminary training, anonymous believers started one of the most dynamic congregations of the Christian era.” (Cymbala, Jim (2010-12-21). The Church God Blesses.)

That little phrase became the thing that God impressed upon me: the Lord’s hand was upon them. If the Lord’s hand is going to rest upon this church, it’s going to start with the hand of the Lord resting upon our pastoral staff and church leadership. (Let me tell you, these people pray hard. I love serving with them.) I believe I speak for this whole group when I say that they each want the hand of the Lord to rest upon them. We want God; we want to see God move in our midst. We want to see miracles and healings. We believe we are going to see God do some powerful things in our church.

 

However, if the hand of the Lord is going to rest upon our church it all comes down to the Lordship of Christ.

 

Continued tomorrow

The One True God II

Part 2

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Jesus raised an important question in Luke 6:46: “But why do you call Me `Lord, Lord,’ and do not do the things which I say?” This has become one of the things the Holy Spirit is pressing upon me. If we are not doing what God has asked us to do, can we still call him Lord?

 

I’m going to summarize another portion of the book I referenced earlier.

 

God raised up Joshua to lead the people. By God’s power they crossed the Jordan River into the Promised Land.  By divine decree, God ceded the land to Abraham’s descendants. God instructed the Israelites to boldly drive out all the Canaanite nations because he himself would fight for Israel! Well, if both God’s promise and power were on the side of the Israelites, how is it that we read these words not long after Joshua’s death?: (this is from Judges 10:7-9): “He [God] sold them [the Israelites] into the hands of the Philistines and the Ammonites, who that year shattered and crushed them. For eighteen years they oppressed all the Israelites on the east side of the Jordan in Gilead…Israel was in great distress” 

Why did this tragic and unthinkable reversal in Israel’s fortunes occur? Weren’t the Israelites the chosen people of God? Weren’t they under covenant with the Almighty? Didn’t the pagan Philistines and Ammonites worship dumb, powerless idols? There’s something seriously wrong with this picture! As we probe deeper for an explanation, we discover that God himself was behind the entire matter. “He sold them into the hands of the Philistines and the Ammonites”! How could God have turned against his own people? As always, we look in Scripture to find the cause: Judges 10:6-7 “Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD… And because the Israelites forsook the LORD and no longer served Him, He became angry with them.” 

Persistent, unconfessed sin was the reason behind Israel’s stinging defeats at the hands of the Philistines and Ammonites. Persistent, unconfessed sin was the cause of Israel’s submission to an idolatrous people (who easily could have been defeated otherwise). Persistent, unconfessed sin was at the bottom of the whole mess - just as it is throughout all of Scripture.

 

The Israelites did evil, and God’s promises and power were short-circuited by the people’s ungodly behavior. Even as we gain insight into the cause of Israel’s pathetic plight, we find in this passage a statement of even greater importance: Judges 10:15 “But the Israelites said to the Lord, ‘We have sinned. Do with us whatever you think best, but please rescue us now.’ 16 Then they got rid of the foreign gods among them and served the Lord. And He could bear Israel’s misery no longer.”

 

Continued tomorrow

The One True God II

part 3 (Conclusion)

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Isn’t that an amazing account? Once the people repented, the Lord could no longer bear their misery and came to their rescue. In other words, the effect of sin upon us crushes our God. He’s not necessarily mad at us when we sin; He’s broken over the effects of sin and what it is doing to us. So He allows it to happen to get us to turn from our sin.  

As soon as they repented, God raised up the warrior, Jephthah. Judges 11:29, 32 “Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah… Then Jephthah went over to fight the Ammonites, and the LORD gave them into his hands.” From defeat to victory, from slavery to dominion — it all hinged upon the simple act of sincere confession of sin.

 

I’m going to close this study with a true story of something that happened at the Keswick convention which began in 1875. During one of the conventions the theologian Dr. Scroggie was speaking on the Lordship of Christ. After one of his sessions a young woman who had been greatly stirred by his message approached him and said, “I want Jesus to be Lord of my life, but I am afraid God will send me overseas as a missionary, and I don’t want to go.”

Dr. Scroggie opened his Bible to Acts 10:14 and read to her these words: “Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.” He went on to explain the utter absurdity of Peter’s answer of, “Surely not, Lord.” (If you remember, God had given Peter a vision of a sheet in which were all sorts of four-footed animals, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. And a voice came to him, “Rise Peter, kill and eat.” But Peter answered, “Surely not, Lord.”) Dr. Scroggie went on to explain, “A slave never dictates to a master. Therefore, to say ‘Surely not, Lord’ was very disrespectful!” 

Then he advised her to do something quite probing. He wrote the words, “Surely not,” and the word, “Lord,” on a piece of paper and said, “I want you to cross out the two words ‘Surely not’ and leave the word ‘Lord’; or else cross out the word ‘Lord’ and leave ‘Surely not’ because the two cannot go together, and then see what you are left with.”

 

She looked at her options for some time, while pressing in and praying. Finally she brought back a tearstain filled piece of paper. The words ‘Surely not’ were crossed out. And with her eyes bright, she repeated affirmatively, “Lord!” “Lord!” “Lord!” No longer would she dictate. She was now His disciple, and He was her Lord and Master. END

one True God, I

Part 1

Monday, FEbruary 22, 2021

If you have not missed the devotional the past three weeks then you would know that we have started a new series looking at the “16 Fundamental Truths” of the Assemblies of God. These are the truths, based entirely on the Scriptures, on which the Assemblies of God was founded. These same 16 truths are what we have stood upon for the last 100 (plus a few) years. 

I firmly believe that much of the success of the Assemblies of God comes from the fact that we have held to these 16 Fundamental Truths and have never wavered from or in them. As a movement, we are not the type of person the Apostle Paul spoke of in the book of Ephesians who is tossed to and fro, carried about by every wind of doctrine. 

Up to this point we have looked at the Fall of Man (man fell into sin, but Jesus came to redeem man). And we spent the last two weeks looking at how we believe the Bible is inspired and without error.

 

This week we are going to be looking at our position that there is only One True God. This will be a two-part (-ish) message, similar to the way “The Inspired Word of God” was.

 

First, I want to lay out our position Biblically and then we’ll apply it to our lives.

When we proclaim that there is only one true God, the question of the Trinity is usually the first thing that pops into our minds. If you are not familiar with the term, “Trinity,” it is the belief that the Godhead is made up of three entities. Some have said one, plus one, plus one, equals 3, therefore it’s three gods, not one. However, who says addition must be the standard? If we use multiplication we get, one times one, times one, equals one.

The very first reference to the Trinity is found in the creation narrative; in fact it’s in the very first two verses of the Bible. Genesis1:1-2 “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.”  

Some might say that these verses only mention God and the Holy Spirit; it doesn’t mention a third person of the trinity. Actually, He is there as we see in John 1:1-3 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.”

 

Continued tomorrow

The One True God I

Part 2

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

“In the beginning was the word,” Jesus (John 1:1). He was with God from the start; nothing was created of which He was not a part. And later in the creation account (when God creates man), He says this: “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness” (Genesis 1:26). Who is the “us” and the “our,” God was creating along with? It has to be the facets of the Trinity because in the beginning there was nothing else. The “Word,” who was with God in the beginning, creating along with Him, eventually became flesh and dwelt among us. So He was there with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit.
 

Trinity

The term “Trinity,” is not found in the Scriptures. However, this term is in harmony with Scripture. Just as the word “rapture” is not found in the Bible, but it, also, is in harmony with the Scriptures. We have no doubt of the rapture of the church because the Bible confirms the event – it just doesn’t use that particular word (that’s a study for another time). But we definitely see the idea of the saints being caught up in the air to be with Jesus at one point; we have merely simplified the event by applying the word rapture to it.

The word “Trinity” is similar in that it allows us to convey to others our understanding of this doctrine, and helps us distinguish the idea of “many gods” and “many lords” from the One. There is only One true God - therefore we can speak of the Lord our God who is One Lord, as a Trinity or as One Being of Three Persons - and still be absolutely Scriptural. Ephesians 4:4-5 “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism.” 

 

When it comes to the Trinity, I feel it’s easier to just believe it than to explain it. However, I’m going to attempt to explain it with the help of lots of research, often quoting a theologian named Matt Slick. The Trinity is defined as one-in-three, and at the same time, three-in-one. So in that sense they are equal - but not really. There is an apparent subordination within the Trinity (but that is only in order, not in substance or essence). We can see that the Father is first, the Son is second, and the Holy Spirit is third. The Father creates (Isaiah 44:24), the Son redeems (Galatians 3:13), and the Holy Spirit sanctifies (Romans 15:16).

This subordination of order does not mean that each of the members of the Godhead are not equal or divine. For example, we see that the Father sent the Son, but this does not mean that the Son is not equal to the Father in essence and divine nature. The Son is equal to the Father in His divinity but inferior in His humanity. A wife is to be subject to her husband; but this does not negate her humanity, essence, or equality. By further analogy, a king and his servant both share human nature. Yet, the king sends the servant to do his will. In John 6:38, Jesus said, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own Will, but the Will of Him who sent Me.”

 

Continued tomorrow“In the beginning was the word,” Jesus (John 1:1). He was with God from the start; nothing was created of which He was not a part. And later in the creation account (when God creates man), He says this: “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness” (Genesis 1:26). Who is the “us” and the “our,” God was creating along with? It has to be the facets of the Trinity because in the beginning there was nothing else. The “Word,” who was with God in the beginning, creating along with Him, eventually became flesh and dwelt among us. So He was there with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit.

 

Trinity

The term “Trinity,” is not found in the Scriptures. However, this term is in harmony with Scripture. Just as the word “rapture” is not found in the Bible, but it, also, is in harmony with the Scriptures. We have no doubt of the rapture of the church because the Bible confirms the event – it just doesn’t use that particular word (that’s a study for another time). But we definitely see the idea of the saints being caught up in the air to be with Jesus at one point; we have merely simplified the event by applying the word rapture to it.

The word “Trinity” is similar in that it allows us to convey to others our understanding of this doctrine, and helps us distinguish the idea of “many gods” and “many lords” from the One. There is only One true God - therefore we can speak of the Lord our God who is One Lord, as a Trinity or as One Being of Three Persons - and still be absolutely Scriptural. Ephesians 4:4-5 “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism.” 

 

When it comes to the Trinity, I feel it’s easier to just believe it than to explain it. However, I’m going to attempt to explain it with the help of lots of research, often quoting a theologian named Matt Slick. The Trinity is defined as one-in-three, and at the same time, three-in-one. So in that sense they are equal - but not really. There is an apparent subordination within the Trinity (but that is only in order, not in substance or essence). We can see that the Father is first, the Son is second, and the Holy Spirit is third. The Father creates (Isaiah 44:24), the Son redeems (Galatians 3:13), and the Holy Spirit sanctifies (Romans 15:16).

This subordination of order does not mean that each of the members of the Godhead are not equal or divine. For example, we see that the Father sent the Son, but this does not mean that the Son is not equal to the Father in essence and divine nature. The Son is equal to the Father in His divinity but inferior in His humanity. A wife is to be subject to her husband; but this does not negate her humanity, essence, or equality. By further analogy, a king and his servant both share human nature. Yet, the king sends the servant to do his will. In John 6:38, Jesus said, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own Will, but the Will of Him who sent Me.”

 

Continued tomorrow

The One True God I

Part 3

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

The analogy shows that because someone is sent, it doesn’t mean they are less significant than the one who sent them. One of the things we need to understand is that just because the Trinity can be a difficult concept to grasp, it does not necessitate an argument against its validity. On the contrary, the fact that it is difficult is an argument for its truth.  

The Bible is the self-revelation of an infinite God. Therefore, we are bound to encounter concepts that are difficult to understand, especially when dealing with an incomprehensible God who exists in all places at all times. I think we are being the fools when we say things like, “I’m not going to believe in God until He fully explains Himself” - especially when the Bible says the wisdom of man is foolishness to God. God has clearly explained Himself in the Bible; we just can’t comprehend it all, so we take it by faith. 

These are just a few of the verses that mention all three persons of the Trinity, though there are others (Matthew 28:19; 1 Peter 1:2 and Jude 20-21). This basically states our doctrinal position on the One True God.

 

Now I want us to look a little deeper into how God reveals Himself to us. Romans 1:20 “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” The Trinity is subtly hidden in this verse in the three words, “attributes,” “power,” and “nature.” I fully believe that we see God the Father in the word “power,” God the Son in the word, “attributes,” and God the Holy Spirit in the word, “nature” (divine nature).  

The Old Testament is primarily (but not exclusively) about the power of God the Father. The tremendous displays of power are hard to ignore as He parts the Red Sea (after sending the 10 plagues upon Egypt). We see it when He pulls down the walls of Jericho, and as the angel of the Lord puts to death 85,000 men in one night. We see it when burning sulfur, pouring down from heaven, takes out a city, or when the Spirit of God comes upon men enabling them to kill a bear or a lion with their hands. 

The Psalmist puts it well in chapter 66 when he says, “Say to God, ‘How awesome are Your deeds! So great is Your power that Your enemies cringe before You. 4 All the earth bows down to You; they sing praise to You, they sing the praises of Your Name.” 5 Come and see what God has done, His awesome deeds for mankind! 6 He turned the sea into dry land, they passed through the waters on foot— come, let us rejoice in Him. 7 He rules forever by His power” (Psalm 66:3 – 7).

 

Continued tomorrow

 

The One True God I

part 4

Thursday, February 25, 2021

There are certainly other character traits of God the Father revealed in the Old Testament but, in general, when we think about the Old Testament, we think about the unlimited power of God.  

So Romans 1:20 talked about the power of God and the attributes of God. God the Son reveals primarily the attributes of God. Even though Jesus possessed the same power that the Father did, He is noted primarily for His character. It’s true that Jesus healed all those who came to Him, and did many other miracles, but what we think of the most when we think of Jesus is the character of God - His kindness, gentleness, longsuffering, love, joy, peace, patience and many other attributes of God and displayed in our Savior.

Earlier this year I read part of the book, “God Behaving Badly,” which looks at some of the more controversial incidences in the Old Testament where it appeared that God was quite harsh on people. One of the common comments people make about the Old and New Testament is this; it seems that the God of the Old Testament is a lot nastier than the God of the New Testament. What they fail to realize is that there are not two different gods. 

The God of the Old is the God of the New; it’s just that the different testaments reveal different facets of the same God. The Old Testament revealed the power of God, the New Testament reveals the attributes and nature of God. We should note that, now that we understand more of the attributes of God through Jesus, the Old Testament was not an abuse of power at all. Since Jesus revealed the attributes of God we now know that everything that happened in the Old Testament had a good and Godly purpose to it.     

Jesus defines the seven primary attributes of God’s character in the beatitudes.  God is poor in spirit (meaning He keeps giving Himself away – He does not horde or lust anything for Himself), He mourns (meaning He hurts with those who hurt and hears the cries of the oppressed and depressed), He is meek (meaning He does not exalt Himself. “Though being God He did not consider equality with God something to be grasped”), He hungers and thirst for righteousness, He is merciful, pure in heart, and a peacemaker.

 

Continued tomorrow

The One True God I

Part 5

Friday, February 26, 2021

Finally, Romans 1:20 talks about the nature of God. God the Holy Spirit is the revealer of the nature of God. We can study the attributes of God and read of His power but we cannot experience it or really know it until God the Holy Spirit dwells within us.  Suddenly, when the Spirit of God comes in at the new birth, who God is begins to really make sense. Now a person has gone from knowing about God to really knowing God. That is why, when we behave in a way that is contrary to the nature of God, we grieve the Holy Spirit, because it’s His nature that we are going against. It hurts Him, and that hurt (which we call the conviction of the Holy Spirit) serves to remind us of who our God really is.  
 

Lordship

I want to finish this study by taking a little time to look at the Lordship of Christ. Hopefully, I’ve made it clear that when we say the “Lordship of Christ” we are not belittling God the Father or God the Holy Spirit, because they are three in one and one in three.

 

The prophet Isaiah prophesied His Lordship thousands of years ago. Isaiah 9:6-7 “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 Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the greatness of His government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over His Kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.” 

Suffice it to say, Jesus is Lord! If there were only three words that we might be allowed to speak, those three words should be, “Jesus is Lord!” There is no middle ground for the Christian: Jesus must be Lord of all, or He can’t be Lord at all. There just simply is no other way.

According to what Paul wrote in Romans 14 none of us live an independent life. We are all subject to His Lordship whether we acknowledge it or not. Romans 14:7-12 “For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. 8 If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. 9 For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that He might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. 10 … For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. 11 It is written: “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before Me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’” 12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.”

 

Continued Monday