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who-does-god-think-he-is

pic040-roman-battle7I’m fascinated with Roman history. Understanding this period helps me to understand both how the Western world has been shaped and what the conditions were like for the birth and expansion of Christianity. Nearly every Emperor of Rome demanded god-like devotion. “Kaiser Ho Kurios!” (Caesar is Lord!) was a statement of Emperor devotion demanded from the citizens and non-citizens at the time. Non-compliance could have resulted in swift execution.

pic058-neroRoman Emperors were not the only ones to self-deify themselves. In the Book of Daniel we read that Nebuchadnezzar then Darius did the same. Of course the Romans believed in a Pantheon of gods – Zeus, Hermes, Mars, Jupiter, Hercules, and so on (note Acts 14:12-13). Not surprisingly, most the Caesars who self-deified themselves were either assassinated by someone close to them, or (as in the case of Nero) invited to commit suicide. Apparently claiming to be a god, when you are not, tends to infuriate those around you. Which is why Jesus stands out as unique among those who claimed to be God. His crucifixion reveals that He certainly infuriated some who did not know Him, but among those who did know Him, their response to His claim to Deity was worship and devotion – even from His brothers! So just who does God think He is?

1. THE ONLY TRUE GOD, THE FIRST CAUSE

To you it was shown, that you might know that the LORD is God; there is no other besides Him.
Deuteronomy 4:35

¶ Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “an idol has no real existence,” and that “there is no God but one.”
First Corinthians 8:4

Unlike what the ancient Romans believed, the God of the Bible asserts that He has no equal. He is unique. And He is unique because He is the Uncaused-First-Cause of everything. That is, He had no beginning, and as the first cause of everything, He could have had no beginning

For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.
Colossians 1:16

This fact about the God of the Bible is referred to as His eternality. Atheists often scoff at the idea of God’s eternality – “Who created God?” they demand. But they themselves are still forced to replace the Eternal God with an eternal-something because there must have logically been an uncaused first-cause. Because the universe displays evidence of intelligent order and extreme fine-tuning, it is more logical to deduce that the universe resulted not from an impersonal-eternal-something, but rather, an eternal-Someone.

A satirical Seek Job Ad for the position of GOD

2. LAW-GIVER & JUDGE

If, for some impossible reason, the position for “God” ever became vacant, what might the job advert look like to find His replacement? Being the Moral Absolute of Goodness and a Judge of goodness would definitely be listed. Without God there is no standard of good or right. Whenever we see evil in our world and describe this behaviour as ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’ we are intuitively assuming that there is a standard of good and right with which to compare it. Because God is the Ultimate Good we can reasonably assume that He has clear to those beings in His creation what their good purpose is. This notion is called Teleology (that things have a particular purpose, a particular end in mind). When these beings wilfully rebel against this divinely instituted good purpose, they are behaving badly and defying their Creator. Since justice is an integral aspect of goodness, God must hold all rebels to account and effect justice. This requires judgment.

God is The Judge. Judging is a god-like activity, and the God of the Universe would have to be the Ultimate Judge of that Universe. In sustaining the Universe (Col. 1:17) and the required justice that this involves, it can be seen from the Bible that God appoints some human beings to serve as His deputies – as judges. This is why the Psalmist could say-

¶ God has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods he holds judgment:
Psalm 82:1

And Jesus could cite the Psalmist,

¶ I said, “You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you; nevertheless, like men you shall die, and fall like any prince.”
Psalm 82:6-7

We note that the Psalmist contrasts god-like deputies with God, for, unlike God, these human deputies who perform a God-like function (judging) will themselves be judged and eventually die. Jesus cited this passage in John 10:34. His point is similar, sometimes human beings deputise for God and identified as fulfilling the God-role of ‘judge’, but His claim to deity goes further because He claimed that He would not be subject to the finality of death like mere mortals. 

God is the only person truly qualified to perfectly judge each person. Each one of us will stand before this perfect Judge and give an account of our lives.

¶ Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From His presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them.  And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done.
Revelation 20:11-12

God’s authority to judge is grounded in His claim to be Creator. Since this world is His, He alone has the right to decree how people should conduct themselves. 

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3. FATHER AND REDEEMER

The Bible also refers to those who serve God as being His “sons”. In this light, many scholars believe that the ‘sons of God‘ referred to in Genesis 6:2-4 is describing fallen angels who were created to serve God. While angels do not ordinarily have corporeal (physical) bodies like humans, the Scriptures leave room for the possibility that it is at least possible for an angel to take on a human form and carry out human functions such as eating and therefore (possibly) sexual activity (note Hebrews 13:2). This might explain why the offspring of this activity mentioned in Genesis 6 were born as giants

The designation of ‘sons of God’ is to be distinguished from the Son of God. Even under the Old Covenant period there was a growing knowledge that God had a Son (Proverbs 30:4) and by the time of the New Covenant this revelation is stated clearly in John 3:16 when it describes Him as God’s only Son. It was during the proceedings of the Nicene Church Council around 325AD when Athanasius identified Christ as the eternal (no beginning, no end) Son of God, since God the Father is described as the Eternal Father (did not begin to be a Father and will never cease being a Father). Thus, since God is the Eternal Father, He must have always had an Eternal Son. Therefore, the Council reasoned, Jesus is the Co-Eternal, Co-Equal, Co-Immutable, Son of God.

The New Testament reveals that God adopts each one who turns to Him for salvation. Jesus described the love of His Father in the story of the Prodigal Son. The father not only forgives the humble seeker of his forgiveness, he celebrates his return and declares him to be his son with full inheritance rights!  God Himself is our Redeemer, our Rescuer, our Saviour.

even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love He predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,
Ephesians 1:4-5

Who does God think He is? He declares Himself to be Creator, the Law-giver, Judge, Father, and Saviour. He has founded the Church as His agency for declaring to the world who He is, what His will is, to warn them of His certain judgment, to invite them to return to Him as their Father and Saviour. For those who have the eyes of their hearts opened to this amazing grace, their hearts begin to crave His holiness and their lives begin to reflect His godliness. 

We love because He first loved us.
First John 4:19

Amen.

Faith Statement

Statement Of Faith The Bible is inspired by God and is without error. We base our beliefs upon no other book (2Tim. 3:16; 2Pet. 1:19-21). There is One God, who has always existed in three Persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit (Matt....

Earthquakes and Natural Evil

Recent large earthquakes in both New Zealand, Japan, Chile, and Borneo have led many Christians to speculate about what God might be possibly saying through these catastrophes. Other Christians are struggling with interpreting these same events from the perspective of trying to understand how a God of love and power could allow such massive destruction and loss of human life?

The Morality Of Hell

Heaven and Hell are commonly presented as either the benefit or the consequence of how a person responds to God. It’s as if people think that the whole point of religion is to get people into Heaven and to keep them out of Hell. From this “religious” perspective, Heaven is Ultimate Bliss, Paradise, Perfect Beauty – while Hell is Fire, Eternal Punishment, Anguish, Torment, and The Devil’s Domain.

Pentecostal Apologetics – Defending The Gospel With Power

Why do some people believe? Every Christian has a story of conversion. For some Christians their story is a journey from atheism to belief in the God of the Bible because of the evidence. For others, like Abdu Murray, their conversion story from Islam to Christianity was based on the credibility of the Bible. Then for those like Sy Rogers, former homosexual and formerly a Gay Rights activist, his conversion to Christianity was based on the love and acceptance he experienced in a Christian community. Many people become Christians for reasons like these, but, by far, the most common reason, at least statisticaly, is some kind of Pentecostal encounter.

Mankind’s 3 Greatest Unanswered Questions, Part 2

People of all ages have lingering questions that have occupied and troubled the greatest minds of each generation. Most of the challenging philosophical conundrums are usually the exclusive domain of philosophers – but not these three questions. Both the philosophically adept and the philosophically untrained have a right to feel a vested interest in how these questions might be answered. Indeed, how we answer them has an immediate and potentially fatal bearing on how we view ourselves and those around us. And it is here we begin to question.

Mankind’s 3 Greatest Unanswered Questions

People of all ages have lingering questions that have occupied and troubled the greatest minds of each generation. Most of the challenging philosophical conundrums are usually the exclusive domain of philosophers – but not these three questions. Both the philosophically adept and the philosophically untrained have a right to feel a vested interest in how these questions might be answered. Indeed, how we answer them has an immediate and potentially fatal bearing on how we view ourselves and those around us. And it is here we begin to question.

A Theology of Sexuality

Gender and Sexuality are uncontroversially linked. The contribution that a man and a woman made to sexuality had always been straight-forward. Yet, of late, a very odd controversy has arisen around the novel idea that people are born with a sexuality beyond the designation of either male or female. It is asserted that there are now at least seven gender options with corresponding varieties of sexuality.

Initially, those defending what the Bible teaches about sexuality were ridiculed as “out of date”, “out of touch”, “prudish”, or even “fundamentalist”. But lately, the criticisms toward those who still promote an understanding of Biblical sexuality are coming from those who identify themselves as ‘Christians’. I’m not the first one to point out that the discussion regarding sexuality from the Biblical perspective has thus often been an exchange of vitriolic name-calling. The adage, “Ridicule is not an argument” seems to be pertinent. There are people on both sides of this debate who seem more interested in shouting than listening – let alone giving reasoned cases. This article in no way seeks to vilify anyone and does not endorse any acts of hatred.

The 5 Pillars Of Christianity

Many Church denominations are generally waning in this “post-modern” era. Along with the rise of non-denominationally aligned churches has been a growing doctrinal vacuum as preachers become life-coaches and the emphasis is on making the Bible a “How to…” book. A casual reading of some of these churches doctrinal statements reveals some glaring departures with historic Christianity, which should cause us to wonder how or why they differ so much with the 5 Pillars of Biblical Christianity…

Is Tithing For Today?

The vast majority of Evangelical churches encourage the practise of “tithing” and claim to do so because the New Testament teaches it. But does it? What are the believer’s obligations when it comes to endorsing or challenging tithing? What are the local church’s obligations when it comes to teaching, receiving, or addressing tithing for today? How we answer these questions has a huge impact on how believers and churches function as stewards of both finance and God’s Word!

There seems to be a growing challenge to the teaching of “the New Testament tithe”. There are entire internet sites dedicated to the issue. There are chatrooms where believers can discuss it. There are new books being written about it. In our local regional newspaper someone obviously feels so strongly about it that they have taken out provocative advertisements in the Church Notices section condemning any church that endorses tithing as being “a part of the Harlot church of Babylon”. This has become a heated issue…

I Doubt, Part 2

We are divinely designed to doubt! Doubt should be a normal healthy human response to an unsubstantiated claim. Doubt says, I won’t believe this unless I have good reasons to. When it comes to belief in God, more and more people have moved from doubt to cynicism largely because they believe there are no reasons or evidences for the existence of the God of the Bible. All too often those who do believe in God promote the incorrect idea that belief in God is a solely a matter of faith – without any need for rational evidence. Little wonder then many doubters in God have become convinced there is no God. There are some good reasons to doubt God’s existence, but some even better reasons to doubt these doubts!

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