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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.

Impossible Faith

Some people find faith in God to be impossible. These people have reasons for their impossible faith. Their objections may be intellectual, moral, or emotional. There are three well-known figures who each exemplify each of these objections to faith in God. Charles Darwin, Thomas Hardy and Bob Hawke each respectively held these particular objections to Christianity.

The Reliability of The Bible and How Best To Interpret It

The Bible is the most influential book of all time. It’s contents have changed the course of history. It’s story has formed the pattern for all the great literary classics. It also makes the astounding claim that it is the uniquely authoritative revelation from God and therefore has the authority to command our moral behaviour. But if the Bible is not reliable, then its claims are indefensible and Christianity is without foundation! Yet despite this glaring vulnerability, the Bible has withstood rigorous scrutiny and repeated attempts to refute it. Here’s why it is indeed reliable.

What Is Heaven Like?

I honestly used to think that Christianity was all about having the assurance of going to Heaven. But as I learned more about the Gospel and the teaching of Jesus of Nazareth I became curious about the relative scarcity of references to Heaven in the Bible. Yet, while my understanding of the place of Heaven in my Gospel proclamation has been refined, some God-Channel evangelists have headed in the other direction and made Heaven central to their Gospel. Some of these evangelists now even claim to have the spiritual power to make repeated visits there!

Presumably God, the Supreme Being, has a supremely beautiful home, in a supremely magnificent neighbourhood. Amazingly, God invites mankind to move into His neighbourhood- for eternity! But what is Heaven like? Is it possible, as some are now claiming, that we can visit Heaven? While I am going to lead readers to conclude that Heaven is not the Gospel’s focus, if it is the only reason someone is motivated to convert to Christ, then we should rejoice!

The Tragedy of Suicide – And How We Can Help

Suicide hurts. It is motivated by pain, but causes much greater pain. For those affected by suicide the guilt and anguish it produces is almost unbearable. But since suicide is in the Bible, how can we know that it is wrong? How should we regard the sinfulness of suicide? Is it unforgiveable? How can we help avoid suicide? What should those affected by it know after its happened?

The funeral celebrant rang me to warn me. He was used to dealing with sensitive situations but this one had a few extra layers of complexity. He decided to get me involved. He outlined the story to me and then told me the purpose of his call. When a loved one dies there is often a measure of guilt for those left behind. But when the death is caused by suicide that guilt is compounded. Suicide hurts. The funeral celebrant told me that a young man with a diagnosed mental illness, who had professed Christianity, had taken his own life and his devout mother (who we will call “Betty”) was devastated. The celebrant told me that Betty would ring because her guilt was beyond his expertise due to her Biblical understanding of suicide.

How To Handle A Crisis

The definition of a crisis is a calamity or event which disrupts a person’s sense of well- being and lifestyle. It is generally short term and requires immediate action in order to restore balance and control in the person’s life.  The results of crisis are: anxiety, bewilderment, confusion, desperation, anger, helplessness and even apathy. There is an increased sense of dependency upon others, a sense of urgency, and decreased efficiency in decision making and performance. The account of Judah being sieged by the Assyrians in Second Chronicles 32, involves all the aspects of a crisis. The major distinctive is that it involves a nation of people rather than just one person. The “helper” in this instance was their leader – King Hezekiah.

Roman Catholicism Compared With Christianity

Any discussion about religious wars, clergy violations, or child abuse, and it won’t be long before the The Roman Catholic Church unfortunately features. But I want to have a different discussion. And unlike most of the ‘discussions’ of this nature, I’m not on a mission to attack, ridicule, or mock anyone. Rather, I want to look at what the Roman Catholic Church officially teaches and asserts and compare it with the Bible’s teaching.

I’ve been a denominational minister for over two decades, so I know that it is possible to be a part of an organisation with which you disagree on some points.  I understand that this is certainly the case with the Roman Catholic Church as there are many priests who do agree with all that their Church asserts. For the purposes of this discussion, I have chosen to take the official Catholic positions on the matters I am comparing with the Biblical data. It is my hope that my Roman Catholic audience will acknowledge that I have represented their views fairly – but it is also my hope that I can appropriately demonstrate how these core views compare with the Biblical prescriptions.

Soli Deo Gloria

The final statement in The Five Pillars of Biblical Christianity is Soli Deo Gloria – for the glory of God alone! The reason we are saved is so that we can glorify God. In one sense it is true that reason Christ died for us was to save us from our sins and the just wrath of God for our sin. But the main reason Christ died to redeem us was for the glory of God.

How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?
John 5:44

The glory that comes from God is when we give God glory. One of Christ’s last prayers was that His disciples would see His glory (John 17:24). Therefore God’s glory, His radiant magnificence, is visible and apprehendable. God’s glory is described several times in Scripture. In this sense, God’s glory is a visible reality (a noun). God’s glory is variously described as being like a cloud (Exodus 16:10), a devouring and consuming fire (Exodus 24:17), fire and smoke-like cloud (2Chronicles 7:1), and a brightly glowing cloud (Ezekiel 10:4).

Where Are The Dead?

Sitting across from me in my office was an older middle-aged man who had just read my draft commentary on the Book of Revelation. He had come from Queensland to visit friends in Tasmania and while in the neighbourhood, dropped in to see me to have chat and get a later edition of my book. He asked a lot of theoretical questions and we discussed the implications of what we discussed. Not until he returned to Queensland did I get an email regarding the chapter on the Resurrection. It was at this point that he confided in me that he was in the advanced stages of cancer and that his query was far more than theoretical.
The ancients believed that death was merely a change of location for the soul of a person. The place of the dead was called “Sheol”. When Jacob thought his son Joseph was dead: “All his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted and said, “No, I shall go down to Sheol to my son, mourning.” Thus his father wept for him.” (Gen. 37:35 ). When the judgment of God came upon Korah and his rebellion.

TULIP, The Essence of The Reformation

Jesus Christ taught that following Him was only possible through the miracle of conversion. He taught that for someone to authentically claim to be a Christian they needed a spiritual encounter that changed their heart and mind. Without such a miracle, known Biblically as ‘regeneration’, no one could merely decide to be a Christian.
It’s important to appreciate the geo-socio-politico conditions at the time of the Reformation. This was the time when John Calvin, Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli, and others dared to defend the Biblical revelation against a militant Papal Church which had previously executed similar voices (Wyclif, Tyndale, Savonarola, to name a few) for daring to defy the teaching of the Papacy. One of the central claims of the Papacy was “Universalism”, the doctrine which taught that Christ’s sacrificial death was repeated over and over through the celebration of the Mass and was effective in saving all those in communion with the Roman Catholic Church (thus, universal salvation was activated by works). Since Salvation was universal (everyone is automatically saved), the Papal Church was more concerned about administering this salvation through having people in communion with it, or alternatively, disfellowshipping (or, ex-communicating) those who it disliked. Calvin on the other hand saw that Scripture did not teach universalism, but conversely- that not everyone would be saved.

Leadership Lessons From Shackleton

Sometimes when the going gets tough, you just have to keep going. In fact, success in life – no matter how you define it – can only be achieved with endurance. Surely one of the greatest examples of endurance (if not the greatest) is the story of Ernest Shackleton and his expedition to the Antarctic on the ship: The Endurance. While we ordinary mortals may never have a death defying adventure like Shackleton and his 28 men, we are already in the midst of our own great adventure called life!

Some people want to live their lives by seeking their maximum comfort and avoiding all risks. But this is not the Believer’s lot. We are called to follow Christ- who even though He is entirely consistent in character, is somewhat unpredictable in his plans for His followers. The New Testament calls this “walking by faith” (2Corinthians 5:7). This is why for the Believer, Life is the Greatest Adventure.

When was the last time you did something for Christ that required “great faith” (Matthew 15:28)?

FTMtweets

@FTMtweets

- April 22, 2018, 12:04 pm

RT @DrFWBoreham: Read Dr.F.W. Boreham’s essay, ‘Sister Kathleen’ written in 1918 - https://t.co/6Bzvci8SBq https://t.co/j0JAdAD8Q8
h J R
@FTMtweets

- April 21, 2018, 11:57 am

Why Charles Darwin found it impossible to believe in the God of the Bible … https://t.co/YD6y3pdiOF #apologetics https://t.co/V820gazbvo
h J R
@FTMtweets

- April 20, 2018, 5:24 am

Christians claim that the Bible is divinely inspired and without error! But just reliable is the Bible really? Chec… https://t.co/yMSPikQMHD
h J R
@FTMtweets

- April 19, 2018, 7:15 pm

How could a good, loving, forgiving, all-powerful God send anyone to Hell for eternity? https://t.co/VZuTBfi2Tjhttps://t.co/TnjaanPXDQ
h J R
@FTMtweets

- April 18, 2018, 6:15 pm

How can there be a good, loving, all-powerful God if there are natural disasters which kill thousands of innocent v… https://t.co/8tQVr0XS49
h J R
Dr. Andrew Corbett

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