Saturday, May 1, 2010

The True God and Eternal Life, Part 6

We need reconciliation; we need God’s mercy. We do not need to attempt to “be a good (fill in your religion’s name here.)” Then our faith is in ourselves and our works. The object of our faith is what makes said faith valuable. Faith in itself is nothing, unless it has an object worthy of resting upon. The very idea of faith, biblically speaking is humble trust, absolute reliance on the trustworthiness of the one who is the object of our faith. Being obedient does not create spirituality; rather, becoming a new creature through spiritual birth gives us the ability to be obedient!

God could have paid for the sins of men but that would not be just because He is not a man. As we all fell in Adam (1st Corinthians 15:21-22) being represented by him, so we must have another who would be the Advocate of the human race as a whole. God solved this problem by becoming a Man through the virgin birth. He is the second Man and the last Man, 1st Corinthians 15:45, 47. No other being in Heaven or earth could have satisfied God’s infinite justice. Yet the Son did so, “who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross,” Philippians 2:6-8. Jesus denied Himself the limitless power of Deity, and came in the form of a bondservant, a humble slave to do His Father’s will. What condescending love is seen here, that God would stoop so low to rescue us when we were His enemies! When this was done, Jesus voluntarily laid down His life, having power to lay it down Himself and take it up again, John 10:18. He said likewise to the Jews earlier: “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up,” John 2:19, concerning His resurrection. This was adequately demonstrated when Jesus surrendered or yielded His spirit on the cross, Matthew 27:50; Luke 23:46. No other human being could have ever voluntarily given up his ghost, but the Son of Man did, showing He had the authority He claimed.

What Jesus our Savior did for us is by all means entirely incredible and wonderful. “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly...God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us,” Romans 5:6, 8. Verse 9 tells us the outcome: we have been justified by this righteous sacrifice, and much more, being presently and eternally justified through Jesus Christ our Lord, we are saved from the wrath to come. We are saved! The present tense signals that it is something already obtained; the eternal quality indicates it will never cease, given by God out of sheer loving grace. We are saved because Jesus Christ as Almighty God and perfect Man did what no other could ever do.

Jesus gave simple testimony regarding His person. “I and My Father are one...he who sees Me sees Him who sent Me...He who has seen Me has seen the Father,” John 10:30; 12:45; 14:9. Three times in Isaiah (41:4; 44:6; 48:12) the Lord says He is the First and the Last; He alone is God. Yet in Revelation we read, “He (Jesus) laid His right hand on me (John), saying to me, ‘Do not be afraid, I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead (literally "became dead"), and behold, I am alive forevermore,” Revelation 1:17-18. We know that it was God speaking through Isaiah. Yet Jesus is speaking to John, who claims not only to be the First and the Last, but also to be He who died and is alive forevermore. Jesus claims the titles of Jehovah, and indeed claims that He (Jehovah) became dead, and is now alive forevermore! Jesus told the Jews of His day, “Therefore I said that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins,” John 8:24. The word “He” does not appear in the original Greek manuscript, which leaves Jesus saying “unless you believe that I AM.” It was the answer Moses received from God when he asked what name he should give the children of Israel. God replied, “I AM has sent me to you,” Exodus 3:13-14. Jesus spoke to these Jews as though they should know His identity; that Messiah was God in the flesh, and surely they did know what He implied, because they wanted to stone Him for making such claims, John 8:59. God has said, "I am the Lord, that is My name; and My glory I will not give to another," Isaiah 42:8. Yet Christ clearly shares in God's glory, John 1:14; Philippians 2:9-11; 2nd Peter 1:16-17; Revelation 5:8-14, etc. We are trying too hard to strip the Lord of the Deity which is rightfully His.

Jesus left no room to honestly deny His claims of Deity; salvation is through no other name, Acts 4:12. The Bible says whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved, Joel 2:32. God plainly stated in the Old Testament that His name alone provides salvation, and Peter says likewise of Jesus in his sermon (Acts 4:12), intrinsically linking Jesus to God. Suggesting that Jesus is anything less than Deity is no different than Roman Catholics suggesting that Mary is co-mediatrix, and co-redemptrix of mankind. Both assertions are unbiblical and carry no weight in the body of Christ. God alone speaks in righteousness and is mighty to save, Isaiah 63:1.

We are informed that Jesus is the visible image of the invisible God, and in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, Colossians 1:15, 19; 2:9. The Greek in Colossians 2:9 implies that everything that is God’s fullness and totality is present in Christ. John says, “The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared (revealed) Him,” John 1:18. Jesus was begotten through the incarnation, not previous creation. He is God the Son, the eternal Word, come forth to declare, reveal and explain God, since He is God. Scripture states that things were made through Him, by Him, and for Him, but He was not created; He has always been, John 1:3; Hebrews 1:2; 1st Corinthians 8:6; Colossians 1:16. The idea that Christ was called the firstborn over all creation (Romans 8:29; Colossians 1:1:15, 18) does not suggest He was the first being created. Isaac was Abraham’s firstborn (Genesis 22:2) though Ishmael was his older brother; as was the case with Jacob and Esau, Genesis 25:23. Firstborn in this case means by virtue of Christ’s preeminence He has the right of the inheritance; the inheritance in this case being rulership over all of creation. Honest skepticism can be the beginning of faith; hardened skepticism that contorts the teaching of the Bible (the Trinity, Jesus’ deity, the Holy Spirit’s deity, etc) to accommodate human reason is sin. Thomas was an honest skeptic, who cried out that Jesus was both Lord and God when confronted with the risen Christ. John wrote that the proofs left to us were so we might have life through Jesus’ name, John 20:31; 1st John 5:20. This includes accepting Jesus’ claim of Deity. Read again Isaiah 9:6-7; 7:14, and Micah 5:2. Jesus is “God with us,” whose going forth is from everlasting.
To be continued.

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