Tag Archives: God the Father

God, Trinity

To those who are elect exiles … according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood.(1 Peter 1:1-2 ESV)

God is a mystery. Even though people are given the image of God so they might have an intimate relationship with Him, people are created and have limitations. God is not created and has no limitations. God has revealed Himself to people in both general and special creation. Peter refers to God as three persons in his opening statement. He speaks about the knowledge of God the Father, the work of the Holy Spirit and the government of God the Son, Jesus Christ. Scripture does not implicitly state God is a Trinity but does imply that God is Three in One.

In the beginning God created all things. We are told that His Spirit hovered over His creation. “The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters” (Genesis 1:2 ESV). Later, when God created Man in His image, He states “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Genesis 1:26 ESV). God speaks of Himself in the plural. This is not the royal “we” but the eternal reality of God’s person. After Adam’s rebellion corrupted Man with sin, God gives the reason for removing those created in His image from the Garden and access to the tree of life. “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:22 ESV). Again, when people work together to build the tower of Babel, God watches what they are doing and makes a decision to confuse their speech. “Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech” (Genesis 11:7 ESV). In all cases God is speaking of Himself in a plural form, suggesting He is more than One person.

Scripture is filled with references to God the Father as the only God. Why is our understanding the Trinity important? Throughout Scripture, God declares He is the only god, that there are no others, and that none should declare any other god.

Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, you survivors of the nations! They have no knowledge who carry about their wooden idols, and keep on praying to a god that cannot save. Declare and present your case; let them take counsel together! Who told this long ago? Who declared it of old? Was it not I, the LORD? And there is no other god besides me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none besides me. Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. (Isaiah 45:20-22 ESV)

Many people who declare themselves Christians treat God like He is three or more gods and not a single divine person. They say He is three but do not truly believe what they declare. They will treat God the Father, as the Old Testament god, and Jesus as the New Testament god, ignoring completely the Holy Spirit. They will declare Jesus as the Son of God but not believe He is God, the Son. Jesus is a man and thus cannot be completely God while the Holy Spirit is intangible and thus cannot be God.

God is not like people. People are like God. Perhaps the often-used illustration of water is the best way of comprehending what God’s being. Water has three forms: gas, liquid and solid, depending upon the temperature in which water is found. At high temperatures, water is a gas, but is still water. At normal temperatures, water is a liquid, but still water. At freezing temperatures, water is a solid, but still water. The molecule water remains the same while the density of the molecules varies because of temperature. God does not vary because of any physical or spiritual circumstance. God, the Father, is God, as is God, the Son and God the Holy Spirit. They are all a single God yet have three distinct persons. This is a mystery. Our spiritual selves comprehend God more and more as our relationship with Him grows in intimacy.

God has revealed Himself in the Scripture. All Three Persons of the Trinity are at work throughout Scripture. In the Hebrew Scripture, we see God the Father at work in the history of mankind. In the Gospels of the New Testament we see Jesus Christ, the Son of God, come to live as a man among sinful people to draw all to Himself. In the epistles and history of the Church we see the work of the Holy Spirit drawing those who are God’s toward Him and into eternity. In our lives we see the evidence of the Trinity working in our relationship with Him, drawing us into an eternal intimacy that begins at the moment of our redemption and salvation from sin.

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Aliens and Strangers in the World

Studies in First Peter

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you. (1 Peter 1:1-2 ESV)

Christians are a peculiar people. Not odd or weird but unusual and unconventional. Christians live in a world, adopting most of the cultural norms of the societies in which they live while knowing they are heaven bound and that the world is not their final home. We live in the world but are not of the world. We look like everyone else but do not act according to the immoral, ungodly dictates of the world in which we live.

Peter gives instruction to people who find themselves at odds with the world, sometimes violently at odds, because of their focus on eternity. The world and all that it contains will cease to exist. People will die and leave all that they have gathered to others, who will in turn die, passing on their possessions to yet others. There is no hope in this world except in the present. Christians hope in God who is eternal and who has promised, through Jesus Christ to bring them into His presence for eternity.

Peter has written a letter that is both easy to understand on the surface with sections that are difficult to comprehend. Peter, an eyewitness to Jesus’ words and works, a disciple of Christ and the leader of the twelve apostles, shows his experience in living for Christ and knowledge of deep spiritual matters, in this short epistle.

First Peter is divided into three main sections.  Each section shows one member of the Triune Godhead working in the Christian and in the Church, the Body of Christ.  The theme of First Peter is that Christians are aliens and strangers in the world, and drives the points Peter wants to make in each of the three sections. Throughout each section, Peter give his readers the tools they need to understand the work of God to live as Christians in a sinful and hateful world. (What are these tools? They are the spiritual disciplines found in the Sermon on the Mount.) His main concern is for Christians to view themselves in an eternal light.  For this reason he identifies them as sojourners in the world.  But he uses two different words to describe their position: “aliens” and “strangers.”

As I was growing up as an Air Force brat who lived in Europe for six years, family members of those in the military service were called “good will ambassadors.” I was a US citizen living in a foreign country. I had no idea what an “ambassador” was. I just knew that, according to my dad, I better be on my best behavior. I represented the United States, the Military Base where we were stationed, and my father and family. If I got in trouble then the United States was in trouble, the Base was in trouble and my father was in trouble. My dad was a First Sergeant and he made sure I understood that if he got in trouble I was in big trouble. Being a “good will ambassador” meant nothing to me. I completely understood what it meant to be in trouble with my dad.

People in a country not their own fall into two primary categories. Either they are just visiting for a short time or they have pulled up stakes in their home country and are living permanently in their host country.

Peter uses two Greek words to describe the Christian in the world. The English words used to translate the Greek words are unfortunate. I have come to understand what these two Greek words mean from being forced to live in a country not my own. In the English Standard Version both words are translated exiles. Neither word means exile.

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles (1 Peter 1:1 ESV).

Conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile (1 Peter 1:17 ESV).

Beloved, I urge you as sojourners (exiles) and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul (1 Peter 2:11 ESV).

The first word is better translated, alienor immigrant. The second word is better translated, sojourner or stranger.

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are aliensor immigrants (1 Peter 1:1 ESV).

Conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your sojourn (1 Peter 1:17 ESV).

Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangersto abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul (1 Peter 2:11 ESV).

Understanding these two words is critical to understanding the First Epistle of Peter.

My God and My Lord

O LORD, how many are my foes! Many are rising against me; many are saying of my soul, there is no salvation for him in God. (Psalm 3:1-2 ESV)

Jesus Christ speaks in this Psalm, praying to His Father, while living as a Servant among the fallen people of the world. He expresses, in the first person, His experiences about some of the persecutions He endured while walking the earth as the Second Adam. During His ministry, the religious leaders continually badgered Him about His lack of respect for the traditions they espoused. Jesus’ responses showed His interest was in leading people into a relationship with God over their legalistic adherence to non-Scriptural rules.

The beginning verses of this Psalm mirror the beginning verses of Psalm 1. While parallel statements are meant to emphasize and drive home the thoughts and feelings of the Psalmist, it is not coincidental these same statements reflect the same situations. In Psalm 1 God describes the only One who is Blessed by Him, Jesus Christ, because He alone lived a righteous life. In Psalm 3, He who lived the righteous life and is blessed by God describe the circumstances of persecution by those who hate God.

Psalm 3

Psalm 1

  • how many are my foes!
  • Many are rising against me;
  • many are saying of my soul, there is no salvation for him in God.
  • Who walks not in the counsel of the wicked
  • Nor stand in the way of sinners
  • Nor sit in the seat of scoffers.

Jesus prays with familiarity to God, addressing Him by His proper name, YHWY. He who created all things speaks to He who has always existed, the Existing One. His relationship with God is intimate. The Jews were afraid of speaking God’s proper name, changing it to LORD, or Adonai, so they would not violate the third commandment, or statement of God, about taking His name in vain. “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain” (Exodus 20:7 ESV; see Deuteronomy 5:11). Jesus cannot misuse the name of God because He is God. Those who love God cannot misuse His name.

During His ministry, Jesus habitually left His disciples for a short time to pray, climbing mountains or finding other secluded places. He did this often, sometimes at night while the disciples slept or after sending them off on a task. For one of these prayer times, Jesus took with Him three of His disciples. “And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light” (Matthew 17:1-2; see Mark 9:2-13, see Luke 9:28-36 ESV). This is the only time in Scripture which shows the evidence of Jesus transfigured while He prayed. Three men saw and gave eye-witness testimony of what occurred. However, there is no reason to believe every time Jesus prayed in seclusion He was not transfigured. He is the Son of God, sent into the world as a Servant. He may have been transfigured each time but we cannot know because there were no other witnesses.

What do the disciples hear while on the mountain with Jesus? They hear God speak. He tells them that Jesus is His Son. “He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him’” (Matthew 17:5 ESV). What has God already said in Psalm 2? “I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you” (Psalm 2:7 ESV). We are hearing Jesus the Son speak to God the Father in an intimate and loving way.

Jesus prays, telling His Father that which is of the utmost importance to the blessed Man. He reveals His heart in a vulnerable and unguarded way to God and to all who read the Psalms. Only in God is there salvation.

Jesus does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, who are His foes. He does not stand in the way of sinners, those who rise against Him. He does not sit in the seat of scoffers, those who would suggest God cannot save Him. He is the Righteous Man who has God’s complete attention and love. Though His foes are everyone in the world God will hear and answer His prayer. He is the One Man to whom God does listen.

Imago Dei

Studies in Genesis 1

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. (Genesis 1:26 ESV)

There are not three Gods. There is One God who eternally exists in three Persons. He is Trinity—God, the Father and God, the Son and God, the Holy Spirit.

God tells us in Genesis 1:2 His Spirit moved over creation. David acknowledges that neither he, nor anyone else, can flee from His Spirit. Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!” (Psalms 139:7-8 ESV). After Jesus ascends He sends His Spirit, as He said He would in John 14 and 16.

Concerning God, the Son, John tells us, in John 1:1-3, that Jesus was with God in the beginning and He made everything that exists. Paul, in Philippians 2:6-7 gives perhaps the most concise declaration of the divine Person of Christ.

Though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form… (Philippians 2:6-8 ESV)

In Genesis 1:26 the word used for “image” means a shade, or phantom, a resemblance or representative figure. It is used to describe idols of a false god meant to represent the Only God. Thus, “image” is a shallow depiction or copy if that which is real and true. Yet, God also uses the word “likeness” which can also mean resemblance but carries the idea of shape or model. This is the only place in Scripture where these tw words are used to describe Man. God created Man in His image and likeness, making him a physical representation of God, with those qualities necessary to represent God’s being. He did this so He would have an intimate relationship with Man. Yet, God is spiritual and eternal, not physical and temporary.

There are several words used in Philippians 2:6-7 to describe and define Jesus. He has the “form” of “God” and of a “servant” and in the “likeness” of men. “Form” is a philosophical word, morphe, which means the nature of a thing, or that which makes something what it is. “Likeness” is the word homoioma, which depicts the true appearance or shape of a thing. Paul also uses the word schema, in verse 8, to describe the internal and external makeup of Jesus as human. Jesus was human in the truest sense. “God,” theos, means God, and there is only One. “Servant” means someone or thing under subjection to another, either voluntarily or involuntarily, either a slave or a bond-servant.

Jesus has the eternal and essential qualities and characteristics which are only God’s. Jesus has the eternal and essential qualities and characteristic which makes a servant, a servant.  He also had the true biological and psychological makeup of a human man.

Jesus is truly the Servant God come to represent Man because He was a man. Jesus is man the way God intended Man, as the Second Adam (see Romans 5:12-21) while being God the Creator of all whether seen or unseen, known or unknown.

It is in His image and likeness Man is created.