Tag Archives: image of God

Facing Death

Turn, O LORD, deliver my life; save me for the sake of your steadfast love. (Psalm 6:4 ESV)

Only God can both save and deliver anyone’s life from death. Those who have faced death and lived are better able to see and know the value, or lack of value, of their life compared to their stuff. For those who face certain death, yet continue to live and who have no hope for eternity, their property becomes the only reason to live. Without their belongings they have nothing. They know they cannot take anything with them when they die so they cling to life as long as possible and covet that which was never theirs. For those who have hope for eternity, who know they are known and loved by God, material possession carries little or no value. Spiritual maturity brings a realization that only that which is eternal holds eternal value. Only the Word of God (God Himself) and people created in His image have value. 

Only God can determine eternal value. He created people for relationship with Him because He wants them with Him for eternity. Those who rebel against Him will continue to exist for eternity but will exist away from His known presence.

Hezekiah lay dying. Isaiah came to the king, delivering a hard message. “Thus says the LORD: Set your house in order, for you shall die, you shall not recover” (Isaiah 38:1 ESV; see 2 Kings 20:1, 2 Chronicles 32:24). Despondent, facing imminent death and deeply afraid, Hezekiah prayed.“‘Please, O LORD, remember how I have walked before you in faithfulness and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in your sight.’ And Hezekiah wept bitterly” (Isaiah 38:3 ESV; see 2 Kings 20:3). Isaiah returned, giving another message to the king.“Go and say to Hezekiah, Thus says the LORD, the God of David your father: I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will add fifteen years to your life” (Isaiah 38:5 ESV; see 1 Kings 20:5). God listened to king Hezekiah. He did not avoid death but was given more time.

There are two things we should note about king Hezekiah. He did follow the LORD with his whole heart, doing what was right in the eyes of the LORD.“And he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, according to all that David his father had done” (2 Kings 18:3 ESV; see 2 Chronicles 31:20). But his righteous works did not follow in those extra years given by God. The evidence is shown in the life of his son, Manasseh.  

Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Hephzibah. And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to the despicable practices of the nations whom the LORD drove out before the people of Israel. (2 Kings 21:1-2 ESV; 2 Chronicles 33:9).

King Hezekiah was rich and became proud. After God healed him he did not continue working for God with his whole heart but exulted in his riches. Though he humbled himself, and God saved Judah and Jerusalem from the attack of the Assyrians, God still punished Israel for not seeking Him with the whole thinking of their hearts.

“But Hezekiah did not make return according to the benefit done to him, for his heart was proud. Therefore wrath came upon him and Judah and Jerusalem. But Hezekiah humbled himself for the pride of his heart, both he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the wrath of the LORD did not come upon them in the days of Hezekiah. (2 Chronicles 32:25-26 ESV).

God turned away from His judgment and delivered Hezekiah’s life. God saved him because of His love. In his later life, Hezekiah did not return to God the compassion and grace he was given. 

God did not turn away from, or stop the required judgment against sin endured by Jesus even when He asked God. Jesus did respond to God’s mercy and compassion in a way that lifted up God before all the people.

Without an eternal perspective life is self-focused and people are self-absorbed. Created in the image of God, people are given the natural and eternal ability to know Him intimately. Replacing Him with stuff is idolatry. Those who do not intimately know God are agonizingly afraid of death and the unknown. Those who do intimately know God, and are known by Him, are peacefully at rest with death. There may be fear of the process of dying but not of death itself. Death, separation from this sinful world, our sinful flesh and the constant attacks of the Deceiver, brings relief. We know this because of Jesus, who was raised from the dead, tells those who are His they will be with Him in eternity. “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20 ESV).

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Abiding Love

Turn, O LORD, deliver my life; save me for the sake of your steadfast love. (Psalm 6:4 ESV)

God turns toward those He calls, offering them His eternal mercy as they obey Him. He cannot abide sin in His presence. David’s words in this Psalm are a reflection of his words in Psalm 5, which pronounces judgment upon those who turn away from God. 

“For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you. The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers. You destroy those who speak lies; the LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man. (Psalm 5:4-6 ESV).

God does not trust those who are in rebellion against Him. In the deepest thinking of their hearts lives the desire to do whatever can be conceived to hurt or kill God. People hate God and hate truth, evidenced by their clinging to the insanity of sin. Though created in His image, with all the tools needed to fulfill the design for their lives given by God, people are corrupt and unwilling to work for Him. No one who has sinned is able to do anything to make them righteous before God. God’s intent is to show all who rebel against Him their abject spiritual poverty and do for them that which they cannot do for themselves. He offers all people salvation from His justified wrath. But, they must trust Him and turn toward Him.

Mercy is active love. God actively loves those He has created in His image. Love is God’s active goodness and kindness toward everyone. His purpose for creating people in His image is for intimacy, which is a natural element of God’s eternal character. “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (1 John 4:15-16 ESV).

No one controls God. Those He brings into His presence enter because they obey His command to repent and declare His Son Messiah, Savior because of what He did. God decided to place upon His Son the sin of those in the world, who rebelled against Him, because of His eternal love for them, not because of anything they could do. People can do nothing to earn salvation. Nothing. God delivers life because of His eternal love. Our response to His love is to love Him in return. 

Hezekiah’s words express his eternal response to God even while his eyes are fixed on his temporary circumstance. “The LORD will save me, and we will play my music on stringed instruments all the days of our lives, at the house of the LORD” (Isaiah 38:20 ESV). With the tools given in the image of God, people can think eternally. God wants us to recognize sin and hate it. He wants us to see our inability to do anything for ourselves that is righteous. He wants us to acknowledge all He has done for us by His grace. He loves us and wants an intimate relationship, receiving our love for Him as a natural part of our being His.

Turn means to return, come back, rotate toward. Where God turned His back on sin, He turns again and faces the one He loves. Deliver means to make strong, to withdraw or draw off, to rescue and set free. Soul is the same word used in 6:3. His soul was greatly troubled and now He is asking for God to withdraw His anger and wrath and give comfort and security. God’s steadfast love means His great mercy, His eternal purpose exercised in conjunction with His eternal goodness. To save means to give victory, be liberated and freed from the effects and sentence for sin. David, Hezekiah and Jesus all prayed God would keep them alive. Death is the ultimate consequence for sin. David and Hezekiah died and those who followed them turned away from God and were banished from the kingdom. Jesus died and was raised, and those who follow Him turn toward God as eternal citizens of His kingdom.

God turns toward the individual who rebels against Him, reaching out in compassion and love. He will not face them for eternity if they refuse to obey His commands and directives.

Obedience is expected and carries no merit before God. People continue to sin as long as they remain in the world. Sin has immediate and eternal consequences. Immediate consequences of sin affect the person and those who surround the person, who are influenced by them, even remotely. Eternal consequences are separation from Him who sustains life, which is existence without nourishment. Jesus took upon Himself the eternal consequences of sin and immediately gave to those who are His, the covering of His blood. People who sin, even those covered by the blood of Christ, suffer the immediate consequence but not the eternal effects. 

God turns toward us because we are found in Him. “Turn, O LORD, deliver my life; save me for the sake of your steadfast love” (Psalm 6:4 ESV). God delivers us from death because His Son died in our stead and was raised. God loves us with steadfast love because He created us for relationship, giving His image to people. We are saved by Him and for Him. That we would continually acknowledge and praise Him and grow in our intimate knowledge of Him should be natural.

God is Self-Existent and Immense

“According to the foreknowledge of God the Father” (1 Peter 1:2 ESV).

God has no beginning or ending. God is not dependent upon any force outside of Himself for His existence, which is unconstrained by either the physical universe or time. God exists outside of both. We learn this from the first verse in Scripture. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1 ESV). When He spoke to Moses, commanding him to lead His people out of Egypt, God gave His name as I AM. “God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM.’ And he said, ‘Say this to the people of Israel: “I AM has sent me to you”’” (Exodus 3:14 ESV). I AMmeans to be, to exist without cause, to remain (eternally) and continue (without beginning or end). Jesus uses the same phrase to describe Himself, which exacerbates the hatred of the religious leaders toward Him. “Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.’ So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple”(John 8:58-59 ESV). John has already told the world who Jesus is.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.  (John 1:1-3 ESV)

How big is the universe? No one knows. Scientists have tried to measure the observable universe but they can only provide educated guesses. Currently, Scientists suggest the distance from earth to the edge of what they have observed is over 46 billion light years, making the diameter closer to 96 billion light years, if Earth is the center. This is only an estimated measurement of what they can see and cannot include what they cannot see. The universe is huge, unimaginably large.

God tells us that He is larger than the universe. He declares that He fills heaven and earth. “Am I a God at hand, declares the LORD, and not a God far away? Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the LORD. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the LORD” (Jeremiah 23:23-24 ESV). Not only does He fill the universe, He surrounds it. “You have set your glory above the heavens” (Psalm 8:1 ESV). Solomon recognized how puny he was and how small was the temple built for Him. God does not live in a physical place. “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built!” (1 Kings 8:27 ESV). Just before Stephen was stoned for his witness for Jesus, he spoke about Solomon’s words and the temple built for God.

But it was Solomon who built a house for him. Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made by hands, as the prophet says, “‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me, says the Lord, or what is the place of my rest? Did not my hand make all these things?’” (Acts 7:47-50 ESV; see Isaiah 66:1-2)

Jesus gives the same analogy in the Sermon on the Mount. “But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King”  (Matthew 5:34-35 ESV). God doesn’t just sit in the heavens and place His feet on the earth. This analogy is an anthropomorphic illustration used to help those created in the image of God and corrupted by sin to understand God’s immensity and power.People tend to think about God as if He were one of them, having the same size and limitations. We are limited by space and time therefore, God must also be limited by space and time. We occupy a physical place in the universe, therefore, God must also occupy a physical place in the universe. Theology tells us that God is immense, which means He is unlimited by the physical universe and cannot be contained within its boundaries. He is eternal. As the Creator of the heavens and the earth He must be larger than that which He made.

Truth

You destroy those who speak lies; the LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.(Psalm 5:6 ESV)

Why does God hate lies? When He spoke to the Israelites after He brought them out of Egypt He told them “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” (Exodus 20:16 ESV; see also Deuteronomy 5:20). To bear false witness is to speak deceptively about anything to your neighbor or before a group, such as a court of law. God hates lies because His essential, eternal character is truth. He created Man in His image, which means for anyone to speak something that is not true goes against His will in creation. Lying is first against God and then against others. It is one more way for people to reject God and His perfect design for them. In the Garden, the Deceiver lied to Eve, who believed the lie and acted in rebellion against God. Lying is an act of rebellion against the eternal nature of God.

Those who speak lies are anyone who tells a falsehood or deceptive thing about anything, including libel and defamation, slurs and slanders, making statements fabricated to lead another to an untrue conclusion. Deceitful  means treachery, and involves betrayal, treason, disloyalty and sedition.

There are two other words used to describe God’s justice toward those who lie. God will destroy those who lie, which means to perish, vanish and make go away, blot them out, sentence to eternal death, which is separation from Him, the source of life. God abhors them, which means to detest, loathe, to make an abomination, all ritually and ethically. God does not tolerate lies. He then equates lying to those who are bloodthirsty, or those who seek to put others to death for no reason. God equates lying to murder.

When Jesus violently drove the vendors and moneychangers from the Temple courts He was challenged by the religious leaders. They asked Him for a sign, a testimony, to establish His authority to clear the Temple. It was their Temple, in their minds, and not His. It had taken many years to complete and was still not finished. They were in charge of what occurred on the Temple grounds. Jesus’ actions were a direct challenge to their traditional authority. “What sign do you show us for doing these things?”  (John 2:18 ESV).

Jesus’ response made no sense to them. “Destroy this Temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19 ESV). They thought He was speaking about the physical Temple, the structure rising around them. But He was speaking about His body. “But he was speaking about the Temple of his body. When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken” (John 2:21-22 ESV). He did not say He would destroy the Temple. He implied they would destroy the Temple, which is His body. He prophesied their actions in murdering Him and His accomplishment in rising from the dead.

How did they manage to condemn Jesus to death and destroy the Temple that was His body? They lied. Their lies revealed the thinking of their hearts and the bloodthirsty nature of their actions. They believed false witnesses.

Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death, but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward and said, “This man said, ‘I am able to destroy the Temple of God, and to rebuild it in three days.’”(Matthew 26:59-61 ESV; see Mark 14:55-56)

When Stephen was executed for his witness about Jesus and the gospel, those who condemned him used almost the same lies they spoke against Jesus.

Then they secretly instigated men who said, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.” And they stirred up the people and the elders and the scribes, and they came upon him and seized him and brought him before the council, and they set up false witnesses who said, “This man never ceases to speak words against this holy place and the law, for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and will change the customs that Moses delivered to us.” (Acts 6:11-14 ESV)

Their lies led to the murders of both Jesus and Stephen. They did not violate only one of the statements of God in Exodus 20, but many. By lying and murdering they dishonored God, heaping derision upon His name. Jesus was resurrected and Stephen will be resurrected. Those who lied will stand before God and then be driven from His presence, unless before they die they repent, admitting their sin and embracing the grace of God given through the Man they murdered.

The Person of God, the Father

“According to the foreknowledge of God the Father” (1 Peter 1:2 ESV).

Focus your attention on God, not on the word “foreknowledge.”  God’s eternal attributes and characteristics are revealed in both Scripture and in nature. We could know little about God without Him telling us. We can assume great things about God through an honest examination of nature, which is the evidence of His work. But to know Him, either intellectually or intimately, demands He reveal Himself to us in a way we understand. There are two ways He has done this. As mentioned, He has revealed Himself in the Scriptures. He has also given us His image so that we might know Him intimately. For this study in First Peter we will focus on some of God’s essential characteristics and eternal attributes to understand what is meant by His foreknowledge.

God’s unique essence is features of His eternal nature He shares with no created being. The words “essence” and “substance” are reasonably interchangeable when used to describe God.  As God reveals Himself, we discover the evidence of His eternal self, upon which His attributes have their foundation. His essential character is similar to His attributes. However, we could say those created in His image have similar attributes, mirrored in the image given, with a likeness to His essence, limited but given so we might intimately know Him. 

God is spiritual and has no physical substance, unlike the physical universe He created. Scripture is filled with anthropomorphic descriptions of God, describing Him as having human characteristics, given as a means for people to grasp particular aspects of His being. God is also described as having a characteristic of a bird. He has “wings” (see Psalm 17:8; Ruth 2:12). God is described as a fire, speaking to Moses from a burning bush. “When the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, ‘Moses, Moses!’ And he said, ‘Here I am’” (Exodus 3:4 ESV). As an eternal being, God does not have physical characteristics.

Jesus, when speaking to the Samaritan woman at the well, describes God as spirit. “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24 ESV). Since God is a spirit, those who are created in His image must worship Him in both spiritand in truth.  Spirit means the vital principle that animates those created in the image of God. Truth is reality, whether in the physical or eternal realm.  People cannot makeup ways to worship God Worship originally came from their natural inclinations, uncorrupted by sin, according to the image of God in them. Worship is the natural outcome of an intimate relationship with God, not simply ritualistic observances. Sin and rebellion corrupts the vessel containing the image but the image of God in people is not corrupted. Jesus added these two words, spiritand truth because of the corruption of sin that has caused the inability of the sinful person to comprehend the spiritual or that which is true.

Paul tells us God’s essence is revealed in the physical universe, which is the evidence of His work.

For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. (Romans 1:19-20 ESV)

This is not a contradiction to the words of John. “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known”(John 1:18 ESV). No one who is corrupted by sin can see God for He will not allow sin in His eternal presence. God can be known, both intellectually and intimately, by an honest examination of His creation and through an intimate relationship with the Person of His Son, Jesus Christ.

God will do only what God can do. No created being can do that which only God can do. Therefore, the evidence of God is in the work done which only He can do. People can see and examine the obvious evidence of the physical universe, including their own bodies, and their understanding of the laws of the universe. Only God can create and only He can suspend the laws of the universe and perform miracles. God may use people as the instrument though which His miracles are performed, as when God used Moses to do miracles before Pharaoh and the people of Egypt.

As His people entered the Promised Land, Joshua told them how they could know that God was with them. “Here is how you shall know that the living God is among you” (Joshua 3:10 ESV). You will know when the ark, carried by twelve men, enters the Jordan River while at flood stage, and the water is stopped so they can cross without injury. God’s miracles are more evidence of God. Peter and the disciples, and many of the people who followed and listened to Jesus, saw His works and the miracles He did. They saw Him with their eyes and witnessed His divinity, declaring Him the “Son of God” (see Matthew 14:33, 16:16; John 1:49, 6:69, 11:27, 20:31). They saw the evidence of creation, the miracles performed, and the Person of Jesus. We can read about the eyewitness accounts of the miracles of God and the Person of Jesus but can also examine the evidence of creation. As such, we can know God is both living and active in the physical universe and in the spiritual realm.

To Stand Before God

The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers. (Psalm 5:5 ESV)

God is holy, righteous and just in all His dealings with those created in His image. It is the image of God in people that drives them toward Him, for He created all for intimate relationship with Him. Yet, sin drives people away from God and is the reason God judges harshly those who rebel against Him. “The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually”  (Genesis 6:5 ESV). God’s image is not corrupted. However, the vessel that contains His image is bent and broken beyond repair. God does not fix His creation that is broken. He recreates. Jesus calls this being “born again.” “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3 ESV). Paul calls those who are His, a new creation. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come”(2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV). God does not recreate those who continue in their rebellion, and is grieved that those He created for relationship refuse His gift of recreation.

Those who are wicked have set themselves above God. “The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying, ‘Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us’” (Psalm 2:2-3 ESV). God will not allow anyone or anything to take His rightful place. “He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision” (Psalm 2:4 ESV). For the High Priest during Jesus’ time to allow the Temple of God to fill with those who cheated God’s people coming to worship Him, was the height of dishonoring God. Wickedness looks at personal accomplishments that are temporary and will fail, over the work of God, which is eternally permanent.

Boastful means to shine or flash a brief light, looking for praise and commendation from those immediately present. It is also the act of a madman and a fool. Those who are insane cannot think or feel in a clear, normal way. God gave His image to people so behavior would be naturally righteous. Sin entered the race and people cannot act in a godly manner without direct intervention. Rebelling against God is insane. Foolishness is a characteristic of a person who has lost reason or is unable to reason, having no understanding and acting in a way that brings hardship and suffering. In Scripture a fool is a wicked and depraved person, who rejects sound wisdom and pursues temporary, sinful pleasures. Those who turned the Temple into a marketplace showed they had no intimate understanding of God, nor valued Him and His house of worship.

God will not allow those who rebel against Him to claim His righteousness. He will judge them. “Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous” (Psalm 1:5 ESV). Those who God identifies with His Son, who are blessed, will stand before Him, shielded by the righteousness of His Son. There are two different words for stand in these first few Psalms. In Psalm 1 the word stand means to rise up before, fixed, validated, proven and fulfilled. This person is covered with the blood of Christ, their sin forgiven and their place before God firmly established. Those who are wicked continue to sin, having rejected the sacrifice of the Son, thinking they are able to stand on their own merits. They cannot stand before God, their works are judged as unrighteous, and are driven from His eternal presence.

In the verse, “the boastful shall not stand before your eyes” (Psalm 5:5 ESV), the word stand means to station oneself, as in a place of authority, or to present oneself. Those who bought and sold animals, traded currency, positioned themselves in the Temple as a necessary part of the Temple worship. With the blessing of the High Priest and those priests who worked in the Temple during their rotation, people had to use these merchants if they wanted to worship God. Annas’ Bazaar was in the Court of the Gentiles, restricting those Gentiles who wanted to learn about God and worship Him in His house to a place filled with worldly activity and noise.Everything about the Temple worship at that time was corrupted and dishonoring to God.

God hates that people are driven away from Him. His Temple, during the time of Christ’s earthly ministry, and at other times during the history of Israel, was turned into a place to worship idols. To hate means to detest, to have an aversion toward. They hate God through their iniquity, which means idolatry and refers to those who hunger and thirst after unrighteousness. Jesus is candid in His assessment of those who train and teach God’s children to sin and rebel. “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matthew 18:5-6 ESV). Those who, after rejecting the prompting of the Holy Spirit and the command to repent of their sin are judged and sentenced and executed according to His righteous standard. They will perish.

Those who watched Jesus’ violent action against the merchants questioned His authority. They asked for a sign. “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” (John 2:18 ESV). His answer to them was a prophecy of His ultimate purpose for coming. They would kill Him and He would not stay dead. “Destroy this Temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19 ESV). Jesus was speaking about His own body, not about the physical structure of the Temple. John calls Jesus’ body the Temple. “But he was speaking about the Temple of his body” (John 2:21 ESV). These same people would use His words against Him at the kangaroo trial, where they condemned Him, an innocent man, to death. “At last two came forward and said, ‘This man said,“I am able to destroy the Temple of God, and to rebuild it in three days”’” (Matthew 26:60-61 ESV). They do not want to understand God. The collusion of the priests to use the Temple for their own pleasure and profit brings God’s ultimate wrath upon them. They hated Him. He hates their behavior of rebellion against Him and will hold them accountable.

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.