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THE NATURE OF GOD
THE NATURE OF GOD
I must confess, at first I did not include this chapter from my first book on my website because I learned so much more about the Nature of God by the time I wrote my second book. However, I thought this would give a good idea of my journey. I did not reject the Trinity Doctrine at first because I had never met anyone who didn’t believe the Trinity Doctrine. However, I became more skeptical as I continued Bible study with an open mind. This ambivalence caused me to look closely at the idea of Jesus being God, and the Holy Spirit being a separate being. Many people are discouraged from studying the idea of 3=1, because it is said to be incomprehensible. Thank God, I did some more research and wrote a whole chapter on the Trinity in my “Bible Power and Foggy Issues” book. It should also be noted, this website shows even more I have learned about the Trinity Doctrine since my second book.
In order for us to believe in God and Christ we need to know a little about the nature of God. I once attended the Church of the Brethren annual conference and participated in a discussion class when I heard a lady explain how Muslims worship the same God as Christians. I was compelled to interrupt her since I could not stand such blasphemy. To make such a statement, denies the deity of Christ
Muslims, like Jews, believe that Jesus was only a prophet and did not rise from the dead. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that there is no Trinity and that Jesus was God’s first creation. Mormons, on the other hand, believe in multiple Gods. Mormonism also teaches that even God the father was once in human form. Many Christians believe in the concept of the Trinity. How can God be three beings in one? We need to understand this concept.
God the Father
God has had different names in the Old Testament; he has been called Elohim, Jehavah, Yahweh, Shaddai (the Almighty), as well as many other terms such as “Lord” and “I Am.” The God of the Old Testament is the creator of all things as told in the book of Genesis. God defies the laws of nature as we know them because he created the laws of nature.
According to Find It in the Bible by Bob Phillips, God has 26 attributes. These qualities are so important I feel compelled to list them all. God is: all knowing, all powerful, eternal, ever-present, faithful, father, good, full of grace, holy, immense, infinite, jealous, just, full of kindness, long-suffering, loving, merciful, patient, self existent, sovereign, spirit, truth, unchangeable, unity, wisdom, and wrathful. Wow, that pretty much says it all!
The Son of God
We first need to know that Jesus referred to himself as the “Son” many times, but personally claimed to be the “Son of God” only three times in scripture.
1. John 5:25 ….. I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.
2. Luke 22:70….. They all asked, "Are you then the Son of God?" He replied, "You are right in saying I am."
3. Rev 2:18….. "To the angel of the church in Thyatira write: These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze.”
Others, without objection from Jesus, frequently claimed that Jesus was the Son of God. In the New Testament Jesus is referred to by others as the Son of God at least 17 times. Jesus never disputed their claim. The disciples knew he was the Son of God. While Jesus was on the cross, people claimed he was the Son of God. Even the Devil and his evil spirits know Jesus is the Son of God.
Here are some examples of Jesus being called the Son of God:
1. Matt 14:33….. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God."
2. Mk 15:39….. And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, heard his cry and saw how he died, he said, "Surely this man was the Son of God!"
3. MK 3:11….. Whenever the evil spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, "You are the Son of God."
4. Luke 4:3….. The devil said to him, "If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread."
5. Matt 16:15-17…..15 "But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?" 16 Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." 17 Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.”
Later in the New Testament we find more references to Jesus as the Son of God.
1. Acts 9:20….. At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God.
2. Heb 6:6….. if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.
3. I John 4:15….. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
Now for the complicated part
What does the phrase “Son of God” mean? Both Jesus and the apostle Paul also called others “sons of God”.
1. Matt 5:9…… Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
2. Gal 3:26…… All believers are sons of God!
One should notice that neither of these two scriptures use the article “the”. Can this idea be explained by realizing that perhaps Jesus is THE Son of God and others are sons of God in a general sense?
The Son of man
Jesus also referred to himself as the “Son of man” (emphasizing his servant hood). We see this term used in Genesis to describe God’s first creations. Also, Ezekiel called himself the son of man on numerous occasions. Jesus referred to himself as the Son of man over 60 times. A good example of one of these scriptures is:
Matt 9:6…..But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins. . . .
One should note that the above scripture also says that Jesus can forgive sins. Although many prophets performed miracles, certainly no other being in Heaven or Earth has the power to forgive sins but God himself.
We see everything come together in the following scripture from Mark. Jesus acknowledges that he is both the Christ (anointed one or Messiah) and son of God, as well as the Son of Man. He also may be using a double meaning when he uses the phrase “I am”. Furthermore, he states that he will be sitting at the right hand of the father. Finally, the high priest reacts to Jesus claim as blasphemy.
Mark 14:61-64…… 61 Again the high priest asked him," Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?" 62 "I am," said Jesus. "And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven." 63 The high priest tore his clothes. "Why do we need any more witnesses?" he asked. 64 "You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?"
The Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is best described as the Spirit of God or God’s way of transmitting both his thoughts and power to other beings.
1. PS 51:11….. This Psalm shows that the Holy Spirit is the actual presence of God. It also shows a mention of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament.
2. Mat 1:18….. This verse shows that God made Mary pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit.
3. Mt 3:11….. Jesus baptized with the Holy Spirit and with fire (fire being a metaphor for the power of the Holy Spirit).
4. MT 13:11….. God used the power of the Holy Spirit to put words in the mouths of the Disciples. It is this same power that gives us an inerrant Bible.
5. Luke 4:1….. Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit.
6. Luke 11:13…… We will be given the Holy Spirit if we only ask.
Finally, we need to discuss the Trinity. The Trinity is not mentioned directly in scripture. The doctrine of the Trinity was first written by the Catholic Church. The idea of Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the Father being one Godhead with three components can be inferred but it is not mentioned in the Bible.
It should be noted that Isaiah 44:24 says the “Lord” alone created the Heaven and the Earth while Hebrews 1:8 says that Jesus created Heaven and Earth. The word Lord, in Isaiah, could refer to either a Trinity or to the fact that God was working through his son Jesus.
Other mentions of God in the plural in Genesis do not prove the doctrine of a three in one Trinity, but only that God the father had the Holy Spirit and Jesus help him in creation.
Matthew 3:16-17 shows the simultaneous existence of God the father, the Holy Spirit, and Jesus the Son, but it does not say they are all one entity.
The following verse is attributed to Jesus. Rev 1:8….. "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” This statement could possibly be an interjection by the father. This verse is in red letters, but one should know that the red letters were added centuries later. In all other scripture, the title “Lord God” is reserved for God the Father.
A strong proof of the Trinity is in the book of John. John 1:1 says that “the Word was God” and later in verse 14 he says that “the Word became flesh.” Some however, might say that the expression “Word” is a metaphor for Jesus being the messenger to bring God’s word to mankind.
1. John 1:1-5….. 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.
2. John 1:14….. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
3. John 10:30….. “I and the Father are one."
a. This statement may be a figure of speech meaning that they are of the exact same intentions.
b. We see Jesus also use this phrase in the following scripture.
4. John 17: 20-22….. 20 My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one.
I find the following scripture to be the most compelling argument for the Trinity. This scripture tells us that Jesus existed even in the Old Testament. The scripture also shows us when King David spoke to the “Lord” he was actually speaking to Jesus:
Matt 22:42-46…..42 "What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?" "The son of David," they replied. 43 He said to them, "How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him 'Lord'? For he says, 44 "'The Lord said to my Lord: "Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet." ' 45 If then David calls him 'Lord,' how can he be his son?" 46 No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions.
On the other hand, Jesus is not the same as the Father in several respects. These differences make it hard for some to believe in the Trinity concept of one Godhead.
1. We know for sure that the father was in heaven and he sent his Son Jesus. Jesus did not send the father.
2. The Son prayed to the father, and the father did not pray to the Son.
3. Jesus told his disciples to pray to the Father. Luke 11:2….. He said to them, "When you pray, say: “Father”
4. The word “worship” is used 47 times in the New Testament. As far as I know, neither Jesus nor any of his followers ever instructed anyone to “worship” Jesus.
5. Jesus does not know everything that the Father knows. The Father knows everything, and the Son (as a human) knows only what the father wants him to know. Matt 24:36….. No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
6. Although Jesus said he is equal to the Father, just the fact that he claimed to be the Son of God made him equal to God in a matter of speech. For example: John 5:18…… For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.
The most powerful and complete statement about the nature of Jesus can be found in the following scripture in Hebrews. It really tells us how close Jesus is to the Father. We see that Jesus created not just the world, but the universe. We see in some sense that we can’t possibly understand that Jesus and the Father are closely united.
Heb 1:1-4….. 1 In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.
This lesson has explained the titles that Jesus was given and how they relate to each other. We studied about the Holy Spirit. It is not important that we understand the exact relationship between the Father and the Son. Some explain the Trinity by using a metaphor of ice/water/water vapor. We should also note that science shows that people can have multiple personalities that are independent of each other; so it is not a stretch to believe in the Trinity. However, if the idea of the Trinity were that important, it would be explained in the Bible. The important thing is that we accept Jesus as the Son of God, whatever that term might mean. It is better for a Christian to give an accurate witness by telling the whole truth and admitting that scripture makes no mention of the “Trinity”. It is easier to evangelize on the idea of three separate entities as described in the scriptures and their relationship to mankind than it is to try to explain what no man understands. If you don’t believe me, just try debating the Trinity to a Muslim. I once tried to explain the Trinity to a Muslim. It is a debate you can’t win. The idea of the Trinity is one of Islam’s major criticisms of Christianity. Instead of trying to win a theological debate, you should emphasize more important issues that may save the person’s soul.
1. What qualities first come to your mind when you think of God?
2. What is the main belief that separates Christians from other religious groups?
3. Did the Father create Earth or did Christ?
4. Is it true that every command given by God in the Old Testament was in agreement with Jesus?
5. How do we explain to others who Jesus really is?
6. Should we get caught up in convincing people to believe in the Trinity? Do you remember how we first got the term “Trinity”?
7. Discuss some of the attributes of God listed in the introduction and how these attributes affect our lives.
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