2015-1-18 “HOW DOES GOD DESCRIBE HIMSELF?”

HEBREWS 1:1-12                                                                                     JANUARY 18, 2015

HOW DOES GOD DESCRIBE HIMSELF?”

I have found that people usually don’t mind having a discussion about God. People like talking about what they think and how they believe God operates. However, when one probes their beliefs many people become irritated when their ideas about God are challenged. They rarely point to the scriptures as being their authority on speaking about the subject of God. When people decide for themselves what God is like, they have broken one of the Ten Commandments. Can you guess which commandment they broke? They have broken the second commandment. Deuteronomy 5:8 (NIV) 8 “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.” More idols are made up of words than of wood, stone, clay, or some other material. When the wrath of God is mentioned, I have often heard people say “My God is not like that!” In fact, they have made an idol of the God they desire to worship, not the one who revealed himself to his chosen people through the written word.

Moses recorded the call to faith for the Jewish people. Deuteronomy 6:4 (NIV) 4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.” God has revealed himself and told us that there is only one God. I have been preaching on what we as Christians are to know about what is most important and how we are to make judgments accordingly. Every Christian needs to have developed a biblical world view. Last week we laid the foundation that God has revealed himself through the Word. God has told us what we need to know about him. The foundation of all that we believe is based on the truth is that there is only one God. “All other gods are false pretenders and idols, and to worship another god incurs God’s wrath.” (R.C. Sproul, The Truths We Confess, page 34) I am always willing to talk with people of other faiths and religions. But we must never think that we worship the same God. This is a lie of Satan.  God has called us to love those opposed to us, our enemies, in contrast to the Muslims who think they have to kill non-believers.

Throughout the scripture God has revealed his character. God is a spirit and has no body, unless he manifests himself so we can see a representation, as in the burning bush. The Shorter Catechism of the Westminster Confession of Faith has a wonderful description of God that comes straight from scripture. In question four: “God is a spirit, whose being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth are infinite, eternal, and unchangeable.” I could spend several hours going over the scriptures that describe for us the attributes of God. (For a list of these verses see the Confession as they have all been assembled from the Word.)

When Jesus came he told us how we could know the Father. John 14:6 (NIV) 6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” After Jesus was glorified, the church came to understand that Jesus was and is God. Hebrews 1:1-3 (NIV) 1 In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 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. 3 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.”

In the first few centuries the church struggled with understanding all that Jesus had told them. It is not surprising that false teaching cropped up. The Arian heresy split the church for a long time as Arius began teaching that Jesus was only a man and not God. Arius taught that Jesus was a created being, the first born, but was not God. The scriptures clearly reveal the Trinity as Jesus spoke of the Trinity in the Great Commission. Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV) 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

The Confession in the Larger Catechism in question 11asks: What is the evidence that the Son and the Holy Spirit are equal with the Father? The Bible clearly indicates that the Son and the Holy Spirit are God, equal to the Father, because it assigns to them the same name, attributes, works, and worship that properly apply only to God. We catch a glimpse of the Trinity in the baptism of Jesus. Matthew 3:16-17 (NIV) 16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”  In this passage we can clearly see the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Paul spoke of the Trinity in the presence of the Holy Spirit in every believer in Galatians 4:6 (NIV) 6 Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.”  Paul identified the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  All of the early church believed and accepted the idea of the Trinity.

You might wonder why this is important. Many people today still follow the Arian heresy in believing that Jesus is not God and was only a created being. The Mormons and the Jehovah’s Witnesses still teach this heresy. I want you to pick up a hymnal and turn to hymn 614. We sing the Gloria Patri every Sunday. Did you know that this brief song was written during the height of the Arian controversy? This song is a fight song that was sung to those opposing the truth of the Trinity. “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be.” We are to give glory to God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The shorter catechism asks (5): Is there more than one God? There is only one, the living and true God. The next question (6) asks: How many persons are in the one God? Three persons are in the one God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. These three are one God, the same in substance and equal in power and glory.

When Jesus is not recognized as God, then we are still lost in our sins. As a mere man Jesus would not have been able to rise from the grave conquering death. This is why we do not recognize Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses as being a part of the Christian church. They can be good people in the same way that Buddhists, Muslims, Animists, and folks of other religions can be good people. But we do not worship the same God as they do. They are lost souls without Christ and we must be willing to speak this truth and stand upon it.

We must know what we believe. If we do not have a firm grasp of the essentials of the Faith we will be misled into error. When we have a firm foundation on the truths of scripture we will be able to stand firm in what we know to be true. The Apostle Paul warned the church to become mature in the faith so that 14 We will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.” Ephesians 4:14 (NIV)

Hold on to the truth of God’s Word: go over it, read it over and over, memorize it. In so doing you are developing and maintaining a biblical world view.

Let us pray.

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