The Apple Of God's Eye

February 7, 2011

Was Jesus Really Tempted In All Things?

Scripture tells us that Jesus was tempted in all points as we are (Heb. 4:15).

Yet we know He wasn’t crippled or handicapped. He didn’t live through old age. He wasn’t forced into retirement and then forced to try to make ends meet on a pension.

How, then, can Jesus understand all that humans go through?

What about the myriad temptations and problems with which this modern world confronts us? Jesus didn’t live in a society quite like this — far from it, in fact.

If we are to come boldly to God’s throne of grace (verse 16), how can we be sure that Jesus understands what we feel and mean? After all, He is God — an immortal, almighty spirit being — we are mere flesh, and very weak. If Jesus has never experienced the exact sufferings that we do, how can He understand our personal needs?

Sure, we realize that Paul said most trials are common to all (I Cor. 10:13). And in Christian fellowship we are often surprised and comforted to find someone else who has gone through similar difficulties as ourselves.

Yet we each have experienced unique pains, trials and sufferings that we feel no one else can properly understand. And we may even wonder whether God Himself can. Is God able to really appreciate the depth of troubles we go through?

Peter tells us that Jesus suffered for us, leaving us an example (I Pet. 2:21). In what specific sufferings did Jesus lead the way? What confidence can we have that He does understand the personal traumas of each and every one of His people? Let’s look at the facts. (more…)

October 27, 2009

Who And What Is God?

The basic doctrine  The Bible clearly reveals God's nature, to those who will listen and believe. God is the eternal, supreme Creator. He is one God, but at present a Family of two beings, the Father and Son, who are alike as the loving, kind, merciful rulers of all reality, and who have opened their Family to all those humans who will be saved. Everyone knows His name,” observed one wise man, speaking about God, “but no one seems to know Him!”

True words, those. And ironic words, too. For in a modern world packed with Bibles of every translation and description, and even having the Word of God on computer, millions have indeed heard God’s name. But precious few seem to know much about the living God!  What a pity, because He reveals Himself fully in the Bible and we do not need to remain in ignorance of this absolutely foundational principle of Christianity. We have to know who the real God is and what He is like.

The usual teachings of this world

The non-Christian world has images of God — or of “gods” — that cover virtually every possible (or, rather, impossible) conception.

Some view God as an animal-like creature, or as the sun, or like a man but with six arms. Others think God is “everywhere,” meaning He is in water or sand or the wind. Still others think of Him only as a force, a great beginning power that has no personality, form or shape.

Even Christians argue among themselves. Usually, though, in Christian circles, believers think God is a trinity — a three-in-one God that they admit is a “mystery.” Further, they believe that this trinity is closed, that none shall ever enter within this sacred triumvirate of the God-realm.

Some, especially those who fancy themselves as cosmopolitan and educated, don’t believe God exists at all, or if He did, that He is now dead! Which, if any, of these ideas is correct?

The Bible teaching

Probably the place to begin is with God’s composition. We, of course, are human — that is, mortal and made of the elements. It is not so with God, for Scripture plainly says that “God is a Spirit” (John 4:24, Authorized Version).

We know from other verses that beings composed of spirit, including angels, for example, are on a higher level of existence than we, and that such spirit is not limited by the physical laws of nature to which humans are bound (John 3:5-8, Deuteronomy 4:12).

But, although composed of spirit like the angels, God is not a mere angel. He is in a class, quite literally, by Himself: “To you it was shown, that you might know that the Lord Himself is God; there is none other besides Him” (Deuteronomy 4:35).

And not only is God in a class by Himself, but He is higher in rank than all other things, since He is the Creator of all things, and it follows that the creator is above the creation.

Notice this very point, made by the author of Hebrews: “He who built the house has more honor than the house. For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God” (Hebrews 3:3-4).

Time and again God confirms He is the only God, and a God above all else: “I am the Lord, and there is no other; there is no God besides Me” (Isaiah 45:5). “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last” (Revelation 1:11).

God is also eternal (having no beginning or ending) and immortal (lives forever). Notice Deuteronomy 33:27, where God is called “eternal,” or Deuteronomy 32:39-40: “Now see that I, even I, am He, and there is no God besides Me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; nor is there any who can deliver from My hand. For I lift My hand to heaven, and say, ‘As I live forever… ‘ ”

Of course, it is natural for humans to want to see God or, if we cannot, to at least know what He looks like. Unless we can see at least a mental image of God, we cannot feel we know Him. Yet Scripture, contrary to the beliefs of many, says plainly and pointedly, “No one has seen God at any time” (John 1:18).

Clearly, the prospect of seeing God in the flesh is nonexistent. But we are not left in darkness, for the very one who said no one has seen God, the apostle John, also said in the same verse, “The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He [Jesus Christ] has declared Him.”

One way Jesus declared the Father was through Jesus’ very presence on earth as a visible person. In response to Philip’s request that He “show us the Father,” Jesus said: “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” (John 14:8-9).

We know from this verse and many others (such as Genesis 1:27) that the Father resembles human form, although He (like Jesus Christ, pictured in Revelation 1:13-16) is glorified in flaming brilliance, with hair white as snow, “eyes like a flame of fire,” with “feet … like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace,” and His face “like the sun shining in its strength.” And Ezekiel 1:26-28 says, ““Above the expanse over their heads was what looked like a throne of sapphire, and high above on the throne was a figure like that of a man. I saw that from what appeared to be his waist up he looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire, and that from there down he looked like fire; and brilliant light surrounded him. Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him.”

So according to various scriptures, God has a face, hands, feet, eyes, nose, mouth and ears. He also has hair on His head and has a mind. Even though God is composed of spirit and not visible matter, He does have a definite form and shape. If you know what a man looks like, you have a good general picture of God.

Clearly, God is no pagan symbol – a rock or fish, no washed-out, pale stone statue dead on an altar, without any life whatsoever except for moss clinging to it through the centuries. He is like the sun, while retaining the general features found in humans.

Yet, such a powerful, brilliant, eternal, immortal, omnipotent being would be but a terror to us all if such a one were evil and wicked, a spiritual despot who wreaked havoc through the universe and only made humans to torment or to provide entertainment for His own fiendish schemes.

But our God is not such a God. He is the very opposite of that worrisome picture, so much so, that John, unable to find stronger words to describe God’s goodness, says, merely, “God is love” (I John 4:8).

And love is an outgoing concern for others — is God’s greatest single attribute, His greatest quality. Yet, it is not God’s only character quality, for, as the Bible shows, He is also full of “joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control,” the fruits of His Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).

And even that is not all, for it would require many more pages to quote verse after verse describing all God’s attributes — God’s loving forgiveness and mercy, His power, His zeal, His eternal, positive, immortal, immutable, unstoppable greatness!

God is filled only with desire to do good for us. In the face of such great news about God, it’s hard to imagine what could be said further. But the best is yet to come. And that “best” is this: God is a Family — a Family you can enter as a full member and child!

The fact that God is a Family should not have eluded so many professing Christians for so long. The Scriptures abound with references to God the Father and God the Son. Yet most have simply chosen to ignore the plain meaning of these verses and instead interpret such words as merely symbolic.

A great block to understanding that God is a Family is found in the common misconceptions about the Holy Spirit (misnamed “Holy Ghost”) being a person. Such a nonbiblical belief must be handled in detail elsewhere, but suffice it to say that such a belief chokes out the truth about the God Family by 1) adding a third person to the Godhead who has no assigned role as Father or Son, and hence does not fit the Family scheme (and thus diverts one’s understanding from it) as revealed in the Bible, and 2) creates the familiar closed trinity that so many Christians believe in.

Such a belief contradicts the greatest truth of God, that mankind can enter the God Family, under the authority of the Father and Son. This incredible truth is the plain teaching of God’s Word (John 1:11, 12, II Corinthians 6:17, 18, Galatians 4:5-7, Romans 8:14-17, I Corinthians 15:35-55, John 17:20-26).

Key verses

Although this is a large subject, it helps comprehension to remember, or even memorize, a few key verses. John 4:24 shows God is a spirit being. Isaiah 45:5 shows He is the only God. John 1:18 reveals that no one has seen God, but that the Son has declared Him. Revelation 1:13-16 describes God’s glorified body that shines with tremendous brilliance. And John 1:11-12 conveys the astounding truth that we can enter the God Family.

Yes, this world knows God’s name, but does not know Him. But those who will hear and believe the simple but exciting truths that flood from His Word can know both His name and who and what He is.

August 27, 2009

Why Does God Get The Blame, But Never The Credit?

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We live in a funny world. When things go wrong, God is to blame, but when they go right, we will not give due credit. Take for example the innocent deaths of children dying the world over: It must the fault of God, because he created us and now has deserted mankind, right?

Or what about when a devastating tornado or hurricane hits a small town and wipes it off the map, or the 9-11 disaster: “Where is He when we need Him,” is the oft repeated cry, or “it’s an act of God,” putting God in the position of being accused. Airlines also invoke God when weather causes flight delays or accidents – it’s not the fault of the airline – blame God.

Then there’s insurance policy clauses, contracts or wildfire’s, earthquakes, floods and avalanches. Some people scream at the heavens, or bury their head in their hands and cry, “Why, God?”  Others seek to cast blame, even for those things which are not of human origin.  In legal and insurance realms the reference is made to Acts of God, which may or may not be insurable. Someone’s got to be blamed, even if no fault is found!

Conversely though, when we find ourselves in a life threatening bind, a big financial constraint or when we are emotionally distressed, we invoke God’s name for help. At this time, we may have no other recourse – no one is watching so what harm can a small prayer do, right. If He exists, then perhaps he will help us, because we’re essentially good aren’t we?

Process theology to the rescue

Now comes the school of religious thought called process theology. These modern theologians say that the question of why God allows these tragedies, or why God is not apparently powerful enough to stop them, has vexed religious counselors for centuries. And well it may. Because people simply do not understand that question!

If God is all good, if God is love, he wouldn’t want humanity to suffer, would he? And if God is all powerful, as the Bible says he is, why doesn’t he stop suffering? Why doesn’t he prevent it?

The credibility of God is now at stake, say the theologians. The world, they contend, has grown weary of religious spokesmen trying to defend God and explain why God allows these things – and at the same time saying that God is all love, God is all good, God is all powerful and he could stop it, yet he doesn’t. So modern theologians now have come up with this new theology called process theology in an attempt to explain this apparent paradox.  God, they say, is entirely loving, but is lacking in power.

They say nothing of the real purpose of life. They say nothing about the restoration of the kingdom of God, the only gospel that Jesus Christ preached.

The Origin and Purpose of Life

But what is the real trouble with this question? What is the reason that God has not stopped all this violence, all this human suffering?

In all the religions of this world – the many different religions we call non-Christian, and even the religion of Christianity – not one religion knows who and what God is. What is God? Is he a trinity? Is God one person? They just don’t understand.  Not one religion on earth fully knows what and why man is. Why are we here? What is the purpose, if any?

Notice what God says about all this in Isaiah chapter 40, beginning with verse 17:

“All nations before him are as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity. To whom then will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto him?… It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers [that is to God]; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in:

“… To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might [there it speaks of God’s might, his power], for that he is strong in power; not one faileth” (verses 17, 22, 25-26).

The earth turns on its axis. The different seasons regularly come. It is the power of God that is causing all of that. And that is mighty power.

And God formed man after the God kind, not after an animal kind, but in form and likeness of God. There is a very special purpose for man on earth and when you understand that, you begin to understand why God is allowing all the suffering on the earth today.

Notice, now, Genesis 2:7: “And the Lord God [Lord there is the name of the one that became Christ] formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man [made of the dust of the ground] became a living soul.”

Man Must Choose

The man that God created now had to make a choice.

Character is the ability of some separately created entity to come to a knowledge of right as from wrong, of truth as from error, of good as from evil. To choose the right, or the good, and to reject the evil – even though he might want to do the evil – to have the will to do the good, that is character.

God is the supreme, holy, righteous, perfect, spiritual character. And He is reproducing that character in man. How is that divine character going to get into something made out of the ground? God placed a human spirit in the first man. That human spirit could have a relationship with God, who is spirit.

But God placed before that man two choices, symbolized by two trees in the garden of Eden. The one tree was the tree of life. How does God give that life? It comes through the Holy Spirit. The person that has the Spirit of God has life, and he that has not the Spirit of God does not have life. If the Spirit of Christ is in you, you are his (I John 5:11-12).

If the Spirit of God is not in you, you are “none of his” (Rom. 8:9, last part). And, verse 11, “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken [make immortal] your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.”

God made us mortal, but he made us to become immortal. And God required that the man had to make a choice, because character had to be built in the man! Character is built through choice.

The other tree, the other choice before man, symbolized the way of man’s taking to himself – deciding altogether by himself – the knowledge of good and evil. How do we come to know the truth of God? In I Corinthians 2:9 we read, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart [mind] of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” – in other words, spiritual knowledge.

God reveals these things to us only by his Spirit. The Spirit of God reveals God’s knowledge – spiritual knowledge and spiritual character. But man decided to take the basis of that kind of character to himself, to decide right from wrong, truth from error, by himself.

So, in punishment, God at that time closed up the tree of life. In other words, he shut up the Holy Spirit from man.

God had set out a 7,000-year plan and purpose in which to develop the godlike character in man, made from the dust of the ground. God’s purpose is to make us immortal like God, until we become God as he is God. That has got to come through human experience, but it has to come from God, with our consent, our desire, our decision and our wills.

I John 3:1-2 says, “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us [here is the fact that God loves us], that we should be called the sons of God [ultimately to be born of God, though now begotten of God; for God is reproducing himself, and we’re called the sons of God]:… now [even right now] are we the sons of God [but only begotten, not yet born], and it doth not yet appear what we shall be [in other words, what we shall be one can’t see yet]: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.”

Man is clay to be molded

The purpose of God is character building. That is why he made man of matter. We could be molded spiritually, in a body of earthly clay, into divine character. We read in Isaiah 64:8, “But now, O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.”

Even Job asked, “If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait [meaning in the grave], till my change come. Thou [God] shalt call, and I will answer thee: thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands” (Job 14:14-15).

Job knew he was the work of God’s hands. We all are the clay. God is the potter. A potter molds and fashions clay into the form and shape he wants. Now God will – if we put ourselves in his hands, if we surrender to him, and to his will – take us and mold and shape us into the godlike character of love.

God is love. God will put his divine love in us, a love with which we were not born. It is a gift of God through his Holy Spirit.

We sow what we reap

Notice Isaiah 45:9, “Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker!… Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou?… ”

What about the theologians reasoning that today’s divided Christianity is God’s religion, that this is God’s world, and God isn’t powerful enough to stop all of evil?

God is allowing man to make his own decisions. And if man makes the wrong decision, God has said whatever we sow we shall reap. God has told his people that ever since the beginning. He told Adam that. He told ancient Israel that. And Jesus Christ told us that. If we sin we will have to reap the consequences. God allows it. He allows suffering and the pain of sin for a good purpose.

God has given man a mind to think with. He gives man revealed knowledge in the Bible. Man can take that knowledge and learn to go God’s way. That is necessary for the development of character so we can become like God.

In Matthew 24:4-5 Jesus said, “Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name [Jesus said], saying, [that] I am [the] Christ; and shall deceive many.”

How can they do that? Jesus said in Matthew 15:9, “But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” They make the commandments of God of no effect by their tradition (verse 3).

The commandments of God are the right way to live; they reveal God’s way of life. Human beings have not kept the commandments of God. They have said, and many preachers are saying today, that the commandments of God are done away.

The commandments of God are the way of love, of love to God and love to neighbor. The first four of the Ten Commandments tell you how to love God, the last six how to love your neighbor. That is the way God lives and the way Christ lived while on earth.

But in Jeremiah 50:6 God says that the shepherds, the ministers of this world, lead his people astray and deceive them. That is exactly what has happened. The world has been deceived, and the deceived theologians can’t seem to understand why God allows all this suffering from disobedience till we learn our ways are wrong.

God allows it to teach us lessons. God allows it because we ourselves have brought it on ourselves, and because we have failed to develop the kind of character needed to become his children, to be glorified, to be given the gift of eternal life so as to live in happiness and peace and joy. There’s no other way for peace.

Man has brought all this on himself, in defiance of God! Man has been shaking his fist at God, telling God he won’t obey God and going his own way, the way that has seemed right to a man. It’s all a matter of cause and effect. It’s the way we have lived that has brought all these troubles on us, not God.

But God will show man whether he has power. God will finally deliver man from the evils of today’s civilization by his divine powers and establish his kingdom of peace over all the earth.

April 10, 2009

Does John 10:30 Prove God Is A Trinity?

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John 10:30 says: “I and my Father are one.”

Does this scripture really prove that, together with the Holy Spirit, God exists as a trinity? Not if the context is properly understood. Jesus here revealed that there is one Godhead, or one God Family, and that its members work together with one mind and purpose. That Family, however, is presently comprised of two individuals, God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. This is clearly stated in John 1:1: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” The “Word” or “Spokesman” was the One who later became Jesus Christ (see verse 14).

Hebrews 1 also shows conclusively that Christ was and is now God:

“God … Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Heb. 1:1-3).

God says of Christ, “Let all the angels of God worship him” (verse 6). Only a member of the God Family is worthy of worship. But, the God Family is not limited to God the Father and Jesus Christ: “As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God” (John 1:12).

Hebrews 2:7-8 shows that man, like Christ, was made for a while “a little lower than the angels,” but that he is to be crowned “with glory and honour.” Everything will be put “in subjection under his feet,” but “now we see not yet all things put under him” because the resurrection to immortality has yet to occur. The Family of God, then, will eventually be expanded to include all who choose God’s way.

Christians “now are … the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (I John 3:2). Paul adds, “This mortal must put on immortality” (I Cor. 15:53).

This plainly says that resurrected Christians, like Christ, will be immortal. When we are changed, our mortal bodies will become spirit bodies like His (Phil. 3:20-21). The Father and Christ are one — one united, holy Family. At the resurrection, we will be born into the one God Family and become one with them. There is NO trinity, but there is family. Scripture proves it!

February 24, 2009

What Does The Bible Say About The Thousand Year Reign?

God’s 1,000-year millennial rule will be ushered in by the second coming of Jesus Christ. As to the exact date of this event, Christ said that no man knows the day or the hour (Matt. 24:36). But He did give us very clear and definite prophetic events to watch for as signs or warnings of His imminent return. Christ predicted religious deceptions, wars, famines, diseases, and earthquakes on a global scale immediately preceding His return (Matt. 24:3-35).

The present turmoil, escalating wars and strife now occurring on this earth will eventually develop into a total global conflict of such a magnitude that unless God were to intervene, no human flesh would be saved alive (Matt. 24:21-22). At the very climax of the events described in the 24th chapter of Matthew (also Luke 21; Mark 13), Jesus Christ will return as King of kings and Lord of lords (Rev. 19:16). This time He is coming in power as divine God (Matt. 24:30) to establish a world super-government and rule all nations “with a rod of iron” (Rev. 12:5; 19:15).

As Christ is returning to this earth, the dead in Christ — including all the prophets of old (Luke 13:28) — will be resurrected from their graves as immortal spirit beings (I Thes. 4:14-16). Those then living who have the Spirit of God shall be instantaneously changed from mortal to immortal (I Cor. 15:50-54) and, together with those resurrected, shall rise to meet the descending glorified Christ (I Thes. 4:17) in the air.

Christ Himself will return to this earth where His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives (Zech. 14:4-5) in the same manner that He left (Acts 1:11). Those changed, converted saints, made immortal at the resurrection, will then assist Jesus Christ in ruling literal physical nations made up of human beings — nations of mortals left alive at Christ’s return — for 1,000 years (Rev. 20:4; 3:21; Dan. 7:22, 27).

February 22, 2009

Are The Resurrected Saints Of Matthew 27:52 Immortal?

As of this time no man, except Jesus Christ, has been resurrected to immortality. However, the Bible does state that at the resurrection at His Second Coming (I Thes. 4:13-17; I Cor. 15:50-53), the saints of God will be given eternal life.

So let’s explain Matthew 27:52, where we actually find a recorded instance of a multiple resurrection:

“And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose.”

Notice, that the scripture specifically says their [physical] bodies arose. Further, in verse 53, we see that they appeared unto many. This was a physical resurrection, not a spiritual one. These saints lived out their lives, died again and now await their spiritual resurrection at Jesus Christ’s return, as do all of the saints who have died.

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