Something greater than the temple is here

The temple represented God’s presence with his people. This temple was designed by God himself, but built with human hands. Its sole purpose was to unite the one God with his people. It was here that the very presence of God would dwell (1 Kings 8:10-13).

But it would not always be so. The sins of the people separated themselves from God so that his glory left the temple (Ezekiel 10). Then, God orchestrated the destruction of the house built for him (2 Kings 25). While Nebuchadnezzar was the instrument of destruction, the plan and the power came from above (Jeremiah 7:14). The people had come to trust in the temple, in much the same way as they had trusted in the Ark of the Covenant years earlier (Jeremiah 7:4, 11, 12). Continue reading “Something greater than the temple is here”

The divine monopoly

Monopolies are not highly regarded. A company or group that detains exclusive right or power to sell a product or service tends not to respect the client or buyer. They can charge the price they want. They are subject to few restraints. They are a law unto themselves.

God is a monopoly. He is one God with one product, so to speak, and to get it, everyone must go to him. He is the “God of all grace” 1 Peter 5.10. Continue reading “The divine monopoly”

Why so many gods?

“Because, although they knew God, they did not glorify him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man – and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things” (Romans 1:21-23 NKJV).

Travelers to Kathmandu typically visit the expansive Hindu and Buddhist enclaves where they view hundreds, if not thousands, of images, temples, stupas and other shrines and icons of those polytheistic religions. Many westerners accustomed to faith in one God wonder why anyone would be attracted to an immense pantheon of lesser deities. Surely monotheism is a superior and more desirable faith, since it honors one Almighty, All-wise, Ever-present Being. Continue reading “Why so many gods?”

One God and Father of all

People who justify wrong ways use twisted logic. “God is one,” they say, at least where I live, “so all paths lead to God.” They apparently borrow the phrase that said, during the Roman Empire, all roads lead to Rome.

Somehow they miss Jesus’ statement that he is the only way to God, John 14.6.

The apostle Paul ends his great list of sevenfold pillars of unity among Christians this way: “one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” Ephesians 4.6. God is one, and he unites all Christians in one great unity of faith, worship, and work.

The first thing that needs to be noted here is to whom “all” refers. As always, context determines the meaning. Continue reading “One God and Father of all”

To God be the glory

“Now to him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began but now made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith – to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen” (Romans 16:25-27 NKJV).

Paul’s letter to Roman Christians is widely recognized as the most complete explanation of the nature of the gospel of Jesus Christ found in any single New Testament document. It begins with an assertion that there is one true God who is manifest through his creation (Romans 1:19-21). It ends with a beautiful doxology (an attribution of honor or glory to God) to “God, alone wise.” Continue reading “To God be the glory”

Gods all too human

The gods of man are all too human. They are but human passions projected onto a large screen, full of intrigue, ambition, and desire. They are as fickle, unstable, and capricious as their human creators. But they serve their intended function: the gods allow humans to deify their desires and approve their passions. Humans are not required to adhere to an unchanging standard of conduct. The actions of the gods also explain, to a point, the vagaries and injustices of life.

Living under such gods, however, is hard. One never knows what they want, what to expect next, what to do to please them. So from Canaan to Central America, man even goes so far as to sacrifice his offspring on altars as appeasements. Life under divine vindictiveness and superhuman hate and hardness has nothing to recommend. Continue reading “Gods all too human”

Manifest identity

“… Because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:19-20 NKJV).

It came as something of a surprise to me, over a period of several years, that our common English word “God” is not a name of a specific divine being. It is rather the generic term meaning “a divine being.” Hindus and Buddhists may name thousands of gods. Adherents to other religions may refer to different specific beings as “god” than that intended by readers and believers of the Bible. Continue reading “Manifest identity”

Yet for us there is one God

The study of the nature of God is a deep and wide well. To plumb the depths and probe the bounds would require more than we can give. How can mortal mind parse the divine? God has given us a good bit of information concerning himself. But try to fully understand God in the flesh. You can have until heaven.

“Yet for us there is one God.”

To the Corinthians, who struggled mightily with idols, Paul wrote:

“Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “an idol has no real existence,” and that ‘there is no God but one.’ For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as indeed there are many ‘gods’ and many ‘lords’— yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist” (1 Corinthians 8:4-6).

In contrast to these dead idols who have “no real existence,” there stands the one God. Continue reading “Yet for us there is one God”

The day is coming, the day is here

The fortunes of men wax and wane. Religions expand and contract. God is over all, he is in control, he guides history toward the end that he determines. Christians rejoice in his sovereignty. The coming of Jesus is their hope. Their prayer seeks to bring him all the more quickly to usher them into eternal life.

There is only one God. There has ever been only one God. Man has exalted himself and created gods galore. But one day the Lord will be seen to be one and his deity singular in number. This is the messianic prophecy of Zechariah. Continue reading “The day is coming, the day is here”

The need of the hour

The need of the hour can color the approach a teacher takes to the runway of eternal salvation. Jude changed his writing topic, so urgent was the topic he was required to address. In Galatians, Paul charges quickly into his subject, skipping over his usual introductory thanksgiving for the readers.

Some might believe that in many places in the world today the church of God needs to hear a special message. Some are already speaking it, so these words join themselves to a growing chorus of speeches and words on the theme.

The church needs to return to its one subject matter: salvation from sin and eternal life in Jesus Christ. Continue reading “The need of the hour”