Who Is God?
Posted on 01/10/2010 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.
TRANSCRIPT: (does not contain everything found in the audio above)
*** listen to the audio for introduction and prayer ***
Public Prayer Requests:
I need prayer for my kids, prayer to lift me up to live again and to learn the way of the lord . to help me over come all of my demons that keep me from becoming one with the lord.
I want only pray for mara that she is ok - nothing more !!!
I have been very sick for quite a while now. I am suffering from depression and its hurting my family. I am a 29 year old mother of 2. I recently started cutting and have thoughts of killing myself all the time. sofar iv been blessed to stay strong/alive for my kids but i fear i may not be able to keep the strength to stay alive. Please pray for me.
Please turn around and click one of the offering plates by the doors, and give as the Lord leads.
WE BRING THE SACRIFICE OF PRAISE
We bring the sacrifice of praise
into the house of the Lord
We bring the sacrifice of praise
into the house of the Lord
And we offer up to you
the sacrifices of thanksgiving
And we offer up to you
the sacrifices of joy
EVEN THE MOUNTAINS
We praise you Lord because you're worthy
You are Lord and King of the earth and sky
Let us lift you up and declare your glory
Let us lift our hands and our voices high
Even the mountains praise your name
the rocks and the stones cry Holy!
Whoever seeks for your face
will never be the same
Let your kingdom come
in Jesus' name
I'm an instrument, I am only a vessel
Help me open up to receive your love
Let us put to death thoughts of opposition
Let me step aside and point the world to above
BLESS THE LORD
I will bless the Lord at all times
I will bless the Lord at all times
His praise shall continually
be in my mouth
BLESS THE LORD O MY SOUL
Bless the Lord O my soul
and all that is within me
bless his holy name
For he has done great things
he has done great things
he has done great things
He's so good to me
He saved my soul
he saved my soul
he saved my soul
He's so good to me
He is coming soon
he is coming soon
he is coming soon
Bless his holy name
*** listen to the audio for the message introduction ***
Today, I'd like for us to talk just a little bit about the nature of God; or, as the title of today's message asks, "Who Is God?"
We understand that the various religions of the world see God in different ways and call their idea of God by different names. And hopefully, at least most of you here or listening on the website know that the God we worship is not the same as the false gods served by those deceived by all those false religions.
But maybe there's someone here who doesn't believe that. Maybe you're a part of the growing number of people in today's world who think we all worship the same God, or higher power, or whatever anyone wants to call it.
The Barna poll reports that four out of every ten American adults agree with the following statement: "When Christians, Jews, Buddhists, and others pray to their god, all of those individuals are actually praying to the same god, but simply using different names for that deity."
That's 40% of Americans. And since America was founded as a Christian nation, we can only imagine how much higher that number might be in other places in the world.
Even in the Christian Church today, more and more people are questioning where they stand on this issue, and some have made up their mind to join that 40% of people who think we worship the same God as all the religions of the world.
But regardless of where you stand on the issue, let's examine the Holy Scriptures and be spiritually and intellectually honest with ourselves for just a few minutes here, and hopefully we can all leave with a little better understanding of who God really is.
Dr. Michael Green wrote a book titled, "But Don't All Religions Lead to God?" In that book, he points out four things that no other spiritual leader or teacher, besides Jesus, has done:
1. ever claimed to bring God to man
2. dealt radically with our wickedness
3. broke the final barrier of death
4. offers to "live inside" His followers
C.S. Lewis puts it in a more humerous way. He says this:
"There is no half-way house, and there is no parallel in other religions. If you had gone to Buddha and asked him, 'Are you the son of Brahah?' he would have said, 'My son, you are still in the vale of illusion.'
If you had gone to Socrates and asked, 'Are you Zeus?' he would have laughed at you.
If you had gone to Muhammad and asked, 'Are you Allah?' he would first have rent his clothes and then cut off your head."
So just maybe there are some significant differences. Just maybe all religions aren't really basically the same.
Let's consider the central theme of the religions of the world. And that would be the question, "How can I be saved?" That "salvation" might be from hell or some sort of punishment after death, or it might be from repeating the same or a lower life over and over in reincarnation, or it might be a salvation from the lack of fulfillment and meaning, or it might be something else.
And on that issue, Dr. Green makes the following statement:
"Perhaps the greatest difference of all lies in the Christian assertion that none of us can save ourselves and make ourselves acceptable to God, try as we may: all the other faiths assert that by keeping their teachings a person will be saved, fulfilled or reborn."
The founders of the religions of the world came to share teachings, or to lead their followers to bliss, or to proclaim a message the believed was from God.
But only Jesus Christ came to die. Only He came for the purpose of taking the blame for our sins and being humiliated and brutally put to death for all to see.
And only because of that unique sacrifice can we read the words in Ephesians 2:8-9 (KMV*):
8 For you are saved by grace through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;
9 Not of works, lest anyone should boast.
So let's engage our intellectual honesty for just a moment, and let each of us ask ourselves this question:
Would the same all-wise, all-powerful, all-knowing creator of the universe say, "It is a free gift," and also say, "You can only have this gift if you do certain things?" Here's another question: Would that God say in Acts 4:12 (KMV*), "Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is no other name under heaven given among men [besides Jesus] whereby we must be saved," and then turn around and say, "You can be saved by obeying Allah, or by following certain teachings, or by daily meditations, with or without Jesus?"
If so, then God is either very confused or he is mean and spiteful and wants us to stumble around in darkness.
But in Matthew 4:16 (KMV*), Jesus quotes this passage from Isaiah:
16 The people who sat in darkness saw a great light; and to those who sat in the region and shadow of death, light has dawned."
I don't know of any religion which doesn't claim to teach and preach enlightenment, and yet they all disagree on some pretty serious issues. So if we're really honest with ourselves, we'd have to eventually admit that either none of them are right, or only one of them is right. Either Jesus is, as he claimed, the only path to God, or he is not. It has to be one or the other.
Either God was outright lying to us by saying Jesus is the only way, and even by stating outright in John 3:36 that the one who does not believe upon Jesus is condemned, or Jesus and the Holy Scriptures are completely false.
The fact is, whether you believe in the God of the Bible, both New and Old Testaments, boils down to what you think about Jesus.
In Isaiah 43:11 (KMV*), we read this:
11 I, even I, am the LORD; and besides Me there is no savior.
That word translated "Lord" is the word "Jehovah." So read could read this, "I, even I, am Jehovah; and besides Me there is no savior."
That word "savior" can also be translated "salvation;" and a comprehensive study of the use of the word "salvation" in the Old Testament reveals that you could replace that word "salvation" with "Jesus," or "Messiah." And the New Testament teaches us that Jesus is our salvation.
And if that's true, if Jesus is our savior, our salvation, then he is Jehovah God, for we just read that "I, even I, and Jehovah; and besides Me there is no savior."
Only Jehovah God is our salvation; only he is our savior. So when we see our savior, we see Jehovah God. The two are inseprable. They are one and the same.
So we can look at who God says he is in the Old Testament, and who the New Testament says Jesus is, and we can thereby answer today's question, "Who is God."
The Muslims believe Jesus was a prophet, but not God. They believe that after Jesus came, God would send another who would bring complete truth, and they believe that "other" was Mohamed. So the Muslim religion exalts Mohamed above Jesus.
Various offshoots of Christianity also challenge who Jesus really is. Mormons demote Jesus from THE God to A god, an angel, the brother of Lucifer. Jehovah's Witnesses have similarly demotional views.
Just ask people around the world if they believe Jesus is Almighty God. Some will say there is no God. Others will say Jesus was a good man, but not God. Still others will say that Jesus is God, just like you and I are God, and everyone is God.
And this is no small matter. If Jesus is not God, then great -- we're back to questioning who God really is; and even if we throw out the New Testament and embrace the Old, we still will not have a complete picture of God.
In John 14:9, Jesus says, "He who has seen Me has seen the Father." We can read and study all we like about who God is; but when we see him walk the earth, when we watch his life, when we know that he suffered and died, taking the blame for our sins against him, when we experience the freedom that comes when we washes our sins away by his blood, and when we get to know him personally and intimate as we walk with him day by day, THEN we will know God like we can know him in no other way.
If I really know you, I'll recognise you when I see you. If I see you and say, "No, that's not so-and-so, that's someone else, or just their friend, or just a relative." If I were to say that, then anyone watching who knows you would say I just don't really know who you are, because you're standing right in front of me and I'm saying you're someone else.
So when God the Son comes to us in human form and we say, "He is not Jehovah God," or, "He is a prophet," or, "He is an angel," then either we're right, or we don't know God.
So once again, that's what it boils down to: What do we think about Jesus? The answer to that question will determine whether we really know who God is.
Take a glance at Allah. If you kill yourself while fighting against non-believers, you will have a special place in heaven with 72 virgins. This is taken from the writings of Mohamed, describing paradise, which included beds with women on them.
Compare that with God. Jesus said if your enemy strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. This isn't talking about defending the innocent, for we read elsewhere that "They do not bear the sword in vain," but those who uphold the law and protect the innocent are ministers of God's vengeance. That being said, Jesus, the very image of the true God, showed us how to treat unbelievers, as we read in Romans 5:8 (KMV*):
8 But God demonstrates His love toward us, in that, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
So while Allah gives rewards to his followers who die while killing unbelievers, Jehovah became our example by laying down his own life so that those who were disobeying him could live.
Does God have a multiple personality disorder? Either Allah is God and God has a mental illness, or Allah and Jehovah are NOT the same.
Let's consider the Hindu's beliefs about God. They believe that he manifests himself though many manifestation, including gods and goddesses who become incarnate within idols, template, gurus, rivers, animals, and other things.
They believe that their position in this present life, whether good or bad, is the result of their behavior in another life. So someone who is born blind would be thought of as having done something very evil in their last life.
Compare that with Jesus. His disciples asked Jesus whether a certain man who had been born blind was born that way because of his own sins, or because of his parents'. Did Jesus say it was because of the sins in his past life?
Let's read this in John 9:1-3 (KMV*):
1 And as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who had been blind from his birth.
2 And His disciples asked Him, "Master, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"
3 Jesus answered, "Neither has this man sinned, nor his parents; but this is so the works of God should be plainly revealed in him."
This flies in the face of the Hindu's understanding of God, Bramaha, that bad things are a result of things we have done in the past; rather, Jesus told us plainly that in many cases, bad things are allowed to happen to us so the glory of God can be plainly revealed in our lives. In other words, the disasters in our lives are not necessarily punishments, but rather are opportunities for God to to wonderful things in and for us.
How about the God of the New Age? Well, this God is not personal, and is not really a being, but is the life force, the one source of all life, and we are manifestations of it. In other words, you and I are God.
They also believe that everything that happens in our lives, both good and bad, are things we have created. "Self" is supposedly the originator, controller, and God of all; and there is no reality outside of what the person determines."
But God says in Isaiah 55:8-9 (KMV*),
8 "My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways," says the LORD.
9 "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts."
The Bible makes two things clear: 1) There is a God, and 2) He is not us.
While there are universal principles such as the law of attraction, you don't necessarily bring on yourself whatever happens. Just as the misconception of the Hundus does not understand, bad things are in the world because this world and everything in it is under the curse of sin; and God, rather than dishing out whatever we subconsciously create, and rather than punishing us for sins of the past, He delights in using those horrible situations for his glory by miraculously turning them into something good.
Consider the Buddhist. Some people think they worship the Buddha, but for the most part, that's not the case. Instead, like the Hindus and New Agers, they believe we live many lives. The Buddhist's goal is to end their own endless reincarnations by getting rid of their cravings, aversions, and delusions.
While some Buddhist traditions do mention some type of God or powerful Deity, that is not true of mainstream Buddhism. So I'm not really sure how we can compare the Buddhist's God with Jehovah.
However, we most certainly can do so on the basis of their idea that reincarnation is the endless cycle of suffering, while working your way out of that repeating rebirth is a type of salvation.
Hebrews 9:27 tells us that "It is appointed unto men once to die, and after this, the judgment." The Hindu, New Ager, and Budhist believe we die many times. But this not only is untrue, but it also paints a picture of God that is not consistent with what the Bible tells us.
Which is this: God is the great judge over all the earth. When we sin, we are sinning against him, and that sin creates a wall between us and him, so that we are cut off from him. God is completely holy, and he cannot look upon sin.
And so Jesus came to this earth and lived a sinless life; then he took our place on that old rugged cross, taking the blame, the guilt, and the shame for our every sin; so that, believing upon him and leaving our sins nailed to that cross, our wall of sin is removed, and we can have fellowship with God.
Our sins can be wiped away, so that when we face the Great Judge, he can see us as completely without sin, and instead of paying the rightful price for our sins for eternity, we will be in his presence forever.
Just the Gospel message by itself shows the holiness, the justice, the judgment, the mercy, and the incredible love of God. Try painting a picture of God with any of the religions of the world, and you'll get a very different picture. You see, the God who created us longs to have a real, personal, intimate relationship with us. He wants to walk with us every day, so that when this short life is over, we can be ushered into the joy of our Lord.
The end of suffering and pain doesn't come by our own works, but rather it comes by the ultimate sacrifice our own God made for us. No, our God is most certainly not the same as the Muslim's Allah, the Hindu's Brahama, the New Ager's higher self, or the Buddhist's absense of desire. There is none other like him, and no matter what you may have been led to believe, there is salvation in none other, for "there is no other name under heaven by which we must be saved."
Now, some people deal with Jesus by claiming he never existed, that he's just a myth. But honestly, come on now... That's just silly. Jesus is a hystorical fact. Sure, you can talk yourself out of believing any fact you don't want to believe. But Jesus walked the earth. It happened. The world calendar attests to the fact. Time and history itself hinges on the existence of Jesus.
Other people, and this would be the majority, acknowledge that Jesus lived, and that he was a great teacher. But that's all. They believe he died, was burried, and that was the end.
The problem with that idea is that it flies in the face of the facts. First of all, the religious leaders absolutely detested Jesus. They wanted him dead. And they knew he said that he would rise again from the dead. That's why they sent guards to watch the tomb. And not just two guards we tend to think, but a Roman guard detail included anywhere from four to sixteen men. If there were sixteen, then at least four of them were awake at any given time.
Roman armies conquered so much of the world, in part, because they were highly disciplined. If a roman soldier failed to meet the demands placed upon him, he was shown no mercy. Failure during guard duty was a capital offense. The usual punishment was gruesome. They would often be burned alive on the spot.
This information is historical fact. And it was the Roman soldiers who guarded the tomb. At least four of them, possibly sixteen, with at least four at a time dilligently watching the tomb.
The Bible tells us that after Jesus rose from the dead, the soldiers reported to the religious leaders what had happened, but they bribed the soldiers to lie, and promised to make sure they didn't get the usual punishment for supposedly falling asleep.
Of course, the religious leaders knew that, if the report of Jesus' resurrection got out, it would be worse for them than if he had not died at all.
Matthew 27:64 (KMV*)
64 Therefore, command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night, and steal Him away, and say to the people, 'He has risen from the dead!' So the last deception will be worse than the first.
So if the religious leaders thought Jesus was not alive, they would have searched dilligently for his body so they could avert what they believed would undermine their authority and power.
But they didn't. They knew the truth. They just wanted to make sure the truth didn't get out.
And it didn't stop there. Throughout the centuries, men have believed the resurrection to be a fable, and many of them have searched and searched for evidence that the remains of the body of Jesus are still among us today.
But if the powerful religious leaders couldn't find his body when it still might have been identifyable as the mad man who had just been crucified beyond recognition as a man, then we have to reason that the chances of finding and identifying him would continue to deteriorate with time.
That's what makes modern day claims that this or that tomb discovery is supposedly Jesus, really obsurd. The truth of the matter is, they'll never find the body of Jesus. Check every tomb and possible burial place you like, whether you're looking today or two thousand years ago. You won't find him. He simply isn't there.
And that causes a major problem. If Jesus rose from the dead on the third day like he promised, and then he ascended bodily into heaven, then we might just have to suspect that the other things he said just might have to be true. Just maybe he was more than a man, and just maybe he was sent from heaven to provide and tell us about the only way to avoid eternal judgment for our sins and to be made right with God.
Some people say that it's impossible for someone to rise from the dead and then float up into heaven. Some of those same people say it's impossible for someone to be miraculously healed. If those people had lived a few centuries ago, they probably would have said it's impossible for the earth to be round, or for man to walk on the moon, or for tiny computers to do what our average laptop computer does today.
And even when things have been demonstrated right in front of people's eyes throughout history, there were still many who, although they saw those things first hand, they still managed to explain them away and go right on believing it simply isn't true.
Jesus told a story that illustrated this irrational power of disbelief and tied it into his own resurrection.
Let's read this from Luke 16:19-31 (NKJV).
19 "There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day.
20 But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate,
21 desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.
22 So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried.
23 And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
24 "Then he cried and said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.'
25 But Abraham said, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented.
26 And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.'
27 "Then he said, 'I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father's house,
28 for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.'
29 Abraham said to him, 'They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.'
30 And he said, 'No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.'
31 But he said to him, 'If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.'"
Neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead. Jesus could suddenly appear in modern-day form, be beaten to death in the middle of a busy city, be buried, and then rise again, and believe me, the majority of the people would think it's a hoax, especially if the popular public figures all said it was a fake.
Well, the people who were most believed, the religious leaders, said the body was stolen away. Yes, Jesus did rise again from the dead, and yes, Jesus did ascend into heaven where he is seated at the right hand of the Father God. And no, no one ever has or ever will find his body.
But the fact remains that Jesus proved everything he had ever said by rising from the dead and bodily ascending into heaven. He proved that he is the way, the truth, and the life, and that no one can come to the Father except through him. He also proved that the Old Testament is completely true, including all the descriptions of God, because he said "The scriptures cannot lie," referring to what we know as the Old Testament.
Sure, the majority of the people who don't believe, will STILL not believe, and wouldn't believe even if they saw someone come back from the dead.
That's why we need to pray, pray, pray... Pray for the lost, pray for those we work with and those in our family... Pray that they will come to the end of themselves, and the blinders will be removed from their eyes so they can accept the truth before it's too late.
And if you find yourself unable to believe, then pray, pray, pray... Pray every day that God would open your eyes so that you can see and accept the truth.
The time is short, and your time could be over before you lay your head on your pillow tonight.
No religion can enlighten you. No other god can save you. There is only one God who is true, and his name is Jehovah -- Yeshua -- Jesus Christ, the spotless Lamb of God.
I'd like anyone here today who's on the ministry team to come stand at the front.
Any one of these can help you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior. If you've trusted in any false god, or in yourself, or anything or anyone else besides Jesus, then I invite you to instant message me or one of these, and tell us you want to give your life to Jesus.
If you're listening outside of Second Life, just go to almcyberchurch.org and click the Prayer Room or Pastors' Offices and get in touch with us there.
For the rest of us, this altar is open for a time of prayer, worship, and ministry. If you need to leave, you're dismissed. If you can stay for awhile, you're all invited to chat with us after this altar time in the room to your left.
If you'd like someone to talk or pray with you, just instant message any of us on the ministry team.
Come gather at the front, and let's worship God for who he is, for he is God, all others are fakes and pretenders, for there is no one else like Jehovah!