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Archive for the ‘The Nature of God’ Category

Was Jesus a Good Man?

Posted by Daniel Edwards on April 3, 2009

Though I know this has been explained in better ways by such people as C.S. Lewis, I have been thinking about this some recently and I thought I would put in my two cents.

My thesis is simply this:there are few things more intellectually dishonest than the belief that Jesus was only a good man.

Now, let me point out that the key word to this whole idea is the word only. I wholeheartedly and without any reservation affirm that Jesus was the only perfect man to walk upon this earth because in the divine mystery of it all, He was both God and man. Though He was tempted in every way that we are, He never sinned- never thought, desired, did, or refused to do anything that was contrary to the will and glory of God (Hebrews 4:15). So, in no way am I saying that Jesus was not a good man. In fact, He was the best there ever was or will be.

But what astonishes me is that so many people say that Jesus was a good man, or a moral teacher and leave it there, as if that could measure up to reality. In fact, in our culture where we are trying to be increasingly tolerant of others views and where we seek to avoid offending people at all costs, we have sacrificed truth and thereby most in America would espouse this ludicrous idea.

Why is it ludicrous? If I believe that Jesus was a good man, why do I have a problem with people who believe that He was only good? Am I just making a bigger deal out of this thing than is responsible or appropriate? I don’t think so.

It really all boils down to this: Jesus did not give us the option of being thought of as a mere good moral teacher. He clearly believed that what He was saying was true, that He was the Son of God, and that He was the only way to God.

If He was not telling the truth in these instances, how could He be moral? A moral person does not lie or deceive in this nature. And if He believed that this was true, but it was not, then He was truly insane, for no sane person believes they are these things unless they are.

So this brings us to the three choices classically set out by C.S. Lewis in his famous book Mere Christianity. Lewis said that Jesus was either a “liar, lunatic, or lord”. He said it this way:

“A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would
not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on the level with a
man who says he is a poached egg – or he would be the devil of hell. You must
take your choice. Either this was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or
something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool or you can fall at His feet and
call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about
His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us.”

If I believed that He was a lunatic or a liar, I would delete this blog right now, cancel all future plans and “eat, drink, and be merry,” for tomorrow I would definitely die. Life would be absolutely meaningless. But thankfully, I can say with full assurance and confidence that what Jesus said was and is true. He is the Son of God, the only way of salvation and life in this world and the Lord of my life.


Posted in C.S. Lewis, Jesus, The Nature of God | 1 Comment »

Pure through the Refining Fire

Posted by Daniel Edwards on March 18, 2009

In Matthew 5:8, Jesus says “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” I have mulled over this verse in my mind a good bit lately, and I have finally come to realize (as with many portions of Scripture) that this verse has more to it than I first thought.

The obvious meaning of the verse is that those who are pure (cleansed, without blemish) will see God when they die because they will go to Heaven. In that sense, it simply means that those who are saved are washed by Christ’s blood and therefore made pure in heart. And in Greek, the heart was the center of being. Therefore, we see that those who are saved will see God because He will purify them with His blood. While I believe that this is definitely true, I believe there’s more to this than first appears.

It is most certainly and unequivocally true that when we are saved, Christ’s blood and righteousness cover us, (1 Corinthians 1:30; Hebrews 9:22) we are seen as pure in God’s eyes and we do not need to add anything to Christ’s work in order to get to Heaven. We are secure and pure. This is what is called redemption and it is completed in the moment we believe in faith on the Lord Jesus.

But there is another work that is done through the Holy Spirit and Christ’s sacrifice within our lives that is not completed at the beginning of our salvation. In fact, it’s not even completed in this lifetime. That work is called sanctification.

Sanctification is a continuous work of the Holy Spirit in which we are set apart and made to be like Christ. And we will never be completely like Christ until we reach Heaven (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24). As long as we are on this earth, we are still sinning. So, in that sense, we are not pure. Even our hearts are not pure yet, because our hearts desire things that are not of God (Romans 7:15-23)

This leads me to think about the word pure. In a sense we are pure, but in another we’re not. Our lives are still full of sin, but we are able to enter the gates of Heaven, because when God looks at us He sees the purity of Christ. We have attained saving righteousness (purity) because Christ has given it to us, but we have not attained purity of actions or heart. Not yet.

So when Jesus says that the pure in heart shall see God, He is not just referring to the purification that comes through salvation. In that sense, all Christians are pure in heart. But this purity of the heart is one that comes not instantly like salvation, but slowly in the process of sanctification. Katharos, the Greek word for pure in this verse, first means “purified by fire“(Greek Lexicon, emphasis mine).

So, how does this definition apply to this verse? You see, for us to be sanctified, to be purified, we must go through fire. But what kind of fire? I think that it could be said that when we, as Christians pass through difficult times in our lives with perseverance (whether it’s a death or sickness or divorce or losing a job or whatever difficulty it may be), it is for our purification. These are the means by which God seeks to sanctify us and perfect us. No one has a great spurt of growth in their faith or is revealed the deep secrets of God in the easy times of life. And if people do grow in the good times, it is because they have learned to trust God in the difficult times beforehand.

So purity of heart is a result of going through the fires of hard times. I hope that this encourages us as we go through the tough times. Never think that God lets anything happen that is not for our good (Romans 8:28). Everything, whether good or bad, will ultimately be used for our good and purification. May we be purified through the fire by God’s good will.

Posted in God's work in my life, the Bible, The Nature of God | Leave a Comment »

The Mystery of God

Posted by Daniel Edwards on February 27, 2009

When I think about God, I often think of the mysteries that surround Him. How can God be loving and just? How can Jesus be both God and man? Why would the righteous choose to suffere for the unrighteous? And how can God both be three and one?

I love thinking about these mysteries. It assures me that God is truly bigger than my understanding. It is necessary that God be incomprehensible for if He could be understood by his creatures, then they would be greater than He is.

Evelyn Underhill said it this way: “If God were small enough to be understood, He would not be big enough to be worshiped.”

Now, that being said, there are at least two things we must avoid when thinking about the mysteries of God.

First, just because these things are mysterious does not mean they are without explanation. There is NOT ONE mystery that can’t be explained. Incomprehensible does not equal unexplainable. When we accept these apparent contradictions of God, we are not saying that we believe something that is illogical. Rather, we are trusting in God, whose logic transcends our own.

“How is this different?” you might ask. Well, realizing that paradoxes are not flawed logic, but instead superior logic, means that we will not accept something that contradicts what we do know about God. For instance, if we believed that these mysteries were in fact contradictions of reality or Himself then we could accept that certain sins are both right and wrong or that God is both holy and just as well as being lowly and easy-going with sin.

And this leads me to my second point. We should understand that though there is a great deal about God we don’t know (we will never know all about God), there are things He has revealed and new revelations will never contradict old ones. But they might change the perspective.

The greatest example of this is the mystery of Jesus Christ. Before Jesus came to earth, God promised a Messiah. Even as far back as the first sin in the Garden of Eden, God promised that he would send a Redeemer (Gen. 3:15). But as the years went forward, no one knew what this Messiah would be like or anything apart from what was said in the prophecies and even that was misinterpreted.

For all people before Christ, His coming was a mystery. That is what Paul called it in Romans 16:25. But when Paul uses the word musterion from which we get the word mystery, he is not at all implying that we still don’t understand how, when or why Christ has come. That has now been revealed (1 Peter 1:20-21). But that revelation in no way contradicted what we knew of God before. Rather, it enhanced it. Through Christ the mysteries of the forgiveness of sins and salvation by faith alone were revealed.

And so it is with all mysteries of God. As we learn more about God, it will never contradict what is clearly stated about God in the Bible, but it might change how we view Him. I encourage you to enjoy the mystery of Christ today.

Posted in The Nature of God | Leave a Comment »

Some Thoughts after Communion Last Night

Posted by Daniel Edwards on February 9, 2009

Unworthy. That’s what I am. That’s what we all are because of this sin that plagues our every thought and deed. We do not deserve, happiness, peace, liberty, life, forgiveness, and so on. All that we deserve is just punishment by a Holy God for our infinitely offensive sins. We don’t even deserve the air that we breathe.

And no matter how hard we try, there’s nothing we can do to change that for everything that we do is tainted by sin. In and of ourselves, we stand justly condemned and helpless to do anything about it.

But I’m so glad that’s not the end of the story.

This is only the terrifying prologue that sets the stage for the most beautiful story ever told. If you haven’t gotten past the prologue yet, this is the rest of the story: God sent His perfect Son to take on flesh, and He, who was like us yet without sin, took the punishment that by all rights was ours and justly deserved by us to give us more than we could ever imagine, hope or attain.

And all of this for His glory so that one day all those that find their greatest joy and fulfillment in God- people of every tribe and tongue- will gather around the throne and sing together with one voice,

Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” (Rev. 5:12)

This is the outstanding beauty of the Gospel, not that was anything in us worthy of being rescued from condemnation, but that He who was worthy and who is worthy of all glory and honor and praise and life everlasting chose to take our place so that we would not suffer our just punishment, but live forever in the eternal joy of God. Praise the Lord for sending His Son! Worthy is the Lamb that was Slain!

Posted in God's work in my life, Grace, Miscellaneous, The Nature of God | 1 Comment »

Glimpses of Jesus

Posted by Daniel Edwards on January 29, 2009

Monday was my pastor’s birthday and in celebration of it Sunday night, the smaller chidren at the church sang him “Happy Birthday.” Afterwards, they went up and threw handfuls of confetti at him.

As they did, he laughed a heartfelt laugh of pure joy that resonated through his entire being, and I was reminded of Jesus and the little children. I imagined how Jesus must have laughed as the small children climbed over Him and played with Him. I imagined the warm smile on His face as He drew them into His arms and hugged them and blessed them.

Too often, we forget that God made joy and laughter. We picture Jesus as always serious and stern-faced. And surely, much of the time, Jesus was stern and He was serious about serious matters. But it is never good for us to only think about one aspect of Jesus’ character. Yes, He was serious and stern, and even angry, when appropriate. But He also laughed and went to feasts and enjoyed time with others, recognizing that the time had not yet come when He will laugh together with those He loves as they rest in His perfect joy. But, He did laugh, and it would not be beneficial for us to forget that- Jesus is too big for us to put Him in a box.

Let us live like Jesus lived, and laugh like Jesus laughed. Let us not be too serious or wrapped up in the things that we face everyday. But instead, let us find the joy that is in Jesus and have a holy humor that recognizes the need to be serious at the proper time, but does not forget the blessing of laughter.

Jesus urged us to be like little children, and I do not think He had in mind a child who never laughs. I hope you’ll laugh today and remember the God who gave you your humor.

Posted in Glimpses of Jesus, Humor, The Nature of God | Leave a Comment »

Free Grace?

Posted by Daniel Edwards on December 10, 2008

Is grace really free? I mean, completely and totally free?

I most certainly and wholeheartedly affirm that grace is free for us, the recipients. It is freely given according to God’s good will. But let us not think that this means grace is cheap. Grace was bought for a high price- the highest. Namely, the life of the Son of God.

We should never forget this important truth, but I think we often do. We act as if grace is cheap. We don’t realize how much it took for us to be able to receive that grace. God sent His only Son, who was perfect, without any spot or blemish to suffer inhumane torture and punishment, die a criminal’s death, and bear the wrath of God for our sins. There was, is and never will be anyone who deserved that kind of treatment less than Jesus Christ.

And yet, this was all for us. He took the suffering, the pain, the scorn, the wrath, and the death that each and everyone of us rightfully deserved so that we may be forgiven. He who was without sin became sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21). That is why grace is free for us who receive it.

May we honor the sacrifice that Christ made for us. He rose again and now offers this forgiveness to all who believe in Him. If you have not, please accept his gift that no one can earn or hope to buy in anyway. His gift that is free for us to receive.

And if you are already a Christian, please remember the sacrifice God made for you and never take grace lightly.

Posted in Grace, The Nature of God | Leave a Comment »

Jesus: the God of Contrasts

Posted by Daniel Edwards on November 27, 2008

God is a God of paradoxes. That means that sometimes it seems that He contradicts Himself, when in reality there is a greater truth being shown in these contradictions. Scottish pastor James Stewart put it this way:

“He was the meekest and lowliest of all the sons of men. Yet he spoke of coming on the clouds of heaven with the glory of God. He was so austere that evil spirits and demons cried out in terror at his coming, yet he was so genial and winsome and approachable, that the children loved to play with him and the little ones nestled in his arms. His presence at the innocent gaiety of a village wedding, was like the presence of sunshine. No one was half so kind or compassionate to sinners, yet no one ever spoke such red-hot scorching words about sin.

A bruised reed he would not break. His whole life was love. Yet on one occasion he demanded of the Pharisees, how they were expected to escape the damnation of hell.

He was a dreamer of dreams and a seer of visions, yet for sheer stark realism, he has all of us self-styled realists soundly beaten. He was the servant of all, washing the disciples’ feet, yet masterfully he strode into the temple, and the hucksters and moneychangers fell over one another to get away in their mad rush from the fire they saw blazing in his eyes. He saved others, yet at the last, he himself did not save. There is nothing in history like the union of contrasts which confronts us in the gospels; the mystery of Jesus is the mystery of divine personality.”

Posted in The Nature of God | Leave a Comment »