Made and Begotten.

The first chapter of the fourth book of Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis discusses Making and Begetting. A selection from the chapter reads as follows:

One of the creeds says that Christ is the Son of God “begotten, not created”; and it adds “begotten by his Father before all worlds.” Will you please get it quite clear that this has nothing to do with the fact that when Christ was born on earth as a man, that man was the son of a virgin? We are not now thinking about the Virgin Birth. We are thinking about something that happened before Nature was created at all, before time began. “Before all worlds” Christ is begotten, not created. What does it mean?

We don’t use the words begetting or begotten much in modern English, but everyone still knows what they mean. To beget is to become the father of: to create is to make. And the difference is this. When you beget, you beget something of the same kind as yourself. A man begets human babies, a beaver begets little beavers and a bird begets eggs which turn into little birds. But when you make, you make something of a different kind from yourself. A bird makes a nest, a beaver builds a dam, a man makes a wireless set—or he may make something more like himself than a wireless set: say, a statue. If he is a clever enough carver he may make a statue which is very like a man indeed. But, of course, it is not a real man; it only looks like one. It cannot breathe or think. It is not alive.

Now that is the first thing to get clear. What God begets is God; just as what man begets is man. What God creates is not God; just as what man makes is not man. That is why men are not Sons of God in the sense that Christ is. They may be like God in certain ways, but they are not things of the same kind. They are more like statues or pictures of God.

This got me thinking, is the Bible careful to use different words for made and begotten? Is the word for “begotten,” referring to Jesus being the only begotten of God ever applied to man or anything else that is made?

John 1:14 states that Jesus is the only begotten of the Father. The Greek word here is monogenēs (Strongs: G3439). This word is used only nine times in the New Testament and is used in reference to Jesus as a unique being who is “of God” and thus, like a child is the same “thing” as his parent, Christ is the same “thing” as God. It speaks to something that has the full characteristics of the other. For this reason, this word is also used to refer to only sons and daughters of their parents or of Christ to God the Father.

We have to be careful to note that the original Greek word monogenēs is not a word describing being born or birth. It describes a uniqueness. It is not describing Jesus as someone who was born (and especially not created, as very different Greek words could have been used if this were the case). Monogenēs describes the uniqueness of Jesus in his relationship to Father God. This is why this same word can be applied to Abraham’s son, Isaac, even though Abraham had other sons. Isaac was the unique son of the covenant between God and Abraham. It is a misinterpretation of the Greek word to imply that “only begotten” (monogenēs) implies a birth or beginning. That is not the point of using monogenēs. If it did imply a birth or beginning, then the Bible would contradict itself when it says Jesus is from everlasting (see Isaiah 9:6). We must also remember that Jesus was careful with his words when he said “before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58). When Jesus said this, he greatly aroused the anger of the pharisees because he was confirming his eternal existence. Jesus was careful to use the present tense phrase, ego eimi (“I am”) which stands in stark contrast to the aorist phrase genesthai (“was born” – to begin to be, to come into existence).

While in today’s vernacular, saying someone/thing is begotten may mean they were created or made (I have begotten my robot child!), this is not how the monogenēs was used in the Bible. We should be careful not to impose a modern translation or idea to texts which were quite careful to not use the word with such an implication.

So, the above shows how Jesus is referred to as monogenēs. What about the word used for created. Is this ever applied to Jesus?

1 Corinthians 11:9 says “Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.” If Jesus were created, then the word used for created in this verse should at least somewhere in the Bible reference Jesus. The word translated as “created” here is ktizō (Strongs G2936). Used only 14 times in the New Testament, this word means create and in one instance, the one who created, just as we would think of something or someone that is created. It refers to creation (this world) (see Mark 13:19), the creator God (see Romans 1:25), and the creator Jesus (see Colossians 3:10), us being created in Christ (see Ephesians 2:10), of Christ having made us into a new man (see Ephesians 2:15, 4:24), and of God creating all things in Christ (see Ephesians 3:9 and Colossians 1:16 – notice Jesus is clearly separated from this creation of all things). Also see Revelation 4:11 and 10:6).

While no other Greek word is translated “created” in the KJV New Testament, the Greek word poieō is used 579 times and is often translated as “do” but is sometimes translated as “make/made.” In Matthew 19:4, it refers to man and woman being made in the beginning (also see Mark 10:6). It refers to many of the works Jesus did (for example, see Mark 5:19, 20) and works done by others. However, it is never used to show God making or creating Jesus.

If God had at his avail Greek language which clearly shows something as either being made/created, and if Jesus were made or created then these words would have been used in describing Jesus, but they never are. We should be careful not to apply scriptural interpretations or doctrine which could have been easily supported with the language available to the author, especially when the language used is very careful to avoid implying such interpretations.

The “little gods” and Christ as “a god” Deceptions

Recently I have studied a bit on the proposed logic behind the Arius deception that states Jesus was not God, but was instead a created god. In discussing this with a modern day follower of a faith that postulates this same idea, I have found it interesting to see how those from this faith attempt to use the Bible to support the idea that Jesus can in fact be “a god” rather than The Almighty God.

Having grown up with various tv preachers often playing in the background, I first heard the “little gods” doctrine as a child. I recall that at the time I found the idea both fascinating and somehow unsettling. Fortunately, the unsettling aspect won and I never really accepted this doctrine as true, though until recently I could not have told anyone why, nor had I thought much about it.

But as an adult who has now studied both lines of thinking, I find it quite interesting that both those who proclaim the “little gods” deception and those who insist that Jesus was merely “a created god” use many of the same scriptural arguments to support their beliefs. Here, I will briefly discuss those arguments and show why they can not be truth.

For those who may not be aware, the “little gods” doctrine is the belief that as Christians (or originally Adam himself) we are not mere men, but are in fact, little gods (with a little g). They believe that if we are created in the image of God, and if God is God, then those created in his image must be gods too. As one pastor famously puts it:

Pastor: “If horses get together, they produce what?”
Congregation: “Horses!”
Pastor: “If dogs get together, they produce what?”
Congregation: “Dogs!”
Pastor: “If cats get together, they produce what?”
Congregation: “Cats!”
Pastor: “So if the Godhead says ‘Let us make man in our image’, and everything produces after its own kind, then they produce what?”
Congregation: “gods!”
Pastor: “gods. Little ‘g’ gods. You’re not human. Only human part of you is this flesh you’re wearing.”

If I hadn’t actually seen this pastor preach this message with my own eyes, I would not have believed it. Since there is no Bible scripture that truly says we are gods, what scriptures do these preachers use to support this self-exalting claim? They are the same scriptures that the “Jesus is a created god” folks use to support that their conclusions are probable. The logic typically entails the points discussed below…

One of the first verses both camps will point to is John 10:34. Here, Jesus is speaking with the Jewish leaders who have just accused him of blasphemy for saying that “I and the Father are one.” (see John 10:30). Jesus has a little fun with them and makes the argument that if the scriptures say “I said, you are gods” (referring to Jewish judges), then how is it blasphemy for him to say “I am the son of God”? Jesus ultimately leaves it to the Jews he is speaking with to decide, as he says that if he is doing the works of the Father, then they should believe him for the works’ sake. The Jews do not appear to have a good comeback for Jesus’ argument.

Jesus was referring to Psalm 82:6. The entire Psalm must be viewed to get the full context. While verse 6 does say “I said, ‘You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you;'” what we need to realize is that verse 7 finishes the sentence… “nevertheless, like men you shall die, and fall like any prince.” In this psalm, God is talking to Jewish judges who have become corrupt. In those days, Jewish judges held a place of high dignity as they represented God to the people. They were not actual gods. They were not deity. They were clearly mere men who would die. Earlier in this psalm (verse 5), God describes these so called gods as having “neither knowledge nor understanding, they walk about in darkness.” In this Psalm, God is saying, “I set you up as judges for the people, to represent the judgement of God for them, to be as elohim to them, but you are blind and corrupt, and you will in fact die like mere men.”

Yet, despite this clear context, the “little gods” preachers use these verses and Jesus’ words referencing them to support the idea that man was really made as “little gods” or elohim. Interestingly, those who follow the Arius deception use the same scriptures to support the idea that Jesus wasn’t saying “I am God” but instead he was showing that he was a created god – a “little g” god. If man can be a created elohim, so too can Jesus, the argument goes. Both beliefs are wrong. The only place in scripture where man is called elohim (god), he is called such in a rebuke for the corruption of his God-appointed position of power over the people as judge. God is clearly not saying that men are divine. He is calling them out for their representing Himself to the people so pathetically, and is affirming that they are but mere men who will die.

Two other verses I have heard used to support both arguments are Exodus 4:16 and 7:1. In these verses God is speaking and says that Moses will be “as God” to Aaron (who will be Moses’ mouthpiece) and “as God” to the Pharaoh. Here, it is clear that Moses will be “as God.” There is a big difference between “as God” and “God” or “god.” Moses was not divine, and Jesus was not merely “a god” because Moses was “a god.” Moses was simply God’s representative. Both arguments fail under any real scrutiny.

For the “little gods” camp, the argument goes further. As noted in the preacher’s quote above, since we are made in God’s image, and since God is a God, then we must also be gods. This is a ridiculous assertion. The man looking back at me in the mirror is clearly made in my image, but he is no human. It is the same with us and God. We are men. We are women. We are Adams. We are not gods.

Further, the “little gods” preachers say that since God gave Adam authority and Satan stole that authority and Satan is called the “god of this world” then we must have been gods in order for Satan to steal our god-ness. The only issue today is that most Christians don’t know that Jesus wrestled that god-ness away from Satan and gave it back to us (the church).  Because of this lack of understanding we don’t walk in our god-like authority as the gods of this world we were made and intended to be.

Where to begin with this?

The first thing that has always come to my mind is the self-serving nature of the proposition. Wasn’t Satan’s demise in the fact that he wanted to proclaim a god-like state? Isaiah 14:13-14 says:

You said in your heart,
‘I will ascend to heaven;
above the stars of God
I will set my throne on high;
I will sit on the mount of assembly
in the far reaches of the north;

I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.’

I find it interesting that the scripture doesn’t even say that Satan said “I will overthrow God” or “I will set myself above God Himself.” He just wanted to be “like the Most High.” That was enough to seal his fate. Isn’t this similar to the self seeking proclamation of the little gods camp?

In Genesis 1:26 the Bible says that God gave man dominion or rule (ESV vs. KJV). Looking at the Hebrew, this word, radah, means exactly that – dominion or rule. The scripture does not say that God gave us godhood or god-ness. He simply put us in a position of authority. This is no different than a king giving authority for someone to act in his name. That authority does not make the blessed subject a king himself. It is simply an extension of authority to a lesser person.

Additionally, if we were gods and gave our godhood to Satan and then Jesus got it back and gave it to the church, Paul would have not referred to Satan as the god of this world/age after the crucifixion (see 2 Corinthians 4:4). The false preacher’s argument falls apart on this one point alone. Additionally, if we had given away our god-ness to Satan until Jesus won it back, then the Psalm could not have referred to the corrupt judges as gods and meant it literally. Again, the “little gods” camp’s argument falters.

The entirety of the Old Testament points out the nature and character of God. The New Testament shows Jesus to be that very character. While we should mirror that character to the world, mirroring the character and nature of God does not make us God or even gods. The creation can never obtain to be the same as the Creator. The creation will never have “always been.” He will always have been created, and thus have a non-eternal starting point. He will never be a god. God is eternal – from everlasting to everlasting – it is part of the very definition and description of what it is to be God, and there is only One God. Jesus was prophesied as the “everlasting father” and he is the Alpha and Omega – the beginning and the end. He isn’t the first created; the beginning is before the first created. You can go back for eternity and never reach the Beginning. Both camps (the “little gods” camp and the “Jesus is the first created, an a god” camp) do not realize this truth. The first tries to claim godship in their misunderstanding; the second denies the deity of Jesus in theirs.

The Bible only speaks of two types of G/gods. The first is the eternal, almighty God. The second are all false gods. There is no room for any other – and that includes Christians as being “gods” or Jesus as being only “a god.” Both concepts are in direct violation of the entirety of scripture.

Exodus 20 does a nice job at defining any “god” that is not the One True God. Exodus 20:3-5 says:

“You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me,…”

For the “little gods” camp, I point out that they are making themselves as something found on the earth beneath and saying it is a god.

For the “Jesus is a created god” camp I point out that Jesus is in the likeness of both heaven above and the earth beneath and they are saying he is only a god.

To both, God would say that they are not worshiping the true God or acknowledging the true God. To the one, man has made an idol of himself; to the other man has reduced Jesus to the level of an idol. If scripture says there are to be no gods besides the One True God, then Jesus is either that One True God or he is a violation of scripture. If men are “gods” then men are either that One True God or a violation of scripture. If we are going to claim that the Bible is our source of truth, then there are no options regarding this.

Jesus is Jehovah

I wasn’t looking for this chart, but when I came across it, I thought I would use it in writing a post about how Jehovah of the First Testament is Jesus of the New Testament. I have been involved in an ongoing email discussion with a friend regarding the deity of Jesus and this post seems fitting as I have recently been seeking the scriptures decidedly regarding this topic. While I have never doubted the deity of Jesus, the email exchange with my friend has added fuel to my understanding that salvation rests fully upon the divinity of Jesus, and without the deity of Christ, salvation would not be possible.

Jesus is Jehovah, click for a full-size printable image.

Going around the wheel, with a few additional verses added…

God is Lord of lords and God of gods.

Jesus is Lord of lords and King of kings.

Psalm 136:1-3 – Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of gods, for his steadfast love endures forever. Give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his steadfast love endures forever;

Deuteronomy 10:17 – For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe.

Revelation 17:14 – They will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful.

Revelation 19:16 – On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.

1 Timothy 6:14-16 – to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will display at the proper time–he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.

God is the Creator

Jesus is the Creator

Job 33:4 – The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.

Isaiah 40:28 – Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.

Genesis 1:1 – In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

Psalm 33:6 – By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host.

Psalm 102:25 – Of old you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. (Here the psalmist is clearly speaking of God – See vs. 24)

Isaiah 45:18 – For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens (he is God!), who formed the earth and made it (he established it; he did not create it empty, he formed it to be inhabited!): “I am the Lord, and there is no other.”

Isaiah 48:13 – My hand laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand spread out the heavens; when I call to them, they stand forth together.

Jeremiah 32:17 – Ah, Lord GOD! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.

Nehemiah 9:6 – You are the Lord, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you.

John 1:3 – All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

Colossians 1:15-17 – He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

Hebrews 1:10 – And, “You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands; (Here, the author of Hebrews is clearly speaking of Jesus – see vs. 8)

God is Light

Jesus is Light

Micah 7:8 – Rejoice not over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD will be a light to me.

Isaiah 60:20 – Your sun shall no more go down, nor your moon withdraw itself; for the LORD will be your everlasting light, and your days of mourning shall be ended.

Psalm 27:1 – The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

John 8:12 – Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

John 1:9 – The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.

Luke 2:32 – a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.

God is Judge

Jesus is Judge

Genesis 18:25 – Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?”

Joel 3:12 – Let the nations stir themselves up and come up to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; for there I will sit to judge all the surrounding nations.

Isaiah 33:22 – For the Lord is our judge; the Lord is our lawgiver; the Lord is our king; he will save us

Psalm 50:6 – The heavens declare his righteousness, for God himself is judge! Selah

Psalm 96:10,13 – Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns! Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity.” … before the Lord, for he comes, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness, and the peoples in his faithfulness.

2 Timothy 4:1 – I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom:

2 Corinthians 5:10 – For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

Romans 14:10 – Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God;

Matthew 25:31-32 – When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit down on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.

2 Corinthians 5:10 – For we must all appear before the judgment seat of the Christ, so that each one may be repaid according to the things he has practiced while in the body, whether good or bad.

God is Savior

Jesus is Savior

Psalm 37:39 – The salvation of the righteous is from the LORD; he is their stronghold in the time of trouble.

Psalm 106:21 – They forgot God, their Savior, who had done great things in Egypt,

Hosea 13:4 – But I am the LORD your God from the land of Egypt; you know no God but me, and besides me there is no savior. (This shows that Jesus can not be a different savior – He has to be the same God who is the only savior).

Isaiah 45:21 – Declare and present your case; let them take counsel together! Who told this long ago? Who declared it of old? Was it not I, the LORD? And there is no other god besides me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none besides me.

Isaiah 43: 3,11 – For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in exchange for you. … I, I am the LORD, and besides me there is no savior.

Isaiah 45: 15,17 – Truly, you are a God who hides himself, O God of Israel, the Savior. … But Israel is saved by the LORD with everlasting salvation; you shall not be put to shame or confounded to all eternity.

Acts 2:21 – And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Acts 4:12 – And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. (If there is salvation in no one but Jesus and if there is no Savior besides God, they must be the same).

Romans 10:9 –  because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Jude 25 – to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

God is our Rock

Jesus is our Rock

Exodus 17:6 – “…Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb, and you shall strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, and the people will drink.” And Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel.

1 Corinthians 10:4 – and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.

Isaiah 17:10 – For you have forgotten the God of your salvation and have not remembered the Rock of your refuge; therefore, though you plant pleasant plants and sow the vine-branch of a stranger,

2 Samuel 22:32 – For who is God, but the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God?

Deuteronomy 32:4 – The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he.

Isaiah 8:14 – And he will become a sanctuary and a stone of offense and a rock of stumbling to both houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

1 Peter 2:6 – For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”

God is the First and the Last

Jesus is the First and the Last

Isaiah 44:6 – Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: “I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god.

Isaiah 48:12 – Listen to me, O Jacob, and Israel, whom I called! I am he; I am the first, and I am the last.

Isaiah 41:4 – Who has performed and done this, calling the generations from the beginning? I, the LORD, the first, and with the last; I am he.

Revelation 1:17 – When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last…”

Revelation 2:8 – And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: ‘The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life.

Revelation 22:13 – I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.

God is the great I AM

Jesus is the great I AM

Isaiah 43:10 – “You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me.

Deuteronomy 32:39 – See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god beside me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand.

Exodus 3:13-14 – Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.'”

John 8:24 – I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.”

Johan 8:58 – Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”

John 13:19 – I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he.

John 18:5 – They answered him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am he.” Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them.

God is God

Jesus is God:

Genesis 18: 1,14 –  And the LORD appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day… Is anything too hard for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.”

Isaiah 9:6 – For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 44:24 – Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, who formed you from the womb: “I am the LORD, who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself,

Isaiah 43:10-11 –  “You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me.  I, I am the LORD, and besides me there is no savior.

John 1:1-3 –  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

1 John 5:20 – And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.

Isaiah 45:22 – “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.

John 20:28 – Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”

Philippians 2:10 – so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

Titus 2:13 –  waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,

Jeremiah 32:18 – You show steadfast love to thousands, but you repay the guilt of fathers to their children after them, O great and mighty God, whose name is the LORD of hosts,

Jeremiah 23:6 –  In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The LORD is our righteousness.’

Hebrew 1:8 – But of the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom…”

2 Peter 1:1 – Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ

Addendum (1/16/2018): I came across this in a different study and thought it appropriate to stick here, as this post is discussing the deity of Jesus. In discussing the word “Godhead” from the King James, from the book, Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case for the Deity of Christ, by Robert M. Bowman Jr. and J. Ed Komoszewski, on page 76 we find:

Paul wrote, “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9). The word translated ‘deity’ (theotēs – Godhead in the King James) means “the nature or state of being God.” The King James Version translates the word as “Godhead,” which was accurate in the English of Shakespeare’s day but is somewhat misleading today. Many people use the term “the Godhead” to refer to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit considered collectively. The suffix –head in English, however, usually meant status, state, or nature, and in modern English has been largely displaced by –hood (e.g., bachelorhood is the status or state of being a bachelor; womanhood is the status, state, or nature of being a woman). Thus, the equivalent word for “Godhead” today would be Godhood—and this word is about as exact a translation of theotēs as one could want.

Just in case someone might misconstrue “deity” here as meaning the nature or state of being a god – as though Christ were simply one of a group of deities or gods – Paul states that “the fullness of deity” dwells in Christ. The use of the word “fullness” makes it explicit that nothing of deity is missing in Christ.”

The Significance of Grumbling

I was listening to someone discuss the book of Jude, and something interesting passed by my ears. Speaking regarding apostates, Jude says:

Behold the Lord comes with ten thousand of His saints, to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.

Now, if we stop here we could think to ourselves, “wow, these ungodly people doing their ungodly deeds in their ungodly way must be the most horrible of the horrible – so ungodly!” But if we simply continue reading, Jude says:

These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage.

How many of us are grumbler or complainers? How many of us because of our own lust and desire to gain advantage use great swelling words, flattering people? How many of us engage in gossip about coworkers? How many of us complain about the president, our boss, our spouses, our pastors, or that guy speeding ahead of us who just cut us off? Even the best of us complain and grumble, myself included. We need to realize the seriousness nature of this sin. It is the sin of the ungodly, which is committed in an ungodly way. I believe that if we complain about anything or anyone, we are often complaining against the Lord, for it is God who orders our steps (see Psalm 37:23) and it is God who sets up the world’s powers (see 1 Timothy 2:1-2) and it is God who says, even as a slave, to work upright before the master as unto the Lord (see Colossians 3:23 and Ephesians 6:5-7). A tough stance.

So this got me thinking… what else does the Bible say about grumbling and complaining?

Philippians 2:14-15 (NKJV) says “Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world…” Not complaining will help us to become blameless and harmless children of God who stand as lights in the midst of a crooked people. It is a part of our witness!

When the Israelites complained against Moses the Bible is clear in saying that they were really complaining against the LORD (See Exodus 16:7-8 and Numbers 14:27). Even when we think we are only complaining in our homes and with our family, and not publically, God still hears (See Psalm 106, especially vs. 25 – “but complained in their tents,” see also Deuteronomy 1:27). When we are murmuring among ourselves, which shows our lack of belief in God’s goodness, we must remember that Jesus said “Do not murmur among yourselves.” (See John 6:42-43). Complaining displeases the Lord (See Numbers 11:1-2).

Not necessarily  for, but in everything, we should give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (See 1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Complaining brings anxiety to the heart, which leads to depression (see Proverbs 12:25 NKJV). Complaining is caused by foolishness (See Proverbs 19:3).

We are to be patient. If we complain against one another, we risk condemnation! (see James 5:9 NKJV). Complaining against God brings destruction (see 1 Corinthians 10:9-10). If we need to complain, we need to complain to the Lord (not about the Lord) in a prayerful attitude. David gives good examples of pouring out his heart to the Lord and encouraging himself to be happy in God (See Psalm 42, 102 and  142, for example). See also Psalm 62:8 and Romans 8:26.

Proverbs 18:21 NKJV says “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.” Our words of complaint, even if just mumbled to ourselves, have power – the power of death. One of the enemy’s great deceptions has been convincing people that their words and gripings don’t matter. They do. Complaining is the ungodly sin of an ungodly people, and we ought to guard our hearts and minds against this. But this is not something we can accomplish on our own. We will need the Lord’s help. We should pray as David prayed, “Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips.” (Psalm 141:3)

We should ask God to help us follow the words of Paul in Ephesians 4:29-31:

Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.

The Power of Acknowledged Weakness (Our Confessions of Faith)

First, credit to Jack Hayford‘s podcast entitled “The Power of Acknowledged Weakness” for inspiring this writing.

As I think about the various posts I’ve made on my metanoia, it is clear that I have been working through the process of undoing some of the “faith based” one-sidedness I see so much in this world. While I believe we are to stand in faith, I am often put off by the excessiveness this can take in some people. At times, it seems preachers tell us to only confess the positive when the reality of the situation isn’t so positive, or conversely to avoid saying anything negative because that shows a lack of faith and gives place to the enemy. While it is easy to pull out a scripture here or there to support such claims, I find that when you look at the whole of the Bible, you see a more complicated (and honest) story.

1 Corinthians 2:1-5 (NKJV) says “And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

Paul’s words are interesting here. He came in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. I can almost hear some preachers today:

“Paul, where was your faith? Don’t you know that fear is the opposite of faith? Don’t you know that perfect love casts out all fear? If you have fear it must be a deficiency of love or of the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Get refilled and you won’t have fear!”

Yes, this is the formula taught today, and the formula is scriptural. But just because we’ve learned a formula doesn’t mean our hearts are right with God and that we are trusting in anything more than the formula itself. Even when we think we are right, we are wise to remember that there is a greater fulness to God, and even in our most perfect state on earth, we do see but dimly.

1 Peter 2:18-24 (NKJV) says “Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh. For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: ‘Who committed no sin, ​​Nor was deceit found in His mouth’; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.”

We love to claim the promise at the end of this passage. Jesus died for our sins and died so that we might have power over sin in our body. He died so that we can have healing from the presence of sin’s attack on our body. But he did these things by what would be considered weakness in our carnal minds. When Jesus was reviled, he did not revile in return. When he was threatened, he did not threaten, but simply trusted in God who judges righteously. If we are misunderstood or mistreated and take it well, then this is a sacrifice to God, and it is to this that we are called. We need to understand that the wonderful glory we have in Christ we have because Jesus didn’t retaliate but surrendered to what was apparent weakness, trusting in God. We are called to a similar surrender. Are we standing on the final promise alone (are we standing on confession of the words alone and having memorized certain scriptures) or are we standing on our weakness compared to Christ’s glory and in our willingness to walk as He walked, even if He doesn’t take us on the easy path?

In the podcast referenced above, Jack Hayford points out for common types of believers in relation to the promises of God’s word:

  1. Strategist: This the the person who likes to find a way to make things work. To appear strong, this person has to work out a program. I think my issues with the Ministry of Strengths course was that this was a very strategist modality. But Paul said in the Corinthians passage above that his preaching and his teaching were not with enticing words of man’s wisdom. The strategist works out his own way, and then prays the Lord to bless it. The Lord would say to the strategist, “get out of my way and I’ll work.”
  2. Defeatist: This person simply accepts that what is what is what. Displaying even an appearance of spiritual humility, this person simply “praises God anyway, whatever the will of God.” This person may speak to past prayer that didn’t work and assume a sickness or failing must simply be the will of God. The defeatist’s defense is no defence. Defeatists don’t defend themselves, but they don’t let the Lord be their defence either. The defeatist presumes a negative situation is simply a mandate of God he must suffer, but he never invites God into the situation. The Lord would say to the defeatist, “if you’ll stop sulking and denying that I may want to do something positive and let me in, I will work.”
  3. Positivist: Every faith seems to have their positivist – from those in the occult to those in the Charismatic Christian movement. The very idea that the ideology is so widespread gives hint to the notion that there may be a truth within it, but the ideology itself doesn’t cut it. Positivism, like many other isms, is a thing that often becomes substantial for its own sake alone – I am positive because I’m positive, vs. I’m positive because Jesus is truly making me that way through the inner working of His Spirit. The Lord may say to the positivist, “stop trusting in your positiveness, for it has become a separate idol to you before me.”
  4. Religionist:  The religionist loves theology. He can point to the Word and often point out where others are wrong. I struggle with this myself, especially when confronting the extreme ideals of strategists, defeatists, and positivists. We see ourselves as right, and therefore as strong. While it is good to have correct doctrine, the religionist has faith in his knowledge of the Word rather than the Word Himself. We lose sight of the Savior forest due to the theology trees. To the religionist the Lord will say “your theology does not impress Me, for I am the embodiment of it all.” We must remember, we see but dimly, and we only know in part.

The Lord though, is looking for people who say “I don’t have it, but I’m in touch with the One who does.” People who will come and acknowledge their own weakness: the weakness of their own plans, their own slogans, their own passiveness and apparent spirituality, and even their own knowledge of the Word.

We need to come to the place of the apostle Paul where we come in weakness and in fear, not trusting in anything within ourselves, but simply leaning on God, trusting that God will support His word, not through us, but through His Spirit and Power.