Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Power of God's Word

I recently had a spiritual conversation with another person who asked this question: “What makes you an authority on God?” That is a legitimate question to ask someone when having a conversation about God. This person had one view while I had a different view of things so how does the matter get resolved and how do we know who is talking about the One true living God.

I am not an authority on God because he is the authority himself. God the Father has revealed himself through his Son, Jesus Christ, and also through the words of Holy Scripture. “He [Jesus] is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his [The Father’s] nature” (Hebrews 1:3). Jesus is the exact imprint of God the Father. Colossians 1 says, “He is the image of the invisible God…For in him [Jesus] all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell” (Col. 1:15, 19). Now some may argue that Jesus was nothing more than the Son of God so of course he is like his Father; but Jesus was more than just God’s Son he is God. Jesus says, “My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one” (John 10:29-30). The Jews picked up on this right away because the text goes on to say, “The Jews picked up stones again to stone him…’It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God’” (John 10:31, 33). This is amazing. Jesus made his claim that he and God the Father are one. Jesus is making the claim as the God-man. We know these truths from Holy Scripture.

In love, God tells us the Scriptures are his words. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). It’s trustworthy because God, who cannot lie (Titus 1:2), has given us these words so we might know him. The reason I believe the Scriptures is because of God’s gracious gift of faith to see his word as truth. He promised to leave us his Spirit to reveal this truth. “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my [Jesus] name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14:26). “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me” (John 15:26). The truth about God is known through his word and the power of his Spirit.

In the midst of my conversation with this other person I got this response while I was answering some questions: “You ask me questions, but when I ask you a question you digress. You let the Bible speak for you. Ever notice that?” I let the Bible speak because it’s God’s Word that has the power to change lives. Hebrews 4:12 helps answer that response, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” I respond with Scripture because God’s word is powerful and living and knows the soul of every human being, which is power I know nothing about.

Let’s go back to the claims of Jesus being God. Worshipping a god we make up is easy. We can pick and choose all the things we like about him (love, grace, mercy, compassion) and put them together and say, “Hey this is the god I want to worship.” But this is not the One true living God of the Bible. We cannot cut and paste the truth distorting it to fit what we want. Rather we must humbly submit to the whole truth. Jesus made claims that only a lunatic would make so it doesn’t make sense to reason him as just a good moral teacher. Jesus was either a lunatic or he was God. There is no middle ground. Either you reject Jesus being God or by faith (Heb. 11:1, 6) you accept that Jesus is God. The good news is not that Jesus made the claims but he backed them up.

“For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again” (John 10:17). Here is the claim of Christ coming to lay down is life on a cross but also claiming to rise from the dead. Jesus lived a perfect life, he died a horrific death but then he conquered death by victoriously raising himself three days later. “Death is swallow up in victory…The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:54, 56-57). His claims were not just claims but he is exactly who he is: God! I recently heard Josh Harris say, “A risen Jesus is not good news to people who want to be their own authority.” We cannot be our own authority because “all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me [Jesus]” (Matt. 28:18). The authority is not ours as the creation but God’s as our gracious Creator. It’s not common sense that those who are sinners rule and reign over a perfect and holy Creator. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). The gospel is where all our hope comes from.

The amazing part of the gospel is the Creator came down from the glories of heaven to restore the creation who had rebelled against him. This is the greatest display of love possible. “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). The amazing part is God laid down his life for those who hated him. “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). There is no such love to compare this too. The Triune God has worked in such a manner to redeem those who were his enemies. The Son came to restore broken people through his death (2 Cor. 5:21) bringing about repentance in the lives of those who believe in Christ for salvation. By the power of his resurrection we are raised to newness of life. We are made new creations in Christ, the living Savior. If Christ had just died then the truth would be that we worship a dead man. There is no power to change a heart in a dead person. But we serve the One who was raised from the dead and who “God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him that name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:9-11).

Grace upon grace,
JRL

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