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Defending the Glory of God,  Article 12

 

The  Greatness  of  God

 

Christianity – Islam :
Father/son, or Master/slave relationship

  

In Islam God’s greatness and His relationship with mankind is best described as a Master - Slave relationship.  Islam, which literally means submission, honors God (Allah) as Creator and Lord over all.  Muslims feel greatly offended when they hear God being described as a Father because they believe this insults His dignity as a Master.  (Muslims claim to accept Jesus Christ as a prophet, but they reject the New Testament writings by falsely claiming that they were corrupted sometime after Mohammed (died 632 AD.)   

Christianity on the other hand accepts the true revelation of Jesus Christ.  In John’s Gospel chapter 13 Jesus washes the feet of His disciples.  This shows how God’s greatness is best described not in terms of power and coercion, but rather in terms of love and sacrifice.  John 3:16  “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son …”  Also see John 15:13-17. 

Jesus reveals that God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Christians believe that God desires all mankind to be saved and that those who are reconciled to God by the merits of Jesus Christ are adopted into the family of God and to the extent that they are united to Jesus Christ and in Jesus Christ they become the Father’s sons and daughters.   Therefore, Christians see God’s relationship with mankind as a Father - son relationship rather than just as a Master - slave relationship that Muslims perceive.  Christian’s see God’s greatest attribute and His greatest glory as best being described as a loving heavenly Father.

Romans 8:14-17
“For those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.  For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a spirit of adoption, through which we cry, ‘Abba, Father!’  The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ …”

2 Peter 1:3-4
“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, that through these you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of passion, and become partakers of the divine nature.”
[Cf.  1 Timothy 2:4,  Matthew 5:45, 1 John 3:1]

 

Satan versus God

 

Satan was created as one of the higher angels.  Angels, like God Himself before the Incarnation, are purely spiritual beings, whereas mankind is both a spiritual being since he has an eternal soul and he is a natural being since he has a body. 

Satan was made so magnificently that he became proud of Himself.  He had no problem with God being in a pure spirit form that could not suffer or experience temptation.  However, Satan would not humble himself to worship Jesus Christ when He took on flesh and became a Man, and took a form lower than the angels. 

Hebrews 2:6-9
“ ‘… the son of man … You made him for a little while lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor, subjecting all things under his feet.’ … Yet at present we do not see ‘all things subject to him,’ but we do see Jesus ‘crowned with glory and honor’ because he suffered death, he who ‘for a little while’ was made ‘lower than the angels,’ that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.”

Jesus Christ is the Savior of both men and angels.  The angels were permitted to grasp the mystery of the Incarnation, of God becoming Man.  The good angels accepted this and stayed in heaven.  The bad angels would not worship God in this lower form and were banished to hell.  Satan fell because of the sin of pride.  He would not accept the spiritual goodness of God’s grace which is the very Life of God intermingling with nature, the physical world.

1 John 4:2-3
“This is how you can know the Spirit of God: every spirit that acknowledges Jesus Christ come in the flesh be longs to God, and every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus does not belong to God. This is the spirit of the antichrist that, as you heard, is to come, but in fact is already in the world.”

 

An Unfortunate Heresy

 

There was a man named Johnson who wanted to emphasize the goodness and the glory of God.  However, in doing so he showed how deeply he misunderstood just how Good God really is.  The more he wanted to emphasize God’s glory the more he felt he should show a separation between God and man since man is entrapped by sin.  Since God is so Good he reasoned that we should not even approach God. 

Johnson was wrong.  He failed to understand that the greatest attribute of God is His Love.  If we are going to give God credit for  all His glory we need to acknowledge His intimate love for us and His love working within us.  And it is His love working within us that makes us worthy to receive Him so that we can approach Him.

Ephesians 2:8-10
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so no one may boast.  For we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them.”

Delving more deeply into the mystery of the love that God has for us opens many doors so that we might more fully understand the things of God.

 

Spiritual vs. Natural

 

John Calvin promoted a false and unbiblical teaching that he called the Total Depravity of Man.  Some Christians have missed some of the deeper truths of the Bible because they fell into this false doctrine.  It presented a false dichotomy between the God’s grace and the natural, that is, the physical.  His idea was not totally new.  There is a parallel between it and the Manichean and the Albigensian heresies.  Those heresies held that matter, physical nature, is considered totally and only evil.

Also see the Albigensian heresy.

The validity of a given proposition is often made clear by examining the conclusions that would result if it was indeed true.  So, we need to look at the logical consequences of Calvin’s premise that the grace of God which is spiritual is totally separated from the created physical world.  The first is good and the second is only evil.  This perspective holds that mankind and everything he wills to do is totally corrupted and evil, self-serving and without merit. 

So, if we accept that premise then we would have to conclude that even a person’s reading, and, or interpreting the Bible are essentially evil acts, since all that man does is considered evil.  Therefore, he or she might as well as keep the Bible shut.  Why would a person want to associate evil actions with the Good Book ? 

However, it should be obvious that this conclusion is false.  Therefore, the premise on which it is based is also false. 

 

We all have Original Sin.  Not only do we have a darkened intellect and a weakened will, but we also have concupiscence, that is a propensity toward evil or lust.  However, God’s grace perfects nature.  By His grace working within us He enables us to choose to love and to choose to do that which is good.  If this were not true then it would be meaningless for the New Testament writers to consistently exhort their Christian followers to choose to do good rather than evil. 

This false teaching of the Total Depravity of Man can seem attractive because it tends to deny any responsibility that we might have in the choices that we make.  This deception then  “allows”  us to avoid accepting any suffering that comes with choosing to turn away from sin and choosing to live a morally just life.  However, this false teaching fails to give God the credit for His greatest work, His love working within us that makes it possible for us to co-operate with His grace and to choose to be good.

Matthew 5:48
“So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
 

Matthew 19:21
“Jesus said to him, ‘If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to (the) poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’ ”

 

Spiritual in the Physical

Grace perfects Nature

 

We can also see how God chooses to dispense His grace through physical things. 

John 9:1-7
“As he passed by he saw a man blind from birth. … 6 When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva, and smeared the clay on his eyes, and said to him,  ‘Go wash in the Pool of Siloam’  (which means Sent). So he went and washed, and came back able to see.” 

 

Bible Study on Nature, Things

 

A quick Bible study on God’s use of relics shows that God purposefully chooses to dispense His grace through nature, that is created things. 

In Matt. 9:20-22 a woman was healed of hemorrhage when she touched Jesus’s cloak.  Notice that it is not that she touched Jesus, but His cloak.  God choose to dispense His grace through a created object.  When Peter’s shadow passed over the sick they were cured in Acts 5:15-16.  Also consider: 

Acts 19:11-12
“And God did extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that handkerchiefs or aprons were carried away from his body to the sick, and diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them.”

Again, God chooses to dispense his miraculous healing grace through physical things like handkerchiefs or aprons. 

2 Kings 13:20-21
“Elisha died and was buried. At the time, bands of Moabites used to raid the land each year.  Once some people were burying a man, when suddenly they spied such a raiding band.  So they cast the dead man into the grave of Elisha, and everyone went off. But when the man came in contact with the bones of Elisha, he came back to life and rose to his feet.”

Here in 2 Kings God performed a miracle when the man came into contact with Elisha’s bones.  We see that God works through the relics of holy people.  By doing this we also see God honoring the example that those holy people gave us. 

In the fourth century the great biblical scholar, Jerome, declared, “We do not worship, we do not adore, for fear that we should bow down to the creature rather than to the creator, but we venerate the relics of the martyrs in order the better to adore him whose martyrs they are” (Ad Riparium, i, P.L., XXII, 907).

 

Bible Study on Nature, People

 

1 John 4:16
“ … God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him.”

Jesus tells us that in order to love God we must obey His commandments.  And the commandments are based on love, love for God and love for neighbor.  If we do not love our neighbor whom we can see, then we do not love God either.  Now, it is not by mere human power that we are capable of having a true love.  It is only by the grace of God within us that enables us to freely choose to love others.  In fact, in is only by that same grace that we can have true Christian faith.   Faith that is achieved by mere human effort is not the true saving faith that we receive as a gift at Baptism.   
(Cf.  John 14:15.  Matt. 5:44, 22:36-40.  Luke 6:33-36.  John 8:42, 15:9-13.  Romans 13:8-10.  1 Cor 16:22.   1 John 3:10, 14-18.  1 John 4:20-21, 5:2-3  Ephesians 2:8-10.  See Biblical quotes.)

We also can see how God chooses to administer His grace through people. 

2 Corinthians 5:17-20
“Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation … All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation … So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”  

Also, by His grace working within them He enables them to offer truly efficacious prayers.

Job 42:7-9
“After the Lord had spoken these words to Job, the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite:  ‘My wrath is kindled against you and against your two friends; for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.  Now therefore take seven bulls and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you, for I will accept his prayer not to deal with you according to your folly; for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.’   So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went and did what the Lord had told them; and the Lord accepted Job’s prayer.”

James 5:16  
“… pray for one another, that you may be healed. The fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful.” 

Revelation 6:9-10 
“When he broke open the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slaughtered because of the witness they bore to the word of God.  They cried out in a loud voice,  ‘How long will it be, holy and true master, before you sit in judgment and avenge our blood on the inhabitants of the earth?’ ” 

Revelation 8:3-4 
“Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a gold censer. He was given a great quantity of incense to offer, along with the prayers of all the holy ones, on the gold altar that was before the throne.   The smoke of the incense along with the prayers of the holy ones went up before God from the hand of the angel.” 

Here in Revelations we can see the Saints who have passed onto the next life offering holy prayers to God.  God, by His grace, is working through and enabling them to offer these holy and efficacious prayers. 

One way of demonstrating how the natural, the physical, is  *not*  necessarily separated and devoid of God’s grace dwelling within it is to look at the Incarnation.  God, while remaining to be God also became fully Man.  Actually it was an early heresy that denied that He truly became Man and denied that He truly had a physical body.  These early heretics could not accept the Incarnation because they viewed the natural to be antithetical to the spiritual.  However, the Bible tells us they were wrong. 

2 John 7 
“Many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh; such is the deceitful one and the antichrist.”  

Don’t let the modern deceivers tell you otherwise.  God, who is spiritual, also fully took on the natural. 

 

Conclusion

 

In conclusion, we can see how Satan and the anti-christ have challenged God in a battle.   Because of Satan’s self pride in his own spiritual being he denies giving God the glory in His choice to take on a physical nature and to become a Man.  Satan seeks to deceive his followers into rejecting how God could choose to perfect nature and work through it.   

However, God is more powerful than what Satan would have us believe.  God and His grace is more powerful than any corruption that our fallen nature has.  God has the power to perfect even our fallen nature.  He chooses to manifest His glory and His love for us by dispensing His grace through nature and through mankind who is saved and united in Him. 

John 17:22-23
“The glory which thou hast given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and thou in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that thou hast sent me and hast loved them even as thou hast loved me.” 

 

 

 


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