God is an Exclusivist! conclusion

31 03 2006

old-tag_ex-3.141.jpgIn the previous posts in this string, I have sought to clarify why the God who made the heavens and the earth; the God of the Bible, is an exclusivist. This has rested solely upon his gracious disclosure of himself in the Bible.

It must be reemphasized that in this land of freedom and in this age where post-modern, pluralistic thinking reigns, you are free to invent, redefine, and accept anything you want! You can follow any ‘god’ you choose to, however, if you are going to attach yourself in any way to the Bible, in terms of identifying your ‘god’ or to Jesus Christ, you cannot be a pluralist…for God’s self-revelation will not allow for it. As J. Greshem Machen so aptly said, you are free to invent your own religion…just don’t call it Christianity! This name is taken!

And this is the conclusion.

God has revealed himself through the Scriptures of the Old & New Testament; clearly explaining his attributes, expectations, perceptions of us the creation, the means of restoration, the promise of a future judgment for all, and the consequence for our rebellion.

The exclusivity of God boils down to the eternality of God; his perfections are eternally perfect. Therefore, our sin (rebellion) is eternal rebellion and has an eternal consequence in terms of punishment. This is why hell will last forever (Revelation 20.10).

The only means by which the anger of God towards humanity is removed is through an eternally meritorious sacrifice, there must be something of value that is offered to God. We as creation cannot be like little children and bring God mud-pies from the backyard when he has infinitely higher standards ;->

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The only one who is eligible to satisfy God’s wrath, or to make God favorable, or propitious is the Son of God, Jesus Christ.

For it is he alone who possesses the eternal eligibility to bring the holy, righteous, perfect, and pleasing sacrifice to the Father (Hebrews 7.25-28).

Not only is he eligible, but he was willing! Jesus Christ was willing to die for sinners and he did, offering himself as a sacrifice to the Father for the judgment of sinners.

Hebrews 9:14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.

No other religious figure is eternal. God makes no provision for other ways. Jesus says he is the only way.

John 14:6 6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

In order for God to accept everybody, he must reject his son, calling him a liar, and judging his death and resurrection as a mistake.

Instead, God has received this sacrifice from the son as pleasing and has furnished proof of his acceptance by raising him from the dead. And it is this acceptance that is the means by which sinners may be accepted. And it is through Christ that God receives exclusive praise.

Ephesians 5:2 Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.

Acts 17:30-31 30 "Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, 31 because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead."

 

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God is an Exclusivist! part 5 -the exclusive forgiveness

30 03 2006

one-way_sfw1.jpgIt is interesting to think in terms of exclusivity with God, particularly in light of the clarity with which he speaks to his perception of himself and humanity.

Concerning himself:

Eternally Righteous (i.e. uncompromising)

Psalm 119:142 Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, And Your law is truth.

Deuteronomy 32:4 "The Rock! His work is perfect, For all His ways are just; A God of faithfulness and without injustice, Righteous and upright is He.

Eternally Holy (i.e. always perfect & separate from imperfection)

1 Peter 1:16 since it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy."

Psalm 93:5 Your testimonies are fully confirmed; Holiness befits Your house, O LORD, forevermore.
Eternally Loving (i.e. as defined by holiness)

Psalm 103:17 But the lovingkindness of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, And His righteousness to children's children,

1 John 4:8 The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

Unchanging

1 Samuel 15:29 "Also the Glory of Israel will not lie or change His mind; for He is not a man that He should change His mind."

Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Concerning humanity:

Unrighteous (i.e. corrupt and imperfect)

Romans 3:10 10 as it is written: "None is righteous, no, not one;

Jeremiah 17:9 9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

Rebellious (i.e. rebelling against divine authority)

Romans 3:11 11 no one understands; no one seeks for God.

Romans 3:12 12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one."

Romans 3:18 18 "There is no fear of God before their eyes."

Damned (i.e. judged as rebels)

John 3:18-19 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil.

Matthew 23:33 33 You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?

Romans 2:5-6 5 But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed. 6 He will render to each one according to his works:

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So how is the biblical question answered?

Job 25:4 4 How then can man be in the right before God? How can he who is born of woman be pure?

You and I have a problem. We cannot bring God the pleasure and honor and love he deserves and demands from now forward and we cannot bring him an eternal payment to satisfy his prevailing anger over our past sins…this is the problem.

But listen to me because this is the answer. This is what distinguishes Biblical Christianity from every other world religion.

God will not compromise his character and grant everyone a free pass…and he does not just allow everyone to go to hell.

God, in his infinite wisdom, has sent his son, the Lord Jesus Christ, himself being eternal God, to put on humanity, to come and live among people like you and me.

Jesus did not just live among people, but he lived for people. Jesus came as a gracious & merciful substitute.
Jesus, as a man, is ceaseless in his appreciation, dependence, allegiance, attention, glory, obedience & love for the Father.

Not only did he live perfectly for sinners like you and me…He died for sinners, like you and me…

What is the penalty of sin? Eternal death (Romans 6.23)
Jesus Christ endured the just divine penalty of wrath and anger upon sin, though he never sinned, that he might satisfy God’s eternal anger. (Romans 3.21-25) makes this clear.

Jesus, himself being eternal, is the only one who can bring an eternal sacrifice to satisfy God’s eternal anger. And he did!

God treated Jesus as a sinner, though he wasn’t, because he was judging him in the place of sinners, so that he could declare the sinner perfect, based upon Christ’s eternal sacrifice….

This is the only way that God could, as the Bible says, could be “just and the justifier

Romans 3:26 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

No other world religion maintains the integrity of God and the forgiveness of sinners. For it is only Biblical Christianity.

There is 1 God who has 1 son, who died 1 death, to give you and I 1 way for forgiveness.

The cross of Jesus Christ is a pulpit where God preaches his unwavering justice and unfathomable love to you, even stamping Christ’s sacrifice as approved by raising him from the dead.

What are you banking on?

Either you…

look at God as Just, Good and Merciful in providing uncompromised forgiveness through his son….

Or…

You cling to your own view of God, unsubstantiated by Scripture that rests upon God’s willingness to take your religious bribery. And the end of this road is the unmitigated wrath of God, incensed by foolish attempts at bribery.

There is nothing that you can bring God to satisfy him because he has eternal requirements, it is only Christ…God is an exclusivist!!
John 3:18 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
Jesus Christ is not an option, he is the answer.

If you are not trusting in Jesus Christ right now for forgiveness, I urge you to do so right now, turn from sin, come to Christ, he welcomes heavy laden sinners with open arms.

 





God is an Exclusivist! part 4 -the exclusive problem-

29 03 2006

The whole idea of pursuing God is rooted in the internal knowledge of personal deficiency, that outside of us there is something better, there are pleasures far greater than we can ever estimate (Psalm 16.10).

broken-glass.jpgThis all points back to us being made in the image of God (Genesis 1.26-28).Our deficiency is not just perceived, it is a reality! Our consciences even bearing witness that we are not as we ought to be (Romans 2.14-15), this occurs even as we “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1.18). And the consequent anger, or wrath of God is revealed in opposition to this.

God made humanity upright and gave us the purpose of reflecting him and representing him in this world (Genesis 1.26-28). We, along with everything else, were made for the pleasure of God (Colossians 1.16).

These divine requirements are clear; in fact one person asked Jesus what his purpose was in life. And how did Jesus answer him?

Matthew 22:37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.

Pretty simple right? This is nothing less than an assertion by God to be the unrivaled, exclusive object of your affections!

God wants, no God demands, ceaseless love, appreciation, dependence, allegiance, attention, glory…just to name a few.

God is the sovereign Creator, the only one who does not look up on the org chart, so he therefore, makes the rules, and his rules are that he gets uninterrupted love & obedience from you and me; for it is God’s own enjoyment that is behind everything that he does, this includes the creation of you and me….God demands ceaseless worship.
How have you done?

Have you enjoyed one year of this type of love for God? No.

What about a month? No.

A week? No.

A day? No.

The truth be told, we have not given God what he demands.

And this presents a problem for us the creation. See because God is not willing to compromise his admittedly high standard to accommodate our regrettably low performance.

God has said in his eternal word that: For the wages of sin is death, (Romans 6.23)

That is the paycheck of sin is death.

What is sin? This word gets tossed around quite a bit in religious circles, but what is it?

Sin is simply not pleasing God…either by thought, word or deed. IT is to do what angers God instead of pleases him.

God is clear in the Scripture that every single one of us have fallen short of his standards.

Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

crash-n-burn_sfw1.jpgThis is not some sort of falling short like we are “just missing” no instead we are missing, literally, we keep missing, the whole point!! We are not just a shade or two off of the bull’s-eye, we haven’t even hit the target!! We have missed the whole point of life!! We have crashed and burned.

We as creation are supposed to live for the pleasure of God and instead we have all put God in the backseat, only to navigate our own lives to destination of our own pleasures.

This is done at the expense of God’s glory, will, and pleasure.

So what is God going to do? Since God is just he must punish sin wherever it is found, he must exhaust his anger upon that which opposes his plan and his desire.

You might be saying that is a little extreme don’t you think? I would say yes. God is an extremist. According to the Bible he is extremely committed to receiving all of the praise and honor from everyone and everything.

Isaiah 42:8 8 “I am the LORD, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, Nor My praise to graven images.

The reason why sin is so bad is because of who God is.

As has been previously been written, God is eternal, meaning he has no beginning and no end, everything about him is eternal, his holiness or separation from sin is eternal, his justice is eternal.

Therefore when you and I sin we assault God’s character. Our sin brings eternal consequence.

Because God is eternal he punishes sin with eternal punishment. God will punish sinners forever in hell because his eternal perfections demand it!

That is the bad news. There is good news, however you must understand the problem before the solution.

The good news comes tomorrow.

[Romans 3.21-28]





God is an Exclusivist! part 3

28 03 2006

In previous posts we have talked about the prevailing perception that any exclusive claims to knowing God or access to God are arrogant. In the name of humility many have abandoned such a concept; in view of a far more inclusive, positive and tolerant religious worldview.

oohhsfw.jpgThis ostensibly humble shift away from exclusive thought would be more digestible if it there was nothing objective to calibrate our moorings. This shift would be humble if we were all left here to figure everything out; sure it is humble not to be too dogmatic with our self-invested authority, and in so doing categorically exclude all who do not look like us or talk like us.

But this is hypothetical, for we are not left to our own subjective moorings to evaluate and exercise self-authority. We under the reality that the self-existent, independent God, who alone dwells separately in terms of time, space, & history as the transcendent source of knowledge, life and happiness, he has indeed made himself known! God has made himself known through the pages of Scripture and through the life of his son.

As the evangelist John announces:

John 1:18 No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.
This is good news. God has not left us to ourselves to make these huge mistakes about who he is and what he expects. Instead we see the love of God through the pages of Scripture in communicating his divine will to us in understandable terms.

The reality of divine disclosure does cast an interesting light on this humility of pluralism. How humble is it to discard the revelation of God? How can this be humility? God has said what he has said and many have rejected it, and in the name of humility sought to explain what God thinks, feels and does.

How is this anything but arrogant? The religious pluralist is saying, “I know what the Bible says, but listen, what God really means is…” This is false-humility.

I can remember working in a company where one of the computer workstations of a senior executive was compromised. An individual managed to gain access to the executive’s office and proceeded to type an email to many within the company. The email of course went out under the executive’s signature and so brought his approval and authority.

password_sfw.jpgThe problem came in what was communicated. The individual disseminated a message that undermined the leadership of the executive based upon his previously clear and thorough communication of his vision. Needless to say, the perpetrator was relieved of his position with the company.

What if this hacker was sincere in his motives? What if he sincerely felt that what he wrote was true? These things do not matter, because the hacker has no right to speak for the executive; he has no business in his office or on his computer.

How much more offensive is it when people send out broadcast messages to their audiences that contradict and undermine the leadership, authority, and revelation of God himself!?!?!

This is not humility it is rebellion. It is criminal. God defines himself, we do not define him.

In the next couple of posts, let’s consider the exclusive means of forgiveness.





God is an Exclusivist! part 2

23 03 2006

A common argument against the exclusivity of God in general or Christianity in particular is simply panoramic view of man without regard at all for what God may or may not think. In fact, in an organization dedicated to proselytizing the world with the gospel of pluralism, The Pluralist Model of Religion assert in their key principles that The great world religions with their diverse teachings and practices constitute authentic paths to the supreme good.”

reasoning from the ground up-
This worldview is reasoning from the ground up instead of heaven down. It only makes sense that humanity would conclude such things if they just look around at one another and say, “We can’t all be wrong…right?” Of course not. So instead of humanity compromising their differences, they decide to make God more tolerant, and then they can be more tolerant too, as they try to be more like what they think God is like…right?” Who is going to take issue with a God that looks just like them, accepts everyone, and makes no real authoritative demands upon anyone?

The problem is, the God who made the world and all things in it, is not silent about these things. In fact, with an honest reading of the Bible one would conclude that God is in fact quite obsessed with this issue of his supremacy, his glory and his particulars. God is overly sensitive with having his character and will treated like pottery, molded and shaped into conformity to the mind of the potter. Indeed God graciously condescends to his creation and warns them of such dangerous pottery projects:

Psalm 50:21…You thought that I was just like you; I will reprove you and state the case in order before your eyes.

reasoning from the revelation of God down-
There is a real need as to why God revealed himself: he is different than us! This is key. For if God was just like us what would we need him for anyway? Indeed our finiteness in the shadow of his infiniteness is an echoing cry for revelation.

God is Eternal

Psalm 90:2 2 Before the mountains were born Or You gave birth to the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.
God has no beginning and no end; the number of his years is unsearchable” (Job 36.26). He is transcendent, that is he is outside of time, space, & history; wholly set apart as distinct from creation. How could we, people who have a start and end date, and with everything around us dying, how could we come to terms with this without God, being eternal and transcendent, revealing it to us? We are trapped in the box of our finiteness, darkened by our own intellectual limitations, groping as blind men for the light of heaven.

God is Infinite

1 Kings 8:27 “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain You, how much less this house which I have built!

Psalm 113:4 The LORD is high above all nations; His glory is above the heavens.

God cannot be bound by anyone or anything. Is being is unfathomable. We cannot exhaust the riches of infinite wisdom, nor can we know the depths of his infinite goodness. However, by the grace of God, he has revealed himself. The infinite God has revealed himself in terms that we can understand so that we the finite creation can obey the infinite God.
Deuteronomy 29:29 “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.

God is Self-Existent

Acts 17:25 nor is he [God] served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.

When Moses asked God his name that he might tell his brethren, God replied, “I am who I am” (Exodus 3.14). Meaning, I alone am YHWH the self-existent. You want to know who I am? Says God, I am indefinable in terms of everything you see…you have no category for the great “I am”….I am transcendent, I am who I am!
God is not dependant upon anyone or anything to accomplish his will…he is completely independent. I love this verse because it clearly portrays God as a big God, not as one who is somehow sitting all alone in heaven without any friends….Rather…God is eternally enthralled the glorious divine beauty of the godhead. He needs nothing. God is not co-dependant upon mankind to fill his emotional deficiency. God’s happiness did not depend upon creating mankind….Rather, he created out of happiness in himself, and appraised his creation as good (Genesis 1.31) and likewise redemption, God has redeemed not because we were so lovely as sinners, but to exalt his glorious grace in the saving of such unlovely people (Ephesians 1.4-6).

God is Unchanging

Malachi 3:6 6 “For I, the LORD, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed.
James 1:17 17 Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.

This serves as a remarkably comforting reality to those who follow God and likewise a dreadful reality to those who would not submit to him. God does not change; we do not have God evolving, updating to a “new” model of deity, or coming out with some new divine version…instead we have a God who boasts in his immutability. He changes not.
Imagine the dread of finding out that after 10,000 years of worshipping God in heaven that he changed and became evil and cast all from heaven to hell! This is not God. God is good and does good, he does not change, he does not have an identity crisis. The God who spoke to Abraham and called him to follow him in faith is the God who now beckons all of humanity, from the pages of scripture, to follow him.
The application of these few divine realities of how God can be known and understood today in terms of biblical revelation (exclusivist thought) will be the focus in the next few posts.





God is an Exclusivist! part 1

22 03 2006

It is popular in our culture to snicker and dismiss claims of exclusivity as arrogant. This reaction only intensified when we speak in terms of religious exclusivity. For as many have said, such thinking is dangerous, arrogant, narrow-minded and bigoted. The opponents of exclusivity understand exactly what is at stake; exclusivity draws lines and in so doing it alienates itself from opposition.

The goal of this pluralistic worldview is ostensibly noble, as it seeks to include more in their philosophical “net”. However, in their ostensibly noble thinking they themselves are unwittingly guilty of the same exclusive worldview, they just affirm more people and step on less toes.

Can the Christian message have it’s lines blurred?

Can there be salvation without faith in the finished work of Son of God?

Can one be saved without having their pride shred by the humbling message of inadequacy as preached by Jesus’ substitutionary death for sinners?

The exclusivity of the Christian gospel will be my focus in the upcoming posts.

Jude 3.