Monday, July 25, 2005

That's Not the God I Serve

If by saying "that is not the God I serve" you mean that his relationship with us is different, then that is great, and I cannot argue. If you mean that God today is not capable of some of the things we see in the Old Testament, then I would have to argue otherwise


I have heard some discussion lately centered on the fact that the God of the Old Testament was concerned with Justice and the God of the New Testament is about Love. When studying passages from the Old Testament, it is easy to dismiss some of the passages and say "that isn't the God that I serve." I have some concerns with this statement. First, it implies that God's character has changed. I don't believe this for numerous reasons, which will be discussed below. Since God doesn't change, it is damaging to take away characteristics that we don't like. Instead of worshiping the God who is, we worship a god that we have created, or an idol.


God Doesn't Change. God is totally consistent in His nature and character. It is impossible for Him to change or to lie.

James 1:17. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows

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

Psalm 102:26-27 They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. Like clothing you will change them and they will be discarded. But you remain the same, and your years will never end.

Malachi 3:6 I the Lord do no change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, will not be destroyed.


I realize that there are other passages that seem to imply that God can change His mind. One of many examples is when Moses was on Mount Sinai receiving the Ten Commandments. While Moses was on the mountain, the Children of Israel made an idol and proclaimed that it would deliver them out of Egypt. The Lord was going to "consume" them, but Moses begged God not to destroy them.

Exodus 32:14 Jehova repented of the evil which he said he would do unto his people.


This is one of many examples where God "repents" or "changes his mind." It is not the point of this posting, but there are several things to keep in mind. I have the point of view that scripture cannot contradict itself. If this is true, then what is explicitly stated would overrule what appears to be implied. Since the Bible clearly states that God does not and cannot change, we cannot gather from other verses such as in Exodus that He changes. Another thing to keep in mind is that the Bible uses human terms and characteristics to describe God. Passages such as Exodus 19:4, Ruth 2:12, Psalm 36:7, and Psalm 17:8 could be interpreted as meaning that God has wings. God doesn't have wings, but he is being described in human terms that we can relate to. In fact, there are many reference to body parts when describing God, but we know that He is spirit.


GODS FEELINGS ABOUT HIS PEOPLE AND SIN HAVE NOT CHANGED
Since God cannot change, His feelings about us cannot change. He loved His people before the time of Christ just as much as He loves us. By the same token, since God cannot change, His hatred of sin cannot change, either. He hates sin today just as much as he did before the time of Christ.


It is obvious that his dealings with us have changed. The book of Hebrews does a marvelous job of explaining the differences between our relationship with God before Christ and after Christ. His character, however, has never changed. See my previos post about Justice Grace and Mercy to see how his character remained consistent.


If by saying "that is not the God I serve" you mean that his relationship with us is different, then that is great, and I cannot argue. If you mean that God today is not capable of some of the things we see in the Old Testament, then I would have to argue otherwise.


WE CAN'T CROSS OFF CHARACTERISTICS OF GOD THAT WE DON'T LIKE
If we were to make a list of the characteristics of God, there would be some that we like such as Loving and Merciful, and some that we don't like so much, such as Just and Jealous. If we concentrate so much on God's love, and don't speak of His hatred of sin, we have created an idol. We no longer worship the true God that is portrayed for us in the Bible, but a false god that we have created in our own mind. I know that some things make us uncomfortable, but that doesn't mean that those parts of God don't exist. God doesn't exist to make us feel good. It is not about us.

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