Which God Are We Talking About?


God, the dictionary tells us, is “the creator and ruler of the universe and source of all moral authority; the supreme being” (Oxford-American Dictionary).

Can there be more than one Supreme Being? Turning to the dictionary again, we find “supreme” means

• superior to all others
• strongest, most important, or most powerful

In short, there can’t be multiple beings superior to all others. Nor can there be more than one strongest, or more than one most important, or more than one most powerful.

There can be multiple claimants to the position of God, but only One truly fills the role.

Today we have pretenders, even as past cultures and past generations had pretenders. The god of the Mormons is a pretender. The Hindus worship thousands of pretender gods, none actually being God who is Supreme. The Sikhs worship one god as do the Jews and Muslims, but these too are pretenders.

I know that latter statement might be controversial, but the truth is, Jesus is the one who shows us God. Without believing in Him, a person will not know the One True God. So the Muslims and Sikhs acknowledge that Jesus lived, but they do not believe He is God. Therefore, what they know about God isn’t complete. The same is true about the Jews, as close as they might be. They do not accept Jesus as Messiah, so they only partly know and understand who God is.

In the western world, the greatest pretender is Mankind. Atheists in particular, but others also, see Man as the one who is supreme—in practice if not in ideology.

How else could a person dogmatically state that in all the vastness of the universe, or perhaps of the multiverse, God does not exist? Only a supremely knowledgeable person could know such a thing.

On the other hand, some who claim to believe in God emphatically rule out the idea that He might judge humankind and find us wanting, find us deserving of judgment. These are the people who say, God would never send people to hell. Religious minded individuals of this persuasion believe they get to decide what god is like—if they don’t want a god who is angry at sin and at the hurt to which people subject each other, well, then they declare him to be what they want. In essence, they make themselves their own god.

In the days of King Hezekiah, a commander of Assyria, who confronted Judah, made the mistake of thinking the One True God was just another spiritual being like those worshiped by any number of the other nations in the Middle East. When this military leader came against Jerusalem, he tried to talk the citizens into surrendering by belittling God:

Beware that Hezekiah does not mislead you, saying, “The LORD will deliver us.” Has any one of the gods of the nations delivered his land from the hand of the king of Assyria? Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim? And when have they delivered Samaria from my hand? Who among all the gods of these lands have delivered their land from my hand, that the LORD would deliver Jerusalem from my hand?’” (Isaiah 36:18-20).

Well, sure, he’d have been right if God were one among many. Why should one be feared more than any of the others if there is no One Supreme Being? But in fact, God, the God of the Old and the New Testaments, stands above all.

He alone is self-existent. All other spiritual beings are part of His creation. King Hezekiah had a chance to declare this truth so that people for all time could know who God is:

“O LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, who is enthroned above the cherubim, You are the God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. Incline Your ear, O LORD, and hear; open Your eyes, O LORD, and see; and listen to all the words of Sennacherib, who sent them to reproach the living God. Truly, O LORD, the kings of Assyria have devastated all the countries and their lands, and have cast their gods into the fire, for they were not gods but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone. So they have destroyed them. Now, O LORD our God, deliver us from his hand that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You alone, LORD, are God.” (Isaiah 37:16-20)

In fact God heard Hezekiah’s prayer and answered him accordingly. Assyria never did conquer Judah. Their army was decimated, and the king returned to Nineveh where his own sons assassinated him.

God, the One True God, will not be mocked. He wants the nations to know Him and worship Him. I know this bothers a lot of atheists. They think it’s egocentric of God to want glory. But the truth is, to want anything less would be a falsehood. It would suggest that someone else is as deserving of praise and honor as God is. None are.

Should God lie in order to appear humble? Thank you all, you’re all too kind. I don’t deserve all this attention. Please, feel free to praise each other or one of the angels or one of the pretend gods. I want to be fair and pass the attention around so you all can experience this great feeling of being adored by so many.

That’s the kind of thinking the twentieth and twenty-first centuries have produced. We think all the Little Leaguers should get trophies; that all people, no matter what their abilities, can do whatever they want if they just put their minds to it; and that god should not be so selfish as to demand all praise be given to him.

But to whom else should we give praise?

Who has directed the Spirit of the LORD,
Or as His counselor has informed Him?
With whom did He consult and who gave Him understanding?
And who taught Him in the path of justice and taught Him knowledge
And informed Him of the way of understanding?
Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket,
And are regarded as a speck of dust on the scales. . .
All the nations are as nothing before Him,
They are regarded by Him as less than nothing and meaningless.
To whom then will you liken God?
Or what likeness will you compare with Him?
. . .
Do you not know? Have you not heard?
Has it not been declared to you from the beginning?
Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?
It is He who sits above the circle of the earth,
And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers,
Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain
And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.
He it is who reduces rulers to nothing,
Who makes the judges of the earth meaningless.
Scarcely have they been planted,
Scarcely have they been sown,
Scarcely has their stock taken root in the earth,
But He merely blows on them, and they wither,
And the storm carries them away like stubble.
“To whom then will you liken Me
That I would be his equal?” says the Holy One.
Lift up your eyes on high
And see who has created these stars,
The One who leads forth their host by number,
He calls them all by name;
Because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power,
Not one of them is missing.
. . .
Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth
Does not become weary or tired.
His understanding is inscrutable. (excerpts from Isaiah 40)

God, the One True God, deserves to be treated as the Supreme Being He is!

This post is a revised and edited version of one that appeared here in January, 2015.

Published in: on March 29, 2019 at 5:31 pm  Comments (6)  
Tags: , , ,

Who’s In Charge?


Sometimes the world seems askew. Terrorists, economic disaster, drought here and flooding there, political unrest, relational upheaval. Who’s in charge?

That’s the real question, isn’t it. Atheists say, if there really were a God, things should be different. Or, because people believe there’s a God, they storm embassies and make videos that mock other people’s god-beliefs.

Those same atheists will tell you, undoubtedly, that if anyone’s in charge, it’s Man. Ironically, I heard a tele-preacher say the same things years ago. God isn’t sovereign this supposed Christian said. He deeded the world over to Man.

I did a four part series related to this subject, entitled “Who’s World Is It?” (See part 1, 2, 3, and 4). Why then would I want to re-visit the topic?

I have this sense that a lot of people in America, including Christians, think things are spiraling out of control. We need to remember, constantly, that God is still God.

Yes, in essence He gave Mankind our head–even letting us take the bit in our teeth and run our own way—but He’s still holding the reins. He’s still able to pull us in, He still knows when we’ll run out of steam, and He knows how to take us home.

We may think we’re in charge because we’re going where we want, but if God hadn’t determined that this was the best way to initiate His judgment, we would not proudly be running after the lusts of our hearts.

The amazing thing to me is the way in which God works all things according to His plans all the while caring for each sparrow and numbering each hair on each person’s head.

Nothing happening in the world today is catching God off guard. His great love means He rescues His children from the dominion of darkness, He Has nailed our certificate of debt to the cross, and He has called us for the very purpose that we might inherit a blessing.

What’s more, we have a special relationship with Him. Adam and Eve walked in intimacy with God. The people of Israel enjoyed His presence leading them as they traveled the wilderness. The disciples in the first century enjoyed God Incarnate, living with them. But His Church? We have His Spirit residing in us.

It’s an advantage, Christ said. A huge advantage. Yet too many of us today ignore or quench the Spirit or we try to turn Him into a sideshow.

Instead, His presence alone should remind us that God is, in fact, still in charge. Let Satan think he’s winning. He’s not. Let Man rebel. He’s not going to overthrow the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He Whose ways and thoughts are higher than ours is still on the throne.

This post originally appeared here in September 2012.

Published in: on July 27, 2016 at 7:43 pm  Comments (3)  
Tags: , , , ,

Sin And The Human Brain


I once heard a comment that goes against common understanding—sin distorts Mankind’s thinking.

Most people agree that nobody’s perfect, but by this they mean, nobody lives a morally upright life all the time; nobody avoids making mistakes. The one thing that most people do NOT mean is that their thinking is flawed.

Rather, I suspect most people believe mankind’s ability to reason has become sharper over time, that we are out from under superstition and have honed deductive reasoning, can study evidence and make inferences more accurately than those who first lived on earth.

But why should that be true? If we believe the Bible, we know a few things about the earth before and after sin progressively took hold (some of these things became evident after the flood).

    1. Before — animals were not carnivorous (Gen. 1:30).

    After — even Man became carnivorous.

    2. Before — animals were at peace with each other and with Man.

    After — “The fear of you and the terror of you will be on every beast of the earth and on every bird of the sky; with everything that creeps on the ground, and all the fish of the sea, into your hand they are given” (Gen. 9:2).

    3. Before — the ground yielded fruit abundantly.

    After — the ground was cursed and needed to be cultivated by the sweat of Man’s brow.

    4. Before — Man was destined to life.

    After — Man was destined to death.

    5. Before — Man apparently had the capacity to communicate with the animals.

    After — animals only communicated with Man when God opened their mouths (see Balaam’s donkey).

    6. Before — an “expanse” divided waters, some above, some below—apparently creating another layer of our atmosphere and providing protection from the molten lava at the earth’s core.

    After — the “floodgates of the sky” opened and “the fountains of the great deep burst open.”

    7. Before — Man lived for centuries.

    After — once the atmospheric protection was removed, his life span became much shorter.

    8. Before — Man communed in person with God.

    After — Man hid from God.

    9. Before — Adam and Eve were a perfect fit, naked and unashamed.

    After — they hurled accusations at one another.

    10. Before — Man spoke a common language.

    After — God confused Men’s language and scattered them.

I could go on, but I think I’ve said enough for the purpose of this post. To sum up, sin changed the world, the heavens, the way Mankind relates to creation, to God, to others. Why would we think Man alone is untouched by the effects of sin? We know his life span was affected, so why not other aspects of his life, such as his ability to comprehend the supernatural or to reason clearly?

I don’t think it’s a stretch to believe that Mankind, with all the knowledge available to us, understands less about the world today than Adam did. Oh, sure, we know facts (and many of those prove to be incorrect at some later date), but we are reasoning ourselves away from God, not to Him.

It was Man’s observation, reasoning, and conclusions—well, woman’s, actually—that started the Fall in the first place: “When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.” (emphasis mine)

God had said … but she saw, and she went with her own observations and her own conclusions. In that respect, things haven’t changed so much over time.

This article originally appeared here in August 2012.

Published in: on April 30, 2015 at 6:08 pm  Comments (11)  
Tags: , , , , , ,

Who’s In Charge?


Sometimes the world seems askew. Terrorists, economic disaster, drought here and flooding there, political unrest, relational upheaval. Who’s in charge?

That’s the real question, isn’t it. Atheists say, if there really were a God, things should be different. Or, because people believe there’s a God, they storm embassies and make videos that mock other people’s god-beliefs.

Those same atheists will tell you, undoubtedly, that if anyone’s in charge, it’s Man. Ironically, I heard a tele-preacher say the same things a couple weeks ago. God isn’t sovereign this supposed Christian said. He deeded the world over to Man.

Even I did a four part series entitled “Who’s World Is It?” (See part 1, 2, 3, and 4). Why then would I want to re-visit the topic?

I have this sense that a lot of people in America, including Christians, think things are spiraling out of control. We need to remember, constantly, that God is still God.

Yes, in essence He gave Mankind our head–even letting us take the bit in our teeth and run our own way–but He’s still holding the reins. He’s still able to pull us in, He still knows when we’ll run out of steam, and He knows how to take us home.

We may think we’re in charge because we’re going where we want, but if God hadn’t determined that this was the best way to initiate His judgment, we would not proudly be running after the lusts of our hearts.

The amazing thing to me is the way in which God works all things according to His plans all the while caring for each sparrow and numbering each hair on each person’s head.

Nothing happening in the world today is catching God off guard. His great love means He rescues His children from the dominion of darkness, He Has nailed our certificate of debt to the cross, and He has called us for the very purpose that we might inherit a blessing.

What’s more, we have a special relationship with Him. Adam and Eve walked in intimacy with God. The people of Israel enjoyed His presence leading them as they traveled the wilderness. The disciples in the first century enjoyed God Incarnate, living with them. But His Church? We have His Spirit residing in us.

It’s an advantage, Christ said. A huge advantage. Yet too many of us today ignore or quench the Spirit or we try to turn Him into a sideshow.

Instead, His presence alone should remind us that God is, in fact, still in charge. Let Satan think he’s winning. He’s not. Let Man rebel. He’s not going to overthrow the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He Whose ways and thoughts are higher than ours is still on the throne.

Published in: on September 19, 2012 at 6:54 pm  Comments (1)  
Tags: , , , ,

The “Manination” Of Animals


Manination. It’s sort of the opposite of incarnation. But let me explain.

A day or so ago the news carried a story about a first that is bizarre even for Hollywood. It seems Uggie, the canine star of the Oscar Award winning movie The Artist became the first dog to have his paw prints immortalized in cement in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theater.

You know, that’s the tourist trap hot spot where all the famous stars have their Stars on the sidewalk. So now, along with the hand prints of actors like Cary Grant and Lucille Ball, you can visit Uggie’s paw prints.

Uggie’s, I thought, not Lassie’s or Rin Tin Tin’s? Not even Benji’s? I mean really. Uggie?

But then I saw the look on the poor dog’s face as his trainer took hold of his front paws and pressed them into the wet cement. It was the most forlorn look. A sort of despairing, “What are they doing to me” look mixed with, “If I have to, I have to.”

What next, I thought. We already dress dogs up with hats and holiday outfits. We have TV shows about them and dog health insurance. We even have dog spas and boutiques.

Of course for this celebration there was at least a nod to Uggie’s dogginess. After all, they gave him a fire hydrant shaped cake.

Really? you might say. A cake? Dogs generally don’t consider fire hydrants things to eat!

I’m with you on that. They also don’t usually wear bow ties or walk the red carpet, but apparently Uggie is breaking the barriers.

As I thought about this for a bit, I realized that all the training and pampering is entirely for our benefit. Uggie would undoubtedly be content chasing a ball with a ten-year-old boy or running around some farm or basking in the shade of some suburban home.

He’s a dog.

He has no aspirations for wealth or fame. Yet we, in our infinite wisdom, have decided to make Uggie humanish. We find it cute to force him into these poses and postures not natural for a dog.

How typical of Mankind. We talk a good game–all about caring for the environment and preserving endangered species, but the species we have around us on a daily basis, we want to make over in our own image.

How unlike God who came to earth in our likeness. Rather than dressing us up as little gods and prodding us to pretend we are doing what He’s doing, He came to earth to live like us so we could actually know Him as He is, so we can in truth become like Him.

I wonder how many of these faithful dog owners would volunteer to become a dog so they could be closer to their dog.

Jesus Christ stooped far more than that when He left Heaven. What’s more, He did so knowing full well that His reception wouldn’t be of the Hollywood-style Red Carpet variety.

Imagine there was a pet owner brave enough to become a dog in order to help all dogs know and understand their owners better, but instead, the dogs formed a pack and tore that owner to pieces. That’s a picture of what Jesus endured.

That’s a picture of the Incarnation, not the Manination we are forcing on dogs these days. Quite different, how we act and how God acts, don’t you think?

Published in: on June 27, 2012 at 5:38 pm  Comments (3)  
Tags: , , ,

The Great Divide—Who Are We?


So I was reading an article in The Writer, a new-to-me writing mag, on conflict. The author contends it is conflict that makes us all want to keep reading. If I remember correctly, Donald Maass says it is tension. Be that as it may, that’s not my concern in this post. Instead, I’m concerned with this writer’s conclusion:

What is it about conflict that draws our attention? Is it because, just under the surface of our postmodern veneer, we are still animals, drawn to the smell of blood? Or is it that we find strength in knowing we are not alone in our daily fight to keep going, and that the urge to survive is the one thing all people can be assured they have in common? Regardless of your answer …

Well, I’m concerned with the questions. Could this novelist and screenwriter come up with no better ideas for our interest in conflict other than that we are animals or that we want someone to be in the same boat with us as we fight the impossible fight to survive?

My first thought was how incredibly sad it is that this writer has such a worldview. My second thought was, he is not alone. Half our country, I suspect, shares that perspective. And when you look at the world at large, my guess is the number of people seeing themselves and others as nothing more than soulless beings—intellect trapped in decaying bodies—would be staggering.

This, then, is the great divide. I’ve thought before that the issue of sin was the core difference between those who believe in God and those who don’t. The humanist sees Man as good and the Christian sees him as sinful. But in this postmodern culture, with humanism (enlightenment, reason) fading nearly as fast as Christianity, the new dividing line just may be at this point of definition: what is Man?

It’s not a bad question. After all, the Psalmist asked it, too. What is man that You are mindful of him? But the idea that Man is nothing but matter, that one day he will stop being, that his body will decay and he will be no more is so foreign to me, it’s like I’m staring at an alien. For some reason, it’s never hit me just how many people must hold this worldview.

If you’re familiar with Psalm 8, you know that David was asking this question of God, not because he didn’t know but because he was amazed. Here’s the short psalm in the New American Standard Version:

1 O LORD, our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth, Who have displayed Your splendor above the heavens! 2 From the mouth of infants and nursing babes You have established strength Because of Your adversaries, To make the enemy and the revengeful cease.
3 When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained; 4 What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him? 5 Yet You have made him a little lower than God, And You crown him with glory and majesty! 6 You make him to rule over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet, 7 All sheep and oxen, And also the beasts of the field, 8 The birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea, Whatever passes through the paths of the seas. 9 O LORD, our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth!

(emphasis mine)

That view of Man is such a far cry from the animal/in-it-for-survival view, if I didn’t know better, I would think these two writers were discussing two entirely different entities.

No wonder abortion proponents can recognize that a fetus is alive and proceed to advocate as they do. Did you know that here in California, we passed a proposition to mandate improved conditions for chickens, pigs, and … some other livestock and at the same time defeated a proposition that would require parental notification of a minor having an abortion?

The great divide. If we’re just animals, then the chickens count just as much as the humans. And the unborn babies are as disposable as we want them to be.

So today, I had my eyes opened to this great divide.

Published in: on November 6, 2008 at 6:05 pm  Comments (9)  
Tags: , , ,