Archive for September 14, 2011
One of my most popular blog series is called Was Jesus Divine? Early Christian Perspectives. In
this series, I show that the earliest Christians confessed Jesus as God, even
though they were monotheistic Jews. To be sure, they had not worked out the
details of later Trinitarian theology. Nevertheless, the first-century believers
in Jesus saw him, not just as an inspired man, but also as God incarnate.
On a regular basis, I receive email responses to this series from people who
are not convinced about the deity of Jesus. Some of these come from Christians
who are wrestling with deep theology. Increasingly, I receive emails from
Muslims who object to the idea that Jesus was divine and who deny that he was
the source of this false belief.
One of the passages that is brought up to refute the notion of Jesus’
divinity is Luke 18:18-19. In this text, a Jewish religious leader refers to
Jesus as “Good Teacher,” a form of address that was not commonly used among
Jews. Jesus responds, “Why do you call me good?…Only God is truly good”
(18:19). Those who deny the deity of Jesus take this verse to mean: “You should
not call me good because only God is good and I am not God.” But
this misses the nuance of Jesus’ point. He did not say he was not good or even
that he was not God. Rather, he was challenging the religious leader to consider
the implications of his language. By calling Jesus good, given the fact that
only God is truly good, this leader was inadvertently saying something profound
about Jesus’ identity. His language pointed to the fact that Jesus was good
unlike any other human being because he was, indeed, God in flesh.
Surely, this is a mystery we’ll never fully fathom. Yet this mystery,
professed by Christians throughout history and throughout the world, lies at the
center of our faith. It reassures us that Jesus is truly the Savior. It calls us
to commitment and even to worship the Lord Jesus Christ.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: What do you think of the
divinity of Jesus? What difference does it make in your daily life that Jesus
was God in the flesh?
Fairest Lord Jesus,
Ruler of all nature,
thou of God and man the Son;
Thee will I cherish,
Thee will I
Thou, my soul’s glory, joy, and crown.
Fair are the meadows,
Fairer still the woodlands,
Robed in the blooming
garb of spring;
Jesus is fairer,
Jesus is purer,
Who makes the woeful
heart to sing.
Fair is the sunshine,
Fairer still the moonlight
And all the twinkling,
Jesus shines brighter,
Jesus shines purer
Than all the
angels heav’n can boast.
Lord of all nations,
Son of God and Son of
Glory and honor,
Now and forevermore be thine!
People have many different ideas about the most important moment of their lives on this earth. We know of many who have testified to the great importance of their own spiritual decision-the act of faith whereby they committed themselves and their entire futures to God! I believe the Bible makes it plain that the single most critical, most important time in the life of Abraham was when he heard and answered the call of God. Unexpectedly and dramatically, God revealed Himself to Abraham and call him to be a pilgrim. It is a lesson to us that when Abraham was called, he by faith obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going! I have found comfort in the doctrine of prevenient grace, which, simply stated, is the belief that before a sinner can seek God, God must first have sought him. In Abraham’s case, I believe that if he had been insensitive, he would never have heard God’s voice calling him, and if Abraham had rejected God’s overtures, the whole history of the world would have been vastly different-and different for the worse!
Lord, Help me to always pray, and lead my children to that everlasting crown.
In spite of pleas by Christian and Jewish clergy, Mayor Michael Bloomberg steadfastly refused to allow those who had brought spiritual comfort during the 9/11 tragedy to participate in the ten year Memorial at Ground Zero. The Mayor hadn’t always felt that way. His first inclination was to includeFeisal Abdul Rauf,the Muslim Imam who fought to build a Mosque at Ground Zero. But since the outcry against that was great, the Mayor decided to eradicate all expressions of faith, including prayers.
“Rather than have disagreements over which religious leaders participate, we would like to keep the focus of our commemoration ceremony on the family members of those who died,” Bloomberg spokeswoman, Evelyn Erskine told AP.
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
Though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
Though its waters roar and foam,
Though the mountains tremble at its swelling.”
Many are skeptical of Barack Obama’s professed Christianity. He was raised by a mother with no faith, mentored, according to Dreams from my Father, by communist-atheist Frank Marshall Davis. His earliest work was with radical-anti-God- Alinsky community organizers who counseled him to join a church if ever he expected to make progress in the Black Community. It would seem to many then, that as a means to an end, he spent twenty years at Jeremiah Wright’s Church, supporting all forms of abortion and homosexual rights, listening to Louis Farrakhan’s hate-filled rhetoric, praised by the adulterous, flamboyant, Pastor Wright.
President Obama continued with Psalm 46:
“There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
The holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
He utters his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our fortress.”
The God of Jacob? The God of Jacob is not Allah or Buddha or the Hindu Monkey God. He is the God of Jews and Christians. The first commandment he gave to Moses was not about adultery, theft or murder. It was “You shall have no other gods before me.” When Moses asked what name for God he could utter as he delivered those commandments, God identified himself as “I am that I am…I cause to be what is.” “I Am” sent Moses.
President Obama has told us on more than one occasion,we’re no longer a Christian nation. “We are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, and a Buddhist nation, and a Hindu nation, and a nation of nonbelievers.”
He even instructed his staff to cover a cross at Catholic Georgetown, so it wouldn’t hang behind him as he spoke. But in a strong voice at Ground Zero, he assured the bereaved audience,” The God of Jacob is our fortress.” It’s a good thing Feisal Abdul Rauf was not on the platform.
“Come, behold the works of the Lord,
How he has brought desolations on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
He burns the chariots with fire.
“Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our fortress.” (ESV)
Barack Obama surely knew Mayor Bloomberg had banned expressions of faith. Did he read this Biblical passage to fill a necessary void? Did he read it out of strong personal conviction that the God of Jacob should be exalted above all Gods? Or did he do it because it was a perfect twist at an opportune time to get his slumping poll numbers up in a huge constituency from which he needs support?
We can’t possibly know, but one thing we can be sure of; The words he spoke inflicted a powerful rebuke to him, to Bloomberg and to all those who have spent years distancing themselves in embarrassment from the God of our Fathers, that same god millions of Americans sought refuge and blessing from just ten years ago.
Whatever Obama’s reason, it was the God of Jacob’s voice and only His voice we heard powerfully at Ground Zero. It just came in a way we weren’t expecting.
Sandy Rios is Vice President of Family Pac Federal and a FOX News Contributor. Her personal website is SandyRios.com.