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Thursday, November 03, 2005

God Who?

This essay was written on July 2002.

This very basic essay was written because of the recent revival of God and prayer throughout the USA. On the one hand, we have experienced a wonderful time of coming together, repentance, prayer and thankfulness. On the other hand, this is a time in which due to syncretism[i] we are seeing quite a bit of distortion, delusion and melding of who God is and how we ought to worship Him.

God is Back!
In light of our recent national tragedy on September 11, 2001, God has been allowed back within the borders of the USA and He has been allowed back into public view. The President encouraged all Americans to pray, schools are praying, the government is praying, prayer is revived and God is back! Apparently it is only acceptable to pray in America when tragedy strikes.
We don’t thank God when things are good, we just cry for His help, question and blame Him when things are bad. And although God has been allowed back, back too is the ACLU. They are again hard at work trying to put God away and ruining the joy and freedom of the overwhelming majority of the population for the psychologically and politically offended minority.
These people are so convicted by the Holy Spirit that they do not what to ever hear, read or see anything at all about God or related issues.

Intolerant Unity
We have seen over and over again in the media and at local events that the various religions can come together in unison to preach and pray. We all pray, they say, we all believe in God, they say. But God who? Which God? The danger of such events is that God becomes a generic higher power, an undefined being who loves all, hears all prayers and judges no one. After all, aren’t we all God’s children? In fact, no, we are not. The Bible states, “Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12) We do not need to become something that we already are. Yes, we are all God’s creation but we are not all His children. This is where being born again comes into play (see John 3:1-21).

Interestingly enough, the Hebrew word Elohim is somewhat of a generic term. Biblically, it is used in reference to the One and only God, to false gods, and to human judges. This is because Elohim can be translated as God, god, gods, goddess, mighty one or mighty ones.[ii] Yet the God of the Bible is Tetragrammaton (known as YHWH, Yahweh, Jehovah, etc.).

But is God just some indefinable, all encompassing, non-judgmental being? Even as we hear over and over the expounding of syncretism, we still hear a bit of intolerance. God seems to have been relegated to Judaism, Christianity and Islam alone. Jews, Christians and Muslims are now getting together and stating that we all believe in one God. But God who? Which God? There is intolerance in an attempt to be tolerant because there are polytheistic and henotheistic[iii] religions that are being ignored. For example, Hinduism worships some 330,000,000 gods, Mormonism believes in an innumerable number of gods because gods give birth to gods and so on and so forth. Buddhism is atheistic. Some religions worship idols, some don’t. Some religions teach the assurance of salvation, some don’t, etc., etc.

Thus, the monotheists come together to pray to God, but to a generic God. The only agreement as to who God is is that God is one—that there is but one God. And so God is God is God, the same God of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. This is a danger because the God of even just these three religions is vastly different. Christians worship the One God of the Bible, the One God of the Judeo-Christian Scriptures and worship the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as God. This is unacceptable to Judaism who rejects Jesus as Messiah and certainly rejects Him as God.
Islam claims to worship the One God of the Judeo-Christian Scriptures and the Qur'an, but Allah and the One God (YHWH) are different in character, in word, in deed and in promise. Islam also completely rejects the idea that God could have a son and they accept Jesus only as one of many prophets (and reject the New Testament, relying on the Jesus described in the Qur'an, which was written more than half a millennia after Christ’s time). Most Christians are Trinitarians and yet the Qur'an teaches that Trinitarians are hell bound sinners whose only hope of salvation is conversion to Islam—Surah 5:72-73.

If Jews and Muslims worship the same God as Christians, them we should ask them if they now believe that Jesus is God, that would end such pseudo- syncretistic dreams.
God does not mean the same God, just as the Jesus Christ of the Bible is not the same Jesus Christ of Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christian Science, Islam, the New Age, etc. The name is the same but the person is different.

Today in the USA, in the name of syncretism, and political, and religious correctness, we are being told that we all worship the same God. We cannot judge whether these exponents of syncretism are being purposefully deceptive, are ignorant, or are just willing to fold under pressure. But what we can do is examine the beliefs of the various religions and clearly see that they cannot be mixed together. What we have seen recently is like mixing oil and water, there is an illusion of cohesion yet, given a little time to settle and we will see that they do not mix.
We can go as far as respecting that people have the right to worship whom they please, after all God has allowed us free will. However, we cannot respect those beliefs and practices since they are false and therefore, against God.

Generic Prayer
If our gods are different then we pray to different beings. The recent syncretistic prayers are generic and addressed to God; whoever that might be. There are some methods of prayer that all religions cannot accept or agree upon. For example, the repetitive prayers of Roman Catholicism and the chanting of Hinduism both go against the New Testament (see Matthew 6:5-15). Some religions have prescribed prayer, while others enjoy the spontaneity of personal communication with God. Islam prays five times a day while facing a specified direction, and praying by one’s self without a valid excuse is a sin.[iv] Jesus taught that there is no specific location where one must pray and that prayer is intimate communication with God (see John 4:21-24 & Matthew 6:6).

Death of the Innocent
This is perhaps the saddest, most sensitive, and emotionally charged aspect of our national tragedy. People have been saying that those who died have gone to heaven because they were innocent and that those who died attempting to rescue them are in heaven because they were innocent and in the midst of good works.

The first thing to note is that no one dies before his or her time. To say that someone could die before his or her time assumes that God is not sovereign, is not in charge, and if He is not sovereign then He is not God. Those who died with a proper relationship with God are now in His presence and will be for all eternity. Those who did not die with a proper relationship with God are now where they decided to go, a final destination of eternal separation from God. God provided them every possible change to have a relationship with Him:
“He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:26-28).

Innocence at the time of death does not mean innocence as far as sin is concerned. If a person lives their whole lives proving by thought, deed and word that they want nothing to do with God then when they die God would not force them to spend all eternity with Him because that is not what they chose, it is not what they wanted. No one who died without Christ would have come to Him if they had had one more day, one more year, or one more decade. The innocent death equals heaven equation is the reverse side of the Zen Buddhist Kamikaze mentality of the terrorists who believe that they will get to heaven if they die in Holy War—Salvation by death alone.

We live our lives with one foot in the grave and the other foot on a banana peel. Death is not a friend, death is a curse. Eternal life is a guarantee for all, but let us be sure where we will spend eternity.

This tragedy is a wake up call for Christians to share the truth and for the seekers to ask the tough questions and get to work on finalizing their search. Many people do not regularly think about life, death, eternal life or God. This recent event has many people wondering and asking.
In order to question God we ask, why do bad things happen to good people? The answer is another question, why do good things happen to bad people? Can a truly good person only be concerned about themselves or other good people?

True Life
Jesus said,
“Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son’” (John 3:15-18).

“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’” (John 14:6).

“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age’” (Matthew 28:18-20).

John wrote, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life” (1st John 5:13).

To those who have accepted the Gospel, John did not say, so that you may worry or wonder or guess but that you may know. He also did not say might have or could have or try to have or think you have but have eternal life.

We recognize that there are various social and theological issues that could be expanded on and continually discussed. This is why at the beginning of this article we referred to this writing as very basic because we wanted to touch briefly upon a number of very timely topics and hope that we have accomplished our goal.

“‘You are My witnesses,’ says the Lord, ‘And My servant
whom I have chosen, That you may know and believe Me,
And understand that I am He. Before Me there was no
God formed, Nor shall there be after Me.’”
Isaiah 43:10

[i] Syncretism: “the combination or reconciliation of differing beliefs or practices in religion, philosophy, etc., or an attempt to effect such compromise.” New World Dictionary of the American Language, 1980
[ii] For examples see Genesis 1:1, Genesis 31:30, 1st Kings 11:5, Psalm 82:6
[iii] Polytheism: belief in many gods. Henotheism: belief that there are many gods but only one of them is to be worshipped (as in the case of Mormonism).
[iv] The Muslim Student’s Association at the University of Huston, Al-KABAIR (The Major Sins), #65 “Not praying in the congregation & praying by one’s self without a valid excuse. Prophet (saw) said, ‘Whoever hears the call to prayer and doesn’t come to prayer, there is no prayer for him say for the one who has valid excuse’ (Sahih al-Jami # 6176).”

1 comment:

  1. May you live in exciting times
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