What is God really like? Jesus came to show us what his Father is like and surprisingly says that his coming as a man was not his own idea but he was sent. The OT story of Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac is the for-shadowing of this.
The spirit that works in us when we repent and turn to God and put our trust in the sacrifice of Jesus makes us have a change of mind and sets us off on a new course. This spirit leads us from our different starting points and wants to lead us into all truth but we run at different speeds and have this flesh of ours which pulls us and tries to keep us for our old master. Jesus said judgment will be handed over to himself. This gives me great hope, he was tempted in all ways but without a sin committed. So he understands us and can show us the way. He will judge our motives as well as our actions fairly – not with a binary verdict of heaven or hell, sending unbaptized babies to eternal torture. Greater severity for those who profess to know better and less for the ignorant. Sometimes he hides things from the wise and learned but reveals them to the unlearned.
When we try to explain God and His works we have to be mindful of our limitations. How He created the universe in its vastness and what has been revealed about the engineering complexity of a “simple” cell are way beyond human comprehension. We are like people who have only played in the water down at the seaside and now aspire to explain the depths of the mighty oceans – we are out of our depth.
God Most High is almighty and alone has immortality( Gk athanasia – can not die), no man has or can see Him – this is what the Scriptures tell us so he can not be Jesus.
He created a visible likeness of Himself ( the image of the invisible God – already we are out of our depth).
Through this first-created, He created everything else in heaven and earth.
His purpose was to have offspring like his first-created.
Everything obeys this principle to reproduce, both plants and animals.
The Most High portioned out the sons of Adam to the sons of God and the son of God with God’s Name,YHWH, the firstborn of all creation was given Israels children as his portion and was sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Later, he was given a name above all others and everything was to be subjected to him.
Freewill was granted so that the sons that God adopts are those who have chosen Him and His way.
The heavenly sons/angels already knew good and evil and many of them chose evil as did most men.
The law was given to define good and evil and to train and discipline but the law was not enough, sin seemed impossible to overcome. Man was under this curse of sin and death.
Only a sacrifice of great worth could atone for sins committed and help was needed to overcome sin. Because God loved the world so much He sent His willing Son – but he had to prove that to overcome all temptation was possible and if he could overcome and be obedient even unto death then God would give him power over death itself, which is the consequence of sin. He died for us but because he had no sin of his own, God raised him from among the dead. Because he had never sinned, then death had no real claim on him. His death was accepted by God as the ransom for our transgressions and so after three days and three nights, God raised him from the dead to sit at His right hand as the mediator between God and man and power was sent to aid those who put their trust in him.
Paul said to the elders from Ephesus that wolves would come after his departure. Jesus too, warned of false prophets but he said they could be recognized by their fruits. Bad tree – bad fruit. The people of Berea were said to be noble because they searched the OT scriptures to see if Paul’s message was true.
Already in the second century we see divisions and strange practices creeping in. Plato’s teaching of the immortal soul and the consequent eternal bliss or punishment for the dead began to be adopted – all foreign to the Old Testament. The traditions of men became more binding than God’s word and when eventually, the church became one with the state, the decline accelerated – the church adopted the pagan feasts and traditions but “christianised” them. The day of the sun god had already been made a rest day for most public offices and was readily adopted to replace the Jewish Sabbath. Many were keen to distance themselves from the Jews. Eventually this distance became so great that the God of the OT seemed unlike the God of the Church.
In the fourth century there was a conference at Nicea presided over by the secular emperor who demanded a resolution to differences of doctrine. Those who could not sign up to the decisions of the majority were exiled and their churches closed down. Paul’s teaching that everyone should be convinced in his own mind was replaced with obedience to the state which would henceforth decide what was true and false. Freewill was outlawed. The majority said that Jesus was of the same substance as the Father. This would mean that he had the attributes of God and was His equal. Over fifty years passed before another conference decided that the holy spirit must be of the same substance too, a third person – but what happened to the OT monotheism? The fourth century doctrine of “The Trinity” says these three are of the same substance but are one. A few scriptures were found which gave tenuous support to the idea with a lot of reading “between the lines”. The KJV based on Erasmus’ third edition of the Greek NT went even further with a few verses of doubtful origin that support the three in one idea. Later translations have left them out – even the catholic Jerusalem Bible, because they were not to be found in any early Greek manuscripts. Soon they were turning to Mary for a sympathetic ear, for if Jesus was God then he couldn’t really be expected to know what it is to be human.
One of the few who would not sign the declaration of Nicea was an elder from Alexandria called Arius. He believed Jesus to be the beginning of the creation of God and so “there was when he was not”. He believed Jesus was exalted by God because he had humbled himself and had been obedient, even to death and that Jesus could have backed out but he overcame all that we are tempted with and even more. But if he was of the same substance as God then he could neither be tempted nor fail and if he was co-equal with God then how could God exalt him – you can’t get higher than God. The trinitarian view became the catholic position. I hesitate to say that catholic means universal because the universe knows better – “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”. The others were later referred to as arians. Their teaching was in harmony with the OT without the need to read “between the lines”. Neither Jesus nor any of the NT writers seem to “know what the trinitarians profess”.
Jesus himself said,”The Father is greater than I”. God Almighty is called “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus”. Jesus said he was going to “my God and your God”, and “that they might know thee, the only true God and Jesus Christ whom you have sent”. John says that he wrote his gospel to show that Jesus is the Son of God – but made no claim that he is God.
Jesus said that he and the Father are one (en – neuter in Greek) but he prayed that we might be one, even as he and the Father are one.
The so called barbarians embraced the arian teaching and one of their kings, Theodoric the Great, is quoted as saying that he could not force anyone to accept his beliefs. He allowed his subjects, Jews, catholics and arians, to practice their own faith. The Vandals too were arians, and they allowed Jews and catholics to live and work alongside them and to worship after their own convictions. – this must be good fruit.
The catholic approach was to force conversion with torture and the sword as in the Crusades and the Inquisition. The reformers of the sixteenth century made great strides but they held on to all the traditional beliefs of the first five centuries and were prepared to torture and kill to defend those traditions just as Jesus had warned that there would come a time when men would think they were doing God a service by killing his followers. – “These things they will do because they have not known the Father or me.” – this must be bad fruit.
Jesus said that by their fruits you will know them!