Your Concept of God Defines Your Faith :: by Gene Lawley

There are at least two issues that are to be considered, or recognized and understood, if we would determine the quality of our faith.

One is the quality of character of the God we say we trust, and the other is a proper understanding of why we would need a God in the first place.

Jesus claimed, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).

Lots of people deny that claim, saying they believe there are more ways to heaven than just through Jesus Christ. And every one of them has a theory, if fully investigated, that man, himself, must make a personal contribution to that plan of redemption—not just to believe         in Him. What I am submitting is that all false doctrines hang on the idea that works of righteousness must be performed to justify that entry to heaven. But Paul wrote Titus, saying this:

“…not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit…” (Titus 3:5).

“By His mercy He saved us,” that is the telling phrase in that verse. Salvation is a work of God, and we are privileged to take part in it. The whole counsel of God must not be left out in determining the truth of any doctrine, for God does not confine His truths in topical sections as in an encyclopedia. That point is made in His challenge to the Pharisees and scribe3s in John 5:39-40:

“You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me, but you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.”

The beginning place is the character of God, and therefore, also of Jesus Christ. He told His disciples, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father (John 14:9) and “Before Abraham was, I AM” (John 8:58). So the attributes of God, the Father, are also those of Jesus Christ. Another thoughtful bit of truth is found in John 5:26:

“For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself….”

Two character qualities, attributes, of God are revealed in Numbers 23:19, as I have often quoted:

“God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?”

Here is another truth that confirms that fixed, unchangeable nature of Christ:

“Also there were many priests, because they were prevented by death from continuing. But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:23-25).   

Another truth is stated in Luke 1:37:

“For with God nothing will be impossible.”

Another way of understanding the depth of that verse is, “For with God it is impossible for there to be nothing!” For example, when Jesus entered Jerusalem on that first Palm Sunday, and the religious leaders asked Him to have the people be quiet with their praises, He said, “If they should be quiet, even the rocks would cry out!”

Paul wrote to Titus these words:

“…in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began” (Titus 1:2).

And further, in Ephesians 1:4:

“Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.”

These quotes stress the fact that God made His plans for the ages before time began, before He created time, that is. It begs the question, then, did God ever make a promise that He did not intend to keep?

Those who have bought the Replacement Theology bag of deception must think so or otherwise they would have to admit they think God is a liar, that His promise to Abraham was a promise he did not intend to keep. Like it or not, that is the way it stands. So, what is their concept of God? Is He a worthy Savior who can be trusted to keep His promises of redemption?

There is an Old Testament situation in which one who has not established in his own mind that God is unchangeable in His plan for the ages would think that He almost started over with Moses.

In Exodus 32:7-10 is this declaration of the Lord to Moses following Israel’s disobedience of idol worshipping:

“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt. They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, ‘These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.’

“’I have seen these people,” the Lord said to Moses, “and they are a stiff-necked people. Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.’”

Notice the wording, how God laid the problem in Moses’ lap, as the one who led the Israelites out of Egypt, thus presuming to place the destiny of Israel in his hands. Had we thought that God could change His mind, that would have been the exact result. But since God cannot change, what other purpose would there be for this situation?

The response Moses gave the Lord in answer to God’s proposal tells us God’s purpose in the exchange, in Exodus 32:11-13:

“Then Moses pleaded with the Lord his God, and said: ‘Lord, why does Your wrath burn hot against Your people whom You have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand?  Why should the Egyptians speak, and say, ‘He brought them out to harm them, to kill them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth?

Turn from Your fierce wrath, and relent from this harm to Your people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Your servants, to whom You swore by Your own self, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven; and all this land that I have spoken of I give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.’”

Moses, whose patience had worn thin with the actions of his Hebrew brethren, even Aaron, responded with a show of character that God, no doubt, had sought to bring out of him, to establish in Moses a stronger determination to stick with what God also had called him to do. The next verse is God’s response to Moses: 

“So the Lord relented from the harm which He said He would do to His people.”

The promises He made to Abraham and his descendants, which Moses related, were unconditional. This proposal to Moses was conditional and its purpose was to test Moses and prove to Moses that he had the mettle to continue his leadership of the Israelites.

Therefore, having a fixed, firm hold on the character of God is essential for a concept of Him that can endure the struggles of this life. That concept must also have a proper understanding of the two aspects of His nature—He is a God of love and a God of justice, and mercy melds the two together. Hebrews 11:6 somewhat portrays that definition, the concept of God to which He responds:

“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”

It is interesting that those in the positive thinking arena but do not seem to be actual followers of Christ, yet hold to this first step to exercise positive thinking as their motivation: “God is a good God!”

For positive thinking about their ultimate eternal destiny, they might well look at the Apostle Paul’s alert in 2 Corinthians 1:20:

“For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.”  

And Paul also wrote, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

But that brings us to that second point in having a proper concept of God. Is there any personal conviction that I really need God, or is He just a convenience to be called on in a difficult time?

The answer is the gospel message. Romans 3:23 labels all mankind as sinners and in opposition to God. Jesus Christ is the sacrificial offering for the sins of all mankind, as stated in 1 John 2:2:

“And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.”

So, what is the problem, you ask. The transaction is not complete until the offer is accepted, as John 3:18 so clearly declares:

“He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

But there is still a problem, as verses 19 and 20, next, tell us:

“And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.”

It is not a situation where God is unwilling, but as He brings that truth to bear upon a person’s conscience, His desired response is that that person turns to Him for forgiveness, in repentance. That is what Peter wrote in 2 Peter 3:9, “God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”

It is as simple as that: Recognize God as totally trustworthy in every situation, and admit that you cannot exist without His redemption. There is the core of a proper concept of God and a real faith.

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