Tuesday, June 21, 2016
A Tale of Two Gods?
In this corner, with the wizened face and long white beard, God, also known as Ancient of Days and sometimes as simply I AM. Aged, ancient, and some say, outdated. Audience, give it up for God in the white robe, the Old Testament God!
In this corner, with the scarred face and hands, smallish stature and nothing beautiful or majestic to attract us to Him, don't underestimate this Humble Servant, the Man of Sorrows, whose name is Jesus! Give it up for the man in the crimson-stained robe, the New Testament God!
Through this playful anecdote I hoped to bring to your mind a vivid picture of what I see as a problem today in the mainline churches. They try to say that there are two Gods, an "Old Testament God" and a "New Testament God." This reveals a basic misunderstanding of who God is in both testaments. He is the same God. The Old Testament God as He has revealed Himself is a holy God concerned with sin, redemption, and righteous living for the sake of His holy name. In many, many OT chapters, He reveals His profound love for His creation, man, in promising a better future and adhering to those promises again and again.
In the New Testament, God as He has revealed Himself through Jesus is a holy God concerned with sin, redemption, and righteous living for the sake of His holy name. While throughout many, many NT chapters, His Spirit reveals Jesus's profound love for man, His creation, in promising a better future and adhering to those promises again and again by dying on the cross and resurrecting, He also promises wrath. Just read Revelation. It could be just as factually stated that the 'OT God' is a God of love and the 'NT Jesus' is a God of wrath. Think about it.
In the entire bible there is wrath and there is love. There are plagues and there is redemption. There are covenants kept by God and broken by man. There are prophesies made, fulfilled, and to come and there is a hope and a future. There is no Old Testament God and there is no New Testament God. There is just I AM.
In the New Testament we see that the wrath of God is still “being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness” (Romans 1:18). The God who came to earth and cleansed the Temple with a bullwhip (Mark 11:15-19) is the same God who in the Old Testament "abounds in love and exceeding patience" (Exodus 34:6).
Though the Jesus of the New Testament is depicted all too unfortunately as a meek and mild, politically correct good teacher holding love-ins on the hill while making daisy chains, He was not. He directly confronted evil, He pointed fingers, He spoke hard sayings, and when the people left, and they did, (John 6:66) He let them go.
God is the same God as He lovingly and compassionately reveals Himself throughout the 66 books of the bible. He is love, He is wrath, but utmost, He is HOLY. His concern for His people is of our sin, and repentance. There is no comparative religion, there is only the superlative religion (L. Ravenhill). There is no OT God and no NT God, there is only God. He is unchanging.
"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change". (James 1:15.)
And deep down, aren't we relieved that there is no difference in our God from one covenant to the next?
He reveals Himself to us in various ways. We know of Him through the the creation (Rom 1:18), directly person to person (Gen 3:8, Gen 5:22, Ex 33:11; Adam, Eve, Enoch, Moses), through the prophets, (Heb 1:1), through Jesus (Col 2:9), through his Spirit (2 Tim 3:16), through the Word (John 1:1-5). But though He reveals Himself in various ways, the qualities inherent in that revelation of Himself do not change from covenant to covenant, testament to testament. He remains the same.
If you find yourself saying "Old Testament God" stop for a moment and ponder the gravity of those words. He does not change. He reveals Himself to us as He does and as He will. Is it fair to say 'OT God' and 'NT God'? Is it right? Does it send a good message to hearers? It doesn't. "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." (Hebrews 13:8). "I the Lord do not change." (Malachi 3:6)