Thursday, November 30, 2006

But How Do We Know Who God Is?

Having argued that there is a God. Who is God? Which of all the god’s or God’s is the true God? Or can we conclude that all god’s are essentially the same? For us to know who God is requires some revelation of who God is. I believe that there are sound reasons to believe that there is a God and that this God has been revealed in Jesus Christ.

1. Knowledge of God from creation
While creation does not tell us who God is specifically, it points to certain characteristics.

i. The intelligence of God: We know from the order of existence that God is a brilliant thinker, artist, designer, scientist, engineer and builder.

ii. The daring of God: We know from the created order that God is daring, prepared to create a context in which he allows evil and volitionally free creatures to dwell.

iii. The vision of God: We know from our understanding of the size of the universe and the possibility of many universes and dimensions that God’s vision is utterly amazing and beyond anything we can imagine

iv. The power of God: We know from the size, variety and wonder of creation that God’s power is absolute.

2. Knowledge of God from revelation in history
All religions claim that at some point God has revealed himself dynamically and decisively in history. Hindus claim that there are many revelations of the gods. Buddhists claim that Buddha is the revelation of God. Jews, Muslims and Christians all claim a common revelation of God in the OT to Abraham, Moses and others. Jews await further revelation from their long-awaited Messiah. Muslims claim that revelation was experienced by Mohammed and that God is Allah. Christians claim that God revealed himself through his Messiah and Son Jesus. I suggest that the quality and veracity of each supposed revelation needs to be examined to assess which of these and other claimants points to the true God. For me there are sound reasons to argue that the revelation of Christ is most likely to point to the true God.

i. Fulfillment of prophecy: One of the most extraordinary reasons to know that Jesus is astonishing is the way in which his birth (Is 7:14; 9:6; 40:3; Mic 5:2; Hos 11:1), ministry (Is 35:5; 42:1-7; 49:1-6; 61:1-2), death and resurrection (Ps 22; Is 52:13-53:12) fulfilled the prophetic expectation of the Old Testament.

ii. Virgin birth: The possibility of Jesus conception without sexual intercourse is rejected by some as an impossibility and thus a myth. However, the biblical account does not have any doubt, Jesus was conceived miraculously. If so, then Jesus from the beginning, was something very special indeed (Mt 1:21 cf. Is 7:14).

iii. Flawless ethics: As with Jesus conception, some rule out the likelihood that Jesus lived a flawless life. However, again the bible record is unanimous that Jesus was a perfect man and without sin. If so, then he was utterly unique (Heb 4:15 cf. 1 Kgs 8:46; Rom 3:9-12, 23).

iv. Teaching: Believers and unbelievers alike agree that Jesus ethical teaching was brilliant and if adhered to would lead to a wonderful world. He advocated love of God and of fellow-humanity, non-violence, forgiveness, tolerance, goodness, marital fidelity, sexual purity and so on. These principles stand him apart (see especially Matt 5-7; Lk 6; Mk 12:29-31).

v. Miracle: There are many who claim to perform miracles. However none have multiply witnessed and recorded miracles to the extent of those attributed to Christ. These included power over sickness through healing (e.g. Mt 8-9), power over creation through controlling weather and walking on water (Lk 8:22-24; Mt 14:22-26), power over poverty (Lk 9:10-17), power over death seen in resurrection (Lk 7:11-15; 8:49-55; Jn 11; Matt 28) and power over evil seen in deliverance of demons (e.g. Lk 8:26-39).

vi. Resurrection: The resurrection of Jesus Christ stands him apart from all other supposed revelations. Abraham, Moses, Mohammed, Buddha, Joseph Smith etc are all deceased and there is no suggestion that these people rose from death. Jesus was seen on 10 occasions (Matt 28; Mk 16; Lk 24; Jn 210-21; 1 Cor 15:6-11).

vii. Claims of Christ: In addition Jesus utilizing the terminology of his day, claimed to be Christ. This he did by claiming the ancient name Yahweh (‘I am’) in discussions with other Jews (Jn 8:58). That this was a claim of deity is confirmed in the Jewish desire to stone him in response.
viii. Claims of others: It is extraordinary that radically monotheistic Jews (who believe in one God) claimed that Jesus was God. Such a claim would potentially lead to their death for blasphemy. However, these Jews refused to budge in their conviction that Jesus was divine. These claims are found in the writings of John (Jn 1:1, 14, 18), Paul (Rom 9:6; Phil 2:9-11; Col 1:15-20), Matthew (Mt 1:23) and Hebrews (Heb 1:3-5, 8), on the lips of Thomas (Jn 20:24-31). While it is possible that the attribution of the names ‘Lord’ and ‘Son of God’ to Jesus may be otherwise explained, the most likely reason these terms were attributed to Jesus was that he is the Lord of the OT come to earth, and that he is the divine Son of God the Father.

viii. The experience of millions: There is also the testimony given by millions of Christians from all ages who have met Jesus through personal revelation and believe unwaveringly on the basis of that experience that he is God the Son!

For me then Christianity has the best claim among religious perspectives to ultimately reveal God. Supremely God has been revealed in the person of Jesus who came as God the Son to save humanity. So the answer to who is God; he is the God of Jesus, Yahweh who has come in human form.

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