Holy God: Seraphs’ Everlasting Adoration

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A Meditation of Isaiah 6:1-4

In the year which the kingdom of Judah lost her great king Uzziah, whose fifty-two years reignship brought stability, peace, prosperity and tranquility, one of Judah’s prophet eyes, inside Jerusalem’s temple, were opened.  Isaiah was the name of the prophet who was  lifted up  to see a vision of the true and reigning King of Judah (Isa. 6:1).

Isaiah saw, in his vocational defining vision, the immortal, true and sovereign King seated upon a throne. This immortal, true and sovereign King’s majesty filled the whole temple.

Above the Sovereign King flew the burning sentient creatures called seraphs. These pure, living and blazing creatures had three pairs of wings. With the first pair they covered their faces, with the second they covered their feet and with the third they flew, exaltation the King seated upon the throne (6:2).

The dwelling place of God was filled with their joyous chant as they called to one another saying, “qadosh, qadosh, qadosh Yahweh tsaba”, meaning holy, holy, holy is the LORD of Hosts.  They added, “the earth will be filled with His glory” (6:3).

Seraphs’ repetition of God’s holiness emphasized God’s absolute otherness. The One seated of the throne is infinitely holy. None is like Him. The gulf between Him and His purest of all sentient creatures is infinitely great.  The holy burning creatures cover their eyes at the purest and brightest blazing fire of the King seated on the throne’s glory.

The foundation of the dwelling place of God began shaking and the smoke, as cloud concealing the bright sun, filled the whole place (6:4). The prophet found himself standing in a beautiful yet terrifying presence of the glory of His true King and Maker.

Isaiah saw Christ Jesus’ glory and spoke about Him (John 12:41). In the life, death and resurrection of Christ Jesus Christians have seen His glory, full of grace and truth (John 1:14). Christ is the king of Kings, the Lord of Lords. He is the immortal, invisible and God only wise everlasting King. Through His finished atoning work Christians join the seraphs’ joyful and everlasting chanter: Holy, holy, holy is the Lamb that was slain / Holy is the Lion of Judah seated upon His heavenly mercy throne.

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Sovereign Election: Is God Impartial?

Gandolfi Allegory of Justice

“God shows no partiality”, contended Paul of Tarsus in his epistle to the Romans (2:11). Paul explained that the righteous and holy judgment of God falls on those who do not see fit to acknowledge Him1.  God will render to all, first to Jews and then Gentiles, according to what they deserve (2:6).

Gruesomely, the whole world is held accountable because all, both Jews and Gentiles, are under sin. “None is righteous, no, not one,” Paul quoted Psalms 14:1-32, “no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless” (Rom. 3:10-12 ESV).  N. T. Wright sum it well,  “[t]he whole world is accountable to God: all people are obviously guilty, and must now face God as their judge.”(Wright 2004: 49)

Although according to the works of the law, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”(3:23 ESV), God’s righteousness is revealed to those whom God, in Jesus Christ, chose before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before Him.

Those, who God foreknew and also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, are said to have been called, justified and glorified, according to the riches of His free gift of grace, through redemptive work of Christ Jesus (Rom. 8 cf. Ephes. 1:3-11). Craig S. Keener, I suppose, errs in using present tense viz., “God choosing people (8:29–30)”(Keener 2009: Amazon Kindle loc.3974). The usage of past tense viz., foreknew, predestined, called, justified and glorified indicates that Paul understood that God had already sovereignly chose His people.

God shows no partiality. His righteous justice is poured to all who have sinned. To those who God elected, their justice,  was mercifully poured upon Christ Jesus, nailed at the cross. It was there the holy and righteous wrath of God upon His past, present and future chosen people was poured in full strength. It was there the wrath of God was not only quenched but their debt forever paid by the atoning work of Christ Jesus. It was there the righteous wrath of God and His pure everlasting love for His people shined the most.

At the cross, Christ Jesus reconciled those whom God the Father gave Him (John 6:44 cf John 17) from the wrath to come. (1 Thes. 1:10) Through Christ atoning work, He, in love, saved them from the wrath of God. (Ro. 5:10)

Romans 9:14’s disturbing question of God’s fairness emerged from the idea that it was from eternally past, before the foundation of the world, that God according to the good pleasure of His will and in love, not only elected His people but also predestined them for adoption as sons in Christ Jesus to be holy and blameless before Him. (Eph. 1:3-7)  His choice, accord to Paul, was not based on foreseen character of the elects, but God’s alone.

Readings of Roman 9:1-13 that does not trigger a reader to question God’s righteousness in electing His people can be said to have failed to grasp Paul’s case. The notion that given prevenient grace God chose those who He foresaw would freely choose Him, for example, appears to be incorrect because not only would it make Paul’s answers, namely God has mercy and compassion on whomever He has mercy and compassion (9: 15-16a) and that God’s choice did not depend on the subject’s foreseen response, one who runs, but solely on God (9: 16b-16c), offbeat but also his anticipated question of prima facie unfairness of God (9:14) uncalled-for.

The plausible understanding of Romans 9:1-13 that calls for Paul’s anticipated question and answers, I think, is that which view God’s sovereign election based on the character of God and not of the elects. It is Godwho saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began”(1 Timothy 1:19 ESV)

Is God impartial? No. The demanded justice for the wages of sin is given to all without partiality. The wages of those who He chose in His Son were fully paid by the life, death and resurrection of Christ Jesus. God’s mercy lavished upon those whom He chose is simply an amazing grace that cannot be demanded to be given to all.

Bibliography:

Keener, Craig S. (2009) Romans. A New Covenant Commentary. Cascade Books – Eugene, Oregon. Amazon Kindle Edition.

Wright, N. T. (2004). Paul for Everyone: Romans Part 1: Chapters 1-8. Both volumes include glossaries. London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.


[1] Those whom He has gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done, and they are they who are filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice, envy, murder, strife, deceit, gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless and ruthless (Romans 1).

[2] Repeated in 53:1-3

Human’s Responsibility in God’s Theatre

Behold The Man

Until I read Genesis 20:4-6, Paul conclusion in Philippians 2:12-13 had continuously baffled me. Commending unity that can only be achieved through humility in the church in Philippi, Paul asked Philippians to learn not to do anything out of selfish ambition, but in humility consider others more significant.

Making his point clearer, Paul beseeched the Philippians to follow Christ Jesus’ example. According to Paul, Jesus was in the form of God, but did not hold to his majesty. In humbleness and for the sake of those who God called and draw to him, emptied himself taking the form of a human being, and went even further through  a hideous death and rose to glory for their sake. (2:1-11)

From that, Paul concluded that Philippians, in his absence, were to “work out [their] own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in [them], both to will and to work for his good pleasure”(2:12b-13 ESV) doing all things without grumbling or disputing.

How was it possible for Philippians to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling, if it is God who works in them both to will and work for God’s own good pleasure? If God works in them to will and work, how then are Philippians said to will and to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling? Does not God’s working in Philippians’ will and work somehow negate Philippians responsibility to work out their own salvation?

In a theatrical account of Abimelech, Abraham and Sarah in Genesis 20 my bafflement like a vapor disappeared. In this account, Abraham found himself in the Egypt-like déjà vu (Gen. 12:10-20) where because of his wife’s dazzling beauty, his life was in danger. In fear that men without fear of God will kill him to have her, Abraham said, for the second time, that his wife was his sister. Abimelech king of Gerar took Sarah but did not sleep with her.  The drama then unfolds:

But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night and said to him, “Behold, you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man’s wife.” Now Abimelech had not approached her. So he said, “Lord, will you kill an innocent people? Did he not himself say to me, ‘She is my sister’? And she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’ In the integrity of my heart and the innocence of my hands I have done this.” Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know that you have done this in the integrity of your heart, and it was I who kept you from sinning against me. Therefore I did not let you touch her. (v3-6 ESV)

God recognized that Abimelech did not sleep with Sarah in integrity of his heart and clarified that Abimelech’s will and working out not to lay with Sarah was so because He worked in him, namely God kept Abimelech from sinning against Him. God did not let Abimelech sleep with his new mistress Sarah.

Philippians, like Abimelech, are called to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling, yet it is God who works in their willing and working for His own good pleasure. The working out of salvation with fear and trembling is possible because they are in God’s theatre.

The Cross Was For God

Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of your name; deliver us, and atone for our sins, for your name’s sake! – Psalm 79:9 ESV

The forgiveness of our trespasses in the atoning work of Christ Jesus, that cleansed us from all our iniquities, was first and foremost not for us but God’s own concern for His holy Name. It was not for our sake, O Christians, that God acted, but for the sake of His holy name, which we have profaned among the nations.  For His name’s sake, God pardon our guilt, for they were great.

It was the will of God to crush Christ Jesus, for  it was impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away our sins. God  laid on Christ Jesus the iniquity of us all. God put Christ Jesus to grief; when Christ’s soul made an offering for our guilt. God acted to show His righteousness at the present time. He acted so that he might be just and the justifier of us whom He chose in Christ, according to the purpose of His wills, before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him.

For God’s own sake, for God’s own sake, He so loved the world that He send His Son to live, die and rise again. For how could God’s name be profaned? His glory He will not give to another.

God vindicated the holiness of His great name through us that the world may see before their eyes. Christ Jesus took us out of the world and gathered us from all the nations to bringing us into God’s rest. God will not forsake those who are in Christ, for His great name’s sake. It pleased Him to make us a people for Himself.

At the Cross, God sprinkles clean water onto us that we may be clean from all our sins, and from all counterfeit gods. He makes us sinless.

He removed the heart of stone and gave a new heart of flesh. He put a new spirit, His Spirit within us that causes us to walk in his statutes and careful do His will.

He makes us delight in Himself as He give us the desires of our heart, the full joy in glorifying  and fully enjoying  Him forever.

In Christ Jesus, the Holy, Holy, Holy God calls us his people and He, our God. It is not for our sake that God acted, declares the Lord God, let that be known to you.

O Lamb of God that take away our sins, deal on our behalf for your name’s sake; because your steadfast love is good, deliver us we pray. With us all be the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, we us all be the love of God the Father and with us all be the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.

Ezekiel 36, loaded with Roman 3:26, Ephesians 1: 3-11, Isaiah 6:3; 48:11, 58:14; 1 Samuel 12:22, John 3:16, Psalm 37:4; 106:8; 109:21, Hebrews 10:4,  2 Corinthians 13:14

Question: Does God’s zeal for His glory challenges you to ponder your position? Give reasons

Prosperity Gospel: A Different Gospel?

 Is Health, Wealth, and Wisdom Prosperity gospel a different gospel? Is it true that Christians can “name it and claim it” or “What I confess, I Possess”?

Although Word of Faith movement has many elements of truth, its core doctrine, namely prosperity gospel, falls outside the faith that was once for all delivered.

In this series I attempted to explore the routes and progress of “Word of Faith” movement, respond to Biblical passages used by its proponents, and last show that prosperity gospel is a different gospel that distorts the gospel of Christ because it is a faith in faith and not faith in Christ Jesus.

The faith, I contend for, is that which enjoys, delights and treasures Christ for who He is and not for what gifts He can provide. Christ Jesus’ grace is sufficient for us and His power is made perfect in our weakness, and not in our physical health nor material wealth prosperity.

Name It And Claim It: Understanding Word of Faith

Utilizing New Thought of Phineas Parkhurst Quimby’s (1802-1866), a metaphysical notion that sickness and suffering originate in incorrect thing and man has a power of positive confession, to visualize health and wealth and confessing them with his mouth so as to tangibly receive them, Essek William Kenyon(1867-1948), in late 20th, wedded “power of mind” and “Pentecostalism” to form the Word of Faith (“name it and claim it” or “What I confess, I Possess”) movement.

De jure, proponents of Word of Faith will attempt to substitute “power of mind” with “force of faith” but de facto, I believe, it’s a substitution without difference. For example Emilie Cady asserted “there is power in our word of faith to bring all good things right into our everyday life […] our affirming, backed by faith, is the link that connects our conscious human need with His power and supply”(Cady nd) and Warren Felt Evans contended, “ Faith is the most intense form of metal action”(Evans 1873:152)

Kenneth Hagin, studying under Kenyon, pocketed Kenyon’s theology and advanced it to a higher level, which I believe, helped to shape what is the Word of Faith movement today.

Kenneth Copeland, Benny Hinn, Paul & Jan Crouch, Frederick K. C. Price, John Avanzini, Robert Tilton, Marilyn Hickey, Paul Yonggi Cho, Charles Capps, Jerry Savelle, Morris Cerullo, Paul Crouch, Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer are among known Church leaders in Word of Faith movement.

Word of Faith movement emphasizes in speaking, confessing, stating or demanding the Bible promises-verses. If you believe and confess/speak “spiritual” or “faith-filled” words, this movement clarifies, then you, as a child of a King, will receive what you  speak, confesses, state or demand of God.

Frederick K. C. Price, whose life was transformed by Kenneth Hagin’s books; “What Faith Is, Right and Wrong Thinking, The Authority of the Believer”,  claimed in his sermon titled Is God Glorified Through Sickness?”:

“How can you glorify God in your body, when it doesn’t function right? […] What makes you think the Holy Ghost wants to live inside of a body where He can’t see out through the windows, and He can’t hear out the ears? […] And what makes you think He wants to live in a temple where He can’t see out of the eyes, and He can’t walk with the feet, and He can’t move with the hand? […] The only eyes that He has that are in the earth realm are the eyes that are in the body. If He can’t see out of them then God’s gonna be limited he’s not going to be helped” (Price: tape)

Positive confessions, speaking, confessing, stating or demanding out aloud what you want to happen with the expectation that God will make it a reality, is a creative power to demand favors of God. God, in Word of Faith movement, has already blessed us not only with spiritual blessing but also material and physical blessing and the only thing that stands between us and receiving the blessing is our faith. God, is said, wants your best life now.

In the next article, in this series, I will explore the theology of preachers in Word of Faith movement, bringing to light their teachings. “He that serves God for money will serve the devil for better wages.” warned Robert L’Estrange.

Question: I am correct in thinking that prosperity gospel is a different gospel? Give reasons.

Next: Understanding the Gospel According To Prosperity Preachers


[1] Geisler, N. L., & Rhodes, R. (1997). When cultists ask: A popular handbook on cultic misinterpretations (292). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

Bibliography:

Cady ,H. Emilie, Lessons in Truth (Unity Village, MO: Unity Books, n.d.)

Warren Felt Evans, “Mental Medicine: A Treatise on Medical Psychology,” 15th ed. (Boston: H. H. Carter & Co., 1873 [orig. 1885]), 152; quoted in Braden, 121.

Price, Frederick K. C.” Is God Glorified Through Sickness?” Los Angeles: Crenshaw Christian Center, n.d. audiotape #FP605

God The Father, The Son and Early Christians

An anonymous Letter to Diognetus, named The Epistle of Mathetes to Diognetus, which is probably written ca. 80-130 A.D by  unknown author who called himself “a disciple of the Apostles”, captures the early Church understanding of God the Father and Son relationship. In  Chapter 7: The manifestation of Christ in  Philip Schaff’s (1819-1893) Ante-Nicene Fathers, which can be found in public domain at Christian Classics Ethereal Library, of this epistle to Diognetus, we encounter this wonderful descriptions:

For, as I said, this was no mere earthly invention which was delivered to them, nor is it a mere human system of opinion, which they judge it right to preserve so carefully, nor has a dispensation of mere human mysteries been committed to them, but truly God Himself, who is almighty, the Creator of all things, and invisible, has sent from heaven, and placed among men, [Him who is] the truth, and the holy and incomprehensible Word, and has firmly established Him in their hearts.

He did not, as one might have imagined, send to men any servant, or angel, or ruler, or any one of those who bear sway over earthly things, or one of those to whom the government of things in the heavens has been entrusted, but the very Creator and Fashioner of all things—by whom He made the heavens—by whom he enclosed the sea within its proper bounds—whose ordinances all the stars faithfully observe—from whom the sun has received the measure of his daily course to be observed—whom the moon obeys, being commanded to shine in the night, and whom the stars also obey, following the moon in her course; by whom all things have been arranged, and placed within their proper limits, and to whom all are subject—the heavens and the things that are therein, the earth and the things that are therein, the sea and the things that are therein—fire, air, and the abyss—the things which are in the heights, the things which are in the depths, and the things which lie between.

“[A] disciple of the Apostles” explained that Almighty Creator of visible and invisible, the true God sent not an angel or a ruler but the very Creator and Fashioner of all thing. This is the doctrine that  was delivered to them, probably from the 12 Apostles themselves. The disciple of the Apostle continued to explain:

This [messenger] He sent to them. Was it then, as one might conceive, for the purpose of exercising tyranny, or of inspiring fear and terror? By no means, but under the influence of clemency and meekness. As a king sends his son, who is also a king, so sent He Him; as God He sent Him; as to men He sent Him; as a Saviour He sent Him, and as seeking to persuade, not to compel us; for violence has no place in the character of God. As calling us He sent Him, not as vengefully pursuing us; as loving us He sent Him, not as judging us. For He will yet send Him to judge us, and who shall endure His appearing?

This messenger, the very Creator and Fashioner of all thing, is a Son of God and very God. He explained that as a king sends his son, who is also a king, God send his Son who is also God. “[A] disciple of the Apostles” gives us an early understanding of the relationship the Father who is God sending his Son who is also God.

How could early monotheist Christians claim that the Son is God and the Father is God yet there is one True God? It is from this doctrine,(and the deity of Holy Spirit), that led the early Christians to progressively formulate the doctrine of a Tri-une God viz., One and Only true God  in three distinct Persons.

Question: Do you agree with “a disciple of the Apostles” that Jesus is God? Give reasons.

Source: Christian Classics Ethereal Library public domain documents

The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume I: The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus. 1885 (A. Roberts, J. Donaldson & A. C. Coxe, Ed.) (27–28). Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company.

Related:

Early Church’s Understanding of the Holy Spirit: Irenaeus( c. 120- 28th of June 202 A.D) and Clement of Alexandria(c.150 – c. 215)

Who Is Christ Jesus? Answers From Clement(ca. 150- 215 A.D.)

Who is Christ Jesus? Answers From Irenaeus(c. 120-202 A.D)

Is Christ Jesus God? Answers From Ignatius(ca.30-107 A.D)

Early Church’s Understand of Genesis 1:26

Early Church’s Understanding Of Isaiah 9:6

Early Church’s Understanding Of John 1:1