Wednesday, January 13, 2010

He Is Who He Is

"And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM...this is my name forever..." (Exodus 3: 14,15)

God is who He says He is. This may sound obvious, even redundant, but it is possible to slip from "God" to "god" in our thinking as easily as it is to do in our writing. This is no small matter. According to Exodus 39:25, God is jealous when it comes to His name. He is careful in these verses in Exodus three to let us know that He is the Old Testament God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as well as the New Testament God of the Church (1Cor.10:32; 1Tim.3:5). According to His Word, He is self-existent. No one brought Him into being and no one will outlive Him. Because of this, He is self-sufficient to Himself, and all-sufficient to us. He needs no one but Himself, and we need no one but Him.

There are many reasons why I consider the best-selling "Christian" book, The Shack, to be inaccurate, even heretical. (Though it is allegorical, the author claims to have personally experienced these [non-biblical] conversations with God.) Not only does it characterize Christianity as only one of many paths to God, along with Buddhism, Mormonism, etc; it dares to change the name (and gender) of God. As the "God" character in the book explains it, "I am neither male nor female, even though both genders are derived from my nature. If I choose to appear to you as a man or a woman, it’s because I love you. For me to appear to you as a woman and suggest that you call me Papa is simply to mix metaphors, to help you keep from falling so easily back into your religious conditioning."

One might consider this to be inconsequential, perhaps even endearing, but I would contend that the ability to name someone or something establishes superiority. Adam named the animals; parents name their children; and the conquering Babylonians gave Daniel and his Hebrew friends new names (1:7), to cite but a few examples. No human being is allowed to give God a name. Even Mary, the mother of Jesus, did not have the privilege of naming the Son of God.

Now, I point out this doctrinal error to drive home a practical, even more consequential one. God is who and what He says He is, not who we think He is; and we are who He says are, not who we think we are. God, the Father, says, "I AM... and God the Son finishes it by saying, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6).

The only way to God is through Jesus Christ, because only God can please God. And according the Bible, we are not God. In fact, as Romans 3:10-18 tells us, we are unrighteous, uncomprehending God-fleers, who are unprofitable, filthy-mouthed blood-shedders headed for misery and destruction, with no peace, because we do not fear God. That's what we look like to God; and no matter how we look to others, or what pretty names we give ourselves, nothing will change this but the righteousness of Jesus Christ added to the equation. This changes everything. Then, and only then, when we accept God's picture of us, asking for forgiveness through the blood of His Son, and are not ashamed to be called by His Name: Christian (Rom.10:9), will we know forgiveness of sins and fellowship with the Father.

God is a Father, but His name is not "Papa." His name is God; and He is who He is.

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