Monday, May 29, 2017

God Has To Be God, pt. 4

Part One     Part Two    Part Three

James 1:13-17 reveals a lot about the nature of the true God.  I want to print the verses.
13  Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: 14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. 15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. 16 Do not err, my beloved brethren. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. 18 Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
This section of James is packed with teaching, but it is a huge revelation about God, specifically two attributes unique to Him, His immutability and impassibility.  God's immutability and impassibility are contrasted with man's mutability and passion.  Man's state is found in verses 13-15, separated by a metacomment in verse 16, and God's state is seen in verses 17 and 18.  There are some very clear grammatical markers that manifest this.

In 13-15 man functions according to outside stimuli.  He is tempted and drawn away of his lust, his passions.  God on the other hand cannot be tempted, because with Him is no variableness and He begat by his own will, not anyone else's.  Lust results in death.  God's gift results in life.  Because God is not afffected to change, we look to Him for wisdom (James 1:5), not the wisdom of this world, which is earthly, sensual, and devilish (James 3:16-18).  When we are tried, we depend on Someone Who does not change, not on man, who does.

What we see today are men conforming God to themselves in trials.  Rather than looking to God, Who is not tempted with evil, they are tempted and they turn to God with a purpose to adapt Him to their own desires.  When it comes to worship, God stays the same, but they imagine a god more to their liking, who conforms to their desires.  Rather than conform to God, they conform to the spirit of this age.

God doesn't change, but men's standards change, their worship changes, and false doctrines and practices are tolerated to maintain their coalitions, organizations, or movements.  God has to be God. Every sin is some departure from the nature of the one and true God.

A doctrinal statement might be identical to a hundred years ago, but the God in the statement is a vastly different God in the imagination.  The God in the imagination is the God who men worship. We know this occurs, that is, men change God into what they want Him to be (Romans 1).  This is why two churches with a nearly identical doctrinal statement can be very, very different.  These differences do matter.  God is communicated by more than the words on a sheet of paper.  He is communicated by the medium of worship men use and by the life that the worshipers live.  The words take on a different and either perverted or insufficient meaning when God is conformed to men.

Immutability is that God doesn't change.  Impassibility is a sub category of immutability in that God doesn't function according to passion.  He directs all His behavior.  He doesn't fly off the handle.  In part because of His impassibility, God is immutable.  Churches today have changed drastically in doctrine and practice.  Their worship has radically changed.  Worship has conformed to the passions of men and don't represent the true God.  They bring God to the level of man's lusts and profane Him.

I know a question, maybe the question, for those reading this series, are the people saved, really saved, who are so different than the God of historic Christianity.  Are they believing in the same God? I don't know.  I wouldn't want to be them.  Do they abide in the doctrine of Christ?  Do they have the same Jesus?  Just because they have the same Jesus on paper, it doesn't mean that they have the same Jesus.  I wouldn't want to be in their shoes.  God has to be God.

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