God of the Living


But Jesus answered and said to [the Sadducees], “You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures nor the power of God … regarding the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God: ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.” (Matthew 22:29–32)


Sadducees were those comprising a religio-political group of Jews that opposed the Pharisees on many levels, especially the resurrection. The former simply did not believe there would be one, whereas the latter believed all people would one day be raised from the dead.

Rarely did Jesus wade into the debates of these two groups, but this one is an exception; Jesus takes the Sadducees to task. Why this time? Because the resurrection debate reflects on a fundamental truth of the One whom all Jews, both fishermen and high priest, called “the living God” (Matt 16:16, 26:63). So Jesus begins with a clear rebuke to the Sadducees, “You are mistaken,” and challenges their faulty understanding of both the written Scriptures (what we call the OT) and of God’s power to raise the dead. In other words, the Scripture teaches about a God who is powerful enough even to raise the dead.

For Scripture, Jesus appeals to God’s message to Moses in the wilderness in preparation for the Exodus. The voice out of the burning bush self-identified as “I am the God …of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” From the forming of Israel as a nation, the God they (including the Sadducees of Jesus’ day) worshipped was the God of the patriarchs and of Moses. Nothing could be more fundamental than this. Jesus uses the “I am” phrasing similar to John 8:58 (“Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am”) with an emphasis on the currency of the reality. God is not simply a God who “was” (past tense), but a God who “is” (present tense). According to standard Greek convention, the present tense at times conveys an ongoing or progressive sense. Jesus is saying that God continues to be a God who is there. In an interesting turn of words, we might say God continues to be the God of the patriarchs.

Jesus takes from this “God of the living” idea to infer there will be resurrection. In fact, He presents that as convincing support. If God is (presently) the God of Abraham who long ago died, then Abraham must in some sense still be living. Otherwise, God was (previously) the God of Abraham, but no longer is. The solution to the dilemma is that our Lord is, in fact, the God of the living and will raise up to eternal life all those who have believed in Him.


Lord, You are ever present in my life, and even after I die, because I will be resurrected to be with You forever.


 

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God of Love


Finally, brethren, rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. (2 Corinthians 13:11)


While the exact phrase, “the God of love,” only occurs here in the NT (NASB), His character as loving saturates the NT. According to Jesus, love summarizes the entire Law of Moses, namely, loving God and loving your neighbor (Luke 10:27). Who of us cannot quote John 3:16? Who has not come across John’s assessment: “The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1 John 4:8)? Or, “God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (1 John 4:16)?

Yes, God is the God of love. Did you notice how much of the NT talk about God’s love is connected with our love for each other? The apostle John reflects, “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:11).

What is poignant about the phrase “the God of love” in our passage today is that it comes at the end of Paul’s writings to a selfish, divisive bunch of believers who could be described in many ways, except loving! They even used the Lord’s Supper, communion, for their own selfish purposes. Paul thoroughly rebukes them for this: “Therefore when you meet together, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper, for in your eating each one takes his own supper first; and one is hungry and another is drunk” (1 Cor 11:20–21). Hard to believe the level of self-interest that existed there in that worldly church!

The great irony is this: If the Corinthians had truly understood that He is the God of love, then they would have been the disciples of love. Remember what Jesus taught His closest followers in the Upper Room: “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). Love begets love. That will be the evidence of our faith, of our connection with Christ. Love for others will be the substantiation of our testimony that God loves the whole world (John 3:16).

This is how we know God is love: One, the Bible says so. Two, Christ in love died for us (Rom 5:8). Three, God loves us through the loving actions of other Christians toward us. Four, God loves others through our loving acts toward them. All because He is the “God of love.”

This concept is not a club to use against other Christians when they mistreat us. Rather it is a clarion call for each of us to reflect God’s image, showing others so that they can know Him as the God of love, working through us toward them.


Lord, use me to love others, the way You love me.


 

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God of All Grace


After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. (1 Peter 5:10)


Grace is one of the most important words in the NT, used in Paul’s writings 83 times and Peter’s 10 times. It is an action word, as in God acts graciously towards us, and it is a “thing,” a noun, something given: “May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure” (1 Peter 1:2). In our context today, God is defined as the God of all grace—that is, He acts towards us in all graciousness, and He abundantly gives us all grace.

God’s grace was foretold in the OT: “The prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries” (1 Peter 1:10).

God’s grace sustains us in suffering: “Fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:13).

God’s grace crosses gender lines: “Show her [your wife] honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life” (1 Peter 3:7).

God shows His grace often through human means: “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10).

Grace is selectively experienced: “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5).

We must respond to God’s grace with resolved faith: “I have written to you … that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it!” (1 Peter 5:12).

God desires for us the full grace experience: “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord” (2 Peter 1:2).

Peter’s final word on this subject is that we should never stop maturing in grace: “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen” (2 Peter 3:18).

Yes, God is the God of all grace. He is graciously at work in us, not because we deserve any of it. He graciously has called us “to His eternal glory in Christ!” How good is that?! If that were not enough, He has committed Himself to making us perfect. To the scattered believers who were living as “aliens” in the eastern Mediterranean area of the ancient world, God would also confirm them in their faith, strengthen them and establish them. In other words, persecution would not get the better of them, because God is the God of all grace. And He continues to be the God of all grace to us, as well.


Dear Lord, I am so thankful that You graciously work in my life in every way.


 

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God of All Comfort – 2


Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort … (2 Corinthians 1:3)


Someone once said, somewhat skeptically, “Yes, I believe God will help us Christians when we need Him, but I still need someone to help me take out the trash and fix things around the house.” She was a widow struggling through everyday living. In essence, she was asking, “Where is the tangibility of God’s comfort and help?” That is an excellent question. What do we mean when we refer to God being the Father of comfort?

For some, the expectation is a euphoric or esoteric spiritual feeling that sweeps over a person. I purposely use those fancy, “obscure” words to convey that this feeling some are looking for is little understood and usually just beyond reach. They imagine they will know it when they see it. However, life is filled with all kinds of feelings, and we simply cannot judge God’s involvement in our lives based on the feelings we experience. This is a surefire path toward doubt.

Rather, faith is looking for God’s comfort as He brings it to us, accepting it in whatever way He provides. The smallest act of kindness can be seen as God’s reminder that He is present. Unfaith is oblivious to these small events; it demands and will only be satisfied with its preconceived acts on God’s part. It is a requirement that God must work in a certain way that in reality would not require faith on our part; by making something happen that would completely overwhelm us and be absolutely clear without any doubt that God is in my life comforting me.

The irony is that faith, unleashed from narrow expectations and demands on God, does provide the path to the overwhelming comfort of God. While He may not provide someone to fix my house appliance, He may provide help in another, different way, by another avenue of kindness or comfort. By faith, we may see a flower in an unexpected place, hear a kind word spoken in just the right way or have an offer to help in a different area. Above all, God wants us to go beyond our own need and simply trust in Him “who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Cor 1:4). What a privilege that He still wants to use us even when we are so focused on our own need of comfort! In fact, out of our need of and faith in His comfort, we become God’s comfort to someone else in need of the same comfort. If in the church we all did this, there would be more than enough of God’s comfort to go around!


Lord, let me be used by You to comfort others.


 

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God of All Comfort – 1


Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort … (2 Corinthians 1:3)


Since we believe the Scripture teaches Jesus is God, then what is true of God is true of Jesus. Often, in looking at individual passages, the distinction between God the Father and God the Son is clear, but sometimes there is overlap or lack of a clear line of demarcation. In our passage today, we need to peel back the layers carefully.

First, the reference to God and Father is not contemplating two separate entities, but rather one. This is what linguists call a hendiadys, where two words connected by “and” refer to the same thing. For example, we might say, “I am good and ready” or “I am husband and father.” Paul, the inspired author, calls for a blessing to the one who is both God and Father. The latter term refers to His relationship with the “Lord Jesus Christ.” And it is in His fatherly relationship to Christ, that He is the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort.

Notice the interesting chiasm (the reversal of order):

Blessed be the God
     Father of our Lord Jesus Christ
     Father of mercies
God of all comfort

Writers of Scripture often use a poetic style to convey profound truth. Our verse today possibly reflects early church hymnody, with its metric flow and rhythm. This comforting God is reminiscent of the many psalms that convey God’s protection, such as the classic shepherd’s psalm, “Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me” (Ps 23:4).

Father God’s comfort for us emanates from His relationship with His Son, the perfect love that existed between them from eternity past. We are now brothers of Christ: “For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren” (Heb 2:11). We are now children of God: “See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God” (1 John 3:1). And “if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ” (Rom 8:17).

As members of God’s family, sharing with Christ in all things, we have access to His Father, the God of all comfort. No matter what difficult times we may go through, we trust that He will comfort us with His eternal love.


Lord, I ask for Your comfort in my life and in the life of that person You are bringing to my mind right now.


 

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The Lord Jesus Christ


Since we have heard that some of our number to whom we gave no instruction have disturbed you with their words, unsettling your souls, it seemed good to us, having become of one mind, to select men to send to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Acts 15:24–26)


The name and full title of the one we believe in, follow and worship is “the Lord Jesus Christ.” This exact phrasing in the original language occurs 33 times in the NT, and in modified form “the name of the Lord Jesus” many more times. But the full version includes three terms of significance.

First, He is Lord. That means He is the supreme authority over our lives. Paul counsels Timothy to “keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which He will bring about at the proper time—He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords” (1 Tim 6:14–15). He is the one who will return on a white horse for the battle against the forces of Satan:

“His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems…clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God … and on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, ‘King of kings, and Lord of lords.” (Rev 19:12-16)

He is the one who must be confessed as Lord for salvation (Rom 10:9), which in reality is a recognition of Him as God.

Second, He is Jesus, emphasizing His historical incarnation. He was the man who was born in Bethlehem and raised in Nazareth, and who lived and walked throughout the provinces of Galilee and Judea in first-century Israel. He was human with a human name, and people called Him Jesus of Nazareth, a carpenter’s son (albeit adopted son). He died a physical death and was physically raised. We continue to worship an incarnate God, who continues with His humanity along with His deity forever (notice the post-resurrection depiction of Jesus’ wounds in His hands and side in John 20:27).

Finally, He is Christ. The apostle John informs us that “Christ” is the translation of “Messiah” (John 1:41). The Messiah is “the anointed one” the Jews were seeking to deliver them from all oppression. Sometimes the Scripture refers to Him as “the” Christ, for it is a description rather than a name. We do well to address Him and refer to Him by His full title: our Lord Jesus Christ.


Father, I praise You for Your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, whom I follow.


 

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The LORD God, the Almighty


And the four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within; and day and night they do not cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come.” (Revelation 4:8)


Mysterious as the book of Revelation is, some things are quite evident. The book depicts the end times and focuses on Christ’s return for the cosmic battle against the forces of evil, culminating in the ushering in of the new heaven and earth. The theme: Christ will be completely victorious, and God will reign forever and ever.

In this great apocalyptic prophecy, “Christ” and “God” are both distinguished and identified indistinguishably—not surprising given the nature of the Trinity and incarnation. For our purposes here, the names of God, we see one sitting on a throne, “The Lord God, the Almighty” (repeated at least seven other times in Revelation). The angels echo the praises of their counterparts in Isaiah 6:3, where clearly Yahweh is in view. The angels continue to “give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever…”

At the same time, we find “the Lamb in the center of the throne” (Rev 7:17) and repeated phrases like “a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb” (Rev 22:1). Considering the sharing of other epithets such as “the beginning and the end” and the “alpha and omega” (Rev 1:8, 21:6, 22:13), we can see that the Lamb, Jesus Christ, is clearly being presented as God, and in particular, the Lord God, the Almighty.

Some might quibble theologically that the distinction between the Lamb and God is more dominant than the identification of the two. Relative dominance is really a side issue, but is only important to those who struggle with the concept of the Trinity. But the Bible teaches that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is clearly God. He is the Lord God, the Almighty. He may distinguish His roles and His place in the Trinity, but there is one God, not three. And He exists in three persons. Church councils wrestled with this concept, but Christians through the centuries have accepted and believed it as a settled matter, and the deity of Christ is central to Christian theology and thinking.

To our point, the Lord Jesus Christ is the Lord (Yahweh) God of the Bible. If He were not, then the book of Revelation would be grossly blasphemous in exalting Christ to God’s throne and extolling Him as worthy of the praise that is only due to Yahweh, God of Israel.


Lord Jesus, mysterious as it seems, I worship You as my Lord and my God.


 

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The Word Was [the only] God


In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1)


Further supporting the full and unique deity of Christ, we simply observe other Scripture that consistently upholds this idea:

Before Me there was no God formed, and there will be none after Me. I, even I, am the Lord, And there is no savior besides Me. (Is 43:10–11)

Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: ‘I am the first and I am the last, and there is no God besides Me.’ (Is 44:6)

I am the Lord, and there is no other; besides Me there is no God. I will gird you, though you have not known Me; that men may know from the rising to the setting of the sun that there is no one besides Me. I am the Lord, and there is no other. (Is 45:6)

I am the Lord, and there is none else. (Is 45:18)

Remember the former things long past, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me. (Is 46:9)

Listen to Me, O Jacob, even Israel whom I called; I am He, I am the first, I am also the last. Surely My hand founded the earth, and My right hand spread out the heavens; when I call to them, they stand together. (Is 48:12–13)

Behold, I [Jesus] am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. (Rev 22:12–13)

For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him [Christ]. (Col 1:19)

For in Him [Christ] all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form. (Col 2:9)

Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28)

And He [Christ] is the radiance of His [God’s] glory and the exact representation of His nature … (Heb 1:3)


Lord Jesus, You are my Lord and my God. I worship You as the supreme Creator of the universe. Let all the angels witness my testimony.


 

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The Word Was God


In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1)


One of the clearest statements on the deity of Jesus Christ is found in this simple statement, “and the Word was God.” It is entirely clear and without any confusion that “the Word” refers to Jesus Christ (John 1:14), and the word “God” comes from the Greek word “Theos,” the standard word for deity in the NT. Yet some deny the deity of Christ, or at least deny identifying Christ as the incarnate Elohim of the OT. They appeal to the Greek language behind the English text. A certain translation in a cultic version of the Bible reads, “The Word was a god.” To a beginning Greek student or uninformed Greek reader, this might seem convincing. However, no reputable Greek scholar would agree. Even non-Christian Greek scholars looking at this objectively would agree that “the Word was God” is the proper translation.

In the interest of apologetics, we can admit that the statement “the Word was a god” is true, even if it is not a correct translation. Jesus was, in fact, a god. This begs the question, then, if He was a god (“theos”), but not the God of the OT (who presumably still existed in the NT times), then there must be more than one god. A certain cult today is quick to point out where Jesus quoted Psalm 82:6, “Has it not been written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’?” (John 10:34). Jesus was attempting (quite successfully) to trip up the Jewish leaders who were trying to condemn Him for blasphemy. A full exegesis of that interaction goes beyond the scope of our purposes here, but suffice it to say, the interchange was going far deeper than meets the eye. The Jewish leaders had been putting themselves on the level of God, and thus over the Word of God, and ultimately over Christ, who, as John makes clear, was God.

John 1:1, in its fullest meaning, would be preposterous if Jesus were not the God of the Bible, if He were some lesser divine being. He was there at the beginning, He was with God, and He was divine. He is therefore in the same category of existence as the Creator God of the universe, Elohim of the OT. If He were just a man or a lesser divine being, this claim would be absurd. Either John would be assaulting the strict monotheism that was endemic to the Jewish faith, or he would be committing a gross blasphemy by claiming Christ, a mere man, was on the same level as God. The only reasonable and consistent interpretation of this beginning of John’s gospel account is that Jesus is fully God, and He was in the beginning with God—for He was, in fact, God Himself.


Lord, I fully embrace that Jesus my Lord is God in the flesh!


 

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God of the Living


But Jesus answered and said to [the Sadducees], “You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures nor the power of God … regarding the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God: ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.” (Matthew 22:29–32)


Sadducees were those comprising a religio-political group of Jews that opposed the Pharisees on many levels, especially the resurrection. The former simply did not believe there would be one, whereas the latter believed all people would one day be raised from the dead.

Rarely did Jesus wade into the debates of these two groups, but this one is an exception; Jesus takes the Sadducees to task. Why this time? Because the resurrection debate reflects on a fundamental truth of the One whom all Jews, both fishermen and high priest, called “the living God” (Matt 16:16, 26:63). So Jesus begins with a clear rebuke to the Sadducees, “You are mistaken,” and challenges their faulty understanding of both the written Scriptures (what we call the OT) and of God’s power to raise the dead. In other words, the Scripture teaches about a God who is powerful enough even to raise the dead.

For Scripture, Jesus appeals to God’s message to Moses in the wilderness in preparation for the Exodus. The voice out of the burning bush self-identified as “I am the God …of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” From the forming of Israel as a nation, the God they (including the Sadducees of Jesus’ day) worshipped was the God of the patriarchs and of Moses. Nothing could be more fundamental than this. Jesus uses the “I am” phrasing similar to John 8:58 (“Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am”) with an emphasis on the currency of the reality. God is not simply a God who “was” (past tense), but a God who “is” (present tense). According to standard Greek convention, the present tense at times conveys an ongoing or progressive sense. Jesus is saying that God continues to be a God who is there. In an interesting turn of words, we might say God continues to be the God of the patriarchs.

Jesus takes from this “God of the living” idea to infer there will be resurrection. In fact, He presents that as convincing support. If God is (presently) the God of Abraham who long ago died, then Abraham must in some sense still be living. Otherwise, God was (previously) the God of Abraham, but no longer is. The solution to the dilemma is that our Lord is, in fact, the God of the living and will raise up to eternal life all those who have believed in Him.


Lord, You are ever present in my life, and even after I die, because I will be resurrected to be with You forever.


 

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