Who Am I?

Thanks for asking.

The simplest answer is, “I am a unique creation of Yaweh.” And, I’d like to add, “So are you!

I hope that doesn’t offend you; but if it does, I’m afraid you’re going to have to live with it. You can choose to ignore it, …but you can’t change it. And ignoring it isn’t going to work to your advantage in the long run.

You see, Yaweh is the one true God of all creation—the God of the Jews and Christians. Yaweh is the creator of the universe—and, every thing in it. Most importantly for this discussion, He created every human as a unique individual.

Have you ever really thought about just how unique you are? On the molecular level, consider your DNA. That alone distinguishes you from the vast majority of all humans wandering the planet. Other distinguishing physical traits are your unique finger-prints and retinal-prints.

Then there is personality—a small percentage of which you inherited from your mother and father. If you grew-up with siblings, think about the common experiences you shared. Did they effect everyone in the exact same way? Do you remember the tiniest details the same way, or would you even agree on what was “tiny” and what was “major”? Then what lessons did you carry away from those “common” experiences? And, how have they affected your psyche and outlook on life?

What you inherited, and what you have learned by formal schooling, street smarts, relationships, how it was taught and by who, your personal observations, and even where you learned it—it all works toward assuring your uniqueness.

OK. We’re both unique. So what?

Well, hang onto that thought while I tell you a bit about your creator YHVH.

“YHVH” is the Hebrew word that translates as “LORD”. This name is found more often in the Old Testament than any other name for God (approximately 7,000 times). The title is also referred to as the “Tetragrammaton,” meaning the “The Four Letters”. YHVH comes from the Hebrew verb “to be” and is the name God revealed to Moses at the burning bush. “And God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM;’ and He said, ‘thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, I AM has sent me to you… this is My eternal name, and this is how I am to be recalled for all generations’”. [Exodus 3:13-14]. Therefore, YHVH declares God’s absolute being; and the source of everything—without beginning and without end.1

Now, let’s back-up for just a moment; and look at the very first name for God that we find in the Bible: “Elohim”. It is used about 2,300 times in the Old Testament and its first occurrence is in Genesis 1:1—the very first verse of the Bible. Elohim means, “all powerful”; and its form is, plural! Important? Oh, yeah! Originally a mystery, its meaning is slowly revealed throughout the rest of the Bible. While we worship the one true God, we (now) know our God is a triune God—God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. It’s a bit difficult to wrap your mind around. It helps me to think of God as the spirit He is, with three different personas. Each of which can operate separately yet stay unified with the whole.

OK. I’m sorry if your head is spinning. I know it’s a lot for some of you to take in. Here is a quick summary of the critical points:

Our God has many names and each name tells us more about Him. The two names we have just talked about, tell us a great deal about God; starting with—our God is not a created being. He is an absolute being. He truly exists. And more than that…

He is an eternal being, or Spirit—without beginning or end.

Our One God has three personas—Father, Son, and Holy Ghost (or Holy Spirit).

God is all powerful and the author of creation. The entire universe was set into existence by the spoken words of God. And that includes every living thing on planet Earth—including you and me. Mankind was created on the sixth day2 and created in the image of God.3

So just what is my point?

Well first, I have a question for you. Who are you?

Based on the above, you might reply that like me, you are a child of God.

And, while that would be a correct answer on one level, it may not be totally correct. You see, far… far… back in our lineage we have a set of grand-parents named Adam and Eve. That’s right. The first man and woman created by God. They knew God intimately. In fact, they physically walked and talked with God on their strolls through the Garden of Eden. They lived in a paradise with no rules—but one. They were instructed by God not to eat the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden. It was called the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. And God told them that if they did eat of it, they would surely die.

The short version of this story is that Satan, a fallen angel, deceived Eve by telling her if she ate the fruit, she wouldn’t die4. Rather, she would be like God, …knowing good from evil. Eve ate some of the fruit and then convinced Adam to also eat the fruit. And things changed—BIG TIME. Eve and Adam knew they should not go against the only rule God had given them, but they did it anyway, …and that is known as “sin”. Our grandparents, using their freewill intentionally disobeyed God and introduced sin into what had been a perfect environment. And their original sin has infected every man and woman born, or yet to be born, with a sinful nature5. It blocks our communication with God and condemns us to death and eternity in Hell. In fact, sin infected the whole physical planet; and caused God to withdraw to heaven.6

That’s It?

Oh, NO! Time passes. (And God had devised a great—an almost too incredible to believable, plan.) Out of God’s great love for His children, He devised a plan of grace7 that would blot out mankind’s sins for all time; provide for redemption, and restore us to God’s family for eternity. Many prophets (in the old testament) alluded to the plan. Some quite specifically, in retrospect.

Then, in about 5 BC, God implemented His plan. (If you get nothing else out of this post, read and consider the next two paragraphs. GET THIS!)

Out of Gods grace, He sends the Holy spirit to visit His children. The Holy Spirit looks into our hearts, and works to convict us of our sins and our inability to “fix ourselves”. Yes, we are all sinners, and we will be until we die, or are called home. No man or woman is perfect. It is impossible to live on this broken planet without sinning. Big sins, little sins, or both. (As we tend to think of them. Actually, to God there is no distinction. Sin is sin.) And, while God makes no distinction of sins, there is a distinction of sinners: Forgiven and Unforgiven.

None of us know the exact time of our earthly death. And in the meantime, the Holy Spirit is whispering, sometimes shouting.8 Trying to get our attention, fighting our freewill, convicting us to believe that God is God. That He sent His Son, Jesus, to earth to be born of a virgin; to live a perfect life performing miracles and healing the wounds and hearts of broken people; and then to be sacrificed on a Roman cross—carrying the sins of every person who has, and ever will, repent of their sins, from a contrite heart, and ask for forgiveness while declaring Jesus as their Lord and savior. And then He arose from his grave three days later, thus fulfilling prophecies from both the old and new testaments; not only proving His Deity, but, also giving us the promise of a new (eternal) life as a Christian, following his plan for our unique gifts. And, it is free!

And, I actually have three points to make…

First: God offers us his plan at no cost. All of this, …for only believing and asking, …bestowed through the grace of God’s great love for His creation, …YOU and ME. But remember, God is not “only” a God of Love and Grace. He is also a “Just” God. He will never force you to do anything against your will. Your eternal destination is 100 percent your choice. And choosing not to make a decision, or saying “not yet” is the same as saying, “No.” God does not want to send anyone to hell.9 In fact He grieves over every lost soul that is sent there. Never-the-less, He will send you where you choose, and you MUST choose before you die.

My second point is: While it is a given that every one on earth is a sinner; there are those of us who have asked for, and received, salvation, redemption and restoration to God’s family. We are living new lives patterned after Christ’s example, and have a personal relationship with Him that assures we will spend eternity in Heaven with our triune God.

My Third point is: If you recognize that you are a sinner, and know that you cannot save yourself, the Holy Spirit is talking to you and leading you to take action and become a Christian by repenting (confessing) your sins to Jesus and asking his forgiveness. Tell Jesus that you want to become a follower (which is what a Christian is—a follower of Christ). Tell Jesus you love Him and are ready to begin the new life He has planned for you.

It is truly that simple. Yet, for many it is too difficult.

When you do establish this relationship something truly incredible will happen. The Holy Spirit will move into your heart to act as your guide and interpreter. Really! And never forget this scripture:

And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. [Romans 8:27-28. NLT]

My Prayer:

Yaweh (I AM),

Scientists tell us the universe was formed 13.8 billion years ago, when a tiny singularity (or vacuum fluctuation) containing (what we now call) the universe, and energy (known as a scalar field) suddenly appeared in space—out of nothing at all. The energy field in this singularity acted as “antigravity” inflating the bubble instantaneously to the size of a grapefruit. By this point the antigravity was converted to heat energy which kept expanding (at a more sedate speed) due to the push of the inflation. This is now referred to as the “Big Bang”.

I prefer the description of creation presented in the Bible. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” [Genesis 1:1] And I see no conflict with the science. Now we know where the singularity came from and what triggered it—while providing the design, rules, matter and energy for the creation. Thank you, God!

Scientists tell us the earth is 4.5 billion years old. And mankind may be 50,000 years old. The Bible tells us you created Adam and Eve; but again, doesn’t tell us when. I do believe you created them. And would, if for no other reason than they are the most unique part of all creation. You created them in your image, and you gave them life!

Neither do we know when Satan seduced Eve into doing what she knew to be wrong—and, the same for Adam. Nor, do we know exactly how long it was before you chose Moses to lead your people out of enslavement in Egypt. But we do know the first book of the Torah (also the first book of the Christian Bible) was written about 1450 BC, by Moses.

Your Words, recorded in the 66 books of the Bible over that next millennium and a half, give me all the knowledge and instruction I need to know about you, the One True God. I know you love your entire creation—most especially, mankind.

40 Years ago, you chose me a second time; when I was as undeserving as I could ever be. You picked me up, dusted me off and led me into a new life. The path you set me on led to the perfect wife and life partner. Together, we have been blessed beyond measure. And now, we look forward to what you still have in store for us as we move forward loving God, following Jesus, and striving to love others as we love ourselves.

I know I am not perfect in my walk; never-the-less, your love, grace, and guidance, endure. I thank you, and praise you for your never ending love.

Your loving servant,

Larry


1. Although some pronounce YHVH as “Jehovah” or “Yaweh,” scholars really don’t know the proper pronunciation because the ancient Hebrew alphabet had no vowels. For pronunciation purposes due to the absence of vowels in the Tetragrammaton, Bible scholars have chosen to spell it either Yaweh, or sometimes, Yahweh.

2.There is much debate about the Creation of the universe. Some say in a great explosion of a singularity formed the universe.. Some say God started the process and the universe evolved over billions of years. Still others say; six days. And while almost all religions have a story of the creation, only the Bible postulates that one supreme God created the earth out of his great love; and gave mankind a special place in it. How long it took is unknown. The Bible does not say how long it took. Some take the term “day” to be a literal 24 day period. Others say the word “day” represents an indefinite period of time (even millions or billions of years).

3. What does it mean when the bible says that man was created in God’s image? Obviously, this is another occasion when God was not being totally literal. God is a Spirit. God can assume the form of man. What God did was create men and women as unique beings capable of communicating with him. No other part of creation can claim that incredible capability.

4. Satan was doing what he does best, …lying. And, using God’s children as a tool to attack God.

5. Except for Jesus Christ.

6. God is Holy and cannot abide the presence of sin.

7. Grace: unmerited favor. i.e. We didn’t earn it, nor do we deserve it. It is free for believing and asking from a broken and contrite heart. God also gave mankind freewill and the ability to reflect his (God’s) character in our love, patience, forgiveness, kindness, and faithfulness.

8. You will not lose your freewill. God loves His creation and does not want robots who have no choice but to obey. At the same time it means you will never be perfect while on earth.

9. God created hell for Satan and his followers. While I cannot imagine exactly what hell is like, I can tell you that it is a place you DO Not want to be. I know it is totally devoid of God and any good thing. If you think life on earth can be difficult, try to imagine a place where there is no love, no kindness, no charity, no understanding, no truth, no mercy, no help of any kind, no music, no laughter. There will be constant pain and sorrow. And more filth.

 

 

 

 

 

No God. Know about God. Or… Know God! [Part 3 of 3]

Know God!

If you’re still with me, I’m going to assume you are either, A.) already a Christian, or B.) looking for more information about the Christian life – and, if you are in category B, this is written especially for you.

Note: I’m not going to call Christianity a religion.  Christianity, in it’s purest form, is simply a personal relationship with our Triune God.  That is: God the Father, God the Son (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit.  That may be difficult for you to grasp right now; but, trust me, it’s true.  Oh, fully comprehending God is impossible; but, having a personal relationship with Him is not. (Really – and, I’m going to tell you how.)  If you become a Christian it will be the most liberating, joyful, empowering, yet humbling, thing you can ever do.  It will change your life.

We (Christians) believe the Bible is “God Breathed”.  This tells us where the message originated – regardless of who actually wrote it down.  I tell you that, because the Bible is made up of 66 books written by about 40 authors over a period of approximately 2,000 years.  It contains History, Prophesy, Poetry and Instruction. The oldest book, Job (arguably), is believed to have been written perhaps as early as 2,000-1,800 BC.  The most recent (Revelation), about 95 AD. It is in the pages of the Bible that you will learn not only about the Christian God; but also, how to truly know Him.

I could start a list God’s characteristics; but, I’m not sure I could ever finish it.  So, I’m going to dwell on only a few. 

First, I’ve already said that God is supernatural.  (If He were mortal, how could He truly be God?)  He resides in His Kingdom (called Heaven).  It is invisible to us – likely in another dimension). 

Second, God is omnipotent (has unlimited authority and power) and omniscient (has universal and complete knowledge, including infinite awareness, understanding and insight).  When Moses (mid-1400 BC) asked God His name.  God told him it was “Yahweh” meaning “I Am Who I Am” or, “I Am”.i  

In the “No God” post, I said I believe God created the universe. (Note:  Within the Christian community there are two camps.  One believes in an “old earth” [at 4.5± billion years] the other believes in a “new earth” [at 10,000± years]).  The point I want to make about this discussion is simply this: it doesn’t make any difference if God created the universe billions of years ago or thousands of years ago.  The point we all agree on is… He did it.  He (Our Triune God, is the great architect, engineer and fabricator of the universe – period. When He did it, simply doesn’t matter to this core belief.

Third, as the Creator of everything, everything belongs to Him.  He is supreme and sovereign.  There is no other god.

Fourth, God loves His creation, most especially mankind.  Because He loves us, He created us in His image.  No, we are not miniature versions of God;  however, we do have many of His characteristics.  Not all of them; and certainly not to the same degree.  Most obviously: God is perfect, …we are not.  On the other hand, one way we are made in the image of God is that we have eternal souls.  We are eternal beings, living in temporary bodies, on planet Earth.

God could have created us as mindless slaves.  Instead He created us as intelligent beings with freewill.  When God created Adam and Eve, he gave them dominion over the earth.  He placed them in the Garden of Eden and gave them only one rule.  Do not eat the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden. For a period of time Adam and Eve lived in a paradise on earth.  Adam and Eve walked and talked together in the Garden.  They enjoyed the animals and all the plants.  God visited them and they all talked together.  But that would come to an end.

Fifth, God is Just

Sixth, and important, important, …important!  God’s justice is tempered and perfected by His unbounded grace and perfect love.  I mention it now, because it is critical to what happened in the Garden of Eden; …and, everything following.  But before going there, we need to talk about Satan.

The angels are also created beings, not in God’s image.  God created them to serve Him in Heaven, and occasionally on Earth. There are (evidently) thousands upon thousands of angels.  Satan, one of the angels, was known as the most beautiful of all the angels. And perhaps because of that, he had “issues” with pride.  He wanted to be the equal of God.  When God didn’t agree, Satan gathered approximately one-third of the angels and attempted a coup. Obviously it did not succeed; and Satan (now a sworn enemy of God) and all his followers, were banished from Heaven – to earth.  Satan became pure evil and is referred to as a liar and the father of lies. In fact, he is incapable of telling the truth; and if he seems to tell the truth, it is a twisted truth that will bring about evil. Satan ultimately destroys anything he touches.

Satan still wars with God.  But, since he cannot attack God directly he does it indirectly through mankind – God’s favorite creation. (That includes you and me). This explains what happened in the Garden of Eden.  Satan approached Eve and engaged her in conversation. Using lies and twisted truth, he convinced her to eat the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden.  She did, liked it, and then convinced Adam to also eat it.

That willful disobedience of the only rule God had given them, ushered in death, pain, and every other evil on Earth – to this day.  By listening to Satan and following his words (rather than God’s one rule), Adam and Eve gave Satan control of Earth.  Even more importantly, mankind was instantly separated from God. Today, we call Adam’s and Eve’s sin, ‘Original Sin’.  Since we are all sons and daughters of Adam and Eve, their sin has passed down through the ages to each and every one of us.  We are all born, sinful by nature.  Satan thought he had won a great victory over God because God cannot abide to even be in the presence of sin; and, the only payment for sin is death. 

But there is still more to the story, ….

Remember those two words omnipotent and omniscient, well now you will see an example of them in action.  Even at creation, God knew what would happen in Eden; so, He had a plan in mind for the redemptionii of mankind.  No way was God going to forsake His most loved creation.iii

All of the above is found in the Old Testament.  Most of it in Genesis, the first book.  The Old Testament also contains a ton of history; a lot of “law” (that applied in the Old Testament – but not the New Testament); prophesy (much of which would come to pass in the New Testament); and, wonderful instruction from the lives of many great men and women.  Satan runs rampant through the Old Testament, with much of his mayhem designed to find and kill the “son of Eve” who will ultimately kill him (Satan).iv Additionally,  throughout the Old Testament there are wonderful “hints” and “sneak previews” of God’s plan that will give mankind a path to redemption.

Approximately 400 years separate the Old Testament From the New.  During this time God was silent.  But His plan was progressing.

The New Testament begins with four books called the “Gospels”.  The word  means: Good News.  It is these four books that spell out God’s plan for redemption.  Why four books on the exact same subject? Easy.  There were four different authors, each writing from his own perspective.  Together they provide a well rounded picture of Jesus. Jesus is God’s only son.  He came to earth as a baby.  His mother, a virgin named Mary, was impregnated by the Holy Spirit and gave birth to Jesus nine month later.  Jesus lived a sin-free life; and is the crux of God’s plan to redeem mankind.

OK. Remember the important words Grace and Love? This is where they intersects with us.  As noted, the only payment for sin is death.  So, we ALL deserve to die.  After all, no one is without sin.  Because of God’s Grace and Love, He sent Jesus, to earth to become the payment for our sin.  And, when this perfect man – who had committed no sin – died on the cross, He became the blood sacrifice, carrying the weight of sin for all mankind – for all time.

Jesus was put into a tomb.  And, on the third day He arose from the dead. Why?  That was the final proof that Jesus was truly God’s Son.  He had been beaten, lashed, crucified, suffocated, and had a spear thrust into His side to penetrate the membrane around His heart. He was pronounced dead by absolute experts in crucifixion.  He was sealed in a tomb from Friday to Sunday.  He was dead.  Yet on Sunday the tomb was found empty.  Over the next 40 days, he was seen by hundreds of people (over 500 in just one instance).  Then He ascended to Heaven, where He sits at the right Hand of His Father (once again in His supernatural form).  It is from there that He will return in the final scene of God’s Great Plan.  Christians believe in a living God.

Jesus will return as the Messiah.  The expected king and deliverer of the Jews.  And, on this visit to earth, Jesus will be on a very different mission.   All Christians (living and dead) will be gathered to Him and given new bodies.  Satan, all of the fallen angels, demons, devils, and all of his followers, will be judged and thrown into Hell.  The Earth will be cleansed of all evil by fire, and then re-created.  Heaven and the New Earth will merge – with a new capital called “The New Jerusalem”.  God and all of His People will live together on the recreated Earth.

So, if Jesus died for everyone, it’s a done deal.  What does one have to worry about…, you ask?  Well, Gods plan is simple, but not quite that simple.  I repeat, everyone is free to accept Jesus’ sacrifice and gain eternity in Heaven.  The cold, hard fact is, not everyone will.  (It’s that freewill thing).

Thus, not everyone will be in Heaven.  Only those who answer the Holy Spirit’s urging and choose belief in Jesus, have a repentant heart, and ask Him for redemption, will receive it.  They will become the adopted sons and daughters of God.  They will also receive the Holy Spirit to live within them (establishing that personal relationship with God).  It is these who are assured of entering into Heaven after death. 

Many (most) will harden their hearts to the call, and turn from God.  God will allow them to do this.  God, while not approving all our choices, will honor them.  Again, no one will be forced to become a follower of Christ.  But remember this: God is just.  He will not, literally cannot,  abide willful disobedience (sin).  Those judged sinful, will spend eternity in Hell – completely separated from God.  That means there is, literally, nothing “good” in hell.  Only, complete, black, never ending evil.  And, no hope – period.

Where are we now in God’s plan?  Well, we know that Christ died on the cross for us.  We know that after dying on the cross Jesus regained dominion over the earth – from Satan.  We know that Christ will return to earth at a future date; which is unknown (and unpredictable).  While He delays, Satan – who knows he has lost – never-the-less, continues to make as much trouble, for us and God, as possible.  Satan continues his war, and tries to use us a pawns. It’s as if he doesn’t know he can’t change our destiny if we stand our ground.  He (Satan) can, and does, do tremendous harm.  But he cannot change the final outcome.  He is beaten.  The Bible says that God is waiting to give as many people as possible the opportunity to accept His offer of Salvation.  But there will always be people who won’t accept that offer.  And, at some point, it will suddenly be too late.  In the meantime, those of us who have accepted Gods Grace must continue to do the work He has for us, …while we can.  God will bring us through, and grow our faith in the process.

So, establishing your personal relationship with the one true God is as simple as saying and meaning, the following words… 

God, I accept you as the one true God, the Maker of Heaven and Earth.  I know I have sinned and cannot do anything to save myself.  I believe you sacrificed your son, Jesus, to be my redeemer; and, I accept your grace.  I wish to turn away from my sinful life and live for you. Thank you Jesus, for saving me.  Amen.

If you have taken that step, you will, likely, soon have some questions. In my next post, “For New Christians” I will give you some pointers and references I think will help you.  And, congratulations!

If you have not taken that step, know that many Christians are praying for you.  God grieves over every soul that is lost.  It hurts Him, but it doesn’t change Him.  Someday we all must stand in Judgment.  Christians have a free and exclusive pass.  For everyone else it will be too late.  I write this not to scare anyone.  Just to make you aware of what this world is really about.

In Christian Love…

Avery Goodday

i ‘Yahweh’ is derived from the Hebrew word for “I Am”.  (The problem for us today, is that Hebrew doesn’t use vowels (YHWH).  And, since the Jews never pronounced the name of God out-loud, the correct pronunciation is “lost” and we can only make an educated guess at the correct pronunciation and spelling.

ii Redemption: To redeem.  To buy back; to release from blame or debt.

iii As Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden of Eve, God cursed Satan and told him that a son of Eve’s would destroy him.

iv ibid.

No God? Know about God. Or… Know God! [Part 2 of 3]

Know about God.

Would it surprise you to know there has never been a group of people (tribe, nation-state, civilization) found on planet Earth that has not worshiped a god or gods?

And why does man, sooner or later, ask… “Does God exist?”  Or, “Is there really a God?”

The answer is simple.  We were created by God.  And, God created us in such a way as to need Him.  But, we have to seek Him out.  The problem is in the seeking. 

Over the millenniums, different people groups have found different answers to fill that ‘God shaped hole’ within their hearts/souls.  Many have found their gods in nature and the elements:  sun, moon, stars, earth, fire, wind, rain, and water for example.  Others have found gods for activities and events such as seasons, floods, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, harvests, sickness, fertility, etc.  And religion has grown up around all of it.  So where does that leave us?

Good question.  My answer is, first, …we all believe in and worship something or someone.

Atheists will say they disagree; that they, “worship no god”.  But they do.  Most worship science and to some degree they all worship themselves.  Yet science doesn’t have all the answers – and many of the answers science does supply are only “partially right” or “temporarily right”; lasting only until proven wrong by a better theory or law.  Truly, in this day and age, it takes a lot of faith to be an atheist.

Please don’t get me wrong.  I love science (and science fiction).  I follow technological advances via printed media, broadcast media and the Internet.  Science is not the enemy of Christianity, regardless of what Richard Dawkins and others, have to say.  Science, true science, will never disprove Christianity.  (It may give some religions a very bad time, but man’s relationship with God will NEVER be destroyed by science.  It simply will not happen.

Early scientists, for the most part, were educated in/by their churches – think, Buddhist, Hindi, Islam, Christian (Catholic).  In the West many early scientists were monks.  Of course, the word ‘science’ and ‘scientist’ didn’t exist at the time.  They were educated and observant people, with inquiring minds.  What drove these early pioneers in astronomy, mathematics, chemistry, physics and other disciplines?  Interestingly enough, they most often attributed their work to, ‘…a search to discover the natural laws God set in motion to govern His Creation’.

Obviously, they had no trouble giving credit where credit was due.  And, of course not everyone was particularly happy about the advances  in science.  Galileo and his run-ins with the Church in Rome being a particularly well known example.  Yet, the pioneers in science persevered.  And modern science (and scientific method) is the result.

So what have we learned about God?

That is asking a lot!  Let me approach the answer this way.  Different religions will have different answers to that question.

For instance, it may surprise some of you to learn that Buddha is not a god.  The Great Buddha never referred to himself as god.  He sought only a path to enlightenment.  Buddhists do not believe in God (although offerings are made to him).  Buddhists don’t believe in sin, heaven, or hell.  The goal is to become enlightened and reach nirvana – which is a mental state of “non-existence” with no attachments to earthly belongings or desires.

Hinduism teaches that god is everything – including man and nature.  There are up to 330 million gods – all coming from the same god, Brahman. Since all gods are good, you can pick your own and make offerings to it.  Humans are trapped in a series of rebirths and reincarnations depending on how they live their lives.  Karma is the accumulation of a person’s good and bad deeds.  It will determine how you are reincarnated.  Bad karma can lead to being reincarnated as an animal. By living multiple good lives (moksha), one can be freed from the cycle of rebirth and reincarnation.

The supreme being of Islam is Allah.  Allah is not a personal god and can’t be truly known by men.  Allah asks his followers to fight against all who do not worship him as God (infidels).  Infidels are to be converted to Islam even if force is required.  You earn your salvation by following the Five Pillars of Faith and living a good life.  Good people go to paradise, bad people go to hell.  That decision is made by Allah. Your salvation can be guaranteed only by dying in battle while fighting in a holy war (jihad) for Allah.

In the Mormon faith each man has the potential to be a god on his own planet if he meets the requirements of Mormonism while on Earth. Women will live on the planet on which their husband is god.  Jesus, God (Judeo-Christian) and the Holy Spirit are three different gods. Mormons believe that God came to earth as a physical man.  Through his good conduct he became the God of earth.  (I have no clue who made/declared him God of earth. -AG) Jesus is the natural born son of God and Mary.  Satan is Jesus brother, conceived by God (I therefore, assume. -AG)

Jehovah’s Witnesses believe 144,000 people will go to heaven based on what they do; and, only church members can be saved.  They believe God is a single deity who doesn’t know all things and isn’t everywhere. Jesus is the human form of the archangel Michael – who was created by God; thus making Jesus inferior to God.  The Holy Spirit is God’s impersonal active force on earth.  They further believe, that (after death) if you are of the church, but not part of the “anointed class” (the 144,000), you will stay on the earth which will always exist.  All other people will die into nothingness (no afterlife for them).

The God of Judaism is revealed in the Old Testament of the Bible. There is no Trinity (God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit).  God is both loving and the judge of the earth.  Jews believe they are a people chosen by God.  To live as a Jew is to pray, to do good deeds, and to be humble before God.  The Jewish concept of the afterlife is kind of a mixed bag.  Some believe there is no afterlife.  Some believe all Jews go to heaven.  Some believe the wicked go to hell. Non-Jews can be granted afterlife if they are righteous.  The greater focus for Jews is on the Age to Come, when Jews will live on earth in resurrected bodies.

Christians believe there is one supernatural God in three Persons – God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  All three Persons have existed for all eternity.  Christians believe that God is revealed in both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible.  God is both loving and the judge of all the earth.  God is distinct from His creation; but is intimately involved with it – as it’s Creator, Sustainer and Redeemer.  God created mankind to do His work on earth, and to have a personal relationship with Him.  God gave man free-will; and, through original sin (willful disobedience to God), man and the earth have fallen from the “very good” state in which they were created. Because God is perfection and without sin, mankind cannot enter into His presence without being redeemed.  By ourselves, and through our own works, we cannot erase our sins or earn redemption.  Because God loves His creation, He has made redemption available to all people through the sacrifice and resurrection of His Son, Jesus. Those who died (or die) without knowledge of Jesus will be judged as either righteous or unrighteous based on how they lived their lives, based on what they did know.

OK. That was a very quick overview of a subject that fills entire libraries.  But, I think it will allow us to make some quick comparisons.  What I think are the key points are these:

  1. Most religions fail to address where their gods came from, where the earth came from, where plants and animals came from, how societies/cultures and moral codes developed, etc.  (If they do, the parts about where the earth, plants and animals came from don’t match up very well to what we know from the scientific record.)  And some religions are quite vague about the afterlife.
  2. Most gods are impersonal and unapproachable.  They don’t want an intimate relationship with their followers.
  3. Many gods have limited scope and powers.
  4. Most religions rely on “works” to determine your destination after death (if there is an afterlife).  Since “works” are not (to my knowledge) given individual values, it is virtually impossible to be assured of your status with your god.  For instance, how many average goodies are wiped out by a big baddie?

In part 1 of this post, I said that I believe we seek God because God made us with an “empty spot” within us that can only be filled by Him.  I don’t know if you subscribe to that, but I have never heard a better reason.  And, you might want to ask yourself, “If it’s not true, why would I ask about God?  In fact, how could I even frame the question?“

One final thought.  When I said that we can make a god out of pretty much anything?  And that it’s purely a matter of what we choose to worship?  That is true.  Also true is the fact that “…man is destined to die once…”[Heb 9:27. NLT] (OK, that is from the New Testament, but even if you don’t “buy into” the New Testament, are you really going to try to convince me that statement  isn’t true?)  We are ‘terminal’ the day we are born. So, do you really think that’s all there is to it?  We live.  We die. The end.

Or, is there more to our story?  I believe there is, …a lot more. 

And, for that, you’ll have to read part 3, coming soon.

Avery Goodday