Tag Archives: attributes of God

The Oneness of Jesus and His Father

John 14:10  Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me?

John 14:11  Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me;

John 14:20  In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.

John 14:21  He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.

John 14:23  Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.

Throughout the 14th chapter of John, we see Jesus continuously mentioning the Oneness between he and his Father.  This teaching starts in verse 8 when Philip says to him, “show us the Father” and Jesus responds with incredulity in verse 9, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

Apparently, Jesus hasn’t yet taught his disciples in detail about He and the Father being One, otherwise Philip’s question would have been foolish.  However, we feel for Philip because we recognize that we have desired the same thing (to see the Father) and have asked the same question.  Therefore, knowing that Philip’s question is not a foolish one, we can understand that this is a new teaching from Jesus.  Although it was only hinted at before (such as John 10:30, 13:20,31-32), it is obvious that he had hoped that they would have fully grasped  it at this point.  This would not be the first or the last time that Jesus was disappointed in the knowledge and faith of his disciples (Matt 14:31, Matt 17:17, John 13:10, Luke 22:48, Luke 22:61-62).

So what is this teaching?  What does Jesus mean that he and His Father are one?  First, we must go back to John 1:1-3.  Here we learn that Jesus, who is the Word, was with God in the beginning and, in fact, is God.  He existed in the Beginning.  He was before anything had been created.  He was the Creator through whom all things have been made.  So in these verses, we read that Jesus was God.  Yet, though he is God, he is not the only person who is God for we read that he was with God in the Beginning (we usually don’t refer to ourselves as being with ourselves –“I’m with me”).  Though he was part of creating all things, it is through him, not simply by him.  In other words, there was Someone else who was creating and He created through the Word.  When we go back to Genesis, where we read about the Creation of all things, we read in Genesis 1:1-2 that the Spirit of God was also there.  Later on, during the creation of man, we read in Genesis 1:26-27 that God is a multi-person being as He speaks to Himself in the plural – he says “let us create man in our image”.   Both Genesis and John show us that there is more to God than a single person.  We see this in other places as well (for example, Jesus as the Angel of the LORD in Genesis 18, Exodus 3, Joshua 5:13-15, Judges 6:11, Judges 13).

Jesus, is the LORD , but yet the Father is the LORD.  The Holy Spirit is also the LORD  (Genesis 1:1-2, Acts 5:3-4).  So we see that, though God is one (Deuteronomy 6:4), He is also three.  He is three persons within one being.  Father, Son and Holy Spirit is One God.  It is here that we can start to understand what Jesus meant by saying that he and the Father are one.  We can see why in John 13:31-32, Jesus explains that the Glory of Jesus is the Glory of God.

We know that God is love (1 John 4:8).  The Christian God is the only God who can actually say this.  All other gods by definition cannot be love.  This is why: To be God, He must never change because change needs Time and Time only exists after God has created it as part of the physical universe.  Therefore, to be God and Love, He must love and exist prior to creation (Eternal – no beginning or end).   Jesus and the Father, with the Spirit, are eternal – they were together in the Beginning, before there was anything created (John 1:1-3).  As God, they chose to create all things for their own glory.  However, they did not need to create.  He could have existed forever without ever creating anything.  All other gods must create if they are Love, for there is no one to love except themselves until they create, and loving oneself of necessity is not love but is vain, narcissistic, egotistic and self-centered.  Hence all other gods cannot have been both Eternal and Love for there would be a time when they could not love.  However, the Christian God is the only God who could be Love from Eternity past.  For before anything was ever created and there was nothing but God, the Father loved the Son and the Spirit, the Son loved the Father and the Spirit and the Spirit loved the Father and the Son.  A Circle of Love.  Complete and full love existed in the God who is Love for Eternity.  It will continue to exist for Eternity.

This brings us to why the Oneness of the Father and the Son is so important to us.  Not only can we know that God is Love, but that same God has given us the opportunity to join Him.  John  14:20-23 shows us that God and Jesus are one. However, it also shows that by receiving Jesus, we are invited to become one with them.  This Lovefest  of God, which has been in existence for eternity, has been opened up for us to join in.  The Circle of Love of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit has been opened up so that we are invited to come in and enter into that love.   How awesome is the Love of God!  How amazing is it that He would invite us to be a part of that.  Selah.  It is the psalmist’s way of saying “pause here – understand the greatness of what has just been said”.

The great Christians of days past have understood this.  Great Christians today understand it.  It is God’s will that we all understand this.  Christianity is not about what we do nor is it about who we are.  Christianity is about relationship – specifically, our relationship with the One True God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit – and their marvelous invitation to join them in their Circle of Love.  Once a Christian truly understands that though they are sinners, God’s Grace has welcomed them to come into His presence, has invited them into His Circle, they should be so overwhelmed by this thought that their hearts pound in their chest, they fall to their knees and they weep over the truth that is the Love of God.  It is out of this relationship with God that we will become what we are to be and will do what we are to do.  But first comes the relationship.

Let us be amazed at the awesome love of the One True God.  Then let us be overwhelmed that we are invited to become one with Him and to join in the Circle of Love that is the Christian God.  Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ, our LORD!

Image of God

Often, we hear pastors and Christians saying that we are made in the image of God.  What do they mean by this and is it true?

First, we must understand where this comes from.  In Genesis 1:26-27, we learn that God made man (specifically, Adam and Eve) in His image.  Hence we find the Biblical reference for this.  We see this again in Genesis 9:6, where God forbids murder because man was made in the image of God.  Finally, we see this in Genesis 5:1,3 where we see the line of Adam’s descendants.  In addition to these, there is one verse in the New Testament that is used to teach that man is made in the image of God:  In James 3:9, we are told that we are in the likeness of God.  From these four verses come all the teachings of man being in the image of God.

Next we must understand what this actually means.  Do we physically look like God because we are made in the image of God?  If so, we can know that God looks like us, with two arms, two legs, eyes, ears, mouth, hands and feet.  The problem with this kind of thinking is that we mistake Theophanies for God Himself.  A Theophany occurs when God shows Himself in a way that man can encounter Him.  For instance, when God shows Himself to Moses as a Burning Bush, that is a Theophany.  Often, God shows himself in the image of a man, which may be where there is confusion to the image of God. However, the point of a Theophany is that we cannot see God in His True Image or we would die (Ex 33:20).  We are taught that God is Spirit (John 4:24).  If God is Spirit and we therefore cannot see Him, we can know that we are not made in the physical image of God.  Therefore, we must be made in the spiritual image of God.

What is the spiritual image of God?  It is His attributes.  God is His attributes.  There are some attributes of God that cannot be passed down to finite beings, such as humans are.  For example, Omniscience (knowing all things), Omnipotence (all powerful) and Omnipresence (everywhere at the same time) are attributes of God that only an Infinite Being can possess.  However, there are other attributes of God that can be passed down to His Creation,  Examples of these would be Goodness, Righteousness, Holiness, Just, Faithfulness and the like.  These are the attributes that were passed down to Adam and Eve.  So when Adam and Eve were created by God, they looked like God – not physically but spiritually.  When we looked at Adam and Eve, we could say, “That’s what God looks like.”

However, when Adam and Eve sinned, they no longer looked like God.  God is good, Adam was not any longer.  God is righteous, Adam was not any longer.  We could no longer look at Adam and Eve and see what God looks like.  This is the point of Genesis 5:1,3.  Though God made man in His image, the descendants of Adam were now in the new image of Adam.  Now that Adam was no longer righteous and holy and all those other attributes of God, his children would then be in his image. This is why today there is none who is righteous (Romans 3:10).

Hence, the teaching that we, today, are made in the image of God is bad theology.  It either implies that God has a physical state (does a burning bush, a cloud or fire have hands and feet?) or it implies that we have the attributes of God (are we righteous and holy?).  In either case, it is incorrect.  We (humans) were originally made in the image of God but we lost that when Adam sinned.  You can no longer look at me and say “That is what God looks like!”, without making God look much less than He is.  That is true for every normal human that has ever lived since Adam.

However, there is one, abnormally born, who came as a human through whom we can see the image of God.  Jesus is the image of the invisible God (Col 1:15).  When we look at Jesus, we do see the image of God.  Jesus is the only one born of woman who is righteous, holy, just, good, etc.  So as opposed to the rest of us, when we look at Jesus, we can say “That is what God looks like!”

But what about Genesis 9:6?  That verse is to be taken as it is written – it is poetic and therefore is to be taken poetically.  Just as God does not have arms to surround us, this piece of poetry is not meant to be taken literally.  Instead, it is to be understood as part of the whole context in which it is rendered.  It is given as secondary backup to the rule that man should not murder and if they do, they will be held accountable.  Just as we do not receive the first part of this verse to be literal (“Whoever sheds the blood of man by man shall his blood be shed”), nor should we take the second part.  The literal meaning of this verse is to be understood that there is a consequence for murder.

Then what about James 3:9?  The word used here for “likeness” is the Greek word “homoiosis”.  It is the only time it is used in the New Testament.  So to get a better idea of the meaning of this word, it would be interesting to remember the Arian controversy.  In the 4th century, the church had a problem – Arius, a Christian leader, believed that Jesus was not God.  The controversy became so widespread that the Council of Nicea was convened to discuss the matter.  (Yes, this was the actual purpose of the Council of Nicea – not to determine what books made up the Bible as per Dan Brown in His very poorly researched ‘The Da Vinci Code’).  Unfortunately, even though the council overwhelmingly agreed that Jesus truly is God, most Churches and Christians in the 4th century would become Arians (today, Arians still exist in teachings such as the Jehovahs Witnesses).  Athanasius, a great Christian Father who is not as remembered as he should be, argued against Arian theology.  The Arians came up with a compromise:  Instead of saying that Jesus was “homoousios” (the same) as God, they would agree that Jesus was “homoiousios” (similar) to God.  A single “i” was added to make the term seem less offensive, but Athanasius recognized where that poor theology would lead and refused to agree.  Going back to James 3:9, we recognize that we might be similar to God but that does not mean that we are the same as God.  We might be in the likeness of God, but we are not in the image of Him.

So we conclude with the proper understanding of man in relationship to God:  though man was originally made in the image of God, we are no longer in His image.  We are in His likeness in that we can show signs of goodness, righteousness and holiness, but we are not good, righteous or holy.  We fall short.  However, there is One who is Good, Righteous and Holy – the One who is the image of the invisible God.  The True God from True God – Jesus the Christ.  And the Good News is that anyone who repents and receives Jesus as LORD (ie – Yahweh), becomes a new creation, the old has gone (2 Cor 5:17) and they begin a new journey that brings them closer, day by day, to the image of God that man was originally created to be.