Youth4Him Home

Theology of God
Brett Anderson ©2005

"This is what God the Lord says - He who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and all that comes out of it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it: "I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness. I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols. See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare; before they spring into being I announce them to you." [Isaiah 42:5-9]

"Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland." [Isaiah 43:18-19]

"Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." [Ephesians 3:20-21]

THE THEOLOGY OF GOD

Each of us has a theology of God - an understanding of who He is and how He works. Our idea or perception of God. Over time that seems with ost people to become more fixed and less flexible in terms of allowing in things that are different to what we have always believed. I believe that God is really wanting to challenge that and encourage us to be open to other possibilities that don't fit in with the way we may see Him at the moment. I thort the best way to examine this was to take a look at God's theology and see if we can draw anything from that:

[1] HOW DOES GOD SPEAK?

In Exodus 3:1-12 Moses encounters God who speaks to Him through a burning bush - a bush that was on fire and yet did not burn up.

In 1 Samuel 3:1-11 God speaks to Samuel in an audible voice. Three times God calls out to Samuel who mistakes His voice for that of Eli the prophet until Eli eventually realises what is happening and instructs him in how to respond.

In Numbers 22:21-31 God speaks to the prophet Balaam through his donkey actually talking to him.

[2] WHAT DOES GOD LOOK LIKE?

In Exodus 13:20-22 God leads the Israelites in the form of pillars of cloud or fire.

In Exodus 19:9, 16-19 God is seen in a booming cloud and lightning.

In 1 Kings 19:9-13 God reveals Himself to Elijah in a gentle whisper.

In Luke 2:8-16 God comes to earth in the form of a baby lying in a manger.

In Mark 15:37-39 God is seen as a man dying on a cross.

So ja, just by taking the briefest look at how God speaks and how He looks, the evidence is already quite confusing - let's see one more example and take a look at how Jesus healed blind people:

[3] HOW DID JESUS HEAL BLIND PEOPLE?

Imagine yourself as a reporter for the Daily Israeli or whatever public newspaper they had going at the time and your boss calls you in to do a story on this man Jesus who has got the people talking. Jesus has apparently been performing all sorts of miracles and doing amazing teachings and so you are sent to see how it all works. You have heard that He healed a blind person so you decide to use that as an example and go and observe Jesus to see just what methodology He uses.

First up is Matthew 9:28-30 - you have been following Jesus for a few days and finally He encounters a blind man. Now you can see how it works. Sure enough, Jesus touches the man's eyes and says some words (you are quite far away and so can't hear exactly what He says) and the man is healed. So that's it - touching the eyes and speaking is his method. You decide to stay with Him for a while longer just to make sure.

In Matthew 20:32-34 there is the story of another encounter, this time in Jericho, and with two blind men. You watch as Jesus touches them and you're thinking, 'Ah there He goes, just like before," but then before He can say anything the men are healed. So maybe the speaking was an extra thing. Jesus heals blind people by touching them. Got it!

In Mark 8:22-26 you are now in Bethsaida and again Jesus encounters a blind man and so you watch for the touching. But something really weird happens. Jesus spits in the guys eyes and then touches him and the man seems to be partially healed but still seems people looking like trees.So Jesus touches him again and he is absolutely healed and can see clearly.

Wo! So now you're just a bit confused and decide you will stay for one more time and see if you can spot some common thread.

John 9:6-7 Jesus and another blind man. This time Jesus spits again but on the ground and makes some mud and wipes the mud on the man's eyes and tells him to go wash it off before he can see.

You tear up your notes and head home, wondering what you are going to tell your boss...

CONCLUSIONARY THORTS ON THE THEOLOGY OF GOD

After looking at just some of the facts, I think we need to be very careful in our theology of God because even God doesn't seem to have a theology of God.

How does God speak? Sometimes audibly, sometimes through nature (Balaam's donkey), sometimes in a whisper (Elijah), sometimes as a man (Jesus), sometimes through angels (Gideon) or His Word...

How does God look? Sometimes He takes on the form of a burning bush... other times He is a pillar of fire or a pillar of cloud... sometimes He is revealed to us as a baby... other times as a Saviour dying the most horrific death on a cross... sometimes He appears in a vision (Daniel)...

How did Jesus heal blind people? Sometimes with touch or a word or spit or mud...

What is the conclusion to all of this research? That God will be God. And that maybe some of us (all of us?) need to open our minds to the possibility that God might come in a way or form that we do not expect.

We like to have our theology or understanding of God so tight and in control that we often leave God no space to work outside of it. Yet throughout the Bible God worked in different ways with every person He worked with.

It is perhaps one of the most highest forms of arrogance for any one of us to think we have the understanding of how God will work or speak in any given situation.

A lot of us have panicked or criticised or scoffed when we have heard of things like the 'Toronto Blessing' or people falling over and laughing or weeping, gold dust or teeth, modern day tongues and interpretation, visions and dreams, prophecy and a variety of other things that have occured in the last while and I am not necessarily saying that any or all of those things are God or God-inspired...

What I AM saying is that until Moses came along, NO-ONE had ever been spoken to by a burning bush... until Balaam came along, NO-ONE had ever been spoken to by a donkey, until Daniel's three friends came along NO-ONE had survived the fiery furnace, until Jesus came along, God had never come and lived on earth as a man... and so on...

Who is to say God has to work in the same ways today as we are used to or comfortable with?

Yes, we must test everything and hold on to the good and get rid of the bad, but we must also be humble and open to the possibility that just maybe God is going to speak to us or our fellowship or the congregation down the road in a way that we have not experienced before and are not used to (and may even freak us out a little bit) because, after all, He is God!

OUR RESPONSE

The challenge of this message is two-fold:

Firstly a rebuke:

Some of us need to confess a picture of God that is way smaller than the reality - it leads to a lack of trust (Proverbs 3:5,6) - it can lead to a depending on self - it can lead to a lack of hope (Ephesians 3:20)

Secondly it is an encouragement:

That God is bigGER!!!!!

Hebrews 13:5,6 Philippians 4:13 Ephesians 3:20 Luke 18:27

What is impossible with man is possible with God. That should excite us and encourage us to drop the box we have tried to stuff God into and realise that He is a lot bigger than we expect and understand and are used to. Maybe that will even be step one for some of us on the path of starting to see people healed when we pray for them (not get better), start receiving visions and words of prophecy from God, an increase in the Holy Spirit in oour lives and the boldness to share Jesus with others...and lots lots more.

Our primary calling in life is to be worshippers of God - to love God and to love people - everything else is an extra... but as with dvd's sometimes the extras enhance the overall package, just as long as you don't lose focus on what the main thing is all about.