Approaching the Study of God
When I was a child, I continually heard this statement, “You can tell who the parents are by the way the kids behave.” Oh, sometimes if that were not so, but sadly or perhaps it is good that this is true, for then we can tell whose children we really are. In my teenage years, as I was leaving the house to do something with my friends my father would say: “Go have fun, but son, always remember, you’re a Bentley and a Christian, so don’t embarrass yourself, your family or God.” Those were powerful words and dare I say kept me from causing more trouble than I did. You see, Character is revealed by the way in which one acts, for the very simple reason that we do what we do because of who we are and what values we hold true. It is also true that character is especially revealed in times of great stress, when the pressure increases under testing and difficulties.
The problems created by the sin problem has created great stress and made far reaching changes in angels, humanity, and nature, In truth it has revealed the true character of angels, humanity and angels, but it made absolutely no change in God. For as the Bible declares, He is “the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). God is unchanged and unchangeable. He declares, “I am the LORD, I do not change” (Malachi 3:6). He is “the Father of lights, with whom is no variation or shadow of turning” (James 1:17). He is “the incorruptible God” (Romans 1:23).
These passages from sacred scripture confirm or prove that God did not follow a certain line of behavior before the entrance of the sin problem and a different set of behaviors after sin entered the universe. All God’s activities were just the same after sin as they were before sin.
Before the fall there never would have been any occasion for God to punish, so it is easy to understand that He never did such a thing. But when sin entered the universe, a different set of condition demanded of God, as the responsible Ruler of all, an entirely satisfactory and permanent solution. Because of sin, we only seem to understand the use of force and assume this would be the way God would choose to dictate a satisfactory and permanent solution. After all, this is common human logic and is based upon what we see all around us. And in the Old Testament this appears to be the solution God had chosen. Or is it? Because we think one way, the way of force, it can be a startling statement that is hard to accept because it implies that God has not ever resorted to force, threats or violence. Yet strangely it is true, he never has! Otherwise we are compelled to accept the thought that sin made changes in God, forcing Him, after its appearance, to do things, He had never done before. This thought cannot be true if God is to remain the unchangeable, incorruptible God that Scripture says he is.
After all; and let’s think about this logically for a moment, if God had or has resorted to force, coercion, trickery and so forth, then the accusations of Satan are true and the death of Christ upon the cross is made null and void.
Let’s face it, all governments must be governed by a set of rules, whether written down or agreed upon by mutual consent or dictated by its rulers. So, the natural question to ask is this, “Does God have a constitution or set of laws that govern over the universe? Is there a study of what God did in the sunny days of universal innocence and harmony and is the investigation of the constitution of the kingdom that He formed in such wondrous and perfect capable of being studied? And lastly, perhaps the most important question of all, “Is His rulership the only perfect rulership to ever exist.
It is necessary at this point to put in a warning! A big warning! Why? Because there is a tendency to form concepts of God’s government after the measure of human leaders. It is all we know, so we tend to think of God and His kingdom as being the same. But the word of God states, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways’ says the LORD. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts’” (Isaiah 55:8,9).
God wanted to make sure we understand this point so in Mark 4:30 Jesus states: “To what shall we liken the kingdom of God? Or with what parable shall we picture it?
In society He found nothing with which to compare it. Earthly kingdoms rule by the ascendancy of physical power; but from Christ’s kingdom every carnal weapon, every instrument of coercion, is banished. (Acts of the Apostles, p.12)
Jesus told a story in the form of a parable about the householder, of workers who were hired at the late hour of the day who were paid the same as those who had been hired earlier and had toiled all day.
Naturally the householder’s dealing with the workers in his vineyard represents God’s dealing with humanity. It is contrary to the customs that prevail among men. In worldly business, compensation is given according to the work accomplished. The laborer expects to be paid only that which he earns. But in the parable, Christ was illustrating the principles of His kingdom – a kingdom not of this world. He is not controlled by any human standard. Therefore, it is impossible to learn of the heavenly kingdom from the earthly. Few, if any, consciously set out to learn of God’s government in this way. The student does not even question this approach because, throughout their lifetime, no other than earthly kingdoms have been known. He comes to the study of the heavenly with definite ideas already established in his mind of what the kingdom has to be. The scriptures are read in the light of these understandings, and the result is a view of God that is opposite from reality.
The disciples took a long time to learn this and in some cases had to relearn it many times. When they joined the company of Christ, this misunderstanding of the true nature of the kingdom proved to be the greatest hindrance of their drawing into full intimacy with Christ in his divine mission. Despite His continual effort on their behalf, they were not delivered from this false position until after the resurrection.
We must beware lest we to also come to study of God’s kingdom with the same preconceived ideas.
Earthly kingdoms do not have a reference value only in the sense that they tell us what the kingdom of God is not. Let us not be among that class who “Fail of a satisfactory understanding of the great problem of evil, from the fact that tradition and misinterpretation have obscured the teaching of the bible concerning the character of God, the nature of His government, and the principles of His dealing with sin”
In our next post we will examine and ask the question, Does God Government have a constitution? And if so, how does that Constitution compare to earthly governments.
Here is a link to the previous posts on this subject