Defending the Glory of God, Article 12
The Greatness of God
Christianity – Islam :
In Islam God’s greatness and His relationship with mankind is best described as a Master - Slave relationship. Islam, which literally means submission, honors God (Allah) as Creator and Lord over all. Muslims feel greatly offended when they hear God being described as a Father because they believe this insults His dignity as a Master. (Muslims claim to accept Jesus Christ as a prophet, but they reject the New Testament writings by falsely claiming that they were corrupted sometime after Mohammed (died 632 AD.)
Christianity on the other hand accepts the true revelation of Jesus Christ. In John’s Gospel chapter 13 Jesus washes the feet of His disciples. This shows how God’s greatness is best described not in terms of power and coercion, but rather in terms of love and sacrifice. John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son …” Also see John 15:13-17.
Jesus reveals that God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Christians believe that God desires all mankind to be saved and that those who are reconciled to God by the merits of Jesus Christ are adopted into the family of God and to the extent that they are united to Jesus Christ and in Jesus Christ they become the Father’s sons and daughters. Therefore, Christians see God’s relationship with mankind as a Father - son relationship rather than just as a Master - slave relationship that Muslims perceive. Christian’s see God’s greatest attribute and His greatest glory as best being described as a loving heavenly Father.
2 Peter 1:3-4
Satan versus God
Satan was created as one of the higher angels. Angels, like God Himself before the Incarnation, are purely spiritual beings, whereas mankind is both a spiritual being since he has an eternal soul and he is a natural being since he has a body.
Satan was made so magnificently that he became proud of Himself. He had no problem with God being in a pure spirit form that could not suffer or experience temptation. However, Satan would not humble himself to worship Jesus Christ when He took on flesh and became a Man, and took a form lower than the angels.
Jesus Christ is the Savior of both men and angels. The angels were permitted to grasp the mystery of the Incarnation, of God becoming Man. The good angels accepted this and stayed in heaven. The bad angels would not worship God in this lower form and were banished to hell. Satan fell because of the sin of pride. He would not accept the spiritual goodness of God’s grace which is the very Life of God intermingling with nature, the physical world.
1 John 4:2-3
An Unfortunate Heresy
There was a man named Johnson who wanted to emphasize the goodness and the glory of God. However, in doing so he showed how deeply he misunderstood just how Good God really is. The more he wanted to emphasize God’s glory the more he felt he should show a separation between God and man since man is entrapped by sin. Since God is so Good he reasoned that we should not even approach God.
Johnson was wrong. He failed to understand that the greatest attribute of God is His Love. If we are going to give God credit for all His glory we need to acknowledge His intimate love for us and His love working within us. And it is His love working within us that makes us worthy to receive Him so that we can approach Him.
Delving more deeply into the mystery of the love that God has for us opens many doors so that we might more fully understand the things of God.
Spiritual vs. Natural
John Calvin promoted a false and unbiblical teaching that he called the Total Depravity of Man. Some Christians have missed some of the deeper truths of the Bible because they fell into this false doctrine. It presented a false dichotomy between the God’s grace and the natural, that is, the physical. His idea was not totally new. There is a parallel between it and the Manichean and the Albigensian heresies. Those heresies held that matter, physical nature, is considered totally and only evil.
Also see the Albigensian heresy.
The validity of a given proposition is often made clear by examining the conclusions that would result if it was indeed true. So, we need to look at the logical consequences of Calvin’s premise that the grace of God which is spiritual is totally separated from the created physical world. The first is good and the second is only evil. This perspective holds that mankind and everything he wills to do is totally corrupted and evil, self-serving and without merit.
So, if we accept that premise then we would have to conclude that even a person’s reading, and, or interpreting the Bible are essentially evil acts, since all that man does is considered evil. Therefore, he or she might as well as keep the Bible shut. Why would a person want to associate evil actions with the Good Book ?
However, it should be obvious that this conclusion is false. Therefore, the premise on which it is based is also false.
We all have Original Sin. Not only do we have a darkened intellect and a weakened will, but we also have concupiscence, that is a propensity toward evil or lust. However, God’s grace perfects nature. By His grace working within us He enables us to choose to love and to choose to do that which is good. If this were not true then it would be meaningless for the New Testament writers to consistently exhort their Christian followers to choose to do good rather than evil.
This false teaching of the Total Depravity of Man can seem attractive because it tends to deny any responsibility that we might have in the choices that we make. This deception then “allows” us to avoid accepting any suffering that comes with choosing to turn away from sin and choosing to live a morally just life. However, this false teaching fails to give God the credit for His greatest work, His love working within us that makes it possible for us to co-operate with His grace and to choose to be good.
Spiritual in the Physical
Grace perfects Nature
We can also see how God chooses to dispense His grace through physical things.
Bible Study on Nature, Things
A quick Bible study on God’s use of relics shows that God purposefully chooses to dispense His grace through nature, that is created things.
In Matt. 9:20-22 a woman was healed of hemorrhage when she touched Jesus’s cloak. Notice that it is not that she touched Jesus, but His cloak. God choose to dispense His grace through a created object. When Peter’s shadow passed over the sick they were cured in Acts 5:15-16. Also consider:
Again, God chooses to dispense his miraculous healing grace through physical things like handkerchiefs or aprons.
2 Kings 13:20-21
Here in 2 Kings God performed a miracle when the man came into contact with Elisha’s bones. We see that God works through the relics of holy people. By doing this we also see God honoring the example that those holy people gave us.
In the fourth century the great biblical scholar, Jerome, declared, “We do not worship, we do not adore, for fear that we should bow down to the creature rather than to the creator, but we venerate the relics of the martyrs in order the better to adore him whose martyrs they are” (Ad Riparium, i, P.L., XXII, 907).
Bible Study on Nature, People
1 John 4:16
Jesus tells us that in order to love
God we must obey His commandments. And the commandments are
based on love, love for God and love for neighbor. If we do
not love our neighbor whom we can see, then we do not love
God either. Now, it is not by mere human power that we are
capable of having a true love. It is only by the grace of
God within us that enables us to freely choose to love
others. In fact, in is only by that same grace that we can have
true Christian faith. Faith that is achieved by mere human
effort is not the true saving faith that we receive as a
We also can see how God chooses to administer His grace through people.
Also, by His grace working within them He enables them to offer truly efficacious prayers.
Here in Revelations we can see the Saints who have passed onto the next life offering holy prayers to God. God, by His grace, is working through and enabling them to offer these holy and efficacious prayers.
One way of demonstrating how the natural, the physical, is *not* necessarily separated and devoid of God’s grace dwelling within it is to look at the Incarnation. God, while remaining to be God also became fully Man. Actually it was an early heresy that denied that He truly became Man and denied that He truly had a physical body. These early heretics could not accept the Incarnation because they viewed the natural to be antithetical to the spiritual. However, the Bible tells us they were wrong.
2 John 7
Don’t let the modern deceivers tell you otherwise. God, who is spiritual, also fully took on the natural.
In conclusion, we can see how Satan and the anti-christ have challenged God in a battle. Because of Satan’s self pride in his own spiritual being he denies giving God the glory in His choice to take on a physical nature and to become a Man. Satan seeks to deceive his followers into rejecting how God could choose to perfect nature and work through it.
However, God is more powerful than what Satan would have us believe. God and His grace is more powerful than any corruption that our fallen nature has. God has the power to perfect even our fallen nature. He chooses to manifest His glory and His love for us by dispensing His grace through nature and through mankind who is saved and united in Him.