Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
The All-Encompassing God
05/18/2010 - Tur8infanI have already adduced several proofs of Jesus' divinity, but I will add to them. One of God's many attributes is that he is all-encompassing. Scripture puts it this way:
Isaiah 41:4 Who hath wrought and done it, calling the generations from the beginning? I the LORD, the first, and with the last; I am he.
Isaiah 44:6 Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.
Isaiah 48:12 Hearken unto me, O Jacob and Israel, my called; I am he; I am the first, I also am the last.
Jesus is also identified by this same description. We find this in several places, both directly and also in a parallel Greek expression.
Revelation 1:8 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.
Revelation 1:11 Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.
Revelation 1:17 And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:
Revelation 2:8 And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;
Revelation 21:6 And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.
Revelation 22:13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.
I realize that modern versions shorten the expression in Revelation 1:8 and omit the relevant expression in Revelation 1:11, but they have the others. My point here is not to criticize the modern versions but to simply note that both the KJV and the modern versions contain this same proof.
The connection to Jesus is fairly clear. The passage leading up Revelation 1:17 states:
And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; and his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.
He is the one addressing John and instructing him to write to the seven churches (which includes the item at Revelation 2:8).
An additional clue is that the book is the Revelation (note that it is singular) of Jesus Christ.
The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.
John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne; and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.
Similarly, in Revelation the speaker is described in this context:
Rev 21:5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.
Rev 21:6 And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.
The reference to the fact that Jesus is the enthroned one would be enough, perhaps, but notice that there is also a reference back to the water of life, which Jesus described this way:
John 4:14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
We see this water of life again in the final reference in Revelation:
And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie. I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.
Praise be to the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last, even the Lord Jesus Christ,
The Heart-Knowing God
05/08/2010 - Tur8infanOne of the unique characteristics of the LORD God is his ability to know the heart of man. Others may have some remarkable insights into human psychology. Nevertheless, God alone knows the heart. We see this taught in the Old Testament:
1 Samuel 16:7 But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.
1 Chronicles 28:9 And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the LORD searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever.
Proverbs 24:12 If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works?
Jesus is shown to be God in this way, for Jesus knew the thoughts and heart of men.
Luke 6:8 But he knew their thoughts, and said to the man which had the withered hand, Rise up, and stand forth in the midst. And he arose and stood forth.
Matthew 12:25 And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand:
And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have no bread. And when Jesus knew it, he saith unto them, Why reason ye, because ye have no bread? perceive ye not yet, neither understand? have ye your heart yet hardened? Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not? and do ye not remember?
One of the most poignant testimonies to Jesus' knowledge of the heart is seen in Jesus' admonishing to Simon Peter (notice that Jesus is still calling him "Simon, son of Jonas" after Matthew 16 ... the name Peter is a surname, not a change of name):
So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?"Notice that Peter is attributing omniscience to Jesus, but particularly Peter is attributing to Jesus a knowledge of Peter's own heart. We see the same thing in the Apostles' prayer to Jesus about replacing Judas.
He saith unto him, "Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee."
He saith unto him, "Feed my lambs." He saith to him again the second time, "Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?"
He saith unto him, "Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee."
He saith unto him, "Feed my sheep. " He saith unto him the third time, "Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?"
Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, "Lovest thou me?" And he said unto him, "Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee."
Jesus saith unto him, "Feed my sheep."
And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen, that he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place. And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.
In case there is any question that the "Lord" here is Jesus, consider the preceding verses:
Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.
And for the connection between Jesus being Lord and Jesus being the Lord God, consider the basis upon which the apostles prayed over the casting of lots.
Proverbs 16:33 The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD.
Finally, perhaps we should conclude with a quotation from Jeremiah that brings us back to the point of the post:
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.
This too connects us back to Jesus:
He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie. I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.
There's an additional link back to the prophets here:
Isaiah 62:11 Behold, the LORD hath proclaimed unto the end of the world, Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy salvation cometh; behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him.
Perhaps you'll say that the salvation who comes is Jesus, but this verse doesn't specifically say that the salvation is God. That argument has been anticipated:
Isaiah 40:10 Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him.
Even so, let us praise our God with the words of Psalmist:
The LORD is my strength and song, and is become my salvation. (Psalm 118:14)
UPDATE: An alert reader (Manu) brought to my attention a further evidence consistent with this theme:
Revelation 2:18 & 23
And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass; ... And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.
That also relates back to Jeremiah 17:9-10.
The Water-Calming God
05/05/2010 - Tur8infanIn a previous post (link to previous post), we discussed the fact that Jesus' miracle of walking on the water is one proof of his divinity. Another proof of Jesus' divinity is Jesus' ability to control the weather and especially the storms at sea.
And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him. And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep. And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish. And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!
Now it came to pass on a certain day, that he went into a ship with his disciples: and he said unto them, Let us go over unto the other side of the lake. And they launched forth. But as they sailed he fell asleep: and there came down a storm of wind on the lake; and they were filled with water, and were in jeopardy. And they came to him, and awoke him, saying, Master, master, we perish. Then he arose, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm. And he said unto them, Where is your faith? And they being afraid wondered, saying one to another, What manner of man is this! for he commandeth even the winds and water, and they obey him.
Notice that here the disciples do not seem to understand fully that Jesus is God. They do recognize, however, that Jesus is no ordinary man. Commanding the seas and the waters is something uniquely divine.
Proverbs 8:29 When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth:
Perhaps someone will object that control of the weather was also done by Elijah. You will recall that Elijah prayed and it did not rain and Elijah prayed again and it rained.
Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.
As it was reported in the first book of Kings:
1 Kings 17:1 And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.
1 Kings 18:41-46
And Elijah said unto Ahab, Get thee up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of abundance of rain. So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he cast himself down upon the earth, and put his face between his knees, and said to his servant, Go up now, look toward the sea. And he went up, and looked, and said, There is nothing. And he said, Go again seven times. And it came to pass at the seventh time, that he said, Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man's hand. And he said, Go up, say unto Ahab, Prepare thy chariot, and get thee down, that the rain stop thee not. And it came to pass in the mean while, that the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode, and went to Jezreel. And the hand of the LORD was on Elijah; and he girded up his loins, and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.
But recall that while the rain came in answer to Elijah's prayer, it was not because of any power in Elijah. Elijah did not command the rain, but God did. In the former case, Elijah simply brought the Word of the Lord. In the latter case, as God had revealed beforehand, God already planned to bring the rain:
1 Kings 18:1 And it came to pass after many days, that the word of the LORD came to Elijah in the third year, saying, Go, shew thyself unto Ahab; and I will send rain upon the earth.
As an aside, we should note that these facts also reveal that God's gift of rain was not the result of merit on Elijah's part, contrary to the cavils of the papists. Indeed, this principle of rain being withheld as a punishment and then restored in response to repentance was previously announced in the prophetic prayer of Solomon. Notice that here rain is offered to sinners who repent and confess their sin to God, as a sign of God's forgiveness.
1 Kings 8:35-36
When heaven is shut up, and there is no rain, because they have sinned against thee; if they pray toward this place, and confess thy name, and turn from their sin, when thou afflictest them: then hear thou in heaven, and forgive the sin of thy servants, and of thy people Israel, that thou teach them the good way wherein they should walk, and give rain upon thy land, which thou hast given to thy people for an inheritance.
2 Chronicles 6:26-27
When the heaven is shut up, and there is no rain, because they have sinned against thee; yet if they pray toward this place, and confess thy name, and turn from their sin, when thou dost afflict them; then hear thou from heaven, and forgive the sin of thy servants, and of thy people Israel, when thou hast taught them the good way, wherein they should walk; and send rain upon thy land, which thou hast given unto thy people for an inheritance.
In view of the above, we can see the difference between God who commands the stormy waters to be calm, as opposed to men who can merely pray to God that it be so. WE have seen this both from Proverbs and from the response of the disciples, and we have responded to a possible objection regarding Elijah. Nevertheless, it is not only Proverbs and the reaction of the disciples that we may rely on, nor even the careful distinction from Elijah. We have the word of the Psalmist who teaches us that this is the Lord's doing:
They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; these see the works of the LORD, and his wonders in the deep. For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof.
And you will recall that the Lord exercised this power in the case of Jonah:
Jonah 1:4 But the LORD sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken.
And when the men who were transporting Jonah saw that this was from the LORD they did as Jonah the prophet said (and who would be such a fool as to imagine that Jonah himself stirred up this storm?) and threw Jonah into the waves, God calmed the waters:
Wherefore they cried unto the LORD, and said, We beseech thee, O LORD, we beseech thee, let us not perish for this man's life, and lay not upon us innocent blood: for thou, O LORD, hast done as it pleased thee. So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from her raging.
From this we see another proof of Jesus divinity. Jesus is not only the water-walking God, but also the water-calming God.
Praise be to him in whose hand are the deep places of the earth and the strength of hills is his!
The Water-Walking God
05/04/2010 - Tur8infanReading through a commentary on John by Theophylact (circa A.D. 1055-1107) I came across a proof of Jesus' divinity that had escaped my attention many times (pp. 101-02 of the English translation of his "Explanation of the Holy Gospel According to John). Surely all the readers of this blog are already familiar with the event:
John 6:19 So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the ship: and they were afraid.
(Matthew 14:25-26 And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.)
This extremely marvelous miracle is so familiar, many of us may even have come to treat it almost as a matter of course. The expression "he walks on water" is idiomatic in English for a person being really wonderful. Nevertheless, it is truly an extraordinary event.
Theophylact reminds the reader that this miracle shows that Jesus is greater than Moses. Moses parted the Red Sea with his staff, so that he and the people could walk through it on dry ground. But Jesus doesn't have to divide the sea, he can just walk across it.
Elijah and Elisha also parted the Jordan with Elijah's mantle (2 King 2:8 And Elijah took his mantle, and wrapped it together, and smote the waters, and they were divided hither and thither, so that they two went over on dry ground. 2Ki 2:13-14 He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and went back, and stood by the bank of Jordan; and he took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and smote the waters, and said, Where is the LORD God of Elijah? and when he also had smitten the waters, they parted hither and thither: and Elisha went over.)
Joshua and the Levites bearing the ark also parted the Jordan.
And it came to pass, when the people removed from their tents, to pass over Jordan, and the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people; and as they that bare the ark were come unto Jordan, and the feet of the priests that bare the ark were dipped in the brim of the water, (for Jordan overfloweth all his banks all the time of harvest,) that the waters which came down from above stood and rose up upon an heap very far from the city Adam, that is beside Zaretan: and those that came down toward the sea of the plain, even the salt sea, failed, and were cut off: and the people passed over right against Jericho. And the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the midst of Jordan, and all the Israelites passed over on dry ground, until all the people were passed clean over Jordan.
That shows that that Jesus is greater than Moses, Joshua, Elijah, and Elisha, but it doesn't quite show that Jesus is divine. Why then conclude that Jesus is divine from this miracle? The reason is that we are given prophecy in Job. Job describes God this way:
Job 9:8 Which alone spreadeth out the heavens, and treadeth upon the waves of the sea.
Jesus' walking on the water was a testimony to His divinity. God alone can do this. No ordinary man, not even Moses could do that. Simon Peter tried and could not:
And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
We're not told that the disciples remembered the prophecy from Job, but we are told that the disciples worshiped Jesus in response:
And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.
Not only did the wind cease, but there was a further miracle:
So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the ship: and they were afraid. But he saith unto them, It is I; be not afraid. Then they willingly received him into the ship: and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went.
Notice that although they had gone about three and a half miles, once Jesus came into the ship the ship immediately arrived at the land where they were going. This too is a remarkable miracle. Who can move a ship instantly to its destination? Only God has this sort of power.
What mere prophet ever did a miracle like that? We can compare walking on water with dividing the water and walking through on dry ground, but to what will we compare this transportation of the ship? Jonah fled from the face of God in a boat, but on his account God kept the boat in the midst of the tempest despite the efforts of the sailors (Jonah 1:13 Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring it to the land; but they could not: for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous against them.).
The Apostle himself was only able to his fellow travelers that none of the people on the ship would die, although the ship they were traveling on would be destroyed (Acts 27:22 And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man's life among you, but of the ship.)
Jesus was greater than the greatest apostles and prophets, for he could walk on water and could instantly transport a ship to its destination. No mere man has these abilities, but only God. God alone spreads out the heavens, and treads upon the waves of the sea.
Praise be to the Great God and our Lord Jesus Christ!