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Psalm 68:18

Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive: thou hast received gifts for men …

Acts 1:1-11

1 The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, 2 Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: 3 To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: 4 And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. 5 For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. 6 When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? 7 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. 8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. 9 And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; 11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.

Meditation

Thursday, May 13, is Ascension Day, a Christian festival often forgotten by churches today. It is the day to remember Jesus’ ascension into heaven and the fact that He now rules over and fills all things (Eph. 1:17-23) and will soon return to judge the living and the dead and establish His everlasting kingdom. Today, we consider the words of the angels to Jesus’ disciples when Jesus was taken up into heaven.

This Word of God, which was spoken by angels to the disciples who had just witnessed Jesus’ ascension into heaven, teaches us that Jesus Christ will return visibly in the clouds of glory on the Last Day. The Bible also says this in Revelation 1:7: “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.”

As Jesus ascended into heaven, so He shall also return on the Last Day, the Day of Judgment. He will come again in clouds of glory. Every eye will see Him! His return will be no secret rapture — both the believer and the unbeliever will see Him coming in glory!

In Matthew 24:29-31, we read: “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”

But, are you ready for His return and judgment? Are you prepared to meet Him?

Those who do not trust in Him for salvation will wail in sorrow at His return because they stand condemned for not trusting in the only begotten Son of God. In John 3:18, we read: “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” Mark 16:16 says: “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.”

And, in 2 Thess. 1:7-10, God’s Word says: “The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.”

But those who do trust in Christ Jesus as their Savior — believing that they have pardon for their sins and peace with God for the sake of Christ’s innocent sufferings and death in their stead — will rejoice at His return because He comes to take them to be with Him forever in the mansions of heaven.

In John 14:1-3, Jesus says: “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (Cf. Luke 21:27-28; Heb. 9:27-28; 1 Thess. 4:13-18.)

Do you acknowledge your sins and look to Christ and His cross for mercy and forgiveness? If not, the day of His return will be for you a day of sorrow and mourning as you face His eternal judgment and condemnation!

But, if you agree with God about your sins and trust in Christ and the atonement He made for the sins of the world when He died on the cross, that day will be a day of joy and gladness as you receive His mercy, His pardon, and life eternal in His glorious kingdom!

Dear Lord Jesus Christ, as You have ascended up into heaven to the right hand of God the Father, so come again and take us to be with You forever. Graciously keep us in the true faith so that, on that Day, we may greet You with joy and not with sorrow. Grant this to us for the sake of Your holy life and bitter sufferings and death upon the cross in our stead. Amen.

[Scripture is quoted from the King James Version of the Bible.]

“A Hymn of Glory Let Us Sing” (The Lutheran Hymnal, No. 212)

1 A hymn of glory let us sing;
New songs thro’out the world shall ring:
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Christ, by a road before untrod.
Ascendeth to the throne of God.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

2 The holy apostolic band
Upon the Mount of Olives stand;
Alleluia! Alleluia!
And with His followers they see
Jesus’ resplendent majesty.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

3 To whom the angels, drawing nigh,
“Why stand and gaze upon the sky?
Alleluia! Alleluia!
This is the Savior,” thus they say;
“This is His noble triumph-day.”
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

4 “Again shall ye behold Him so
As ye today have seen Him go.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
In glorious pomp ascending high
Up to the portals of the sky.”
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

5 Oh, grant us thitherward to tend
And with unwearied hearts ascend,
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Unto Thy kingdom’s throne, where Thou,
As is our faith, art seated now.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

6 Be Thou our Joy and strong Defense,
Who art our future Recompense:
Alleluia! Alleluia!
So shall the light that springs from Thee
Be ours through all eternity.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

7 O risen Christ, ascended Lord,
All praise to Thee let earth accord,
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Who art, while endless ages run,
With Father and with Spirit One.
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
Amen.

Text Information
Title: A Hymn of Glory Let Us Sing
Latin Title: Hymnum canamus gloriae
Translator: Benjamin Webb (1854, alt.)
Author: The Venerable Bede, d. 735

Tune Information
Name: LASST UNS ERFREUEN
Source: “Geistliche Kirchengesäng,” Cologne, 1623

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“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” John 1:1-5:

Message for the day –

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Dear fellow-redeemed sinners, ransomed by the shed blood of Christ Jesus, God’s Son and our Savior.

Who is this Jesus of Nazareth, that Babe born in Bethlehem but raised in Nazareth? We look to the Word of God, to the inspired testimony of the apostles who suffered all to faithfully follow Christ Jesus.

Today, we begin with the inspired testimony of the Apostle John, in his Gospel: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.”

The Word, spoken of here in the inspired Scriptures is Jesus, for John later writes, in verse 14, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”

In his first epistle, John writes (1 John 5:7): “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.”

This already tells us that Jesus is the only-begotten Son of God come into this world as a true man, that He had divine glory, and that He is one with the Father and the Holy Spirit (a Person of the Triune God).

The opening verses of John’s Gospel tell us that “in the beginning” – the same “in the beginning” when “God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1) – the pre-incarnate Jesus, the Son of God, already was. He was with God and He, in fact, was and is God.

While some cult religions of our day (such as Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons) would try to reduce Jesus to being only “a son of God,” the Greek text leaves no doubt: “The Word was with the God, and God was the Word” (the Greek definite article and the placement of God at the beginning of the second part of the sentence emphasizing that Jesus, the Word, was not only with God; He is God Himself – a Person in the Triune Godhead).

Some so-called “Christian churches” would make Jesus, the Son of God, less than and inferior to God the Father. This too is a rejection of the truth God has revealed to us in His inspired Word. Not only was the pre-incarnate Christ there with God in the beginning before anything was created or made, He is the Creator God who made all things and gave all living things life and breath.

This is why the Christian Church has, for centuries confessed to believe “in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of His Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God, Begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by Whom all things were made. …” (Nicene Creed)

God tells us: “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.”

Can it get any clearer than that? Jesus, before He took on human flesh and blood and became true man and was born of the Virgin Mary, created all things. Nothing made or created was made or created without Him.

Read Genesis one in that light. Creation was not just the work of God the Father; all was created by God the Son and nothing was made without Him (cf. Colossians 1:15ff.; Hebrews 1:1-3). The Holy Spirit was also actively engaged in this divine work, for the Scriptures tell us that “the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be….” (Genesis 1:2ff.).

In Jesus was life. When “the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7), it was Jesus, the eternal Word, who gave him life and made him a “living soul.”

And, lest we forget that life was more than physical life but included spiritual life and the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27), Jesus is the One who gave to Adam and Eve knowledge of God and a life in harmony and fellowship with their Maker. This life that Jesus gave was “the light of men.” They were spiritually alive, they knew God and His holy will, and they loved and honored Him and trusted in Him.

This was the life that mankind lost in the fall of Genesis three. Instead of loving God, trusting Him and seeking His honor, Adam and Eve rebelled against His commandment and then hid from His presence. And, even yet today, when this light shines into the darkness, the darkness does not comprehend it – it does not understand it or receive it.

People today – all of us as we are by nature – walk in darkness. We do not wish to accept the truth that Jesus is God the Son in human flesh, our Maker and our final Judge. Though the evidence is all around us, we do not wish to face up to the truth that we are sinners and guilty before God. We do not wish to hear of our sins and shortcoming and of the hellfires we so deserve. We would rather continue on in darkness, thinking that we are basically good and that God will not condemn us if only we do our best to be loving and caring people.

The light shines in the darkness, and we would continue on in darkness! We don’t want to give up our own selfish and sinful ways. We don’t want to return to fellowship with God because that would cramp our lifestyle! Instead, we would attempt to change God into a god who smiles at sin and disobedience and would punish no one. Of course, to form our own opinions of God instead of accepting what God tells us of Himself in the Bible is no different than making a graven image and inventing our own ways to serve it. It is idolatry!

What does God say? “This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” 1 John 1:5-2:2

In God – in Jesus Christ, the eternal Word – is light and life! If we claim to have fellowship with God but continue to hide and cover up our sins, pretending that all is well, we are lying and deceiving ourselves. God’s truth tells us that we are sinners, that we have failed to love God with all our heart, soul and strength or love our neighbor as God requires. God’s light reveals His holy will but also our failures to live in accord with His holy commandments.

But God’s light also reveals the way of salvation He has provided for lost mankind: “If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”

Jesus, God the Son in human flesh, lived a righteous and holy life in our stead and He suffered and died for our sins and rose again. He satisfied God’s wrath against our sins and the sins of the whole world. That is why: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Jesus is still the life and light of men. He redeemed sinful mankind by His innocent sufferings and death in our stead. He offers to all people forgiveness of sins and life eternal in fellowship with Him through faith in His name. His light shines into this dark and sinful world, revealing God’s holy will and man’s sinfulness but also offering forgiveness and life with Him in His eternal kingdom. When He, by the gracious operation of the Holy Spirit through His Word, convinces us of sin and conveys to us forgiveness through faith in Him – when He breathes into our nostrils the breath of life – we become living souls!

God graciously grant to each of you light and life in Christ Jesus, the eternal Word! Amen.

Psalm and Confession of Sins –
Psalm 32: Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile. When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah. I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah. For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found: surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto him. Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah. I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye. Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee. Many sorrows shall be to the wicked: but he that trusteth in the LORD, mercy shall compass him about. Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart. (A Psalm of David, Maschil.)

O Thou crucified Lord Jesus Christ, who, as the truly patient Lamb of God, didst suffer for me the most shameful death on the cross and with Thy precious blood didst redeem me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil, I pray Thee, give me the assurance of this redemption through Thy Word, govern my heart with Thy Holy Spirit, preserve me with Thy divine love, and hide me this day, both soul and body, in Thy holy wounds. Wash me clean from all my sins, teach me to live a life of good works, and finally lead me from this world of sorrows to Thine eternal joy and glory, Thou most faithful Savior, Jesus Christ, mine only Comfort, Hope, and Life. Amen. (The Lutheran Hymnal, page 118)

The Apostles Creed: I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord; Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, Born of the Virgin Mary; Suffered under Pontius Pilate, Was crucified, dead, and buried; He descended into Hell; The third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven And sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost; The Holy Christian Church, the communion of saints; The forgiveness of sins; The resurrection of the body; And the life everlasting. Amen.

Prayers: O Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Word, the everlasting Son of God, shine upon my heart the light of Your truth, reveal my sinfulness and disobedience to Your holy will, but also comfort me with the knowledge of Your holy life and innocent sufferings and death for my sins that I may take courage, rejoice in Your forgiveness, and walk in the light of Your truth until You come again and take me to live with You forever in Your eternal kingdom. Amen.

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven; Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; And lead us not into temptation; But deliver us from evil; For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Blessing: “The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.” Amen. (Numbers 6:24-27)

[Scripture quotations from the King James Version of the Bible]

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“21 Therefore lay apart all filthiness and the superfluity of wickedness, and receive with meekness the engrafted Word, which is able to save your souls. 22 But be ye doers of the Word and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 23 For if any be a hearer of the Word and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he beholdeth himself, and then goeth his way and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. 25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. James 1:21-25

“Grace be unto you and peace from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” Amen.

It is through the hearing of God’s Word that we are saved, for “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Rom. 10:17).

The Word of God convicts us of our sins and calls us to repent of our evil ways — of “all filthiness and the superfluity of wickedness” — and to look in faith to the shed blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for pardon and forgiveness. The Word is engrafted into our hearts and there creates faith that takes hold of God’s promises of mercy and forgiveness in the Lord Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world.

However, as James warns us, such faith is not just an empty assent to the facts. It’s not a faith that produces no fruits; it’s not an empty, dead faith, for “faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone” (James 2:17). And so, James says, “But be ye doers of the Word and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves” (v. 22).

When we hear the Word of God preached and proclaimed, or when we read it in our Bibles, it will do us no good unless we act on it. To hear the Word and not do as it says is self-deception — thinking that all is well with our souls when it is not — when we have no real and genuine faith in Christ Jesus.

It is to hear the Word of God calling us to repent of our evil ways and to look in faith to Christ Jesus and His cross for forgiveness but then not repenting of our sins and not looking to Christ. It is to continue on in our sinful ways rather than to lay aside “all filthiness and the superfluity of wickedness, and receive with meekness the engrafted Word, which is able to save your souls.”

It is seeing ourselves in the mirror of God’s law — seeing our utter sinfulness and the just condemnation we deserve on account of our sins — but then coming away and forgetting our wretchedness and, consequently, not seeing our need to repent and look in faith to the cross of Jesus.

As James writes, “For if any be a hearer of the Word and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a mirror; for he beholdeth himself, and then goeth his way and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was” (James 1:23-24).

Do you do this? Do you see from reading and hearing God’s Word that you are a sinner and deserving of God’s wrath and punishment but then just go your way and do nothing about it? Do you assume it’s OK to continue on as you are and not repent and look in faith to Christ and His atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world?

John the Baptist said to his hearers (Luke 3:7-9): “O generation of vipers! Who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say among yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say unto you, that God is able from these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the ax is laid unto the root of the trees. Every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire.”

If one truly looks at himself and examines himself in the mirror of God’s law and sees his wickedness and sin and then hears of Christ and His holy life and His innocent suffering and death in our stead, of His sacrifice on the cross for the sins of the world (1 John 2:1-2), this word, if it becomes engrafted in the sinner’s heart, will move him to repent of all sins, trust in Christ for pardon and forgiveness, and then, as a fruit of faith, to amend his evil ways and seek to live for the LORD God in accord with His Word.

Has God’s Word become engrafted in your heart? Is it putting down roots and growing, moving you to repent of your sinful ways and look in faith to Christ and His cross for pardon and forgiveness?

James writes: “But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.”

The one in whom the Word of God has taken root repents of his evil deeds and looks to Christ for mercy and forgiveness. But the Word also moves him to then amend his evil ways and seek to live for Christ who died for him and rose again. He is set free of the guilt and condemnation of his sins that he might freely live for His Savior!

As the Scriptures say in 2 Corinthians 5:15, “He [Christ] died for all, that those who live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him who died for them and rose again.”

Grant that I be not a forgetful hearer but a doer of Your Word, O Lord. Grant that I see my sins and repent, trusting in Christ and His cross for forgiveness and life everlasting, and then amend my ways and live for You. Amen.

[Scripture quoted from the 21st Century King James Version (KJ21) Copyright © 1994 by Deuel Enterprises, Inc.]

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“And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.” Luke 6:46-49

Upon what have you built your life? Is it built upon Jesus Christ and His Word? Or is it built upon some earthly foundation?

Jesus told this parable because of those who addressed Him as “Lord” and listened to His teaching but did not do what He taught. They heard Jesus’ words with their ears and called upon Him with their lips, but their hearts were far from Him (cf. Matt. 15:8). They did not trust in Jesus for salvation or seek to live their lives as He commanded.

The first man in Jesus’ parable, the man who dug down deep and laid the foundation of his house upon the rock, is like the one who hears Jesus’ Word and then trusts in Him and His redemptive work for the forgiveness of sins and life everlasting. As a child of God through faith in Christ’s shed blood, he then seeks to live his life for his Lord and Savior by hearing and doing His Word. When floods of trouble, suffering and persecution come his way, he is not moved because his faith and life are built upon Jesus Christ and His eternal Word.

The second man, who built his house upon the earth without a foundation, is like the man who hears Jesus’ Word and even calls himself a Christian; but he does not trust in Christ Jesus alone for the forgiveness of sins and eternal life, nor does he truly seek and desire to live in obedience to the Word of God. His life is not built upon Christ but upon the earth and its vain philosophies. When trouble, suffering or death come his way, his life crumbles because all that his life was built upon washes away.

Upon what have you built your life? Is it built upon Christ and His Word? or upon the unstable sands of this world? If you live your life according to the ways and standards of this world, both you and your works will not stand in God’s judgment. But if you build your life upon Christ and His Word, you will be “as mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth for ever” (Psalm 125:1).

Hear Christ’s Word and build upon it!

In faith, Lord, let me serve Thee; tho’ persecution, grief, and pain should seek to overwhelm me, let me a steadfast trust retain; and then at my departure take Thou me home to Thee and let me there inherit all Thou hast promised me. In life and death, Lord, keep me until Thy heav’n I gain, where I by Thy great mercy the end of faith attain. Amen. (“I Know My Faith is Founded,” by Erdmann Neumeister, The Lutheran Hymnal, Hymn #381, Verse 3)

[Scripture from the King James Version of the Bible.]

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Lesson Two — God

YHWH
(Hebrew name of God, usually spelled out LORD, but sometimes pronounced Jehovah or Yahweh)

ΚΥΡΙΟΣ ‘Ο ΤΗΕΟΣ
(Greek name of God, usually translated the LORD God)

“I am the LORD thy God … Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” Exodus 20:2,3


1. Who is God and what does the Bible tell us about Him?

Isaiah 42:8: I am the LORD: that is my name.

Jeremiah 10:10: But the LORD is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king.

Psalm 90:1-2: LORD, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.

The true God is the LORD God — or Jehovah God — of the Bible. He is the living and eternal God who always was, who is, and who always will be.

2. How many true Gods are there? How many Persons are true God?

Deuteronomy 6:4: Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD.

1 Corinthians 8:4: There is none other God but one.

Matthew 28:19: Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost …

2 Corinthians 13:14: The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.

Isaiah 48:16-17: Come ye near unto me, hear ye this; I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was, there am I: and now the Lord GOD, and his Spirit, hath sent me. Thus saith the LORD, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I am the LORD thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go.

Numbers 6:22-27: And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto Aaron and unto his sons, saying, On this wise ye shall bless the children of Israel, saying unto them, The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. And they shall put my name upon the children of Israel; and I will bless them.
1 John 5:7: For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.

There is only one true God, but the one true God is three distinct Persons: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God. Yet there are not three Gods, but one God, for God is one. This teaching of the Three/One or Triune God is taught throughout the Bible, beginning in the very first chapter of Genesis and continuing through the last chapter of Revelation.

3. What else does God tell us of Himself in the Bible?

John 4:24: God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

Malachi 3:6: For I am the LORD, I change not.

Psalm 102:27: But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end.

Genesis 17:1: I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.

Luke 1:37: For with God nothing shall be impossible.

Matthew 19:26: With God all things are possible.

Psalm 139:1-4: O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether.

John 21:17: Lord, thou knowest all things.

Jeremiah 23:24: Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the LORD. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the LORD.

Proverbs 15:3: The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.

Leviticus 19:2: Ye shall be holy: for I the LORD your God am holy.

Isaiah 6:3: Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.

Deuteronomy 32:4: He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.

2 Timothy 2:13: If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.

Psalm 145:8-9: The LORD is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy. The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.

Exodus 34:6-7: And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.

1 John 4:8: God is love.

The Bible teaches us much about the true God. We call some of these qualities and characteristics of God the attributes of God. God, Himself, tells us in His Word that He is eternal, unchangeable, all-powerful, all-knowing, present everywhere, holy, just, impartial and fair, faithful, good, merciful, kind, gracious and loving.

4. Can one worship or serve the true God if he denies the trinity or unity of God or if he does not trust in Jesus Christ as the eternal Son of God and the Savior of mankind from sin and its consequences?

John 3:18,36: He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. … He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

John 5:23: All men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.

John 8:23-24: [Jesus said:] Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world. I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.

John 8:42: Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.

John 14:6: Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

John 17:3: And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

1 John 2:23: Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: (but) he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also.

1 John 5:11-12: And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.

One cannot reject the three persons of the Godhead — the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit — nor can one reject the unity of the Godhead — that God is one — and worship or serve the true God who has revealed Himself in the Holy Scriptures. And apart from knowing and trusting in Jesus Christ as God the Son in the flesh and mankind’s only Savior, one cannot know or serve the true God. Therefore, we condemn as idolatry the religions of those who reject the Triune God of the Bible or seek to worship and serve Him apart from faith in Christ Jesus, the eternal Son of God who came into this world a true man to redeem fallen mankind. And, it is for this reason that Christians do not take part in syncretistic prayers or worship or join together with lodges and other organizations which include prayers or duties toward a god other than the Triune God of the Bible or apart from faith in Jesus as the Son of God and the only way to worship and serve the true God.

SUMMARY
We believe that there is only one true God (Isaiah 44:6; 1 Corinthians 8:4). This God (called the LORD or JEHOVAH) is one divine Being or Essence, but three distinct Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (thus the name, Triune or Three/One God), each being eternal and equal in power and majesty because each Person is the LORD God (Deuteronomy 6:4; Matthew 28:19; 1 John 5:7; Isaiah 48:16-17; John 1:1; Colossians 2:9; 1 Corinthians 3:16; Hebrews 9:14; 1 Peter 4:14). We believe that no one can worship or serve the Triune God except he believes that Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God and the Savior of mankind from sin and its consequences (John 3:18,36; 5:23; 14:6; 1 John 2:23; 5:11-12). Hence, all who deny the Trinity of God (that God is three Persons) or the Unity of God (that God is one divine Being), or who do not trust in Jesus Christ, the Son, for salvation, do not worship and serve the true God.

[Scripture is quoted from the King James Version of the Bible.]

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