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The Relationship
Between
God  and   Man

The Parables in Luke ALSO SEE Parables in Matthew or Mark


The relationship between God and Mankind is totally unique.

God is sovereign.

A sovereign is a government.  This means that God is the ruler of mankind.  By definition, a sovereign makes, interprets, and enforces laws.

Exodus 23:17 Three times a year all the men are to appear before the Sovereign LORD.

2 Samuel 7:22 How great you are, O Sovereign LORD! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears.


God is King over all Creation.  He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

As King and Lord, honor, worship, adoration, respect and obedience are His rightful due. They are not simply good ideas or things we should do.  He has the right to expect and insist on them.

1 Timothy 6:15 which God will bring about in his own time--God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords,


God's government never has been and never will be a democracy.

Many Americans and an increasing number of Western Europeans have been misled into a false understanding of the proper relationship between man and God by the principles of democracy.  But consider the beginning of the American Declaration of Independence: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal ...."  God is not the equal of man.  God deliberately and intentionally made man inferior to Himself, limited in power and knowledge. Hence, it is only right for the Supreme Being to have authority to lay down the law for inferior beings who are His subjects.

(Of course, it must be noted that the term "men" in the Declaration of Independence meant "mankind", not "males."  It is true that the original Constitution of the United States of America did not give women equal rights and did not abolish slavery.  However, the Constitution was an entirely separate document, written more than a decade later in 1789.)

1 Timothy 6:15 which God will bring about in his own time--God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords,


God is Lord of all creation but He is not in charge of earth.

God gave Man dominion over all the earth.

Genesis 1:26 Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."

Psalms 8:3-8

[3] When I consider your heavens,
   the work of your fingers,
   the moon and the stars,
   which you have set in place,
[4] what is man that you are mindful of him,
   the son of man that you care for him?
[5] You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
   and crowned him with glory and honor.

[6] You made him ruler over the works of your hands;
   you put everything under his feet:
[7] all flocks and herds,
   and the beasts of the field,
[8] the birds of the air,
   and the fish of the sea,
   all that swim the paths of the seas.


"But my denomination (pastor, Sunday School teacher) says 'God is in total control.'"

  1. Define your terms.  What does he mean by 'total control'?

  2. Are you saying that God sent that dope dealer (drug addict, etc.) who got your thirteen-year-old sister (cousin, etc.) pregnant? God sent that boyfriend who beats up your mother? God sent that drunk driver who put your best friend in a wheelchair for life?

  3. How do they explain Genesis 1:26?

  4. Why did Jesus call Satan "the prince of this world"? 


God has the ability to exert absolute, irresistable control but He chooses not to use it.

If God forced people to do His will, He would simply be like a film director -- the characters (not the actors) in the film have no control or influence over what they say and do. The Bible says God gave man dominion. If He reserved authority to overrule man's decisions, then He lied -- He claimed to be giving dominion, but in fact He didn't.

Note: Our spirit wants to follow God, but our flesh wants to follow sin. God never said "I won't strengthen the influence of men's spirits on their decisions." When God 'softens someone's heart' He increases the influence of the Holy Spirit on the person's spirit. The person still makes the decision to follow God or follow Satan, not God.

Deuteronomy 28:1-14 [1] If you fully obey the LORD your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. [2] All these blessings will come upon you and accompany you if you obey the LORD your God: (list omitted)

Deuteronomy 28:15-68 [15] However, if you do not obey the LORD your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come upon you and overtake you: (list of curses in verses 16-68 omitted)

Deuteronomy 30:19 This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life . . .

God gives us the choice of whether to follow, whether to obey.   We decide, not Him.


When they sinned, Adam and Eve handed over dominion to Satan.

People can either follow God or follow Satan.  When Adam and Eve sinned, they chose to follow Satan.  When God "let them rule . . . over all the earth" He did not make their authority conditional on continued good behavior.  He did not say "let them rule over all the earth unless they (do whatever)."  He did not say "let them rule over all the earth until they (do whatever)." He did not say "let them rule over the earth so long as they do not (do whatever)."  He did not say "let them rule over the earth on condition that they do not (do whatever)."

When Adam and Eve sinned, they chose to put the things they controlled under the dominion of Satan.


Satan is the prince (and has dominion) of this world.

John 12:31 Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out.

John 14: 30-31a  I will not speak with you much longer, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold on me, [31] but the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me.

John 16:11 and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.

If Satan had no control in this world he would not be the prince of this world.  It would not be necessary to drive him out.

God gave man control of the earth.  If God had taken earth back after Adam and Eve sinned, then He would not really have given them control.  Thus, it was necessary for a human to redeem earth, not God directly.  This is why Jesus had to come as a human being -- fully human -- just like Adam.  Jesus had to be born of a virgin -- otherwise He would have inherited the spiritual disease of sin, as the "seed" of Adam.


God protects those who love Him.

Job 1:8-10 Then the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil." [9] "Does Job fear God for nothing?" Satan replied. [10] "Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land.

It is important to understand the term "fear of the Lord" in the Bible.  It does not mean terror or dread.  It means a healthy and proper respect and recognition of God's awesome power.  This is the being that created the universe, created Heaven and Hell, created us, created the angels, etc., and keeps it all running.


Satan has to ask God's permission to tempt someone.

Luke 22:31 "Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat."

1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.


God is our Father He created us.

Matthew 6:9 This, then, is how you should pray: "Our Father in heaven, . . ."


God disciplines those He loves.

Proverbs 3:11-12 [11] My son, do not despise the LORD's discipline and do not resent his rebuke, [12] because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.

Proverbs 13:24 He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.

Proverbs 22:15 Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.

Proverbs 23:13-14 [13] Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die. [14] Punish him with the rod and save his soul from death.

Deuteronomy 8:5 Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the LORD your God disciplines you.

Deuteronomy 8:5 [The Living Bible] So you should realize that, as a man punishes his son, the Lord punishes you to help you.

Job 5:17 Blessed is the man whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.


God gives every man freedom to choose Him or reject Him.

God permits each person to be tempted with sin.

Satan is not an interloper who is screwing up God's plan.  Satan is part of God's plan.

These points are related:

  1. Because He is perfect and there is no sin in Him, God cannot tempt people to sin.

  2. If people are never tempted to sin they won't sin.

  3. What is the point of having free will if a person doesn't have choices?

  4. When Satan tempts a person he provides a choice.

  5. God permits each of us to be tempted so our true character will be revealed -- either a person will choose God and righteousness or he will choose Satan and evil.

Some Protestant denominations teach pre-destination -- that God chose upfront who will be saved and who will perish, and we can do nothing to change that.  If that is true, then there is no point in evangelizing, teaching the Gospel, preaching, etc.

Rather, God's knowledge is more like a police "sting" operation involving an independent third party. Consider these scenarios:
 

Scenario #1:

Smith is a known drug dealer, but the police can never catch him dealing drugs.  An informant who wants to destroy Smith tells Officer Jones "I know Smith.  If  you give Smith a chance to do a drug deal, he'll take it.  Let me make him an offer." Jones says "Go ahead." The informant asks Smith if Smith can get him a kilogram of "crack" cocaine.  Smith says "Sure", and they work out the details.  The informant shows up with money, Smith delivers the crack cocaine, and Jones arrests him.

Did Smith choose of his own free will to sell the "crack"?

Scenario #2:

The same as Scenario #1, except that Officer Jones says "You're right; he will. Go ahead."

Did Smith choose of his own free will to sell the "crack"?

God wants a personal relationship with each person.

Acts 17:24-31 [24] "The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. [25] And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. [26] From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. [27] God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. [28] `For in him we live and move and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, `We are his offspring.' [29] "Therefore since we are God's offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone--an image made by man's design and skill. [30] In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. [31] For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead."


God requires us to trust Him.

Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

"Faith" is another word for "trust."  If you "have faith in" someone, you trust that person.  You believe that he can do what he says he can do and you believe that he will do what he says he will do.

It is perfectly reasonable for God to expect us to trust Him. Each of us has been in a situation where s/he knew exactly what to do and how to do it and wanted to do it and had the ability to do it and had actually done it successfully many times before.  But when we offered to do it, the reaction of our boss, acquaintance, parent, child, spouse, etc. was "... I don't know ... I'd really feel a whole lot more comfortable having <so and so> do it. I know s/he can do it."

You know how annoyed that made you, didn't it?

Now imagine if you were God, and had all power and all knowledge and created and sustained the entire universe ... and someone still thinks you can't handle it!


If we draw near to God,  He will come to us.

James 4:8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

Through the Holy Spirit, God attracts each person to Him, both before the person accepts Him and after.

God's grace before acceptance is called prevenient grace. "Grace" means unmerited favor, i.e., favorable treatment that is not earned or deserved. "Prevenient" (rhymes with "convenient") means "comes before", i.e., grace that comes before we are saved.

However, if a person continually resists the Spirit, God will not force Himself on the person and will withdraw the Spirit.  Just as we continue to provide a minimum level of support to criminals serving life sentences, God continues to provide a minimum level of support by keeping the person alive, reasonably healthy, etc.  However, without prevenient grace it is almost impossible for someone to accept God.  (Some denominations teach that it is completely impossible.  The Bible doesn't make it clear which view is correct.)


God will lift us up if we humble ourselves.

James 4:10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.


God so loved the world that He gave His Only Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not Perish but have Eternal Life. (John 3:16)


God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)


GOD'S VIEW OF US -- A MORE PERSONAL PERSPECTIVE

Cardiologist Maurice S. Rawlings, M.D., served as personal physician at the Pentagon for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, which included World War Two Generals Marshall, Bradley, Patton, and Dwight D. Eisenhower before he became president of the United States.  He has a long and distinguished career in medicine and has published several books on Near Death Experiences (NDE's).

The following excerpt is from pages 235-238 of To Hell and Back; Life After Death -- Startling New Evidence. (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville TN (c) 1993 by Maurice Rawlings)  All emphasis is in the original, bracketed material has been added.

AN ENCOUNTER WITH GOD

[I had fallen twice on ice as I was entering the auditorium.]

I was the expert.  I was the man from out of town with a suitcase, the guest speaker for the evening.  Peeking out between the curtains I saw a capacity audience, and six volunteer ushers, one of them a Catholic priest in an old brown tweed suit sporting a clerical collar.  When I was announced on stage I walked out pompously straight, head high, hiding the wince of pain.  Soon I was into my speech, displaying slides on a large screen about everything from heart attacks, cholesterol, and death experiences to resuscitation encounters.

As the audience warmed to the subject, I forgot the ego trip on the ice. I had arrived.  I was the star performer.  My words were polished.  Even the New Agers would have been proud of me.  And I was proud of myself.  Not much further, and I could have been god.

After many congratulations, as people began to thin out, the Catholic priest came forward.  "Tremendous performance," Father Richard Korzenik said.  "A most revealing lecture."  Following more compliments, he invited me to his home.

Warming his hands at the small fireplace, the wise old priest surprised me when he said quietly, "Ever been in the presence of God?"  Suddenly, everything was quiet. Swallowing scalding coffee from an old mug, the priest was peering over half-moon glasses, waiting for an answer.

I thought to myself, now that was a dumb thing to ask.  Why should I need to have an encounter with God?  I was already a Christian, and a pretty good one at that. Certainly this should have been evident from my lectures.  So I finally said, "I don't know."

Following a fresh pot of coffee, a full hour went by, this man of the cloth mumbling Scriptures and praying with his eyes open, as if looking into eternity.  Slowly, I was aware that the old priest had been quietly guiding me into a self-examination of some sort, as if he had been using a stethoscope and a mirror.  Strangely, I did not resent this approach, because something was happening.  The more I cooperated, it seemed the more I felt myself becoming smaller, infinitesimally smaller, as if an overwhelming force had entered the room, squeezing me into insignificance.  A force where I was aware that I could not move, frozen for the instant, suspended in time.  The awesomeness of this presence overcame me and I could not speak, and I continued to stare down at the Scriptures in my lap.  I was trembling in ecstasy and fear.  I could not manage to look elsewhere.  This holy spirit was almost palpable.  It was then I knew that I was in the presence of God.  A holy moment.  I felt that if I moved I would die.

This being or force responded to Scriptures.  It pointed to the only Son of God.  As it moved around me and upon me, I realized that it was holy and that I was nothing.  Nothing at all.  Self-esteem?  Self-worth?  They were gone.  They could not possibly exist.

And then I could not stop crying.  Uncontrollable crying.  There was no room in me for me, for self.  I knew I was unclean, abased, ashamed, in need of a bath.  I was the exact opposite of the self-realization offered by forces opposing God.  I was inadequate.  When the varnish of vanity and self-righteousness had been removed, there was nothing left of this self-pride of mine, this self-assurance, this self-acclaim.  In the presence of the Spirit of God I knew I was less than the chemicals I was made of.  And yet, he loved me.  I knew full well that he loved me.

The most humbling experience of my life.  It revealed to me not who I am, but who he is. The thought made my knees sink to the floor.  I knew this was an experience with Jesus Christ.  I knew I was finally in him and he in me.

I knew with confidence this was not an evil deception.  It was the exact antithesis. Diametrically opposed.  The whole affair revealed to me for the first time the complete falseness of all the humanistic religions.  It revealed the underlying deception of the drug-induced trips of the mystics, the yoga enlightenment from the Far East, and the "I am" of self-realization.  Two facts were clear: first, that I am not God, and second, that in the coffin I am worth nothing more than five dollars of basic constituents.

However, there is one magnificent and wonderful paradox of which I am assured. In the eyes of God (and not my own) I am a person of extreme importance and of great worth. The whole world does not have the worth of my own soul.  So important am I that God died specifically for me.  To me, this is exciting -- that I am indeed something very special to God.  I am so special that God even knows the number of hairs on my head (Matthew 10:30).  And because he made me, the family resemblance must be remarkably striking.  The spitting image.  As a child of God, I should actually shine forth, and let people see the family resemblance.  As one of his children, God focuses down and sees me as a distinct person, separate from everyone else. And I will never lose this identity.  . . .


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