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FIVE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN DEVELOPMENT (FFHD)A Proposal for Our Survival in the Twenty–first Century and the New Millennium
By ERROL A. GIBBS PHILIP A. GREY
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2011 Errol A. Gibbs & Philip A. Grey
All right reserved.
Chapter OnePREEMINENT FOUNDATION 1 —WHO IS GOD?
"God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth" John 4:24 (NIV). "God is our refuge and strength, an ever–present help in trouble" Psalm 46:1 (NIV). "God reigns over the nations; God is seated on his holy throne. The nobles and nations assemble as the people of God of Abraham, for the kings of the earth belong to God; he is greatly exalted." Psalm 47:8–9 (NIV)
Who is God? Saint John (circa CE 27) tells us: "God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth" (John 4:24 NKJV) (see figs. 1 and 2). God is not merely a Spirit; He is an infinite Spirit. We can feel His spiritual presence within our spirit, but we do not know how to describe God in human terms, because His existence has no parallel in our physical existence. There are countless definitions of God, just as there are countless definitions of religions and countless manifestations of God's presence. To some, God is a mystery which continues to perplex the human intellect in our modern era. To the astute, God is an intellectual probability. Old Testament Job magnifies God: "Behold God is great, and we do not know Him; Nor can the number of His years be discovered" (Job 36:26 NIV) (circa 1967 BCE). The Psalmist glorifies God: "God reigns over nations; God is seated on His holy throne" (Psalm 47:8 NIV).
In defining God, it is essential to acknowledge God who has proven His mighty works, which He has chronicled in the inspired writings of the Holy Scriptures. God instructs Moses: "Go and gather the elders of Israel together, and say to them, 'The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, appeared to me, saying, "I have surely visited you and seen what is done to you in Egypt; and I have said I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, to a land flowing with milk and honey'" (Exodus 3:16–17 NKJV) (circa 1463 BCE).
In the Book of Nehemiah, Nehemiah relates how God demonstrates His great compassion: "Even when they made a molded calf for themselves, "And said, 'This is your god That brought you out of Egypt,' And worked great provocations, Yet in Your manifold mercies You did not forsake them in the wilderness. The pillar of the cloud did not depart from them by day, To lead them on the road; Nor the pillar of fire by night, To show them light, And the way they should go" (Nehemiah 9:18–19 NKJV) (circa 444 BCE). "For You are God, gracious and merciful. Now therefore, our God, The great, the mighty, and awesome God, Who keeps covenant and mercy: Do not let all the trouble seem small before You That has come upon us." (Nehemiah 9:31–32 NKJV).
Biblical history confirms that nations which have violated the laws of God have suffered grave consequences, and failed to fulfill their promise (2 Chronicles 7:19–22). However, God has given human beings clear direction that provides the basis for moral authority and moral leadership in the world. God sacrificed the life of His Son Jesus Christ as the perfect example of suffering for righteousness to be the perfect example for humanity. God has demonstrated His unique personal attributes through the life of His Son Jesus Christ, who manifested the heart of God by His love, joy, peace, longsuffering (patience), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self–control (Galatians 5:22). These attributes were not reserved for His followers alone, but for all people of God.
Let us examine descriptions and applications of the doctrine found in the Bible regarding God (Theology Proper). In the Old Testament, God's character is revealed in names that express His nature and through which He referred to Himself. Some examples are: Jehovah–jireh (The Lord will provide), Jehovah–rophe (The Lord is my healer), Jehovah–tsidkenu (The Lord is my righteousness), Jehovah–shalom (the Lord is peace), Jehovahnissi (the Lord is my banner) and Jehovah–shammah (the Lord is there). However, the key to knowing the God of the Bible is in accepting His Son, Jesus Christ, as LORD and Savior, through whom God manifests Himself to us through the Holy Spirit, which is the mind of God (1 Corinthians 2:15, 16).
Knowing the God of the Holy Bible
The God of the Holy Bible is knowable. His Word transcends Christianity, which is a way of life, embodied in a corporate society or fellowship, centered on the worship of God. He revealed His presence to the world through His Son Jesus Christ of Nazareth, who lived as a humble human being for about thirty–three years in Palestine. The presence of God was manifest through the redemptive works of Jesus Christ on earth, in the flesh (Ephesians 1:7). Jesus Christ's presence on earth also accentuated the wondrous works of God, through the Holy Spirit and thirty–seven miraculous acts penned by the writers of the synoptic gospels (Matthew (CE 40–140); Mark (CE 55–65); and Luke (CE 60–70). We can take comfort in the fact that Jesus' departure from earth did not signify an end to His divine intervention in our lives, but introduced a new phase as intercessor for the saints (Romans 8:26; Hebrews 7:25). Therefore, the Christian's experience with God of the Holy Bible is through a relationship with His Son Jesus Christ as His followers had. The first letter to Timothy teaches: "For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time" (1Timothy 2:5–6 NKJV).
God is omnipotent (all powerful), omnipresent (everywhere) and omniscient (all knowing). He is the One who knows our daily trials and tribulations. He knows when grief, pain, loneliness, and depression overwhelm us and when the full realization of our inadequate nature confronts us. He knows how hard–heartedness incapacitates and paralyzes us with shame and guilt and how we are unable to face our transgressors and our own transgressions. God's omnipotence, His omnipresence, and His omniscience mean that God is in everything we do and experience; we should be willing to open our eyes to His influence (see fig. 3). His greatness draws us closer to His spiritual presence.
God knows when our limited capabilities transform us from hope to hopelessness as our world crumbles under genocide, wars, catastrophic illness, and natural and man–made disasters. Imagine the personal peace and peaceful coexistence that is possible among families, nations, and the international community when we trust God. Imagine how fear would take flight from faith and how moral bravery and moral courage would lead us towards our potential for the higher and greater good. Can we live without God's guidance? Absolutely not! Can we live without a Godhead, Creator, and absolute authority of the universe that can bind all human civilization into a harmonious whole? Absolutely not! Without the understanding of and adherence to God's law to guide us, all that human beings can do is cling precariously to human laws, engineered by the human intellect and arising from our imperfect understanding of the world around us and of God's purpose. God's law, on the other hand, was given in perfect knowledge of creation and of our role within it, and it cannot be equaled.
God in His infinite wisdom gave the world Ten Commandments as the ultimate moral guide for humanity. The first four Commandments are directly concerned with religious belief and worship. The other commandments provide the framework for moral conduct, for our relationship with the Creator, and for relationships among ourselves. Adherence to God's Ten Commandments and observance of the hierarchical structure of authority leads to all forms of stability in the world. When we strive daily to overcome our weaknesses and are enlightened by God's Ten Commandments, with a little effort we can alleviate the conditions of hopelessness that overwhelm human existence (Exodus 20:1–17).
Henry Grady Weaver (1889–1949): "Finally, as a last resort, Moses reduced the teachings of Abraham to a written code of moral law. Known as the "Ten Commandments," it stands today as the first and greatest document of individual freedom in the recorded history of man. Each of the Ten Commandments is addressed to the individual as a self–controlling person responsible for his own thoughts, words, and acts. And each of them recognizes liberty and freedom as inherent in the nature of man."
In the writings of the Old Testament, God made His chosen people, Israel, to be an example to all peoples. The first imperative of human existence then, becomes the realization of God's great gifts to humanity. God's immutable law governs all life, and the law that governs all life is God. Over the centuries, as the world has shifted to a new paragon of self governance, generally apart from God's immutable law. The intellectual observer ponders the proliferation of human laws that seem to govern all life. Arguably, hundreds of thousands of human laws are a testimony of this fact. Nevertheless, the fact remains that obedience to the authority of God results in love, joy, peace, hope, happiness, fruitfulness, and the true progress of nations. Conversely, violation of God's law can result in pain, suffering, and separation from His providential guidance, thus bringing about a decline in our ability to manage His creation and achieve lives of fulfillment.
The spiritual presence of God in the world enables us to overcome our inclination to stray from His path. It helps us to understand and manage the conditions that cause hopelessness. God of the Holy Bible in His infinite wisdom instituted a hierarchical structure for our relationship with Him and the world (see fig. 9). God made us the church through His Son Jesus Christ, to unite Christians as a corporate body of believers in His Son. Likewise, He gave us access to the Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ His Son. He gave us the institution of marriage for procreation, and families to create stable societies. He gave us governments for the protection (Acts 21:27–37), the punishment (1 Peter 2:13–14), the advancement (1 Timothy 2:1–2), and the welfare of humanity (see fig. 5). Through the revelation of the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, we are enlightened in our understanding of the Triune God. Jesus counsels: "All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him" (Luke 10:22 NIV). "For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him" (John 5:22, 23 NKJV). The Holy Bible teaches: "For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power" (Colossians 2:9, 10 NKJV) (see fig. 1).
The Book of Deuteronomy further provides us with historical insights into God's laws for the Restoration of Israel. God promised abundant blessing: "The LORD your God will make you abound in all the work of your hand, in the fruit of your body, in the increase of your livestock ... if you obey the voice of the Lord your God, to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in this Book of the Law, and if you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with your soul" (Deuteronomy 30:9– 10 NKJV) (circa 1423 BCE). We should be no less mindful in the twenty– first century of God speaking to us through His Son Jesus Christ, who provides His followers access to His grace and manifestation through the Holy Spirit.
Relationship among Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
It is essential for us to understand the power that is inherent in the Holy Spirit, and the critical importance of the Holy Spirit to our relationship with God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ. The Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit is the third member of the Godhead. Jesus commanded His disciples: "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28:19 NKJV). The Holy Spirit was not relevant just for the time of the disciples (the first century). Before Christ was crucified, He foretold of the coming of the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth, to declare the glory of Jesus Christ and the Father, and to reveal things to us, which are yet to come (John 16:12–15).
French L. Arrington (1992), Ph.D., theologian and teacher: "Many scriptures compel us to regard the Holy Spirit as God, coequal with the Father and Son. These same scriptures make it clear that we are to understand the Spirit is a person. He performs personal acts such as teaching (John 14:26), commissioning (Acts 13:2), guiding (Acts 16:6), and interceding (Romans 8:26). He is affected in personal ways. He can be blasphemed (Matthew 12:31, 32) and grieved (Ephesians 4:30). He has intelligence – "the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God" (1 Corinthians 2:10). He has will – The Spirit distributes Spiritual gifts "to each one individually as He wills" (1 Corinthians 12:11). The Holy Spirit is identified as God."
The Holy Spirit has character, a mind, and emotions. The Holy Spirit teaches. The Apostle Paul writing to the Corinthians counsels: "These things that we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual" (1 Corinthians 2:13 NKJV). The gospel according to Luke says: "For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say" (Luke 12:12 NKJV). The unity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit symbolizes the unity that Jesus Christ expects among believers, hence His instruction to His disciples in the Great Commission: to baptize all nations in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit – making clear the singularity of the Godhead (see fig. 1).
The Holy Spirit has restraining power (it shields and protects and lifts up a standard against the enemies of the LORD). The Holy Spirit has convicting power (Felix, a Roman governor was convicted as Paul the Apostle preached [Acts 24:25]). King Agrippa responded to Paul's message, saying: "You almost persuade me to become a Christian" (Acts 26:28). The Holy Spirit has regenerating power (Jesus explained to Nicodemus that he must be born of the Spirit to enter the kingdom of heaven John 3: 3–7).
Jesus Christ, having made Himself known to humanity on earth, through His pure love for us, sharing our joy, pain, and suffering, helps us to understand the unfathomable and indescribable God. God was from the beginning, is now and will be when all things come to an end. He exists independently of us, but without Him, we cannot be. Our existence depends on God. Our search for fulfillment in life is a search for our Spiritual connection with God through the Holy Spirit, and not a quest for fame, or fortune, or the other fleeting things which do not incorporate or further His purpose.
The Search For God
The search for God and the meaning of our existence has both defined and perplexed every civilization, from the earliest recorded nations to our modern society. Furthermore, the search has perplexed every religion from tribal systems to the most sophisticated mono–and polytheistic religions of our modern world. The search for God is the most vital search and it takes us beyond the natural realm of human existence. It is a search for purpose to our existence (see fig. 2). Diligent search for God means exercising conscious effort to find His purpose for our existence. Our search is continual, and will always be continual, because we can never attain the fullness of God's purpose in this mortal body.
The turbulent twenty–first century presents the greatest challenge to our search, as humanity wanders farther away from our core religious beliefs. We enter a new age of doubt and rationalism; skepticism and humanism; distracted by our mastery of God's creation. It does not matter if the god(s) we seek are idols, or mere mortals; the search for God is an unending search. Even those who follow no creed, but who feel celestial connections with the universe in some sense accept the existence of God. They have their deities in the obligation of awe and worship, the recognition of something great and inscrutable.
Excerpted from FIVE FOUNDATIONS OF HUMAN DEVELOPMENT (FFHD) by ERROL A. GIBBS PHILIP A. GREY Copyright © 2011 by Errol A. Gibbs & Philip A. Grey. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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