January 13, 2014
“How can you possibly believe the Bible’s true when it talks about two completely different God’s?” Maybe you’ve been asked that question by someone before. Maybe, like me, you’ve once asked this question yourself. That’s certainly what many people think of the Christian God.
If you’ve ever read through parts of the Old Testament and compared them with the New you might wonder if they’re talking about the same God. Old-Testament God says “I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me,” (Exodus 20:5). New-Testament God says “[He] so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life,” (John 3:16). Is this really the same God speaking?
Though many people do believe that the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament are different Gods, in fact, the Bible makes very clear that He is the same Person! God, in the Old Testament is just and loving. God in the New Testament is just and loving. It might seem that the God of the Old Testament is all about judgment, hell fire and brimstone but actually Jesus, in the New Testament talks more about Hell than any other person in the Bible and than the whole of the Old Testament combined. It might also appear that the God of the New Testament (displayed perfectly in Jesus), is a much more loving God than the God of the Old Testament. But, in fact, some of the best pictures of God’s love for his people are found in the Old Testament. Think about the book of Isaiah, for example. God says to Israel: “Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.” (Isaiah 49:15-16).
So what are we to make of all this? Is the God of the Bible loving or does he just want to punish people in Hell? Well, it’s a false dichotomy! God is both just and loving. In fact, the God of the Bible is so just that He cannot leave sin – our rejection of His good plans for our life and of God Himself – unpunished. But He’s also so loving that he sent his only Son, Jesus, to take the punishment we deserve for our sin so that anyone who calls out to Him to be saved can ask for forgiveness and receive it freely!
He is the same God. Yesterday, today, forever. Old Testament and New. The question to think about is this: are you willing to take up the challenge to honestly look into these issues for yourself? Are you willing to invest some time to figure out who exactly God is? Are you willing to find out why it is that Christians speak about judgment and Jesus’ death on the cross so much? Come along to a Christianity Explored course or read through the gospel of Mark or, if you are really adventurous, the whole Bible! But whatever you do, don’t use this issue to shrug off Christianity or ignore the Bible’s call to turn and believe in Jesus. Don’t be content to drift along believing half-truths. No person can honestly live their lives based on half-truths!
By the Cornerstone Team