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DO YOU HAVE AN ACCURATE PICTURE OF GOD?
by Philip Owen

            The god who is promoted by much of modern Christendom differs little from the gods made of wood, stone, or some precious metal and worshiped by pagans.  In the latter instance, the gods, though having some visible material form, have been fashioned by hand from the imaginations of sin-darkened minds.  In the former instance, though the god takes no visible material form, it is equally imaginary.  Specifically, when the modern church insists upon worshiping a god who demonstrates love, grace, and mercy to the complete exclusion of holiness, righteousness, and justice, it has created an idol as unreal and worthless as any ever made of some base metal.  Such a god is a useless and deceitful caricature of reality.  Yet one of the last descriptions in the eternal, God-breathed Bible depicts the true God both existing and behaving in a fashion that gives the lie to these modern theological distortions.

            The destruction of the universe.  Holding an unscriptural and degraded view of God results in a perverted view of the material world as well.  The modern exaltation of science at the expense of scriptural revelation is neither the response to incontrovertible scientific proofs, nor the triumph of reason and logic, but the blind belief that the material world is supreme—in a sense, god.  But God is going to destroy all the presently existing material world.  Such is the nature of His unfathomable holiness, that everything that has been tainted by sin, or even exposed to it, will be destroyed before eternity begins.  Speaking of the final judgment following the millennial reign of Christ, John writes:  “Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them” (Rev. 20:11).  Commentators use various graphic ways to speak of what John sees.  One has called it the complete un-creation of the entire universe; another described it as being “sucked back into nothingness” out of which it had been created.  Those are apt descriptions for this unimaginable event:  all that now is will once again, because of sin, become the nothing out of which God originally created all.  That destruction of the entire material universe by God lies before us is confirmed five verses later when John observes:  “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away” (21:1).  Let any who would distort the character of God by denying His infinite holiness or perfect justice explain these verses.

            The damnation of men.  Even more difficult to swallow for those who have manufactured their “Christian” god to resemble someone more like a fairy-tale character than the true God of the Bible are the verses in the same passage that speak of eternal damnation.  John observes:  “And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. . . .  And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20: 12, 15).  Just as God will judge the sin-stained universe by commanding it out of existence (before creating a new one), so He will judge sin-stained men, casting them into the eternal lake of fire, which Jesus Christ Himself warned to be a place “where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched” (Mk. 9:48).  John quotes God, Who describes the final end for sinners as a “lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Rev. 21:8).  God makes clear that unrepentant sinners will be judged both severely and eternally.

            We must hasten to point out that God is truly a God of infinite love and mercy.  The present passage records God’s promise that “He who overcomes [a term designating those who are the by-faith recipients of the overcoming work of Christ on the cross] will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son” (21:7).  But this love and grace never erase, interfere with, or contradict in any fashion His holy, just, and righteous character.  May we believe, love, and serve the true God of the Bible. 

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