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Ask the Pastor

† Theological musings and answers to selected questions by a confessional Lutheran pastor.

20 March 2006

Questions about God and Jesus

Q: I am being drawn to the Christian church, but I need two questions answered: What is the difference between God and Jesus? Where is God and where is Jesus today?

A: God is Triune (three Persons, yet one God). Human reason can’t fathom this, but it’s how He reveals Himself in the Bible. The Father, the Son (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit are all revealed as God, yet God says that He is One. Within this oneness, each person is differentiated. The Father rules the Godhead, sending His Son to save sinners. The Son takes on human flesh and is born of the Virgin Mary, fully human, yet sinless, since He is also the eternal (without beginning or end) Son of God. The Holy Ghost is then sent to work faith, call sinners to new life through Baptism and the preaching of the Gospel, and preserve Christians in the true Faith until the Last Day, when they will be raised with new and glorious bodies to live forever with God.

As for where God is now, He fills all creation, yet remains outside it. As spirit, God is not confined to any particular physical locale. Yet in the Son, God will forever bear and be united with human flesh and blood. God’s dwelling place is usually called heaven. You can say that God is always there. Yet God is also specially and locally present in the giving of His gifts to mankind. So God is present in His Word, especially as it is proclaimed and preached. And in this Word, we see Him most clearly in the Gospel, God’s words of forgiveness and reconciliation through Jesus Christ. God is also present in the washing of Holy Baptism, as He kills our old, sinful natures and raises up the new Christian. He is present in Absolution (the words of forgiveness) spoken by Christians and especially by His pastors, who are called to speak on God’s behalf, “I forgive you all your sins.”

The Scriptures speak of Jesus’ ascension following His resurrection from the dead. Our creeds likewise proclaim how He sits at God’s (i.e., the Father’s) right hand. This doesn’t mean that He is bound to or contained by heaven. Rather it testifies that He is the Father’s “Right Hand Man” in saving fallen mankind from their sins. If you would most clearly see and meet Jesus, listen for Him in the reading, preaching, and teaching of His Word and look for Him in His Supper, where He says to you that the bread “is My body” and the wine “is My blood.”

Several portions of Scripture testify both to God’s oneness and to His Triune nature, yet none truly explain Him to our limited reason and senses. These three passages testify that He is One:
     Deuteronomy 6:4
     1 Corinthians 8:4
     1 Timothy 2:5
Meanwhile, these clearly show that He is three Persons:
     Matthew 28:19–20
     2 Corinthians 13:14
Many more could be listed, including some of the prophetic visions in Daniel and Revelation.

Send email to Ask the Pastor.

Walter Snyder is the pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Emma, Missouri and coauthor of the book What Do Lutherans Believe.

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Anonymous Zach said...

It's amazing when you look at scripture how people can deny the existance of the trinity. They always refer to the fact that the word "trinity" isn't in scripture but they ignore that it is taught by principle and implication.

21 March, 2006 05:03  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Being unfamiliar with the Bible scriptures and only knowing the stories told in the bible as a child I once questioned how do i know if Jesus is God or if he is Michael the arch angel. Some Christian people prayed for me but showed me nothing biblical. When I went home I felt an urge to read the Bible, something very new to me!! I opened the Bible with no direction anywhere and it came open at John 1:1. My first thought "What is the Word, I don't get it?" Then oddly enough I skipped the next verses and went straight to verse 14. I was obviously directed by God. After reading this verse I understood and re-read verse 1. I have never questioned who Jesus is since then. While I don't understand everything, God knew my need at that time and answered it.How could I ever deny Jesus now? I can't. Thank you God for showing me. Marion H

22 April, 2007 22:16  

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