Are There Two Different Gods?

If you only read the Old Testament of the Bible, you might end up concluding that God is mean and wrathful toward His creation. 

Admittedly, there are many instances in the Old Testament where God exacts some form of punishment. Throughout its narrative, Israel is constantly sinning and making God angry.

Up until the time I accepted Christ as a teenager, I had read Genesis more than any other book of the Bible. 

The reason is because it is at the beginning and you always start reading a book at the beginning, right? Every time I would decide to read the Bible, I would open it at the beginning, Genesis. 

Consequently, my view of God was strongly shaped by what we find in the book of Genesis. I naturally grew up seeing God as a stern authoritarian.

While God is certainly all about law and order, there is also much more to Him. He is full of love and compassion for His people. Over and over, he forgives the Israelites for their sin and helps them out of predicaments they get themselves into.

For the most part, it is more difficult to see God’s love in the Old Testament, but it is there. You just have to look a little harder to see it. 

Of course, it’s easy to recognize God’s love when we read the New Testament. References to His love for His creation are abundant, with the crucifixion of His son depicted as the epitome of this love.

It is almost as if there are two different Gods — the stern God of the Old Testament and the loving God of the New Testament. 

There is of course just one God, the one Creator of the universe. The two testaments of the Bible emphasize different aspects of the nature of God. To get the true picture of God, you have to read both parts of the Bible.

In fact, the New Testament completes the image of God that is begun in the Old Testament.

In the Old Testament., the law is given, and in the New Testament, we see how it is impossible for man to keep the law and that there must be a penalty for his sin.

Christ’s death and resurrection satisfy the penalty of man’s sin.

With the two sections of the Bible taken together, we get the full picture of God and His plan for mankind. You have to read the Bible in its entirety to understand God’s love and see the full scope of His plan.

So why is God seemingly presented so differently in the two testaments of the Bible? I don’t have a good answer to this question. 

The Jewish people, of course, only recognize and read the Old Testament. Does this skew their perception of God?

As a Christian whose Bible-reading time focuses more on the New Testament than the Old, I can’t help but think that the answer is yes.

I believe that as a believer in Christ, we are supposed to read the entire Bible. Doing so will help us develop our faith and become the people that God wants us to be. 

If we read only one of the two testaments, we will not end up with the right foundation. 

We have to see the judicial side of God depicted in the Old Testament so that we can fully appreciate the loving side of God that the New Testament gives us. Christ’s death and resurrection complete the law and put the believer in right standing with God.

As we’re told in Matthew 5:17, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”

The Father’s loving nature shines through in this verse, as He provides a way (the ONLY way, in fact) for us to become righteous in His eyes.

He loves us so much that He gave His Son Jesus as the once-for-all-time sacrifice for our sins.

Love doesn’t get more intense or deeper than that. 

And if you read only the Old Testament, you’ll never even begin to grasp the idea of this love.

However, if we don’t have the foundation of God’s justice laid in the Old Testament, we’ll never fully understand and appreciate how wonderful a gift it is that through Jesus’ sacrifice we stand forgiven in God’s eyes.

The two parts of the Bible work together to give us the full message from God. This message is that He loves us and has provided a way for us to spend eternity with Him.

All we have to do is use our free will to accept this gift by asking Jesus to be our Lord.

And that is the simple truth of the gospel.

You Can’t Out-Sin God’s Forgiveness

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:9

As believers in Christ, we’ll never be outside of God’s forgiveness. 

Think about that for a minute…

There’s nothing we can do that God will not forgive us for—so long as we’ve trusted Jesus for our salvation.

That’s the key. Without Jesus, there is no forgiveness. 

Instead, there’s a great gulf between God and us because no one is able to completely keep all tenets of the law that God gave to His people. 

That’s the reason for Jesus. God the Father knew that man doesn’t have the ability to follow the law completely, keeping even the smallest detail without sinning. As we’re told in James 2:10:

For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.

It doesn’t matter if we tell a so-called “white lie,” or if we’ve killed someone, guilty is guilty. 

However, the good news is that Jesus’ death and resurrection puts us right with God. God, being eternally just and good, couldn’t go back on the law He created, so He sent Jesus to fulfill the law. 

Through His crucifixion and subsequent rise from the grave, Jesus became the first fruits of all of us who believe in Him. All we have to do is believe in the lordship of Jesus and that He died and rose from the grave to pay for our sins. 

It’s that simple. Our works won’t get us into Heaven. Instead, our faith does. 

So, going back to forgiveness…once we become followers of Jesus, we have God’s complete forgiveness no matter how badly we mess up. All we have to do is repent and confess our sins and we can be confident that we have God’s forgiveness.

How great is that!

So, if you haven’t trusted your eternal destiny to Jesus yet, that’s the first thing you need to do. Your life will never be the same afterward. Take a moment now to invite Jesus into your heart.

Then you can rest easy, knowing that there’s nothing standing between you and fellowship with God.

Of course, as followers of Christ, we should want to avoid sin. However, being human, we will invariably fall short. When we do, thanks to Jesus we can know with confidence that we have God’s forgiveness. 

That should give each of us peace of mind!

The Essence of the Gospel

OK, here’s your tough question for the day…

What is the true essence of the Gospel? What is it all about anyway?

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Perhaps the Good News is about forgiveness. If we have placed our faith in Christ, then we know that we have forgiveness for our sins. Romans 5:8 tells us, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” 

His death and resurrection atoned for our sin (a fancy way of saying that He paid the price for our sin).

Or, we could say that John 15:12 sums up the Gospel: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”

Surely, if we don’t have love, then we don’t truly have the Spirit of Christ living in us. 

We are even told in Matthew 22:37-40 that “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

So, love is definitely a big part of the Gospel.

But so is salvation. We learn in Romans 10:9 that, “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

We have to conclude, therefore, that the Gospel is about salvation.

However, that’s not all. In arguably one of the most famous and often-quoted verses in the Bible, we are told that, “For God so loved the world

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that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

Eternal life is a key part of the Good News for sure.

So, what then is the essence of the Gospel?

Simply put, it’s Jesus. He is the “pioneer and perfecter of faith,” as Hebrews 12:2 is rendered in the NIV. The NKJV calls him the “author and finisher of our faith.”

So, yes, the Gospel is about all those other things. However, it is undeniably, unmistakably about Jesus our Savior, the One sent by the Father to make us right in His eyes.

All we have to do is believe