14 Oct 2019

What Kind of God do They Worship?

Author: Bobby Valentine | Filed under: Bobby's World, Christian hope, Faith, Forgiveness, Grace, Jesus, Love, Patternism, Precision Obedience, Psalms, Salvation

Some may be offended by this post. But that is not my intention. However, I believe this is quite serious and needs to be addressed.

What kind of God do you worship?

The Psalms have reshaped my view of God. They have helped me see Jesus of Nazareth as he really is. The psalms lead God’s people into the worship of God in Spirit and Truth. The last five psalms of the book form a cascading literary conclusion to the whole book of Psalms, doxology upon doxology till it shatters the universe in Ps 150.

The praise of the Psalms is a direct response to the kind of God Yahweh is. You see, in the Bible, God’s people are not merely theists, as opposed to atheists. It is not enough to merely believe that a god exists. Biblical faith begins and ends with faith in a certain kind of god. The biblical God is alone, God.

Idolatry is not primarily bowing to stones. It is fashioning a false god that is unlike Yahweh. What kind of God do you, and I, believe in? This is the crux. Lots of folks believe in “god,” but it seems to me some have a false god.

Psalm 145 quotes Israel’s God Creed. It was pronounced first by Yahweh, in the hearing of Moses. It was in the midst of tremendous failure, the Fall of Israel. Every bit as much a fall as that of Adam in the Garden. The Golden Calf. Yahweh proved his love, and who Yahweh is, by forgiving. The Psalms exclaim, near the end of the Psalter, we have come this far and sang 144 songs together, this is who we confess,

Yahweh is gracious and merciful
slow to anger

and abounding in HESED/steadfast love.
Yahweh is good to all
and his compassion is over all that
he made
” (145.8-9)

Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord. Grab the trumpet, grab the lyre, grab the cymbals, grab anything and Praise the Lord. Dance and praise the Lord. Men, women, young and old, praise the Lord.

Why praise?
Because Yahweh is good.
Why, praise in music and dance?
Because Yahweh is infinite Hesed.
Why worship?
Because Yahweh remembers widows, orphans, aliens (146.7-9).

Even the creepy crawlies praise the Lord (148.9-10). Why? Because Yahweh is good to them.

Yahweh is compassionate.
Yahweh forgives.
Yahweh is hesed.
Praise the Lord.

The Psalter ends with pure praise. The Psalter ends with exuberant, over the top, praise. This praise can only be done by people who truly know what kind of God Yahweh is.

The other morning, when Casper and I finished reading the Psalms, I checked the fifty or so notifications I had on Facebook. I should not have. When I read, and sometimes comment, on posts in various “Church of Christ” groups, I ask “what kind of god do these people believe in?”

That morning I asked that literally out loud.

It does not matter the day. You will find in the CofC groups two constant themes in any of these groups:

– Instrumental music
– Is wine a sin

These are always filled with so much (literally) made up stuff, it is shocking. There is no Mormon or Jehovah’s Witness that twists scripture or makes false statements – and could care less – as on these threads. Sometimes we imagine we know the Bible, and I do not say this out of some self-righteousness but rather a genuine sense of lament, but we do not.

But this morning I saw one that I was unprepared for what I read.

“If someone is in a coma or other ailment, will this cost him his salvation because he forsakes the assembly?”

There was a long thread. It was shocking how many affirmed YES! and it is shocking that the person posting was asking a serious question!

What kind of god do they believe in? It is not the God of Psalms. It is not the God of Exodus. It is not the God of Jesus. It is not the God Yahweh.

I wept for these people. My heart was broken. I asked God to deliver us from the false preachers who have convinced these, his people, of this kind of skubala. May the Lord have mercy upon us all.

What kind of God is the God of Israel? The one who elicits such praise (those answering the thread would likely leave the service described in Pss 145-150). This is the biblical answer,

Where is another God like you,
who pardons the guilt of the remnant,
overlooking the sins of his special people?
You will not stay angry with your people forever,
because you DELIGHT in showing unfailing love (HESED).
Once again you will have compassion on us.
You will trample our sins under your feet
and throw them into the depths of the ocean!
You will show us your faithfulness and unfailing love
as you promised to our ancestors
Abraham and Jacob long ago
(Micah 7.18-20, NLT)

The biblical narrative reveals a God of infinite, passionate and costly love – hesed. The teachers of these misguided brothers and sisters make Jonah seem wise by far. At least Jonah had no doubt as to the mercy and grace of Yahweh, it was God’s gracious hesed that Jonah was running away in order to keep the Assyrians from being saved. He knew what kind of God Yahweh was.

But this was very distasteful to Jonah and he became angry [Heb, evil]. He prayed to Yahweh, ‘O Yahweh! Is not this what I said while I was still at home? Is this not why I ran away to Tarshish at the beginning. Because I KNEW that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in HESED, and ready to relent from punishing” (Jonah 4.1-2)

Behold the God of the Cross. Behold the God who would rather let Jesus die than be God without us. Behold the Biblical God. I am so glad I read the Psalms and worshiped the King of Glory, the King of Love this morning.

This is the God that I worship … the Father of Glory, who has given us the Son and embraced us in the Holy Spirit.

Praise the LORD!
Praise God in his sanctuary …
Praise him for his mighty deeds (works of salvation).
(Ps 150)

P. S. I disavow the technical god of Precision Obedience.

4 Responses to “What Kind of God do They Worship?”

  1. Dwight Says:

    Believe it or not, this is not the first time assembling has become an issue of salvation, but this arguably means that Paul, who languished in prison, sinned because he could not assemble with an assembly. The big problem is that we have changed assembling into an assembly. Heb.10 calls us to assemble, or be with each other, but it doesn’t dictate an assembly as the goal…Christ is the goal, whether assembled or not.

  2. Jess Nichols Says:

    Our God is bigger than we give Him credit for. He way beyond our realm of thought. We can never give Him enough love or praise Him enough.
    Thank you , Bobby!

  3. Darryl Willis Says:

    Wow. That was really the topic of a thread?

    I weep with you. What have we created? What have we perpetuated?

    Kyrie elision!

  4. Ray Hawk Says:

    I’ve been in one tornado and closely missed a couple of others. But the comment on being in a coma and forsaking the assembly blew me away! More wind than I can handle.

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