How do we cheat death and live forever? That’s one of the primary questions I asked in the book, “A History of Man’s Quest for Immortality” (Fifth Estate Publishing, 2007). The world has searched for a cure to death for thousands of years. The human race has tried every possible method and means to discover the sure way out of the miserable end everyone faces – death. It’s really quite simple – but extremely hard to do.
Let’s start at the beginning.
The first words of the Bible tell us what the entire Bible will teach us: “In the beginning God…” The Bible is about God: Who He is and what He does.The Bible is God’s Self-Revelation. He revealed Himself to the authors of the Bible so they would know Him and pass along the revelation to the world.
“And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” 2 Peter 1:19-21
When we study the Bible we are reading the message God has for us. No one made it up – God “inspired” it: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim. 3:16-17)
The Greek word for “inspiration” is theopneustos. It is made up of theos (God) and pneustos (from pnein), “to breathe.” God was involved in every part of the writing of the Bible. Every Word has His holy “breath prints” all over it: “… this Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David …” (Acts 1:16)
Theologian Henry Thiessen wrote, “The Holy Spirit so guided and superintended the writers of the sacred text, making use of their own unique personalities, that they wrote all that he wanted them to write, without excess or error.” (Lectures in Systematic Theology, William B. Eerdman’s)
God reveals Himself through the names used for Him in the Bible. The English word “God” comes from the Hebrew words elohim, elyon, el, shadday, yahweh … and the Greek word theos. The Bible student will find the name of God listed almost four-thousand times in the Scriptures. The most used name is elohim. It’s first usage is Gen. 1:1, “In the beginning God…” The next most used name is yahweh. It is often translated “Lord.” The Bible student will find God as Lord listed more than 65-hundred times in the Scriptures. It is almost always the word yahweh (Jehovah).
Elohim implies strength. God is strong! The Bible says God is “Almighty” (Gen. 17:1; Rev. 4:8). All things are possible for Him (Matt. 19:26). Nothing is too difficult for Him (Jer. 32:17). The word is also plural in number.
Jehovah is the holiest of God’s names. Jews in ancient Israel would not pronounce it. They would substitute other words for it– including Adonai. They would write YHWH, but read Adonai. Some renderings of the meaning of Yahweh are “He causes to be” and “O He!” The name is unique to Israel.
Other names from Jehovah are: Jehovah-Jireh (Jehovah will provide), Jehovah-Nisi (Jehovah my banner), Jehovah-Shalom (Jehovah my peace), and Jehovah-Shammah (Jehovah is there).
Jehovah expresses the eternality and immutability of God’s nature. It also speaks to the faithfulness of God to all His purposes and promises.
“God is infinite in relation to time. He is without beginning or end, he is free from all succession of time, and he is the cause of time.”(Thiessen, Lectures)
God was “In the beginning,” but He had no beginning. He always was – the great I AM. Here are some examples of how God revealed this truth to the world: “Then Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and there called on the name of the LORD, the Everlasting God.” (Gen. 21:33) “Before the mountains were brought forth, Or ever You had formed the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.” (Psalm 90:2) “… He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen.” (1 Tim. 6:15-16)
In addition to being infinite in relation to time, God is also infinite in relation to space. “He is not limited or circumscribed by space; on the contrary, all finite space is dependent upon him.” (Thiessen, Lectures) “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built!” (1 Kings 8:27) “The LORD is high above all nations, His glory above the heavens.” (Psalm 113:4 … also read Psalm 139:7-12) “Can anyone hide himself in secret places, So I shall not see him?’ says the LORD; ‘Do I not fill heaven and earth?’ says the LORD.” (Jer. 23:24 … also read Acts 17:24-28)
We learn more about God from the Greek names for Him. The word theos is the Greek translation of the Hebrew words Elohim and Jehovah. The primary Greek word for “Lord” is kurios. It signifies one who has power or authority. It can also be translated “master” or “owner.” Writers of the New Testament used the name kurios for God and Jesus Christ. The reason for that is simple: Jesus Christ is God!
In addition to the names “God” and “Lord,” He reveals Himself to us as “Lord God,” “God Most High,” “The Sovereign Lord,” “God Almighty,” “The Eternal God,” “The God of Bethel,” “God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,” “I AM Who I Am,” “The God of Israel,” “God, the Rock,” “The Lord, the God of heaven,” “The Mighty One, God the Lord,” “God the King,” “The Holy One of Israel,” and “The Mighty One of Israel.”
The study of the meanings in each of these names would take a student months to complete. The study would reveal that God is holy, eternal, infinite, immortal, invisible, all-knowing, everywhere present, all-powerful, unchanging, incomparable, righteous, perfect, awesome and majestic, and gracious. You will also learn that God is spirit.
And back in the beginning – we learn that God is the Creator of all we see: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1) God’s creation is also His revelation of His greatness and power. When we consider the size of the “heavens” (the universe), we begin to comprehend just how great is our God!
“O LORD, our Lord, How excellent is Your name in all the earth, Who have set Your glory above the heavens! … When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained, What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him?” Psalm 8:1, 3
“The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, And night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language Where their voice is not heard.” Psalm 19:1-3
“Sing to God, you kingdoms of the earth; Oh, sing praises to the Lord, Selah To Him who rides on the heaven of heavens, which were of old! Indeed, He sends out His voice, a mighty voice. Ascribe strength to God; His excellence is over Israel, And His strength is in the clouds.” Psalm 68:32-34
The nature of God (Who He is) has a direct bearing on the works of God (What He does). God is true to His character because He is Self-existent. He depends on no one. Because God is immense He cannot be contained. Because God is eternal, He is not limited by time. Because God is all-powerful, He cannot lose. Because God is all-knowing, He knows Himself and all other things perfectly from all eternity. Because God is present everywhere at once He sees everything and is involved in everything. Because God does not change, He is reliable. We can believe in Him and trust Him without question, concern or fear. We know from this that what God does will always be holy, righteous, just, good, true, loving, kind, merciful, and gracious. What a comfort it is to know these truths!
Now that we know Who God is and that everything He does is right, let’s look again at our question – how can we cheat death and live forever? The answer next week in the second part of our study.
In Christ’s Love and Grace,
“Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”