Monday, February 20, 2012

God Who Cannot Lie

The Scriptures tell that we have a God who cannot lie, not just that He does not lie – God cannot lie. I am aware that certain translations of the Bible render Titus 1:2 as saying that God does not lie. But the true rendering is that He cannot lie. Here God’s character is in focus not just His ways or habit. Whereas the scriptures tell us that when Satan speaks, he speaks lies and is the father of it, because he speaks from himself, i.e., he speaks from within, from his own self; God speaks also from within Himself and of His Own, and it is all truth. For out of the abundance of the heart does the mouth speak!

In this paper, it is however, the context in which the title of this paper appears that we would wish to speak a little about. And so let’s quote the whole verse. Titus 1: 2 – “In hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised before the world began”. This verse tells us that it is God who has promised eternal life before the world began. But if God made this promise before the world began, to whom did He make this promise?

In writing to Timothy, in his second letter, the apostle Paul says, “...Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,” (2 Timothy 1:9). This verse also talks about the time ‘before the world began’ as the verse in Titus. Furthermore, this verse makes it clear that God’s grace was given us before the world began. In the book of the Revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ we read of the Lamb “slain from the foundation of the world.” (Revelation 13:8) [I am aware of the alternate rendering of this verse in the Greek text, however for now, I’d prefer to leave all such discussions aside as it wouldn’t necessarily affect the truth of what we’re here emphasising. In any case, however we may read this particular verse, Peter is explicit in saying that the Lamb, the Lord Jesus Christ was “foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,” (1Peter 1:20)]

The Scriptures make it clear that before time began Christ was, in the eternal councils of God ‘slain’ for us and that grace was given us before time began, before the world began. When Pauls writes to Titus that God promised eternal life before the world began, although he does not make it explicitly clear as to whom it was that God made His promise, it is obvious that it was to us that He made such a promise. But someone may ask, “How could God make a promise to us when we didn’t even exist?” Now this is exactly where we need to believe in the Power and Might of our God. God could do so as He is One Who “calleth those things which are not, as though they were” (Romans 4:17). What a wonderful and almighty God our God is. Abraham believed God to be so (Romans 4:17), and so should we!

It is when we believe God and the Word of His Power, that we understand all things. No wonder we read in Hebrews 11:3 “Through faith we understand that the world were framed [literally - ages were planned] by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” Beloved, it is only as we look to God and believe Him and His word, that we can “understand” all truth – truth about His old creation as well as truth about His new creation.

What a comfort it should be to our feeble and fickle hearts that our God promised eternal life to us in Christ before the world began [lit. before time began], and God cannot lie. Grace was given us in Christ before the world began. And in both these passages of scripture (in 2 Timothy 1 and Titus 1), Paul immediately follows these worlds stating that God has now manifested (what was previously promised or given) in this present time. And the manner of God’s manifesting it is always through the Lord Jesus Christ! In 2 Timothy 1:10 Paul says, “But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ,...” and in Titus 1:3 Paul says, “But hath in due times manifested his word through preaching,..” Whether through the Lord Jesus Christ (the Incarnate Word) or the Written Word, God always manifests Himself through the instrumentality of the Word, the Son of God Himself.

Here would like to quote the words of A.C. Hervey from the Pulpit commentary –
“Manifested his Word” -there is a change of construction. “The relative sentence passes almost imperceptibly into a primary sentence” ...; “his Word” becomes the object of the verb “made manifest,” instead of “eternal life,” as one would have expected. His Word is the whole revelation of the gospel, including the Person and work of Jesus Christ. Compare St. Peter’s address to Cornelius (Acts 10:36). This “Word,” which lay in the mind of God through the ages, and was only dimly expressed in the promises given from time to time (1 Peter 1:10-12), was now “made manifest,” and  proclaimed openly in that preaching of the gospel of God’s grace which was entrusted to St. Paul. This same idea is frequently expressed (see Romans 16:25; Ephesians 1:9, 10; 3:3-11; 2 Timothy 1:9-11; 1 Peter 1:20)”

It is only in and through Christ that we enter into the good of all those things which God has already given us before time began, whether it is grace that was given us before time began or the promise of eternal life that was made to us before the world began – all in Christ and through Christ alone. Hallelujah, What a Saviour. And grace is yet to be brought to us at the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ (see 1 Peter 1:13).

May the Lord Himself continue to keep each of us in His Grace unto the Day of His appearing and His Kingdom.  Since we have a God Who cannot lie, His promise is as sure as Himself, eternal. And with Him His word is His work, its already accomplished as far as He is concerned, while we wait yet for the ‘manifestation’ of it, let us “hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto [us] at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”