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1. Commitment in Scripture

– Chapter 1 –

Commitment in Scripture

The Christian life is not for the faint of heart because it involves tough questions that demand concrete answers rather than super­ficial pat ans­wers. How do we gain eternal life? Or know that God is real? Or live as true Christ­ians? Or die to sin?

In the Bible, as we shall see, the answers to these quest­ions are tied to our com­mitment to God.

As I said in the Preface, a Christian who is not committed to God is like a soldier who is not loyal to his own country or a family member who doesn’t care about his own family. The uncommitted Christian life simply does not work.

Commit­ment is not something half-hearted but is a total res­ponse to God. There is no point in discuss­ing commitment unless we have, at the very least, the desire to com­mit to God. Our aim in this book is to bring about an active response to God rather than in­crease our head knowledge of Him. We aim for a life-changing break­through in our relation­ship with God. And for those of you who have already made some kind of commit­ment, my hope is that any remaining bar­rier that stands between you and God will be lifted. I will base this book entirely on the Bible, the word of God, and not on human opinion.

Partial commitment is worse than no commitment

Many Christians struggle in the Christian life year after year, hin­dered by a partial commitment to God. In most cases the problem is not zero com­mit­ment but partial commitment. But in the Bible, partial com­mit­ment is worse than no commit­ment. The Lord Jesus says:

I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. (Rev.3:15-16, ESV)

“Cold” means turning away from God altoget­her. Yet in the mind of Jesus, that is not quite as bad as “luke­warm,” which is neither here nor there. You may be 80 percent for God and 20 percent for the world, but the fact is that not even 95 percent is good enough for God. He requires of you nothing less than total commitment.

Many Christians make no progress in the Christian life because of half-hearted commitment. They don’t exper­ience the joy and peace of the Christ­ian life and can’t communicate with God because He doesn’t listen to their prayers. The problem is that their commitment has not been set­tled: they are not totally committed to God.

We can say with absolute certainty, on the basis of God’s word, that without total commitment it is impossible for you to live the Christian life. This is not a matter of theory but of reality. If you are not com­mitted to God, you will find that your Christ­ian life won’t work. If God doesn’t answer your prayers, then some­thing needs to be sorted out in your com­mit­ment. Even among those who are serving in the full-time ministry, there are some who have commit­ment problems, and this is us­ually something they find out only after entering the ministry. It is a miser­able situat­ion to be in, for you may have given up everything in the world to serve God, only to find your­self lacking joy, spiritual power, and fellow­ship with God.

Where do we find commitment today?

Commitment is taught everywhere in the Bible, implicitly or explicitly. If we remove commit­ment from the Bible, there would be no Bible left to read, for commit­ment lies at the heart of our relationship with God.

When I was a young Christian in China, no one had ever told me about commit­ment. I did, however, have the advantage of know­ing God at a time when it was dangerous to be a Christian and when our pastors were being sent to labor camps. We knew that without com­mit­ment, we would not survive as Christians. Hence commitment to God was not something that the church had to spell out explicitly.

When I later arrived in Hong Kong, I said to myself, “It’s so won­der­ful to live in a free society where I can worship God in church and buy a Bible at a bookstore.” But when I started visiting the churches in Hong Kong, I saw just how dead the Christians there were. My heart sank. I said to myself, “This is free­dom? These Christ­ians have no life in them­selves!” I couldn’t talk with them about the deep things of God or even the basic things.

When I shared with them about what God had done in my life, they could not understand what I was talking about. They would give me a puz­zled stare as if I had come from outer space. After hearing of my experi­ences of God’s miracles, they would say to me, “But these things took place in the book of Acts. Did you just come out of the first cen­tury?” I said to myself, “What’s happening here? I can’t even fellow­ship with my fellow Christians.”

Over time, as I listened to the sermons preached in the churches, I began to discern an indifference to the vital matter of our relationship with God. When I talked with some of the pastors, I felt I was conver­sing with busi­ness­men who were more interested in church income or church property than in a deep relationship with God. They were con­stantly thinking of ways to ex­pand their church facilities and raise funds to expand their organi­z­ations, much like a business trying to expand its mar­ket share. I felt sick in my heart and won­dered what the problem was.

For a time I couldn’t pinpoint the problem. But as I waited on God for an answer, and examined what the Bible may have to say a­bout it, I began to see that the root problem was a lack of commitment. People in free societies are not interested in committing to God. The church’s failure to teach commitment has resulted in the dead churches all around us. Whenever I raised the matter of commit­ment, many would say to me, “The cost of com­mitment is too high. If you teach it, no one will come to church or become a Christian.” To this I would say, “But com­mitment is taught everywhere in the Bible.”

Let us now look into the Bible to see what it says about com­mit­ment. Do not accept what I say out of any human opinion, but see for yourself what the Bible teaches about commitment.

Who is the God we commit to?

The Bible teaches not just commitment but total commitment. Commit­ment is the found­ation of our relationship with God. It is some­times stated expli­cit­ly in the Bible, and sometimes implicitly in verses that make sense only in connect­ion with commit­ment.

We begin with an important pass­age from the Hebrew Bible, the Shema[1] of Deuterono­my 6:4-5:

4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.

Here total commitment to God is seen in total love for God. We are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, all our soul, all our strength. The triple “all” encompasses totality of devot­ion (all your heart), total­ity of person (all your soul), totality of action (all your strength).

And who is the Lord our God whom we are to love with all our heart? Here Lord is printed in small capitals, a typograph­ical con­ven­t­ion used in English Bibles to indicate that the original Hebrew word is YHWH or Yahweh.

Hence we are to commit to Yahweh! We are to love Yahweh our God with all our heart, all our soul, all our strength. Note the following render­ing of Dt.6:4-5 in New Jerusalem Bible and how it preserves the name Yahweh:

Listen, Israel: Yahweh our God is the one, the only Yahweh. You must love Yahweh your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength. (Dt.6:4-5, New Jerusalem Bible)

Who exactly is Yahweh?

For a discussion on who Yahweh is, see the supplementary note at the end of this chapter. Here is a summary in seven points:

  • “Yahweh” is God’s personal name
  • “Yahweh” is the primary designation for God in the Hebrew Bible
  • “Yahweh” is a unique name that never refers to false gods
  • Yahweh is the one and only God
  • Yahweh is the sole Creator of the universe
  • Yahweh is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
  • Yahweh is the God and Father of Jesus Christ

Loving God with our whole being

Having looked at Deuteronomy 6:4-5, we now extend it to include verses 6 and 7, in order to see the degree of our commitment to God:

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligent­ly to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. (Dt.6:4-7, ESV)

Whether you are asleep or awake, sitting or walking, inside or outside the house, you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength. This is total love and total com­mit­ment, and is repeated in Deuteronomy 11:13:

If you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today — to love the Lord your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul … (NIV)

This is reaffirmed by the Lord Jesus in Matthew 22:37:

And Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”

Hence, in both the Old and New Testaments, total commit­ment is seen in loving the Lord our God (Yahweh) with our whole being.

Is the word “commit” really in the Bible?

Is the word commit or commitment found in the Bible or are we just making it up? Before answering the question, we note that the absence of a word in the Bible does not necessarily mean it is biblically incor­rect. Some biblical concepts are con­veyed by words not found in the Bible. An example is the word sacrament which refers to baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

Another example is atonement, a word that refers to something achieved by Christ’s death: he died to atone for — to pay for — our sins in order to reconcile us to God. The word occurs only once in the New Testa­ment of KJV, in Romans 5:11, a verse in which modern Bibles are more like­ly to use reconciliat­ion. But whether atonement is used or not, it ex­presses the truth of what was accomplished for us at the cross.

But commit does not fall into the same category as sacrament or atone­ment because commit is a word that is actually used many times in the Bible in relation to God. It is found, for example, in Psalm 31:5 of most Bibles: “Into your hands I commit my spirit; redeem me, O Yahweh, the God of truth”. When Jesus was dying on the cross, he said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Lk.23:46). To com­mit one’s spirit to God is to entrust oneself totally to Him.

“Commit” is found in Psalm 37:5 of most Bibles: “Com­mit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act”. Again the basic idea is to en­trust, to put something into someone’s care. To commit my spir­it to God is to put my life, my spirit, into God’s care.

Proverbs 16:3 says, “Commit what you do to the Lord, and your plans will be established”. Entrust your work and endeav­ors to God so that He may cause them to bear fruit according to His will.

Hence commit does not belong to the class of words such as sacra­ment or atone­ment in terms of its presence or ab­sence in the Bible. On the con­trary, commit is used many times in the Bible in relation to God.

“Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator” (1Pet.4:19, NKJV). The Greek word for soul also means life. To save your soul is to save your life; to lose your soul is to lose your life. To commit your soul to God is to commit your life to God.

This is in fact the biblical princi­ple of faith: entrusting yourself to God. Faith is not just believing in certain doctrines but commit­ting your­self to God. Believing with all your heart that an elevator can take you up is fun­damentally different from your stepping into it. If you don’t step into the elevator, you won’t go up even if you believe with all your heart that it can take you up. You have to walk into the elevator and entrust yourself to it. In the Bible, to entrust is to trust “into”. When you entrust yourself to the elevator, you step into the elevator and let it carry you up.

Likewise you are not saved merely by believing that God can save you. Satan also believes that God has a plan of salvation but that won’t save him. The demons believe that God is one, yet they tremble (James 2:19). To be saved, you must believe in God in such a way as to commit or entrust yourself to Him.

In most Bibles, entrust is the word used in 1Pet.4:19 (quoted) and in verses such as 1Tim.1:18 and 2Tim.1:12 and 2:2. Jesus committed him­self to God his Father, entrusting his spirit to Him, when he suffered and died for us:

When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. (1Pet.2:23, NIV)

The story of a former gangster

We now move from the explicit to the implicit use of “commit”. The first words Jesus preached at the start of his ministry after his baptism were: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near” (Mt.4:17).

Here the Greek word for “repent” means a change of heart, a change of the mind, a change of attitude. To repent is to turn your life around. You were heading in one direction, now you do a U-turn.

But is repentance even possible without commit­ment? This is what I mean by “implied” commitment. The word “commit­ment” might not be stated explicit­ly, yet without commitment, there can be no change or repent­ance. We are not talking of mere superficial reform but a far­ reaching trans­form­ation from one state of the heart to another.

I heard the testimony of a former Chicago gangster who shared on what it meant for him to repent and become a Christian. Leaving his gangster way of life would, in the first place, put him in constant dan­ger of being killed. His former gang wanted him dead because he knew too many of its secrets. He could walk into any police station and give the names of the gangsters right up to the boss.

Secondly, because he had acquired money and property by crime, repentance meant giving everything back to his victims.

It turns out that repentance is not so trivial after all. Could this former gangster have repented the way he did without com­mitment? He put his life on the line. He sold every­thing he had and tried to give back every cent until he had nothing left.

For most of us, becoming a Christian is not quite so drama­tic. But no matter what may be our circumstances, we still have to change in our own ways. In every case of repentance, commitment is needed be­cause without it, change would not be possible.

If we are unwilling to commit to God, we shouldn’t be talking about repent­ance or else we will make it a hollow term. We often think of repent­ance in terms of feeling sorry for one’s sins but that is not the biblical meaning of repentance. True repent­ance in­volves a funda­men­tal change in heart and mind, not just feeling sorry. The former gang­ster was more than sorry when he put his life on the line; in fact the gang did try to kill him once. He sold everything he had and became penni­less. Becoming a Christian cost him every­thing; it was a change that took total com­mit­ment.

Commitment and the kingdom of God

We now proceed to the kingdom of God, a central theme of the New Testa­ment and Jesus’ teaching. Can you proclaim the king­dom of God without speaking of, or at least implying, commit­ment? You cannot do this except by ignoring the biblical meaning of “king­dom”. But if you under­stand what is commitment, you will know what is the king­dom of God. If you take commitment out of the kingdom, you will be left with a hollow term that has been emptied of its mean­ing.

The kingdom of God fundamentally means the kingship of God. It declares God as King. The traditional word kingdom, which has be­come standard in our Bibles, may confuse us in this modern age be­cause we would under­stand it in terms of territory as in “the United Kingdom”. But that is not the fundamental meaning of king­dom in the New Testa­ment. The kingdom of God fundament­ally means the kingship of God — His reign, His rule, His government — and is not prim­arily concerned with territory (see chapter 11 of the present book, 2nd footnote, on the meaning of the Greek word basileia). But because king­dom is used in the King James Bible, it has become a standard term, though a few modern translations are starting to use kingship.

The kingship of God simply means that God is king in your life. If you think about what it means in practice, you would see that it involves total commit­ment. With­out commitment, you cannot move from a self-centered way of life to a life in which God is king. In the old way of life, you did as you wished and sinned as you wished. You did selfish things and lost your temper as you wished. But now that you live un­der God’s kingship, you no longer do what you used to do. You even have to get God’s permission to get angry!

“I am angry. May I lose my temper?”


“What can I do? I am about to explode.”

Just quiet down and depend on God’s help to contain your anger. It doesn’t mean that a Christian may never be angry, but it does mean that you don’t lose your temper and go out of control, smash­ing chairs and throwing dishes. You may be angry but you don’t behave in a way that dishonors God.

Anger is not necess­arily wrong. Paul says, “Be angry and do not sin” (Eph.4:26). Anger may be justified when we see evil or injust­ice, but we must not behave in a way that dishonors God. This requires a lot of self-control, a quality that is of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal.5:22-23).

Is it possible to submit to God’s kingship without commitment? Not even remotely. Living under God’s kingship takes commit­ment: “I entrust myself to you and submit to your kingship in response to your love for me.” But God won’t force you to submit to His king­ship, for it is some­thing of your own free choice.

Are we making God a constitutional monarch?

For most people the kingship of God is a vague concept. God is treated as a constitutional monarch in the way the Queen of England is a con­stit­ut­ional monarch — a monarch in name. She is honored as Queen and is addressed “Your Majesty” but she has no true governing power. It is the Prime Minister who holds the real author­ity. The word majesty originally meant supreme power, yet in a con­stit­utional mon­archy, the one who is addressed “Your Majesty” holds no real power.

A similar situation is seen in the lives of many Christians. You might address God as Lord and King, but you do your own thing. You are the Prime Minister who holds the real power in your life whereas God is only a constitut­ion­al monarch who exercises no control over your life. You are a Christ­ian in name, without true commitment to God.

England is nominally a monarchy yet also a democracy. Technical­ly, a democracy cannot be a monarchy for that would be an oxymoron, for either the king rules or the people rule. But today we have worked out an arrangement in which the king or queen retains the title of monarch but doesn’t hold real power. It is the elected repres­entative, the Prime Minis­ter, who holds the real governing power. He and his govern­ment write the agenda for Parliament and the Queen duly gives her assent.

In the Christian life, we likewise decide what we will do. We present our agenda to God whom we call Lord and King, yet in effect we are say­ing to Him, “Please sign on the dotted line and bless me.” We may have the courtesy to say “please” but if God doesn’t bless us, the offering will go down next week. We were planning to give $50 but now we give $5 because God didn’t bless us the way we wanted.

But God’s kingship doesn’t work like that. If you make Him the constitu­tional monarch of your life, you will end up the loser. You may fool your­self but you won’t fool God. Your life will be an empty palace in which you do your own thing but God is not there.

Commitment and the Sermon on the Mount

The Sermon on the Mount (in Matthew chapters 5, 6, 7) is crucial to a correct under­stand­ing of Jesus’ teaching, yet we cannot even under­stand the Sermon itself because we have mentally sub­tracted commitment from it.

When you look at the Beatitudes (the “blessed” statements in Mt.5:3-12), would you say that those who are described as “blessed” would be regarded as blessed by the standards of the world? Blessed are the poor, yet the world thinks the rich are blessed. Blessed are those who mourn and weep, yet the world expects joy and laughter from those who are blessed. Blessed are the meek, yet the world admires the dominant and the assertive. The Beatit­udes conclude with, “Blessed are those who have been perse­cuted for the sake of righteous­ness”. Since when is per­secut­ion a bless­ing? If you are perse­cuted for being a Christian, would you feel it is a blessing?

What the Bible describes as a blessing, the world doesn’t consi­der to be a blessing. Here we see that God’s values are the opposite of man’s:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares Yahweh. “As the heavens are high­er than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)

I have always said that the Bible could not have been invented by man, for it is so different from the way we think.

Commitment and grace

Commitment is inseparable from grace, for without com­mit­ment we can­not avail of God’s grace and power, whether it is the pow­er to under­stand His word or to fulfill His commands. Sooner or later you will find your­self in a situat­ion in which you say, “Lord, this is imposs­ible to fulfill, but because you command it, I will do it by your grace.” With this kind of commit­ment, you will experience God’s power.

After we fulfill the Beat­itudes, the next step is to fulfill the verses that come after the Beatitudes: Matthew 5:13, “You are the salt of the earth,” and verse 14, “You are the light of the world.” These phrases sound familiar to us, yet the church is all too often not the salt of the earth or the light of the world. Again the root problem is a lack of commitment. You can­not bypass the Beatitudes and pro­ceed to verses 13 and 14. If you try to skip over the Beatitudes to become the salt of the earth, it won’t work. You become the salt of the earth only when you are committed to fulfill­ing the Beat­itudes: to be poor in spirit, to mourn for sin, to be persecuted for the sake of righteousness.

Many Christians have not experienced God’s transforming power. But if we let God change us, we will experience His power and know Him as the living God. We will then move from darkness to light: “You were once dark­ness but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light” (Eph.5:8).

The determination not to sin

The Lord Jesus continues in the Sermon on the Mount:

If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell. (Mt.5:29-30)

This is true commitment! In fact the word “commitment” may be too weak to describe this decisive and frightening course of action. You must be willing to cut off your right hand if it causes you to sin. With­out this kind of commitment, Jesus warns, you could end up in hell.

But Jesus is not so superficial as to mean that you can deal with the prob­lem of sin merely by cutting off your hand. We might as well chop off our heads for our brains would still be sinning after our hand has been cut off. In the previous verse (Mt.5:28), Jesus says that the prob­lem of sin lies in the “heart”. He then uses vivid lang­uage to describe the kind of com­mitment that is needed to fight sin. He doesn’t mean that you liter­ally cut off your hand but that you must have the determi­nation and commit­ment to do whatever it takes not to sin. It is better to lose some­thing such as your hand or eye than to end up in hell.

Our God is a loving God yet also a holy God. Holiness is a central teach­ing in the Bible yet it is seldom taught in the churches today. Commit­ment to God cannot be separated from commit­ment to holi­ness.

Discerning the truth

Finally, how do we know if a teaching is true or false? Jesus says, “If any­one’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teach­ing is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority.” (Jn.7:17) Again we see the call to commitment. If you are committed to doing God’s will, you will know whether a teaching is true or false, whether it is from God or from man.

I have absolute confidence in God’s truth because ever since I have come to know Him many years ago, I have put this verse into practice. I testify it is true. I have staked my life on it, and I know it is true. If you are willing to commit to God, you will experience Him as the living God!

Supplementary Note:
Who is Yahweh?

In English Bibles, when the word “Lord” is printed in small capitals as Lord, it indicates that the original word in the Hebrew text is YHWH or Yahweh. For example, the familiar phrase “the word of the Lord” is in Hebrew literally “the word of Yahweh” (e.g., 1 Kings 18:1, “the word of Yahweh came to Elijah”). In Psalm 23:1, “The Lord is my shep­herd” is literal­ly “Yahweh is my shepherd”. The familiar term, “the Spirit of the Lord,” is liter­ally “the Spirit of Yahweh” (e.g., Ezekiel 11:5, “the Spirit of Yahweh fell upon me”).

In fact the standard translation of Isaiah 42:8 makes no sense (“I am the Lord, that is my name”) unless the name Yahweh is restored, as in NJB and HCSB: “I am Yahweh, that is my name”.

The typographical convention of rendering “Lord” as Lord in small capitals is explained in the prefaces of most modern Bibles. For exam­ple, ESV says, “The ESV usually renders the personal name of God (YHWH) with the word Lord (printed in small capitals).”

We now make seven brief observations about Yahweh, with em­phasis on the identity of Yahweh. Who is Yahweh?

1. “Yahweh” is God’s personal name

We have just quoted ESV as saying that YHWH is the “personal name of God”. This crucial fact, that “Yahweh” is God’s per­sonal name, is seen throughout the Hebrew Bible, for example, in the Ten Command­ments: “You shall not take the name of Yahweh your God in vain” (Ex.20:7). It is seen also in Exodus 3:15, where God said to Moses:

Say this to the people of Israel, “Yahweh, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.” This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered through­out all generations. (ESV, with “Yahweh” in the original Hebrew text restored)

When God said, “This is my name forever” (see the italics), He was re­fer­ring to His own name Yahweh which is mentioned in the same verse. The word “forever” indicates that Yahweh is to be God’s name not just for one generation but for all eternity; indeed it is “to be remembered throughout all generations”.

It is standard knowledge among Bible scholars that Yahweh is God’s per­sonal name, as seen in Bible encyclopedias such as ISBE (“Yahweh is the only truly per­sonal name of God in Is­rael’s faith”), in Hebrew diction­aries such as TWOT (“Yah­weh, the personal name of God”), and in Bible comment­aries such as UBC (“the know­ledge of the per­sonal name of God, Yahweh, was argu­ably the great­est gift of God en­trusted to Israel”).[2]

In fact some Bible scholars are calling for a return to the original name Yahweh. A standard five-volume theological dictionary says:

The “translation” Lord is some­thing of a problem from various perspect­ives. Lord ob­scures the fact that Yahweh is a name and not a title … In view of this reality, it could be argued that, as with other personal names, we simply trans­literate what the original Hebrew was thought to be — Yahweh.[3] (italics added)

2. “Yahweh” is the primary term for God in the Hebrew Bible

Whereas “Yahweh” occurs 6,828 times in the Hebrew Bible, “Elohim” (God, god) occurs about 2,600 times. Hence the pri­mary designation for God in the Heb­rew Bible (Old Testament) is not “God” but “Yahweh”.

3. “Yahweh” is a unique name that never refers to false gods

Most of the 2,600 or so instances of “Elohim” (God) refer to the God of Israel; yet over 200 times it refers to false gods such as the golden calf (Ex.32:4) and the goddess Ashto­reth (1Kings 11:33). By contrast, the name “Yahweh” always refers to the God of Israel and never to false gods, without except­ion.

4. Yahweh is the one and only God

Yahweh says, “I am Yahweh, and there is no other, besides me there is no God” (Isaiah 45:5), and “there is no other god besides me” (v.21).

5. Yahweh is the only Creator of the universe

Yahweh says, “I am Yahweh, who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself.” (Isaiah 44:24)

6. Yahweh is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob

Yahweh instructed Moses to tell the Israelites: “Yahweh, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.” (Exodus 3:15)

7. Yahweh is the God and Father of Jesus Christ

First we note that Yahweh is our Father: “You, O Yahweh, are our Father” (Isa.63:16; cf. 64:8; Dt.32:6; Mal.2:10). Specifically, He is “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom.15:6; 2Cor.1:3; 11:31; Eph.1:3), a truth echoed by Jesus when he says, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God” (Jn.20:17). Three chapters earlier, Jesus calls his Father “the only true God” (Jn.17:3), an identification that aligns with Isaiah 45:5: “I am Yahweh, and there is no other, besides me there is no God”. Hence Yahweh is the God and Father of Jesus Christ.

[1] “Shema” (Hebrew for “hear” or “listen”) is the first word of Dt.6:4 (“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one”). The Shema origin­ally referred to the sacred proclamation of Dt.6:4 but has since been extended to include Dt.6:4-9 and 11:13-21, and Num.15:37-41. The paramount import­ance of the Shema is seen in the fact that it has become a Jewish confession of faith, and some Jews have died for their courageous and unwavering allegiance to it.

[2] ISBE (God, Names of); TWOT (484a, YHWH); Understanding the Bible Comment­ary (Dt.5:11).

[3] New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology (vol.5, Yahweh).


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