Most Western-style democracies guarantee freedom of religion. The Bill of Rights in the American Constitution ensures Americans are free to practice whatever religion they choose (as long as they are not harming anyone). Perhaps because of this liberty, many people assume that all religious beliefs are basically equal and valid, a concept called pluralism. It is a mistaken and false concept.
The God of the Bible insists that He alone is God. There is no other God besides Him (Isaiah 46.9). To modern ears, that may sound intolerant, or even arrogant. It certainly flies in the face of the proponents of pluralism that all beliefs are equally valid. But the LORD leaves no room for disagreement or compromise on this point: there is no god but God. One can either agree with Him or call Him a liar, but there is no middle ground.
Suppose we deny that God alone is God. That doesn’t affect God in the least. He simply says that we are wrong, and reminds us that we are mere mortals who will die. But God also warns us that our perspective is distorted, because we are stubborn-hearted sinners (46.8, 12). Who are we to decide who and/or what is God?
God refuses to be bound by our ideas of Him. That’s why He declares the truth to us: “I am God, and there is no other.”
Am I a God who is near, declared the LORD , and not a God far off? Can a man hide himself in hiding places, so I do not see him? declares the LORD . Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the LORD (Jeremiah 23.23-34).
There is no place in the universe void of God’s presence. He is not limited by the dimensions that confine us. Therefore we have the knowledge that wherever we are in whatever situation or circumstance, God is with us. Because we are His children through faith in Jesus Christ, we live daily with the assurances that He cares for us and is concerned about us. Though He is indeed Creator and Master of the Universe, He is also Father and we are His precious children – we belong to Him!
Because we belong to God we are never alone; He is our constant companion. Loneliness is an awful thing. People were made to live in “community,” and that greatest community of all is the one that transcends this world where love, friendship, and companionship are not only present now but throughout all eternity.
Because we belong to God when we are troubled, He is our confidence. Because of Emmanuel, He knows what it is like to be here and to be human. He understands hardship and heartache. He knows about worry and anxiety and says, “Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5.7).
“For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2.11).
There’s a problem understanding spiritual things with a mind orientated to thinking in physical terms. After all, we live in a world of matter, time, and decay. How do we describe the beauty of heaven, the horror of hell, or the wonder of salvation in physical terms? It seems almost impossible. Yet God, who fully understands our limitations, draws on human experiences and physical reality to describe spiritual things.
The Bible is filled with “spiritual pictures” drawn in language and terms we can understand. By looking at these pictures our spiritual awareness is quickened and our spiritual nature is aroused.
Think of the prodigal son, the pearl of great price, or the tree of life. Each one reveals a facet of great spiritual truth. No single picture reveals it all, but each contributes to the whole revelation until we eventually stand awed by the complete painting.
Some words in the New Testament are pictures themselves – atonement, forgiveness, justification, redemption, reconciliation. Each word draws on examples from the Bible or human experience to shed more light on the wonder of salvation.
Jesus is the ultimate revelation of God: No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him (John 1.18). To reveal Himself to us God entered the physical realm through Jesus Christ. He did so visibly, powerfully, and dramatically. In Jesus, God says, “I’ll draw a picture for you so you can see what I’m like” – Immanuel, God with us!