Sound 3-1: GOD‛S “RELIGIOUS DIMENSIONS OF PERSONALITY”.

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Great is God, and great is the name of the LORD God of this Universe! How it would build up each individual to daily pray, “Please increase my aware- ness of you Lord God on the great white throne in great majesty, power, and glory”; and to receive in answer to pray and increased awareness of God on the great white throne in majesty, power, and glory with the Lord Jesus Christ at His right hand making intercession for our sins and preparing to come get us again in great power and glory.

Some of this edification from more awareness of God and what God is like can easily come from more appreciate about Jesus‛ teachings about God in the Sermon on the Mount as recorded in Matthew 5,6.  Often have we heard or read the “beatitudes” of Matthew 5 without an appreciation that this is teaching as much about God Himself as it is about the blessings on recipients of the kingdom of heaven; often have we repeated the model prayer, often called the Lord‛s prayer, without realizing that it teaches us as much about God Himself as it does how to pray; often have others been admonished, though perhaps sarcastically, to turn the other cheek as a way to follow the teachings of God as given through Jesus without realizing that this also teaches us about God; and on and on, you will see this repeated in the Sermon on the Mount of Matthew 5 and 6.  It is as much teachings from Jesus on God and it is teachings to disciples on how to be a citizen of the kingdom of God.  The bottom line of it is that: the God who made us in the image of God demands of us similar characteristics of God Himself.  That will become apparent as we look at Matthew 5 and 6 in more details; and in anticipation of what you will find in these two chapters of the famous Sermon on the Mount from   Jesus Himself, I refer to the subject as GOD‛S “RELIGIOUS DIMENSIONS OF PERSONALITY”, borrowing from the title of a book by Wayne Oates, former professor of religious psychology at Southern Seminary in Louisville Kentucky.  Wayne Oates‛ book entitled THE RELIGIOUS DIMENSIONS OF PERSONALITY is really talking about the characteristics of human personality and human character that can come from a simultaneous study of psychology and the Bible.

“Religion” Wayne Oates says in Preface to THE RELIGIOUS DIMENSIONS OF PERSONALITY…”Religion,” he says, “is not just one fact of a many-facet reality known as personality.”  Oates continues that “it refers to the total personality” and that is a “psychological holism which is really a modern re-affirmation of the vital holism of personality set forth in the Old and New Testaments.”

Now what I am saying is that the Sermon on the Mount from Jesus at first reading is talking about certain religious dimensions of the man‛s personality that wants to be a member of the kingdom of God or the kingdom of heaven; yet in reality it is talking about the religious dimensions of God‛s personality that God and Jesus desire for us to emulate. Immediately, I must quote from Jesus and the Bible, lest that sound like we are trying to act like gods or lest we are trying to emulate God and that sounds incorrect–

Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:48: “Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”

You see what that tells us, a characteristic of God, is Perfect; and further- more that a religious dimension of human personality is to be the purposeful striving toward the perfection of God.  And this would be a good place to list some of the specific things that Oates refers to as the religious dimensions of personality.  They are: (1) meaningfulness, (2) direction, (3) balance, (4) community, (5) maturity-in-love, and (6) integration.  The gist of this chapter is that these, having come from psychology and the Bible, are also characteristics of God Himself, and further are both characteristics that Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount about what God is and what God expects from man!  A good illustration of this from the Sermon on the Mount is the verse quoted above from Matthew 5:48.  What does this teaching from Jesus tells us about God and what God expects from us.  It tells us that God the Father is perfect in love–remember the short but significant verse “God is love” which tells us something very significant about the character and personality of God as the very essence of love; and further it tells us very explicitly that we are, to use the words of Oates, to be mature in love even as God is mature in love.  (Jesus gives some very specific examples of maturity in love which will be discussed later in the main outline of the chapter based on the six religious dimensions of God‛s and human personality above.)

I.  One of God‛s religious dimensions of personality is Meaningfulness. God is Eternal. He is the great Alpha and Omega, without beginning and with- out end; so that if man wants the ultimate meaning, he must become involved with the ultimate in time.  You see this throughout the whole Sermon on the Mount and indeed in all the teachings of Jesus as well as in the teachings of all the Apostles of Jesus in the Bible.

1.  First, you see meaningfulness in the beatitudes of Jesus.  You know the famous blessed are they of Matthew 5.  “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”.  Well, the kingdom of heaven until this earth and the universe is forever, like God Himself, and those that have the kingdom of heaven–in this case the poor in spirit are also possessors of eternal life.

“Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.” (Matt 5:8) Well, if you see the eternal God in heaven then you like God have become eternal; and that is real meaning.

“Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God”. Wow, what meaning there is you are a son of God you are adopted by God  Himself and you can live with God forever.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  This is a reminder of the eternal characteristics of God Himself in heaven and in the kingdom of heaven. What God expects of us is what God is like since man is made in His image.

II. A second characteristics of God‛s Religious Dimensions of Personality as taught in the Bible and in particular in the teachings of Jesus called the Sermon on the Mount as recorded in Matthew 5 and 6 is DIRECTION.  By this I mean that God always has been, is, and always will be a Righteous, Holy, and Demanding God.  This is the way God‛s personality lean.  This is the way His character is.

1. God‛s basic laws like Himself never change. (Matthew 5:17-48) Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount that He was not come to destroy the law and the prophets but to fulfill.  Jesus could not possibly destroy the law and the prophets, because they were based on the very character of God.  Often, we like to quote from a promise of God given in the Bible, say for example the promise of the forgiveness of sins, and expect that God grant it to us because of this promise based on the words of the Bible.  That is true but beyond being the words of the Bible it is based on the very character of God Himself. God forgives because it is His character and personality to forgive.

The God who demands to be worshipped above all else from the beginning of time still has the law of His own personality to expect to be worshipped above all else. (Thus Jesus says in Matthew 6, “no one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”  The God who originally established through the Prophet Moses the law of personality that no man should take His name in vain still has too much self-respect for His own personality to let man get away with taking his name in vain; there- fore Jesus taught, “God will not hold him guiltless that takes his name in vain.”  God does no murder or lie or commit adultery or covet; and therefore God continues to demand the holiness of this direction to behavior.

2.  Even as God‛s righteousness exceeds the righteousness of many of the religious, in fact of perhaps the most religious that have ever lived, the religious leaders of Jesus‛ day called the Pharisees and Sadducees…that is to say that our dimensions of personality must also be as disciples of Christ to exceed the righteous of the Pharisees and Sadducees if we desire to enter the kingdom of God and of heaven.  In passing we should note some of the religious characteristics of these hypocrites of religions: (1) they would sound a trumpet in the streets and in the religious assemblies so that all would know when they had done a charitable deed; (2) they would pray on the streets and in public assemblies to be seen of other men; (3) they, like the heathen, would practice vain repetition in their prayer, thinking that the blessings of God would be directly proportional to the number of words spoken; and (4) they would also practice during fasting a sad countenance, disfiguring their faces in order that men might know they are fasting.

III. God Is A Providing God (An Integrated God).  He provides sun and rain and oxygen and more on the righteous and unrighteous (Matthew 5:43-

48).  God provides bread and clothing.  (Matthew 6:8-15 and 6:25-34).  God provides relief from debts and escape from temptations. I know we generally like to quote about God having the very hairs of our head numbered, without the humorous statement that it requires less math for some of us than others, as an illustration of the love and provision–the awareness of God, if you would, about every individual on the earth; however, I think the best illustration is of the sparrow not falling to the ground without the awareness of God. Just think of all the birds including sparrows that are found in the whole earth, and all of their movements, from tree to tree and power line to power line, from yard to yard are know by God.

“Oh ye of little faith (in God),” Jesus said. “Look at the birds of the air for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not of more value than they?”  (Matthew 6:26)

And the moral of that story is not just that God knows but that also God provides.  OUR GOD IS A GOD OF PROVISION!  THAT IS ONE OF GOD‛S RELIGIOUS DIMENSIONS OF PERSONALITY!  And we must in the name of honesty to the Bible and to intellectual honesty to truth, mention that the God of Provision provides salvation to all, especially to those who believe!

IV. God Is a Secret God!     I think we can call this sincerity and balance, you might even add humility to it as a characteristic of Jesus and God, a characteristic of the Jesus who washed the feet of His own disciples and of the Jesus that made His triumphant entry into Jerusalem riding on a donkey instead of a great white horse. (Now, parenthetically His second great entry at the second coming will be on a great white horse in great majesty, power, and glory to show that He is indeed the Lord of the Universe under God the Father!)

1.  Jesus taught that God wanted men to pray in secret because God hears in secret. I think it is easy for us to think of the secret characteristic of God‛s personality.  Seldom has man heard the voice of God speak; seldom has man seen God Himself, never except in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ; seldom has man heard a message from God unless he opens us the book called the Word of God, the Bible and prays. Judas, not Iscariot, asked Jesus the very important question, “How can you reveal yourself to us and not to the world?” This is a practical question about seeing and knowing the Secret God. Jesus replied, “We (God the Father and Jesus the Son) stand at the door of any individual heart and knock, and if that individual will listen and open the door, the Father and the Son will come in and live with him.”  (John 14)

2.  God is a God of no pretense.  (Matthew 6:1-4 and 6:16-18)  Don‛t fast to be seen of men; don‛t pray on the street corner and loudly in church to be seen of other men as the most religious; don‛t sound a trumpet or shoot  off your mouth in public about your charitable deeds; and pray in private in a closet if you would and the Secret God will hear and answer your prayer in secret. You see this also in the beatitudes where Jesus and God demand certain behavior like themselves to enter the kingdom of God, like humility and meekness and poverty of spirit.  These believe it or not are characteristics of the image of God and those that are expected also of us.  Jesus showed those as characteristics of God.

V. God Is A Forgiving God. {Let us call this the dimension of maturity in love as it is really a challenge of love to forgive.}

VI. God Is a Loyal and Jealous God. Matthew 6:19-23.  {Let us call this community for the lack of any other religious dimension of personality to call it.}

TOC for Some Sounds of Sound Faith

SOME SOUNDS OF A SOUND FAITH

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 Sounds                                                                               page

 I.  Introduction

 1-1.  Sound of Grace to Know and Sound Doctrine               4

 1-2.  Contemporary Sounds of the Falling Away                 16

 1-3.  The Sound of the “Good Life”                                   30

II.  Major Sounds of the Bible

2-1.  The Bible    (II Timothy 3,4)                                     35

2-2.  God     (Matthew 5,6)                                                41

2-3.  Christ  (Ephesians 1,2)                                              47

2-4.  Salvation   (Ephesians 4)                                           52

2-5.  Holy Spirit  (Acts 2)                                                 58

2-6.  Faith   (Hebrews 10-11)                                             64

2-7.  Gospel   (Luke 4)                                                       69

2-8.  Assembly   (Hebrews 12)                                          73

2-9.  Day of the LORD (Acts 2)                                        79

III.  Topical

Edification

3-1.  God‛s “Religious Dimensions of Personality”          83

3-2.  “Spiritual Blessings in Heavenly Places in Christ”      90

3-3.  God‛s “Watershed of History”        100

Exhortation

  3-4.  “The Time Has Come…”         111

  3-5.  Faith and Faith Contending        119

  3-6.  “THAT DAY..” of the LORD and Lord       139

Comfort

  3-7.  Comfort in the Gospel         150

  3-8.  Comfort in the Comforter         168

  3-9.  Comfort in the Assembly of the Firstborn      177

 IV.  Conclusion

  4-1.  Let‛s Reveal Some Follies         191

  4-2.  Unity and Bonds of Peace         201

  4-3.  Health Check           209

  4-4   The Tsunami           215

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