I AM that I AM
Moving is an experience that very few of us relish undertaking. Once the future residence has been secured and the boxes all packed, the actual “moving” of the items from one place to another can be quite difficult. One thing this process forces us to do is at least take a cursory glance at all of the items in our possession, and judge whether they are worthy to be moved to the “new place”. Furthermore, once the boxes have all been delivered and the sore muscles heal, we will (eventually) unpack all of these items, again evaluating whether they need to stay, or be thrown out.
It was during this process that I arrived upon several boxes that I dreaded to open. I knew what they held: miscellaneous artifacts from my childhood. Items ranging from my kindergarten report card to my senior portraits. Opening these boxes and deciding what to keep was quite an exercise, but I learned something valuable that day. In sorting the various papers, there was a clear distinction between the relevant and the irrelevant. Biology notes from 2001, perfect attendance certificates, 6th place track ribbons, all of which had taken up space since they were received had done only that since that time: taken up space in my Dad’s attic Other than the sentiment found in mementos of times gone past (and evidence for my children that I indeed once was a child), they had nothing more to offer me.
However, there were some items that were still relevant. A 1999 bulletin from the Oak Grove Church of Christ titled: “The Integrity of a Christian”. Tracts ranging from “In The World but Not of the World” to “Discipline in The Home”. A 1986 issue of the JAMA (Journal of the Medical Association) titled: “On the Physical Death of Jesus Christ”. One thing stood out about all these items: they were all still true and useful for edification today. This caused me to strongly consider why were they still relevant, when all these other items were not?
All of relevant items had one thing in common: they were all Biblically-based! Unlike all of the other items in those boxes, whose origins were of this world, the materials concerning scriptural matters have their source in the Bible, and therefore the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:21). The Word of God will always be relevant to our lives! In Isaiah 55:11 it reads “so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” The Word of God will accomplish what it was meant to accomplish, which implies there will never be a time where it is irrelevant or unnecessary. The Word of the Lord will always be relevant to the hearer, no matter the age or situation. The familiar passage 2 Timothy 3:16-17 also impresses on us the constant relevance of the scriptures: “All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
This thought also brings another to mind: God’s Word continues to be relevant for our lives because of their Author! The LORD was, and is, and always will be the most important thing in our lives, whether we recognize it or not! Note the name that God gives Himself when Moses asks him in Exodus 3:13-14: “Then Moses said to God, "If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they ask me, 'What is his name?' what shall I say to them?” 14God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM." And he said, "Say this to the people of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you.'" Notice here the tense of the name that God refers to Himself as: “I AM”. God is eternal and constant in every sense of the word. In Revelation 1:8 it reads: “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty”. His holiness, righteousness, mercy, steadfast love, jealousy, anger, and every other aspect of Him has always been and will always be the same.
What does the unchanging nature of God and His Word do for us as followers of God?
1. It gives us deep confidence in our beliefs. We do not worship a God who constantly changes His mind on issues based on emotion or public opinion. This is something people (and denominations led by people) are well known to do. For example, how many denominations 60 years ago would have considered condoning and defending homosexual relationships? On the other hand, God’s word on the matter has long been established in 1 Cor. 6:9-10: “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” God’s unchanging word gives its believer confidence that our beliefs will not shift as the world distances itself from God.
2. It gives us great confidence in our salvation. The LORD promised salvation to all who seek Him through His Son Jesus. In John 10:28-29 Jesus declared “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand.” We can trust Jesus’ instructions for His disciples concerning belief and baptism (Mk. 16:16) because His word doesn't change! If this has been promised by God through Jesus, His unchangeable nature and never-failing word gives us comfort to know He carries out his promises to us. Indeed, God tells us in Isa. 45:22: “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other”.
3. It gives us great urgency to spread the Gospel. In the scriptures God promises retribution towards those who do not obey Him. 2 Peter 3:10-12 reads: “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. 11Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, 12waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn!” Also, 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9 says “and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels 8in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might,” Since we know the certainty of God’s word, why do we wait to share the Gospel??? If we truly understand the unchanging nature of God and His unfailing word, we should have more than ample motivation to “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” (2 Timothy 4:2)
It is time to take careful inventory of all the things we have “boxed up” within our everyday lives, and ask ourselves: “Is this relevant to my life as a child of God?” If not, I ask that you do as was done with some of the unnecessary things I found in those boxes: put them aside, and let them weigh you down no longer. As for the things that are based on God and what we read in His holy word, Cling to them. They are precious, for they will always be as needful, relevant, and trustworthy as their Author.