Sunday, June 25, 2017

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By : Lonnie Branam [ Sermon Is Mary the Mother of God? ]


In this study we shall be looking  at the first two words in what most of the religious world calls, "The Lord's Prayer." In Matthew 6:9 Jesus began the prayer by sayng, "Our Father in heaven, hallowed by your name." It is a notable fact that the title "Father" is seldom applied to God in the Old Testament. To my knowledge nowhere is God there invoked as a Father. It is also a remarkable fact that God  is frequently referred to as a Father in the New Testament. How are we to understand the words, "Our Father." It most certainly implies that man and woman are His sons and daughters, but in what sense are we His sons and daughters? Does the fact that we have a Father in heaven imply that we also have a mother in heaven? Since Jesus taught us to address God as, "Our Father, " are we to understand that Jesus means that God is more male than female? These are some of the questions raised in the text before us.

My first comment is that there has been much discussion lately about whether God has a feminine nature. It has been argued that God is just as feminine as He is masculine, and that Bible translations should be changed to reflect this fact. According this idea, the text should read, "Our Parent who is in heaven." Is God a masculine Being by nature instead dof a feminine Being?  I read an interesting written by Otis Gatewood, now deceased, who was the first Church of Christ preacher allowed to preach in Germany after World War II and also preached for the church in Vienna, Austria for many years. He referred to an article in a church bulletin in Vienna written by a Catholic priest. In this article the writer said that Catholics pray to Mary and say, "Our Mother who is in heaven."He maintained that God should be addressed as Father, but Mary should be addressed as "Our Mother." He declared that Mary is the mother of the church, and she is the mother of all Christians. He said this is true because Jesus said to the apostle John in John 19:27, "Behold my mother." He said that Christ was not speaking only personally to John, but to all Christians. He gave no poof of this other than to say, "The church, not the scriptures, declare this to be true." Thus there are millions of people who believe that  we have a mother in heaven.

After having said this, the priest concluded his article by giving one typical prayer to Mary, "Mary our mother in heaven, we with joy honor you. Teach us to do God's will, as you did. Stand by our sides in the hundreds of needs in our lives. Teach us to forgive as you forgive those who killed Christ–you sinless one! Have compassion with us poor sinners, and pray for us now and in the hour of death. Amen." Now it is evident from what this man wrote and from what millions believe that there is misunderstanding about the nature of God and the nature of man and woman. I think we need to clear our thinking on these issues.

Secondly, it is a clear Bible teaching that there will be no male-female relationships in heaven. The Bible also clearly reveals that there are no male-female relationships in heaven at the present time. The Sadducees once said to Jesus, "Suppose a woman had seven husbands during her lifetime. When they are raised from the dead which one will be her husband in the next world? Jesus gave them this answer in Matthew 22:29,30: "You ae mistaken not knowing the scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like the angels of God in heaven." It is a divinely revealed fact that there will be no male-female relationships in heaven. The male-female relationship must not be projected into the heavenly realm because it does not exist there. Furthermore, when Jesus said that saved men and women in heaven would be like the angels, he affirmed that there is no male-female relationships among the angels. Angels have no mothers in heaven; we never read of any baby angels in heaven. There are no baby angels because they were not born of a union between a father and mother. Angels know of no fathers and mothers in heaven. Angels do not have feminine and masculine bodies, and Jesus said that men and women in heaven will not have feminine and masculine bodies. They will be like the angels.

It is curious that the Mormons teach that when God made man in His image, it means that God had a physical body, and God man like himself. Thus man has a physical body because God has a physical body. But this is to err, not knowing the scriptures. The Bible does not teach that God has a physical body. Jesus said, "God is a Spirit"(John 4:24).  Before Jesus left heaven and came to earth, the Bible teaches that Jesus existed in the form of God, was with God in the beginning and was God(John 1:1,2; Philippians 2:6). We do not dispute the fact that God had a form, but the form Christ had  in His pre-earthly existence was not the same as He had when He took on "...the form of a servant and was made in the likeness of men" (Philippians 2:7), The fact that God was "manifested in the flesh" is proof that He was not flesh before He was manifested(I Timothy 3:16). He was a Spirit Being like the Father and Holy Spirit.

Having discussed the nature of God, I think it would be in order to say a few things about the nature of man and woman. Galatians 3:27,28 says, "As many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male or female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus." This scripture is important because it declares there is a sense in which he male-female relationship does not exist. In terms of one's spiritual relationship to Christ there is no masculine-female distinctions. Men and women in Christ make one group in the sight of God. Even though men and women are different physically does not mean that our spiritual natures are different and therefore we are in need of a masculine or feminine God. God did not give one Bible for men and another for women. Since our spiritual natures are the same, we have only one Bible.  Hebrews 12:9 declares that God is the Father of our spirits because He formed our "spirits within us"(Zechariah 12:1). So the question whether God is masculine or feminine is irrelevant. He has a spiritual nature in a realm where spirits of men and women are alike. Thus the question is settled about whether we have a mother in heaven. The virgin Mary will not have a feminine body in heaven any more than God has a masculine body in heaven. The word mother recalls precious memories and relationships for us in this world, but our physical relations do not continue in heaven. So why get emotional about needing a mother in heaven? There is one God the Father and one Mediator between God and mankind , the man Christ Jesus. Since Jesus is the one appointed Mediator between God and mankind, those who turn to Mary, or any other person, by this act reject and dishonor Christ's Mediatorship.

Besides, we must remember that the Virgin Mary is not in heaven yet; her soul is in paradise and her body has not been resurrected yet. She will not be resurrected until Christ returns when all the rest of us will be resurrected. Millions believe that when Mary died, and exception was made for her; and she was taken bodily to heaven. But this is manifestly not true, for it is not verified in the word of God. It is but one of the many church traditions which mus be rejected as man-made in origin. It can be said of the Virgin Mary what is said of all others who die in Christ. Revelation 14:13 reveals they rest from their labors between death and the resurrection. Her soul is in paradise awaiting the general resurrection of the dead. Ecclesiastes 9:5,6 says, "The living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing...Nevermore will they have a share in anything done under the sun." Since Mary has never been resurrected, like all other deceased people, she has no knowledge of anything that is done under the sun, and should not and cannot be disturbed by prayers of people on earth.

Finally, if God is neither masculine or feminine, in what sense is He called "Our Father?" It is a figurative title. We address God as Father because Jesus said to address Him as Father. We should pray as Christ instructed us, and we are not to destroy His  honor by some title of our own choosing. Jesus said, "Whatever you ask the Father in my name, He will give you"(John 16:23). This honor belongs only to Jesus. . We are not authorized to pray to the Father in any other name. When we address God as Father, it does not mean that He is a man like all males in the world. Since God is not our literal Father, we must understand it is a figurative sense. We all have earthly fathers, thus it does not refer to being an earthly parent. God is our heavenly Father; He is our spiritual Father. God became our Father by reason of our new birth and adoption into God's heavenly  spiritual family. There is a certain resemblance between the relationship which exists between the heavenly Father and His heavenly children and that which prevails between an earthly father and his earthly children. Hence the appropriateness of the figurative  phrase, "Our Father in heaven."

Jesus commented on the spiritual nature of the Fatherhood of God in Matthew 23:9 saying, "Call no man your Father upon earth, for one is your Father who is in heaven."  Does this mean we should not even address an earthly parent as father? No, that is not the meaning. We know this scripture does not mean our earthly father, for that is a respect all men are commanded to show. Furthermore, in both the Old and New Testaments earthly fathers are so addressed. In giving this command to call no man your father, He also said, "Call no man Rabbi." That term was created by the Jews to mean religious dignity or respect. The conclusion is clear, then, that this verse means not to call any man father as a religious title or in a spiritual sense. God alone is a religious or spiritual Father. When this word is used in a religious sense as a title of spiritual or religious dignity, it must never be applied to any one but God our heavenly Father. It is one of the greatest privileges of life to be able to call God "Father."When Jesus said to pray, "Our Father in heaven etc, it was never intended for universal use. Jesus didn't teach this to all men, but to His disciples. It is a prayer adapted to people whom God has adopted into His family. When a person prays, "Our Father" that person ought to be a child of G od, and then it would mean something. This fact is affirmed in Romans 814,15, "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the Sons of God...For you have received the Spirit of adoption whereby we cry, Abba, Father." We call God Father because we are sons and daughters of the Almighty. Because we are Christians we feel sonship, having been adopted into God's spiritual family. If anyone wants to have God as their Father, the gospel invitation is to have he courage and faith to accept and obey the gospel of Christ.

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