God the Great I AM


I previously wrote about the creation of the New Age "I AM Presence" through the Ascended Master "I AM" teachings. The Great I AM has nothing to do with those teachings. This is about God's name I AM. Millions of people, including myself, have followed the I AM teachings and hence, accepted the I AM Presence as their real self. Unfortunately, we were falsely led, in part probably because we knew God's name from the Bible, I AM that I AM.

Recently I read about a new survey that just came out by State of Theology, conducted by Ligonier Ministries. They found that out of 3,000 participants, 52% of American adults believe that Jesus was a great teacher and nothing more. An earlier study showed that only 51% of Americans consider God to be "all-powerful, all-knowing, perfect and just creator of the universe who still rules the world today.” Almost twenty years ago 73% of Americans believed that to be true.

God would not be surprised by this survey, but I was. Do Christians really know their Bible? I did not. Although I went to church weekly where sermons and Biblical passages were read, the Bible is too vast to learn by attending church once a week. I did not read the Bible outside of church until I joined the Ascended Master Teachings, and unfortunately, their interpretation of some Bible passages was not correct.

The Bible is God's story beginning with His creations, including mankind. Right after Adam and Eve’s disobedience, God provided a path of redemption, out of love for us, through the coming of Jesus Christ to live and die for us. Then, through Jesus, God is reconciling everything so that the entirety of creation could come back to perfect communion with God. The Bible clearly lets us know that God is great and all-powerful and that Jesus is God.

After the fall of man in Genesis, mankind no longer had direct access to God, and even the people of Israel only knew certain aspects of their Creator. Then, in Exodus, God states His own name for the first time. Having heard the cries of His people (Ex. 2:23-25), Moses was chosen by God to go and lead God’s people out of slavery. When Moses asked God what he should say if the people asked who sent him God replied,  "I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you“ (Exodus 3:13-14). This record in Scripture where Moses is at the burning bush is an introduction to understanding the name of God. Although I believed I knew what I AM THAT I AM meant, depending on what version of the Bible you read and whether you go back to the original Hebrew or Greek, you may miss out on what the true meaning is.

"I AM THAT I AM" comes from the Hebrew words ehyeh asher ehyeh. About a century before the time of Christ, the Bible was translated by Jews into Greek for the benefit of Greek-speaking Jews in the diaspora. This translation is known as the Septuagint. It translated ehyeh asher ehye" as I am the being", or "I am the existing one" which in Greek is Ego eimi ho ôn. The New Jerusalem Bible translates it as “I am He who is.”

When Christians began spreading throughout Rome, they needed a reliable translation into Latin. St. Jerome did the translation of Exodus based directly on the Hebrew version, not the Greek of the Septuagint, and his version of God's self-description in Greek was Ego sum qui sum or "I AM WHO I AM". This translation was popular up to the 17th century and beyond.

The meaning of the phrase “I AM WHO I AM” has been a source of much theological discussion, to say the least. The words “I am” are the Hebrew verb “hayah” which is a simple verb meaning “to be.” This verb in various conjugations is translated as “was,” “is,” “will be,” “became,” “shall be,” etc. Here in Exodus 3:14, the verb is in the QAL imperfect form. Most often, when the Hebrew verb is in this form, it is translated as “I will be” or “I shall be.” Therefore, some believe that the best accurate translation is “I will be what I will be" or “I will be who I will be". According to Nehemia Gordon, a rabbi and researcher of ancient Hebrew manuscripts best known for his study of Genesis and Exodus, hayah expresses “the quality of absolute Being, the eternal, unchanging, dynamic presence."

In Exodus 3:10 God Himself speaks, "I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt". God is speaking in the first person, using “I am"  or “I will be" denoting, then, existence; yet it is understood as expressing active and self-manifesting existence. Therefore, we can see God declaring that He is self-existent, eternal, self-sufficient, self-directed, and unchanging. In verse 3:15 God gives His name, "And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The LORD (Yahweh) God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations."

In my previously published article on the "New Age I AM Presence" I quoted Gordon's Biblical understanding of​ ​the meaning of the Hebrew letters comprising God’s name.​ ​God’s name YHVH derives from the exact same Hebrew​ ​root as “I am.” He explains that this name is a​ ​combination of three forms of this Hebrew root: Hayah,​ ​Hoveh, and Yihyeh. These three words mean respectively: “He was,” “He is,” and “He will be.” Thereby, when we call to YHVH (Yahweh) we are calling to the One who, “has always existed, exists now, and will always​ ​continue to exist.” God says, “I am” about Himself but​ ​we are to call Him YHVH meaning, “He was, He is, and​ ​He will be.”

YHVH (Yahweh) is the “the four letters” Tetragrammaton of the Israelites name for God and is used thousands of times in the Old Testament. Yahweh is the third person version of Ehyeh, which is first person. The English language doesn’t have an exact translation of the word “Yahweh,” so in our Old Testament we see it written as “LORD” in all capital letters. In Jewish tradition, “Yahweh” is too sacred a name to utter out loud. Over time Jews started to substitute in “Adonai,” or “My Lord,” especially when speaking. Another common replacement is the name “Elohim,” which simply means “God.” While the two replacement names, Adonai and Elohim, are both used for other things, not just God, God's covenant name, Yahweh, is reserved exclusively as a name for God.

The "I AM" Presence
What Ascended Master students were taught was that each person is an incarnation of an "Individualized Presence" of the I AM THAT I AM; as part of our very Nature and Being. The Summit Lighthouse's description is: "The Self begins with the permanent atom of being, the cause out of which the effect proceeds." They call this cause the I AM THAT I AM, the Presence of the I AM, or the I AM Presence.

These New Age teachings teach that between this God Self and the evolving soul is the mediator, that is the portion of the Self that can translate to the imperfect soul something of the perfection of the I AM THAT I AM.  It is believed to be the portion of your being that is real enough to stand in the holy Presence of God. This mediator is called the Higher Self, the Higher Mental Body, the Real Self or the Holy Christ Self.  In other words, Christ is the mediator and our real self that we are to become one with, taking us to oneness with the I AM Presence or I AM THAT I AM. Christ is also universal whereby everyone has a Christ "self", meaning that Jesus became the Christ as an example to us but He is not the only Christ or the only Son of God.

Do you see what they are teaching? They teach the "I AM Presence" is the "I AM THAT I AM" making this "Presence" God and that we all are to become one with God like Jesus, but Jesus is not God incarnate. It is in God that we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28) but nowhere do we find in the Bible that we are equal to or could become God by returning to oneness with this "I AM" presence. Rather, we are called "God's people".

God said to the Israelites, "'You are my people'” (Isaiah 51:16). God’s perfect plan for creation included a nation which He chose to set apart as His “people.” This chosen “people” was the nation Israel:

“Then I will take you for My people, and I will be your God; and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians” (Exodus 6:7).

“You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy” (Leviticus 19:2).

The Law set the standard of holiness which God’s people were to uphold. The Mosaic covenant established the guidelines for God’s dealings with His people on the basis of their obedience to His Law. Because of their sin, Israel did not live up to the standard which God established for them. 

In the Old Testament, the “people of God” were the true “sons of Abraham,” those who by faith trusted in God’s promise of a “seed” who would save His people from their sins and therefore bless them. The “people of God” were never synonymous with the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel. In the New Testament, the “people of God” are those who have put their faith in Jesus as the promised “seed of Abraham” through whom salvation and blessings flow to men. 

In the New Testament, the “people of God” are those who have come to faith in Israel’s promised Messiah, Jesus Christ, and who are thus members of the body of Christ, the church.  Men did not become the “people of God” by means of the old Mosaic covenant. Rather, the “new covenant,” of which the prophet Jeremiah spoke in the Old Testament, was the basis for becoming one of the “people of God:”

“Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord. “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord, “I will put My law within them, and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people” (Jeremiah 31:31-33).

Jesus Christ as I AM
We know that the Jews did not accept Jesus as the promised Messiah although Jesus claimed to be the “I AM”, frequently using that phrase thereby connecting Himself with He who IS.

The apostle Paul, once a zealous Pharisee, knew well the meaning of I AM as Yahweh. Speaking about Jesus Paul wrote:

“God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11).

The apostle Paul tells us that the Lord Jesus is so above all other beings that all who are in heaven and the earth will bow and worship Him. He is God. He is not one among many gods, but the One and Only (Acts 4:12; 1 Tim. 2:5; 1 Cor. 8:4).

Seven times in the Gospel of John Jesus claims to be the great “I AM”.

“I AM the bread of life…” John 6:48

“I AM the light of the world…” John 8:12

“I AM the door of the sheep…” John 10:7

“I AM the good Shepherd…” John 10:11

“I AM the resurrection and the life…” John 11:2

“I AM the way, the truth, and the life…”John 14:6

“I AM the true vine…” John 15:1

There are many more examples of Jesus' claim to be God. Before He was born it was prophesied God would come into the world. In Matthew 1:23 the birth of the Lord is emphasized by Matthew that this Son, now to be born to Joseph, shall not only be Jesus, our Saviour, but also God with us "and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).

In John 4:26 Jesus responded to the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well when she perceived that He could possibly be the long-awaited for Messiah. Jesus said, “He who speaks to you am He.” Literally, Jesus said, “I am,” pointing to His claim to the title “I AM.”

Again, referring to His deity Jesus says in John 8:24. “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” He was saying you cannot be saved unless you recognize and believe that Jesus Christ is God. The entire chapter 8 of John is the conversation between Jesus and the Pharisees who mock him, condemn him, and accuse him of having a demon. Jesus' responses to them consistently speak of who He is and who they are, even stating, "You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father." Yet when Jesus finally stated “before Abraham was born, I am” (John 8:58), He was nearly killed for blasphemy when He identified Himself with this God who had made Himself known to Moses. The Jewish leaders knew exactly what He meant because they picked up stones to kill Him. He was claiming to be the great I AM and they understood that.

In John 10:30 at the time of the Feast of the Dedication Jerusalem, Jesus was walking in the temple in the portico of Solomon where the Jews gathered around Him. They were challenging Him again and when He said "I and my father are one" they went to stone Him for "making Yourself out to be God."

Jesus tells his disciple, Philip, in John 14:9-11, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works."

One day Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” The response shows that people respected Jesus as a prophet yet not realizing He as the one promised to come. The disciples' response, “Some say John the Baptizer, some, Elijah, and others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets” (Matt. ). Jesus was leading His disciples to the crucial, important question if they were going to follow in His footsteps. He asked them, "But ye, who do ye say that I am?" The spokesman for the group, Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!" (Matt. 16:13-16, Mark 8:27-29)

When Jesus was betrayed by Judas He saw the soldiers, along with the chief priests and Pharisees, coming toward Him and knowing it was His time He approached them and asked them "Whom seek ye? They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I AM He. As soon then as he had said unto them, I AM He, they went backward, and fell to the ground" (John 18:4-6). Although we do not know by what power they fell from Jesus' reply, I have capitalized "I AM" whereby you have the effect that it was produced by the majesty of His person, and by the Jewish ears hearing the unutterable name, “Jehovah” (I AM) whereby they fell to the ground before the presence of God. 

Jesus Christ The Way
During my youth as a Christian, I understood that Jesus was God. Yet, a decade later I as easily accepted the New Age idea that Jesus became the Christ over many embodiments, as we all are meant to, and thus, He was not the only Begotten Son of God, the Christ was. These ideas came along with the concept of reincarnation and the belief in the mythical lands of Atlantis and Lemuria. Both ideas of reincarnation and Atlantis were a part of my belief long before I entered the New Age teachings. They taught that Jesus had many embodiments and was a great leader in Atlantis, all leading up to his last embodiment where He became the Christ.

I knew Christians generally did not believe in reincarnation, so I also believed that if Christians could get that wrong, and the Bible books were compiled to conform to Roman Catholicism, that the Ascended Master Teachings then were right that other truths were either taken out of Scripture or not a part of it to begin with when the 66 books1 were chosen for the canon.

In so doing, I, as well as most New Agers, denied the inerrancy of Scripture. Most Christians believe that the books chosen to make up the 27 books of the New Testament form part of the “God-breathed” Scripture. The New Age teachings are comprised of many different concepts from other teachings and religions that are not in the Bible, yet the Summit Lighthouse/Church Universal & Triumphant claimed to have the true interpretation of the Bible.

We are a separate creation of God made in His image. Thus, we are not God and never can be. All is not one. God is Omnipresent yet separate from the world and the things in it. God is not in everything but He can choose to with us in Spirit when our spirit and soul worship Him. "But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with Him in spirit" (1 Corin. 6:17). Paul reminds us in 1 Corin. 3:16, "Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you?"

Without Jesus Christ, we cannot unite with God's Spirit. Jesus said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no one cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6). He did not say, "No one comes to the Father but through Christ." Jesus had just told the disciples that he was going to the Father to prepare a place for them and that they knew the way. One of them protested that they did not know the way because they didn’t even know where he was going. Jesus replied that he is the way.  Again, His words do not state that Christ is the way but I AM, i.e. God is the way.

One cannot claim to be a Christian and deny Jesus is the Only Begotten Son of God, that Jesus is God, and that I AM is God's name. Again, Yahweh is exclusively God's name and there is no other Yahweh "self" individualized for His creation.


1Most Protestant Bibles have 66 books, 39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament. The Roman Catholic Bible has 73 books including the seven known as the Apocrypha. And the Ethiopian Orthodox Church includes 81.