Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Doctrine of Christ

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. (John 1:1-4, ESV)


Our doctrine of humanity leaves us as sinners, completely unholy, completely apart from God who is holy. As God and man are both persons suited to relationship, we are in need of redemption, reconciliation, and re-creation.


This recognition is not outside of God's knowledge, nor is it outside of God's power. God has made a way for humanity to find reconciliation with Him and that is through His Son Jesus. For many of us we know the saving power of Christ—we are believers. This means that we have accepted Christ as our Lord following Romans 10:9—because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

We cannot rightly understand salvation without understanding the person of Jesus Christ who purchased that salvation for us.


This lesson will look at the person of Jesus Christ. When we understand who Jesus Christ is we have a better understanding of who saved us, how we were saved, why were saved, and our great need for God. It will take a lifetime to understand Christ, because He is God, but as we grow in our knowledge of who Jesus is we will come to have greater appreciation and devotion to Christ and to God the Father and the Spirit.


We will look at Christ from two of the most basic (though not simple) aspects of who He is—His divinity and humanity. From there we should close this lesson by pointing that this God-Man Jesus is our only hope, not just for those who are not saved, but He is the continual hope for those who are saved. We will break down these points by looking at one text in particular: John 1:1-4, 14-18. Though there are many other texts that speak of who Christ is, this one sets out the basics of knowing who Jesus is, which helps us know what He has done for us.

Jesus is God

The first point that we need to make about Jesus is that He is God. This is not the most obvious point about Jesus Christ, especially since it is historically clear that Jesus was a man. But our conception of Jesus needs to be somewhat chronological if we are to understand rightly who He is for us. John 1:1-4 states it this way: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. From this text we need to see a few correlations to who Jesus is in relation to His divinity.


First, we see that Jesus is the Word. Much is made of the Greek word Logos which we translate as Word. A word is much more than the nouns of verbs of speech; it is the conception of an idea, and the conversation that establishes a relationship. So Jesus as God is the embodiment of our understanding of God, that abstract definition of God we made a few weeks back.


John 1:1 directly connects to Genesis 1:1 to shape our metaphysics, In the beginning means "before time." The Gospel writer begins his narrative of Jesus of Nazareth with a connection to the Word, who is eternal. We must remember that eternality is an attribute of no one else besides God. By stating the Word was in the beginning points to the divinity of Christ.


Third, we see that this Word was with God and was God. There have been those who have re-read and re-written this section of Scripture to say the Word was a god. There is no article in the original language, but by adding this indefinite article is an attempt to infer that there can be multiple gods and a variety of powers to those gods. As we studied in the doctrine of God this cannot be so. There is one God (Deut 6). So if there is one God, what is John getting at? The answer is an affirmation of the Trinity. We have God the Father existing from all eternity; here we have with Him the Word which also exists from all eternity. Jesus, the Word is God and is with God, the Father, which is why we can affirm that He is in the beginning with God.


This truth is found elsewhere in the New Testament. In Hebrews 1:3 we are shown that Jesus is the He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature. Colossians 1:15 states this as well He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn (first cause) of all creation. Philippians 2:6 speaks of Jesus as being in the form of God. Jesus was just like God because He was and is God.

Fourth, we see from this passage that All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. This is a simple statement that the Word, Jesus, was the one who created the world. Jesus the Word was active in creation. If Jesus was not God then how could He create us, since that is something only God could do? In Genesis 1 we see the Spirit of God hovering over the face of the waters. The whole Trinity was at work in creation. In Colossians 1:16 we have Jesus as the creator: For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. His work goes well beyond His earthly ministry in the flash. He is creator, He is the one that holds all things together, He is God.

Jesus is Man

The second point we want to make in this lesson is that Jesus is also man, which means human. As we read along in John 1 we come to verse 14, which is a pivotal verse for this section of Scripture and a thought that changes everything the world ever knew and would know. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. Recall the relational nature of God and man, alienated by the sin of man, now to be restored supernaturally. We are confronted with the reality that our great and good God has decided to become flesh; to clothe His perfect divinity and holiness in human flesh; to bridge the divide between God and man.


There are two ideas from this phrase that need to be highlighted. The first is the literal meaning of becoming flesh. The idea behind the phrase is that Jesus pitched his tent with us. He left the perfect neighborhood of heaven, where everyone wants to be, and moved to the slums of the earth. Because of sin we could not dwell in the presence of God's holiness, but Jesus moved in next door.


The second way to understand Jesus becoming flesh is found in the word incarnation. This word means that Jesus took on our nature. Every part of who we are as humans Jesus experienced. If you have been tempted this week rest assured that Jesus also was tempted in that way. When you find limitations as being a human in knowledge or power, Jesus also experienced that, though still was God. Anything that you can think of as being human is found in Jesus. Hebrews 4:15 states, For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. In the early church this aspect of Christ was heavily debated (as well as Jesus being God) and these early church fathers declared, "What Jesus did not assume, He did not redeem." If Jesus was not tempted as you are He did not die for, and cover the sin that you deal with, but if He did you are covered. That is the simple truth of Jesus' humanity.


We find the full humanity of Christ elsewhere in Scripture as well. Of course we know that Matthew 1-2 and Luke 1-2 we have the birth narratives that show Jesus as a human. We see through the Gospels that He grew, He ate, He got angry, He slept, He wept, He bled, He died. He was human in ways in which we know. Scripture also points to the relationship between His humanity and deity. Philippians 2:6-8, says, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. That is the marvel of the incarnation—God became man to serve us and to be found in our likeness as we are created in His.

Jesus is Our Only Hope

We see that Jesus was God and clearly He was man. Are these affirmations that important and significant? The answer is a resounding YES! Without Jesus being God and being Man, that is, being a God-Man, there is no hope of reconciliation. As we conclude this lesson lets look at the end of John's prologue. No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God, is near to the Father's heart. He has revealed God to us. John 1: 18. What we need to notice about Jesus here is that apart from Him coming and revealing Himself to us in the incarnation we, humanity, would have no way to know God. This is not an overstatement, we know that without Jesus we would not be saved, but without Him coming as the God-Man we would not know God in a personal way at all. We need to read this passage as: No one has ever seen the invisible God…but Jesus has made God known. At minimum Jesus as the God-Man brings us the hope of the personal knowledge of God.


As we close out this lesson we should read Romans 5:12-17 for it shows Jesus, as the new Adam who overcame sin for us.

12 When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam's sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned. 13 Yes, people sinned even before the law was given. But it was not counted as sin because there was not yet any law to break. 14 Still, everyone died—from the time of Adam to the time of Moses—even those who did not disobey an explicit commandment of God, as Adam did. Now Adam is a symbol, a representation of Christ, who was yet to come. 15 But there is a great difference between Adam's sin and God's gracious gift. For the sin of this one man, Adam, brought death to many. But even greater is God's wonderful grace and his gift of forgiveness to many through this other man, Jesus Christ. 16 And the result of God's gracious gift is very different from the result of that one man's sin. For Adam's sin led to condemnation, but God's free gift leads to our being made right with God, even though we are guilty of many sins. 17 For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God's wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ.


This mystery of the God-man Jesus is remarkable to us. But because we were alienated from God by sin, there is really not any other way for God to be reconciled to man. And in Jesus the relationship is restored, and we can know Him and be known by Jesus, who is the perfect image of God.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Doctrine of Man

Since the publishing of Charles Darwin's book "The Descent of Man", the secular world has tended to view mankind as just an evolved animal. This materialist reductionist view means there is nothing to man but the cells that make up our bodies. But this view has a number of problems for which a proper theological understanding of mankind can answer.


In this lesson we are going to look at two areas of humanity that will aid us in establishing our view of what humanity is. In short we are trying to answer the question, "What is man like?" The first is the creation of humanity in the image of God. The second is the makeup of man from that image as we relate to God.

Man—In One Image

As created beings we share commonality with the rest of creation—plants, animals, etc. However, we are distinct from the rest of creation as well. One could say that humanity is the pinnacle of God's creative force. At the end of the last day of creation God made man and woman. This timing sets us off a little bit from the rest of creation, but the element that really distinguishes humanity from plants and animals is the image of God. Look at Genesis 1:26-27

Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

In theological jargon this doctrine is called the imago dei (image of God in Latin). Since it is an important factor in the makeup of humanity and also the distinguishing feature of humanity we should strive to know in what way are we in God's image.


When most people read "in our image, after our likeness" they think the phrase is redundant, but there are two different ideas in that passage. The Hebrew word for image means shade or shadow. The great kings of the earth would mark their lands with statues or symbols of their own image, so the shadow or silhouette would mark the extent of their authority. Recently on our trip to Eureka Springs on the grounds of The Great Passion Play, we went to see this giant Christ of the Ozarks statue we called "big Jesus" one afternoon, and parked our motorcycles in the shade of big Jesus, and looked at the vast shadow of his image. To me this is the reminder that all of mankind is always in the shadow of God's domain and authority. The second phrase "after our likeness", means similitude. Just how man is similar to God? There are some Bible verses that can aid our understanding.

Genesis 5:1—This is the book of the generations of Adam. When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God.


Genesis 9:6—Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.


1 Corinthians 11:7—For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man.


James 3:9—With it [the tongue] we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.


2 Corinthians 3:18—And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

In all of these passages we see two things. First, humanity is unique. How we are made and how we act both are in direct correlation to the likeness of God. So the rest of creation is in some sense unlike God. This means that we need to see the importance of humanity over against other creations. We should be good stewards of the world God created and called good. As we are under God's dominion he gave man dominion over the rest of creation. We should be especially good to other humans since they all possess this quality of God's image. It is always a disturbing site to see people that treat animals better than some humans. God has not intended for us to be on the same level with animals since He has given us His image. We are unique from the rest of creation. A recent study on gene expression was trying to understand the differences between man and chimpanzees since our protein coding DNA is similar, but our bodies are so different. The abstract spoke of "the evolutionary chasm that exists between humans and chimpanzees", and that is only considering our physiology, which is actually the least of our differences.


Second we need to note that the likeness in which we are made is related to the person of God. God is a spirit and does not have a body, but God is also a person. This means that He has relational qualities. In the Trinity there is an interrelation between the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. In that relationship a likeness was created and given to humanity so we too can relate to one another and relate to God. This means that it was God's intention for us to be in a relationship with our Creator. He wants to know us and relate to us because He gave us His quality of personality so we can know and relate to Him. It is true that in the animal Kingdom we find examples of relationality and even communication, but none compare to the abilities of humanity. We have the capacity to know and be known by God.

Unfortunately humanity fell (see Genesis 3) and sin was introduced into the created world. This affected the relationship between humanity and God, but it did not eradicate the imago dei. Humanity still has the capacity to know God and relate to Him, even if only a little. Moreover, because God is love, He sent His son to come and restore the broken relationship that sin caused between humanity and God. Those who are in Christ Jesus now have the ability to know God and be known by Him again. Our imago dei is restored to set us on the path of continually growing into the likeness of God.


In application, the image of God in our lives means a few important things. First, it means that we belong to God. Everything does belong to God because He created it, but we are His special creatures that He has given His image to and we must be reminded whose we are (especially if we are Christians!). Second, it means that we should pattern our lives after Jesus. In Romans 5 we are shown that sin came through Adam, but righteousness came through Christ. Jesus has re-established humanity by becoming human. He is the example of what true humanity should be in God's image. So we should live our lives in the example of Christ. Third, since we are created in God's image, we should recognize that we are most human when we are living in a proper relation to God. When we rightly subject ourselves to God and seek a relationship with Him we are living the humanity God intended. Fourth, we should work. Humanity was not created to simply exist, Humanity existed to subdue and rule the world, which was God's will. As proper humans in God's image we should strive to work and do God's will daily. Finally, we need to see that being made in God's image means that we are valuable. This value is because God thought us were worthy of bearing His image. We must not forget this point. Satan constantly wants us to believe that we are alone, or that because of sin we are worthless. Not so, we are made in God's image, sin can tarnish but not erase that image.

Man—As One Person

The second aspect of our humanity that we need to consider is how we are constructed. In the Bible there are many ways that the persons are spoken of consisting.


The first major view is the dichotomist view. This view believes there are two parts to humanity—body and spirit/soul (thus the di, which means two). This is the most widely held view throughout the history of the church. Throughout the Bible it is clear that there are at least two parts to humanity. We can call these two parts the material and the immaterial. The material part is the body, that which we can see and feel. The immaterial is the part that we cannot feel or see, but know it exists. Clearly we have a body. We see God create it in Genesis 2:7 with His very breath forming man from the dust of the ground. The body is an important part of who we are, so we must strive to take care of our body while we have it on this earth. (practically speaking, we should go to the doctor, work-out, eat healthy, abstain from bodily immorality, etc.)


The question that divides the positions concerns the immaterial aspect of our person. In the Bible the terms that are used are soul and spirit. When we die we will give up our body and a part of us will go away until we are untied once again with our glorified bodies. This part for the dichotomists is the soul/spirit part. In the Bible the words for soul and spirit seem to be used interchangeable. Often soul could also be translated as life, and it is the spirit that gives life, and departs at death so they are closely related:

And as her soul was departing (for she was dying), (Genesis 35:18)

And he stretched himself out on the child three times, and cried out to the Lord and said, "O Lord my God, I pray, let this child's soul come back to him." (1 Kings 17:21)

Into Your hand I commit my spirit; You have redeemed me, O Lord God of truth. (Psalm 31:5)

And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, "Father, 'into Your hands I commit My spirit.'"
(Luke 23:46)

The dichotomist (two-part) view then would see the terms in the Bible for soul and spirit as being interchangeable and applying only to the immaterial part of a person.


The other major view is the trichotomist view. This sees three parts to the human person—body, soul, and spirit. Those who hold this view do not hold that soul and spirit are used interchangeably, but are distinct parts of the human person. They will appeal to verses like 1 Thessalonians 5:23— Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Here we clearly see that Paul is addressing three different parts of a person. If they are interchangeable, why would he list three?


Of these three the body is the only part a naturalist would recognize. 1 Corinthians 2:14 But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.


So last week we looked at God in three persons Father, Son, and Spirit, all as God in relationship with each other. So a part of the threeness of man must be our ability to relate to God, to know God, and be known by Him. It is clearly the spirit of man that is designed to relate to God. Remember the Greek word "spiritus" meaning breath is the way God animated man to life in the beginning. Genesis 2:7 And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.


When we studied creation last year the one creation day lesson I worked hardest on, but was the least satisfied with, was the 6th day including the creation of man. I think the reason for this was my focus on the body and evidence that would refute evolution. In retrospect though, it is not the body of man that provides the clearest differences for humanity. It is the soul including the mind, not the brain (the human computer) but rather the software that runs on that computer. We spoke last week about abstract reasoning (to understand an immaterial God) being unique to humanity, but there is much more. Humans are ultra-social even compared to other primates, with one study finding human 2 year olds many times more highly refined in their interactions and ability to learn from each other than adult chimpanzees. Even in creation God did not consider man to be complete until he was in a relationship with God and with woman.


Humans are unique in their God-awareness. The Hebrew word Yir-ah rendered as the "fear of God" means reverence or awe. It is not dread or terror "pachad" but a god-sense that includes our need to worship. Studies confirm Humans are also unique in altruism, even to the point of self-sacrifice. Only humans make use of symbolic language to enable us to accumulate knowledge and pass it to the generations; a capability specific to the special revelation making recorded scripture possible. Furthermore the consciousness of humans our self-awareness and introspection is useless in evolutionary terms, but makes us moral beings as God intended. The cheetah chasing a herd of antelope aren't saying "no don't take the baby antelope that would be wrong", animals are not capable of moral judgments.


As God exists Father, Son, and Spirit so man exists body, soul, and spirit. We are made with distinct capabilities, endowed to equip us to relate to God, other people and the rest of creation in a way that is uniquely human. We carry the image of the immortal God, and live for His purpose; this is the doctrine of man.


Saturday, October 19, 2013

God Defined

In the words of The Village Church pastor Matt Chandler "Everyone is a theologian, but some of you are heretics". Theology is the study of God; His attributes, person and character. When people talk about God they have in their mind their own abstract ideas of what God is like. Evan an atheist, before he can claim to reject God, has to define in his own mind, what it is that he is rejecting. Thus what we believe about God can influence whether or not we believe in God.

The earliest prayer I learned as a child was this: "God is great, God is good, let us thank him for our food; Amen". Now most would say that is a really shallow prayer, but it contains the foundation of an outline we can use to define God. "God is great" speaks of the Excellency of His attributes. "God is good" reveals the virtue of His character.

Defining an abstract idea like God may seem odd but it has a very practical application. As a software developer I practice Object Oriented Programming (OOP); wherein you must define system objects with their attributes and functions before you can use them in a program. So today we will begin a theology program by creating an abstract definition of God, using the dual revelation of nature and scripture to aid our understanding.

God is great – The Excellency of His attributes

Spirit and Person – We learn from the origin of creation is that God is not made of or constrained by the matter and energy of this physical world. He is immaterial, he is Spirit (John 4:24). Spirit defined is vital principle or animating force within living beings. Life is not possible without God, He is the animating force behind all life. He (Jesus incarnate) is the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15) and To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. (1 Timothy 1:17). We also see God as a person in that he has relationships within the Trinitarian God-head and with his created beings (angels and man). So God as Spirit and person can relate to us, but is not limited by the physical realm. We experience God as three persons Father, Son, and Spirit.

Eternal – In Genesis we see God existing before creation. In Exodus God identifies Himself as the "I AM", that is the self-existent one. Revelation 1:8 calls him the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last. When we think of eternal, we tend to think a long time, but that is incomplete. Standard Model physics has learned that the Cosmic Creation Event not only created all matter and energy but space and time itself. Time as we understand it did not exist before creation and God exists in this eternal dimension unlimited by time.

Omnipotent – All powerful, God can do whatever he wills. Genesis 18:14 asks "is anything too hard for God"? Job 42:2 says of God "I know you can do all things and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted". Further we see God's power at work in us in Matthew 19:26 "with God all things are possible". The power that formed the worlds, positioned the stars, brought up continents, and created life, is the same power that will redeem sinful men.

Omniscient – All knowing. A part of this is tied to God's eternal attribute. Where we experience life like a movie one frame or picture at a time, God sees all time as though it were now. What will be true in the future is just as clear to Him as what was true in the past, or what is true in the present. Job 11 asks "Can you find out the deep things of God"?

Have you not known? Have you not heard?

    The Lord is the everlasting God,

    the Creator of the ends of the earth.

He does not faint or grow weary;

    his understanding is unsearchable. (Isaiah 40:28)


Whereas we can know God and be known by Him, we cannot know everything God knows. Our temporal minds are limited by our physical reality so we will surely be able to know more once we are translated to be like Jesus. Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! (Romans 11:33)

Omnipresent – Just as God is not limited or constrained by time, so He is also not limited by space. There is no place where God cannot be, not physically, but just as certain. God moves in a way that transcends our 3 dimensions of space. Comparing God to us is like comparing us to a paper doll on a table, with only two dimensions. Psalm 139:7-12 highlights this attribute God:

Where shall I go from your Spirit?

Or where shall I flee from your presence?

If I ascend to heaven, you are there!

If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!

If I take the wings of the morning

and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,

even there your hand shall lead me,

and your right hand shall hold me.

If I say, "Surely the darkness shall cover me,

and the light about me be night,"

even the darkness is not dark to you;

the night is bright as the day,

for darkness is as light with you.

Unchangeable – Immutable. Whereas the physical world works on the law of decay or entropy always changing in every way; the immaterial God does not change. Malachi 3:6 says, I the Lord do not change. So as we look at each of the attributes we need to remember they are static, thus once established, they cannot be changed. Thus we see if God is constrained by anything it is only by His own nature.


God is good – The virtue of His character

Holy – Holiness is a purity or incorruptibility of character that begins and ends with God. Recently preacher taught us to chant "holy, holy, holy", like the angels of heaven. The angels only say this in the center of God's presence. Any holiness we experience as people we obtain from our relationship with God. Exodus 15:11 illustrates this, Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness.

God is free from evil and from any evil influence. James 1:13 speaks of this, Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being tempted by God," for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. The holiness of God also explains the difficulty of sinful man to approach God.

Proverbs 15:9—The way of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, and Isaiah 59:2—but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.
Because of His holiness God cannot ignore sin, and he has a few ways of dealing with it, which we will see next.


Just – God is perfect in justice and thus all the judgments he renders are righteous. God separates himself from sin either by purifying it sacrificially, or destroying it. Jesus is revealed in scripture as the righteous judge, and when looking at scripture we saw last week it is the words of God that will judge the actions of man, and it is this justice that sinful men find most objectionable. "And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before the throne, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hell delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hell were cast into the lake of fire; this is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire." Rev. 20:12-15


Love – 1 John 4:16 tells us flatly that God is love. God can love deeper, forgive more perfectly, and wait more patiently than any other relationship you will experience.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:7-10)

Who demonstrate their love like God? Greater love has no one than this, than that someone lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13). This is what Jesus did for us, but it also is the love of the Father for us, For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)


Though we are sinners and stand in front of a holy God, we also are standing in front of a loving God who loved us so much that He created a way for us to overcome His wrath because of sin (derived from the justice of God) and redeems us. This is love. Any other concept of love is derived from it.

Conclusions about God

Philosophers don't start with the question "Is there a God?" they ask, "Why is there something, rather than nothing"? One of the great philosophers on the subject of God and creation was Thomas Aquinas. And he made a few fundamental observations that still plague those who argue against God's existence. 1) If it is possible that something might not exist, then it is certain that at some time it did not exist. 2) Everything that begins to exist has a cause; the universe began to exist, so the universe has a cause. 3) If anything exists contingently, at least one thing exists necessarily.

Plug what we know from modern cosmology into this philosophy and the answer is obvious. The universe at one time did not exist. To come into existence the universe had to have a cause. A universe with a beginning, and a cause, points to a supernatural existence outside of creation. This supernatural eternal existence, the uncreated cause, is best described as the God of the Bible.

An old rabbinical proverb puts it like this: Being what he is, God could not fail to be who he is, and being who he is, God could not fail to be. So the sum of the matter from the Bible is thus, God is the eternal creator, because an eternal creator was necessary. The infinite God exists, because he must. The temporal cannot exist without the infinite.

namespace Theology


protected abstract class God


#region Great //Excellent attributes

static Attribute Spirit_and_Person;

static Attribute Eternal;

static Attribute Omnipotent;

static Attribute Omnicient;

static Attribute Omnipresent;

static Attribute Unchangeable;



#region Good //Virtuous character

public bool Holy(object nature) { return true;}

public bool Just(object judgments) { return true; }

public bool Loving(object relationships) { return true; }




public sealed class Trinitatian_Godhead //3 persons one God


public class Father : God { }

public class Son : God { }

public class HolySpirit : God { }



Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Doctrine of Scripture

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17, ESV)


This week we begin seven lessons on doctrines of the faith. In the next seven weeks we are going to cover some of the important doctrines that the church has believed, upheld, and defended through the years. We are going to highlight what we think are the most important: Scripture, God, Man, Jesus, Salvation, the Holy Spirit, and Last Things (eternity).


This week we are going to look at the doctrine of Scripture. We will to discuss the nature of the Holy Bible as has been believed by Christians for thousands of years. More than that, it is important to also show how the Bible is important for humanity today. One could say that we should start a series on doctrine with the doctrine of God since He existed (is existence) before the Bible, but the reason we start with Scripture is that most of our knowledge about God comes from Scripture.

Scripture is Revelation from God

The first aspect of the Bible that we need to note is that it is a revelation from God. God reveals to us things about himself, mankind, and his plans by revelation in scripture. This is exactly what God does for us. His nature (discussed next week) is one that is separate from creation. He is accessible and works within creation, but He is beyond it as well. Because of this He has to come to us to reveal Himself to us. Without Him revealing Himself to us we would not be able to know anything about Him personally. Thus, we know that God reveals Himself to us, and He does that in two ways: General and Special Revelation.


Our topic today is on Special revelation (the Bible) but we must briefly mention General Revelation. This type of revelation is a disclosure of God that is addressed to all people of all times and is therefore available to all people at all times. We find this throughout the Scriptures. God is revealing Himself through nature, by moving His redemption plan through history, and through the very makeup of man. Psalm 19 is the best example of this type of revelation:

The heavens declare the glory of God,

    and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.

Day to day pours out speech,

    and night to night reveals knowledge.

There is no speech, nor are there words,

    whose voice is not heard.

Their voice goes out through all the earth,

    and their words to the end of the world.

In them he has set a tent for the sun,

    which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,

    and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.

Its rising is from the end of the heavens,

    and its circuit to the end of them,

    and there is nothing hidden from its heat. (Psalm 19:1-6)

In this passage we can see that God has revealed Himself through creation, however we must not stop (or even begin) with general revelation. For in it we do not know the more important things of God—salvation, law, God's Person—rather we only know that a god exists.


Because of that we are in need of what we call Special Revelation. Special Revelation is a disclosure of God to certain people at certain times. Overall we could find a few different types of special revelation in history. For instance Moses' conversations with God are considered special revelation. The sacrifice at Mt. Carmel with Elijah is another instance of special revelation. In these instances we see that God revealed Himself to certain people at a specific time (Moses and Elijah and company).


The main idea of special revelation, though, is found in Scripture. By Scripture we mean the Bible in two testaments—Old, with 39 books; New, with 27 books. This is the Christian Bible and the church has believed it to be the sole source of special revelation from God. In it we find the plan for humanity, the Law, Salvation, and most of all, the Person of God. This is why we call it the Word of God. When we read Scripture we are coming into contact with special revelation, and as such we can say that we are coming into contact with God's very own word and words. In short, we hear from God through the Bible. This truth alone should compel us to read the Bible more and more. The remainder of Psalm 19 speaks to this as well as the entirety of Psalm 119. The Law, the writings, the Gospels, etc. are the words of God revealed to us.

Scripture is Authoritative for Man

When we think about authority we think of those who have the power to tell us what to do or not to do. We may think of our boss at work, a teacher at school, a police person, or a parent in the home. In the church we think of Jesus as having authority as Matthew 28 shows that all authority is given to Him and He has given that authority to us to do His will. But there is another side of authority we must comprehend and it relates to truth.


When we read Scripture we must come to believe what Scripture says as being true and beneficial for us. In a sense we can see the authority of Scripture in affirming that there is power and meaning in Scripture. It is powerful because it is God's very Word. It is meaningful because it is applicable to our lives. Our main text today attests to this very nature of Scripture: All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17). We see that all of Scripture is breathed out by God—His power—and all Scripture is profitable.


The Bible is God's Word. This means that if we believe God is speaking to us in Scripture then we must trust the words of Scripture, since they are God's very Words. A great example of this in Scripture are the words of Jesus in John 12:47-50:

If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.

When we read the words of the Bible we are reading a book that has been well preserved through time so that we can hear the authoritative words of God. When we do not heed these words we are judged because of it, but when we submit to their authority we find eternal life.


If we are to grow in our faith we must submit to the authority of the Word and do what it says, for we have no other authority.

Scripture is Inspired by the Holy Spirit

It is important to understand that the Word of God is also powerful, as mentioned above. If the Bible is not powerful then it cannot really help us no matter how meaningful it may be. But if it is powerful it will bring great help to us to be able to save us and complete us as Christians. That power comes to us in the nature of Scripture as inspired by God. That word inspired literally means to exhale. The words of Scripture have been breathed out by God and are thus full of His power.


Another important Bible text on Scripture is found in 2 Peter:

For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased," we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:16-21,)

Although Peter was able to receive a certain special revelation at the transfiguration of Christ he points to Scripture as being more sure (as other translations have it) than him seeing Jesus glorified. When we read Scripture we need to realize that the words written therein are not man's words, as many in our world would like to believe. These are the very words of God given to man to write down.


In both 2 Timothy and 1 Peter we have the concept of inspiration. Peter speaks of Scripture not being written by man but being carried along by the Holy Spirit. Paul writes to Timothy to show that Scripture is theo-pneustos (God-theo; breathed-pneustos). Another word for Spirit in the Greek language is wind (pneuma). Both of these texts show us that God has been active in the writing of Scripture through His Holy Spirit. This means that when we read the words in Scripture we are coming to read the words that God intended to be written and the words that God has preserved through the centuries to be read. We are reading divine, authoritative, words of God.


When we read Scripture we must submit to what it says because it is the Word of God, but we also must know that it has the ability to empower us because it is the Word of God. There is no other writing in history that will affect you like Scripture. You can read the best prose, the most enticing philosophy, or the greatest literature from Homer to Shakespeare and not find anything comparable to Scripture. The nature of Scripture is that it is the divine revelation of God in authority in word form for us—it is God's power. If we want God's power in our life we must follow Scripture.

Scripture is Inerrant in Itself

Finally, we must state that Scripture is what is called inerrant. For most of church history the authority and inspiration of the Bible was not questioned, but in our Modern times we do nothing but question to the point we are not sure of anything. The Bible came under great attack and those who believe it to be true and trustworthy have had to respond back by declaring it to be inerrant.


Inerrancy means that there are no errors in Scripture. This is a term not found in the Bible itself, but has been used to clarify what is meant in the trustworthiness of Scripture. It can be defined a variety of ways, but we will define it as: without the possibility of erring. This means the Bible is not wrong, it is truth. For many of us who have accepted the authority of Scripture this is an easy acceptance. We trust the Word of God, so why do we need to claim it to be inerrant. We assert this for our friends and family who lose their trust in parts of Scripture.


One reason we spent so much time teaching through the days of creation last year showing how the science actually confirms what the scripture is saying is that some have failed to address the challenges of evolution and theoretical physics; and many stopped presuming the Bible is right about creation. A problem arises though, if the Bible is wrong here, then it could be wrong elsewhere and the slippery slope goes from denying the Bible in relation to how we got here, to denying the Gospel. That is a simplified overstatement, but it is the trajectory for those who disbelieve parts of the Bible. A statement on the truthfulness of Scripture needs to be affirmed and that is found in stating that the Bible is without error or inerrant.


This line of thought goes well beyond fact checking science and comes into play in the moral arenas in our churches where Christians are choosing to believe some Scriptures and not others. For instance, Jesus is accepted as savior, but is denied in His teaching on marriage, divorce, and sexuality. Some have called this limited inerrancy, but the problem is that there is no consensus on what limits are drawn up. Either Scripture is without error and therefore trustworthy or it has errors and we don't know what to trust.


In conclusion, we have a great gift of God in Scripture that is able to make us complete not only because it has wise sayings, but because it is the authoritative, inerrant, inspired, revelation of God given to us and preserved for us. We must see its permanence and importance most of all since it is something that will not pass away.

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. (Matthew 24:Mark 13:31; Luke 21:33)