God Is Spirit

 

(John 4:24 KJV)  God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

 

Introduction

The subject which is at hand is the subject of the spiritual essence of God. God is a spirit.  When we speak of essence we speak of the basic, unchanging nature of something or someone.  Thus, God’s basic, unchanging nature is spirit.  It would be in order at this time to attempt to define, or describe, what is meant by spirit.  In the New Testament, the word spirit comes from the Greek word pneuma,which simply means wind.  It is from this word that we get our English word pneumatic, which means wind powered. Spirit is non-material like the wind.  That is, spirit is not a shape or form that can be perceived by the senses of man.  Spirit cannot be seen, smelled, touched, heard, or tasted.  Spirit may be manifest to the senses by that which is material, but pure spirit is not material.  Thus, when we state that the essence  of God is spiritual, we are saying that the very basic nature of God is not a bodily nature that can be seen, felt, touched, heard, or tasted.

Another thing we need to notice is that, while God may make Himself manifest to us in a variety of ways (the ultimate revelation being Jesus Christ Heb.1:1-3), God, in His essence cannot be perceived by our senses.  He cannot be confined or limited to a body. God transcends (or, rises above, and goes beyond the limits of) that which is material.  God is greater than flesh, or material things. Thus, what we are saying is that, while God may manifest Himself to our senses, He is far greater than the things in which He manifests Himself to us.  God is above a book, a man, a voice, a sight.  God is spirit and is not limited by the constraints of material boundaries.

Lessons From John Chapter One

One of the greatest passages in the Bible that deals with the nature of God is found in John chapter one.  Here much is said concerning who Jesus is, and His existence before the creation.  The passage also tells us that God was manifest in Christ Jesus when He became flesh and lived among us.  From this passage we shall learn several lessons.

The first thing we must notice is the fact that God transcends material existence.  While this has already been mentioned, let us notice the passage which deals with this great truth.  (John 1:1-3 KJV) “ In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  The same was in the beginning with God.  All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.”   The first thing we must notice is, that before everything else, God is. While this may seem to be grammatically incorrect, God is eternal.  There is no past or future with God: He is eternal and lives in the “everlasting now.”  Before there were any angels, before there was an earth, there was God.  We also find (Heb 11:3 KJV) “ Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” In other words, everything that we see about us is a product of the creative power of God.  There’s not one thing that was not made by God. This means that God was before matter.  God is not material: He is pre-material, so to speak.  God created material things.  This being so, God must be something other than matter.  God is spirit.

In John chapter one we also find that God is spoken of as the Word.  A word is “An articulate or vocal sound, or a combination of articulate and vocal sounds, uttered by the human voice, and by custom expressing an idea or ideas; a single component part of human speech or language.” (Webster’s 1828 Dictionary) When a word is reduced to its basic components, there are two things remaining; the vocal sound , and the thought behind the articulation.  This means that a word is essentially something that is not physical or material.  A word, in its most basic of states is a thought in a mind.  A word, or thought, presupposes intelligence. Now, before there was anything else, there was the Word.  This Word is God.  In the beginning, then, there was simple, pure, eternal intelligence – the Word/God.  This means that, before there was any creation of material things, God is; and this signifies to us that God is spiritual in nature.

John also states, (John 1:4 KJV)  “In him was life; and the life was the light of men.”  We also read of Christ , (1 John 1:1,2 KJV)  That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;  (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;).  Here we find that God is life.  As we consider what life is, we see that life is not necessarily material in nature.  In fact, life is spiritual in nature. As we read the account of the creation, we find God breathing life into the nostrils of man.  Man had been created from the dust of the ground, but did not live.  God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul.  Life came from the spirit of God in man.  James tells us that “the body without the spirit is dead.”  (Jas.2:26)  Solomon stated that both man and beast had the spirit of God in them to give them life (Eccles.3:19-21).  Today we see the manifestation of life in men and in beasts.  We don’t see the life itself, but we do see the manifestation of it.  We can also tell when the life is gone from the bodies of men and beasts.  Job understood that the life which was his own self actually existed independently of his body by the power of God.  He stated, (Job 10:11,12 KJV) “ Thou hast clothed me with skin and flesh, and hast fenced me with bones and sinews.  Thou hast granted me life and favour, and thy visitation hath preserved my spirit.”  Job knew that his body was but a dwelling place for the spiritual life which was the true Job. It is the same with all of us. This is why our body is referred to as being a tabernacle, or tent.  (See 2Cor.5:1)  Our body is simply the temporary place in which the spiritual man lives. Thus we see that life is spiritual, and God being the source of all life, and life Himself, is in essence spiritual.

In the passage before us, Jesus is also spoken of as having an existence before He took unto Himself a body.  (John 1:1-4,14 KJV)  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.  All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.  And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”  God took upon Himself the earthly tent of human flesh.  Before this, however, He existed.  Jesus Christ had an eternal existence independent of anything and anyone, and that before He became flesh.  We read in Hebrews 10:8 that a body was prepared for Jesus.  In other words, Jesus existed in His spiritual state before the incarnation (His becoming flesh).  Paul told the Philippian church, (Phil 2:5-8 KJV)  “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:  Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:  But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:  And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”  Again we see that Jesus existed with the very same nature as God before He was made flesh.  In fact, He was still God after He took upon Himself the human body in which He dwelt for above thirty years.  (Col 2:9 KJV)  “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” He was also still spirit. Just as heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain God (1Kings 8:27), so also an earthly body could not confine Jesus.  This is why Jesus spoke of  Himself as being in Heaven.  (John 1:18 KJV) “ No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.”  (John 3:13 KJV) “And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.”  Jesus, being God, transcends fleshly existence so that, though He dwelt in a body of flesh, He was/is not confined to that body.  While this may be hard to comprehend, let us remember that God does not change (Mal. 3:6;Jas. 1:17), and Jesus was God.  Though Christ can be seen as willingly limiting Himself in some areas (knowledge, for example Mt. 24:36) He was still fully God in human flesh. This means that it was necessary for Christ to have surpassed the mortal, human, physical limitations that you and I have.

God Is Invisible

Another thing that points to the spiritual essence of God is the fact that He is invisible.  Paul speaks of Jesus as(Col 1:15 KJV)  “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature.”  God is invisible.  Just as we cannot see the wind, we cannot see God who is spirit.  (John 1:18 KJV) “ No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” He is spoken of as being the one whom no man hath seen, nor can see. (See 1 Tim.6:16) When you consider that even miniscule particles of matter can be seen when aided by a microscope, we understand that God is not made of matter.  He is spirit, which is invisible as the wind is invisible.

What About The Appearances of God?

One thing that may be raised as an objection to the spiritual, or non-corporeal (immaterial, or without a body) nature of God is the fact that there have been times in which God appeared in the form of a man or an angel.  This is a very valid point that must be addressed.  In addressing this issue, two points must be made: one, God cannot be seen of man; two, the manifestation of God to man.

The first point is a reiteration of a point that has already been made: God, as spirit, is invisible and cannot be seen. Added to this is the fact that man cannot see the fulness of God’s glory and live (Ex.33:19-23)  When Isaiah saw the Lord, he fell upon his face confessing that he was a sinful man.  (Isa.6:1-8)  (John 12:41 KJV) “ These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him.”  Isaiah did not see God as a bodily essence.  Isaiah saw the magnificence of God shining forth in all of His splendor.  John also stated that“no man hath seen God at any time.” (John 1:18)  God cannot be seen (1Tim. 6:15,16), for God is spirit.

The second point is of great significance. The invisible God has been seen of men.  This is not a contradiction that is found in the Bible.  This is a paradox, or a situation that seems to be a contradiction, but isn’t a genuine contradiction.  We know beyond any shadow of a doubt that the Bible teaches us that God is invisible and cannot be seen.  We also know it to be true that God has manifest Himself to men in visible ways.  Let us now dig a little deeper into this matter.

That God cannot be seen is evident. What, or who, was it that Moses, Isaiah, and others saw, then?  One point that needs to be made is that God, while in essence spirit and not confined to a body, can at times take unto Himself a body.  We know this is so from manifold instances in the Scriptures, and from the fact that Jesus was God in human form.  The basic nature of God is still spiritual when He does appear in a material way.  When Moses saw God, he saw God’s glory.  (Exo 24:11,17 KJV) “ And upon the nobles of the children of Israel he laid not his hand: also they saw God, and did eat and drink.  And the sight of the glory of the LORD was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel.”  In fact, that was what Moses requested to see in Exodus chapter thirty-three.  (Exo 33:18 KJV)  “And he said, I beseech thee, show me thy glory.”  While space would not permit an in depth study of the glory of God, we can find from reading Exodus chapters thirty-three and thirty-four that the glory of God is the beauty of His nature, character, and attributes.  Moses saw the beauty of God in His person more than His physical appearance.  You see, when God appeared to men, it was not for the purpose of demonstrating to them His looks.  God has never appeared to man in such a fashion as for man to get a good picture of a physical appearance.  There is a reason for this: God knew man would make an image of what he saw if God appeared to Him in such a way.  (Deu 4:15-19 KJV)  “Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves; for ye saw no manner of similitude on the day that the LORD spake unto you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire:  Lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image, the similitude of any figure, the likeness of male or female,  The likeness of any beast that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged fowl that flieth in the air,  The likeness of any thing that creepeth on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the waters beneath the earth:  And lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, shouldest be driven to worship them, and serve them, which the LORD thy God hath divided unto all nations under the whole heaven.” 

God appeared for the purpose of communicating with man.  From the time God met with Adam in the garden till the time Jesus came, God’s appearances were for the purpose of revealing His will, way and purpose to man.  (See Hebrews 1:1-3;2:1-4;12:25-27 for examples and teaching concerning this truth)  Jesus Himself is the Word of God.  He is the eternal Word, yet He is the revealed Word, too.  (John 1:18 KJV)  “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.”   Jesus is the ultimate revelation of God to sinful man.  Jesus manifest God to us.

All the while that God has manifest Himself to us, however, He has manifest His word, will, way, character, and glory.  While God by nature is invisible, to communicate with man, He must appeal to the senses which He has given man.  Man’s main avenues of perceiving facts are seeing and hearing. The manifestation of God to man has been through these avenues.  Man cannot perceive that which is not presented to his senses.  Thus God has revealed Himself to us.  While God has thus manifested Himself to us, believe it or not, in so doing He has hidden Himself from us.  God is so great that He fills Heaven and earth. (Jer 23:24 KJV)  “Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the LORD. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the LORD.”  Again, this shows us why God must be spirit, and not confined to a body.  He fills Heaven and earth.  God transcends material existence.  God also, by manifesting Himself to us through that which is material, has not shown us many things about Himself.  Just as the natural creation cannot show all the glory of God, even more so is a human body unable to show the fulness of God.  As Habakkuk saw the glory of God, he realized that, while God revealed much about His greatness, much was hidden from man. Man does not have the capacity to receive unlimited knowledge.  If God were to fully reveal Himself to us, He would be giving unlimited knowledge to finite man.  God is so great that, when He reveals Himself to us, there is so much more that is not revealed that it is, as it were, hidden.  (Hab 3:3,4 KJV)  “God came from Teman, and the Holy One from mount Paran. Selah. His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise.  And his brightness was as the light; he had horns coming out of his hand: and there was the hiding of his power.”  What a revelation of how great God is!  He cannot be fully manifest by anything material, nor comprehended fully by the human mind!  (Job 26:14 KJV)  “Lo, these are parts of his ways: but how little a portion is heard of him? but the thunder of his power who can understand?”

Another objection that is raised is the fact that God is spoken of as having bodily parts.  (See Isa.51:9;53:1 the arm of the Lord; Deut.8:3;Isa.1:20 the mouth of the Lord; 2Chron.16:9; Ps.33:18 the eye of the Lord; Ex.7:5; Ps. 75:8;Isa.62:8 the hand of the Lord)  Again, this is a good point that must be addressed.  One cannot assert one truth to the exclusion of another.  What is meant by these statements if God is spirit and not material?  This writer is convinced that these are anthropomorphisms, or an interpretation of what is not human in terms of human characteristics.  In other words, these references are God’s means of taking the truths of His greatness and communicating them to us in words and terms to which we can relate.  In other words, while God does not have hands, eyes, ears, or any other bodily parts, He speaks of Himself as having these terms so we can grasp the truth He is presenting about Himself.  This may be compared to adults talking “baby talk” to children so that the child can understand what is being said.  This is an accommodation to the infirmity of humans.  These statements that portray God as having bodily features are God “lisping” as He speaks to us, that we might know Him better.  Remember, God is first, foremost, and eternally spirit.  We must allow every other representation of God to fit within this framework, or else we misrepresent God.

Making God in Our Own Image?

There is a clear danger to be seen in believing that God has always inhabited a material body such as we have.  That danger is the possibility of idolatry.  Man has an incredible tendency to create an idol, even if that idol is in his own mind and not a physical reality.  (Let us not forget that covetousness is idolatry Col. 3:5)  This is the reason God did not appear to Israel in any bodily manner at Mt. Sinai.  The Lord knew that, if Israel saw a bodily representation of God, they would make an image of that appearance of God, and worship the image instead of God.  It is probably for this same reason that the manifestation of God at other times was so awe-inspiring, fear inducing, and the message and character of God overshadowed the physical appearance which was before men.

Paul told the Roman church that the condemnation of the human race came because men did not give God the glory due Him.  In fact, they lowered God by trading His magnificence for an image that was like men (See Rom.1:18-23).  They actually decided to make God in their own image!  In doing so they tried to elevate man, and obscured the glory of God.  God simply cannot be fully represented by or in anything material.  God is spirit and transcends material existence.  The Lord complained of the Israelites, “thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself.” (Ps. 50:21)  God is not like we are.  We made in the image of God, but God is so much greater than we that we will never measure up to what God is.   If we could, then we would be God, and that is an impossibility.

Finally, we must see that this truth carries great implications for our worship.  (John 4:24 KJV)  God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.  Many times we think of worship as something we do in the flesh.  Worship is spiritual because God is spirit.  God does not need anything from us (See Ps.50:9-15,22,23; Acts 17:22-31).  He does not hunger, thirst, or suffer need of any kind.  He is self-sufficient and all sufficient. God has no bodily passions or desires to be fulfilled either.  Worship is spiritual in our giving Him the honor that is His due.  He is worthy of our praise.  Remember that God rebuked the Pharisees for their fleshly worship saying, (Mat 15:7-9KJV)  “Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying,  This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.  But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”  True worship is the acknowledging the worth of God.  While it may manifest itself by deeds done in the flesh, worship is spiritual because God is spirit.  If we consider God to be flesh, we will worship Him in a way that corresponds to our belief.  We will seek to present fleshly worship, because we feel that is how God is to be approached.  Knowing that God is spirit, we can come to Him at all times, at any place and worship Him from the depths of our hearts.  Worship is not about Mt. Gerizim or Jerusalem, Samaritan or Jew, black or white.  Worship is to be in spirit and in truth.  Worship must conform to the truth of who God is.  When we recognize the infinite glory of God in His spiritual essence and praise Him for that greatness, we have worshipped in spirit and in truth.  (John 4:24 KJV)  God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of The Divine Essence

Of The Divine Essence

“We believe in one God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, the same in essence, equal in power and glory.”[1]

 

What do we mean when we say that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are the same in essence? What is this essence? This terminology began to be used in the early centuries of the church when a man named Arius declared that the Son of God had a beginning, and that there was a time when the Son of God did not exist. A man named Athanasius stood up to combat this heresy. Athanasius said, “The Word who admittedly gives life and order to, and is in, the whole, must also be in the part; and in a part He manifested Himself—namely, in a human body. He gives life and being to everything, yet is essentially distinct from creation, being one in essence with the Father only.[2]The Son, Athanasius declared, is one in essence with the Father. The essence speaks of being. It speaks to us of nature and character. When we say that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are the same in essence, we are saying along with Christians of many centuries that they are the same being and of the same nature and character.

While it is indeed obvious that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are distinct persons, it is often difficult to see that they are one essence, being, or character. Let us consider the following:

  • The Father is God: “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9–11)
  • The Son is God: “Inthe beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” (John 1:1–3)

But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.” (Hebrews 1:8)

  • The Holy Spirit is God: “But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.” (Acts 5:3–4)

 

What we mean when we say this is that each of the Divine persons is of the same being, nature and character. Thus, if we say that God is eternal, we must say that the Father is eternal (Deuteronomy 32:39-41;Matthew 6:13). We must also say that the Son is eternal (John 1:1-3;Colossians 1:15-17;1 John 1:1-4). Then we must also say that the Spirit is eternal (Hebrews 9:14). Thus, the essence of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit is one.

It is necessary that we maintain this, because the Scriptures present us only one God. From the very beginning we are taught that the one true God created all things. It is He who said to Israel, “And God spake all these words, saying, I am the Lordthy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:1–3) Again, “Hear, O Israel: The Lordour God is one Lord: and thou shalt love the Lordthy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” (Deuteronomy 6:4–5) There is only one God, and must worship only one God. God’s holy and righteous jealousy demands that (Exodus 20:1-7; 34:14). We do not worship three different Gods; but we do worship one God who subsists[3]in three distinct persons. Thus, to worship the Son as God is not to be a polytheist who is provoking God to jealousy. Neither is it sinful to say that Christ is in us (Colossians 1:27), when we are speaking of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling (Ephesians 1:12-14). Nor is it wickedness to call the Holy Spirit God, as though we were claiming that the Holy Spirit is a separate God from the Father; because we know that the Spirit is the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ, and the Spirit of Him who raised up Christ from the dead (Romans 8:9-11). To worship God is to worship the three persons of God. We believe in the Trinity, the three-in-one God, the God who is three persons in one essence. To do otherwise would be to worship a god who is a figment of our sinful imaginations, as Scripture presents us three persons who are all God, and are the same in essence.

Finally, if the three persons are not of the same essence, then which is the God of our salvation? God is the only Savior, we find. “Tell ye, and bring them near; Yea, let them take counsel together: Who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? Have not I the Lord? and there is no God else beside me; A just God and a saviour; there is none beside me. Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: For I am God, and there is none else. I have sworn by myself, The word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, Every tongue shall swear.” (Isaiah 45:21–23) Yet we also read that Jesus is our Savior: “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21) (See also 1 Timothy 1:15;Titus 2:13.) Then we read of the Holy Spirit in relationship to our salvation. “But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:” (2 Thessalonians 2:13) Either the Bible is inconsistent and contradictory in claiming that all three persons are our Savior, or the Bible is teaching us that all three of the persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, are equally God, being the same in essence. It is imperative for us and for our salvation that we believe that there are three persons in the Godhead, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, one in essence, equal in power and glory.

To Him alone be the glory.

 

 

 

 

[1]Statement of Principles, Louisiana State/State Line Association Of Regular Baptist Churches.

[2]Athanasius of Alexandria, Athanasius: On the Incarnation of the Word of God, trans. T. Herbert Bindley, Second Edition Revised (London: The Religious Tract Society, 1903), 15–16.

[3]Subsist- to be, to exist

The Eternal Sonship of Jesus Christ

The Eternal Sonship of Jesus Christ

 

The eternal sonship of Jesus is a very important doctrine. It is also a doctrine that cannot be fully comprehended by mortal man.  On the other hand, mortals must at least accept this doctrine as being true.  Remembering that God is spirit and is not bound by time, space, and material/bodily constraints, will help us to more readily accept this truth.  Being the Son of God means that Jesus is God.  The Son has the nature of the Father.  This means that the Son is eternal. Though He was begotten and not made, the Son is eternal.  While these things are hard to be understood, let us attempt to attain a rudimentary knowledge of them.

 

The Son Eternally Begotten of The Father

Before Jesus was ever begotten in the womb of the virgin Mary He was the Son of God.  The Sonship of Jesus is not a physical sonship, but a spiritual one.  As Isaiah prophesied of the coming of Jesus, he told us, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” ( Isaiah 9:6) KJV  This passage tells us that Jesus was the Son before He became a man; He was givenas the Son.  Not only so, but He is one with His Father, which tells us that the Son of God is God.  We again read, “ For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”  ( John 3:16,17) KJV  The Son was givenand sentthus testifying to the fact that Jesus was the Son before He became a man.

There has never been a time when God in all of His glorious perfection did not have a complete comprehension of who He is.  Never has there been a time in which God did not have a full understanding of all His nature and His deeds.  In the midst of this perception that God has of Himself is to be found the fact that God delights in Himself; He is the happy God (1Tim 1:11).  This idea, love, delight, and contemplation of His own perfections is so complete that it stands forth as another person.  This person is the second person of the Godhead, the Son of God.  This is a begetting in a spiritual sense because the One begotten is truly the eternal offspring of the Father.  The Son is eternally begotten, because there has never been a time that God has not had this perfect delight in, and understanding of, who He is.  This means that the Son is eternal.  It also means that the Son is indeed divine in all facets of His nature. (Note: We should not think of the Son being begotten as though He had a beginning. The terms “begotten” and “Son” actually refer to the relationship He has with the Father rather than speaking of origination and beginning.)  “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him. And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.”   (Hebrews 1:1-8) KJV   This passage speaks volumes about this wonderful truth.  It tells us that the Son is of the same character as the Father, He is the Son who is begotten of God, is due worship, and is God.

 

The Father’s Witness to The Son

The Father bore witness to the Sonship of Jesus at least three times while He was on earth.  The first was at His baptism: “And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”  (Matthew 3:16,17) KJV  The second time was when He spoke to Peter, James, and John in the Mount of Transfiguration: “ While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.”   (Matthew 17:5) KJV  Finally, the Father testified of the Sonship of Jesus when He raised Christ from the dead.  Paul said that He was “ declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.”  (Romans 1:4) KJV   This is, I believe, a faithful representation of the Sonship of Jesus Christ, our Creator and Redeemer.

 

The Baptism with The Holy Spirit

Baptism With Spirit

Matt 3:11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.

(KJV)

 

John the Baptist came as a herald of the Christ.  His preaching was filled with promise of the Messiah’s coming.  As he preached to the people and baptized those who repented, John told them that the Christ was coming to baptize with the Holy Ghost and with fire.  What is this baptism with the Holy Ghost?

One thing we must notice is that this baptism is a baptism with the Holy Ghost, or inthe Holy Ghost.    Many times people speak of the baptism of the Holy Ghost as if the Holy Spirit did the baptizing.  In reality, Jesus does the baptizing.  “He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.” (Matt 3:11)  The work of the baptism of the Holy Ghost is the work of Christ.

The Promise

As John spoke to the people, his preaching was a familiar theme.  That theme was concerning the coming King of Israel.  John told the people that he came in fulfillment of Isa 40:1-8.  John’s ministry was in accord with Old Testament prophecy.  Part of the prophecy concerning John’s ministry was that he would tell the people that only God and His word would endure.  Included in this message was the fact that the Spirit of the LORD would blow upon men and they would perish.  With this in mind we can see that John’s preaching about Jesus baptizing with the Holy Ghost was preaching that pointed men to the Scriptures and promises about the work of the Christ.

As we read the word of God we find that the Spirit is spoken of as “that holy Spirit of promise.” (Eph 1:13)  The Holy Ghost came according to the promise of God.  We find this promise several times in the writings of Isaiah the prophet: Isa 32:13-18  Upon the land of my people shall come up thorns and briers; yea, upon all the houses of joy in the joyous city:  Because the palaces shall be forsaken; the multitude of the city shall be left; the forts and towers shall be for dens for ever, a joy of wild asses, a pasture of flocks;  Until the spirit be poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness be a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be counted for a forest. Then judgment shall dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness remain in the fruitful field.  And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.  And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places. (KJV)  This prophecy speaks of the fact that God would pour out His Spirit on the people and that it would have an amazing effect upon the whole of creation.  The effects of the pouring out of the Spirit would be seen in the reign of righteousness in the lives of men and in the earth.  When John the Baptist preached that Jesus would baptize with the Holy Ghost, the people knew that he was speaking of the work of the promised Messiah who would come to rule the earth in righteousness and give peace to His people.

Isa 44:1-8 Yet now hear, O Jacob my servant; and Israel, whom I have chosen: Thus saith the LORD that made thee, and formed thee from the womb, which will help thee; Fear not, O Jacob, my servant; and thou, Jesurun, whom I have chosen.  For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring: And they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water courses.  One shall say, I am the LORD’s; and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob; and another shall subscribe with his hand unto the LORD, and surname himself by the name of Israel.  Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God. And who, as I, shall call, and shall declare it, and set it in order for me, since I appointed the ancient people? and the things that are coming, and shall come, let them shew unto them. Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any. (KJV) Again, in this passage we have a promise of the outpouring of the Spirit of God upon the people of Israel.  The promise from God is a promise that in that day He will deliver and bless His people, and the people would take the name of the LORD unto them.  That is, they would declare Him to be their God and their spiritual husband.  (Compare this with Acts 2:38 and the command to be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.  This is nothing more than a call for them to identify themselves with the Christ who had poured out the Spirit in fulfillment of the above prophecy.  What a marked contrast between this simple truth and the heresy of “One-ness” believers!)  John was telling the people that the promised redeemer was coming to save Israel.  The baptism of the Holy Ghost is a fulfillment of God’s promise.

Ezek 11:19-20  And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh: That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God. (KJV)Ezek 36:25-26  Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.   A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. (KJV) Note that once again we have before us a promise of God giving His Spirit.  This promise is to the end that men would be changed to ones who would love and worship God instead of idols.

Ezek 37:12-14  Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel.  And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves,  And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, saith the LORD.  (KJV) Here, too we have a prophecy that God will restore Israel and pour His Spirit out upon them.  This promise speaks of the future of Israel when the LORD returns to raise the dead and to rule in the earth.

Zech 12:9-10  And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.   And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn. (KJV) Once again we have a promise of God pouring out His Spirit upon His people at the time of the end.  At this time they shall be delivered, restored, and saved.

It is abundantly evident from the Scriptures which are before us that John’s preaching was preaching that would resonate with the people.  It was doctrine that they would recognize because they were familiar with it.  The King was coming. Their deliverer and Savior was near.  The Kingdom of Heaven was indeed at hand.  The promise of the outpouring of the Spirit was an Old Testament promise that was indeed gospel (good news) to the people.  When the Messiah poured His Spirit upon the people, sin would be forgiven, captives would be set free, and the world would be changed into a righteous habitation.

 

The Promise Fulfilled

Acts 2:1-4   And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.   And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.   And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.   And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.  (KJV)  Acts 2:16-21   But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;   And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:   And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:   And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke:   The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come  And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.  (KJV) Acts 2:36-38   Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.   Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?   Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.  (KJV)After many years of expecting God to send His blessing and John declaring that the blessing was at hand, Jesus stated that the blessing of the outpouring of the Spirit was near.  Jesus stated before He ascended to Heaven, Acts 1:4  wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. (KJV)  Luke 24:49 And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.  (KJV)    Jesus let His disciples know that God was soon to fulfill the promise that He had given them so many years before. Finally, on the day of Pentecost, it came.  The Holy Spirit fell upon the people and they were baptized in the Spirit.  As the saints began to praise God, some observers mocked and stated that the saints were drunken.  Peter’s defense was two-fold: it was too early in the morning to be drunken, and this was the fulfillment of the Old Testament promise that God had given.  The PROMISE had arrived!

The wonderful thing about this blessing is the fact that it is a universal promise.  The promise is available to all who call upon the name of the Lord.  This statement is a quote of Joel 2:28.  Peter mentioned that the outpouring of the Spirit was in fulfillment of the promise in Joel 2.  He also told those men to call upon the name of the Lord to be saved.  This is especially interesting to note when you contrast the present day misrepresentation of Acts 2:38 which people use to teach baptism in Jesus’ name in order to obtain the forgiveness of sins.  One thing is certain, Acts 2:38 does not contradict the plain statement “whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”  When Peter said, Acts 2:38  Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. (KJV) he was simply stating that men must receive Jesus as the Christ and embrace Him as the true King of Israel.              Not only so, but one of the things that is characteristic of those upon whom the Spirit is come is the fact that they identify themselves with the Lord who poured out His Spirit  (See Isa 44:5).  If this is characteristic of those who have received the promise, is it any wonder that Peter would tell the Jews who rejected Christ that they must repent, accept Jesus as their Messiah, and identify themselves with Christ to be saved?  Salvation is not through the identifying, but those who deny the Lord are denied of Him (See Matt 10:32,33).  No one need think himself to be forgiven of sin if he will not confess Jesus as the Christ and as his savior. This is simply another part of Scripture being fulfilled which says, Isa 44:3-5 I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring:   And they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water courses.  One shall say, I am the LORD’s; and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob; and another shall subscribe with his hand unto the LORD, and surname himself by the name of Israel. (KJV)           

Another place where we see the promise fulfilled is Acts 10.  In this chapter Cornelius had sent for Peter to come and preach for them.  He and his family needed the Gospel, and God arranged for Peter to go and preach to them.  Peter preached and told them that Jesus was the one who would forgive them of their sins and justify them.  Acts 10:44-48  While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.  And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.  For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,  Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?  And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.  (KJV)  At this time the church was still a Jewish church.  Peter was called into question about having fellowship with Gentile people.  His defense was this, Acts 11:15-18  As I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning.   Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.   Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?   When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.  (KJV)  At this point we simply need to see that the Gentiles received the same promisethat the Jews received.  God had kept His promise to pour out His Spirit upon His people and to save all those who call upon Him.

The Baptism With The Holy Ghost Today

            The final question that needs to be asked is, “What is the relevance and significance of this doctrine for us today?”

Paul said, Eph 1:13-14  after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,  Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.  (KJV)  What is the sealing of the Spirit?  Often we think of the seal in the terms of a seal on a jar, or on an envelope.  We think of it in terms of security.  The context speaks to us of security.  We must, however, take Biblical terms and use them in the manner for which they are intended and not go halfway with them.  The seal is the Spirit.  There is security provided by the Spirit being our seal. The Spirit seals us until Christ comes to redeem our vile bodies and make them like His glorious body (See Php 3:20,21; 1Pet 1:3-9; Rom 8:23).  The seal is something that is enduring, however, it is not a seal of the jar lid sort.  The seal is a sign of authenticity.  It bespeaks of the genuine nature of that which is sealed.  For instance, if I were to buy a car, I would receive a bill of sale.  The bill of sale needs to be notarized before I go register the car in my name. When I get the bill of sale notarized, it is stamped with the “Great Seal of The State of _____________.” The seal is placed on the bill of sale to authenticate that it is a document that is genuine and not a forgery.  In Jesus’ day, the seal was usually made in wax by impressing it with a signet ring. That ring had a particular motif that was unique to the authority who owned it.  Thus, when a seal was set on the tomb of Jesus, it was declared off limits by the authorities.  The seal declared that the order to not open the tomb was an official government order.  So, when a child of God believes the gospel and is saved, he is sealed with the baptism of the Spirit whom God promised in the Old Testament.  Remember, Paul stated that the seal was with the Holy Spirit of promise.  The Spirit within us testifies to the authenticity of our faith.

As the great apostle Paul spoke to the Galatian churches, he reminded them of this same truth.  His aim was to defend the truth of justification by faith. For this reason he asked the question, Gal 3:2  This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?  (KJV)  Paul reminded the Galatians that their receiving of the Spirit and blessing came through faith, not works of the law.  He also told them that the reason Jesus died was that we could receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.  Gal 3:13-14  Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.  (KJV)  Finally, Paul lets us know that this receiving of the Spirit was not an indwelling alone, but a baptism.  Gal 3:26-29 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For 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 nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.  And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.  (KJV)   It is important to note that the baptism in Gal 3:27 is of necessity a Spirit baptism.  The word “for” is a word that joins the statement to be made with the foregone statements.  We have believed in Christ and have put on Christ when we were baptized with the Spirit into Christ.  This baptism happens when we become children of God by faith in Christ. In Christ there is equality and no distinctions.  (This would not be so if the baptism were water baptism into the local body, for we know that God has placed different people in different positions of authority in the local body. Furthermore it would actually be equating water baptism with salvation if water baptism were the baptism referred to here.)  This baptism is part and parcel of our belonging to Christ and being of Abraham’s seed.  In short, the baptism of the Spirit comes to everyone who believes in Christ to the saving of his soul: and that according to the promise of God of which we have already studied.

Finally, this baptism with the Spirit is a great assurance to the child of God.  Paul told the Roman church, Rom 8:9-11  ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.   And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.  But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.  (KJV)  All of God’s children have the Spirit of God in them.  The presence of the Spirit of God, in whom we were baptized upon believing in Jesus, is our assurance of our salvation.  Remember, it is our seal of authenticity.  Rom 8:16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.  (KJV)  Because we have the Spirit of Christ in us, we know that we are partakers of the promise.  This is not simply a subjective feeling.  God lives within us and testifies to us of the fact that we are true believers.  When we read the Scriptures about God’s promises coming to those who believe we have assurance that we are partakers in that promise, because we have trusted Christ, have been baptized with the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit dwells within us giving us the knowledge of salvation according to God’s promise (See Luke 1:77).

Let us thank God that He has given us such a promise and such a blessing.  We can live our lives with full assurance that we belong to the Lord Jesus Christ and are forgiven of our sins.  We have this assurance because He has given us the seal of the Spirit of God who has surrounded us, joined us to Christ, and lives within us.

 

 

The Trinity As Seen In The Creation Account

A Biblical Study of The Trinity And The Deity of Christ

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.   And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.”

 

 (Gen 1:1-2)  KJV

 

“And 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 fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”   (Gen 1:26-27)  KJV

 

The Genre of The Genesis Account of Creation

At the outset, let it be known that the writer understands that there are those who will refuse to accept the fact that the Trinity is seen in the above verses.  They may contend that the account of creation as seen in Genesis chapters one and two is not a literal, historical narrative, but rather a poetic narrative that does not yield itself to a literal reading and interpretation. Is this truly so?

The form of the creation account is historic.  It gives a chronological procession of events.  We are told of how the creation took place from day to day.  The days are literal twenty-four hour days, as we can see from Moses:  “In six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.” (Ex 20:11) KJV  This again points us to the Genesis account being a literal, historical record of the creation.  Furthermore, Jesus taught the Genesis account of creation to be a literal, historical record (See Matt 12:8;19:3-6), the writer of Hebrews understood it to be the same (See Heb 4:4;11:3), the Psalmist understood the same (Ps 33:6-11;136:1-9), as did Solomon (Prov 3:19,20), and the list could surely be continued.  Of those who choose to call the Genesis creation account a sort of poem a question must be asked: would not some of the prophets or apostles, or even (I might say especially) Jesus have learned that this was not literal history, but only a poetic statement of God’s creating the world and informed us of this fact? A view that considers the Genesis account of creation to be anything other than literal history calls into question the knowledge, character, and integrity of Jesus, who taught it to be literally true.  This writer is content to believe that this account was given to us that we might know the literal, historical truth about the creation of the world and the God who created it.

(Note:  Though this writer affords no more authority to the Early Church Fathers than he does to elders whom he is to respect today, it is interesting to note that Augustine believed the Genesis account of creation to be historical, though he seemed at times confused in his interpretation of it.  “What then is this introduction? ‘In the beginning God made the heaven and the earth, and the earth was invisible, and unformed? and darkness was upon the face of the abyss.’  Do these words seem to some of you incapable of affording consolation under distress? Is it not an historical narrative, and an instruction about the creation?”

 

Schaff, P. (2000). The Nicene Fathers(electronic ed.). Garland, TX: Galaxie Software.)

 

 

 

The Name of God in The Creation Account

Biblical languages are rich.  We can learn much from them.  With the resources available today one can learn much without having learned the original languages (Though the writer recommends one attempting to gain at least a rudimentary understanding of the original languages of Scripture.).  The Hebrew name for God in Genesis 1:1 is Elohim.  Let us learn to what Elohim points us.

“That there is such a plurality of persons, will appear more clearly,

 

From the plural names and epithets of God. His great and incommunicable name Jehovah, is always in the singular number, and is never used plurally; the reason of which is, because it is expressive of his essence, which is but one; it is the same with “ I AM that I AM ”; but the first name of God we meet with in scripture, and that in the first verse of it, is plural; “In the beginning God ( Elohim ) created the heaven and the earth”, ( Gen. 1:1 ) and therefore must design more than one, at least two, and yet not precisely two, or two only; then it would have been dual; but it is plural; and, as the Jews themselves say, cannot design fewer than three 150. Now Moses might have made use of other names of God, in his account of the creation; as his name Jehovah, by which he made himself known to him, and to the people of Israel; or Eloah, the singular of Elohim, which is used by him, ( Deut. 32:15, 16 ) and in the book of Job frequently; so that it was not want of singular names of God, nor the barrenness of the Hebrew language, which obliged him to use a plural word; it was no doubt of choice, and with design; and which will be more evident when it is observed, that one end of the writings of Moses is to extirpate the polytheism of the heathens, and to prevent the people of Israel from going into it; and therefore it may seem strange, that he should begin his history with a plural name of God; he must have some design in it, which could not be to inculcate a plurality of gods, for that would be directly contrary to what he had in view in writing, and to what he asserts, ( Deut. 6:4 ). “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord”: nor a plurality of mere names and characters, to which creative powers cannot be ascribed; but a plurality of persons, for so the words may be rendered, distributively, according to the idiom of the Hebrew language; “In the beginning everyone, or each of the divine persons, created the heaven and the earth”. And then the historian goes on to make mention of them; who, besides the Father, included in this name, are the Spirit of God, that moved upon the face of the waters, and the word of God, ( Gen. 1:2 ) which said, “Let there be light, and there was light”; and which spoke that, and all things, out of nothing; see ( John 1:1-3 ).”

 

John Gill.A BODY OF DOCTRINAL DIVINITY(179). Formatted for use with Logos Bible Softwarea by Joseph Kreifels.

 

In Genesis 1:1, the original word Elohim,“God,” is certainly the plural form of El, or Eloah, and has long been supposed, by the most eminently learned and pious men, to imply a plurality of persons in the divine nature. As this plurality appears in so many parts of the sacred writings to be confined to three persons, hence the doctrine of the Trinity, which has formed a part of the creed of all those who have been deemed sound in the faith, from the earliest ages of Christianity. Nor are the Christians singular in receiving this doctrine, and in deriving it from the first words of divine revelation. An eminent Jewish rabbin, Simeon ben Joachi, has these remarkable words: “Come and see the mystery of the word Elohim; there are three degrees, and each degree by itself alone, and yet, notwithstanding, they are all one, and joined together in one, and are not divided from each other.” In the ever blessed Trinity, from the infinite and indivisible unity of the persons, there can be but one will, one purpose, and one infinite and uncontrollable energy.

 

Clarke, A. (1999). Christian Theology(electronic ed.). Albany, OR: Ages Software.

 

 

Jesus Our Divine Creator

As we consider the Trinity as implied and seen in the Creation we must recognize that the leading person in the Creation was God the Father.  “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,  Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.” (Heb 1:1-4) KJV  God the Father took the lead in the Creation, but when He created, He did so by the Son.  Notice how the Psalmist alludes to this:  “By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.”  (Ps 33:6)  KJV  Today we understand that the Psalmist was not only saying that creation was by Divine fiat, but that he was alluding to the Father creating the worlds by Christ.  “We may truly and certainly infer from this passage, that the world was framed by God’s Eternal Word, his only begotten Son.”  Calvin, J. (2000). Calvin’s Commentaries(electronic ed.). electronic ed. (Ps 33:6). Garland, TX: Galaxie Software.

The New Testament gives us ample testimony to the fact of the deity of Christ, using the creative work of God to do so.  John opens his account of Christ by saying, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  The same was in the beginning with God.   All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.   In him was life; and the life was the light of men.”   (Jn 1:1-4) KJV  Even if we were to grant the contention of the Russellites (which we do not) that the translation should be “the Word was agod,” we must still come to the conclusion that the Word in this passage is more than one god among many.  Why?  We must come to this conclusion because the Word is the very self-expression of God; the very mind, heart, and character of God; the eternal and perfect understanding that the Father has of Himself.  When God is considered as contemplating His eternal greatness and having a perfect thought of Himself, that thought is spoken of as the Word (logos), because it would be both a perfect representation of His thought and (words being expressions of thoughts) would be an eternal person equal to the Father and of the same essence. We know that Jesus is the Word of God who is the expression of the nature, heart, character and will of God in eternity and in this world.  Thus it is that the Son is spoken of as being eternally begotten of the Father.  Never has there been a time that the Father has not had this perfect awareness of His eternal self, and so there has never been a time that the Son/Word was not.

The Word is spoken of as being with God in the beginning. That is, the Word was before the creation.  This means that the Word is eternal in nature.  Immortality is the unique attribute of God (1Tim 6:16).  He alone has immortality.  If the Word was with God before the creation of the worlds, then He is necessarily immortal, and thus necessarily God.  Not only so, but referring back to the great I AM of Exodus (See Ex 3:13-15), John tells us that not only is the Word the immortal God and Creator, but that He is this I AM; the one who has an underived existence.  In Him- the Word- was life.  The Word, God, the Creator is the source of all life.  In other words, the  Word is YWH.  Then we read, “the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”  (Jn 1:14)  KJV  This confirms to us that the writer is indeed telling us of Jesus, and that Jesus is the eternal Son of God.

The deity of Christ in relation to the creation is confirmed to us as we read the New Testament.  Paul wrote to the Colossians and told them of Jesus:  “Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:  For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:  And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.”  

 

(Col 1:15-17) KJV  We again read, “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,  Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;  Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.”  (Heb 1:1-3)  KJV  These two passages present to us the Son as being the Creator and the image of God.  What is meant by the image of God?  In the Colossian passage image speaks of the resemblance between God the Father and the Son.  “In Col. 1:15 Christ is described as the εἰκὼν τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ ἀοράτου. To modern logic this seems to be a contradiction, for how can there be an image of something which is invisible and without form? The peculiarity of the expression is related to that of the ancient concept, which does not limit image to a functional representation present to human sense but also thinks of it in terms of an emanation, of a revelation of the being with a substantial participation (μετοχή) in the object. Image is not to be understood as a magnitude which is alien to the reality and present only in the consciousness. It has a share in the reality. Indeed, it is the reality. Thus εἰκώνdoes not imply a weakening or a feeble copy of something. It implies the illumination of its inner core and essence.”  Theological dictionary of the New Testament. 1964-c1976. Vols. 5-9 edited by Gerhard Friedrich. Vol. 10 compiled by Ronald Pitkin. (G. Kittel, G. W. Bromiley & G. Friedrich, Ed.) (electronic ed.) (2:389). Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.  We see, then, that the Son’s being the image of God means that He is the perfect representation of the person and attributes of God, and thus God.  The Hebrews passage is a little different, but speaks of the same reality that is presented by the Son being the image of God.  The writer of Hebrews stated that the Son is the express image of the person of God.  The image in this sense gives us a picture of a stamp that leaves its exact impression upon the document that is stamped.  Jesus is said to bear the exact imprint of the character of God.  If He does so, then He is God, because one cannot be exactly like God without being God.

We then find that the Son is the radiance of the splendor and glory of the Father.  He simply shines forth the glorious character of the Father in every way possible.  That is why John stated that the glory that was seen in Christ was the glory as of the only begotten of the Father.  The glory that radiated from Jesus was manifestedly (See 1Tim 3:16) the Divine glory of the Father; yet it was the glory of the Son as well.

In both the Colossian and the Hebrew passage Jesus is spoken of as the Creator and sustainer of the worlds.  Everything was created by Him [Nothing was created without Him (See Jn 1:3).], all things are sustained by Him, and all things were created for Him.  For the average Bible reader it is not difficult to understand that there is no Creator beside God, and thus Jesus is God.

(Note:  The Colossian and Johannine use of the word “begotten” in reference to the Son is used by some to insist that Jesus was the Son only by incarnation. This is impossible due to the fact that the Son was the Son of God before He was incarnate (See Isa 9:6;Jn 3:16,17 where the  Son is said to have been given and sent as opposed to being created or made.). The Scriptures obviously describe the Son of God as having existed before the Creation.)

Having considered the fact that the worlds were made by the Son, we find new meaning when we read, “Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.  For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast.”  (Ps 33:8-9)  KJV  God the Father spoke, and God the Son acted.  God the Father and God the Son both created by means of Divine fiat.

 

The Spirit of God As Seen in The Creation

When we read the Genesis account of the creation of the heavens and the earth we read, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.   And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.”

 (Gen 1:1-2)  KJV  It is readily seen that the Spirit of God was active in the creation of the worlds.  Now we must determine who this Spirit of God is.  Considering the fact that God is the only Creator we are convinced that the Spirit is a divine person.  Seeing that there are those who do not readily take this for granted, let us search the Scriptures to see if this is so.

One thing that leads us to understand that the Holy Spirit is divine is the fact that He is spoken of as having the divine incommunicable attributes.  That is, the Holy Spirit has attributes that belong only to God.

He is eternal as God is eternal.  “Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations.   Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.”  (Ps 90:1,2) KJV  “If the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Heb 9:13,14) KJV 

The Holy Spirit is also spoken of as being omniscient. All knowledge belongs to God and no one else.  “The word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.  Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.”  (Heb 4:12,13) KJV This attribute also belongs to the Spirit of God.  “The Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.”  (1 Cor 2:10) KJV 

The Spirit of God is also spoken of as being omnipresent, which is also a divine attribute.  “Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar off?  Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord.” (Jer 23:23,24) KJV  “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?  If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.  If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.  If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me.

Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.”  (Ps 139:7-12) KJV 

Finally, the Holy Spirit is spoken of as being omnipotent just as God is omnipotent.  “I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.”  (Rev 19:6) KJV  “The angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.  For with God nothing shall be impossible.”  (Luke 1:35-37) KJV

The New Testament also speaks of the Holy Spirit as being equal to Christ.  “I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;  Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.  I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.”  (Jn 14:16-18)  KJV  Jesus promised that the Spirit was going to come to His people.  At the same time, He equated the presence of the Spirit with the Father by saying that He would not leave them fatherless. Jesus also equated the Spirit with Himself by saying that He (Jesus) would come to them.  That is why the indwelling of the Spirit (See Rom 8:9;Eph 1:13,14) is spoken  of as  Christ being in us (Col 1:27).  The Spirit is equal in essence and glory to the Father and the Son.  In fact, the Spirit is spoken of as being the Spirit of Christ,the Spirit of God, and Christ in us.  “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.   And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.”  (Rom 8:9-10)  KJV 

These things being so, we can be assured that the Spirit of God that was hovering over the face of the waters which were upon the earth was indeed the Divine Spirit who now indwells the people of God and empowers His church.  This Divine Spirit is the giver of life, just as the Son of God gives life (See Jn 1:1-4;5:21-29). “The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life.”  (Job 33:4)  KJV (See also Job 26:13;Isa 40:12-14)  It is this same Spirit of whom the Psalmist spoke when he said, “Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth.”   (Ps 104:30)  KJV  The Spirit proceeds from the Father eternally (See Jn 15:26), was sent forth and was active in the creation of the worlds, and is sent forth performing creative work even today (See Jn3:1-8;1Cor +6:9-11;Tit 3:4-8).

 

Concluding Thoughts

One may wonder why a person would take the time to write over four thousand words to establish the truth of the Trinity from the Genesis account of the creation.  The answer can be summed up in one word: worship.  To worship we must know the truth about God, because worship must be in truth (See Jn 4:24).  The creation account bids us to worship one God in three persons, the God who created all things.  None other is worthy of our worship.  “Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.  For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast.”  (Ps 33:8-9)  KJV

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Necessity of The Trinity

The Necessity of The Trinity article

 

The cornerstone of Biblical doctrine and Christianity is the doctrine of God.  Who is God?  What is His nature?  How does He manifest Himself to us, and how does He work?  While this writer shall make no attempt to answer all of these questions, it is imperative that we learn the fundamental truth of the Trinity.  The doctrine of the Trinity is not arrived at by philosophical searching; it is a doctrine that is known only by revelation.  While the eternal power and deity of God is manifest in creation, the Trinity is only shown to us in the revealed Word of God,  the Scriptures.

One thing that is necessary to state is the fact that the Trinity does not teach that there are three gods.  On the contrary, the term Trinity speaks of three in unity, or tri-unity.  When we speak of the Trinity, we mean three in one.  The Scriptures bear witness of this fact saying, 1 John 5:7  there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.  (KJV)  When the Scriptures tell us that the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost are one they are telling us that they exist as one.  The very being of God is one.  The three who are in God exist as one.  There is only one existence in God, but three persons.  God’s Word attests to the fact of the solitary existence of God in a plurality of persons.  1 Cor 8:6  To us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.  (KJV)  Paul is telling us that there is only one God, as opposed to the belief in many gods that idolaters hold.  He states that there is only one God, and names two of the persons who are God: the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.  While he names two persons, he calls the two persons the one God!

As we consider this subject, the question should be asked, “why speak of the necessityof the Trinity?”  Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines necessity thusly: “That which must be and cannot be otherwise.”   When we speak of the Trinity being necessary we mean that God’s nature is such that He must be a plurality of persons who are of one essence. The Bible reveals to us that this God is a Tri-unity of persons, hence the Trinity.

 

The Glory of God Makes The Trinity Necessary

God is eternally glorious.  God’s glory is His nature and character.  He shines forth in splendor, beauty, and might.  This glorious nature of God makes the Trinity a necessity.

The first attribute of God’s glory we shall consider is the name of God.  When we speak of God’s name, we speak of the reputation and fame of God as well as the appellation by which He is called.  God told Moses that His name was an eternal name/fame.  Ex 3:13-15  And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them?  And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.   And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The LORD 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. (KJV)  If God’s fame and glory are eternal there must have been a plurality of persons present to see and enjoy this fame.  True fame does not rest in one’s mind alone.  The fame and glory of God were expressed and enjoyed in eternity before even the angels were created.  God enjoyed His glory as He beheld His Son (See Prov 8:30;John 17:5,24).

God’s glory is seen in His mercy and truth.  Ps 115:1  Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake. (KJV)  God is eternally merciful and true.  He has always been this way.  These are personal attributes.  In other words, mercy and truth are shared with other persons.  For God to be eternally merciful and true means that there have always been other persons to whom He expressed mercy and truth.  (Note: Mercy here does not primarily speak of God’s compassion on those who face hardship and judgment, it is the loving-kindness of God which He expresses to other persons and has expressed forever to the other persons of the Godhead.)  From this we see that God is a plurality of persons.

 

Love Makes The Trinity Necessary

The Bible tells us that God is love (See 1 Jn 4:8).  The love of God is such that, should God cease to love at all He would no longer be God.  God does not only love, but islove.  When we consider the fact that God is eternal (Ps 90:1,2;Rom 1:20), God has always been love and has always loved.  For God to have always loved, there must be one who was there to be loved before the world was made.  That one who was present and loved before the world was created must also be eternal.  That being so, this one must would be equal to God.  That would mean there would be more than one in the essence of God.

As we read the Bible we find that this one who is loved is none other than the Son of God, who is also called the Word.  John 1:1-3,14 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  The same was in the beginning with God.  All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.   And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. (KJV)  The reader will recall that the Word is spoken of as being one with the Father and the Holy Ghost.  Now we find that the Word was present in the creation, and is God.  How is this so?   Perhaps it would be well to try to describe it in this manner:  As person looks at life they will find themselves thinking about particular moments in life.  As these moments are contemplated, one finds that many emotions come to them as though they are reliving the moment.  Should one be able to have a perfect thought of every moment of his life, that thought would then become a complete replica of that person.  When God is considered as contemplating His eternal greatness and having a perfect thought of Himself, that thought is spoken of as the Word (logos),  because it would be both a perfect representation of His thought and (words being expressions of thoughts) would be an eternal person equal to the Father and of the same essence.  We know that Jesus is the Word of God who is the expression of the nature, heart, character and will of God in eternity and in this world  (See John 1:1-4;Heb 1:1-3).  The Word is also the Son of God, because God is spoken of as the Father of whom are all things.  He would also be the Son because He is of the same nature as the Father.  He is not created, but is eternally generated and eternally co-equal with the Father.  He has no beginning nor end, because God has always had the perfect thought of Himself.

Jesus spoke of this great love that existed between Him and the Father.   John 17:24  Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.  (KJV)  In fact, this love between the Father and the Son is so intense that that love in itself is another person.  That person is the Holy Spirit.  Have you ever been around a group of people where, although there are many individual persons, there is a group spirit?  We call it esprit de corps.  The spirit of the body.  It seems the group of people has a personality in itself.  So it is in the Godhead.  The Father loves the Son and the Son loves the Father.  This eternal love is so great that it has a personality and is a person.  Jesus’ own words bear witness to this fact.  John 17:26 I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.  (KJV)  Note that Jesus spoke of the love of the Father and Himself dwelling in us.  Who is it that dwells in us?  Paul says it is Christ (Col 1:27)  We find also that Rom 5:5  the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.  (KJV)  The Spirit of God dwells within us spreading God’s love in our hearts.  In fact, Rom 8:9 if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

(KJV)  I think it is evident that the love which exists in the Godhead is the one we call the third person of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit.

This, I believe, is the Biblical doctrine of the Holy Trinity.  This doctrine is a revealed doctrine.  We do not by searching find God out.  This is not seen in Creation, nor inherently understood.  It is not understood at all.  We simply embrace this truth, because God has revealed it to us.  This truth demonstrates to us that our God is truly transcendent.  Let us, therefore, worship Him in all His Tri-une glory.  Isa 6:3  Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. (KJV)

 

 

The Triune God

3 Trinity 1

 

The Triune God

Genesis 1:1-3

This text, in the context of the totality of Scripture, gives to us an understanding of God as a plurality in unity, as it speaks to us of God creating and the Spirit being present. We must specifically, when speaking of the God of the Bible, speak of God as a Tri-unity, or Trinity. The one God is three persons in perfect unity of being, essence, and agreement. We see this by considering the fact that the Son is as much Creator-God as the Father (See John 1:1-4,14 and Hebrews 1:1-3), and by understanding that the Spirit of God is equally Divine (Job 33:4, Acts 5:1-5 and Romans 8:9-10). These three persons, Father, Son, and Spirit, are the One God.

 

Why Is The Triune God Necessary?

Why would we say that the Triune God of Scripture is necessary to knowledge?

First of all, truth is expected to be an unity. We expect that which is true in one field of study to agree with what is true in any other field of study in whatever fashion those fields of truth intersect. For example, we would expect that mathematical truth would be the same whether it were applied to governments or to a building contractor’s business. We would not expect the realities of mathematics to change simply because of the field in which math was applied changed. We expect truth to be true wherever truth appears.

What this means is that we expect there to be unity in plurality. While there are many fields of knowledge, we expect the truth to be united across the plurality of fields. There is one body of truth, though many fields of knowledge; and the truths found in every field of knowledge agree, as truth is an unity.

The problem is that we must then find a source and standard for truth and knowledge that can provide unity in plurality.

Pantheism cannot provide this unity in plurality. If all is god, then there is actually more of a monad than a plurality. Not only so, but all is subsumed into god leaving us with obscurity. There would be no true revelation, because all is god and there would be nothing distinct from the god to receive knowledge. In fact, we would be unable to even know what to call this god. This would cause everyone and everything to be a standard of truth in and of itself/ourselves. This would leave us with relativism, because we would be unable to point anywhere to a united standard of truth that addresses the problem of plurality in unity.

If God were totally one in the sense that Allah, the god of the Muslims, is one, then we would again have an unknowable standard. The god would then be so utterly other than the world and humanity that the god would be unapproachable and unknowable. There would be no way to have a divine revelation that would give us truth and knowledge. Neither would we have a standard by which to know truth. We would be left in the dark.[1]

What, then, is the answer to our dilemma? The Triune God of Scripture is the answer. He alone meets our need for a single, sovereign, intelligent Creator God who is the source of all knowledge and truth. Apart from the Trinity there can be neither truth nor knowledge.

The Bible, as the source of our knowledge of this Triune God, is our only ground of rational thought. It is in the Christian Scriptures that we find that God is:

  1. Our Creator (Genesis 1:1-3;Jeremiah 32:17;Hebrews 1:1-3;11:3).
  2. The God of knowledge and truth who judges us (Deuteronomy 32:4;1Samuel 2:3).
  3. The God who is one God, yet three persons (Genesis 1:1-3,26-28;Psalm 110:1-7;John 1:1-4,14;3:16-17;5:17-21;Hebrews 1:1-3).
  4. The God who makes Himself known to His creatures (Genesis 1:1-31;2:1-25;Psalm 19:1-11;Isaiah 40:1-8;John 1:18;Hebrews 1:1-3;Revelation 1:1-8;22:1-6,16-21).

With this in mind, we need to approach our Bibles as God’s revelation of Himself; and, if God reveals Himself to us in the Scriptures, we must acknowledge that the Scriptures are true.

 

 

[1] Thus, ipso facto, the Koran is no revelation of God, nor is it true.

 

God The Fount Of All Truth And Rationality

2 The Existence Of God 2.docx

God The Fount Of All Truth And Rationality

“Without God there is no meaning (truth, rationality, etc.); therefore God exists.”[1]

 

 

 

Many years ago a man asked the question, “What is truth?”[2]We can only speculate about why he asked this question. It is, however, a question that we all must ask. What is truth? Truth is that which conforms to reality. It is the actual state of a matter, and it is also fidelity to a required standard or law[3]Having this answer will help us move forward.

The greater problem is that all of us believe that we have truth on our side. Folks who believe in absolute truth argue for their position and do so quite strenuously. Those who do not believe in absolute truth are often absolutely sure of their position as well. Those who believe that there is no such thing as truth and that all things are meaningless are also convinced that their arguments have meaning and are true. How do we judge these claims? How do we deal with this issue? Who is correct? Whose truth is true?

The answer to the above questions brings us back to our definition of truth as that which is faithful to a required standard or law. There must be a standard of truth or we will never have anything by which to measure truth claims. Every man could, and would, be a law unto himself. Truth would be relative without an absolute standard. One man’s truth would be another’s lie, and one nation’s lie would be another nation’s truth. There must be a standard.

What is this standard? First of all the standard must be absolute, or else there will be no consistency or rationality. After all, if truth is forever changing, there is actually no truth at all; because what is true at one point in history would susceptible to becoming an untruth in a moment of time, though nothing but the standard changed. The goal posts would forever be moving and mankind would have no ability to be rational.“David Hume, the great skeptic, has effectively argued that if you allow any room for Chance in your thought, then you no longer have the right to speak of probabilities. Whirl would be king. No one hypothesis would have any more relevance to facts than any other hypothesis. Did God raise Christ from the dead? Perchance he did. Did Jupiter do it? Perchance he did. What is Truth? Nobody knows.”[4]There must be an absolute standard of truth.

We all are convinced that we have truth. Even the person who believes that truth does not exist, or is relative, is ironically certain that his position is the truth. The one who says that there is no truth, and that words have no meaning, still expects us to find meaning and truth in what he says. Cornelius Van Til responded to such ideas and said, “No human being can explain in the sense of seeing through all things, but only he who believes in God has the right to hold that there is an explanation at all.”[5]

How does God even come into this discussion? Does logic equal God? Hardly, but, on the other hand, logic cannot exist without God. Truth cannot exist without God. Speaking of the Van Tillian view of knowledge, John Frame says, “Without God there is no meaning (truth, rationality, etc.); therefore God exists.”[6]Greg Bahsen spoke of God and said, “His existence is required for the uniformity of nature and for the coherence of all things in the world.”[7]This necessity for God is the thing we must prove.

We have already seen that there is a necessity for an absolute standard of truth if we are to have rationality. Why must this standard be God? First of all I must be clear that I mean the transcendent, immanent, eternal, immutable, personal, Trinitarian God of the Christian Scriptures. “Nothing is intelligible unless God exists, and God must be nothing less than the Trinitarian, sovereign, transcendent, and immanent absolute personality of the Scriptures.”[8]Here I speak of Him only as the eternal and immutable God. (The other attributes will be addressed later in this series.) This God is the standard of truth. He is the truth. John Frame has said that “the argument is transcendental. Rather than offering straightforward empirical evidence for God, it asks the deeper question: what must be the case if evidential argument and knowledge (and hence objective moral standards) are to be possible?”[9]The answer is that God exists and the Bible provides the only grounds for truth and rationality. But we still must prove God’s necessity.

This world has no other standard of truth than God. God is one (Deuteronomy 6:4-5), and He alone is the arbiter and source of knowledge and truth (Deuteronomy 32:4;1Samuel 2:3;John 14:6[10];2Corinthians 1:18;1John 2:27). Why is He the standard? Because He is the only absolute, eternal, unchanging God. He also is our Creator. “If the Christian position with respect to creation, that is, with respect to the idea of the origin of both the subject and the object of human knowledge is true, there is and must be objective knowledge. In that case the world of objects was made in order that the subject of knowledge, namely man, should interpret it under God. Without the interpretation of the universe by man to the glory of God the whole world would be meaningless. The subject and object are therefore adapted to one another. On the other hand if the Christian theory of creation by God is not true then we hold that there cannot be objective knowledge of anything. In that case all things in this universe are unrelated and cannot be in fruitful contact with one another. This we believe to be the simple alternative on the question of the objectivity of knowledge as far as the things of this universe are concerned.”[11]There is simply no other way that there can be coherence and rationality. Either God the Creator is the sole and absolute standard and authority, with all things relating to Him and subordinate to Him, or there is no knowledge, truth, or rationality.

Thus we conclude by saying, if God then absolute truth. If we know anything at all, it is because God is the fount of all knowledge and truth.

 

[1]. John M. Frame, Apologetics To The Glory Of God,P&R, Phillipsburg, NJ,1994,pg 70

[2] John 18:38

[3] http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/truth?s=t

[4]  Cornelius Van Til, Defending The Faith, Torch and Trumpet,1951,Volume 1, Issue 1. Page 40

[5] Cornelius Van Til, quoted by Greg L. Bahnsen, Van Til’s Apologetic, P&R, Phillipsburg, NJ, pg 142

[6]  John M. Frame, Apologetics To The Glory Of God,P&R, Phillipsburg, NJ,1994,pg 70

[7]  Greg L. Bahnsen, Van Til’s Apologetic, P&R, Phillipsburg, NJ, pg 78

[8]  John M. Frame, Apologetics To The Glory Of God,P&R, Phillipsburg, NJ,1994,pg 89

[9]  John M. Frame, Apologetics To The Glory Of God,P&R, Phillipsburg, NJ,1994,pg 101

[10] It is interesting to note the bearing that this has upon the discussion of the Genesis Creation Account, because John 14:6 builds upon John 1:1-4 and Jesus’ being the creator. Cornelius Van Til said regarding this, “If the Christian position with respect to creation, that is, with respect to the idea of the origin of both the subject and the object of human knowledge is true, there is and must be objective knowledge. In that case the world of objects was made in order that the subject of knowledge, namely man, should interpret it under God. Without the interpretation of the universe by man to the glory of God the whole world would be meaningless. The subject and object are therefore adapted to one another. On the other hand if the Christian theory of creation by God is not true then we hold that there cannot be objective knowledge of anything. In that case all things in this universe are unrelated and cannot be in fruitful contact with one another. This we believe to be the simple alternative on the question of the objectivity of knowledge as far as the things of this universe are concerned.”

 

Cornelius Van Til, The Defense Of The Faith, P&R, Philadelphia, PA, pg 43

 

[11]  Cornelius Van Til, The Defense Of The Faith, P&R, Philadelphia, PA, pg 43

The Existence Of God

1 The Existence Of God

 

The Existence Of God

 

Is God real? This is among the most important of all questions asked. It is also the one that we must settle before we begin a long series on Christian doctrine. After all, Christian doctrine is of no use if there is no God.

 

How does one go about proving the existence of God? He cannot be seen with the eye. God cannot be measured with a scale or a ruler. God cannot be found through scientific experimentation. Christians, however, are convinced that the Trinitarian God of the Bible is real. How can we ever establish His existence as a matter of fact?

 

As we begin with the existence of God, we must go to one of the most basic and most important issues of life: meaning[1]. Once we begin to speak of meaning, different ideas arise. Some believe that there is no meaning. Ironically enough, they expect us to understand the meaning of their words as they speak to us. Others say that all is relative[2], and that meaning changes. Yet others speak of absolutes[3], and declare that meaning is neither related to, nor dependent upon, anything; but meaning exists independently.

 

All of us live as if there is meaning, and as if there are absolutes. When we get a paycheck, and when we make our deposits in the bank, we are definitely convinced that math has meaning, and that the principles of addition and subtraction are absolute. We have no desire for anyone to deal with our money (And we feel the same about the rest of our lives, too.) as if mathematical principles are relative. Furthermore, we live with the understanding that time is an absolute. We all mark time in hours, minutes, and seconds. Though the language may be different from one nation to the next, we all understand that time has meaning, and that there are twenty-four hours in a day. If we did not do so, all would be chaotic.

 

This belief in absolutes is especially relevant when it comes to the things that we know and consider to be true. Truth cannot be relative. By nature, that which is true cannot be false at the same time. This is called the law of non-contradiction, and it tells us that something cannot be A and Non-A simultaneously.

 

For us to have absolutes, we must have an absolute standard[4]. We measure our days by the rotation of the earth. We measure our years by the orbit of Earth around the sun. This means that we recognize that our watches and our calendars have to be reset at times, because a solar year is a bit longer than our calendar year is. Thus we have a leap year every four years. Why? Because we are measuring our time by the standard of the time it takes the earth to make a complete revolution around the sun.

 

Now, the rotation and orbit of the earth are not necessarily absolute. They are subject to change. When it comes to truth, we need an absolute standard, because we speak of truth versus falsehood; and we recognize that truth is absolute. But where does truth get its truthfulness? What is the standard of truth? What is the source of truth? For the answer to these questions, we must turn to the Scriptures, and we shall see that the Christian’s Bible gives him the only logically coherent view of truth, knowledge, and the world.

 

 

 

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1)

 

There must be a source of all things. There must be a cause of all things. There cannot exist an effect without there first being a cause. The world did not come into being on its own power. There must be a beginning cause that is uncaused. [5]  Christians understand that this uncaused cause is the Creator, the God who is presented to us in the Bible.

 

Creation testifies to us that God exists. The Psalmist tells us, “The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, And night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, Where their voice is not heard.” (Psalm 19:1–3) Wherever one goes there is testimony to the existence of God. The starry heaven and all that is in the sky above us tell us that God is great, valuable, and is beautiful. Their beauty, balance, and order tell us that they were designed by a mighty, beautiful, and intelligent person.

 

Not only do the skies and heavens above us testify to the existence and presence of God, but all of Creation tells us that He is here with us. “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:” (Romans 1:18–20) Creation testifies to us that God exists, because we know that there must be a cause for all things, and that cause must be beautiful (i.e. glorious), eternal (timeless), and forever powerful. After all, matter, beauty, and time could not exist except a beautiful, all powerful, and intelligent person existed outside of time and made it all.

 

There is also a seasonal cycle that testifies to God’s personal existence. The succession of the four seasons provides us with that which is necessary to the production of the food that sustains us. This order of events speaks to us of the fact that an orderly and intelligent person made the Earth to do these things.  Paul preached telling some idol worshipers, “We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein: who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways. Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.” (Acts 14:15–17) This Creator must be a person, because He made persons who, and He acts in a personal manner by showing kindness to His creatures: kindness that gives us joy.

 

If one were to believe the illogical theory that everything came into being by nothing, out of nothing, by random and meaningless processes, there would be no reason for them to think that there was any meaning to anything. After all, there would be no intelligent creator and ruler who had the ability and authority to give meaning. On the other hand, those of us who understand that God created all things believe and know that He has a purpose for all things and gives all things meaning.

 

As we saw above in Romans 1:18-20 shown Himself to us in Creation. This means that the created order speaks to us primarily of God. In fact, Genesis 1:1 opens us the Bible telling us about God. He reveals Himself to His creatures by instructing them and giving them purpose. He also reveals Himself to us in the Scriptures. That is why the Bible begins by telling us that all started with God: He is revealing Himself to us so that we may know Him and His will and purpose for us.

God has revealed Himself to us, and Creation is first and foremost about God and His purposes. When we look around us and think about the world, we must think of it as God’s world that is filled with God’s meaning and made for God’s purposes.

 

Furthermore, This world has no other standard of truth than God. God is one (Deuteronomy 6:4-5), and He alone is the arbiter and source of knowledge and truth (Deuteronomy 32:4;1Samuel 2:3;John 14:6[6];2Corinthians 1:18;1John 2:27). Why is He the standard? Because He is the only absolute, eternal, unchanging God. He also is our Creator. “If the Christian position with respect to creation, that is, with respect to the idea of the origin of both the subject and the object of human knowledge is true, there is and must be objective knowledge. In that case the world of objects was made in order that the subject of knowledge, namely man, should interpret it under God. Without the interpretation of the universe by man to the glory of God the whole world would be meaningless. The subject and object are therefore adapted to one another. On the other hand if the Christian theory of creation by God is not true then we hold that there cannot be objective knowledge of anything. In that case all things in this universe are unrelated and cannot be in fruitful contact with one another. This we believe to be the simple alternative on the question of the objectivity of knowledge as far as the things of this universe are concerned.”[7] There is simply no other way that there can be coherence and rationality. Either God the Creator is the sole and absolute standard and authority, with all things relating to Him and subordinate to Him, or there is no knowledge, truth, or rationality[8].

 

If there can be no knowledge or truth apart from God, then God is a necessary[9]being. In other words, God must exist; because there is no logical way for there to be no God. If one denies God, he must also deny truth and meaning. If he denies truth and meaning, all is random, chaotic, and relative. No one lives as if that were true, however. We all live as if there is meaning and truth in life.  To speak of meaining and truth is to acknowledge taht there is a standard of meaning and truth, and that invariably brings us back to the necessity of God’s existence.

 

Finally, we should take notice of the fact that we have not only seen the logical need for God, but we have seen that the Bible presents to us the God who is needed. The Bible provides us the framework for rational thought in that it presents to us God as the Creator who is the source and standard of all knowledge and truth. This means that, not only have we established a good case for the existence of God, we have also found good reason to believe the Bible. Without the Bible, we have no means by which we can establish that there is absolute truth and meaning.

 

[1] Meaning is what is meant by a word, concept, or action. It also deals with the worthwhile nature and purpose of something.

[2] That which is relative is dependent upon something else.

[3] An absolute is a value or principle that is universally valid or able to be viewed without relating it to other things.

[4] A standard is that by which all else is measured.

[5] To say that there is no God is to hold that the world exists on its own as its own creator, or that there is an infinite series of causes that brought the world into existence. Neither of these ideas are actual solutions to the question of origins. The first presents the idea of a self-caused cause, which is impossible and illogical. The latter posits an infinite regress, which is impossible, because there will of necessity be a cause that is the first of all causes.

[6]   It is interesting to note the bearing that this has upon the discussion of the Genesis Creation Account, because John 14:6 builds upon John 1:1-4 and Jesus’ being the creator. Cornelius Van Til said regarding this, “If the Christian position with respect to creation, that is, with respect to the idea of the origin of both the subject and the object of human knowledge is true, there is and must be objective knowledge. In that case the world of objects was made in order that the subject of knowledge, namely man, should interpret it under God. Without the interpretation of the universe by man to the glory of God the whole world would be meaningless. The subject and object are therefore adapted to one another. On the other hand if the Christian theory of creation by God is not true then we hold that there cannot be objective knowledge of anything. In that case all things in this universe are unrelated and cannot be in fruitful contact with one another. This we believe to be the simple alternative on the question of the objectivity of knowledge as far as the things of this universe are concerned.”

 

Cornelius Van Til, The Defense Of The Faith, P&R, Philadelphia, PA, pg 43

 

[7] Cornelius Van Til, The Defense Of The Faith, P&R, Philadelphia, PA, pg 43

[8] Rationality is that which accords with reason or logic.

[9] That which is necessary is inevitable. It cannot be otherwise.