Category: Foundations of Doctrine

Foundations 2: YHWH, the One True God

Foundations 2: YHWH, the One True God

From the outset, the Bible Assumes the Existence of God. Throughout the Scripture we see the assumption of the existence of God and the fact that He predates all things and is without cause. The Bible never attempts to prove the existence of God; it simply assumes He is.

  • Genesis 1:1
  • John 1:1
  • Psalm 19:1
  • Psalm 90:2

God reveals His Name as I AM (Exodus 3:14). In Hebrew it is Ehyeh Aser Ehyeh. This can be translated as I am who I am, I will be what I will be, or even I am because I am. Though Biblical Hebrew does not have verb tenses, the English translation of the Name is in the Present Continuous Tense. This is an allusion to the fact that God is unbound by time.

The Bible defines God by what He is and what He does

  • El, Elim, Elohim, Eloah: deity (Genesis 1:1)
  • Adonai: my Lord (as of a servant to a master)
  • El-Elyon: the most high (Psalm 78:35)
  • El-Shaddai: Almighty God (Genesis 17:1)
  • YHWH (believed to be pronounced yah way but may also be pronounced as yah who vah hence the germaninc Jehovah as being the personal name of God): the personal name of God. This is the 2nd Person Derivative of the I AM WHO I AM name “to be, the one who causes to be, self-existent one” (Exodus 3:14)
  • YHWH-Jireh: the Lord will provide (Genesis 22:14)
  • YHWH-Rophe: the Lord that heals (Exodus 15:26)
  • YHWH-Nissi: the Lord our banner/protection  (Exodus 17:15)
  • YHWH-Shalom: the Lord our peace  (Judges 6:24)
  • YHWH-Raah: the Lord my Shepherd  (Psalm 23:1)
  • YHWH-Tsidkenu: the Lord our righteousness (Jeremiah 23:6)
  • YHWH-Shammah: the Lord is present  (Ezekiel 48:35)
  • YHWH Sabaoth-The Lord of hosts (Psalm 89:6-8,  James 5:4)
  • YHWH Mekkodishkim- The Lord who makes us holy/sanctifies (Exodus 31:130)
  • El HaNe’eman- The Faithful God: (Deuteronomy 7:9).
  • El HaGadol- The Great God: (Deuteronomy 10:17).
  • El HaKadosh- The Holy God: (Isaiah 5:16).
  • El Yisrael- The God Of Israel: (Psalm 68:35).
  • El HaShamayim- The God Of The Heavens: (Psalm 136:26).
  • El De’ot- The God Of Knowledge: (1 Samuel 2:3).
  • El Emet- The God Of Truth: (Psalm 31:6).
  • El Yeshuati- The God Of My Salvation: (Isaiah 12:2).
  • El Elyon- The Most High God: (Genesis 14:18).
  • Immanu El- God Is With Us: (Isaiah 7:14).
  • El Olam- The God Of Eternity (Genesis 21:33).
  • El Echad- The One God: (Malachi 2:10). “
  • Elah Yerush’lem- God of Jerusalem: (Ezra 7:19).
  • Elah Yisrael- God of Israel: (Ezra 5:1).
  • Elah Sh’maya- God of Heaven: (Ezra 7:23).
  • Elah Sh’maya V’Arah- God of Heaven and Earth: (Ezra 5:11).

Is there evidence for the existence of God outside of the Bible? Romans 1 points out that creation declares the glory of God. We also have the conscience, a moral compass so to speak that is built into every person.

The Trinity (This is an essential doctrine, meaning that the Church Fathers considered this a salvation issue)

The Lord God has revealed Himself as embodying relationship and association in that He exists as Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

  • Deuteronomy 6:4
  • Isaiah 43:10,11
  • Matthew 28:19
  • Luke 3:22

The terms “Trinity” and “persons” as related to God are not found in the Scriptures, but they are words in harmony with Scripture. These terms convey to others our understanding of the doctrine of Christ respecting the Being of God; He is distinguished from “gods many and lords many.” We therefore may speak of Lord our God who is One Lord, as a trinity or as one Being of three persons, and still be absolutely scriptural.

  • Matthew 28:19
  • 2 Corinthians 13:14
  • John 14:16-17

Distinction of Persons and Relationship in the Trinity
Jesus taught a distinction of Persons in the Godhead, which He expressed in specific terms of relationship, as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We need to point out that this distinction and relationship, as to its mode, is inscrutable and incomprehensible, because it is never fully explained. This is, indeed, one of the great mysteries of the Christian Faith.

  • Luke 1:35
  • 1 Corinthians 1:24
  • Matthew 11:25-27
  • Matthew 28:19
  • 2 Corinthians 13:14
  • 1 John 1:3-4

Unity of the One Being of Father, Son and Holy Spirit
There is that in the Father which constitutes Him as the Father and not the Son; there is that in the Son which constitutes Him the Son and not the Father; and there is that in the Holy Spirit which constitutes Him the Holy Spirit and not either the Father or the Son.

  • John 1:18
  • John 15:26
  • John 17:11
  • John 17:21
  • Zechariah 14:9

Identity and Cooperation in the Godhead
The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are never identical as to Person; nor confused as to relation; nor divided in respect to being God; nor opposed as to cooperation. The Son is in the Father and the Father is in the Son as to relationship. The Son is with the Father and the Father is with the Son, as to fellowship. The Father is not from the Son, but the Son is from the Father, as to authority. The Holy Spirit is from the Father and the Son proceeding, as to nature, relationship, cooperation and authority. Therefore no Person in the Godhead either exists or works separately or independently of the others.

  • John 5:17-30
  • John 5:32
  • John 5:37
  • John 8:17,18

Did the Church Fathers Believe in the Trinity? Yes. (as a reminder, when we refer to the “Catholic” Faith we do not mean the Roman Catholic Church; we mean the church universal). It was not without issue though. Two teachings arose quickly that were determined to be heretical by the Council of Nicaea, Arianism and Sabellianism. Interestingly enough to major groups exist today that continue to teach these heresies.

Arianism

The modern version of Arianism is also known as Jehovah’s Witnesses though Mormonism is also very Arian in its Christology.

Arianism developed around 320 in Alexandria, Egypt, and concerning the person of Christ and is named after Arius of Alexandria. This teaching was condemned by the First Council of Nicaea.

Arianism misunderstands references to Jesus’ being tired (John 4:6) and not knowing the date of His return (Matthew 24:36). Yes, it is difficult to understand how God could be tired and/or not know something, but relegating Jesus to a created being is not the answer. Jesus was fully God, but He was also fully human. Jesus did not become a human being until the incarnation. Therefore, Jesus’ limitations as a human being have no impact on His divine nature or eternality.

A second major misinterpretation in Arianism is the meaning of “firstborn” (Romans 8:29Colossians 1:15-20). Arians understand “firstborn” in these verses to mean that Jesus was “born” or “created” as the first act of creation. This is not the case. Jesus Himself proclaimed His self-existence and eternality (John 8:5810:30). John 1:1-2 tells us that Jesus was “in the beginning with God.” In Bible times, the firstborn son of a family was held in great honor (Genesis 49:3Exodus 11:534:19Numbers 3:40Psalm 89:27Jeremiah 31:9). It is in this sense that Jesus is God’s firstborn. Jesus is the preeminent member of God’s family. Jesus is the anointed one, the “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).

After nearly a century of debate at various early church councils, the Christian church officially denounced Arianism as a false doctrine. Since that time, Arianism has never been accepted as a viable doctrine of the Christian faith.  As we said, earlier, Arianism has not died, however. It is alive and well today and we at Exploring the Truth will vigorously oppose it until Christ returns to vindicate His Name.

Sabellianism (gotquestions.org)

One of the most hotly debated theological issues in the early Christian church was the doctrine of the Trinity. How do God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit relate to one another? How can there only be one God, but three Persons? All of the various early heresies resulted from individuals overemphasizing or underemphasizing various aspects of the Godhead. Ultimately, all of these false views result from attempts by finite human beings to fully understand an infinite God (Romans 11:33-36). Sabellianism, Modalism, and Monarchianism are just three of the numerous false views and are very similar in nature.

Monarchianism had two primary forms, Dynamic Monarchianism and Modalistic Monarchianism. Dynamic Monarchianism is the view that Jesus was not in His nature God. It is the view that God existed in Jesus, just as God exists in all of us, but that God existed in Jesus in a particularly powerful way. Jesus was God because God inhabited Him. Modalistic Monarchianism, also known as Modalism, is the view that God variously manifested Himself as the Father (primarily in the Old Testament), other times as the Son (primarily from Jesus’ conception to His ascension), and other times as the Holy Spirit (primarily after Jesus’ ascension into heaven). Modalistic Monarchianism / Modalism teaches that God has simply revealed Himself in three different modes, and that He is not three Persons, as the Bible asserts. Modalistic Monarchianism / Modalism is also known as Sabellianism, named after Sabellius, an influential early proponent of the view. Yet another aspect of Modalistic Monarchianism / Modalism / Sabellianism is Patripassianism, which is the view that it was God the Father who became incarnate, suffered, died, and was resurrected. Patripassianism essentially teaches that God the Father became His own Son.

Sabellianism, Modalism, Monarchianism (dynamic and modalistic), and Patripassianism are all unbiblical understandings of the relationship between the Persons of the Trinity. It is impossible for us as finite human beings to fully understand an infinite God. The Bible presents God as one God, but then speaks of three Persons—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. How these two truths harmonize is inconceivable to the human mind. When we attempt to define the indefinable (God), we will always fail to varying degrees. Dynamic Monarchianism fails in that it does not recognize the true deity of Jesus Christ. Modalistic Monarchianism / Modalism / Sabellianism / Patripassianism fails because it does not recognize God as three distinct Persons.

Ecumenical Creeds answered the heretics:

The Apostles Creed

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, the Maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:

Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried;

He descended into hell.

The third day He arose again from the dead;

He ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Ghost; the holy catholic church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting.

Amen.

Nicene Creed

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.

Who, for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.

And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.

And I believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

The Definition of Chalcedon

Therefore, following the holy fathers, we all with one accord teach men to acknowledge one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, at once complete in Godhead and complete in manhood, truly God and truly man, consisting also of a reasonable soul and body; of one substance with the Father as regards his Godhead, and at the same time of one substance with us as regards his manhood; like us in all respects, apart from sin; as regards his Godhead, begotten of the Father before the ages, but yet as regards his manhood begotten, for us men and for our salvation, of Mary the Virgin, the God-bearer; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, recognized in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation; the distinction of natures being in no way annulled by the union, but rather the characteristics of each nature being preserved and coming together to form one person and subsistence, not as parted or separated into two persons, but one and the same Son and Only-begotten God the Word, Lord Jesus Christ; even as the prophets from earliest times spoke of him, and our Lord Jesus Christ himself taught us, and the creed of the fathers has handed down to us.

The Athanasian Creed

Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith. Which faith except everyone do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly. And the catholic faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity, neither confounding the persons, nor dividing the substance.

For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Spirit. But the godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, is all one, the glory equal, the majesty co-eternal.

Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Spirit. The Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, and the Holy Spirit uncreated. The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Spirit incomprehensible.

The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Spirit eternal. And yet they are not three eternals, but one Eternal.

As also there are not three incomprehensibles, nor three uncreated, but one Uncreated, and one Incomprehensible. So likewise the Father is Almighty, the Son Almighty, and the Holy Spirit Almighty. And yet they are not three almighties, but one Almighty.

So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God. And yet they are not three gods, but one God.

So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Spirit Lord. And yet not three lords, but one Lord.

For as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge each Person by Himself to be both God and Lord, so we are also forbidden by the catholic religion to say that there are three gods or three lords.

The Father is made of none, neither created, nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone, not made, nor created, but begotten. The Holy Spirit is of the Father, neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.

So there is one Father, not three fathers; one Son, not three sons; one Holy Spirit, not three holy spirits.

And in the Trinity none is before or after another; none is greater or less than another, but all three Persons are co-eternal together and co-equal. So that in all things, as is aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped.

He therefore that will be saved must think thus of the Trinity.

Furthermore, it is necessary to everlasting salvation that he also believe rightly the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the right faith is, that we believe and confess, that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and man; God, of the substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and man of the substance of his mother, born in the world; perfect God and perfect man, of a rational soul and human flesh subsisting. Equal to the Father, as touching His godhead; and inferior to the Father, as touching His manhood; who, although He is God and man, yet he is not two, but one Christ; one, not by conversion of the godhead into flesh but by taking of the manhood into God; one altogether; not by confusion of substance, but by unity of person. For as the rational soul and flesh is one man, so God and man is one Christ; who suffered for our salvation, descended into hell, rose again the third day from the dead. He ascended into heaven, He sits at the right hand of the Father, God Almighty, from whence He will come to judge the quick and the dead. At His coming all men will rise again with their bodies and shall give account for their own works. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting; and they that have done evil into everlasting fire.

This is the catholic faith, which except a man believe faithfully, he cannot be saved.

Foundations Lesson One: The Bible

Foundations Lesson One: The Bible

The Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired (theopneustos/God-breathed) and is God’s revelation of Himself to man.

It is a perfect treasure of divine instruction. Having God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its content, all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy. It reveals the principles by which God judges us, and therefore is, and will remain to the end of the world the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried. All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation. Special note: anything which purports itself to be Scripture or equal thereto but does not give Christ His proper glory is not Scripture but is actually not more than blasphemous trash. 

In the original autographs (manuscripts) we say that the Bible is

  1. Inspired (God-breathed/authored)
  2. Inerrant (no errors, no contradictions)
  3. Infallible (cannot fail)

Special Note: The Bible stands alone as our authority. We submit to its authority because it is Divinely Inspired. There are no additional testaments etc needed.

As part of the Doctrine of the Bible, we teach the verbal, plenary inspiration of Scripture. When we say that we mean that every word of the Scripture is inspired by the Holy Spirit. Every word that is found in the original autographs is there because God wills for it to be so. When we say plenary, we mean that each portion of the Bible is fully authoritative. Both the Old Testament and the New Testament are equally inspired and therefore of value to the Christian.

If you remember the Emmaus Road Experience (Luke 24:13-35), you will remember that Jesus began with Moses and the Prophets and interpreted all things in the Scriptures concerning Himself. Moses and the Prophets is a euphemistic way of referring to the Old Testament.

What does the Bible say about the Bible?

2 Timothy 3:16-17 is where we get the idea that the Bible is God-breathed and profitable for

  • Doctrine
  • Reproof
  • Correction
  • Instruction in righteousness
  • 2 Peter 1:19-21
  • 1 Peter 1:23-25
  • Ps 19:7-12
  • Luke 21:33
  • Hebrews 4:12
  • Romans 1:16
  • John 1:1-4, 14
  • Hebrews 1:1-13
  • Titus 1:2

Overview

  • The Bible contains 66 books: 39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament written by over 40 “authors” over 1800 years
  • The books are divided into chapters and verses for reference and navigation.
  • The Old Testament was written in the Hebrew language.
  • The New Testament was written in the Greek language.
  • Our English Bible is a translation from these original languages.

Sections:

There are 2 Ways to order the canonical books

“Normal” English Bible reflecting Greek/Western thought and style:

  1. The Pentateuch/Law: Genesis through Deuteronomy
  2. History: Joshua through Esther
  3. Poetry and Wisdom: Job through The Song of Solomon
  4. Prophets: Isaiah through Malachi
  5. Gospels: Matthew through John
  6. History: Acts of the Holy Spirit
  7. Epistles/Letters: Romans through Philemon
  8. The “Catholic/General” Epistles: Hebrews through Jude
  9. The Apocalypse: Revelation

Jewish Bible

TaNaKH and B’rit Hadashah

TaNaKH is Torah (Teaching) Nevi’im (Prophets) and K’tuvim (Writings)

  • Not essential to salvation but interesting as this is the Bible Jesus and the Apostles used

In TaNaKH order the Books are as follows:

Torah

  • B’resheet (Genesis)
  • Sh’mot (Exodus)
  • Vayikra (Leviticus)
  • B’midbar (Numbers but literally, Wanderings)
  • D’varim (Deuteronomy)

Nevi’im Rishonim (Early Prophets)

  • Y’hoshua (Joshua)
  • Shof’tim (Judges)
  • Sh’mu’el Alef (1 Samuel)
  • Sh’mu’el Bet (2 Samuel)
  • M’lakhim Alef (1 Kings)
  • M’lakhim Bet (2 Kings)

Nevi’im Acharonim (Later Prophets)

  • Yesha’yahu (Isaiah)
  • Yiremeyahu (Jeremiah)
  • Yechezk’el
  • Shinem-‘asar (the 12. In Hebrew Scripture these comprise a single book)
  • Hoshea (Hosea)
  • Yo’el (Joel)
  • ‘Amos (Amos)
  • Ovadyah (Obadiah)
  • Yonah (Jonah)
  • Mikha (Micah)
  • Nachum (Nahum)
  • Havakuk (Habakkuk
  • Tz’fanyah (Zephaniah)
  • Hagai (Haggai)
  • Z’kharyah (Zechariah)
  • Mal’akhi (Malachai)

K’tuvim (Writings)

  • Tehillim (Psalms)
  • Mishlei (Proverbs)
  • Iyov (Job)
  • The 5 Megillot (Scrolls)
  • Shir-Hashirim (Song of Songs)
  • Rut (Ruth)
  • Eikhah (Lamentations)
  • Kohelet (Ecclesiastes)
  • Ester (Esther)
  • Dani’el (Daniel)
  • Ezra-Nechemyah (Ezra-Nehemiah)
  • Divrei-Ha Yamim Alef (1 Chronicles)
  • Divrei-Ha Yahim Bet (2 Chronicles)

B’rit Chadeshah would be our normal New Testament

Like other forms of literature, there are types of Scripture

  • Historical Narrative: narrative that lays foundation for future things
  • Poetical: song-like, worshipful or proverbial
  • Prophetical: can be the Word describing future events but more importantly, authoritative communication on behalf of the Lord God. At times, the Prophetic can be polemical in nature, such as when denouncing false prophets.
  • Instructional: practical application of Scripture

Interpreting the Bible

Each passage of Scripture only has 1 correct interpretation, but how do we arrive at that? Start by reading like any other book. No that wasn’t a blasphemous statement…

5 Principles for Interpretation

  1. Literal Principle: We interpret the Bible according to the normal rules of language. We are not looking for some secret “super spiritual” meaning. Normal people wrote using normal language. Metaphors, similes, analogies, etc. These all follow the normal rules just as they would anywhere else. Figures of speech are normal language.  Symbolism is normal language.  But allegory is secret, hidden meaning that is not contained in the normal language.  There are no allegories in the Bible.  There are no allegories, whatsoever, in the Bible, it is normal language, it means exactly what it appears to mean.There is no deeper meaning, there’s no hidden meaning, there’s no secret meaning, there’s no spiritualized meaning.  Yes, there are prophetic passages where there are analogies; these are illustrations.  You read Zechariah, Daniel, Ezekiel, Isaiah,  and in the book of Revelation you see images…those images are conveying a reality. They are conveying a reality in a symbolic way.  Even Jesus used differing types of language. Case in point: parables. Parables were fictional stories conveying actual truth.
  1. Historical Principle: culture, geography, politics, religion, the thinking of the people, the perspectives, the world view, what’s going on at the time, how the people think…all of that is informing you on the historical context. (I won’t make many product endorsements but the Bible Background Commentary from InterVarsity Press is an outstanding resource for this.)
  2. Grammatical Principle(Quoting John MacArthur)“This is to take a look at the language and the syntax and lexicography of a passage…the words, the way they’re arranged, the prepositions, the pronouns, the antecedents. And you can do that in your English Bible.  You do it as a matter of course anything.  You interpret, you do that as a matter of course.  What do the words mean?  What does the antecedent of this? What is the preposition telling me?  To what does this pronoun refer?  To whom does it refer?  So it’s a grammatical thing.  We break that into word studies, studies of actual words, syntax which is how the words are connected with each other.”
  3. Synthesis Principle: The Reformers used the expression Scriptrua Scripturum Intepretatur or in English, the Scripture interprets the Scripture. Two of my dear friends like to refer to the New Testament as a commentary on the Old Testament and it certainly is. Example: Sermon on the Mount is expository treatment of many OT Laws
  4. Practical Principle What are the implications of the text? What is the truth that was delivered and what do I do with it?

Choosing Your Bible

  1. Choose a Bible that is as literal as possible but still easy to understand. Ideally, you want to use an essentially literal (form-based/word for word) translation. I use three, primarily: The New American Standard Bible (of which the 1977 edition is the most literal English edition made), The English Standard Version (primarily for teaching because of its global availability) and the Holman Christian Standard Bible. Other English versions that would be very literal are the King James Version, New King James Version. Many will ask if a thought for thought/dynamic equivalence translation is ok and what they mean is, “is it acceptable to use the NIV or NLT Versions, or perhaps something similar?” Yes. It may have some deficiencies as but you will still be able to have successful study. English versions in this category are the New Living Translation, New International Version, New English Translation, Revised English Bible. Paraphrases like the Message and the Voice should be avoided at all cost. We are not looking for opinion on what the text says.
  2. Choose a Bible that is designed for study. If you are able, you should get a wide margin Bible. As you study the Holy Spirit will bring things to mind that you will want to remember for a long time and a wide margin is an excellent choice here. A Bible with cross references is also an excellent choice, especially where the synthesis principle comes in. The references will be a guide to using the Bible to interpret itself. Some will come with commentary pre-included. This is ok but you really ought to put in the labor for your own study.
  3. Most importantly, get the same translation that your primary pastor uses. (You may listen to many teachers but you need to use the version that is read in the pulpit where you attend church. You will find that it helps you understand better because you will have cohesion with the members of your church and will be able to discuss the text.

Beloved, the Bible is the Foundation of our faith because without it we would not know Christ. It is the single most important investment that you will make.

Until next time, Ahava v’Shalom (love and peace)

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