Category: General Theology

Foundations 6: Man, Sin, and Salvation

Foundations 6: Man, Sin, and Salvation

Overview/Introduction

Man is the special creation of God, made in His own image. He created them male and female as the crowning work of His creation. (The gift of gender is thus part of the goodness of God’s creation.) In the beginning man was innocent of sin and was endowed by his Creator with freedom of choice. By his free choice man sinned against God and brought sin into the human race. Through the temptation of Satan man transgressed the command of God, and fell from his original innocence whereby his posterity inherit a nature and an environment inclined toward sin. Therefore, as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors and are under condemnation. Only the grace of God can bring man into His holy fellowship and enable man to fulfill the creative purpose of God.

Genesis 1:26-30; 2:5,7,18-22; 3; 9:6; Psalms 1; 8:3-6; 32:1-5; 51:5; Isaiah 6:5; Jeremiah 17:5; Matthew 16:26; Acts 17:26- 31; Romans 1:19-32; 3:10-18,23; 5:6,12,19; 6:6; 7:14-25; 8:14-18,29; 1 Corinthians 1:21-31; 15:19,21-22; Ephesians 2:1-22; Colossians 1:21-22; 3:9-11.

Sin, Original and Personal

Sin came into the world through the disobedience of our first parents, and death by sin. We believe that sin is of two kinds: original sin or depravity, and actual or personal sin.

Original sin, or depravity, is that corruption of the nature of all the offspring of Adam by reason of which everyone is very far gone from original righteousness or the pure state of our first

parents at the time of their creation, is averse to God, is without spiritual life, and inclined to evil, and that continually. Our fallen nature continues with us until our glorification by Christ in the New Heaven and the New Earth.

Actual, or personal, sin is a voluntary violation of a known law of God by a morally responsible person (There no particular age set forth in Scripture for this moral responsibility. That being said, every individual is, at some point in their life accountable to God for their sins and are faced with the choice to respond or not.) It is therefore not to be confused with involuntary and inescapable shortcomings, infirmities, faults, mistakes, failures, or other deviations from the standard of perfect conduct that are the residual effects of the Fall.

(Original sin: Genesis 3; 6:5; Job 15:14; Psalm 51:5; Jeremiah 17:9-10; Mark 7:21-23; Romans 1:18-25; 5:12-14; 7:1-8:9; 1 Corinthians 3:1-4; Galatians 5:16-25; 1 John 1:7-8

Personal sin: Matthew 22:36-40 {with 1 John 3:4}; John 8:34- 36; 16:8-9; Romans 3:23; 6:15-23; 8:18-24; 14:23; 1 John 1:9- 2:4; 3:7-10)

This Doctrine of Original Sin leads us to discuss Total Depravity…

Let’s start with the obvious question, what is Total Depravity? Total depravity is a phrase that is used to summarize what the Bible teaches about the natural spiritual condition of fallen man (By that I mean the spiritual condition we are born in because of Original Sin). It’s the “T” in the acronym TULIP, which is

commonly used to enumerate the five points of Calvinism and the “T” that is used in FACTS to enumerate the 5 points of Classical Evangelical Arminianism.

This isn’t a comfortable topic; it certainly isn’t something that we discuss at parties in “polite society” and it certainly isn’t some niggling little detail that can be overlooked. It entails what may well be the most taboo word in our morally relativistic society, sin. You are a sinner and so am I (yes I really did just go there) and we are all in big trouble because of it.

Total Depravity, though often misunderstood, acknowledges that the Bible teaches that every part of man—the mind, will, emotions, and flesh are corrupted by sin. This is a result of the sin in Genesis 3:6. This is to say that sin affects all of our being—who we are and what we do. Sin has so penetrated us, going to the core of our being, so that everything is polluted by sin. Any good deeds that we do, any righteousness that we bring to God is like filthy rags. (Isaiah 64:6) To give you an idea of how disgusting sin is to God, how utterly repugnant it is, I will share with you what the Hebrew literally says; filthy rags is the cleaned up version for church. Literally, in the Hebrew, it says our righteousness is as a menstrual cloth. I realize that what I just said is shocking and it should be. We don’t take sin seriously enough; you don’t and I don’t and that’s just reality. None of us lives in constant awareness of just how awful our sin really is. Let’s move on…

In the bullet points below, we have summarized the Doctrine of Total Depravity

  • The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked (Jeremiah

17:9)

  • We are born dead in our transgressions and sins (Psalm

51:5, Psalm 58:3 and Ephesians 2:1-5)

  • We are held captive to a love for sin (John 3:19 and John

8:34)

  • There is no one who seeks for God (Romans 3:10-11)
  • Man loves the darkness (John 3:19)
  • Men do not understand the things of God (1 Corinthians

2:14)

  • As a result, men suppress the Truth of God in

unrighteousness (Romans 1:18) and continue to live in sin.

  • Because of the totally depraved nature of man, he continues

to live in sin and this sinful life actually seems right to him

(Proverbs 14:12)

  • Depravity is so pervasive that, by nature, we reject the

Message of the Gospel as foolish (1 Corinthians 1:18) and our minds, naturally do not submit to God because it is unable to do so. (Romans 8:7)

Paul summarizes Total Depravity this way (Romans 3:9-18)

  • No one is without sin
  • No one seeks after God
  • There is no one is good
  • Our speech is corrupted by sin
  • Man’s actions are corrupted by sin
  • And above all, man has no fear of God

The summary verse of the Doctrine of Total Depravity is Romans 3:12 which tells us that there is no one who does good, not a single one. Total Depravity does not mean that man is

as sinful or wicked as is possible to be (Utter Depravity) and it also does not mean that we are totally without a sense of right and wrong. It doesn’t even mean we cannot do things that would be considered good by human standards. It does, however, mean that we are incapable, on our own, of pleasing God.

We are not without hope: prior to the cross, God made a way for us to deal with the pollutions of sin through Faith and Obedience combined with the Levitical Sacrifices. After the cross, we are justified by faith and empowered unto holiness by the indwelling Holy Spirit, Himself being God, who is the seal of our redemption and the guarantee of our eternal home in Heaven.

Salvation

Salvation involves the redemption of the whole man, and is offered freely to all who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, who by His own blood obtained eternal redemption for the believer. In its broadest sense salvation includes regeneration, justification, sanctification, and glorification. There is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.

  1. Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God’s grace whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus. It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace.

Repentance is a genuine turning from sin toward God. Faith is the acceptance of Jesus Christ and commitment of the entire personality to Him as Lord and Saviour.

  1. Justification is God’s gracious and full acquittal upon principles of His righteousness of all sinners who repent and believe in Christ. Justification brings the believer unto a relationship of peace and favor with God.
  2. Sanctification is the experience, beginning in regeneration, by which the believer is set apart to God’s purposes, and is enabled to progress toward moral and spiritual maturity through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in him. Growth in grace should continue throughout the regenerate person’s life.
  3. Glorification is the culmination of salvation and is the final blessed and abiding state of the redeemed.

Genesis 3:15; Exodus 3:14-17; 6:2-8; Matthew
1:21; 4:17; 16:21-26; 27:22-28:6; Luke 1:68-69; 2:28-32; John 1:11-14,29; 3:3-21,36; 5:24; 10:9,28-29; 15:1-16; 17:17; Acts 2:21; 4:12; 15:11; 16:30-31; 17:30-31; 20:32; Romans 1:16- 18; 2:4; 3:23-25; 4:3ff.; 5:8-10; 6:1-23; 8:1-18,29-39; 10:9- 10,13; 13:11-14; 1 Corinthians 1:18,30; 6:19-20; 15:10; 2 Corinthians 5:17-20; Galatians 2:20; 3:13; 5:22-
25; 6:15; Ephesians 1:7; 2:8-22; 4:11-16; Philippians 2:12- 13; Colossians 1:9-22; 3:1ff.; 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24; 2 Timothy 1:12; Titus 2:11-14; Hebrews 2:1-3; 5:8-9; 9:24-
28; 11:1-12:8,14; James 2:14-26; 1 Peter 1:2-23; 1 John 1:6- 2:11; Revelation 3:20; 21:1-22:5.

 

God’s Purpose of Grace

Election is the gracious purpose of God, according to which He regenerates, justifies, sanctifies, and glorifies sinners. It is consistent with the free agency of man, and comprehends all the means in connection with the end. It is the glorious display of God’s sovereign goodness, and is infinitely wise, holy, and unchangeable. It excludes boasting and promotes humility.

Genesis 12:1-3; Exodus 19:5-8; 1 Samuel 8:4-7,19-22; Isaiah 5:1-7; Jeremiah 31:31ff.; Matthew 16:18-19; 21:28-
45; 24:22,31; 25:34; Luke 1:68-79; 2:29-32; 19:41-44; 24:44- 48; John 1:12-14; 3:16; 5:24; 6:44-45,65; 10:27-

29; 15:16; 17:6,12,17-18; Acts 20:32; Romans 5:9-10; 8:28- 39; 10:12-15; 11:5-7,26-36; 1 Corinthians 1:1-2; 15:24-
28; Ephesians 1:4-23; 2:1-10; 3:1-11; Colossians 1:12-14; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14; 2 Timothy 1:12; 2:10,19; Hebrews 11:39–12:2; James 1:12; 1 Peter 1:2-5,13; 2:4-10; 1 John 1:7- 9; 2:19; 3:2.

Special Note: The words in bold lettering, above, are my own emphasis. The words themselves have not been altered in any way. They are simply emphasized to reinforce the point. }

Chosen For Salvation/Unconditional Sovereign Election

On both sides of the soteriological coin, we see that God chooses some to be saved from wrath and damnation, so that is not debated. What is debated however, are the twin doctrines of election and grace. I would like to look, briefly at these…

 

The Belgic Confession teaches us:
▪ Of Eternal Election
We believe that all the posterity of Adam being thus fallen into perdition and ruin, by the sin of our first parents, God then did manifest himself such as he is; that is to say, merciful and just: Merciful, since he delivers and preserves from this perdition all, whom he, in his eternal and unchangeable counsel of mere goodness, has elected in Christ Jesus our Lord, without any respect to their works: Just, in leaving others in the fall and perdition wherein they have involved themselves.

The Scriptures Declare:

  • II Thessalonians 2:13: God chose you from the beginning

unto salvation in sanctification of the Spirit and belief of

the truth.

  • Matthew 24:24: There shall arise false Christs, and false

prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; so as to

lead astray, if possible, even the elect.

  • Matthew 24:31: And they (the angels) shall gather together

His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to

the other.

  • Mark 13:20: For the elect’s sake, whom He chose, He

shortened those days (at the destruction of Jerusalem).

  • I Thessalonians 1:4: Knowing, brethren, beloved of God,

your election.

  • Romans 11:7: The election obtained it, and the rest were

hardened.

  • I Timothy 5:21: I charge thee in the sight of God, and Jesus

Christ, and the elect angels.

  • Romans 8:33: Who shall lay anything to the charge of

God’s elect?

  • Romans 11:5: (In comparison with Elijah’s time) Even so

at the present time also there is a remnant according to the

election of grace.

  • II Timothy 2:10: I endure all things for the elect’s sake.
  • Titus 1:1: Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus

Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect.

  • I Peter 1:1: Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the elect.
  • I Peter 5:13: She that is in Babylon, elect together with you.
  • I Peter 2:9: But ye are an elect race.
  • I Thessalonians 5:9: For God appointed us not unto wrath,

but unto the obtaining of salvation through our Lord Jesus

Christ.

  • Acts 13:48: And as the Gentiles heard this, they were glad,

and glorified the word of God; and as many as were

ordained to eternal life believed.

  • John 17:9: I (Jesus) pray not for the world, but for those

whom thou hast given me; for they are thine.

  • John 6:37: All that the Father giveth me shall come unto

me.

  • John 6:65: No man can come unto me except it be given

unto him of the Father.

  • John 13:18: I speak not of you all; I know whom I have

chosen.

  • John 15:16: Ye did not choose me, but I chose you.
  • Ps 105:6: Ye children of Jacob, His chosen ones.
  • Rom. 9:23: Vessels of mercy, which He afore prepared

unto glory.

  • Ephesians 1:3-15

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. 7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; 8 Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; 9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:

10 That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: 11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: 12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. 13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, 14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

  • Romans 9:11-14
    11 (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) 12 It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger.

13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. 14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.

I almost feel like commenting further would be to presume upon the Scripture as if I, who am less than the least of the righteous could add anything to the Word of the Lord. On many occasions, I have heard Dr. Sproul say that the question should not be “Is Jesus the only way? or Why is Jesus the only way? but that the question, rather, ought to be, “Why should their be any way of salvation at all?” I would say the same of election. It is no marvel that God should save some and allow others to be damned; it is a marvel that He should save any at all.

We believe and teach that man is totally depraved and unable to choose to do right; in our flesh dwells no good thing (Romans 7:18), there is none who does what is right on his own (Romans 3:10). In Isaiah 64:6 we see that our righteousness is as filthy rags. Now let me be blunt; that is the very cleaned up version that you will see in your Bible. What it actually says is that all our righteousness is like menstrual cloths, not a pretty thing to think about. We are, basically, hopeless and helpless. But…

“God, before the foundation of the world, chose to make certain individuals the objects of His unmerited favor or special grace (Mark 13:20; Ephesians 1:4-5; Revelation 13:8; Revelation 17:8). These individuals from every tribe, tongue and nation were chosen by God for adoption, not because of anything they would do but because of His sovereign will (Romans 9:11-13; Romans 9:16; Romans 10:20; 1 Corinthians 1:27-29; 2 Timothy 1:9). God could have chosen to save all men (He certainly has

the power and authority to do so), and He could have chosen to save no one (He is under no obligation to save anyone). He instead chose to save some and leave others to the consequences of their sin (Exodus 33:19; Deuteronomy 7:6-7; Romans 9:10- 24; Acts 13:48; 1 Peter 2:8).” {gotquestions.org}

I would be a first rate liar if I said this wasn’t difficult, especially since I am fairly certain that some people, who were very close to me in life, were most probably not elect. Being absolutely 100% honest with you, beloved, I have not a clue why God saves some and not others; neither do I have even the tiniest fraction of a clue how He decided whom He would elect. There are certain things which God keeps only to Himself and, while we may someday get a clue and understand why He allows things to be thus and so, we sometimes must do what is, honestly, difficult sometimes and that is to trust that the Holy God knows exactly what He is doing and will get the glory due Him alone.

Sovereign Election and Definite Atonement

The certainty of Sovereign Election necessarily requires a certain, definite atonement. (It is important to note that, as part of our affirmation of Reformed Soteriology, we affirm and teach the Doctrine of Definite Atonement.) This doctrine, Definite Atonement, is sometimes called Limited Atonement but I think that nomenclature is unnecessarily offensive to some and can be deceptive. Many people who hear the term, Limited Atonement, automatically assume that it means the atoning work of Christ was limited in power, which, if true, would de facto render such atonement useless. Instead the terms Definite Atonement and

Particular Redemption are the more accurate verbiage to use. Definite Atonement implies the certainty of redemption, and we can be sure that since the Father decreed that there would be a redemption, it will most definitely come to pass; Particular Redemption, being the other half of that coin, implies that a particular people will be redeemed and we can see the accuracy of this implication in “Elect Israel” in the Old Testament. God chose them based on the good pleasure of His will which is the same methodology He uses in our election.

Before we discuss why sovereign election demands a definite and particular redemption, we need to understand some terms, which differ from definite atonement:

Universal Salvation claims that Christ obtained salvation for everyone in the world and that the Holy Spirit applies salvation to everyone in the world so that all are saved. By default, we must reject this doctrine as heretical since, if all will be saved, the Gospel is unneeded, hell is rendered non-existent, and the Holiness of God would be rendered utterly pointless. In point of fact, if Universal Salvation is true then the life of holiness and being conformed to the image of Christ required by the Bible becomes a cruel demand.

General Ransom holds that, although Christ obtained salvation for everyone in the world, the Holy Spirit applies salvation only to those who come to faith so that only these are actually saved. On the surface, this sounds really good (and even accurate) but sovereign electing grace poses a significant problem here; if everyone can come to faith and be saved, what is the point of election? We will come back answer that question in a bit.

Definite Atonement holds that Christ obtained salvation only for the elect and that the Holy Spirit applies salvation only to the elect. Another way to say this is, The Atoning Work of the cross is, in fact, sufficient that all might be saved, but it is only effectual for the elect that their redemption might be guaranteed.

For whom, then, did Jesus die?

This is, to borrow from the culture, the $64,000 question. Christ died a substitutionary death on the cross, this much is certain. For whom was He a substitute?

The Scripture tells us that God has chosen a people for Himself, out of all of fallen humanity, and that these are His Elect, whom He has graciously chosen to redeem. How many will be redeemed is a number known only to the Godhead. It is for this purpose of redemption that Christ is come into the world. (John 6:37-40; 10:27-29; 11:51-52; Romans 8:28-39; Ephesians 1:3- 14; 1Peter 1:20).

In Scripture, Christ is regularly said to have died for particular groups or persons. It is clear that the implication is that His death fully secured their salvation. (John 10:15-18,27-
29; Romans 5:8-10; 8:32; Galatians 2:20; 3:13-14; 4:4-5; 1 John 4:9-10; Revelation 1:4-6; 5:9-10). Facing his suffering on the cross, Jesus prayed only for those whom the Father had given him, not for the “world” (i.e., the rest of humanity; John 17:9,20). It is for these that the Penal Substitutionary Atonement is efficacious.

Notwithstanding, it is also important that we affirm the free

offer of Jesus Christ in the gospel alongside the doctrine of definite atonement. (I can say with many of the Reformers, both sovereign election and free will are taught in scripture and it is only my own folly that prevents me from reconciling the two.) It is a certainty that whoever comes to Christ in faith will find mercy (John 6:35,47-51,54-57; Romans 1:16; 10:8-13). Those whom God has chosen hear Christ’s offer, and through hearing it, they are effectually called by the Holy Spirit. Both the invitation and the effectual calling flow from Christ’s sin- bearing death, that is, His substitutionary atonement for His elect. Those who reject the offer of Christ do so because they choose to (Matthew 22:1-7; John 3:18), so their final doom is their own fault; in a sense, they have refused to bow the knee to Christ and say to Him, “Lord, let Thy will be done.” and so, He says to them “Let thine own will be done” and grants them their eternal abode in the place of the damned. We, who “receive” Christ do so with thanksgiving and all praise due Him, knowing that all we contribute to our redemption is the sin that made it necessary and that our own election is for His Glory alone.

But this begs the nagging question: Are People Predestined to Heaven and Hell?

First let’s define the term: predestination is how we translate the Greek word proorizo, which appears six times in the New Testament (Acts 4:28; Romans 8:29-30; 1 Corinthians
2:7; Ephesians 1:5,11). In some instances, it refers to God’s foreordination of all the events of world history (Acts 4:28; 1 Corinthians 2:7). In others, it refers to God’s decision, made before the world existed, regarding the final destiny of individual sinners. Specifically, it is seen of those chosen for

salvation and eternal life (Romans 8:29-30; Ephesians 1:5,11), as opposed to those who will ultimately be condemned to eternal judgment. Many have pointed out, however, that Scripture also ascribes to God an advance decision about those who in the final analysis are not saved (Romans 9:6-29; 1 Peter 2:8; Jude 4). By predestining only some to salvation, it would seem that God necessarily consigns the remainder to destruction. In light of this, it has become common in many circles to teach a doctrine known as Double Predestination, which sees God’s predestination as including both his decision to save some from sin (election) and his decision to condemn the rest for their sin (reprobation). In the interest of total honesty, I would be an absolute liar if I claimed to understand God’s Electing Grace including redemption and reprobation.

Election and Predestination is, candidly a difficult doctrine to wrap one’s mind around. A number of denominations speak of predestination (or election) on the basis of God’s foreknowledge of faith in certain individuals. They teach that God knew beforehand that certain people would freely choose Christ as their Savior once they had heard the gospel, and conclude that on this basis God then elects them to salvation. In this sense, foreknowledge is passive foresight on God’s part of what individuals will chose of their own free will without God compelling them. God then predetermines people’s destinies, responding to what he has seen will take place.

This brings up the niggling problem of the word prognosko. The Greek word prognōskō, translated “foreknew” in Romans 8:29 and 11:2 can also mean “foreloved” and “foreacknowledged” (see 1 Peter 1:20, where prognōskō is

rendered “chosen before”). Passages such as the above would seem to make it clear that prognōskō expresses foreknowledge of a person, not foreknowledge of mere facts about the future or a person’s life choices. Assuming the accuracy of that, then the New Testament teaches that God has elected on the basis of his forelove and affection for those to whom he gives eternal life.

Because Adam is our Federal Head and we are all born dead in sin, no one who hears the gospel will ever come to repentance and faith without the inner quickening that only God can impart, which we naturally refer to as Regeneration. (Ephesians 2:4-10). Jesus said, “no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him” (John 6:65; John 6:44; 10:25-28). If God looks into the future to see what choices we will make on our own, then we are all damned because none will, on his own, come to Christ. Absent the intervention of the Holy Spirit imputing the life and righteousness of Christ to us, we would forever be doomed to our sin.

So then, humanity is totally depraved and, having no desire to seek God, will not come to Him. God chooses, based on the counsel of His own will, a people to save from His wrath and their just damnation and it is for this people, in particular, that Christ died.

Of necessity, Definite Atonement requires irresistible grace.

The Doctrine of Irresistible Grace (http://theopedia.com) “Those who obtain the new birth do so, not because they wanted to obtain it, but because of the sovereign discriminating grace of God. That is, men are overcome by grace, not finally because their consciences were more tender or their faith more tenacious than that of other men. Rather, the willingness and ability to do God’s will are evidence of God’s own faithfulness to save men from the power and the penalty of sin, and since man is so corrupt that he will not decide and cannot be wooed to follow after God, sovereign efficacious grace is required to convert him. This is done by the regeneration of the Holy Spirit whereby a fallen man who has heard the gospel is made willing and necessarily turns to Christ in God-given faith.”

Major Scriptures related to the Doctrine of Irresistible Grace:

  • John 6:37, 39 (ESV): “All that the Father gives me willcome to me…. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.”
  • John 6:44-45 (ESV): “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him…. Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me.”
  • John 6:65 (ESV): “No one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”
  • Romans 8:28, 30 (ESV) “Those whom [God] predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified”.

All that the Father gives will come…what does this mean? It means, as John MacArthur points out, that in eternity past the Father determined to give, to the Son, a redeemed humanity as a love gift and every person that the LORD God has sovereignly elected unto salvation will come to the feet of the Son, the Lord of Glory, Jesus Christ. On a certain level, this is a mystery for we are not clearly told, in Scripture, how this comes to pass, yet the Scripture does in fact teach that it will happen.

 

One thing that we want to point out is a particular Greek word in John 6:44 and that word is ἕλκω, helkô and the word, generally has the connotation of dragging (John. 18:10; 21:6; 21:11; Acts 16:19; 21:30; James. 2:6). As a consequence, we can assume that it means that this drawing cannot be resisted. This is not to say that God’s grace can never be resisted under any circumstances. Rather, as Dr. Sproul teaches us, “The idea is that God’s grace is so powerful that it has the capacity to overcome our natural resistance to it. It is not that the Holy Spirit drags people kicking and screaming to Christ against their wills. The Holy Spirit changes the inclination and disposition of our wills, so that whereas we were previously unwilling to embrace Christ, now we are willing, and more than willing.”

We learned, in the section on Total Depravity/Total Inability, that man is, of his own accord, not only unwilling but also unable to come to Christ. Thankfully, on the other side of that coin is the fact that God, the Father, changes the desires of our hearts; He creates a new heart where the old obstinately disinterested one used to be and we are now capable of seeing the beauty of the Glorious Prince of Heaven and and are so desirous of the Redeemer that we willingly come and bow at the Throne of Grace.

Some would object to this doctrine, yet I will answer their objection with the words of Paul, “Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, “Why hast thou made me thus?” (Romans 9:20) or, perhaps, the words of Isaiah, “Who hath directed the Spirit of

the LORD, or being his counseller hath taught him?”

I suspect that many of the objections to this doctrine come from those who do not really understand it. Let us turn then, to our friends from Got Questions Ministries for some wise instruction:

“The reason this doctrine is called “irresistible” grace is that it always results in the intended outcome, the salvation of the person it is given to. It is important to realize that the act of being regenerated or “born again” cannot be separated from the act of believing the gospel. Ephesians 2:1-10 makes this clear. There is a connection between the act of being made alive by God (Ephesians 2:1, 5) and the result of being saved by grace. (Ephesians 2:5, 8).

This is because everything pertaining to salvation, including the faith to believe, is an act of God’s grace. The reason God’s grace is irresistible and efficacious (always bringing forth the desired result) is that God “has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into” His kingdom (Colossians 1:13). Or, as Psalm 3:8 puts it, “Salvation belongs to the Lord.”

To understand the doctrine of “irresistible grace,” it is important to recognize that this is a special grace given only to those God has chosen for salvation (His elect) and is different from what is known as “common grace” which God bestows on both believer and unbeliever. While there are many aspects of common grace, including life and all that is necessary to sustain it, common grace is what is often referred to as the “outward call of God.” This is God’s revelation of Himself given to all men through the light of creation and their consciences. It also includes the

general call of the gospel that goes out anytime the gospel message is preached. This call can be resisted and rejected by those that receive it. (Matthew 22:14; Romans 1:18-32).

However, God also gives an “inward call” which always results in salvation. This is the call of God that Jesus spoke of in John 6:37-47. The certainty of this inward call is seen in John 6:37: “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.” John 6:44 confirms this: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him and I will raise him up at the last day.”

To summarize, Irresistible (or efficacious) Grace is the consequence of the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. To borrow from the popular culture, it is, in a sense, when God makes you an offer you can’t refuse; it is that gift of grace which allows us to become the Bride, without spot or wrinkle, who is suitable for the Bridegroom, the Crown Prince of Heaven.

The Security of the Believer

All true believers endure to the end. Those whom God has accepted in Christ, and sanctified by His Spirit, will never fall away from the state of grace, but shall persevere to the end. Believers may fall into sin through neglect and temptation, whereby they grieve the Spirit, impair their graces and comforts, and bring reproach on the cause of Christ and temporal judgments on themselves; yet they shall be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.

Ephesians 4:30 tells us that believers are “sealed for the day of

redemption.” If believers did not have eternal security, the sealing could not truly be unto the day of redemption, but only to the day of sinning, apostasy, or disbelief. John 3:15-16 tells us that whoever believes in Jesus Christ will “have eternal life.” If a person were to be promised eternal life, but then have it taken away, it was never “eternal” to begin with. If eternal security is not true, the promises of eternal life in the Bible would be in error.

The most powerful argument for eternal security is Romans 8:38-39, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Our eternal security is based on God’s love for those whom He has redeemed. Our eternal security is purchased by Christ, promised by the Father, and sealed by the Holy Spirit.

This Doctrine is formally called the Perseverance of the Saints but it is frequently referred to as Eternal Security or Once Saved Always Saved.

Eternal security is the teaching that a Christian cannot lose his salvation because he is “eternally secure” in the work of
Christ. Unfortunately, this teaching is sometimes a source of problems within Christian circles. Some Christians believe that if you hold to eternal security, you are purposely promoting a license to sin. On the other hand, some Christians believe that if you don’t believe in eternal security, you have to keep your salvation by works. Both sides often misrepresent the other, and

instead of being gracious on this debatable issue (as we are commanded to be in Romans 14:1-12), people accuse each other of being unbiblical.

Eternal Security is not a license to sin

Please understand that eternal security is not a license to sin. The Christian is regenerated. He is changed from within and is made a new creature (2 Cor. 5:17). Those who were indwelt by the Holy Spirit will war with their sin and not seek to abide in it. Those who declare that they are eternally secure and then go out and sin on purpose in any manner they so choose are probably not saved to begin with since this is contradictory to what Scripture teaches. 1 John 2:4 says, “The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”

This does not, in any way, imply that we will never again sin; we can be certain that we will sin again because we are under the Federal Headship of Adam and will have a fallen nature until we are restored in the Kingdom. I want to give you 3 passages of Scripture regarding the Security of the Believer.

John 6:37-40
“All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. 38 “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 “And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. 40 “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him, may have eternal life; and I Myself will raise him up on the last day,”

 

John 10:27-28
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand,”

1 John 2:19
“They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, in order that it might be shown that they all are not of us.”

I need to emphasize, with as much vigor as possible, that this does not mean that you can simply live however you like and still go to Heaven when you die. There will always be a struggle with sin and you will fail; so will I. As you mature in your discipleship, you will become more like Christ and so will hate your sin more and more. Some areas will be easier to resist sin and in other areas, it will feel like World War III. The comfort is that we are assured of a final victory.

3 Things the Doctrine of Eternal Security does not teach:

“1) Since we are ‘saved’, we can do what we want. It doesn’t matter what kind of sin we commit. We are still going to go to heaven.” This is a gross perversion of Eternal Security. ALL TRUE BELIEVERS will endure to the end. In Jude’s epistle the Apostle advises that we contend vigorously for the faith and the word he uses is agonizomai. It is from this word that we derive agonize, and it is fitting because “Take up your cross and follow Me” is a death sentence and the flesh will not be overcome easily.

“2) We do not need to worry about helping our brothers and sisters remain faithful. “Hey, if they are saved, they will remain saved. We do not need to be our brother’s keeper”. If this were true, there would be no need for corporate worship or the preaching of the word.

“3) We can ignore all the Scriptures warning us to persevere to the very end. We don’t need to persevere because if we are saved, we will remain saved.” I cannot imagine that anyone seriously thinks that Eternal Security means this but I have heard it from some. Sanctification is both instantaneous and a process. We are admonished to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12) for a reason. The Holy Spirit does sanctify us but that does not leave us with no responsibility to work.

Foundations Lesson 5: The Holy Ghost

Foundations Lesson 5: The Holy Ghost

The Holy Spirit is a Person

In Greek, personal pronouns are used – He, Him, etc. Greek (parakletos) – “One called alongside to help”, Helper, Comforter, Counselor.

The Holy Spirit possesses attributes of personhood

Intellect. Romans 8:26: … the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Intercession requires intellect.

Emotions. Ephesians 4:30: And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God.

A Will. Luke 2:26: And it had been revealed unto him by the Holy Spirit, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. To actively reveal something is an act of the will.

The Holy Spirit does things only a Person can do:

  • teaches and helps us to remember John 14:26
  • calls men to service (He speaks) Acts 13:2
  • convicts us of sin John 16:8
  • leads Romans 8:13,14
  • authors 2 Peter 1:19-21

being a Person, He can be affected by our actions or attitudes.

  • We can lie to Him            Acts 5:1-3
  • We can grieve Him          Ephesians 4:30
  • We can quench Him        1 Thessalonians 5:19
  • We can insult Him           Hebrews 10:29
  • We can resist Him            Acts 7:51
  • We can blaspheme Him   Mark 3:28-29
  • We are convicted by Him  John 16:7-11

The Holy Spirit is God Himself

In possessing the same essential qualities that Jesus does, He possesses all of the attributes of God:

Omnipresent                                  Psalms 139:7-10

Omnipotent                                   Luke 1:35

Omniscient                                    John 14:26; 16:12-13 1 Cor 2:10-11

Eternal                                           Hebrews 9:14

Holy                                     Romans 1:4

Creator                                          Gen 1:2, Job 33:4; Ps 104:30,

He is called God                                              Acts 5:3-4,  2 Cor 3:3, 17

fills                                                         Acts 4:8,  Eph 5:18

empowers  (epi)                                      Rom 8:13,  Gal 5:17,  Zech 4:6,

Acts 1:8

teaches                                                             John 14:26,  John 16:13,  Neh 9:20,

1 John 2:27

 

edifies                                                              Acts 9:31

He does not call attention to Himself and is ever present to glorify and testify of the Lord Jesus Christ.

John 16:13-14: However, when He, the Spirit of Truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth. For He shall not speak of Himself, but whatever He hears, He shall speak. And He will announce to you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will receive of Mine and will announce it to you.

The Spirit of God is active today, convicting the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment.

John 16:8: And when that One comes, He will convict the world concerning sin, and concerning righteousness, and concerning judgment.

He regenerates

John 3:6-7: That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, You must be born again.

Seals Believers

Ephesians 4:30: And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you are sealed until the day of redemption.

and sets the believer apart to a holy life.

Galatians 5:16: I say, then, Walk in the Spirit and you shall not fulfill the lusts of flesh.

At the moment of salvation, each believer is baptized with the Spirit into the body of Christ

1 Corinthians 12:13: For also by one Spirit we are all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether bond or free, even all were made to drink into one Spirit.

To quote Dr. Stanley, at the moment of your salvation, you got all of the Holy Spirit that you are ever going to get.

and at the same moment is permanently indwelt by the Spirit.

John 14:16-17: And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, so that He may be with you forever, the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive because it does not see Him nor know Him. But you know Him, for He dwells with you and shall be in you.

 

At salvation the Holy Spirit sovereignly imparts at least one spiritual gift to every believer for the purpose of edifying and equipping the body of Christ.

1 Corinthians 12:7-8: And to each hath been given the manifestation of the Spirit for profit; for to one through the Spirit hath been given a word of wisdom, and to another a word of knowledge, according to the same Spirit.

As to the charismata (grace gifts/gifts of the Spirit)

The Gift of the Spirit is the Holy Spirit himself, and He is to be desired more than the Grace Gifts which He in His wise counsel bestows upon individual members of the Church to enable them properly to fulfill their function as members of the body of Christ. The gifts of the Spirit, although not always identifiable with natural abilities, function through them for the edification of the whole Church. These gifts are to be exercised in love under the administration of the Lord of the Church, not through human volition. The relative value of the gifts of the Spirit is to be tested by their usefulness in the Church and not by the ecstasy produced in the ones receiving them.

The purpose is to edify the whole Church

Problem (especially for Charismatics):  lack of knowledge of the Person of the Holy Spirit and the proper exercise of His gifts.

The gifts are ALWAYS to focus the believer on Jesus never to focus on the believer himself.

He gifts us by His sovereign will…and takes into account our unique personalities

Gifts complement each other, never compete with each other

The Cessation of the Sign Gifts

The biblical record shows that miracles occurred during particular periods for the specific purpose of authenticating a new message from God.

Moses was enabled to perform miracles to authenticate his ministry before Pharaoh (Exodus 4:1-8). Elijah was given miracles to authenticate his ministry before Ahab (1 Kings 17:118:24). The apostles were given miracles to authenticate their ministry before Israel (Acts 4:1016).

Jesus’ ministry was also marked by miracles, which the Apostle John calls “signs” (John 2:11). John’s point is that the miracles were proofs of the authenticity of Jesus’ message.

After Jesus’ resurrection, as the Church was being established and the New Testament was being written, the apostles demonstrated “signs” such as tongues and the power to heal. “Tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not” (1 Corinthians 14:22), a verse that plainly says the gift was never intended to edify the church.

As the “Gift of Tongues” seems to be the most common gift sought today, we will focus on it for our arguments

Evidence from Scripture

Is there biblical or theological evidence that tongues have ceased? Yes.

First, the gift of tongues was a miraculous, revelatory gift, and the age of miracles and, especially, revelation ended with the apostles. The last recorded miracles in the New Testament occurred around A.D. 58, with the healings on the island of Malta (Acts 28:7-10). From A.D. 58 to 96, when John finished the book of Revelation, no miracle is recorded. Miracle gifts like tongues and healing are mentioned only in 1 Corinthians, an early epistle and possibly one of the first penned by the Apostle Paul. Two later epistles, Ephesians and Romans, both discuss gifts of the Spirit at length—but no mention is made of the miraculous gifts.

By that time miracles were already looked on as something in the past (Heb. 2:3-4). Apostolic authority and the apostolic message needed no further confirmation. Before the first century ended, the entire New Testament had been written and was circulating through the churches.

John MacArthur makes an excellent point and adds a powerful question:

Charismatic believers insist that none of the gifts have ceased and non-charismatics insist that tongues have already ceased. Who is right and what is the implication?

By the time the apostolic age ended with the death of the Apostle John, the signs that identified the apostles had already become moot (cf. 2 Cor. 12:12).

Secondly, tongues were intended as a sign to unbelieving Israel (1 Cor. 14:21-22; cf. Is. 28:11-12). They signified that God had begun a new work that encompassed the Gentiles. The Lord would now speak to all nations in all languages. The barriers were down. And so the gift of languages symbolized not only the curse of God on a disobedient nation, but also the blessing of God on the whole world. (Here, in a sense, God reversed, or rather superceded, for a time, what He did at the Tower of Babel by confusing humanity’s languages.)

Tongues were therefore a sign of transition between the Old and New Covenants. With the establishment of the church, a new day had dawned for the people of God. God would speak in all languages. But once the period of transition was past, the sign would no longer be necessary.

Third, the gift of tongues was inferior to other gifts. It was given primarily as a sign (1 Cor. 14:22) and was also easily misused to edify self (1 Cor. 14:4). Case in point, the number of people who foolishly claim that all believers should expect this gift, or the even more dangerous teaching that one cannot truly be saved if He does not speak in tongues. The church meets for the edification of the body, not self-gratification or personal experience-seeking. Therefore, tongues had limited usefulness in the church, and so it was never intended to be a permanent gift.

Evidence from History

The evidence of history indicates that tongues have ceased. It is significant that tongues are mentioned only in the earliest books of the New Testament. Paul wrote at least twelve epistles after 1 Corinthians and never mentioned tongues again. Peter never mentioned tongues; James never mentioned tongues; John never mentioned tongues; neither did Jude. Tongues appeared only briefly in Acts and 1 Corinthians as the new message of the gospel was being spread. But once the church was established, tongues were gone. They stopped. The later books of the New Testament do not mention tongues again, and neither did anyone in the post-apostolic age.

Chrysostom and Augustine—the greatest theologians of the eastern and western churches—considered tongues obsolete. Writing in the fourth century, Chrysostom stated categorically that tongues had ceased by his time and described the gift as an obscure practice. Augustine referred to tongues as a sign that was adapted to the apostolic age. In fact, during the first five hundred years of the church, the only people who claimed to have spoken in tongues were followers of Montanus, who was branded as a heretic.

The Apostle Paul predicted that the gift of tongues would cease (1 Corinthians 13:8). To repeat and reinforce the point, here are six proofs {gotquestions.org} that it has already ceased:

1) The apostles, through whom tongues came, were unique in the history of the church. Once their ministry was accomplished, the need for authenticating signs ceased to exist.

2) The miracle (or sign) gifts are only mentioned in the earliest epistles, such as 1 Corinthians. Later books, such as Ephesians and Romans, contain detailed passages on the gifts of the Spirit, but the miracle gifts are not mentioned, although Romans does mention the gift of prophecy. The Greek word translated “prophecy” means “speaking forth” and does not necessarily include prediction of the future.

3) The gift of tongues was a sign to unbelieving Israel that God’s salvation was now available to other nations. See 1 Corinthians 14:21-22 and Isaiah 28:11-12.

4) Tongues was an inferior gift to prophecy (preaching). Preaching the Word of God edifies (builds up/trains/molds) believers, whereas tongues does not. Believers are told to seek prophesying over speaking in tongues (1 Corinthians 14:1-3).

5) History indicates that tongues did cease. Tongues are not mentioned at all by the Post-Apostolic Fathers. Other writers such as Justin Martyr, Origen, Chrysostom, and Augustine considered tongues something that happened only in the earliest days of the Church.

6) Current observation confirms that the miracle of tongues has ceased. If the gift were still available today, there would be no need for missionaries to attend language school. Missionaries would be able to travel to any country and speak any language fluently, just as the apostles were able to speak in Acts 2. As for the miracle gift of healing, we see in Scripture that healing was associated with the ministry of Jesus and the apostles (Luke 9:1-2). And we see that as the era of the apostles drew to a close, healing, like tongues, became less frequent. The Apostle Paul, who raised Eutychus from the dead (Acts 20:9-12), did not heal Epaphroditus (Philippians 2:25-27), Trophimus (2 Timothy 4:20), Timothy (1 Timothy 5:23), or even himself (2 Corinthians 12:7-9). The reasons for Paul’s “failures to heal” are 1) the gift was never intended to make every Christian well, but to authenticate apostleship; and 2) the authority of the apostles had been sufficiently proved, making further miracles unnecessary.

EQUALITY OF THE THREE PERSONS

We’ve studied Father, Son and Holy Spirit. One more of our claims needs to be addressed; that of the equality of the three:

“[God] is infinite and perfect, eternally existing in three equal persons.”

In what sense are they equal? They are all equally endowed with all of the attributes of Personhood and Deity. Matthew 28:19: Therefore go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Unity of the One Being of Father, Son and Holy Spirit

Accordingly, therefore, there is that in the Father which constitutes him 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. Wherefore the Father is the Begetter, the Son is the Begotten, and the Holy Spirit is the one proceeding from the Father and the Son. Therefore, because these three persons in the Godhead are in a state of unity, there is but one Lord God Almighty and His name one.

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 the Godhead; 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. Hence, neither 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)

Foundations 4: The Divine Son

Foundations 4: The Divine Son

The earliest Creeds/Statements of Faith of the Church teach a belief in the Trinity. In this week’s lesson, we are looking at the 2nd Person of the Trinity. Prior to the Incarnation, His identity was shrouded in the mystery of the Godhead. Since the Incarnation, we now refer to Him by the Name by which He was known on Earth, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ, the second person of the Trinity, possesses all the attributes of the Godhead, and in/because of these He is coequal, consubstantial, and coeternal with the Father (John 10:3014:9).

  • He is eternal (John 1:1-3 with 1 John 1:1-4, John 1:15, John 8:58, John 17:5, 24, Hebrews 1:11)
  • He is omnipresent (John 3:13, Matthew 18:20, Ephesians 1:23)
  • He is omniscient (John 16:30, John 21:17, Colossians 2:3, John 4:29, Luke 6:8)
  • He is omnipotent (John 5:19, Hebrews 1:2-3, Matthew 28:18)
  • He is immutable (Hebrews 1:12, Hebrews 13:8)
  • Creator and Sustainer (John 1:3, Colossians 1:15-17, Hebrews 1:3, 10 Psalm 33:6
  • Jesus Christ has the prerogatives of God (Matthew 9:2, 6; Luke 7:47- John 5:25-29 John 6:39, John 11:25-26 John 5:22

 

Jesus names Himself as God and explains I AM in John’s Gospel (Exodus 3:14)

  • the Bread of Life (6:35, 41)
  • the Light of the world (8:12)
  • the Good Shepherd (10:11, 14)
  • the Door (10:7, 9)
  • the Way the Truth and the Life (14:6)
  • the Resurrection and the Life (11:25-26)
  • the True Vine (15:1)
  • John 8:24
  • John8:58

Eternal Sonship (gotquestions.org)

The doctrine of eternal Sonship simply affirms that the second Person of the triune Godhead has eternally existed as the Son. In other words, there was never a time when He was not the Son of God, and there has always been a Father/Son relationship within the Godhead. This doctrine recognizes that the idea of Sonship is not merely a title or role that Christ assumed at some specific point in history, but that it is the essential identity of the second Person of the Godhead. According to this doctrine, Christ is and always has been the Son of God.

Yes, the eternal Sonship is biblical and is a view that is widely held among Christians and has been throughout church history. It is important, however, to remember when discussing the doctrine of eternal Sonship that there are evangelical Christians on both sides of this debate. This is not to say that this is not an important doctrine, because it is; it simply acknowledges the fact that there are orthodox or evangelical Christians that hold or have held both views. Those that deny the doctrine of eternal Sonship are not denying the triune nature of God or the deity or eternality of Christ, and those that embrace the eternal Sonship of Christ are not inferring that Jesus Christ was anything less than fully God.

Throughout church history the doctrine of eternal Sonship has been widely held, with most Christians believing that Jesus existed as God’s eternal Son before creation. It is affirmed in the Nicene Creed (325 A.D.) which states: “We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen. We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father. Through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.” It was also later reaffirmed in the fifth century in the Athanasian Creed.

There is considerable biblical evidence to support the eternal Sonship of Christ. First of all, there are many passages that clearly identify that it was “the Son” who created all things (Colossians 1:13-16Hebrews 1:2), thereby strongly implying that Christ was the Son of God at the time of creation. When one considers these passages, it seems clear that the most normal and natural meaning of the passages is that at the time of creation Jesus was the Son of God, the second Person of the Triune Godhead, thus supporting the doctrine of eternal Sonship.

Second, there are numerous verses that speak of God the Father sending the Son into the world to redeem sinful man (John 20:21Galatians 4:41 John 4:141 John 4:10) and giving His Son as a sacrifice for sin (John 3:16). Clearly implied in all the passages that deal with the Father sending/giving the Son is the fact that He was the Son before He was sent into the world. This is even more clearly seen in Galatians 4:4-6, where the term “sent forth” is used both of the Son and the Spirit. Just as the Holy Spirit did not become the Holy Spirit when He was sent to empower the believers at Pentecost, neither did the Son become the Son at the moment of His incarnation. All three Persons of the Triune Godhead have existed for all eternity, and their names reveal who they are, not simply what their title or function is.

Third, 1 John 3:8 speaks of the appearance or manifestation of the Son of God: “the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, that He might destroy the works of the devil.” The verb “to make manifest” or “appeared” means to make visible or to bring to light something that was previously hidden. The idea communicated in this verse is not that the second Person of the trinity became the Son of God, but that the already existing Son of God was made manifest or appeared in order to fulfill God’s predetermined purpose. This idea is also seen in other verses such as John 11:27 and 1 John 5:20.

Fourth, Hebrews 13:8 teaches that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, yes and forever.” This verse, again, seems to support the doctrine of eternal Sonship. The fact that Jesus’ divine nature is unchanging would seem to indicate that He was always the Son of God because that is an essential part of His Person. At the incarnation Jesus took on human flesh, but His divine nature did not change, nor did His relationship with the Father. This same truth is also implied in John 20:31, where we see John’s purpose in writing his gospel was so that we might “believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.” It does not say that He became the Son of God but that He is the Son of God. The fact that Jesus was and is the Son of God is an essential aspect of Who He is and His work in redemption.

Finally, one of the strongest evidences for the eternal Sonship of Christ is the triune nature of God and the eternal relationship that exists among the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Particularly important is the unique Father/Son relationship that can only be understood from the aspect of Christ’s eternal Sonship. This relationship is key to understanding the full measure of God’s love for those whom He redeems through the blood of Christ. The fact that God the Father took His Son, the very Son He loved from before the foundation of the world, and sent Him to be a sacrifice for our sins is an amazing act of grace and love that is best understood from the doctrine of eternal Sonship.

One verse that speaks of the eternal relationship between the Father and Son is John 16:28. “I came forth from the Father, and have come into the world; I am leaving the world again, and going to the Father.” Implied in this verse is again the fact that the Father/Son relationship between God the Father and God the Son is one that always has and always will exist. At His incarnation the Son “came from the Father” in the same sense as upon His resurrection He returned “to the Father.” Implied in this verse is the fact that if Jesus was the Son after the resurrection, then He was also the Son prior to His incarnation. Other verses that support the eternal Sonship of Christ would include John 17:5 and John 17:24, which speak of the Father’s love for the Son from “before the foundation of the world.”

After one considers the many arguments for the doctrine of eternal Sonship, it should become clear that this is indeed a biblical doctrine that finds much support in Scripture. However, that is not to imply that arguments cannot be made against the doctrine as well, or that all Christians will agree to this doctrine. While it has been the view of the majority of Christian commentators throughout history, there have been several prominent Christians on the other side of the issue as well.

The term, “son of God,” occurs more than 40 times in the Bible, all of them in the New Testament. The phrase is found in the KJV in Dan. 3:25, but the Hebrew word of God is actually in the plural so it should read, “son of the gods.” So, what do we find when we examine the phrase in the New Testament?

  • Jesus Christ is the Son of God, ( 26:63, Mark 1:1, John 20:31, Heb. 4:14).
  • Unclean spirits would fall down before Jesus and say, “You are the Son of God,” (Mark 3:11).
  • “ . . . the holy offspring shall be called the Son of God,” (Luke 1:35).
  • Adam is said to be the son of God (Luke 3:38).
  • Those who hear the voice of the Son of God shall live (John 5:25).
  • Paul had faith in the Son of God ( 2:20).
  • Son of God has no beginning or end ( 7:3).
  • The Son of God appeared to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8).
  • Believe in the Son of God so that you may have eternal life (1 John 5:13).

We can see that the term refers to the majesty, position, and power of Jesus who is holy (Luke 1:35), associated with salvation (John 5:25) and that we are to have faith in the Son of God (Gal. 2:20) so as to have eternal life (1 John 5:13) and that He has no beginning or end (Heb. 7:3).

The only exception to this flow of exultation is Luke 3:38 when it says Adam was the “Son of God,” but here the context is a genealogy, and we know that Adam was the first man created by God.

Furthermore, in reference to Jesus, the term, “Son of God,” does not mean that Jesus is the literal offspring of God as if God had some form of sexual relations with Mary to produce Jesus. God is spirit (John 4:24), and spirit does not have flesh and bones (Luke 24:39), so God the Father is not the literal father of Jesus.

Jesus can be both God and the Son of God because the terms don’t mean the same thing. When we say that Jesus is God (John 1:114Colossians 2:9Hebrews 1:8), we are saying that Jesus possesses the divine nature (as well as a human nature, see hypostatic union). But the term, “Son of God,” does not mean that Jesus is not God. Think about it. If the term, “Son of God,” meant that Jesus is not God, then does the term, “Son of Man,” mean that Jesus is not a man? Of course not. Likewise, if the term, “Son of Man,” means that Jesus is a man, then does it not imply that when it says that Jesus is the “Son of God,” that He is God? We ought not look at the ancient words found in Scripture and judge them by modern thinking.

“For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God,” (John 5:18).

As you can see in this verse, Jesus was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal to God. Therefore, the term, Son of God, is a designation of the equality with God when it is a reference to Christ.

Those that deny the doctrine of eternal Sonship would instead hold to a view that is often referred to as the Incarnational Sonship, which teaches that while Christ preexisted, He was not always the Son of God. Those that hold this view believe Christ became the Son of God at some point in history, with the most common view being that Christ became the Son at His incarnation. However, there are others who believe Christ did not become the Son until sometime after His incarnation, such as at His baptism, His resurrection, or His exaltation. It is important to realize that those who deny the eternal Sonship of Christ still recognize and affirm His deity and His eternality.

Those who hold this view see the Sonship of Christ as not being an essential part of Who He is, but instead see it as simply being a role or a title or function that Christ assumed at His incarnation. They also teach that the Father became the Father at the time of the incarnation. Throughout history many conservative Christians have denied the doctrine of eternal Sonship. Some examples would include Ralph Wardlaw, Adam Clarke, Albert Barnes, Finis J. Dake, Walter Martin, and at one time John MacArthur. It is important to note, however, that several years ago John MacArthur changed his position on this doctrine and he now affirms the doctrine of eternal Sonship.

One of the verses commonly used to support Incarnational Sonship is Hebrews 1:5, which appears to speak of God the Father’s begetting of God the Son as an event that takes place at a specific point in time: “Thou art My Son, Today I have begotten Thee. And again. I will be a Father to Him. And He shall be a Son to Me.” Those who hold to the doctrine of incarnational Sonship point out two important aspects of this verse. 1—that “begetting” normally speaks of a person’s origin, and 2—that a Son is normally subordinate to his father. They reject the doctrine of eternal Sonship in an attempt to preserve the perfect equality and eternality of the Persons of the Triune Godhead. In order to do so, they must conclude that “Son” is simply a title or function that Christ took on at His incarnation and that “Sonship” refers to the voluntary submission that Christ took to the Father at His incarnation (Philippians 2:5-8John 5:19).

Some of the problems with the Incarnational Sonship of Christ are that this teaching confuses or destroys the internal relationships that exist within the Trinity, because if the Son is not eternally begotten by the Father, then neither did the Spirit eternally proceed from the Father through the Son. Also, if there is no Son prior to the incarnation, then there is no Father either; and yet throughout the Old Testament we see God being referred to as the Father of Israel. Instead of having a triune God eternally existing in three distinct Persons with three distinct names, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, those who hold to the doctrine of incarnational Sonship end up with a nameless Trinity prior to the incarnation, and we would be forced to say that God has chosen not to reveal Himself as He truly is, but only as He was to become. In other words, instead of actually revealing who He is, the Triune God instead chose to reveal Himself by the titles He would assume or the roles that He would take on and not who He really is. This is dangerously close to modalism and could easily lead to false teachings about the nature of God. One of the weaknesses of the doctrine of incarnational Sonship is that the basic relationships existing among the members of the Trinity are confused and diminished. Taken to its logical conclusion, denying the eternal Sonship of Christ reduces the Trinity from the relationship of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to simply Number One, Number Two and Number Three Persons—with the numbers themselves being an arbitrary designation, destroying the God-given order and relationship that exists among the Persons of the Trinity.

God the Father created “the heavens and the earth and all that is in them” according to His own will, through His Son, Jesus Christ, by whom all things continue in existence and in operations (John 1:3Colossians 1:15-17Hebrews 1:2).

The 2nd Person of the Trinity as the God-man

  • In the incarnation (God becoming man) Christ surrendered/laid aside His prerogatives as God but nothing of the divine essence, either in degree or kind, instead subordinating Himself to the will of God the Father and accepting the limitations of humanity. In His incarnation, the eternally existing second person of the Trinity accepted all the essential characteristics of humanity and so became the God-man (Philippians 2:5-8Colossians 2:9).
  • Jesus Christ represents, perfectly, humanity and deity in indivisible oneness (Micah 5:2John 5:2314:9, 10Colossians 2:9).

         The Definition of the Council of Chalcedon (451 A.D)

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 Scriptures teach:

Why did God the Son become man?  Why did He subject Himself to His creatures and allow Himself to be humiliated?

  1. to fulfill God’s promises

Isaiah 9:6, Isaiah 7:14, Micah 5:2, Daniel 9:26

  1. to reveal the Father to man

God had been revealed as Creator and Lord…

now He is revealed to be Father, completing the revelation

  1. to become a faithful High Priest

a sinless High Priest to represent man

Hebrews 2:17-18, Hebrews 5:1-3, Hebrews 7:25-27

  1. to put away/put an end to sin

Hebrews 9:26, Mark 10:45, 1 John 3:5

Lev 16:20-22, John 1:29, Isaiah 53:6, 2 Corinthians 5:21

  1. to destroy the works of Satan

1 John 3:8, Hebrews 2:14-15, John 12:31

  1. to give us an example of holy living

1 Peter 2:21, 1 John 2:6 (saved then follow)

Awesome events with the incarnation of God the Son

  1. He emptied Himself

The humiliation of Christ began in His attitude  (Phil 2:6)

Showing us the necessity of an attitude of humility

His divine glory was veiled, but not surrendered  (Matt 17:1)

He voluntarily restricted His attributes of Deity in keeping with                   His purpose to live among men and all their limitations

i.e.  He remained “in the form of God” as He accepted also the                            nature of a servant

 

  1. He was made in the likeness of man

Flesh that was subject to weakness, pain, temptation, incredible limitations so that God could dwell among us (John 1:14)

but He did not take on man’s sinful nature  (Rom 8:3)

He did not exchange natures, He took an additional nature

During His time on Earth, The Lord Jesus Christ accomplished our redemption through the shedding of His blood and sacrificial death on the cross and that His death was voluntary, vicarious, substitutionary, propitiatory, and redemptive (John 10:15Romans 3:24, 255:81Peter 2:24). In the future, we will look at both of the major views on the Atonement, the traditional Reformed view known as Penal Substitutionary Atonement, and view known as Christus Victor. The two are often seen, needlessly, as being in opposition to each other. Both, however, are accurate portrayals of the Atonement.

On the basis of the efficacy of the death of our Lord Jesus Christ, the believing sinner is freed from the punishment, the penalty, the power, and one day the very presence of sin; and that he is declared righteous, given eternal life, and adopted into the family of God (Romasn 3:255:8, 92Corinthians 5:14, 151Peter 2:243:18). {This is the Penal Substitutionary Atonement}

Our justification is made sure by His literal, physical resurrection from the dead and the fact that He is now ascended to the right hand of the Father, where He mediates as our Advocate and High-Priest (Matthew 28:6Luke 24:38, 39Acts 2:30, 31Romans 4:258:34Hebrews 7:259:241 John 2:1).

In the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave, God confirmed the deity of His Son and gave proof that God has accepted the atoning work of Christ on the cross. Jesus’ bodily resurrection is also the guarantee of a future resurrection life for all believers (John 5:26-2914:19Romans 4:256:5-101 Corinthians 15:2023).

In the Resurrection to come, Jesus Christ will return to receive the church, which is His body, unto Himself at the Rapture and, after the Tribulation, returning with His church in glory, will establish His millennial kingdom on earth (Acts 1:9-111 Thessalonians 4:13-18Revelation 20).

The Lord Jesus Christ is the one through whom God will judge all mankind (John 5:22, 23):

  1. Believers (1 Corinthians 3:10-15;2 Corinthians 5:10);
  2. Living inhabitants of the earth at His glorious return (Matthew 25:31-46); and
  3. Unbelieving dead at the Great White Throne (Revelation 20:11-15).

As the mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5), the head of His body the church (Ephesians 1:225:23Colossians 1:18), and the coming universal King who will reign on the throne of David (Isaiah 9:6, 7Ezekiel 37:24-28Luke 1:31-33), He is the final judge of all who fail to place their trust in Him as Lord and Savior (Matthew 25:14-46Acts 17:30, 31).

Foundations 3: The Majesty on High (God the Father)

Foundations 3: The Majesty on High (God the Father)

Introductory remarks

God the Father is the first person of the Trinity. (Deuteronomy 32:6, Psalm 68:5, Isaiah 64:8 Malachi 2:10 Matthew 6:9; 7:11; 23:9, Romans 8:15, 1 Corinthians 8:6 Ephesians 4:6 Hebrews 12:9, 1 Peter 1:17) That is to say that He is first in priority and first in authority. Since all three Persons have existed forever, the Father does not precede either the Son or Holy Spirit as to time or origination. All three have always existed in union with One another. God the Father orders and disposes all things according to His own purposes and grace (Ps 145:8, 91Co 8:6), which have God’s glory as their end.  He is the Creator of all things (Ge 1:1-31Eph 3:9). God the Father is truly our Redeemer in that He saves from sin all those who come to Him through Jesus Christ. (More on that later)

(We are endeavoring to provide the Classic Orthodox Protestant view of the Person of God)
Lesson Outline:

 

  1. Review: How do we know about God?
  2. General Revelation
  3. The natural world reveals God (Acts 14:15-17; Rom.1:19-23)
  4. Human Conscience testifies to the existence God (Rom.2:14-16)
  5. Special Revelation
  6. Miracles reveal God.
  7. God extends natural laws (Josh.10:12-14 – sun stood still)
  8. God supercedes natural laws (2 Kings 6 – axehead floated)
  9. Fulfilled prophecy reveals God.
  • T. (Is.43:28-45; Ezra 1:1-4 – Cyrus predicted)
  • T. (Micah 5:2; Matt.2:1 – birthplace of Christ)
  • Jesus Christ Himself reveals God. (Heb.1:1; John 1:18)
  • Scripture as a whole reveals God.

 

  1. Review: Can we prove God’s existence?
  2. The Bible assumes God’s existence rather than attempting to prove it (Gen.1:1).
  3. The natural world demands God’s existence (Ps.19; Is.40:26; Acts 14:17; Rom.1:19).
  4. Argumentation/Logical Conclusions to answer the skeptics and doubters
  5. Argument from Cosmology – How could there be anything if there wasn’t a Cause (God) who was Uncaused (Romans 1:20)? Quoting Dr. Sproul, “IF THERE EVER WAS A TIME WHEN ABSOLUTELY NOTHING EXISTED, ALL THERE COULD POSSIBLY BE NOW IS NOTHING.”
  6. Argument from Teleology – The mathematical precision and obvious intelligence in Nature demands a designer of infinitely superior intellect. (God – Psalm 19:1-6)?
  7. Moral argument –If there is no one to give a Law, who then is the arbiter of right and wrong? (God – Romans 2:14,15; James 4:12)?
  8. Ontological argument – Where do people get the idea of a Perfect Being (God) except from God Himself (Act 17:27; Romans 1:19)?

 

III. Can we describe or explain God? How do we do so? God has many perfect characteristics (attributes). Attributes are the characteristics that define the essence of the Godhead

  1. Incommunicable attributes (characteristics belonging only to God).
  2. Self-existence (Exodus 3:14, John 5:26).
  3. Immutability (Psalm 102:25-27; Ex.3:14; James 1:17) – God does not change His essence or plan. He can never be wiser, more holy, more just, more merciful, more truthful. Neither can God be any less of any of those as any change would make Him less than God. His plans and His purposes never change (Ps 33:11)
  4. Infinity
  5. Eternality – Infinite in time (Ps.90:2)
  6. Omnipresence – Infinite in space (Ps.139:7-11) Present everywhere at once (Jeremiah 23:23-24) Yet transcends His creation and as such He is always able to help us, His creatures (Ps 46:1, Matt 28:20) He is inescapable (Ps 139:7-10, 17)
  7. Holiness – The absence of evil and presence of purity (Lev.11:44; John 17:11; 1 John 1:5)
  8. Holy: God is separate from and exalted above all of His creatures God is free from all defilement, absolutely pure) Isaiah 6:3. Holiness is the foremost attribute of God – the attribute by which He especially wants to be known.God’s Throne is established upon His holiness, thereby regulating His love, power, and will

 

By God’s holiness we know:

  • There is great chasm between God and the sinner (Is 59:1-2 Hab 1:13)

 

  • Man must approach God through the merits of another if he is to be able to approach Him at all because man does not possess nor can he ever acquire the sinlessness necessary for access to God (Rom 5:1-2, 6-8, Eph 2:1-9, 18, Heb 10:19-20)
  • We must approach God with humility, awe and reverence (Heb 12:28)
  1. Righteous and just

God has instituted a moral government in the world, imposed just laws on His creatures, and attached sanctions for disobedience. God cannot make a law, establish a penalty, and then not follow through when the law is disobeyed. Punishment must be given, either personally or vicariously. The purpose of punishment is to maintain justice (Is 53:10, Psalm 145:17)

  1. God has communicable attributes (characteristics found in a limited degree in man).
  2. Intellect
  3. Omniscience – God knows all things actual and potential. The Bible does not explain this but does assume it as fact (Ps.139:16; Matt. 11:21).
  4. All-wise – God acts upon His knowledge to always do what is infinitely best (Rom.11:33-36).
  5. Attributes of Emotion
  6. God is Love – God is incomprehensibly active for our good (1 John 4:8).
  7. Mercy – concern, compassion (James 5:11)
  8. Long suffering – self-restrained when provoked (2 Peter 3:9,15)
  9. God is just – God is perfectly righteous and exact in His dealings with man (Ps.19:9).
  • Grace- (Definition and comments from Wayne Kinde.) A special characteristic of God involving many of His major loving characteristics
  • OT uses chesed and chen. There are multiple different ways that these are translated in the OT. Examples: love, mercy, compassion, tenderheartedness, kindness, grace, favor, etc.
  • Septuagint (Greek OT/LXX) renderings of charis and what Hebrew words were used for this very generic and bland Greek word. This will, again, show a huge diversity in the usage (FAR beyond, “unmerited favor”).
  • In the Hellenistic period (maybe best between 200BC-0BC). How was it used extensively prior the the NT writings. There you will see quite again a wide variety of usages, from love, mercy, peace, compassion, and favor.
  • In the NT, what is the overacrching sense of the word based on the above and each context.

The point: looking at the historical data from #1-#4 above, I conclude that the word “grace” demonstrates a major character of the Trinity regarding many of the major loving characteristics. Thus, it is by this grace (His amazing love, compassion, mercy, tenderheartedness, etc.) that we are saved (Eph 2:8).

Another of my teachers puts it this way: Grace is God’s goodness manifested toward the guilty undeserving, to those deserving His justice instead 

  1. Will
  2. Omnipotence (Job 42:2) God is able to do anything He wills. He will not do anything against His nature (sin) and He cannot do anything that is logically self-contradictory. Because God can only do what is in harmony with His nature He cannot
    • lie (Titus 1:2)
    • repent from evil (Num 23:19)
    • deny Himself (2 Tim 2:13)
    • be tempted to sin (James 1:13)
  3. Sovereignty (2 Chron.29:11,12) As the only absolute and omnipotent ruler in the universe, He is sovereign in creation, providence, and redemption (Ps 103:19Ro 11:36). He has decreed for His own glory all things that come to pass (Eph 1:11). He continually upholds, directs, and governs all creatures and events (1Ch 29:11). In His sovereignty He is neither author nor approver of sin (Hab 1:13), nor does He abridge the accountability of moral, intelligent creatures (1Pe 1:17). He has graciously chosen from eternity past those whom He would have as His own (Eph 1:4-6);
  4. God as Father

His fatherhood involves both His position within the Trinity and His relationship with mankind.

  1. As Creator He is Father to all men (Eph 4:6),
  2. Spiritual Father only to believers (Ro 8:142Co 6:18).

He adopts as His own all those who come to Him; and He becomes, upon adoption, Father to His own (Jn 1:12Ro 8:15Gal 4:5Heb 12:5-9).

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)

Categories

Search the Bible

Lookup a word or passage in the Bible


BibleGateway.com
Include this form on your page

Daily Dose of Bible

Reformed Bible Teaching