Wednesday, October 12, 2005

What is the Gospel? What is the foundation to the Gospel?

This article first appeared on my old website under the Studies section back in 2001. However, I have since, in 2009, updated that website to the new website, still under the Studies section.

Note: This Greek font will be necessary to view the Greek in this article.

Introduction

In the Greek, gospel is EUAGGELION, which simply means good news.

When it comes to the question "What is the gospel?" we have a very concise description in the New Testament given by the apostle Paul, "3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; 7 then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; 8 and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also." (1 Cor. 15:3-8 1). So, what is the gospel according to Paul here? There are four main points to what the gospel is:

  1. "Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures" v 3b
  2. "that He was buried" v 4a
  3. "that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures" v 4b
  4. "that He appeared to..." v 5-8

Is that it? Can we now conclude this article? Is that all we need to believe to be saved? Yes, and No! Yes, if you believe the essentials that form the foundation to this. No, if you see it as its own foundation to stand by itself. We will deal with the essentials in Essentials of our faith.

Making the gospel our own

After Pentecost and the infilling of the Holy Spirit, Peter stood up and preached to the people there with them. At the end of his message the people were "pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, Brethren, what shall we do? Peter said to them, Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (Ac. 2:37-38) In verses 22-36 Peter basically covered the four points of the gospel mentioned in the previous section. The only point that he didn't mention directly, but I believe alluded to is the burial of Jesus. How? Well, he said "Brethren, I may confidently say to you regarding the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day." (Ac. 2:29) I believe he made a comparison between David (who was buried and was still dead) and Jesus (who was buried but rose from the dead). Peter assumed that his listeners would notice the comparison.

After the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness, He started preaching, saying "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel." (Mk. 1:15) From the beginning it is made clear that for us to be saved we need to repent of our sin and to believe in the gospel.

Nicodemus came to Jesus at night affirming that they knew He was from God. I believe Nicodemus was trying to get some credits with Jesus. People try that all the time. Try telling someone that you are a pastor (if indeed you are one!) nor a minister of the gospel or very involved in the church, and they would tell you of a distant relative who has a distant relative who is also a pastor! Somehow they try to justify themselves. Then Jesus turned the conversation to the heart of the matter. The gospel! Jesus told him "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." (Jn. 3:3) Born again! We can only enter the kingdom of God if we are born again. Entering the kingdom of God brings us eternal life. How do we enter the kingdom or get eternal life or get born again? "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." (Jn. 3:16) It is through faith in the complete work that Jesus did on the cross!

It is only by faith through the grace of God that we can appropriate salvation. Works can never save us! Paul writes that "a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law." (Rom. 3:28) If we could be saved by works, then what need is there for the death of Christ? We find that no amount of works on our part can save us, simply because of the overwhelming effect of our sinful nature. Paul writes it better when he says "20 because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin. 21 But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; 25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; 26 for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus." (Rom. 3:20-26)

Points of the gospel message

Christ died for our sins

The first question that normally comes to mind when we hear of the death of Christ is "Why was it necessary?" In short, man sinned, God is holy and the price for sin is death. How did God get past having to kill every human being on earth? Payment was necessary to satisfy the wrath of God against sin and sinners. We needed Christ to die for us, in our stead, for we could not save ourselves: "For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly." (Rom. 5:6) The death of Christ was while we were still sinners. (Rom. 5:8)

Christ was buried

A woman came to Jesus and poured very costly perfume on His feet. His disciples were very indignant about the "wasted money" of this act. Jesus simply replied that "when she poured this perfume on My body, she did it to prepare Me for burial." (Mt. 26:12) Jesus knew that He had to die and be buried. Jesus was buried according to the normal custom of the Jews of His day (Jn. 19:38-42).

Christ was raised from the dead

Paul shows how important it is that Christ rose from the dead. This is the crux of Christianity. If Christ did not rise from the dead "your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins." (1 Cor. 5:17) If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ rose from the dead (1 Cor. 15:13). If this is the case "we are of all men most to be pitied." (1 Cor. 15:19)

The fact is, Christ rose from the dead (Mt. 28:1-10; Mk. 16:1-8; Lk. 24:1-12; Jn. 20:1-10).

Christ appeared to many

This the way that Jesus affirmed His resurrection to may people. Simply by appearing to them. Without evidence, it is difficult to believe something. So, He provided the evidence of His resurrection to His disciples... Himself! If you look at how many people Jesus appeared to, it is quite impossible for His resurrection to be a hoax. Jesus appeared to more than 500 people! (1 Cor. 15:5-8). He first appeared to Mary Magdalene and the other Mary (Mt. 28:8-10). Next, to the two on the Emmaus road (Lk. 24:13-35). Then, He appeared to the rest of the disciples (Lk. 24:36-43; Jn. 20:19-23). Thomas. not being with the disciples this time saw Jesus next (Jn. 20:26-29). After this "6 After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; 7 then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; 8 and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also." (1 Cor. 15:6-8)

Essentials of the faith

Next, we come to the essentials of the faith of our salvation. Any building that is to stand for long needs a foundation. A building without a foundation is worthless, and soon comes tumbling down. The building of our salvation, the gospel, has need of such a foundation, without which, it cannot stand either.

Not believing in the most essential points, make shipwreck of our faith. It can hardly be possible to be called a Christian without holding to these foundations. We will now look at these building blocks that make up this foundation, the Essentials of our faith.

The inerrancy and sufficiency of Scripture

What can we believe if we do not believe that the Bible is without error? How will we know which parts of the Bible are actually true and are worth believing? How will we know that Jesus actually rose from the dead without the certainty that those passages are inerrant? If the Bible is not sufficient for faith and practice, what do we add to, or subtract from the Bible to make it sufficient? Who decides? Once we have done so, how can we rely on what we have to be sufficient and reliable? You see, trying to answer these questions we discover that without the inerrancy and sufficiency of the Scriptures we do not have true Christianity. You see, the Christian gospel is based on truth, and if this truth cannot be based on the objective revelation of God in the Bible, then our gospel can no longer be verified against an ongoing standard.

The Bible claims of itself to be inspired by God when it says "All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete and thoroughly equipped for every good work." (2 Tim. 3:16-17 ISV). Even Peter acknowledged that it was God who spoke through the prophets when he adds "First of all, you must understand this: No prophecy in Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, because no prophecy ever originated through a human decision. Instead, men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit." (2 Pet. 1:20-21 ISV). Concerning 2 Tim. 3:16

"These two passages [1 Tim. 5:18; Lk. 10:7] taken together indicate that during the time of the writing of the New Testament documents there was an awareness that additions were being made to this special category of writings called "scripture," writings that had the character of being God's very words. Thus, once we establish that a New Testament writing belongs to the special category "scripture," then we are correct in applying 2 Timothy 3:16 to that writing as well, and saying that that writing also has the characteristic Paul attributes to "all scripture": it is "God-breathed," and all its words are the very words of God." 2

The same can be said of the passage in 2 Pet. 1 because it uses the same word. If this is so, how can the New Testament be called "Scripture" too. Peter clearly regarded the writings of Paul as "Scripture" "which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction" (2 Pet. 3:16).

"This is an indication that very early in the history of the church all of Paul's epistles were considered to be God's written words in the same sense as the Old Testament texts were." 3

Paul, similarly, quotes the words of Jesus in Lk. 10:7 and regards it as "Scripture" equal to that of the Old Testament when he writes "For the Scripture says, YOU SHALL NOT MUZZLE THE OX WHILE HE IS THRESHING, and The laborer is worthy of his wages." (1 Tim. 5:18). Paul also writes "If anyone thinks he is a prophet or spiritual, let him recognize that the things which I write to you are the Lord's commandment" (1 Cor. 14:37) which is evidence that the New Testament writers thought of their writings as words from God.

We believe that the Bible is inerrant. God cannot lie or speak falsely (2 Sam. 7:28; Tit. 1:2; Heb. 6:18). If this is true He will not give us His written Word with errors in it. The Bible tells the truth concerning everything it talks about. The Bible can be inerrant even though it uses ordinary language of everyday speech. It is true when it speaks about "scientific" or "historical" facts or events. When it says that the sun rises, it uses everyday language from the perspective of the writer, much the same way it is done today. Even thought it is "scientifically" incorrect, we still use that form of speech today. When considering numbers, it uses approximations, and does not imply that the writer counted everything he wrote about.

We also believe that the Bible is sufficient for our Christian "faith and practise."

"The sufficiency of Scripture means that Scripture contained all the words of God he intended his people to have at each stage of redemptive history, and that it now contains all the words of God we need for salvation, for trusting him perfectly, and for obeying him perfectly." 4

The Bible certainly is sufficient for salvation as we read Paul's words to Timothy, "from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus" (2 Tim. 3:15). The Bible is also sufficient to equip us for living the Christian life. Paul continues to Timothy, "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work" (2 Tim. 3:16-17). God made provision in His Word for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness that the Christian would be complete and equipped for every good work. We are not in need of any extra-Biblical source to live our Christian life.

We believe in "sola gratia, solo Christo, sola fide, sola Scriptura." This means that our salvation is through "grace alone, in Christ alone, by faith alone, based on Scripture alone." To add anything else to Scripture for faith and practice is to be completely presumptuous. It will mean that we know better than God what we need for our Christian lives. When the Reformers spoke of Sola Scriptura they

"merely intended to deny that there is alongside Scripture an unwritten Word of God with equal authority and therefore equally binding on the conscience. And in taking that position they took their stand on Scriptural ground. In Scripture each succeeding book connects up with the preceding (except in contemporary narratives), and is based on it. The Psalms and the Prophets presuppose the Law and appeal to it, and to it only. The New Testament comes to us as the fulifilment of the Old and refers back to nothing else… The Reformers did recognize a Christian tradition, but only a Christian tradition based on, and derived from, Scripture, and not one that equalled or even surpassed it in authority." 5

Many today will say that Sola Scriptura is not enough. I am here not even speaking of Roman Catholicism with their many extra-Biblical false teachings based on their traditions (for teaching refuting Roman teaching go to Alpha & Omega Ministries at http://aomin.org), but of many who feel they can call themselves evangelicals. I am thinking of those who feel that it is Scripture and "new revelations." They quickly tout that "the letter kills but the Spirit gives life."

"Their cavil about our cleaving to the dead letter carries with it the punishment which they deserve for despising Scripture. It is clear that Paul is there arguing against false apostles (2 Cor. 3:6), who, by recommending the law without Christ, deprived the people of the benefit of the New Covenant, by which the Lord engages that he will write his law on the hearts of believers, and engrave it on their inward parts. The letter therefore is dead, and the law of the Lord kills its readers when it is dissevered from the grace of Christ, and only sounds in the ear without touching the heart. But if it is effectually impressed on the heart by the Spirit; if it exhibits Christ, it is the word of life converting the soul, and making wise the simple." 6

When Paul wrote "the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life" (2 Cor. 3:6), he was contrasting "the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones" (2 Cor. 3:7) against "the ministry of the Spirit" (2 Cor. 3:8) on "tablets of human hearts" (2 Cor. 3:3). Paul was in no way contrasting the written Word (Bible) against extra-Biblical inner feelings, rhemas or revelations from God. It is a contrast between Old and New Covenants.

Related links on Sola Scriptura
http://www.reformed.com/pub/sola_1.htm
http://reformed.org/bible/boettner/index.html
http://www.williamtyndale.com/0pathway.htm

Man and sin

The next foundation we need when speaking of the gospel is an understanding of man and his condition of sin, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23).

We find Adam , way back in the garden of Eden being told by God that he could eat from any tree in the garden "but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die" (Gen. 2:17). In that same day, after God made Eve from one of Adam’s ribs, the serpent (the devil) came to Eve and started his life-long mission... to tempt us away from God and His Word. The devil came with one of his greatest temptations... that we could be like God. Almost every cult today has this idea in its teachings. Even within the ranks of Christianity today, there are those who teach that we are "little gods." Anyhow, Adam and Eve ate and sin entered the human race.

"But the matter did not stop there, for by that first sin Adam became the bond-servant of sin. That sin carried permanent pollution with it, and a pollution which, because of the solidarity of the human race, would affect not only Adam but all his descendants as well. As a result of the fall the father of the race could only pass on a depraved human nature to his offspring. From that unholy source sin flows on as an impure stream to all the generations of men, polluting everyone and everything with which it comes into contact." 7

Adam sinned as the representative head of the human race, and in this way the guilt of sin is imputed to us all. "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned" (Rom. 5:12).

Because of original sin (that which Adam brought upon us) we have become totally depraved. Total depravity is often misunderstood.

"Negatively, it does not imply: (1) that every man is thoroughly depraved as he can possibly become; (2) that the sinner has no innate knowledge of the will of God, nor a conscience that discriminates between good and evil; (3) that sinful man does not often admire virtuous character and actions in others, or is incapable of disinterested affections and actions in his relations with his fellow-men; nor (4) that every unregenerate man will, in virtue of his inherent sinfulness, indulge in every form of sin; it often happens that one form excludes the other. Positively, it does indicate: (1) that the inherent corruption extends to every part of man's nature, to all the faculties and powers of both soul and body; and (2) that there is no spiritual good, that is, good in relation to God, in the sinner at all, but only perversion. This total depravity is denied by Pelagians, Socinians, and seventeenth century Arminians, but is clearly taught in Scripture... Rom.7:18,23; 8:7; Eph. 4:18; II Tim. 3:2-4; Tit. 1:15." 8

When it comes to this total depravity

"We are all sinners by nature, therefore we are held under the yoke of sin. But if the whole man is subject to the dominion of sin, surely the will, which is its principal seat, must be bound with the closest chains. And, indeed, if divine grace were preceded by any will of ours, Paul could not have said that "it is God which worketh in us both to will and to do" (Phil. 2:13). Away, then, with all the absurd trifling which many have indulged in with regard to preparation. Although believers sometimes ask to have their heart trained to the obedience of the divine law, as David does in several passages (Ps. 51:12), it is to be observed, that even this longing in prayer is from God. This is apparent from the language used. When he prays, "Create in me a clean heart," he certainly does not attribute the beginning of the creation to himself. Let us therefore rather adopt the sentiment of Augustine, "God will prevent you in all things, but do you sometimes prevent his anger. How? Confess that you have all these things from God, that all the good you have is from him, all the evil from yourself," (August. De Verbis Apost. Serm. 10)." 9

To this Grudem adds

"Not only do we as sinners lack any spiritual good in ourselves, but we also lack the ability to do anything that will in itself please God and the ability to come to God in our own strength. Paul says that "those who are in the flesh cannot please God" (Rom. 8:8). Moreover, in terms of bearing fruit for God's kingdom and doing what pleases Him, Jesus says, "Apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:5). In fact, unbelievers are not pleasing to God, if for no other reason, simply because their actions do not proceed from faith in God or from love to him, and "without faith it is impossible to please him" (Heb. 11:6). When Paul's readers were unbelievers, he tells them, "You were dead through the trespasses and sins in which you once walked" (Eph. 2:1-2). Unbelievers are in a state of bondage or enslavement to sin, because "every one who commits sin is a slave to sin" (John 8:34). Though from a human standpoint people might be able to do much good, Isaiah affirms that "all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment" (Isa. 64:6; cf. Rom. 3:9-20). Unbelievers are not even able to understand the things of God correctly, for the "natural man does not receive the gifts [lit. 'things'] of the Spirit of God, for they are spiritually discerned" (1 Cor. 2:14 RSV mg.). Nor can we come to God in our own power, for Jesus says "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him" (John 6:44)." 10

Sin deserves punishment, not as a deterrent against more sin, but because the righteousness of God demands it. It is because of the righteousness and justice of God that we need to be saved from the wrath of God as Paul writes "Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him" (Rom. 5:9). Because Jesus is the only way to God, the wrath of God abides on those without Christ. "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him" (Jn. 3:36). Before we were saved by Christ "we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest" (Eph. 2:3). Sin brought the wrath of God on those who commit sin. "Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience" (Col. 3:5-6).

What will the result be of those who remain in their sin, without Jesus to be their mediator before God? "Then He will also say to those on His left, "Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels;" (Mt. 25:41). What will the extent be of this punishment? "These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life" (Mt. 25:46). The parallel between "eternal life" and "eternal punishment" seems to indicate the extent of each state…eternity! The description of this eternal punishment is very explicit. Those who continue in their sin "will drink the wine of God's wrath, which has been poured unmixed into the cup of his anger. He will be tortured with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and the lamb. The smoke from their torture goes up forever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image or for anyone who receives the mark of its name." (Rev. 14:10-11 ISV). Punishment

"may be defined as that pain or loss which is directly inflicted by the Lawgiver, in vindication of His justice outraged by the violation of the Law. It originates in the righteousness or punitive justice of God, by which He maintains Himself as the Holy One and necessarily demands holiness and righteousness in all His rational creatures. Punishment is the penalty that is naturally and necessarily due from the sinner because of his sin; it is, in fact a debt that is due to the essential justice of God." 11

What is the purpose of this punishment?

"Justice requires the punishment of the transgressor. Back of the law stands God, and therefore it may also be said that punishment aims at the vindication of the righteousness and holiness of the great Lawgiver. The holiness of God necessarily reacts against sin, and this reaction manifests itself in the punishment of sin. This principle is fundamental to all those passages of Scripture that speak of God as a righteous Judge, who renders unto every man according to his deserts... The vindication of the righteousness and holiness of God, and of that just law which is the very expression of His being, is certainly the primary purpose of the punishment of sin." 12

God is an infinitely holy God, and His justice therefore demands infinite vindication before the righteousness of God. Without an infinite payment (which only Christ could fulfill), only an eternal payment by sinners could even begin to vindicate the holiness of God.

"Hence, in respect, first, of our corrupt nature; and, secondly, of the depraved conduct following upon it, we are all offensive to God, guilty in his sight, and by nature the children of hell... Therefore, in order that all ground of offence may be removed, and he may completely reconcile us to himself, he, by means of the expiation set forth in the death of Christ, abolishes all the evil that is in us, so that we, formerly impure and unclean, now appear in his sight just and holy" 13

Related links on Total Depravity

Salvation

When the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream he said to Joseph "She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins" (Mt. 1:21). Jesus came to save His people from their sins. We have already seen why it is necessary for us to be saved from our sins… the dire consequences! Of Jesus, John the Baptist said "The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!"" (Jn. 1:29 ISV).

So, Jesus came to save us from our sins. How was this to be accomplished? At salvation regeneration takes place. This called being "born again." "3 In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again. " 4 "How can a man be born when he is old?" Nicodemus asked. "Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born!" 5 Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, `You must be born again.' 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit."" (Jn. 3:3-8 NIV). "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." (Jn. 3:16). It is out of love that God sent Jesus. In order for this regeneration to take place, we need to believe in Jesus. No amount of works can accomplish our salvation from sin and the resultant judgment of God on us.

God is not amused by or impressed with our works for salvation. "All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away." (Is. 64:6 NIV). In order to be saved we do it God's way or no way at all. Like I said before, infinite holiness demands infinite vindication, and no amount of works or laws can satisfy the wrath of God in His judgment against sinners. Jesus made it clear when He said "For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven." (Mt. 5:20). We can try keeping the Law all we want, but when we sin once we are rightly condemned, because we have broken the whole Law (Js. 2:10). "10 For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO DOES NOT ABIDE BY ALL THINGS WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF THE LAW, TO PERFORM THEM. 11 Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, THE RIGHTEOUS MAN SHALL LIVE BY FAITH." (Gal. 3:10-11).

We need to be justified before God, but attempting to keep the Law is a futile exercise. Break the Law once, and a curse hangs over your head.

"A man is said to be justified in the sight of God when in the judgment of God he is deemed righteous, and is accepted on account of his righteousness; for as iniquity is abominable to God, so neither can the sinner find grace in his sight, so far as he is and so long as he is regarded as a sinner. Hence, wherever sin is, there also are the wrath and vengeance of God. He, on the other hand, is justified who is regarded not as a sinner, but as righteous, and as such stands acquitted at the judgment-seat of God, where all sinners are condemned. As an innocent man, when charged before an impartial judge, who decides according to his innocence, is said to be justified by the judge, as a man is said to be justified by God when, removed from the catalogue of sinners, he has God as the witness and assertor of his righteousness. In the same manner, a man will be said to be justified by works, if in his life there can be found a purity and holiness which merits an attestation of righteousness at the throne of God, or if by the perfection of his works he can answer and satisfy the divine justice. On the contrary, a man will be justified by faith when, excluded from the righteousness of works, he by faith lays hold of the righteousness of Christ, and clothed in it appears in the sight of God not as a sinner, but as righteous. Thus we simply interpret justification, as the acceptance with which God receives us into his favor as if we were righteous; and we say that this justification consists in the forgiveness of sins and the imputation of the righteousness of Christ." 14

Our salvation cannot be effected by works, but cannot be effected by faith plus works either. We read in Paul's epistle to the Galatians how the Judaizers came to the Galatians with a gospel mixture. This mixture said that it was good to put their faith in Jesus, but they had to complete their faith by following the Law, ie. circumcision. Paul's reaction to this different gospel was direct and to the point. "6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel--7 which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! 9 As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!" (Gal. 1:6-9 NIV). To Paul, any gospel that adds any type of work of the Law to our faith to effect our salvation is no gospel at all. For him, faith + works are equal to just works which brings no salvation at all! "Nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified... I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly" (Gal. 2:16, 21). Paul wanted to know from them whether they were saved "by hearing with faith," (Gal. 3:2) or "by the works of the Law" (Gal. 3:2). Having begun in the Spirit, being saved by faith, how could they now be "perfected by the flesh?" (Gal. 3:3). "6 Even so Abraham BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS... 10 For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO DOES NOT ABIDE BY ALL THINGS WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF THE LAW, TO PERFORM THEM. 11 Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, THE RIGHTEOUS MAN SHALL LIVE BY FAITH... 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us -- for it is written, CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE - 14 in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith" (Gal. 3:6,10,11,13,14). The Law was a tutor to lead us to Christ. "But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor." (Gal. 3:25).

Our justification before God is by faith. "Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, THE RIGHTEOUS MAN SHALL LIVE BY FAITH" (Gal. 3:11).

"Justification is a judicial act of God, in which He declares, on the basis of the righteousness of Jesus Christ, that all the claims of the law are satisfied with respect to the sinner. It is unique in the application of the work of redemption in that it is a judicial act of God, a declaration respecting the sinner, and not an act or process of renewal, such as regeneration, conversion, and sanctification. While it has respect to the sinner, it does not change his inner life. It does not affect his condition, but his state, and in that respect differs from all the other principal parts of the order of salvation. It involves the forgiveness of sins, and restoration to divine favor." 15

With justification we have the remission of sins on the basis of the atoning sacrifice of Christ. "5 However, to someone who does not work, but simply believes in the one who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness. 6 Likewise, David also speaks of the blessedness of the person whom God regards as righteous apart from works: 7 "How blessed are those whose iniquities are forgiven and whose sins are covered! 8 How blessed is the person whose sins the Lord will never charge against him!"" (Rom. 4:5-8 ISV) and "18 Consequently, just as one offense resulted in condemnation for everyone, so one act of righteousness results in justification and life for everyone. 19 For just as through one man's disobedience many people were made sinners, so also through one man's obedience many people will be made righteous" (Rom. 5:18-19 ISV). Justification by faith brings us peace with God (Rom. 5:1-2).

Justification involves the act of being made righteous before a holy God, "For as through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous" (Rom. 5:19). It is only by the grace of God that we have been justified as a gift, which came via the redemption in Christ (Rom. 3:24). As a result of our justification and our subsequent position in Christ, we do not have any condemnation upon us (Rom. 8:1). "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Cor. 5:21). The righteousness we have is not as a result of works, "but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith" (Phil. 3:9).

Related links on Justification by faith
http://www.the-highway.com/articleJan98.html
http://homepage.mac.com/shanerosenthal/reformationink/tbfaith.htm
http://homepage.mac.com/shanerosenthal/reformationink/jcjustif.htm
http://homepage.mac.com/shanerosenthal/reformationink/akjust.htm
http://homepage.mac.com/shanerosenthal/reformationink/ftjustification.htm

Who do you say that I am?

This is the question that we all have to answer concerning Jesus. Jesus asked this same question about Himself to His disciples. Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Mt. 16":16). I believe that our salvation depends on what we think of Christ. If we do not believe in the Christ revealed in the Scriptures, then we believe in another Jesus and can rightly be labeled as heretics.

What is heresy?

"The word "heresy," as we have noted, is the English version of the Greek noun hairesis, originally meaning nothing more insidious than "party." It is used in this neutral sense in Acts 5:17, 15:5, and 26:5. Early in the history of the first Christians, however, "heresy" came to be used to mean a separation or split resulting from a false faith (1 Cor. 11:19; Gal. 5:20). It designated either a doctrine or the party holding the doctrine, a doctrine that was sufficiently intolerable to destroy the unity of the Christian church. In the early church, heresy did not refer to simply any doctrinal disagreement, but to something that seemed to undercut the very basis for Christian existence. Practically speaking, heresy involved the doctrine of God and the doctrine of Christ-later called "special theology" and "Christology"" 16

It is of extreme importance not to corrupt the doctrines of God and of Christ. The proverb goes corruptio optimi pessimum est, the corruption of the best is the worst.

What we believe concerning the Godhead, especially of Christ, I believe, has a direct bearing on our salvation. To say that what we believe is not important, but who we believe in, is simply short-changing ourselves spiritually. Truth is highly valued in the New Testament, to the point that we are cursed for preaching another gospel (Gal. 1:8). It is so obvious that the content of the gospel is just as important as the Person of the Gospel. It is the content of the gospel that defines the Person of the gospel. We cannot divorce ourselves from the Word of God claiming that we believe in the Person, and the Person's Word is not important. God's Word establishes who He is. A person is only as good as his word, and without the Word we do not have the God of the Bible. We will merely have a god of our own making. Therefore, to say that doctrine is not important is to devoid our faith of its content. As a result we sit with a shell that gets filled with all kinds of god myths.

Therefore, we need to hold onto orthodoxy for the salvation of our souls. What is orthodoxy?

""Orthodoxy" is derived from two Greek words meaning "right" and "honor." Orthodox faith and orthodox doctrines are those that honor God rightly, something that ought to be desirable and good." 17

When we believe what is considered Biblical truth, we are said to be orthodox in our faith. The word orthodox in this context has nothing to do with the Eastern Orthodox churches, who I believe are in error similar to the Roman Catholic church.

Trinity

The God of the Bible, we believe, is a triune God consisting of three Persons in One:- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Just because the word trinity does not appear in the Bible does not make it false.

The Bible is clear that there is only one God. This is declared in the Old Testament - "Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!" (Dt. 6:4) - and also in the New Testament - "For there is one God" (1 Tim. 2:5).

When we worship God it is essential that we know and understand who God is. If we understand the Trinity, then we understand God as He chose to reveal Himself to us. Failing to understand the Trinity is failing to understand the revelation of God.

"This is important because if we are to worship God "in spirit and truth" (John 4:24), as Jesus commanded, we must know and worship the one true God as He really is. To fail to do this is to fail to know and worship God, and this cannot bring Him glory. Thus, those who reject the Trinity, by definition, deny the nature of God. Without a biblical theological formulation about God, heretical views arise. This in turn can lead to rejection of the one true God and the worship of a false God. And if the Bible is clear on anything, it is clear that faith in a false God cannot save people from their sins." 18

The Trinity concerns who God is.

The Trinity explained

The Nicene Creed says it like this: And I believe

"in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, begotten of his 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;"

The Athanasian Creed has this to say of the Trinity:

"Now the catholic 19 faith is 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, another of the Holy Spirit. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, is One, the Glory equal, the Majesty coeternal. 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 infinite, the Son infinite, and the Holy Spirit infinite; the Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Spirit eternal. And yet not three eternals but one eternal, as also not three infinites, nor three uncreated, but one uncreated, and one infinite. So, likewise, the Father is almighty, the Son almighty, and the Holy Spirit almighty; and yet not three almighties but one almighty. So the Father is God, the Son God, and the Holy Spirit God; and yet not three Gods but one God. So the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Spirit Lord; and yet not three Lords but one Lord. For like as we are compelled by Christian truth to acknowledge every Person by Himself to be both God and Lord; so are we forbidden by the catholic religion to say, there be 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 and the Son, not made nor created nor begotten but proceeding. So there is one Father not three Fathers, one Son not three Sons, and one Holy Spirit not three Holy Spirits. And in this Trinity there is nothing before or after, nothing greater or less, but the whole three Persons are coeternal together and coequal. So that in all things, as is aforesaid, the Trinity in Unity and the Unity in Trinity is to be worshipped. He therefore who wills to be in a state of salvation, let him think thus of the Trinity."

Those who believe that the concept of the Trinity is a late development that came about at the Council of Nicea do not have all their facts straight. Tertullian, who lived from AD 145-220, wrote the following:

"As if in this way also one were not All, in that All are of One, by unity (that is) of substance; while the mystery of the dispensation is still guarded, which distributes the Unity into a Trinity, placing in their order the three Persons-the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost: three, however, not in condition, but in degree; not in substance, but in form; not in power, but in aspect; yet of one substance, and of one condition, and of one power, inasmuch as He is one God, from whom these degrees and forms and aspects are reckoned, under the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. How they are susceptible of number without division, will be shown as our treatise proceeds" 20

which is a clear indication that the concept of the Trinity is not really a late development.

J. Hampton Keathley III said:

"So what's the issue that faces us? The ultimate issue as always is, does the biblical evidence support the doctrine of the Trinity or tri-personality of God? If biblical evidence supports it, we can know it is true. Comprehending it is another matter. John Wesley said, "Bring me a worm that can comprehend a man, and then I will show you a man that can comprehend the triune God."" 21

The issue before us is, in simple terms then, not whether we can actually comprehend the concept of the Trinity, but whether the Biblical evidence supports it.

The Oneness of God

The Scriptures are clear that God is one, and that there are not three gods, or multiple gods. Let us look at the Bible itself. Deut. 6:4 "Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!" 2 Sam. 7:22 "For this reason You are great, O Lord GOD; for there is none like You, and there is no God besides You, according to all that we have heard with our ears." Isa. 43:10 "Before Me there was no God formed, And there will be none after Me." Isa. 44:6 "Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel And his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: "I am the first and I am the last, And there is no God besides Me." Mk. 12:29 "Jesus answered, The foremost is, "HEAR, O ISRAEL! THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD" 1 Cor. 8:4 "we know that there is no such thing as an idol in the world, and that there is no God but one." Eph. 4:6 "one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all."

So, the oneness of God is unequivocally stated in the Bible, and there is no way around the fact that God is one. Therefore, we have to accept the fact that any theology that proclaims the existence of three gods must be heretical.

The Three-in-Oneness of God

Revelation of the Trinity in the Old Testament

Although there is no explicit revelation of the Trinity in the Old Testament, we do find implicit revelation of it. Louis Berkhof says,

"The Old Testament does not contain a full revelation of the trinitarian existence of God, but does contain several indications of it. And this is exactly what might be expected." 22

Having read and understood the New Testament, we can now see where in the Old Testament there are messages of the Trinity to be found. Many people think that there is absolutely no revelation of the Trinity in the Old Testament, but only in the New, yet several passages suggest or imply that God exists as more than one subsistence. Wayne Grudem says:

"For instance, according to Genesis 1:26, God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness." What do the plural verb ("let us") and the plural pronoun ("our") mean? Some have suggested they are plurals of majesty, a form of speech a king would use saying, for example, "We are pleased to grant your request." However, in the Old Testament Hebrew there are no other examples of a monarch using plural verbs or plural pronouns of himself in such a "plural of majesty," so this suggestion has no evidence to support it." 23

The best explanation for this is that here in the beginning there is an indication of a plurality of subsistence in God Himself. We have not been told how many yet, but it definitely is there. The same type of situation is also found in Gen. 3:22; 11:7; Isa. 6:8.

There are also passages where one person is called "God" or "Lord" and also another who is also called "God." Psa. 45:6-7 "6. Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of uprightness is the scepter of Your kingdom. 7. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You With the oil of joy above Your fellows."

The New Testament has something to say about this verse. See how the writer of Hebrews shows that it is God speaking here, calling the Son, "God." Hebr. 1:8-9 "8. But of the Son He says, YOUR THRONE, O GOD, IS FOREVER AND EVER, AND THE RIGHTEOUS SCEPTER IS THE SCEPTER OF HIS KINGDOM. 9. YOU HAVE LOVED RIGHTEOUSNESS AND HATED LAWLESSNESS; THEREFORE GOD, YOUR GOD, HAS ANOINTED YOU WITH THE OIL OF GLADNESS ABOVE YOUR COMPANIONS."

Another passage in the book of Psalms that is used in the New Testament is Psalm 110:1 "THE LORD says to my Lord: Sit at My right hand Until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet."

Notice how Jesus confounds the Pharisees about this passage when He questions them about it. Matt. 22:41-46 "41. Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question: 42. What do you think about the Christ, whose son is He? They said to Him, The son of David. 43. He said to them, Then how does David in the Spirit call Him "Lord,' saying, 44. "THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD, SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND, UNTIL I PUT YOUR ENEMIES BENEATH YOUR FEET'? 45. If David then calls Him "Lord,' how is He his son? 46. No one was able to answer Him a word, nor did anyone dare from that day on to ask Him another question."

Jesus did not always not claim equality with God. There were times when He taught a certain concept about God where He had to drive home the point that no one is God's equal. Here Jesus drove home the point that He is God's equal. Notice how David starts this passage: "THE LORD says to my Lord." Now, we all know that David was worshipping the One God of his fathers, and all will agree that that God was known to the Hebrews as YAHWEH. David's Lord was YAHWEH. Look how David here speaks of the "Lord" who speaks to his "Lord." Surely this shows a plurality of subsistence in the Godhead. This also shows the equality between these subsistences. Another clear indication is found in the book of Isaiah 48:16, "Come near to Me, listen to this: From the first I have not spoken in secret, From the time it took place, I was there. And now the Lord GOD has sent Me, and His Spirit."

In this prophecy by Isaiah, the Lord is speaking, saying, "the Lord GOD has sent Me, and His Spirit." About this passage Grudem says,

"The parallel between the two objects of sending ("me" and "his Spirit") would be consistent with seeing them both as distinct persons: it seems to mean more than simply "the Lord has sent me and his power." In fact. From a full New Testament perspective (which recognizes Jesus the Messiah to be the true servant of the Lord predicted in Isaiah's prophecies), Isaiah 48:16 has trinitarian implications: "And now the Lord God has sent me and his Spirit," if spoken by Jesus the Son of God, refers to all three persons of the Trinity." 24

Another example of the implicit revelation of the Trinity in the Old Testament can be found in the "angel of the Lord." The angel of the Lord came to inform Sarah of her pregnancy that would come, in the passage of Gen. 16:7-13. She recognizes the angel of the Lord as God himself, but notice that the angel of the Lord is separate from God. Gen. 16:13 "Then she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, You are a God who sees; for she said, Have I even remained alive here after seeing Him?"

It is recognized by many that the angel of the Lord in the Old Testament can be identified in many passages to be the pre-incarnate Christ. Similar passages can be found in Ex. 3:2-6; Judg. 2:1-2 and finally Judg 6:11-23, "11. Then the angel of the LORD came and sat under the oak that was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite as his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the wine press in order to save it from the Midianites. 12. The angel of the LORD appeared to him and said to him, The LORD is with you, O valiant warrior. 13. Then Gideon said to him, O my lord, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, "Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?' But now the LORD has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian. 14. The LORD looked at him and said, Go in this your strength and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian. Have I not sent you? 15. He said to Him, O Lord, how shall I deliver Israel? Behold, my family is the least in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my father's house. 16. But the LORD said to him, Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat Midian as one man. 17. So Gideon said to Him, If now I have found favor in Your sight, then show me a sign that it is You who speak with me. 18. Please do not depart from here, until I come back to You, and bring out my offering and lay it before You. And He said, I will remain until you return. 19. Then Gideon went in and prepared a young goat and unleavened bread from an ephah of flour; he put the meat in a basket and the broth in a pot, and brought them out to him under the oak and presented them. 20. The angel of God said to him, Take the meat and the unleavened bread and lay them on this rock, and pour out the broth. And he did so. 21. Then the angel of the LORD put out the end of the staff that was in his hand and touched the meat and the unleavened bread; and fire sprang up from the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened bread. Then the angel of the LORD vanished from his sight. 22. When Gideon saw that he was the angel of the LORD, he said, Alas, O Lord GOD! For now I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face. 23. The LORD said to him, Peace to you, do not fear; you shall not die."

Here we see, probably the pre-incarnate Son, coming to Gideon. Notice when Gideon realizes whom this Angel of the Lord really is; he thinks he is going to die. Why? He would not have thought he was going to die after seeing an angel. He knew, that no-one who sees the face of the Lord will live another day to tell the tale. He doesn't die, because he came face to face with Christ. Calvin writes of this passage and others like it,

"But if this does not satisfy the Jews, I know not what cavils will enable them to evade the numerous passages in which Jehovah is said to have appeared in the form of an Angel (Judges 6:7; 13:16-23, &c). This Angel claims for himself the name of the Eternal God. Should it be alleged that this is done in respect of the office which he bears, the difficulty is by no means solved. No servant would rob God of his honour, by allowing sacrifice to be offered to himself. But the Angel, by refusing to eat bread, orders the sacrifice due to Jehovah to be offered to him. Thus the fact itself proves that he was truly Jehovah. Accordingly, Manoah and his wife infer from the sign, that they had seen not only an angel, but God. Hence Manoah's exclamation, "We shall die; for we have seen the Lord." When the woman replies, "If Jehovah had wished to slay us, he would not have received the sacrifice at our hand," she acknowledges that he who is previously called an angel was certainly God. We may add, that the angel's own reply removes all doubt, "Why do ye ask my name, which is wonderful?"" 25

The great John Calvin has this to say about the Trinity being revealed in the Old Testament:

"But though I am not now treating of the office of the Mediator, having deferred it till the subject of redemption is considered, yet because it ought to be clear and incontrovertible to all, that Christ is that Word become incarnate, this seems the most appropriate place to introduce those passages which assert the Divinity of Christ. When it is said in the forty-fifth Psalm, "Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever," the Jews quibble that the name Elohim is applied to angels and sovereign powers. But no passage is to be found in Scripture, where an eternal throne is set up for a creature. For he is not called God simply, but also the eternal Ruler. Besides, the title is not conferred on any man, without some addition, as when it is said that Moses would be a God to Pharaoh (Exod. 7:1). Some read as if it were in the genitive case, but this is too insipid. I admit, that anything possessed of singular excellence is often called divine, but it is clear from the context, that this meaning here were harsh and forced, and totally inapplicable. But if their perverseness still refuses to yield, surely there is no obscurity in Isaiah, where Christ is introduced both as God, and as possessed of supreme powers one of the peculiar attributes of God, "His name shall be called the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace," (Isa. 9:6). " 26

Calvin continues:

"There can be no doubt, therefore, that he who a little before was called Emmanuel, is here called the Mighty God. Moreover, there can be nothing clearer than the words of Jeremiah, "This is the name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS," (Jer. 23:6). " 27

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind, and in the minds of those who dare not pervert the Scriptures to their own eisegetical theology, that Jesus Christ is shown in the Old Testament to be known as YAHWEH, and therefore has the same glory, and authority as that of the Father.

Revelation of the Trinity in the New Testament

Deity of Jesus

The deity of Jesus is affirmed right through the New Testament. We start with that great verse in John 1:1, "IN the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."

This appears in the Greek 28 as

  • ™n ¢rcÍ Ãn Ð lÒgoj, kaˆ Ð lÒgoj Ãn prÕj tÕn qeÒn, kaˆ qeÕj Ãn Ð lÒgoj.
  • And transliterated according to the standards set out by the B-Greek emailing list, it looks like this,

    EN ARCHi HN hO LOGOS, KAI hO LOGOS HN PROS TON QEON, KAI QEOS HN hO LOGOS.

    The phrase "KAI QEOS HN hO LOGOS" is commonly translated as "and the Word was God." A word for word translation like an interlinear New Testament would give this as "and God was the Word." As a translation, this would be incorrect, and so would "and the Word was a god." Greek has very specific rules, and in this case Colwell's Rule applies. This is how it wo0rks (this may be too technical for some, but it is necessary),

    "Insertion of the article "a" in John 1:1 is significant because it casts doubt upon the deity (Godhood) of Jesus Christ. (The Watchtower, like many cults, denies the fundamental doctrine of the deity of Jesus.) In fact, even their own New World Translation (both text and footnote for John 1:1) has been altered a few times to fit their agenda -- though Deuteronomy 4:2 and Revelation 22:18 clearly warn against altering the Written Word of God. ...-- D.Dew

    Tim Elston, a doctoral candidate of the New Testament at Denver Seminary with a BA in Linguistics from the University of Oregon, explains it thus:

    The absence of the article before "God" in John 1:1 is meant to indicate that "God" is the predicate nominative rather than the subject of the phrase. Because Greek does not use word order to indicate subject/object/predicate distinctions, one of its optional features is, where there is ambiguity in a subject-predicate nominative construction, to indicate the subject by preceding it with a definite article and to indicate the predicate nominative by the absence of a definite article. This is called "Colwell's Rule."

    This rule is evident at 1 John 4:8, "God is love." The Greek reads: ho [the] Theos [God] agape [love] estin [is]. If agape had the definite article, instead of Theos, then the correct translation would be "Love is God." But the definite article on Theos indicates "God" as the subject, and the absence of the article on agape indicates agape as the predicate nominative; thus, "God is love." This amounts to a qualification of God rather than a deification of love.

    In the case of John 1:1, the writer leaves the article off of Theos in order to mark it unambiguously as the predicate nominative. The absence of the article does not indicate that theos is an indefinite noun, as Jehovah's Witnesses have incorrectly led many to believe, but that it is not the subject of the phrase. The absence of the article on Theos assures the reader that "the Word" is the subject and that "God" is the predicate nominative.

    In Greek, the article is much less a marking of definiteness than it is an article facilitating syntactic clarity. Indicating definiteness is only one of eleven functions of the article in Koine Greek. Moreover, definiteness does not require the article for its indication. Many, many definite nouns in Greek are not indicated as definite by the use of the article or by any other morphological tag. These anarthrous nouns (nouns which do not have the definite article) are definite simply by virtue of their semantic function. The absence of the article with these nouns in no way indicates them as indefinite. The second occurrence of Theos in John 1:1 is one of these anarthrous nouns which are nonetheless definite." 29

    This may be a lengthy discussion on one verse with a technical handling behind it, but the deity of Christ is of such importance and without it, the Christian faith does not stand. From John 1:1 we immediately move to John 20:28, "Thomas answered and said to Him, My Lord and my God!"

    In this passage Thomas had doubted the reports of a resurrected Jesus, and it is from him that we get the idiom "doubting Thomas!" When Jesus appears to them and Thomas sees the holes in His hands and side. John's writing of his gospel moved towards this climax where the deity of Jesus is affirmed once again, and we see both John and Jesus approving of this statement by Thomas, and encourages others who hear this statement to also believe. What is Jesus' response to Thomas? Jn. 20:29, "Jesus said to him, Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed."

    For John this was the high point of revelation in his gospel, for he affirms it in the next two verses, Jn. 20:30-31 "30. Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31. but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name."

    Jesus is shown as God when it is said of Him that He is God and He purchased the church with His own blood in Acts 20:28, "Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood."

    It is abundantly clear in this verse that it shows God as purchasing the church with His own blood, yet we know that it was Jesus who died on the cross, and did the purchasing with His blood, therefore showing that Jesus is God.

    Another clear example of Christ as God can be found in Titus 2:13, "looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus,"

    Once again, we can without opposition to the fact claim that Jesus is God. Scripture makes it abundantly clear that Jesus is not just our Savior, but also our God. Peter claims the same in 2 Peter 2:1, "SIMON PETER, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ:"

    It should be clear to the reader by now that the deity of Christ cannot be ignored. For a lengthy, yet excellent discussion on the Greek grammatical rules in Tit. 2:13 and 2 Pet. 2:1 on the internet, it would be of great value to read Robert M. Bowman Jr's article "Sharp's Rule and Antitrinitarian Theologies: A Bicentennial Defense of Granville Sharp's Argument for the Deity of Christ" at http://www.atlantaapologist.org/Sharp.html.

    The book of Hebrews was written to show how the New Covenant in Christ is greater than the Old Covenant brought by Moses and the angels. It is also full of the deity of Christ. The writer of this book starts of his treatise with that same deity of Christ we have so wonderfully discussed.

    Heb. 1:8-10, "8. But of the Son He says, YOUR THRONE, O GOD, IS FOREVER AND EVER, AND THE RIGHTEOUS SCEPTER IS THE SCEPTER OF HIS KINGDOM. 9. YOU HAVE LOVED RIGHTEOUSNESS AND HATED LAWLESSNESS; THEREFORE GOD, YOUR GOD, HAS ANOINTED YOU WITH THE OIL OF GLADNESS ABOVE YOUR COMPANIONS. 10. And, YOU, LORD, IN THE BEGINNING LAID THE FOUNDATION OF THE EARTH, AND THE HEAVENS ARE THE WORKS OF YOUR HANDS;"

    God the Father is speaking to the Son saying, "You are God and Your throne will be forever. Concerning verse 9 the Zondervan NIV Bible Commentary says,

    "We should perhaps take the first occurrence of the word "God" in v.9 as another vocative: "Therefore, O God, your God has set you."" 30

    Jesus claimed to be the great "I am" Himself when he said in Jn. 8:58, "Jesus said to them, Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am."

    Josh McDowell writes,

    "By relying on Old Testament references, we find out that "I AM" refers to the name of God Himself, Yahweh (often translated in English Bibles as "LORD" in all capitals). A. G. Campbell makes this inference for us: "From such Old Testament references as Exodus 3:14, Deuteronomy 32:39, and Isaiah 43:10 it is clear that this is no new idea which Jesus is presenting. The Jews were quite familiar with the idea that the Jehovah of the Old Testament is the eternally existent One. That which is new to the Jews is the identification of this designation with Jesus."" 31

    What we have seen so far is that Jesus is undeniably God!

    Jesus' Equality with the Father

    The Jews knew what Jesus meant when He said that He and the Father were one. John 10:25-33 "25. Jesus answered them, I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father's name, these testify of Me. 26. But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep. 27. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28. and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. 29. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. 30. I and the Father are one. 31. The Jews picked up stones again to stone Him. 32. Jesus answered them, I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me? 33. The Jews answered Him, For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God."

    When Jesus said, "I and the Father are one," did He mean "one in purpose?" I think not! That is a concoction of the human mind to get past the equality of Jesus to the Father. The response of the Jews was clear as to what Jesus meant, for they knew what He meant when He said those words. It is clear that it was to be understood that Jesus meant to "make [Himself] out to be God." Concerning the word "one" A.T. Robertson says,

    "{One} (en). Neuter, not masculine (eiv). Not one person (cf. eiv in #Ga 3:28), but one essence or nature." 32

    Paul takes us further in Phil. 2:5-11, "5. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6. who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7. but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10. so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11. and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

    Spiros Zodhiates clears this passage up when he says,

    "The entire passage in Phil. 2:6-8 deals with the humiliation of Christ for the purpose of dying. It is brought forth as an illustration of humility (v. 3). This humility is expressed in thoughtfulness of others (v. 4). And then comes the illustration of how Christ humbled Himself and in His death He thought of nothing else but others. Although He was God incarnate and He could avoid death, He did not do it for the sake of man. He allowed Himself to die in His manhood. A translation more expressive of the true meaning of the Greek text of this passage would be, "Who, Christ, being in the form of God." The word translated "existed" is the Greek hUPARCWN, which means that He was in continuation of what He had been before.. It is not the participle ON, from EIMI (1510), but the verb hUPARCWN from hUPARCW (5225), which in this context means "being what He was before." Being in His essential form as God (Jn. 1:1), He continued to be that when He became and continued to be man. And then the second statement is "… did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped." He did not consider being equal with God as something to be forceably grasped from God. His essence of deity was not something that He took at any time, but it was something that He always had and never lost." 33

    Calvin adds a similar sentiment,

    "And the dispute is admirably settled by Paul, when he declares that he was equal with God before he humbled himself, and assumed the form of a servants (Phil. 2:6,7.)" 34

    More Scriptures from the New Testament will suffice. Col. 1:15-17 "15. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities -- all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together." Col. 2:9 "For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form." Heb. 1:3 "And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature."

    The post-resurrection Jesus claims to be the first and last (Rev. 1:17; 2:8), which is also claimed by God in Is. 41:4; 44:6. This is just more proof that Jesus is equal with the Father.

    Holy Spirit is God

    We will not spend a lot of space showing the Holy Spirit also to be God, due to the fact that we want to show mostly in this article the deity and equality with the Father of the Son, Jesus Christ.

    He is a person.

    Notice how John specifically shows the personality of the Spirit, thereby denying the "it-ness" of the Holy Spirit in John 14:17, "that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you."

    John does not say that the world does not see "it," but "Him." John carries on in John 16:13 to show the personhood of the Holy Spirit by breaking a Greek grammatical rule to drive this point home. "But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come."

    The Greek of this passage looks like this,

    Ótan de\ ™lqV eke…noj, tÕ pneàma tÁj ¢lhqe…aj, Ðdhg»sei Øm©j ™n tÍ ¢lhqe…v p£sV: oÙ g¦r lal»sei ¢f' ˜autoà, ¢ll' Ósa ¢koÚsei lal»sei, kaˆ t¦ ™rcÒmena ¢naggele‹ Øm‹n.

    The transliteration looks like this,

    OTAN DE ELQHi EKEINOS, TO PNEUMA THS ALHQEIAS, hODHGHSEI hUMAS EN THi ALHQEIAi PASHi; OU GAR LALHSEI AF hEAUTOU, ALL OSA AKOUSEI LALHSEI, KAI TA ERCOMENA ANAGGELEI hUMIN.

    The words TO PNEUMA THS ALHQEIAS translated is "the Spirit of truth." Spirit in the Greek is a neuter noun, and thereby can be translated as an "it" like "breath" which is another meaning for the word. Notice, however, how John breaks the rules of the Greek grammar here when he wants to say that the Spirit will guide us into all things. Referring to the Spirit, he does not use a neuter pronoun such as "it" but uses a masculine one (hEAUTOU - ˜autoà). HEAUTOU in this form (Genitive, Maculine, Third person, Singular Pronoun) means "of himself." The Holy Spirit will not speak of Himself, but whatever He hears.

    His deity

    Wayne Grudem says,

    "Once we understand God the Father and the God the Son to be fully God, then the trinitarian expressions in verses like Matthew 28:19 ("baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit") assume significance for the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, because they show that the Holy Spirit is classified on an equal level with the Father and the Son." 35

    Some other Trinitarian passages: 1 Cor. 12:4-6 "4. Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. 6. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons." 2 Cor. 13:14 "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all." Eph. 4:4-6 "4. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; 5. one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6. one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all." 1 Pet. 1:2 "according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood" Jude 20-21 "20. But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, 21. keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life."

    Right through Scripture the attributes of God are also attributed to the Holy Spirit, therefore showing that He is also God. The attributes of God are never shown to be part of any creature. The Spirit is not merely the will of God, for we know that God doesn't pray to Himself, yet the Holy Spirit is the one who helps us pray when we do not know how to in Rom. 8:26, "In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words."

    Calvin says it so succinctly,

    "Again, no cavils can explain away the force of what Isaiah says, "And now the Lord God, and his Spirit, has sent me," (Isa. 48: 16,) thus ascribing a share in the sovereign power of sending the prophets to the Holy Spirit. (Calvin in Acts20: 28.) In this his divine majesty is clear. But, as I observed, the best proof to us is our familiar experience. For nothing can be more alien from a creature, than the office which the Scriptures ascribe to him, and which the pious actually feel him discharging, - his being diffused over all space, sustaining, invigorating, and quickening all things, both in heaven and on the earth. The mere fact of his not being circumscribed by any limits raises him above the rank of creatures, while his transfusing vigour into all things, breathing into them being, life, and motion, is plainly divine." 36

    Scripture tells us that we are the temple of God by virtue of the Holy Spirit living in us, 1 Cor. 3:16 "Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?"

    The apostles attributed Scriptures spoken by God to the Holy Spirit, Acts 28:25-26 "25. And when they did not agree with one another, they began leaving after Paul had spoken one parting word, The Holy Spirit rightly spoke through Isaiah the prophet to your fathers, 26. saying, "GO TO THIS PEOPLE AND SAY, YOU WILL KEEP ON HEARING, BUT WILL NOT UNDERSTAND; AND YOU WILL KEEP ON SEEING, BUT WILL NOT PERCEIVE"

    Related links on the Trinity
    http://www.dtl.org/trinity/
    http://www.bible.org/docs/theology/proper/trinity.htm
    http://www.ccel.org/b/boethius/trinity/trinity.html
    http://answering-islam.org.uk/Trinity/beckwith.html
    http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf103.html

    The atonement

    "The death of Jesus Christ on the cross was not merely ethical, a sacrificial example to show us that we need to live good lives no matter what the cost. It was not to illustrate the contamination of materiality (avoiding the "evil" of the material world) or other alleged human problems. The death of Christ did not open an inevitable door to heaven or the next life, ot to multiple lives; nor did He infuse His body's "desire over the earth" (Rosicrucian) with divine benevolence toward all people. God's grace is never God’s means to enable us to earn our own salvation by effort, as Mormonism teaches, not is it God's unconditional acceptance of everyone apart from Christ, as Universalism teaches. As the means to salvation, God's grace is most clearly exemplified in the death of Christ for our sin. Thus, the Bible is clear that salvation is possible only because of the atonement of Christ. Salvation is possible because of the divine act of grace where God accepts the offering of Jesus as a substitute for the punishment of sin that was due each of us." 37

    The atonement of Christ on the cross was to pay for our sins before a God of justice. In the atonement of Christ we see the love and justice of God. He loved us enough to send Jesus to atone for our sins, and He was just enough to show He was serious about the problem of sin (Rom. 3:21-26).

    It is important to realize

    "that it was not necessary for God to save any people at all. When we appreciate that "God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of nether gloom to be kept until the judgment" (2 Peter 2:4), then we realize that God could also have chosen with perfect justice to have left us in our sins awaiting judgment: he could have chosen to save no one, just as he did with the sinful angels. So in this sense the atonement was not absolutely necessary." 38

    Was it necessary for Christ to make atonement for us in order for us to be saved? We would say, "Yes!" The Reformed position has decidedly preferred this view. We borrow these five points of proof for the necessity of the atonement from Berkhof: 39

    • In virtue of His divine righteousness and holiness, God simply cannot overlook defiance to His infinite majesty, but must punish sin. God hates sin (Ex. 34:7; Num. 14:18; Nah. 1:2-3; Ps. 5:4-6; Rom. 1:18). It was necessary for Christ to be offered as an atoning sacrifice for sin, in order for God to be just while justifying the sinner (Rom. 3:25-26).
    • "The majesty and absolute immutability of the divine law as inherent in the very nature of God made it necessary for Him to demand satisfaction for the sinner" (Dt. 27:26; Mt. 5:18).
    • "The necessity of the atonement also follows from the veracity of God, who is a God of truth and cannot lie" (Num. 23:19; Rom. 3:4; Ez. 18:4; Rom. 6:23).
    • Sin is more than a mere moral weakness. It is lawlessness, the transgression of the law of God, and is therefore guilt (1 Jn. 3:4; Rom. 2:25, 27). Guilt makes us a debtor to the law of God. It requires an atonement.
    • The sacrifice God made in Christ on the cross implies the necessity of the atonement. Just imagine how painful and irrelevant it would have been if it was not absolutely necessary for Christ to be sacrificed on the cross.

    When Adam and Eve fell into sin, they brought mankind into a state of sin. This sin owed God reparation. The severity of sin demanded eternal suffering as the penalty for the transgression. Christ took man's place and atoned for sin and therefore obtained eternal redemption for His people. Right through the Old Testament vicarious sacrifices were offered for the Israelites. Personal atonement (offered by the offending party) was not possible, for atonement had to be made by using a sinless party. Therefore, vicarious atonement was necessary. Because the punishment for sin demanded eternal payment, the blood of goats and bulls could not atone permanently for our sins, and sacrifices had to be made regularly. "1 FOR the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near. 2 Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, because the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have had consciousness of sins? 3 But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year by year. 4 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins." (Heb. 10:1-4). A sacrifice of infinite value that could be offered instead of eternal punishment was needed, and that sacrifice was offered by Christ Himself (Heb. 10:10).

    "In order to ilustrate a little more clearly the infinite value of Christ's atonement we should like to use a very simple illustration. Doubtless all of us, for instance, have killed thousands of insects such as ants, beetles, grasshoppers. Perhaps we have even killed millions of them if we have plowed a field or set a large brush fire. Or perhaps we have killed a considerable number of birds or animals, either for food or become they had become pests. Yet we suffer no accusing conscience. But if we kill just one man we do have an accusing conscience which condemns us bitterly; for in that case we have committed murder. Even if we could imagine a whole world of insects or animals, and if we could kill them all at one stroke, we would have no accusing conscience. The reason for this difference is that man was created in the image of God, and is therefore of infinitely greater value than the insects and animals. Now in a manner similar to this, Christ, who was God incarnate, was not only of greater value than a man but was of greater value than the sum total of all men; and therefore the value of His suffering and death was amply sufficient to redeem as many of the human race as God sees fit to call to Himself." 40

    All the suffering of all people ever cannot equate to the suffering of Christ, for Christ is of infinite value whereas "15 Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, And are regarded as a speck of dust on the scales; Behold, He lifts up the islands like fine dust. 16 Even Lebanon is not enough to burn, Nor its beasts enough for a burnt offering. 17 All the nations are as nothing before Him, They are regarded by Him as less than nothing and meaningless" (Isa. 40:15-17).

    Christ, the holy One, who lived a sinless life and obeyed the Law His whole life on our behalf (we certainly could not) so that the positive merits of His perfect obedience would be counted for us, also bore our sins on the cross as Scripture frequently says: "All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him" (Isa. 53:6), and "He Himself bore the sin of many" (Isa. 53:12). John the Baptist called Jesus "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" (Jn. 1:29). Paul wrote that God made Christ "to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Cor. 5:21) and that He became "a curse for us -- for it is written, CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE" (Gal. 3:13). In Hebrews it is written that Christ was "offered once to bear the sins of many" (Heb. 9:28) while Peter says "He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross" (1 Pet. 2:24).

    "Romans 3:25 tells us that God put forward Christ as a "propitiation" (NASB) a word that means "a sacrifice that bears God's wrath to the end and so doing changes God's wrath toward us into favor." Paul tells us that "This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins; it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and he justifies him who has faith Jesus" (Rom. 3:25-26). God had not simply forgiven sin and forgotten about the punishment in generation past. He had forgiven sins and stored up his righteous anger against those sins. But at the cross the fury of all that stored-up wrath against sin was unleashed against God's own Son... Three other crucial passages in the New Testament refer to Jesus' death as a "propitiation": Hebrews 2:17; 1 John 2:2; and 4:10. The Greek terms (the verb hilaskomai, "to make propitiation" and the noun hilasmos, "a sacrifice of propitiation") used in these passages have the sense of "a sacrifice that turns away the wrath of God - and thereby makes God propitious (or favorable) toward us." This is the consistent meaning of these words outside the Bible where they were well understood in reference to pagan Greek religions. These verses simply mean that Jesus bore the wrath of God against sin." 41

    Christ endured the wrath of God for us in our place. Calvin adds,

    "For, in order to remove our condemnation, it was not sufficient to endure any kind of death. To satisfy our ransom, it was necessary to select a mode of death in which he might deliver us, both by giving himself up to condemnations and undertaking our expiation. Had he been cut off by assassins, or slain in a seditious tumult, there could have been no kind of satisfaction in such a death. But when he is placed as a criminal at the bar, where witnesses are brought to give evidence against him, and the mouth of the judge condemns him to die, we see him sustaining the character of an offender and evil-doer." 42

    God the Father inflicted the penalty of sin on Christ, who took it voluntarily for us (Isa. 53:6, 10; 2 Cor. 5:21). Thus, complete payment was given by Christ, and not eternal suffering (Isa. 53:11; Jn. 19:30; Rom. 8:1). It is not necessary for us to endure punishment any longer, because Christ took it upon Himself, emphasizing the completeness and finality of His work. "25 nor was it that He would offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the holy place year by year with blood that is not his own. 26 Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. 27 And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, 28 so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him" (Heb. 9:25-28).

    "This New Testament emphasis on the completion and finality of Christ's sacrificial death stands in contrast to the Roman Catholic teaching that in the mass there is a repetition of the sacrifice of Christ. Because of this official teaching of the Roman Catholic Church, many Protestants since the Reformation, and still today, are convinced that they cannot in good conscience actually participate in the Roman Catholic mass, because it would seem to be an endorsement of the Catholic view that the sacrifice of Christ is repeated every time the mass is offered." 43

    Christ gave His life as a ransom (Mt. 20:28; Mk. 10:45; 1 Tim. 2:6). This ransom was paid to accomplish the forgiveness of sins (Mt. 26:28). This ransom was paid to God "to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession" (Tit. 2:14). He was "offered once to bear the sins of many" (Heb. 9:28). We were redeemed "with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ" (1 Pet. 1:19).This ransom is the price paid by Christ for our redemption from bondage. Grudem does not believe that this ransom was paid to God the Father, because the Father did not hold us captive, but Satan and our sins. He feels it is sufficient to note that Christ paid the ransom and the result was our redemption (Grudem, p. 580). I do feel that we can safely say that the ransom was paid to God the Father, for in Christ "we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses" (Eph. 1:7; see also Col. 1:14). Our redemption, the purpose for which the ransom was paid, is clearly explained by these verses as the forgiveness of sins. The question we need to ask then is who do we need to obtain forgiveness from? God the Father! It is His Law that we have broken. When we broke His Law we entered the realm of sin and experienced spiritual death. Only He can give us new life. God is the One who requires payment for our sins, and Christ is the One who paid. Christ's death is the propitiation offered to the Father for our sins.

    Conclusion

    We have to realize that the

    "modern dichotomy between faith as trust and faith as acceptance of specific doctrines--usually coupled with a strong bias in favor of faith as "trust" without the need for "rigid doctrines"--would have been incomprehensible to the early Christians, who could trust Christ in the midst of persecution precisely because they were persuaded that certain very specific things about him are true." 44

    Truth is essential to the cause of Christ, especially in the light of the gospel.. Jude 3 speaks of the "faith once delivered," but was the faith delivered fully formed? If Christianity was like any other religion then the answer would be in the negative. However, we believe that Christianity is a revealed religion, and this gives us an affirmative to the question. The church held for centuries to the idea of fixity of doctrine. Councils like Nicaea (325 AD) and Constantinople (381 AD) were seen as expression of what Christians had always believed. Even the Reformers took this view. It was only by the 19th century that the idea of development came to affect theology and doctrine, which was spurred on by Darwin's erroneous theories of evolution.

    "To the extent that doctrine is disdained and theological inquiry regarded as superfluous, even in our own day, old heresies reappear and new ones are created, even among those who think of themselves as orthodox and believe that they are firmly attached to the faith once delivered." 45

    It is of great importance to realize the enormity of our need of truth and correct, Biblical, doctrine. We do not have Jesus with us in the flesh, but we do have His revelation in the Bible. To emphasize our relationship with Him at the expense of correct theology and doctrine concerning Him and His message is to deny Him altogether. We cannot have relationship with Him apart from correct thoughts, embodied in doctrine, concerning Him. The gospel is based on correct doctrine, which is based on truth, which finds its source in God Himself. To deny the correct doctrine of God and Christ, is to deny God! It is possible to have both good doctrine and relationship with Jesus. Theology and doctrine give us the confidence that our relationship with Him is based on reality, on what God revealed in His Word.

    Let us worship God in spirit (relationship) and truth (right doctrine as revealed in God's Word).

    Amen!

    Other useful links:

    Bible Encyclopedia
    http://www.christiananswers.net/dictionary/home.html

    Theological Dictionary
    http://www.carm.org/dictionary.htm
    http://bible.crosswalk.com/Dictionaries/BakersEvangelicalDictionary/
    http://www.biblestudytools.net/Dictionaries/EastonBibleDictionary/
    http://www.biblestudytools.net/Dictionaries/SmithsBibleDictionary/
    http://www.menfak.no/bibelprog/vines?tofrom=A
    http://www.victoria.tc.ca/~ub608/bbwords.html

    Endnotes

    1. All references to Scripture are from the New American Standard Bible, unless otherwise indicated.
    2. Grudem, Wayne, Systematic Theology An introduction to Biblical doctrine, ZondervanPublishingHouse, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1994, p 76.
    3. Ibid.
    4. Grudem, Wayne, Systematic Theology An introduction to Biblical doctrine, ZondervanPublishingHouse, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1994, p 127.
    5. Berkhof, Louis, Systematic Theology - NEW EDITION - containing the full text of Systematic Theology and the original Introductory Volume to Systematic Theology, Introductory Volume to Systematic Theology, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1996, p. 168.
    6. Calvin, John, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Translated by Henry Beveridge, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1989, Book I, Chap IX, Section 3, p. 86.
    7. Berkhof, Louis, Systematic Theology - NEW EDITION - containing the full text of Systematic Theology and the original Introductory Volume to Systematic Theology, Systematic Theology, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1996, p. 221.
    8. Berkhof, Louis, Systematic Theology - NEW EDITION - containing the full text of Systematic Theology and the original Introductory Volume to Systematic Theology, Systematic Theology, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1996, p. 246.
    9. Calvin, John, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Translated by Henry Beveridge, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1989, Book II, Chap II, Section 27, p. 246.
    10. Grudem, Wayne, Systematic Theology An introduction to Biblical doctrine, ZondervanPublishingHouse, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1994, p 497.
    11. Berkhof, Louis, Systematic Theology - NEW EDITION - containing the full text of Systematic Theology and the original Introductory Volume to Systematic Theology, Systematic Theology, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1996, p. 256.
    12. Berkhof, Louis, Systematic Theology - NEW EDITION - containing the full text of Systematic Theology and the original Introductory Volume to Systematic Theology, Systematic Theology, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1996, p. 257.
    13. Calvin, John, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Translated by Henry Beveridge, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1989, Book II, Chap XVI, Section 3, p. 436.
    14. Calvin, John, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Translated by Henry Beveridge, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1989, Book III, Chap XI, Section 2, p. 37.
    15. Berkhof, Louis, Systematic Theology - NEW EDITION - containing the full text of Systematic Theology and the original Introductory Volume to Systematic Theology, Systematic Theology, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1996, p. 513.
    16. Brown, Harold O. J., Heresies: Heresies and Orthodoxy in the history of the Church, Second Printing, Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, Massachusetts, 1998, p2.
    17. Brown, Harold O. J., Heresies: Heresies and Orthodoxy in the history of the Church, Second Printing, Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, Massachusetts, 1998, p1.
    18. Ankerberg, John & Weldon, John, Encyclopedia of Cults and New religions, Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Oregon, 1999, 675.
    19. The word "catholic" has no Roman Catholic connotations in these early writings, and merely means "universal."
    20. Tertullian, Against Praxeas, AD 145-220
    21. J. Hampton Keathley III, online @ http://www.bible.org/docs/theology/proper/trinity.htm
    22. Berkhof, Louis, Systematic Theology, Fourth Revised and Enlarged Edition, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1996, p85
    23. Grudem, Wayne, Systematic Theology An Introduction to Biblical Theology, ZondervanPublishingHouse, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1994, p227.
    24. Grudem, Wayne, Systematic Theology An Introduction to Biblical Theology, ZondervanPublishingHouse, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1994, p228.
    25. Calvin, John, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Translated by Henry Beveridge, Book 1 Chapter 13 Section 10, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1989, p117-118
    26. Calvin, John, Institutes, Book 1 Chapter 13 Section 9, p116-117.
    27. Ibid.
    28. The Greek font used here is "Greek.ttf" by Peter J Gentry and Andrew M Fountain.
    29. Dew, D, Online @ http://www.dianedew.com/john1.htm.
    30. Kenneth L. Barker & John R. Kohlenberger III, Zondervan NIV Bible Commentary Volume 2: New Testament, ZondervanPublishingHouse, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1994, p 946.
    31. McDowell, Josh, The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict, Evidence I & II, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, 1999, p 142.
    32. Robertson, A. T., Robertson's NT Word Pictures, Online Bible v8.20.00.05 beta, June 8, 2000.
    33. Zodhiates, Spiros (Executive Editor), Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible, AMG Publishers, Chattanooga, TN, 1990, p 1572.
    34. Calvin, John, Institutes, Book 1 Chapter 13 Section 9, p133.
    35. Grudem, Wayne, Systematic Theology, p 237.
    36. Grudem, Wayne, Systematic Theology, p 237.
    37. Ankerberg, John & Weldon, John, Encyclopedia of Cults and New religions, Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Oregon, 1999, 696.
    38. Grudem, Wayne, Systematic Theology, p 569.
    39. Berkhof, Louis, Systematic Theology - NEW EDITION - containing the full text of Systematic Theology and the original Introductory Volume to Systematic Theology, Systematic Theology, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1996, p. 370-371.
    40. Boettner, Loraine, The Atonement, http://members.tripod.com/~Michael_Bremmer/atone.htm, Scanned and Edited by Michael Bremmer.
    41. Grudem, Wayne, Systematic Theology, p 575.
    42. Calvin, John, Institutes, Book II Chapter XVI, Section 5, p438.
    43. Grudem, Wayne, Systematic Theology, p 578.
    44. Brown, Harold O. J., Heresies: Heresies and Orthodoxy in the history of the Church, Second Printing, Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, Massachusetts, 1998, p21.
    45. Ibid., p. 28

    1 comment:

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