Theological Primer

Doctrine of God

His Person, His existence, His attributes, and Triunity including the two natures of Christ and the personality and deity of the Holy Spirit.

God is a spirit of infinite perfection consisting of three persons. One way God reveals His personhood is in how he names himself.  Elohim is the name used to emphasize his strength because he is the creator and sustainer of all things as seen in Genesis 1:1. Adonai is used to reveal he is the sovereign Master or ruler of all things.  The named used to show his eternal presence without the aid of anything else is JHWH.  When Moses asked God in Exodus 3 who he should tell the people sent him, God answered, I AM the I AM.  In other words when Moses was looking for assurance God gave him an understanding of Himself. 

God’s existence does not rely on anything else and he is forever actively present in his creation.  Mankind knows that God exists because he has made himself known through the things that he has made as well as the evidence of Scripture. His existence is also known due to God providing an inner sense within a person that he is present.  The ontological argument begins with the idea of a sovereign God.  The existence of the universe begins and ends with Him. Regarding the statements above Paul wrote in Romans chapter 1 that Gentile unbelievers “knew God”.  Sinners suppress the truth about him in their unrighteousness and have even exchanged the truth about him for lies.  Only a fool says in his heart that there is no God (Ps. 14:1).  Nothing in the universe began on its own. This is known as the cosmological argument. There must be something sovereignly eternal and that something is God. This God designed with a purpose and with absolute harmony.  This is known as the teleological argument. There is also a moral argument that there is a sovereign God.  Mankind has a sense of right and wrong because there is an eternal truth about such things.  The eternal law giver has provided boundaries by which mankind can know justice.

Man can know God and he has provided information about his attributes so that he can be known more fully.  The names of God have already been discussed as a way to show God is a “person”.  As seen, they also show characteristics of who he is.  God has characteristics that are shared by mankind because we are made in his image but he also has characteristics that cannot be shared.  One’s that are not shared are called incommunicable and those that are shared are communicable. Unlike mankind God is eternal, unchangeable, present everywhere, and all knowing.  These are just a few of the things man cannot be.  God has shared other characteristics with man such as wisdom, love, knowledge, mercy, and justice. As previously stated, mankind could not know justice had it not been for God being the ultimate law giver.  Genesis 1 shows God setting those boundaries with Adam and Eve when he told them not to eat of a certain tree.  There were benefits and punishment based on their actions regarding it. God provided a fuller picture of the law in Exodus chapter 20.   

God the Holy Trinity.  The Bible does not use the word Trinity to explain God but it does reveal it as the words unfold throughout the entirety of Scripture. God is three persons yet one God. In the unity of the Godhead there are three persons who are of one substance, power, and eternity (Matt. 3:16-17). Who God is, are the three persons as revealed in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.  What they are, is God.  The Father planned all things.  The Son produces the plan and the Holy Spirit applies the produced plan in the lives of people.  Matthew 28:19 tells the followers of Jesus to go and baptize “in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”  One of the places God reveals the Trinity is in Genesis 1:26, “Let us make man in our image, and after our likeness.”  As you can see there are plural words used in the sentence regarding the One doing the creating.

Jesus Christ is fully God and fully human as shown in John chapter 1.  It says; “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father) full of grace and truth”.  The doctrine of the hypostatic union helps explain the idea of the God-man.  Simply put it is the Son being united forever with a human nature in the flesh. The Son was born into this world (under the law) with all the common issues a body has yet he was without sin. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit in the womb of Mary (Gal. 4:4).  This was done so without confusion regarding his two perfectly whole distinct natures.  Colossians 2:9 puts it; “For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.”  Other passages to consider are Matthew 16:16, Romans 9:5, and 1 Timothy 3:16. It pleased the Father in his plan for the Son to become flesh in order to be the Prophet, Priest, and King to humanity (Isa. 42.1, 1 Pet. 1:19-20, John 3:16; Acts 3:20-22, Deut. 18:15; Heb. 5:5-6, Ps. 2:6, Luke 1:33). Those verses are just a few of the many that reveal who and why the Son became flesh. Jesus is the Head and Savior of all believers.  As the second person of the Trinity the Son created all things yet in his humanity Jesus is the Heir and Judge of all things (Heb. 1:2; Acts 17:31).

As stated above the Holy Spirit is GodHis revealed role is that of applying the work of Christ and thus the plan of the Father. His work is noticed in baptism, gifts, prayer, the call of the gospel, regeneration, and sanctification to name a few.  For example certain gifts were given to the early church in order to authenticate the apostles of Christ and grow the Church.  The Holy Spirit works out other gifts in believers today as a way of continuing to grow the Church and cause maturity in the members.  This too helps mankind to recognize the Holy Spirit as a person and not simply a divine power.  Passages to consider regarding the Holy Spirit include 1 Cor. 12:11-12; 13:8-10; Eph. 4:11; 1 Cor. 12:12; 1 Cor. 12:14:25. Always remember that each member of the Trinity glorifies the other continually.    

The Bible (Bibliology)

All Christians need to recognize the Bible has authority because it is the absolute inerrant truth revealed to man by God.  Authority is simply the right of power to elicit obedience to commands.  In Scripture God claims to be the ultimate authority and because he is the Bible must be seen as authoritative (2 Timothy).  Hebrews 6:13 mentions when God made a promise he did so by swearing unto Himself because there is no higher authority.  The Bible supports its own authority because of the cohesiveness of doctrine and perfection is all assertions.

The Bible was written by the inspiration of God using the Holy Spirit to breath out the things he wanted particular men to write.  These men were simply instruments in the hand of God as he penned his own revelation about the specific things he wants mankind to know.  God did not tell mankind absolutely everything but he provides the things needed for salvation.  Matthew 5:18 even mentions how he pays attention to every jot and tittle.  Mankind is not allowed to add or subtract from Scripture as seen in Revelation 22 18-19.   That is because Scripture is God work, not mans.

 Angels (Angelology).

The Bible teaches that there are angels.  The Greek word for angel is the word angelos which means “messenger”.  Elwell said, “It may denote either a human or a heavenly messenger” (Luke 7:24; 9:52; Rev. 1:20).  That is due to there being almost exclusively used to refer to heavenly beings. The larger story about angels is that they are created beings who have a purpose in God’s plan.  They are mentioned as being good and being bad. The Bible says God cast Satan and his angels out of heaven in 2 Peter 2:4. God allows sin to happen but God did not cause sin to happen and does not tempt angels or people to sin (James 1:13).  The Bible also says that there are good angels such as Michael and Gabriel who always do the will of God.

Popular culture likes to portray angels as little childlike beings with little wings or as women.  However, when the Bible talks about angels such as Michael and Gabriel they are masculine and they do not give off the impression that they are childlike.  It is better to see them as warriors, announcers of judgment, ministering spirits, guardians, and servants. They have personalities in that they have intelligence, emotions, and will (Matt. 8:29; Luke 2:13; Luke 8:28-31).  Bad angels apparently willed to disobey God and obviously suffer the punishment of being banished from heaven.  They even continue in disobedience to this day.  Good angels continue to be obedient to the service of almighty God (Heb. 1:14).  Both good and bad angels are subject to the authority of God (Luke 8:28-31).

            Angels are not physical beings; they are spiritual beings.  Therefore, anyone teaching that fallen angels had sexual relations with the daughters of men is a false teaching. Jesus said in Matthew 22:30 and Mark 12:25 that angels do not marry.  When looking at the subject of the physicality or spirituality of angels one should trust the Bible and not read into things that are not there.

            Angels are an organized workforce.  God has his and Satan (Lucifer) has those that fell with him.  Michael the Archangel is the highest ranking angel (Jude 9; 1 Thess. 4:16).  Of course Lucifer is the highest ranking angel on the bad side.  This is all to say that there is a spiritual battle that goes on daily in the universe.  There are powers, authorities, and principalities that are against every believing Christian.  It is nice that good angels are on the side of the believer but more important is that the believer is on the side of Jesus Christ.

References

Elwell, Walter A. Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2001.

Erickson, Millard. Christian Theology. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2013.

Ryrie, Charles. Basic Theology. Chicago: Moody Press, 1999.

Tozer, Aiden W. The Knowledge of the Holy. San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1961.

Warfield, Benjamin Breckinridge. The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible. Philadelphia: The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1948.

Published by SReed

Attends Westminster Orthodox Presbyterian Church. I'm a sinner saved by the work of God in me and not a work of my own.

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