Contents

Fighting the Warfare of Faith. 1

Fighting the Warfare of Faith 2. 1

Refocusing Worship. 1

Study Guide for Body of Divinity(0) - Introduction to Systematic Theology. 1

Study Guide for Body of Divinity(1) - Chapter 1. 1

Study Guide for Body of Divinity(2) - Chapter 2. 1

Study Guide for Body of Divinity(3) - Chapter 3. 1

 

 

Fighting the Warfare of Faith

Fighting the Warfare of Faith

By Isaac Guess

 

1Ti 4:1 “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;”

 

Some concepts in Scripture are difficult to comprehend.  The Trinity, the Sovereignty of God, His Omnipresence come to mind as truths that far surpass our abilities to fully grasp.  The above passage, however, is not in that category.  Paul emphasizes that the Spirit “speaketh expressly;” in other words, it is a clear, unambiguous certainty that instead of earnestly contending for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints (Jude 2), as we are exhorted by Jude, some will depart from the faith.  This passage should cause the child of God to pause and examine himself.  Why does this happen?  The passage clearly tells us.  People depart from the faith because they listen and fall prey to ungodly, seductive influences that corrupt from the simplicity that is in Christ.  How can this happen to me?  It happens when I fail to obey the command to love the Lord with all of my mind. (Mr 12:30)  The battle for the mind is not a battle we often contemplate.  We too often battle our actions, restraining our words and deeds.  The truth is that if we only battle our actions, we are only fighting the effect, not the source.  The mind is the source of the sins of action.  Individuals do not depart from the faith spontaneously.  Instead, the departure comes as a result of the mind not being brought to the obedience of Christ (2Co 10:5

 

In coming articles, we will discuss several issues of our present day that may be seductive attempts by Satan to cause God’s people to depart from the faith.  Our prayer is that God’s people would not only not depart from the faith, but not even slip in the faith, and if we have to any degree slipped in the faith, to be spurred by these articles to again earnestly contend for the faith.  In this article, we will examine three dangers in the battle for the mind. 

 

The first danger in the battle for the mind is being naive.  Notice in our text that Paul uses the word “seducing.”  Consider the example of Satan’s seduction of Eve in the garden.  His appeals to her were alluring and appealing to her ego.  She would be wise.  However, from the moment that Adam and Eve partook of the fruit, it is certain that they would have given anything to not have the knowledge of the shame of their nakedness, the ever present reality of sin.  In Pr 7, the simple youth had no guard against the seductive lies heaped upon him by the harlot, who was “subtil of heart.”(Pr 7:10)  It was not until the dart struck his liver did he realize just how naive he had been.  Thus, John would exhort us in 1Jo 4:1 to not believe “every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out in the world.”  Paul had a pastor’s heart for the Corinthians.  In 2Co 11:3, he confessed that his fear was that “as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.”  We must not be naive regarding the presence of evil ideas present in our world.  We must test every teaching we hear by the word of God. 

 

The second danger closely relates to the first, and that is the danger of ignorance.  If we do not know the word of God thoroughly, we are helpless to confront erroneous teachings which may result in our departing from the faith.  After warning young Timothy of the existence of “evil men and seducers” in 2Ti 3, he then gives Timothy the following weapons to use:  “But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.  All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:  That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” (2Ti 3:14-17)  Paul gives Timothy two related instructions.  First, he tells Timothy to trust what he has been taught because he knows the people who have taught him.  What wonderful instruction this is.  We should be very wary of any teaching or idea that runs counter to what our parents, pastor, and faithful children of God have taught us.  Is there perfect safety in this?  No, because parents, pastors, and faithful children of God are not perfect.  However, this is an excellent starting place when testing ideas.  The second instruction, however, is perfect.  Paul points Timothy with unreserved confidence to the Word of God.  It thus follows that we must be students of the Word of God if we are to have victory over seductive spirits and doctrines of devils.  We cannot have any confidence of walking worthy of our vocation without constant time gleaning from God’s Word.

 

The last danger we will ponder is the danger of instability.  Heb 13:9 instructs:  “Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines.  For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace…”  Being close minded is seen as one of the greatest evils of our day.  However, when it comes to the truths of God’s Word, we should be so established in the truth that we are not as “…children, tossed to and from, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;” (Eph 4:14)  Paul criticizes those in II Timothy who were “ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (2Ti 3:7)  Stability in the midst of conflicting and confusing ideas is a tremendous virtue.  Confidence in the Lord and confidence in the timeless relevance of the Word of God will keep us and will alert us to the seductive influences of our day. 

 

This message relies completely on our confidence in the Word of God.   In our next article, we will examine the value of the word of God and the importance of handling it properly.

 

Fighting the Warfare of Faith 2

Fighting the Warfare of Faith

Part 2

By Isaac D. Guess

 

1Ti 4:1 “ Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;”

 

The young poet pondered the unthinkable: “Jesus, and shall it ever be, A mortal man ashamed of Thee..that dear Friend On whom my hopes of heaven depend!” (Daddy, please insert the proper footnotes.  This hymn is No. 195 in the No. 11 edition of the OSH).  However, Paul warns Timothy that the unthinkable is entirely possible.  Though in periods of spiritual refreshment even slipping in the faith seems distant, the reality of our dual nature tells us that when our minds are not submitted to Christ, we can slip and even depart from the faith.

 

 In our last article, we examined the battle for the mind and discussed three very real dangers, that of naivete to the seductive workings of Satan, of ignorance of the Word of God, and of instability in our Christian walk.   These dangers are avoidable, and God has provided the very thing we need to not succumb to the unrelenting, devious assaults of Satan against our souls.  The Word of God is the most valuable possession of a Christian.  Value normally is expressed not in its abundance but in its rarity.  Diamonds are more valuable than dirt because diamonds are more difficult to find than dirt.  In God’s economy, the most valuable possession a Christian possesses is abundantly available.  It is the very instrument with which we ward off temptation and with which we find the spiritual food, instruction, and promises that cause us to yearn for fellowship with the Almighty and make the very thought of departing the faith entirely distasteful.

 

The Value of the Word

What makes the Bible so valuable?  Why is it to be esteemed above riches, above our necessary food?  Following are seven affirmations from Scriptures of the value of the Word.

 

·It is the Word of God.  2Ti 3:16 “All scripture is given by inspiration of God.”  Literally, “Scripture is God breathed.”  David, in Ps 8, was awed by the excellent nature of God and proclaimed, O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! Who hast set thy glory above the heavens.”  It is jaw-droppingly incredible to realize that the God Who was in the beginning, Who was before the beginning, who calls the stars by name, Whose glory is above the heavens, Who must condescend to behold the things that are in heaven (Ps 113:6), Who shall forever reign over all, this very God has penned something for his saints to read.  He has penned His autobiography, and He has penned it for our benefit, for our learning.  He has preserved it throughout the centuries to give a testimony to His glory, and He has preserved it for you, the saint, at this very stage in your life, to assist you in striving for the faith, to give you the exact instruction you need to glorify Him and not succumb to any evil seduction.  In breathing the Word of God, God is revealing Himself, providing an understanding of exactly Who He is.  While the heavens declare His glory, and a vital, saving knowledge of God is immediately provided through the Spirit, the converting, sanctifying, enabling knowledge of God is provided through His Word.  Imagine a life with no Bible.  How would we know of His omnipotence?  How would we know the glory of God in creating this universe?  How would we know of His governance over creation?  We would not have the comfort of knowing of His pending return.  We would not be able to rejoice to read of fulfilled prophecy.  Contemplating life without the revelation of God through His Word should confirm to us the unspeakable value of the revelation of His Word.

 

·It is Truth. Joh 17:17 “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.”  This value is particularly relevant in the age in which we live.  Not only are many divergent philosophies and religious ideas presented as truth, but also many say that there are no absolute truths, that truth is relative.  Often these arguments are presented quite convincingly.  The pursuit of truth can be quite confusing and laden with danger.  What is truth?  Is there truth?  The above Scripture answers these vital questions.  There is a place where truth is found, where truth is always found – God’s Word.  God’s Word will never deceive, never mislead, never lie.  A friend, a loved one, even a preacher might unwittingly mislead or misrepresent truth.  God’s Word never does that.  God’s Word sets us apart to display His glory precisely because it is truth.  Because it is truth, absolute truth, pure truth, unmitigated truth, complete truth, it follows that it has authority over the life of a Christian.  We are obligated to comply with the instruction of the Word because it is truth, because it reveals Truth, Jesus Christ.

 

·It gives hope.  Ro 15:4 “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.”  Earlier we imagined a world in which God had not revealed Himself as fully as He has in scripture.  That world is a world without hope.  Hope is a confident expectation.  Scripture assures us of the pending defeat of Satan, evil, sin, sickness, sadness, temptation, trials, sorrow, mourning, tears, evil schemes, injustice, and all other things that plague the soul.  Scripture proclaims the good news of a Savior, of Immanuel – God dwelling with man, of a Ransom, of the Prince of Peace, of the Kinsman Redeemer, of the Everlasting Father, of mercy and truth meeting together, of the Substitute, of the Elder Brother, of a Shepherd who would not stop until He had found the sheep that was lost.  Scripture assures us that He is coming back to earth, and that the bodies of our departed loved ones will be raised from the grave, no matte how remote the grave may be.  Scripture tells of a successful Savior, who died for sinners, not just sin.  Scripture tells of the resurrection of the Lamb of God, and that all of His chosen ones were represented by the Lamb in His death, burial, and resurrection.  Simply put, Scripture provides hope in a sad, dark, hopeless world.  It doesn’t take long to roam a city street or visit a college classroom, or survey a large stadium and find many without hope.  That picture would be far broader without the inestimable blessing of Scripture.

 

·It enables the child of God to overcome the wicked one.  1Jo 2:14b “I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.”  This passage links the word of God abiding in the child of God and victory over the temptations of Satan.  Jesus also links the two when He rebuffed Satan on three occasions by using the Word of God.  Eph 6 identifies the Word of God as “the sword of the Spirit.”  The value of the Word is expressed here in its practicality.  When the child of God is immersed in the Word, is skillful in the Word, is submissive to the Word, Satan is overcome.  This is no small feat.  Satan is ferocious and unrelenting in His evil intent towards God and as a result, God’s people.  He seeks to devour the Christian’s soul by any means necessary.  Alone, the Christian is insufficient for the engagement.  With the Word of God, the wicked one is overcome and departs.

 

· It endures.  Mt 24:35 “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.”  Fashion changes, faces become wrinkled, loved ones depart, buildings are constructed and removed in one generation.  Nothing of life lived under the sun lasts forever, except one thing.  Even earth, which seems so permanent, so indestructible, will be burnt and consumed.  The only thing that we possess that is truly permanent, is the Word of God.  Because it is permanent, it is timeless.  It never loses its relevancy.  Society changes, technology changes, generations pass, but the Word of God is a constant.  This is rather remarkable that words penned thousands of years ago are still perfectly relevant in our lifetime.  It is essential that the Christian recognize this truth.  Regardless of what the wisdom of the day may be, God’s Word endures to all generations.  It remains and always shall remain.  It continues to be the standard for faith, for practice, for life.  As one wise man preached, “These truths will stand when the world is on fire!”

 

·It can be grasped. Ps 119:130 “The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.”  It has been remarked that the sign of true genius is the ability to take the complex and make it understandable to the masses.  The Word of God does precisely that.  One doesn’t need an advanced degree, higher education, or even formal education to benefit from the Word of God.  This is a mind bending truth.  God, Who cannot be searched out, cannot be contained, whose ways are higher than our ways and whose thoughts far exceed our thoughts, reveals Himself to us in His Word and we can understand.  This is not to say that years of study will provide a complete, full understanding of God and Scripture.  One who has been enlightened by the Spirit, however, can come to a basic understanding of the person, nature, and character of God, of salvation, and of the instructions and corrections that will thoroughly furnish for all good works.

 

·God values His Word. Ps 138:2 “I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.”  God esteems His Word even above His own name.  Perhaps this is because His Word gives a correct understanding of what His name entails.  It is one thing to claim love for God.  It is far more meaningful to evidence true love for God by complying with the commands of His Word. 

 

Sir Walter Scott wrote these words in reference to scripture:  “Within this wondrous volume lies the mystery of mysteries, Happiest they of human race to whom their God has given grace to read, to fear, to hope, to pray, to lift the latch, to find the way; And better had they ne’er been born Who read to laugh, or read to scorn.”   Surely this man recognized the value of God’s Word.  The blessed man in Ps 1 also recognized the value of the Word of God by make it his delight, his constant meditation.  Notice that the blessed man expressed his appreciation for the value of scripture by constantly using it.  In a museum, the most valuable items are put on display behind thick glass and menacing guards.  The most valuable item on earth, God’s Word, has no such barriers.  Its value is manifested by how much it is handle, how often it is consulted.  The sad commentary of the writer of Hebrews in chapter 5 was that his audience had not properly valued the Word of God.  Because they were not skillful through constant use, they were not equipped to discern between good and evil.

 

In our next article, we will discuss the proper way to handle the precious jewel that is God’s Word. 

 

Refocusing Worship

Refocusing Worship

 

Elder Isaac Guess

 

On a recent Sunday morning, I stood before the congregation, ready to begin the message.  Before I had spoken the first words, my attention was diverted by a group of young men sitting in the same pew sharing a humorous story.  I could feel the anger rising within me.  My thoughts went something like this: “How dare they distract me from preaching!  I’ve spent valuable studying for this message, and not only will they not hear it, but I am not even going to be able to deliver it well due to their impoliteness.”  I had a sudden urge to call them down in front of the whole congregation, to embarrass them for their rudeness toward me.  I refrained from making the grievance public, but upon further reflection, I had a thought that brought me unexpected shame.  My seeming righteous indignation was completely misplaced.  My anger had very little to do with a reverence for God.  Instead, I was upset because I was being inconvenienced.  I realized that my view of worship had become distorted in that if I had liberty and if the congregation was receptive and not rude, then I was satisfied with the worship experience.  It was my worship experience that was my chief concern.

 

This misplaced view of worship, particularly in the public worship service seems to be altogether too common.  As Primitive Baptists, we are very careful to be sure that our worship services are accurate – that is, that the only events we want to occur in the worship service are those events that are mandated in New Testament Scripture, namely, the singing of hymns, the offering of prayer, and the exposition of the Word.  We are very sharp in our criticism in anything that deviates from these essential, stand alone elements.  However, accuracy in performing the elements of worship does not make worship!  The hymns may be sung beautifully, the preaching Biblically accurate, and the prayers skillfully delivered, and yet true worship may have never occurred.  Consider the meanings of the New Testament words for worship as given by Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words: “to make obeisance, do reverence to, to serve, stressing the feeling of awe or devotion.”  Vine notes that worship is “the direct acknowledgment to God, of His nature, attributes, ways and claims, whether by the outgoing of the heart in praise and thanksgiving or by deed done in such acknowledgment.”  Worship, then, is an awe-filled, reverent display of praise to God.  Notice that it is to be completely God focused.

 

The question necessarily must arise in our minds: How do we refocus the worship service so that not only are the actions correctly done, but most importantly, a reverential, awe-filled, heartfelt praise to God results?  Surely a heavy-handed public dressing down of the congregation as I foolishly contemplated is not the answer.  At the worst, that would only produce animosity towards the preacher, and at the very best, would result in a dry, formal, legalistic, ritualistic attempt at worship.  God Himself provides the solution to the quandary of lifeless, man-centered worship that we experience far too often.  Let’s focus in on two real life encounters with God in our efforts to refocus our worship.

 

In Ex 3, Moses is in the self-proclaimed “backside of the desert” in exile from familiar Egypt and from his blood relatives.  Moses was certainly familiar with the gods of the Egyptians.  He likely had vague recollections of stories of the God of Israel told to him by his birth mother prior to his removal to Pharaoh’s house.  On this day, however, Moses was made to focus in on exactly Who this God of Israel was and his view of God was dramatically changed by one brief encounter.  As Moses trudged up Mount Horeb, his attention was suddenly drawn to a bush that was burning but was not being consumed.  Just as his curiosity was piqued, he heard the voice of God, saying “Draw not nigh hither; put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.”  Notice carefully Moses’ reaction in Ex 3:6: “And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.”  What does this story have to do with worship?  Everything!  Having an audience with God is a fearful thing.  Yes, Jesus Christ has opened the way through His mediatorial work on the cross to allow sinners to come into the presence of God with boldness and free access and to look upon God as our own Father.  This free access, however, does not diminish the reality of Who God is.  The very real presence of God made the ground that Moses trod holy ground.  God, regardless of what our misconception may be, is holy.  What is encapsulated in this strange word “holy”?  It means that God is separate, different, other, apart, unlike, incomparable. He’s not like us.  In each of his attributes, He excels every earthly creation.  It is this exalted view of God that must be incorporated into our thoughts as we prepare to come to the public worship service.  One of the chief reasons that our services are dry, cold, lifeless, centered on what did I learn or receive is that we are unaware of how exalted that God truly is.  Allow the proclamation of God in Isa 46:9 to ring loud into your heart: “…for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me.”  This verse defines succinctly the holiness of God – there is none, nothing like God.  Ps 113:5-6 escapes our ability to comprehend: “Who is like unto the Lord our God, who dwelleth on high, Who humbleth himself to behold the things that are in heaven, and in the earth!”  Often I overuse exclamation points in my writing.  But this passage is deserving of its exclamation point!  When we worship, not only are we coming into the presence of the God Who has to condescend to behold our sin-cursed attempts to praise, but this Exalted One must condescend to behold heaven.  A refocused view of the holiness of God should naturally result in serving God “acceptably with reverence and Godly fear: for our God is a consuming fire.”(Heb 12:28-29)

 

Another passage that should refocus our approach to worship is found in Mt 21.  In fulfillment of prophecy, Jesus Christ rides into Jerusalem.  A large multitude of people come to welcome His approach into the city.  They remove their outer clothing and spread it on the ground where He will ride.  The cut branches from the trees and put them on the path.  As He approaches, with unbridled joy, they cry, “Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.”  This remarkable, spontaneous exclamation of praise no doubt was a result of stories the people had heard about Jesus.  They had heard tell of His healing of the sick, of the lame, of the dead.  They had heard the accounts of His unparalleled preaching and restraint in the midst of adversity.  They had heard and believed His claim to be the long sought Messiah.  Pure, unadulterated praise resulted.  What does this have to do with refocusing our worship services?  Everything!  What has the message of Christ done for you?  Have you heard of His healing, of His death on the cross, of His victory over death, of His ascension to the right hand of God?  Was his death and resurrection on your behalf?  Praise is not a performance.  You see, God is not impressed with performances.  Praise is the natural expression of adoration, appreciation, and awe of Who God is and what He has provided on your behalf?  And God is very impressed with that. 

 

Does your view of worship need refocusing?  Worship is the very reason that we exist on God’s earth.  If you realize that your vision of worship has become blurred by ceremony, by formalism, by insincerity, place your eyes upon the nature, the character, the goodness of an awesome God.

 

Study Guide for Body of Divinity(0) - Introduction to Systematic Theology

Study Guide for

Body of Divinity

Introduction to Systematic Theology

 

What is theology?  Simply put, it is the science (study) of God.  As with any science, there is an objective truth, God Himself, and theology is the pursuit, through scientific methods, of discovering the truth about God. 

 

Two Methods of Studying God

1        General Revelation – revelation of God in nature, in creation. (Ro 1:19ff, Ps 97:6; 19:1ff, Ac 14:7).  General revelation is helpful, it is conclusive, but it is not complete.  It is insufficient to reveal God as full as He can be known.

2        Special Revelation – revelation of God through His work of regeneration, and through the record He left, the Bible.

l      God is a Spirit, and can thus only be fully known spiritually. Joh 4:24

l      He is revealed to humans by His Spirit 2Co 4:3-7; Joh 3:3

l      Revealed through the Word 2Ti 3:16; Ro 15:4; Joh 5:39

l      This special revelation does not give perfect knowledge of God.  That will only be accomplished throughout eternity by beholding Him with eyes unfettered by sin.

Note:  These two terms can also be called natural theology(general revelation) and supernatural theology (special revelation).

 

Two Methods of Studying Special Revelation (The Bible)

1        Expository – This is a word normally used with a method of preaching.  It simply means to take a passage of Scripture and give the sense of what the Scripture is teaching within its setting and context.  It is a “verse by verse” study.  (Two important terms to be familiar with: Exegesis (ex: out) – a layman’s definition is to take out of Scripture what is there.  In other words, Scripture has a meaning, and it is our job to take the meaning from Scripture.  Eisegesis (eis: into) – an interpretation of Scripture that expresses the interpreter’s own ideas or bias rather than the meaning of the text.

2        Systematic – arranging or comprising an ordered system.  This branch of theology studies the revelation of God by reducing revealed truth to a series of statements that together constitute an organized whole.  Example:  Grouping all Scriptures mentioning the love of God, and then from that grouping, forming a conclusive statement regarding the love of God that harmonizes all of the revealed truth on that subject.

     

Reasons for Studying Systematically

1.       To learn all that Scripture teaches on a particular subject (love of God).

2.       To compare Scripture with Scripture (Gives a scriptural balance).

3.       Values each of the Bible doctrines (can’t just pick favorites).

4.       “An unknown God can neither be trusted, served, nor worshipped.”

 

 

Purpose in Studying Theology

This exercise is not meant to be merely academic.  In fact, if it is only academic, it will be a failure.  A spiritual person, when contemplating God, is spiritually strengthened.  Good doctrine breeds good practice – Tit 2:11-12.

l    Da 11:32 Strengthened

l    Joh 8:31-32 Freedom from bondage

l    1Pe 3:15 Equipped to witness

l    1Ch 28:9 Answer for the searcher

 

Proper Attitude Towards Theology

l    Reverence for truth

l    Prayer for help and wisdom

l    Remove prejudice and bias

l    Eager to learn

l    Teachable humility

l    Timidity to new doctrines

 

Who was John Gill?

l    Eminent Baptist theologian of the 18th century

l    Lived 1697-1771

l    Proficient in many ancient languages from an early age

l    Beloved by his congregation for both knowledge and perpiscuity

l    Undertook this work as a means to spiritually strengthen his congregation.

Note:  Read the overview of Gill’s life in the foreword to the Body of Divinity.

 

Study Guide for Body of Divinity(1) - Chapter 1

Study Guide for Body of Divinity

Chapter 1

Being of God

 

It is important to constantly remind one’s self while studying God that this is both an academic exercise and a spiritual exercise.  The academic provides the information, but the processing and meditating on the knowledge learned provides the spiritual growth and joy. 

 

In studying theology from a Biblical perspective, two foundational truths must first be established: 1)the being, or existence of God, and 2)the inerrancy of the Bible.  The student must be convinced of these two truths before the study of God will have any lasting affect upon the life.  If God does not exist, this study and any resulting devotion, love, or service towards God is a waste of effort.

 

God Revealed in Two Ways

·          General Revelation – evidence outside the Bible

·          Special Revelation

1.       Regeneration – The work of God the Holy Spirit that gives spiritual life and provides the ability(faith) to see and believe God

2.       Bible – God’s declaration and revelation of Himself – superior to general revelation.

 

This study will focus on the proof of the existence of God from general revelation.  It is important to know and believe these proofs, particularly when discussing God with an unbeliever (2Pe 3:15)

 

Law of Cause and Effect

 

This law is key to establishing the existence of God from general revelation.

“Every limited affect has an antecedent cause greater than itself.”  In other words, one can know there is a cause(even without observing the cause) by observing the effect.  Examples: Rain, electricity.

*God is not limited.  From this law, it follows that He has no cause.  Therefore, He is God.

 

Proofs of the Being of God(General Revelation)

 

1        General Consent of Men in all nations and all ages.

l      An innate knowledge that surpasses cultural, sociological, economic differences.

l      Even in times of great idolatry when the knowledge of the true God was nearly lost, humans have always retained some idea of a “God”

l      Not necessarily the true God, but a general concept of a higher being, a greater force.

l      Read the quotations from the heathen(decidedly not Christian) philosophers(Aristotle, Cicero, Aelianus, etc.) agreeing with this concept.

l      Ps 14:1 the fool says there is no God.  Note: Passage does not say the fool “believes”, but says – this is a wish that even the fool knows is not true.

l      To the students – You can desire to get away from the shackles and constraints of religion, parents, upbringing, etc, but you cannot escape from the innate knowledge of and your responsibility to God.

 

1        Law and Light of Nature

·          Man has an innate knowledge of good and evil.

·          Example:  Murder(Cain and Abel-Cain immediately knew it was wrong even though he had never expressly been told not to murder), society’s horror over child abuse.

·          Law of Cause and Effect: If there is an objective moral law, there must be a moral lawgiver.

·          These notions appeared (Cain) before formation of societies, politics, or human initiated law.

·          Not peculiar to tradition(I know right and wrong b/c my parents taught me)

·          Nations are diverse, but still these innate laws are common to all mankind.

·          Ro 2:14-15 Gentiles had innate law within them even though they had not formally received the law from God as had the Jews.

·          Innate desire for happiness – this is a universal human desire.  This must have an end object, an antecedent cause that can produce true happiness(God).  Ec 2:17; Ps 73:25

 

1        Works of Creation

·          Ro 1:19ff

·          Law of Cause and Effect.  Creation is limited (2nd Law of Thermodynamics).  Therefore, it must have a cause greater than itself.

·          Design – order, symmetry, efficiency – 24 hour days, 4 seasons, atmosphere containing the exact mixture of gas to sustain life; plants-produce oxygen which humans need to survive/humans-produce carbon dioxide that plants need to survive

·          Read Plutarch’s Statement

·          Read Greenlander’s testimony

·          Even IF creation came from preexistent matter, there had to be an antecedent cause.  For something to arise out of nothing, there must be a God.

·          Read Gill’s statement on the human form.

·          Soul of man – has understanding, reason, judgment, a mind to learn, will, affections, conscience, soul – all pointing to an antecedent cause.

 

1        Sustenance and Government of the World

·          Provision made for creatures

·          Universe continues to function.

·          Safety – animals have natural fear for man.

·          Laws – do work to restrain man to some degree

 

Note:  The next three proofs could fall under the category of special revelation, although there is evidence in general revelation to these proof

1        Miracles – Read Gill’s section on this.

2        Fulfilled Prophecy – Read Gill’s section on this.

3        Fears of Men, Guilty Conscience, Dread of the Future State

·          Example of death experiences of the heathen – Be familiar with what Gill says regarding Nero.

1        Judgments in the World

·          Example of Joseph and famine.

·          Flood.

 

Closing:  With these proofs(from outside Scripture), the honest person must conclude that God does in fact exist.  The question then takes another form:  What will you do with this God?

 

Study Guide for Body of Divinity(2) - Chapter 2

Study Guide for

Body of Divinity

Of the Holy Scriptures

Chapter 2

 

Note:  There will be a test next week that will cover the first three lectures and corresponding chapters in the textbook.  Let me suggest that you use your Sunday afternoons to read over this material.  It is a good way to rest your mind from you labors and focus on the glory of God.  If you wait until the night before class to read, this will quickly become just another forgettable academic exercise.

 

The topic of the inerrancy and authority of the Bible is the key to the rest of this study.  From this point on, we will be dealing with special revelation of God as found in the Bible.  If the Bible is not special revelation, then this study is meaningless.  If we, however, accept the authority of the Bible, we must also accept its authority over our lives.  Its claims regarding God, humanity, life, and the afterlife are too weighty to merely acknowledge but not be moved. (Read opening paragraph from Gill on this point).

 

Claims of the Bible Regarding Itself

1        It is exclusive in its inspiration and authority – Re 22:18-19; Jude 1-3.  The canon of Scripture including the 39 OT books and the 27 NT books, is the complete special revelation of God, with nothing else to carry the same authority of stamp of divine revelation.  Note: It is not the purpose of this study to prove the canonicity of the Bible.  However, if one has questions on this issue, we can study it in more detail at a later date.  The church accepted the epistles of Paul as being Scripture – 2Pe 3:15-17.  There are numerous examples of Jesus recognizing the Old Testament as Scripture.  This claim of exclusivity excludes all other works (Book of Mormon, Book of Judas, papal proclamations, etc.) from having divine authority.

2        It is inspired.  “God breathed.”  2Ti 3:16; 2Pe 1:19-21; 1Co 2:13.  This inspiration was both verbal and plenary (full, complete).  This inspiration by God was to the original authors in the original languages (OT-Hebrew, NT – Greek) and not to the subsequent translators.

3        It is the revelation of God – Heb 1:1-3.  However, it does not provide a complete revelation of God – Joh 21:25.  It provides a complete revelation of God as far as He deemed wise for us to know.

4        It is truth – Joh 17:17.  Discuss objective v. subjective truth.

5        It has all authority for life.

6        Jesus called it the Word of God – Joh 10:35.

7        God esteems it highly – Ps 138:2.

8        It is perfect and pure.  Ps 19:7-8.

 

Proofs of Reliability and Inerrancy of the Bible

A common acronym used for quick reference is MAPS.

l    Manuscripts – Over 4500 manuscripts found of the Septuagint (Old Testament translated into Greek).

l    Archeology – Does not directly prove inspiration, but does prove the historical reliability of the Bible.

-Read Nelson Glueck quote

-Read Probe.org section on Hittites, Jericho, and the perfect historical record of the author of Luke and Acts, Luke.

-Mountains of archeological evidence only accentuate the reliability of Scripture.

l    Prophecy – The fulfillment of prophecy gives the Bible its most powerful claim to exclusivity. 

-Read the story of Tyre from Eze 26.

-The most powerful fulfilled prophecy remains the GodMan, Jesus Christ.  Be prepared to give examples of Christ fulfilling Old Testament prophecy.

l    Symmetry (Unity)

-Bible written by 40 men

-Over a period of greater than 1400 years.

-Each author writing for a different purpose.

-Each from unique background, perspective.

-Many authors unlearned, ignorant men.

-Disinterested men – not looking for personal acclaim.

-Yet with all this diversity, the Bible is unified, it harmonizes, it has one central theme(revelation of God), it does not contradict itself, its doctrines are unified.

 

Perfection of Scripture

Read this section carefully and meditate on it.  Often, we acknowledge the above proofs and are convinced in our minds that the Bible is the Word of God.  But, our relationship with the Bible can not stop at this point.  If it is the Word of God, then there are incredible implications, and we have a true treasure chest in our possession.  If it is the Word of God, we should be enamored with it.

 

l    It comes from God, Who is full of light, knowledge, and perfection.

l    It is a testament, a will, containing the will of God.

l    It has sufficiency for all of life.  Read Gill’s section on its sufficiency.

l    It converts the soul.

l    It is perspicuous.

l    It is far superior to the light of nature.  Read this last section.

 

Study Guide for Body of Divinity(3) - Chapter 3

Study Guide for

Body of Divinity

Chapter 3

Names of God

 

Gill begins the unveiling of God from special revelation on the most basic level.  What can be learned of God from the names by which He is referred to in Scripture?  Since God is incomprehensible in the perfection of His Being, the names that He is referred to give “some knowledge of his nature and perfections.” 

 

Names of God categorized:

l    Refer to Him as the subject(Lord, God, Jehovah)

l    Predicates – spoken of Him(Holy, Just, Good)

l    Relation of the Godhead to each other(Father, Son, Holy Spirit)

l    Relation to creation(Creator, Preserver, Governor)

l    Common Names to the Three divine persons(Jehovah, God)

l    Some Peculiar to each(Unbegotten, Begotten)

l    Proper Names

 

Elohim

-Ge 1:1

-most frequent name of God used in OT

-Jewish writers – expressive of God as judge

-Arabic – to worship

-plural usage most frequent paired with a singular verb – Ge 1:1

-plurality of persons in unity of divine essence

 

El

-Ge 12:7-8 Bethel – House of God

-Mt 27:46 My God, My God

-strong and mighty God – Job 9:4,19; Ps 89:8,13; Isa 9:6

-part of Eloah? – singular of Elohim – first in essence, first and last, beginning and end – expressive of the power of God

 

Elion

-Ge 14:18-20,22

-most high

-from his habitation, the highest heavens – Isa 57:15; 56:1

-superiority, power, and dominion over all creatures – Ps 83:18; 97:9

-sublimity of His nature and essence, out of the reach of finite minds – Job 11:7-8

-expressive of the supremacy of God

 

Shaddai

-Ge 17:1 appearance to Abraham

-Almighty – Ex 6:3

-infinite power and uncontrollable

-sufficient and all-sufficient

-sufficiency to make Himself completely and infinitely happy(read this portion from Gill)

-Nourisher – Ge 49:25

-pour out, shed

 

Sabaoth

-God of hosts – 1Sa 1:3,11; Jas 5:4

-hosts or armies

-hosts of angels at His command – Lu 2:13; 1Ki 22:19

-God’s dominion over all His creatures

 

Adonai

-rendered Lord

-basis, prop, or support of any thing

-the support of all his creatures – Isa 41:10; 42:1

-the cause – Ro 11:36; Heb 2:10; Re 4:11

-from which and for which all things are

-Adonai used of the Son, the Father, and the Holy Spirit

 

Jehovah

-Ex 6:3

-peculiar to Him, His name alone

-necessary and self-existent being

-Jewish superstition – De 28:58

-JHWH

-every name of God is reverend

-God exists in and of Himself

-Independent Being

 

Jah

-Ps 68:4

-may come from Jehovah

-signifies decency

 

Ejeh

-Ex 3:13-14

-I am that I am

-I shall be what I shall be

-eternity, immutability, faithfulness in performing His promises

 

New Testament Names

Kuriov – Lord, to be – signifies the same as Jehovah, essence or being of God,

-also power and authority

-generally used of Christ, Lord of all – Ac 10:36; Eph 4:6

 

Yeov

-God

-to run, to heat, to see

-runs to the assistance of His people – 2Ch 16:9; Ps 46:1

-Father of lights, consuming fire – 1Jo 1:5; Jas 1:17; Heb 12:29

-Sees all  - Job 34:21-22; Ps 139

-To dispose

-Fear – object of fear and reverence – Ps 87:7; Heb 12:28