Doctrinal Statement: Theology Proper
April 17, 2002
Theology Proper – The Doctrine of God
The Existence of God
Because I believe that the Holy Scriptures are God’s only and final written Rev. of Himself to man, I have presupposed that God exists. More specifically, this presupposition is based on the Bible’s own presupposition that God exists (Gen. 1:1; Jn. 1:1; 1 Thess. 1:9; notice also the multiple and naturally expressed statements throughout the Scriptures such as “and God said,” “and God [did],” all assuming the existence of God). The Scriptures declare that “the natural man receives not the things of God” because they are spiritual and must be spiritually discerned (1 Cor. 2:14). Although it is declared in Rom. 2:14-15 that the law of God is written in every man’s heart, the presupposition of the existence of God is based upon faith.
There are many logical arguments to prove the existence of God such as A Priori, Ontological, Cosmological (or A Posteriori), Teleological, Moral, Historical, and the Scriptural arguments. Although all of these arguments present some truth I do not believe that any are full proof. This is so because all arguments begin with a fundamental presupposition. If anyone is able to disagree with my fundamental presupposition then the argument is without weight. Thus, I believe that the presuppositional method of apologetics answers these arguments the best.
The Nature of God
The Divine Trinity
Although the word trinity is not explicitly stated in the Scriptures all of the elements of the doctrine are explicitly taught in the Scriptures. The term means “three in one, or the one which is three, and the three which are one.” It expresses the singular Essence of God eternally subsisting as three Persons, namely, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19). I believe that there is ample Scripture evidence for a plurality of persons in the singular Godhead.
1. The use of the plural pronoun with regard to God (Gen. 1:26, 27; 3:22).
2. The juxtaposition of titles for God which differentiate God in one sense from God in another (Ps. 45:6-7 — Heb. 1:8; Ps. 110:1 — Matt. 22:41-45). Also, when one Person mentions another (Is. 48:16; 61:1; 63:9-10: Zechariah 2:10-11).
3. The Angel of the LORD (Mal’ak Yahweh) identified as God yet differentiated from God (Gen. 16:7-13; 18:1-21; 19:1-28; Mal. 3:1).
4. The Word or Wisdom of God personified (Ps. 33:4, 6; Prov. 8:12-31; Ps. 107:20; also notice the reference to the personification of God’s Spirit in Is. 63:10).
5. The Trinitarian involvement in the baptism of Jesus (Matt. 3:16-17). Note also the Trinitarian form instituted by Christ in the baptism of all believers (Matt. 28:19).
6. Other places where all three persons of the Godhead are noted together (Lk. 1:35; 2 Cor. 13:13; 1 Jn. 5:7).
I believe that there is only one true and living God (Unity of Singularity – Ex. 20:2-3; Deut. 4:35, 39; Is. 45:6, 21; 1 Cor. 8:4-6; 1 Tim. 2:5; Jas. 2:19) who is eternally and immutably indivisible (Unity of Simplicity – Deut. 6:4; Eph. 4:6).
I believe that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are not three Gods, but three persons, consubstantial, coeternal, and coequal (1 Cor. 8:6, “there is but one God, the Father;” Jn. 1:1-3, “the Word was with God, and the Word was deity;” Acts 5:3-5, “to the Holy Spirit…to God.”).
I believe that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are each really, truly and eternally distinct Persons according to their incommunicable properties.
The Father is God (Matt. 11:25; Mk. 14:36; Jn. 4:23; 6:27; 11:41; 17:11; 20:17; 1 Cor. 8:6; Gal. 1:1; Eph. 4:6; 1 Pet. 1:2). The Father is of none neither begotten nor proceeding, but is the cause, origin, and beginning of all things visible and invisible. To the Father are ascribed the names (1 Cor. 8:6; Gal. 1:1, 3; Phil. 2:11; 1 Pet. 1:2; 2 Pet. 1:17), attributes (see the list of attributes which follows), works (Creation, Gen. 1; Jn. 3:16; etc.), and worship (Ex. 20:1-5; Deut. 6:13; Jn. 4:24; Phil. 3:3; Rev. 19:10; 22:9) which are proper to God alone. The Father, in order, it the first person of the Holy Trinity.
The Son is God (Matt. 3:17; 16:16; Mk. 2:5; Lk. 1:35; Jn. 1:1; 5:18; 10:30; 17:5; 20:28; Rom. 9:5; Phil. 2:6; Col. 2:9; Tit. 2:13; Heb. 1:2-3; 1 Jn. 5:20). To the Son are ascribed the names (Is. 6:3, 5, 8 compared with Jn. 12:41; 1 Jn. 5:20), attributes (Holiness, 2 Cor. 5:21; Eternity, Is. 53:8; Micah 5:2; Jn. 1:1-3; 8:58; Life, Jn. 1:4; Immutability, Heb. 13:8; Omniscience, Jn. 16:30; Omnipresence, Matt. 28:20), works (Creation, Jn. 1:3; Rev.; Raising the dead, Jn. 5:27-29; Judgment, Matt. 25:31-46; etc.), and worship (Receipt of Prayers, Adoration, Worship, Ps. 2:11-12; Jn. 14:14; 5:28; Phil. 2:10-11), which are proper to God alone. The Son is the Word, Wisdom, and Image of the Father, and, in order, is the second person of the Holy Trinity.
The Holy Spirit is God (Gen. 4:6; Ps. 139:7; Is. 48:16; 61:1; Acts 5:3-4; 28:25; 1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19). The Holy Spirit is the eternal power and might, proceeding from the Father (Ps. 33:6, 17; Jn. 14:16) and the Son (Jn. 15:26; Gal. 4:6; Rom. 8:9). To the Holy Spirit are ascribed the name (Acts 5:3-4), attributes (1 Cor. 2:10, 11), works (Creation, Gen. 1:2; Rev.; etc.), and worship (2 Cor. 13:14), which are proper to God alone. The Holy Spirit, in order, is the third person of the Holy Trinity.
I, while recognizing the mystery that permeates this doctrine, believe by means of the word of God that all of these elements together form the doctrine of the Holy Trinity.
The Divine Attributes
I believe that a divine attribute is something revealed by God and not determined by the imagination of the creature (see Ps. 50:21). I also believe that the divinely revealed attributes qualify and clarify man’s understanding of the nature and being of God. Furthermore, I believe that the finite mind cannot encompass the fullness of the Godhead; He is an incomprehensible God (Job 5:9; 11:7-9; 26:14; 33:12-14; 36:26; 37:5, 23; Ps. 145:3; Eccles. 3:11; 11:5; Is. 40:18, 28; 55:8-9; Rom. 11:33-34; 1 Cor. 2:16; Deut. 29:29). However, I believe that God has desired to be known of His creatures (Jn. 1:18; 17:3; see also Ps. 113:4-5, “Who humbles Himself to behold The things that are in heaven and in the earth.”) and has revealed Himself through various means to His creatures (Heb. 1:1-3).
Although no man has seen God (Ex. 33:20; Jn. 1:18; 6:46; Col. 1:15; 1 Tim. 6:16; 1 Jn. 4:12), He has chosen to proclaim His Excellencies to man (Ex. 34:6-7, see the list of Holy Attributes below). I believe, as the Scriptures teach, that God is perfect in all of His attributes (Matt. 5:48b; Ps. 18:30; Deut. 32:4), and I also believe that none of these attributes are found in the creature as they are found in God. Because of this fact it is difficult to classify the attributes. However, I still believe that it is valid to discriminate between those attributes which are in some way communicated to man and those which cannot at all be communicated to man. The incommunicable attributes, peculiar to God, stress His Absolute Being, such as Aseity, Immutability, Infinity, and Eternality. The communicable attributes are those such as Being, Wisdom, Power, Holiness, Justice, Goodness, Truth, etc.
I believe that the Scriptures do not assign a hierarchy to the attributes of God. None of the attributes add to the essence of God, but without any of them God would cease to be God. God is equal and perfect in each of His various attributes.
I believe that God is Spirit (personal – note the personal pronouns used for God, “us” and “our” in Gen. 1:26, 3:22, and Is. 6:8; “I” in Ex. 3:14 and Jn. 10:30; and “we” in Jn. 14:23; and non-corporeal – Jn. 4:24; Col. 1:15; 1 Tim. 1:17; 6:16).
I believe that God has life in Himself, i.e. the Aseity of God; He exists by Himself and from Himself (His name is Jehovah, the Self-Existent and Self-Sufficient One; Ex. 3:14-15; Is. 44:6; Jn. 5:26; Acts 17:24-25).
I believe that God is infinite, eternal, unchangeable, and incomprehensible:
1. In His Being (1 Kings 8:27; Ps. 90:2; Ps. 139:7-10; Prov. 15:3; Is. 40:22; Jer. 23:23-24; Mal. 3:6; Jas. 1:17). God is omnipresent – He transcends all spatial limitations and is immediately present in every part of His creation, or that everything and everybody are immediately in his presence. God has always existed in the past and always will exist in the future. He does not and cannot change.
2. In His Wisdom (Ps. 147:5; Rom. 16:27). God is omniscient. God knows all things and all true propositions, always has and always will know all things, and cannot learn more or forget anything he knows (Is. 40:13-14; 40:27-28; Rom. 11:33-36; 1 Jn. 3:20).
3. In His Power (Gen. 17:1; Rev. 19:6). God is all-powerful (omnipotent), and His power can be neither increased nor diminished. Neither is God subject to another’s dominion but is the Sovereign and Lord of all.
4. In His Holiness (Is. 57:15; Jn. 17:11; Rev. 4:8). God’s holiness underscores His conformity to His own perfect nature. In that He is holy, He is majestically transcendent as the Deity over the creature (Is. 6:1-3; Rev. 4:6-8; Ex. 15:11; 1 Sam. 2:2; Is. 8:13; Is. 57:15; Hosea 11:9), and ethically distinct from sin (Ps. 5:4-6; 11:5-7; 92:15; Hab. 1:13; Jas. 1:13; 1 Jn. 1:5).
5. In His Justice (Deut. 32:4). God’s justice underscores His righteousness related to man. He is righteous in His judgments (Gen. 18:25) showing partiality to none (Deut. 10:17), always acquitting the righteous and always condemning the guilty (Ex. 23:7).
6. In His Goodness (Ps. 100:5; Rom. 2:4). God’s goodness underscores His condescendence toward His creation. This attribute comprehends His benevolence, mercy, grace, and love.
Benevolence – the attribute whereby I understand God’s provision for the welfare of His creatures (Ex. 33:19; 34:6; Ps. 34:8; 100:5; 145:9; Matt. 19:17; Lk. 1:53; Rom. 2:4).
Mercy – the attribute whereby I understand God’s relieving the miseries of His creatures and manifesting longsuffering and patience to impenitent sinners (Ps. 103:8-17; Ps. 136:1; Is. 54:8; 63:9; Dan. 9:18; Micah 7:18; Rom. 12:1).
Grace – the attribute whereby I understand God’s communicating His favor without regard to human merit. It is unmerited, and even demerited favor (Gen. 6:8; Ps. 44:3; 84:11; Rom. 3:24; Eph. 1:6-8; Heb. 4:16).
Love – the attribute whereby I understand God’s communicating Himself (Deut. 7:7-8; Jn. 3:16; 14:21; 15:12-15; Eph. 2:4; 1 Jn. 3:1).
7. In His Truth (Ex. 34:6; Ps. 117:2). God is firm and constant in keeping and executing His promises. He is a God of integrity, sincerity, and total absence of hypocrisy (Ex. 34:6; Num. 23:19 Deut. 32:4; Ps. 31:5; 33:4; 100:5; Is. 25:1; Jn. 1:14; 14:17).
The Names of God
The Basic Names of God:
Elohim — A majestic plural form of Eloh which means “the omnipotent Creator and Sustainer of life.” He is the Source of all we need and the One who actively works on our behalf. English translations render this name as God.
Adonai — Master, Ruler, Lord. This name emphasizes God as Sovereign over all creation and every individual. This name demands reverence and submission. English translations render this name as Lord.
El Shaddai — God All-Bountiful and Gracious to His people. This name emphasizes God as the One who nourishes, satisfies and supplies His people. He is the Source of bounty, blessing and provision. English translations render this name as God Almighty.
Jehovah — YHWH, unpronounceable. The pronunciation “Jehovah” is the result of the Jewish superstition against pronouncing the name of God. To avoid such a supposed folly, the Jews replaced the original vowels with those from Adonai. Another equally valid pronunciation is Yahweh. This is the proper name of God. This name simply means “I am.” This is the name of the Personal Redeemer. This name emphasizes God as our everlasting, unchangeable personal, covenant-keeping Savior. English translations render this name as LORD or GOD.
Kurios – Lord.
Theos – God.
The Titles of Jehovah:
Jehovah -Jireh means, The Covenant-Keeping One Sees To It, or Is Made Manifest. More familiarly, this title is rendered, The LORD Will Provide (Gen. 22:14).
Jehovah-Ropheka means, The LORD Your Healer (Ex. 15:26).
Jehovah-Nissi means, The LORD is My Banner [Sign of Victory] (Ex. 17:15).
Jehovah-Mekaddishkem means, The LORD Your Sanctifier (Ex. 31:13).
Jehovah-Shalom means, The LORD is Peace (Judg. 6:24).
Jehovah-Sabaoth means, The LORD of Hosts or Armies (Is. 8:13, 18).
Jehovah-Elyon means, The LORD Most High (Ps. 7:17, 91:1).
Jehovah-Tsidkenu means, The LORD Our Righteousness (Jer. 23:6, 33:16).
Jehovah-Shammah means, The LORD is There (Ezek. 48:35).
Jehovah-Roi means, The LORD is My Shepherd (Ps. 23:1).
The Works of God
The Divine Decree(s)
The decree of God is His eternal plan or purpose. I believe that God from all eternity by His own holy and wise will, for His own good pleasure, and to the glory of His Name, did freely and unchangeably foreordain whatever comes to pass (Rom. 11:33; Eph. 1:3-12; Rom. 9:14-15, 18, 22-23; Eph. 2:8; 1 Pet. 1:2; Job 23:13, 14; Is. 46:10; Lk. 22:22; Acts 2:23; Heb. 6:17). The Divine Decree is all-inclusive (it offers no violence to the will of the creatures, nor does it take away the liberty of contingency of second causes, but rather establishes them—Eph. 1:10, 11; Acts 15:18; 17:26; Job 14:5; Is. 46:10; it includes the free acts of man—Eph. 2:10; even their wicked actions—Matt. 17:12; Jn. 19:11; Acts 2:23; 4:27-28; Ps. 76:10; Prov. 16:4; as well as contingent events—Gen. 45:8; 50:20; Prov. 16:33; and comprehends all things in heaven and earth—Dan. 4:34, 35). God’s decree is free (it is moved solely by His own good pleasure), sovereign (it is not based upon foresight but is rather unaffected by outside sources), absolute (it is unconditional), and efficacious (it infallibly determines the certainty of the future events decreed).
With regard to the order of the Decree(s), I believe that the following Infralapsarian order represents best the Biblical (historical or chronological) order of the execution of the Decrees:
1. The decree to create the world and (all) men
2. The decree that (all) men would fall
3. The election of some fallen and justly condemned men to salvation in Christ, and to pass the others by, consigning them to eternal punishment for their sin
4. The decree to redeem the elect by the cross work of Christ
5. The decree to apply Christ’s redemptive benefits to the elect.
However, I believe that the following Supralapsarian order represents best the teleological order of the Divine Decrees (which answers the question of logical order most directly):
1. For the praise of the glory of His grace, God elected some fallen and justly condemned men to salvation in Christ, and for the praise of His glorious justice passed the others by, consigning them to eternal punishment for their sin in order to make known the riches of His gracious mercy to the elect
2. The decree to apply Christ’s redemptive benefits to the elect sinners
3. The decree to redeem the elect sinners by the cross work of Christ
4. The decree that men should fall
5. The decree to create the world and men.
I believe that the decrees of God all serve His redemptive purpose and that, in light of the manner in which the rational mind plans and then executes its plan, the order of God’s eternal plan is the precise inverse to the order in which He executes it. Since God initiated the execution of His eternal, redemptive purpose by first creating the world, the decree to create the world is the last in design, and since God’s eternal purpose culminates with redeemed sinners praising Him in Eternity for the glory of His particularizing grace made theirs through the cross work of Christ, the Decree to bring that to pass is the first in design. In conclusion, while I believe that the execution of the divine purpose is indeed “Infralapsarian” in the sense that God’s historical redemptive activity necessarily follows the historical Fall, I furthermore, believe that the eternal plan itself is “Supralapsarian.”
I believe that the Divine Decree principally regards angels and men. Predestination technically means “to set a horizon.” The Scriptures use this term to speak of God’s purpose respecting His moral creatures.
With regard to predestination, I believe that God, by an eternal and immutable decree, out of mere love, for the praise of the glory of His grace, to be manifested in due time, has before the foundation of the world foreordained some angels to glory (1 Tim. 5:21) and in Christ has chosen some men to eternal life through Jesus Christ, to the praise of the glory of His grace (Eph. 1:3-7; 2 Tim. 1:9; Acts 13:48; Rom. 8:29-30), leaving the rest in their sin to their just condemnation, to the praise of His justice (Matt. 25:41; Jude 4, 6; Rom. 9:11-13; Prov. 16:4). These angels and men, thus predestinated, and foreordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed, and their number so certain and definite, that it cannot be either increased or diminished (2 Tim. 2:19: Jn. 13:18). Those of mankind that are predestinated unto life, God has chosen out of His mere free grace and love, without any foresight of faith, or good works, or perseverance in either of them, or any other thing in the creature, as conditions, or causes moving Him thereunto (Rom. 9:11, 13, 16; Eph. 1:4, 9; 2:8-9). The rest of mankind God was pleased, according to the unsearchable counsel of His own will, whereby He extends or withholds mercy, as He pleases, for the glory of His sovereign power over His creatures, to pass by; and to ordain them to dishonor and wrath for their sin, to the praise of His glorious justice (Matt. 11:25-26; Rom. 9:17-18, 21-22; 2 Tim. 2:19-20; Rom. 6:23; 1 Pet. 2:8; Jude 4).
The Execution of the Divine Decree(s)
I believe that the Divine Decree is executed in both Creation and Providence.
With regard to the execution of the Divine Decree in Creation, I believe, that it pleased God the Father (Is. 46:10), by the Word (that is His Son; Gen. 1; Is. 40:26; Heb. 1:2; 3:4; Rev. 4:11; 1 Cor. 8:6; Jn. 1:2, 3; Col. 1:16; see also Jer. 10:12; Ps. 104:24; 33:5-6; Rom. 1:20) and through the Spirit (Gen. 1:2; Job 33:4; Ps. 104:30), in order to make known the riches of His gracious mercy to the elect (Eph. 1:9-11), in the beginning, did create, or make (Gen. 1; Col. 1:16; Acts 17:24) of nothing (ex nihilo; Heb. 11:3) whether visible or invisible, in the space of six twenty-four hour days, and all very good; and that He does uphold (Col. 1:17) and preserve (Ps. 33:6) the world and all things therein.
With regard to the manner in which all things were created, I believe that the Gen. 1-2 account clearly teaches that God spoke the cosmos into existence of nothing (1:3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 24, 26), and that He created man of the dust of the ground (2:7) and women of one of the man’s ribs (2:21-22).
With regard to the nature of the days of Creation, I believe that no contextual demand exists in Gen. 1 to interpret the six days of creation, and the subsequent seventh day, in any other way than as ordinary 24 hour days. The phrase, “and there was evening and there was morning,” is consistently used throughout the Old Testament to describe an ordinary day (Ex. 18:13; 27:21; Lev. 24:3; Num. 9:21; Job 4:20; etc.). With the creation of the sun “to rule by day” and the moon “to rule the night” days four through six were certainly ordinary 24 hour days. This alone suggests that the seventh day would also have been an ordinary 24 hour day. And although there was not sun or moon during the first three days but rather a differentiation between light and darkness, we may assume that the former days followed the same ordinary 24 hour pattern as did the latter days since there is no evidence demanding any different interpretation. Also, bearing in mind the hermeneutical principle of the Analogy of Faith (Scripture), the “ordinary 24 hour day” view has most to commend itself since Yahweh grounds the fourth commandment in His own example regarding His six-day activities and seventh-day rest (Ex. 20:11; see also 31:15-17).
With regard to the execution of the Divine Decree in Providence, I believe that the same God, after He created all things, did not forsake them or give them up to fortune or chance, but that He rules and governs them (Jn. 5:17; Heb. 1:3; Ps. 113:4-6; 104:9, etc; Dan. 4:34-35; Ps. 135:6; Is. 45:10-11; Acts 17:25-26, 28; Rom. 11:36; Job 38-41), from the greatest even to the least (Matt. 10:29-31), by His most wise and holy will (Prov. 15:3; 16:4; Ps. 104:24; 145:17; Jas. 4:15; Job 1:21; 1 Kings 22:20; Acts 4:28; 1 Sam. 2:25; Ps. 115:3; 45:7; Amos 3:6; Deut. 19:5; Prov. 21:1; Ps. 105:25; Is. 10:5-7; 2 Thess. 2:11; Ezek. 14:9; Rom. 1:28; Gen. 45:8; 1:20; 2 Sam. 16:10; Gen. 27:20; Ps. 75:7-8; Is. 45:7; Prov. 16:4; Lam. 3:37-38; 1 Kings 22:34, 38; Ex. 21:13), to the end for which they were created.
Furthermore, I believe that the creature does nothing (good or evil) except by the secret instigation (not merely permissive will) of God, and that the creature neither discusses nor deliberates on anything but what God has previously decreed with Himself (Job 1:21; 2 Kings 22:20; Acts 4:28; Acts 2:23; Acts 3:18; 2 Sam. 7:12; Jer. 1:25; Is. 5:26; 10:5; 2 Sam. 16:10; 1 Kings 11:31; Ex. 4:21; Joshua 11:20; Ps. 55:25; Is. 10:6; 1 Sam. 16:14; 2 Cor. 4:4; Ezek. 14:9: Rom. 1:28). Although God has surely endued man with a free will (to be covered under the head of Anthropology), He does not depend on man’s free will. In sum, I believe that since the will of God is said to be the cause of all things, all the counsels and actions of men must be held to be governed by His providence; so that He not only exerts His power in the elect, who are guide by the Holy Spirit, but also forces the non-elect to do Him service (i.e. they are caused to be the instruments of executing His judgments).
Re: The Openness of God (Open Theism)
According to Gregory Boyd, a proponent of Open Theism, “God changes His mind and fails to know the future decisions of his free creatures.”
“God knows the future but has limited his knowledge and given a free will to men, and thus can be outraged and surprised.”
“God simply cannot know what his creature will decide to do in the future, for these decisions do not yet exist.”
“God’s omniscience is ‘flexible.’”
“God is sovereign, but not in a comprehensive sense.”
And, “He can repent and change His mind.”
I believe that such a proposal contradicts the Omniscience, Sovereignty, Eternity, and Immutability of God. If there is anything, actual or probable that God does not, or cannot, know, then His Omniscience must be redefined. If God can actually change His mind, then He is no longer Immutable. If God can be surprised by events and/or actions of men, then He is not Sovereign. If these things be true then He cannot be Eternal, but rather limited to time. Such a view of God makes Him the Re-Actor rather than the Actor. As Job declared, “I know that You can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted” (Job 42:1-2). God needs no ‘Plan B.’ (See also the following passages, Ps. 139; Prov. 16:9; Eph. 1:11.)
Re: The Divine Decree and the Problem of Sin and Human Responsibility
With regard to the Divine Decree and the origin of sin, it seems to many to be inexplicable that Satan and all wicked men are so under the hand and authority of God that He directs their sin and evil deeds according to His will and employs their wickedness to execute His judgments. Whatever Satan and wicked men devise, Almighty, God remains as the Sovereign Ruler and Governor bending all their deeds to His own ends (Ps. 78:21-33; 106:15; Acts 14:16; 17:30). However, I do not believe that this gives man cause to charge God with being the author of sin because God so orders and governs the wickedness of Satan and men so that the sinfulness proceeds only form the creature and not from Himself, who, being most holy and righteous, neither is nor can be the author or approver of sin (Jas. 1:13, 17; 1 Jn. 1:5; Ps. 50:21).
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