Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Doctrines of the Christian Faith 2: Nature of God

We shall begin our discussion of the Doctrines of the Christian Faith with the most important being in the universe, God. Much has been mentioned about the fact that God exists in our Apologetics Series; however, little has thus far been discussed about God's nature. All we really have is some mystical creature who is eternal, immutable, and entirely perfect. This post wishes to discuss three attributes of God. Obviously, there are several attributes of God and each is as important as the next, but we only have so much time to discuss the nature of the Lord, and some (several) omissions had to be made.


Math tells us that 1 and 1 and 1 is 3, not 1. Our ability to understand how a being can be three different persons at the same time is difficult to understand or even envision. 

We always like to view analogies to help us understand the Trinity. The most common analogies I hear is that of water and its three stages (gas, liquid, solid)  and the egg and its three parts (the shell, white, yoke). However, I find the former analogy insufficient to describe the fact that the Lord is three people in one at the same time, and the latter analogy fails to convey to me the unity of the Lord as I can differentiate the shell from the yoke quite easily in my mind. 

Thus, I prefer a third analogy given by Christian comedian Mike Warnke about a cherry pie. It could just as easy be apple or blueberry pie, but apparently Mr. Warnke liked cherry pie. When you cut a cherry pie into three pieces and leave it on a plate, the pie filling is going to go back together and remain united with the other two pieces. Similarly, the Lord's outward appearance (or his "Crust") is cut into three pieces, but He is still all united as one person underneath. That is the Trinity of God.

Now that we have our analogy to better understand how the Trinity could even work, let us examine the proof and persons of the trinity. Matthew 28:19 explains,
"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:"

Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Bible says of this phrase,
"This was intended as the summary of the first principles of the Christian religion, and of the new covenant, and according to it the ancient creeds were drawn up. By our being baptized, we solemnly profess, (1.) Our assent to the scripture-revelation concerning God, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. We confess our belief that there is a God, that there is but one God, that in the Godhead there is a Father that begets, a Son that is begotten, and a Holy Spirit of both. We are baptized, not into the names, but into the name, of Father, Son, and Spirit, which plainly intimates that these three are one, and their name one. The distinct mentioning of the three persons in the Trinity, both in the Christian baptism here, and in the Christian blessing (2 Cor. 13:14), as it is a full proof of the doctrine of the Trinity, so it has done much towards preserving it pure and entire through all ages of the church."

But we have not begun to discuss the attributes and purpose of each person within the Trinity. To keep it simple, the theologian Boardman writes,
"The Father is all the fullness of the Godhead invisible. The Son is then the fullness of the Godhead manifested, and the Holy Spirit is the fullness of the Godhead making manifest"

Although this summary is nice, it fails to provide us with an acknowledgement of what each person in the Trinity does. Thus, we will remind ourselves of each's purpose and function in God's plan of salvation. First, God the Father is the invisible standard of glory and perfection. God the Son was manifested into a man to take the punishment for our sins. Finally, God the Holy Spirit makes manifest to us the need we have for salvation through Christ by showing how we fail to live up to the standard of the Father.


What great power is shown through the Lord's every action! One cannot truly question his sovereignty (unlimited or infinite power) when examining his ability to control nature, man, and all spiritual beings, like angels. 

The sovereignty of God is best seen in relation to Creation. As Genesis 1: 3 exclaims, 
"And God said, Let there be light: and there was light."

Wow! The world we see around us was created in many verses just like this one, where the Lord speaks, and what he requested immediately take form.

I Chronicles 29:11-12 explains the sovereignty of God in greater detail.
"Thine, O Lord is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and thou art exalted as head above all. Both riches and honour come of thee, and thou reignest over all; and in thine hand is power and might; and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all."

It would be amiss to discuss the sovereignty of God without discussing the concept of predestination. At the time of the Reformation, John Calvin came to the conclusion that the Lord chooses an "elect" few people to come to him and accept salvation.

Obviously, the Lord would have this ability within his sovereign power to dictate who will accept his words. But does he choose to exercise that ability? From what we know about the love of God from the Bible, however, we can conclude that if the Lord was to choose who was to be saved, he would choose everyone. II Peter 3:9 says,
"The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."

Calvinists may ask why the Lord would grant free will and allow these people to die, but they must explain why Lord would willfully choose to let some individuals perish eternally in hell.

But they have their belief system. We know that they didn't just think this out of thin air. Thus, it would be beneficial to discuss the verse most commonly used to support predestination - Romans 8:29,
"For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren."

This verse does use the word "predestinate," but one must look at the context. After much debate, one of my Calvinist friends and I found we could agree on the following synthesis between the camps of predestination and free will. The Lord knows everything, and knows every decision that has been made, or ever will. He has known these things forever. Everything he foreknew will happen; thus, God's foreknowledge predestines us to be a member of the "Elect." In other words, "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren." God didn't pick and choose; his foreknowledge of our choices allowed him to predestinate and call the elect.


The sovereignty of the Lord would be a little troublesome if he weren't a good and perfect being as well. Thankfully for humanity, he is holy. The Bible proclaims over and over again that he is holy. Perfect and just and righteous. Completely without sin. But what we truly need to realize about the holiness of God is that God is so holy that He cannot look upon sin. Habakkuk 1:13 states, 
"Thou are of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity." 

That is the nature of God, holy to the point where He can't look upon anything unholy. He had to separate all sin from his presence. It's hard to imagine anyone that holy, but the Lord is often beyond man's imagination.

No comments:

Post a Comment