Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Basic Bible Doctrine Series--the Doctrine of God
“Theology” means the study of God. In general usage the word covers all Bible doctrine, but specifically theology proper is the study of the person and work of God. God is the perfect and infinite Spirit. I. The Existence of God. The Bible begins and ends with the unproven assertion and assumption of God’s existence (Genesis 1:1). It simply declares to man what he already knows in his heart—that God is. The Bible has no formal arguments or “proofs” for God’s existence. Therefore this study will omit the philosophical approach. People know that there is a God and they are born hating Him. A. Reasons for the Inadequacy of the Rational “Proofs.” 1. They fail to lead to the God of the Bible, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2. They assert no more than the existence of a powerful Being who is greater than the universe. 3. They assert no more than the “probable” existence of God. 4. They still require a rational “leap” to God. They leave one with the necessity of faith, except that the faith is grounded on the proof and not on the Bible. B. False Ideas about God. 1. Deism—the belief that God created and wound up the universe like a clock and then left. It denies any present relationship of God to the world. 2. Atheism—the belief that there is no God. 3. Skepticism—the belief that one cannot be sure about the existence of God. 4. Agnosticism—the belief that one cannot know if there is a God. 5. Pantheism—the belief that everything is God and God is everything. All that appears is only a manifestation of God. 6. Polytheism—the belief in many gods. 7. Monotheism—the belief in one God. 8. Henotheism—the worship of one god among the many gods. 9. Fetishism—the worship of an inanimate object thought to hold the spirit of a god. 10. Animism—the belief that all nature is alive with spirits. 11. Dynamism—the belief in some kind of all pervading energy that can be tapped for good or evil purposes. II. The Self-Revelation of God. A. In the Created Universe (the material and animal creation). 1. Biblical Proof. Psalm 19:1-4 (God’s glory) “the heavens declare the glory of God.” Romans 1:19-20 (God’s power and deity) Acts 14:17 (God’s goodness) 2. Limitations. a. It is accessible to all but actually received by none because of inbred sin (Romans 1:18). b. It does not lead anyone to be saved because it does not show God’s love or anything about Christ, faith and repentance. It is condemnatory in function (to render men “without excuse”). Romans 1:20 B. In Man (his nature and constitution). 1. Biblical Proof. Genesis 1:26-27 (the image of God) (The image of God is what makes man personal, rational, moral and spiritual. Only man can say “I am; I know; I ought; I will.”) Romans 2:15-conscience, all men have conscience Acts 17:28-29 2. Limitation—the image of God in man is marred (though not obliterated) by sin and thus this revelation is obscured. C. By Direct Revelation. 1. Biblical Proof. Genesis 6:13 “God said to…” 3000 such references in the Old Testament. 2. Limitations. a. It was only partial—Hebrews 1:1 b. The tradition of the revelation became corrupted. c. It was not available to all. Note: God does not speak directly today to men. Claims of visions and revelations are not Biblical. God has closed His revelatory process for this dispensation (Revelation 22:18-19). Otherwise, who would know who had the latest word from God? D. In God’s mighty acts (His miraculous and providential works). 1. Biblical Proof. Exodus 5:1-2 (the miracles in Egypt) Numbers 14:11 (the signs to Israel) Joshua 4:23-24 (crossing the Jordan) 2. Limitations. The revelation was accessible only to those who saw the mighty acts or read the record. God’s mighty acts needed an infallible interpreter present; without him the miracles were always misinterpreted (cf. John 12:28-29). E. In the lives of God’s people. 1. Biblical Proof. 2 Corinthians 3:2-3 and 4:6-11 1 Peter 2:9 This avenue reveals the personality of God, as well as His love and something of His character. 2. Limitations—Christians misrepresent God many times. F. In the Bible. The Bible assumes the existence of God. The idea is that if God has spoken then He exists. 1. Biblical Proof. John 5:39 Romans 1:2 Hebrews 1:1 2. Limitations. a. It doesn’t tell everything there is about God. However, it does reveal many, many things—enough to enable man to know Him personally. b. It is limited to those who can read or at least understand the Bible. G. In Jesus Christ. 1. Biblical Proof. Matthew 1:23 John 1:18 and 12:45 2. The Nature of this Revelation. a. Complete—Colossians 2:9. b. Perfect—Hebrews 1:2-3. c. Final—John 14:8-9. Believers will know more of God when they see Christ, but they will never learn more of God apart from Jesus (cf. Revelation 22:4—“they shall see his face”). God is still incomprehensible (He cannot be fully known by a finite mind) even when revealed in Jesus. This is why eternity (an infinite amount of time) will be needed to learn of the infinite God in the face of Jesus. 3. The values of this Revelation. a. It makes god concrete and real to man. Note the Old Testament desire—Isaiah 64:1. b. It guards against lopsided views of God. c. It gives us assurance that we really know the true God—I John 5:20. 4. The Present Status of this Revelation. Ultimately all revelation is through Jesus Christ. He created the universe, He made man, He spoke to men, He appeared to men, etc. Cf. John 1:1. But until Christ comes again, the Bible is the highest form of God’s revelation—for several reasons: a. It includes the revelation from all the other sources. b. It gives the correct interpretation of the revelation from all the other sources. c. It presents the only authentic disclosure of Jesus. Dr. Ken Copley is available for counseling, conferences, and local church meetings.