The Doctrine of God
The Doctrine of God
The Doctrine of God is revealed by the Scriptures; therefore, the Doctrine of the Scriptures was placed before the Doctrine of God in the sequence of this work. To know about God, we have three primary sources: God’s revelation in nature, direct revelation from God by a written record, and the revelation of God within our own spirit (or “heart”) otherwise known as “personal experiene.” Of these three, the first two will be addressed. These two sources provide the initial recognition of God, but are then supplemented and made personal by the experience of God.
The existence of God in The Physical Universe
Nature itself has been used as the means whereby evidence for the existence of God can be found. Various arguments of such have been put forth by Christians over the ages. In like manner, there are some who use nature to argue that God does not exist. Some of these arguments are enumerated below with a brief description along with counter arguments to each.
1. The Cosmological argument. In this line of thought the universe must have a First Cause or a Creator. The universe could not have come out of nothing – though some argue that it did just that; that nothing created everything! The “Big Bang” theory contains a fallacy in that it pre-supposes something that “banged” and does not explain where that “something” that banged originated from. This leads into a never-ending series of “bangs” to explain the origin off those things that “banged” never coming to a first cause and thereby defies reason without producing a satisfactory answer.
2. The Design argument. The complexity of living organisms is pointed to as evidence of a Creator or Supreme Mind. The intricacy of the universe and of living organisms could not possibly have happened by chance. On the other hand, the counter argument is that things evolved in the only manner possible. For instance, mammals breath oxygen because oxygen exists, if the atmosphere were primarily nitrogen we would all have developed the means to be nitrogen breathing creatures.
The fallacy of this argument is that it does not explain the simultaneous development of all the systems within the “creature” to accommodate the breathing of oxygen (or nitrogen, etc.) such as lungs, a heart to pump the oxygen, a circulatory system to distribute oxygen, a cellular structure that depends on oxygen, and so forth. All of these would necessarily have to have developed in the first generation, along with the ability to replicate itself into the second generation, thus defying the “millions” or years proposed by evolutionists.
3. The Anthropological argument. Man’s nature, with its urges and aspirations to worship a higher being points to the existence of God. The counter argument is that since man has evolved far above other creatures he is the only being with the cognitive abilities to create the need for a god to satisfy his questions concerning origins and what happens after this life ceases.
4. Historical Argument. Human history gives evidence of an overruling Divine Providence. The belief that there is a deity is universal (also known as the “common consent” argument). The counter argument to Divine Providence is that those periods of history that shaped civilization and world governments (which would include all of history!) are nothing more than random correlations of uncorrelated events!
The existence of God testified by a written record
This topic has been fully explored in Chapter 2 concerning the Doctrine of the Scriptures. Additionally, believers can attest to the existence of God by changes in their life after reading the Scriptures and accepting Christ as their savior. This adds personal experience of God to what is written about Him.
No other written record has demonstrated such dramatic changes in human behavior. Drunkards have been changed to sober minded people. Criminals have revised their lifestyle because of the Scriptures and become model citizens. Selfishness has been deposed by charity, thievery by honesty, immorality by morality. No other book can claim to have made such changes in human personality. How many people have made such changes in their lives because they read Shakespeare or a book on mathematics?
Names and Titles of God proclaim His attributes.
You can tell much about a person from their name. This was more accurate generations ago when names were derived from occupational activities. In current times, this is not as much so, as names continue to be passed down from generation to generation with numerous variations in spellings. In addition, names have become more and more divorced from the original occupational identification. Take for example the name Cooper. A cooper was someone who made barrels. Someone whose given name was simply John and made barrels was referred to as John the Cooper eventually becoming shortened to John Cooper. Today many people are now named Cooper who have no link to barrel making. How about the names of Smith or Wright? A smith or wright were craftsmen or artisans such as a blacksmith or wheelwright. Today there are many named “Smith” or “Wright” who have no association with such trades.
Unlike mankind, God never changes. A name by which God was known in the past still signifies characteristics and/or attributes of God today. Knowing God’s names are part and partial of knowing God, who He is, and how He has acted in the past. Since God is unchanging, how He has acted in the past is a record of how He will act now and in the future.
The more we know of God the more accurately and appropriately we can worship and adore Him. Following are just a few of the names and titles of God used in the Scriptures. Many of these names have been transliterated into “Jehovah” or LORD (all capitals) followed by a description of a characteristic of God or how He acted in the past.
Elohim is a plural use of the word for God. It is a simple root word meaning “Power.” The plural meaning being “Powers” contains the seed thought of the Trinity. God’s first mission in His revelation of Himself in this instance was to draw mankind away from pantheism. The prefix “pan” means “all” and therefore pantheism views everything as having a god. There would provide for a god of the rocks, a god of the harvest, trees, water, rivers, etc. The name Elohim was to direct mankind’s thoughts of God away from pantheism to the One God who would be revealed to exist in three persons. (Refer to Deuteronomy 6:4)
2. Jehovah; translated by Moses as I AM THAT I AM. (Ex. 3:14).
The name Jehovah unifies past, present, and future tenses of the verb “to be” into one concept of the everlasting, eternal present. In Isaiah 12:2 and 26:4 the word Jehovah is transliterated as “LORD” and denotes God as self-existent, eternal; the One who provides salvation as well as our daily needs.
3. El-Shaddai, (translated “God Almighty) Ex 6:3
El (original language) is translated in the Bible in several manners. The term is used to express the most high God and also pagan gods. To distinguish between the two usages, another descriptive noun of Shaddai is combined with El to designate Jehovah. In this case “Shaddai” meaning mighty thus becoming the “God Who is Almighty” or, alternatively “God Almighty.”
A word for Lord that expresses dominion. Used with Jehovah in John 20:28 to communicate the thought of “my Lord and my God.” Refer also to Genesis 15:1, 2. The term is used in the New Testament to designate Christ the messiah (1st Cor. 6:19-20, Rom. 12:1). When referring to Christ as opposed to an earthly ruler, the first letter is capitalized becoming “Lord” instead of lord (an earthly ruler) or LORD (Jehovah).
5. Jehovah-Jireh (occurs in Genesis 22:14).
Jehovah-Jireh is the name Abraham used to indicate that God has provided the sacrificial ram in lieu of Isaac. The name therefore is translated as “God will provide” and also to mean “God sees.” The name signifies that when man reaches the “end of his rope” then God can take over and be recognized as the God who provides.
6. Jehovah-Rapha “the Lord that healeth” Exodus 15:26
7. Jehovah-Ra’ah “the Lord my shepherd.” Ps 23:1
8. Jehovah-Nissi “the Lord my banner.” Exodus 17:15
9. Jehovah-M’kaddesh “the Lord who sanctifies” Lev. 20; 1-8.
10. Jehovah-Tsidkenu Found in Jer. 23:5, 6. Translated as “the Lord our righteousness” in reference to the Messiah.
11. Jehovah-Shalom Means “the LORD is the One who sends peace” and is the salutation that the Angel of the LORD gave to Gideon in Judges 6:24. Gideon erected an altar at the site in memorandum of the event.
12. Jehovah-Sammah Means “the LORD is there.” Ezekiel applied this title in reference to God in Jerusalem when Ezekiel saw God there in his vision; Ezekiel 48:35.
13. Jehovah-Sabaoth Translated “the LORD of Hosts” and speaks of leadership, especially military leadership of the armies of God, Joshua 5:13-15.
There are many other names referring to God. These can be found in separate works detailing a more in-depth knowledge of the names of God. Such a book makes a good study of its own.
The Trinity of God
An impossible task for the finite is to try to describe the infinite. That is the task in trying to describe the Trinity of Go – impossible. We cannot comprehend the Trinity, yet we accept and believe in the Trinity by faith in the Scriptures. It is important to take into consideration that the revelation of God is progressive over time and writings. We know more about God in this the latter days than we did in the beginning of days.
An example would be the progressive revelation of Jesus Christ. A redeemer was promised in Gen. 3:15 but we did not know anything about Him. As time and writings unfolded in history, more and more became known about the redeemer until the final revelation of Him in the person of Jesus Christ.
Perhaps a good starting point to begin to understand the Trinity is with one of the names and titles of God, and that being the word Elohim as described above. The word Elohim was used to draw men away from the worship of ______ gods, (pantheism) to monotheism, which is the worship of ________ god. Yet the word is plural indicating that the one true God was, in essence, more than one within the one. The Genesis account of creation use the plural pronouns of “us” and “our” as well in referring to God.
Another step would be to examine the early creeds of the Church. Creeds are statements or professions of faith, and explain and re-affirm Bible doctrine. Creeds are important as summary statements of belief and help to explain Biblical truth.
Below is the Athanasian Creed which originated in Europe around AD 400 and is primarily concerned with the Trinity. The word “catholic” as used in the creed denotes the “one true faith” and is not to be confused with the Catholic Church – which by using the word “catholic” proclaims itself to be the “one true faith.”
The Athanasian Creed
1. Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith;
2. Which faith except everyone do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.
3. And the catholic faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity;
4. Neither confounding the persons nor dividing the substance.
5. For there is one person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Spirit.
6. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit is all one, the glory equal, the majesty coeternal.
7. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Spirit.
8. The Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, and the Holy Spirit uncreated.
9. The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Spirit incomprehensible.
10. The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Spirit eternal.
11. And yet they are not three eternals but one eternal.
12. As also there are not three uncreated nor three incomprehensible, but one uncreated and one incomprehensible.
13. So likewise the Father is almighty, the Son almighty, and the Holy Spirit almighty.
14. And yet they are not three almighties, but one almighty.
15. So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God;
16. And yet they are not three Gods, but one God.
17. So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Spirit Lord;
18. And yet they are not three Lords but one Lord.
19. For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge every Person by himself to be God and Lord;
20. So are we forbidden by the catholic religion to say; there are three Gods or three Lords.
21. The Father is made of none, neither created nor begotten.
22. The Son is of the Father alone; not made nor created, but begotten.
23. The Holy Spirit is of the Father and of the Son; neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.
24. So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Spirit, not three Holy Spirits.
25. And in this Trinity, none is afore or after another; none is greater or less than another.
26. But the whole three persons are coeternal, and coequal.
27. So that in all things, as aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped.
28. He therefore that will be saved must thus think of the Trinity.
29. Furthermore it is necessary to everlasting salvation that he also believe rightly the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.
30. For the right faith is that we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and man.
31. God of the substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and man, of substance of His mother, born in the world.
32. Perfect God and perfect man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting.
33. Equal to the Father as touching His Godhead, and inferior to the Father as touching His manhood.
34. Who, although He is God and man, yet He is not two, but one Christ.
35. One, not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh, but by taking of that manhood into God.
36. One altogether, not by confusion of substance, but by unity of person.
37. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man, so God and man is one Christ;
38. Who suffered for our salvation, descended into hell, rose again the third day from the dead;
39. He ascended into heaven, He sits on the right hand of the Father, God, Almighty;
40. From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
41. At who’s coming all men shall rise again with their bodies;
42. And shall give account of their own works.
43. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting and they that have done evil into everlasting fire.
44. This is the catholic faith, which except a man believe faithfully he cannot be saved.
The strength of this creed, as well as other creeds, is due to meetings of church leaders, who through prayer and guidance by the Holy Spirit developed the creeds as statements of faith. It is held that multiple persons acting under prayer for the leadership of the Holy Spirit, that such meetings are indeed guided by the Holy Spirit. Some of the creeds were developed by as many as several hundred Church leaders considering the same topic in such unity of spirit. This goes for local church meetings as well when held in the same reverential, prayerful, consideration towards local issues. The Answers to who owned which horse is: Chief Sitting Bull, Lt. Col. Custer, The Lone Ranger, and Roy Rogers in that order.
According to the Scriptures, the Father created the world, the Son created the world, and the Spirit created the world. The plural pronouns in Genesis 1:26 of “Us” and “Our” indicates the joint operations of all three Persons in the Godhead. There is no “proof” text or Scripture that outlines the doctrine of the Trinity. The doctrine is revealed “here a little and there a little” but is plainly revealed through the entire work of the Biblical text when that text is taken as a whole. Individual texts such as Isaiah 6:3, where the word “holy” is repeated three times, is just one example where the Trinity is implied.