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Our Faith Expanded: About
There is one God, manifest in three persons. The biblical understanding of this doctrine is encompassed in four foundational thoughts: (1) God is one, (2) God is three persons, (3) the three persons are fully God, and (4) the three persons are distinct one from another.
The Father is God and is a self-existent and eternal Spirit that cannot be contained within the universe. He is identified relationally as the Father but is known by many names throughout the scripture including God, Lord, LORD, the Almighty, etc. He thinks, feels, and makes decisions but is not to be confused with man. The attributes of His greatness are demonstrated in His omnipresence, His omniscience, and His omnipotence. The attributes of His goodness are demonstrated in the virtues of His holiness, truth, and love.
As one third of the Godhead, the Son bears all the resemblance to the other members of the Godhead; yet, He is unique in that His role in the Father’s will included Him adorning a body of flesh and becoming both fully God and fully man. His Sonship testifies His familial relationship to the Father. Although He is unique and distinct from the Father, He is likewise one with the Father. As such, He bears all the Father’s attributes and is equal unto Him. Although equal with the Father, the Son submitted Himself to the Father’s will, laid aside some of the glory, and assumed a body of flesh. He lived among men to fulfill the righteous demands of the law; He died in the place of men to satisfy God’s requirements for the sins of the world; He resurrected to give man life and representation in the presence of the Father.
The Holy Ghost is God and therefore bears all the attributes of God; yet, He is unique in that He minimizes Himself and points men to the Father and the Son. His person and works are borne out in His names and titles such as Spirit and Ghost. The fact that He is the Spirit of God, the Spirit of the Lord, or the Spirit of Christ demonstrates that He proceeds and comes forth from the Father and Son. His character is set forth in His designation as the Holy Ghost and His work is confirmed in His designation as the Comforter. He is not, as some suppose, a thing, idea, or influence; rather, He is a person that thinks, feels, and wills or makes decisions. His deity is confirmed both by His continual association with the Father and Son and by His equality with and identification as God. The proof of His deity is clearly portrayed through the attributes of His greatness such as being eternal, omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent and through the attributes of His goodness such as His holiness, truth, and goodness.
The Spirit world, including spiritual beings and spiritual abodes, was created by God to serve Him and to bring Him praise and glory. These beings and abodes are spirit or spiritual, not as opposed to literal, but as opposed to earthly. The spiritual beings include cherubims (of which the Devil is the most well-known), seraphims, angels, and spirits. The spiritual abodes include the third heaven (God’s dwelling place) and hell, which will eventually be cast into the lake of fire, another spiritual abode. Although the host of spiritual beings was created to glorify God, they have free will and some have departed from their God-given purpose and given themselves to disobedience and evil. They will ultimately be judged for their rebellion.
All physical life, whether it be on the earth or within the larger universe, is created by God. The present earth and the life therein was created by God in six literal days and is presently between 6,000 and 7,000 years old. Any confusion concerning the age of these things is due to a minimization of the catastrophic damage accomplished in the worldwide flood of Noah’s day. The larger universe (i.e., the worlds, the heavens, the planets, etc.) and all that is therein are likewise the result of God’s creative work and are as they are for the purpose of testifying of God’s intellect, personality, and overall might.
Man was created by God and is the crown jewel of God’s creative work, sharing God’s image as a three-part being (spirit, soul, and body). When we speak of man, we speak of mankind which includes two and only two genders (male and female). Sharing in God’s image and likeness, man is superior to all other physical beings and life. Self-consciousness, an ability to reason, potential for communication through language, and an understanding of right and wrong as it pertains to morality are some of the ways in which man is superior. Initially, God brought man into the world through direct creation (Adam from the dust of the ground; Eve from Adam's rib), but now God does so through means of reproduction with life beginning at conception. Sin left man with a dead spirit, a soul in need of redemption, and a corruptible body. Eventually, man will die, and when he does, his spirit returns to God who gave it; his body returns to dust; and his soul dwells forever in bliss or judgment depending upon whether or not he has trusted Christ as Saviour.
Sin can be committed against one’s body or against others, but it is ultimately the transgression of God’s law and is an offense to God. While sin can be simplified in its definition, its practice comes in many forms (i.e., pride, fornication, idolatry, foolish thoughts, anger, etc.). Initially, sin entered the world through Adam, but it introduced its nature and consequences upon all men. At the same time, it is man’s personal choice to sin that brings eternal condemnation. After all, sin is not an accident; rather, it is the result of temptation, the drawing away of lust, enticement, and eventually submission thereto. Apart from trusting Christ as Saviour, man’s sin will ultimately land him in the lake of fire to suffer the consequences of his transgressing of God’s law.
Society is composed of neighbourhoods and families, and they are ordained by God and for His glory. The first institution God ordained was the family. This started with marriage, which exists only between one man and one woman, and is intended to last till death parts the two asunder. God hates divorce but gave an allowance for it under the law (in the case of fornication) because of the hardness of man’s heart. In the home, God ordained that the man would be the head (under Christ) and that the wife and children would submit unto his leadership (so long as that leadership did not contradict the clear commandments of God). Any deviation from this is a perversion of God’s plan. Secondarily, God instituted human government for the purpose of rewarding the righteous and punishing the evildoers. God commands citizens to respect and obey said government unless that government seeks to usurp God's authority and commands man contrary to the clear commands of scripture.
The words of God are found in the Holy Bible, the Authorized Version of 1611, also known as the King James Bible. These words came to us through revelation, inspiration, and preservation. These three work in symphony together. First, revelation is the act by which God imparted knowledge to man which was previously unknown to him. Then, inspiration ensures that God revealed every word of scripture to mankind completely without error or mistake. Finally, preservation keeps and protects those words, maintaining their perfection. God’s providential hand upon His word extends not just to the overall message but to the very words, letters, and punctuation marks. If there is any confusion in understanding, we pray and ask God to illuminate us to the already revealed, inspired, and preserved words. Practically speaking, we are responsible for reading, memorizing, meditating upon, studying, and propagating the truths of this precious book.
While God has remained the same throughout time, His dealings with men have varied depending upon age and people group. To properly understand and apply the differences, one must rightly divide the word of truth. This means that we see distinctions where God made distinctions and sameness where God instituted sameness. Within this larger method of study, we find several distinct periods of time identifiable as dispensations. In each of these periods, God had spokesmen, an intended message, and a plan to bring glory unto Himself. Sadly, each age ended or ends with man’s failure and necessitates God’s redemption.
God declares the end from the beginning and is as accurate in that declaration as He would be were He reflecting upon the past. This unveiling of God’s future plans is prophecy. Some prophecy has been fulfilled in its entirety; some has been partially fulfilled; and some is yet to be fulfilled. Regardless, all prophecy given by God will be fully and exactly fulfilled. Looking ahead, the next major event on God's prophetic calendar involves the blessed hope, commonly called the rapture of the church. After this, there will be a seven-year period on earth called Daniel’s Seventieth Week wherein the wrath of God, Satan, and man will be poured out. At the end of the seven years, Christ will return with the saints of previous ages, and He will judge the world and preserve His own unto His earthly, millennial kingdom. In this kingdom, Christ will rule and reign on the earth from His headquarters in Jerusalem. Upon the completion of the kingdom, the unsaved will be gathered to the great white throne judgment where they will learn their sentencing in the lake of fire. Meanwhile, the saints will enjoy the bliss of dwelling with God for all of eternity.
Salvation is basically understood as deliverance; but as it pertains to sin and man’s resulting needs, it is the quickening of man’s spirit, the redemption of man’s soul, and the eternal reconciliation of man to God. After all, God’s holiness stands in stark opposition to man’s sinfulness and sets a standard unachievable apart from God’s help and righteousness. God’s justness forbids Him from simply ignoring man’s failure to attain to the standard; but His love compels Him to pay the price of man’s sin, meet the standard required, and thereby restore the fellowship lost. The provision of this salvation comes only by the sacrifice of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. The gift of this salvation is accessible to all men but given only to those who repent, trust Christ as Saviour, and call upon Him for said salvation. Salvation places a man in Christ and grants Him eternal life and all the other benefits that come therewith. While salvation is all the work of Christ, it beckons its recipients to live a life pleasing to the One who granted it.
Israel was chosen by God to be His representative people on earth; however, over and over again they rejected Him. This came to its greatest climax when they rejected their Messiah and took part in His crucifixion. In the end, Israel remains God’s chosen people and they will ultimately receive all the promises given to them by God. Initially, the nation’s fellowship with God began when God called their father, Abraham, from his idolatry. Although God’s promises and blessings originated with Abraham, they passed to Isaac, Jacob, and then to the twelve sons of Jacob. Ultimately, the Jewish people rejected their Messiah, crucifying Him on the cross. For a space of time, God has opened the door of salvation to the Gentiles but will eventually turn His focus again to the Jewish people and will prepare their hearts to receive the King, kingdom, and land promised unto them as far back as Abraham. The church has not replaced Israel but will be partakers of the benefits of Christ alongside of a restored Israel.
The church was purchased at a great price by Christ Jesus and was established for His praise and the propagation of His gospel. Specifically, the word church means congregation and speaks to the gathering of believers. The New Testament church is made up of saved Jews and Gentiles and began somewhere between Christ’s placing of the blood on the mercy seat (after His resurrection) and the day of Pentecost. While there is a larger body of believers (commonly called the universal church), God’s focus is on and His work is accomplished through the local churches. Each local church is to operate solely under the headship of Jesus Christ and its authority is to be the written word of God. It has two ordinances (believer’s baptism by immersion and the Lord’s Supper, both representative of Christ’s death and resurrection), two offices (bishops and deacons), and one purpose (to glorify God). Having been ordained and instituted by God to carry out His work in this present age, the church should be given priority and preeminence in the lives of the redeemed. Soon, this age will find its fulfillment when we are called to meet the Lord in the air and so shall we ever be with Him.
Godliness is the desire of God for every believer: it begins with one’s being (his inner man), moves to his doings, and impacts his feelings. Simply put, godliness means godlikeness. More specifically, it involves bringing every aspect of one’s life into alignment with the likeness of God. While we often view this as pertaining to one’s outward behaviour, the Bible teaches something much deeper and profound. It is our mission and calling to be holy (positionally, this happened at salvation; practically, this is our daily aim). As our inner man is made more like the Lord, our works will follow; as our works reflect the mind and will of the Lord, we will feel the holy feelings that accompany such conduct (i.e, joy, peace, etc.).
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