Subscribe to this page via e-mail here - Subscribe
Article 25 - The Godhead
A Study of the Godhead
Jon Gary Williams
The importance of this subject.
A. The nature of this study is such that it is always relevant.
B. It involves the greatest subject the human mind can contemplate.
Though God, in his completeness, exists beyond human understanding, yet it is essential to study about him.
C. It is important because God wants man to learn of him.
(Ps. 46:10; 83:18; Is. 54:13 Jer. 24:7)
D. It is important because there are so many misunderstandings about God.
E. It is important also because of the many questions people have about the God.
II. False ideas about God
A. God does not exist.
1. Atheism - says "there is no God."B. There is some kind of God - but not the God of the Bible.
2. Agnosticism - says "We cannot know if there is a God."
3. The results of leaving God out.
a. Without a recognition of God the human race inevitably suffers.
b. The evil effects of Godless philosophies make this all too obvious.
1. Polytheism - there are many "gods."C. God is an abstract force or influence.
2. Tritheism - there are three "gods."
3. Deism - belief in a "god" based on human reason, not revelation.
4. The true concept of God is monotheism - that there is but one true God.
1. Dualism - the universe is controlled by two forces - good and evil.D. God is an object - replacing God with other things.
2. Monism - the whole universe is made up of only one being.
1. Man once had a natural sense of God, his Creator. However, with many this instinctive perception of God has been corrupted. (Romans 1:21-25)
2. The one true God has been replaced with such things as:
a. Nature worship.
1) Animism - "god" is in some natural objects.b. Idol worship - adoration of man-made objects.
2) Pantheism - "god" is all things.
c. Man worship - making man to be his own "god."
d. Satan worship - turning Satan into "god."
III. Some who believe in the God of the Bible perceive him in various misguided ways.
A. Some visualize God in the mold of an earthly father - possessing harsh qualities.
B. Some view God as one who is "out to get them" - watching to catch man in his mistakes.
C. Others look on God as one who is unconcerned about man - the fatalistic view.
D. By some God is perceived as negative and demanding - never loving and giving.
E. And others regard God as prejudicial - concerned only with an elect few.
IV. The proper concept of God can be found only by learning what the Bible reveals.
A. The scriptures are the Christian's source of information. (II Tim. 3:16; II Pet. 1:3)
B. The Christian studies the scriptures to be able to answer questions about his hope in God. (II Tim. 2:15; I Pet. 3:15)
II. Grounds For Belief In God
I. The existence of God is the first truth revealed in the Bible. "In the beginning God" (Gen. 1:1)
A. Moses, writer of the Pentateuch, made no attempt to prove God's existence.
This is surprising since in his day there were many "gods."
B. In the scriptures the existence of God is assumed.
They declare that there can be only one all-powerful God, the creator all things.
C. His existence should be a self-evident fact to all men.
Paul said this is something that is "clearly seen" and that men are "without excuse" for not realizing it. (Rom. 1:20)
II. What has happened to man's fundamental belief in God?
A. In modern times people deny or doubt the existence of God because of one fundamental reason - they have been misled by the philosophies of materialism and humanism.
1. Many have been made to think it is not reasonable or rational to believe in God.
2. They have been convinced that belief in God identifies one as uninformed and ignorant.
B. What is the response to this?
1. Though no one can prove God from empirical observation (the senses), yet, there are other avenues of proof. This is seen in the form of logical, philosophical evidence.
2. These proofs are so clear and irrefutable, that to reject God one must do so in spite of the evidence.
III. Reasons for believing in God.
A. Atheism, the only alternative, cannot be proved.
1. It is absurd to try and prove atheism. No one can do it because it is impossible.B. Atheism, the only alternative, has nothing better to offer.
2. A truism: "Even if the atheist is right, he can never know it!" Why? First, he cannot know it now; and second, since he denies consciousness after death he could not know it then! How depressing it must be to spend one's life believing and defending a view but never being able to know if it is true!
1. Atheism has no hope to offer. All it can offer is fatalism and hopelessness.C. There is something that is eternal - the first cause.
2. What can atheism do for man that belief in God cannot?
3. What orphan home, health care facility, shelter for the poor, home for the aged, rehabilitation center, or any other humanitarian institution have atheists ever established?
4. By believing in God there is everything to gain and nothing to lose. However, the atheist has everything to lose and nothing to gain. Prior to their debate, Alexander Campbell told the famed atheist, Robert Owen: "You say you have no fear in death; have you any hope in death?" Owen said, "No." Then, pointing to an ox standing nearby, Campbell replied: "Then you are on level with that brute. He has fed till he is satisfied, and stands in the shade whisking off the flies, and has neither hope nor fear in death."
5. Over the atheist an axe always hangs - the fearful possibility that God exists. (Ps. 19:1)
D. The universe bears marks of design which demand intelligence.
1. There never could have been a time when nothing existed. Why? Because if there ever was such a time, then there never could be anything. Why? Because something cannot come from nothing.
2. "Something is -- something cannot come from nothing, therefore, something always was."
a. Though difficult to comprehend, it is a philosophical truth that something has always been in existence. There is no escaping this conclusion!3. What was it that always was?
b. There has to be a first cause, something that is eternal in and of itself, something that was not caused, but that itself caused all else that exists.
a. Everything that exists falls into one of two categories: mind or matter.4. Which position is more rational, believable and defensible?
b. One of these has to be eternal. There is no escaping this conclusion!
a. Where is the logic in believing that lifeless matter is eternal?
b. Where is the rationale in believing lifeless matter produced life and intelligence? (Which one is superior, mind or matter? Can the inferior create the superior?)
c. If it is illogical and irrational to believe that dead matter is eternal and that it produced life and intelligence, then there is only one alternative! (Heb. 11:3)
1. An atheist once asked Benjamin Franklin how long it took him to make his room size replica of the solar system. He responded by saying that no one made it, that it just happened! To which the atheist told him he must be kidding. Franklin then told him that he, too, must be kidding to say that the real solar system just happened.E. Morality demands a moral governor.
2. Design demands a designer. No house ever designed itself (Heb. 3:4). Even though we did not see the designer, yet we know there was one. But, what is a house compared to the universe?
3. The watch on your wrist bears marks of intelligence. It is a marvelous timepiece. Did someone design it? Only a fool would say "no." Yet, a watch is no comparison to the matchless timepiece of the earth on which we live. It, likewise, had a designer.
4. Did the complicated electrical system of New York City have a designer? Again, only a fool would say, "No." Then what of the complex system of man's spinal cord and nervous system networking through the body? Did the telescope design itself? If not, how could the much more advanced human eye have designed itself?
5. Our universe exhibits multiplied billions of examples of remarkable design which can only point to a great Master Designer!
1. Man is a moral being possessing conscience. Where did this originate? Did it just happen by accident or does it require some special explanation?F. Man is instinctively a worshiping being.
2. Why does man have concepts of right and wrong? Why does he contrast "good" and "evil"? Could such complex perceptions have merely evolved?
3. If there is no God then there can be no purely objective standard of right and wrong. If this is true morality has no meaning. Without a higher, moral standard "right" and "wrong" are only what man himself perceives to be right or wrong. Man, therefore, becomes his own standard.
4. If there is no God (hence, no higher, moral standard) how is something determined to be wrong? Who could say that anything is ever wrong?
a. Is it wrong for one man to kill another? If so, on what standard is such a judgment to be made? What is the difference between killing a man and killing a bug?5. Following World War II the Nuremberg trials condemned leading Nazi war criminals to death for killing millions of Jews. But, to what law did the court appeal? American? German? French? English? Russian? The judges said they appealed to a "higher moral law" based on belief in a higher, universal standard. These war criminals were convicted of "crimes against humanity."
b. Is the molestation and rape of a child wrong? If so, how is this determined?
c. All men, including atheists, are compelled, at some point, to defend a standard of right and wrong.
6. The fact that morality exists demands a supreme, moral law giver. Were it not for a moral Creator man would have no moral nature and would have no need for such.
1. Man has an inherent need to worship something. This is a universal impulse recognized to be true the world over, even in the remotest regions.G. The majority of scientists and philosophers have been believers in God.
2. People who lose sight of the true and living God will invariably create their own "gods." (Acts 17:23; 19:26; Rom. 1:23). Those who reject God on an intellectual basis, will often create their own "gods" - in the forms of such things as wealth, recognition and pleasure.
3. This innate need in man to look to something higher is evidence that God exists.
1. Most of the greatest minds of all times have found that belief in a supreme being is the only rational, acceptable viewpoint.H. The reflections of professed atheists at life's end.
a. Astronomer, Fred Hoyle: "It is inevitable that our own measure of intelligence must reflect higher intelligence, even to the point of God." Physicist, Wm. Kelvin: "If you think strongly enough you will be forced by science to belief in God."2. Note: The real reason people reject God is because of a bias mind set. They are anti-religious and cannot accept the idea of one day being accountable to someone higher than themselves. Isaac Asimov said: "I expect death to be nothingness and, for removing me from all possible fears of death, I am thankful to atheism."
b. The list of believers in God includes such names as: Chemist, Louis Pasteur, physician, William Jenner, geneticist Gregor Mendel, physicist Robert Millikan, philosopher Immanuel Kant, mathematician/naturalist Isaac Newton, pathologist Rudolph Virchow, anatomist George Culver, astronomer Johann Kepler (developer of the scientific method), Francis Bacon, physicist and director of the United States Institute for Space Studies.
c. Even Charles Darwin admitted that the greatest minds of all times were believers in God. "The question of whether there is a creator and leader of the universe has been answered in the affirmative by the greatest spirits that have ever lived."
1. Many atheists proclaim loud and long their disbelief in God. They go out of their way to promote their view, trying to encourage others to accept it. Many atheists are sarcastic, spiteful and sometimes vicious in their denial of God.
2. However, it is almost ironical that by the close of their earthly journey some of the most adamant atheists have manifested a change of heart. One of the most recent being the late, world-renowned British atheist, Anthony Flew.
III. God Revealed By His Names
I. Names and their background meanings.
A. In the English speaking world names sometimes indicate occupations:
John Smith - metal worker, Joe Baker - bread maker, George Miller - meal grinder, Jim Gardener - caretaker of flowers, Bill Carpenter - wood worker. Names have also indicated positions: John Master, Jim Duke, Paul King; places: John Briton, Sam London, Wm. Boston; attributes: Robert Love, Charles Peace, Ed Hope; conditions: David Green, Michael Strong, Ken Meek; and objects or things: Bob Beard, Steve Barns, Gene Snow.
B. Biblical names also carry significant meanings.
They often indicated a person's character or some particular quality. Adam means "red earth," referring to the ground from which Adam was taken. Abraham means "father of multitudes," in light of God's promise to make him a great nation. Jesus means "Savior," Peter means "rock," David means "well beloved" and Isaac means "laughter."
A. In the Bible God has revealed himself by many special names.
II. God revealed through his names
These names give us a deeper insight into his nature and help us to better see his relation to his creation.
B. A knowledge of God's name is important.
David said, "They that know thy name will put their trust in thee..." (Ps. 9:10). Likewise, an acknowledgment of the seriousness of God's name is important. "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord in vain." (Ex. 20:7)
A. No one name could completely describe God's greatness.
III. The names of God
As one writer expressed it: "A name imposes some limitation. It means that an object or a person is this and not that, is here and not there. And if the heaven of heavens cannot contain God, how can a name describe him?" Nathan Stone
B. Through the various names of God we can see his different qualities and attributes.
IV. What are the names of God?
A. Old Testament personal names from the Hebrew.
1. Elohim - This is the first name for God in the Old Testament. (Gen. 1:1) It is a combination of El and Alah (to swear, to make a covenant) and suggest one with authority to make and keep promises. It is found over 200 times in the book of Genesis, 30 times in chapter one alone. It occurs 2570 times in the Old Testament. Though God is "one," Elohim is a plural term denoting the plural nature of God. This is illustrated in verses which combine singular pronouns with Elohim. Deut. 32:39 "I am he [Elohim] and there is no God [Elohim] with (beside) me." (cf. Isa. 45:5)B. The Old Testament special name for God.
2. El - A generic term, El expresses strength and authority. (Equivalent to the New Testament term, "theos.") This term is found especially in the books of Job and Psalms. El is the root word of other names of God, such as Elohim. It is sometimes used as an adjective in compound names which express certain attributes of God, such as El-elyon. (Following are compound names for God with El as the base term.)
3. El-elyon - This name distinguishes God from the pagan gods, denoting Him as the "most high God." (Gen. 14:19) "Blessed be Abram of the most high God [El-elyon]." This is why Israel could have no other gods before them (Ex. 20:3). The true God was alone supreme.
4. El-roi - This name denotes the God who sees. (Gen. 16:13) "And she called the name of the Lord that spake unto her, Thou God seest [El-roi] me..." (cf. Ex. 3:7; Ps. 33:18,19)
5. El-shaddai - This name is translated "Almighty." Shaddai carries the idea of one who is able to supply, nourish and satisfy. Combined with El the meaning is that God is mighty to supply, nourish and satisfy. (Gen. 49:25) "...and by the Almighty [El-shaddai], who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above..."
6. El-olam - This name describes the eternal nature of God. (Gen. 21:33) "And Abraham planted a grove in Beersheba, and called there on the name of the Lord, the everlasting God [El-olam]." Although this is the only time El-olam is found in the scriptures, the idea of this word is conveyed in many passages. (cf. Ps. 90:2)
7. Adonai - This word means "Master" or "Lord." (Equivalent to the New Testament term, "kurios.") It is found over 300 times in the Old Testament. (Ps. 110:1) "The Lord [Jehovah] said unto my Lord [adonai], sit thou at my right hand..." He is the Master and Lord of all. (Deut. 10:17)
8. Tsur - This is a name denoting that God is a "Rock." (Deut. 32:4) "He is the Rock [Tsur], his work is perfect..." Deut. 32:18 "Of the Rock [Tsur] that begat thee thou art unmindful, and hast forgotten the God that formed thee." As a rock God is the defense of his people. (Ps. 94:22)
9. Ab - This is the word for "Father." (Equivalent to the New Testament term "prater.") God is described as the Father of Israel. (Deut. 32:6) "Do ye thus requite the Lord, O foolish people and unwise? Is not he thy father [Ab] that hath bought thee?" In Psalms 68:5 he is described as "A father [Ab] of the fatherless..."
1. Jehovah - This name is used more than any other in the Old Testament, occurring 6,823 times. It is found first in Genesis 2:4 where it is combined with Elohim [Jehovah-elohim]. It's origin is found in the term "havah" meaning "to be." This idea is illustrated in Exodus 3:14, "And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM." Jehovah carries the meaning of: the self- existent One, the self-sufficient One, the immutable One.C. New Testament names from the Greek.
Following are compound names for God with Jehovah as the base term:
2. Jehovah-shalom - This names means, "Jehovah is our peace." (Judg. 6:24) "Then Gideon built an altar there unto the Lord, and called it Jehov ah- shalom..."
3. Jehovah-roi - This name means "Jehovah is my shepherd." The well-known statement of Psalms 23:1 appropriately conveys this idea.
4. Jehovah-shammah - This name means "Jehovah is there." To the Jews this conveyed the idea that God dwelt among them. One city even received this name. (Ezek. 48:35) "...and the name of the city from that day shall be, the Lord is there [Jehovah-shammah]."
5. Jehovah-nissi - This name means "Jehovah is my banner." This represented to the Jews that God was their help. After Israel defeated the Amalekites, Exodus 17:15 records, "And Moses built an altar, and called the name of it Jehovah-nissi."
6. Jehovah-rophe - This name means "Jehovah heals." Rophe denotes a cure, a restoration or a healing. (Ex. 15:26) "...I am the Lord that healeth [Jehovah-rophe] thee."
7. Jehovah-kanna - This name means "Jehovah is jealous." Kanna carries the idea of righteous jealousy. (Ex. 34:14) "For thou shalt worship no other God, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous [Jehovah-kanna] is a jealous God."
8. Jehovah-sabaoth - This name means, "Jehovah of hosts." Sabaoth refers to "all" or "vast quantities." God is over all things. (I Sam. 1:3) "And this man went up out of the city yearly to worship and to sacrifice unto the Lord of hosts [Jehovah-sabaoth]."
1. Theos - This is the most commonly used word for God in the New Testament and is consistently translated "God." Theos expresses deity or the supreme nature of God. (John 1:1) "In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God [theos], and the word was God [theos]."
2. Kurios - This name reveals God as "Lord" and "Ruler." He is the one who has ultimate authority and power. (Matt. 4:7) "Jesus said unto them, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord [Kurios] thy God."
3. Prater - This is the word for "Father." Jesus came to reveal God as our Father. (John 14:7,9,10) "If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father [Prater] also...he that hath seen me hath seen the Father [Prater]...I am in the Father [Prater], and the Father [Prater] in me..."
The names of God are beautiful and wonderful. They reveal his grand nature. It is easy to see why he did not want his name taken in vain. To do so is to blaspheme. (Ex. 20:7) "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain."
It is only through the name of God that we can identify with him. Without his name we would have no way of recognizing or acknowledging him. His name sets him apart. (Ps. 111:9) "...holy and reverend is his name." Knowing the importance of God's name, the Christian seeks always to elevate that name in his life.
IV. The Nature Of God
I. What is meant by the "nature" of God?
A. Nature is defined as: "That which makes something what it is."
B. So, when discussing the nature of God we are referring to that which makes him what he is -- his attributes (his characteristics and qualities). His attributes can be viewed from two standpoints.
1. His natural (or outward) attributes - his inherent, natural characteristics which describe his being.
2. His moral (or inward) attributes - his flawless, moral qualities which depict his person.
3. One of these sees God "externally" while the other sees him "internally." (An analogy: some of man's natural attributes would be his height, weight and age, while his moral attributes would involve such things as his actions, attitudes and feelings.)
II. This lesson deals with the natural attributes of God.
A. God is Spirit.
(Hebrew - Ruach; Greek - Pneuma)
1. God is identified as "Spirit." (Jn. 4:24)B. God is eternal.
a. God is not material. A spirit does not possess flesh and blood (Lk. 24:39). This is why God prohibited man from making any "image" of him. (Deut. 4:15-19) (cf. Deut. 5:8; Ex. 20:4)2. Though God is spirit, his is alive. (It is difficult for man to comprehend life apart from a material nature.)
b. The invisible nature of God is revealed in several passages. (Rom. 1:20; Jn. 1:18; Col. 1:15; I Tim. 1:17; 6:16)
a. Matt. 16:16; Josh. 3:10; I Thess. 1:93. Though God is spirit, his is ascribed human traits.
b. The Psalmist contrasted dead idols with the living God. (Ps. 115:3-8)
a. Human actions: knows - Gen. 18:21; speaks - Gen. 2:16; hears - Ex. 2:24; remembers - Gen. 8:1; rebukes - Zech. 3:2; walks - Lev. 26:12; answers - Ps. 3:4; sees - Gen. 11:5; sits - Ps. 9:4; commands - Is. 5:6; calls - Rom. 4:17
b. Human organs: a heart - Gen. 6:6; a face - Ex. 33:20; hands - Ex. 15:12; arms - Ex. 15:16; eyes - Ps. 11:4; a nose - Deut. 33:10
c. Human titles: a man of war - Ex. 15:3; a builder - Heb. 11:10; a shepherd - Ps. 23:1; a husbandman - Jn. 15:1 (see several more titles - Ps. 18:1,2)
d. Human emotions: grief - Ps. 78:40; anger - Jer. 7:18,19; joy - Neh. 8:10; wrath - Ps. 2:5; vengeance - Rom. 12:19; love - Jn. 3:16 (cf. I Jn. 4:16); rejoicing - Is. 65:19
1. God is without beginning and without ending. He is not limited by time, for time means nothing to him. Ps. 90:4 (cf. II Pet. 3:8)C. God is boundless - omnipresent
2. No truth is more evident than the fact that something is eternal! Though man cannot fully comprehend it, something has always been! It was either God (eternal mind) or lifeless matter. The question is: "Which is more logical and believable?"
3. Many passages attribute a timeless nature to God.
a. He is eternal - Deut. 33:27; I Tim. 1:174. God's words to Moses say it all: "I AM THAT I AM." (Ex. 3:14)
b. He is everlasting - Ps. 93:2; Rom.16:26
c. He is from everlasting to everlasting - Ps. 41:13; 90:2
d. He is first and last - Is. 41:4; 44:6; (cf. Rev. 1:8,11; 22:13)
e. He lives for ever and ever - Rev. 4:9; 5:14; 15:7
1. God is BIG! He is omnipresent and cannot be contained by space. He even transcends the universe.D. God is self-sufficient - omnipotent.
2. The Greek philosopher, Empedocles, wrote: "God is a circle whose center is everywhere, and whose circumference is nowhere."
3. His boundlessness is seen in many passages. (I Kings 8:27; Ps. 139:7-10; Acts 7:48,49; Jer. 23:23,24)
4. In view of the boundless nature of God, we are compelled to exclaim with the psalmist: "What is man, that thou art mindful of him?" See Ps. 8:3,4
1. God is absolute in power. He lacks in nothing.E. God is all-knowing - omniscient
a. God asked Abraham, "Is anything too hard for the Lord?" (Gen. 18:14)2. He is referred to as the "Almighty." (Gen. 17:1; Rev. 4:8)
b. Job said, "I know that thou canst do everything." (Job 42:2)
3. The Bible clearly testifies to the self-sufficiency of God. (Is. 26:4; Matt. 19:26; Lk. 1:37; Acts 26:8; Rev. 19:6)
4. God does not need anything man can offer. Acts 17:25 (To the contrary, man is completely dependent on God. (Acts 17:28; II Cor. 3:5)
1. There is nothing outside the range of God's knowledge. Since he is Creator of all that is, it is inevitable that he knows all things.F. God is immutable - unchanging.
2. God's knowledge enables him to see (know) in ways man cannot. I Sam. 16:7
3. The word of God is filled with evidence of the vast knowledge of God. (I Chron. 28:9; Job 36:4,5; Jer. 23:24; Rom. 11:33,34)
4. The psalmist summarized it well: Ps. 139:1-6
1. God does not change. He has no need or desire to change.
2. Though God has changed in his dealings with mankind, yet, this does not involve any change in his essence; he always remains the same.
3. The scriptures make the immutable nature of God quite clear. (Ps. 33:11; 102:27; Mal. 3:6; Jam. 1:17). Likewise, the nature of his word is such that it is unchanging. (Ps.119:160; Matt. 5:18; Jn.10:35(b); 12:48)
V. The Essence of God
I. This lesson deals with the moral attributes of God.
A. This is in addition to God's natural attributes which deal with what God is - his inherent, natural characteristics that describe his being, his existence, his reality.
(See previous lesson.)
B. His moral attributes, on the other hand, deal with who he is - his moral qualities that describe his person, his identity, his makeup.
C. Note: In a limited sense, these attributes are also to belong to God's children.
II. What are God's moral attributes?
A. His Holiness.
1. The word "holy" means to separate or to be separated.B. His Love.
2. God is often spoken of as "the Holy One." This is found over two dozen times in the book of Isaiah alone. (cf. Isa. 1:4; 5:19,24)
3. He alone possess all the quality of holiness. (Ex. 15:11; Rev. 15:4)
4. The word "holy" is sometimes used to describe things that relate to God.
a. Holy temple. Hab. 2:205. Because of God's holiness, he abhors sin. (Prov. 3:32; 15:26; Hab. 1:13a)
b. Holy ground. Ex. 3:5
c. Holy vessels. I Kings 8:4
d. Holy Sabbath. Ex. 20:8
6. This is one reason we worship God. Ps. 99:5
7. God's children are expected to strive for holiness.
a. In living. (I Pet. 1:15; II Pet. 3:11; Tit. 2:3)
b. In personal purity. (Rom. 6:19; 12:1
c. In fruit. (Rom. 6:22)
d. In conscience. (I Thess. 3:13)
e. Christians are a "holy nation." (I Pet. 2:9)
1. God is the very embodiment of love - he is love. (I Jn. 4:8,16)C. His Goodness.
2. However, because people limit love to the human perceptions of emotion and sentiment, God's love may be misunderstood. His love is much broader than this.
a. His love has no boundaries. He loves without being loved. He "so loves" the world. (Jn. 3:16)3. Our relationship with God is based on love.
b. While God hates sin, yet, he loves the sinner. (Rom. 5:8)
c. His love is powerful. (Rom. 8:38,39)
a. Love is reciprocal. (I Jn. 4:19)
b. Love is to outreaching. (I Jn. 4:11) We are to love:
1) One another. (I Pet. 1:22)
2) Our neighbors. (Matt. 19:19)
3) Our spouses. (Eph. 5:25; Tit. 2:4)
4) Our enemies. (Matt. 5:44)
1. There is only one who is truly "good." (Matt. 19:17)D. His Truthfulness.
2. His goodness is perfect (perpetual). (Ps. 52:1b)
3. He is to be praised for his goodness. (Ps. 107:1)
4. His goodness relates to his marvelous works (Ps. 107:8). All good things come from him. (Jam. 1:17)
5. God's goodness has been manifested to man in many ways.
a. His creation. (Gen. 1:31)6. God wants his children to strive for this quality.
b. His providential care for man. (Gen. 8:22)
c. His forbearance. (Rom. 2:4) (cf. II Pet. 3:9)
d. His abiding word. (Mk. 13:31)
a. To overcome evil. (Rom. 12:21; I Thess. 5:15)
b. Helps in encouraging one another. (Rom. 15:14)
c. Is the fruit of the Spirit. (Eph. 5:9)
1. To lie is not God's character. (Num. 23:19; Tit. 1:2)E. His Faithfulness.
2. He alone is completely true. (Ps. 33:4; Jn. 17:3) (cf. Rom. 3:4)
3. He is always true. (Ps. 117:2)
4. His word is truth. (Jn. 17:17)
5. His word tells the truth about:
a. Where we came from. (Gen. 1:26,27)6. God expects his children to walk in truth. (Col. 3:9) (cf. II Jn. 4; III Jn. 3,4)
b. Why we are here. (Eccl. 12:13)
c. Where we are going. (Heb. 9:27; Rom. 14:10)
d. The consequences of sin. (Rom. 6:23; Is. 59:2)
e. How we are saved. (Heb. 5:9) (cf. Matt. 7:21; Jn. 14:15)
1. God's faithfulness is an exalted quality. (Ps. 36:5)F. His Patience.
2. His faithfulness is great. (Lam. 3:22,23)
3. He is faithful (unfailing) in many things.
a. His covenants. (Ps. 89:34; Deut. 7:9)4. God wants those who follow him to be faithful:
b. His testimonies. (Ps. 119:138)
c. His promises. (Heb. 10:23; 11:11; Rom. 4:21; I Jn. 1:9)
d. His help in times of temptation. (I Cor. 10:13; II Thess. 3:3; I Pet. 4:19)
e. His judgments. (II Tim. 2:12,13)
a. In teaching. (I Tim. 1:12; II Tim. 2:2)
b. In stewardship. (I Cor. 4:2; Matt. 25:21)
c. In helping others. (III Jn. 5)
d. In suffering. (Rev. 2:10; I Pet. 4:16)
1. His is "the God of patience." (Rom. 15:5)G. His Wrath
2. He is slow to become this. (Ps. 103:8)
3. Even when men rebel, God is still patient. (Neh. 9:16,17) (cf. Acts 13:18)
4. In his longsuffering what does God want man to do? (II Pet. 3:9)
5. In Noah's day man was so corrupt God decided to destroy him (Gen. 6:11-13). How long did God wait for man to repent? (Gen. 6:3) (cf. I Pet. 3:20)
6. What is the objective of God's patience? (II Pet. 3:15)
7. Patience is found in the list of Christian graces. (II Pet. 1:6)
8. Christians are to be patient:
a. In trials. (Jam. 1:3,4)
b. In bearing fruit. (Lk. 8:15)
c. In running the Christian race. (Heb. 12:1)
d. In suffering because of doing right. (I Pet. 1:20) (cf. Jam. 5:11)
e. Toward all men. (I Thess. 5:14)
1. God hates sin (Ps. 119:104,128). Hence, by his very nature, he must punish sin. "Divine wrath is to be regarded as the natural expression of the Divine nature, which is absolute holiness, manifesting itself against willful, highhanded, deliberate, inexcusable sin." -- Franklin RallH. His Justice
2. God not only exhibits goodness, he also exhibits severity. (Rom. 11:22)
3. Sometimes God's wrath is revealed. (Rom. 1:18)
4. Where was God's wrath first shown to man? (Gen. 3:14-19)
5. God's wrath will come upon whom? (Eph. 5:6)
6. What will be the ultimate demonstration of God's wrath? (II Thess. 1:7-9) (cf. II Pet. 2:9)
7. God's wrath is free from injustice, prejudice and hastiness, which so often characterize man's wrath. Hence, Christians are not to be people of wrath. (Eph. 4:31)
a. Christian parents are not to provoke their children to wrath. (Eph. 6:4) (cf. Col. 3:21)
b. Wrath should not be retained in the heart. (Eph. 4:26) (cf. Jam. 1:19,20)
c. To what are Christians to give place? (Rom. 12:19)
1. Justice means doing right. God always does that which is right. "Shall not the judge of all the earth do right?" (Gen. 18:25) (cf. Hos. 14:9)I. His Grace and Mercy
2. God does not do what? (Job 8:3)
3. What do the redeemed sing? (Rev. 15:3)
4. The Bible contains many examples of God's justice (rightness):
a. To Noah. (II Pet. 2:5)5. God's children are to practice justice.
b. To Daniel. (Dan. 6:22)
c. To Peter. (Acts 12:11)
a. Christians should think what? (Phil. 4:8)
b. In New Testament days how were Christians to treat servants? (Col. 4:1)
c. An attribute that should characterize an elder. (Tit. 1:8)
1. The grace and mercy of God are most often synonymous terms and are sometimes used together (Ex. 33:19; Ex. 34:6). Though God's grace always refers to unmerited favor toward sinful man, His mercy sometimes refers to his compassion toward man in his misery. In this sense, mercy builds on and is an extension of grace.
2. Examples of God's grace and mercy are found throughout the scriptures.
a. Noah - Gen. 6:83. God's grace and mercy comprise the epitome of his essence. Both are the result of his all encompassing love. Since the Bible teaches all men are guilty of sin (Rom. 3:10,23) and that sin has separated man from God (Isa. 59:2), it is astonishing that God would have any concern for man. (Ps. 144:3,4)
b. Lot - Gen. 19:19
c. Moses - Ex. 33:12
d. Israel - Deut. 21:8
e. Christians - I Pet. 2:10
4. God is just. Hence, he must punish sinners. Justice demands it. How is it possible, then, for God to remain just and still pardon the condemned sinner? Paul explains how this is done - God's justice (wrath) has been satisfied by his grace. (Rom. 3:24-26)
5. Salvation is attributed to both grace and mercy.
a. Grace (Acts 15:11; Eph. 2:8; Tit. 2:11)6. How bountiful is God's grace and mercy? (Eph. 2:4,7)
b. Mercy (Rom. 11:32; Tit. 3:5; Heb. 8:12)
7. How extensive is God's mercy? (Ps. 86:5)
8. God's mercy is shown to those who do this? (Ps. 32:10)
9. Concluding this psalm of praise to God what did David say would follow him? (Ps. 23:6)
10. How does David figuratively describe God's mercy? (Ps. 57:10)
11. What did Paul "obtain" and what was "abundant"? (I Tim. 1:12-14) (cf. I Cor. 15:10)
12. The hope that comes through God's mercy is made possible by this? (I Pet. 1:3)
13. What is the final end of heaven's mercy? (Jude 21)
14. How does lost man find God's grace and mercy? (Heb. 5:9; Tit. 2:11,12) (cf. Prov. 28:13)
15. As Christians we are to possess hearts of grace and mercy.
a. We are to grow in grace. (II Pet. 3:18)16. Note: The word "grace" sometimes stands for what? (Jn. 1:17; Rom. 6:14; cf. Gal. 5:4)
b. What is conditioned on our mercy toward others? (Matt. 5:7; Jam. 2:13; cf. Matt. 6:14)
c. What about our speech? (Col. 4:6)
d. Through this avenue the Christian can obtain mercy? (Heb. 4:16)
VI. The Deity Of Christ
Identifying Christ as God is essential for a proper understanding of the Godhead. The scriptures clearly teach that Christ is a part of Deity. He is presented as God possessing all the substance of the Divine nature. Following are several references which identify Christ as Deity.
I. Before Jesus came in flesh as the "Son," he existed from all eternity as the "Word."
A. Jn. 1:1 - Christ did not have a beginning, he did not begin to be.
"In the beginning was the Word..." This passage plainly states that in the beginning the Word already existed. (Note: In John 1:14 the "Word" is identified as Christ, the one who came in the flesh.)
B. This verse tells when Christ existed
- "in the beginning"; with whom he existed - "God" (the Father); and that he is Divine - "was God."
II. Christ is called "God."
A. As a child he was addressed at "Immanuel"
("God with us"). (Matt. 1:23; Isa. 7:14)
B. He was said to be "God."
C. Thomas called him "My God."
D. The Father called him "God."
III. Christ is called "The mighty God." (Isa. 9:6)
IV. The Bible attributes to Christ a Divine nature.
A. In him the "fullness" of the Godhead dwells.
1. "Dwells" denotes a location, a definite place.B. In him "all fullness" dwells.
2. "Fullness" refers to wholeness, entirety or completeness.
3. "Godhead" means Deity, the state of being God. (cf. Acts 17:29; Rom. 1:20)
4. "Bodily" suggests complete representation or embodiment.
V. Christ is "the express image" of the Father. (Heb. 1:3)
A. The term "express image" refers to an exact likeness or impression.
(cf. ASV "the very image"; RSV "the very stamp"; NASV & NIV "the exact representation")
B. "Person" means "substance" and refers to the real, true nature of the Father.
VI. Christ is addressed as Jehovah.
A. In Isaiah 8:12,13 "Jehovah" is the subject.
(Note: in the KJV the word "Jehovah" is translated "Lord.")
B. However, Peter refers to this text and specifically applies it to Christ.
(I Pet. 3:14,15) (Note: Though the KJV has "Lord" in verse 15, the Greek text reads "Christ." Compare the ASV and other translations.)
VII. Christ is identified as Jehovah.
A. Isa. 40:3 - John was to prepare the way for Jehovah.
But John prepared the way for Christ (Mk. 1:1-3). Therefore, Christ is Jehovah.
B. Isa. 44:24
(cf. 42:5) - Jehovah made all things.
But all things were created by Christ (Jn. 1:3). Therefore, Christ is Jehovah.
C. Isa. 43:11 - Jehovah is the only Saviour.
But Christ is Saviour (Tit. 2:13). Therefore, Christ is Jehovah.
D. Isa. 43:14 - Jehovah is redeemer.
But Christ is redeemer (Tit. 2:14). Therefore, Christ is Jehovah.
E. Isa. 44:6 - Jehovah is the first and last.
But Christ is first and last (Rev. 1:17; 2:8). Therefore, Christ is Jehovah.
F. Isa. 45:5 - Jehovah is God.
But Christ is God (Jn. 1:1). Therefore Christ is Jehovah.
VII. The Incarnation Of Christ
In Matthew 13:54,55 we find the following: "And when he was come into his country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter's son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James and Joses, and Simon and Judas?" The people knew there was something unusual about Jesus. What was it? The answer is found in his incarnation.
The word incarnation comes from the Latin (IN - "in" and CARN - "flesh"), and refers to the coming of Christ, as Deity, in a human body. Jesus lived in a body of flesh, but he demonstrated wisdom and power beyond human capabilities. He was God, but in a human form.
I. The Importance Of The Incarnation.
A. It is the foundation of the Christian system.
1. In his body of "flesh" Jesus manifested the glory of the Father. (Jn. 1:14)B. In New Testament days there were those who believed that flesh was inherently sinful and could not accept the idea of Deity taking a fleshly body.
2. The great "mystery of godliness" was revealed first through his manifestation in the "flesh" (I Tim. 3:16).
Hence, they rejected the idea of the incarnation. However, to reject the incarnation of Christ means one is without God and has the spirit of the antichrist. (I Jn. 4:2,3; II Jn. 7)
II. The Scriptures Confirm The Incarnation.
A. It is foreshadowed in Old Testament prophecies.
(Gen. 3:15; Isa. 7:14 ; 9:6)
B. It is established by the virgin birth.
(Lk. 1:35; Matt. 1:18-23)
C. Jesus often emphasized his human-Divine, dual nature.
(Matt. 22:41-45; Jn. 6:32,33; 38; 8:23,42)
D. The apostles taught the incarnation.
(Rom. 1:3,4; I Tim. 2:5; I Jn. 4:2,3; II Jn. 7)
III. What The Incarnation Involved.
A. A human birth. Jesus was "born of woman."
(Gal. 4:4) (see Matt. 1:18ff; Lk. 2:7)
B. Human development.
In his human body Jesus "grew" and "increased." (Lk. 2:40,52)
C. Human characteristics, including human limitations.
1. He hungered. Matt. 21:18
2. He thirsted. (Jn. 4:7; 19:28)
3. He became weary. (Jn. 4:6)
4. He suffered. (I Pet. 4:1)
5. He was tempted. (Matt. 4:1; Heb. 4:15)
6. He prayed. (Mk. 1:35)
IV. The Purpose Of The Incarnation.
A. To reveal God to man.
Jesus came to show what God was like. "And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me" Jn. 12:45 (cf. Jn. 14:9) (see Jn. 1:18)
B. To identify himself with man.
(Phil. 2:6,7; Heb. 2:11-13). Because he also partook of a fleshly body, Jesus knows the meaning of human suffering. (Heb. 2:18)
C. To set an example of righteous living.
(I Pet. 2:21)
D. To atone for sin.
1. In his fleshly body ("a little lower than the angels") he died. (Heb. 2:9; Phil. 2:8)E. To conquer death and the works of Satan
2. From his fleshly body came his blood. (Matt. 26:28; Jn. 19:34)
(Heb. 2:14-16). When his body was raised anew the final victory was won. (I Cor. 15:51-54)
V. Because of being both human and Divine Christ is the perfect mediator. (I Tim. 2:5)
VIII. The Resurrection Of Christ
In a body of human flesh Jesus died. The one who claimed to be the Son of God and who had performed many mighty works was dead. For his disciples all hope seemed to be lost. However, true to his promise, this was not the end - the end never came. When Jesus died his spirit went into the care of God (Lk. 23:46). His body was taken and placed in a tomb. (Matt. 27:57-60) But, on the 3rd day his body (made anew) was raised and reunited with his spirit.
This was the grand climax of heaven's plan. Everything now focused on this event. Without it the Christian system would have no meaning. (I Cor. 15:14-19)
I. The Resurrection Was The Conclusive Sign Of Christ's Deity.
A. During his ministry Jesus performed many miracles which were proofs of his claim to be the son of God, but his resurrection was the final proof.
B. The Jews sought for "signs" from Jesus, but his resurrection was to be the decisive, irrefutable "sign."
He would die, but would not remain dead. (Matt. 12:39,40; cf. Rom.1:4)
II. The Empty Tomb And Resurrection Were Historical.
A. This was recorded by four men.
(Matt. 28:1-7; Mk. 16:1-7; Lk. 24:1-9; Jn. 20:1-8)
1. There are no sufficient reasons for doubting these accounts.B. This evidence is strong enough to stand up in a court of law.
2. These men either recorded the truth or fabricated a colossal hoax.
Irwin H. Linton, an attorney, in his book, A Lawyer Examines The Bible, states: "And the actual, physical reality of this earthly fact of Christ's resurrection...is not only so established that the greatest lawyers have declared it to be the best proved fact of all history, but it so supported that it is difficult to conceive of any method or line of proof that it lacks...The truth of this will appear only on careful consideration of the question how God could give and authenticate a revelation better than he has."
III. Witnesses To Christ's Resurrection.
A. The gospel accounts record many eye witnesses to Christ's resurrection.
1. Mary Magdalene (Jn. 20:1,11-18)B. In addition, the apostle Paul recorded more witnesses, including himself.
2. Other women (Matt. 28:5-10)
3. Two disciples (Lk. 24:13-33)
4. Simon (Lk. 24:34)
5. Several disciples (Jn. 20:19-25)
6. Several disciples (Jn. 20:26-29
7. Seven disciples (Jn. 21:1,2,14)
8. The apostles (Matt. 28:16-20)
1. More then five hundred at once (I Cor. 15:6)C. Luke, in the book of Acts recorded several witnesses.
2. James (I Cor. 15:7)
3. Paul (I Cor. 15:8)
1. The apostles (Acts 1:4; cf. Matt. 28:16-20)
2. Stephen (Acts 7:54-56,60)
3. Saul (Acts 9:1-6,17; 22:14; cf. I Cor. 9:1; 15:8)
IV. Arguments Used Against Christ's Resurrection
A. His disciples stole his body.
1. This was the original story contrived by his enemies. (Matt. 28:11-15)B. His enemies stole his body.
2. If true, how did his disciples get by the guards?
3. If true, why did they remove his burial clothes?
4. If true, his disciples preached a known lie.
1. If true, how did they get by the guards?C. He was not dead, just unconscious.
2. If true, what was their motive? Concealing his body would have defeated their purpose.
3. If true, they could have later produced his body and proved he was dead?
1. This view suggests that after hanging on the cross for several long hours, and after remaining in the tomb from Friday until Sunday, without any medical attention, Jesus rolled away the stone and somehow made his way by the guards.
2. Those who hold this view overlook the fact that the soldiers knew he was dead, hence, did not break his bones (Jn. 19:32,33). They also overlook the fact that both blood and water came from his side, a sure sign of death. (Jn. 19:34)
IX. THE HOLY SPIRIT
In the religious world today there is much confusion concerning the Holy Spirit. Because of this some religious leaders fail to give attention to Holy Spirit, and some who address the subject do so with great misunderstanding. Some teach the Spirit is only a substance or essence, some refer to the Spirit as a mere influence, and yet others teach that the Spirit merely a mysterious force.
What we know about the Spirit of God can only come from the scriptures and they are not ambiguous about him. The Spirit is revealed to us as part of the Godhead. Together, along with the Father and the Son, the Spirit possesses attributes of Deity.
I. The Holy Spirit Is A Part Of The Godhead
A. The Spirit is equated with Jehovah of the Old Testament.
1. Sometimes in the New Testament a work is attributed to the Holy Spirit, however, the Old Testament ascribes the same work to Jehovah.B. The Spirit is often mentioned in unity with the Godhead.
2. In Acts 28:25-27 Paul cites from Isaiah six and attributes this to the Holy Spirit. However, Isaiah attributes this to the Lord (Hebrew "Jehovah"). (Isa. 6:9,10)
1. At the baptism of Jesus all three persons of the Godhead are mentioned. (Matt. 3:13-17; cf. Mk.1:9-11)C. The scriptures refer to the Spirit as "God."
2. Jesus spoke of the Comforter, the Father and himself (Jn. 15:26)
3. Paul mentioned Jesus, the Spirit and God. (Rom. 15:30)
4. Baptism is in the name of the Father, Son and Spirit (Matt. 28:19)
5. Paul's salutation to the Corinthians includes all three (II Cor. 13:14)
6. In the introduction to his first epistle Peter mentions all three (I Pet. 1:2 7). In Paul's discussion on unity all three are mentioned. (Eph. 4:5,6)
D. The Spirit is shown to be divine by the descriptions given him.
1. "Spirit of God" (Gen. 1:2; Matt. 3:16)
2. "Spirit of the Lord" (Lk. 4:18)
3. "Spirit of our God" (I Cor. 6:11)
4. "Spirit of Jehovah" (Judg. 3:10)
5. "Thy (Jehovah's) Spirit" (Ps. 139:7)
6. "Spirit of the Lord God" (Isa. 61:1)
7. "Spirit of your Father" (Matt. 10:20)
8. "Spirit of the living God" (II Cor. 3:3
9. "Spirit of truth" (Jn. 14:17)
II. The Holy Spirit Possesses Marks Of Deity
A. He is eternal
B. He is omnipresent
C. He is omnipotent
(Rom. 15:19; Mic. 3:8; Lk. 1:35)
D. He is omniscient
(Isa. 40:13,14; I Cor. 2:9-11)
III. The Spirit Is Associated With Divine Works
(Gen. 1:2; Job 26:13; 33:4
B. Regeneration - - sanctification
(Jn. 3:5; II Th. 2:13)
C. The resurrection
D. Other miracles
(I Cor. 12:8-11)
(Gen. 41:16,38; I Cor. 2:10)
(II Pet. 1:21)
Does the Holy Spirit have personality? Many have been taught that the "Spirit" is only an impersonal force that emanates from the Father. To support this view some refer Romans 8:16 (KJV), "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit..."
It is argued that the term "itself" shows the Spirit to be impersonal. However, this is incorrect. The word rendered "itself" is from autos
and should be translated "himself." (cf. ASV, RSV, NKJ)
Others have claimed that since the word "spirit" is neuter gender this shows the Spirit to be impersonal. True, the word "Spirit" in both the Hebrew (ruach
) and Greek (pneuma
) is neuter gender. However, to imply that this word always refers to something impersonal is incorrect. The fact is, the context
must determine its usage. This is made evident by many passages which reveal the Holy Spirit to have personality.
I. The identity of the Holy Spirit
A. The Spirit is referred to with the masculine pronouns "he" and "him"
(Jn. 15:26; 16:7,8,13,14)
B. The Spirit is named
II. The intellect of the Holy Spirit
A. The Spirit possesses the attribute of mind
B. The Spirit has knowledge
(I Cor. 2:11)
C. The Spirit has the ability to will
(I Cor. 12:11)
III. The works of the Holy Spirit.
A. The Spirit searches
(I Cor. 2:10)
B. The Spirit speaks
(Acts 8:29; 10:19; I Tim. 4:1)
C. The Spirit testifies and bears witness
(Jn. 15:26,27) (cf. Rom. 8:16)
D. The Spirit gives power
E. The Spirit guides
F. The Spirit prophesies
G. The Spirit teaches
H. The Spirit causes men to recall things
(Jn. 14:26; cf. Lk.12:12)
I. The Spirit moves (inspires) men
(II Pet. 1:21)
J. The Spirit leads
K. The Spirit reproves
(convicts) (Jn. 16:8-11)
L. The Spirit forbids
M. The Spirit sanctifies
(Rom. 15:16; II Thess. 2:13)
N. The Spirit helps in prayer
O. The Spirit invites
IV. Man can interact with the Holy Spirit.
A. The Spirit can be lied to
B. The Spirit can be resisted
C. The Spirit can be despised
D. The Spirit can be blasphemed
E. The Spirit can be striven with
V. The emotional attributes of the Holy Spirit.
A. The Spirit can love
B. The Spirit can comfort (help)
C. The Spirit can grieve
(Eph. 4:30; Isa. 63:10)
The Holy Spirit and man's conversion. Conversion is essentially a change. It is the process by which man turns from sin and self to God. It is a change from the old life of sin to the new life in Christ. It should be pointed out that conversion is not something done for man
, but something done by man in response to God's will. Conversion takes place in the mind and life of the sinner. In conversion there are no special senses, powers or physical feelings imparted to man.
That the Holy Spirit is involved in man's conversion is a Bible truth. But in what way is he involved? Does he overrule and operate directly
on the heart of a sinner, or does he work indirectly through the word
? It must be kept in mind that while the Bible teaches the Spirit is active in man's conversion (Tit. 3:5), yet it also teaches that man has the power of choice (Matt. 16:24; Rev. 22:17).
I. The Spirit does not convert man directly.
A. A direct working of the Spirit would contradict the scriptures which teach that the word (the gospel) is God's power to save.
(Rom. 1:16; Jam. 1:21-25)
B. A direct working of the Spirit would overrule man's free will.
However, man is a free moral agent and accountable for his actions. (Rom. 14:12; II Cor. 5:10)
C. If the Spirit works directly, since all men are not saved, this means the Spirit has only worked on the hearts of some.
Would not this make God a respecter of persons? However, the Bible expressly states he is not. (Acts 10:34; Rom. 2:11; I Pet. 1:17)
D. If the Spirit works directly, why are there no Christians where the word has not gone?
E. If the Spirit works directly (overruling man's will), why would men need to be judged by the word in the last day?
(Jn. 12:48; Rev. 20:12)
II. The Spirit converts sinners by means of the word.
A. The Spirit guided men as they preached the saving word.
(Jn. 14:26; 16:13; Matt. 28:18,19)
B. The Bible teaches men are "born" of the Spirit
(Jn. 3:5). However, men are also said to be "born" of the word. (I Pet. 1:23; Jam. 1:18; cf. I Cor. 12:13)
C. Cases of conversion show that men were converted by means of the word.
What took place in each of the following accounts?
1. The Jews on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:36,37)D. What do the following verses reveal about the nature of God's word?
2. The five thousand (Acts 4:4)
3. The Samaritans (Acts 8:12)
4. Simon (Acts 8:13)
5. The eunuch (Acts 8:35)
6. Cornelius (Acts 11:14)
7. Lydia (Acts 16:14)
8. The jailor (Acts 16:32)
9. The Bereans (Acts 17:11)
10. The Corinthians (Acts 18:8; Acts 2:36,37)
11. Saul (Acts 22:10)
1. Rom. 1:16 - Is the power of God
2. Eph. 6:17 - Is the sword of the Spirit
3. Heb. 4:12 - Is living and active
4. I Jn. 2:3-5 - Is the means by which God's love is perfected in us
The Holy Spirit and the Christian. Does the Spirit work in the life
of the Christian? Yes. The scriptures reveal a very close relation between the two. One need read but few pages of the New Testament before discovering this great truth. What do the scriptures reveal about the Spirit's working in the life of God's children?
I. The Bible teaches that the Spirit dwells in the Christian.
A. I Cor. 6:19; Rom. 8:9; Gal. 4:6; Eph. 2:22.
These verses emphasize that the Christian belongs to God. This close relation is expressed in terms of the Holy Spirit abiding in the Christian.
B. However, though these verses speak of a dwelling of the Spirit, they do not explain the manner in which this takes place.
II. Where does the Spirit dwell?
A. The place of the Spirit's dwelling is man's heart.
(Gal. 4:6; II Cor. 1:22)
B. But what is man's heart?
1. Matt. 9:4; Mk. 2:6,8; Lk. 24:38; Rom. 10:9,10; Lk. 1:51; Matt. 5:28; Jn. 14:1,2; Rom. 16:18; I Jn. 3:19; Heb.10:22 - - From these verses it is learned that with the heart man thinks, reasons, believes and imagines. In the heart man can lust. The heart can be troubled, deceived and assured. The heart also involves man's conscience.C. The Bible clearly teaches that to be "after the Spirit" is to be "spiritually minded."
2. Hence, the heart is man's mind - the center of man's will, reason and emotion. It is here that the Spirit dwells.
(Rom. 8:5,6) Thus, it is the mind of man in which the Spirit works.
III. How is the dwelling of the Spirit accomplished?
A. Since the Spirit dwells in the Christian's mind, there is only one way this can be done -- through words.
1. Man perceives things through his five senses: by touching, tasting, smelling, hearing and seeing. The words of the Spirit [truth] can only be perceived by hearing or seeing.B. The Spirit is "received" by the "hearing of faith."
2. Hence, the Spirit communicates through words. (II Sam. 23:2; Jn. 16:13; Acts 8:29; 10:19; 13:2; 20:23; 21:11; I Tim. 4:1; Heb. 3:7; II Pet. 1:20,21)
1. But, where does faith come from? From the word. (Rom. 10:17)C. The Bible teaches that "the truth, the word of God...effectually worketh also in you..."
2. Since faith comes by hearing the word, then the faith by which the Spirit dwells must come through the word. There is no other way.
(I Thess. 2:13). How is this accomplished? There is only one way -- when the word is taken into the heart. When this occurs it can be said that the Spirit is working in the heart. As the Christian takes the word into his mind (heart), the Spirit dwells in him.
D. Christians are to manifest the "fruit of the Spirit."
(Gal. 5:22) How? By following the inspired word
revealed by the Holy Spirit.
E. Christians are said to "live in the Spirit" and "walk in the Spirit."
(Gal. 5:25) How is this done? By following the Spirit's word. It is in this way that the Christian is "led" by the Spirit of God. (cf. Rom.8:14)
F. That which "abides" in the Christian is what he has "heard."
(I Jn. 2:24) However, that which is heard is the word delivered by the Spirit. Hence, it can be said that the Spirit abides by the word.
G. Through the Spirit we "mortify the deeds of the body."
(Rom. 8:13) How is this carried out? By following the word given by the Spirit.
H. The word given by the Spirit is "living and powerful" and discerns the "thoughts and intents of the heart."
(Heb. 4:12) Again, the relation between the Spirit's word and the heart of man is evident.
I. The Christian is "transformed" by the renewing of the "mind."
In this he proves God's acceptable "will" (word). (Rom. 12:2) Hence, the word works through the mind of man.
J. Paul said, "we have the mind of Christ."
(I Cor. 2:16) How is this possible? By receiving the word revealed by the Spirit.
K. Note: Since the Spirit works through the word to convert the lost, it is reasonable that he would continue to influence the Christian by the same means.
IV. The correlation between the Spirit and the word
A. In every instance, what is said to be done by the Spirit is also said to be accomplished through the word.
B. Various attributes are ascribed to both the Spirit and the word.
Creates - - (The Spirit > Gen. 1:2 Job. 26:13) (The Word > Heb.1:3 II Pet. 3:5)
Gives life - - (The Spirit > II Cor. 3:6) (The Word > Jam. 1:18)
Born of - - (The Spirit > Jn. 3:5) (The Word > I Pet. 1:23 I Cor. 4:15)
Saved by - - (The Spirit > Tit. 3:5) (The Word > Jam. 1:21 Rom. 1:16)
Is truth - - (The Spirit > Jn. 14:17 I Jn. 5:6) (The Word > Jn. 17:17)
Is power - - (The Spirit > Rom. 15:13) (The Word > Heb. 1:3; 4:12)
Led by - - (The Spirit > Rom. 8:14) (The Word > Ps. 119:105)
Comforts - - (The Spirit > Acts 9:31) (The Word > I Thess. 4:18)
Dwells - - (The Spirit > Rom. 8:11) (The Word > Col. 3:16)
V. The word of God - the instrument of the Spirit.
A. The "sword of the Spirit" is the "word of God."
(Eph. 6:17; cf. Heb. 4:12)
B. The Spirit does not personally and directly touch the heart of the Christian.
Rather, his word is the instrument he uses to accomplish this purpose. (As a man does not directly strike the tree, but uses an axe to transfer his energy to the tree, so the Spirit uses his word as the instrument to transmit his influence into the heart of man.)
VI. Parallel passages on the subject of indwelling.
A. The books of Ephesians and Colossians are "sister" books.
They discuss much of the same material but express it in different ways. Ephesians 5:18,19 and Colossians 3:16 are classic examples of parallel texts.
1. Eph. 5:18,19 "And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess, but be filled with the Spirit; speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord."B. One states, "be filled with the Spirit" while the other states, "let the word of Christ dwell in you."
2. Col. 3:16 "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord."
The parallel is obvious. To be filled with the spirit is to have the word of Christ dwell in one's heart.
VII. There is a remarkable parallel between the relation the Father, Son and Spirit have with the Christian. What is said of one is also said of the others.
A. The Father.
1. Dwells in the Christian. (II Cor. 6:16)
2. Walks in the Christian. (II Cor. 6:16
3. The Christian dwells in him. (I Jn. 4:15)
B. The Son.
1. Dwells in the Christian. (Col. 1:27)
2. Formed in the Christian. (Gal. 4:19)
3. The Christian dwells in him. (II Cor. 5:17)
C. The Spirit.
1. Dwells in the Christian. (Rom. 8:11)
2. Fills the Christian. (Eph. 5:18)
3. The Christian walks in him. (Gal. 5:16)
D. This close parallel between the three persons of the Godhead means that whatever dwelling attribute belongs to one belongs the others as well.
E. In addition, note the number of times all three are said to be "in" the Christian.
1. The Father - 8 times.
2. The Son - 16 times.
3. The Spirit - 6 times.
In view of the above, it can be concluded that the Spirit dwells in the Christian in the same way the Father and Son dwell - spiritually and representatively by the means of the word he revealed.
Some believe the indwelling of the Spirit is an actual, personal indwelling separate and apart from the word. Following are some reasons offered for believing this view and a response to each.
I. "The Bible says the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit." (I Cor. 6:19)
A. First, it is assumed this refers to a personal, literal dwelling. But is this what Paul meant?
B. Since the context deals with how the Christian is to use his "body" (12-20), it was understandable why Paul (in emphasizing that the Christian belongs to God) used the term "body" to describe the dwelling of the Spirit.
C. Though Paul used the term "body" it is obvious he was not meaning to say that the Spirit actually dwells throughout man's physical body. The meaning here is much deeper
D. Note: Man is a three-fold being - spirit, soul and body.
(I Thess. 5:23)
1. The word "spirit" refers to man's immortal, eternal nature which is made in the image of God. (Lk. 8:55; Acts 7:59; I Cor. 5:5; Heb. 12:9,23; Jam. 2:26)
2. The word "soul" refers to the life (animating force) within man's body. (Matt. 2:20; Lk. 12:22; I Pet. 3:20) (Note: At times the words "soul" and spirit" are found to be used interchangeably.)
3. The word "body," of course, refers to man's physical nature.
4. It is not the Christian's physical being or the life motivating the body in which the Spirit dwells - rather it is in the Christian's spirit, the inner self, the mind.
a. Note: "The Spirit himself beareth witness with our spirit." (Rom. 8:16)
b. How is this done? The only way it can be done - the Spirit bears witness through the medium of his word.
E. In I Corinthians 6:19 the word "body" is actually a figure of speech called metonymy (of adjunct), wherein one word is used when another word closely associated with it is intended
(Lk. 22:20). Here Jesus used the word "cup" when he was referring the contents of the cup, the "fruit of the vine" (v.18).
II. "In Acts 2:38 all Christians are said to be given 'the gift of the Holy Spirit' which is a dwelling of the Spirit."
A. It is argued that the "gift" of the Spirit refers to the Spirit himself.
However, this is not necessarily true. From a purely grammatical standpoint this can also refer to a gift from the Spirit. Note: "gift of God" (Rom.6:23; Acts 8:20) and "gift of Christ" (Eph. 4:7) refer to things from the Father and the Son.
B. Those who believe the "gift" is the Spirit himself believe this is speaking of a personal dwelling of the Spirit meant to be received by all Christians at baptism.
However, there is good reason to believe this is not the case and that, in fact, it is referring to a miraculous measure of the Spirit meant only for some Christians.
C. To what does the "gift" refer?
1. If the "gift" refers to a dwelling of the Spirit meant for all Christians, why is it never mentioned in any other case of conversion?
2. In all other instances when the word "gift" is used in relation to the Spirit, it refers to the miraculous. If a miraculous measure of the Spirit is not intended in Acts 2:38, it is an exception to the rule. (Note these examples.)
a. Acts 8:18-20 - After seeing the apostles lay hands on others giving them a miraculous measure of the Spirit, Simon wanted to buy this power. Peter told him, "Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money." The "gift" here is clearly referring to the miraculous.
b. Acts 10:44-46 - At the house of Cornelius the Jews who had come with Peter saw "that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Spirit. For they heard them speak with tongues..." Obviously, this "gift" had to do with the miraculous.
c. Acts 11:15-17 - Again, concerning Cornelius and his house, Peter said, "Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us..." Again, this "gift" denotes the miraculous.
d. Eph. 3:5-7 - In discussing his apostolic work and how by the Spirit he was revealed the mystery of Christ, Paul wrote: "Whereof I was made a minister, according of the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of power." The "gift" here again pertains to the miraculous.
e. Eph. 4:7,8 - Speaking of Christ ascending to heaven and sending the Spirit (cf. Jn. 15:26; 16:7), Paul stated, "according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men." Clearly, the "gift" here has to do with the miraculous.
3. Since in other instances the word "gift" refers to the miraculous, it is seems consistent to understand it this way Acts 2:38. Note the following chart.
Gift of God - - Acts 8:20 - - Miraculous
Gift of the Holy Spirit - - Acts 10:45 - - Miraculous
Like gift - - Acts 11:17 - - Miraculous
The gift of the grace of God - - Eph. 3:7 - - Miraculous
The measure of the gift of Christ - - Eph. 4:7 - - Miraculous
Gave gifts unto men - - Eph. 4:8 - - Miraculous
Gift of the Holy Spirit - - Acts 2:38 - - Non-miraculous (?)
4. Acts 2:38 states, "and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit..." Note: In all other cases where the Spirit is said to be received, reference is clearly to the miraculous.
a. Acts 8:17 - When Peter and John laid their hands on the new Samaritan Christians it is said that "they received the Holy Spirit." Clearly, this refers to the miraculous.
b. Acts 10:47 - When the Spirit came upon Cornelius' household, Peter said they "received the Holy Spirit." Again, this reference to the miraculous.
c. Acts 19:2 - After meeting the men who had been baptized with John's baptism, Paul asked them, "Have ye received the Holy Spirit....?" Verse six states that when Paul "laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them." The context shows Paul was referring to the miraculous.
d. Since in other instances "receiving" the Spirit involved the miraculous, is it not reasonable that it means the miraculous in Acts 2:38 as well?
5. Note: The Jews on Pentecost knew nothing about a personal dwelling of the Spirit. All they could have known about the Spirit related only to the miraculous. Note the context of Acts 2.
D. It is argued that Acts 2:28 implies the gift of the Spirit was meant for every Christian.
a. The miracle of the coming of the Spirit. (verses 1-4)
b. The miracle of the apostles speaking in other languages. (verses 4-12)
c. Peter's referral to Joel's prophecy of the miracles seen that day. (verses 16-21)
d. Christ giving the Spirit through whom the miracles were done. (verses 32,33).
e. Hence, Peter's reference to the "gift of the Holy Spirit" should be viewed in light the framework of this chapter. A so-called non-miraculous dwelling of the Holy Spirit would not have been the understanding of those who heard Peter's words. Rather, they would have understood him to be referring to something extraordinary - the miraculous.
Hence, since all Christians could not perform miracles this cannot refer to a miraculous measure of the Spirit. However, this argument is based on assumption. The following parallel text shows why.
1. When giving the great commission, Jesus said, "And these signs [miracles] shall follow [accompany] them that believe..." (Mk. 16:17)
2. Though this seems to imply that all those who would become believers could perform miracles, we know this was not the case.
3. Both Acts 2:38 and Mark 16:17 are speaking in general terms. That is, miraculous powers would be found within the church (the body of believers), but not everyone would have these powers.
E. Note: The phrase "gift of the Holy Spirit" is found only one other time (Acts 10:45), and in that case it refers, not to a non-miraculous dwelling, but to the miraculous.
Good exegesis dictates that the expression "gift of the Holy Spirit" has the same meaning in both texts.
III. "To say that the Spirit dwells through the word makes the Spirit and the word the same."
This is flawed reasoning. The Spirit and the word are not the same, rather the word is the means by which the Spirit works.
(Eph. 6:17). Added note: To those who believe the Spirit directly and personally dwells in the Christian, separate from the word, the following questions are in order.
What would the Spirit do for the Christian? Would he give him greater faith? Would he give him love for truth? Would he give him conviction? Would he give him understanding?
1. These are all attainable through the word.
2. There is nothing the Spirit is said to supply the Christian that is not also ascribed to the word.
I. Is not this view saying that God's word is not all-sufficient?
Yet, we are told that by the scriptures the Christian is "thoroughly furnished unto all good works." (II Tim. 3:16,17)
II. Would not this view mean that the Spirit overrules man's mind?
To say that the Spirit dwells personally and directly in man (separate from the word), suggests that he must, in some measure, impose his will on man, hence, overruling man's will. If this is not the case, then what is the purpose of such an indwelling?!
III. Satan is said to have "entered" Judas
(Lk. 22:3; Jn. 13:27). Does this mean that he literally, personally took up abode in him? No. How, then, did this take place? Where does Satan abide? In the "heart" (Acts 5:3). Is it not reasonable to conclude that the Spirit influences the heart of man in the same way?
The scriptures reveal that the Holy Spirit does many things for the Christian. Most of these things are accomplished through the medium of the word given by the Spirit. The following list shows the extensive nature of the work of the Spirit.
I. The Spirit sanctifies. (Rom. 15:16; II Thess. 2:13; I Pet. 1:2)
How is this done? (Jn. 3:3-5; Tit. 3:5) (see also I Pet. 1:22,23; Jn. 17:17; Heb. 10:9,10,29)
II. The Spirit gives the Christian assurance that he is a Christian (Rom. 8:16)
The Spirit "bear witness" with the Christian's spirit. (Rom. 8:14; I Jn. 3:24)
III. The Spirit encourages holiness in the Christian's life. The Holy Spirit is called the "Spirit of holiness." (Rom. 1:4)
IV. The Spirit helps the Christian fight against sin. (Rom. 8:12-14; Gal. 5:16-25)
V. The Spirit provides hope for the Christian. (Rom. 15:13; cf. Gal. 5:5)
VI. The Spirit gives the Christian confidence. (Rom. 8:1,2; Eph. 1:13,14)
VII. The Spirit gives the Christian strength and encouragement in time of trial. (Eph. 3:16) (see vv.12-17)
A. The Spirit was involved in encouraging the early churches
(Rev. 2:7,11,17,26-29; 3:5,6,12,13,21,22). The Spirit supplies the Christian with the message that is to be taught. (I Pet. 1:9-12)
B. This message came by the working of the Holy Spirit.
(II Pet. 1:20,21)
While there are many things the Spirit does for the Christian that are accomplished through the word, there are things he has done, is doing and will do independent of the word.
I. In the first century the Spirit worked directly through miraculous measures (Acts 2:1-4; I Cor. 12:8-10)
Those miraculous measures ceased. (I Cor. 13:8-10)
II. The Spirit helps the Christian in prayer. (Rom. 8:26,27
The Spirit's work in prayer is called "intercession."
III. The Spirit will one day be involved in the resurrection of the dead. (Rom. 8:11)