God exists eternally in three persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The three persons are one God, not three. They are co-equal, co-eternal, and worthy of exactly the same confidence, obedience, and worship. The Trinity exists in a category of its own and is fundamentally different from the universe and its creatures. No creature can or ever will be God. In their engagement with creation and its creatures, the persons of the Trinity follow a chain of command, known as the economic Trinity. In general, the Father directs the Son, and the Son directs the Spirit. We know God exists through general and special revelation. General revelation is what man may know about God through creation and conscience. By observing creation around us and our conscience within us, we know God exists and are without excuse for not worshipping him.
The Attributes of God
The Trinity possesses the following attributes to an infinite degree: holiness, sovereignty, righteousness, justice, love, eternity, omnipresence, omniscience, omnipotence, immutability and truth. Other attributes could be listed.
The Names and Titles of God
The personal name of God is יהוה or Yahweh. Compound names of God are: Yahweh Jireh (Lord Provides), Yahweh Nissi (Lord Our Banner), Yahweh Maccaddeshcem (Lord Our Sanctifier), Yahweh Shalom (Lord Is Peace), Yahweh Sabbaoth (Lord of Hosts), Yahweh Tsidkenu (Lord Our Righteousness), and Yahweh Shammah (Lord Who Is There). Titles for God include: Elohim (God), El Elyon (God Most High), El Roi (God Who Sees), El Shaddai (God Almighty), El Olam (Everlasting God), Adon (Lord), and Qadosh Israel (Holy One of Israel).
The Roles of God
God is the Creator, Sustainer, Owner, Rock, and King of the universe. He is the Judge of angels and men and the Warrior against evil. He is the Light of men and the Saviour; Refuge; Shepherd; Healer; and Teacher of all believers.
God the Father
God the Father, the first person of the Trinity, is the Father of all people and especially of Jesus, Israel, and believers. He is the Originator of all things, the Author of the divine plan, and the Sender of the Son into the world. He currently dwells in heaven where no one may see him. No one may come to Him except through Jesus.
The Deity of Jesus
Jesus is God the Son, the second person of the Trinity, co-equal with the Father and the Holy Spirit. He pre-existed the universe and is the Creator and Sustainer of it. He shares all the attributes of God, including omnipresence, omniscience, omnipotence, and immutability. He is rightly worshipped by angels and men as Yahweh.
The Humanity of Jesus
Without abandoning any aspect of deity, Jesus became truly human through the Holy Spirit by means of virgin conception. Jesus referred to himself as a man and was recognized as such. He had a human body, soul, and spirit. He needed food, drink, and rest and experienced normal human emotion. He was tested as all men are, yet without sin. In Jesus is undiminished deity and true humanity in one person forever. He is the unique God-man person.
Jesus’ First Coming
Jesus’ first coming (c. 5 bc-30 ad) began with his birth in Bethlehem and growth to manhood in Nazareth. After his baptism by John and wilderness testing by Satan, he ministered publicly in Judea, Galilee, and Perea as the Prophet, being attested with mighty works, wonders, and signs. He offered the promised Messianic kingdom to Israel, but that offer was rejected. As a result, Jesus began to prepare his disciples for the Church age that would follow his resurrection.
Jesus’ Death and Resurrection
During Passover week, Jesus was handed over by Judas, tried before the Jewish high priest Caiaphas and the Roman governor Pilate, and put to death on a cross. In this way Jesus, the perfect God-man substitute, died for all man’s sins. On the third day after his death, Jesus rose bodily from the dead, evidenced by the empty tomb, the numerous of appearances of Jesus to many people on many occasions over a period of forty days, and the sudden bold preaching of the apostles. His resurrection proved his claims about himself and the truth of all he said. Having risen from the dead, Jesus will never die again.
Jesus’ Ascension and Session
Forty days after his resurrection, Jesus ascended to heaven and sat down at the right hand of the Father, who has placed all things under his feet and given him to the Church. Jesus now fulfils the office of Priest, interceding for believers before the Father. He is preparing a place for believers and will come again and take them to himself. For Jesus’ second coming, see End Times below.
The Deity of the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, is co-equal and co-eternal with the Father and the Son. He is a divine person with intellect, emotions, and will and not an impersonal energy or force. The Spirit is invisible, infinite, eternal, omnipresent, omniscient, and truthful, among other divine attributes. With the Father and the Son, he is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. He inspired Scripture and empowered the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
The Spirit and Man
Respecting man in general, the Spirit: (1) restrains evil, (2) convicts people about sin, righteousness, and judgment and (3) testifies about the person and work of Jesus. It is typical of unbelievers to blaspheme, speak against, and resist the Spirit.
The Spirit and the Church
The Spirit selectively indwelt, came upon, and enabled certain Old Testament believers. But in the Church age, the Spirit enjoys a much closer personal relationship with every believer. At the moment of faith in Jesus, every Church age believer is regenerated, indwelt, sealed, and given one or more spiritual gifts by the Spirit. The Spirit helps, teaches, reminds, guides, assures, intercedes for, and gives understanding to believers who are in fellowship with God. Believers are commanded to be filled with the Spirit, but it is possible for them to lie to, test, grieve, or quench the Spirit.
The Spirit in the End Times
When the Church is raptured, the Spirit’s restraining influence through the Church will be removed from earth. But the Spirit will still empower evangelism and regenerate those who believe in Jesus during the Tribulation. During the future Messianic kingdom, the Spirit will continue to indwell believers.
General and Special Revelation
While God reveals himself in a general way to all mankind through creation and conscience, he reveals himself in a more specific way through the written Word, the Bible. The Bible is the unique and recognised record of God’s revelation to man, written over a period of 1,500 years by about 40 different authors.
The Inspiration and Inerrancy of Scripture
Every original word of the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments are inspired, or “God-breathed.” This means every word of Scripture ultimately derives from the infinitely true God who cannot lie. God so superintended the human authors of Scripture that they composed and recorded without error God’s message to man in the words of their original writings. In other words, the Holy Spirit co-authored the Bible with the human authors without restricting the styles and expressions of those human authors. Jesus and the apostles considered the Old Testament to be inerrant, basing many of their arguments upon it. We may be confident that Scripture is absolutely true in everything it affirms.
Canonicity describes the process by which the Spirit superintended the early church to recognise which writings were God-breathed and therefore authoritative. The early church did not decide the canon but rather recognised what all churches across a wide area already believed—that these 66 books, and only these 66 books, were inspired. Over time the 66 books so recognised were collected into what we now call the Bible.
The Authority and Sufficiency of Scripture
Because Scripture is inspired and inerrant, it is therefore authoritative on matters upon which it speaks. Moreover, Scripture is sufficient for all matters of Christian faith and practice. In other words, the Bible alone contains all believers need to know to successfully execute God’s plan in the present age.
The Interpretation of Scripture
A correct understanding of the Bible depends on the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit and the interpreting work of the believer. Scripture is to be interpreted Christocentrically using a plain, grammatical, contextual, historical hermeneutic. When the plain sense of Scripture makes good sense, we are to seek no other sense. The meaning of Scripture is generally clear, for God intends it to be understood by believers in fellowship with him. The intent of Scripture is to reveal, not conceal.
The Focus of Scripture
The primary focus of Scripture is the person and work of the Lord Jesus Messiah at his first and second coming. Scripture tells one unified, coherent story of creation, fall, redemption, and restoration, with Jesus as its main character. The Bible is all about him and what he did for us. No portion of Scripture is properly read or understood until it leads to Jesus.
Angels, Satan, and Demons
Angels exist, as evidenced by the fact they are discussed in 34 books of the Bible and by Jesus himself. Angels are finite, personal, spirit creatures who worship and serve God. They are very numerous but usually invisible to men. They are organized in a hierarchy and cannot reproduce or die. Angels were very active at Jesus’ first coming and will be so again at his second coming. In the Church age, angels minister to believers. Angels carefully observe human history to learn about God’s grace and wisdom and war against Satan and the demons on God’s behalf. At the end of human history, angels will separate the righteous from the wicked.
Satan exists, as evidence by the fact he is discussed in seven Old Testament books, by every New Testament writer, and by Jesus himself. He is not just an idea or a personification of evil, but a real angelic creature with intelligence, emotion , will, and moral responsibility. God created Satan as a wise, beautiful, and blameless angel, and placed him as an anointed guardian cherub on his holy mountain. At some point, Satan, of his own volition and responsibility, and with God’s permission, became prideful and rebelled against God. By God’s permission, Satan tempted Adam and Eve to rebel against God, whereby sin and death came upon all humanity. Today, Satan retains great power even in his fallen state. He is the chief enemy of God and his people and tries to stop God’s plan by any means possible. He promotes a world system that opposes God and his rule in the universe. He deceives the nations and unbelievers, and tries in various ways to accuse, hinder, slander, and tempt believers. Jesus came to destroy Satan’s works, and Satan has already been judged. His punishment is certain. Ultimately, he will be cast into the lake of fire for all eternity.
Demons are fallen angels who joined Satan in his rebellion against God. They are intelligent, localized spirit creatures who oppose God and his people but always under God’s ultimate authority and control. Some demons are already confined, while others are temporarily free. Demons are able to possess or influence people, and casting out a demon from a person is a serious matter. Spiritual warfare continues to take place between angels and demons, impacting the nations of the earth. The good news is God triumphed over the demons in Jesus at the cross. Ultimately all demons will be cast into the lake of fire forever.
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