Wednesday Events – Passion Week – and Judas Iscariot,the suicide of Satan and the Salvation of the World

Pentru traducere automata, fa click aici – Romanian

(via) Justin Taylor from the Gospel Coalition

Holy Week: What Happened on Wednesday?

Jesus continues his daily teaching in the Temple

Luke 21:37-38

With Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread approaching, the chief priests, elders, and scribes plot to kill Jesus

Matthew 26:3-5 Mark 14:1-2 Luke 22:1-2

Satan enters Judas, who seeks out the Jewish authorities in order to betray Jesus for a price

Matthew 26:14-16 Mark 14:10-11 Luke 22:3-6

Luke 22:1-6

Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called the Passover. 2 And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to put him to death, for they feared the people. 3 Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was of the number of the twelve. 4 He went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers how he might betray him to them. 5 And they were glad, and agreed to give him money. 6 So he consented and sought an opportunity to betray him to them in the absence of a crowd.

This is the final message in the series called Spectacular Sins and Their Global Purpose in the Glory of Christ. The aim has been to show that over and over in the history of the world, the epoch-making sins that changed the course of history never nullified but only fulfilled the global purposes of God to glorify his Son and save his people.

My prayer is that, as these great historical vistas of God’s sovereignty over sin take their place in your renewed mind, they would have a profoundly practical effect in making you strong in the face of breath-stopping sorrows and making you bold for Christ in the face of dangerous opposition. Christ-exalting strength in calamity and Christ-exalting courage in conflict. I pray that the Lord will weave cords of steel and silk into the fabric of your soul.

History’s Most Spectacular Sin: The Murder of Jesus

The most spectacular sin that has ever been committed in the history of the world is the brutal murder of Jesus Christ, the morally perfect, infinitely worthy, divine Son of God. And probably the most despicable act in the process of this murder was the betrayal of Jesus by one of his closest friends, Judas Iscariot.

Judas was one of the twelve apostles that Jesus had personally chosen and who had been with Jesus during his entire public ministry. He had been entrusted with the moneybag for the whole group (John 13:29). He was close enough to Jesus at the Last Supper to be dipping bread with him in the same cup (Mark 14:20).

“Satan Entered into Judas”

On the night of the Last Supper, Luke tells us in Luke 22:3-6 that “Satan entered into Judas. . . . He went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers how he might betray [Jesus] to them. And they were glad, and agreed to give him money. So he consented and sought an opportunity to betray him to them in the absence of a crowd.” Later he led the authorities to Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane and betrayed Jesus with a kiss (Luke 22:47-48). With that, Jesus’ death was sealed.

When Luke tells us in verse 3 that “Satan entered into Judas,” several questions come to our minds. 1) One is whether Satan simply mastered a good Judas or whether Judas was already walking in line with Satan and Satan simply decided that now is the time. 2) Another question is why Satan would do this since the death and resurrection of Jesus would result in Satan’s final defeat, and there is good reason to think Satan knew that. 3) And the third and most important question is: Where was God when this happened? What was his role or non-role in the most spectacular sin that ever was? So let’s take these questions one at a time.

1) Satan’s Power in Judas’ Sinful Passions

When it says in Luke 22:3 that “Satan entered into Judas,” how are we to think about the will of Judas and the power of Satan? Judas was not an innocent bystander when Satan entered into him. The apostle John tells us in John 12:6 that he was a thief. When Judas complained that Mary had wasted money in anointing Jesus, John comments, “He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it.”

If that sounds incredible, just think of the scandalous behavior of so-called Christian leaders today who use ministry gifts to buy $39,000 worth of clothes at one store in a year, and send their kids on a $29,000 trip to the Bahamas, and drive a white Lexus and a red Mercedes. As Judas sat beside Jesus with his pious, religious face and went out and cast out demons in Jesus’ name, he was not a righteous lover of Jesus. He loved money. He loved the power and pleasures that money could by.

Paul tells us how that works together with Satan’s power. Listen to Ephesians 2:1-3: “You were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air [notice the connection: dead in sins, following Satan], the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” Dead in our sins, walking in the passions of the flesh, fulfilling the desires of body and mind, and therefore following the prince of the power of the air.

Satan does not take innocent people captive. There are no innocent people. Satan has power where sinful passions hold sway. Judas was a lover of money, and he covered it with a phony, external relationship with Jesus. And then he sold him for thirty pieces of silver. How many of his tribe are there still today! Don’t be one. And don’t be duped by one.

2) Satan’s Role in His Own Destruction

The second question is why Satan would lead Judas to betray Jesus. Doesn’t he know that the death and resurrection of Jesus would result in Satan’s final defeat (Colossians 2:13-15; Revelation 12:11)? There’s good reason to think Satan knew that.

When Jesus began his ministry on the way to the cross, Satan tried to turn him away from the path of suffering and sacrifice. In the wilderness, he tempted him to turn stones into bread and jump off the temple and get the rulership of the world by worshipping him (Matthew 4:1-11). The point of all these temptations is: Don’t walk the path of suffering and sacrifice and death. Use your power to escape suffering. If you’re the Son of God, show your right to reign. And I can help you do it. Whatever you do, don’t go to the cross.

Then do you remember the time when Jesus predicted he would suffer many things from the elders and the chief priests and be killed and Peter rebuked him and said, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you” (Matthew 16:22). In other words, I will never let you be killed like that. Jesus did not commend him. He said, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man” (Matthew 16:23). Hindering Jesus from going to the cross was the work of Satan. Satan did not want Jesus crucified. It would be his undoing.

But here he is in Luke 22:3 entering into Judas and leading him to betray the Lord and bring him to the cross. Why the about face? Why try to divert him from the cross and then take the initiative to bring him to the cross? We are not told. Here is my effort at an answer: Satan saw his efforts to divert Jesus from the cross failing. Time after time, Jesus kept the course. His face was set like flint to die, and Satan concludes that there is no stopping him. Therefore he resolves that if he can’t stop it, he will at least make it as ugly and painful and as heartbreaking as possible. Not just death, but death by betrayal. Death by abandonment. Death by denial (see Luke 22:31-32). If he could not stop it, he would drag others into it and do as much damage as he could. It was a spectacular sequence of sins that brought Jesus to the cross.

3) God’s Role in the Murder of His Son

Which brings us now to the third and final question—the most important one: Where was God when this happened? Or more precisely: What was God’s role or non-role in the most spectacular sin that ever happened—the murder of Jesus Christ?

To answer a question like that we should put our hands on our mouths and silence our philosophical speculations. Our opinions don’t count here. All that counts is what God himself as shown us in his word. And the first thing he shows us is that the details surrounding the death of Jesus are prophesied in God’s word hundreds of years before they happen.

The Scriptures prophesy that evil men will reject Jesus when he comes.

Matthew 21:42: “Jesus said to them (quoting Psalm 118:22), ‘Have you never read in the Scriptures: “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes”?’”

The Scriptures prophesy that Jesus must be hated.

In John 15:25, Jesus quoted Psalm 35:19 and said, “The word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’”

The Scriptures prophesy that the disciples would abandon Jesus.

In Matthew 26:31, he quotes Zechariah 13:7: “You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’”

The Scriptures prophesy that Jesus will be pierced but none of his bones will be broken.

John quotes Psalm 34:20 and Zechariah 12:10 and says, “One of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear. . . . For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: ‘Not one of his bones will be broken.’ And again another Scripture says, ‘They will look on him whom they have pierced’” (John 19:34-37).

The Scriptures prophesy that Jesus would be betrayed by a close friend for thirty pieces of silver.

In John 13:18, Jesus cites Psalm 41:9 and says, “I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled, ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’”

And in Matthew 26:24, Jesus says, “The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed!”

And in Matthew 27:9-10, it says, “Then was fulfilled what had been spoken by the prophet Jeremiah, saying, ‘And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him on whom a price had been set by some of the sons of Israel, and they gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord directed me’” (Jeremiah 19:1-13; Zechariah 11:12-13).

And not only the Scriptures, but Jesus himself prophesies, down to the details, how he will be killed.

In Mark 10:33-34, he says, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles. And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise.”

And on that last night, Jesus looked at Peter and said, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times” (Matthew 26:34).

According to His Sovereign Will

From all these prophesies, we know that God foresaw, and did not prevent, and therefore included in his plan that his Son would be rejected, hated, abandoned, betrayed, denied, condemned, spit upon, flogged, mocked, pierced, and killed. All these are explicitly in God’s mind before they happen as things that he plans will happen to Jesus. These things did not just happen. They were foretold in God’s word. God knew they would happen and could have planned to stop them, but didn’t. So they happened according to his sovereign will.

And all of them were evil. They were sin. It is sin to reject, hate, abandon, betray, deny, condemn, spit upon, flog, mock, pierce, and kill the morally perfect, infinitely worthy, divine Son of God. And yet the Bible is explicit and clear that God himself planned these things. It is explicit not only in all the prophetic texts we have seen, but also in passages that say even more plainly that God brought these things to pass.

God Brought It to Pass

For example, in Isaiah 53:6 and 10, it says, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. . . . It was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief.” So behind the spitting and flogging and mocking and piercing is the invisible hand and plan of God.

And I say that carefully and with trembling. This truth is too big and too weighty and too shocking to be glib about or to be cocky about. I choose to say that the invisible hand and plan of God are behind these most spectacular sins in all the universe—more grievous and more spectacular than the fall of Satan or any others. The reason I use these very words is because the Bible says it in those very words.

The Hand and Plan of God

In Acts 4:27-28, we have the clearest, most explicit statement about God’s hand and plan behind the horrific crucifixion of his Son. “Truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand (cheir) and your plan (boule) had predestined to take place.” Those are the two words I am using: the hand of God and the plan of God.

It is a strange way of speaking—to say that God’s hand and plan have predestined something to happen. One does not ordinarily think of God’s “hand” predestining. How does a hand predestine? Here’s what I think it means: The hand of God ordinarily stands for God’s exerted power—not power in the abstract, but earthly, effective exertions of power. The point of combining it with “plan” is to say that it is not just a theoretical plan; it is plan that will be executed by God’s own hand.

This explains Isaiah 53:10: “It was the will of the Lord to bruise him; he has put him to grief.” Or more literally, with the King James Version, “It pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief.” The Lord bruised him. Behind Herod and Pilate and the Gentiles and the people of Israel was Jesus’ own Father who loved him with an infinite love.

The Gospel: God At Work in Death

Why should this matter to you? It should matter because if God were not the main Actor in the death of Christ, then the death of Christ could not save us from our sins and we would perish in hell forever. The reason the death of Christ is the heart of gospel—the heart of the good news—is God was doing it. Romans 5:8: “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” If you break God’s activity from the death of Jesus, you lose the gospel. This was God’s doing. It is the highest and deepest point of his love for sinners. His love for you.

Romans 8:3: “Sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh.” God condemned sin in Jesus’ flesh with our condemnation. So we are free.

Galatians 3:13: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us.” God cursed Jesus with the curse that belonged on us. So we are free.

2 Corinthians 5:21: “For our sake [God] made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” God imputed our sin to him, and now we go free in God’s righteousness.

Isaiah 53:5: “He was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities.” God wounded him. God crushed him. For you and me. And we go free.

The Cross of Christ: The Work and Love of God

The reason why this series of messages matters is this. If you embrace the biblical truth (and I pray you will) that God ordains spectacular sins for the global glory of his Son, without in anyway becoming unholy or unrighteous or sinful in that act, then you will not shrink back from the cross of Christ as a work of God. You will not be among the number of those who call the most loving act that ever was “divine child abuse.” You will come to the cross and fall on your face. And you will say: This is no mere human conspiracy. This is the work of God and the love of God. You will it receive as his highest gift. And you will be saved. And Christ will be glorified. And I will not have preached in vain.

© Desiring God

Reclame

Dr. Wayne Grudem – The Interpersonal Relationship among the Members of the Trinity

This lecture is from an Academic Conference at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Dr. Grudem’s presentation is the 5th lecture of this series and it is titled:

Troubling Doctrinal Deviations in Evangelical Feminist arguments about the Trinity.

Several recent evangelical feminist authors have denied that the Son is eternally subject to the authority of the Father within the Trinity. These authors include Gilbert Bilezikian, Rebecca M. Groothuis, Kevin Giles, Millard Erickson, Phillip Carey, Linda Belleville, and Dennis W. Jowers.

In reading these arguments, I noticed that they contained important doctrinal deviation either in what is said, or what is implied in the form of the argument. The argument deviated from the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity, in some cases and they rejected the authority of Scriptures, it seems to me, in other cases. So, those are going to be 2 parts of my paper:

  1. Evangelical feminist arguments that deviate from the orthodox  doctrine of the Trinity,
  2. And, Evangelical feminist arguments that reject the authority of Scripture.

Arguments that deviate from the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity

1. Denying the Trinity by denying any eternal distinctions
between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit

Essential to the doctrine of the Trinity, as affirmed by all four previous speakers, and is taught in the Bible is the idea that the distinctions between the persons of the Trinity- the Father is not the Son. Father is not the Holy Spirit, and the Son is not the Holy Spirit. They are 3 distinct persons. They’re equal in deity, and there’s only one God. But, within the being of God Himself, there are three distinct persons. Several recent evangelical authors are unwilling to specify any distinction between the persons. For example, rather than agreeing that the names Father, and Son indicate a distinction between the persons , a number of evangelical feminist authors argue that the names only show that the Son is like the Father, not that He is distinct from the Father in any way.

And sadly, the most prominent writer in this regard is Millard Erickson, whom I respect in many ways for much of what he has written. Erickson says, „There is considerable biblical evidence that the primary meaning of the biblical term Son as applied to Jesus is likeness, rather than subordinate authority. So, for example, he says the jews saw Jesus’s self designation as the Son of God as a claim to deity or equality with God. I should say in parenthesis- I agree that Sonship does imply equality of Being, because, just as a human son is human and the father is human; so, in the Trinity, the Father is divine, therefore, the Son of God is divine. That’s true. But, the question is whether that is all that is affirmed.

Similarly, Kevin Giles objects: ‘The name Father and Son are not used in the New Testament to suggest the divine Father always has authority over the Son. He said, these names speak, rather, of an eternal correlated relationship, by intimacy, unity, equality, and identical authority.

My response: If intimacy and identical authority were all that Jesus wanted to indicate by calling Himself a Son, calling God His Father, He could have spoken of ‘My friend in heaven‘, or ‘my brother in heaven‘, or even ‘my twin in heaven‘. These images were ready at hand. But, He did not. He spoke of ‘My Father in heaven‘. Emphasizing likeness in deity only, while failing to specify the distinctions between the persons of the Trinity is a failure to affirm the distinctions between the 3 persons, which is one important aspect of the doctrine of the Trinity. It seems to me that is a significant doctrinal deviation.(6:00)

2. Denying the Trinity by claiming an act of any one person
is actually an act of all three persons

Even more troubling is the tendency of evangelical feminists to claim that any action, taken by any person in the Trinity is an action of all three persons of the Trinity, when faced with many biblical texts that show that the Son is always subject to the Father (I have over 30 texts that I will allude to, later), and that the Father is not subject to the Son. When faced with many of these texts, Millard Erickson produces a different solution to suggest that the act of any one person in the Trinity is actually an act of all three persons. Here is what Erickson says is an overall principle. I’m quoting from his book ‘Who’s Tampering With The Trinity‘, pp 137-138. Erickson says this, „Although one person of the Trinity may occupy a more prominent part in a given divine action, the action is actually that of the entire Godhead‘- I would agree with him, up to that point. Then he says, ‘and the one person is acting on behalf of the three,” I would agree with him to that point. But then, listen, „This means that those passages that speak of the Father predestining, sending, commanding, and so on, should not be taken as applying to the Father only, but to all members of the Trinity. Thus, they do not count as evidence in support of eternal supremacy of the Father and eternal subordination of the Son.’

How does Erickson argue for this? The way he argues for it is to point out that some of the actions of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are done by more than one person. For instance, the Father and Son are involved in sending the Spirit into the world. The Father and Son are both involved in judging the world. Both the Son and the Holy Spirit intercede before the Father. The Father  and the Son both love the world. Both the Father and the Son receive prayer. Erickson concludes, „The various works attributed to the various persons of the Trinity are in fact works of the Triune God. One member of the Godhead may in fact do this on behalf of the three, and be mentioned as the one who does that work; but, all participate in what is done.’

But, these verses that he quotes, hardly prove Erickson’s point. Yes, it is true that both the Father and the Son sent the Spirit into the world. But, the Holy Spirit does not send the Holy Spirit into the world. And yes, both the Son and the Holy Spirit intercede before the Father. But, the Father does not intercede before the Father. As for actions that are directed toward people in the world, such as loving, judging, indwelling people, it is true that all three persons are involved in a way in these activities, but, that does not prove Erickson’s point because the real issue is the relationship between the Father and the Son in the Trinity. In that issue, the testimony of the Scripture is clear: The Son continuously, throughout eternity, submits to the will of the Father. This is clear, even in some of the passages that Erickson appeals to. At one point, he says, „It is not only the Father who predestined some to be saved, but Jesus also elects some to salvation. As Jesus said in John 5:21 ‘Even so, the Son gives life to whom He is pleased to give it and  no one knows the Father except the Son. And those to whom the Son chooses, reveal Him (John 5:21 and Matthew 11:27). Erickson concludes, „It appears that Jesus chooses those whom He reveals to the Father.” What he is saying, is, „The Father predestines. Yes, but the Son also predestines. They both do this action.”

It is remarkable that  Erickson mentions John 5:21 and Matthew 11:27, because the very context of both of them, Jesus attributes supreme authority to the Father. In John 5:21, he says, „Yes, He gives life to whom He is pleased to give it, but 2 verses earlier, Jesus says, „The Son can do nothing of His own accord. But only what He sees the Father doing. For, whatever the Father does, so the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son and show Him all that He is doing.” Nine verses after this, Jesus says, „I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge. Judgment is just cause I seek not my own will, but the will of Him who sent me.” Erickson did not mention these verses, although they occur in the very same context. Therefore, the Son only chooses, in conjunction with what has been shown of the will of the Father.

As for Erickson’s other verse, Matthew 11:27, the beginning of the verse, which Erickson does not quote, says, „All things have been handed over to Me by My Father.” And then Jesus goes on to say, „No one knows the Father, except through the Son, and those whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.” The testimony of Scripture on this matter is consistent. When the Son chooses people for salvation, He is simply following  the directives of the Father. He’s not acting independently of the authority of the Father, yet, both the Father and the Son participate in their choosing, yet their actions are not identical, but distinct. The Father chooses, the Father shows the Son who has been chosen, the Son chooses those who have been given Him by the Father.

What is even more troubling about Erickson’s argument is he seems to be denying that there is any difference between the persons of the Trinity. He’s arguing against the idea that we can say that the Son has eternally been subject to the authority of the Father. Erickson is trying to nullify that idea, by denying that we can say anything that is done by the Son is not also done by the Father and the Spirit. Erickson wants to make that kind of discussion impossible. But, in order to make his point, he is apparently saying that the actions of any one person of the Trinity are the actions of not just the whole being of God, but of every person in the Trinity. And to say that is to deny what is taught by really hundreds of passages of Scriptures that speak of different actions, carried out by different members of the Trinity.

For example: At the baptism of Jesus, God the Father was speaking from heaven, „This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” God the Son was not speaking from heaven in those words, nor was the Holy Spirit speaking from heaven and saying those words. God the Son was being baptized, the Holy Spirit was descending like a dove coming to rest upon Him. God the Father was not being baptized, nor was the Holy Spirit being baptized. The Father was not descending like a dove, nor was the Son descending like a dove. It simply confuses the teaching of Scripture to say or imply that all three persons of the Trinity are doing any one action. But that is what Erickson seems to be saying.  (12:35 min mark – with 44 minutes remaining)

Who created God?

READ THIS ARTICLE in ROMANIAN here

photo via plus.google.com

Who Created God? And how can God be three and one? Aren’t these „mysteries,” and don’t Christians just have to say, „we don’t know”? Explore with John Lennox as he explores hard questions and objections to Christianity. First an 11 minute clip and then the entire lecture video at the bottom of the posting of John Lennox at UCLA.

QUESTION:

Daniel Lowenstein: One of the most basic difficulties for those who hold the view of a materialistic universe is the question of a beginning. And, as you pointed out, before Christianity has long claimed that the universe was created, and now we have the big bang theory that at least suggests (that) it started at a certain time. And yet, there’s always the issue, „Yes, but if there can’t be an uncaused cause, then what created God? And I guess, Christianity gives different answers to that. As I understand it, Augustine’s answer was that God was outside time. And in a way, that’s a good answer, but it seems to me that that’s a way of saying, „We don’t know what the explanation is, because none of us has the slightest idea of what it means to be outside time. Or, Christianity says that the Father, or the Son, and the Holy Spirit are three, but they are one. And from those statements, many wonderful things follow. And yet, it seems to be a way of saying, „We don’t know what it is, because we have no idea what it means to be three and be one, and of how a God as powerful and as amazing as, let’s say the God of Job, could appear in the form as a human being and be the Holy Spirit. So my point is this, I think this may be a strength or weakness, but, it does seem that many of the difficult questions are just explained by mysteries- which is a Christian word, that in a way are saying, „We don’t know.”

ANSWER:

I love this particular thing and I think about it a great deal because it’s absolutely obvious that replacing one mystery by another is not always a helpful way forward. Let’s unpack this because there are 3 or 4 questions. Let’s come to that first question which has interested me because it has become a great focus recently. Both in North America and in Europe, everybody’s talking about it. I thought I left it behind in Russia. And that’s the question:

Who created God?

Dawkins has made it the heart of his book ‘The God delusion’. I was staggered when I found it there. I used to get this all the time at the academy of sciences, when I was traveling to Russia in the late 1980’s and the early 1990’s. It was almost the first question. If you believe that God created the universe, then logically you’ve got to ask the question: Who created God? And then who created the God who created God… ad infinitum. And that was the end of God, of course. And that’s exactly what Dawkins says in the God delusion. Let’s analyze it for a moment. (Transcript continues below this video…)

VIDEO by VeritasForum website www.veritas.org

Who created God? If you ask that question, that shows you’ve immediately categorized God as created. So you’re talking about a created god. Now, can you imagine if Richard Dawkins had written a book called ‘The created god delusion’? I don’t think many people would have bought it, because I don’t need him to tell me that created gods are a delusion. We usually call them idols, incidentally.

This question is extremely interesting, because it’s an illustration of a question that rules out the explanation that’s most likely to be true because the Christian claim was that God wasn’t created. So if God was uncreated. „In the beginning was the Word..” and I am coming into your 3 in 1 (questions) now, and I’m bringing it in obliquely. „In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, and the word was God. He already was. So, the central Christian claim is, and in Judaism and Islam, of course, equally is that God is eternal. So, the question, by definition, doesn’t even apply to Him. And that’s immensely important. The only thing you can get out of it then, in the negative sense is to assume that everything is in the category of the created. But, that’s just begging the original question. And the Greeks were interested in it, and that’s why John’s Gospel starts with those words. „In the beginning, the Word already was.” And then it says all things came to be through Him.

The Greeks were interested in the question as two categories. The things that came to be- the created things, and the things that already were. And the question resolves down to this. Is there a thing, or a being that never came to be? And that is the Christian claim. And that is called GOD. Richard Dawkins, and I had a debate with him on this very topic in Oxford, and I said to him, „Richard, You say that who created God is a legitimate question. I don’t think that it is. But, let me assume now that it is. You believe that the universe created you. So, I beg leave now to ask you your own question: Who created your own creator?”” I am waiting still for the answer. That’s the first point.

ON THE TRINITY: Very briefly to the second point. God is three in one. Is it a mystery? Yes, it is. I was talking to about 1,000 scientists. A man came up to me afterwards, a physicist, and said, „That was very interesting, all that talk about God. But, do you know, I detect you’re a Christian.” I said, „You’re pretty sharp.” He said, „Come off it. As a Christian, you’re obliged to believe that God is a triunity. That Jesus was God and man.” And he said, „You’re a mathematician. This is absurd. Can you explain it to me?”

„Well,” I said, „can I ask you a question first?” He said, „Sure.” So I said, „Tell me, what is consciousness?” And he thought for a second and he said, „I don’t know.” I said, „That’s ok, let me try an easier one. What is energy?” „Well,” he said, „I’m a physicist, I can measure energy, I can use it.” „You know,” I said, „that’s not my question. What is it?” He said, „I don’t know.” „Oh,” I said, „that’s very interesting. You don’t know. Tell me, do you believe in consciousness?” „Yes,” he said. „Do you believe in energy?” „Yes,” he said. „So, you believe in these 2 things and you don’t know what they are. Should I write you off as an intellectual?” And he said, „Please don’t.” And I said, „That’s exactly what you were going to do with me five minutes ago.” I said, „If you don’t know what energy is, nobody does- and if you don’t believe that read Richard Fineman. If you don’t know what energy is, don’t be surprised if energy, light, gravity and consciousness are a mystery. Don’t be surprised if you’re going to get an element of this in God. You’re bound to get it.”

But, now I pushed him a bit further. And I said, „Why do you believe in these things if you don’t know what they are?” That was a bit difficult and I tried to help him out. And I said, „You believe in these things because of their explanatory powers concept.” And he said, „That’s exactly right.” I said, „Look, of course I can’t explain to you how God became human. But, the only explanation that makes sense are the evidence as I see it. I’ve got a simple analogy that might help you. It’s a low level analogy, but at least it’s biblical. I’m married. I’ve been married for 42 1/2 yrs, to the same person. And my wife and I are in a sense one. We’re two persons in one flesh, the Bible would say, but in one unit. And it seems to me that in the very least (don’t misunderstand me when I say this) that this mystery is telling us something magnificent about God. God is not a monolith, who to put it crudely was lonely, so He made a few people, so He could have somebody to talk to.  God is Himself a fellowship.” Now that’s undimensioned and we can’t grasp it, but there is a sense, I feel it’s got to be something like that.

And here is the full video. Description:

Children believe in the tooth fairy until their reasoning capabilities mature and they recognize this belief is neither grounded nor relevant. Does belief in Jesus Christ require a suspension of logic? Can Christianity be proven to be true? UCLA law professor Daniel Lowenstein interviews Oxford mathematician John Lennox with honest questions about Christianity and the grounds for faith. This will be followed by audience Q&A.

Johnn Lennox full lecture 2011

[official] Christianity and the Tooth Fairy

Dr. Bruce Ware – Lecture 2 – Christology – Beholding the glory of the Christ – The Trinitarian Context (Pt 2)

photo from SBTS
Dr. Ware deals with the person of Christ (not the work of Christ) in the Trinitarian context. Dr. Ware says, „Even trained, educated Bible believers have not been taught to think of Jesus, in relation to the Father and the Spirit, and what that means in terms of how He lived His life. We’re going to be looking at it in this perspective, because I really think this was the perspective of the New Testament. You will see as we take a look at passages form the Bible, the Bible presents Jesus to us very clearly in relationship to the Father and in relationship to the Spirit. In seeing that, it gives us a richness as an understanding of who he is.”

  1. Trinitarian context: This first session is on the larger trinitarian theology and is a framework session about the doctrine of the trinity, for the basis of thinking about Christ in trinitarian terms, in relation to Father and Son. In the other three sessions (there are a total of 4) Dr. Ware takes a look at sort of chronological (order)
  2. Eternal Word – Who was the eternal Son of the Father in eternity past, who is this Son in relation to the Father and what did He do.
  3. Incarnate Son – The Son as He had come into the world and the life that He lived, the obedience that He rendered, the temptations that He resisted and the life of Christ, lived out among us as the incarnate Son of the Father, who lived out His life with the power of the Spirit.
  4. Reigning King – the One who has ascended, who is at the right hand of the Father, who is coming again as judge and King, and reigning over the church, and will bring consummation to all things.

See LECTURE  1  – The Trinitarian Concept  Part  1 here  

Some notes from the current Lecture 2:

C. THE HOLY SPIRIT

We’re putting together a composite picture here. There’s one God, the Father is God, the Son is God. In time, the early church also developed a conviction that the Holy Spirit is God. Now, this took a while, just in terms of the early church councils that met, because, really, the front burner issue for them was: Who was Jesus? You can see why that is the case. We are Christians, we are not Father-ians or Pneuma-something or other. We are Christians. We announce the Gospel of Christ. We believe in the Lordship of Christ. We worship Christ who is Jesus. So that was clearly the dominant question that had to get settled in the early church. And, only after that was settled, were they able to focus attention on the Holy Spirit. But, in time, they came also to a clear conviction that the Holy Spirit also is God.

Here are some of the passages that came into consideration as they thought about this:

  • Acts 5:3-4 Ananias before Peter, and Peter says to him, „You have lied to the Holy Spirit. You’ve not lied to man, but to God”. So it’s a very clear connection between ‘the Holy Spirit is God’ and when you lie to the Holy Spirit, you lie to God. So He is God.
  • 1 Corinthians 2:10-11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except thespirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. So, the Spirit of God knows the thoughts of God. Wow! One thing that it indicates is He is personal, but, it also indicates He is deity, because no one can know the thoughts of God except God. He is omniscient. So this attributing of the knowledge of God to the Holy Spirit indicates He is personal and He is God.
  • 1 Corinthians 3:16 where Paul says, „You are a temple of God, as the Spirit dwells within you”. So, obviously, that image of temple from the Old Testament background, where the shekinah glory of  God was, and „I will dwell with My people in the Temple”. I mean, this is a vivid image of the presence of God with His people. Well, now we are the temple collectively and individually. Here in chapter 3 it’s collectively- „You”, plural. In chapter 6: „Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit? But that’s in chapter 6, though. Here, it’s collectively. You, together as a corporate whole are the temple of God. The Spirit of God dwells in you. So, Spirit is connected with „God dwelling with His people” thorough His Spirit, who is there. So the Spirit is God.
  • Hebrews 9:14 He was able to go to the cross. He was delivered by the eternal Spirit. Eternal is a kind of attribute. Remember 2 different categories of attributes (in Theology I class) One category is a kind of attribute that God has that  we too can possess in finite measure. Those are called communicable attributes. (Ex) Be holy, as I am holy. Love one another as I have loved you. So we are called to do those things that God does. Those are communicable. But, God also has attributes that only He possesses. Those are incommunicable attributes and eternality is one of those. Only God is eternal. The Holy Spirit is eternal, therefore the Holy Spirit is God. So, some indications of the deity of the Spirit.

The Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Spirit is God. And then you add to that the early church, these actually were very important passages that were sometimes called triadic passages that put Father, Son, and Spirit in the same context, indicating deity. There are many in the New Testament, but these two are the most important:

  • Matthew 28:19-2o Jesus says, „Go into all the world, make disciples in all the nations, baptizing them in the name (notice it is singular). Name indicates nature: One God. But what is that One God’s name? Father, Son and Spirit. Baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. So that one God, that one name of God is Father, Son and Spirit. The three together comprise, or constitute that one God.
  • 2 Corinthians 13:14 The very last verse, the benediction of Paul, where basically, he is saying, „May God go with you”. But, here is how he says that. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God (shorthand for God, the Father), and the fellowship of the Spirit be with you. So, how does Paul say, „May God be with you?” May Father, Son and Spirit be with you. So, all three understood as one God.

When you put all those together you realize that the early church has its hands full because- do the math. There is one God. The Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Spirit is God. How do you put this together? One God. But, each of these is fully God. So, unitarianism is out because it is three. But, tritheism is out because it’s one. So, how do you put together one God- Father, Son and Holy Spirit- where each is fully GodThat’s the challenge the early church faced in trying to put together this synthetic understanding from Scripture of who God is.

Lecture 2: Beholding the Glory of Christ: The Trinitarian Context, Part 2 from Southern Seminary on Vimeo.

IV – The first four councils of the early church

These are the most important councils that there were. There were 7 ecumenical councils altogether. At least, that is the way, we in the western church count them. But, the first four were the most formative of those councils. Nicaea, Constantinople, Ephesus, and Chalcedon (in that order). Here is just a summary of what happened at each of those councils as they met.

The Council at Nicaea 325

The first one  is the singularly most important council. The Council at Nicaea was convened by Constantine, who was emperor in Roma at the time. He was a Christian and he wanted to bring unity to the empire and part of that was to bring together theologians who come to an agreement on theological issues that were much disputed. And they focused on the Trinity. And, within Trinity, they focused on the Son. Who is the Son, in relation to the Father.

In the background at Nicaea are 2 heresies that were very prominent at the time. The first one was Sabellianism. Sebelius argued that there is one God, and the Father is God, and the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God. Each of them is God successively, not simultaneously. That’s the problem. So for Sabellius, he was a monarchian. Modalistic monarchianism is sometimes the name given to Sabellianism. The monarchian view is that there is one God is monarch over all, the King over all. That’s the Father, the one God who is over all. And according to Sabellius, the Father chose to take on the form of the Son. And so, He came to earth as the Son. But, when the Son is here, then He’s no longer, as it were, Father who relates to Son. He is now the Son. And then, He ascends back to heaven when He is done with His work, and then He comes in the form of the Holy Spirit. So, it’s Father, then Son, then Holy Spirit. But, what you don’t have is Father, Son and Holy Spirit simultaneously existing as three distinct persons together. That’s rejected in Sabellianism.

The Sabellian heresy was not the focal point at Nicaea. For the most part, Christian people who read their Bible understood this is not going to work (Jesus’s baptism, praying to the Father, Jesus right now at the Father’s right hand). The other more prominent alternative was the Arian model. Arius was a bishop, although he was not during Nicaea, at 325 when that council met. He was not at that time seated as a bishop, so he couldn’t be seated formally at the council, but he exerted an enormous influence from behind the scenes and Arius held the views, again, he wants to uphold monotheism. What’s not to commend about that? We know, from the Old testament, there’s one God. And we know Jesus prayed to the Father. We know that the Father send Jesus into the world. We know that he did the will of the Father, so clearly the Father is God. There is one God, the Father is God, pretty simple. So, who is Jesus? Oh, the Son was the first and greatest of all of the creations of the Father. But He was a created being. A famous phrase went around at this time, that Arius would say about the Son: „There was a time when He was not”. Which you cannot say of the Father. There was never a time when He was not. He’s eternal. But, of the Son: There was a time when He was not. So, the Son is a created being, brought into existence at a point in time. But, given such great power, and splendor, and glory, that any of us, looking upon Him would think He’s God. But, He is not. He’s very much like God, but He’s a created being. So He’s not God. This was the position of Arius, that is sometimes called subordinationism or dynamistic monarchianism. Those are both terms used of Arius’s view. Dunamis- the power of God the Father given to the Son. Or subordinationism- the nature of the Son is inferior to, insubordinate to the nature of the father. The nature of the Father is eternal and infinite, the nature of the Son is temporal and finite, even though it has great power and splendor.

That was the dominant view at Nicaea, that was argued against by Athanasius, who was the hero at Nicaea. Now, Athanasius was not seated as a bishop either. He was young. I think he was about 25 years old at the time, with a fine mind and great exegetical ability, great rhetorical abilities, that God raised up to be the hero. The church was very pressed by Arius. The Arian model was widely held in churches across Asia minor and the like of the church in that day. So, it took a forceful person to be able to render arguments against Arius, and Athanasius was that man. If you never heard John Piper’s address that he gave on Athanasius (2005) at Desiring God, go to the website and download it.

Athanasius proposed that we have to understand the eternal Son not as a created being, but Himself fully God. But not 2 Gods. So, how do you have Him fully God, and the Father’s fully God, and yet, not 2 Gods. Well, it must be then, that each of them, that is, the Father and Son each possess the same nature. If they have 2 distinct natures, even if they’re equally deity, equally divine, then you’ve got bi-theism or (if) you add the Holy Spirit- tritheism. But we don’t hold to that. We hold to monotheism. So, what constitutes the oneness of God? One divine nature that is the full possession of the Father and that same nature is the full possession of the Son. So he proposed a word- homoousios. Homoousios- homo: one kind, on thing, like homogenized milk all mixed together.  Oousios- nature. Homoousios- same nature. This was an important term because at the very same council, there was kind of a middle position. At Nicaea, you had these moderates who were trying to propose a middle ground  between Arius and Athanasius. And they said, „How about if we adopt the term homoiousias? Similar nature. Athanasius was not okay with it. Similar is not good enough. He pressed the point and it won the day at Nicaea. There were only a few votes contrary, it passed overwhelmingly and from that time on that has been orthodoxy- the claim that the Son possesses the identically same nature.

By the way, nature- what is the nature that is the full possession of the Father and the Son? The easiest way to think of that is- the nature of God is the collection of all of the essential attributes of God comprise the nature of God. So, His holiness and righteousness, and justice. His knowledge and wisdom, His power, His love and His mercy. These attributes of God that constitute God is God. That without those attributes He wouldn’t be God. Can God be God if He doesn’t know everything? No. Can God be God if He isn’t holy? No. So these attributes that are essential for God to be God, comprise then the nature of God.

So, the Father possesses the one undivided nature fully. The Son possesses the one undivided nature fully.The Holy Spirit possesses the one undivided nature fully. So, Father and Son are homoousios, as declared here at Nicaea.

The Council of Contsantinople 381

Arius died in 336, just 11 years after Nicaea. He is off the scene, but Arius’s disciplesare still alive and well, and they’ve kind of shifted the battle now away from the Son. They lost the battle of the Son at Nicaea, but now they shifted the battle to the Holy Spirit. These followers of Arius, who deny the deity of the Holy Spirit have been called the pneumatomachians- spirit fighters. These are people who are fighting against the deity of the Holy Spirit. Arius’s followers, they view the Spirit as the presence of God, the power of God, but, not a distinct person of God. This is a tough argument because the OT and NT word for Spirit can also be translated ‘breath’, ‘wind’. Well, you wouldn’t interpret the breath of God any differently in terms of the kind of language that is from the hand of the Lord. You don’t turn the hand of the Lord into a person of the godhead. Or the strong right arm of the Lord, or the eyes of the Lord. So, the followers of Arius argued (that) this is not a distinct personof the godhead. This is rather just the presence of God, and His power, and His comfort, or His instruction. So, it’s just God manifest in one of His ways as the Spirit of the Lord, the breath of the Lord.

So, this had to be addressed. The people who took this on and won the day at Constantinople are called the Cappadocian Fathers. These three are highly esteemed by all christians for their role in the early church, but particularly in eastern orthodoxy. These three are Gregory of Nazianzus, Gregory of Nyssa,  and Basel of Caesarea, also called Basel the Great. He was called that by contemporaries, not for his theological expertise,  although he had great theological acumen. He was rather called Basel the Great by his parishioners, who viewed his pastoral work in their lives, taking care of their needs, they viewed him a great bishop. Basel and Gregory of Nyssa were brothers. Gregory of Nazianzus was a friend of the two of them. They realized they had their hands full, trying to defend the deity of the Spirit, in light of the fact that so many arguments could be put forward by the followers of Arius, that the Spirit was the presence of God, rather than a separate person of the godhead.

So they argued that the Spirit of the Lors is not like the hand of the Lord. It’s not like the presence of God because we’re talking about something that is personal. They went to passages in the Bible that talked about, for example, grieving the Holy Spirit. Or, by the Spirit’s will we are given the gifts that we are given. (1 Corinthians 12) So the Spirit wills things, the Spirit knows things, the Spirit can be grieved about things. The Spirit has character qualities- the fruit of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness and so on. So the Spirit is a person, and furthermore, the Spirit is God. So they argued the case for the deity of the Spirit strongly at Constantinople. But they were fearful (Basel and Gregory of Nyssa) that they might lose the vote and they knew a lot was at stake at this. So they insisted on using only biblical terms in their statement that they developed on the Holy Spirit, that would be voted on. Gregory of Nazianzus on the other hand, he was bold and brash, and forthright. He wanted badly to invoke the term homoousias- of the Spirit. That one nature is the nature of the Father and the Son and the Spirit. So why not invoke the term homoousias for the Spirit also? Well, Basel and Gregory of Nyssa said it’s not a biblical term, and because of that we might lose the vote. And so, they would not go that way. It angered Gregory of Nazianzus so much that he pulled out and left and he wasn’t there for the end of the council when the vote was finally taken.

So they put forth this addition to the third article of the Nicaean creed. The Nicaean creed has 3 articles for Father, Son and Holy Spirit- We believe in God the Father, Creator of all things, visible, invisible and so on… and one Lord Jesus Christ, who is begotten of the Father, who is God of God, light of light, who is one nature with the Father- homoousias.. and then you have the third article at Nicaea 325 on the Holy Spirit. You know what it says? We believe in the Holy Spirit. That’s all it said. So now, at 381, that third article is amplified. And here’s what’s added to it. Five articles, using biblical terms only. So homoousias, though they agreed it was true, they were not going to use it.

So five amplifications:

We believe in the Holy Spirit-

  1. the Lord (2 Cor. 3:18) But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are beingtransformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. Using the words  ‘Lord the Spirit’ indicates deity.
  2. the giver of life (John 3) you must be born again Titus 3:5- regeneration by the Spirit
  3. who proceeds from the Father (John 15:26) When the Holy Spirit comes, whom I will send to you form the Father, He will bear witness of me. By the way, they put that procession of the Spirit in to be equivalent to ‘the Son is the only begotten Son of the Father’, which is in the second article of the Nicaean creed. Well, if the Son is the only begotten Son you cannot say that the Spirit is begotten. But you want a relationship of Son to Father that is parallel to Spirit to Father. That is, they both have the same nature as the Father. The Son, because He is begotten of the Father, the Spirit because He proceeds. That word was actually Gregory Nazianzus’s before he left. He provided that word ‘who proceeds’ and that text- John 15:26.
  4. who with the Father and Son is worshipped and glorified. Matthew 28:19 „Baptize in the name of the Father, Son and Spirit”. So this act of worship, worshipping God, you bow to Him, you identify with this one God. And so, that act of worship in baptism is in the name of Father, Son and Spirit. So, who with the Father and Son are worshipped and glorified.
  5. who spoke by the prophets (all over the place, but 2 Peter 1:20-21) „Men, moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God„.

Unlike at Nicaea, where they purposefully used an extra biblical term,  Athanasius’s conviction was „if we don’t use this, Arius will probably win the day”, because there are texts Arius can go to, which clearly say who Jesus is. For example: The Father who sent Me is greater than Me. And Mark pointed to Mark 13:32- No one knoew the hour of the Second coming, not even the Son. Well, the Father is omniscient, but the Son is not omnscient. Therefore the Son is not God. So, it was Athanasius’s conviction that they had to use an extra biblical term to wrap up all of the indicators  in the Bible that the Son was equal to the Father and put those under the category of homoousias.But when it came time for Constantinople, they thought: If we try and do that we can’t win the day. We’ve got to have strictly biblical terms. So that’s what they did, arguing for the deity of the Spirit in that fashion.

One other thing happened at Constantinople  and that was a further decision in relation to Christology. And that was a decision in regard to the full humanity of Christ, as well as the full deity of Christ. The background here is apollinarianism. Apollinaris, who was committed to Nicaea, believed that the Son was one nature with the Father, committed to the deity of the Son, could not understand how, if He’s fully God, He could also be fully man. That sounds contradictory. So, Apollinaris argued that He was fully God, but, the incarnation was taken on merely the human body of a man. The soul, as it were, was the divine Logos. And so, the inner reality of Jesus Christ of Nazareth was fully God, who lived His life in a human body.

This is where the term docetism comes from. The Greek word ‘to seem’. Docetism- He seemed to be a man. He appeared to be a man. But He wasn’t really a man. That was Apollinaris’s view. And that was rejected at the Council of Constantinople. Instead, it was affirmed that Christ was fully God and fully man. He was two natures in one person. This was a huge development for Christology. You do realize that issues of Trinity and issues of Christology are really closely interrelated. Here we have Trinity: Father, Son, Spirit. But when you talk about Son, now you’re talking about two natures of the Son- so, He’s fully God and and fully man in one person. With the trinity then, we have singular nature and multiple persons. But, in Christology we have singular person and multiple natures.

Next, Council of Ephesus and Council of Chalcedon follows at the 36 minute mark. Length of lecture (video) is 74 minutes.

 

Dr. Bruce Ware – Lecture 1 – Christology – Beholding the glory of the Christ – The Trinitarian Context (Pt. 1) at SBTS

photo from SBTS
Dr. Ware deals with the person of Christ (not the work of Christ) in the Trinitarian context. Dr. Ware says, „Even trained, educated Bible believers have not been taught to think of Jesus, in relation to the Father and the Spirit, and what that means in terms of how He lived His life. We’re going to be looking at it in this perspective, because I really think this was the perspective of the New Testament. You will see as we take a look at passages form the Bible, the Bible presents Jesus to us very clearly in relationship to the Father and in relationship to the Spirit. In seeing that, it gives us a richness as an understanding of who he is.”

  1. Trinitarian context: This first session is on the larger trinitarian theology and is a framework session about the doctrine of the trinity, for the basis of thinking about Christ in trinitarian terms, in relation to Father and Son. In the other three sessions (there are a total of 4) Dr. Ware takes a look at sort of chronological (order)
  2. Eternal Word – Who was the eternal Son of the Father in eternity past, who is this Son in relation to the Father and what did He do.
  3. Incarnate Son – The Son as He had come into the world and the life that He lived, the obedience that He rendered, the temptations that He resisted and the life of Christ, lived out among us as the incarnate Son of the Father, who lived out His life with the power of the Spirit.
  4. Reigning King – the One who has ascended, who is at the right hand of the Father, who is coming again as judge and King, and reigning over the church, and will bring consummation to all things.

Some notes:

~~~Trinitarian indicators: specific details  that are there in the text, that tell you about the specific work of the Father (not God, generically), or of the Son (not God, generically), or of the Spirit (not God, generically). In other words, this is specifically the Father, specifically the Son, specifically the Spirit. And, when you begin seeing these things, it just opens up a world of beauty of awe and wonder, and you get to know better who God is. We have not been tuned into this, and so, we think in a category of the glory of God. We think in these broader categories, and it’s not that that’s wrong, it is just that it is imprecise; that in fact, we need to see what is so often the case in the Scriptures, particularly in the New Testament, that the God who does these things is the Father, who works through His Son, who is empowered by His Spirit. And so, we need to see this broader trinitarian reality that is there.

A background structure for the doctrine of the trinity.

The doctrine of the trinity- you might think of it as this giant block doctrine that is upheld by two pillars. And both of those pillars have to be in place or that doctrine is going to collapse, it can’t be upheld. It requires both of those pillars to be in place.

A. The twin pillars of trinitarian doctrine

1. One of those pillars is: DISTINCTION. That Father, Son and Holy Spirit are distinct from each other. So these are not three names for the same person. If we don’t have that in the Christian faith, then we truly don’t have trinitarian monotheism. If we have three names that are the same person, then we have unitarian monotheism. It’s no different then, really, than the god of Islam, or of Judaism. What distinguishes the monotheism of the Christian faith is that it is trinitarian monotheism. Trinitarian, meaning there are three distinct persons, distinct from each other, who are separate in some way although (next pillar’s coming up in a moment) they comprise one God. So that distinction needs to be maintained.

One of the most difficult areas in the doctrine of the trinity is really coming to terms biblically with what constitutes the distinctions of Father, Son and Spirit. If you look back at the history of the doctrine of the trinity, you will see that it is littered with heresy, that answered that question wrongly. So, coming to terms with the distinction is crucial. So, one pillar, then, is the distinction pillar. That Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are distinct from each other. The Father is the Father, not the Son. The Son is the Son, not the Holy Spirit.

2. The second pillar of the trinity is: EQUALITY.  That Father, Son, and Spirit are equally the One God. They are equally divine. Now, that equality does not indicate that they are equal because they are the same kind of being. Our equality is the equality of same kind. You are a human being, I’m a human being, so we are equally human. But, if I were to get hit by an automobile on the way home tonight, you would continue living. Your nature is a different nature than mine. Even though it’s the same kind of nature. Your human nature is your human nature. My human nature is my human nature. I get in a car accident and die, you live on. Your nature continues. So, our equality is an equality of same kind.

But, in the trinity, the equality is an equality in which each of Them possesses not merely the same kind of nature, but the identically same nature. Then the nature of the Father IS the nature of the Son, the nature of the Son IS the nature of the Holy Spirit. So they have the strongest kind of equality that there is.

So, here we have those two pillars that uphold the doctrine of the trinity. Both of them have to be in place. Without the distinction pillar, it will collapse into unitarian monotheism. Without the equality pillar, if they’re not equal in the sense of having the identically same nature, then we could have tritheism, for example- the Father is a God, the Son is a God, the Holy Spirit is a God. Of course that would fit beautifully in a polytheistic world of the ancient Greco-Roman world. But, the church was insistent on monotheism. So, one God who is three persons- one in nature, three in persons is what the church has upheld.

B. Summary statement

The Christian faith affirms that there is one and only one God, eternally existing while fully and simultaneously expressed in three persons: The Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit. Each member of the godhead is equally God, each is eternally God, and each is fully God. Not three Gods, but three persons of the one godhead. Each person is equal in essence, as each possesses eternally, simultaneously, and fully the identically same and undivided divine nature. That each is also an eternal and distinct personal expression of that one, undivided divine nature. Because of this, what distinguishes each person of the godhead from each other person is not and cannot be the divine nature. (Because if you point to the divine nature as the point of distinction, you know you’ve got a heresy on your hands). Because the identically same and undivided nature is the full and eternal possession of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. So, what distinguishes each person of the godhead from each other person are the relationships each has with each of the other persons and His particular roles in relation to the others. In light of both the equality of essence, yet, differentiation of relationships and roles that exist among the persons of the godhead, we now consider how the church came to affirm these truths about the trinity and how these trinitarian relationships and roles are expressed within the trinity of the persons.

Next, Dr. Ware gives a biblical, historical overview of how we got the doctrine of the trinity. (at the 17 minute mark).

Lecture 1: Beholding the Glory of the Christ, Part 1 from Southern Seminary on Vimeo.

How does the Trinity affect all doctrine? Tim Keller, John Piper, D A Carson

We’re tempted to take the doctrine of the Trinity for granted. But there is scarcely any belief unaffected when we get the Trinity wrong.

In this video: Don Carson, John Piper, Tim Keller

Only the Triune God Is Love from The Gospel Coalition on Vimeo.

Related articles

From The Mystery of the Trinity Teaching Series from Ligonier Ministries

 

R.C. Sproul Proves that God Does Not Exist

English: Theologian, pastor and radio teacher ...

English: Theologian, pastor and radio teacher R. C. Sproul  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Nope, there is no mistake in my post title. Watch the short (5 min) video to understand his premise.

Sproul:

God ‘is’ but He does not exist like we ‘created beings’ exist.

The word that theologians use with respect to the trinity is not the word three ‘existences’, but 3 ‘subsistences’.

R.C. Sproul proves that God does not exist. From his teaching series „Foundations.” http://www.ligonier.org/store/foundations-dvd/

R.C. Sproul Proves that God Does Not Exist from Ligonier on Vimeo.

Dr. James White – The forgotten Trinity (Essential Apologetics)

Dr. James White – „Why I am a biblical trinitarian”.  Published on Sep 7, 2011 by  . Dr. White has also written a book by the same name: http://j.mp/pOfgN2 and has a website here http://www.aomin.org

Quote from lecture: (7 min mark) „I believe that the reason that Christian people formulated these confessions and creeds in later centuries was to answer questions as to what the completed canon of Scirptures taught. We are forced to believe the trinity when we believe „ALL” of the Bible and „ONLY” the Bible. The only way to not believe the trinity is to reject certain aspects of biblical revelation. That’s why I call myself a biblical trinitarian”.

Some notes: Dr. White lists 3 foundations. Whenever someone objects to the belief in the trinity, they are usually struggling with one or all 3 of these points.:

  1. Monotheism – there is one true God. There are 3 world monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. But Judaism and Islam are unitarian religions. One person, one God. Only Christianity is Trinitarian: One being of God shared by 3 persons. Here are the verses that state that there is one God: Deut 6:4, Deut 4:35, Isaiah 43:10, Isaiah 45:5-6, and many more texts between Isaiah 40 and 48 of some of the richest theology of God (worth taking the time to go through that), Jeremiah 10:10, here in the transition to verse 11 the text changes form hebrew to Aramaic and God is providing his people with the apologetic in answer to the people that are inviting His people to go into idolatry (min 25); Isaiah 44:24, Psalm 96:5. Just remember: Monotheism speaks to the Being of God, while trinitarianism speaks to the persons of God. The negation of monotheism is polytheism; the negation of trinitarianism (3 persons) is unitarianism (one person). Trinitarianism is NOT the negation of monotheism.
  2. There are 3 divine persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit (they refers to one another as persons). The Bible clearly differentiates between the 3 persons: The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The Bible teaches that the Father has eternally existed as a divine person; that the Son likewise has eternally existed as a divine person and that the Spirit has eternally existed as a divine person. These are 3 NT verses that state the eternal preexistence, personhood and deity of the Son: John 1:1-3 and 18, John 17:3-5, Philippians 2:5-7. (min 32). Now, here is a text that throws a curve: John 10:30 – „I and the Father are one”. So does that mean Jesus is the Father? No. Some claim that Jesus is here identifying Himself as the Father. However, Jesus uses the plural form of the verb „we are” instead of the singular „I am”. You cannot translate this „I and the Father ‘IS’ one”. The verb is plural. Hence, „I and the Father (we) ARE one”. If you would read the context, Jesus is demonstrating that the oneness that He has with the Father is a oneness of purpose in bringing about the redemption of God and His people. You think that could be said of a mere creature? This text DOES teach the deity of Christ, but it does so only when it’s understood properly. And it does not say that Jesus and the Father are the same person.
  3. These 3 divine persons are coequal and coeternal. This is by far the most commonly attacked truth of trinity. Liberal theology denies this truth, groups such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses specialize in attacking the deity of Christ  and the person and deity of the Holy Spirit. Islam, likewise denies that the New Testament teaches this truth. Christians must be prepared to discuss these. Here’s a few things to remember: (1) Without the highest view of Scripture, inspiration, inerrancy, historicity- there is no reason to believe Jesus was God incarnate. Arguing about the deity of Christ and you don’t believe that God has spoken with clarity in the Bible is just foolishness. I mean, it’s just myth vs. myth. WHy would anyone bother? That’s why liberal theologians always abandon these things because they no longer believe that God has actually spoken. (2) Without Sola Scriptura – Scripture alone and Tota Scriptura – All of Scripture- one will never believe in the deity of Christ. In other words, if you’re willing to pick and choose, „I like this text; I don’t like this text”, as long as you’re willing to pick and choose, you can come up with any „Christ” you want.(3) All of what the Bible says about Christ must be taken into consideration. Christians often get stuck in proof texting instead of asking the opponent of orthodoxy to give the same kind of evidence for their own position. Any passage can be taken in the exclusion of others to the detriment of  the truth.

Three categories of evidence for the deity of Christ (min 44):

  1. The use of God in describing Christ. He is called God numerous times in the Bible.
  2. The identification of Jesus as Yahweh. If Jesus is Yahweh, Jesus is God.
  3. The ascription of divine attributes and activities to Christ.

Dr. White focuses on category 2 and shows how to debate Jehovah’s Witnesses beliefs using 2 texts.(min 46). Hebrews 1:6-12 emphasis to verse 10. John 12 at the end of Jesus’ public ministry, v 39-42. 41 Isaiah said this because he saw His glory and spoke about him. When did Isaiah see Jesus’ glory? This is a citation from Isaiah ch. 6 . Isaiah 6 is Isaiah’s vision of the Lord. v. 10. Do you see what John is saying in John 12, when he says Isaiah said these things because he saw His glory and he spoke of Him. If you asked Isaiah, „Isaiah, who did you see in Isaiah ch. 6?” and Isaiah’s response would have been, „Yahweh, Yahweh was sitting upon His throne, lofty and lifted up”. If you asked John, „John, who did Isaiah see?”, John’s answer would be, „Jesus. The one sitting upon the throne is Jesus”. John identifies Jesus as Yahweh.

So, why do I believe in the doctrine of the trinity? Because I believe the Bible. Sure the council of Nicea is important, and all that stuff is important and I am not saying there’s anything wrong with studying all of that, but the reason a Christian is a trinitarian is because the Bible teaches those 3 trinitarian foundational truths.

Moses and Jesus – A Contrast

this is a small excerpt of commentary from www.bible.org  on the passage from Hebrews 3:1-6:

Moses and Jesus Contrasted
Hebrews 3:3-6

3 For he has come to deserve greater glory than Moses, just as the builder of a house deserves greater honor than the house itself! 4 For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God 5 Now Moses was faithful in all God’shouseas a servant, to testify to the things that would be spoken. 6 But Christ is faithful as a sonover God’s house (Hebrews 3:5-6a, emphasis mine).

Just as Jesus is “higher than the angels” (1:1—2:18), He is also greater than Moses (3:1-6). Our Lord was faithful “to the one who appointed him” (3:2). Moses was faithful “in God’s house” (3:5), and thus he is viewed as being a part of the house in verses 3 and 4. What is this “house”? The “house” is My house(3:5), that is, God’s house. This is a term that is often used in reference to the nation Israel,  and then also to the temple. No doubt here “house” means that Moses was faithful in (or among) the people of God, the Israelites. I say among because the author’s point here is that Moses is a part of the house; the Son, however, is greater than the house. He is the builder of the house. The Creator is always greater than the creation.

Let’s not miss the subtlety of the author here. In verse 1, the reader is exhorted to “take note of Jesus.”In verse 2, Jesus and Moses are compared. In verses 3-6a, Jesus and Moses are contrasted, showing Jesus to be greater than Moses. But in verses 3 and 4, if Jesus is being shown to be Moses, then He is greater because He is the “builder of the house,” but the “builder of the house” is said here to be “God.”Let us not miss the fact that our author is saying that Jesus is the Son, and Jesus is God. He is proclaiming the deity of the Lord Jesus.

Two more elements of contrast are introduced in verses 5 and 6. First, we see that Moses was faithful “as a servant,”while “Christ” was faithful “as a son.” Second, this contrast between “servant” and “son” is underscored by the fact that Moses was a servant “in”all God’s house (verse 5), while Christ is the Son“over”God’s house. I love the story Bible teacher Ray Stedman told about visiting a ranch in Montana. At first, Ray knew only the son of one of the ranch hands. When he visited, they were restricted from the main house, and they rode the old “nags” when they went horseback riding. Then, Ray says, he became friends with the owner’s son. Now it was a whole new experience. They had free run of the ranch and could go wherever they pleased. When they rode horses, they rode the best horses. That’s the difference between a servant and a son.

There is one more observation that I would point out to you. The author began by referring to “Jesus,” then to Him as “God” (verse 4). In verse 6, He is the “Son” and “Christ.” Jesus is the Son, God, and the Christ, that is, the Messiah. Some Jews tended to understand these (and other) titles as referring to different persons. Such is not the case with the author of Hebrews.

How Iffy is Our Faith?
Hebrews 3:6b

We are of his house, if in fact we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope we take pride in (3:6b, emphasis mine).

So the author has shown us that the Lord Jesus Christ is vastly superior to Moses, as great a man as he was. Moses was part of God’s “house,” and he was faithful. And now we are told that we, likewise, are of God’s house, “if we hold firmly to our confidence. . . .” How do we deal with this “if”? Our answer has several parts:

1. “If” statements are not restricted to the Book of Hebrews.The fact is that we find similar statements in many places in the New Testament:

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, this person does not belong to him (Romans 8:9, emphasis mine).

And if children, then heirs (namely, heirs of God and also fellow heirs with Christ) – if indeed we suffer with him so we may also be glorified with him (Romans 8:17, emphasis mine).

Notice therefore the kindness and harshness of God – harshness toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness toward you, provided you continue in his kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off (Romans 11:22, emphasis mine).

Put yourselves to the test to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize regarding yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you – unless, indeed, you fail the test! (2 Corinthians 13:5, emphasis mine)

22 But now he has reconciled you by his physical body through death to present you holy, without blemish, and blameless before him – 23 if indeed you remain in the faith, established and firm, without shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard. This gospel has also been preached in all creation under heaven, and I, Paul, have become its servant (Colossians 1:22-23, emphasis mine).

1 So get rid of all evil and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. 2 And yearn like newborn infants for pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up to salvation, 3 if you have experienced the Lord’s kindness (1 Peter 2:1-3, emphasis mine).

3 Now by this we know that we have come to know God: if we keep his commandments (1 John 2:3, emphasis mine).

Our problem, then, is not unique to Hebrews. If we don’t deal with it here, we will face it elsewhere.

2. The author assumes the best about his readers. That is to say, the author assumes that his readers are fellow believers in Jesus Christ. We saw this by his statements in the first verse of chapter 3. His readers are holy brothers, partners in the heavenly calling, and those who confess Jesus as apostle and high priest. The author’s statements in the rest of the book only confirm the conclusion that he assumes most of his readers are saved.

3. The author does not look at the world through rose-colored glasses.He does assume that most of his readers are believers in Jesus Christ. He does not believe them to be infallible. He understands that the danger of “drifting” is very real and that drawing near is not the path of least resistance. Thus, failure is dealt with as a real possibility.

4. This epistle is written to a church. It may not be a large church, but virtually all the commentators agree that it is written to a church (even if we are not certain where it may be). Whenever a church is addressed, the assumption is made that most of the recipients have a genuine faith in Jesus Christ. But it also means that it is very possible that one or more members of the church addressed may not be saved. Thus the qualifications and the “ifs” that we find in the epistles.

5. The “if texts” are not intended to teach or imply that salvation is by works.The author is simply telling us that those who are truly saved are those who will also persevere to the end. Their faith and trust in Jesus will not fail under pressure. We are encouraged to draw near because we are saved, not to work harder in order to be saved. It is Christ who saves us,  it is Christ through His Spirit who sanctifies us,  and it is Christ who keeps us.  This is precisely why we need to draw near (and stay near) to Him.

6. The “if statements” assume human weaknesses. Only God knows the hearts of men. We know that there will be some who assume that they have gained entrance into heaven who will not be admitted:

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of heaven – only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. 22 On that day, many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, and in your name cast out demons and do many powerful deeds?’ 23 Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you. Go away from me, you lawbreakers!’” (Matthew 7:21-23)

Jesus’ story of the rich man and Lazarus must have been a great shock to the Pharisees who heard it. They assumed the rich man would make it to heaven and that the poor man would join others like him in hell. Just the reverse occurred. Our consolation is that God knows His own:

19 However, God’s solid foundation remains standing, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from evil” (2 Timothy 2:19).

We do not know with absolute certainty those who are saved and those who are not. Some folks make their relationship with Jesus pretty plain, both by their profession and by their practice. But others leave us scratching our heads. My point here is to say that because we cannot know the hearts of men, we dare not assume all to be saved, even those who are fairly regular attendees at church. Thus, we must always leave room for the possibility that some who hear us may be unsaved and outside the faith. And because of this, it is only proper to include an “if” here and there, to address such folks. That is why I attempt, in nearly every sermon, to give the gospel to my audience. I assume that someone listening to or reading my sermon may be lost and in need of salvation. That is what our author is doing with his “ifs.”

7. The purpose of this epistle is not to create doubt, but to turn our attention to Jesus. Let’s not lose sight of what the Book of Hebrews is all about. It is an epistle that is addressed to a church, made up mainly of true believers. Over time, these believers, like us, can grow cold in their walk with the Lord, cold in their love for Christ and for men, much like the saints in Laodicea:

14 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write the following: “This is the solemn pronouncement of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the originator of God’s creation: 15 ‘I know your deeds, thatyou are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either cold or hot! 16 So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit you out of my mouth! 17 Because you say, “I am rich and have acquired great wealth, and need nothing,” but do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked, 18 take my advice and buy gold from me refined by fire so you can become rich! Buy from me white clothing so you can be clothed and your shameful nakedness will not be exposed, and buy eye salve to put on your eyes so you can see! 19 All those I love, I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent! 20 Listen! I am standing at the door and knocking! If anyone hears my voice and opens the door I will come into his home and share a meal with him, and he with me. 21 I will grant the one who conquers permission to sit with me on my throne, just as I too conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 The one who has an ear had better hear what the Spirit says to the churches’” (Revelation 3:14-22, emphasis mine).

As our Lord invites the lukewarm Laodiceans to repent and return to intimate fellowship with Him (as symbolized by eating a meal with Him), so the writer to the Book of Hebrews warns his readers of the dangers of drifting, and exhorts them to draw near to Jesus.

The Hebrews were not to look back to Judaism, nor to the Old Covenant, nor even to great men like Moses. They were to look to Jesus, the author and finisher of the faith (Hebrews 3:1; 12:2). The last thing our author wants is for us to look to ourselves; his goal is to get us to look to Jesus. The “if passages” are intended to call our attention to our spiritual condition. And, whether good or bad, the exhortation is the same.

Are you lost in sin, under divine condemnation, and headed for an eternity in hell? Look to Jesus! He is the only solution. He is not only God; He also took on humanity, so that He could die in the sinner’s place, bearing his (or her) punishment. He rose from the dead and is ascended to the right hand of the Father, and in so doing, He restores all who are in Him, by faith, to the glory and dignity that was once ours, before the fall.

Are you drifting from God, negligent about studying His Word, spasmodic about your church attendance and fellowship with the saints, apathetic about the peril of those who are without Jesus? Look to Jesus! He is the One who saves, sanctifies, and keeps. It is abiding in Him that we need.

Are you troubled, in need, fearful, discouraged? Look to Jesus!

Our author does not want us to look to mere men, even those as great as Moses. And he certainly doesn’t want us looking to ourselves, as though we are able to keep our souls. We are to look to Jesus.

The Lord will protect you from all evil;

He will keep your soul (Psalm 121:7, NASB95).

Dr. R.C. Sproul – The Birth via Ligonier Ministries


image – www.kingdominstituteintl.org

This is the (free) first part of Dr. R.C.Sproul’s teaching series titled ‘”The Life of Jesus” . The other 3 parts are available for download here at www.ligonier.org

R.C.Sproul:

On the subject of Christology there is a difference between the person of Jesus and the work of Jesus. Who He is. What He did. …we understand that who Jesus was and is, had considerable influence on what it was He did. And by the same token, if we want to understand who He was, we have to look at what He did. So, even though we may distinguish the two, they must ultimately be held in unity.

(Note: please be patient, it may take the player a couple of minutes to load)

Videourile Vodpod nu mai sunt disponibile.

Lecture 1, The Birth from The Life of Jesus Tea…, posted with vodpod

Debate by noted Christian scholars on the Trinity

Wikipedia has a good introductory summary of how Christians describe the Trinity-

The Christian doctrine of the Trinity defines God as three divine persons (Greek: ὑποστάσεις):the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit. The three persons are distinct yet coexist in unity, and are co-equal, co-eternal and consubstantial (Greek: ὁμοούσιοι). Put another way, the three persons of the Trinity are of one being (Greek: οὐσία). The Trinity is considered to be a mystery of Christian faith.

The major difference that divides the 3 major religions- Judaism, Christianity and Islam can also be traced right back to each faith’s particular understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity. Three years ago, 4 theologians met and debated, on the outskirts of Chicago at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School  (TEDS for short) of Deerfield,Illinois. They were/are former and current professors of TEDS – Bruce Ware, Wayne Grudem, Tom McCall, Keith Yandell.

The question the professors debated was-

Do relations of authority and submission exist eternally among the Persons of the Godhead?

Here is the Moderator, Dr. Chris Firestone’s introduction: There’s a real need for the Christian Evangelical community to maintain clarity and precision in its understanding of the doctrine of God, both in terms of its Christology and Trinity. This is where tonight’s debate picks up in earnest. The doctrine of the trinity is most arguably the most central and distinctive feature of the Christian faith. Questions to keep in mind as this debate proceeds-

  1. Which position best reflects the biblical witness?
  2. Which position is the most reasonable and rationally cogent?
  3. Should the biblical witness and rationale cogency be thought to conflict with one another?
  4. Should the Christians just stick with the confessional norms of the Church? If so, which position resonates with the historic position of the Church? If not, how revisionist of these norms should Evangelical Christians be?

Please set aside a good portion of time for this very important debate, as it is 2 1/2 hours long, and very well worth the time, considering the debaters, especially the most well known debater- Wayne Grudem, whose Systematic Theology Textbook sits on all of our shelves. At the introduction Dr. Chris Firestone also mentions several books written by the panelists on the subject of the Trinity that are well worth looking into as well. Enjoy!

Christian Doctrine 1 – Trinity: God Is

Lecture by Mark Driscoll. We begin our study of essential doctrine not with what God has done, but with who God is, for the simple reason that before God did anything, He was. Therefore, let us consider who God is as He has revealed Himself in Scripture, as the one true, living, and Trinitarian God. Although the word „Trinity” was coined by Tertullian in the first century, the concept is clearly found in the Old and New Testament as attested by the historic affirmation of the Trinity throughout the history of the church.

The Trinity: One God who eternally exists as three distinct equal persons, Father, Son, and Spirit, who are each fully and equally God.

Theology: We will start by engaging Scripture to understand the theology behind the doctrine of the Trinity.

Consider the following scriptures: 2 Chr. 15:3, Jer 10:10, John 17:3, 1 Thess. 1:9. What does this tell about the nature of God?
What is the implication of this truth for other religions and gods?
There are many scriptures that declare that the Father( Jn. 6:27, 1 Peter 1:3), the Son (Rom. 9:5, Gal 4:4) and the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3-4, 2 Cor. 3:16-18) are God. How is this reconciled with the statements of one God through scriptures like Gen. 1:26, 3:22, Is. 6:8?
What does it mean that the Father, Son and Spirit are distinct persons?
How does Matt. 3:16-17 support the distinct personhood of the Father, Son and Spirit?
How is the Trinity reflected in John 4:8 „God is Love”?
How does our desire for community and relationship reflect the image of God within us?

Implications: Let us consider the implications of the Trinity as it affects the way we live our daily lives.

Why is the Trinity an essential doctrine to Christian faith?
Why is it important to understand the nature of God as he has revealed Himself?
How do you relate to God the Father? The Son? The Spirit? What does a Trinitarian life look like for you personally?
What aspects of the Trinity (community, relationship, submission…etc) are missing from your life?
How is God calling you to worship Him in light of His Trinitarian nature?

Prayer: Reflect on the truth of God’s Word, and who it reveals God to be. Meditate on the concept of the Trinity and the implications that God is three distinct persons who are equally God.

Pray for wisdom and understanding of the revealed nature of God.
Pray that God would give us eyes to see what it looks like to live a Trinitarian life.
Pray for those who have yet to meet and know the one true God as revealed in the Bible.

Jesus Equal with God – John Piper (essential sermon)

from DesiringGod.org. You can read the entire notes manuscript here.

John Piper preaches about – at least three main things going on in John 5:1-24 and that

„None of the physical miracles of Jesus was an end in itself. They all point to something more about him and about the kingdom of God and about the spiritual and moral transformations that he is working.”

Then he preaches about the 2 implications stemming from the Sonbeing in step with the Father ad vice versa:

I said that there were two implications for us from the fact that the Son stays in perfect step with the Father, and the Father acts in perfect step with the Son. One of them we just saw. In the twenty-first century world of teeming pluralism, with religions and worldviews and cultures and lifestyles competing for our allegiance, verse 23 lands like a bombshell: “Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.”

In other words, if you want to know if someone in another religion, or no religion, honors God (has a true worshipful relationship with God), the test that you use to know this is: Do they honor Jesus for who he really is—as the divine Son of God, the Messiah, the crucified and risen Savior of the world, the Lord of the universe and Judge of all human beings? If they don’t, then they don’t honor God. That’s the first implication.

The second is in verse 24: “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” If we hear the message of Jesus in the Gospel of John taken in its totality—not just some distorted part of it—and, if through that message and that person, we come to trust God as the one who sent him for our salvation, two amazing things happen.

1) We not only will have eternal life, but we already have it, and 2) we not only will not come into the judgment of condemnation, but have already passed through judgment and are safe on the other side. Jesus has become that judgment for us. When we are united to him by faith, his death becomes our death, and his crucifixion our crucifixion, and his curse on the cross our curse on the cross, and his resurrection our resurrection. We have already “passed from death to life”! This is glorious news beyond all words. Exult in this. Know this about yourself as a believer. Be made radically courageous by this.

So the first main issue in this text is the man’s healing and its purpose to lead the man to holiness. And the second main issue in this text is the way the Father and the Son are equal so that when one is acting the other is acting—with the two implications that if we don’t honor the Son, we don’t honor the Father, and if we believe on the Father through the word of Jesus, we have already passed from death to life and are on the other side of condemnation.

and lastly he talks about the issue of healing on the Sabbath:

What’s he saying? I think something like this. My Father and I created a perfect world, a paradise, and then we rested, not that we were tired, but stepped back as it were and enjoy the perfect display of our own glory revealed in our creative handiwork. That’s what Sabbath is for—the restful, focused, enjoyment of God.

But then sin entered the world, and through sin came sickness and calamity and death. And from that moment, my Father and I have been working again. We have been working—in many ways that you don’t understand—to restore a Sabbath paradise to the universe. We have been working to overcome sin and sickness and death.

Even your own law, which contains the Sabbath command, was part of our working to conquer sin and hold back the miseries of unrighteousness and point you forward to a Messiah, a Savior, who would come and perform the decisive acts of restoration and transformation toward the new heavens and the new earth.

When I heal a man, and intentionally do it on the Sabbath, I am showing you something about myself. What was happening at the pool of Bethesda was that my Father and I were revealing the world that is coming. It is a world in which there will be no sickness and a world in which there will be no sin. “My Father is working until now, and I am working.”

Videourile Vodpod nu mai sunt disponibile.

1st collector for Jesus Equal with God – John Piper
Follow my videos on vodpod

Ravi Zacharias – Unity in Diversity in the Trinity.

Two years ago, actually a year and a half ago, I was asked to speak at a United Nations  Prayer Breakfast. It was the second time they had asked me to  come, only this time I marveled at the subject- Navigating with absolutes in a relativistic world. You get up at 6:30 in the morning to speak on that. and then you are told you have 25 minutes and then you are further told you cannot bring religion into it.  I said’ „I-ll make a deal, 20 minutes your subject, last 5 minutes, why I believe in what I do as being the only answer to this struggle. „Okay,” we agree.

So, I talked about the search for 4 absolutes: evil, justice, love and forgiveness.  How do you define evil, how do you define justice? What is true love? And when you blow it, how are you forgiven? They all nodded their heads. I said, „Now I wanna ask you with 5 minutes to go, „Do you know of one event  in the world where these four converged? I said, „They converged on the cross of Jesus Christ. ” Evil was seen for what it was. Justice was meted out by a righteous and holy God.  Love was displayed unparalleled to a point where he looks at a young man and says, „Take care of her, she’s now your mother.”

A cosmic drama was unfolding and he cared for the one woman who had nurtured and cared for him. And then I said forgiveness, that He’s willing to wipe your slate clean and forgive you. Do you know that there was an ambassador from one country, I will not name, it is an atheistic country. They stood in line to shake hands. The President of the U.N. said, „Would you come up to my office and please pray for me and my staff? Before that, this man shakes my hand and says, „Can I talk to you for a moment? He said, „I come from an atheistic country. I didn’t wanna come here. I didn’t wanna come here. We don’t believe in God and I wondered why I was here.”  He said, „This morning I found out why I am here. Pray for me. ”

God revealed in Christ, where absolutes converged in an unparalleled way.  The description of evil, the convergence of  absolutes, totally in the disclosure of reality. You know why I think men and women like you come to a conference like this? I was talking to my wife about it. She was not able to join me last evening. She became unwell just as we were leaving and I wondered if it was because of my sermon, but it isn’t…cause she was okay and feeling much better today and she joined me here, but you know I said to her,”Why do they come?” Why do you all come? Because you wanna go deep. You wanna go deep. God is able to take a little child and place the child as ‘such is the kingdom of heaven’ and He’s able to look at Nicodemus and say, „You’re a teacher and you don’t understand these things?” He’s able to take the sublime and make it simple. He is able to take the simple and show you the sublimity behind it. The unfathomable depths of God’s riches.

You know what I think is going to be the biggest point of our delight in eternity ? That we will be silent when we are face to face with the trinity. You know, Peter knew the difference between 1 fish and 3 fishes. Paul knew the difference between 1 and 3. This marvelous unity of the trinity, which may be the only explanation for the Greek search of  unity in diversity because unity and diversity in effect must presuppose unity in diversity  in the first cause and only in the trinity is there a community of unity in diversity. God is a being in relationships and our hearts hunger for relationships as we live here. Marvelous depth of truth. The atheist stuff looks so shallow after this.

There’s not a „Trinity Verse” by Fred Sanders, Biola University

Winter 2011 – Biola  (University)  Magazine (source)

Think Bigger

There’s not a ‘Trinity verse’ — and that’s a good thing

By Fred Sanders

The Trinity is a biblical doctrine, but let’s admit it: There’s something annoying about how hard it is to put your finger on a verse that states the whole doctrine.

The Bible presents the elements of the doctrine in numerous passages, of course: that there is only one God; that the Father is God; that the Son is God; and that the Spirit is God. We can also tell easily enough that the Father, Son and Spirit are really distinct from one another, and are not just three names for one person. If you hold all those clear teachings of Scripture in your mind at one time and think through them together, the doctrine of the Trinity is inevitable. Trinitarianism is a biblical doctrine and all the ingredients are given to us there: Just add thought and you have the classic doctrine.

Like most evangelicals, though, I would prefer to have a doctrine be stated clearly and concisely in one place. I like my doctrines verse-sized. I sometimes wish there were one verse that said, “God is one being in three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” The doctrine of the Trinity, though, is simply not verse-sized. Sometimes that feels like a disadvantage, but in fact it’s an advantage. The doctrine of the Trinity is a massive, comprehensive, full-Bible doctrine that serves to expand our minds as readers of Scripture. In Scripture, God is leading his people to understand who he is as Father, Son and Spirit.

For example, set aside for a moment the desire to fit the doctrine into one verse. Look instead at how it shows up in a slightly larger (three verses) passage, Galatians 4:4-6: “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son … to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’” Paul is describing God’s greatest acts in the history of salvation, and those acts are specifically Trinitarian: The Father sends the Son and the Spirit to save.

Or think even bigger: In a crucial passage of Romans, Paul summarizes his message in five verses, and there is a necessarily Trinitarian cadence to his summary: “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. … We rejoice … because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Rom. 5:1–5).

Or try to take in 12 verses at once: Ephesians 1:3-14 is one gigantic sentence (in Greek) that surveys all of God’s plans and intentions from eternity past, through our present salvation, and on to final redemption. Three times it points us to the kind intention of God’s will, and three times it points us to the praise of his glory. The fundamental movement of the passage, though, is from the Father’s choosing and predestining us in love, through the beloved Son’s death for our forgiveness, to the Holy Spirit’s work sealing us for redemption.

Once you learn to see the Trinity shaping these larger stretches of Scripture, you’re ready to notice how entire books of the Bible are structured by the same Trinitarian logic. In Galatians, for example, Paul proves his gospel of faith against salvation by works in a three-part argument: The Galatians received the Spirit by faith, God promised Abraham that he would justify the Gentiles by faith, and Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law. The great arc of Romans runs from the Father’s judgment through the Son’s propitiation to the Spirit’s deliverance.

If you want to catch a glimpse of the Trinity as the big story behind the Bible, the best thing to do is to read the Gospel of John fast, in one sitting. Your dominant impression during the first half will be that the Father and the Son love each other, and in the second half the Holy Spirit will burst into your attention as the fulfillment of the revelation.

There are a handful of verses where the three persons are named in one place, such as Matthew 28:19 and 2 Corinthians 13:14. These classic passages have the advantage of being comfortably verse-sized. But when we move on from the partial glimpses of the Trinity we can get from single verses, we are led on to larger stretches of argument, wider vistas of insight, and a more inclusive expanse of God’s self-revelation through Scripture. And that prepares our minds for the biggest Christian thought of all: The whole Bible is one complete book that reveals the Trinity. That fact is what the ancient church fathers meant when they summarized the Christian faith in the Apostles’ Creed: “I believe in God the Father … and in his only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ … and in the Holy Spirit.”

The Trinity is a biblical doctrine, therefore, in a very special sense: not in any one verse, but as the key to the entire book.

Fred Sanders is an associate professor of theology in Biola’s Torrey Honors Institute; Sanders’ latest book, The Deep Things of God: How the Trinity Changes Everything, was published in August 2010.

…some Church history – Athanasius (defending orthodoxy)

From 131 Christians Everyone Should Know (P. 17-19):

Athanasius was a theologian (296 A.D.-373 A.D.) who was exiled five times

for fighting „Orthodoxy”. He once said „Those who maintain ‘There was a time when the Son was not’ rob God of his word, like plunderers”.

„Black Dwarf” was the name his enemies gave him. And the short, dark-skinned Egyptian bishop had plenty of enemies. He was exiled five times by four Roman emperors, spending 17 of the 45 years he served as bishop of Alexandria in exile. Yet in the end, his theological enemies were „exiled” from the churches teaching, and it is Athanasius’ writings that shaped the future of the church.

Most often the problem was his stubborn insistence that Arianism, the reigning „orthodoxy” of the day, was in fact a heresy.

The dispute began when Athanasius was the chief deacon assistant to Bishop Alexander of Alexandria. While Alexander preached „with perhaps too philosophical minuteness” on the Trinity; Arius a presbyter (priest) from  Libya announced, ‘If the Father begat the Son, then he who was begotten had a beginning in existence, and from this it follows that there was a time that the Son was not.” The argument caught on, but Alexander and Athanasius fought against Arius, arguing that it denied the trinity. Christ is not of a like substance of God, they argued, but the same substance.

To Athanasius this was no splitting of theological hairs. Salvation was at issue: only one who was fully human could atone for human sin; only one who was fully divine could have the power to save us. To Athanasius, the logic of New testament doctrine of salvation assumed the dual nature of Christ. He said:”Those who maintain ‘There was a time when the Son was not’ rob God of his word, like plunderers”.

Alexander’s encyclical letter, signed by Athanasius (and probably written by him), attacked the consequences of Arians’ heresy: The Son [then] is a creature and a work; neither is he like in essence to the Father;neither is he the true and natural Word of the Father; neither is he his true wisdom; but he is one of the things made and created and is called the Word and Wisdom by an abuse of terms…Wherefore he is by nature subject to change and variation, as are all rational creatures.”

The controversy spread, and all over the empire, Christians could be heard singing a catchy tune that championed the Arian view: „There was a time when the Son was not.” In every city, wrote a historian, „bishop was contending against bishop, and the people were contending against one another, like swarms of gnats, fighting in the air.”

Statue of Constantine - the first Christian Emperor of Rome (285-337 A.D.)

Word of the dispute made it to the newly converted Emperor Constantine the Great, who was more concerned with seeing church unity than theological truth. „Divisions in the church,” he told the bishops,”is worse than war.” To settle the matter, he called a council of bishops.

Of the 1,800 bishops invited to Nicea, about 300 came–and argued, fought, and eventually fleshed out an early version of the Nicene Creed. The council, led by Alexander, condemned Arius as a heretic, exiled him, and made it a capital offense to possess his writings. Constantine was pleased that peace had been restored to the church. Athanasius, whose treatise On the Incarnation laid the foundation of the orthodox party at Nicea, was hailed as „the noble champion of Christ.” The diminutive bishop was simply pleased that Arianism had been defeated. But it hadn’t.

Within a few months, supporters of Arius talked Constantine into ending Arius’ exile. With a few private additions, Arius even signed the Nicene Creed, and the emperor ordered Athanasius, who had recently succeeded Alexander as bishop, to restore the heretic to fellowship.

When Athanasius refused, his enemies spread false charges against him. He was accused of murder, illegal taxation, sorcery and treason–the last of which led Constantine to exile him to Trier, now a German city near Luxembourg.

Constantine dies two years later, and Athanasius returned to Alexandria. But in his absence, Ariansim had gained the upper hand. Now church leaders were against him, and they banished him again. Athansius fled to Pope Julius I in Rome. He returned in 346, but in the mercurial politics of the day, was banished three more times before he came home to stay in 366. By then he was about 70 years old.

While in exile, Athanasius spent most of his time writing, mostly to defend orthodoxy, but he took on pagan and Jewish opposition as well. One of his most lasting contributions is his Life of St. Antony, which helped to shape the Christian ideal of monasticism. It became a „best seller” and made a deep impression on many people, even help lead pagans to conversion: Augustine is the most famous example.

During Athanasius’ first year permanently back in Alexandria, he sent his annual letter to the churches in his diocese, called a festal letter, Athanasius listed what he believed were the books that should constitute the New Testament.

„In these [27 writings] alone the teaching of godliness is proclaimed,” he wrote. „No one may add to them, and nothing may be taken away from them.”

Though other lists had been and would still be proposed, it is Athanasius’s list that the church eventually adopted, and it is the one we use to this day.

Click below to read more on :

Athanasius’ Doctrine of the Trinity and Doctrine of Incarnation.

The Nicene creed

(via)

Blogosfera Evanghelică

Vizite unicate din Martie 6,2011

free counters

Va multumim ca ne-ati vizitat azi!


România – LIVE webcams de la orase mari