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A form of sound words must embrace the doctrine of God’s being and nature

February 9, 2015 2 comments

Spurgeon 1We shall, perhaps, be asked what we do regard as a form of sound words, and what those doctrines are which are scriptural, which at the same time are healthful to the spirit and exalting to God. We answer, we believe a form of sound words must embrace, first of all, the doctrine of God’s being and nature, we must have the Trinity in Unity, and the Unity in Trinity. Any doctrine, which hath not the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, as equal persons in one undivided essence, we cast aside as being unsound, for we are sure that such doctrines must be derogatory to God’s glory; and if they he so it is enough for us. If any man despise either Father, Son or Holy Ghost, we despise him, and despise his teachings, and cannot even say to him, “I wish you God speed.”

Charles H. Spurgeon-The Form of Sound Words-Delivered on Sabbath, May 11, 1856

Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 1-Chapter 3-The Names of God

December 19, 2014 1 comment

CHAPTER 3-THE NAMES OF GOD

The aim of this volume is to better acquaint its readers with the true and living God. If any of our readers feel that the author is lopsided, and does not maintain the balance of truth by emphasizing the responsibility of man, we would remind him that our thesis is God, not man.

There are several sources of knowledge about God. The heavens and the earth, the things He has made, reveal His eternal power and Deity, and declare His glory. The human conscience also testifies to His existence, as do the laws of nature. But the Bible is the chief source of information about God in His character and work.

The various names and titles given to God in the Bible reveal much concerning His character and government. In the Bible the names of persons, places, and things are of great significance; the names were chosen because of their meaning! We give names to our children today without any thought of what the name means, and very often the name is not appropriate to the character that wears it. Many men have worn the name Jesus, but to only one Man, Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ of God, is the name appropriate. All the names of God in the Bible are most appropriate and much can be learned about Him through the study of His names.

The study of names given to persons and places in the Bible is so entrancing that we must pursue it a little further before coming to our main theme—-THE NAMES OF GOD. In the Bible names reveal the character of persons, and commemorate important events. To illustrate we are taking a number of names somewhat at random. At the battle of Aphek Israel was defeated by the Philistines, losing thirty thousand footmen; Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were slain; the ark of God was taken by the Philistines; and when the sad news came to the wife of Phinehas, giving her life in childbirth, on her death bed she named the child Ichabod, which means “inglorious,” thus signifying that the glory had departed from Israel: “And she named the child Ichabod, saying, The glory is departed from Israel: because the ark of God was taken, and because of her father in law and her husband” (#1Sa 4:21). The name Moses means “drawer out,” and was given him by Pharaoh’s daughter, as “she said, because I drew him out of the water” (#Ex 2:10). The name Samuel was given to the son of Elkanah and Hannah as a memorial to answered prayer. Samuel means “heard of God,” and was given him by his mother: “Wherefore it came to pass, when the time was come about after Hannah had conceived, that she bare a son, and called his name Samuel, saying, Because I have asked him of the LORD” (#1Sa 1:20). The human name of Jesus was given to our Lord because it means “Jehovah saves.” When the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph to quiet his fears and suspicions concerning his espoused wife, Mary, he announced the birth of a son, and said “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins” (#Mt 1:21). The name Abraham means “father of a multitude,” and was given to Abraham by God when He promised him a numerous progeny. “Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee” (#Ge 17:5). Adam called the creature, taken from his side, woman: “And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man” (#Ge 2:23). When Adam and his wife became sinners by transgressing the law of God, the gospel was preached to them by God, the gospel that the seed of woman should bruise the serpent’s head: “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” (#Ge 3:15); whereupon, in faith, Adam named the woman Eve, which means “living,” “And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living” (#Ge 3:20). Eve’s firstborn was named Cain, which means “acquired,” “And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD” (#Ge 4:1). The word for man in the Hebrew is “ish,” which means a man of high degree, and it is probable that Eve believed Cain to be the promised Redeemer. If so, she was sadly disappointed, and when her next son was born, it must have been in a spirit of despair that she named him Abel, meaning “vanity or vapor.” When Samuel had defeated the Philistines on a field of battle between Mizpeh and Shen, he planted a stone on the very spot of victory and called it Ebenezer, meaning “the stone of help,” “Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Hitherto hath the LORD helped us” (1Sa 7:12).

THE NAMES OF GOD

Some names of God respect Him as subject: Jehovah, Lord, God; others are predicates, spoken of Him and attributed to Him: holy, just, good, etc. Some express the relations between the persons of the Godhead: Father, Son, and Spirit; and some express the relation of God to the creatures: Creator, Preserver, Governor, etc. Some names or titles are common to the three persons, as Jehovah, God, Father, Spirit. And some are proper names used to express His character and work.

The name of God is what He IS; it stands for His character. But the Creator is so great that no one name can possibly be adequate to His greatness. If the heaven of heavens cannot contain Him, how can a name describe the Creator? So the Bible contains a number of names of God which reveal Him in the several aspects of His marvelous personality.

ELOHIM (Pronounced El-lo-heem)

This is the first name of God in Scripture: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (#Ge 1:1).Here it is in the plural form with a singular verb, denoting plurality of persons in unity of essence or being. This name is expressive of God’s greatness and power. It is the creatorial name of God, and is used exclusively in the account of creation: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day. And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day. And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good. And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And the evening and the morning were the third day. And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good. And the evening and the morning were the fourth day. And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth. And the evening and the morning were the fifth day. And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so. And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day. Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made. These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens “(#Ge 1:1-2:4). Elohim is always translated “God” in our English Bible. According to the prevailing opinion of scholars the word is derived from a root in the Arabic language which means to worship. Weight is given to this opinion when we observe that the word is sometimes used improperly of angels, of men, and of false deities. In #Ps 8:5 “For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour” the word for angels is elohim, and angels are sometimes improperly worshipped. In #Ps 82:1,6: “God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods…I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High” elohim is translated gods, and is used of men. Also in #Joh 10:34,35: “Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken”. In #Jer 10:10-12 “But the LORD is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king: at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation. Thus shall ye say unto them, The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens. He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heavens by his discretion.” we have the true God (elohim) in contrast with “the gods (elohim) that have not made the heavens and the earth,” thus implying that none but the Creator is the proper object of worship.

EL-SHADDAI (Pronounced el Shad-di)

This compound word is translated God Almighty (El for God and Shaddai for Almighty). The title EL is for God in the singular, and means strong or mighty. EL is translated God 250 times in the Old Testament. The title is generally connected with some attribute or perfection of God; as, “Almighty God”: “And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him” (#Ge 17:3); “Everlasting God”: “And Abraham planted a grove in Beersheba, and called there on the name of the LORD, the everlasting God” (#Ge 21:33); “A jealous God”: “Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me” (#Ex 20:5); “The living God”: “And Joshua said, Hereby ye shall know that the living God is among you, and that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Hivites, and the Perizzites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Jebusites” (#Jos 3:10).

SHADDAI, always translated Almighty, means sufficient or resourceful. It is thought the word comes from SHADDAY, meaning breasts. The word breast is used in the scriptures as an emblem of blessing and nourishment. In pronouncing his dying blessing upon Joseph, Jacob, among other things, said, “Even by the God (EL) of thy father, who shall help thee; and by the Almighty (Shaddai), who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb:” (#Ge 49:25). Isaiah, describing the future excellency and blessings of Israel, says, “Thou shalt also suck the milk of the Gentiles (nations), and shalt suck the breast of kings: and thou shalt know that I the LORD am thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob” (#Isa 60:16). The people of God shall draw upon the resources of nations and kings because their God is EL-SHADDAI the One mighty to bless.

Satan is a competitor of God and a counterfeiter of His works. Therefore, we may expect to find in heathen religions imitations of God in the several aspects of His character and government. This point is well illustrated in the following quotation taken from the book by Nathan J. Stone on the “Names of God in the Old Testament.”

“Such a conception of a god or deity was not uncommon to the ancients. The idols of the ancient heathen are sometimes termed sheddim in the Bible. It is no doubt because they were regarded as the great agents of nature or the heavens, in giving rain, in causing the earth to send forth its springs, to yield its increase, its fruits to maintain and to nourish life. There were many breasted idols worshipped among the heathen. One historian points out that ‘the whole body of the Egyptian goddess Isis was clustered over with breasts because all things are sustained or nourished by the earth or nature. “The same was true of the idol of the Ephesian goddess Diana in the nineteenth chapter of Acts, for Diana signified nature and the world with all its products.”

This name of God first appeared in connection with Abram: “And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly” (#Ge 17:1,2). Years before and on different occasions, God promised Abram that He would make of him a great nation and a numerous progeny. The years came and passed and no child was born to Abram and Sarah. Then he resorted to that fleshly expedient which brought Ishmael and Mohammedanism into the world. And God’s promise was still unfulfilled. And now, according to the laws of nature, it is too late, Abram is ninety-nine and Sarah ninety. And then it was that God appeared to him as God- Almighty (EL-SHADDAI), and repeated the promise. And here it was that his name was changed from Abram to Abraham, meaning “father of many nations.” “Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee” (#Ge 17:5). Here was a staggering promise, but it did not stagger Abraham, “He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;” (#Ro 4:20). Abraham’s strong faith was based upon this new revelation of God as God-Almighty (EL-SHADDAI). “And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah’s womb:” (#Ro 4:19). His thoughts were upon an All-sufficient God. Here is a fine illustration of the difference between nature’s law and nature’s God. The laws of nature could not produce an Isaac, but it was not too much for nature’s God. It matters not if everything is against God; He is all- sufficient in Himself.

ADONAI (Pronounced A-do-ni)

This name or title of God is in the plural, denoting a plurality of persons in the Godhead. It is translated Lord in our King James version, and expresses the relationship of a master and slave. When used in the possessive it is an acknowledgment of God’s ownership and authority. Slavery is a blessing when God is the Owner and Lord. And in the days of Abraham when slavery was the order between man and man it was not an unmitigated evil. The purchased slave had the protection and privileges not enjoyed by the hired servant. The bought slave was to be circumcised and allowed to eat the Passover: “But every man’s servant that is bought for money, when thou hast circumcised him, then shall he eat thereof” (#Ex 12:44).

This word in the singular (ADON) is applied to man more than two hundred times in the Old Testament, and is variously translated lord, master, owner. This name for God is first used in the Old Testament in connection with Abraham. Abraham was the first man to address God as ADONAI. Abraham as a slave owner also acknowledges God as his Master and Owner. When Abraham had returned from the slaughter of the king’s, and had rescued Lot, the king of Sodom wanted to reward him, but he refused the reward. “After these things the word of the LORD (Jehovah) came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward. And Abram said, Lord GOD (Adonai Jehovah) what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus?” (#Ge 15:1,2). He who had slaves acknowledged himself to be the slave of God.

JEHOVAH (Pronounced Je-ho-vah)

This is the most famous of the names of God, and is predicated of Him as a necessary and self-existent Being. The meaning is: HE THAT ALWAYS WAS, THAT ALWAYS IS, AND THAT EVER IS TO COME. We have it thus translated in #Re 1:4: “John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne.”

Jehovah is the personal, proper, and incommunicable name of God. In #Ps 83:18 we read: “That men may know that thou, whose name alone is JEHOVAH, art the most high over all the earth.” The other names of God are sometimes applied to creatures, but the name Jehovah is used exclusively of the true and living God.

The Jews had a superstitious reverence for this name of God and would not pronounce it when reading, but would substitute other names as Adonai and Elohim. This is the name of God in covenant relation with man. It occurs about seven thousand times and is usually translated “Lord” in our King James version. As already noted it includes all tenses, past, present, and future. The name comes from a root which signifies to be.

Of the relation between Elohim and Jehovah, A. W. Pink has some illuminating remarks in his book, “The Divine Inspiration of the Bible,” and we quote:

“The names Elohim and Jehovah are found on the pages of the Old Testament several thousand times, but they are never employed loosely or used alternately. Each of these names has a definite significance and scope, and were we to substitute the one for the other the beauty and perfection of a multitude of passages would be destroyed. To illustrate: the word God occurs all through Genesis 1, but ‘Lord God’ in Genesis 2. Were these two Divine titles reversed here, a flaw and blemish would be the consequences. ‘God’ is the creatorial title, whereas ‘Lord’ implies covenant relationship and shows God’s dealings with His own people. Hence, in Gen. 1, ‘God’ is used, and in Gen. 2, ‘Lord God’ is employed, and all through the remainder of the Old Testament these two Divine titles are used discriminately and in harmony with the meaning of first mention. One or two examples must suffice. “And they went in unto Noah into the ark, two and two of all flesh, wherein is the breath of life. And they that went in, went in male and female of all flesh, as God (Elohim, C. D. C.) had commanded him.” ‘God’ because it was the Creator commanding with respect to His creatures, as such; but in the remainder of the same verse, we read, “and the Lord (Jehovah, C. D. C.) shut him in” (#Ge 7:15,16), because God’s action here toward Noah was based upon covenant relationship. When going forth to meet Goliath David said “This day will the LORD (Jehovah) deliver thee into mine hand (because David was in covenant relationship with him); and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth (which was not in covenant relationship with Him) may know that there is a God (Elohim) in Israel. And all this assembly (which were in covenant relationship with him) shall know that the LORD (Jehovah) saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the LORD’S, and he will give you into our hands” (#1Sa 17:46,47). Once more: “And it came to pass, when the captains of the chariots saw Jehoshaphat, that they said, It is the king of Israel. Therefore they compassed about him to fight: but Jehoshaphat cried out, and the LORD (Jehovah) helped him; and God (Elohim) moved them to depart from him” (#2Ch 18:31). And thus it is all through the Old Testament.”

THE JEHOVAH TITLES

The name Jehovah is often used as a compound with other names to set forth the true God in some aspect of His character in meeting the needs of His people. There are fourteen of these Jehovah titles in the Old Testament, but there is not space in this volume to treat each one separately. It must suffice for us to present them and give a few references where they are used:

1. JEHOVAH-HOSEENU, “Jehovah our Maker” “O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker” (#Ps 95:6).

2. JEHOVAH-JIREH, “Jehovah will provide” “And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-jireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen” (#Ge 22:14).

3. JEHOVAH-ROPHECA, “Jehovah that healeth thee” “And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee” (#Ex 15:26).

4. JEHOVAH-NISSI, “Jehovah my banner” “And Moses built an altar, and called the name of it Jehovah-nissi” (#Ex 17:15).

5. JEHOVAH-M’KADDESH, “Jehovah that doth sanctify you”: “Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the LORD that doth sanctify you” (#Ex 31:13); “And ye shall keep my statutes, and do them: I am the LORD which sanctify you” (#Le 20:8).

6. JEHOVAH-ELOHEENU, “Jehovah our God” “Exalt ye the LORD our God, and worship at his footstool; for he is holy…He spake unto them in the cloudy pillar: they kept his testimonies, and the ordinance that he gave them. Thou answeredst them, O LORD our God: thou wast a God that forgavest them, though thou tookest vengeance of their inventions” (#Ps 99:5,7,8).

7. JEHOVAH-ELOHEKA, “Jehovah thy God” “I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage: … Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me…Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain” (#Ex 20:2,5,7).

8. JEHOVAH-ELOHAY, “Jehovah my God” “And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with thee” (#Zec 14:5).

9. JEHOVAH-SHALOM, “Jehovah send peace”: “Then Gideon built an altar there unto the Lord, and called it Jehovah-shalom: unto this day it is yet in Ophrah of the Abiezrites” (#Jud 6:24).

10. JEHOVAH-TSEBAHOTH, “Jehovah of hosts” “And this man went up out of his city yearly to worship and to sacrifice unto the LORD of hosts in Shiloh. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, the priests of the LORD, were there” (#1Sa 1:3); “And as Esaias said before, Except the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we had been as Sodoma, and been made like unto Gomorrha” (#Ro 9:29); “Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth” (#Jas 5:4).

11. JEHOVAH-ROHI, “Jehovah my shepherd” “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want” (#Ps 23:1).

12. JEHOVAH-HELEYON, “Jehovah most high” “I will praise the LORD according to his righteousness: and will sing praise to the name of the LORD most high” (#Ps 7:17); “For the LORD most high is terrible; he is a great King over all the earth” (#Ps 47:2); “For thou, LORD, art high above all the earth: thou art exalted far above all gods” (#Ps 97:9).

13. JEHOVAH-TSIDKEENU, “Jehovah our righteousness” “In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS” (#Jer 23:6); “In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely: and this is the name wherewith she shall be called, The LORD our righteousness” (#Jer 33:16).

14. JEHOVAH-SHAMMAH, “Jehovah is there” “It was round about eighteen thousand measures: and the name of the city from that day shall be, The LORD is there” (#Eze 48:35).

THE NAMES OF GOD IN THE NEW TESTAMENT

1. THEOS. In the Greek New Testament this is the general name of God, and corresponds with Elohim of the Hebrew Old Testament. It is applied to all three persons of the Trinity, but especially to God the Father.

2. PATER. This title corresponds with Jehovah of the Old Testament and expresses the relationship we have with God through Christ. It is applied to God two hundred and sixty five times and is always translated Father.

3. DESPOTEES (English Despot). This title sets forth God in His absolute sovereignty, and is similar to Adonai of the Old Testament. It occurs only five times in the New Testament: “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word” (#Lu 2:29); “And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is” (#Ac 4:24); “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction” (#2Pe 2:1); “For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 4); “And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?” (#Re 6:10).

4. KURIOS. This word is found hundreds of times and is translated lord, Lord, master, Master, owner, and sir. In quotations from the Hebrew it is often used for Jehovah. It is a title of the Lord Jesus as master and owner.

5. CHRISTOS. This word means the Anointed and is translated Christ. It comes from chrio to anoint. It is the official name of the long promised and long expected Messiah or Savior. The New Testament applies this title to Jesus of Nazareth exclusively.

From all these names of the Supreme Being we learn that He is the eternal, immutable, self-existent, self-sufficient, and all-sufficient being; and is the supreme object of fear, trust, adoration, and obedience.

To the author this study has been interesting, and at the same time tedious and difficult, and the reader will have to be a patient plodder if he is to get the most out of it. What a marvelous revelation we have of the great God in these various names!

C. D. Cole-Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 1

Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 1-Chapter 2-The Nature of God or God’s mode of Being

December 12, 2014 1 comment

CHAPTER 2-THE NATURE OF GOD or GOD’S MODE OF BEING

What is God? What constitutes the Divine nature? What is God’s mode of being? These questions bring us to the burning bush and upon holy ground. We must tread softly, walk humbly, and avoid speculation. But we can go as far as Divine revelation goes.

There is a Divine nature. By nature we mean that particular character of being which makes one kind of being differ from another kind of being. Thus we speak of angelic nature, of human nature, and of brute nature. That nature may be predicated of God is suggested by Paul who says that the Galatians, before their conversion, served those which by nature were no gods. “Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods” (#Ga 4:8). This clearly implies that one does exist who by nature is God.

1. GOD IS A PERSONAL BEING.

As a person God is distinguished from pantheism, the belief that all things in the aggregate are God, God is everything and everything is God. As a personal Being God is both immanent and transcendent, that is, He is both in and above His creation. He is a person in His creation, but separate and distinct from it. He is also above His creation, that is, He is bigger than creation, distinct from it and not a part of it. In his prayer dedicating the temple, Solomon paid tribute to the transcendent greatness of God in these words: “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded?” (#1Ki 8:27).

There are three marks of personality: self consciousness, self determination, and moral consciousness, and all these qualities belong to God.

2. GOD IS A SPIRIT BEING.

God is exclusively Spirit: “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (#Joh 4:24). The reader must grasp this truth firmly, or he will have trouble in understanding the trinity of persons in the Godhead. As a Spirit God can neither be divided nor compounded. As a Spirit He is invisible and intangible. “No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him” (#Joh 1:18).

ARGUMENT:

1. He is creator of spirits, and since a spirit being is the highest order of being, He must have the nature that belongs to that order.

2. The scriptures ascribe spirituality to God. “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (#Joh 4:24). “Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?” (#Heb 12:9).

3. His spirituality may be argued from His immensity and eternity. He is infinite as to space and time. Matter is limited as to space and time, but God is both omnipresent and eternal.

4. His spirituality may be argued from his independency and immutability. That which is material can be divided, added to, or diminished. Matter is subject to change, but God is the unchangeable one. “For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed” (#Mal 3:6).

5. His spirituality may also be argued from His absolute perfections. A material body imposes limitations, and is not consistent with absolute perfection. We use the word perfection in a wider sense than sinlessness. The Savior, in his human body, had his limitations although He was sinless. He was not everywhere at the same time. He was not immune to hunger and thirst, weariness and pain.

OBJECTION:

Many passages of scripture ascribe bodily parts to God. They speak of His eyes, face, hands, feet, arms, etc. In reply it may be said that the language is figurative, and is used in an accommodation to human understanding. Such language is called anthropomorphism, the ascription of human characteristics to things not human.

3. GOD IS A TRIUNE BEING.

There is one Divine essence of being subsisting in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God is a triunity, three in one. In the early part of the fourth century when Arianism threatened to prevail, a young theologian named Athanasius formulated the statement that was incorporated in the Nicene Creed. He said, “We worship one God in trinity and trinity in unity, neither confounding the persons nor dividing the substance.” This is a remarkable statement, profound in its clarity and simplicity. The Arian notion made the Father the Supreme God and the Son only Divine in a subordinate sense. The Son was like but not of the same substance with the Father, according to Arius.

The Sabellian notion is that God is one person, manifesting Himself sometimes as Father, sometimes as Son, and sometimes as Holy Spirit. But this would make Him cease to exist as Father when manifested as Son.

If God were a physical being as a trinity, He would be in three parts, and if these parts were persons, each person would be only a part of God. But as a Spirit He is three persons, but only one substance, and each person is all of God. Of the Son we read: “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (#Col 2:9). And again He is called: “Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature” (#Col 1:15).

God is not three persons in the same sense that Father, mother, and daughter are three persons in one family. It could not be said of any one of three persons in a human family that he is all of the family.

God has three modes of Being, three centers of personal consciousness. He is one essentially, but three persons relatively. And in these relations He exists as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Dr. Strong puts it like this: In the matter of source, origin, and authority, He is the Father. In the matter of expression, medium, and revelation, He is the Son. In the matter of apprehension, accomplishment, and realization, He is the Spirit. Dr. Strong also sums up the characteristic differences between the work of the Son and the work of the Spirit in four statements, as follows:

1. All outgoing seems to be the work of Christ; all return to God the work of the Spirit.

2. Christ is the organ of external revelation; the Holy Spirit is the organ of internal revelation.

3. Christ is our advocate in heaven; the Holy Spirit is our advocate in the soul.

4. In the work of Christ we are passive; in the work of the Holy Spirit we are made active.

THE TRIUNITY A REVEALED DOCTRINE

Just as man without the Bible has never discovered the one true God, without the Bible he has never discovered a trinity of persons in the Godhead. The triunity is indiscoverable by human reason, neither is there any rational proof of it.

It is said that on one occasion Daniel Webster and a friend listened to a sermon upon the Trinity. As they walked home from church the friend said: “Mr. Webster, is not that doctrine a mathematical impossibility?” Said Mr. Webster: “According to the mathematics of earth it seems to be; but I’m not acquainted with the mathematics of heaven.”

The Bible gives us heavenly mathematics, and to it we should go in proof of the Triunity of God.

1. We have triunity in the plural names of God. The first name of God we meet with in the Bible is plural: “In the beginning God (Elohim, plural) created (singular) the heaven and the earth” (#Ge 1:1). The plural noun with the singular verb shows trinity acting in unity. Charles Smith says the Bible begins with a forgery; that this first verse should read: “In the beginning the gods.” Not so; the singular verb shows there was one Being acting, while the plural noun reveals three persons in one Divine essence. The plural for God occurs far more often than does the singular.

2. We have triunity in the plural expressions used by God when speaking of Himself. “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth” (#Ge 1:26); “Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” (#Ge 11:7)., ect.

3. A trinity of Divine persons was manifested at the baptism of Jesus. There was the incarnate Son being baptized; the Father was manifested by audible voice; and the Spirit appeared in the form of a dove. “And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (#Mt 3:16,17).

4. We have triunity in the baptismal formula: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:” (#Mt 28:19). It does not say, “baptizing them in the names (plural) of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” Nor does it give us the equivalent of the plural by saying, “In the name of the Father, and in the name of the Son, and in the name of the Holy Ghost.” Nor, on the other hand, does it say, “In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, as if the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost might be taken as merely three designations of one person. Here is the reading: “Baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”

THE TRIUNITY REFLECTED IN CREATION

While there is nothing in creation to explain or account for the triunity of God, the triunity does explain creation. This is a triuniverse, a three-in-one creation. One of the truly great books of our day is that book by Nathan R. Wood entitled “The Secret of the Universe.” In this remarkable book the author shows that the universe is what it is because it was created by the triune God. He first shows that the physical or outer universe is a triunity. The basic things are space, matter, time; three modes of existence and, like God, each is all of the whole. And each of these basic things is a triunity. Space has three dimensions: length, breadth, and height. Each is the whole of space and yet there are three distinct dimensions. Matter is composed of three things: energy, motion, phenomena; three modes of existence; distinct and yet one, and each is all of the whole. And as a time universe there is absolute threeness: past, present, future; distinct and yet each is the whole. All of time is or has been future, the future includes it all. All of time is or has been or will be present. And all of time is or will be past.

The author then takes the soul or what he calls the inner universe, and shows that the soul of man is a triunity, that is, three modes of existence. He calls them nature, person, personality; distinct and yet each is the whole of the soul, absolute threeness and absolute oneness. And here the author shows how man as a soul reflects the triune God in a way that the physical creation does not. He makes God the key that unlocks the riddle of the universe. He says in a sort of summary: “The structure of the universe, the nature of space, of matter, of time, of human life, attest the Trinity. They reflect the Trinity. They demand the Trinity. The Trinity explains them.”

The author knocks the Einstein theory of relativity with the argument for the fourth dimension into the proverbial cocked hat. The difference between Einstein and Wood is the difference between the atheistic and the Christian approach to the secret of the universe.

 

C. D. Cole-Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 1

Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 1-Chapter 1-The Being of God

December 5, 2014 1 comment

CHAPTER 1-THE BEING OF GOD

We have no intention of making labored and elaborate arguments for the existence of God. We start where the Bible starts. The Bible assumes the existence of God, and we assume that our readers will do the same. There are so many witnesses to His existence that the Bible makes no effort to prove it. There is the outer witness in nature. “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork” (#Ps 19:1). The voice of these witnesses has been heard in every language and in all places of the earth. It is true that in times past God “Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways” (#Ac 14:16). “Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness” (#Ac 14:17). His eternal power and Deity are clearly seen in the visible things He has created: “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:” (#Ro 1:20).

There is also the inner witness of the human conscience. “For when the Gentiles (heathen), which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;” (#Ro 2:14,15). The voice of nature in creation and in conscience proclaims loudly the existence of the true and living and eternal God. And so, for all practical purposes, there is no necessity for proving the existence of God.

THE SOUL FEELS GOD

A man once sought to ridicule the idea of God. He asked his Christian neighbor if he had ever seen God. The believer admitted he had not. He was then asked if he had ever heard God speak, or if he had ever tasted God, or if he had ever smelled God. The believer admitted that with the physical senses he had never apprehended God, and then shut the mouth of the atheist by asking him if he had ever told a lie. And when he confessed he had, he was further asked how he felt. He admitted that he had an uneasy or apprehensive feeling. Now this feeling was the testimony of conscience telling him there was a God, a moral Lawgiver, to whom he must give account. This is the meaning of conscience money and other things men do to ease their conscience and placate an offended Deity. Every man feels God whose conscience has not been seared or otherwise tampered with. The atheist is the educated fool. There are no theoretical atheists among the heathen. There are no atheists among the demons; they believe and tremble: “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble” (#Jas 2:19).

SIN ORIGINATED IN THE AFFECTIONS

The Scriptures do not reason with the atheist, but rather reprove him. “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good” (#Ps 14:1). The error is not so much in the understanding as in the heart. The theoretical atheist (the man who denies the existence of God) has tampered with his mind until he has made it agree with his heart. It is a case of the wish being father to the thought. While there are comparatively few theoretical atheists, every man in his natural and fallen state is a practical atheist, he does not want the true God. The fool of Psalms fourteen and fifty-three is the typical fool; he represents every unregenerate man. In the context the plural is used: “They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good” (#Ps 14:1). “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that doeth good” (#Ps 53:1). Sin originated in the affections or desires, and the darkened understanding is one of the effects by way of Divine punishment. “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;” (#Ro 1:28). The true God, when known, was not the God men wanted. “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened” (#Ro 1:21).

MORAL DEVOLUTION

The true evolution, morally, takes sin into account, and is the development or unfolding of a human nature that hates the true God. It is moral devolution. The progress of sin is given “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them” (#Ro 1:18-32).

First, men suppressed or held down the truth about God. They had the truth about God in the book of nature. His eternal power and Deity were clearly revealed in the things He had made, but men did not like this truth. They turned away from revelation and turned aside to their own reasonings. Second, they changed the truth about God into a lie, and made images or representations of God in the form of man and birds and beasts and creeping things. There was the Apollo of the Greeks, the eagle of the Romans, the bull of the Egyptians, and the serpent of the Assyrians. Men knew God and refused to worship Him, and idolatry followed as a psychological necessity. And third, idolatry was followed by sensuality. God gave them up to uncleanness and vile affections. He withdrew His restraining grace and suffered human nature to go its full length in immorality. The closing verses of Romans one reveal the terrible things men and women will do when given up by God. They not only do these things themselves, but are glad to see others do them. The lowest stage in depravity is reached when men take pleasure in seeing others sin.

NO SAVING LIGHT IN NATURE

The witnesses of God in nature do not constitute Gospel light. They are sufficient to render all men without excuse, but they are not efficient as means of salvation. They are sufficient to make men know they are sinners, but they have nothing to say about a Savior. There must be a further revelation of God before men can know Him in the forgiveness of sins. And this revelation is His written Word as a witness to the incarnate Word, Jesus Christ, by the knowledge of Whom many shall be justified. “He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities” (#Isa 53:11).

MAN IS A RELIGIOUS BEING

Man is by nature a religious being. By training, apart from Bible teaching and the new birth, he will either become an atheist or an idolater. This is the best education can do apart from the grace of God. A mere cultural religion deifies humanity, denies the fall, and talks only of upward development. This is the religion of the evolutionist. The god of the sensualist is his belly, his inward desires. The only law he recognizes is the craving of a depraved nature. “Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things” (#Php 3:19). This is the religion of the godless business man as well as of the drunkard and libertine.

It is as bad to invent a god in the imagination as it is to make one with the hands. The old form of idolatry had its gods made with hands; the new form of idolatry has its gods spun out of the imagination and harbored in the mind. The unknown God is still the true God. The Athenians of Paul’s day had monuments to many gods, and in their religious zeal had a monument to the unknown God. The unknown God was the God Paul preached to them. The true God was unknown to them. (#Ac 17:22-32): “Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead. And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter.”

It is the purpose of the following pages to present the God of the Bible in His nature and personal perfections. The reader is asked to test what is written herein with what is revealed in Holy Writ. And may the Spirit of truth guide us into the truth!

C. D. Cole-Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 1

Men tend to ascribe the providence of God to mere chance or fortune

August 28, 2013 1 comment

 

calvin.jpg_7MA21605611-0015The second part of the chapter, which describes the stupidity both of learned and unlearned, in ascribing the whole order of things, and the admirable arrangements of divine Providence, to fortune.

 

11. Bright, however, as is the manifestation which God gives both of himself and his immortal kingdom in the mirror of his works, so great is our stupidity, so dull are we in regard to these bright manifestations, that we derive no benefit from them. For in regard to the fabric and admirable arrangement of the universe, how few of us are there who, in lifting our eyes to the heavens, or looking abroad on the various regions of the earth, ever think of the Creator? Do we not rather overlook Him, and sluggishly content ourselves with a view of his works? And then in regard to supernatural events, though these are occurring every day, how few are there who ascribe them to the ruling providence of God — how many who imagine that they are casual results produced by the blind evolutions of the wheel of chance? Even when under the guidance and direction of these events, we are in a manner forced to the contemplation of God, (a circumstance which all must occasionally experience,) and are thus led to form some impressions of Deity, we immediately fly off to carnal dreams and depraved fictions, and so by our vanity corrupt heavenly truth. This far, indeed, we differ from each other, in that every one appropriates to himself some peculiar error; but we are all alike in this, that we substitute monstrous fictions for the one living and true God — a disease not confined to obtuse and vulgar minds, but affecting the noblest, and those who, in other respects, are singularly acute. How lavishly in this respect have the whole body of philosophers betrayed their stupidity and want of sense? To say nothing of the others whose absurdities are of a still grosser description, how completely does Plato, the soberest and most religious of them all, lose himself in his round globe? What must be the case with the rest, when the leaders, who ought to have set them an example, commit such blunders, and labor under such hallucinations? In like manner, while the government of the world places the doctrine of providence beyond dispute, the practical result is the same as if it were believed that all things were carried hither and thither at the caprice of chance; so prone are we to vanity and error. I am still referring to the most distinguished of the philosophers, and not to the common herd, whose madness in profaning the truth of God exceeds all bounds.

 

John Calvin-Institutes of the Christian Religion-Book I-Chapter 5-Henry Beveridge Translation